Monday, June 9, 2008

Some curious things from City's history

A section devoted to City's history has been launched over at the main site. It's very much work-in-progress and will have a lot more additions in the coming weeks.

For the last year or so I've been researching City's history at Manchester's Central Library, particularly the scandals that affected the club's early years. I'll be publishing the results of my research soon, but here are a few surprising things I've dug up:

Firstly, here's an advert for season tickets from Aug 1929, which reveals that while men paid £3 / 3s for a season ticket, women were only charged £2 / 2s.

But things were certainly different back then. Here's a job advert from 1923 that you might not get away with nowadays:

Now here's a report I stumbled across from The Guardian from May 1955 which reveals City's failed attempt to buy the Fallowfield Stadium, which hosted the 1893 Cup Final that drew a crowd of 45,000. I haven't come across any references to the club wanting to move out of Maine Road at this time, so I'm presuming we were planning to use the venue for training purposes.

The next item lends support to the idea that the bitter rivalry between us and United was very much a post-war development (something I touched on in this story about the bombing of Old Trafford). The cartoon was published in a United programme in the 1930s, and is one of several that depict the two clubs as regional 'brothers'.

The final items are possibly the most interesting, particularly in light of the criticism aimed at Thaksin over the way he is using our club for political ends. Like most fans, it makes me fairly uneasy too, but I do have to take issue with journalists such as Simon Hattenstone, who claims that being used by a right-wing politician is a betrayal of the club's historic values. In fact, I've discovered that it is actually very much part of City's heritage.

City's first chairman, Tory brewer John Chapman, blatently used his club connections when he stood for council elections in Ardwick in 1905 and 1909. Here's one of his campaign postcards:

John Allison, who became chairman in 1906, also used the club in political campaigns:

But the biggest - and baddest - political wheeler-dealer of all was Stephen Chesters Thompson, who was President of Ardwick AFC when it was created in 1887. He was bankrupted by a series of court cases in which he was accused of defrauding his company and bribing voters. Chesters Thompson was the managing director of Chesters Brewery, which ploughed huge sums of money into Ardwick in its early days, and his bankruptcy almost certainly caused the financial crisis that resulted in the formation of Man City in 1894.

In fact, I'm starting to wonder whether turmoil and intrigue has somehow been written into this club's DNA. I've been researching the backgrounds of some of the people currently involved with City, and found enough there to make me a bit uneasy about the club's future. I'm not saying there's enough to be alarmed, though it is making me fairly cautious about recent announcements.

But I'll be writing more about that soon.


Glyn Goodwin said...

Fascinating stuff. Having read Gary James' book, I love the social reflections that are inadvertently thrown up. I look forward to reading more!

Andrew said...

Thanks Glyn.

It should be a good year for City history.

I'm looking forward to reading Gary James' new book, Manchester - a Football History, and I noticed that former chairman Eric Alexander will be publishing his autobiography, Please May I Have My Football Back, in September.