Welcome to Our Community

Wanting to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.

Sign Up
Dismiss Notice
Sign up now to be a full member of the forum and join in discussions abut United, Football and life. It's totally free and we are a friendly bunch.
  1. Jimmy Murphy Stats and Discussion Thread

    I was thinking about this recently and thought it would provoke some good debate for a thread. Given modern day football is there a modern day Jimmy Murphy out there? A truly worthy number two?

    First I think it's worth recapping on the great Jimmy Murphy to put things into context.

    Jimmy Murphys contribution to pulling the club through our darkest days post Munich should not be underestimated. He his often referred to has the man who saved United.

    Murphy’s contribution to the very survival of the club is so often overlooked by many, the man named “the giant of Munich” by Martin Edwards so often just a man in the background. Yet without Murphy, United would undoubtedly have closed, perhaps never to reopen. Instead Murphy rebuilt a shattered team, a shattered club, a shattered set of supporters and, although United’s league form faltered, led the team to the FA Cup final of 1958, where they were beaten by Bolton Wanderers.


    He basically kept hold of the reigns and steered a sinking ship back into the arms of Sir Matt when he recovered. A true united legend if ever there was one.

    When he started at Old Trafford Jimmy coached the first team, walking them through moves in the temporary gymnasium (this was later to be used as a makeshift morgue after Munich). It's fair to say it took a while for a youth culture to be developed.

    The extent to which Busby was or was not involved in the youth development work is a tangled subject, and the one which late at night Jimmy Murphy always returned. Busbys charisma was a strange thing; for altough most of the ideas that he expressed in ghosted articles or carried out in management where ahead of their time, what he said in conversation was bland and conventional. His secret was that you believed that he understood you and shared your dreams. His calmness seemed to have raised him above doubts. He emboided an ideal, and people wanted his approval, his magic no longer worked. It become obvious that what he though was hidden, what he said unremarkable and what he did pure realpolitik. For the club, he said, in those desperate years in the 1970's when he made and broke four managers.

    Jimmy Murphy knew this and it hurt. He was after all the romantic above all others who wanted Matt to be a hero.

    In fact, Busbys first newspapers life story, reprinted after Munich as a paperback, mentions Murphy in generous terms. It also puts a subtle spin on things. Matt never said anywhere in so many words that Murphy was not just a talker about beautiful football, but the man who could make it happen. He never talked about Murphys work with the first team, then or later. He never brought out the sheer drudgery and concentration of coaching. The amount of work put in by Murphy, the energy and emotional drive that he produced several nights a week for an entire decade after working with the reserves in the day.

    Some of the stories are awe inspiring and can only be grasped when we put together the accounts of people like Charlton, Doherty and McGuinness.

    Once when Doherty had played a silly crossfield pass that gave away possession and a goal, Jimmy took him out alone and spent literally hours with him. Jimmy kicked the ball across the field; Johnny retrieved it. Jimmy explained why it was wrong, why you only give a crossfield ball when the play is condensed in your own side of the field. Then he kicked again and Johnny retrieved again and Jimmy explained again. If you do not find a spare man with a crossfield pass all that your are doing is playing the ball across the front of the opponents defense without threatening them, Jimmy kicked. Johnny retrieved. Jimmy explained. A crossfield pass is not the same as a square ball, which you will often need to make at the beginning of a move to allow your own players to move ahead or around you. Then he kicked again and explained again from the beginning, and to this day you will see in a decent United team this understanding of the crossfield pass.

    Or look at what he did with Bobby Charlton. He had Bobby repeat again and again his instruction "Just hit the ball. Dont look up for goal. Just hit it!". He would roll balls from different angles for Bobby to hit again and again, until the action became instinctive and turned him into the most spectacular striker of a ball in his day, the goal against Mexico being the classic instance.

    The energy of this, the determination, the willingness to impose and reimpose ones personality in the pursuit of small faults and of making another person perfect is nothing short of extraordinary. It is this energy that was poured out, night after night, week after week, year after year; the energy that after Munich he never quite recovered; the energy that was barely acknowledged in public but was taken from granted and then forgotten in the myth that Matt allowed to grow around himself.

    In Matts defense, much of his achievement lay in the creating the conditions in which Jimmy (and Bert Whalley) could work. Since league football began in the 1880s the pursuit of short term success had been as chronic as it is today

    Matt generated huge personal publicity. He showed the United board how their financial and youth policies needed time to develop and insisted that there must be no interference. Could he have delivered the goods on the field without Jimmy Murphy? Probably not. Could Murphy have done what he did without the protection afforded by a Busby figure? Almost certainly not. Again, for Jimmy to manage Wales in short term bursts was one thing; to have coached in detail as he did and at the same time undergone the day-to-day stresses of club management would have been quite another and probably impossible for anyone.

    Such where the grief and emotions with which Murphy wrestled after Munich when he did not even know whether Matt would live or be able to work again. He was like a musician having his scores destroyed, or a painter his canvases, while another artist got the rave reviews.

    Jimmy knew after Munich that everything would be different. "We where set up for 10 years" he said. What he did for the club after Munich (along with the likes of Harry Gregg) should not be forgotten by any United fan.


    Sir Matt Busby and Jimmy Murphy a match truly made in heaven. This is what we have been missing at United, even under Ferguson.

    Will we ever see the likes again? Who is the modern day Jimmy Murphy, the perfect number 2?
  2. With being busy with major site improvements of late I havent done one of these in a while, so here is the next history update, it is quite a lengthy one the 1906-1907 season was full of incident.

    This was the season that Manchester United finally arrived as a major force in the footballing world. Boasting an exciting lineup and playing a brand of football that was to become a hallmark at the club. The backbone of the team had come across from their rivals Man City after a sensational scandal had erupted at the Ardwick club. Players were all supposed to be on a fixed wage of 4 pounds per game, it was discovered that City had been paying 6 or 7 pounds a week per player. The FA were furious about this discovery and dismissed five of the Man City directors and banned 17 of its players from ever appearing in a blue shirt again.

    The photograph below was taken before the traditional pre-season practice match. Eleven players are wearing red home kits while the other eleven are wearing light shirts with a white collar. Could they really be wearing sky blue?
    Manchester United 1906-07 team photograph

    Mangnall acted swiftly and managed first of all to sign Billy Meredith (in 1906) later adding the services of four other City players. Meredith had also been involved in a bribe fiasco and it is said he was lucky not to be banned from the game for life. It is interesting to note here that although the players were signed in 1906, they all were serving FA mandated suspensions, so they did not make their debuts in a Red shirt until 1907. Billy Meredith was known as the 'Welsh Wizard' as he provided the spark that set apart Man United from other clubs establishing a tradition for players of the highest quality to follow him. He was the George Best of the Edwardian era - rebellious, skilled and popular. Many questions about the player's long layoffs were soon answered in the first game of 1907 against Aston Villa when an inspired Meredith darted and teased the Villa defence, finally plotting its downfall by laying on a cross for Turnball to slam into the net.

    New years day marked the beginning of a dynamic era for Manchester UTD. It was the day new recruits Billy Meridith, Sandy Turnbull, Herbert Burgess and Jimmy Bannister all made their debuts for the Bank Street side. The four former Manchester City players, suspended over illegal payments and attempted bribery, had signed for United during 1906 but could not make their debuts until their lengthy suspension ended at midnight on the 31st December of that year. It had been an agonising wait but now, just hours after the deadline passed, their first opportunity to pull on the red shirt United came in a home fixture against 3rd place Aston Villa. The fixture list (see below) had cunningly contrived to provide United with a real test.

    By the end of the season United had climbed to 8th place and their brand of football was the talk of the town, more importantly they were poised to make an assault one the big prize, the Championship. The 1906–07 season was Manchester United's 15th season in the Football League.

