European Tours

These days pre-season tours are an expected part of a football club’s activities but that’s not always been the case. Pre-1939 it was highly unusual for English teams to travel for friendlies before a season, but some clubs did enjoy post-season tours. The idea was that a trip to mainland Europe was a reward for first team players after an arduous season. Here for subscribers to my site is a brief overview of some of Manchester City’s European tour firsts.

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Ron Phoenix – 30/06/1929-09/03/2021

I have been informed by Matthew Phoenix that his father, Ron Phoenix died on 9th March from vascular dementia. Ron was on the books of both Manchester City and Manchester United, as well as Rochdale, Altrincham and Hyde. My thoughts are with Matthew and the rest of Ron’s family and friends. Here’s a brief summary of Ron’s career:

Ron Phoenix came from a footballing family. One brother, Eric, played for Knutsford, Hastings United, Gillingham and Exeter, while another brother, Jack, was a pre-WW2 amateur with Manchester United.

Prior to joining Manchester City in 1949 Ron had been a member of Matt Busby’s youth set up at Manchester United. The approach United took back then set the groundwork for youth systems in the decade that followed.

Ron made his City reserve debut as an amateur on Boxing Day 1949 at home to Huddersfield and he signed as a professional on 11th March 1950. At the time of his League debut (26th January 1952) he was playing as an inside-forward and he scored in the 2-2 draw at Arsenal. He kept his place for a prestigious friendly against River Plate FC from South America, this time at wing-half, and the following programme congratulated the youngster on two great displays against strong opposition.

Ron broke a leg against Newcastle in February 1953 having scored one of City’s goals in a 2-1 victory, and this injury sidelined him until the following season when he played mainly in the A team.

Despite the injury and other setbacks he did remain with the Blues until 1960, his most successful run of first team appearances as a wing-half coming in the latter half of the 1958-59 season. Sadly, family tragedy struck when in 1959 he tragically lost two children through illness.

Ron later moved on to Rochdale where he made 64 League appearances. At City he had made 52 League appearances (2 goals) & 2 FA Cup appearances. He’d also played 190 appearances in the reserves, scoring 15 goals.

My thoughts are with Ron’s family and friends.

On This Day 1953 and 1954…

On this day in 1953 Manchester City defeated Swindon Town 7-0 in the FA Cup third round at Maine Road.  The goalscorers were Hart (4), Broadis, Cunliffe, and Williamson.  

Exactly one year later future Manchester United and Manchester City full-back John Gidman was born in Garstang.  Gidman went on to make 123 first team appearances for United and 71 for City. He briefly became a cult hero at Maine Road by stating that City were the only side he would leave Old Trafford for at the time of his transfer in 1986.