GJFootballArchive – Why, What and When?

Over the last week or so a few people have asked about my website/archive and why I’ve done it. I appreciate the interest and I’d like to thank everyone who has supported my work over the decades. I’d also like to explain why I’m doing this; what the archive consists of and how often it is added to. If you’re intrigued read on…

First – why? For some time people have been asking me when I’d be doing my own blog and over the years I’ve always been pleased with the responses to my guest appearances on podcasts, vlogs and blogs. The feedback has been excellent but I’ve always had so much more to say. I care passionately about ensuring football’s history is properly researched & recorded and feel there’s always a place for detailed, quality research.

The idea of creating this blog and archive came because I wanted to create new content, based on the research I’ve performed over the decades, while also setting up an archive of my past work. Much of my writing is now out of print and it matters enormously to me that books like Manchester A Football History should be available (subscribers now have access to the full 2010 edition of this book which retailed at £24.95). My first book ‘From Maine Men to Banana Citizens’ (published in 1989) is also available for free as a download to all those who subscribe, as are several audio interviews I have performed over the years (including Malcolm Allison, John Bond – a truly frank interview! and George Graham).

I am a self employed historian and spend all my working week writing, researching and publishing my work. I am not an employee of any organisation (I know some think I’m employed by a football club but I’m not an employee nor am I an official club historian of any club). I am independent of any organisation and care passionately about the quality and accuracy of my work. As so much of this is out of print I am keen to create this archive for my work and add to it as time goes by.

Next – what? So what is my football archive? It is a place where over 500 posts/articles/features have been posted so far. These include new material, written and audio interviews, profiles, past articles, book sections and more (like the oldest known surviving footage of MCFC’s women’s team). Some of this material was written some time ago or is based on interviews performed many years ago (including interviews with players who have since died). Most of the material posted so far is connected with Manchester City but there are articles of interest to Manchester United and other teams, including England. Further articles on Manchester’s clubs will follow.

Some articles are free to download but most of the material is available to subscribers only. As mentioned earlier, my research and writing is something I strive hard to ensure is of quality. No one employs me (though I have done project work with Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Leicester City over the decades – some paid, some not) but my commitment to those who read my work is that I will always seek to maintain the highest standards. I am eternally grateful to those who purchase my books or subscribe to my work. That keeps me going forward and helps fund future projects.

To see what articles have already been published go to the search page (using the links under the banner at the top of this page) and either search on a key word or have a look at the categories listed there.

Next – when? As I said before there are over 500 posts/articles live and this will increase significantly over the coming months. It is my intention that over time my biography of Joe Mercer and other books, such as Farewell To Maine Road, will also be available in this archive. I’m keen to hear from subscribers which books, articles, interviews they’d like access to here. I want this to develop into a community of readers whose views absolutely matter.

A limited amount of content will always be free for anyone to read but those subscribing will have access to everything on this site for as long as they subscribe. For subscribers I guarantee to post a minimum of 4 articles alongside adding material from my archives each month (in practice it’s been much more than this!). To subscribe costs £3 a month or £20 a year (a reminder that the 2010 edition of Manchester A Football History cost £24.95 when published and is now out of print but available to subscribers as a downloadable pdf as part of their subscription.).

If you’re uncertain whether to subscribe or not then why not subscribe for a month at £3 and see if you’re getting value for money. The £20 annual subscription works out about £1.67 a month for a guaranteed 4 new articles per month and access to everything else posted in the archive.

Thanks for reading this. If you’d like to subscribe then please do so below. I really appreciate the support and I promise I’ll continue to add content that informs, entertains and has been researched to the highest standards.

Best wishes, Gary

£3 per month or £20 per year for full access to all posts and the archive.

Subscribe to get access

The League Cup: The First Major Trophy

Today (March 5 2022) Manchester City’s women’s team takes on Chelsea in the 11th final of the FA Women’s League Cup. This is a hugely important trophy to Manchester’s Blues and to commemorate today’s final, here’s a piece looking at the history of the competition from Manchester City’s view point. The League Cup, sponsored by Continental during the seasons Manchester City have won the competition and therefore known as the Continental Cup, was the first national competition won after the relaunch. As such it became highly significant.