    Season Statistics 1906-1907

    Top goal scorer all competitions 1906-1907 George Wall

    George Wall was born in Boldon Colliery, County Durham, Wall started his career with Boldon Royal Rovers, and played for Whitburn and Jarrow before joining Barnsley in 1903. In almost three years with Barnsley, Wall scored 24 league goals at a rate of almost one goal in every three games. In 1906, he transferred to Manchester United, who helped win the 1908 and 1911 league titles, as well as the 1909 FA Cup. He left the club in 1915 because of World War I, and joined Oldham Athletic after the war in 1919. He scored 98 goals for United in his career. He then played for two seasons with Oldham, before travelling north of the border to Hamilton Academical. He returned to England to play for Rochdale a year later, but dropped out of league football in 1923, playing for fc Ashton National and Manchester Ship Canal. He retired in 1927. Wall also won seven caps for England, scoring two goals. He died, aged 77, in 1962.

    Some rare match day photographs for the season.

    Taken at the FA Cup tie against Portsmouth on January 12, 1907

    Portsmouth Vs Manchester United, January 12, 1907

    Below we have some more rare memorobilia from the 1906-1907 season.

    1906-1907 Official Souvenir of the Manchester United Football Club, showing a team photo only inside.

    Rare photograph of the player rosta for this season

    Fixture List from a cigarette company-very scarce item for 1906-1907

    Do not think this has any relevance at all, but it came with some cards which were once signed by Billy Meredith. This is an invoice for a bicycle purchased by Miss Poopy Morton in 1907, maybe Billy bought it for her? After all he was on £4 a week wages!!

    Above a rare insight into Meridiths life, an invoice for a bicycle purchased in 1907

    To be continued ....
  3. Here's the next update ....

    After 12 unhappy seasons in the second division 1906 was the year that United finally claimed their place again in the top flight. One of the season's finest results in the club's young history was a Cup win over the mighty Aston Villa. Villa had won the League Championship in 1894, 1896, 1897, 1899 and 1900 and they had also won the FA Cup in 1887, 1895, 1897 and 1905. Everyone had Villa as hot favorites to hammer the 2nd division United, but before a record crowd of over 40,000 (gate receipts 1,460 pound) United proceeded to hammer the Villa team 5-1 on the mud bath Clayton pitch. Promotion was clinched with a 3-1 victory over Leeds City (yes they were called City back then) and United finished the season out in style by trouncing Burton United 6-0 at Clayton. When the final whistle blew the crowd invaded the pitch and carried the team shoulder high from the field. Ernest Mangnall addressed the cheering fans and promised them that this was only the beginning, little did he know, he was right!

    Taken before the match against either Bristol City or Blackpool in September 1905

    Although Manchester did gain promotion, they didn't win the second division. They finished on the second place with only 4 defeats out of 38 matches played and they scored an unbelievable amount of goals (90). The 1905–06 was Manchester United's 14th season in the Football League. United finished second in the Second Division and gained promotion to the Football League First Division for the 1906–07 season. In the FA Cup, United reached the fourth round, where they were defeated by Woolwich Arsenal.

    Season Statistics 1905-1906

    Chairman: John Henry Davies
    Manager: Ernest Mangnall
    Second Division: 2nd
    FA Cup: Fourth Round
    Top goalscorer League: Jack Picken (20)
    All: Jack Picken (25)
    Highest home attendance: 35,500 vs Aston Villa (24 February 1906)
    Lowest home attendance: 6,000 vs Leeds City (15 January 1906)
    Average home attendance: 16,242

    Jack Picken scored the 1st ever competitive hat trick at Old Trafford v Middlesbrough, United won 4-1 & Jack scored all 4 goals

    Top goal scorer this season John Jack Barclay Picken

    From the 1905 season below is a rare match day photograph. This is a fascinating photograph of what supporting united was like during these times. Notice the fans sat on the roof of the stand.

    Manchester United Vs Arsenal at Bank Street, 1906

    Remember the Baines card from the last history post, this is who it is believed to be George Wall. This is an original Postcard for George Wall (see the resemblance). He played 316 games for United scored 98 goals cost £175 from Barnsley in 1906 and stayed with United until 1915. A great winger and won an FA Cup medal in 1909 and 2 League Championships in 1908 and 1911

    Original Postcard for George Wall

    One final thing, early in January 1905 United welcomed unusal visitors to Clayton in the shape of Fulham for an FA cup tie. The London club where members of the southern league and the cup was the only opportunity the northern clubs usually had to size up their southern opponents. It had been some years since a southern league club last visited Clayton for an important fixture.

    The tie was considered so attractive that the Athletic News featured it as their front page cartoon (below).

    Athletic News January 16th 1905 (Front Page)

    Around 16,000 turned up for the tie at Bank Street a disapointing crowd in those days and our cup jynx continued that year. Although the Clayton tie was an epic with a 2-2 draw we lost the replay at 1-0 at a neutral ground (Villa Park).

    To be continued ....
  4. Here we go with another history update.

    Manchester United's manager Mangnall was building a side that looked better than anything the fans had seen so far. The 20 year old Charlie Roberts proved a great buy (see previous update for more information), signed from Grimsby for the grand total of 450 pounds. He was sturdily built and extremely fast, it was reported that he could run the hundred yards in 11 seconds. This was the time that the world record stood at 9.6 seconds!

    Vittorio Pozzo the Italian national team coach was reported to be a huge fan of Roberts and took back to Italy a lasting memory of the player after he visited Clayton to watch him play. Pozzo went on to create one of the finest pre-war teams ever to play the game, he had stated publicly that Roberts had been his inspiration. Strangely enough, the English team selectors didn't seem to agree and Roberts only played for England 3 times, it was believed that his image as somewhat of a rebel contributed to him being ignored this way. Roberts wore his shorts short, this was a time when the FA had ruled that all shorts were to cover the knee, he had also been a pioneer in the Players Union becoming its chairman and later becoming a leader in the "outcasts" (to be explained later).

    On Boxing day 1904 united entertained Liverpool at Clayton, 40,000 fans showed up for the game and United defeated the Merseysiders 3-1. It was a high point in the season although Liverpool took their revenge 4 months later and hammered United 4-0 at Anfield to finish the season at the top of the table and again deny United the promotion they desperately desired. They finished on the third spot again with only five defeats out of 34 matches played and 81 goals scored.

    The rivalry between Liverpool and United stretches back to the clubs earliest days, when Liverpool relegated Newton Heath in the 1894 test match. Even in 1904 the press followed the tie closely. Williams, Roberts and Arkesden were the scorers in Uniteds 3-1 triumph.

    Athletic News Article detailing the Boxing Day Fixture 1904

    The 1904–05 season was Manchester United's 13th season in the Football League. United finished 3rd in the Second Division. The Reds also competed in the FA Cup, but failed to get past the Intermediate Round stage, losing to Fulham.

    Season Statistics 1904-1905

    Top goal scorer this season (as in 1902-03) Jack Peddie or John "Jack" Hope Peddie

    The rare photograph below is a Handbill Advertising the English League Match for Bristol City v Manchester United 1905. Note the A 2.30 kick off,, remember this was the time for winter kick offs until the coming of floodlights. Maine Road had floodlights before United did.

    Advertising for league match versus Bristol City

    Finally one more treat from this season a rare Baines card c 1908-10. The United player shown has a remarkable likeness to George Wall who made 316 appearences for United and scored 98 times between 1905-1915. England International. Signed from Barnsley for £175!!!!. A great United player and he went to Man United and he won the lot! League Championship in 1908/1911, English Cup 1909, Charity Shield, Manchester Senior Cup. Continued to play into his 40's an early United true LEGEND.

