The Pride of Manchester?

As we build up to the Manchester derby this weekend the usual questions of who represents Manchester best crops up, as does the ‘you’re not from Manchester’ argument. People also talk about Manchester history and so on, so I thought I’d write a few thoughts here to hopefully help anyone with their Manchester geography, history etc. Some fans will love this; some may hate it, but either way it’s all factual. Here goes….

On the question of history: The earliest recorded game for Manchester United (as Newton Heath) is in November 1880 (against Bolton Wanderer’s 2nd team) while the earliest recorded game for Manchester City (as St Mark’s West Gorton) was one week earlier than United’s game. Much is made of the 1878 formation date but that’s a bit of a red herring. There is no evidence of football participation by the Heathens until November 1880. From 1878 Newton Heath did play cricket and perform athletics. Similarly, St Mark’s are known to have played cricket from the 1860s but this does not mean the club should trace its history of football activity to 1867 (or any other date prior to 1880). I go into a lot more detail on all of this in The Emergence of Footballing Cultures: Manchester 1840-1919 but subscribers can also read the evidence & more via the following link:

Of course City was the first of the two clubs to take on the Manchester name, doing so in 1894. That year Newton Heath also tried to reform as Manchester but were prevented from doing so as there was already a Manchester FC in existence (the rugby club). Again you can read the evidence and facts in the Emergence of Footballing Cultures:

Also on the question of history… Manchester City were the first to find national success when they won the Second Division title in 1899 (also becoming the first Manchester side to earn promotion). City were also the first Manchester team to win a major trophy when they won the FA Cup in 1904. United were the first team to win the League with their first national success coming in 1908. United were the first to win a European trophy, winning the European Cup at Wembley in 1968, while City’s first European trophy (the European Cup Winners’ Cup) came in 1970 at Vienna. Both successes of course predate the first UEFA-tournament successes of Liverpool, Barcelona, Arsenal, Chelsea, Juventus and so many other perceived European giants (note: The Fairs Cup was not a UEFA tournament).

On representing the city of Manchester the point is often made, usually by City fans, that United ‘don’t come from Manchester’, so here’s a bit about geography: It is true that Old Trafford is not in the city of Manchester and that it’s in the borough of Trafford (not Salford as some say). United have been based there since 1910. Of course Trafford is within Greater Manchester, just as Bolton, Wigan, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside and the city of Salford are. Prior to 1910 United played in Clayton and Newton Heath. At the time of their formation Newton Heath was not a part of Manchester. It was added to the city in 1890.

Similarly, West Gorton, where Manchester City was first founded as St Mark’s (West Gorton) was not part of the city of Manchester until 1890. Neither club was based in the city of Manchester at time of formation. City’s roots included various moves and name changes, with them settling in Ardwick in 1887. Ardwick had been incorporated into Manchester in 1838, meaning that from 1887 the Blues were based within the city of Manchester. The club moved to Maine Road in 1923 and their current home in 2003, both of which were within the city of Manchester by the time of the club’s move. Whichever way you look at it City have been based in the city of Manchester since 1887 while Newton Heath/United were based in the city of Manchester from 1890 to 1910. So for those who would like the maths that’s 135 years v 20 years.

In terms of first blood in the Manchester derby… Newton Heath beat Ardwick in the first derby in a first team competition that still counts today. That was the FA Cup in 1890-91 and you can read about that here:

Ultimately, all of these are merely bragging rights for particular views but I thought I’d post the facts because, all too often the facts get misreported and myths profligate.

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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Video Talk on History of Football in Manchester

I didn’t realise this was available but here’s film of a talk plus Q&A I did about the early history of football in Manchester. It’s of interest to anyone keen on the origins of football or any of the Manchester clubs… Indeed the social history of Manchester. It lasts about 55 minutes and was part of the promotional work connected with my book ‘The Emergence of Footballing Cultures: Manchester 1840-1919’, published by Manchester University Press.

Here’s the recording:

If you are interested in the book then that can be bought direct from Manchester University Press or via usual retailers, such as Amazon:

You can find a list of my other books here:

Where Were You?

On this day (January 20) in 1900 the attendance stats (see image) seen here were published in various newspapers. Of course, as a historian who researches these sorts of things it does not surprise me at all that Manchester City were the best supported club at this stage. However, I can understand why some may have been surprised back then. City had only just been promoted for the first time the previous season.

