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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Finally

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:

https://www.britishpathe.com/video/the-football-season-opens

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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Swift Return

On this day (20 August) in 1949 Frank Swift was talked out of retirement following health problems with Manchester City ‘keeper Alec Thurlow.  Swift’s return match ended in a 3-3 draw at home to Aston Villa, watched by 43,196.  Here for subscribers is a profile of Alec Thurlow (Unfortunately, it’s a sad story!):

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The 1934 FA Cup Final

Manchester City had reached their second consecutive FA Cup final in 1934. They were to face Portsmouth at Wembley on April 28 1934.

Here for subscribers is a long read on City’s preparations for the final and the game itself:

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Title Rivals: MCFC and Brentford

Today’s anniversary game is a meeting between Manchester City and Brentford played on this day (April 3) in 1937. Believe it or not that season City and Brentford had been title rivals.

The early months of the season were difficult for City. Significant injuries to captain Sam Barkas, and attackers Alec Herd and Fred Tilson had hampered City’s progress during the opening months. By the end of November the Blues were 12th and somewhat off the pace. However, things were about to change for Manchester’s Blues with an incredible undefeated run that began with victory over Middlesbrough on Boxing Day.

Before the away game at Brentford on April 3, City had gone 15 consecutive League games without defeat.

Subscribers can read what happened next in this 1200 word article…

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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)

MCFC 20TH CENTURY CHRONICLE – SEASON 1933-34

The Matches

City were keen to improve on their 1932-3 League position of 16th in Division One and managed to open the season with only 3 defeats in the first 15 matches.  The best result of this period was a 4-1 victory over Sunderland at the start of November.

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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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The League Championship Arrives

On April 24 1937 Manchester City won the Football League for the first time. Here, for subscribers, is the story of that game and the way the club celebrated…

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