On this day (24th February) in 1899 the great Jimmy Ross signed for Manchester City. Ross was one of football’s leading names and earliest heroes when he played for the famous Preston side that won the League and Cup double of 1889. He had scored an incredible eight goals when Preston beat Hyde 26-0 in the record breaking F.A. Cup tie of 15th October 1887 – a game in which the referee is reputed to have lost his watch and allowed play to last two hours! (you can read about that game here: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/22/hyde-v-preston-a-record-breaking-day/ ).
In addition, he was the Football League’s top scorer in 1890 (24 goals), and was quite a character.
He signed for Manchester City from Burnley for a reported £50 after previously captaining Liverpool to promotion. He had also played for the Football League.
At City he was influential from the start. He netted an incredible seven goals in the final nine games of the 1898-99 season (his first nine games at City too!) brought the Division Two title for the first time – this was the first national success of either of Manchester’s professional clubs.
Years later the legendary Billy Meredith, looking back on his City days, remembered Ross with great affection: “I must confess that Ross will always be my favourite hero. He was good at everything he put his hand to and what he didn’t know about football wasn’t worth knowing. At billiards and card games he was an expert. Though he must have been thirty-four at least when he joined us, he was able to win seventy yards handicaps with ease and did so. He could talk like a lawyer and on and off the pitch his comic sayings had us in stitches.”
Today many of the heroes of football’s earliest years as a professional sport are forgotten and in Manchester’s case people often talk about Meredith as if he was the first and only hero in the city. But Jimmy Ross was a major figure and he was absolutely essential in City’s early development. Without him they may not have achieved that first Second Division title success. He helped develop Meredith into a star and should never be forgotten.
The leading sports newspaper of the day, the Athletic News, often praised Ross. When the club was making its first steps in the top flight the newspaper talked of City’s right sided players and stressed the importance of Ross and of course Meredith: “For real brilliance the right wing took the biscuit….In fact, there are few, if any, better men at outside right (Meredith). His partner, the veteran Ross, of whom it is predicted every season that he has had his day, is in reality taking a second lease of footballing life, despite the paucity of head-covering, and as a wing the two will cause some trouble”.
At one point a newspaper article claimed that Meredith was absolutely brilliant when he was being well served by Ross but when the going got tough, Meredith disappeared. It seems that at this stage in the Welshman’s career he needed the experienced Jimmy Ross more than Ross needed him. One article claimed that Meredith: “doesn’t like donkey-work and if his partner is off, Meredith is off too.”
By the end of the 1901-02 season it looked as if Ross and Meredith, despite Ross’ age, would go on forever. Sadly, tragedy struck in 1902. Ross died on 12th June that year after an illness described as “an acute skin disease and a raging fever.”
Ross’ last appearance was appropriately against Preston North End in the First Round of the F.A. Cup in January 1902. Ross died of an infectious skin condition. City helped his mother, whom he was looking after at the time of his death, financially. They also arranged the funeral.
Ross helped Meredith develop and over time the legend of Meredith grew, while Ross’ name has slowly faded. This is a major shame as Ross’ influence on Preston, Liverpool and City’s development is immense. Ross helped City establish their name at a time when Meredith was not quite the finished article. So many players have been described as legends in the decades that have followed. Many of them become forgotten over time, but it is important that once in a while we pause and remember those players.
Today let’s think about Jimmy Ross and remember him as one of the men who made Manchester City.
Why not now read about the game when Ross played for Preston against Hyde? It already appears on my blog here:
Back in 1978-79 Manchester City had reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup by beating Milan (2-2 at the San Siro and 3-0 at Maine Road). It was the first time City had reached the quarter finals of a European trophy since 1971 and was to be their third appearance in a major European quarter final. Unfortunately, the January UEFA draw wasn’t kind as it paired City with top German side Borussia Mönchengladbach.
With West Bromwich Albion, Hertha, Duisberg, Dukla Prague, Honved and Red Star Belgrade all through the Blues had hoped for one of the less powerful sides. Nevertheless, the Blues were hopeful. Years later City player Kenny Clements told me: “We thrashed Milan at Maine Road in the second leg and I felt we’d made our mark as a European power. Everybody was talking about us, and we should have progressed further but we messed up.”
How they messed up became part of the ‘Typical City’ DNA of the club that always seemed to plague the Blues in the late 70s to 2010s (and occasionally has reared its head since then but thankfully not that often these days).
The first leg of the quarter final occurred on 7th March 1979, before a 39,005 crowd at Maine Road and the City team was: Corrigan; Donachie, Power, Reid, Watson, Booth, Channon, Viljoen, Kidd, Hartford & Barnes.
Believe it or not (this may surprise a modern audience but leading clubs often did what I’m about to say) Liverpool, in particular Bob Paisley, had spent considerable time helping the Blues prepare for this match by providing vital information on the West German side. Liverpool had faced Mönchengladbach on five occasions, the most famous was the 1977 European Cup final and the most recent being in the 1978 European Cup semi-final. Paisley told City that the game would be tough, and outlined the players to watch. He also suggested that Dave Watson and Tommy Booth might be the key men in City’s side as the Germans seemed to lack ability to attack the ball in the air.
In the 1977 European Cup final, Liverpool had defeated Mönchengladbach by playing to the strengths of players like Tommy Smith and Paisley felt City should do the same. The first leg saw Malcolm Allison, who had returned to the Blues in January as the self-styled ‘coaching overlord’, perform one of his many shock moves when Nicky Reid was thrust in to the spotlight at the age of 18 for his debut. Allison selected him to mark Allan Simonsen. It was an amazing selection at the time, but Reid did enough to justify Allison’s bold move.
Mike Channon, who was rumoured to be unhappy at the Club, managed to give the Blues a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, the highly disciplined Mönchengladbach kept the pressure on and managed to snatch an equaliser and the often vital away goal.
