True Blues – John Allison

Continuing the series of ‘True Blue’ figures associated with the early years of Manchester City, here’s an article on John Allison who was a key figure with Ardwick AFC, Manchester City, Salford Harriers and also at Celtic. You can find out why this man was such an important figure in Manchester City history below:

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FA Cup: Manchester City v Arsenal

It’s Manchester City v Arsenal on Friday. The first FA Cup tie between these clubs came in 1904 and was part of Manchester’s first major trophy winning campaign. The two sides met at Arsenal in the second round of the competition. Back then City were a top flight team while Woolwich Arsenal were in the Second Division and some reports talked of the Gunners being envious of Manchester City and their status (how often do modern interpretations of a club’s status forget the game’s full history hey?). Arsenal had defeated Fulham 1-0 in the previous round. 

The Blues defeated the Gunners 2-0 with goals from Sandy Turnbull and Frank Booth, prompting the Manchester Evening News to print a cartoon of Billy Meredith leapfrogging over the Gunners while Tom Maley, dressed in kilt, watches. 

Outside-left Frank Booth, one of the scorers, had joined City in April 1902 making his first appearance for the Club in a friendly with Celtic on 1 September 1902.  That friendly appearance brought a little bad luck to the player as fairly early on in the match he accidentally collided with Celtic’s Right-back Hugh Watson causing him to leave the field for twenty minutes or so.  When he returned however he seemed more determined than ever to prove what he was capable of and, when a chance came his way, he scored what was described as a “very fine” goal to give City a 1-0 victory.

Throughout Booth’s career prior to the Arsenal game he had been rather unlucky with injuries and, at times, must have seriously considered concentrating on a life outside of the sport.  He was a hatter by trade, coming from the local hatting areas surrounding the towns of Hyde and Denton, and had only completed his apprenticeship in 1903.  Nevertheless a career in football had to be more appealing than life in one of the large hatting factories of east Manchester.

Here’s a brief cutting mentioning the game. Note also the difficulties being experienced by Second Division Manchester United (again, how often do modern day commentators on the game’s history forget the full history?).

After the tie with Arsenal at Plumstead, George Robey, a very famous Music Hall comedian with a love of football, took the City team to visit the capital’s top Music Halls.  Such light relief was needed in the City camp as the realisation was now dawning that the Blues might seriously be contenders for the League and Cup double that at this point in history had only been achieved by Preston (1889) and Aston Villa (1897). 

For a side (indeed a city) whose only national success so far had been to win the Second Division, this must have felt like an impossible dream but, as the season progressed it became increasingly possible.

You can read about what happened next here:

The next FA Cup meeting between the teams didn’t come until 1932 when they met in at the semi-final stage.

You can read all about that here:

Since 1932 the sides have met in the competition on 17/2/1971 at Maine Road (a 2-1 Arsenal win); the 2017 semi-final (2-1 aet for Arsenal); and again in the 2020 semi played on 18 July 2020 (a 2-0 Arsenal win).

A City FA Cup win over Arsenal is long overdue!

Goalscoring Feats

This season has brought so many wonderful moments for Manchester City with goalscorers in particular getting the headlines for some outstanding performances and record-breaking achievements. Erling Haaland is, of course, attracting a lot of attention for his exploits, while Phil Foden has also continued to impress. It was particularly satisfying when they both scored hat tricks against United in the Manchester derby back in October. This was the first time two players had scored hat tricks in a Manchester derby and their lifetime of City support and connections adds a great deal to the achievement. 

Haaland’s goalscoring feats have caused some to ask about club records and the players who have achieved them. So for today’s piece I’m taking a look at a few past achievements to remember some of those who have done amazingly well for City over the decades while helping to highlight seasonal records that can be aimed at. 

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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.

