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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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.

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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.

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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. 

69,463 watch MCFC and Burnley in Division Two

On this day (May 10) in 1947 a solitary goal from Alec Herd against Burnley was enough to give Manchester City promotion.  The attendance for this Second Division game was recorded by the media at the time as 67,672 but official records reviewed almost sixty years later showed that City actually recorded the attendance as 69,463.

Typically, the attendance figures City used to give the media for League games through to the 1960s tended to exclude season tickets. So the Blues’ management would give the figure of tickets or pay on the gate admission for the game but exclude season ticket holders. Back in 1946-47 City had around 1,800 season ticket holders and almost every League attendance back then is understated by that amount.

FA Cup games were the actual attendances as these were always sold game by game.

As this practice of excluding all season ticket holders continued for many, many decades at Maine Road attendance figures for League games are usually understated (they were often understated in the 1970s & 1980s as well but for different reasons and back then Peter Swales, Bernard Halford and the others involved in calculating attendances would deny any discrepancy despite many fans, fanzines and others challenging them often).

For comparison purposes it’s worth looking at the attendances of the Division One champions in 1947 to see how the Blues compared. This attendance against Burnley was almost 17,000 higher than Division One champions Liverpool’s highest crowd that season (52,512 v Wolves in December) and the Merseyside Reds nearest home game to City’s Burnley match was watched by 48,800 and that was Liverpool v Manchester United (May 3). Liverpool did average 45,732 that season, whereas City averaged 39,283 but they were a Second Division club.

The City-Burnley crowd was the Second Division’s record at the time and it was higher than every First Division crowd since the 1937-38 season (The Second Division record is now held by Tottenham v Southampton which had 70,302 in 1949-50).

Film of City v Burnley does exist but it’s in a most unlikely place. It was actually filmed as part of a Mancunian Films drama called Cup Tie Honeymoon. The company was run by a Manchester City fan who made this film, which starred Sandy Powell and Pat Phoenix (under her original name of Pilkington). A football game is crucial to the plot and scenes were filmed at Maine Road and interspersed with real action from the City-Burnley game to add credibility.

Myself and Will McTaggart have shown these scenes in our Boys In Blue film shows which have been staged at the Dancehouse and Cornerhouse in Manchester over the last decade. Maybe I’ll explain more about the film and those talks another day.

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Don’t forget you can order Peter Barnes’ biography now (before May 20th) and get your name printed in it (and a copy signed by both Peter and myself). Details here:

European Semi Finals

Tonight Manchester City take on Paris Saint Germain in the 2nd leg of the Champions League semi-final. The Blues won the first leg 2-1 and are hopeful of reaching their first Champions League final. It would not of course be their first two-legged semi-final win in Europe – that came way back in 1970. 

You can read about that 1970 ECWC semi-final here:

Manchester United were the first of the region’s sides to compete in European competition and they reached a European Cup semi-final in 1956-57. They’d played their earlier rounds at Maine Road, where they’d attracted significant attendances (including their current record home European crowd) but they moved the semi-final to Old Trafford. Here for subscribers is the story of that campaign:

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The 1970 ECWC Semi-Final

Tonight (May 4, 2021) Manchester City will play the second leg of their Champions League semi final with PSG. It’s not the first European semi final the Blues have played of course, but for those thinking City’s European heritage began after the 2008 takeover here’s the story of City’s first European semi-final. This came way back in 1970!

In 1969-70 City, managed by Joe Mercer, played their first European semi-final. The second leg was was to be the best and most important European victory ever at Maine Road.

Here for subscribers is the story of both the first and second legs of that first European semi-final for the Blues.

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Maine Road’s last MCFC victory

During 2002-03 the focus for many Manchester City fans was Maine Road’s final season, especially the final month or so of the season. 

With every game at the stadium a sell-out – only the size of the away support varied – supporters were desperate for the final season to see the old venue at its best.  They also wanted a few memorable results in those final weeks.  

Ultimately, the best Maine Road match of the final weeks came on April 21 2003 when a goal from Robbie Fowler and two from Marc-Vivien Foe brought a 3-0 win over Sunderland.  The game became significant as it was to be the last City victory at the old stadium and Foe’s 80th minute goal was the last scored there by a City man. 

Pre-match Sunderland presented the Blues with a rose bowl commemorating their final visit to the stadium.  Significantly, the time span between their first appearance at Maine Road and their last was greater than any other visiting club. Co-incidentally City’s last victory at Hyde Road was also against Sunderland in April. You can read about that game here:

21/4/2003 MCFC 3 Sunderland 0, Attendance 34,357

The Kippax

The news that Manchester City will be installing rail seats at the Etihad this summer (2021) means that for the first time since 1994 the stadium will possess a section that is designed to allow people to stand. Whether officially they’ll be allowed to depends on the legislation in place at the time but, whichever way you look at it, this is good news for those who like to stand at football matches. 