The second leg of the tie took place 13 days later, on 20th March 1979 watched by around 30,000. The City team was: Corrigan; Donachie, Power, Viljoen, Watson, Booth, Channon, Reid (Deyna), Henry, Hartford & Barnes
Nicky Reid retained his place for the second leg (but still didn’t make his League debut until eleven days later when he scored against Ipswich). He was clearly a talented player but his arrival in the heat of European competition without even making an appearance in the League did raise many questions about the way Malcolm Allison was influencing things. Reid went on to captain the Blues to the FA Youth Cup final the following May, and was voted City’s young player of the year.
Malcolm Allison made yet another surprise selection as Tony Henry – another reserve who up to that point had only featured in two League game (once being substituted by Kenny Clements, once coming on for Asa Hartford) – was included while experienced European campaigners Deyna, Bell, and Kidd were left on the bench with Paul Futcher.
It was not a good night at all for City and having so much experience on the bench seemed baffling to fans, the media and also most of the players. City were very much the underdogs throughout and were losing 3-0 when, late on, Reid was substituted by Deyna. The experienced Pole provided City’s only goal of the match, but it was too late and City were out of Europe.
Kenny Clements later explained to me: “I broke my leg a few weeks after Milan so that made life a bit difficult for me, but the big problem was the return of Malcolm Allison. I know he was a great coach first time at City, but second time he really did ruin everything. All the older players told me it’d be great having him back, and then when he was back they all admitted they were wrong. I think he’d become too hung up on new ideas that he forgot about the basics. I remember he used to give us homework. He’d tell us to go home and write “I must win” or “I will win” a thousand times, then the next day he’d ask us if we’d done it.
“I always used to say ‘yeah’, but some of the younger, more impressionable lads would produce their lists and some would even write out twice as many lines! He insisted we drank coffee before a game to keep us alert, and brought in lots of motivational people. It didn’t motivate me I’m afraid!
“By the time of the next UEFA match (Mönchengladbach) I was fit but didn’t start, and then for the second leg both Brian Kidd and I had to sit it out while Nicky Reid made his debut marking one of the greatest players of all time. When we were two goals down Kiddo threw his shirt at Allison in anger.”
For many connected with City Mönchengladbach became the game that would be quoted when they discussed how things had changed following Allison’s return. Tony Book had developed a good team with a nice blend of young up-and-coming talent, like Peter Barnes (who was still only 21 but an exciting England winger), with the older experienced internationals like Dave Watson, Brian Kidd, Asa Hartford. Book’s team had been runners up to Liverpool in 1977 and had impressed with many great individual victories since then, especially that Milan victory of course, but the return of Malcolm Allison changed the dynamics at the club.
Ah well! Without that I guess City wouldn’t have what they have today, but for those of us who lived through the 70s to the present, it was the return of Allison that started the process of transforming City from regular challenging giant into a club that had lost its way. The 1978-79 Mönchengladbach games are a reminder of what we were, what we lost, but also of what we have now. Let’s ensure we enjoy the present because, as Allison once said to me: “Celebrate every success as if it’s your first, because it could be your last!”
In 1978-79 the Milan victory was City’s last in Europe until 2003-04. When City walked out to face Mönchengladbach in the quarter final none of us, especially Allison, expected it would be our last European tie for 25 years! To read about the significance and facts of City’s European heritage (there are a few points that may surprise fans of certain other clubs) then take a look at another post: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/01/11/manchester-citys-european-heritage-facts-not-fiction/
This post has been published prior to City’s 2020-21 meeting with Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Champions League. It should be noted that the two teams have met in the intervening years. The results are:
Mark Metcalf has been working with the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) on a number of ‘blue plaque’ initiatives in recent years. One, which should be unveiled in August this year, is for a major figure in both Stalybridge Celtic’s and Manchester United’s history. That man, Bert Whalley, is perhaps not too well known amongst football fans today but his influence on the Manchester United of the 1950s was immense.
I’ve asked Mark if he would write this guest blog in the hope that it helps United fans, and football in general, to remember Bert and his contribution. On a personal level, I have to declare an interest. Bert Whalley was a friend of my grandfather, Fred. Fred was a United fan who travelled to most of United’s cup finals up to the 1980s and he’d known Bert through footballing connections when he was a young man. Bert’s death as a result of the Munich Air Crash inevitably affected Fred, as it did many people in 1958 (if you would like to learn more about the air crash and how it affected Manchester at the time please read the in-depth piece I posted here: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/05/the-munich-air-disaster-a-long-read/ ).
Here’s Mark Metcalf’s piece on Bert Whalley…
Bert Whalley information for PFA plaque unveiling at Stalybridge Celtic in the summer of 2021, provisional date is Saturday 7 August 2021 and followed by a special tribute match
Bert Whalley: 1912- 1958
Born in Ashton-Under-Lyne on 6 August 1912, Herbert (Bert) Whalley played as a central defender for Stalybridge Celtic in the Cheshire League during the second half of the 1933/34 season. Following which he moved in May 1934 to Second Division Manchester United where he remained as a player and coach until his tragic death at Munich on 6 February 1958.
Stalybridge Celtic (SC)
After three SC reserve games, Whalley made his first team debut for the club on Saturday 16 December 1933 in the Cheshire County League home fixture at Bower Fold against strugglers Sandwich Ramblers. He replaced at centre half Bliss, who had injured his ankle, in 3-0 victory. ‘Looker-On’ in the Ashton-under-Lyne Reporter (ALR) felt that despite ‘the conditions not being the best on which to judge his true merits, he gave a really polished display, exhibiting some delightfully tricky footwork.’
