Guest Blog – James Ernest Mangnall, The Architect of Manchester Football by Iain McCartney

The links between the blue and the red half of Manchester are many, although there are some who will quickly deny the others mere existence. Fortunately, there are others who will embrace those historic, and often welcome links between the two bitter rivals, history being more important than the colour of a football shirt.

The links, as I said, are many, but if only three were to be listed, it is arguable that these would be, in no particular order, Sir Matt Busby, Billy Meredith and Denis Law for self-explanatory reasons. There is, however, one man who should nudge all three of those legendary figures out of the way, a man from the distant past, but one whose place in the history of both City and United is assured, but sadly, often forgotten. His name? John Ernest Mangnall.

Born in Bolton in January 1866, Mangnall also stakes a claim in the history of his local club, and that of near neighbours Burnley, a proud Lancastrian, but it is in Cottonopolis that he comes to the fore and more so during his time with Manchester United.

But for the meantime, let’s push Ernest Mangnall’s footballing credentials to the side [his given first name being lost in the mists of time] and look at the man from a much different sporting angle.

It might be said that football, a game that he played with the same enthusiasm that he carried forward into his managerial positions, was not even his first love, as he was more than a keen cyclist, being a member of various clubs, entering races and most notably cycling between John O’Groats and Lands End, at a time when bicycles were certainly not built for comfort.

Having cut his managerial teeth with Burnley, although he had helped steer Bolton along the way from the boardroom, as a director, he found is way to the dull, dreary surroundings of Clayton in 1903, with many possibly correct in thinking he was a glutton for punishment, as United were little more than a struggling side and had been rescued from what could easily have been oblivion by J.H. Davies. They had also recently changed their name from Newton Heath to Manchester United.

Appointed in place of James West, who had resigned as secretary, Mangnall embraced the role of the man not simply answered the mail and carried out other menial tasks, but took on the running of the club as a whole. Purchasing postage stamps of players made little difference.

Slowly Mangnall began to blend a team together and following a handful of near but not quite near enough finishes, he guided United out of the Second Division and into the top flight at the end of the 1905-06 season where, thanks to his now neighbours City finding themselves in a spot of bother, he ‘stole’ Burgess, Meredith, Bannister and Sandy Turnbull from his rivals and with the likes of Charlie Roberts and Dick Duckworth already at United, he had a more than capable team at his finger tips, creating a team that gave Manchester United their first domestic trophies with the League championship in 1908 and the FA Cup in 1909. The former was also won in 1911, plus success in the FA Charity Shield in 1908 and 1911.

Not only was he instrumental in building a strong United team on the field, he was more than involved in dragging the club away from its slum like home at Clayton and moving to pastures new at Old Trafford.

But all good things come to an end at some point or other and having perhaps achieved as much as he could at Old Trafford, Mangnall made the surprise move across town and joined neighbours City in August 1912. What the club and manager hoped to achieve failed to materialise, but as he had done with United, he played a major part in City’s move to Maine Road.

So, that is the career of Ernest Mangnall in a nutshell, but if you want to learn more about that man then his biography is available now from Empire Publications, 229 Ayres Road, Old Trafford, Manchester, M16 0NL UK Tel: 0161 872 3319 or 1 Newton Street, Manchester M1 1HW – telephone 0161 872 3319.

As something of a postscript.

I created ‘The Manchester United Graves Society’ a couple of years or so back, whereby I am trying to locate the burial places [or cremation details] of as many former players and officials as possible and to date have found over 500. One of the early finds was John Ernest Mangnall, who died at Lytham St Annes in January 1932, and is buried in the Lytham Park Cemetery.

Upon obtaining a photograph of his grave, I was saddened to find that the headstone was broken and the grave in general was in need of some TLC. So, enquiries were made with the cemetery as regards to any red tape that would cause problems in restoring the grave to its former glory and thankfully there were none. To be honest, they were more than delighted that someone wanted to carry out restoration work on the grave.

Funds were raised, a stone mason contacted and the work was carried out. Photos of before and after are shown here.

Should anyone want to visit the grave, it can be found at – A – 512 C/E. Go in the main gate and head up to your right.

Maine Road’s Name

On this day (25 August) in 1923 Manchester City’s Maine Road Stadium opened. In 2003 I wrote “Farewell To Maine Road” and at that time I revealed that the actual street Maine Road had originally been known as Dog Kennel Lane.  The name ‘Maine Road’ did not appear on maps until the 1870s.  At that time I questioned why the new name had been selected and how.  I outlined a few theories – one focused on Mancunian soldiers who, together with members of the prominent Lloyd family, had volunteered for war in America and could possibly have fought in Maine – but I admitted:  “all of this is pure conjecture, but it is known that Lloyd Street was named after the family, and it is clear the renaming of a road during this period was a very deliberate act and there must have been a reason.  It would be entertaining to discover where the original ‘Dog Kennel Lane’ got its name.”

I also claimed to have found the earliest reference to Maine Road in a newspaper – November 1904, the Manchester Guardian

Since that time, after much detailed research I have the answer to both the questions:  How did Maine Road get its name & Where did the name Dog Kennel Lane come from?  I have also tracked down earlier references to Maine Road in newsprint.

