Old Trafford’s Record Crowd – Wolves v Grimsby

On this day (March 25) in 1939 Old Trafford attracted its highest ever attendance when 76,962 packed Manchester United’s ground to see Wolves defeat Grimsby 5-0 in the FA Cup semi-final.

At the time this was the third highest attendance ever attracted in Manchester (behind 84,569 MCFC v Stoke, 1934 & 79,491 MCFC v Arsenal, 1935; fourth highest was 76,166 MCFC v Cardiff, 1924) and today it is the eighth highest.

You can view film of the semi-final here. Well worth watching to see Old Trafford at that time. The Old Trafford scenes begin after about 48 seconds:

There were lots of crowd safety issues at this game – these were the days when fans were packed in without the authorities really considering the potential for disaster or injury (which happened frequently).

Incidentally, Dorsett (seen below after a collision) was related to two of Manchester City’s early heroes Joe and George Dorsett.

You can read about the 84,569 record attendance set in 1934 for Manchester here:

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I’d like to thank you for taking the time and trouble to visit my website. 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.

It costs £20 a year (it works out £1.67 a month) or £3 if you’d like to sign up a month at a time to get full access for as long as you subscribe (see below). Thanks for the support, Gary.

City Voices – Memories of the 1920s-50s

Previously I’ve posted about the City Voices project capturing the stories and memories of Manchester City fans (if you’ve missed the story take a look at: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/06/city-voices-project/ ). The idea is to capture the experiences of Blues from all over the globe regardless of age, gender, ethnicity etc. Basically, if you’re a City fan I’d love to hear from you.

I’ve been capturing the stories of City fans since the early 1990s and always love hearing individual’s memories and stories. Back in 2002 I interviewed a female supporter called Fran Parker. At the time she was in her early 80s and she was able to talk to me about attending Maine Road in the 1920s to 1950s plus a few memories from the 1990s (for example, she talked about the sadness she felt when Paul Lake swallowed his tongue and how she feared for his life). I loved the fact that she was still attending games and still felt as enthusiastic in 2002 as she had in 1932.

For me it’s the experience of football that needs capturing. The media capture the games and the key moments but supporter views are often ignored or misunderstood. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about here’s a brief trailer of the interview I did with Fran. She does talk about goals, but it’s details like how she felt when Eric Brook scored in the 84,569 game; her umbrella and Dave Ewing stories that are different.

Anyway, have a listen:

If you would like to complete the City Voices questionnaire then please download it here and email it to me at gary@GJFootballArchive-com

https://gjfootballarchive.files.wordpress.com/2021/02/city-voices-modelconsent.docx

One important point to note is that I am keen to hear from fans of all ages based in Manchester, the United Kingdom and around the world. The greater the number that respond the better the archive of fans’ stories will become.

As for Fran Parker’s interview… Over the coming months http://www.GJFootballArchive.com will develop to include some of my interviews (my John Bond interview from 1995 has already been posted). IF you would like to subscribe then see below:

Subscribe to get access to all the content on http://www.GJFootballArchive.com

If you would like to read all the in-depth articles (including the entire Manchester A Football History book and the audio interview with John Bond) then please subscribe. It works out about £1.67 a month if you take out an annual subscription (£20 per year) or £3 a month if you’d like to sign up for a month at a time. Each subscriber gets full access to the 270+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

A National Crowd Record Set in 1924

Manchester City had moved to their new Maine Road stadium in August 1923. The capacity of the venue was estimated at around 90,000 but was actually around about 83,000 when the stadium opened (it was enlarged in 1931 and 1935). The move had been anticipated for almost 25 years as the club’s old 40,000 capacity ground at Hyde Road was always viewed as being too small and cramped.

In the new stadium’s first season a decent FA Cup run allowed Maine Road to prove its value as the Blues sought to reach Wembley for the first time (Wembley had been built by the same people as Maine Road, but the London stadium had been criticised extensively at this time for poor crowd management and other issues).

