City Voices – Your Help Needed

My City Voices project was launched a couple of weeks ago. The project is looking to catalogue the stories and experiences of Manchester City fans through the decades. The aim is to capture as many different voices and experiences as possible to allow a detailed history of what being a Manchester City fan has been like throughout the years.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been a Blue for ninety years or nine; whether you come from the City Of Manchester or elsewhere – all views count and are of interest.

Over the three decades or so since I first started researching and writing about Manchester football I have been keen to record the experiences of fans. Back in the 1990s I recorded the stories of City supporters who could talk about the 1910s and attending games at Hyde Road. I know now that fans who can talk of specific moments at Hyde Road are no longer with us – time causes us to lose so many stories and voices. It is therefore vital we capture the stories of our family, friends and so on while we can.

If you would like to help this project then please see this page for details and the initial questionnaire: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/06/city-voices-project/

There will be a number of outputs from this project. It’s too early to say exactly what will be produced but I think most people know what usually follows when I embark on something like this.

Thanks to all those who have taken part so far. It is appreciated.

A Writing Flashback!

Recently, I’ve been sorting through some of the items my mum has kept over the years and I rediscovered my old Brother typewriter. My mum died during 2020 and it has been extremely tough at times for my dad and the family in general. I know a lot of people have experienced great sadness over the last year and my thoughts are with everyone who has suffered a tragedy during this time. It’s been a tough year. 

I thought I’d got rid of the typewriter many, many years ago and so seeing it brought back many memories. It reminded me of some of my earliest writing on football and so I thought I’d share on my blog the story of this typewriter. 

I bought this typewriter with the royalties from my first book – I can’t remember exactly how much it cost but I know I just about earned enough to pay for it. My first book was ‘From Maine Men To Banana Citizens’ (a pictorial history of Manchester City) which was published in April 1989. I’d handwritten that book! Fortunately, as it was a pictorial history there actually wasn’t much writing – just captions really.

As I’d handwritten the captions and posted them to the publisher there were times when they misread my writing. I had written the captions in capitals mainly, but my writing in whatever style is awful (at primary school my headteacher – an obsessed MUFC fan – used to tell me my writing was like a ‘drunken spider walking across the page’). Words like ‘the’ would occasionally read as ‘one’ to those unfamiliar with my poor writing. 

In From Maine Men to Banana Citizens some of my writing was misread and wasn’t picked up in the review process and so I know there are a few ‘one’s where ‘the’s should be (if you’ve got the book see if you can spot any!).

Once the book was published and I spotted these I knew I needed to get a typewriter. Once I’d received my royalties I bought my electric Brother typewriter. I bought a Brother typewriter because they were Manchester City’s sponsors at the time and I wanted my money to go to a company that supported people I approved of (and some think sponsorship doesn’t influence).

I was still living at my parents back then and I used the typewriter to write my sections of my second book The Pride of Manchester (co-written with Steve Cawley). This book told the story of the Manchester derby and we could every friendly and competitive game from 1880 through to publication in 1991. As the book was really a game by game story of the derby I would type a page or so at a time and the typewriter meant it wasn’t too laborious – the laborious aspect was the in-depth research. 

The book was published in 1991 by which time I was already researching and writing my third book – Football With A Smile: The Authorised Biography of Joe Mercer, OBE. I soon realised that due to the volume of writing each chapter needed and the amount of times I’d changed the flow/tone of each chapter that using a typewriter was proving to be time consuming. I decided that I needed to buy something different. My Pride Of Manchester co-author Steve owned an Amstrad PCW and this seemed to offer more flexibility.

I then used the royalties from my second book to buy an Amstrad PCW like Steve’s. It cost me about the same amount my typewriter had cost and my royalties had once again been spent – I soon realised that it was nigh on impossible to make money from writing about football!

The Amstrad PCW did make my writing life easier (until of course I could afford a PC – from the combined royalties of my Joe Mercer book AND my fourth book, Manchester The Greatest City, published in 1997!) although I had a problem with a damaged Amstrad disk which meant I lost the entire first chapter of the Mercer book. I’d been crafting it for weeks trying to get it right and then my own stupidity meant the disk became damaged. I couldn’t bear to start again – and I hadn’t backed it up (first major lesson!) – and so I wrote the rest of the book before I came back to chapter one. When I did write the new chapter one I knew (and still know) that it is not as good as the one I lost.

When I moved out of my parents’ house I took my Amstrad PCW as I was still writing the Mercer book but I must have left behind the Brother typewriter. I don’t remember ever seeing it after that until I rediscovered it the other week, almost 30 years after I last used it.

When Covid allows I’ll take the Brother typewriter to a charity shop and, hopefully, it will find a new life for itself. It served its purpose back in 1989-91 but maybe there’s still a bit of life left in it.

Who knows how many Amstrads, PCs, Apple products and so on I’ve been through since I bought my brother. Most are long gone, but somehow the Brother survived.