The new man had originally played for Ferguson-Pailin, where he worked, in the Manchester Amateur Alliance League. He had also recently signed for Third Division North side Stockport County, whose reserves also played in the Cheshire League. This move had been blocked by new rules that an amateur, as Whalley was, signed to one club in the CL could not be signed by another club in the same league. County were forced to withdraw Whalley’s signing on forms.
Whalley remained in the SC first team for the match at Bower Fold on 23 December 1933 and Prescot Cables were beaten 3-1. According to the ALR he played ‘impressively’ in a deserved victory.
Playing away to Mossley, SC grabbed a point with a last-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw. There was praise for Whalley in the ALR. “He is not as skilful with his head as his feet, but he tackles well and never gets flurried.”
League champions Macclesfield were heavily beaten 6-3 when Stalybridge Celtic visited them on New Year’s Day 1934. The ALR commented: ‘to a man, the team.. was excellent ..each played his part splendidly… Whalley again deputised for Bliss at centre-half with credit.’ (Monday 1st January)
The victorious team had though been beaten two days earlier, 2-1 at Northwich Victoria. Whalley was expected to drop out of the side as Bliss’s ankle injury was now sufficiently recovered but late in the week he contracted tonsilitis and was confined to bed. As such ‘Whalley appeared for the fourth successive game at centre-half, and again gave a promising display, supplying his forwards with clever passes.’ Prince in the home goal produced a series of great saves that included a penalty stop from Prior.
On Saturday 6 January, Whalley’s side beat Congleton Town 3-1 at home and he had a fine game, especially in the first half, being ‘conspicuous with pretty and effective work which was much appreciated by the spectators.’ (ALR) Prior scored twice from the penalty spot.
The following Saturday, Whalley, although reported as not well, was at Bower Fold to play in a 3-2 victory against Witton Albion. In a lengthy match report his name did not appear once.
However, Stalybridge Celtic then suffered a shock defeat 4-3 at home to amateur side ICI (Alkali) in the first round of the Cheshire Senior Cup. Whalley’s place at centre-half was taken by Bliss. ICI of the Manchester League were more used to playing the Celtic reserves.
When SC beat Winsford 5-2 away on 10 February 1934, Whalley was back at centre half and came in for praise as, ‘resourceful.. tackling determinedly when he and he and his partners, Suttie and Kellard, spent much time helping Mountney and Thornley.’(ALR) (the full-backs) Staffs Sentinel reporter noted ‘Parkin and Whalley were dangerous on the rare occasions when Celtic attacked, but Robinson made two wonderful saves.’
A month later on 10 March 1934, Celtic were beaten 3-0 at Runcorn but Whalley was noted by the paper in a brief report as ‘relieving the pressure’ in the first period. The following weekend Whalley was part of the Celtic XI that fell behind at home to Nantwich only to later dominate their opponents to win 10-3.
In mid-April, Chester Reserves beat Stalybridge Celtic 2-0 and according to the Liverpool Echo reporter ‘Whalley’s generalship was the feature of the Celtic’s team work.’ His side of Travis, Thornley, Mountney, Suttie, Whalley, Kellard, Prior, Scullion, Parkin, Hornby, Murphy was beaten 4-2 in the penultimate game of the season away to Crewe Alexandra reserves.
The following weekend saw a heavy 6-3 defeat at home to Tranmere Rovers with Mayers at centre-half struggling to contain the Rovers centre-forward Spencer who notched three. Midway through the second period, Suttie took over at centre-half.
Against Chester at home, the half-backs were reported as ‘delightfully skilful, both in attack and defence’ and the visitors left beaten 2-0.
There was a crowd of over 3,000 to witness a 3-3 draw at Hyde United, who recovered to grab a point after falling two goals behind. Whalley was praised for his efforts.
At home to Nantwich, SC fell behind to a side they had beaten 16-2 the previous season at Bower Field. A shock though was not on the cards as Whalley’s side soon equalised and went on to win 10-3 with Hornby grabbing three and Allen, leading the attack for the first time, scoring four.
It was reported that ‘Whalley gave a magnificent display. Celtic’s centre-half plays the third back game to perfection, while in attack he exerts a commanding and forceful influence.’
Away to Prescot Cables, Whalley’s team drew 2-2 and he ‘never allowed Harris, Prescot’s centre-forward any scope, while his passes were so perfect that Prescot were continually chasing the shadow.’ Playing before a crowd close to 2,000, Prescot grabbed a point with two late efforts.
Hyde deservedly beat Stalybridge Celtic 2-0 on the last day of March 1934. On a hard ground at Bower Fold they dealt more easily with a bouncing ball than their opponents. A late Whalley header might have reduced the arrears but it was a day to forget for the home side who ended the day in seventh place in the Cheshire County League.
Stalybridge drew 1-1 at home to Mossley on Good Friday with the home goal coming after a good run by Whalley saw the centre half then find Prior who crossed for Murphy to turn the ball into the net from close range.
On Tuesday 16 April 1934, Stalybridge Celtic played their last home league match of the 1933-34 season and drew 1-1 with Wigan Athletic. It was probably a game the home side should have won in a match where the ALR felt ‘Whalley was inclined to over-dribble at times but when he discarded this policy he was at his best.’
Stalybridge were beaten 4-3 at home to Macclesfield in the Cheshire League Challenge Cup. The winner in extra-time, which because of the emerging darkness had been cut to five minutes each way by the referee, Mr Sergeant, came at the very end of the additional time that had been played and following which the official dashed off to the dressing room as he sounded the whistle. With many home fans believing there was still a minute or so remaining this incensed a fair number who made a rush after Mr Sergeant. The arrival of police officers prevented any serious disturbance. The defeat came despite Celtic having led 3-1 at one point. Whalley played in a half back line-up that included Suttie to his right and Kellard to his left.