    A rare Baines card believed to be George Wall

    To be continued ....
  5. Manchester United's manager in 1903 was James West (pictured in the team photograph bottom row on the left), under him they had begun the season very poorly with two defeats and a draw, on Monday 28th September he resigned his position and Ernest Mangnall became the new United manager. Mangnall joined the club from Burnley where he had served as secretary. He would go on to become United's first "great" manager. The new manager had been born in Bolton and was well known in sporting circles in the North west. He was known in particular for his love of cycling, and during his youth had actually cycled the length of Great Britain from John O' Groats to Lands end, he could often be spotted riding his bike to the ground.

    Ernest Mangnall the new United manager in the 1903-1904 season

    With United's financial status at last secure Mangall proved himself a shrewd buyer in the transfer market. He brought goalie Harry Moger to United, along with Alex Bell, Dick Duckworth, and a great centre half in Charlie Roberts. His greatest coup however was bringing the great Billy Meredith across from Man City (more about Meridith in the next update), other Man City rebels quickly followed Meredith's path and United stole away Herbert Burgess, Sandy Turnbull, and Jimmy Bannister from their rivals.

    Meredith and Roberts at the time were considered the most talented players in the land. With the new manager and new players United finished third in the league and just missed promotion to the first division.

    This was Manchester Uniteds 12th season in the football league.


    Season Statistics 1903-1904

    The top goal scorer in all competions in the 1903-1904 season was Thomas Arthur "Tommmy" Arkesden (July 1878 – 25 June 1921), also known as Tom Arkesden, was an English footballer who played as a forward. Born in Warwick, Arkesden played for Burton Wanderers, Derby County, and Burton United, before joining Manchester United for £150 on February 2, 1903. In 1907, he was transferred to Gainsborough Trinity. In 79 matches for Manchester United, he scored 33 goals.

    Top goalscorer in all competitions Thomas Arthur "Tommmy" Arkesden

    The picture below is the home kit worn by Manchester United from 1903-1907. The Manchester Evening News of August 8th, 1903 suggests that the sock bands were blue rather than red.


    In April 1904 United made what was to be one of the most important deals in their early history when they signed a young half back from Grimsby by the name of Charlie Roberts. His transfer on the evening of Friday, 22nd April was largely overshadowed by Manchester City's appearance in the Cup final the following day and passed unmentioned in both the local and national press. Even when he made his debut the following day in a second division fixture versus Burton United at Clayton it went almost unnoticed. The Manchester Evening News, however, in its match report commented 'Roberts gave a capital display and his sound play was all the more remarkable when it is remembered that he had made a long journey from Grimsby that morning'. But it was the Athletic News whose astute reporter realised that in Roberts United had made an important purchase when he wrote that 'Roberts was almost the best man on the field. His presence certainly strengthened the line and he may be safely looked to as a player who will give a satisfactory account of himself in the future.'

    United won the game against Burton 2-0 to end the season in third position just one point behind Woolwich Arsenal. It may have been a disappointment to have missed out on promotion, but in Roberts United had sowed the seeds that would reap dividends in the years ahead.

    The picture below is an original postcard of Charlie Roberts who played 299 games as a half back and scored 23 goals from 1903-1913. A wonderful player who won 2 League Championships in 1908 and 1911, English Cup in 1909, and could run 100 yards in 11 seconds (impressive).

    He left the club after the Directors refused to grant him a second benefit. Oldham paid a club record fee of £1,750 for him (they dont pay much more today :) ). He was made club captain and guided them to their highest ever League finish in 1914/15 - runners up to Everton. One of United's finest captains.

    Original photograph of Charlie Roberts one of Uniteds greatest captains.

    To be continued ....
  6. Here's another update of the History thread, still a long way to go to bring it into the modern day.

    The 1902–03 season was Manchester United's 11th season in the Football League, and their first full season under their new name of "Manchester United", as opposed to "Newton Heath. The 1902/1903 season saw Manchester United beat Arsenal twice and Manchester City in the league as well as knock Liverpool out of the FA Cup Unfortunately, it was another disappointing season.

    In this season Manchester United could recover a little bit of their bad run in the second division. With Mr. James West as manager they started the season well, but because of a bad run in the end they finished in 5th place. In the FA Cup they could not go further than the second round.


    As mentioned in my previous post the name Newton Heath was not to the liking of everyone. After all, it had been nine years since the club had lefts its home in Newton Heath for Bank Street, Clayton. The club had been formed in 1878, 10 years before the birth of the Football League., when some of the workers employed by the Lancashire Railway at the Newton Heath depot decided to setup a football team. They were given permission to use land owned by the railway company which was almost adjacent to their depot. So, not unnaturally they adopted the name Newton Heath and soon become known as the Heathens. Once they had joined the football league in 1892, visitors began to arrive from as far afield as London and the Midlands. There was confusion. Where exactly was Newton Heath? Did the club actually play there? On at least one occasion the visiting team turned up at the old Newton Heath ground only to find a dilapidated and empty pitch, and then had to dash across the city to Bank Street, arriving with just minutes to spare before kick off.

    Following the reorganization of the club in 1902 it was also decided that it should be renamed. There were a number of suggestions, although all seemed to agree that the name Manchester United should appear somewhere in the title. Someone put forward the name Manchester Central, but that sounded too muck like a railway station. Another suggested Manchester Celtic, but then Louis Rocca, a man destined to play a major part in the history of the club, hit upon the name Manchester United. All were agreed that this was far the best suggestion. Oddly enough, at the famous March meeting to discuss the clubs financial plight someone had suggested the clubs name to Manchester United, but it had, according to the Manchester Evening News, received little favor.

    On Saturday 26th April 1902 the Manchester Evening News publicly revealed the clubs new name for the first time and commended it to its readers. 'There is no doubt its a step in the right direction', said the News. 'Visiting teams and supporters have many times been led astray by the name of the club and have journeyed either by car or train to Newton Heath only to find that they were miles away from the home of the club.'

    Louis Rocca, the man who thought of the name Manchester United

    Season Statistics 1902-1903

    John Hope "Jack" Peddie, also called Jock Peddie, (3 March 1876 – 20 October 1928) was a Scottish football who played for various clubs in both England and Scotland, including Newcastle United, Manchester United, Plymouth Argyle and Hearts. As a Plymouth Argyle player he is most famous for scoring their first ever goals in the Western and Southern Leagues.

    Top goal scorer this season Jack Peddie or John "Jack" Hope Peddie

    After five seasons at centre forward Peddie moved to Manchester United in June 1902. He departed in 1903 for Plymouth Argyle ahead of their first season as a professional club. He scored their first competitive goals in both the Southern League and Western League, and scored 21 goals from 46 appearances in his one year at Home Park. He returned to Manchester United in 1904. In 1906, Peddie made an important contribution of 20 league and cup goals as Manchester United won promotion back to the First Division. In total, he scored 58 goals for Manchester United and became their club captain after the retirement of Harry Stafford, pictured in the above team photograph.

    Remember my post regarding the troubled season of 1901 (Check back in the thread). The picture below is taken around 1903 and is the site of the fund raising event in 1901 with Johh Henry Davies and the dog.

    St James Hall C1903 Site of the fundraising bazaar of 1901
    Below is a rare original postcard and real photograph of Dick Duckworth who played 251 games for Manchester United from 1903-1915. One of uniteds greatest players of the pre-Great War era. Dick Duckworth was a right-half scoring eleven goals – six of those came in an eight game spell of the 1904-05 season.

