Maine Road

Maine Road
This article is about the stadium; for the football club, see Maine Road F.C.
Maine Road
The Wembley of the North[1]
Maine road aerial image.jpg
Aerial view of Maine Road on 11 May 2003,
the day of the final match
Location Moss Side, Manchester
Coordinates 53°27′4″N 2°14′7″W / 53.45111°N 2.23528°W / 53.45111; -2.23528Coordinates: 53°27′4″N 2°14′7″W / 53.45111°N 2.23528°W / 53.45111; -2.23528
Built 1923
Opened 1923
Renovated 1931,[2] 1957, 1970, 1994
Expanded 1935
Closed 2003
Demolished 2004
Owner Manchester City F.C.
Construction cost £100,000[3]
Architect Charles Swain
Structural engineer Sir Robert McAlpine
Capacity 35,150 (at closing)
100,000 (maximum)[4]
Record attendance 84,569 (1934 - remains record attendance in English football)
Manchester United F.C.: 0 1945–1953,
1956–57 (European games only)
18 FA Cup semi-finals
1 Football League Cup Final
4 Charity Shield matches
11 Rugby League Championship finals

Maine Road was a football stadium in Moss Side, Manchester, England that was home to Manchester City F.C. from its construction in 1923 until 2003. It hosted FA Cup semi-finals, Charity Shield matches, a League Cup final and England matches and, because of its high capacity, gained the nickname Wembley of the North.[1]

When Maine Road opened, it was the largest club ground in England with a capacity believed to be between 80,000 and 100,000, the second largest in the country after Wembley Stadium. Maine Road's record attendance was set in 1934, when 84,569 people attended an FA Cup tie between Manchester City and Stoke City, a record for an English club ground. Maine Road also holds the record for the highest attendance at a League game, 83,260 for Manchester United v Arsenal on 17 January 1948.

Upon demolition, its haphazard design was clear due to the the ground being changed several times over its 80 year history. Maine Road was an all-seater stadium, with a capacity of 35,150. The 2002-03 season was Manchester City's last at Maine Road, with the last match played on 11 May 2003. The following season Manchester City moved to the City of Manchester Stadium in east Manchester, a mile or so from Manchester city centre.



Decision to move

Plans to build Maine Road were first announced in May 1922, following a decision by Manchester City F.C. to leave their Hyde Road ground, which did not have room for expansion and its main stand had been severely damaged by fire in 1920.[6]

Two sites in Belle Vue, East Manchester were suggested, but neither was deemed sufficient.[7] To many City fans east Manchester was regarded as City's home and a move to Belle Vue seemed right. But the site was just 8 acres (32,000 m2) and an available lease of 50 years was deemed too short by the club,[8] so it was decided that City would move to Moss Side. The move to a larger stadium at Maine Road was backed by then manager Ernest Mangnall.[9]

Many were disappointed when a site in south Manchester was chosen. A City director, John Ayrton, resigned from the Board later in the decade and helped to form an alternative MCFC, Manchester Central F.C., playing at Belle Vue.[10]


The main stand in the 1930s
Facing the Kippax stand in 1985

A sixteen and a quarter acre former brickworks on Maine Road was purchased for £5,500.[11] Maine Road was originally known as Dog Kennel Lane but renamed Maine Road (after the Maine law) during the 1870s at the insistence of the Temperance Movement[12] who owned land on Dog Kennel Lane and the local authority accepted their request.[13]

Stadium construction commenced late in 1922. Plans by architect Charles Swain proposed a 120,000 capacity ground based on the design of Hampden Park, though these were scaled back to give a capacity of 80,000. However, this figure was the second largest in the country, behind Wembley Stadium, leading to the ground being named the "Wembley of the North". Wembley had opened in London a few months earlier, the near-simultaneous development being a source of rivalry between the northern and southern divisions of builders Sir Robert McAlpine,[14] who built both stadia.

During construction, the stadium was reputedly cursed by a gypsy when officials evicted a gypsy camp from the area. This curse was allegedly removed on 28 December 1998.[15] However, the gypsy curse is likely to be an urban myth, as such stories are endemic to a number of football league grounds. Construction took 300 days, the total cost £100,000.[3] The initial layout of the ground consisted of one covered stand with a seating capacity of 10,000, and uncovered terracing on the other three sides, with gentle curves connecting the corners.[16]

Early years and record attendance

Progressive capacity and attendances for Manchester City matches at Maine Road

The first match at Maine Road took place on 25 August 1923 when 58,159 fans watched the home side beat Sheffield United 2-1.[17] The first changes to the ground took place in 1931, when the corner between the Main Stand and the Platt Lane end at the south of the ground was rebuilt to incorporate a roof.[2] This renovation was the first of many, as Maine Road's layout and capacity was varied throughout its lifespan.

