For just over 60 years I have been visiting this extraordinary place of dreams and of course a few nightmares! Sunday May 11th 2003 was the occasion of the very last major game at Maine Road and I got there early to soak in the atmosphere and catch more memories on film and video. What follows will I hope bring back memories of the occasion and now I can't wait for the first game at our new stadium.

Up until 1969 I used to keep a log of every major game I either watched or officiated in in some form. I have already mentioned in the City Past page the very first time I watched City. In that first 1942-43 wartime season I went only twice. The next season 1943-44 I saw my first derby game which ended 2-2. Scoring one of the goals from the left wing was Jack Boothway. Little did I know then that when I went to work for Simon Carves as a 17 year old draughtsman a few years later I would be working next to Jack Boothway and of the stories and swear words he told me I could not possibly comment! A month or so later Jack scored a couple of goals in a 3-1 win over United and I relished the skills of Peter Doherty who was coming to the end of his playing days. In the parade before the Southampton game it was wonderful to see old favourites like Walsh, and Smith who played in those early games. In those days as United's ground had been bombed so the reds used to play their home games at Maine Road. I must confess to watching them. But my excuse is that they were a team then not a PLC! Their stars about this time were Jack Rowley, Morris, Stan Pearson, and Charlie Mitten.
Other star players seen at this time included Matt Busby (Liverpool), Stan Matthews (Blackpool and Stoke City), Tommy Lawton (Everton), Nat Lofthouse (Bolton). Because of war time travel restrictions only Northern teams were seen at the ground. Crowds were only average but war cup games against Blackpool brought in over 50,000.
The Football league North was extended in 1945-46 and was my first full season of watching soccer with 29 games including one at County and a couple of cupties at Bolton. It was only an average season for City and crowds fluctuated widely from a few thousand at a home loss 1-5 against Sheffield Wednesday ( a Bert Sproston penalty being the City scorer) to over 62,000 for a 4-1 'away' win against United, George Smith - one of todays special guests scoring all four.
When the Football League resumed after the war City were in Division 2 and became Champions. There were several games I remember that season. To start the season there was a 'Victory International ' between England and Scotland.The result was a 2-2 draw the teams were England - Swift, Walton, Hardwick, Wright Leuty, Mitchell: Matthews, Welsh (2 goals), Lewis, Fielding, Mitten. -Scotland Miller: Shaw, Shaw;Campbell, Brennan, Husband: Waddell, Dougal, Thornton(2 goals), Hamilton and Liddell.
On Christmas Day City played Plymouth and were three nil up at half time with a following wind. Later Plymouth equalized to make it 3-3 and City snatched a 4-3 winner. At the end of April we played a rare friendly against Glasgow Rangers and I remember sitting in the back of the Main Stand being astonished at the massive colourful and vocal support they brought with them. Maine Road had seen nothing like it . 48,000 saw City win 2-1 over a Rangers side that included such great names as Willie Young, Waddell, Duncanson and Thornton. Alec Herd and Smith (that name again) scored for City. A few weeks later 68,000 saw City beat Burnley 1-0 in the decider. Because of bad weather earlier in the year the season was extended and it was in the middle of June when City played their final game of the season against Newport County Roy Clarke made his debut and Smith - yes that man again - scored all five in City's five one win. Paddy Fagan and Walsh also played that day.

With City promoted there were huge crowds at many games next season. Nearly 68,000 saw City narrowly beat Wolves 4-3 in the first game of 1947-48 -that man Smith again being among the scorers. Roy Clarke scored his first goal for City. Billy Wright was in the Wolves side.10,000 more watched a goalless derby game. That season I started to watch City away - at Burnley, Bolton ,Wolves, Huddesfield and Blackburn but there was little to cheer about -a couple of points. It was a season of consolidation - where have I heard that before. There were some large variations in the crowds from 18,000 and 21,000 for City's last two games to the largest post war crowd of 83,260 when United drew 1-1 with Arsenal. Joe Mercer and Leslie Compton ( Denis's brother) . I can't remember seeing much of this game apart from being glad to survive the crush! The open Kippax is those days required strength and height. Getting there early was essential to claim a standing place at one of the crush barriers. On days when the crowd was small it was great to be able to move from one end of the ground to the other to see City attacking. However you would be lucky to be able to move at all in crowds of over 70,000! When City played Arsenal at the end of the season both the Comptons played.
