Manchester Welsh part 2: Manchester City
This is the 2nd article looking into the impact that Welsh players/coaches have had on the two Manchester clubs. Neil Jones will now look at the blue half of the city, Manchester City, before going on to share a combined Manchester Welsh XI at the end.
The club was founded in 1880 and were known as St. Mark’s (West Gorton) then became known as Ardwick Association Football Club in 1887 and not becoming known as Manchester City until 1894. The first Welshman (that I could find) to have the honor of playing for the club was Hugh Morris, a forward, who arrived at then Ardwick in 1891 having previously been spotted playing for Chirk Amateur Athletic Association FC. He would go on to be their top scorer that season with 10 goals in 22 appearances in the Football Alliance League. He would leave for Sheffield United in 1893 before returning for a second spell in 1896 for one season before moving to Grimsby and then on to Millwall. Tragedy struck Morris as in the summer of 1897 he contracted tuberculosis and died before he could make his debut, he was only 25.
The first undoubted Welsh star for the club was Billy Meredith, who played for the club in 2 spells. The first being between 1894 to 1906 and his second which was in 1921 until his retirement from football in 1924. Meredith was born in 1874 and from the age of 12 worked as a pit pony driver at the Black Park Colliery near Chirk and continued to work there for 8 years a year after he began his career with City, commuting between Chirk and Manchester after matches. Getting him to come to Manchester was a task in itself as he did not want to abandon the life he had in Chirk, whilst his mother was also against the whole idea of her son moving to a big city. Meredith arrived at the club from Northwich Victoria having begun his career with Chirk AAA FC, where he won the Welsh Cup in 1894, and would go on to make 362 appearances for City before his controversial departure. He would also contribute 151 goals to the cause in both spells, which places him 5th all-time in City’s goal scoring charts, doing this all the while with his customary toothpick in his mouth. His success was relatively modest compared to the success he achieved at rivals Man United as during his time at City, he would only go on to win the Second Division Championship in 1898/99 and the FA Cup in 1903/04, but Meredith was the club captain on these occasions and was the first City player to lift a trophy. He was suspended for the entirety of the 1905/06 for attempting to bribe Alex Leake of Aston Villa in the final match of the 1904/05 season. Meredith, who strenuously denied the charge against him and no evidence was taken from him, had his ban upheld and was transfer listed soon after, before leaving to join bitter rivals Manchester United. Regardless of this he is very highly regarded for his time at the club, when in 2009 the Times wrote a list of the 50 Greatest Players to play for the club and Meredith was placed 5th overall, this was despite having played for the rival club and his conviction and ban for bribery. This position placed him above other club legends such as Francis Lee, Mike Summerbee and Tony Book. He was also among the first inductees to City’s Hall of Fame in 2004 along with 15 other legends of the club. Such is the high esteem in which he is held, even though he last made an appearance for the club almost 100 years ago.
David Jones – came to the club from Bolton Wanderers in 1898 and went on to make over 100 appearances for the club in his 4-year spell at City mainly as a full back. Having begun his career with Chirk AAA FC such as Hugh Morris and Billy Meredith did, where he won the Welsh Cup twice in 1887 and 1888. He won promotion to the First Division in his first season at City, although tragedy was to strike Jones as well. In the summer of 1902, whilst playing in a pre-season practice match he cut his knee after falling on a piece of glass, this wound became infected and Jones died of blood poisoning and lockjaw soon after.
Billy Jones – the nephew of David Jones, played for the club from 1903 to 1919 having arrived from Druids FC in Wrexham, having begun his career with Chirk AAA FC. As Billy Meredith before him, Jones as a youngster worked as a pit miner. Jones was not implicated in the financial scandal that engulfed the club and resulted in the suspension of 17 senior players, Meredith being one of them. This culminated in City being related to the Second Division in 1908/09, but with Jones as captain, they made an immediate return, winning the Second Division Championship. This made Jones the second City captain, after his fellow compatriot Meredith. He continued to play for the club until football was ceased due to the First World War. At this point, he volunteered to join the 23rd (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, this was regarded as the Sportsmen’s Battalion. When League football resumed in 1919, Jones moved on to Southend United. Jones made over 300 appearances for the club and scored 76 times.
George Wynn – a midfielder that arrived at City in 1909 from Wrexham, having begun his career with Oswestry United. He moved to the club for the princely sum of £250, making his debut against Bradford Park Avenue on Christmas Day 1909 and would help them win the Second Division Championship that season, he was able to score 12 times in 24 appearances and would go on to be their top scorer the next three seasons with 9, 18 and 16 goals respectively. This success would be the only trophy that he would win in his time with the club for the First World War would shorten his career. He last played for the club in September 1919 then he was told to Coventry City for £300. He would make 127 appearances for the club, scoring 60 goals. Before his football career began Wynn was employed as a carpenter on the estate of Lord Harlech in Oswestry before deciding to give football a go, signing for his home town club Oswestry Town as an amateur in 1906. Wynn would go to serve in the First World War having initially joined the 2/5th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers, but would later be transferred to the 8th Lincolnshire Regiment. Wynn served on the Western Front and had been shot in the leg and received more wound following a shell blast that killed a few of his comrades. After being demobilized in 1919, he returned to football and finished his career with Halifax Town in 1922. He lived until he was 80 years old, passing away in 1966 near Abergele in Denbighshire.
