Manchester City v Birmingham Match abandoned 1957/58

Match abandoned in 40th minute

League Division 1

15th February 1958

Attendance 23,461

City McAdams
Birmingham Orritt

Ref E.S. Oxley

City Trautmann, Leivers, Sear, Warhurst, Ewing, Barnes, Barlow, Hayes, Johnstone, Sambrook, McAdams

Birmingham Merrick, Hall, Farmer, Larkin, Smith, Watts, Hooper, Orritt, Brown, Murphy, Govan

From an article in The City Programme City 16th March 2003
Today’s match is unusual as,  unlike every other game  featured this season, this  meeting between City and  Birmingham is no longer  included in official records.  The match was abandoned  and therefore its result does  not count, however to dismiss  it as irrelevant does both  clubs and all attendees a  great disservice.
The match is a significant, and often forgotten, piece of  footbali history.
The game was the first  played in Manchester following  the Munich Air Disaster and the  feeiing of sadness and emotion  surrounding the club at the time  was immense.
The disaster had a major  impact on City. Frank Swift, the club’s former great England  Captain, and many journalists  well known at the ground were  killed. The death of any former  player is sad, particularly if the  circumstances are tragic, but  Swift was still such a huge hero  his death was deeply upsetting.  Swift. it should be remembered,  was the recently elected  President of the Supporters’  Club and was on the plane  because his job as a newspaper  reporter demanded it.
During the fifties football  journalism was seen as the next  step for footballers with  intelligence who did not move  into coaching or management.  Joe Mercer, Denis Compton  (who was also supposed to be  reporting on United‘s match but  was prevented from attending due to other circumstances),  and Swift moved into journalism  when their football careers  ended in a similar rnanner to  present day footballers moving  into television. It was a natural  progression, and a players  name was used to help sell the  papers. inevitably, the  newspaper would send its rnost  well known reporters to cover  the biggest games and so Swift  travelled to Europe.
Interestingly. an article on the  Busby Babes from around this  period focused on how  supporters across Europe  would rush to get the autograph  of the ‘great Frank Swift’ before  the Babes whenever their  entourage arrived at a ground.
As well as Swift, the other  journalists killed in the disaster were leading Manchester  personalities. They were Alf  Clarke (Manchester Evening  Chronicle), Henry Hose (Dally  Express). George Follows (Dally  Herald), Torn Jackson  (Manchester Evening News),  Archie Ledbrooke (Daily Mirror),  Don Davies (Manchester  Guardian) and Eric Thompson  (Dally Mail). Don Davies, who  often went under the  pseudonym of ‘an Old  international’. was a major  supporter of Manchester  football and had reported on the  Blues tor many years, but every  journalist was well known to  Mancunians, many were  known nationwide, and their  funerals attracted an incredible  number of mourners. On  Monday 17th February over 250  attended a memorial service at  the Cathedral for the journalists.  Lessons were read by Doris  Swift. by prominent newspaper  men. and by Joe Mercer.
This meeting with  Birmingham came right in the  middle of the grieving period  and a lower crowd than normal  attended. The atmosphere was  understandably muted and as  supporters entered,
Representatives from both City  and United;s supporters‘ clubs  worked together to collect for the victims.
In the Directors’ Box, as  guests of the City Chairman  Alan Douglas were United’s  Chairman Harold Harclman and Assistant Secretary Les Olive.  The two men had been told by  Douglas that the Blues would  do all they could to help United  find replacement players. and  the press speculated on which  players the Reds would sign.  According to the Manchester  Evening News United were  interested in virtually every City  man although the names of  Paddy Fagan and Ray  Sambrook seemed of must  interest to the Reds. The game itself was played in  conditions which matched the  gloomy atmosphere.  Birmingham. playing in their  new all red kit {according to one  newspaper it was the first time  they had worn it], took the lead  in the 15th minute with a goal  from Bryan Orritt, and then Bill  McAdams equalised. Eric  Thornton reported on the key  moves for the Evening News:  “l couldn’t read the thoughts of  Hardrnan and Olive as they watched Manchester City and  Birmingham City slog it out in  the Maine Road rnud bath, but  l’ll wager they were thinking that  Ray Sambrook could solve their  left—wing problem. Of course  he’s not for sale, but with 21  others he showed what a  mixture of skill and guts can do  even in the worst of playing  conditions.
“lt was a tricky ball for Bert  Trautmann to hold, but he did  the job well with those  tremendously sate hands. and  there must be a note of  commendation for Bill  McAfdams and the way in which  he scored the equalising goal.  One thing is certain: when  these teams meet in the rearranged encounter later in the  season; it’s going to be a rare  battle of speed and tactics.”
After the equaliser the  conditions worsened. Heavy  rain had created a stream  running the length of the pitch  and referee E.S. Oxley of  Pontefract had no choice but to  abandon the game in the 40th minute. Most were  relieved. It was neither the  conditions nor the atmosphere  for an important League match.  The replayed game was in March…  By this time City’s  players and staff had attended a  number of funerals and  memorial services for their  friends, former colleagues, and  the local media. In the years  since many have forgotten  about the game but perhaps not  the deep sense of loss felt at  Maine Ftoad for those who died  in the disaster.

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