Free Online Presentation on the Origins of MCFC – Tomorrow

I’ve increased the number of tickets for tomorrow’s free online talk to the absolute maximum possible. The talk focuses on the origins of Manchester City FC, focusing on St Mark’s & the club’s development prior to its re-birth as Ardwick AFC. It takes place at Wednesday 1 February at 6pm (UK time) and these final few tickets can be booked below.

During the hour long presentation I will discuss the origins and will explain how the club was born and developed. There are lots of myths out there, so come and listen to the facts. This hour will include the opportunity to ask questions as I’m keen to hear your thoughts on the birth of the club.

The event will be live on Zoom on 1/2/23 at 6pm and a link will be sent to all those who have registered for the event beforehand (probably about 1 hour before we are due to start). To sign up for this online Zoom talk please register via this link:

You must register here if you want to get involved. If you’d like an example of what the talk will be like take a look at:

The talk will last about 1 hour and will be online on zoom, so you should be able to access it anywhere.

This is the third and final time I have increased capacity. Tickets have continued to go quickly so please book today if you want to listen and watch the presentation.

You can see posts about other History Talks here:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/tag/history-talks/

Free Online Presentation on the Origins of MCFC – Extra Places Added

I’ve really been pleased (and a little surprised) with the popularity of my planned history talk on the origins of Manchester City FC, focusing on St Mark’s & the club’s development prior to its re-birth as Ardwick AFC. I’ve had to increase the number of places available for this free event, taking place on Wednesday 1 February at 6pm (UK time). Details below of how you can get your ticket and join me for one hour of discussion about the origins. I will explain how the club was born and developed. There are lots of myths out there, so come and listen to the facts. This hour will include the opportunity to ask questions as I’m keen to hear your thoughts on the birth of the club.

The event will be live on Zoom on 1/2/23 at 6pm and a link will be sent to all those who have registered for the event beforehand (probably earlier that day). To sign up for this online Zoom talk please register via this link:

Register now to join this online zoom discussion. The plan is to present the facts and history of the birth of the club and its development in the West Gorton and Gorton areas of Manchester prior to 1887. Dispelling myths and revealing the latest research and evidence of what actually happened.

There will be an opportunity to ask questions about this critical period for football development in Manchester.

The link will be sent out shortly before the event is live to all those registered. Only those registered will be admitted into the video chat site. You must register here if you want to get involved. If you’d like an example of what the talk will be like take a look at:

The talk will last about 1 hour and will be online on zoom, so you should be able to access it anywhere. This is a free event but there are a limited number of tickets. These must be ordered in advance.

I’ve increased capacity by 50% but tickets have continued to go quickly and there is still a limited number of places available so please book early if you want to listen and watch the presentation.

You can see posts about other History Talks here:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/tag/history-talks/

Free Online Presentation on the Origins of MCFC – Register Now

On Wednesday 1 February at 6pm (UK time) come and join me for one hour of discussion about the origins of Manchester City FC, focusing on St Mark’s & the club’s development prior to its re-birth as Ardwick AFC. Sign up to listen to this free event where I will explain how the club was born and developed. There are lots of myths out there, so come and listen to the facts. This hour will include the opportunity to ask questions as I’m keen to hear your thoughts on the birth of the club.

The event will be live on Zoom on 1/2/23 at 6pm and a link will be sent to all those who have registered for the event beforehand (probably earlier that day). To sign up for this online Zoom talk please register via this link:

Register now to join this online zoom discussion. The plan is to present the facts and history of the birth of the club and its development in the West Gorton and Gorton areas of Manchester prior to 1997. Dispelling myths and revealing the latest research and evidence of what actually happened.

There will be an opportunity to ask questions about this critical period for football development in Manchester.

The link will be sent out shortly before the event is live to all those registered. Only those registered will be admitted into the video chat site. You must register here if you want to get involved.

The talk will last about 1 hour and will be online on zoom, so you should be able to access it anywhere. This is a free event but there are a limited number of tickets. These must be ordered in advance.

There is a limited capacity so please book early if you want to listen and watch the presentation.

The Birth of the Blues

On this day (13 November) in 1880 the first reported game played by St. Mark’s Church side took place in Gorton and ended in a 2-1 defeat by the Baptist Church from Macclesfield.  Both sides fielded 12 players. Please note this is the first reported game and at no time is it described as the first game. There may have been earlier matches. There are lots of myths about the birth of St Mark’s (many of which will be spread today no doubt!), the club that went through various changes that led to the creation of Manchester City in 1894. I would urge everyone to read the facts, rather than the fiction, and take a look at this:

Manchester’s Football Origins

For well over a century football has been a crucial and popular aspect of Mancunian life. It’s been part of the city’s identity. So for today’s piece I’m taking a look at football’s early years. Here is a 1800 word overview of the major Manchester clubs that existed before today’s giants, followed by the origins of Newton Heath and St. Mark’s, who both played their earliest known games in November 1880.