In the end Manchester’s Blues ended the season as the third best supported club with an average of 16,000 (League champions Aston Villa attracted 19,825 and 5th placed Newcastle 16,725). City ended the season 7th in the top division.

For those wondering Newton Heath (Manchester United) averaged 6,225 and were the 16th best supported club. Liverpool averaged 11,325 and were 5th best supported club.

On This Day: Christmas at Manchester City

Had your Christmas dinner yet? If not then spare a thought for those days when professional football in England would take place on Christmas Day. In the modern era the thought of playing League football on Christmas Day is totally unacceptable, but in years gone by games were played on consecutive days over Christmas, including Christmas Day, and these were often the best attended matches of the winter.  

The last Christmas Day game featuring Manchester City took place in 1957 when the Blues were defeated 2-1 at Burnley.  The City team for that landmark game was:  Trautmann, Leivers, Little, Barnes, Ewing, Warhurst, Barlow, Kirkman, Johnstone, Hayes, and Fagan.  Fionan Fagan was the last City player to score on Christmas Day

The following day City defeated Burnley 4-1 at Maine Road in front of a crowd of 47,285.  The only change to the line up was Ron Phoenix, who replaced Bobby Johnstone. 

The First Noel

The first League game ever played by City on Christmas Day was at Christmas 1896 against Newton Heath (present day Manchester United).  The game was played at Bank Street, Clayton (roughly across the road from the Etihad, the site of the BMX centre behind the present Velodrome) and was attended by 18,000 – a figure described by the Athletic News as being huge for Newton Heath:  “The crowd was an enormous one and I never saw so many lads at a football match.  They were really the cause of the encroaching in the first half, for they were continually creeping under the rails, and as a natural consequence their elders were bound to follow if they were to get a glimpse of the game.”  

Fans streamed on to the pitch on several occasions and the game was almost abandoned at half time:  “Mr. J. Parlby, one of the League Management Committee, told the crowd point blank that if they did not keep beyond the touchline, the game could not proceed, and the Newton Heath Club would have to suffer the consequences.”

Parlby, was actually a City director, and his words may have been influenced by the fact Newton Heath were the better side that day!  The game ended 2-1 to the Heathens.

The two sides met on two further occasions on Christmas Day, the last (1902) ended 1-1 at Clayton before 40,000 with Billy Meredith scoring for the Blues.

Highest Christmas Crowd

City tended to be away from home on Christmas Day, but the best Maine Road crowd on the 25th was 56,750 in 1930 when City faced Arsenal.  The following day a mere 17,624 attended the return game at Highbury.

The previous year a crowd reported as 70,000 watched Aston Villa beat City 2-1 on Boxing Day at Maine Road.  This is the highest Christmas crowd at a City League game.

Christmas Thriller

Perhaps the most entertaining – if disappointing – game ever played by the Blues on Christmas Day was the 6-5 defeat by Bury at Gigg Lane in 1925.  

Debuts

The following players made their Manchester City League debuts on Christmas Day:

1946 – Peter Robinson (V. Plymouth Argyle)

1933 – Frank Swift (V. Derby County)

1902 – Johnny Mahon (V. Manchester United)

1909 – George Wynn (V. Bradford Park Avenue)

The First ‘Manchester Derbies’

Back in 1881-82 the two teams that would eventually become Manchester City and Manchester United met for the first time with the first fixture occurring on this sate (12th November 1881). To mark this anniversary here’s a free article on the first two derby matches. Both were friendlies of course!

The First Time

Back in 1881-82 the two teams that would eventually become Manchester City and Manchester United met for the first time. This was only a year after the first reported games played by the clubs, then known as St Mark’s (MCFC) and Newton Heath (MUFC). The first St Mark’s game to make it into print was against Macclesfield Baptists on 12th November 1880 while Newton Heath’s earliest known game came seven days later against Bolton Wanderers’ 2nd team.

On the anniversary weekend of St. Mark’s first reported game, 12th November 1881, Newton Heath and West Gorton (St Mark’s) met for the first time.  The game, played at North Road, Newton Heath, attracted an attendance of around 3,000 (according to details recorded many years later – I’m dubious about the number but we have nothing contemporary that’s accurate so we’ll go with that).  

