#ThrowbackThursday: Man City v Liverpool

Part One: 1893 to 1915  

The first meeting between Man City and Liverpool occurred on Liverpool’s entry to the Second Division of the Football League in 1893/94.  Man City were then known as Ardwick F.C. had joined the League the year before.  The match come three games into the season and Liverpool had won their first two games of the season, scoring six games in the process.  Ardwick on the other hand had won one and lost one.  The game took place in mid-September at Ardwick’s then home ground of Hyde Road in front of a crowd of 6,000.  When Liverpool were founded just over a year prior, after a despite between Everton and the landlord of their then home at Anfield, they were practically built over night from migrant Scots professional players and became known as ‘the team with all the Macs’.

In the game against Ardwick, the Liverpool side had as many as seven players with a ‘Mac’ surname and nine Scotsmen.  The scorer of their only goal however would be one of the few Englishmen in the side, by the name of Jimmy Stott, who bagged Liverpool’s winner with ten minutes to go to secure their third straight win.  Ardwick finished the match with ten men when their forward Robert Robinson had to leave the field of play after being charged by a Liverpool player.  The winning run would continue for one more game with a 3-1 victory at Anfield over Birmingham, before they dropped their first point of the season with a 1-1 away draw with Notts County, who then played their games at Trent Bridge Cricket ground.

Liverpool were still unbeaten by the time of the return fixture at Anfield in early December.   The Reds topped the table with nine wins from thirteen games and a two point lead over second place Notts County and two games in hand.  Ardwick on the other hand were ninth with just three wins from twelve games.  In front of a crowd of 4,000 people, Liverpool ran out 3-0 winners.  Liverpool finished their inaugural Football League season as Champions without losing a single game.  The Reds emulated the achievement Preston North End six years prior having gone through a League season without loss.  It would be another 110 years before the feat was repeated, when Arsenal’s ‘invincibles’ went the whole of the 2003/04 season without loss.

Liverpool won promotion to the top tier after a 2-0 win over the side who finished 1893/94 bottom of the old First Division - Newton Heath (Ardwick’s local rivals, who were later renamed as Man United) – in a ‘Test Match’ at Ewood Park.  The two sides would not meet again until Liverpool were relegated from the top flight at the end of 1894/95.  The two sides met at Anfield on New Year’s Day 1896, by which point Ardwick FC had changed their name to Man City and their side contained one of the earliest stars of the game in the shape of Welsh wizard Billy Meredith.  Making his debut in goal for Liverpool had been goalkeeper Harry Storer who had signed from Woolwich Arsenal, taking the grand total of Englishmen in the side to four! 

Liverpool topped the table with a four point gap over second place Burton Wanderers.  Man City meanwhile were a point behind Burton in third with four games in hand over Liverpool.  A crowd of 20,000 turned out at Anfield for the occasion.  After a goalless first half, two goals for James Ross aided a three goal lead.  City pulled back a last minute consolation, but couldn’t prevent a 3-1 victory for Liverpool.  The return fixture came on the final Saturday of the season, three months later at Hyde Road.  Liverpool topped the table with twenty two wins out of twenty nine, six defeats and just one draw.  The Reds had also scored a whopping 105 goals and held a four point lead over second place Man City, who had two games in hand.  Avoiding defeat would have meant that Liverpool secured the Second Division title.


A crowd of 25,000 turned out for the title decider (described by the Liverpool Mercury report into the game as ‘of abnormal proportions). The game took place on the same day as the annual England v Scotland international, which took place at Celtic Park and for the first time, Scotland decided to field Scots professional players plying their trade south of the border in England and aided their first win over the Auld Enemy in seven years.  The Scots side contained five English based players, though none of which were any of the seven ‘Macs’ who were regularly turning out for Liverpool.  City took the lead on fifteen minutes, which they held until nine minutes before time, when George Allan secured the equaliser, with the game ending in a 1-1 draw when secured Liverpool’s second tier title.


Liverpool won promotion again through winning a ‘Test Match’ against sides finishing within the bottom two of the top tier, which included Midlands pair West Brom and Birmingham.  Their next meeting with Man City came when the Blues won promotion to the top tier at the close of 1898/99.  Their first top flight meeting came at City’s Hyde Road ground in late October.  Liverpool were anchored to the foot of the old First Division with just one win from nine games (which came a just week prior).  City on the other hand won four of their first eight games and stood sixth.  Liverpooll made it back to back victories as a goal for Tommy Robertson gave Liverpool a 1-0 victory in front of 20,000 fans, in what was the final meeting between the two sides during the nineteenth century.


