Date: 11th November 2009 at 10:16pm
Written by:


VMC member, mcfcirish sent us the following.

Manchester City, as the worlds media will tell you are now the worlds richest club. However, every story must have a beginning and our beloved club may not have got off the ground had it not been for a humble rector’s daughter from Mallow, County Cork.

The rector in question, a man by the name of Arthur Cornell was born in 1821. Some time in his mid teenage years he decided that his life’s work would be devoted to the man upstairs – spreading his word and helping those less fortunate than himself. He was based in Clones, Co.Monaghan. In 1861 he fathered a daughter, Anna. Anna would go on to earn her footnote in history as the only woman to be seriously involved in the founding of a football club.

Anna was 14 when she, her father and mother were sent to West Gorten, to a Batpist church called St. Marks. That area of the city was, to quote a newspaper clipping at the time ‘an area of tremendous depravation’. Anna was originally involved in the setting up of a soup kitchen which was set up to distract the local men from resorting to violence.

After a while Anna realised that soup alone could not keep the locals from, as we say here in Ireland ‘knocking the seven shades of shite’ out of each other. So, in an effort to offer help she held a series of meetings and eventually she got some of the soup kitchen regulars involved in St.Marks cricket team. Her good work did not go un-noticed. It was a great source of encouragement to see how Miss Cornell took up her movement, no man could have done better. Fine words indeed coming from the Archdeacon of Manchester, after attending one of Anna’s meetings.

Although City historians argue about whether the cricket team pre-dated Anna’s arrival, there’s no doubting her role in setting up of St.Marks Football club. The said club came into being in the winter of 1880, founded by three members, Anna and two male workers at her fathers church. Over the next decade, St.Marks became, Gorton, Ardwic and then in 1894 they decided on a name that still stands today, Manchester City FC.

A inclusive name deliberately chosen to give all Manchunians, regardless of social status a team to cheer for. By 1899, when City won its first major honour, Anna had moved out of Manchester – her father had been taken sick and the whole family moved to Southport. When Arthur died his body was taken back to Manchester and his photograph now appears in City’s club history.

Anna herself passed away in 1924 and although her contribution to the giant that is now Manchester City FC, her role has not been forgotten by the club hence City have named an annual award for off-field activities in her honour.

So there you have it, one persons small contribution DOES make all the difference. Anna and her father, Arthur may not be familiar to most City fans, but without them, MCFC’s founding may never have happened.

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