The former home of Manchester City, Maine Road, was often called the Wembley of the North due to its hosting of FA cup semi-finals and international matches. The ground holds the record for the highest home attendance in English football, 84,467, when Manchester City and Stoke City played an FA Cup Sixth Round tie in 1934.
Opened in 1923 the first match took place on August 25th when a crowd of almost 59,000 watched Manchester City beat Sheffield United 2-1. Urban legend suggests that gypsies cursed the stadium after officials evicted a camp from the area. This curse was allegedly lifted in December 1998.
Maine Road wasn’t the most attractive ground in English football; this was due to an unshaped design as a result of each stand being of varying height. During the course of its 80-year period it was renovated on a number of occasions.
Manchester City’s last appearance at Maine Road was in 2002-03. Their final game against Southampton ended in a 1-0 loss, but that didn’t deter a capacity crowd from saying goodbye to their iconic home. Maine Road has had its fair share of success and classic moments.
One particular highlight was the 5-1 thrashing of fierce rivals Manchester United on 23rd September 1989. Despite United spending big in the summer City completely outplayed them to run out convincing winners. Another magical night happened against Italian giants AC Milan in the UEFA Cup. City won the second leg 3-0 at home and secured passage into the quarter-final where they were eventually beaten by Borussia Mönchengladbach.
The following season the Club moved to the City of Manchester Stadium, otherwise known as the Etihad Stadium. With a capacity of just over 60,000 it’s a modern piece of footballing architecture with the toroidal-shaped stadium roof being one of its eye catching features.
Sadly, no sooner had the Club moved out of Maine Road it was demolished and turned into a housing estate. Players had expressed concerns that it would not be renovated, and other clubs including Sale Sharks and Stockport Country both expressed interest in moving to the ground.
Of course, the Etihad Stadium is famous for City’s last gasp title win, when Sergio Agüero nipped in to score what would prove to be the deciding goal, handing the title to the blue half of Manchester.
Like many football stadiums, history gives way to modern day. As sad as that is, all that’s left is for fans of grounds like these is to hold dear the memories they had when entering through the gates.