There was better fortune in the Ashton Challenge Cup as Celtic beat Hurst 3-2 in a midweek semi-final fixture with the winner coming on 86 minutes. The winning side’s strength was the half-back line with ‘Whalley putting an effective check on Halliday.’ (ALR)
A 3-1 defeat at Buxton was reported as being the result of the away forwards missing a number of chances whilst the ALR contended that ‘Celtic’s half-back line was their best department.’
Hyde United had overcome Ashton National away to reach the Ashton Challenge Cup Final against Stalybridge Celtic that was played on National’s ground.
Prior to the final, Celtic, winning 2-1 at the interval, were beaten 4-2 at Crewe Alexandra. There was, again, praise for the half-back line up ‘which has been one of the strongest and most consistent departments in the team since Whalley was brought into the side.’
The Ashton Challenge Cup kicked off at 6.45 on Friday 11 May. Hyde had won the trophy in the previous three seasons and started the match as slight favourites.
The crowd was a large one but they saw a poor game in which Hyde just squeezed home by two goals to one with Keers at outside left, who had earlier scored the equalising goal, netting the winner on the 84th minute. Whilst Whalley was good in defence he was rarely able to get forward to shine in attack. When the Hyde captain, Dennis Izon, was presented with the cup, there were large cheers and scenes of great enthusiasm amongst the Hyde players and their supporters.
The Reporter of May 12, 1934 that ‘Whalley, who had played as an amateur for most of the season… before signing as a professional for Celtic several weeks ago… signed professional forms for Manchester United on Monday,’ which would be 7 May.
Whalley, aged 20, 5’ 10” tall and weighing 11st 7llbs, had joined Celtic at the start of the 1933-34 season but after only playing a few reserve games he left to join Ferguson Pailin’s team, where he was employed.
When he returned to Celtic reserves he was then also signed for Stockport County as an amateur. This resulted in the Cheshire League passing a resolution barring any player from the league playing with the reserves in another League. Whalley was allowed to remain at Celtic and his break came when Bliss, Celtic’s centre-half, was injured and when the reserve player stepped up a level he was an immediate success.
Whalley was reported as being a keen cricketer, playing for the Trafalgar square first XI in the Glossop and District League.
Also leaving Bower Field was Ronald Hornby, who had joined Celtic in November 1933. The clever inside-left had made 34 consecutive appearances for the club and scored 13 goals. Hornby joined Burnley.
It was to be eighteen months before Bert Whalley made his first team debut for his new club.
He was selected by manager Scott Duncan for the Old Trafford side’s Second Division fixture against Doncaster Rovers at home on 30 November 1934. The match ended in a 0-0 draw before a crowd of 23,569.
Bert Whalley’s Manchester United debut side was Langford, Griffiths, Porter, Whalley, Voce, McKay, Cape, Mutch, Bamford, Rowley and Manley
In a playing career cut short by WWII, during which played for United and Bolton Wanderers in unofficial wartime competitions, and injury, Whalley went on to make 32 League and 6 FA Cup appearances for Manchester United. His final game for Manchester United was at home to Blackburn Rovers in Division One on 19 April 1947. This resulted in a 4-0 victory before a 46,196 crowd. With Old Trafford out of use due to war damage this game was played at Maine Road, Manchester City’s ground at the time. Whalley was by now the longest serving professional at Old Trafford and in 1946-47 he led the reserves to the Central League championship. The Manchester Evening News of 18 March 1947 said of him; “The experience of Bert Whalley is a real asset to Manchester United…. signed from Stalybridge Celtic in 1934. His transfer cost nothing, but he has turned out as an invaluable utility player – as pivot, wing-half and even full-back.”
His final first team game side was Jack Crompton, Johnny Carey, John Aston senior, Jack Warner, Whalley, Henry Cockburn, Jimmy Delaney, Johnny Morris, Jimmy Hanlon, Stan Pearson, Jack Rowley
Later in 1947, Whalley, who according to Jimmy Murphy, manager Matt Busby’s assistant, always described himself as “just an honest trier”, was coaching some schoolboys at Stockport County when a miskicked ball hit him in the eye. The player did not complain until on the way to a reserve match at Newcastle United, he confessed that he was having trouble with his vision.
On visiting a Tyneside hospital, he refused to be kept in and returned to Manchester for treatment. On Christmas Eve 1947, Whalley was as depressed as anyone as he faced losing his sight in one eye and the end of his football career. It was then that Matt Busby showed one of the reasons why he was a great manager by demonstrating loyalty. Busby, who had become manager at United in 1945, told Whalley that when left hospital he had just the job. In August 1948, Whalley replaced Arthur Gale as the man in charge of Manchester United’s ‘A’ side, the third team at the club.
Manchester United had ended the 1946-47 season as runners-up in Division One but nevertheless Matt Busby took seriously the comment of Jimmy Murphy, who had managed the successful Central League side that season, when he told him there was not one reserve who could strengthen the first team. Busby replied: “in that case we will have to find our own youngsters.”
That remark led, after a time, to great players such as Duncan Edwards, Dennis Violet, Bobby Charlton and later George Best. Getting these players was no fluke and in addition to Murphy the two key men were Joe Armstrong, the Manchester United chief scout, who was a shrewd judge of a schoolboy, and Bert Whalley, one of the best coaches in England. Armstrong oversaw a small group of scouts that covered Britain and Ireland and when a youngster came to Old Trafford consideration as a member of the ground staff, he was assessed by Whalley and Murphy, who ultimately had the final say.
With Murphy, by now assistant manager to Busby, occupied with the Wales national team at the time, Bert Whalley, by now the chief coach, accompanied the first team to Belgrade for European tie with Partizan Belgrade in February 1958. On the return flight he, along with many players he’d worked with over the years. was tragically killed at Munich on 6 February 1958.