So, here’s the truth…

The Maine Road name was indirectly named after the US State of Maine but that this was, in itself, a compromise.  The road was almost to be called ‘Demesne Road’ (pronounced Demain) after a farm positioned slightly south of where the Maine Road Stadium would eventually be built.  The local authority did not want that, so in the end Maine Road was agreed.  It ultimately had more significance as the following newspaper article shows:

“Dog Kennel Lane took its name from the kennel where hounds were kept.  It stood on the right hand side at the bend about a thousand yards from Moss Lane, opposite to the road which tracked off to the left and led to Demesne Farm.  The common name of this lane is so ‘common’ and unattractive that when the Temperance Company bought the Trafford land they asked the local board to change the name to Demesne Road, and the subject was compromised by calling it Maine Road out of compliment to the Temperance principles of the petitioners.”

It’s important to explain this.  The Temperance movement had been growing since the 1850s and, as with so many other areas, Manchester played a lead role.  The idea of the movement was to discourage people from drinking alcohol.  After a series of campaigns of voluntary abstinence failed in the States the Temperance movement changed its approach.   

On 2nd June 1851 the State of Maine passed the first recognised prohibition law, and two years later the United Kingdom Alliance was founded in Manchester, calling itself a legitimate political party and pledging to badger Parliament to outlaw liquor in England.

The ‘Temperance Company’ mentioned in the article was actually part of the movement and had bought some land at the top of Dog Kennel Lane – this area is covered today by the buildings on the western side of Maine Road, close to the junction with Moss Lane East, and stretching to Princess Road.  They wanted to create a better standard of living and within that area they erected buildings in keeping with their approach to life, such as the Temperance Billiard Hall.  However, the ‘Dog Kennel Lane’ name was clearly an issue and so the selection of the name ‘Maine Road’ was made.  Maine, due to the State’s role in the Temperance movement, was a significant name.

So the name Maine Road does not refer to the American War of Independence but it does refer to the US State and the part that Maine played in the Temperance movement.

Initially, only the top section of the road was renamed but gradually as housing was developed southwards the new name replaced Dog Kennel Lane.  

My research has also managed to identify earlier information on the land that ultimately became City’s ground.  The land was owned by the Chadwick family, sometimes they were referred to as the Chaddock family.  In 1760 all of the Maine Road ground site, plus most of the area east of Dog Kennel Lane/Maine Road down to Demesne Farm and across to Heald Place was part of ‘Chadwick’s Tenement’ – described as 49.5 Lancashire acres of farm land.

The family were believed to have owned this land from around 1500 to the early 1800s.  By 1857 the land was owned by someone called Mr Broadie but within the following few years areas were sold off until by 1903 all that was left was a farm house, Moss Grove Farm, on the corner of Moss Lane East and Maine Road.  That was demolished shortly afterwards and by 1910 terraced housing covered the site.

The earliest media reference to Maine Road identified to date is 3rd January 1903 in the Manchester City News, but the road was marked on maps before this time.

Olympic Blues

Today I’m taking a look at links between City and Olympic gold winning medallists, in particular I’m focusing on City star Max Woosnam and Manuel Estiarte, a member of Pep’s staff.

This article is available to subscribers to my site. Subscribing costs £20 a year and subscribers have full access to everything posted on the site, including audio interviews with John Bond, Malcolm Allison, George Graham and others, plus the entire text of Manchester A Football History and a PDF of my first book From Maine Men to Banana Citizens. You can always try it out by subscribing £3 per month and cancel at any time. No matter whether you sign up for a year or a month at a time you get full access to everything for as long as you are a subscriber.

Anyway, here’s the article…

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

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.

While you’re here why not subscribe to my site and you can then access every article, interview, audio recording etc. already posted and those that will be posted during your subscription. It costs £20 per year (about £1.67 a month) or you can sign up on a monthly basis at £3 per month (you can cancel at any time, so you could sign sign up for a month, access everything you want and then cancel). You can subscribe below:

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Billy Meredith’s Last Game: 1924 FA Cup Semi

On this day (29th March) in 1924 Manchester City faced Newcastle United in the FA Cup semi-final. Not only that but the game was to be the last competitive game played by City’s legendary winger Billy Meredith. Meredith’s Manchester career began in 1894 when he joined City.

Here for subscribers is the story of that game, plus a contemporary match report and links to a film of Meredith’s last game. Enjoy!

Subscribe to get access

To read this and all content on this site please subscribe. It works out about £1.67 a month if you take out an annual subscription (£20 per year) or £3 a month if you’d like to sign up for a month at a time. Each subscriber gets full access to the 290+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

Manchester City V Brighton – The Story And Film Of The First Ever Meeting

Tomorrow (13th January 2021) Manchester City and Brighton meet in the Premier League. So far there have only been 24 games between the two clubs with the first coming in 1924. This game was a newsworthy FA Cup tie due to the return of a legend to the City team. In fact it was so newsworthy that a movie company sent their camera (you’ll see from the footage it never moved!) to Brighton’s Goldstone Ground to capture the return of a true Blue hero.

Subscribe to get access

If you would like to view this article then please subscribe below. It works out about £1.67 a month if you take out an annual subscription (£20 per year) or £3 a month if you’d like to sign up for a month at a time. Each subscriber gets full access to the 150+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.