    Duckworth was a one man club and made a goalscoring debut in a 4-2 victory over Gainsborough Trinity on 19 December 1903. In his 11 season career - ravaged by injury - Duckworth won two League Championships and one FA cup.


    To be continued ....
  7. As mentioned in the previous update, the season 1901-1902 was a turbulent year but also a defining one in the history of our great club.

    The 1901–02 season was Newton Heath's tenth season in the Football League and their eighth in the Second Division. They finished 15th in the league, avoiding relegation by only five points. In the FA Cup, the Heathens were knocked out by Lincoln City, losing 2–1 in the Intermediate Round.

    The club also entered teams in the Lancashire and Manchester Senior Cups in 1901–02. They only managed to reach the second round of the Lancashire Cup, before losing 5–0 to Southport Central, but the real success came in the Manchester Cup, in which they beat Bolton Wanderers after a replay in the semi-final, before beating Manchester City 2–1 in the final.

    The club had been struggling financially during the season, and were taken to court by their president, William Healey, over a sum of £242 17s 10d owed to him by the club in January 1902. Unable to pay, as they were £2,600 in debt, the club was declared bankrupt. Two months later, club captain Harry Stafford managed to enlist the help of Manchester brewer John Henry Davies, who, in conjunction with three other local businessmen, invested a total of £2,000 in the club. Davies was installed as club president and the club was renamed "Manchester United".

    Newton Heath at the turn of the century were indeed at their lowest ebb. After a decade in the Football league all they had to show was two years in the top flight (both years finishing at the bottom) and eight years in the second. As mentioned in the previous update it was decided by the directors that new players had to be bought, but there were no funds available so a bazaar was arranged by the club to attempt to raise cash. The event was to start on Wednesday 27th February and run for 4 days, the Manchester Evening News reported that the Northern military and Bess-o'th'-barn Brass bands would be playing. The Bazzar ended on Saturday evening but after paying off the cost of renting the hall it was found that the event had hardly been a success and the funds needed still had not been found. The Club's fortunes then took a strange twist, Harry Stafford the Newton Heath captain owned a St Bernard dog, he had taken the dog to the Bazzar and tied a collecting box around its neck, the dog escaped from the hall and was found wandering the City by a Pub landlord, who showed it to a Mr Henry Davies who was then a managing director of the Manchester Brewers.

    John Henry Davies owned a large brewery in Manchester

    Davies took a fancy to the dog and immediatley bought it off the landord. Feeling guilty Davies decided to trace the dog's owner and soon found out that it belonged to the Newton captain, after meeting with Stafford the businessman decided to help and made a financial contribution to the club, and made further promises of help for the future. Stafford did not forget that promise! Mr John Henry Davies would become chairman and president of the club in the future. Newton Heath finished the season worse than last and by the end of the season they stood on a 15th place in the league, with 17 defeats out of 34 games played and a negative goal difference (38-53).

    The Manchester Evening News reckoned Healey had been a little impatient, especially as he was president of the club, and pointed out that the directors had gone to some lengths to come to terms with him. But the truth was that Newton Heath were more than £2600 in debt and that was only going to get worse before it got any better.

    Manchester Evening News Press Clipping 19th March 1902

    The bankrupcy of one of footballs leading clubs caused a sensation. Nevertheless, the directors put on a brave public facem insisting that it did not mean the end of the club. A few good gates might solve the problems they argued, as long as the creditors did not press too hard. Under immediate threat was Saturdays fixture againt Middlesborough at Clayton. Ther were assurances that the game would go ahead as planned and even on the Friday evening the Manchester Evening News informed its readers that the match was on (press clipping above). Unfortunately, the football league and the official receiver intervened and, in an unprecedented step, closed the ground and postponed the fixture.

    In the meantime captain Harry Stafford began a campaign to raise the money. Their next fixture, away to Bristol City, was threatened and if the money could not be raised for travelling expenses then the game too would be called off. Quite where that would have left the club us anyone's guess, but its fair to assume two postponed fixtures would have meant the end of Newton Heath. The club was probably 24 hours odd extinction. But the money did come in, not in vast quantities but enough to keep them going.

    Team photograph for the 1901-1902 season (not great quality)

    In this season Newton Heath changed their club colours again, this time the white shirts and blue shorts were replaced by red shirts and white shorts. The name of Newton Heath was not liked by all, they had left their home in Newton Heath 9 years previously, and following the reorganisation of the Club many called for a name change. Manchester Central was suggested, but it was decided that it sounded too much like a railway station, also suggested and rejected was Manchester Celtic, then a Mr Louis Rocca hit upon the name Manchester United. The name had been suggested before but had not met much support, but this time it stuck and on Saturday 26th April 1902 Newton Heath became Manchester United.

    This must have pleased many of the visiting teams and supporters who for years had been showing up for games at the old Newton Heath only to find a dilapidated and empty pitch, and then had to dash across town to arrive minutes before the kickoff.

    Season Statistics 1901-1902

    Top goalscorer all competitions 1901-1902 season Stephen Preston

    Preston signed professional for the club in 1901 and played for Manchester United until he was sold to Stockport County in 1904. He made his debut on 07/09/1901 versus Gainsborough Trinity (at Bank Street) which United won 3-0.

    Rare photograph of the first ever team photo sold on a badge of Manchester United (1902)

    Manchester United was born!

    To be continued ....
  8. Here's the next installment of the history thread.

    The season 1900/01 was the worst season for Newton Heath in seven years of second division football. They started the season with hopes of promotion to the first division, but finished a long way off their target. They ended the season at the tenth place, with 16 defeats out of 34 matches played. Their goal average was just positive with +6 (38-32). This was the sign for the directors to fire their secretary Mr A.H. Albutt and appoint a new one. The new secretary was Mr James West.

    West oversaw Newton Heath's financial collapse and near bankruptcy, followed by the club's re-birth as Manchester United on 28 April 1902.


    The players are: back, left to right: Stafford, Whitehouse (gk), Erentz. Middle: Billy Morgan, Griffiths, Cartwright. Front: Alf Schofield, Hugh Morgan, Leigh, Jackson, Fisher.

    The 1900–01 season was Newton Heath's ninth season in the Football League and their seventh in the Second Division. They finished tenth in the league, some way off from the promotion places. In the FA Cup, the Heathens were knocked out by Burnley after a replay in the First Round, having beaten Portsmouth in the Intermediate Round.

    The club also entered teams in the Lancashire and Manchester Senior Cups in 1900–01. Although they were knocked out by Manchester City in the second round of the Lancashire Cup, the Heathens managed to reach the final of the Manchester Senior Cup for the first time since 1893 before being beaten by the same opposition.

    James West the new secretary is middle of the back row (black hat). James West was appointed Secretary on August 27th 1900. He had earned a reputation for astute financial management in three years as Secretary at Lincoln. By January the club were able to announce a small increase in gate receipts and lower wages. After a brief spell in the bottom four, the team were now in a safe mid table position (they would eventually finish 10th). Perhaps West would prove the savior was the hope of many Heathen fans that year. The 1901-1902 season will reveal all in the next installment.

    The other two officials on the back row are Mr T Taylor (Director), Mr F Palmer (Director)

    A clipping from the Manchester Evening News (previously Athletic News) 17th February 1901 advertising the bazaar at St James's Hall. A pivotal moment, more about this in the next update.

    Newton Heath at the turn of the century were little more than an average second division side. After almost a decade in the Football League they had little to show for their endeavours, two years in the first division and on both of those years finishing in bottom place. Since then they had shuffled along fairly comfortably in the second division, initially challenging for promotion but at the end of 1900/1901 season they finished 10th, their worst ever position.

