Manchester City versus Chelsea – The story so far…

Tomorrow (5 January 2023) Manchester City play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League and so I thought I’d post a few connections, historical moments and memorable game details here. So here goes…

All-time Record (all first team competitions)

City wins 62, Chelsea wins 71, 39 drawn.

League – 154 played, 53 City wins, 62 Chelsea wins, 39 drawn.

FA Cup – Played 7 (there’ll be another this coming weekend!), 4 City wins, 3 Chelsea wins

League Cup – Played 4, 3 City wins, 1 Chelsea win.

Champions League – Played 1, 1 Chelsea win. You can read about that one here:

ECWC – Played 2, 2 Chelsea wins.

Full Members Cup – Played 2, 2 Chelsea wins.

Community Shield – Played 2, 2 City wins.

Game One

The first match between the sides was on 7 December 1907 in Division One.  Chelsea had been promoted the previous season, and the match ended 2-2 before a 40,000 crowd at Stamford Bridge.

Debuts

City debutants in this fixture include Rodney Marsh, whose first game was the 1-0 victory over Chelsea on 18 March 1972.  Local hero Tommy Booth netted the winner in front of 53,322.

Marsh was a high profile and expensive signing back in 1972. He was signed shortly before the transfer deadline back then. Another major signing who made his league debut v Chelsea was Robinho who joined the Blues on transfer deadline day back in 2008, marking his league debut v Chelsea with a goal that September.

On 14 November 1959 in a 1-1 draw, Alan Oakes made the first of an incredible 665 (plus 3 as substitute) appearances for the Blues – sadly he gave away a last minute penalty, but Bert Trautmann saved it!  You can read more on that game here:

A little over 30 years later Howard Kendall signing Niall Quinn marked his debut with a goal in another 1-1 draw.

Others to have made their debuts include Tosin Adarabioya, Aleix Garcia & David Faupala (scored on his debut). Those players all made their debuts in the FA Cup game on 21 February 2016. 

Television

The first City-Chelsea game to be shown on BBC TV was on 1 October 1955 at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea beat City 2-1. The commentator was Kenneth Wolstenholme. 

The first meeting of the sides to be shown on the BBC’s Match of the Day was 1 October 1966, when Tommy Docherty’s Chelsea beat City 4-1.  Chelsea’s scorers were Tambling, Baldwin, Kirkup and Osgood, while the dependable Neil Young netted for City.

The first live match was on Friday 4 May 1984 with a 7.15pm kick-off, again on BBC.  This Division Two match ended in a 2-0 victory for 2nd placed Chelsea, and the result ended City’s dreams of an immediate return to the top flight.  Chelsea clinched the title that season on goal difference from Sheffield Wednesday and the live game became noteworthy as it was the first Second Division match shown live on television.  Interestingly, the BBC recruited Bobby Charlton as their City ‘expert’ for this game.

Connections

Kevin De Bruyne (made three League appearances for Chelsea), Willy Caballero, Frank Lampard, Scott Sinclair, George Weah, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Nicolas Anelka, Wayne Bridge, Danny Granville, David Rocastle, Gordon Davies, Clive Allen, Clive Wilson, Terry Phelan, and Colin Viljoen are some of the players to have appeared for both clubs.  Further back amateur Max Woosnam had appeared for first Chelsea then City.  He was City’s captain for a while, and was given the honour of captaining the Blues in their first match at Maine Road.  A good all-round sportsman, Woosnam was a Wimbledon doubles champion, and Olympic gold medallist.  He also captained England.

Highest Attendances

The top five attendances for this fixture are:

85,621 – FA Cup semi final, 14 April 2013, City 2 Chelsea 1 

81,775 – 2019 League Cup final, 0-0 City won 4-3 on penalties

72,724 – 2018 Community Shield, City 2 Chelsea 0

68,000 – The highest crowd for this fixture at the old Wembley; the 1986 Full Members’ Cup Final.  

64,396 – 26 March 1948 meeting at Stamford Bridge; a 2-2- draw.

