We hear so much about the Premier League era and how the game has changed, so for today’s feature I’ve decided to take a look at the early 1990s and the birth of the Premier League. It’s almost thirty years since the structure of league football changed forever and during that time some clubs have benefitted from the new structure and others have found life difficult. City have experienced both extremes of course.
The narrative that we often hear about the Blues’ journey over the last thirty years is that they’ve gone from a struggling club to a hugely successful one and, while it is true City are highly successful today and that the Blues entered their lowest ever point in the late 1990s, it is wrong to assume that the position the club found itself in by 1999 was typical of the club’s full history.
So, here for subscribers, I’m taking a look back at the early 1990s and remind ourselves where the Blues were; who their rivals were; and the state of football at that time:
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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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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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On April 12 1894 a meeting was held to formally establish Manchester City AFC.
Dates and the story around the establishment of the club often get incorrectly recorded, so here for subscribers is the story of the demise of Ardwick and establishment of Manchester City with all the key dates…
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