Jim Shields

Why Blue?

Born in a terraced house in Longsight in 1932, with 2 pictures of City on the kitchen wall there was no chance of my being anything else but Blue. My dad first took me to Maine Road about 1938 or ’39. I think it was against Everton, all I remember was Frank Swift being knocked out making a save. Dad also took me to Old Trafford to watch the cricket and to Belle Vue for the Rugby League; they were called Broughton Rangers then I think. He never even mentioned United. To get to Maine Road in those days was a walk through Victoria Park to Rusholme or the old 53 bus route.

Things were very disorganised during the war with players in the services and guest players in the team at different times; one I remember for some reason was Roxburgh, a goalkeeper from Blackpool. One game I do remember towards or just after the war was City 4 United 1 with George Smith scoring all four.

First season after the war we were in the old 2nd Division, rarely in trouble with a defence of Swift, Sproston, and Barkas. I think all 3 had captained England. Other remembered players are Westwood, Walsh, Emptage, Smith, Constantine, Black, and Herd. Dear old Nobby Clarke came at the end of the season, what a great servant and clubman he became.

Who remembers Alec Thurlow? He was Swift’s deputy on many occasions and never let City down. Frank retired and Alec became ill and died soon after without playing another game.

A young kid called Powell took over in goal, but then came the best signing City ever made and my favourite all time player, the wonderful Bert Trautmann, the best ‘keeper I have ever seen in my life. We went down in Bert’s 1st season I think, but then came another great buy in Roy Paul. In The 2nd Division again I remember going to Doncaster to see City leading 3-0 at half time with a George Smith hat trick, only to concede 4 goals in 15 minutes to lose 3-4. Things never change at City.

Into the 50s and along came players like Don Revie; he was a purist, he never kicked a ball, he caressed it. Ivor Brodis, Meadows, Spurdle, Westcott, what a mouthful of a defence we had in those days. Trautmann, Brannagan and Hannaway.

From 1951-54 I was in the RAF, spending nearly 2 years in the Middle East where I had the football Pink sent out every week. I read that Trautmann was thinking of returning to Germany so I wrote to him thanking him for everything he had done. He never did leave, but Xmas 1952 I got a card from Bert that I still have today.

1954/55 was my 1st great City side – Trautmann, Meadows, Little, Barnes, Ewing, Paul, Fagan, Spurdle, Hayes, Revie, Hart, Clarke, and then Bobby Johnstone. We beat the Reds 3 times that season, once in the Cup and twice in the League including 5 nil at Old Trafford with a brilliant performance. Our 10 men lost 1-3 to Newcastle in the final but next year we beat Birmingham 3-1 to win the Cup, with Bert breaking his neck.

The next few years were poor to average and the players who come to mind include Barlow, Coleridge, Sambrook, Dyson, Dobing, Gratrix, Betts, Cheetham, Hannah, Kennedy, Phoenix, Sear, Gary, Kevin, Lievers, McAdams, McTavish, Warhurst, the great Denis Law, Wagstaffe, and Alex Harley. He came down from Scotland missed the 1st few games of the season, failed to score in his 1st few and then couldn’t stop scoring, 20 odd goals that one season. He went to Birmingham and scored only 1 goal (against United) and was found dead soon after.

Relegation in the early 60s but then came along Joe and Big Mal – the glory days were at Maine Road. Mercer and Allison changed everything and won 2nd Division promotion, the 1st Division, the FA Cup, the League Cup, and the Cup Winners’ Cup. They played some wonderful stuff with most of the players becoming household names like Book, Pardoe, Doyle, Corrigan, Oakes, Lee, Summerbee and more.

1970/71 was my last viewing season, we left for Australia in March ’71. My last match was versus Wolves on March 6th; we drew 1-1 with Lee scoring, I still have the ticket and programme. I’ve never been back of course but I still keep in touch with everything via TV and the Internet. K.K. looks to be a good manager from what I see, I just hope this boardroom squabble is sorted. Mind you it wouldn’t be City if everything was plain sailing.

Soon Maine Road will be no more but nobody can take away the memories, happy and otherwise of watching my beloved Blues.

First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #900 on


Jim Shields