Manchester’s forgotten football: the collapse and reformation of Manchester Central FC

Manchester Central FC Logo

It’s no secret that the people of Manchester are passionate about their football. Whether they don the blue shirt or the red shirt on Derby day, everyone knows that Mancunians will do just about anything for their sport. So, it’s surprising that the city has forgotten about the colours of a once largely celebrated team; the black and white colours of Manchester Central FC.

Once home to notable footballers Billy Meredith and Jackie Bray back in the 1920s, Manchester Central Football Club ceased to be in 1931. That is until Paul McGuire, the club’s current manager, took on the name and the colours and introduced them to a new team, forming the newly, rebranded club of Manchester Central FC.

“I contacted the Manchester County FA and said there was a team called Manchester Central FC, how do I go about reforming that?

“So, they checked if the name existed with another club, which it didn’t, and then they gave me the information that they had on file on Manchester Central’s history and it was as simple as taking the name, taking the club colours and reinstating the club.”

The birth of the club

Manchester Central was founded in 1928 by John Henry Iles, then owner of Belle Vue Leisure Park, and John Ayrton, then director of Manchester City, after the Manchester City FC move from their ground in Hyde road to Maine road left the East of Manchester with no local, professional sports team.

Upon their creation, Manchester Central was called to join the Lancashire Combination League in June 1928, where they finished their first season in the top half of the table.

City and United come together

After a promising start for Manchester Central in their first few seasons, the younger versions of Manchester’s much-loved clubs, City and United, must have felt threatened by the new arrival in the East as the two teams put together a joint appeal to keep Central out of the Football League.

Whether it was due to City’s growth in the East being taken over after their move, or the fact that Central were starting to build up a bigger fanbase than United that prompted the complaint, the Football League backed the two already-established teams and denied Manchester Central a place in the League.

This resulted in Central withdrawing from the Lancashire Combination League in 1931, ultimately leading to the breakdown and death of the club.

The NEW Manchester Central FC

“I have aspirations of being higher in the football pyramid but I’m happy. Manchester Central is my club, I love it, I love the vibe and people like to play for us.”

In 2015, former footballer and coach, Paul McGuire, decided to start a new club after he discovered the lack of local, professional football clubs in Greater Manchester.

“I used to run a big football academy in Manchester, it was run at the Armitage (sports) Centre, called the Football Education and Training Academy; most people know it as FETA.

“We had the problem of progressions after the players finished the course and we had to pass them onto other clubs but in the area of Greater Manchester, there was no one really to pass them to; either no one wanted them or no one was good enough so we thought, you know what we may as well make our own team.”

Although McGuire had been playing football since high school until he moved onto coaching, the Manchester born Manager admitted to not knowing about Central’s history before he started the club.

“I came up with the name ‘Manchester central’. I was sat in my office and typed in Manchester Central just to see what it would look like as a team name, and things started popping up on Wikipedia and Google and it transpired that it was a team, Manchester Central, so it started from there really.”

Future prospects and aspirations

Since the rebirth of Manchester Central, the club has grown to accommodate teams in U18s, U19s, U21s as well as their first team.

McGuire talks passionately about his hopes for the club.

“I have aspirations of being higher in the football pyramid but I’m happy. Manchester Central is my club, I love it, I love the vibe and people like to play for us.

“We’re built up of inner-city lads with a rough and ready vibe which possibly might rub some people up the wrong way. We’re new to the league so we’ve had to be quite forceful about our approach to stamp out authority.

“We need to try and get a league win under our belt in the next two seasons.”

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