MCFC Attendances Sequences

Lots of people talk incorrectly of Manchester City’s support and so for today’s subscriber feature I’ve decided to focus on the growth in City’s average attendance from the club’s first season in the League through to recent years, alongside other crowd related statistics. Hopefully, this will help to answer any questions raised on the loyalty of City’s support (but somehow I doubt it!).

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Historic Name That Ground – Week 16 Answer

Well, did you get it? Last week I asked: ‘Can you name the ground featured in the image above? This was taken during the last 40 years.’ The answer is, of course:

Manchester City’s old ground, Maine Road. Photographed during the summer of 1982 when the Main Stand roof was being replaced.

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I had planned to run ‘Historic Name That Ground’ only during the close season as in previous years, but it’s proving of interest so I’ll keep it going for a little while yet. If you have an old image of a ground that you think it’d be worth including in this weekly quiz then please get in touch. They don’t have to be from the 1900s to 1960s – even ground images from the 70s and 80s may prove a challenge to identify these days. You can email me at gary@GJFootballArchive.com Thanks.

MCFC V LFC: A Few Items From History

On this day (16th September) in 1893 Manchester City played Liverpool FC for the first time competitively. To mark this anniversary, here are a few items from history on games between the clubs.

Game One

The first meeting of these two clubs came when Liverpool visited Hyde Road on 16th September 1893 in the Football League.  Liverpool, playing their first season in the League (City had first joined the League as Ardwick in 1892), won the Division Two match 1-0 with an 80th minute goal from James Stott.  

Debuts

Former captains Sam Barkas and Jimmy McMullan both made their debuts in matches with Liverpool.  Barkas first appeared in the 3-2 defeat on 2nd May 1934 at Anfield, while McMullan’s debut came in a 1-1 draw on 27th February 1926 at Maine Road.

Another man to make his debut was the popular Roy Little, who helped City achieve a 1-0 win in January 1953.  Fifties cup hero Little is still a regular Maine Road attender.

Joe Royle made both his first and last league appearance for City against Liverpool.  His first match was on Boxing Day 1974, and his last came in October 1977.  Following that game he played a League Cup tie against Luton, and then moved to Bristol City where he scored 4 goals on his debut against Middlesbrough in Division One. You can read about the October 1977 game here:

MCFC v LFC, October 1977

You can read the remarkable story of a Blue who scored four on his debut for City against Liverpool here:

Imagine Scoring Four Goals For MCFC Against Liverpool On Your Debut!

There’s also the story of another City player scoring 4 v Liverpool here:

The ‘Flu Limits MCFC’s Selections But They Beat Liverpool 5-0 (Roberts 4 Goals)

Television

The first meeting of the sides to be shown on the BBC’s Match of the Day was on 12th August 1972.  Liverpool won 2-0 with a goal from Hall in the 3rd minute and one from Callaghan six minutes from time.  An Anfield crowd of 55,383 watched the opening day match.

The first match to be broadcast live was the March 1988 FA Cup sixth round tie.  44,047 witnessed a 4-0 home defeat for the Blues. Here’s film of that game:

Connections

Some of the more recent players to have appeared for both clubs include Raheem Sterling, James Milner, Craig Bellamy, Mario Balotelli, Nicolas Anelka, Albert Riera, Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman, David James, Kolo Toure, Didi Hamann, Daniel Sturridge, Peter Beardsley, Mark Kennedy, Steve McMahon, Michael Robinson, Mark Seagraves, and Paul Stewart.  Others to have played for both clubs include Matt Busby, Joe Fagan, George Livingstone and Jimmy Ross.

Inside-forward Livingstone joined City from Liverpool in May 1903 and was an important member of the 1904 Cup winning side.  Incredibly, during a career that spanned 3 decades Livingstone played for both Manchester clubs and both Celtic and Rangers.  Somehow he never made it to Everton to complete a unique treble.

Jimmy Ross was one of football’s first stars and joined the Blues in 1898 after highly successful spells at Preston and Anfield.  Although he’s relatively unknown these days, Ross deserves a major place in football’s hall of fame for his achievements during the first 15 years of League football.  Incidentally, he also netted 7 (sometimes reported as 8) in Preston’s record 26-0 demolition of Hyde at Ewen Fields in the FA Cup.