The top five attendances for City V Chelsea at the Etihad are: 54,486 on 23 November 2019; 54,457 on 3 December 2016; 54,452 on 10 February 2019; 54,331 on 16 August 2015 and 54,328 on 4 March 2018. A reduction in capacity at the Etihad means that games from 2021 onwards cannot better these figures.

The highest attendance for City V Chelsea at Maine Road was 53,322 on 18th March 1972. 

Wembley ‘86

The only game between the two sides at the old Wembley Stadium was the inaugural Full Members’ Cup Final in 1986.  Despite taking the lead in the eighth minute, City were losing 5-1 with only five minutes left.  A Mark Lillis inspired fightback followed and he helped City achieve a 5-4 scoreline, before time ran out.  It was a thrilling match and it also helped David Speedie enter the record books.  His hat-trick was the first in a senior domestic final at Wembley since Stan Mortensen in 1953.

You can read about that one here:

Kippax First and Last

City’s first & last games in front of the Kippax Stand were both against Chelsea. The first came on 5 September 1957. City won that game 5-2 (goals from Colin Barlow 2, Fionan ‘Paddy’ Fagan 2 and Billy McAdams), attendance 27,943. The second was on 20 April 1994 – a 2-2 draw (City goals from Uwe Rosler and Paul Walsh), attendance 33,594.

Did You Know?

The two Second Division matches between the sides in 1927-8 were watched by a total of 104,643.  That season City, despite being a Second Division club, had the highest average attendance of all the clubs in the Football League.

Well I Never!

The last match of the 1993-4 season was the last played in front of the old Kippax Stand.  At the time, the Kippax was the largest capacity terraced stand in the country, and Chelsea supporters (dressed as Blues Brothers) laid a wreath in front of the famous old stand.  It was a gesture much appreciated by City fans.  The game ended 2-2 and afterwards supporters hacked off pieces of the old terracing.  Even the old “Colin Bell Bar” Sign was seen being taken towards the city centre after the match!

Feature Match

My feature match is noteworthy as it was played at a time when the Blues were suffering heavy fixture congestion, and squad rotation was still something for the future.

The match is the first leg of the 1970-1 ECWC semi-final.  City were cup holders, while Chelsea had qualified after beating Leeds in the FA Cup Final replay at Old Trafford played on the same night as City’s ECWC final in April 1970.

Malcolm Allison was banned from all football activity by the FA, leaving Joe Mercer in total control.  Joe always believed the strongest team possible should play.  He didn’t hold with the view that players should be saved for the important matches and, although his belief that every team should always field their strongest side was fair and just, in 1971 it was to cost the Blues dearly.  During a relatively meaningless 4 League fixtures over the Easter period injuries piled up.  By the time of the ECWC game Summerbee, Pardoe, Oakes, Heslop, Bell, and Doyle – all crucial players – were on the injury list, causing Joe to play a team of inexperience in the most crucial match of the season.  Shortly before kick off at Stamford Bridge he solemnly told the press his team and then said:  “And may God bless this ship and all who sail in her.”

Despite their naivety, Mercer’s Minors put in a good performance.  Goalkeeper Joe Corrigan, who played the game with his left eye half-closed through injury, was in exceptional form.  Dave Sexton’s Chelsea surged forward in the opening minutes, but Corrigan kept them at bay.  Gradually, the confidence of City’s inexperienced side increased, and at half-time they entered the dressing room still level.

Sadly, a minute into the second half Tony Towers was unable to intercept a cross from Chelsea’s Keith Weller to David Webb, and a mistake by Tommy Booth allowed Derek Smethurst to score for the home side.  It was the only mistake City made all night, and the game ended 1-0.  Joe was proud of his players, and looked forward to the return.

Sadly, others (Booth and Corrigan) were missing for the second match – played only 48 hours after a gruelling 2-2 draw against Liverpool.  Again Chelsea won 1-0, this time the replacement ‘keeper, Ron Healey, turned an inswinging free kick from Weller into his own net.

City’s dream of becoming the first side to retain the trophy ended – a feat no club ever managed to do – while Chelsea went on to beat Real Madrid in the final.