City supporter David Sheel explains how the first final was viewed: “The club put on some coaches for us. It was night match – that doesn’t help. It was played at Adams Park, Wycombe Wanderers’ ground. There were two coaches. The first was full of parents and young academy girls and a few supporters with the second just supporters. All free. We went – sadly a lot couldn’t go because it was a week night – and we played against Arsenal. A team full of established top players who had beat us 4-0 at City in the League. But, like semi final win over Chelsea at Hyde, there was just something about that night. Arsenal were all over us at times and did everything but score. Our defence was outstanding but we also had a few chances at the other end. Got to half-time nil-nil and you’re thinking ‘just one chance, please.’ I can remember the goal… Joey Johnston went down the line, whipped the ball in and Izzy Christiansen, the smallest player on the pitch, headed it in. There were four of us sat together – the coaches had arrived just before kick off so we’d had to leg it in and grab the first spaces you could find. The four of us jumped up but we were surrounded by Arsenal fans. They started giving us some abuse. The goal was in the 73rd minute and we hung on. 

“When the final whistle went I was as proud of that achievement as I was in 2011 when the men won the FA Cup. To me personally it was the same. I never ever felt I’d see the men win anything in my life and then the same was true with the women. I was so proud of the club. After that they did the trophy presentation and I picked up some of the tinsel that got fired out of the cannons when they did the presentation. All the players came over to the side afterwards. Jill Scott was showing me her medal. They shared it with the fans. They even let me put my hands on the trophy. We were all there together. A bit like the men and their success in 2011 I think this told the outside world that City were here to do business. Inside the club the ambition was there but until you win a major trophy the other clubs may not take you seriously.”

When I interviewed her in 2018-19 player Abbie McManus remembered: “That feeling of beating Arsenal, who have dominated women’s football for years and years. At the time we were perceived to be a bunch of nobodies that have just thrown a team together and everyone was saying you’re just throwing money at it. I didn’t actually play that game. I got sent off the game before so I missed it! But watching the game and the feeling of that win. Being the underdog. I don’t think that feeling will ever come back.”

Izzy Christiansen scored in the final and told me how she felt: “An amazing feeling to score in that game. There’s no other words to describe it. It was just probably one of the best days of my life, the fact that the ball hit the back of the net. The fact that it meant that we, as a team, and a club, got our first trophy. That kind of set us off on our journey really.  We had a taste of success at the start and that’s where we’ve stayed, wanting success.”

The Blues went on to win the Continental Cup in 2014, 2016 and 2019. City’s finals:

2014 City 1 Arsenal 0

Goalscorer: Christiansen (73)

Attendance: 3,697 (Adams Park, High Wycombe).

Referee Nigel Lugg (Surrey)

2016 City 1 Birmingham City 0 (aet)

Goalscorer: Bronze (105)

Attendance: 4,214  (Academy Stadium, Manchester). 

Referee Rebecca Welch (Durham)

2019 Arsenal 0 City 0 (City won 4-2 on penalties)

Attendance: 2,424  (Bramall Lane, Sheffield). 

Referee Lucy Oliver (Newcastle)

Let’s hope the Blues can add another piece of silverware today. Thanks to Dave Coop for the photo at the top of this page.

You can find out more about the history of City Women in my book Manchester City Women: An Oral History. Follow the link for details of how to buy:

Last Chance to Book: Free Online Talk on History of MCFC Support/Match Day at Maine Road

Tomorrow (Saturday March 5 at 3pm UK time) I will be doing an online talk/presentation on the history of Manchester City’s support and match day at Maine Road. It will be a celebration of fans and a reminder of Maine Road. If you want to watch/listen you’ll need to register by noon tomorrow (UK time; Saturday 5th March 2022). Details of how to do that are below…

The talk will last about 1 hour and will be online, so you should able to access it anywhere. It will cover the history of Manchester City’s support with particular reference to:

•Match day ritual at Maine Road

•The Viking Call

•The ‘Boys Stand’

•Record crowds

•Songs & chants

•Fancy dress, bananas & bells

•Fanzines

•The Supporters Club

This presentation and talk is based on my popular 2019 talk at the Dancehouse Theatre in Manchester (if you attended that you will already have seen it!). I go into detail about the history of City’s support and celebrate some of the unique aspects of over 125 years of Manchester City FC.

This is a free event but there are a limited number of tickets. These must be ordered in advance. There is a limited capacity and no one will be able to join the event without first registering. If you want to participate. Book here:

The 2011 All-Manchester FA Cup Semi Final: 1 Hour Special Audio

It’s FA Cup week AND Manchester Derby week, so the time seems right to post this special 1 hour long audio I produced last year on Manchester City’s FA Cup semi final victory over Manchester United at Wembley on April 16 2011. This recording looks at the game and the years between the 1976 League Cup success and the FA Cup glory of 2011. The 2011 semi-final was a crucial step in City’s journey since the 2008 takeover and I felt it was vital to do a special marking this.

