Friday, February 28, 2014

When City won the League Cup with eight youth team players

If you're looking for an illustration of how much the club has changed since the 1970s, the backgrounds of the City players from our last League Cup final appearance, in 1976, makes fascinating reading.

City started that game with seven players who had come up through the youth team, plus another who was the solitary substitute. Of those, five were born in Greater Manchester.

In fact, a preponderance of local talent was a consistent feature of City sides throughout the glory years of the late 1960s to the mid 1970s. Our 1969 FA Cup-winning side contained seven players who were either from the youth team or locally born, as did the 1970 League Cup winners (including the substitute). Our 1981 FA Cup finalists also had six youth team graduates in the starting line-up, plus one on the subs bench.

All of which stands in stark contrast to the City side from last season's FA Cup final, which contained no youth team graduates and only two English players, neither of whom were born within 70 miles of Manchester.

However, this piece is not going to be a lament to some long-lost golden age. For a start, the number of locally-born or nurtured players in the 1976 side was not even typical for its time. For instance, the Newcastle team we beat that day didn't have a single Newcastle-born player in their starting line-up, while the all-conquering Liverpool side of this era wasn't exactly a hotbed of home-grown talent.

But most interestingly, a look back further in time to City's other Cup successes shows just how unusual the make-up of the 1976 League Cup-winning side was.

The 1956 FA Cup winners, for instance, contained just three players from what is now Greater Manchester.

More strikingly, the 1934 FA Cup winners included just one Manchester-born player, Billy Dale - and he was signed from United.

Similarly, the 1904 FA Cup winners contained only two players from the Manchester area.

Judging from the photo, below, the team were a fearsome-looking bunch. You'll also notice that Sandy Turnbull (middle row, third from left) appears to be holding a dog. Turnbull is a fascinating figure, a 1900s Wayne Rooney who was renowned for his brutal centre-forward play.

I'm not sure why he's holding a dog in this picture, but it's probably because no-one wanted to tell him he couldn't.

Typical City.. Down to ten men for a team photo

After posting a picture gallery of historic team photos the other day, an eagle-eyed chap named Tim Humphreys noticed that this picture from 1987 only contained ten men.

My first thought was that notorious cheap-skate Peter Swales had decided that paying for a photographer was an unnecessary expense and had ordered one of the team to take it.

However, all was explained by Simon Curtis, from the excellent Down The Kippax Steps, and general expert on these matters. "I think you'll find Mark Seagraves is just out of picture to the left, eating one of the goalposts", he tweeted.

The picture gallery has 113 images from 1884-85 to the present.

Click on the image to view all 113 photos at Picassa Web Albums
The first photo in the album, taken in January 1885, is one I've devoted a whole chapter to in my new book, A Man's Game: The Birth of Mancunian Football and the Origins of Manchester City FC.

The book names, for the first time, all the people on that photo, and reveals new evidence that explains why the players wore a Maltese Cross on their shirts.

A Man's Game has been the bestselling City book on recently. You can read some of the reviews lower down the page.

Buy direct through the publisher for £9.75 + £2.75 P&P via the BuyNow button 
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MCFC Official Programme

"An essential purchase for any fan interested in the early days of association football in Manchester.

Old Newspaper clippings and Ordnance Survey maps from the 19th century provide a glimpse into the past, with Keenan's considered commentary and analysis adding fascinating insights into the formation of the club, and even the naming of Maine Road".

New light on an Old Subject 
Emeritus Professor Steve Rigby (Manchester University School of History)

Andrew Keenan manages to unearth a mass of new material about the origins of the club and offers a number of important and original interpretations of City's genesis, in particular challenging familiar views about the part played by St Mark's church, West
Gorton, in the club's formation.

Keenan locates the development of football in Victorian Manchester in the wider context of the city's political and social history but his background in journalism means that the book never becomes dry or overly academic even though it is based on original research into the primary sources.
(Steve's two-page review is in the current issue of King of the Kippax, available here.)

Brilliantly Researched & Well Worth A Read
Lee Hayes (co-owner,

This book is not just for fans of Manchester City, anybody with an interest in the history of the beautiful game will find it to be a brilliant and interesting read.

The amount of research that has gone into the book is staggering, and is backed up with evidence such as newspaper cuttings and old maps. As well as introducing new evidence on some aspects of City's history italso challenges important information such as how and when the club actually came into existence.

If you think you know all about the history of MCFC, read this book and I guarantee you will learn something new.

Great Read
Jon Camden (assistant headteacher and history teacher)

I love social history and I love football and if, like me, you do you'll love this book. A Man's Game is an extremely well researched, interesting read. Keenan successfully weaves the story of the origins of Manchester City with the wider social history of Lancashire and Manchester to produce a fresh, fast paced, and fascinating account
of the beginnings of Association Football in the North West. Sex, religion, politics and football: a winning combination.

 I read this relatively short book cover to cover in a few hours and found it hard to put down. And no, you don't have to be a die-hard City fan to appreciate it, I'm a South London Palace fan, this book has a broad appeal to anyone interested in the history of football.

An Original, Well-Researched and Engaging Read
Michael Marriott (history graduate, Exeter University)

'A Man's Game' ... skilfully weaves the club's history in to Manchester's rich socio-religious past. The author is not afraid to slaughter sacred cows; the book reveals shocking truths about Arthur Connell, one of the Eithad's historical heroes.

What is most notable, however, is the way in which the author substantiates his arguments with an impressive array of original contemporary sources; newspapers, correspondence and photographs are all used to better illustrate his points. It is through this fastidious research that Andrew Keenan succeeds in providing a more nuanced and sophisticated history of Manchester City Football Club.                                 

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