The quarter-final tie was to be played at home to First Division high flyers Cardiff City.  The prospect of the match excited everyone.  Cardiff “The Pride Of Wales” against Billy Meredith “The Footballing Prince Of Wales” was how one journalist described it – Meredith was 49 and had returned to City’s first team (meaning he was the only man to play home games at Hyde Road, Bank Street, Old Trafford and Maine Road).

The prospect of Meredith taking City to Wembley excited Manchester, while thousands of Welsh supporters were also eager to see the game. This was a game that was expected to test the capacity of the new venue – the Cardiff fans paid rail fare of 21s 2d day return.  Some had travelled through the night, with a long wait at Shrewsbury, while others had stayed at Manchester’s best hotels.  According to one report a few Cardiff supporters had booked rooms at the Midland, the Queen’s, and at least fifty rooms at the Grand Hotel.

Many of these Welsh fans arrived at Maine Road and started queuing a full five hours before kick-off.  By 12.30 the club decided to open the turnstiles thirty minutes earlier than normal to avoid crowd control problems later.  There were also around 150 policemen in the ground, persuading supporters to move from the most congested areas of the popular side (later known as the Kippax).  

One report concentrated on the size of the crowd and the prospect of whether capacity would be reached.  It stated that early indications suggested that the crowd would be huge, but that Maine Road would not be full.  It’s reporter also witnessed an activity that many people say occurred at many grounds, but few can prove:  “Room was made for the foolish late-comers, and in a little while the congestion was so great that boys were extricated from the mass and rolled over the heads of the spectators in order that they might find sanctuary inside the concrete wall.”

The official attendance was in fact 76,166, with receipts of £4,909, proving the value of City’s new stadium.  This was an English national record for any game on a club ground (and for any game played outside of Glasgow and London) and was beaten in 1934 when City once again enjoyed a record breaking crowd at Maine Road. This means that City have held this record since 1924!

The game ended goalless – despite City’s superstitious wearing of scarlet (yes – scarlet!) as at Brighton in an earlier round – with Meredith unable to keep up with the speed of the game at times.  Even so, he was still one of the better players on the pitch and his tactical awareness was much needed.

City won the replay but were defeated in the semi final. Two years later they did however become the first of the Manchester sides to play at Wembley Stadium.

You can read about the attendance that brought this record (again by City at Maine Road) here:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/?p=2029

Other record crowd articles can be seen here:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/?s=record+crowd

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This has been a sample of the material on http://www.GJFootballArchive.com If you would like to read all the in-depth articles (including the entire Manchester A Football History book and the audio interview with John Bond) then please subscribe. It works out about £1.67 a month if you take out an annual subscription (£20 per year) or £3 a month if you’d like to sign up for a month at a time. Each subscriber gets full access to the 260+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

A National Record – 84,569

“I think Brook played in every position for the Club – he certainly went in nets once – and was a very good player.  When the goal went in it was marvellous.  Nirvana.  On the final whistle I didn’t need to use my feet to leave I was wedged in a solid wall of human flesh and swept through the exit gate like a surfboarder.” Supporter Denis Houlston talking in 2003 about Eric Brook’s goal in the 1934 FA Cup tie with Stoke which was watched by 84,569.

It has virtually slipped out of living memory but in 1934 the largest footballing crowd ever assembled on a club ground witnessed a game that still, almost 90 years later, remains etched in the record books.  84,569 paid to watch City face Stoke in the FA Cup quarter-final at Maine Road in March 1934 – a crowd that surpassed Manchester’s previous best (also a national record at the time) by around 8,000 (set in 1924 when Cardiff faced City in another FA Cup quarter-final). Here for subscribers is a long read on the day when 84,569 gathered for a football match in Manchester:

Subscribe to get access

If you would like to read this and all the in-depth articles on this site (including the entire Manchester A Football History book and the audio interview with John Bond) then please subscribe. It works out about £1.67 a month if you take out an annual subscription (£20 per year) or £3 a month if you’d like to sign up for a month at a time. Each subscriber gets full access to the 260+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

The story of City’s game against Sheffield Wednesday (Hillsborough’s record crowd) can be read here:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/17/hillsboroughs-record-crowd-swfc-v-mcfc/

City’s record League crowd can be read here:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/23/manchester-citys-record-league-crowd/