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History of Manchester United Football Club
Many of you might know the history of our beloved club, but for some of our newer members (and supporters), here is the first, brief instalment of the history of Manchester United Football Club.

MUFC were formed in 1878 as Newton Heath LYR Football Club by the Carriage and Wagon department of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway depot at Newton Heath. The team initially played games against other departments and rail companies at their home ground at North Road, but by 1888 the club had become a founding member of The Combination, a regional football league.

[Image: newton-heath-1891-92-400px.png]

However, following the league's dissolution before the end of its first season, Newton Heath joined the newly formed Football Alliance, which ran for three seasons before being merged with The Football League. This resulted in the club starting the 1892–93 season in the First Division, by which time it had become independent of the rail company, dropped the "LYR" from its name and moved to a new ground at Bank Street. After just two seasons, the club was relegated to the Second Division

In January 1902, with debts of £2,670 – equivalent to £250,000 as of 201 – the club was served with a winding-up order. Captain Harry Stafford found four local businessmen – including John Henry Davies, who became club president – each willing to invest £500 in return for a direct interest in running the club. As a mark of this fresh start, on 24 April 1902, the club's name was changed to "Manchester United".

So, that is really only the potted history of our great club. Watch this thread for more history, in more detail.
Old map of the area, showing North Road football ground:

[Image: NorthRoadC1880a.jpg]
With an old aerial photo of the carriage works. You can see the old football ground just above the buildings. This photo was taken in 1927, long after the football club had left.

[Image: EPW017466.jpg]

The photo should be bigger on the original site, here:

North Road History:

[Image: manchester-united-north-road.jpg]

North Road was the first football stadium used by Newton Heath Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Football Club from its foundation in 1878 until 1893. The employees of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (LYR) company's Carriage and Wagon Works asked for a pitch on which to play football and the Company found them somewhere suitable. The chosen site was owned by the Manchester Cathedral authorities, but although it was handily placed next to the wagon works, it was a "bumpy, stony patch in summer and a muddy, heavy swamp in the rainy months".

The railway company agreed to pay a nominal rent to the authorities and to lease the ground to the football club. As it was next to the railway line operated by the LYR, the ground was often clouded in a thick mist of steam from passing trains. Players had to get changed in The Three Crowns public house, a few hundred yards away on Oldham Road, as there were no facilities nearby.

Initially the ground consisted only of the pitch, around which an estimated 12,000 spectators could congregate. The addition of two grandstands, each able to hold 1,000 spectators increased the capacity to about 15,000, but financial woe was on the way, as Newton Heath used what little financial reserves they had to purchase them. This also put them at odds with the Company and they started to drift apart.

The first recorded matches at the ground took place in 1880, two years after the club's formation. Most of the matches were friendlies. The first competitive match held at North Road was a Lancashire Cup first round match against Blackburn Olympic's reserve team, played on 27 October 1883, which Newton Heath lost 7–2. Details of the attendance have been lost, but it is assumed that the ground must have been enclosed by then, as an entry fee of 3d (about £1 as of 2014) was charged for the match.

Football became a professional sport in England in 1885, and Newton Heath signed their first professional players in the summer of 1886. The club's income was insufficient to cover its wage bill, and so the 3d admission charge was extended to all matches played at North Road, later rising to 6d. Without the company's financial support, issues with the Manchester Cathedral Authorities, who didn’t agree with charging admissions, the club was unable to afford the rent on the ground and was evicted in June 1893. The club's management had been searching for a new stadium since a previous eviction attempt in May 1892, so they were able to move to a new ground on Bank Street, three miles away in Clayton. However, it proved impossible though to take the two grandstands to the new ground, and they were sold for £100.
There is a good post on Red Cafe that I stumbled upon. One of the contrbutors on there added a fairly recent image - before further development of the site, with the area photo and old map super-imposed:

[Image: NorthRoadoverlayed.jpg]
For a few more photos of Newton Heath, why not visit one of our member's own website on flickr?


Newton Heath Photos

Courtesy of manchesterunitedman1.

(I hope he doesn't mind?)
After Newton Heath F.C. were evicted from their old ground at North Road by the Manchester Cathedral Authority, the then Club secretary, A. H. Albut, procured the use of the Bank Street ground in June 1893. The ground was known locally as the Bradford and Clayton athletic ground and was owned by the Bradford and Clayton Athletic Company.

[Image: manchester-united-bank-street1.jpg]
The ground was located on Bank Street in the Manchester suburb of Clayton, opposite the junction with Ravensbury Street and between the railway line and the Albion Chemical works. The location of the ground, so close to the chemical works, would cause problems on match days. The state of the area was captured in a poem, too: “As Satan was flying over Bank Street for hell, he was chained by the breeze, and also the smell, quoth he: ‘ I don't know in which land I roam, but I can tell by the smell that I'm not far from home’.” The pitch was badly affected, and was recorded to be slimy and brown at times, with not much grass to be seen. However, the ground’s facilities were better than those at North Road.

