The first post-war season: A review of the 1946/1947 campaign

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The first season since the outbreak of the Second World War saw a new look Manchester City side attempt to gain promotion from the Second Division – a league had been rooted in since relegation in 1938. Manager Wilf Wild continued as manager but would not last the entire season combining both positions.

Sadly, just three players who played for the team before the war returned and most were now too old or had since retired. George Smith had lost a hand fighting for his country while Arthur Kelling was killed in combat before the end of the war.

City started the season impressively picking up four victories in the first six games and scoring eighteen goals in the process. The highlight of the first couple of games was no doubt a 7-2 win over Bradford on September 21st, 1946.

The early 2nd Division table showed City in 2nd place, three points behind Burnley with a game in hand. The first defeat came at the hands of West Ham at Boleyn Park where the club went down 0-1 in East London.

October finished with a 3-2 defeat at Newcastle, and the loss saw City slip down to 7th, 4 points behind leaders Barnsley but more importantly with two games in hand on the leader’s local rivals.

City were now ready to go on a run of games without a defeat, but shock spread throughout the club when in December manager Wilf Wild stood down to focus on secretarial duties. Former City player Sam Cowan opted to leave his coaching role with Brighton to take up the reins from his previous manager.

After the defeat to Birmingham in November, City would go 17 games unbeaten before meeting Birmingham again in February. Wins against Barnsley, Fulham and Tottenham during this time catapulted the team to the fringes of the first division.

Cowan sought re-enforcements and signed William Murray from Arbroath, and the promotion push continued as they beat Swansea 2-1 at the Vetch Field and then drew 2-2 at Fulham to stay two points clear with a game in hand on the chasing pack. The Blues brought in another player to try and seal promotion. Jackie Wharton signed from Preston for £7,000, but after playing just one game for the Blues, Johnny Rudd moved to York City.

With just a quarter of the season remaining, and City were 3 points clear at the top and 9 points clear of third place Birmingham. Easter was a success as City beat Luton 2-0 at Maine Road and Southampton 1-0 at the Dell before drawing 0-0 at Luton. After defeating Barnsley 2-0 at Oakwell, City just needed one win from their last seven games to guarantee promotion. Inevitably they then lost their first home league game for over a year when they went down 2-0 to Newcastle at Maine Road.

67,000 fans then crammed into Maine Road to see City guarantee first division football as they beat Burnley 1-0. Jack Percival then left Maine Road to join Bournemouth as City planned for a new campaign in Division 1. They splashed out £12,000 on Roy Clarke from Cardiff, a winger who would prove to be one of the club’s greatest ever players.

A 5-1 victory over Newport in the final game advantageously ended the season with the club’s main aim of promotion achieved and success maintained from a business standpoint.

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