1912/13 SEASON REVIEW
In the Summer striker Irvine Thornley moved to South Shields after playing over 200 games for City, in addition after five years at Hyde Road Davie Ross moved to Dundee and 22 year old forward J W Smith moved to Chesterfield. Amateur G W Webb moved to Hyde Road from West Ham. Secretary and Manager Harry Newbould also left the club. Unwanted controversy involving Len Wall was reported in July as the City forward was convicted of assaulting a young woman in Shrewsbury. It was said that Wall sprang out of a hedge, seized the woman by the throat, used disgusting language and ‘behaved improperly’. Amazingly Wall evaded a prison sentence and instead was fined £5! The City board suspended the player indefinitely. Two weeks later the suspension was lifted when the board were provided with fresh evidence to show that Wall was regrettably not given any legal assistance when before the Magistrates.
Managerless City then produced an amazing coup as Ernest Mangnall announced he was resigning as manager of Manchester United and moving across the City to takeover managing The Blues. Mangnall’s new side got off to a great start beating Notts County 1-0 at Meadow Lane and then a further 1-0 victory over his former side United. The tie at Old Trafford was a benefit for City legend, and now United player Billy Meredith. The Blues’ winning run continued as they beat Aston Villa 1-0 at Hyde Road, Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield and Bolton 2-0 at home. After five games City topped the league with a maximum of ten points.
The Blues slipped back slightly with a 1-1 draw at Sheffield United. a 1-0 defeat at home to Newcastle and a 2-1 defeat at Oldham. To try and get back on track City bought Welsh International Half Back Edwin Hughes from Wrexham. Hughes wasn’t plunged into the team straight away but the rest of the players did well with a 2-0 win against Chelsea at Hyde Road. City were now in 4th place on 13 points from nine games, the leaders were Aston Villa on 15 points from 11 games. Another win against a London side followed, 4-0 against Woolwich Arsenal at The Manor Ground. City then beat West Ham 4-2 in a friendly whilst they were still in London, the game seemed meaningless at the time but it would come to light months later that City guaranteed a payment of £75 to West Ham from the match as part of the move of amateur G W Webb from The Hammers.
Despite a 3-1 home defeat against Bradford City, The Blues then won three on the trot to go top of Division 1, they beat Sunderland 1-0 at Hyde Road, West Brom 2-0 at The Hawthorns and Everton 1-0 in Manchester. To keep up the push for the title Mangnall strengthened the squad by bringing in half back James Hindmarsh from Stockport County. City had 21 points from 14 games with second placed Sheffield Wednesday just one point behind. A week later Sheffield Wednesday took City’s place at the top of the league as they beat The Blues 1-0 at Hillsborough. A further win, 3-1 at home to Blackburn and a further defeat, 2-0 at Derby brought about a busy but dismal Christmas period for City. They drew 2-2 at home to Tottenham on Christmas Day, then on Boxing Day they lost 4-0 at White Hart Lane against Tottenham and two days later lost 2-0 at home to Manchester United. Mangnall’s team moved into 1913 in ninth place, but just three points behind leaders West Brom.
After playing just two games for City G W Webb announced that he no longer wanted to play for the club due to a fall out over money passing between City and the Hammers to secure his transfer as part of the friendly played earlier in the season. He announced “Since I played [and was injured] against Manchester United in the benefit match for Meredith I have learned that money has been paid for my transfer by Manchester City to West Ham. I had no idea that anything of the sort had happened, and I don’t think it is fair to me. I am quite fit again… and keen to play once more, but I will not play for Manchester City again for the simple reason that I will not be bought and sold. If they had consulted me about it the matter would have been different… I am not in football for money it is not my profession. I have no objection to playing for City. In fact I would like to…I shall not in the circumstances play for Manchester on Saturday or ever again since money has passed between West Ham and Manchester City without my knowledge.”
City showed better form in January, losing just once. They first beat Notts County 4-0 at home then lost 2-0 at Aston Villa. Ernest Mangnall took his side to Southport to prepare for the 1st round of the FA Cup and the sea air seemed to do wonders for the team as they disposed of Birmingham 4-0 at Hyde Road and back in the league beat Liverpool 4-1 in Manchester then drew 2-2 at Bolton. City were in a group of five teams in the league all on 29 points from 24 games, three points behind leaders Sheffield Wednesday.
February started with real drama in the FA Cup tie against Sunderland at Hyde Road on February 1st. The men from Roker Park were a huge attraction and the gates were locked at 2 pm, with thousands of ticket·holders among those shut out. This led to an attempted invasion of the ground and the match had to be abandoned after 32 minutes, because the crush had forced hundreds of spectators on to the pitch. At the time Sunderland were winning 2-0. The official attendance recorded was 41,079 but reports suggest more than 50,000 were crammed inside Hyde Road and around 15,000 locked out. There was an FA inquiry and City were held responsible for the abandonment and fined a record £500. The game was ordered to be replayed at Sunderland where City lost 2-0. However there was further crowd trouble outside the ground this time, thousands were locked out of the tie and approximately 50 spectators climbed onto the roof of a coal depot which overlooked the pitch, however the roof collapsed and 15 fans were injured in the thirty feet drop.
Putting the FA Cup behind them City then beat Sheffield United 3-0 at Hyde Road and Newcastle 1-0 at St James’ Park. The Blues were now one of four clubs at the top of the league all on 33 points. After six years at Hyde Road right back Tom Kelso then left City to join Dundee after failing to appear for The Citizens during the season.
The Blues struggled to keep up the pressure at the top as they lost 2-1 at Chelsea and 1-0 at home to Woolwich Arsenal, although they beat Oldham 2-0 at Hyde Road, they then lost 2-1 at Bradford City, drew 0-0 at Middlesbrough and on Good Friday lost 1-0 to league leaders Sunderland, with a packed Easter Programme to go The Blues had slipped to seventh in the league and were now five points behind The Mackems. Although Mangnall’s side rallied with two wins at Hyde Road, 3-0 against Middlesbrough and West Brom 2-1, a 0-0 draw at Everton ended any chance of winning the league as they were seven points behind leaders Sheffield Wednesday with just three games to play. They then drew against Sheffield Wednesday at home which saw The Owls lose the lead at the top of the table. Disappointingly City finished the season with two further draws, 2-2 at Blackburn and 1-1 against Derby at Hyde Road. City finished 6th in Division 1 with 44 points.