Maine Road 100 – Day 5

The fifth of my posts counting down to the centenary of Maine Road’s opening game. Today it’s about the Players’ Tunnel at Maine Road…

Before I start notice on the black and white image the pitchside stone post. Yesterday I mentioned the carved edge style and how originally there were two impressive stone posts, one either side of the tunnel entrance. I said that by 2003 these had been remodelled extensively to match the rest of the white perimeter wall but that one of them still showed an element of the styling used throughout the stadium at the time of construction.

Maine Road’s Tunnel post. Photo by Ed Garvey

Well on the black and white image you can see that same post (on the right of captain Jimmy McMullan) in its original form.

So, what’s my angle for today? Well, it’s the players’ tunnel itself. In this 1926 image you can see the tunnel as it looked when it was first built. Eagle eyed readers may notice that the tunnel looks a little different to how it did during the 1970s onwards. That wall above the tunnel was actually taken down and the front of the seating above the tunnel was brought forward into the tunnel during the 1960s. You can see that by looking at this image of chairman Albert Alexander and Joe Mercer who are actually sat in front of where the original tunnel wall was. The space they occupy would have been open air, floating above the tunnel only a few years earlier.

Albert Alexander & Joe Mercer in the Directors’ Box extension (Copyright Mirrorpix).

The 1926 photo of the tunnel appeared in my 1997 book Manchester The Greatest City and about a year after it was published I received a letter from Canada. It came from an elderly City supporter who had emigrated to Canada many years earlier. His daughter had returned to England for a visit in 1998 and she popped into a bookshop (I think it was the old Sportspages shop) thinking that if there was a book on Manchester City she would buy it for her dad. She saw my book and bought it.

When she returned to Canada she gave the book to her father and while reading it he was stunned to find himself as a small boy on this photo. He is pictured leaning on the wall close to his mother and father. It was a remarkable coincidence but what made it even more special is that this photo came from film of the game. I was able, with the support of the British Film Institute to get a VHS copy of the game and I sent it to Canada so that he could also see himself and his parents on film, moving around.

For me that story gave me an overwhelming feeling that researching and writing about history can add significantly to the wellbeing, interests or lives of others. Research matters. There was also a great feeling of coincidence – I could easily have chosen a different illustration; the daughter may not have bought my book; her father may have only glanced through the book and so on.

1926 City v Fulham, Maine Road. Jimmy McMullan with the ball.

If you’d like to read more on the history of Maine Road, take a look at Farewell To Maine Road, which can be downloaded from this page:

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Neutral Venue

On this day (9 April) in 1975 Fulham and Birmingham City met at Maine Road in a FA Cup semi-final replay.  It was an evenly matched game until – with only around a minute of extra-time left – Fulham striker John Mitchell chased a hopeful ball into the Birmingham area.  The Birmingham ‘keeper Dave Latchford blocked a shot which then rebounded off John Mitchell’s leg and into the net to give Fulham a 1-0 victory.

The attendance for this midweek replay was 35,205 with over 20,000 coming from Birmingham (according to their local press!).  Although Maine Road was a regular and popular semi-final venue during most of its history, it does seem a rather strange choice for this tie considering the location of the sides taking part. 


Penalty Decides

When Manchester City and Fulham these sides met on this day (6 April) at Easter 1928 City were fighting for promotion out of Division Two, while Fulham were desperate to avoid relegation.  It was a Good Friday game and a crowd of 50,660 attended, though some reports claimed it was a 60,000 crowd (these were the days before Peter Swales though!).

The match was not as entertaining as other fixtures between the Blues and the Cottagers during this period, although the first few minutes suggested otherwise.  The Daily Dispatch reporter explained:  “Though they had a strong wind and sun against them, Manchester City opened the scoring in practically the first advance they made.  Marshall taking a pass by Sharp almost from the flag on the half-volley and crashing it into the net.”

After 30 minutes Fulham went further behind when their left-back Barrett handled a shot from Marshall.  Frank Roberts netted the resultant penalty.  Ten minutes later McNab scored a consolation goal for Fulham.  

In summary the Daily Dispatch claimed that the penalty – hotly disputed by Fulham – was the only significant difference between the sides (well it did end 2-1!). 

Snowy Day in Title Race

On this day (4 February) in 2012 Manchester City defeated Fulham 3-0 in the Premier League as the race for the title hotted up. It was a tense period and you can read about this period and watch highlights below.

This was a 5.30pm Kick Off and the City team was:

City: Hart, Richards (c), Savic, Lescott, Kolarov, Barry, Nasri (Milner 55), A Johnson (Pizarro 90), Silva, Aguero (de Jong 80), Dzeko
Unused: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Clichy, Rekik

Goals: Aguero (pen 11), Baird (og 31), Dzeko (72)
Referee: Mike Dean

Subscribers can read about this period and watch highlights below.

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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:

The Top and Bottom of History

While we look forward to the return of domestic football it’s worth remembering that before the pause for the World Cup there had already been records broken by Manchester City, such as the incredible goalscoring start to the season by Erling Haaland; results like the Manchester Derby 6-3 victory and Rico Lewis becoming the youngest player to score in his first Champions League start. In mid-August there was a flurry of excitement across social media and elsewhere when City were top of the Premier League and United were bottom. People asked when was the last time that had happened. 

It turned out that the two clubs had last been in those positions way back in November 1929 and it seemed to surprise some that it was so long ago. The truth is that no matter how poor United or City may have been in past seasons, it has been extremely rare for either club to occupy the bottom spot over the decades. It has been even rarer for the other ‘Manchester’ club to be top at the same time. 

So for this 1400 word subscriber article I’m going to talk about when one team has been top and the other bottom and then I’ll take a look at 1929 and the years that followed to highlight how the two Manchester clubs fared. Enjoy….

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Corradi’s first

On this day (18 November) in 2006 two goals from Corradi (12th & 32nd mins) and Barton (45th min) helped Manchester City to a 3-1 victory over Fulham. The first Corradi goal was his first for the club and resulted in him celebrating by going over to the South Stand corner, picking up the corner flag and knighting the other players as you can see in this video clip:

Historic Name That Ground – Week 27 Answer

It’s Christmas Eve but we’ve unfinished business… Did you recognise this ground? On Monday I asked: ‘Can you name the ground featured in the image above? This is a 1920s photo of this ground. There are at least 3 identifiable features visible on this photo that are still visible today PLUS the neighbouring streets. I don’t want to give much away but this has been a Premier League ground and is still used by the same club today that played here in the 20s.’ Well, the answer is…

Fulham’s Craven Cottage. The 3 identifiable landmarks are: the River Thames, the Fulham main stand and the cottage in the corner next to the stand. The housing and streets look very similar today.

There will be another ground to identify on Monday. As this is the last ground quiz before Christmas, I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and I hope it gives everyone what they want. Have a great day and don’t forget to come back on Monday for the next ground.

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I had planned to run ‘Historic Name That Ground’ only during the close season as in previous years, but it’s proving of interest so I’ll keep it going for a little while yet. If you have an old image of a ground that you think it’d be worth including in this weekly quiz then please get in touch. They don’t have to be from the 1900s to 1960s – even ground images from the 70s and 80s may prove a challenge to identify these days. You can email me at Thanks.