So what’s in this special recording? Well, I’ve included exclusive material from interviews and recordings I’ve done over the years with Garry Cook, Brian Marwood, Roberto Mancini, Peter Barnes and Peter Swales.  Why Swales? Well, have a listen and you’ll hear why. Basically though I’m trying to set the tone for why the 2011 FA Cup semi final victory and overcoming Manchester United was so significant.

On Mancini… I include a few words from him recorded in 2011 and at one point he talks about the view that was then being expressed that City were ‘trying’ to buy success (now they say City ‘have’ bought success!). His words are a reminder that City have been having that particular criticism thrown at them for over a decade! Oh well, I wonder how long those criticisms were laid at other clubs who had seen major investment which propelled them forward?

Anyway, get yourself a brew and be prepared to be transported back in time. Here’s the recording:

If you enjoy the recording then please let me know, comment or subscribe to the site. If it’s of interest then, over the coming months and years, I’ll produce others like this highlighting key points in Manchester City – and Manchester’s – footballing history. It costs £20 a year to subscribe (it works out £1.67 a month) or £3 if you’d like to sign up a month at a time to get full access for as long as you subscribe (you can always try it for a month). It’s worth bearing in mind that the 2010 Manchester A Football History cost £24.95 and all subscribers will be able to access all of that for as long as they are a subscriber (plus all the other stuff of course). You can subscribe below.

Subscribe to get access to the full site

£20 per year to access everything

Match Stats for the 2011 FA Cup Semi-final

City 1-0 United (HT 0-0)

Yaya Toure 52

City: 25 Hart 04 Kompany (yellow card), 05 Zabaleta (yellow card), 13 Kolarov, 19 Lescott, 11 Johnson (Wright-Phillips 79), 18 Barry, 21 Silva (Vieira 86), 34 De Jong (yellow card), 42 Y Toure, 45 Balotelli (yellow card). Substitutes 12 Taylor, 38 Boyata, 07 Milner, 08 Wright-Phillips, 24 Vieira, 10 Dzeko, 27 Jo

United: 01 Van der Sar, 03 Evra, 05 Ferdinand, 15 Vidic, 22 O’Shea (Fabio Da Silva 84), 13 Park Ji-Sung, 16 Carrick, 17 Nani, 18 Scholes (red card), 25 Valencia (Hernandez 65), 09 Berbatov (Anderson 74). Substitutes 29 Kuszczak, 12 Smalling, 20 Fabio Da Silva, 08 Anderson, 28 Gibson, 07 Owen, 14 Hernandez

Referee: Dean

Attendance: 86,549

San Francisco Blues

Recently I’ve been in San Francisco and was there when Manchester City played Spurs. I was invited to watch the game at Maggie McGarry’s with the San Francisco Blues. It was a great experience (we’ll ignore the result!) and here are a few thoughts and a bit of film from the day….

Firstly, I want to pay tribute to ALL the City fans who were there and who made us feel so welcome. It’s clearly a great supporters club and we really enjoyed our time there.

I’ve always been proud of the fact that MCFC has been a welcoming club over the decades and fans of the Blues have tended to be welcomed no matter where they are from or who they are. The San Francisco Blues are just as welcoming with wonderful hospitality too.

The branch contained several exiled Mancs, British and Irish members, as well as many, many US born City fans. This was great to see and I enjoyed listening to their stories of how they became City fans, or of how they came together to watch games at the bar. Two Mancs actually went to the same school (1 year apart) but didn’t know each other until they met in San Francisco through their City support. One was a history teacher in the States and asked me ’Was Billy Meredith guilty of the bribery charge?’ Hopefully, US children will now hear the rights and wrongs of FA investigations into perceived nouveau riche clubs, as City were called back in 1905 (I know!).

Some had travelled a couple of hours to get to the bar for the 930am kick off (California time of course!). from what I heard the same happens for earlier kick offs – some feat when you consider a regular 3pm UK kick off would be 7am local time. The landlord, who is also a Blue, opens the bar early for City games.

A few of the branch members had travelled to the Champions League final last year and others told me of their plans to get to the away games at Everton and Peterborough. The atmosphere on Manchester Derby Day is always special there – I think we’re all looking forward to next weekend. I’ll be in my regular seat by then of course but if you are a Blue in San Francisco get yourself down to Maggie McGarry’s.