Match Fixing – Manchester United v Liverpool: A Long Read

Liverpool and Manchester United meet this weekend (17th January 2021) in the Premier League. It’s a game that throughout the modern era has been played between two major clubs, hoping for success. This has not always been the case of course and in 1914-15 a notorious game between the two teams was deemed to be fixed.

Why and how has been debated for years but here, for the benefit of subscribers to http://www.GJFootballArchive.com I spell out the full story of the game and the investigations that followed. Some of what follows is astounding, but it’s all factually correct and based on contemporary material and detailed research.

The following article contains over 4,000 words plus a photograph from the game.

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FA Cup success, football infrastructure and the establishment of Manchester’s footballing identity – FREE DOWNLOAD FOR LIMITED PERIOD

Great news! Following the recent purchase of the original design FA Cup by Sheikh Mansour and my appearance on Football Focus, my academic article on the significance of that success to Manchester has been made free to download for a limited period.

Please use this link to access the academic website and article:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14660970.2014.961378

The Manchester City video I contributed to can also be viewed here:

https://www.mancity.com/citytv/mens/manchesters-first-trophy-1904-fa-cup-documentary-63745781

More on 1903-04 for subscribers here:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/01/08/manchesters-first-great-season/

Manchester’s First Major Trophy Success – The Video

Following the purchase of the oldest surviving FA Cup by Sheikh Mansour I helped Manchester City with the story of the cup and its significance to Manchester. They’ve produced a video telling the story and it can be viewed here:

https://www.mancity.com/citytv/mens/manchesters-first-trophy-1904-fa-cup-documentary-63745781

For more on the significance of this FA Cup trophy check out the category 1903-04 in the drop down list below.

The origins debate – how soccer triumphed over other forms of team sports in Manchester

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Manchester’s Footballing Pioneers, 1863–1904: A Collective Biography

ABSTRACT: Association football had become a prominent part of Manchester’s sporting landscape by 1904 when Manchester achieved its first national success. Its journey had been difficult, relying on the efforts of several key individuals whose relentless determination to widen the sport’s participation ensured the game succeeded. This paper provides an analysis of three pioneering figures, John Nall, Fitzroy Norris, and Joshua Parlby, who took the game from its formalized inception in the region through to its first national successes, considering their class, experience, shared history, and connections, while analyzing what these narratives add to the wider origins of football debate. The author concludes that football’s emergence depended primarily on the activities of key individuals from varying backgrounds who provided the energy, enthusiasm, and organizational structures necessary, while relying on cross-class connections, to establish the game within a region.

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The Origins of School Football Associations: Manchester as a Case Study


Abstract

This paper will focus on the origins and subsequent development of school football in Manchester and its surrounding conurbation between 1880 and 1919. Archival evidence, drawing mainly on the Manchester Schools Football Association (MSFA) collection, will be used to chronicle the expansion of organized competition and sporting opportunities. It will demonstrate that football’s growth in Manchester’s education system owed much to dedicated teachers who encouraged participation at their own schools and organized inter-school competitions. Association football became prominent right across Manchester as young teachers, most notably George Sharples, encouraged pupils to play, leading to a widening of participation and interest that helps to explain how Manchester transitioned from a rugby to a soccer city. Also discussed is the important role of the Manchester and Salford Playing Fields Society (MSPFS) which assisted the game’s growth in schools and amongst schoolchildren more generally by making suitable fields and pitches available. Without the Society’s efforts facilities may have been insufficient to satisfy growing demand at a critical point in soccer’s development.

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Establishing women in sports history: Manchester City Football Club

ABSTRACT

This paper provides an overview of an oral history project focusing on the experiences of female footballers, in particular those playing for Manchester City Women since its formation as a community initiative in 1988, through to its modern-day position as a leading Women’s Super League club. It discusses the development of the project, analysis of the methodology employed and provides high-level findings on the club’s history, the participants and the research process. For too long female participation, even at England’s most famous clubs, has not been widely recognised, reported on or understood. This project, supported by a professional football club, begins to address these omissions. It does so by focusing on personal testimonies, together with archive material to generate an historical account of how a team, established as a community initiative, developed into a major trophy-winning club.

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FA Cup success, football infrastructure and the establishment of Manchester’s footballing identity

ABSTRACT: Contemporary Manchester is recognized internationally as a footballing city, with both Manchester United and Manchester City acknowledged as prominent clubs. However, the city has not always been a force in the game, nor has the game always been important across Manchester’s social spectrum. This paper examines how Manchester first became established as a footballing city, identify- ing that success in the FA Cup in 1904 stimulated interest in the game and con- siders how the legacy of that victory enabled the game to develop in terms of participation and spectating. It also considers the social mix of attendees at pro- fessional games in the city, and closes by concluding that footballing success generated increased interest and was the catalyst for improvement in the infra- structure for both participation and attendance, enabling Manchester’s footballing identity to become established.

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