Bert Whalley’s funeral was held on Thursday 13 February 1958. Thousands lined the route to Dukinfield Crematorium for what was the longest funeral procession for many years in Ashton and surrounding areas. Crowds of people gathered at factory entrances, having been given time away from their work benches. Shop assistants lined the pavements and school children looked on.
The cortege of 50 cars stopped briefly a few yards from the Trafalgar Square Methodist Church where Bert worked voluntarily for many years at the youth club. James Scullion, who originally signed the player for SC, was amongst those at the crematorium. Jimmy Murphy was present as was Sandy Busby, representing his father Matt, plus Henry Cockburn and John Aston senior. Stalybridge Celtic were represented by J Turner, R Peace and ex-manager Ernest Ollershaw. There were floral tributes from a number of football clubs including Manchester City, who had lost of one their own at Munich in Frank Swift.
Family members listed at the funeral include
Mrs W Whalley
Mr and Mrs R Whalley
Mr and Mrs D Whalley
John Doherty – a member of the Manchester United side that won the title in 1955/56 described Bert: “What a lovely man. It was a pleasure to have known Bert and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a single soul say a wrong word about him…. it was clear that he had been a useful performer in his time, a stylish central defender who was comfortable on the ball and invariably had time to move it on without panicking.
“He was not big for a centre-half, standing perhaps two inches under 6ft, and certainly he didn’t go around kicking people, but he carried authority because he had a certain presence about him…
“The hierarchy when I arrived was Matt Busby at the top, with Jimmy Murphy and Bert doing most of the coaching and sharing an office until Bert died at Munich.
“He was terrific to all the young players, always ready with a kind work to lift our spirits. A Methodist lay-preacher, he was a quiet man, in contrast to Jimmy, who was more fire-and-brimstone in his approach, likely to singe the hair on the back of the neck.
“Bert offered a buffer zone where we could recover our equilibrium after feeling the Murphy wrath, although he was nobody’s fool and people couldn’t take advantage of his good nature…looking back, I loved them both.”
Taken from The Insider’s Guide to Manchester United: Candid Profiles of every Red Devil form Rowley to Rooney by John Doherty with Ivan Ponting. Bert Whalley is listed at number 1 in this book.
Further details on the plaque unveiling can be obtained from Mark Metcalf, who is responsible for the project on behalf of the PFA as well as two further projects in 2021 that will see plaques unveiled to Joe Mercer and Stan Cullis in Ellesmere Port: email@example.com
Thanks Mark for writing this. It is important men like Bert Whalley are remembered. I am also delighted that Joe Mercer will be having a plaque unveiled to him in Ellesmere Port later this year. This is great news. If you’ve not read my pieces on meeting Mercer take a look at: https://gjfootballarchive.com/category/joe-mercer/
City hadn’t had a manager since November and were struggling in the League when the Blues played a FA Cup fifth round tie against Crystal Palace on this day (20th February) in 1926. The tie, played at Maine Road turned out to be a fifteen goal thriller with City in rampant form.
By half-time the score was 7-0 to the Blues, but Palace would not give up and quickly pulled back four goals. City were knocked out of their period of complacency and soon found their goalscoring touch again.
By the end it was 11-4 and, according to a number of spectators present on the day, Manchester fans rushed on at the final whistle and carried off the Palace ‘keeper Callendar shoulder high. Apparently he had played extremely well and, somehow, managed to keep the score down, although one cannot help wondering if he’d have been given such a reception had the scores been reversed.
Frank Roberts was the City star for this particular game, scoring a remarkable five, while Tommy Browell also earned a few plaudits with his hat-trick. Browell had been ill for most of the week and had been unable to train.
With no management and such a miserable time in the League, no one could believe how City had been able to deliver such strong cup performances.
Remarkably, film of the game has survived and can be viewed here:
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.
The 18th February 1984 saw Manchester City attract a crowd of 41,767 in the Second Division for the visit of Newcastle United. The attendance was the biggest of the day (see image above to compare with Arsenal for example). It was also City’s and the division’s second biggest crowd of the season (the division’s highest was 41,862 for City v Sheffield Wednesday). It’s worth stating that the highest average League crowd of the season was 42,534 (Manchester United) and the next best was Liverpool with 31,974.
City’s average was the sixth highest in the entire League at 25,604 while fellow Second Division side Newcastle were the third best supported team that season with 29,811.
The Blues had been relegated the previous May (it was a shock relegation!) but with three automatic promotion places available City felt certain they could achieve an immediate return. Unfortunately, they did not account for the role Kevin Keegan would play in Newcastle’s fortunes. Newcastle had been struggling to make an impact since relegation in 1978, but then Keegan returned as a player and the whole place seemed revitalised (part of the reason Newcastle’s crowds were their best for six seasons), indeed he had helped the Geordies achieve a 5-0 thrashing of City in October.
City boss Billy McNeill later admitted: “There are few players that I have greater respect for than Keegan and this time, I’m referring only to his ability on the pitch, he was the heart and soul of Newcastle. It’s a terrible thing to admit, but every time I read that Kevin had an injury I hoped it would keep him out of the Newcastle side for a game or two. Usually it didn’t and I was glad in the end because I have such a high regard for him. He was certainly the difference between City and Newcastle. They had Keegan’s inspirational qualities and we didn’t.”
By 11th February City and Newcastle were level on points with the Blues in third place, and Newcastle fourth with a game in hand. Above them lay Chelsea and Sheffield Wednesday. The four sides were termed the ‘Big Four’ by the media who regularly chose to feature games from the Second above those in the First. As always Liverpool seemed destined to win the Championship and so much attention turned to the glamour clubs of the Second, especially Newcastle with the charismatic Keegan.