Roy Clarke was another famous Welsh winger who played for the club. Arriving from Cardiff (having worked in the coal mines during the Second World War as one of the Bevin Boys) in 1947 for £10,000, this was the first that Clarke would be leaving Wales, although he stated himself that he had no intention of signing for City as he was due to be getting married the following but Clarke was soon to change his mind when City hand found him a house. He would go on to serve City until 1958 after making 370 appearances and contributing 79 goals, which was a minor miracle as before he was 20 years old that he would never play football again so badly damaged were his knees. His first two matches for the club are still a record as he is the only player to have played in three consecutive matches in three divisions of the Football League. His last appearance for Cardiff was in Division Three and his debut for City was against Newport County (his home town club) in Division Two in June 1947 and City were promoted to the First Division and he played against Wolves in August. He would go on to win the FA Cup in 1956 against Birmingham City, the match which was more famously known as the Bert Trautmann match. After retiring in 1959 Clarke would go on to contribute for the club in different ways, such as an assistant coach, pools promoter, then the club’s Social Club manager (for which he helped win the Club of the Year award for the finest Club in Great Britain in 1971 and 1974) and his last contribution was as one of the founders of the club’s Ex-players association. He was placed 24th on the Times 2009 list. He was also inducted into Manchester City’s Hall of Fame in 2004 as one of the inaugural inductees along with receiving a Life Time Achievement Award for all the work he has done for the club. Clarke sadly passed away in Sale, Cheshire on the 13th of March 2006 at the age of 80 after a long illness with Alzheimer’s disease.
Roy Paul – a teammate of Clarke’s in the Cup winning side of 1956. Paul arrived at the club from Swansea Town in 1950 for £19,500 which was a British record at the time for a half back and considering that Paul was already 30 by this time. Previous to this he was a coal miner before signing a contract to play for Swansea Town. The main reason that he ended up at City is because Swansea transfer listed him after he went to Columbia for a trial with the club Millonarios, who because their governing body was not affiliated with FIFA did not have to pay transfer fees. After lasting 10 days at the club, citing unhappiness with the conditions at the club, he returned to Swansea and duly placed on the transfer list, due to the club’s anger at his going in the first place. In his first season at the club, he was made captain and guided City to promotion back to the First Division. He remained as captain until his retirement in 1957 at the age of 37 but not before lifting the FA Cup in 1956 after vowing to return to the Cup Final having lost to Newcastle in 1955. He would make 294 appearances for the club and be placed 22nd on the Times list and received the same honor as Meredith and Clarke in being an inaugural inductee in the club’s Hall of Fame. Paul is considered one of City’s greatest ever captains. He gained 24 of his 33 caps for Wales whilst playing for City. Paul sadly passed away in 2002 at the age of 82 after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease and buried in Treorchy Cemetery only a few miles away from Ton Pentre where he was born in the Rhondda Valley.
Cliff Sear – was another in a long line of North Walians who played for the club. Arriving in 1957 having begun his career with Oswestry Town, he would make his debut against Birmingham City. He would go on to make 279 appearances for the club, with his last appearance coming against Ipswich Town in 1966. His only success at the club came in the 1965/66 season when he assisted the club to win the Second Division Championship. He would be unlucky as in the next few seasons, City would win the First Division Championship in 1967/68, the FA Cup in 1968/69 and the UEFA Cup Winners Cup in 1969/70. He would move to Chester in 1968 and make 58 appearances for the club. Although he was more known for being the man that discovered Ian Rush in his time there as a scout and coach at the club. Sear unfortunately died in 2000 at the age of 63 from a suspected heart attack.
The impact Welsh players has had on Manchester City has been less profound as of late with the arrival of the new owners from Abu Dhabi in 2008. In that time only Craig Bellamy, Emyr Huws and Ched Evans have made appearances for the in this time. But as a whole, City has a lot to thank Wales for, it has provided them with many fantastic players who have made huge contributions to the club and allowed the club to gain many successes. Wales provided Man City with 3 trophy winning captains, their top scorers in 11 seasons and the oldest player to represent the club when Billy Meredith played in the FA Cup Semi Final against Newcastle in 1924 at the age of 49 years and 245 days.
I would like to thank the following websites for their valuable information in the making of this article:
COMBINED MANCHESTER WELSH XI:
From these two articles, I will attempt to make a Manchester Welsh XI, although it has been difficult to fill in some of the positions. Due to a lack of suitable defenders who have played for both clubs, I have opted for a 3-5-2 formation which would allow me to field a stronger line-up. I have also opted for an XI of Welsh born players as I feel that anything otherwise would defeat the object of fielding a Manchester Welsh XI.
GK – Andy Dibble – was difficult to find a suitable goalkeeper as there have not been many goalkeepers who have made a significant impact for both club. Dibble would go on to make over a hundred appearances for Man City during his time there between 1988 and 1997 having arrived from Luton Town.
DF – Roy Paul – my captain for this team. Would provide the necessary leadership from defence.
DF – Clayton Blackmore – whose versatility would come in handy here as I would ask him to help out in defence.
DF – Thomas Jones – a more than capable full back who would do a job for my team
MF – Billy Meredith – the great man himself would be able to put in a few crosses whilst contributing with plenty of goals
MF – Roy Clarke – what I said about Meredith would apply for Clarke as well.
MF – Samuel Bennion – who would be the steady influence surrounded by more creative players.
MF – Ryan Giggs – who would play in the centre of midfield as he had done so towards the end of his career with great success at Man United, having won the PFA Player of the Year Award whilst playing in this position
MF – George Wynn – who would be used as a goal scoring midfielder to support Mark Hughes and chip in with a few goals. His record proved this with almost a goal every other game.
FW – Mark Hughes – the man for the big occasion. Hughes would lead my attack.
FW – Thomas Bamford – who would ably support Hughes as his better than a goal every other game record Man United proves.
BOTH MANCHESTER WELSH ARTICLES WRITTEN BY NEIL JONES.