Scandals, Investigations… We’ve Been Here Before!

‘The punishment was the largest ever inflicted, wiping out an entire team, its directors and one of the most charismatic managers of the period.’

‘The League met and representatives of each club voted in favour of the punishment meted out to us being enforced. And while their representatives were passing this pious resolution most of them had other representatives busy trying to persuade the “villains whose punishment had been so well deserved” to sign for them under conditions very much better in most cases than the ones we had been ruled by at Hyde Road.’

These quotes are connected with investigations into Manchester City over 100 years ago when the FA considered the Blues to be a ‘nouveau riche’ club despite incredible support etc. Back then certain clubs who were regarded as the aristocracy of football (that included Aston Villa and Everton back then) were somewhat dissatisfied that Manchester City had come from foundation as MCFC in 1894 to FA Cup winners and League runners up within a decade. Lots of investigations followed with some determined to kill off this challenger. This all sound familiar? Well 118 years ago the largest punishment ever inflicted, wiping out an entire team, its directors and one of the most charismatic managers of the period was imposed on the club.

Below for subscribers is a 4,500 word article written on the topic by me. This is an academic piece, focusing on the facts and was written for an academic publication, not something club specific. The article considers the investigation, the ban and its long terms impact on Manchester football, where Manchester City’s first golden era came to an end but Manchester United’s first golden era followed. A truly transformational period in Manchester’s football story and essential reading for anyone looking at precedents or wanting to understand how football in the city was shaped.

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Manchester’s First Major Trophy Success

It’s the return of the FA Cup tonight with Manchester United facing Everton. It’s always worth reminding ourselves of the significance of the FA Cup to Manchester and the story of Manchester’s first major trophy success. The captain and goalscorer of the first triumph by Manchester in 1904 was the great Billy Meredith. In 2021 following the purchase of the oldest surviving FA Cup by Sheikh Mansour (to loan to the National Football Museum) 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 Great Billy Meredith

101 years ago today the great Billy Meredith returned to Manchester City from Manchester United. This was the third time the legendary Welsh player had joined the Blues – a club he continued to watch and support until his death in 1958. I discussed his life and career with his daughter Winifred (who was 98 at the time) and his grandson Ian Pringle many years ago and they both talked fondly and passionately about his Manchester City connections.

Here for subscribers is a detailed profile of Billy Meredith I wrote about 17 years ago. It appeared in my Hall Of Fame book. Enjoy….

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The Death Of Jimmy Ross

One of the earliest stars of League Football died on this day (12th June) in 1902. Jimmy Ross, who was a major figure for almost three seasons with Manchester City and had competed in every season of League football since the League was established in 1888, died with an illness described as “an acute skin disease and a raging fever.”

Ross was one of the Preston ‘Invincibles’ in 1888-89 and also scored 7 (sometimes reported as 8) against Hyde in the famous FA Cup record breaking game (read more on that game here: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/22/hyde-v-preston-a-record-breaking-day/ ).

At the time of his death Ross was a Manchester City player. His last first team appearance was appropriately against Preston North End in the First Round of the F.A. Cup in January 1902.  

City helped his mother, whom he was looking after at the time of his death, financially.  They also arranged the funeral and he was buried at Southern Cemetery (according to newspaper reports of the time he was buried in a grave that contained another City player – Bride – who had died a couple of years earlier). Several City players/personalities carried the coffin, including Billy Meredith.

More can be read on Ross’ life here:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/?p=1799

On This Day: Manchester’s First Major Trophy Success

On this day in 1904 (23 April) Manchester found its first major trophy success. The captain and goalscorer was the great Billy Meredith. Last year, following the purchase of the oldest surviving FA Cup by Sheikh Mansour (to loan to the National Football Museum) 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.

Historic Name That Ground – Week 21 Answer

On Monday I asked if you could name this ground. I said: ‘I know it’s a tough one BUT… there’s a reason I’ve chosen this week to post this image plus eagle-eyed visitors to this site may notice that I have actually used part of this image before in connection with another story. So where is it?’ The answer is…

Manchester City’s old Hyde Road ground. So did you work out why I’ve posted the image this week and what the previous story I’d used part of this image for was in connection with? Well this equivalent week in 1920 saw the stand featured being built. This is the only known surviving photo of Hyde Road’s temporary Main Stand built in the week following the Hyde Road fire.

The Main Stand was destroyed on the night of the November 6 by fire and, after attempts to move to United’s Old Trafford failed as a result of United demanding an exorbitant rent. For the full story of this see this chapter of Manchester A Football History (available with the rest of the book as a download for subscribers):

Manchester A Football History part 13

City didn’t think the rent was fair (neither did the media – again see that chapter of Manchester A Football History) and so they decided to soldier on at Hyde Road. A new stand – the one seen from the back here – was constructed using wood.

So, what about the previous story part of the image was used for? That was a piece about Billy Meredith returning to City in July 1921. Meredith is the player on the far right and this photo was taken to show him back at Manchester City.

Watch out for another Historic Name That Ground on Monday.

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Manchester’s First Great Season

“Not a little of the success the City club has achieved is due to the indefatigable labours of the secretary, Mr T.E. Maley, who came to Manchester three years ago, when the City were in the Second Division.  He brought to his duties valuable experience gained with the famous Celtic club, and he has had the benefit of being a player, a club official, a legislator, and a selector.  His splendid services to the City are reflected in the position they at present occupy – the holders of the English Cup – the most coveted of football prizes, and one of the leading clubs in the League.”The Manchester Evening Chronicle, 12 November 1904

This season became Manchester’s first major trophy-winning season. It established the city’s trophy-winning heritage and it helped transform Manchester from a rugby playing city to a footballing one. Every Mancunian needs to know the story of this season. The following 10,000 word article tells the story of that season.

If you would like to read the full article and other pieces like this then please subscribe below. It works out about £1.67 a month if you take out an annual subscription (£20 per year) or £3 a month if you’d like to sign up for a month at a time. Each subscriber gets full access to the hundreds of articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming months.

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Billy Meredith’s Last Game: 1924 FA Cup Semi

On this day (29th March) in 1924 Manchester City faced Newcastle United in the FA Cup semi-final. Not only that but the game was to be the last competitive game played by City’s legendary winger Billy Meredith. Meredith’s Manchester career began in 1894 when he joined City.

Here for subscribers is the story of that game, plus a contemporary match report and links to a film of Meredith’s last game. Enjoy!

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Manchester City V Brighton – The Story And Film Of The First Ever Meeting

Tomorrow (13th January 2021) Manchester City and Brighton meet in the Premier League. So far there have only been 24 games between the two clubs with the first coming in 1924. This game was a newsworthy FA Cup tie due to the return of a legend to the City team. In fact it was so newsworthy that a movie company sent their camera (you’ll see from the footage it never moved!) to Brighton’s Goldstone Ground to capture the return of a true Blue hero.

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Football Focus, Colin Bell and the 1904 FA Cup’s Significance

There was an absolutely brilliant, emotional tribute to Colin Bell on the BBC’s Football Focus yesterday by ‘James Bond’ actor and MCFC fan Timothy Dalton. Everyone should watch it. It really was a nice piece.

Plus I was surprised to see myself later in the programme talking about Manchester City and the recent purchase of the FA Cup they won in 1904. The reason I was surprised is that I filmed the piece for MCFC and didn’t think the BBC would bother showing me and would just focus on the trophy itself.

I was delighted it appeared because it was so important the story of the significance of that trophy to Manchester is fully known. It was the point when Manchester became a Footballing City.

The BBC Iplayer has the episode available for the next 6 days. Watch it while you can:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000r753/football-focus-09012021