On This Day In 1881: The Heathens Play The Saints In First Ever Manchester Derby

Martin Cloake

12th, November 2015


The Newton Heath team photo, circa 1890

It was on 12th November of 1881 that St Marks football club (named after a church in West Gorton, Manchester) hosted near neighbours Newton Heath in a friendly that would be the precursor to one of the fiercest rivalries in football.

The Heathens beat the Saints 3-0 and the match was quaintly described as “pleasant” by a reporter from the local newspaper.

The Saints would eventually change their name to Manchester City, while Newton Heath became Manchester United in 1902. ‘Pleasant’ is not a word often employed by correspondents covering today’s encounters between the two sides.

The first ever Football League meeting between the two teams came in 1894-95, with Newton Heath running out 5-2 winners at City’s old Hyde Road ground.

The first derby in the top flight of English football came in 1906, when City won 3-0. The game attracted gate receipts of £1,000 – a pretty hefty sum at the time.

There have been 169 competitive meetings between the two sides in total; United have won 70 and City 49, with 50 draws.

You can follow Martin Cloake on Twitter at @MartinCloake and find more about his books and writing at www.martincloake.com

Posted in Man City, Man Utd, Newsnow, Retro

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