1920/21 SEASON REVIEW
At the start of the season Max Woosnam’s name was on everyones lips due to him competing in the Antwerp Olympics in the pre-season period and returning with a gold silver medal he won playing tennis.
City fans were buzzing at the chance to see him play a full season at Hyde Road: But Woosnam preferred tennis to football and announced he was going to retire from football to concentrate on his tennis career, however the City board persuaded him to sign on with them for the season with the hope he might play the occasional game. He would miss the first five games anyway when he was in Antwerp.
It was a mixed star for Ernest Mangnall’s side in Division 1, they were beaten 4-2 on the opening day by Liverpool at Anfield, then at Hyde Road they beat Aston Villa 3-1 and Liverpool 3-2. They then lost twice on their travels 3-1 at Aston Villa and 2-1 at Arsenal, however back in Manchester Arsenal were beaten 3-1, so after six games the early table showed City in tenth position on six points.
The Blues couldn’t get a sniff of a point away from Hyde Road as they lost 3-0 at Bolton. In an effort to turn around their fortunes City signed Irish Wing Half Mickey Hamill from Belfast Celtic after the Irish club temporarily withdrew from competitive football.
City kept up their 100% home record with a 3-1 win over Bolton, however a trip to bottom club Derby, a game in which Hamill made his debut, ended in a 3-0 win for The Rams.
The Blues lost their first point at Hyde Road in a 0-0 draw with Derby however they then gained their first victory on their travels, beating Blackburn 2-0 at Ewood Park, Blackburn then visited Manchester and the game ended 0-0.
City then won away again beating Huddersfield 1-0, however that night there was a fire at Hyde Road which destroyed the Grand Stand, their only decent stand, which included the changing rooms.
The ground had been left to fall into a very bad state of repair prior to the fire and afterwards it was obviously even worse.
Manchester United offered to let City play their matches temporarily at Old Trafford however it was imperative for City to keep the fans’ money flowing into the club and so a large terrace made of cinders was formed from the embers of the burnt down stand. It certainly wouldn’t have passed today’s stringent health and safety standards, but it was enough to be able to host City’s next game against Huddersfield.
A crowd of 30,000 attended the delapidated Hyde Road to see City beat Huddersfield 3-2 then prior to the Manchester Derby Joe Edleston left City to join Fulham.
In the Derby at Old Trafford United held City to a 1-1 draw. with 15 games played City had moved up to 8th place.
Back at Hyde Road City remained unbeaten as they beat Manchester United 3-0. A further win followed at Bradford, City winning 2-1 and then The Blues moved within three points off the summit as they beat Bradford again, 1-0 at Hyde Road.
Although The Blues then lost their first game in ten matches, 1-0 at Sunderland, they were unbeaten over the Festive period, on Christmas Day they beat West Brom 4-0 at Hyde Road then two days later at The Hawthorns they met West Brom again and drew 2-2.
New Years Day 1921 brought a good 3-1 win at home to Sunderland, however City were knocked out of the FA Cup in the first round losing 2-0 at Crystal Palace, and then lost in the league as well, 2-1 at Chelsea.
Back at Hyde Road City turned the tables on Chelsea beating them 1-0, a win that moved them up to fourth in the table on 30 points from 24 games, six points behind leaders Burnley. A break from the League saw City beat The Corinthians 2-0 at Hyde Road.
City then slipped down the league, they lost 3-0 at Everton, then the return game against Everton was abandoned due to fog at Hyde Road and then they suffered a further defeat, 2-0 at Tottenham. However in the replayed game in Manchester City beat Everton 2-0. A further 2-0 defeat followed at Oldham in the league.
March brought five straight wins for The Blues They beat Oldham 3-1 and Tottenham 2-0 at Hyde Road, then won 1-0 at Preston. Back at home they beat Middlesbrough 2-1 and with thousands of fans locked out of Hyde Road a sell out crowd saw City beat leaders Burnley 3-0 it meant The Blues had not been beaten at home since December 1919.
Unfortunately the last game in March and first game in April both ended in defeat, 3-1 at Middlesbrough and 2-1 at League leaders Burnley.
City would end the season unbeaten, they beat Sheffield United 2-1 at Hyde Road then at Bramall Lane they took another point off Sheffield United drawing 1-1.
An excellent 5-1 win at home against Preston followed and on the day Burnley were crowned Champions City looked to try and make the runners up spot theirs as they beat Bradford Park Avenue 1-0 again at the fortress, Hyde Road.
With three games left City were third, Bolton were in second just a point ahead and had played a game more than The Blues.
City beat Bradford Park Avenue again 2-1 away, with Bolton winning as well. The Blues then won theiir game in hand, 3-1 at home to Newcastle and leapfrogged over Bolton, one point above their Lancashire rivals with one game to play.
At St James’ Park City drew their last game of the season 1-1 against Newcastle, Bolton could only draw and so Mangnall’s team secured the Division One Runners Up spot, finishing with 54 points, five points behind Champions Burnley.
City showed a healthy financial status for the season, the balance books showing a profit of £6,801.