On 18th February came the vital Maine Road clash between the ‘Jocks’ and the Geordies. A win would put City six points ahead of Newcastle, yet defeat would put the two sides level with Keegan’s men also having a game in hand. The crowd saw Steve Kinsey score but fine goals from Beardsley and Keegan gave Newcastle a 2-1 victory. It also gave the Geordies the advantage.
Here’s film of the game (poor quality but well worth watching for Steve Kinsey’s lobbed City goal):
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I was interviewed on 17th February 2021 about the great Joe Mercer for the ‘esk podcast’ – an Everton podcast. I talk about meeting Joe; about writing his biography; about Joe’s time at Everton, Arsenal, Manchester City and so on. I also tell the story of Norah Mercer insisting that Bobby Charlton phones me to apologize (it was somewhat of a shock at the time)! We also discussed Everton and City in preparation for their game that night (17th February 2021). No matter who you support it’s well worth listening to.
If you would like to read all the in-depth articles (including the entire Manchester A Football History book) 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 230+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.
To mark this week’s Premier League meeting between Manchester City and Everton (17th February 2021) here are a few historical facts, memories and video highlights of games between the clubs.
The December 1989 meeting between the two sides was memorable because of events off the field rather than on it. The match ended goalless but the attention the game received from the national media was incredible, and it was all because 20th placed City had appointed the former Evertonian Howard Kendall as manager.
Earlier that season Peter Swales had dismissed the rather quiet, unassuming Mel Machin despite him guiding City to promotion and a memorable 5-1 victory over United. He publicly approached Joe Royle, who turned the club down, and then turned to Kendall.
Almost immediately the ex-Evertonian stamped his authority on the side and quickly brought in Peter Reid and Alan Harper to make their debuts at Goodison. Disappointingly, the highly popular Ian Bishop was named as a substitute. Kendall: “It was not a popular move. I walked out at 2.55pm to hear my supporters chanting, ‘There’s only one Ian Bishop’. Nice welcome that was. The Bishop situation developed into a saga, the like of which I have never experienced in football before.”
It wasn’t long before the long-haired Bishop was sold to West Ham. Earlier in his career Kendall had transferred him out of Everton.
Kendall’s new look City managed to keep ninth placed Everton at bay in a rather dour televised match to earn only their second point in six games. City ended the season in 14th place while Everton finished 6th.
The first League game between the two sides was a 2-1 Everton win on 23rd December 1899 in Division One. The match was played at Hyde Road with Billy Meredith scoring for the newly promoted City, while Jimmy Settle and R Gray netted for the Toffees. City ended their first season in the top division in 7th place while Everton finished 11th.
The first meeting of the two clubs to be televised on BBC’s Match Of The Day was the 1-1 draw on 23rd August 1969. Film here:
The first ‘live’ televised meeting was the famous Howard Kendall match played on 17th December 1989 (see above). The game was shown on ITV.
When Everton appeared in their first FA Cup final it was played at Fallowfield, Manchester. The 1893 final against Wolves was the first, other than the 1886 replay, to be played outside London. Wolves won the match 1-0 and a row of houses in Wolverhampton were given the name Fallowfield Terrace in celebration.
The Fallowfield site now forms part of Manchester University’s student campus.
Well I Never!
City fans demonstrated against the transfer of their hero, Tommy Johnson, to Everton in March 1930 for £6,000. At City Johnson entered the record books by scoring most goals in a season – he netted an incredible 38 in 39 League games during the 1928-9 season. He was a popular player and lived amongst the fans in Gorton. He was often seen drinking draught Bass at The Plough on Hyde Road, and was something of a trend-setter in the area. As soon as he was spotted wearing a wide brimmed trilby hat it quickly became the fashion all young men wanted to follow!
His greatest individual game for City must have been the 6-2 defeat of reigning champions Everton in September 1928, when he scored five goals. Eric Brook scored the other while Dunn and Weldon netted for the Toffees.
In the 1960s Tommy was a regular attender at Maine Road where he and Billy ‘Dixie’ Dean would watch Joe Mercer’s City side. On 28thJanuary 1973 Tommy died at Monsall hospital aged 71.
Everton beat City 9-1 on 3rd September 1906 to record their record victory and City’s record defeat. This was only City’s second match following the findings of the FA investigation into illegal payments which resulted in the suspension of 17 players, the manager Tom Maley, the chairman, and two other directors. The entire summer had been spent finding a new manager and new players – any would do – to fill the void. City’s consolation goal was scored by debutant A.Fisher. The great Sandy Young had netted 4 of Everton’s 9 that day.
Two days before this game, the Blues had been defeated 4-1 by Arsenal in an incredible match that saw City leave the field with only six men. The rest were mainly suffering from heat exhaustion – it was 90 degrees in the shade!
The Young Royle
When Joe Royle made his debut in January 1966 against Blackpool he became the youngest player to appear for Everton in the League. He was 16 years and 282 days. His first game against City was the on 29th April the following year – only his 6th League appearance.
Obviously I’m biased but I’d urge everyone reading this article to also read:
The first Premier League meeting between these sides ends in a comfortable City win before 20,242 at Goodison Park. Two goals from Sheron and one from David White gave the Blues a 3-0 lead before an own goal from Brightwell made it 3-1 on Halloween.
1993 – Last Day
On the last day of the season Everton win 5-2 in a frustrating match for City fans. Goalscorers for Everton included future Blues Beagrie (2 goals) and Beardsley. White and Curle (penalty) scored for the home side.
1993 – Rideout Goal
The first away match of the season ends in a 1-0 City defeat. Rideout scored for the Toffeemen on 17th August before 26,025.
1994 – Double Double
Two goals each from Rosler and Walsh give City a 4-0 home win on 27th August. The Maine Road sell out crowd of 19,867 is City’s 3rdlowest crowd in the Premiership. The Kippax Stand was in construction and the capacity was severely restricted as a result.