The First Manchester Derby In The League – 1894

SEASON 1894-1895

DERBY: 1

DATE 3rd November 1894

DIVISION Two

VENUE Hyde Road

ATTENDANCE 14,000

MANCHESTER CITY 2 (Meredith 2)

NEWTON HEATH 5 (Smith 4, Clarkin)

Manchester City: George HUTCHINSON, Harry SMITH, John WALKER, George MANN, Joseph NASH, Fred DYER, Billy MEREDITH, Pat FINNERHAN, Sandy ROWAN, James SHARPLES, Bob MILARVIE. Manager: Joshua Parlby

Newton Heath: William DOUGLAS, John McCARTNEY, Fred ERENTZ, George PERRINS, James McNAUGHT, William DAVIDSON, John CLARKIN, Robert DONALDSON, James DOW, Richard SMITH, James PETERS. Manager: Alf Albut

BACKGROUND

Both sides had joined the Football League in 1892 when Ardwick (Manchester City) entered the newly formed Second Division and Newton Heath (Manchester United) joined the enlarged First Division. At the end of this first season Newton Heath finished bottom of the First Division and Ardwick in fifth place in Division Two. Newton Heath survived in the top flight by succeeding in the Test matches that were used to decide promotion and relegation in the early years of the League. The 1893-94 season saw Ardwick finish 13th out of 15 teams in the Second Division, whereas Newton Heath were again bottom of the First Division. This time the Heathens were unsuccessful in the Test matches and were relegated, joining Ardwick in Division Two. During the close season Ardwick had been reformed as Manchester City and were determined to make an impact. A number of new players had been signed by City secretary Joshua Parlby, including William ‘Billy’ Meredith. The derby was to be Meredith’s home debut. Prior to the derby, City had won only four games out of eleven in the League, although they had scored thirty goals including four in their previous game – a 5-4 defeat at Newcastle United! Newton Heath had lost only once in the League at Burton, and so entered the match as very much the team in form.

BEFORE THE GAME

            P          W         D          L           F          A          Pts

NH        7          3          3          1          17        11        9

CITY      11        4          1          6          30        30        9

MATCH VERDICT

This was the first ever League match between the Manchester clubs. It proved to be an exciting game of end to end attacking football leading to a conclusive victory for Newton Heath. Smith, Newton’s inside left was in irresistible form and set up derby history by scoring most goals in a single match. City were well beaten on the day, finding the Heathens’ defence and McNaught in particular, difficult to break down. Some consolation came from the goalscoring home debut of the legendary Billy Meredith, who was to give both clubs such wonderful service. For goal hero Smith this match marked the high point of a splendid first season for the club. His record four goals were part of 17 strikes in 29 games. During this season and the next, he remained a consistent marksman for the Heathens, but thereafter, lost form and his team place, before leaving the club in 1900. “The Umpire” sports newspaper of the day described the build-up to the first ever League derby and recorded the first derby goal as follows: “This League match was looked upon as the local Derby in Association football, and in spite of the dull and threatening weather the much-improved ground at Hyde Road presented an animated spectacle. When play started the weather was still dull, but the crowd rolled in fast, until probably over 10,000 were present. The City played towards the hotel end, and the sun coming out strongly was much against them early on. The excitement was intense as Meredith raced away and centred finely but the defence was equal to it and sternly repelled. At the other end the home side were not equally fortunate, as after Hutchinson had placed a beauty over the bar, Smith headed past him and opened the scoring for Newton after thirteen minutes play”.“The Umpire” then summarised the first ever League derby in the following terms: ”Although some allowance must be made on account of Smith (Harry) being hurt, it must be admitted that on the day the winners were the better team. Their combination was excellent and hardly a fault could be found with any of the players. Douglas made amends for his somewhat poor form of the previous week and, judging by the cheers with which he was greeted, he is still a great favourite on the Ardwick ground. All the backs played finely, but the highly finished display of McNaught is deserving of special mention. Dow played about his best game so far this season, one good feature being his unselfishness. Donaldson played as hard as ever, although he is not quite so unselfish as he might be. On the City side Hutchinson had little chance with any of the goals scored against him, albeit he gave one the appearance of being far from safe. Walker however, played very finely, but Dyer was by no means brilliant at half, in which position Mann was about the most conspicuous. The winning half-backs were clearly too good for the opposing forwards, but the play of the young Welsh player, Meredith and Finnerhan, was far superior to that of any other”.