In 1934, the highest attendance at an English football game at a club ground was recorded at Maine Road. The match was between Manchester City and Stoke City in front of 84,569 fans in the 6th round of the FA Cup on 3 March 1934.[18] Queues formed four hours before the match, and one journalist stated that Maine Road was packed two hours before kick-off.[18] A decision was taken to close the turnstiles with an attendance at approximately 85,000, 3000 short of what was thought to be the maximum capacity.[18] Supporters witnessed a visiting Stoke team which included Stanley Matthews and City's team boasted players, Frank Swift, Fred Tilson, Sam Cowan and Matt Busby.[18] The match was won 1-0 by Manchester City.

Changes at the Platt Lane end took place in 1935, extending the terracing and providing a roof for the full stand. This marked the peak capacity of the ground, estimated at around 88,000.[17] Further changes were planned, but suspended when Manchester City were relegated from Division One in 1938, and abandoned when World War II broke out.[2]

The stadium was shared by Manchester United after the Second World War as Manchester United's Old Trafford ground had been damaged during the Manchester Blitz. United paid City £5,000 per season, plus a share of gate receipts.[19] The highest attendance for a league game at Maine Road occurred during this period, when 83,260 people watched Manchester United play Arsenal on 17 January 1948. This figure is a national record for a league game.[20]

1950s to 1980s

Floodlights were installed in 1953, and in 1957, prompted by the hosting of two FA Cup semi-finals in successive years,[21] the side facing the Main Stand (which until that time was generally known as the Popular Side) was redeveloped and named The Kippax Stand after a nearby street.[22] Over the course of the 1960s and 1970s, the Kippax became the part of the ground where the club's most vociferous fans congregated.[6] In 1963, benches were installed at the Platt Lane end, meaning that Maine Road had more seats than any other English club ground of the time.[22] The next major redevelopment came in the 1970s, with the construction of the North Stand, a cantilevered stand which remained in place until the closure of Maine Road. The 1980s saw ambitious plans for improvements: however, these plans were shelved due to financial pressures after the Main Stand roof had been replaced at a cost of £1 million.


The new, taller Kippax stand
The temporary 'Gene Kelly Stand' in the corner of the ground

By 1990, some areas of the ground looked antiquated, and the Platt Lane stand was demolished in 1992. Its place was taken by the all-seater Umbro Stand that also incorporated executive boxes, and was opened in March 1993. The stand was renamed back to the Platt Lane Stand in the late 1990s.

The era of standing accommodation at Maine Road came to an end in May 1994 as the stadium became all-seater to comply with the requirements of the Taylor Report with the demolition of the Kippax Street Terrace. The final match where standing was permitted took place on 30 April 1994,[23] Chelsea the visitors for a 2–2 draw. Immediately prior to demolition the capacity of the Kippax terrace was 18,300.[21] A three-tier stand was built in its place, holding nearly 14,000 spectators, and on its completion in October 1995 it was the tallest stand in the country. It was not cheap either, at a cost of £16m in 1994, four times the turnover of the club as then-chairman Francis Lee later highlighted.[24] The revamp of the Kippax was the second phase of a five-part development plan which would cost £40m[25] and increase the stadium's capacity to 45,024, however the club abandoned these plans and attention was more aimed at the ongoings on the pitch as City continued their '90s slide down English football.[25]

The new stand was an impressive modern facility, but it also emphasised the haphazard nature in which the ground had been redeveloped, as all four sides were of differing heights and construction styles. There were further plans for expansion which would have taken the stadium's capacity to 45,000, but these were put on hold following City's relegation from the Premier League in 1996.

Final match and move to City of Manchester Stadium

There were plans for further expansion at Maine Road to take the capacity to 45,000 all-seated, but these were abandoned in favour of a move to the City of Manchester Stadium that was being constructed for the Commonwealth Games in 2002.

The final competitive match before the closure of the stadium took place on 11 May 2003 with a Premiership match against Southampton. Tickets were sold upwards of £250[26] and a crowd of 34,957, about 100 off maximum capacity filled Maine Road for the final day.[27] City lost the match 1-0 with Michael Svensson scoring the stadium's last goal. The final match was followed by performances by musical acts Badly Drawn Boy and Doves.

