A SEASON OF HIGHS AND LOWS
Written by John White for Manchester United Did You Know That
The 1892-93 season was Newton Heath Football Club’s first in the English Football League, they were in the First Division. It was an eventful season on and off the pitch. They drew two and lost four of their opening six League games and in Game No.7, they not only recorded their first ever Football League victory but they also set a club record score when they beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 10-1 at North Road, Newton Heath. The 1892-93 campaign was only the club’s fourteenth year in existence, founded in 1878 as Newton Heath Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Cricket and Football Club, and it proved to be a hugely unsuccessful season as they finished rock bottom of the League.
At the time, the Football League had a Test Match game in place, a modern day play-off game. Newton Heath faced a Victorian two-legged tie which would decide their Football League status for season 1893-94, and their opponents were Small Heath.
Small Heath (later became Birmingham City) won the English Second Division Championship in season 1892-93 and thereby secured the right to play the team which finished bottom of the English First Division Championship table in a two-legged encounter. That team was Newton Heath Football Club.
The winner would be playing their football in the English First Division Championship the following season. The Heathens escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth, winning the two legged tie 7-3.
The highest home attendance of the season was a 5-0 loss to Sunderland on 4 March 1893. However, Sunderland went on to clinch their second English First Division Championship at the end of the season. The lowest home attendance of the season was 3,000 fans and was set twice: a 7-1 mailing of Derby County on 31 December 1892 and a 3-3 draw versus Accrington Stanley in the final League game of the campaign, which was the club’s last ever game at their North Road, Newton Heath home on 8 April 1893. Accrington Stanley ended the season one place above Newton Heath in 15th place in the table (16 teams made up the Division) whilst Derby County finished in 13th position. Just as The Heathens had to do, Accrington Stanley played in a Test Match at the end of the season to determine their League status for 1893-94. They lost 1-0 to Sheffield United at The Castle Ground, Nottingham in a one-off game and rather than play a season in the lower tier of English football, Accrington Stanley tendered their resignation from the Football League, thereby becoming the first of the twelve founding Football League clubs in season 1888-89 to leave the League permanently (Stoke City failed to achieve re-election for season 1890-91 after finishing the previous season in last place, but rejoined the Football League a year later).
Bob Donaldson was the club’s leading goal scorer in all competitions with 16 goals, all in the League. The club lost 4-0 away to Blackburn Rovers in Round 3 of the FA Cup and 4-0 away to Bury in the First Round of the Lancashire Cup. On the bright side, Newton Heath beat Bolton Wanderers 3-1 in the final of the Manchester Senior Cup.
At the start of the season the club removed Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Cricket from their name and at the end of the season the club’s landlords evicted them from North Road and they moved to Bank Street, Clayton in time for the start of the 1893-94 season.
Did You Know That?
During their inaugural season in the English First Division Championship, Newton Heath had to play a League game with only ten men. On 7 January 1893, the team played Stoke City away but they were without their goalkeeper, James Warner, who failed to meet-up with the team for the train journey to Stoke. Warner joined the club from Aston Villa in July 1892, and played in all 20 of their League matches prior to the encounter with Stoke City. In his absence, half-back William Stewart went into nets and conceded seven times in a 7-1 defeat (scorer: James Coupar in the opening minute of the game). Warner only played twice more for the club following his no-show and in September 1893, he moved to Walsall Town Swifts.