Manchester City v Bradford Park Avenue: A Record Breaking Day!

On this day (30 January) in 1946 the second leg of the fourth round FA Cup tie with Bradford Park Avenue occurred. The competition largely followed the style of the War Cup with rounds played on a two legged basis.  In the third round City had defeated Barrow 8-4 on aggregate, and had managed to defeat Bradford 3-1 at Park Avenue in the first leg.  The two goal margin was believed to be enough for the Blues and the match programme included the line:  unless something extraordinary happens this afternoon City should be in the hat for the fifth round draw.

Something extraordinary did happen as Bradford cancelled out the Blues’ lead with goals in the 21st and 23rd minutes. Cardwell had regained the aggregate lead in the 36th minute but the second half saw Bradford in blistering form.  They made it 4-4 on aggregate three minutes after the break and then netted three times in nine minutes to make it 6-1 on the night.  The Blues pulled a goal back after 78 minutes but Bradford came back again netting a penalty five minutes from time and their eighth in the 87th minute.

The Blues had endured their record home defeat in the FA Cup.  Logically there was no reason why it should happen on that day.  The weather wasn’t great and Cardwell was injured during the match, but City’s team should have been more than capable of at least holding back Bradford.

Future England boss Ron Greenwood had played in both games.

Fagan’s First

Happy New Year! On this day (1 January) in 1947 future Liverpool manager Joe Fagan made his debut as a Manchester City player in the 4-0 victory over Fulham, watched by 49,449.

The goalscorers were Andy Black (2) and Alec Herd (2)

The 4-0 victory sent City to the top of the Second Division (2nd tier) table in style.  The Blues were playing as champions and, more importantly, looked like a typical First Division club.  Here’s a contemporary report of the game:

The only problem was the weather.  Postponements dragged the season through to mid-June, by which time City started to drop a few points but it hardly mattered.  The Blues won the title with 62 points – four more than second placed Burnley. 

You can read more on the 1946-47 season here:

Frank Swift

On this day in 1913: Frank Swift was born. Here for subscribers is a detailed article I wrote on Swift a few years back: Swift, Frank Victor (1913-1958), footballer and journalist was born in Blackpool, Lancashire on 26 December 1913, the second son of five children.  From his earliest memories, he was always obsessed with the game of football, playing at every opportunity with his brothers, one of whom, Fred, became first team goalkeeper for a variety of clubs, most notably Blackpool, Oldham Athletic and Bolton Wanderers.

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Abandoned Game – MCFC V Brentford

On this day (November 28) in 1936 Manchester City’s game was abandoned due to fog. For today’s piece I’m taking a look back at the season of 1936-37and that game when City and Brentford were title rivals.

The early months of the season were difficult for City. Despite exciting victories over Leeds (4-0) and West Bromwich Albion (6-2), an opening day defeat at Middlesbrough and another at Old Trafford in the first derby since February 1931 caused a little concern. The United defeat was particularly upsetting as the Reds were a side clearly lacking and destined to return immediately to the Second Division. Further City failures occurred, including a 2-1 loss at Wolverhampton and a 4-2 Maine Road defeat to Sunderland.

Significant injuries to captain Sam Barkas, and attackers Alec Herd and Fred Tilson had hampered our progress during the opening months. All three absences affected the Blues considerably – Tilson missed twenty consecutive League games; Herd eight and Barkas missed seven of the opening nine matches.

These injuries meant it was difficult to find consistency and by November 28 City were twelfth. That day they were to face Brentford at Maine Road, who were already perceived as title challengers after defeating West Bromwich Albion 2-1 the previous week. That victory had meant that Brentford were third, only one point behind leaders Sunderland. If anyone had been asked to predict which of City and Brentford were more likely to end the season as champions at that time they would inevitably have answered Brentford. However, things were about to change for Manchester’s Blues.

Subscribers to my site can find out what happened next…

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Trautmann’s Debut

On this day (November 26) in 1949 Bert Trautmann played his first Maine Road League game. Trautmann’s debut had come a week earlier at Bolton. Here’s a 1400 word article on Trautmann’s arrival, the proposed boycotts and the general situation at Maine Road that led to the gamble on playing the former Prisoner of War.

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A ‘Keeper’s Debut

On this day (23 November) in 1957 Manchester City goalkeeper Steve Fleet made his debut in a 4-3 defeat by League leaders Wolves. I’ve met and interviewed Steve often over the years and here’s a 2,500 interview I did with him where he talks about the circumstances around his debut, the game (it was an extraordinary match) and the rest of his career. I’ve also included a match report. Enjoy!

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A Goalkeeper Signs

On this day (26 September) in 1946 goalkeeper Alec Thurlow signed for Manchester City with the hope that the young ‘keeper would be a permanent replacement for Frank Swift.  Sadly, Alec was forced to retire from the game in 1950 through tuberculosis. He went on to have major surgery with seven ribs removed.  He also had a collapsed lung.  Alec died in a sanatorium at the age of 34 in 1956. You can read more on Thurlow here:

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On this day (7 September) in 1949 – Despite announcing his retirement the previous season, ever-popular goalkeeper Frank Swift finally played his last match for Manchester City.  Appropriately, he kept a clean sheet as City drew with Everton on. Here for subscribers is a 1400 word profile of Swift…

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WBA v MCFC: The Earliest Film

On this day (25th August) in 1934 West Bromwich Albion played Manchester City. Nothing particularly unusual about that I guess, but that match was filmed and this is now the earliest known surviving film of WBA v MCFC at the Hawthorns.

Here’s film of the game:

It’s a curious little film and it does show one of the goals (Albion’s not City’s) and so you will see Frank Swift making an attempt to save it. Notice at the start the way the two teams enter the field (more like the way teams entered the pitch following the arrival of Covid than what became typical in the 2010s).

WBA’s shirts are interesting with their extra white section on the front.

This game is from 25 August 1934 and ended 1-1 with Sam Barkas scoring for MCFC.

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