The first meeting of the twentieth century came at Anfield in early March 1900.  By this point, Liverpool were now standing in sixteenth place, while Man City had fallen to eleventh.  Liverpool had just exited the FA Cup in the Second Round a week prior.  Billy Meredith had opened the scoring for City after two minutes, before a sobering response from Liverpool’s Johnny Walker to pull level.  Two goals further goals from Sam Raybould meant Liverpool went in at half time 3-1 up.  City pulled one back with a goal from Billy Gillespie two minutes into the second half.  Liverpool held onto a slender goal lead throughout the second half before securing the points in the final two minutes,, with goals from future Arsenal star Charlie Satterthwaite and Jack Cox to earn Liverpool a thumping 5-2 win.


The Liverpool Mercury Report on the game commented that: ‘a little more of this form and the dreaded bogey – the Second Division – will vanish into thin air’.  Liverpool finished the season in the safety of tenth place, while Man City had one point more, finishing seventh.  In 1900/01, Liverpool travelled to Hyde Road in early December to face Man City one place above them in sixth by virtue of a superior goal average after fourteen games.  After an action packed first half, City found themselves 3-2 up at half time.  However, two second half goals meant that Liverpool ran out 4-3 winners in front of a crowd of 20,000. 

The return fixture came the following April at Anfield.  Liverpool stood fourth, five points behind leaders Sunderland but with three games in hand and five games left to play.  Man City on the other hand were thirteenth, five points above the relegation zone, but with just three games left of the season which gave them something of a cushion from safety.  A crowd of 14,000 turned out at Anfield for the game.  Two goals for Tommy Robertson helped Liverpool to a three goal lead at half time.  Billy Meredith pulled one back for City with eight minutes left to play, however Liverpool ran out 3-1 winners, which pushed Liverpool to within three points of the top of the table.


Liverpool bagged seven from a possible eight points from their remaining four games, which was enough for them to secure their first ever First Division title after a 1-0 away win over West Brom with a two point cushion over second place Sunderland.  Man City meanwhile finished in eleventh place.  In 1901/02, reigning Champions Liverpool journeyed to Hyde Road in early November.  The Reds were making a poor defence of their title having won just one of their first nine games.  Man City however, despite one win more were performing even worse and were anchored to the foot of the table. 


20,000 people turned out for the game and were again rewarded with a goal fest.  Billy Gillespie gave City the lead on twenty minutes, however goals for Tommy Robertson and Charlie Satterthwaite put Liverpool 2-1 up at half time.  Fred Williams equalised for City with fifteen minutes left to play, however two minutes later Jack Cox secured the points for Liverpool who ran out 3-2 winners.  The return fixture came on the first day of March.  Both sides were languishing around the relegation zone with a dozen games left to play.  Liverpool were one place above the relegation zone with a one point cushion over Notts County.  Man City however were three points behind them and anchored to the foot of the table, but having played two games more.


Man City were awarded a first half penalty-kick when Billy Dunlop fouled Billy Gillespie. But James Hosie sent the ball wide of Bill Perkins' goal.  City’s misery was worsened when they were reduced to ten men after a player left the field injured.  A hat-trick for Liverpool’s Sam Raybould meant that Liverpool boosted their hopes of survival with a 4-0 victory.  Liverpool finished the season in the safety of eleventh position.  Man City however finished rock bottom and relegated to the second tier.  City came back up to the top flight as Champions of the old Second Division in 1902/03.  In their first season back, the two clubs first met in early September in a testimonial for Liverpool’s Jack Cox at Anfield in front of 10,000 fans.  Liverpool took a five goal lead by half time, however by full time the game ended 6-5 to Liverpool.  The two sides faced each other again at Man City’s Hyde Road home on the last day of October 1903.


Liverpool sat rock bottom of the table with just two wins from nine games, while Man City were seventh with five wins from eight.  A crowd of 30,000 turned out at Hyde Road for the occasion.  City took the lead with a goal from Billy Gillespie on twenty minutes, before Arthur Goddard equalised for Liverpool ten minutes later.  Three minutes before half time, Sandy Turnbull put Man City ahead.  Five minutes into the second half Frank Booth doubled City’s lead.  With ten minutes to go, Jack Parkinson pulled one back for Liverpool, however City ran out 3-2 winners.  The return fixture at Anfield came at the end of February 1904.  Liverpool were now second bottom of the table, one point off of safety, however sixteenth place West Brom had a game in hand.  Man City however were third and three points off of league leaders Sheffield Wednesday but with two games in hand.