It is now almost 27 years since we said goodbye to terracing in Manchester and for those of us old enough to remember those days at Maine Road there was one standing area which, above all else, represented the passion fans had for their club – The Kippax.

Unlike most other grounds City’s main terracing ran the full length of the pitch and wasn’t tucked away behind a goal. Because of its positioning the Kippax breathed life into every area of the stadium and was huge.  Originally, it held in excess of 35,000, but even in its final days it still gave the impression of power and passion.

The Kippax was originally known as the Popular Side, matching a similarly dominant feature of the Blues’ Hyde Road ground, when it opened in 1923. That first season it held an estimated 35,000 in a crowd of 76,166 – then a national record attendance for a club ground. In 1934 when 84,569 packed into the stadium City’s vast stand may well have held almost 40,000. Incidentally, that 84,569 became the new national record attendance for a club ground (a record that still stands as Wembley is a national stadium, not officially a club ground). You can read about that crowd and game here:

Incidentally, I know City fans get a lot of abuse these days from fans of certain other clubs about filling stadia etc. Well, if you need any ammunition that 84,569 record crowd is over 22,000 higher than Liverpool’s record crowd (61,905 – a figure which wouldn’t get anywhere near City’s top ten crowds!).

Throughout the period up to the mid-50s the Popular Side developed its reputation but it was when it was roofed in 1957 that it became the true heart of the club. Back then it was extended slightly, although legislative changes had reduced terracing capacities by this time. The club announced it would be known as The Kippax Street Stand and that is what it officially remained until 1994 although most of us knew it simply as The Kippax.  Its capacity by this time was about 32,000, reducing to 26,155 by the end of the 1970s.

The Kippax accommodated fans of every age and gender and, although it was a formidable place for opposition supporters, it was a welcoming stand for Manchester’s Blues. Young children would sit on the walls and railings, while older fans would find their own preferred viewing spot. Here’s a few snippets about the old stand:

  • Originally four vast tunnels (one in each corner and two built into the stand) and two significant stairways allowed fans to move onto the Popular Side.
  • A flag pole, positioned at the back of the terracing up to 1957, allowed a blue and white flag emblazoned with the words City FC to proudly fly. The flag was then re-positioned until it disappeared for good in the 1960s.
  • Chanters Corner, also known as The Sways, was the area where the more vocal members of City’s support gathered. Packed above a tunnel and next to the segregation fence, fans here often generated the main chants.
  • The 1960s saw The Kippax’s reputation grow. Fans sang their way through success after success as Joe Mercer’s Aces won the European Cup Winners’ Cup and every domestic trophy possible. The Kippax would begin every game with the chant “Bring on the Champions!” and then follow up with a song for every player as they warmed up.
  • The final capacity of The Kippax was 18,300 – making this the largest terraced area at a League ground on its final day (The Kop held its final game on the same day but had a smaller capacity).
  • The Kippax was used for the last time on 30 April 1994 for the visit of Chelsea.
  • The Blue Print flag was a popular presence on many match days from the late 1980s until 1994, making its last appearance at The Kippax’s final game. The flag had been reduced in size by then. But it still covered much of the terracing.  Blue Print was a City fanzine and they had paid for the flag.
  • Segregation was unnecessary for most of the stand’s existence, but by the end of the 1960s a rope would often be used to separate City and United fans on derby day. This was replaced by permanent barriers in the mid-70s which were increased over the years to keep home and away fans apart. Away fans were positioned at the Platt Lane end of the stand by this time.
  • It says much about the passion of the place that in the late 1970s the BBC came to film The Kippax chanting and in full flow.
  • In 1985 when City defeated Charlton 5-1 in a promotion decider on the final day of the season the Kippax was so packed that supporters remain convinced that its official capacity of 26,155 was significantly exceeded. Those of us on the terraces that day will never forget the shock we all experienced when the official crowd of 47,285 was announced – some 5,000 short of capacity!

The Kippax is no more, but those of us who experienced the stand will never forget its power, passion and presence. Its spirit lives on with thousands of Blues who stood there now bringing their own children and grandchildren to the Etihad who, if legislation allows, will soon be able to stand in a section specifically created for that purpose.

If you’re interested you can read how Maine Road got its name here:

While you’re here I’d like to thank you for taking the time and trouble to visit my website. I am not employed by anyone and no one pays me to do research or interviews. I do not have sponsorship or advertising either. 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 over 280 articles/posts including the entire Manchester A Football History book and audio interviews with former City bosses Malcolm Allison and John Bond.

It costs £20 a year (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 (see below). Thanks for the support, Gary.

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This has been a sample of the material on http://www.GJFootballArchive.com If you would like to read all the in-depth articles and listen to the audio interviews then please subscribe. It works out about £1.67 a month if you take out an annual subscription (£20 per year). Each subscriber gets full access to the 280+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

There are plenty of other Maine Road related stories on my site. For details and links see:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/category/manchester-city/maine-road/

The Manchester City story on their ground development can be read here:

https://www.mancity.com/news/club/etihad-stadium-rail-seating