Charles’ Investiture

I was recently asked by Tony Whiston on Twitter about a memory he had of Manchester City playing a game to mark the investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince Of Wales in 1969. The answer to the query is:

The investiture was on 1st July I believe and on 18th of that month City played a Carnarvon select XI, drawing 1-1 before 3,000. Bell scored for City.

The City starting 11 was: Dowd, Book, Pardoe, Doyle, Booth, Oakes, Summerbee, Bell, Lee, Young & Coleman.

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On This Day: A European Cup First for Manchester City

On this day (18 September) in 1968 Manchester City’s first European Cup fixture against Fenerbahce ended goalless at Maine Road.  You can read about that game here:

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Royal Reactions (part one)

I’m sure we’ve all been watching some of the television coverage following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. With so much air time to fill we’ve often had angles put forward and debated for a few minutes or hours on TV and radio. So I thought it was time I put one (or two – part two will go into detail about royal visits to Manchester City) of my own on my website. Here goes… Someone asked me the other day about how Manchester City reacted in terms of performance in the days/weeks/months after a monarch’s death. So, if you’ve been desperate to find out, or are more likely to think ‘go on then, I’ll stick with it a bit longer’, here’s the answer:

Since Manchester City was established in the 19th Century there have been two British Queens and now five Kings. Detailed below are a few snippets from each of their reigns which may or may not be of interest. I’ll start with Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria was on the throne throughout the birth of League football until her death in January 1901. These were the years when professional football developed and Victoria died only 9 years after the club had joined the League as Ardwick.

Major Trophies Won: No major trophies were won by City during Victoria’s reign but they did win the Second Division title in 1899 – the first national success of either Manchester club. The last complete season of her life saw City compete in the top flight for the first time. the first game after her death was a 2-1 defeat at Stoke.

King Edward VII was on the throne from January 1901 through to May 1910. He died in the close season as City were about to go on tour to Germany and Denmark. During Edward’s life City won the FA Cup in 1904 (Manchester’s first major trophy) and were runners up in the League that season.

King George V was the first monarch to visit a Manchester City game when he attended a 1920 League game between City and Liverpool at Hyde Road. During his reign City won the FA Cup in 1934 and George was present for that final. City had also appeared in two other finals and had finished 2nd in the League in 1920. He died in January 1936 and the following weekend’s FA Cup games went ahead as scheduled. Over 65,000 watched City defeat Luton 2-1 at Maine Road.

King Edward VIII was only on the throne for about nine months and abdicated in December 1936. City had finished ninth in the only season completed during his reign but the 1936-37 was to be a spectacular one, though the part of the season before his abdication was not so great for the Blues.

King George VI became King on the abdication of his brother and City were to go on an incredible run shortly afterwards. A couple of defeats came within a fortnight of him taking on the role but other than those City were undefeated for the rest of the season. An incredible run of 22 games unbeaten brought City the League title in 1937.

As the Duke of York George had attended the 1933 FA Cup final and had also attended a game at Maine Road that year too. George died in February 1952. The following weekend’s games were not postponed and City drew a goalless match with Blackpool.

Queen Elizabeth II became Queen in 1952 and during her reign City have found major success time and time again. Within 3 years of her becoming Queen she attended Wembley to watch City face Newcastle in the 1955 FAC final. Newcastle won that (their last major domestic trophy) but the year after she was at Wembley again to see City beat Birmingham in the Trautmann Final. Since then City have found major glory in the League and in Europe. Their trophy haul under Elizabeth includes:

1 European Cup Winners’ Cup

7 League titles

4 FA Cups

8 League Cups

City have won 1 trophy approximately every 3.5 years of her reign. When she died games were postponed the following weekend.

King Charles III – Of course it’s too early to say what success arrives during his reign.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this slightly odd football article. There’ll be a second part published next week. Watch this space. While you’re here why not explore the rest of the website. Thanks

On This Day: Bowles

Stan Bowles scored twice on his League debut as Manchester City beat Sheffield United 5-2 on this day (16 September) in 1967.  Three days earlier he also scored twice as the Blues defeated Leicester 4-0 in the League Cup – Bowles came on as substitute in his debut game.  Despite this tremendous start, Bowles never scored again for City and only made a total of 16 (plus 4 sub) appearances.

On This Day in 1976: Juventus

On this day (15 September) in 1976 Manchester City defeated Italian giants Juventus 1-0 at Maine Road in the UEFA Cup.  A crowd of 36,955 watched Brian Kidd net the only goal. You can read about the game and watch highlights here:

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On This Day in 2003: Anelka

On this day (14 September) in 2003 two penalties from Nicolas Anelka helped Manchester City to their first League victory at the City Of Manchester Stadium (now Etihad Stadium).  The match with Aston Villa ended 4-1 and it also saw Anelka score the first hat-trick at the new stadium and the first penalty.

You can watch about ten minutes of highlights here:

On this day in 1972

On this day (13 September 1972) Manchester City drew 2-2 at home to Valencia in City’s first UEFA Cup tie.  The City scorers were Ian Mellor and Rodney Marsh. You can read more about that game here:

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You can read other articles about Rodney Marsh here:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/tag/rodney-marsh/

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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