1962/63 SEASON REVIEW
The Blues announced a profit for the previous season of £42,838, this was mainly due to the transfer of Denis Law to Torino, and so Les McDowell was looking to bolster his forward line and on the eve of the first match of the season he brought in free scoring Alec Harley from Third Lanark for £19,500. A player to leave Maine Road before the season started was David Ewing, who moved on to Crewe.
City went straight into the new season without playing any pre-season friendlies and they had the probably the worst start to a season any team would want as they were thrashed 8-1 by Wolves at Molyneux.
At Maine Road they steadied the ship slightly with a 2-2 draw against Liverpool, however again on home soil they lost 2-0 against Aston Villa.
City’s defensive frailties were shown to be immense as their goals against column moved up to 20 goals in just five games as they lost 4-1 at Liverpool and 4-2 at Tottenham.
Alec Harley grabbed two goals to give City there first win of the season as they beat Ipswich 2-1 at Maine Road. However three days later and the Blues conceded another six goals at home as they lost 6-1 to West Ham. Bert Trautmann was sent off for kicking the ball at the referee after West Ham’s disputed fifth goal. In the end the referee, Mr Stokes had to be smuggled out of the ground as the Guardian reported ‘The crowd began booing and kept it up for the remainder of the match, and several young toughs tried to grab Mr Stokes as he left the field escorted by police”. Police reinforcements were called in after the game as several hundred stone throwing City fans gathered outside Maine Road calling for the ref’s ‘head’ and also the resignation of Les McDowall as City hit rock bottom of Division 1.
McDowall made six changes in the side for a trip to Ipswich and the Citizens gained their first clean sheet as they drew 0-0, and then grabbed both points at Old Trafford with a great 3-2 victory over Manchester United. The Blues then made three games unbeaten as they drew 2-2 against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road.
The Tangerines and Citizens met again two days later in the League Cup 2nd Round at Maine Road and Blackpool drew again 0-0.
City’s home league form was pitiful as they lost against bottom of the table Blackburn 1-0 and returned to the bottom spot themselves.
City then travelled to Dublin to play a friendly against Burnley, the game finished 1-1.
The Blues welcomed a rare home league win as they beat Leyton Orient 2-0. They then drew against Blackpool for the third time this season this time 3-3 in the League Cup 2nd Round Replay at Bloomfield Road, and back in the league got a creditable 2-2 draw at Birmingham before finally seeing off Blackpool 4-2 at Maine Road in the second Replay.
City’s form was certainly improving and in a great performance at Maine Road they beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2, and then the Blues made it three wins on the trot as they beat Newport County 2-1 at Somerton Park in the 3rd Round of the League Cup.
Back in the league and City drew 0-0 against Burnley at Turf Moor, and then made it seven matches unbeaten as they drew 1-1 against Everton at Maine Road.
City’s unbeaten run came to an end at Burnden Park where they lost 3-1 to Bolton. But the Blues then marched into the 5th Round of the League Cup beating Luton 1-0 at Maine Road.
Back in the league and Leicester came away with a point as the teams drew 1-1. Then, although the Blues put up a great performance at Craven Cottage to beat Fulham 4-2, they then lost 4-2 at Maine Road against Arsenal.
City’s 5th Round League Cup tie at St Andrews was postponed due to fog and then in the League City slipped to another defeat losing 2-1 at West Brom the game saw Bert Trautmann strain ligaments in his right leg and it was feared he would be ruled out for around 2 months.
In the rearranged game at St Andrews Steve Fleet was called upon in Trautmann’s absence and The Citizens crashed dramatically out of the cup losing 6-0 to Birmingham.
Fleet was quicly replaced by Harry Dowd and City then scored three at Maine Road but could only draw 3-3 against Wolves, Three days before Christmas the weather struck again on City’s travels as the league game at Villa Park was abandoned after 48 minutes with City leading Aston Villa 1-0. The ‘Big Freeze of’63’ had set in and with record low temperatures throughout England the football programme was decimated and City fans had to wait over two months before they got to see the Blues play again when in late February they travelled to Brisbane Road and drew 1-1 against Orient.
Moving into March City beat Birmingham 2-1 at Maine Road, the Blues had raided Third Lanark’s squad again to bring in forward Matt Gray for a fee in excess of £30,000 and he made his debut against The Midlanders.
Another good away performance saw The Blues win 1-0 at Walsall in the FA Cup 3rd Round, however in the league City lost 4-1 at Sheffield Wednesday.
Back in the Fa Cup City beat Bury 1-0 in the 4th round and then lost 2-1 to Norwich in the 5th round, both games at Maine Road. The defeat in the FA Cup saw a run of six defeats as The Blues lost 2-1 at Everton in the league, and then slid down the table with two home defeats losing 5-2 to Burnley and 3-2 to Fulham, away from Maine Road the Citizens lost 3-1 at Sheffield United and 2-0 at Leicester, to leave City just six points above bottom side Orient.
Threatened by relegation The Blues gained four valuable points at Maine Road in the space of two days over Easter, beating Notts Forest 1-0 and Bolton 2-1. With 32 games played The Blues were third from bottom on 25 points, Birmingham were a point behind them with a game in hand, with Orient rock bottom on 16 points.
City continued their improvement with a 1-1 draw at Notts Forest and then beat Arsenal 3-2 at Highbury. However relegation fears returned as they lost 3-1 at home to Sheffield United and then also at Maine road were trounced 5-1 by West Brom, the game was watched by less than 15,000 fans, of which a small section demonstrated their displeasure at City’s plight outside Maine Road after the game.
Luckily for City Birmingham also lost by a ‘cricket score’ and so City were still third from bottom two points ahead of Birmingham.
The Blues were now in freefall and despite leading 1-0 at Blackburn with just 15 minutes to go they collapsed and ended up losing 4-1. Things got even worse with five games left to play, the Tangerines of Blackpool came to Maine Road and swept City away with a 3-0 win, The Blues then leaked another three goals at Villa Park, Aston Villa winning 3-1.
With three games left The Citizens pulled a win out of nowhere as they beat Tottenham 1-0 at Maine Road, however they were now 2nd from bottom of Division 1.
The penultimate game of the season saw City play fourth from bottom Manchester United, City were on 30 points, with Birmingham and United on 31 points just above them. The game ended 1-1. so City’s fate would be decided on last day of the season.
City lost alarmingly 6-1 at West Ham in the final game of the season, they had been relegated and ten days later Les McDowall’s resignation was accepted by the board and on 11th June assistant manager George Poyser was appointed as McDowall’s full-time replacement.