Highest Attendance

The highest attendance for a match between the two sides is 70,640 at Maine Road for the fifth round FA Cup tie on 18th February 1956.  Here’s film of that game played in snowy conditions: 

https://www.britishpathe.com/video/f-a-cup-newcastle-v-stoke-manchester-city-v-liverp/query/manchester+city

The match ended goalless and four days later the highest attendance for a City-Liverpool match at Anfield (57,528) watched the Blues defeat the Reds 2-1.  City’s victory brought a crowd of 76,129 to Maine Road for the visit of Everton in the quarter-final.  

Interestingly, Liverpool have played in higher attendances at Maine Road.  Their semi-finals against Burnley (1947) and Everton (1950) both attracted crowds of 72,000.

The highest League crowd at Maine Road was 50,439 in April 1976 (of course games at the Etihad have attracted higher figures), while the highest at Anfield is 55,383 for the televised match in August 1972.

Did You Know?

The first recorded rendition by City fans of Blue Moon occurred following the 3-1 defeat at Anfield on the opening day of the 1989-90 season.  Despite the scoreline the Blues had played well with Clive Allen and Ian Bishop impressing on their debuts.  As the City fans left the stadium a couple of supporters started to sing the song that was later to become a Blue anthem.  The song seemed to dovetail neatly with the events of the day and over the course of the next few weeks it became popular.

Controversy

Don’t get me started on this but the 1981 League Cup semi-final still rankles with many of us! The story can be read here:

Manchester City, Liverpool and the 1981 League Cup Semi-Final!

Well I Never!

During City’s 1936-7 Championship season the Blues defeated Liverpool 10-1 on aggregate in the space of four days.  On 26th March an Eric Brook hat-trick, plus goals from Alec Herd and Peter Doherty brought a 5-0 Anfield win.  Then on 29th City achieved a 5-1 Maine Road victory despite being a goal down in the fifth minute.

In between those matches City had managed a 2-2 draw at home to Bolton on 27th while Liverpool had defeated Manchester United 2-0 on the same day.

Sadly, in 1995 Liverpool defeated the Blues 4-0 in the League Cup and 6-0 in the League over a similar time frame.  The League performance ended with Uwe Rosler throwing his boots into the crowd, while Alan Ball amazed all Blues by saying he enjoyed the game.

Own Goal

Dave Watson headed an 89th minute own goal in this fixture on 29th December 1976 to help League leaders Liverpool achieve a 1-1 draw.  Third placed City had taken a first half lead from Joe Royle, before 50,020 at Maine Road.  The result proved costly as that season City finished second – a mere point behind Liverpool. 

1996 – Timewasting

A deflection from Lomas (off a McManaman effort) gave Liverpool a 6th minute lead in a last day of the season match the Blues needed to win to stay up.   Rush scored Liverpool’s second in the 41st minute as City looked dead and buried.  Rosler (71st minute penalty) and Symons (78th minute) gave the Blues hope, but City decided to timewaste in the mistaken belief they were safe.  Quinn, on the touchline after being substituted, urged the players to attack, while Liverpool seemed determined to open up play, but the game ended with Ball’s side relegated.

2000- Weah’s Only Goal

Former World Player of the Year George Weah scored his first and only League goal for City in the 3-2 defeat at Anfield in September.

2003- Anelka Double

A 74th minute penalty and a stoppage-time volley gives Anelka two goals against his former club.  The Blues win 2-1 at Anfield in the penultimate match of the season. 

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Stan Gibson Obituary (former MCFC groundsman)

Born on this day (10th September) in 1925, Stan Gibson was one of the unsung heroes of Manchester football.  He was City’s groundsman for forty years and created a playing surface worthy of the club’s stature, particularly during the sixties and seventies when the pitch was possibly in its best ever state.  

Stan worked as a stoker during the war for the Navy.  Always a keen sportsman – he was a Naval boxing champion and had football trials with Burnley – but by his 30s was becoming well known as a groundsman.  He arrived at Maine Road from Chorlton Cricket Club in 1959 after a recommendation by City ‘keeper Steve Fleet, and in the years that followed he worked hard to create a perfect pitch.  

