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Ever Wonder why Manchester City were set up by a church?

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Joe Prince-Wright uncovers the unusual history of Manchester City, which was founded by St Mark's Church to stop mass brawls that allegedly involved upwards of 500 men at a time.

Our ‘Ever Wonder’ series will run throughout the 2022-23 Premier League season and focuses on key stories behind the history, tradition and culture of all 20 Premier League clubs.

[ MORE: Check out our ‘Ever Wonder’ series in full ]

Have you ever sat there and wondered why certain chants became iconic at a club? Why a team has a certain nickname? Why they play in those colors? How they were founded? Yep, us too.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

This season we will be digging deep to tell the stories of the rich history, tradition and culture from around the Premier League and give you the answers to things you want to know more about.


Ever Wonder why Manchester City were set up by a church?

One of the most successful teams in Premier League history, Manchester City were set up for one reason back in the late 1800s. But what was it?

St Mark’s Church in the West Gorton region of Manchester decided to set up a football team with rector Arthur Connell and his daughter Mary Connell heavily involved.

Manchester City

The Connell’s, plus William Beastow and Thomas Goodbehere from Brooks’ Union Ironworks, formed a football team to go alongside the cricket team they had already set up.

But why?

Founders plaque


Helping the community key

According to records, St Mark’s Church formed the team in the winter of 1880 to bring the community together and to provide an alternative to gang culture of the 1870s.

It has been reported that fights involving 500 men at a time (called ‘scuttling’) would take place as unemployment caused huge social problems in the East of Manchester at that time.

Unrest in Gorton

The team played their games on wasteland outside the front of the church and it was a huge success.

St Mark's photo


Evolution of a team for the City of Manchester

The football team at St Mark’s Church evolved into Gorton Association Football Club in 1884 and then Ardwick AFC in 1887.

In the same year Ardwick AFC became professional and Jack Hodgetts became their first pro as he earned 5 shillings per week.

They then reformed to become Manchester City Football Club in 1894.

Man City team photo

Why the name change? They chose Manchester City because they wanted to represent the entire city of Manchester.

The original site of St Mark’s Church on Clowes Street is just over a mile south of their current home at Etihad Stadium and the club has never left East Manchester since it was formed in 1880.

Certificate of license

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