A crowd of 20,000 turned out at Anfield for the game.  By half time, the score had been two goals each.  A missed penalty for Liverpool’s Arthur Goddard meant there was no further scoring and neither Liverpool’s relegation fight nor City’s battle for the title were helped by a 2-2 draw.  Man City went on to finish 1903/04 as FA Cup winners with a 1-0 win over Bolton at Crystal Palace.  The Blues were in with a chance of becoming the first team of the twentieth century to win the League and FA Cup double.  Forty eight hours on at Goodison Park, a 0-1 defeat to Everton meant that Man City had to make do with finishing as runners up to league Champions Sheffield Wednesday.  Liverpool on the other hand finished the season second from bottom and relegated to the second tier.

Liverpool came back up to the top flight as Second tier Champions in 1905/06.  Their first visit to Man City’s Hyde Road came at the end of October 1906.  After nine games, Liverpool had four wins and five defeats, while Man City stood ninth.  A goal for Joe Hewitt gave Liverpool a 1-0 victory in front of 25,000 people.  The return fixture came in early March 1907.  Liverpool stood top of the old First Division, while Man City were five points behind in third with two games in hand.   In front of a crowd of 25,000 people at Anfield, a goal for Frank Booth gave City a 1-0 away victory to move the Blues within three points of Liverpool at the top of the table.  The Reds however went on to win the League title for 1905/06, while City finished fifth.

City’s visit to Anfield to play the reigning Champions for 1906/07 came at the end of October.  Liverpool had won just two of their first nine games and stood in seventeenth place, while City were a place higher with one point more.  A hat-trick for Bobby Robinson gave Liverpool a 5-4 victory.  Liverpool’s turn to come to Hyde Road occurred in the first week of March.  Liverpool stood eleventh, while Man City were sixteenth but with a cushion of seven points from the relegation zone.  With two minutes to go, a goal from Robert Grieve gave Man City a 1-0 win.  Liverpool finished 1906/07 in lowly fifteenth place, one point ahead of Man City in seventeenth place.

In 1907/08, Liverpool came to Hyde Road in mid-November in sixth place and one point behind Man City in seventh place. 


Liverpool took the lead on fifteen minutes before a Man City equaliser seven minutes from time earned a 1-1 draw in front of a crowd of 25,000.  The return fixture took place the following March at Hyde Road with Man City in fifth place, one place ahead of Liverpool by a single point.  A goal for George Dorset ten minutes from time earned Man City a 1-0 away win in front of a crowd of 10,000 at Anfield.  Man City finished 1907/08 in third place, nine points behind local rivals Man United who had won their first ever league title that season (with many ex-City players such as Billy Meredith and Sandy Turnbull who defected after a bribery scandal).  Liverpool meanwhile finished eighth.


For the 1908/09 season, City came to Anfield in late November.  By this point, Liverpool were seventh, while City with four wins from thirteen were fourteenth.  Liverpool goalkeeper Sam Hardy injured his leg in the first half and had to withdraw at half time with the game standing at 0-0.  Outfield player Billy Dunlop took over in goal for the second half.  However, it costed Liverpool in that City ran out 3-1 winners with two goals in the last five minutes.  The return fixture came the following April at Hyde Road, with Liverpool in tenth place and City a point behind in twelfth.  A crowd of 18,000 turned out for the event where City emphatically ran out 4-0 winners (though Liverpool played out most of the game with ten men after right back Tom Chorlton was taken off injured.


That result took City up to tenth with just six games to play, though the Blues had just a five point cushion from the relegation zone.  City lost five of their remaining six games and tumbled to second from bottom of the table by the close of the season, meaning that the Blues were relegated to the second tier on goal average (only the second team ever to do so by this point), despite having one of the best home records in the division, only four teams winning more games and only five teams scoring more goals.  Liverpool finished just two points above City in sixteenth.  City made their way back to the top flight after finishing 1909/10 as second tier Champions.  Liverpool visited City at Hyde Road at the end of September.