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The Great Billy Meredith

101 years ago today the great Billy Meredith returned to Manchester City from Manchester United. This was the third time the legendary Welsh player had joined the Blues – a club he continued to watch and support until his death in 1958. I discussed his life and career with his daughter Winifred (who was 98 at the time) and his grandson Ian Pringle many years ago and they both talked fondly and passionately about his Manchester City connections.

Here for subscribers is a detailed profile of Billy Meredith I wrote about 17 years ago. It appeared in my Hall Of Fame book. Enjoy….

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Climbing the Golden Stairs

I’ve always liked this cartoon since finding it during research back in 1989. It represents a game played on Boxing Day between Manchester City and Newton Heath (who later reformed as Manchester United in 1902). Manchester’s Blues won the match 4-0 and the cartoon was captioned ‘Climbing the Golden Stairs’. That caption referred to a promotion challenge.

At the season’s end City were promoted as Second Division champions, becoming the first Manchester side ever to gain promotion and the first to win a national competition of course. Newton Heath finished fourth in the Second Division while near neighbours Glossop were promoted in second place behind City.

Search the archive to read more about 1898-99 and about some classic derby matches too.

Historic Name That Ground – Week 21 Answer

On Monday I asked if you could name this ground. I said: ‘I know it’s a tough one BUT… there’s a reason I’ve chosen this week to post this image plus eagle-eyed visitors to this site may notice that I have actually used part of this image before in connection with another story. So where is it?’ The answer is…

Manchester City’s old Hyde Road ground. So did you work out why I’ve posted the image this week and what the previous story I’d used part of this image for was in connection with? Well this equivalent week in 1920 saw the stand featured being built. This is the only known surviving photo of Hyde Road’s temporary Main Stand built in the week following the Hyde Road fire.

The Main Stand was destroyed on the night of the November 6 by fire and, after attempts to move to United’s Old Trafford failed as a result of United demanding an exorbitant rent. For the full story of this see this chapter of Manchester A Football History (available with the rest of the book as a download for subscribers):

Manchester A Football History part 13

City didn’t think the rent was fair (neither did the media – again see that chapter of Manchester A Football History) and so they decided to soldier on at Hyde Road. A new stand – the one seen from the back here – was constructed using wood.

So, what about the previous story part of the image was used for? That was a piece about Billy Meredith returning to City in July 1921. Meredith is the player on the far right and this photo was taken to show him back at Manchester City.

Watch out for another Historic Name That Ground on Monday.

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The Sporting Broads: A Family’s Journey from Pedestrianism to Football

By the time professional football came to prominence as the leading working class sporting activity in the late nineteenth century the sport of pedestrianism was in decline. Pedestrians and trainers had to find alternative means of income and, for some, football provided a new focus for their skills, crafted through experience and passed on through familial and community links. This paper considers the life of Jimmy Broad, a competitor in pedestrian challenges, who went on to establish a career as a successful football trainer, and highlights how his career adapted. It also provides commentary on the training techniques utilized by Broad and goes on to outline the careers of his sons, one of whom also became a football trainer. The story of the Broads is of importance to those studying sport’s development during the late 1800s and early 1900s, and provides an understanding of one of the influential figures behind Manchester’s first footballing success. It adds to the research into athletic entrepreneurs which has seen the construction of individual biographies to aid understanding of sport’s development. 

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City’s record appearances

Now that Sergio Aguero has left Manchester City it seems an appropriate time to review where he fits in the all-time appearance list for the club.  City’s appearance holder is Alan Oakes and it may be some time before another player comes close to his total of 676 (plus 4 as substitute) appearances.

Here for subscribers is a feature on the top 25 appearance holders for Manchester City with some commentary on how the record has changed over the decades.

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