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MAINE ROAD: A CENTURY OF MEMORIES
- Updated: August 24, 2023
Maine Road stood as Manchester City’s cherished abode for 80 years before the club relocated to the Eastlands, known as the Etihad Stadium, two decades ago. In this unique edition of the City Magazine, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Blues’ inception at Maine Road.
Here, we delve into the moments that shaped City’s existence during our 80-year residency in Moss Side, as well as the individuals and matches that conferred a distinct charm upon this hallowed ground.
While we can only provide a glimpse of that era, we aspire to capture the heart and soul of Maine Road within the following pages. Our intention is to evoke fond memories, stir a few smiles, and we trust you’ll relish our City Magazine Maine Road tribute.
MAINE ROAD’S MAIDEN MATCH…
City: Mitchell, Cookson, Fletcher, Hamill, Woosnam, Pringle, Donaldson, Roberts, Johnson, Barnes, Murphy.
Sheffield United: Gough, Milton, Cook, Pantling, Waugh, Green, Mercer, Sampy, Johnson, Gillespie, Tunstall
August 1923 marked a momentous day for Manchester City and their supporters as the Blues strode onto the pristine Moss Side turf for the first time. The crowd of 56,993 set a new attendance record, a triumphant feat for a club that had recently vacated the more modest surroundings of Hyde Road.
Although the echoes of the old home lingered, Maine Road integrated fragments of nostalgia. Goalposts and turnstiles from Hyde Road found a new home, and the original main stand roof found shelter at Halifax Town’s The Shay stadium, shielding a fresh set of eager fans from the rain.
The cost of the new stadium, around £150,000, remains difficult to ascertain. Designed by Manchester architect Charles Swain and erected by Sir Robert McAlpine builders in under a year, the project honored everyone involved, embodying excellence in both conception and construction.
Maine Road boasted a capacity exceeding that of Hyde Road, accommodating roughly 80,000 spectators. Only Wembley Stadium, unveiled just months prior, could host more in England. The extensive terracing facing the players, initially dubbed the ‘popular side’ and later christened the Kippax, drew the bulk of City’s faithful for the inaugural match – a tradition that endured throughout the ground’s 80-year lifespan.
With only the Main Stand covered, much of the crowd’s energy dissipated into the open sky, yet an electrifying atmosphere enveloped the air as Ernest Magnall’s team took the pitch. Versatile athlete Max Woosnam assumed captaincy, leading the Blues onto the field as the band serenaded ‘Ours is a nice house, ours is.’
Woosnam, recovering from a leg fracture sustained during a collision with a wooden fence at Hyde Road, also missed the opportunity to defend his Wimbledon doubles title during his absence. Undoubtedly proud, the captain spurred the team to victory, inaugurating Maine Road with a win. The Lord Mayor of Manchester graced the players before ceremoniously kicking off the match, a responsibility swiftly taken over by Tommy Johnson on referee Howcroft’s whistle, inaugurating a new era for the Blues.
Sammy Cookson and Eli Fletcher, like Woosnam, returned from extended absences. Recent signing from Bolton Wanderers, Alec Donaldson, marked his full league debut. Sheffield United posed a formidable challenge, having claimed three of the four available points in the prior season’s corresponding fixtures.
A tight first half concluded without either side breaking the net, despite notable efforts from Tommy Johnson and Horace Barnes forcing Sheffield United’s keeper, Gough, into action. City reemerged in the second half with determination, securing a 2-0 triumph courtesy of Barnes and Johnson. The opportunity for a 3-0 lead presented itself through a penalty shortly after, setting the stage for Maine Road’s storied journey.
By- Sahiba Suri