Eleven Years On: 2011 FA Cup

Had we all been allowed to attend matches last season I would have marked the tenth anniversary of Manchester City’s 2011 FA Cup success with a programme feature. Sadly, Covid prevented that and now, a year on, I want to commemorate the eleventh anniversary of that FA Cup success. How time flies!

There are so many angles to that first major success of the modern era for Manchester City and it is impossible to cover them all here. Elsewhere on this website I talk about the 2011 FA Cup run, especially that semi-final win over Manchester United. If you’ve not heard it have a listen to this:

Today I’ll focus on the final itself…

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Manchester City Women’s First FA Cup Final

Manchester City Women’s (then as Manchester City Ladies) first FA Cup tie was a 7-2 defeat at Robin Park, Wigan on 17 September 1989. This was only the second competitive game ever played by the club and came less than a year after formation. Since then, apart from a couple of seasons in the 1990s when the Blues decided not to enter, City have been regular competitors in the competition. In September 1999 City achieved their record score in the competition: 26-0 v Norton, WFA Cup Extra Preliminary Round and on this day (May 13) in 2017 they reached the FA Cup final for the first time.

Here for subscribers is the story of that final as told by those involved and those who were there… as documented in Manchester City Women: An Oral History – get your copy here if you don’t want to subscribe to this site:

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Bury’s FA Cup Successes

Bury Football Club was the first in the wider Manchester region to find major success. In 1900 they won the FA Cup, defeating Southampton 4-0 in the final and in 1903 they won the competition again by defeating Derby county by a record 6-0 scoreline (this was equalled by Manchester City’s FAC final victory over Watford in 2019).

Subscribers can read about Bury’s successes in this article:

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‘Where do you want your statue?’

In November 2020 I was delighted to be one of the speakers at a blue plaque unveiling for former Manchester City boss Joe Mercer in his home town of Ellesmere Port. It set me off thinking about permanent tributes to footballers and so for this article I’m taking a look at the tributes already made and questioning what else could be developed.

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A Million on the Streets of Manchester

On this day (May 1st) in 1934 Manchester City, who had won the FA Cup for the second time in their history, took part in an incredible home coming parade.

Deservedly Manchester took time out to celebrate and what seemed like the whole of Manchester lined the city’s streets.  The authoritative Pathe News claimed there were over a million on the streets.  The film company was not known for exaggeration and if that figure is accurate – and their footage suggests it is – then this remains the largest homecoming in Mancunian football history (It was claimed in 1999 that 700,000 people had welcomed Manchester United’s treble winning team through the streets).  

Various speeches were made into a microphone set up on the Town Hall steps (the BBC were broadcasting this live on radio), and the players and officials were given a civic reception. Mancunians enjoyed the success and wanted more.  

In Albert Square Mancunians sang their celebratory songs including “Who Said City Couldn’t Play” – the earliest known recording of a City specific song:

Who Said City Couldn’t Play,

City Couldn’t Play, City Couldn’t Play,

Who Said City Couldn’t Play,

City Couldn’t Play football?

You can hear a recording of the song and read more about it here:

Who Said City Couldn’t Play?

The 1933-4 League programme still had two games left for the Blues.  On 2nd May – the day after the parade – City suffered a 3-2 defeat at Liverpool, and then on 5th May City demolished Wolves 4-0 at Maine Road. Before the game City staff, assisted by a couple of police officers, carried the trophy around the ground on some kind of wooden board.  The fans were delighted.

During a week of FA Cup celebrations an illuminated bus journeyed around the city covered in City’s colours.  On the front above the bus number, ‘City 2 1’, was the Manchester coat of arms.  On the side the message ‘Welcome to the victors’ proudly illuminated next to a picture of the FA Cup and a drawing of Sam Cowan.  

You can see film of this illuminated ‘Victory Bus’, preserved by the North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University, here (the bus can be seen after 5 mins 38 seconds but other scenes connected with the homecoming can be viewed after about 3 minutes):

https://www.nwfa.mmu.ac.uk/viewVideo.php?token=2495agw5666w7h114804aP5nxZYm4638b49Hq2dw

You can view Pathe’s coverage of the homecoming here (the commentary is a bit cringeworthy but listen out for comment about a million people on the streets; the scenes certainly suggest there was too):

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The 1934 FA Cup Final

Manchester City had reached their second consecutive FA Cup final in 1934. They were to face Portsmouth at Wembley on April 28 1934.

Here for subscribers is a long read on City’s preparations for the final and the game itself:

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The Poznan

The experience of attending a football match isn’t just about seeing great football (but I love those of us who support Manchester City have been blessed with that over the last few years of course!), it’s about what happens in the stands and around the stadium. Fan culture has been something that has mattered to me for decades and I love the atmosphere and mood around watching City.

City fans have had a great reputation for their humour and their ability to add something different to the match day experience. From the 1890s when fans would bring musical instruments and wear fancy dress to City games at the Blues’ Hyde Road ground, through to the 1980s banana craze and on to recent years, attending City games has always been more than simply watching a match.

So for today’s subscriber piece I want to talk about something that swept the club in 2010-11 that has this season been making steps towards returning en masse at the stadium. That is The Poznan! 

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The 1969 FA Cup Final

On April 26 1969 Manchester City defeated Leicester City in the FA Cup final. It is worth pausing to consider how the Blues compared to football’s other successful sides in the competition at this point.  City’s four FA Cup successes placed them behind Aston Villa (7), Blackburn Rovers (6), Newcastle United (6), Tottenham Hotspur (5), The Wanderers (5) and West Bromwich Albion (5).  Bolton, Sheffield United and Wolves had, like City, each won four FA Cups, while Manchester United had only won three, Liverpool one and Chelsea had not yet won the trophy.  In fact Chelsea had only won one major trophy (the League Championship) at this point in their history.  

Here for subscribers is a long read on that final and the events surrounding it:

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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.

Manchester City V Ipswich Town FA Cup semi-final

On this day (April 11) in 1981 John Bond’s Manchester City faced Bobby Robson’s Ipswich in the FA Cup semi-final. Here’s a piece I wrote for the Times a few years back on the significance of the game for both teams.

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