Charles’ Investiture

I was recently asked by Tony Whiston on Twitter about a memory he had of Manchester City playing a game to mark the investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince Of Wales in 1969. The answer to the query is:

The investiture was on 1st July I believe and on 18th of that month City played a Carnarvon select XI, drawing 1-1 before 3,000. Bell scored for City.

The City starting 11 was: Dowd, Book, Pardoe, Doyle, Booth, Oakes, Summerbee, Bell, Lee, Young & Coleman.

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On This Day: A European Cup First for Manchester City

On this day (18 September) in 1968 Manchester City’s first European Cup fixture against Fenerbahce ended goalless at Maine Road.  You can read about that game here:

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Royal Reactions (part one)

I’m sure we’ve all been watching some of the television coverage following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. With so much air time to fill we’ve often had angles put forward and debated for a few minutes or hours on TV and radio. So I thought it was time I put one (or two – part two will go into detail about royal visits to Manchester City) of my own on my website. Here goes… Someone asked me the other day about how Manchester City reacted in terms of performance in the days/weeks/months after a monarch’s death. So, if you’ve been desperate to find out, or are more likely to think ‘go on then, I’ll stick with it a bit longer’, here’s the answer:

Since Manchester City was established in the 19th Century there have been two British Queens and now five Kings. Detailed below are a few snippets from each of their reigns which may or may not be of interest. I’ll start with Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria was on the throne throughout the birth of League football until her death in January 1901. These were the years when professional football developed and Victoria died only 9 years after the club had joined the League as Ardwick.

Major Trophies Won: No major trophies were won by City during Victoria’s reign but they did win the Second Division title in 1899 – the first national success of either Manchester club. The last complete season of her life saw City compete in the top flight for the first time. the first game after her death was a 2-1 defeat at Stoke.

King Edward VII was on the throne from January 1901 through to May 1910. He died in the close season as City were about to go on tour to Germany and Denmark. During Edward’s life City won the FA Cup in 1904 (Manchester’s first major trophy) and were runners up in the League that season.

King George V was the first monarch to visit a Manchester City game when he attended a 1920 League game between City and Liverpool at Hyde Road. During his reign City won the FA Cup in 1934 and George was present for that final. City had also appeared in two other finals and had finished 2nd in the League in 1920. He died in January 1936 and the following weekend’s FA Cup games went ahead as scheduled. Over 65,000 watched City defeat Luton 2-1 at Maine Road.

King Edward VIII was only on the throne for about nine months and abdicated in December 1936. City had finished ninth in the only season completed during his reign but the 1936-37 was to be a spectacular one, though the part of the season before his abdication was not so great for the Blues.

King George VI became King on the abdication of his brother and City were to go on an incredible run shortly afterwards. A couple of defeats came within a fortnight of him taking on the role but other than those City were undefeated for the rest of the season. An incredible run of 22 games unbeaten brought City the League title in 1937.

As the Duke of York George had attended the 1933 FA Cup final and had also attended a game at Maine Road that year too. George died in February 1952. The following weekend’s games were not postponed and City drew a goalless match with Blackpool.

Queen Elizabeth II became Queen in 1952 and during her reign City have found major success time and time again. Within 3 years of her becoming Queen she attended Wembley to watch City face Newcastle in the 1955 FAC final. Newcastle won that (their last major domestic trophy) but the year after she was at Wembley again to see City beat Birmingham in the Trautmann Final. Since then City have found major glory in the League and in Europe. Their trophy haul under Elizabeth includes:

1 European Cup Winners’ Cup

7 League titles

4 FA Cups

8 League Cups

City have won 1 trophy approximately every 3.5 years of her reign. When she died games were postponed the following weekend.

King Charles III – Of course it’s too early to say what success arrives during his reign.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this slightly odd football article. There’ll be a second part published next week. Watch this space. While you’re here why not explore the rest of the website. Thanks

On This Day: Bowles

Stan Bowles scored twice on his League debut as Manchester City beat Sheffield United 5-2 on this day (16 September) in 1967.  Three days earlier he also scored twice as the Blues defeated Leicester 4-0 in the League Cup – Bowles came on as substitute in his debut game.  Despite this tremendous start, Bowles never scored again for City and only made a total of 16 (plus 4 sub) appearances.

On This Day in 1976: Juventus

On this day (15 September) in 1976 Manchester City defeated Italian giants Juventus 1-0 at Maine Road in the UEFA Cup.  A crowd of 36,955 watched Brian Kidd net the only goal. You can read about the game and watch highlights here:

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All Star Games

This week the new Chelsea owner Todd Boehly has been roundly criticised by former footballers, managers and the media for suggesting that the Premier League introduces an ‘All-Star’ game. His suggestion was based on similar games in the States and he hinted that a North v South All-Star game could raise money for the football pyramid. He suggested that English football could learn a lot from America and came up with other ideas too. His views were presented across the media in a way that implied ‘here’s an American coming over here to tell us how to run our sport that’s done okay for the last 150 years.’ However, had he framed his All-Star game along the lines of English tradition rather than along the lines of American pizzazz then he may have been listened to.

As a historian it irks me when people talk of a new idea, or bringing something different, when the truth is that these things have existed for decades – or even centuries! It frustrates me even more when ideas are then criticised with people commenting along the lines of ‘you can’t do that here. You and your American ways. We’d never do that’ and so on when we have actually done that – and done it well too!