I didn't watch quite so many games the next season when City finished 7th. It was United's last season at Maine Road and in April I remember Ivor Broadis scoring, in Sunderland's 2-1 win against United. Len Shackleton was playing for Sunderland in that match. Ivor was later to sign for City for the then record fee of £25,000 in 1951.
Next season Frank Swift played his last game against Everton in a goalless draw in September but only 28,000 were there to watch. In early November I went to watch the reserves beat Leeds United 4-1 and in City's goal was Bert Trautman who was to make his debut against Bolton a few weeks later. I missed that game but travelled to Derby in early December to see him play. I regret to say City got trounced 7 nil on a mud heap as I remember. In February City signed Westcott from Blackburn and he was to be among the goals for a couple of seasons. City got relegated at the end of the season. England played Ireland at Maine Road that season and won 9-2 ! The Engish forward line of Finney, Mortenson, Rowley, Pearson and Froggatt ran riot that day.
During the summer Roy Paul was signed from Swansea Town and I saw him make his debut against Cardiff in August. City won 2-1 before a poor crowd of 15,000- Smith and Clarke were still in the City side. It was a mid week game as on the following Saturday 47,000 turned up for a 5-1 win over Bury. Biggest crowd of the season was 72,000 for an FA Cup semi-final between Birmingham and Blackpool who had Matthews playing. Finishing second City were promoted once again!
I was now serving National Service in the RAF so stationed at Kirkham early games in 1951-52 were watched at Blackpool and Preston. I had to wait until Boxing Day before my first game at Maine Road. A 3-1 win over Chelsea with first glimpses of Ivor Broadis and Don Revie in City colours. Later I was posted to the North East so visits to Maine Road were limited. Visits to Roker Park and Ayesome Park were the norm. I did manage the 7-0 win in the Cup against Swindon in 1953, Johnny Hart scoring 4. Later that season I did see City draw 3 each At Sunderland Ivor Broadis scoring two against his old team and at the end of the season had the pleasure of watching Middlesbrough beat United 5 nil, the great Wilf Mannion scoring two.
Next season I managed to get to the derby game which City won 2-0, Revie and Hart scoring. In the United side was Roger Bryne who had been a year or so infront of me at Burnage High and Denis Violett who I had known in Didsbury. Surprise in the City side was the leaving out of Broadis who had been one of their most influential players.
That season I had my first visit to Wembley - as a steward to watch the Amateur Cup Final between Bishop Auxland and Crook.
The next season, which was going to be my last for a while as I had been posted to the Far East, I tried to get in as many games as possible before December .I managed 18 which alas included some poor City performances. However one very interesting game was between City and United youth teams. The United team included Duncan Edwards, Bobby Charlton, Morgans, Colman and Wilf McGuiness. On the City side was Mike Doyle.
The next two and a half years I was involved in football in Hong Kong in various capacities so the goings on at Maine Road had to take a back seat.
It was most frustrating to miss City's run in the Cup. It was just my luck that the very first time I was out of the country City got to two finals!
On my return to UK in 1957 I was based in Norwich and as I had been asked to cover soccer in the UK by the Hong Kong Tiger Standard my press pass proved more than useful. The first game covered at Maine Road was an exciting game against Wolves which the visitors won 4-3 after City had lead 3-1. Bobby Johnstone had now joined City and Barnes scored twice, one a penalty when Johnstone was brought down by Harris. Steve Fleet a 20 year old goalkeeper was making his debut in place of an injured Trautman.
