Where Were You?

On this day (January 20) in 1900 the attendance stats (see image) seen here were published in various newspapers. Of course, as a historian who researches these sorts of things it does not surprise me at all that Manchester City were the best supported club at this stage. However, I can understand why some may have been surprised back then. City had only just been promoted for the first time the previous season.

In the end Manchester’s Blues ended the season as the third best supported club with an average of 16,000 (League champions Aston Villa attracted 19,825 and 5th placed Newcastle 16,725). City ended the season 7th in the top division.

For those wondering Newton Heath (Manchester United) averaged 6,225 and were the 16th best supported club. Liverpool averaged 11,325 and were 5th best supported club.

The 2009-10 Manchester League Cup Semi-finals

On this day (19th January) in 2010 it was the first leg of the all-Manchester League Cup semi final… Back in 1991, together with Steve Cawley, I published The Pride Of Manchester (the history of the Manchester Derby). Ever since then there’s been a desire to update the book to include recent seasons. A few years ago Steve and I did start the process of updating the book but, sadly, we could not find a publisher prepared to produce the book. So, as we’re about to see another League Cup semi-final between City and United, I’ve decided to post here the text we wrote for the 2009-10 League Cup semi-finals. Both legs are covered in this piece which is available to anyone who subscribes to this site (£3 per month or £20 per year – about £1.67 per month – for that subscribers get full access to all posts published so far plus all new posts for the period of their subscription).

Here goes…

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

On this day (18th January) in 1913 Manchester City’s Fred Howard scored four goals on his debut against Liverpool at Hyde Road.  I love the description of Howard in one report of this game: ‘Howard, a hefty individual who apparently does not believe in allowing the full backs free kicks, had pounced on the ball’. I think we’ve all seen a few ‘hefty individuals’ who did not ‘believe in allowing the full backs free kicks’ over the years!

A report also warns that Howard: ‘would do well to remember that he will not always be served as he was on this occasion. Nor will he have a much easier task’. I’m pretty sure Howard did not expect to score four goals in every game.

Howard, from Walkden, ended his City career after scoring 43 goals in 90 first team competitive games. Note in this article (below) the use of the nickname Citizens to describe the Blues. Maybe one day I’ll do a piece on club nicknames but I do know that many fans didn’t feel the word Citizens (or Cityzens as it is usually written these days at the club) had much to do with the club when City re-adopted it a few years back. It was certainly used a lot when talking of the club from 1894 through to perhaps the inter-war period.

Three of Howard’s goals came in a 13 minute spell as the Blues won 4-1. It was regarded as the greatest debut feat by any player at the time. Even now, over a century later, it’s hard to think of any player having a better debut.

Over the years plenty have talked of players scoring hat-tricks on debuts around the globe but how often do you hear of a player scoring four in the top flight of a major League against a team that is regarded as one of your main rivals? After this game Liverpool had dropped to 13th in the First Division, while City were fifth.

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

On this day in 1981: The League Cup semi final! The 1981 League Cup semi-final has gone down in history as one of the absolute grudge moments between Manchester’s Blues and Liverpool’s Reds. People often think the two clubs have only been rivals in recent years but throughout the late 60s, 70s and early 80s games between the two clubs were viewed as major events.

This tie in 1981 is one that still angers many associated with Manchester City, including former players and officials. If you would like to read the story of the tie and the reasons why, then please subscribe to this blog.

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On This Day – Denis Law and Rodney Marsh

On this day (12th January) in 1974 – Denis Law and Rodney Marsh provided the goals as Manchester City defeated Leicester City 2-0 in a thrilling game at Maine Road.  

City were in blistering form for this game and absolutely tore in to Leicester. Only the brilliance of England ‘keeper Peter Shilton kept the score down as the report shows.

Film of the game here:

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MCFC 20TH CENTURY CHRONICLE SEASON 1998-99

The Matches

It’s fitting we end this chronicle of the 20th century with last season.  With typical City style, the Blues waited until the last year of the century to feature in one of the most dramatic and eventful seasons in the club’s history.  Life in Division 2 was totally alien to the Blues, and understandably the media rated them as clear favourites for the Division 2 title.  Supporters were uneasy, however.  Promotion may have been a formality as far as the media were concerned but for City fans it was hoped for – even demanded – but not expected.  Not by all at least.  Nevertheless, there was a perverse excitement about the new season.  