The 1970-1 season had also seen a ferocious boardroom battle tear the club apart, and for the first time had caused friction between Mercer and Allison.  A year later the partnership ended for good.

Stats:  ECWC Semi-Final first leg 14 April 1971

Chelsea 1 City 0

Scorers – Chelsea: Smethurst

City: Corrigan, Book, Connor, Towers, Booth, Donachie, Johnson, Hill, Lee, Young, Mann

Attendance: 45,955 

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Manchester City in the Early 1990s

We hear so much about the Premier League era and how the game has changed, so for today’s feature I’ve decided to take a look at the early 1990s and the birth of the Premier League. It’s almost thirty years since the structure of league football changed forever and during that time some clubs have benefitted from the new structure and others have found life difficult. City have experienced both extremes of course.

The narrative that we often hear about the Blues’ journey over the last thirty years is that they’ve gone from a struggling club to a hugely successful one and, while it is true City are highly successful today and that the Blues entered their lowest ever point in the late 1990s, it is wrong to assume that the position the club found itself in by 1999 was typical of the club’s full history. 

So, here for subscribers, I’m taking a look back at the early 1990s and remind ourselves where the Blues were; who their rivals were; and the state of football at that time:

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Maine Road

On this day (August 25) in 1923 Maine Road staged its first game. Two decades later it staged the first World Cup match in England and the decade after that the first European Cup game in England. It still holds the record provincial crowd and the record for a League game, and for eighty years it was the home of Manchester City. Here’s a look at the life of Maine Road.

Here for subscribers is a 2,000 word piece on City’s former home. It corrects a few myths (the ‘Wembley of the North – pah! It was better than that when it opened!).

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99 Dreams

Here for subscribers is a flashback piece to the 1998-99 season and, in particular, the games with Wigan Athletic which included the last competitive match at Springfield Park. Enjoy!

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Two Years Ago Today: A MCFC Origins Event

How time flies? Two years ago today (April 11 2019) I staged an event at the Dancehouse in central Manchester to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Manchester City. We had a packed audience for the event and I intended to stage at least one event like this every year (then Covid happened!).

In 2019 I managed three special events at the Dancehouse connected with Manchester City’s history. In June there was the most recent showing of The Boys In Blue (my collaboration with the North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University) which provided exclusive films of the club from 1905 through to the modern era.

In September there was the launch of Manchester City Women: An Oral History (you can buy that book here: https://gjfootballarchive.com/shop/ ). This was a celebration of the history of the women’s club with guests from every era of the club’s history including many founding players and also England international Karen Bardsley.

I had hoped to stage events in 2020 and 2021 but back in April 2019 there was the commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the club’s birth as Manchester City. The talk of course went back further and discussed the 1870s and 1880s where I hoped to kill off a few myths (I’m still trying to kill off some of these myths. See: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/03/09/the-origins-of-manchester-city-facts-not-fiction/ for details!).

The presentation didn’t just dwell on the formative years of the club as I covered stories connected with Maine Road, fans and more. The following images are slides from that day and give an indication of what was covered.

The Kippax

The news that Manchester City will be installing rail seats at the Etihad this summer (2021) means that for the first time since 1994 the stadium will possess a section that is designed to allow people to stand. Whether officially they’ll be allowed to depends on the legislation in place at the time but, whichever way you look at it, this is good news for those who like to stand at football matches. 

It is now almost 27 years since we said goodbye to terracing in Manchester and for those of us old enough to remember those days at Maine Road there was one standing area which, above all else, represented the passion fans had for their club – The Kippax.

Unlike most other grounds City’s main terracing ran the full length of the pitch and wasn’t tucked away behind a goal. Because of its positioning the Kippax breathed life into every area of the stadium and was huge.  Originally, it held in excess of 35,000, but even in its final days it still gave the impression of power and passion.