A few days later and I was off to Wembley to see England beat France 4-0. Robson and Taylor scoring two each. Piantoni was in the French team. As I was also refereeing in the Norfolk and Suffolk league visits to Maine Road were few and far between but over Christmas I did manage City's win against Burnley 4-1 and a 2-2 derby game with over 70,000 watching - 10,000 more than at Wembley! The Munich Air Disaster in February !958 which decimated the United team also cost Frank Swifts life and to think I had been sitting near him in the City press box only a month or so earlier. At the end of the season I was at Wembley to see Bolton beat the depleted United 2-0 in the Cup Final. As I write this North West Today reported that Harry Gregg used to take the drug 'speed' a performing enhancing drug after the disaster. Pity they could not get the year right they said 1968! How many other players I wonder are guilty of taking drugs. The testing appears to be negligible.
Then I was off to Sweden to watch the World Cup and the debut of a young man called Pele for Brazil.
I had little chance to visit Maine Road next season being stuck in Norwich but I did manage to watch Norwich a few times including their amazing Cup run when they beat United 3-0 in r3 , Spurs 1-0 (r5) and Sheffield U 3-2(r6).
City just managed to fight off relegation and the only good performance I saw was a 4-0 win over Birmingham at Christmas.
1959-60 saw an astonishing game early on in the season , City being beaten by Wolves 6-4 despite a hat-trick by Billy McAdams, after being down 3-4 at half time. I also remember a brilliant display against St Mirren in a friendly in October in pouring rain. City won 6-1 but only 12,000 were there. But I have also a note about a deplorable display against Southampton in the 3rd round of the Cup. We lost 5-1 ! I managed to see the derby game at Old Trafford but it turned out to be a dull goalless draw.
In those days it was easy to get into most games by just paying at the turnstile so I tried to get to as many different grounds as I could. One such game was at Molineaux where I watched Barcelona slaughter Wolves 5-2 - Kocsis the famous Hungarian inside forward and Martinez being the stars.
March 30th was the day Denis Law made his home debut against West Ham United and City won 3-1 Denis being among the scorers. I noted at the time that Ken Barnes missed a twice taken penalty. Jack Taylor was the referee.
I must have been out of my mind that Easter as I have notes on 8 games from the 12 to the 23rd! They included a City home win against Bolton and a defeat 1-3 a few days later in the return at Burndon Park. There was also an England Boys game against Germany at Maine road the same week and in the England side were Fry (probably the irrepressible Barry Fry) , Pleat ( no doubt David Pleat ) and an Atkinson from Seaham ( surely not Ron ).
At the end of the season I saw a very late goal by Colin Barlow beat Preston 2-1 and alas City lost to Burnley by the same score to give Burnley the championship. A weeks or so I dashed upto Hamden Park to see Real Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfort by 7-3 -Puskas 4, Di Stefano 3 - 127,000 saw a wonderful game.
City started the next season (60-61) by beating Burnley 2-1 Barlow and Hayes the scorers but the next game I watched a few days later was rained off! Just after half time with City and United 2 -2 A terrific thunderstorm hit Maine Road and that great referee Arthur Ellis abandoned the game after 56 minutes. Albert Quixall missed a penalty for United. Dawson and Denis Violett scored for United and Law and Hayes for City. There were a lot of damp people going home on the buses that day. Wagstaffe made his debut in a 1-1 draw against Sheffield Wed. And I noted a good goal by Law. In November yet another City forward made his debut - Gerry Baker from St Mirren ( he had played against City in the friendly mentioned above) . Another player making a debut ( for Bolton) we were to hear about later, was a certain F.H. Lee. He scored , got booked and generally made himself a nuisance in the 3-1 win for Bolton.
I will draw a veil over the derby games that season. I had the misfortune to watch both and was very disappointed in Trautmans performance at Old Trafford. At the end of the season City drew 1-1 with Blackpool . I think it was the last occasion I saw Stanley Matthews play.