1996 – Former Blue Scores
Former City hero Andy Hinchcliffe scores a 47th minute penalty to ensure a 2-0 Everton win in February 1996.
2000 – Five Stars
Wanchope (14), Howey (23), Goater (42), Dickov (54), and Naysmith (own goal in 67th minute) give City a thrilling 5-0 victory over Everton at Maine Road in December.
2002 – Anelka hat-trick?
City fans celebrate an Anelka hat-trick but his 14th minute opener is later ruled an own goal, scored by Everton’s Radzinski. In addition, Wright-Phillips is controversially sent off in the 28th minute but this is later downgraded to a yellow card. Despite the controversy and confusion City win the match 3-1 on 31st August.
2003 – New Year’s Day
Over 300 million fans watch this 2-2 draw on Chinese television. Everton took the lead in the 6th minute, City made it 2-1 in the 82ndbefore Everton equalised 2 minutes into injury time on January 1st.
2004 – Keegan’s Disappointment
On the season’s final day, City beat Everton 5-1 with goals from Wanchope (16 & 30), Anelka (41), Sibierski (89) & Wright-Phillips (90). The victory caused the two sides to swap League places. The Blues ended the campaign on 41 points, eight more than relegated Leicester, Leeds and Wolves. A decent enough margin in the end, but that did not change the way most felt about the season.
Prior to that final match Keegan explained truthfully how he felt: “We are just about at the end of the most disappointing season of my managerial career. I haven’t enjoyed it and I am sure the same goes for everyone connected with Manchester City.”
2005 – Early Morning Blues
Everton, so often a bogey team during the previous decade or so, were defeated 2-0 on 2nd October. This was the first Sunday morning kick off in the Premier League and the match commenced at 11.15 with some fans making a point of the early start by wearing pyjamas. It was also Stephen Ireland’s first full Premiership game. Before the match he admitted to being “very nervous” and post-match he commented that the rest of the team had supported him: “That helped me ease my nerves and settle in as one of them.”
2006 – Richards the Hero
One player, who would help City win the FA Cup and Premier League a few years later, was beginning to be seen as one of the club’s most positive assets this season – Micah Richards. He performed to a consistent standard and, on 30th September, he actually netted an equaliser for the club in the dying seconds against Everton to ensure an away point. The 18 year old Richards made his first full international appearance a few weeks later when he played for England against Holland on 15th November. Henry Winter, writing for the Telegraph, claimed: “England may well have discovered Gary Neville’s long term successor.” By this stage in his career Richards had only made 23 Premier League starts.
At Everton Richards’ goal was very important but City’s dominance during the final minutes of the match should have seen the Blues snatch a winner according to goalkeeper Nicky Weaver: “The last five minutes we absolutely battered them and every time the ball went in the box we looked as though we were going to score. Then when [Samaras] hit the post, you’re thinking ‘is it not going to be our day?’ But we kept going and deep, deep into injury time, we got something out of the game.”
Everton’s captain Phil Neville admitted: “It feels like a defeat… we should have got the second goal and killed off the game.”
2011 – Super Mario
In September City defeated Everton 2-0 with goals from substitute Mario Balotelli and James Milner. It was an important victory over a team that continued to be a bit of a bogey side in recent seasons, and ensured the Blues were now back on equal points with Ferguson’s Manchester United, who had drawn 1-1 at Stoke despite leading at half time.
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2019 marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Manchester Corinthians – a pioneering women’s team that toured the globe promoting women’s football and Manchester.
The Manchester Corinthians were a team of local women who were brought together under the management of Percy Ashley at a time when the FA banned women from playing on FA affiliated grounds. Established in 1949, Ashley’s team toured the world promoting the sport and demonstrating what a dedicated group of players the club possessed. This was at a time when FA affiliated clubs were banned from allowing women’s games on their grounds.
Many of the Corinthians are now in their seventies and eighties but they still get together from time to time to talk of their exploits. In September 2019 I managed to arrange with Manchester City for some of the women who played for the Corinthians to be guests of City at a women’s game at the Academy Stadium. While there I chatted with a few of the women. Margaret Hilton, who now lives in Australia, told me her memories of a groundbreaking tour in 1957: “Bert Trautmann, the City ‘keeper, joined us on a tour of Germany. He acted as an ambassador and watched some of our games. We saw him around but I was too shy to chat to him. It was great having that recognition and support.”
Corinthians, representing England, won a major competition in Germany which was, at the time, regarded as a women’s European Cup – these were the early days of cross-continent football and UEFA were not involved with organising competitions for the women’s game. Anne Grimes felt that winning that competition in 1957 encouraged the club to make further trips abroad and to play in major stadia. 50,000 watched them in a game at Benfica and then in 1960 the Corinthians ventured outside of Europe for a tour of South America. It was supposed to be a six week tour but such was the popularity of the games that the women were asked to stay for three months. Margaret ‘Whitty’ Whitworth told me: “We stayed in all the best hotels and it was quite glamourous. There were lots of scrapes along the way. We were young women and loved every minute of it. We didn’t care about the FA ban, we just got on and played.”
Whitty had joined the club as an eleven year old in 1958 and was fourteen when she travelled to South America. Her parents had to give permission but some of the women also gave up their jobs for the opportunity of representing Manchester – and England – on the tour. Whitty: “What a great experience for us all! The stadiums… the reception from the crowd… it was all incredible but we all just took it in our stride. It’s only afterwards that you look back and realise how significant it all was.”
A second team was established by Percy Ashley as time progressed called the Nomads – it’s no coincidence that Ashley chose the names Corinthians and Nomads. Both these names had been used by prominent amateur male football clubs that had toured promoting the game and this is exactly what he sought from his women’s teams. He wanted them to promote all that was positive about female participation in football and they certainly achieved that over the decades. The Nomads and Corinthians would face each other regularly, raising money for charity and, to ensure fairness and quality, the teams would be balanced when appropriate.