    But, just as their fortunes seemed at their lowest ebb, a fairy godmother turned up and with the wave of a magic wand (or in this case a bundle of cash) their luck began to change. The fairy godmother was John Henry Davies, the managing director of Manchester Breweries. His involvement with United arose out of a chance meeting at a bazaar organised by the club to raise funds. The clubs lowly position was causing alarm among its members and their only solution was to raise £1,000 in order to buy new players. And so they hit upn the idea of the bazaar to raise money. It was held from Wednesday 27th February for four days at St James Hall. 'Judging by the programme it should be one of the best bazaars ever held'. reported the Manchester Evening News, announcing that the Northern Military and the Besses-o'th-Barn brass band would be playing. The bazaar was formally opened by Sir James Fergusson, the conservative MP for Manchester North East who told those assembled that 'the members of the club have come to the conclusion that they must collect a handsome sum to enable them to engage a team which will be capable of securing and holding a place in the first league'.

    Secretary James West moved a vote of thanks and the audience was left to wander around the various exhibits which included scenes depicting the splendours of India, Italy and the Meditarranean. The bazaar ended on the Saturday evening, but the proceeds turned out to be far less than expected. When the cost of hiring the hall had been deducted there was barely any profit. But a fortuitous meeting as a result of the bazaar reaped larger dividends.

    Strangely, it was a dog which was to play a part in setting up that meeting. The dog was a St Bernard which belonged to the Netwon Heath captain Harry Stafford. Stafford had loaned loaned the dog to the bazaar and each day it wandered about the hall with a collecting box hung around its neck. But one evening the dog escaped and was later found roaming the streets by the licensee of a pub owned by Manchester Breweries who also happened to be a friend of John Henry Davies. He showed the dog to Davies who took a fancy to it and bought it from him. Feeling guilty, Davies decided to trace the dogs owner and soon discovered that it belonged to Harry Stafford. The two men met, whereupon, Stafford told Davies how the dog had disappeared from the hall and how the bazaar had been organised to raise funds for the club. Davies seemed genuinely concerned at their difficulties, and, as a gesture of goodwill, made a contribution, also promising to help in the future.

    Stafford did not forget that promise. Within a year results had gone from bad to worse and the financial plight of the club had hit rock bottom. It would be time soon to call upon Davies again soon.

    Season Statistics 1900-1901

    Top goalscorer all competitions Tom Leigh

    The shirt below is in display in the united museum, this shirt is tagged as "Thought to have been worn by George Stacey". Stacey joined United in late 1907 but the only photographs showing players (such as Harry Moger) in similar shirts come from 1903/04. It is believed that this shirt however was being worn around the 1900-1901 season initially. However, this is unsubstantiated by any evidence. In fact the only known evidence suggest this was not the case. Should any come to light I will be sure to update this post.

  9. The start to the 20th century held little relief for the Heathens who had acheived little in recent years and were languishing in the shadow of their rivals Man City who had been recently promoted to the 1st division. The team at that time did see a few changes with Frank Barrett in goal, Harry Stafford and Fred Erentz at the fullback positions, Morgan Griffiths and Carwright were regular choices as centre back, while up front Bryant, Jackson and Cassidy were the regulars. The club had forged strong links Wales at the time and boasted seven Welsh internationals in the line-up, many of them arriving in Manchester looking for work on the railroad. Although rich in Welsh international talent the Club had not a single English International on the books (Billy Bryant was picked to represent the Football League). But even with a solid team and a lot of Welsh internationals Newton Heath could not get the promotion they so desperately needed. For the third time in a row they finished fourth in the second division.

    The players are: back, left to right: Stafford, Whitehouse (gk), Erentz. Middle: Billy Morgan, Griffiths, Cartwright. Front: Alf Schofield, Hugh Morgan, Leigh, Jackson, Fisher.

    The 1899–1900 season was Newton Heath's eighth season in the Football League and their sixth in the Second Division. They finished fourth in the league, which was not enough to earn promotion back to the First Division. In the FA Cup, the Heathens were knocked out in the First Round Qualifying by South Shore.

    The club also entered teams in the Lancashire and Manchester Senior Cups in 1899–1900, but little progress was made in either competition. The club received a bye to the third round of the Manchester Senior Cup, but lost 5–0 to Bury. It was a similar story in the Lancashire Cup, as they beat Bolton Wanderers 3–2 in the first round before losing 1–0 to Southport Central in the second round.

    Season Statistics 1899-1900

    It must come as no surprise that our man Joe Cassidy is once again top scorer in this season
    Newton Heath kicked off the 20th Century with a league fixture at Clayton against Lancashire rivals Bolton Wanderers. But it was not a portentious initiation to the new age as they lost 2-1. Bolton were later promoted, while the Heathens once more finished in fourth place and again missed out on promotion :(

    Above the Sunday Chronicle write up of the game versus Bolton Wanderers 7th January 1900 (you will need to concentrate to make out the text)
    After eight years in the football league they had achieved little and were languishing in the shadow of their close neighbours Manchester City, recently promoted to the first division. It would eventually improve, but, unfortunately, not before it got worse. There were a few notable changes in the line-up. Frank Barret remained in goal with Harry Stafford and Fred Erentz shielding him. Morgan, Griffiths and Cartwright were automatic choices for the half-back line up while up front Bryant (below), Jackson and Cassidy (below) were the regulars. The closing years of the 19th century had seen Newton Heath wave goodbye to two fine players in James McNaught and John Peden, later dubbed the first George Best, and was said to delight in weaving his way down the wing and, by all accounts, was just as tempermental and awkward as his successor. There were no England players prior to 1900, but Billy Bryant did play for the Football League against the Irish League inh 1897. One signing in 1900 proved to be inspired, Liverpudlian Alf Schofield, who came from Everton where he had played only a handful of games. He remained with United until 1907, when, after 179 games, he was succeeded on the right wing by Billy Meredith. More about him in future updates.​

    Above (not a great picture) Billy Bryant and Joe Cassidy started the 20th Century by causing the Bolton goalkeeper 'further trouble', but failed to score and the game was lost when Barret conceded a soft goal.

    Now we have seen out the 19th Century see below for a poster which sums up the 19th century honours list.


    Below is another treat which is an original Newton Heath Baines Card. The one below is of Jack Powell who played for Newton Heath between 1886-1891. This is an original Sharpe's Card c 1890 depicting him as captain of Newton Heath.

    Here is a team photograph from the cup winning team that Powell was in after beating Royton in the Manchester Cup​

    Manchester Senior Cup Winners 1889-1890

    Powell is reputed to be the first ever Welshman to play for an English club at a professional level. At the turn of the 19th century these cards stopped being produced.​

    Jack Powell Newton Heath & Wales

    To be continued ....
  10. After experiencing some forum threads and looking at social media of late this is a good time to unleash this blog entry. It is to debate and answer exactly what is meant by the term "top red"? Why is it considered a derogatory term and what does this mean to you?

    From experience it seems to be branded around anyone mentioning the following:
    • You mention you are a season ticket holder
    • You mention you attend the odd home game
    • You mention you go to away games
    • You try to refer to the history of the club
    • Traditions, culture , etc .
    Reading between the lines certain fans appear to be quite sensitive about their redness. Now we all know that in life there are various levels of people with various levels of commitment. There are good doctors and bad doctors with levels in between for example.

    By the same token there are good supporters and bad supporters. There is also a very real difference between a supporter and a fan.

    You cant tell me that someone who drags their backside out of their matching UTD bedspread and pajamas is showing the same level of commitment as a die hard Stretty ender who goes to both home and away games. For those European aways takes time off work, time away from family, spends his/her hard earned on travel and tickets is not a better red than many. I'm not having it that's bollocks.

    Yet certain United fans seem to be very defensive about this. Where does this stem from, is it their own insecurities as a UTD fan?