City's final goal at the stadium was scored on 16 April 2003 by Marc-Vivien Foé during a 3-0 victory over Sunderland. Forty five days later, the player died on 26 June from an undetected heart condition while representing the Cameroon national football team during the 2003 Confederations Cup.[28]

An auction of the ground's fixtures and fittings took place in July 2003, raising £100,000, which was donated to community projects in the Moss Side area, which was undergoing a lengthy regeneration process.[29] The two penalty spots and the centre spot were thought to be the most desired mementos, but all three had been cut out from the grass before the auction took place.[30] The auction lasted for seven hours and 1,000 supporters attended the auction with interest from clubs such as Preston North End and Norwich City for the bigger lots which could be reused.[31]

Redevelopment plans

Maine Road Football Ground being demolished

Towards the end of Maine Road's lifespan there were proposals for other sports teams to make use of the stadium following City's relocation; Stockport County once expressed interest in moving there from Edgeley Park,[20][32] and in December 2000 Sale Sharks rugby union club was offered a lease for the stadium.[33] However, none of the proposals came to fruition and some past City players stated their dismay at the stadium not being renovated for mixed-use sport stadium.[34] Demolition began in late 2003[35], lasting around ten months.[36]

Two years later the go-ahead was given for a new housing development to take part on the site, consisting of 474 homes.[37]

On the site now stands 474 new homes. There is a public art display commemorating the stadium and features a circular plate half open, symbolising the centre spot and the new emerging development which now sits on the Maine Road stadium.[38][39]


For long periods of its history Maine Road had the widest pitch in England. However, the width was changed several times by managers wishing to alter the pitch size to suit their style of play. In the final season before the ground was closed, the pitch size was 107 x 71 metres (116.5 x 78 yards). Maine Road's replacement, the City of Manchester Stadium has maintained this tradition of having a large pitch.

Other uses

Maine Road hosted two England internationals, the first was a 3-0 defeat of Wales on 13 November 1946 and the second a 9-2 win over Northern Ireland on 16 November 1949, England's first ever World Cup qualifier. In addition, A number of wartime internationals were held at the ground. Maine Road was also the venue for a number of rugby league matches, hosting the rugby league championship final eleven times between 1938 and 1956.[20]

It hosted many FA Cup semi-finals, the last being in April 1994 when Manchester United beat Oldham Athletic 4-1 in a replay.[40] It hosted the 1984 Football League Cup final replay, which Liverpool won 1-0 against Everton.[41]

The stadium was used for several scenes in the 1948 motion picture Cup-tie Honeymoon. More recently, it was featured in the 2000 film There's Only One Jimmy Grimble[42] and the 2003 ITV drama The Second Coming, which starred Christopher Eccleston.[43]

The stadium has hosted concerts by many famous artists, including Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi, David Bowie, David Cassidy, Dire Straits, Fleetwood Mac, Guns 'N Roses, Jean Michel Jarre, The New Power Generation, Oasis, Pink Floyd, Prince, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Simple Minds and Mavis Staples, among others. The most high profile concert held at Maine Road was that of Mancunian band Oasis (themselves avowed Manchester City fans) in April 1996, a performance which was later released as a video, ...There and Then.


The Maine Road in its last incarnation before demolition in 2004 most notably had the high Kippax stand. The stand dwarfed the terraced houses that filled the streets outside the stadium and Maine Road was one of the last notable grounds to have a connection with the working class population.[44]

The stadium was unofficially rated as one of the most atmospheric stadiums in world football in 2008 by Daily Mail who commented that "Maine Road will always be one of English football's legendary grounds".[45]

Maine Road Football Club

Maine Road also gives its name to a non-league football club, Maine Road F.C. The club, who currently play in the North West Counties Football League Division One, was founded by a group of Manchester City supporters in 1955.[46] The club previously based its headquarters at the social club adjoining Maine Road.