The site was let to the club for eight months of the year, with pre-season training permitted on occasional nights in the summer, as it was shared with the athletic club. The ground had no stands, but, by the start of the 1893–94 season, two stands had been built; one spanning the full length of the pitch on one side and the other behind the goal at the "Bradford end". At the opposite end, the "Clayton end", the ground had been "built up, thousands thus being provided for". The remaining stands were completed for the following league game against Nottingham Forest three weeks later.

Newton Heath's first Football League match at Bank Street was played against Burnley on 1 September 1893, when 10,000 people saw Alf Farman score a hat-trick - all of Newton Heath's goals - in a 3–2 win. However, Newton Heath did not fare well in their first season at the new ground and were unable to hold on to their First Division status. Sadly, by the end of the season, Newton Heath finished bottom of the 16-team division.

At the time, the condition of the Bank Street pitch was well documented. On one occasion during the 1894–95 season, Walsall Town Swifts turned up at the ground and were greeted by what they regarded as a "toxic waste dump". After lodging an official complaint about the pitch to the referee, they were finally persuaded to take to the field, only to be beaten 14–0 (unofficially, the biggest win in the history of Manchester United). However, the Football League ruled in favour of Walsall and the match was ordered to be replayed. However, the result was not much better for the visitors the second time round, this time losing 9–0!

In October 1895, before the visit of Manchester City to Bank Street, the club purchased a 2,000-capacity stand from Broughton Rangers Rugby League Club, and put up another stand on the "reserved side" (as distinct from the "popular side"). However, weather restricted the attendance for the Manchester City match to just 12,000. Improvements to the ground were restricted by the running track that encompassed the pitch, which, by the request of the Bradford and Clayton Athletic Company, could not be removed. However, in 1898, the ground came into the possession of the club's former president, Mr W. Crompton. This allowed the Club to make whatever improvements to it they desired.

One report in the Manchester Courier predicted the addition of a 25-foot (7.6 m) tall stand on the side adjacent to Bank Street itself, with a refreshment stand underneath, while the opposite stand would be moved back 6 yards (5.5 m) and raised up on brickwork by around 16 feet (4.9 m), with the space underneath to be used as changing rooms for the players and referee and various rooms for the club committee.

These improvements would cost a lot of money, however, and this, in combination with the players' ever-increasing wages, sent the club into a period of financial turmoil. The club was presented with a winding up order in January 1902, and Bank Street was on the brink of being repossessed until they were saved at the eleventh hour by a wealthy local brewer, John Henry Davies.

[Image: John%20Henry%20Davies.jpg]

He and four other men, among them club captain Harry Stafford, invested a total of £2,000 in the club, now renamed Manchester United F.C., and Davies himself paid £500 for the erection of a new 1,000-seat stand at Bank Street. Within four years, the stadium had cover on all four sides, as well as the ability to hold approximately 50,000 spectators, some of whom could watch from the viewing gallery atop the Main Stand. The stadium was even deemed worthy enough to host a match between Football League and Scottish Football League representative sides in April 1904, hosting 25,000 spectators as the Football League side won 2–1.

Around the turn of the 20th century, Newton Heath pulled off a significant coup by persuading the Manchester Evening News to set up an office at Bank Street. In response to Manchester City's relationship with the Manchester Evening Chronicle, the Heathens' believed that their partnership with the Evening News would cultivate interest in the club, while the newspaper would benefit from increased coverage of football.

Following Manchester United's first league title in 1908 and the FA Cup a year later, it was decided that Bank Street was too restrictive for Davies' ambition and the club would have to move to a new stadium five miles away in Old Trafford. Bank Street was sold to the Manchester Corporation for £5,500 and leased back to the club on a monthly basis until the new stadium was complete. Bank Street played host to just 5,000 spectators for its final game on 22 January 1910; a 5–0 home win over Tottenham Hotspur. Manchester United's move away from Bank Street seemed to have come at the perfect time, as, only a few days after the Tottenham match, one of the stands was blown down in a storm. The roof of the grandstand was blown across the road, landing on the houses opposite, and the stand was left in tatters. The Tottenham match was meant to have been played at Old Trafford, but building problems at the new ground had caused the fixture to revert to Bank Street. Despite the destruction of the Bank Street End stand, the club's reserve team continued to use the ground for matches until the expiry of the lease on 1 January 1912. The remaining timber at the site was then sold to Keyley Bros. for £275.

The site had various industrial uses for the next 80 years, until it was cleared for inclusion in the new Manchester Velodrome in the early 1990s. The actual site occupied by the stadium now serves as the Velodrome car park, while a red plaque attached to a house opposite marks the site as part of United's history.
Bank Street map location:

[Image: Bank_street_land_registry.jpg]

And here is a link to a photo taken on the day the stand blew down:

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