A King’s visit – The 1919-1920 season

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The 1919/1920 season was the first season back in the Football League after the cancellation of competitive league football during World War I. The Football League had made the decision to expand the size of their leagues to 22 teams apiece, giving Manchester City their first taste of the 42-match season.

On an opening day at Hyde Road, City drew 3-3 with Sheffield United. Just two days later they beat Oldham 3-1 at Boundary Park and then were beaten 3-1 at Sheffield United before doing a double over Oldham with a 3-1 win in Manchester. A mixed start to the season also saw a 4-1 home defeat against Bolton.

A mixed season continued, and goals were constantly leaking at the back. A heavy defeat to Bolton and a victory against Notts County came before the first Manchester derby of the season. A 3-3 draw in the local derby at home against their City rivals was satisfactory indeed. However, a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford gave United the bragging rights in the City.

To turn their form around manager Ernest Mangnall attended a different auction of players at the Metropole Hotel in Leeds. Leeds had been kicked out of League Division 2 the week before due to illegal wartime payments, the team was disbanded and the players’ registrations were now held by the Football League who arranged the auction.

City successfully bid for two players, paying £800 for Tommy Lamph and Ernest Goodwin for £500. The team’s form immediately improved as they beat Sheffield Wednesday 4-2 in Manchester in the last game in October.

The Blues were undefeated in November: they drew 0-0 at Sheffield Wednesday, then on 7th November 1919 Mangnall pulled off a major coup as ‘amateur sportsman’ Max Woosnam signed after playing for Corinthians and Cambridge at amateur level and also appearing on the books of Chelsea as an amateur. (Ref: www.citytilidie.com)

City’s biggest result of the season occurred when the last Champions before the war, Blackburn were destroyed 8-2 at Hyde Road to continue the club’s impressive run up the table. This excellent form saw them move into sixth place, just five points behind leaders Burnley with a game in hand.

Unfortunately, City’s form would sink as three successive defeats saw the club drop to 14th after a poor December.  A Christmas Day 1-1 draw with Everton re-ignited spirits at the club as well as two victories against Everton and Sunderland within two days to push the team up the table.

Recent signing Woosnam finally made his debut for the club in January after requesting that he finish his paid employment in Manchester before he lined up for the blues. Moving into February, City improved their League position slightly beating Burnley 3-1 at Hyde Road however at Turf Moor Burnley got their revenge with a 2-0 win.

After 30 games the table showed City in seventh position and ten points behind leaders West Brom. James Cummings left to join West Ham United.

City’s home form was excellent and they made it five victories on the trot in Manchester beating Bradford Park Avenue 4-1 and Preston 1-0. However away from home they struggled and lost 1-0 at Liverpool and 2-1 at Bradford Park Avenue.

It was a right regal occasion at Hyde Road on the 27th March as King George VI visited Manchester and was presented to the teams on the pitch before the game against Liverpool. A crowd of over 35,000 saw the Blues win 2-1.

City’s woeful display away from Manchester continued as they lost 1-0 at Chelsea and 1-0 at Valley Parade against Bradford City. But again back at Hyde Road, it was seven wins on the trot as Chelsea were beaten 1-0.

With just four games left to play, City sat seventh in Division 1 with no chance of catching leaders West Brom who were 15 points ahead.

The season came to a close with a 3-0 defeat at Newcastle, a 0-0 draw at Hyde Road again against Newcastle, a 1-0 victory at Aston Villa and finally a 2-2 home draw again against Villa.

City finished seventh in Division one with 45 points.

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