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Manchester City Football Club: Behind the Club

In this series, we profile one Premier League team each week, looking at some of the History, Records and Trivia associated with each club. This week we profile Manchester City FC. Join us on a journey from 1880 to 2018 as we go, Behind the Club.

In 1880, members of local St. Marks Church founded a football club, to combat soaring rates of unemployment and crime in the area.

Links with nearby Belle Vue FC led to a merger between the two clubs, but they split again after only one season.

As the religious links faded, the club dropped St. Marks from their name and became known as Gorton Association FC. In 1884 they joined the Manchester & District Football Association, before changing their name again; this time becoming Ardwick Association Football Club.

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Ardwick formed a rivalry with Newton Heath (who would later become Manchester United). The club was a founding member of Division Two of the Football League in 1892, and reformed as Manchester City two years later.

For seven years City plied their trade in the second tier, and finally secured a debut top-flight campaign after winning the Second Division in 1899.

The club bounced between the first two divisions once, before major honours followed. A 1-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers saw a first FA Cup triumph in 1904, and they finished second in the league behind The Wednesday.

Controversy followed a year later, when forward Billy Meredith was found guilty of bribing Aston Villa to throw a crucial game at the end of the season. Villa went on to win the game 3-2, ending City’s hopes of a first title in the process.

Investigations into a breach of the league’s salary cap plagued the club further, but a third-place finish followed in 1908. The club suffered a shock relegation a year later, but they returned immediately and retained their top-flight status until the league’s suspension for WWI in 1914.

In 1920, the club’s ground Hyde Road suffered a fire which destroyed its main stand. By the start of the 1923/24 season, City had moved to 80,000 capacity Maine Road, where they would stay for nearly 80 years.

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An FA Cup final loss in 1926 was compounded by relegation weeks later, but the Citizens returned to the top-flight at the second attempt.

The 1930’s saw cult heroes lead City to success. Matt Busby, Frank Swift and Sam Cowan were among those who drove the club to two successive FA Cup finals (winning in 1934), before claiming their first league title in 1937.

Amazingly, the Citizens were relegated the following season, despite being the highest scorers in the league. They remain the only team in English football to be relegated as reigning champions.

Cowan became manager after the second world war, and led City back to division one before resigning in June, citing difficulties with his commute to Manchester from his Brighton business base.

Former German prisoner of war Bert Trautmann joined in 1949, replacing the retiring Frank Swift. His signing was met with much scorn from the public, but fans quickly warmed to him and his commitment to the club.

Two more FA Cup Finals followed in 1955 and 1956, with Trautmann famously playing the final 15 minutes of their 3-1 victory over Birmingham City with a broken neck.

A topsy-turvy 1960s began with relegation in 1963, and ended with League and FA Cup titles in 1968 and 69 respectively. The success continued into the 70s, and City claimed their first League Cup and European Cup Winners Cup in 1970.

City spectacularly blew a four-point lead to finish fourth in 1972, largely attributed to the signing of Rodney Marsh, whose playing style clashed with that of the team setup he joined.

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Inconsistent top-flight performances continued through the 70s, and a second League Cup was won in 1976, but the 80s began a spell of instability.

Another FA Cup final was reached in 1981, with City eventually going down 3-2 after a replay against Tottenham Hotspur, the game in which Ricky Villa scored his famous goal.

Two relegations and promotions would pass before the 80s ended, and the club worked hard to bring back the consistency that enabled the success of the 70s.

Under former midfielder Peter Reid, City finished fifth for two consecutive years and ninth in the inaugural Premier League season in 1993, but top half finishes could not be sustained.

Reid lasted only two matches of 1993/94, and a slow descent over the next three years culminated in relegation in 1996.

The slide could not be stopped. The following season, Steve Coppell resigned after 33 days and only six matches, citing the pressure of the job.

Frank Clark steadied the ship in 1996/97, but departed the following February with City in real danger of another relegation. Joe Royle then took charge, but incredibly Manchester City were relegated to the third tier for the first time in history in May.

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They finished in the play-offs at the first attempt, and overcame Gillingham in the final after a penalty shootout. Paul Dickov’s injury time equaliser is often cited by fans as the most important in the history in the club and ensured his status as a cult hero in the blue half of Manchester.

Momentum continued into the subsequent season, with City ensuring a second successive promotion and return to the Premier League. Since 2002, the Citizens have remained in the Premier League.

In 2003, after 80 years at Maine Road, City moved to the City of Manchester Stadium, now known as the Etihad, where they are based now.

Kevin Keegan and Stuart Pearce came and went, before former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra completed his takeover of the club.

During Pearce’s tenure, he memorably substituted on Nicky Weaver as a second goalkeeper to allow David James to play as a striker in the dying moments of the final day of the season clash against Middlesbrough. James proved himself to be a nuisance in that role, but City ultimately failed to win the match after Robbie Fowler missed a late penalty.

After the takeover in 2007, Shinawatra appointed former England boss Sven Goran Eriksson as the club’s new manager, but he was inconsistent in just a single season in charge.

Mark Hughes was appointed in June 2008, and City enjoyed undoubtedly the biggest transfer window of their history that summer.

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Amid criminal allegations, Shinawatra sold the club on deadline day to Abu Dhabi United Group. Later in the day, City unbelievably stole the signing of Brazilian striker Robinho from under the noses of Chelsea and other European giants.

Led my Sheikh Mansour, the consortium promised huge financial backing. Three years later, Yaya Toure fired them to their first FA Cup for 42 years. Another year later, Sergio Aguero won their first League title for 44 years, in the greatest finish to a league season ever.

Despite this success, Roberto Mancini was sacked soon after, paving the way for Manuel Pellegrini. The Chilean led City to a league and cup double in 2014, but would only last another two seasons as the club brought in Pep Guardiola.

Under Guardiola, City struggled in 2016/17, but have swept everyone aside so far this term as they look to set a record points haul in the league and aim for a Champions League and League Cup treble, having already secured the latter.

It’s hard to think of a club that has come so far in the last 10 years. From losing 8-1 to Middlesbrough in 2008, to City being second favourites to win the Champions League, after only Barcelona, prior to their 3-0 first leg quarter-final defeat against Liverpool at Anfield.

Progression now lies firmly in the balance, though a remarkable second leg performance at the Etihad will be required for the Citizens to reach the semi-finals.

Records and Trivia

In 1937/38, Manchester City became the first and to date only reigning champions to be relegated.

City’s record signing is recent arrival Aymeric Laporte. The Citizens shelled out £57 million to Athletic Bilbao in January of this year to acquire the French defender’s services.

The player with the most appearances for City is former midfielder Alan Oakes, who made 680 appearances for the Citizens between 1958 and 1976.

Man City currently lie 7th in the all-time Premier League table, lodged between Everton and Aston Villa. They are ahead of Newcastle and West Ham United, despite playing less seasons in the Premier League so far

There is a Manchester City Football Club based in Sierra Leone, an extension of an African Manchester City fan club. The club plays in the same colours, and is funded entirely by proceeds from a team mini-bus donated by English supporters.

Best Performances

Football League: Champions (4) – 1936/37, 1967/68, 2011-12, 2013-14.

FA Cup: Champions (5) – 1903/04, 1933/34, 1955/56, 1968/69, 2010/11.

Football League Cup: Champions (5) – 1969/70, 1975/76, 2013/14, 2015/16, 2017/18.

Champions League/European Competition: Semi Finals (Champions League) – 2015/16

Written by Sam Hanys.

Sam Hanys

A miserable Ipswich Town fan.

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