Neither side got off to a good start, having won just one from their first four games.  City took the lead with a goal from Joe Dorsett on twenty minutes.  However goals for Sam Gilligan and Joe Parkinson earned Liverpool a 2-1 victory.  The return fixture at Anfield occurred in January with both sides teetering two points above the relegation zone after twenty four games, with Liverpool in seventeenth and City in eighteenth.  The two sides played out a 1-1 draw in front of a crowd of 16,000.  Liverpool finished the season thirteenth, but won the title for Man United with a 3-1 victory over second placed Aston Villa on the last day of the season (their last title for next forty one years!).  City meanwhile avoided relegation by four points, by finishing seventeenth.  


The two sides met again at Anfield in September three games into the 1911/12 season.  The two sides played out a 2-2 draw, with all four goals coming in the first half.  The return fixture came in early January 1912 at Hyde Road.  At the midway point of the season, Man City stood three points above the relegation zone in eighteenth, while Liverpool were two points above them in fifteenth.  In front of a crowd of 15,000 Liverpool took a three goal first half lead.  City’s George Wynn pulled two goals back in the last fifteen minutes, but could not prevent a 3-2 win for Liverpool.  The Reds however finished 1911/12 in seventeenth place, while City were one point above them in fifteenth.


In 1912/13, the two sides met five games into the season at Anfield.  Now in charge at Man City was former Mann United title winning boss Ernest Mangnall who had defected across town.  Bill Lacey gave Liverpool the lead before half time, however with two second half goals Man City ran out 2-1 winners.  The return fixture came at Hyde Road in mid-January.  Man City stood eighth, while Liverpool were thirteenth.  Four goals for Fred Howard gave City a thumping 4-1 victory.  Man City finished the 1912/13 season in sixth place, while Liverpool finished eleventh.  In 1913/14, both meetings between Man City and Liverpool occurred over Christmas Day and Boxing Day.


City stood second from bottom of the table, while Liverpool were four points above them in fourteenth.  The first fixture took place on Christmas Day at Anfield.  A crowd of 30,000 turned out for a 2.15PM kick off (whether they turned out before or after Christmas Dinner is anyone’s guess!).  Liverpool took the lead on twelve minutes with a goal from Jackie Sheldon.  There then followed three goals in three minutes in the last four minutes of the first half.  Liverpool went three goals up before a Fred Howard penalty pulled one back for City.  With a goal each in the second half, the game ended with a 4-2 victory for Liverpool.  The return fixture occurred the next day at Hyde Road.  A first minute goal for Fred Howard meant a 1-0 victory for Man City. 


Liverpool that season reached the FA Cup Final (the very last to be held at Crystal Palace), however lost 0-1 to Burnley.  Liverpool finished the league season in sixteenth place, while Man City finished with one point more in thirteenth place.  By the time the two sides met again in December 1914, there had been the outbreak of the First World War the previous August, however the Football season continued.  No doubt this had contributed to a crowd as low as 8,000 turning out at Hyde Road for the game, despite the fact that Man City topped the old First Division.  Liverpool in contrast languished in fourteenth place.  Fred Howard gave Man City the lead eight minutes into the second half.  A Jimmy Nichol goal four minutes from time however earned Liverpool a 1-1 draw.


The return fixture came in mid-March.  Liverpool were languishing just four points above the relegation zone in fourteenth place.  Man City meanwhile were just one point off of the top of the league table behind league leaders Sheffield Wednesday with a game in hand.  In front of a crowd of 20,000 at Anfield, Liverpool were two goals up by the midway point of the first half.  By the hour mark, City had pulled level, however a Liverpool goal eighteen minutes from time secured the points with a 3-2 win for the Merseysiders.  That game however turned out to be the last between the two sides until the end of the First World War.


Liverpool finished the season in fourteenth place, however a 2-0 victory over Oldham Athletic on the last day of the season secured the title for their neighbours Everton who were at Old Trafford to watch their opposition the following Monday – Chelsea – lose the ‘Kharki’ Cup Final against Sheffield United.  Man City meanwhile finished just two points behind Champions Everton in fifth place.  First class competitive football ceased for the next four years, though both Man City and Liverpool continued to play each other in Lancashire-based war time competition on ten separate occasions. 


After Armistice Day in November 1918 had ended the First World War, football resumed again in 1919/20 and so too did League meetings between Liverpool and Man City.  As will be seen tomorrow in Part Two, there would be regular meetings between the two sides during the inter-war and early post-war period.

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*Published 7th September 2017