By the time of City’s promotion in 1966 Stan had made the surface one the club could be proud of.  Both Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison were keen to use Stan’s expertise to develop the pitch further, and thereby increase City’s chance of success.  Working with Allison, Stan made the pitch the biggest  – and many would say the best – in the League.  

Both Mercer and Allison recognised his contribution to City’s success.  It’s a little known fact that Stan was trusted with the job of looking after the FA Cup following City’s homecoming in 1969.  He chose to put the prized possession in the safest place he could think of, and the trophy spent its first night in Manchester locked in his toilet!

Stan loved City – he was even on the club’s books for a while in his youth – and felt the pitch was his own.  He could never relax during a match though:  “I watch the pitch rather than the game!  I shouldn’t really, because I get very upset if I see a divot, especially if it is the opposing side who have churned it up.”

Inevitably, the pop concerts in the 80s and 90s brought him a few headaches, but he welcomed other innovations, such as the undersoil heating implemented in 1979.

Stan was always an important influence and others often sought his views.  At one stage Rod Stewart tried to lure him away to tend his own turf, while Ken Bates was desperate for him to join Chelsea.  Stan would have none of it:  “I know I’m biased, but to me there’s nowhere better than Maine Road, and there’s nothing nicer than someone coming up to me on a Saturday and saying how great the pitch looks.  Makes all the toil worthwhile.”

His love for the club and Maine Road was never in doubt, and was perfectly summed up in 1994:  “City is my life.  That pitch out there is my baby.  I can’t keep away from it, and I couldn’t imagine my life without it.”

He leaves his Australian-based son Stuart and his daughter Janice – another popular face around Maine Road.

Stan passed away on Christmas Eve 2001 and this written by me as an obituary for him at the time. It was first published shortly after his death.

While you’re here I’d like to thank you for taking the time and trouble to visit my website. I have been researching and writing about Manchester football for a long time (no wonder I’m going grey!) with my first book published in 1989. I am not employed by anyone and I do not have sponsorship either and so I’ve set up this website to help share my 32 years plus writing and research. The intention is to develop the archive and to provide access to as much of my material as possible over the coming weeks, months & years. Subscribers can already access hundreds of articles/posts including the entire Manchester A Football History book and audio interviews with several people, including former City bosses John Bond and Malcolm Allison.  

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Maine Road

On this day (August 25) in 1923 Maine Road staged its first game. Two decades later it staged the first World Cup match in England and the decade after that the first European Cup game in England. It still holds the record provincial crowd and the record for a League game, and for eighty years it was the home of Manchester City. Here’s a look at the life of Maine Road.

Here for subscribers is a 2,000 word piece on City’s former home. It corrects a few myths (the ‘Wembley of the North – pah! It was better than that when it opened!).

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A Kind Of Magic: Cassidy, Queen and Maine Road

On this day (July 16) in 1986 Queen played Maine Road. This was often considered to be the first major conference at Manchester City’s old stadium. However, it wasn’t. The first was actually a concert by David Cassidy in May 1974. This feature takes a look at that concert and the one by Queen which set the tone for legendary music performances at Maine Road.

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If you would like to read this and all the in-depth articles on this site (including the entire Manchester A Football History book and the audio interview with John Bond) 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 250+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

Historic Name That Ground – Week 2 Answer

On Monday I asked ‘can you name the ground featured in the image above? I know it looks a little familiar to many of the subscribers, followers and visitors to this site. It’s an image from the 1920s. So, can you work out which stadium this is.’ Well, the answer is…

Murrayfield Stadium. So, why did I say this looked familiar to those who visit this site? Well, believe it or not the stadium was modelled on Manchester City’s Maine Rd stadium. Maine Rd was opened in 1923 and the architects of Murrayfield visited Maine Rd while designing their new stadium, which opened in 1925.

Obviously, there are differences but the general look and style of the place is similar – one huge main stand which didn’t quite go the full length of the pitch (both stands ran about 3/4 of the length of the pitch with a terraced section from stand to corners); a huge, banked terracing opposite which curves down to the corners and two similar sized terraces behind the ends. Have a look at these images from inside Murrayfield in 1925 and see:

Next ground on Monday.