  1. ^ a b "Maine Road through the ages". BBC Sport. 11 May 2003. "Known as 'The Wembley of the North', an 80,000 capacity meant it was the second biggest ground in the country, behind only Wembley." 
  2. ^ a b c Manchester City: The Complete Record, p91
  3. ^ a b Penney, Ian (1995). The Maine Road Encyclopedia. Edinburgh: Mainstream. ISBN 1-85158-710-1.  p127
  4. ^ "Maine Road". Retrieved 2011-08-17. "Estimates of the capacity ranged from 80 to 100,000" 
  5. ^ James, Gary (2008). Manchester A Football History. Halifax: James Ward. ISBN 978-0-9558127-0-5. , p265
  6. ^ a b "Stadium history". Manchester City official website. Archived from the original on 20 February 2007. Retrieved 24 June 2007. 
  7. ^ James, Gary (2003). Farewell To Maine Road: The Official History of Manchester City's Grounds. Leicester: Polar Publishing. ISBN 1-899538-19-4.  pp 35–46
  8. ^ Murray, Chris (2000). Attitude Blue: Manchester City F.C. and P.L.C.. Manchester: Chris Murray Publications. ISBN 0-9520520-9-1.  pp 8–9
  9. ^ James, Gary (2008). Manchester – A Football History, pp. 380-385 & 396-401.
  10. ^ James, Gary (2008). Manchester A Football History. Halifax: James Ward. ISBN 978-0-9558127-0-5.  Chapter 12: For The Good Of Manchester?, pp 147–166
  11. ^ James, Gary (2006). Manchester City - The Complete Record. Derby: Breedon. ISBN 1-85983-512-0.  p89
  12. ^ Collins, Nick (28 January 2011). "The temperance movement". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-08-24. 
  13. ^ James, Gary (2009). The Big Book Of City. Halifax: James Ward. ISBN 978-0-9558127-2-9. , pp 225–228
  14. ^ Maine Road on Structurae database
  15. ^ James, Gary (2003). Farewell To Maine Road: The Official History of Manchester City's Grounds. Leicester: Polar Publishing. ISBN 1-899538-19-4.  pp 44–45
  16. ^ Everything under the blue moon, p135
  17. ^ a b Manchester City: The Complete Record, p324
  18. ^ a b c d James, Gary (22 April 2011). "FA Cup special: Thrills, spills and a cast of thousands at Maine Road". Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  19. ^ Inglis, Simon (1987). The Football Grounds of Great Britain (2nd ed.). London: Collins Willow. ISBN 0-00-218249-1.  p63
  20. ^ a b c Bevan, Chris (11 May 2003). "BBC Sport - Maine Road through the ages". BBC News. Retrieved 24 June 2007. 
  21. ^ a b "The Kippax Last Stand". Manchester City v Chelsea match programme. 30 April 1994. 
  22. ^ a b Waldon, Andrew (2003). Waiting for the Whistle: Manchester City's Last Season at Maine Road. Stroud: Tempus. ISBN 0-7524-3055-6.  p9
  23. ^ Waiting for the Whistle, p10
  24. ^ "Lee: City can start trophy hunt". 6 September 2010. Retrieved 6 September 2010. 
  25. ^ a b "Maine Road 1999". Retrieved 6 September 2010. [dead link]
  26. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (10 May 2003). "Shock and horror, but most of all relief". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  27. ^ "Saints spoil Maine Road party". BBC. 11 May 2003. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  28. ^ "Foe's death stuns football". BBC. 25 June 2003. Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  29. ^ Various authors (2006). Power, Corruption and Pies Vol. Two. London: WSC Books. ISBN 0-9540134-8-4.  p234
  30. ^ MacKay, Duncan (12 July 2003). "City whitewash for spot of bother". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  31. ^ "Fans claim a slice of Maine Road history". The Telegraph. 13 July 2003. Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  32. ^ "Stockport eye Maine Road move". BBC Sport. 30 November 2000. Retrieved 2011-08-24. 
  33. ^ "Sale step closer to Maine Road". BBC. 4 December 2000. Retrieved 2011-08-24. 
  34. ^ Bevan, Chris (11 May 2003). "Powerful Maine Road memories". BBC. 
  35. ^ "Bulldozers to move into Maine Road". Manchester Evening News. 24 October 2003. Retrieved 2011-08-24. 
  36. ^ "Sea of rubble at the end of the Road". 19 April 2004. Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  37. ^ "Transfer to Maine Road". Manchester Evening News. 2 March 2007. Retrieved 17 August 2011. 
  38. ^ "*Video* Maine Road As It Was & How It Looks Now". manchestercity.vitalfootball. 18 June 2010. 
  39. ^ "Striking design marks Maine Road spot". Manchester City Council. 24 June 2010. Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  40. ^ [1]
  41. ^ [2]
  42. ^ "Famous TV & Film Moments At Maine Road". 25 January 2011. 
  43. ^ Bates, Stephen (25 January 2003). "Son of God, the Maine man". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  44. ^ "Maine Road: The community Manchester City left behind". BBC. 21 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  45. ^ "THE LIST: 20-11 of the most atmospheric stadiums in football". Daily Mail. 24 December 2008. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  46. ^ "Derby day for fans' clubs". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 24 June 2007. 
  • James, Gary (2003). Farewell to Maine Road. Leicester: Polar. ISBN 1-899538-19-4. 
  • Cummins, Kevin (2003). We're not really here : Manchester City's final season at Maine Road. London: Dazed. ISBN 1-904688-00-4. 
  • James, Gary (2008). Manchester: A Football History. Halifax: James Ward. ISBN 978-0-9558127-0-5. 
  • James, Gary (2009). The Big Book Of City. Halifax: James Ward. ISBN 978-0-9558127-2-9. 
  • Inglis, Simon (1987). The Football Grounds of Great Britain (Second ed.). London: Collins Willow. ISBN 0-00-218249-1. 
  • Clayton, David (2002). Everything under the blue moon: the complete book of Manchester City FC - and more!. Edinburgh: Mainstream publishing. ISBN 1-84018-687-9. 

External links

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