Manchester A Football History – Coming soon

Starting on Saturday 9th January I’ll be posting a chapter each day from the 2010 edition of Manchester A Football History here. These will be available to subscribers to this site with one section posted each day for 35 days.

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Decisive Derbies – MCFC v MUFC 15 May 1963

Score 1-1, Attendance 52,424 Maine Road

City’s penultimate match of the season turned out to be one of the most controversial derby matches of all time.  Both clubs were languishing at the foot of the table, and a derby victory would more or less guarantee the victors survival.  

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John Picken

Scotsman ‘Jack’ Picken was an instant hit as he scored on his debut as the Reds defeated Bristol City 5-1 on the opening day of the 1905-06 Division Two season.  By the season’s end he had netted 20 goals in 33 games and helped the Reds to promotion in second place.  With fellow prolific goalscorer Peddie in the side, as well as Charlie Sagar who scored 16 goals in 20 appearances, United’s attack was impressive and there were a few high scoring games along the way (including a 6-0 win on the final day of the season when Picken scored twice).  Picken also netted a hat-trick in the 4-1 victory over Chesterfield in March 1906.

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William Grassam

After netting four for West Ham in their first Southern League fixture in 1900, Billy Grassam became recognised for his goalscoring exploits in several leading newspapers of the day.  He arrived at Bank Street in September 1903 after a brief spell with Celtic and made his debut replacing the popular Alf Schofield on 3rdOctober 1903 against Woolwich Arsenal.  Schofield returned for the following game but Grassam had done enough to retain a place in the side.

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John ‘Jack’ Peddie

‘Jack’ Peddie had developed a good goalscoring record while playing for Third Lanark in Scotland and for Newcastle during 1897-1902.  However, the press of the day had also been quite critical of his speed (while at Third Lanark) and his moods (at Newcastle).  United clearly ignored those aspects and focused on his goalscoring ability – everyone recognised he had an excellent and accurate shooting style.

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Stephen Preston

Mancunian Stephen Preston was, apparently, playing football near the New Inn, Ancoats, when United official Fred Palmer was walking by.  Palmer stopped to watch and was impressed with centre-forward Preston.  The player was signed up and on 7th September 1901 he made his mark with two goals on his debut against Gainsborough Trinity.

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Tom Leigh

After a career that had seen him play for Burton Swifts and New Brighton Tower Tom Leigh joined Newton Heath in March 1900.  He made his debut in snowy conditions at Bank Street against Barnsley on 17th March 1900.  He scored in a 3-0 win (Joe Cassidy netted twice) before a crowd of about 6,000.

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Henry Boyd

The first player to pass the twenty goals a season mark for the Heathens in the League, Scotsman Henry Boyd arrived at Bank Street in January 1897.  Previously he had developed a decent reputation at West Bromwich Albion and Royal Arsenal.

He made his Newton Heath debut on 6th February 1897 against Loughborough Town a memorable one as he scored one of the Heathens goals in a 6-0 victory.  He ended his first season with five goals from ten appearances but it was the following season when he really made his mark.

Boyd’s hat-tricks in the opening two games of the 1897-98 season set the standard, and he ended the campaign with 22 goals from 30 games (he was an ever-present) overshadowing hero Joe Cassidy who had netted 14.

Despite the positives behind the scenes there were a few issues with the Club’s new goalscoring star.  He missed training at the start of 1898-99 and was suspended for a week as a result.  The story goes that he was so appalled at the suspension that he went missing with the Club only learning of his whereabouts when he sent officials a telegram from Glasgow.  Further suspensions followed and he was placed on the transfer list.

In August 1899 he became a Falkirk player.  His last season at Bank Street had seen him make 12 appearances and score five goals.  His last goal came in the 2-0 defeat of Small Heath on 25th February 1899.

Leading Newton Heath League Scorer in: 1897-1898 – 22 goals, 30 appearances 

Joe Cassidy

Joe Cassidy was a ‘strong and burly’ forward who had provided Newton Heath with much needed attacking options during the final weeks of the 1892-93 season and the subsequent Test Matches, helping to prolong the club’s First Division status for one more season.  His initial stay at Newton Heath was fairly brief – he arrived in March 1893 and had moved to Celtic in May – but after a successful time in Glasgow he returned to the Heathens in March 1895.  On his second debut for the Club he netted both goals as the Heathens beat Grimsby Town 2-0 and ended that season with 8 goals from 8 games.

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Richard Smith

Halliwell-born Dick Smith joined Newton Heath during the summer of 1894 from Heywood Central and made his League debut on 8th September 1894 at Burton Wanderers.  Seven days later he netted his first – and second – goal for the Heathens as Crewe were torn apart during a 6-1 Bank Street victory.  

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