Fightback!

Manchester City’s amazing fight back against Tottenham on this day (4 February) in 2004 was the inspiration for a winning play (written by a female Spurs fan) in the Radio Five Live Short Story competition of 2005.  The Blues had been losing 3-0 at half time in this FA Cup 4th round replay and down to ten men but an amazing fight back saw City win 4-3.  The play was a story of commitment (it was clearly fiction – the City fan had walked out at half time!). Here’s the story of that game, with exclusive quotes from interviews I have performed, and highlights of the FAC replay:

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History Talk Video: The Origins of MCFC

Here’s my presentation on the origins of Manchester City FC, focusing on St Mark’s & the club’s development prior to its re-birth as Ardwick AFC for you to enjoy. It lasts about 1 hour and was recorded on 1 February 2023. There are lots of myths out there, but I focused on the facts and my latest research. 

The presentation is all about the origins prior to 1887. This talk will be free to download until 9 February. After that date it will only be available to subscribers (see below for details of how to subscribe). If you enjoy the talk and the other free content on this site then why not subscribe? If you don’t fancy doing that then there is the option to donate to help keep this site going (and support research like this). Again, see below.

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Attendance Differences

I’ve been doing quite a bit of research into attendance figures this week and thought I’d share a couple of findings which may surprise some. There has been a lot of talk in recent years about certain clubs having ‘empty seats’ and I think many Manchester City fans will remember the Manchester Evening News feature where a young journalist used a red highlighter to circle every empty seat he saw at a particular game. This was challenged by fans, including myself, who questioned the time the image he utilised had been taken and the purpose of the article.

Since then fans of rival clubs have often pointed their finger at City and accused the club of having ‘empty seats’ at every game and so I’ve decided to look at the last 30 years and compare each top flight team. Obviously, I could compare average attendances and leave it at that, but as so many people talk about ‘empty seats’ I’ve decided to take a different approach and look at the difference between the highest crowd for each club in a season and that club’s average attendance. I’ve taken the highest attendance as this gets over any potential issue with the reported capacity of a ground.  

The average attendance for each club is inevitably lower than the highest crowd and with away support typically being about 3,000, any difference of a few hundred between the figures could simply be additional segregation for high profile games or maybe away allocations not selling out. Once we get into the thousands then that would suggest the home allocations have not sold out.

Comparing the highest crowd with the average may not necessarily be the best way to compare clubs but it does give an indication of how full a stadium is or not, so it fits with those who obsess about ‘empty seats’.

As well as comparing those figures I’ve also compared the highest crowd with the lowest crowd for each club. The difference between these attendances shows how many ‘empty seats’ (to use that awful phrase) a club has for certain games each season.

Okay, so what does all this show?  Well, I’ll be explaining more in another article soon but a few headlines to include here that may surprise some fans are:

  • Manchester City have generally had one of the ‘fuller’ stadia over the last 30 years since the Premier League was established, even during seasons when the Blues were out of the top division.
  • In 2000-01 (a relegation season for City) the difference between City’s highest crowd and average attendance was 571 and the difference between their highest and lowest crowds was 2576. At Liverpool the equivalent differences were 1,107 and 6,332, meaning that typically there were about twice as many ‘empty seats’ at Anfield than at City and that the worst attended League fixture at Anfield had 6,332 less people at it than their best. At Everton the differences were even greater: 6,130 between highest and average with 12,590 the difference between the highest and lowest attended games. Aston Villa’s figures were even more extreme.
  • In 1998-99 (City’s only season in the third tier) some games were, quite frankly, poorly attended when compared with the best in the Premier League but remember this was the 3rd tier. Those crowds were extraordinary for that league. City fans often believe the ground sold out every week but sadly it didn’t and the difference between City’s best crowd and worst attendance was 8,180, which seems excessive. However, comparing this to the Premier League clubs of the era or today’s giants shows that some had even greater differences. For example, Aston Villa (9,682 difference), Everton (9,828), Leeds (10,243), Liverpool (8,833), Wolves (9,109) and so on. Ultimately, City’s figures in the third tier were absolutely astounding compared to some of those clubs who were in the Premier League or 2nd tier.
  • In 2004-05 the difference between City’s highest and lowest attendances was 4,768. Aston Villa’s was 11,281; Everton’s was 8,146; Leeds’ was 9,911; Leicester was 8,982; Liverpool’s was 9,160 etc.

These are just a few examples of attendance analysis I’m currently performing and there is so much more to say. Often fans of some clubs will say that the capacity of their stadium limits attendances and there is obviously truth in that, but if a club’s lowest attendance is almost 9,000 lower than their best (as with Liverpool in 2004-05) then the capacity of the stadium is not an issue on that day. A few hundred and it’s an issue, but almost 9,000?  