    With modern day football we have the arm chair fan, facebook and twitter brigade poisoning our great club, and yet, the loyal supporter can't say fuck all, or reason with these people without the top red card being played.

    Probably one of the most famous top reds is Andy Mitten.


    Andy Mitten has been writing about football for 21 years, beginning by founding United We Stand, a Manchester United fanzine and has written for most English newspapers and several books. He began writing about Spanish football in 2001 and now lives in Barcelona, covering Barca as well as his boyhood club Manchester United.

    Mitten also gets a lot of this kind of abuse much the same as others who dare to question, or hint, that they may know better. It wouldn't happen in any other walk of life.

    This type of fan (and I stress fan not supporter) don’t care about ticket prices or who owns the club because it doesn’t affect them directly. They form their opinions through the media and go about analyzing tactics as if they should be perched on the Match of the Day sofa, passing on the opinions of others as their own.

    Message boards are full of them (and the majority of them talking shite, check out the match day threads or twitter), same red breed in theory, but a different species who has nothing in common with the match-going Red.

    They don’t know what it’s like to be a supporter because they’ve never been one, never been treated like cattle outside an away end, never pulled their hair out because they were missing a token(or credit) to get a cup final ticket, never had to consult their bank manager before applying for that European away. Couldn't care less about the increasing costs of attending games to see your club and so on. Some say you should be priviledged to have this problem. This is just a cast away response, the fact is when you have grown up around the club you support and love why should you? Do you feel priviledged to go to your local school or libary? Easy thing to say when you are at a distance and not supporting the club in amongst it week in, week out.

    It's not being precious and at the other end of the extreme there’s nothing more boring than the Über red who defines his life through the reflected glory of the football team, but true Reds who actually go to matches are now in an overwhelming minority.

    Every time United lose a game which is more and more often these days. We have to contend with thousands of these muppets slaughtering individual players and demanding new signings they’ve heard about playing computer games. They don’t represent the views of most who go. Twitter is full of shit like this for example and before you know it this diatribe is being adopted by others and it spreads like a disease. Take this tweet from the recent game versus Olympiakos.


    Typical of the first ones to jump on anyone with the topred retort. The United haters in our midst will hide back into the shadows after a good result, but they’ll be back soon enough (Everton, Spurs, Olympiakos), with their worthless bile as soon as United lose another game. Watch out for them and wonder when being a supporter changed so much.

    This is the modern fan, the knee jerk brigade, the faceless fanbase who crave instant success and believe it is a teams god given right to win a football game just by turning up. No more is this true than of the fickle United fan who have been spoiled since the Premiership began. It is the swell of this uneducated fanbase that is poisoning social media with the Moyes out rants, some after only a few games. Luckily the crowds at Old Trafford and particularly at aways show more support and are prepared to give the man time to build. Thats not to say we blindly support him no matter what but judge him at least after two fucking seasons in the job.

    Moyes is made of sterner stuff and he has shown some steel in the last few months, he's had to. Changing managers at the drop of the hat is not the united way, it never has been. The era of building a football dynasty maybe over these days, but as a lifelong United fan I would love the club to make a stand for this tradition. A club needs to stand up to the constant shit of chairmen and media madness that is prevelant in the modern game, I hope its us that can show footballing values are not lost and can still work. Most United fans in the know will be continuing to support the club, players and manager through what is, and what was always going to be, a turbulent transition period. The hopeless romantic in me would love to see Moyes turn this around, wouldnt you, admit it?! See you on the other side, if youre not there you would be no great loss anyway.

    So lets have it, read the above, digest it, count to ten, then post your thoughts. This should make for a lively and interesting debate.
  11. Here we go again.

    1899 was to be known for the infamous riots between Celtic and Rangers. After a Scottish Cup final replay the fans tried to burn down the ground and trouble continued for several hours in the streets of Glasgow with 81 policemen having to be treated in hospital. There was also trouble at Everton's Goodison Park after the ref had abandoned a game.

    Newton Heath had their own problems with a "scandal" behind the scenes when two players (Boyd and Cunnigham) were suspended by the club for their extracurricular activities. The two players were have said to have been drinking, the Athletic News reported: "If men who are paid good wages don't think it worth their while to keep themselves in condition they are better off out of the team." The week following these suspensions it was the fans turn. After the Heathens took a 2-1 defeat at New Brighton Tower a group of supporters took action by surrounding the referee as he walked off the field, jeering and booing him. The situation could have been worse if it hadn't been for several Club officials and Policemen who escorted the poor referee to dressing room safety. By all reports the referee had been very poor and the youths had been provoked by several dubious decisions. The result of the game seriously dented any hopes of Newton Heath's promotion chances for that year.

    The 1898–99 season was Newton Heath's seventh season in the Football League and their fifth in the Second Division. They finished fourth in the league, which was not enough to earn promotion back to the First Division. In the FA Cup, the Heathens managed to take Tottenham Hotspur to a replay back at Bank Street after a 1–1 draw at Northumberland Park, before losing 5–3 in the replay.

    The club also entered teams in the Lancashire and Manchester Senior Cups in 1898–99, but little progress was made in either competition. The club received a bye to the third round of the Manchester Senior Cup, but lost 4–1 to Bury. It was a similar story in the Lancashire Cup, as they beat Darwen 5–0 in the first round before losing 6–1 to Blackburn Rovers in the second round.

    Season Statistics 1898-1899

    Joe Cassidy top scorer again 3 out of the last 4 seasons

    In March 1899 the Athletic News reported that the club had placed two players on the transfer list and suspended a third following an investigation into their extracurricular activities (orginal press article below). Quite what these were was never explained but there were enough hints to summise that the three had been drinking (the original Robbo, Whiteside and McGrath). 'If men who are paid good wages dont think it worth their while to keep themselves in condition they are better out of the team.' roared the Athletic News. 'The directors are to be congratulated for dealing with offenders in a firm manner.'

    The two players suspended and placed on the transfer list where Boyd, who the paper described as a 'most capricious individual', and Cunningham. Little is known about either except Boyd was something of a prolific goalscorer, hitting 35 goals in only 62 appearances for the club. Cunningham, an inside forward, had joined the Heathens in 1898 and was a regular choice, having made his debut on 5th November that year. The other player involved was Gillespie, also an inside forward, but he apologied for 'certain indiscretions' and was forgiven by the club, though not before serving a suspension. Gillespie and made his league debut for the Heathens in November 1896 and remained a first teamer until the 1900 close season, making 89 appearancesin all and scoring 21 goals.

    Athletic News article 13th March 1899

    A week after this incident the Athletic News reported yet more trouble at Clayton. This time it was the fans who were causing problems. Following a 2-1 defeat by New Brighton Tower in front of a huge gate of 20,000, which seriously dented Newton Heaths hopes of promotion, a group of supporters took unilateral action against the referee. By all accounts the game had been badly handled, with the referee ignoring his linesman on at least one vital occassion and making a number of other questionnable decisions. As the referee walked of the field 'a crowd of hot-headed youths got round him and jeered and booed him', reported the Athletic News. But help, fortunatel, was at hand as 'officials of the club together with several policemaen prevented anything approaching mobbing'. Nevertheless the whole incident was severely frowned upon by the newspaper., even though it was prepared to admit that the youths had been provoked by some dubious refereeing. At the end of the season the two points hardly mattered, although arguably a win might judt have spurred them on to sustain a serious challenge.

    Above Boyd and Gillespie in happier times. In front of them is the Lancashire Senior Cup, which the Heathens won for the first time in 1897/1898 beating Blackburn Rovers 2-1 in the final. Boyd, a scorer on that day, was soon on his way.