The Kippax was originally known as the Popular Side, matching a similarly dominant feature of the Blues’ Hyde Road ground, when it opened in 1923. That first season it held an estimated 35,000 in a crowd of 76,166 – then a national record attendance for a club ground. In 1934 when 84,569 packed into the stadium City’s vast stand may well have held almost 40,000. Incidentally, that 84,569 became the new national record attendance for a club ground (a record that still stands as Wembley is a national stadium, not officially a club ground). You can read about that crowd and game here:

Incidentally, I know City fans get a lot of abuse these days from fans of certain other clubs about filling stadia etc. Well, if you need any ammunition that 84,569 record crowd is over 22,000 higher than Liverpool’s record crowd (61,905 – a figure which wouldn’t get anywhere near City’s top ten crowds!).

Throughout the period up to the mid-50s the Popular Side developed its reputation but it was when it was roofed in 1957 that it became the true heart of the club. Back then it was extended slightly, although legislative changes had reduced terracing capacities by this time. The club announced it would be known as The Kippax Street Stand and that is what it officially remained until 1994 although most of us knew it simply as The Kippax.  Its capacity by this time was about 32,000, reducing to 26,155 by the end of the 1970s.

The Kippax accommodated fans of every age and gender and, although it was a formidable place for opposition supporters, it was a welcoming stand for Manchester’s Blues. Young children would sit on the walls and railings, while older fans would find their own preferred viewing spot. Here’s a few snippets about the old stand:

  • Originally four vast tunnels (one in each corner and two built into the stand) and two significant stairways allowed fans to move onto the Popular Side.
  • A flag pole, positioned at the back of the terracing up to 1957, allowed a blue and white flag emblazoned with the words City FC to proudly fly. The flag was then re-positioned until it disappeared for good in the 1960s.
  • Chanters Corner, also known as The Sways, was the area where the more vocal members of City’s support gathered. Packed above a tunnel and next to the segregation fence, fans here often generated the main chants.
  • The 1960s saw The Kippax’s reputation grow. Fans sang their way through success after success as Joe Mercer’s Aces won the European Cup Winners’ Cup and every domestic trophy possible. The Kippax would begin every game with the chant “Bring on the Champions!” and then follow up with a song for every player as they warmed up.
  • The final capacity of The Kippax was 18,300 – making this the largest terraced area at a League ground on its final day (The Kop held its final game on the same day but had a smaller capacity).
  • The Kippax was used for the last time on 30 April 1994 for the visit of Chelsea.
  • The Blue Print flag was a popular presence on many match days from the late 1980s until 1994, making its last appearance at The Kippax’s final game. The flag had been reduced in size by then. But it still covered much of the terracing.  Blue Print was a City fanzine and they had paid for the flag.
  • Segregation was unnecessary for most of the stand’s existence, but by the end of the 1960s a rope would often be used to separate City and United fans on derby day. This was replaced by permanent barriers in the mid-70s which were increased over the years to keep home and away fans apart. Away fans were positioned at the Platt Lane end of the stand by this time.
  • It says much about the passion of the place that in the late 1970s the BBC came to film The Kippax chanting and in full flow.
  • In 1985 when City defeated Charlton 5-1 in a promotion decider on the final day of the season the Kippax was so packed that supporters remain convinced that its official capacity of 26,155 was significantly exceeded. Those of us on the terraces that day will never forget the shock we all experienced when the official crowd of 47,285 was announced – some 5,000 short of capacity!

The Kippax is no more, but those of us who experienced the stand will never forget its power, passion and presence. Its spirit lives on with thousands of Blues who stood there now bringing their own children and grandchildren to the Etihad who, if legislation allows, will soon be able to stand in a section specifically created for that purpose.

If you’re interested you can read how Maine Road got its name here:

While you’re here I’d like to thank you for taking the time and trouble to visit my website. I am not employed by anyone and no one pays me to do research or interviews. I do not have sponsorship or advertising either. I’ve set up this website to help share my 32 years plus writing and research. The intention is to develop the archive and to provide access to as much of my material as possible over the coming weeks, months & years. Subscribers can already access over 280 articles/posts including the entire Manchester A Football History book and audio interviews with former City bosses Malcolm Allison and John Bond.

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There are plenty of other Maine Road related stories on my site. For details and links see:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/category/manchester-city/maine-road/

The Manchester City story on their ground development can be read here:

https://www.mancity.com/news/club/etihad-stadium-rail-seating