The ‘Heathens’, who went on to become Manchester United in 1902, defeated West Gorton (St. Mark’s) 3-0 in what was described as a ‘pleasant game’.  I wonder what the reporter would make of 21st Century derby matches!  Two goals were scored in the first half, one being an own goal by one of West Gorton’s ‘backs’.  It is not reported who scored the goal, all the ‘Ashton Reporter’ match report says is that the player was “attempting to stop a shot by E. Thomas”.  

One of the significant aspects of the way this game was reported which has created some confusion over the years concerns the St. Mark’s name.  It was recorded as West Gorton (St. Mark’s) as opposed to St.Mark’s (West Gorton) and that change has caused some to suggest that the church were unhappy in some way with the club.  There was a suggestion that the club was attracting players from outside of the parish and that was an issue, but none of this now appears to be correct.  The church appeared to be happy with the way the side was developing and, if anything, the selection of Kirkmanshulme Cricket ground actually meant the team were playing fairly close to the St. Mark’s rectory.  The move potentially increased the opportunity for spreading the church’s work and that may be why the person sending in the match reports to the local newspaper changed the emphasis.

The Return Match

The return match took place at the Kirkmanshulme Cricket ground (West Gorton’s home) on 4th March 1882. On the image above this is the cricket ground to the right of Tank Row (and left of Belle Vue Zoo).  

West Gorton (St Mark’s) gained revenge for the 3-0 defeat in their first encounter, as they overturned Newton Heath 2-1. The Gortonians had managed to take the lead, via Charles Beastow, as early as the eighth minute, and then had to hold off the Heathens who had been awarded a couple of consecutive corners.  The second actually lead to West Gorton’s second goal.  James Collinge obtained possession in front of the West Gorton goal then proceeded to run the full length of the pitch, before sending the ball flying between the Heathens’ posts amid loud cheering.  

The score remained 2-0 until late in the game when, according to reports, the Heathens baffled the home ‘keeper Edward Kitchen by performing several good passes before the ball entered the goal.  Exactly how baffled Kitchen was we don’t know, but we do know that this game was well attended.

Years later the attendance that day was reported as ‘around 5,000’, although it would be unfair and ridiculous to suggest that this was the actual attendance.  It seems incredible that around a sixth of Gorton’s population would have been able to attend a game which, at that point, was not regarded as a ‘derby’ or an important fixture whatsoever.  Nevertheless. it does provide an indication that football in West Gorton was becoming popular.

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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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Manchester’s Footballing Pioneers, 1863–1904: A Collective Biography

ABSTRACT: Association football had become a prominent part of Manchester’s sporting landscape by 1904 when Manchester achieved its first national success. Its journey had been difficult, relying on the efforts of several key individuals whose relentless determination to widen the sport’s participation ensured the game succeeded. This paper provides an analysis of three pioneering figures, John Nall, Fitzroy Norris, and Joshua Parlby, who took the game from its formalized inception in the region through to its first national successes, considering their class, experience, shared history, and connections, while analyzing what these narratives add to the wider origins of football debate. The author concludes that football’s emergence depended primarily on the activities of key individuals from varying backgrounds who provided the energy, enthusiasm, and organizational structures necessary, while relying on cross-class connections, to establish the game within a region.

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FA Cup success, football infrastructure and the establishment of Manchester’s footballing identity

ABSTRACT: Contemporary Manchester is recognized internationally as a footballing city, with both Manchester United and Manchester City acknowledged as prominent clubs. However, the city has not always been a force in the game, nor has the game always been important across Manchester’s social spectrum. This paper examines how Manchester first became established as a footballing city, identify- ing that success in the FA Cup in 1904 stimulated interest in the game and con- siders how the legacy of that victory enabled the game to develop in terms of participation and spectating. It also considers the social mix of attendees at pro- fessional games in the city, and closes by concluding that footballing success generated increased interest and was the catalyst for improvement in the infra- structure for both participation and attendance, enabling Manchester’s footballing identity to become established.

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The First Competitive Manchester Derby (Season 1891-1892)

DATE 3rd October 1891

COMPETITION FA Cup 1st Rd (Qualifying)

VENUE North Road

ATTENDANCE 10,000

NEWTON HEATH 5 (Sneddon, Doughty, Farman 2, Edge)

ARDWICK 1 (Pearson)

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