The Corinthians and Nomads won a host of tournaments and trophies over the years and in 1970 Whitty was player of the tournament when they found trophy success at Reims in France. Margaret Shepherd, nicknamed Tiny due to her height (she was a tall central defender!), remembers the excitement of that trip and the celebrations that followed the victory over Juventus in the final: “It was a great experience and the celebrations were so special.”
The experience of playing against leading European teams was to have a major impact on the lives of the women. In fact, Jan Lyons, decided to move to Italy to spend more time playing football and ended up playing for Juventus for two seasons in the Italian women’s league of the period.
Manchester Corinthians survived into the modern era and continued to play once the FA ban was lifted – a ban they had challenged. The club was still going strong in 1982 but, due to ground changes and related issues it soon officially changed its name to Woodley Ladies, though was often still known as Corinthians. Some of the 1980s team members became players with Manchester City’s women’s team in its inaugural season of 1988-89. By that time the volume of women’s clubs, leagues and competitions had grown.
The club was resurrected for a period in the late 1980s, playing in Tameside, but it was during the period between 1949 and 1975 that Corinthians were true pioneers. They promoted the sport globally at a time when many refused to accept that women could play football.
Hopefully, over the coming years, we’ll be able to promote the club, its achievements and these pioneering women further in Manchester.
I’m writing a detailed history of women and football in Manchester. If you played an active part in developing women’s football prior to the FA ban then please get in touch by emailing gary@GJFootballArchive.com or follow me on twitter: @garyjameswriter or facebook.com/garyjames4
My book on Manchester City Women (which talks of the evolution of women’s football since the late 70s and the Corinthians women who played for City) can be ordered here (all copies will be signed by me): https://gjfootballarchive.com/shop/
It’s another Manchester derby on Friday (12 February 2021) – this one is in the Women’s Super League and kicks off at 7pm. To mark this game I wanted to give a bit of focus to the early history of Manchester derbies in women’s leagues. The history of women’s football in Manchester does not always get the attention it deserves and many of us have been determined to change that for years. So hopefully the following will be of interest. It includes a few quotes from those involved in previous decades…
While the perception will always exist that Manchester United’s women’s team has always been City’s rivals and vice versa, for both clubs the real rivals have varied over the years. Derby matches have been played against Manchester Belle Vue and other prominent local clubs. However, any game between City and United takes on extra significance. United fans established a Manchester United Ladies team in the 1970s with close ties to the men’s club. This eventually was closed down by the men’s club before re-emerging in 2018 as a WSL 2 club. In September 2019 the first WSL Manchester derby between City and United occurred at the Etihad following United’s move into the top flight. This was a truly special day for both clubs and for those of us present.
The first competitive derby between City and United was actually in September 1990 in the North West Women’s Regional Football League Second Division when Neil Mather was City’s manager: “I was nervous for weeks on end, and it was coming and coming and coming. I thought ‘we’ve got to beat United in the first competitive Derby.’ Being a big blue it was like ‘whatever we do we’ve got to beat them.’ We were 4-1 up with about five minutes to go and then had a five minute collapse where I thought we’re going to blow this. At one point it had looked like we were going to get five or six and annihilate them and then we nearly lost it! Thank God we hung on for a 4-3 win, but I’ll never forget that game. We had a girl called Jenny Newton who was a manic City fan and scored and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. When she scored her eyes were bulging and it meant the world and a lot of our girls were City fans. It meant the world to beat them.”
Lesley Wright: “The first time we played United in a competitive game there was about 150 there. They were a really strong team. Better than us at the time and they’d been established a lot longer.”
Rita Howard: “Despite being a United fan I loved playing as City Ladies against United. I absolutely loved it. Even though I’m a United fan I never contemplated joining them because the support from City, even when it waned a little, was far superior to anything United got. At best they’d get a kit and then it was ‘on your way.’ I know our closeness to City came from that beginning with Neil. His enthusiasm got us the kit, the tracksuits, the minibus…. All sorts of things. I know that wasn’t happening at United and at that time I don’t think any club connected in any way to a Football League side were as close as we were then. I think we got a lot more recognition from the beginning and that has carried on to today. Look at what City have done.”
Jane Morley: “I’m a season ticket holder at Manchester United but I was a manager at City Ladies. One day I’d been with City at a tournament and then went straight to Old Trafford for a men’s game. I was sat there when the bloke next to me – who I didn’t know – said ‘what you doing with that on!’ I realised I still had my City jacket on. I had to explain to him that I managed City Ladies.”
Bev Harrop was a Manchester United fan playing for City: “I had a United shirt underneath my City shirt! (laughs) Most of the time. Not later on, I grew out of it eventually, but at first, I did.”
Jane Morley: “It angers me when people say that Manchester United now have their first women’s team. As with City when the relaunch happened that implies the stuff we did for the club years before doesn’t count. I played for United in the 70s and 80s before a few of us broke away to set up FC Redstar. We left United because we wanted to test ourselves. We had some great players and wanted to progress but those who ran United wanted to stay in a Manchester League and not join the North West League. So we broke away in 1985 and formed FC Redstar.
“Many of the teams we know today as WSL clubs are actually men’s clubs that have taken over established women’s clubs. Teams like Leasowe Pacific became Everton. I have to bite my lip sometimes when some clubs claim they created a women’s team… no, you took and rebranded a team. There were quite a few big teams around the time City Ladies started such as Broadoak with Tracey Wheeldon.”
If you would like to read all the in-depth articles on this site (including the entire Manchester A Football History book) then please subscribe. 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 220+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.