Watch this space for more information over the coming months. The whole ‘empty seats’ accusations are ridiculous and statistics show that all clubs have experienced this phenomenon on occasion during the Premier League era.

Pre-match Activities

In recent years many night games played across football have seen light shows. Manchester City have established a few of these at the Etihad Stadium too. The spectacle has proved popular, particularly with young supporters who are perhaps experiencing a night match for the first time. For today’s subscriber piece I have written a 2000 word article on the history of pre-match entertainment at Manchester City. There are mentions of the St Joseph’s Industrial School and Beswick Prize Bands, various DJs, athletic challenges, Norman Wisdom, Frank Sidebottom & more. Enjoy:

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Incoming: Pep

On this day (1 February) in 2016 after increasing speculation from the media Manchester City announced that Pep Guardiola would succeed Manuel Pellegrini as their manager in the summer. The BBC’s Phil McNulty said at the time: “The combination of the charismatic Catalan’s coaching brilliance and the financial backing he will receive makes this a partnership the rest of football world could come to fear.”

Here’s the BBC Report from that day:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/35461090

Free Online Presentation on the Origins of MCFC – Today at 6pm

A reminder to all those who have signed up that today (Wednesday 1 February) at 6pm (UK time) I’ll be doing my presentation on the origins of Manchester City FC, focusing on St Mark’s & the club’s development prior to its re-birth as Ardwick AFC. This is a free event where I will explain how the club was born and developed. There are lots of myths out there, but I will be focusing on the facts and the latest research. 

A link will be sent to all those who have registered for the event beforehand. I added a final few places and so you may be able to join for this Zoom talk if you register asap via this link:

I will be presenting the facts and history of the birth of the club and its development in the West Gorton and Gorton areas of Manchester prior to 1887. Dispelling myths and revealing the latest research and evidence of what actually happened.

The link will be sent out shortly before the event is live to all those registered. Only those registered will be admitted into the video chat site. You must register here if you want to get involved.

The talk will last about 1 hour and will be online on zoom, so you should be able to access it anywhere.

History Talk – MCFC Away Days Now Live For Subscribers

On Wednesday 18 January I held a discussion about Manchester City FC away games. Subscribers can now listen to a recording of that talk here (it costs £20 a year to access everything on the site or £3 per month). The talk lasts about 1 hour so get yourself a brew and listen to the story of traveling away.

We talk about the train specials that the City Supporters Travel Club used to organise and their coaches too (remember number one coach with Helen ‘the Bell’ Turner?). Amongst the moments/subjects discussed were the history of travelling to away games; Trevor Francis’ debut; railway & coach specials; the experience of being an away fan; games at Notts County, Barnsley, Stoke, Bradford, Oldham, QPR, Leeds & more.  Thanks to all who participated in this for your efforts, especially Graham Ward, Roger Reade and the guys from the Lad & Dad Away Days podcast who all brought up their own memories of games.

The next History Talk will take place later today 1/2/23 at 6pm-7pm UK time. This will be more of a presentation and will be about the origins of Manchester City. You can register for that and find out more here:

Here’s the recording of the MCFC Away Days talk. This is for subscribers only:

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Jesus’ First

Today (1 February) in 2017 Gabriel Jesus scored his first Manchester City goal as the Blues defeated West Ham 4-0. The goals were from De Bruyne (17), David Silva (21), Jesus (39) and Toure (pen, 67) at the former London Olympic Stadium. Attendance 56,980. A few stats and reports from that day/the game here:

  • Gabriel Jesus became the first player to both score and assist a goal on their first Premier League start for Manchester City.
  • Jesus also became the second youngest Brazilian player to score his first Premier League goal (19yrs 304days), after Rafael for Manchester United in November 2008 (18yrs 122days).
  • David Silva scored his third away Premier League goal against West Ham – his highest tally of away goals against another opponent in the competition.
  • Yaya Toure has scored all 11 of his Premier League penalties – the best 100% record in the competition.
  • In his 50th Premier League game, Kevin de Bruyne recorded his 30th goal involvement in the competition (11 goals, 19 assists).
  • City have scored nine goals in two games in all competitions at London Stadium – just half the number West Ham have (18) in 17 games there.

Fifteen Points Clear

On this day (31 January) in 2018 Manchester City moved 15 points clear of their nearest rivals in the Premier League title race. You can watch highlights of the game with WBA (which City won 3-0) below:

https://www.mancity.com/citytv/match-highlights/2018/january/man-city-west-brom-video-highlights-extended

The scorers were Fernandinho, Aguero and De Bruyne. I was one of the 53,241 at the Etihad that day. Were you also at this match? If you were why not leave your memory as a comment or email it to me for possible future use on this website?

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