Peter Dobing was the new signing for 61-62 and my first glimpse was in the final 10 minutes of a home 2-1 win over Fulham at the end of August. I had dashed there from a match I was refereeing with a 2-0pm ko! A week or so later I went to see him score in a 2-0 win at Goodison Park against Everton. Five days later I saw a couple of youngsters in the City Youth side that made the headlines shortly after - Glyn Pardoe and Neil Young. A month or so later Young made his debut but I had to wait until Christmas before seeing him play against Ipswich and he opened the scoring in a three nil win. Early in the new year Neil Young scored a hat-trick in a good 3-2 win over Arsenal. Officially one of the goals was an own goal but at the time I thought it went to Young. We were playing quite well at home now and I noted a wonder display against Spurs ( 6-2 ), Peter Dobing scoring his second hat-trick of the season. Knowing City it was too good to be true and sure enough my next game at Maine Road ended in a 1-4 defeat at the hands of Birmingham. It did however mark the debut of Glyn Pardoe at the tender age of 15 ! He played at centre forward. I think that must be a record for a debut.
City had a disastrous start to 62-63 losing 1-8 to Wolves at Molineux- and to think I almost went! City's form was not good and my first game of the season was a disaster too. Bert Trautman was sent off in the second half for kicking the ball at referee Stokes and Alan Oakes went into goal. West Ham won 6-1 - Colin Barlow scoring the consolation goal. A week later I went to old Trafford to see City beat United 3-2 - Dobing (pen) Harley and Hayes. Typical City! Denis Law scored twice for United who had Noel Cantwell on the left wing. City's form continued to fluctuate under the management of Les McDowall. Relegation was looming but a home win in May against Spurs gave me hope. I missed the controversial mid-week 1-1 against United but decided to go to West Ham for the final game of the season. I managed to get a ticket from Cliff Sear but alas City were thumped 6-1 - got relegated and Les McDowall was sacked - and replaced by George Poyser.
Not many notes on the 63-64 season save for a mention of two great goals by Derek Kevan against Huddesfield in a 5-2 win in November. He followed this up with two more in my next game at Maine Road - a 8-1 win against Scunthorpe on Boxing Day - Gray and Murray with hat-tricks being the other scorers. We finished 6th in Div 2 and attendances were dropping dramatically I watched the 1 nil win against Middlesbrough in March along with just over 8,050 others.
The next season again tested City support. I find it difficult to believe that the highest attendance at the 15 games I watched at Maine Road were at the opening home games against Leyton Orient (6-0) and against Bolton (2-4 ) both just under 22,000 and there were three below 10,000 - including the record for the very lowest for a league game - 8,015 against Swindon (1-2) in January. As this followed a miserable 1-1 draw at home in the cup against Shrewsbury ( we lost the replay) things were at a low ebb for City supporters. My only other note was the debut at the Bolton game of someone called Ogden at centre forward - obviously a good candidate for - 'where are they now' !
We had a new manager at the start of the 65-66 season - Joe Mercer and he brought with him an up and coming coach - Malcolm Allison. Things were about to change and how! The opening home game against Wolves drew a welcome 26,000 and the 2-1 win was notable for the debut of a winger by the name of Summerbee - it may ring a bell!
In early September City had a home game against Norwich abandoned at half time - rain again if my memory serves me correctly.By the time the replayed game ended in a goalless draw at the end of October City were at the top of the Second Division and we even beat Moscow Dynamo 2-0 in a friendly in early December. Attendance's struggled to get above 30,000 though 47,000 did turn up on New Years Day for the 2-0 win against Huddesfield. We had a good run in the Cup reaching the 6th round. I saw the home games against Grimsby (2-0) and Leicester (2-2) 56,000 watching the latter game. City drew Everton in Round 6 and I went to both the home game ( 64,000) and at Goodison. Not a goal was scored after 210 minutes of play - no penalties in those days! Alas City lost the third game 2-0 at Molineaux. I traveled to that one as well. In early April Colin Bell -signed from Bury made his home debut against Plymouth in a 1-1 draw - only 24,000 watching that day. City ended up champions that season and a typical City side was Dowd: Kennedy, Sear or Bacuzzi: Doyle, Heslop, Oakes: Summerbee, Crossan, Pardoe, Connor and Young. Pardoe who was a regular, figured at centre forward, right half, left wing, inside left, and outside right. Bell became a regular after his debut.