I often get angry when rival fans or some in the media criticise football supporters for their loyalty, or when some state that ALL City fans are this or that when the truth is that we’re varied and have come to support City in lots of different ways. We live all over the world and show our dedication to the cause in ways that some don’t understand. Fans spend a considerable time, amount of money or put themselves out in lots of different ways to support their club.

I could go on but I’d just like to say thanks again to the San Francisco Blues. Their facebook page is here:

Here’s the scene at the bar when City equalised:

David Humphreys from the branch is heavily involved with a football club called San Francisco Vikings, formed in 1922. They focus on bringing kids through from age 3 onwards to adult leagues and to sponsor kids who can’t pay to play.

It may be some time before I’m in San Francisco again, but when I do make it I’ll aim to get back to the San Francisco Blues. Thanks again for making us so welcome.

Delia’s Day

On this day (28th February) in 2005 goals from Robbie Fowler (2) and Antoine Sibierski gave Manchester City a 3-2 victory at Norwich City, but the most newsworthy part of the night came when Norwich’s Delia Smith went on to the pitch at half time to encourage the home fans to make a bit of noise.  

She memorably called out: “A message for the best football supporters in the world: We need a twelfth man here. Where are you? Where are you? Let’s be having you! Come on!”

A lot of people in the media both then and in the years that have followed, criticised Delia but the truth is that she was exhibiting the type of passion and fervour for her club that many of us want to see. Maybe the manner was a bit too much but how great would it be if those in charge of our clubs could demonstrate similar passion?

Brian Clough’s Last

On this day (27th February) in 1993 Manchester City defeated Nottingham Forest 2-0 at the City Ground in the Premier League.  The scorers were David White and Garry Flitcroft.  The win in this first Premier League season was important to City of course but this game was also the last time Brian Clough managed a side against City.  

Look carefully at the above photo – clearly that’s David White, but look at the Forest player to the left of the image. Yes, it’s Roy Keane.

I did the last recorded interview with Peter Swales back in 1995-96 and I asked him about Brian Clough and the England job. Swales had been the boss of the FA Selection Committee for many years and Clough never seemed to be given the chance to manage England. Swales responded to my question about Clough by saying words to the effect of ‘We could’ve had Cloughie at England – and at City – bit he’d have wanted to run the whole thing. And that was my job.’

In the interview Swales explained that Clough had wanted the City job in 1983 (when Billy McNeill was appointed).

Re-Using Match Tickets

Today (26th February) reminds me of how football clubs would often do anything to save a few quid or to avoid spending money they didn’t need to. The reason? Because on this day in 1977 Manchester City’s League game with Sunderland was postponed.

The game was postponed because the Blues were drawn to face Leeds United in the fifth round of the FA Cup that day and so the original League fixture was rescheduled. Tickets had already been sold for the Sunderland League game and, rather than issue new tickets, the club simply announced the original tickets would be used for the new game. It made common sense and this was something that happened often when cup games meant League games had to be postponed. Now, in the days when entry for home fans is mostly by card (though some tickets are issued of course), it seems an unusual occurrence.

The re-arranged game saw City beat Sunderland 1-0 on 9th March with a goal from Dennis Tueart. As for the FA Cup tie – that ended in a 1-0 defeat before 47,731 at Elland Road.

In 2021 Noel Bayley wrote a guest blog on match tickets and their significance. It’s a free read here: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/16/guest-blog-noel-bayley-to-be-retained/

On This Day: Colin Bell Was Born

On this day (26th February) in 1946 Colin Bell was born. Sadly Colin, recognised by most Manchester City fans as the greatest ever player for the club, passed away in January 2021.

The above photo comes from Peter Barnes’ collection and was taken at Champneys where City were staying prior to the League Cup final in 1976. It was, of course, Colin’s 30th birthday.

My thoughts and best wishes are with Colin’s family today.

I’ve interviewed Colin and written a lot about him over the years. A few posts are available (free to read) here for anyone who wants to learn more about Colin or remember some of his incredible achievements:

Colin Bell Interview/Tribute

1977-78 Colin Bell’s Contribution To The Central League Title

Colin Bell 1946-2021

https://gjfootballarchive.com/2020/12/29/manchester-city-hall-of-fame-colin-bells-significant-game/

IN SEARCH OF THE BLUES – Colin Bell MBE (interviewed in January 2005)

The Great Jimmy Ross

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:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/22/hyde-v-preston-a-record-breaking-day/