A little bit of history was made at Manchester City’s Hyde Road stadium when the Blues lined up to face Liverpool in March 1920.

Football had just returned after the First World War – and the 35,000 crowd were expecting a very important visitor.

The match officials stood to attention wearing their customary blazers over their football kits as team-mates shuffled nervously in the centre circle.

The Duke of York greets City players at the FA Cup Final, April 1933

The Duke of York greets City players at the FA Cup Final, April 1933

Then the waiting was over. The VIP had arrived. It was none other than the king, George V himself, making the first ever visit by a monarch to a football match outside London.

The moment was captured in a remarkable image from the M.E.N. archive. Civic officials and senior policemen surround the king who was clearly enjoying the experience.

Elegantly attired in frock coat, bowler hat and spats, the king chatted to both teams on the muddy pitch before kick-off.

Bolton players parade the FA Cup after beating City at Wembley, April 1926

Bolton players parade the FA Cup after beating City at Wembley, April 1926

The game ended in a 2-1 victory for City with both goals coming from inside left Horace Barnes. It was revenge for the Blues as a week earlier they’d lost 0-1 at Anfield.

City enjoyed another royal rendezvous when they reached the FA Cup Final at Wembley in April 1933.

This time the Duke of York, later to become King George VI, shook the hands of the City team before they took the field against Everton.

Billy Meredith on the ball in City’s 5-1 FA Cup tie win over Brighton, February 1924

Billy Meredith on the ball in City’s 5-1 FA Cup tie win over Brighton, February 1924

The players’ smiles were short-lived as Everton dominated the game to win 3-0. Their goals were scored by the legendary Dixie Dean, James Dunn and James Stein.

It was the first time players wore numbered shirts in a cup final. Everton were numbered 1 to 11 and City 12 to 22.

Innovations did not extend to the seating arrangements. As our photo shows, workmen were bringing in wooden benches for spectators just before the 1934 final.

Workmen bring wooden seats into Wembley prior to City’s FA Cup final, April 1934

Preparations for the FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Portsmouth at Wembley start with workmen arranging the seats April 1934
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City were once again back at Wembley, this time facing Portsmouth. There was no repeat of the Everton debacle as City won 2-1 thanks to the heroics of young goalkeeper Frank Swift.

Although he let the ball slip through his hands for the Portsmouth goal in the first half, he kept a clean sheet in the second half against all the opposition pressure.

At half time, England forward Fred Tilson predicted he’d score two to win – and he did precisely that! Swift was so overcome with nerves that he fainted at the final whistle!

City raid the Bolton goal in vain in the FA Cup final, April 1926

City raid the Bolton goal in vain in the FA Cup final, April 1926

King George V, who was at Wembley, was so concerned that he sent a telegram enquiring about Swift’s health on the Monday after the game.
City fared less well in the 1926 FA Cup Final where their opponents were local rivals Bolton Wanderers.

Bolton were mid-table in the First Division and City were second to bottom – so Wanderers were favourites when captains Joe Smith and Jimmy McMullan shook hands at kick-off.

McMullan forced some fine saves for City, but Bolton won 1-0 thanks to a goal from David Jack 14 minutes from full time.

Bolton captain Joe Smith shakes hands with City counterpart Jimmy McMullan, April 1926

Bolton captain Joe Smith shakes hands with City counterpart Jimmy McMullan, April 1926

City launched raid after raid on the Bolton goal but couldn’t force an equaliser. Too often the over-keen City forwards were caught off-side.

Bolton proudly paraded the FA Cup round Wembley after the game. Our photo shows Jimmy Seddon holding the trophy between Billy Butler, left and Ted Vizar.

Finally, one of the best cup stories of the 1920s belonged to City forward Billy Meredith. He made 339 appearances for the Blues from 1984 to 1906, scoring 129 goals.

He then crossed to Manchester United to make 303 appearances from 1906 to 1921, netting 35 times.

King George V meets players at Manchester City’s Hyde Road stadium, March 1920

King George V meets players at Manchester City’s Hyde Road stadium, March 1920

But the Welsh international then came back to City at the age of 47 to play a further 32 games before retiring in 1924.

City manager Ernest Mangnall caused consternation when he picked Meredith, then aged 49, for the crucial 1924 FA Cup tie against Brighton at the Goldstone Road ground.

His selection was well and truly vindicated as Meredith scored a goal in City’s 5-1 victory. He also played right up to the semi-final which City lost 2-1 to Newcastle United.

Meredith was 49 years and 245 days when he took the field against Newcastle, making him City’s oldest ever player.

It’s an achievement that will probably never be equalled in the modern age.