This article is available to subscribers to my site.

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The Origins of Manchester City: Facts Not Fiction

Manchester City’s birth as City in April 1894 was a major landmark moment and is rightly celebrated today on the club’s badge. But, this came after over 14 years of development as a community club representing districts in east Manchester. For this subscriber piece I’ve decided to focus on the earliest years of the club that became City, focusing on the period before 1884. I explain some of the myths that have developed and highlight the facts.

The Origins

Manchester City’s birth as City in April 1894 was a major landmark moment and is rightly celebrated today on the club’s badge. But, this came after over 14 years of development as a community club representing districts in east Manchester. For this website piece today I’ve decided to focus on the earliest years of the club that became City, focusing on the period before 1884.

In the beginning

St Mark’s Church opened in West Gorton – a separate township to Gorton and outside the city’s boundaries at the time – in 1865. In the years that followed the rector Arthur Connell (pictured above) and his wife Anna worked tirelessly for the parish and as his family grew (he had a son and two daughters) they became involved in parish activities, especially his daughter Georgina. She established a number of initiatives while her siblings pursued careers elsewhere. Big sister Anna worked as a Governess, near Preston, returning by 1879 when she established a Working Men’s Club at St Mark’s.

Over the years many myths have developed and so it is important to spell out the facts as we know them based on the latest research. One of the myths is that Anna Connell established the football club. There is no evidence whatsoever that she actually did this. Prior to 1983 no publication ever credited the club’s formation to Anna and no contemporary reports mention her in connection with the football club at all. The story of how her name became linked is a long complicated one which I’ve spelt out in several publications, including Manchester: A Football History (2nd edition, 2010), Manchester The City Years (2012). My Manchester City Folklore book provides the latest research. Paul Toovey, author of several City books, has also analysed this period in great detail.

What is known

Within a couple of years of St Mark’s Church opening a cricket club was established. This played in the late 1860s and by the late 1870s had grown, comprising of at least two teams. Church Warden William Beastow was involved with the cricket team, as were his sons, and at some point in either 1879 or 1880 the younger men and boys decided to add other sporting activities. They established a rugby team and an association football team with both their earliest known games occurring in November 1880. Both the rugby and cricket teams eventually faded but the football team developed and grew. Beastow retained involvement with the sports clubs. 

By 1883 the football club dropped references to the church from its name and later that year it merged with another team called Belle Vue Rangers.

The Founders?


The desire to find names attached to the formation of any club is often fruitless. Historians search for firsts, founders and the like but the truth is that the birth of any organisation is rarely the idea of one person. With St Mark’s people have incorrectly linked the formation of the Working Men’s Club by Anna Connell with the founding of the St Mark’s Cricket Club and ultimately the formation of the football club by cricketers was seen by some as having a direct link to Anna (I fell for this myself for a while!). However, the cricket club predates the Working Men’s Club and, if match reports are anything to go by, it came to prominence at a time in the late 1860s/1870s when Anna was living near Preston. 

There’s no doubt that the community ethos espoused by the Rev Arthur Connell and some members of his family contributed to the well-being of St Mark’s parishioners and may have inspired some to establish clubs and activities, but none of the Connell family could be said to be founders of the football club. That was the boys and young men who played cricket.

One of the boys, Walter Chew, became a major figure in both our club’s history and in Manchester football. In later year he spoke on the BBC and to newspapers on several occasions of the birth of the club. To him it was perfectly clear who founded it and that was his older brother William and some of his friends. One of the older boys, William Sumner, is believed to have been the club’s first captain and his arrival in West Gorton around 1879 coincides with St. Mark’s move into both forms of football. He was an engineering student lodging in Gorton and was also a member of the St. Mark’s cricket club, though Walter did not name Sumner in his interviews.

Walter Chew did play his part in City’s formative seasons though. As well as appearing in some games (many of William’s appearances have previously been credited to Walter but both men did appear for the club in the early 1880s) he was the founder, alongside his cousin, of Belle Vue Rangers. He contributed to the purchase of the club’s first ball and in 1883 he was with the Rangers when they merged with West Gorton. 

There’s much more to be said and written about these formative years but after the merger between West Gorton and Belle Vue Rangers many of the players from the merged club established Gorton AFC in 1884 and, wearing their newly adopted black shirts with white cross pattee, they posed for their first team photo – the earliest known image of our club.

So, here we are around 140 years later. A club created by the boys and young men who played cricket within a supportive community environment encouraged by the church of St Mark’s.  The formation of the club was never about an individual, it was about building a team and community spirit. 

Manchester A Football History part 5

This is the fourth chapter of the 2010 edition of the book Manchester A Football History (Gary James, published by James Ward). Subscribers get full access to this; every earlier chapter; every upcoming chapter; and all other material on http://www.GJFootballArchive.com for as long as they subscribe.

As with everything else on this site copyright laws apply. The book is published here for the personal use of subscribers to this site. For any other use please email the publishers at info@manchesterfootball.org

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