    Quite a short update for the 1898-1899 season, unfortunately there are no recorded team photographs for this season. However, the squad players for that season are listed below:

    To be continued ...
  12. Here's the next history update ......

    As the 1898 season drew to a close Newton Heath and across town rivals Man City were the top two teams in the 2nd division, with a team called "New Brighton Tower" in third. On Boxing day the two teams faced each other, the Heathens coming off a 9-0 thrashing of Darwen while City were also coming off a big win against Blackpool (4-2). Confidence was high but it was City who came out the victors making short work of their neighbours in a 4-0 win. Newton never recovered from this and finished the season in 3rd place, 3 points behind Glossop North End and 6 points behind City who won the title and promotion to the first. Once more they had challenged for promotion only to fall by the wayside. In five seasons in the second they had never finished lower than sixth.

    Newton Heath Team 1897-1898

    The 1897–98 season was Newton Heath's sixth season in the Football League and their fourth in the Second Division. They finished fourth in the league, which was not enough to earn them a chance for promotion back to the First Division. In the FA Cup, the Heathens were knocked out by Liverpool in the Second Round, after beating Walsall in the First Round.

    The club also entered teams in the Lancashire and Manchester Senior Cups in 1897–98. They reached the semi-finals of the Manchester Senior Cup before being beaten 2–1 by Manchester City in a replay, but they went two better in the Lancashire Senior Cup, beating Blackburn Rovers 2–1 in the final.

    Sadly, City knocked Newton Heath down the stairs in their Boxing Day match

    The Heathens battled until the end finishing their season with a run of seven games undefeated. Boyd was the clubs top scorer (below) breaking up streaks by Cassidy and he did not miss a match all season. Bryant was the only other player to reach double figures. It is he who achieved the rare feat of scoring a hat-trick against Spurs in the FA cup and still ending up on the losing side.

    Indeed, the season was a frustrating one for the club. Once more they had challenged for promotion only to fall by the wayside. In five seasons in the second division they had never finished lower than sixth place.

    Season Statistics 1897 - 1898

    Henry Boyd was born in Pollokshaws, near Glasgow, but spent most of his career in England. He started out at Sunderland Albion and Burnley before joining West Bromwich Albion in 1892. After two years of sparing appearances for the Baggies he moved south to join Second Division Woolwich Arsenal in 1894. He made an immediate impact, scoring on his debut against Grimsby Town on 10 September 1894, and scoring another seven goals in the next four matches.

    Top Goal Scorer 1897-1898 Henry Boyd

    Newton Heath signed him for £45 in January 1897; Boyd spent two and a half years with Newton Heath, scoring three hat-tricks in the 1897–98 season that he spent with the club, as he racked up 22 goals in total. However the following season, 1898–99, he only played five times (but still scored five goals), and in August 1899 he left Newton Heath for Falkirk. In all he scored 35 goals in 62 games for the Bank Street club, which makes him one of their most prolific forwards in terms of goals per game.

    Chairman Davies kicks off at Bank Street Grounds at Clayton probably vs Notts County first home league match in Division 1. Drew 0-0 Attendance estimated around 20,000. Players nearest to the camera are Peddie, Sagar and Blackstock.

    Below is a letter from the office of the superintendent of the carriage works, Frederick Attock. Attock is generally regarded to be the founder of Newton Heath LYR Football Club, latterly Manchester United.

    Newton Heath Carriage and Wagon Works - Form front

    To be continued ....
  13. So it continues, quite a short post in comparison to other updates.

    After their best season in years Newton Heath finished in 2nd place in the 2nd division and in the play-offs with Burnley and Sunderland, who had finished at the bottom of Division 1, and Notts County, who had won the 2nd Division Championship. After beating Burnley 2-0 at home they lost by the same score in the return match and then faced Sunderland at Bank Street. The Sunderland team had been having much success prior to the season having taken the division 1 Championships in 92, 93 and 95, but they had fallen on hard times that year (although that was not to last very long). More than 18,000 fans turned out for the game which finished in a 1-1 draw and sent the Heathens to Roker Park and Notts County only needing a draw to secure a 1st division place, alas this was not to happen as they lost both games and had to settle for another season in division 2 :(

    Newton Heath 1896-1897 team (not a great photograph, but you can make the players out)

    Team: Walter Cartwright, Jimmy Collinson, Fred Erentz, James Peters, George Perrins, John Whitney, John Clarkin, William Kennedy, Bob Donaldson, James Vance, Dick Smith

    Joe Cassidy again top scorer 2nd season running

    The workers of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway formed the Newton Heath Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Football Club in 1878. This is a 55 page booklet only issued by the Lancashire and Yorkshire to workers for the period 20th-27th March 1897 and contained all time tables and excursions that certain members of the Railway needed to know. A very scarce item from the Victorian period from the founders of the worlds greatest football club as it is known today.

    Rare document with signatures by the Lancashire and Yorkshire workers 1897

    The early Newton Heath players were working class, but they had enough leisure time to play games on a Saturday afternoon and were prosperous to the extent that they did not have to spend every waking hour earning money to live. It is a well known fact that the men who formed Newton Heath would have mostly been from a comparatively affluent section of the working class as, unlike many others, they where skilled and had regular work.

    It was a time when working class people were starting to enjoy what we would understand to be "leisure time". At the time the weekend began on a Saturday dinnertime, so Saturday afternoon was the only time they had the opportunity to follow pursuits that they enjoyed. Sunday was meant for church and little else. This is why you find football clubs and other sporting bodies sprouting up all over the country at this time. Quite simply, working people in the towns and cities were starting to have the time and money to play and watch sport.

    Clubs like Newton Heath were founded and supported by the elite of the working class, because they had the resources to indulge in organised sport. If you look at very early photographs of football games you will see most of the specators wearing hats or caps (there are many examples of this in the next few updates). This is a clear marker of the status as the poor working class tended not to wear them. A hat was a symbol that showed you were better off than the poor unskilled labourer.

    David McFetteridge played for Newton Heath from 1894-96, but is pictured here in a shirt seen on the players in the 1891/92 season team photograph. He was a Scottish striker who made his debut for Newton Heath on the 13th April 1895 versus Newcastle United (Away) which we lost 3-0.

    David McFetteridge (C 1896)

    Uniteds FA Cup performances were hardly spectacular. In the seven seasons they had entered the competition they had never progressed beyond the second round. Although 1896 proved no exception, at least they were eliminated by one of the finest sides to grace the era. The prospect of Derby County visiting Clayotn was keenly awaited but few gave second division Newton Heath much chance against the first division giants who ended that season as runners-up. But a big gate would at least help save some of the Heathens financial problems. In the event 18,000 turned up and £500 they paid went some distance in keeping the bailiffs away.

    The Athletic News (article below) waxed lyrically about Uniteds performance calling it "a great and glorious contribution to Manchesters football history", yet the replay the following Wednesday at the Baseball Ground turned out to be a mere formality as Derby romped home 5-1. But United did have excuses (yes injuries even plagued us in these days). Ridgeway broke a finger and had to leave the field for a time while Carlin was also injured, so at one point United were down to nine men. But they had fought bravely and could count their draw against Derby as one of their best cup performances to date.

    Athletic news article 17th February 1896

    At the end of this season and for the fourth time in five years Newton Heath found themselves facing the end of season play offs. Their record was miserable; only on the first occasion had they been successful. Along with them in the play-offs were Sunderland and Burnley, the bottom two clubs in the first division, and Notts County, champions of the second division.

    Newton Heath had ended the season in second spot, three points behind Notts County, and had wound up their campaign in fine style. They may have lost their final fixture at Loughbourough but it had been their first defeat since New Years day and they remained undefeated at Clayton, having conceded only 10 goals. Newton Heath may not have entered the play-offs as favourites but there was every hope that they might make it back to the upper division. However, it was to be another dissapointment. Newton Heath finished in 3rd place and had to face yet another season in the lower division.