While you’re here why not subscribe to my site and you can then access every article, interview, audio recording etc. already posted and those that will be posted during your subscription. It costs £20 per year (about £1.67 a month) or you can sign up on a monthly basis at £3 per month (you can cancel at any time, so you could sign sign up for a month, access everything you want and then cancel). You can subscribe below:

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

If you have an old image of a ground that you think it’d be worth including in this weekly quiz then please get in touch. They don’t have to be from the 1900s to 1960s – even ground images from the 70s and 80s may prove a challenge to identify these days. You can email me at gary@GJFootballArchive.com Thanks.

Historic Name That Ground – Today’s Answer

Earlier today I asked ‘Can you name the ground featured in the image above?’ Well, the answer is…

Manchester City’s Maine Rd stadium being built in 1922. This end was the Scoreboard End/later North Stand original terracing being constructed, looking towards Maine Road itself. Note the church in the top right corner – that was replaced by the MCFC Social club and shop in 1966.

Starting Monday for the next few weeks I’ll be posting one image of a football ground taken in the past each week. Some will be easy (believe it or not there are some grounds that have not changed much in all those decades!), others not so. You’ll be able to post your view in comments at the bottom of each page.

The following Friday I’ll post the answer.

While you’re here why not subscribe to my site and you can then access every article, interview, audio recording etc. already posted and those that will be posted during your subscription. It costs £20 per year (about £1.67 a month) or you can sign up on a monthly basis at £3 per month (you can cancel at any time, so you could sign sign up for a month, access everything you want and then cancel). You can subscribe below:

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99 Dreams

Here for subscribers is a flashback piece to the 1998-99 season and, in particular, the games with Wigan Athletic which included the last competitive match at Springfield Park. Enjoy!

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Allison for England

As it had still been possible for either Manchester City or Manchester United to win the League on the final day of the 1967-68 season, the Championship trophy was left at the home of the reigning champions United.

City won the League at Newcastle while United lost 2-1 to struggling Sunderland.

You can read about that final day of the season here:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/05/11/manchester-city-win-the-league/

At United the Championship trophy vanished at some point during that day.  The Daily Express reporter Alan Thompson set off on a mission to track it down.  He started questioning the Old Trafford staff:  “Secretary Les Olive was under the impression that a League official had taken it earlier in the week, Matt Busby was not at all sure what had happened to it, and for a minute or two it was lost until a member of the female staff admitted that it had been locked up ‘in the vault’.  You are at liberty to allow full rein to your imaginations in concluding exactly where the ‘vault’ is at Old Trafford.  But the centre of the boardroom table, where the League Championship Cup has stood proudly for the last 12 months was occupied by five shillings worth of flowers.  Sit down the City fan who says symbolic.”

City still needed the trophy to be presented (Joe Mercer had offered to walk all the way from the Newcastle game to Old Trafford to collect it if he had to!) and so a friendly against Bury was hastily arranged for the Tuesday (May 14 1968) following the Newcastle game to enable the Championship trophy to be presented. 

If the destination of the title was not obvious during the season, the trophy would be presented at the League’s annual dinner but as City would be on tour in America, the League agreed to present it at Maine Road.  The presentation took place before the Bury game with Tony Book and the rest of the players going on a lap of honour before Mercer was handed the trophy to lift above his head.  The crowd roared with delight and then witnessed a 4-2 victory.

Bury’s two goals were scored by Bobby Owen who, two months later signed for the Blues.

The game was noteworthy for it also included an appearance by Malcolm Allison.  For much of the game he’d sat, wearing his familiar red tracksuit then, with about ten minutes left he substituted George Heslop and entered the field himself wearing the number 8 shirt.  This caused a little confusion as Colin Bell remained on the pitch with the same number but nobody complained, after all it was a night to enjoy especially when Allison threw himself into the game.  He forced a great save from Neil Ramsbottom, the Bury ‘keeper, and had a goal disallowed.  The City supporters chanted ‘Allison for England’, and even called for Mercer to take to the field.