A Citizen Abroad: A History of Manchester City Football Club

Manchester City have never been the golden goose of English football. Their past has been a roller coaster with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. And to be fair, that ever evolving emotional roller coaster is one of the things that most of us love about the club. Recently, we have been lucky enough to enjoy a number of highs, with another cup to hopefully be added to the trophy cabinet this weekend. I know that our group runs the gamut, in that we have fans from birth, and fans from just a few seasons ago. With that in mind, I hope to bridge the gap between the different members over the coming days. Today, we start with a history lesson that will take us from the club’s beginnings up to the 2010/11 season.

The club was founded in 1880 as St. Mark’s (West Gorton). Seven years later they became Ardwick Association Football Club, and seven years after that Manchester City Football Club was born. The first big breakthrough for the Sky Blues came in 1899, when Manchester City won the Second Division and were promoted to the First Division. Just five years later, in 1904, Manchester City became the first club from Manchester to win a major honor. On April 23, 1904, City beat Bolton Wanderers 1-0 at Crystal Palace to win the F.A. Cup.

After a tumultuous 30 years, in which City had to move stadia due to a fire at Hyde Road, the Citizens were back on the cup scene. In 1933, Manchester City lost to Everton in the final of the F.A. Cup. The following year, they lifted the F.A. Cup again after defeating Portsmouth. It was during the 1934 run to the cup that Manchester City broke the record for the highest home attendance of any club in English football history. A sixth round F.A. Cup matchup against Stoke City at legendary Maine Road was watched by 84,569 people. This attendance record still stands today. I guess that’s what happens when the supporters don’t have to drive or fly in from London or the far east, but I digress. 1937 saw Manchester City win their first league championship, but in true City fashion they were relegated at the end of the next season.

Fast forward 20 years and the Citizens were back in the race for the F.A. Cup. Manchester City reached back to back finals appearances in 1955 and 1956 against Newcastle and Birmingham City, respectively, after employing the Revie Plan. After losing to Newcastle in 1955, the blue boys made another run to the final and played in one of the most famous matches of all time. Manchester were victorious 3-1 over Birmingham City and legendary MCFC ‘keeper Bert Trautmann played a large chunk of the match with a broken neck, unbeknownst to him. Those krauts are some tough bastards apparently. After the 1963 season the club was once again relegated to the second division. They wouldn’t stay down for long, however, as the management team of Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison led the club to the Second Division championship in their first season (1965/66). In the 1967/68 season Manchester City were crowned First Division champions for the second time in the club’s history; and the following season saw the club win the F.A. Cup once again. In 1970, the Blues did the double after winning the League Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup (really rolls off the tongue, that). City continued to challenge for trophies in the 70s, reaching the 1974 League Cup final, and finishing 1 point back from the league champions on two occasions. City may not have won a trophy in ’74, but that doesn’t mean that there was nothing to celebrate. You see friends, the Manchester Derby was the final match of the season; but this was no ordinary derby. United needed to win in order to avoid relegation and the Blues were more than happy to break some hearts. Manchester City defeated United 1-0 thanks to former United player Denis Law’s back heel goal. The win confirmed the relegation of the Reds and, needless to say, London was distraught. The final trophy of this period came in 1976 when the club won the League Cup 2-1 over Newcastle. This good fortune would not last forever though, blues. Dark days were ahead for our beloved club.

From the late 1970s to the late 1990s City were in very bad shape. Unsuccessful signings. Seven managers in the 80s alone. Two relegations (1983 and 1987). The club were back up in time to be a founding member of the Premier League, but were relegated yet again four years later. After two seasons in Division One, City plummeted to it’s lowest point when it was relegated to the third tier of English football. This relegation brought an off-the-field upheaval that included a new chairman and greater fiscal discipline. Manchester City achieved promotion on their first try after defeating Gillingham in a wonderfully dramatic playoff showdown in 1999. The club were promoted back to the Premier League the following season, but it was too much too soon for the Citizens, as they were relegated once again in 2001. Liverpool legend Kevin Keegan was brought in as manager and immediately returned Manchester City to the Premier League after winning the Division One championship. In Maine Road’s final season (2002/03), City defeated United 3-1 on November 9, 2002 in front of the Kippax. This marked the first derby victory for our club in 13 years. At the close of the season, Manchester City moved to Eastlands (Etihad Stadium), and proceeded to finish mid-table for the first four seasons in their new home. But everything was about to change, and Manchester City were about to shake up English football.

In 2007, former England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson (Bork-Shmorg Borkity) was hired as the club’s first foreign manager. His start with the club was bright, but as the season dragged on City’s performances started to flounder. Eriksson was sacked in June of 2008. Two days later City hired walking failure, and ex-rag, Mark Hughes. Abu Dhabi United Group (Vinesh’s company) bought the club from Thaksin Shinawatra in August of the same year. Hughes was given a mind numbing transfer budget, which he promptly used to sign Robinho (who never wanted to be at the club). That season Manchester City went on to finish 10th in the league. The summer transfer window in 2009 saw Hughes drop over £100 million on Gareth Barry, Roque Santa Cruz, Kolo Touré, Emmanuel Adebayor (dad’s an accountant, mom studies law), Carlos Tévez, and Joleon Lescott (he’s top of the league). Most of those signings have turned out okay, the biggest bust being Santa Cruz, who I’m pretty sure is still on our books. December 2009 came and Mark Hughes went (thank God). Enter Roberto Mancini. The Italian led the club to a fifth place finish and narrowly missed out on the Champions League. The following summer Mancini brought in fan favorites David Silva (Valencia) and Yaya Touré (Barcelona, BWAH BWAH). This season would mark the reemergence of Manchester City as a power in England. The 2010/11 season would one in which Manchester City would make history and tear down an annoying banner…

 

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