Personally, I’m not in favour of representative All-Star games as a regular fixture. We have Soccer Aid and that’s well-established and a great piece of entertainment, but representative League games are something else. There isn’t really room in the football calendar and so I’d worry about that but, as a historian, I know that these types of games have existed in English football since the 1890s and I also know they were immensely popular at times. 

Had Boehly done a bit of football research or talked to a football historian they may well have helped him present the same sort of idea in a more sensible, traditional manner. Likewise, had Jamie Carragher or any of the others criticising him done some research or consultation with a historian they may also have been able to talk about how these things existed in the past. 

So what am I going on about? I’m talking about the original ‘All-Star’ games that existed in English football – The Football League representative teams. These were established in 1891 to raise money for the Football League to carry out its duties – in effect similar aims to Boehly’s. The first representative game was the League against the Alliance League – so not a geographical All-Star match but certainly along similar lines. That was played on 20 April 1891 at Sheffield and the Football League side contained six Scottish players and one Welshman, plus English players. 

The year after the Football League played the Scottish League for the first in a long series of games between the leagues. Four Scottish players played for the League against Scotland.

Another game was played that year that is even more closely aligned with what Boehly has suggested – The Midlands v The North. There have been other representative games, such as the North v the South, some organised by the League some by other bodies such as the FA. A North v South representative game had been in existence from 1880. There’s lots more history to discuss, including the role of some of these type of fixtures in the selection of the English national team, but suffice to say these types of games have been in existence for a long time. Here’s a report of North v South from 1891:

So, again, had Boehly been aware of the history his suggestion could easily have been framed in a different manner. I wonder how people would have reacted had he said something like: ‘I’ve been studying English football and am fascinated by the representative and inter-league games that saw footballers from multiple clubs with varying nationalities play together. These began in the 1890s and were immensely popular with fans, raising money for the management of the game and helping ease the burden on less fortunate clubs. I’d like to bring back that tradition and believe they’d be popular again. Imagine De Bruyne playing alongside Salah and Ronaldo?’ 

From the 1890s these representative League fixtures grew in frequency and, as well as the Scottish League, other leagues were added. The Irish League became a regular opponent and there were games against the Southern League, the Army, Glasgow and the national leagues of Belgium, Italy and the Republic of Ireland (as well as the Irish Football League). There were combined Wales & Ireland teams, British league opponents and a Rest of the World game. The Football League representative team played their Italian equivalents on no less than 13 occasions.

There were also representative games between regions, including a series of Third Division North v Third Division South in the 1950s, though these were separate divisions of the League so more like inter-League games, nevertheless they are another precedent.

Over the decades these inter-league games faded, mainly due to fixture congestion, but one-offs appeared such as against a World XI to mark the centenary of the League in 1988. 

So there are historical precedents within English league football. Personally, I’d still worry about fixture congestion if something like this was re-introduced but I have to say that the criticism of the idea really should have been framed differently. Criticise the idea because of fixture congestion or worries about players, but don’t criticise it as a ‘coming over here telling us to introduce something American into our game’ when it’s actually an English concept that goes back to the early days of League football in our country. 

The great German goalkeeper Bert Trautmann often talked of his pride of playing for the Football League in one of these representative games in 1960. He had been prevented from playing for his national team due to football politics of the era but appearing for the Football League in what would now be termed an ‘All-Star’ game was a major honour. By the way, the game was described as ‘a star-studded’ match, so similar wording to Boehly too! No doubt there are many players today who would feel the same as Trautmann did if they don’t ordinarily get the chance to play for a national team in a high profile match.

Another German Jurgen Klopp, the manager of Liverpool, was dismissive of Boehly’s idea and seemed to suggest that players from rival teams like United, Liverpool and Everton couldn’t play in the same team, which is odd considering they can and do play in international matches together when they are supposed to be representing their country. Here’s what Klopp said:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/av/football/62900364

I don’t agree with Boehly’s ideas but dismissing them, in the manner some have is wrong too. His idea is not a new one, it was a part and parcel of league football for over a century. I also can’t help feeling that a modern generation of fans may actually enjoy seeing the best of the Premier League against the best of the Italian/Spanish/German Leagues if these fixtures occurred. Maybe some would prefer to see representative League teams instead of international games? If Boehly had suggested that he’d be condemned further but they’ve happened in the past.

Here’s film of a 1905 inter-league game played at Manchester City’s Hyde Road ground in 1905:

https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-england-v-ireland-at-manchester-1905-1905-online

As a final word I’d like to say that if you’re a football director, official, manager, player or a member of the media please consult a football historian if you have an idea or want to criticised an idea. Most things in football are not new. We pretend they are to gain headlines or to present ourselves as forward thinking, or as guardians of the game. The truth is that knowing and understanding football history, whether that be our own clubs or the game in general, allows us to make informed decisions and comments. Most football historians are keen to help so please call on this resource and let’s have sensible discussion or let’s make informed suggestions of how to improve the sport we love.

On This Day in 2003: Anelka

On this day (14 September) in 2003 two penalties from Nicolas Anelka helped Manchester City to their first League victory at the City Of Manchester Stadium (now Etihad Stadium).  The match with Aston Villa ended 4-1 and it also saw Anelka score the first hat-trick at the new stadium and the first penalty.

You can watch about ten minutes of highlights here:

On this day in 1972

On this day (13 September 1972) Manchester City drew 2-2 at home to Valencia in City’s first UEFA Cup tie.  The City scorers were Ian Mellor and Rodney Marsh. You can read more about that game here:

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You can read other articles about Rodney Marsh here:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/tag/rodney-marsh/