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Historic Name That Ground – Week 29 Answer

Did you recognise this ground? Believe it or not five years before this photo was taken Manchester City’s new ground at Maine Road was described as being designed to emulate this venue. This image is from the 1920s. Did you recognise it? The answer is…

Hampden Park

When Maine Road was being built it was described as ‘The English Hampden’ as City’s new venue was perceived as of equal status to Hampden, perceived as the greatest British ground at the time. People today incorrectly claim Maine Road was built as the Wembley of the North but that is absolute rubbish. Both Maine Rd and Wembley were being built at the same time and when Wembley opened a few months before City’s ground, it received negative press. The view when Maine Rd opened in August 1923 that Wembley may never stage a prominent game again.

You can read a variety of articles about Maine Road here:

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

Next ground on Monday.

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I had planned to run ‘Historic Name That Ground’ only during the close season 2021 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.

Referee Webb ‘Was Not To Blame!’ – Manchester City’s Mysteriously Abandoned Game

On 7th January 1956, with the score at 1-1 Manchester City’s cup tie with Blackpool was abandoned in the 56th minute after fog enveloped the ground. The game was an extraordinary one with City fans angry that it had ever started. In thick fog the referee H Webb (no not that one!) of Leeds said the game should go ahead because, although those in the stands could see little, he claimed he could see both ends of the pitch.

Blackpool kicked off to start the game but City were unable to see what was going on unless they were close up to the ball. Within 13 seconds Ernie Taylor, who later signed for Manchester United of course, scored without a single City man touching the ball (or even seeing it it seems). 

After 37 minutes the players left the field and it looked like the game would be abandoned but, to the shock of the City players (who seemed to want it abandoning according to some reports, though we all know how things can be incorrectly reported), the match restarted. 

A longer half-time than usual followed but still the game went on. After eight minutes City’s Jack Dyson was fouled in the area – although only the referee, Dyson and the man who committed the foul seemed to know this at the time. Dyson scored the resulting penalty and then a couple of minutes later referee H Webb abandoned the game (maybe it was that H Webb after all!).

Amazingly one newspaper photograph of the game did appear, but apart from that it seems the public didn’t see anything. A cartoon appeared in one ‘paper suggesting that fans only found out what happened when they went home and turned on their radios.

Four days later 42,517 attended Maine Road for a 2.15pm kick off on a Wednesday afternoon to see City win 2-1.

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MCFC 20TH CENTURY CHRONICLE SEASON 1936-37

The Matches

The 1936-7 season must be regarded as one of City’s most successful seasons, although it’s fair to say the Blues struggled a little during the difficult early months of September and October 1936.

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On This Day (5th January) in 1980 – Allison’s Nightmare at Halifax

Malcolm Allison’s multi-million pound Manchester City side were humbled 1-0 at Fourth Division Halifax Town in the FAC.

At Christmas 1979 big spending Manchester City were 12th in the League. Malcolm Allison was in charge of the most expensive British team ever assembled up to that point and 12th was disappointing but it wasn’t the end of the world. In those days a decent run in the League could easily lift a team (similar to the 2020-21 season in terms of the number of clubs capable of winning the League at Christmas). Sadly, City collapsed in the weeks that followed.  

A 1-1 draw at Stoke on Boxing Day was disappointing, but it wasn’t the end of the world.  Then a 4-1 defeat at First Division newcomers Brighton knocked confidence at an important time.  The next game was the third round F.A. Cup clash against Fourth Division Halifax Town at the Shay.

In his programme notes for the match Halifax Manager George Kirby predicted a shock:  “In today’s F.A. Cup 3rd round the only certainty is that there are going to be some surprises, especially with the wintry conditions underfoot.  I like to think that we are among one of the possible giant killers.  This is because we are playing against one of the certain to be ‘top teams’ of the 80s.  A 4th Div side at home to a 1st Div outfit with such stars as Joe Corrigan, Steve Daley, and Mike Robinson is a possible shock result.  It only needs an off day by a key player and Halifax are in the hunt.”

Kirby was determined to defeat football’s biggest spenders and even brought in an hypnotist, Romark (who had previously ‘cursed’ Allison while the City boss had been manager of Crystal Palace – a really interesting story which will be covered in my biography of Peter Barnes to be published in 2021), to get his players in the right frame of mind.  The game itself was played in horrendous conditions, with multi-million pound City struggling to achieve anything.  In the 75th minute it was all over as the ex-Birmingham City player Paul Hendrie converted a cross from former City schoolboy Andy Stafford to give Halifax a 1-0 victory.  It was the biggest result in Halifax history, and the most embarrassing City defeat of the Allison period.  Even today the name of Halifax and the sight of the Shay brings back nightmares for a large number of Blues.

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