The World Cup took place that summer in England and the North West was the base for Portugal, Hungary and Bulgaria .I watched several games the best of which was the 3-1 win of Hungary over Brazil ( without Pele) at Goodison Park. Albert, Bene and Farkas being the best players. No games at Maine Road alas.
Back in Division One in 66-67 the missing thousands turned up in their droves and 51,000 saw the opening home game against Liverpool. I noted that it was a great performance and Bell scored in the final seconds of the 2-1 win. However City's good start flattered to deceive and the usual rollarcoaster started. Having gone to Anfield to see City lose by the odd goal of 5 it was disappointing to get beaten at home 4-1 against West Ham a certain Mr Hurst scoring two!There was worse to come with home losses in October to both Chelsea and Spurs. We managed a draw against Newcastle despite Mike Summerbee being sent off. There were almost 40,000 to witness the extraordinary game against Everton. There were plenty of jottings for this game. Tony Book was cautioned as was Alan Ball - surprise surprise -there were fights among spectators and the police were everywhere. Unlike today when yellow cards are given out like confetti, cautions and red cards were the exception rather than the rule. Not many notes from the rest of that season apart from the Cardiff Cup replay - a 3-1 win and a great display - Ogley saving a penalty. Oh I must not forget the home game against West Brom who had Geoff Astle at centre forward. It marked the debut of a certain Paul Hince (now Manchester Evening News) who scored both City's goals.
1967-68 was a special season and after a hesitant start City had a good run at home with Hince again scoring -against Newcastle in a 2-0 win - I noted that Neil Young missed a penalty. We used to get a few in those days! the crowds were not all that good - 25,000-30,000. In a 4-0 win against Leicester in the league Cup Tony Book scored from a penalty and a young sub scored scored two - Stan Bowles. A few days later he bangs in a couple more - against Sheffield United (5-2). We lost the home derby game Bobby Charltons couple of goals bettering the lone effort by Colin Bell - 62,000 present that day. Shortly afterwards a certain Francis Lee made his debut in a 2-0 win over Wolves following his transfer from Bolton. By November City were doing really well. A six nil walloping of Leicester (newly signed Lee scoring two) gave me the confidence to watch them at West Ham and we won 3-2! Next game of note was the famous ballet on ice in early December ( some pics on the City past page). The great 4-1 win over Spurs was followed by a revenge beating of Stoke City 4-2 , Lee again scoring a couple of goals. Over the Christmas period City had a surprising double loss against West Bromich but this was only a minor blip as they won the next 6 out of 7 games the only point dropped being a draw with Arsenal at Maine Road. City went top after a 5-1 win over Fulham in the middle of March but a loss against Leeds at Elland Road gave greater importance to the next game away to United who were also high in the league. It had been years since I walked towards Old Trafford with such high hopes but when Best scored early on I began to wonder whether it was going to be City's day. However slowly the blues took over the game and ran out winners 3-1 - even good old George Heslop scoring with a header. It was a joyous walk back to the car that day - that's for sure. As the season progressed it became clear that the league championship was going to be settled on the last day with United being at home to Sunderland and City had to go to Newcastle. I shall never ever forget that drive up the A1 that was a mass of blue all the way upto Newcastle as 20,000 City supporters traveled to St James Park. It seemed we outnumbered the home supporters and we were not let down as City won an exciting game 4-3 to win the Championship. I have more on this game on another page.


The last minute at Maine Rd
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The Southampton goal (5.4 megs)
Gio is introduced to the crowd (5.3 megs)
A Caribbean feel to pre-match entertainment-
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Now got a publisher for the book on Maine Road.
It's now available from Amazon -click on image for link and in the Club shop

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