    Clarkin (above left) and Peters (above right) were two of the Heathens battling heroes in the cup against Derby. Sorry for the poor quality of these images but they are old.

    To be continued ...
  14. The season 1895/96 wasn't much better than their first season in the second division. The Heathens couldn't adopt their style of playing to the second division. And by the end of the season they were a long way off the promotion places, they finished sixth with 15 wins and 12 defeats out of 30 games played.

    In the FA cup they reached the second round, one round further than last year. 1895 was the year that Newton Heath changed their club's colours. Till this time the club colours had been green and gold, but it now changed to white shirts and blue shorts.

    The 1895-1896 team was identical to the year before bar a couple of new players

    The 1895–96 season was Newton Heath's fourth season in the Football League and their second in the Second Division. They finished sixth in the league, which was not enough to earn a chance for promotion back to the First Division. In the FA Cup, the Heathens were knocked out in the Second Round, losing 5–1 in a replay against Derby County after vanquishing Kettering Town in the First Round.

    The club also entered teams in the Lancashire and Manchester Senior Cups in 1895–96. They were knocked out of the Lancashire Cup in the first round, losing 2–1 at home to Bury. In the Manchester Cup, they received a bye to the third round, but were immediately knocked out by Fairfield, losing 5–2.

    Season Statistics 1895 - 1896

    Joe Cassidy top scorer​

    Caesar Augustus Jenkyns a new signing during the season (rare press clipping below) was born in Builth Wells, Wales on 24th August 1866. He played football for Walsall Swifts before joining Small Heath in 1892. In his first season he helped the club win the Second Division title. Jenkyns, a centre-half, scored 11 goals in 75 games before joining Woolwich Arsenal in 1895. The following season Jenkyns became the club's first international player when he was selected to play for Wales against Scotland. After only playing 35 games for Woolwich Arsenal Jenkyns was transferred to Newton Heath in May 1896. Jenkyns won eight international caps for Wales. He also helped Newton Heath win promotion to the First Division of the Football League in 1898 after scoring 5 goals in 35 games.

    A rare press clipping from the time of Jenkins' move to Newton Heath

    To give you an idea of match day at Bank Street, Clayton I have unearthed the photograph below. It is not great quality as you can imagine for the time.

    A typical match day at the Bank Street Ground (C Late 1890s)

    To be continued ...
  15. The 1894–95 season was Newton Heath's third season in the Football League and their first outside the top flight. They finished third in the Second Division, earning the right to play in a Test match against Stoke City in order to regain their top-flight status. They lost the match, which was played at Vale Park, Burslem, 3–0 and remained in the Second Division. In the FA Cup, the Heathens were knocked out in the First Round after losing 3–2 to Stoke City.

    The club also entered teams in the Lancashire and Manchester Senior Cups in 1894–95, but were knocked out in the first round of both competitions. As in the previous season, a Newton Heath team also competed in the Lancashire Palatine League, along with Bury and Liverpool. They beat Liverpool at home, but drew at Anfield and lost both matches against Bury. It was to be Newton Heath's last entry in the Palatine League.

    A Change of Home Ground

    Newton Heath moved from the North Road ground in 1893 to Bank Street (or lane). Located on Bank Street in the Manchester suburb of Clayton, opposite the junction with Ravensbury Street and between the railway line and the Albion Chemical works, the ground was locally known as the Bradford and Clayton athletic ground and owned by the Bradford and Clayton Athletic Company. After Newton Heath F.C. were evicted from their old ground at North Road by the Manchester Deans and Canons, who believed it to be inappropriate for the club to charge an entry fee to the ground, secretary A. H. Albut (pictured above) procured the use of the Bank Street ground in June 1893.

    The site was let to the club for eight months of the year, with pre-season training permitted on occasional nights in the summer. The ground was without stands, but, by the start of the 1893–94 season, two stands had been built; one spanning the full length of the pitch on one side and the other behind the goal at the "Bradford end". At the opposite end, the "Clayton end", the ground had been "built up, thousands thus being provided for".

    Newton Heath's first Football League match at Bank Street was played against Burnley on 1 September 1893, when 10,000 people saw Alf Farman score a hat-trick, Newton Heath's only goals in a 3–2 win. The remaining stands were completed for the following league game against Nottingham Forest three weeks later. However, Newton Heath did not fare well in their first season at the new ground and were unable to retain their First Division status at the end of the season, finishing bottom of the 16-team division. At the time, the condition of the Bank Street pitch was well documented. On one occasion during the 1894–95 season, Walsall Town Swifts turned up at the ground and were greeted by what they regarded as a "toxic waste dump".

    After lodging an official complaint about the pitch to the referee, they were finally persuaded to take to the field, only to be beaten 14–0 (unofficially, the biggest win in the history of Manchester United). However, the Football League ruled in favour of Walsall and the match was ordered to be replayed, though the result was not much better for the visitors the second time round, this time losing 9–0.

    The season was a little more successful than the previous, but although they spent much of the year in second place they did not gain promotion, because by the end of the year they stood in third position in division two.

    Aerial view of the Bank Street site taken from land registry records
    In October 1895, before the visit of Manchester City to Bank Street, the club purchased a 2,000-capacity stand from Broughton Rangers Rugby League Club, and put up another stand on the "reserved side" (as distinct from the "popular side"). However, weather restricted the attendance for the Manchester City match to just 12,000. Improvements to the ground were restricted by the running track that encompassed the pitch, which, by the request of the Bradford and Clayton Athletic Company, could not be removed. However, the ground came into the possession of the club's ex-president, Mr. W. Crompton, in 1898, allowing them to make whatever improvements to it they desired. One report in the Manchester Courier predicted the addition of a 25-foot (7.6 m) tall stand on the side adjacent to Bank Street itself, with a refreshment stand underneath, while the opposite stand would be moved back 6 yards (5.5 m) and raised up on brickwork by around 16 feet (4.9 m), with the space underneath to be used as changing rooms for the players and referee and various rooms for the club committee.

    These improvements would cost a lot of money, however, and this, in combination with the players' ever-increasing wages, sent the club into a period of financial turmoil. The club was presented with a winding up order in January 1902, and Bank Street was on the brink of being repossessed until they were saved at the eleventh hour by a wealthy local brewer, John Henry Davies. He and four other men, among them club captain Harry Stafford, invested a total of £2,000 in the club, now renamed Manchester United F.C., and Davies himself paid £500 for the erection of a new 1,000-seat stand at Bank Street. Within four years, the stadium had cover on all four sides, as well as the ability to hold approximately 50,000 spectators, some of whom could watch from the viewing gallery atop the Main Stand. The stadium was even deemed worthy enough to host a match between Football League and Scottish Football League representative sides in April 1904, hosting 25,000 spectators as the Football League side won 2–1.

    Around the turn of the 20th century, Newton Heath pulled off a significant coup by persuading the Manchester Evening News to set up an office at Bank Street. In response to Manchester City's relationship with the Manchester Evening Chronicle, the Heathens' believed that their partnership with the Evening News would cultivate interest in the club, while the newspaper would benefit from increased coverage of football.

    The site had various industrial uses for the next 80 years, until it was cleared for inclusion in the new Manchester Velodrome in the early 1990s. The actual site occupied by the stadium now serves as the Velodrome car park

    The car park for the Manchester Velodrome is located on the site where Bank Street used to be.

    .... while a red plaque attached to a house opposite marks the site as part of United's history.

    A plaque marking the former location of the ground

    To be continued ...