FA Cup: Manchester City v Arsenal

It’s Manchester City v Arsenal on Friday. The first FA Cup tie between these clubs came in 1904 and was part of Manchester’s first major trophy winning campaign. The two sides met at Arsenal in the second round of the competition. Back then City were a top flight team while Woolwich Arsenal were in the Second Division and some reports talked of the Gunners being envious of Manchester City and their status (how often do modern interpretations of a club’s status forget the game’s full history hey?). Arsenal had defeated Fulham 1-0 in the previous round. 

The Blues defeated the Gunners 2-0 with goals from Sandy Turnbull and Frank Booth, prompting the Manchester Evening News to print a cartoon of Billy Meredith leapfrogging over the Gunners while Tom Maley, dressed in kilt, watches. 

Outside-left Frank Booth, one of the scorers, had joined City in April 1902 making his first appearance for the Club in a friendly with Celtic on 1 September 1902.  That friendly appearance brought a little bad luck to the player as fairly early on in the match he accidentally collided with Celtic’s Right-back Hugh Watson causing him to leave the field for twenty minutes or so.  When he returned however he seemed more determined than ever to prove what he was capable of and, when a chance came his way, he scored what was described as a “very fine” goal to give City a 1-0 victory.

Throughout Booth’s career prior to the Arsenal game he had been rather unlucky with injuries and, at times, must have seriously considered concentrating on a life outside of the sport.  He was a hatter by trade, coming from the local hatting areas surrounding the towns of Hyde and Denton, and had only completed his apprenticeship in 1903.  Nevertheless a career in football had to be more appealing than life in one of the large hatting factories of east Manchester.

Here’s a brief cutting mentioning the game. Note also the difficulties being experienced by Second Division Manchester United (again, how often do modern day commentators on the game’s history forget the full history?).

After the tie with Arsenal at Plumstead, George Robey, a very famous Music Hall comedian with a love of football, took the City team to visit the capital’s top Music Halls.  Such light relief was needed in the City camp as the realisation was now dawning that the Blues might seriously be contenders for the League and Cup double that at this point in history had only been achieved by Preston (1889) and Aston Villa (1897). 

For a side (indeed a city) whose only national success so far had been to win the Second Division, this must have felt like an impossible dream but, as the season progressed it became increasingly possible.

You can read about what happened next here:

The next FA Cup meeting between the teams didn’t come until 1932 when they met in at the semi-final stage.

You can read all about that here:

Since 1932 the sides have met in the competition on 17/2/1971 at Maine Road (a 2-1 Arsenal win); the 2017 semi-final (2-1 aet for Arsenal); and again in the 2020 semi played on 18 July 2020 (a 2-0 Arsenal win).

A City FA Cup win over Arsenal is long overdue!

The Great Billy Meredith

101 years ago today the great Billy Meredith returned to Manchester City from Manchester United. This was the third time the legendary Welsh player had joined the Blues – a club he continued to watch and support until his death in 1958. I discussed his life and career with his daughter Winifred (who was 98 at the time) and his grandson Ian Pringle many years ago and they both talked fondly and passionately about his Manchester City connections.

Here for subscribers is a detailed profile of Billy Meredith I wrote about 17 years ago. It appeared in my Hall Of Fame book. Enjoy….

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The Sporting Broads: A Family’s Journey from Pedestrianism to Football

By the time professional football came to prominence as the leading working class sporting activity in the late nineteenth century the sport of pedestrianism was in decline. Pedestrians and trainers had to find alternative means of income and, for some, football provided a new focus for their skills, crafted through experience and passed on through familial and community links. This paper considers the life of Jimmy Broad, a competitor in pedestrian challenges, who went on to establish a career as a successful football trainer, and highlights how his career adapted. It also provides commentary on the training techniques utilized by Broad and goes on to outline the careers of his sons, one of whom also became a football trainer. The story of the Broads is of importance to those studying sport’s development during the late 1800s and early 1900s, and provides an understanding of one of the influential figures behind Manchester’s first footballing success. It adds to the research into athletic entrepreneurs which has seen the construction of individual biographies to aid understanding of sport’s development. 

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Manchester City – FA Cup Winners Since 1904

St. George’s Day always marks the anniversary of Manchester City’s first FA Cup success. In fact the 1904 FA Cup win was the first major trophy success by any of the Manchester teams and has been recognised as the point when Manchester became a footballing city. 

I’ve written about this often (including academic papers. See: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/01/11/fa-cup-success-football-infrastructure-and-the-establishment-of-manchesters-footballing-identity-free-download-for-limited-period/ ) and feel that every Mancunian should recognise the significance of this moment. 

Subscribers to my site can read the following article highlighting the key people, moments and fan related material from that success:

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To read this and access the other in-depth articles 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 280+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

Manchester’s First Great Season

“Not a little of the success the City club has achieved is due to the indefatigable labours of the secretary, Mr T.E. Maley, who came to Manchester three years ago, when the City were in the Second Division.  He brought to his duties valuable experience gained with the famous Celtic club, and he has had the benefit of being a player, a club official, a legislator, and a selector.  His splendid services to the City are reflected in the position they at present occupy – the holders of the English Cup – the most coveted of football prizes, and one of the leading clubs in the League.”The Manchester Evening Chronicle, 12 November 1904

This season became Manchester’s first major trophy-winning season. It established the city’s trophy-winning heritage and it helped transform Manchester from a rugby playing city to a footballing one. Every Mancunian needs to know the story of this season. The following 10,000 word article tells the story of that season.

If you would like to read the full article and other pieces like this then please subscribe below. 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 hundreds of articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming months.

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FA Cup success, football infrastructure and the establishment of Manchester’s footballing identity – FREE DOWNLOAD FOR LIMITED PERIOD

Great news! Following the recent purchase of the original design FA Cup by Sheikh Mansour and my appearance on Football Focus, my academic article on the significance of that success to Manchester has been made free to download for a limited period.

Please use this link to access the academic website and article:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14660970.2014.961378

The Manchester City video I contributed to can also be viewed here:

https://www.mancity.com/citytv/mens/manchesters-first-trophy-1904-fa-cup-documentary-63745781

More on 1903-04 for subscribers here:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/01/08/manchesters-first-great-season/