Update #10 : United Teams through the ages (Manchester United 1902 - 1903)

Here’s another update of the History thread, still a long way to go to bring it into the modern day.

The 1902–03 season was Manchester United’s 11th season in the Football League, and their first full season under their new name of “Manchester United”, as opposed to "Newton Heath. The 1902/1903 season saw Manchester United beat Arsenal twice and Manchester City in the league as well as knock Liverpool out of the FA Cup Unfortunately, it was another disappointing season.

In this season Manchester United could recover a little bit of their bad run in the second division. With Mr. James West as manager they started the season well, but because of a bad run in the end they finished in 5th place. In the FA Cup they could not go further than the second round.

As mentioned in my previous post the name Newton Heath was not to the liking of everyone. After all, it had been nine years since the club had lefts its home in Newton Heath for Bank Street, Clayton. The club had been formed in 1878, 10 years before the birth of the Football League., when some of the workers employed by the Lancashire Railway at the Newton Heath depot decided to setup a football team. They were given permission to use land owned by the railway company which was almost adjacent to their depot. So, not unnaturally they adopted the name Newton Heath and soon become known as the Heathens. Once they had joined the football league in 1892, visitors began to arrive from as far afield as London and the Midlands. There was confusion. Where exactly was Newton Heath? Did the club actually play there? On at least one occasion the visiting team turned up at the old Newton Heath ground only to find a dilapidated and empty pitch, and then had to dash across the city to Bank Street, arriving with just minutes to spare before kick off.

Following the reorganization of the club in 1902 it was also decided that it should be renamed. There were a number of suggestions, although all seemed to agree that the name Manchester United should appear somewhere in the title. Someone put forward the name Manchester Central, but that sounded too muck like a railway station. Another suggested Manchester Celtic, but then Louis Rocca, a man destined to play a major part in the history of the club, hit upon the name Manchester United. All were agreed that this was far the best suggestion. Oddly enough, at the famous March meeting to discuss the clubs financial plight someone had suggested the clubs name to Manchester United, but it had, according to the Manchester Evening News, received little favor.

On Saturday 26th April 1902 the Manchester Evening News publicly revealed the clubs new name for the first time and commended it to its readers. ‘There is no doubt its a step in the right direction’, said the News. ‘Visiting teams and supporters have many times been led astray by the name of the club and have journeyed either by car or train to Newton Heath only to find that they were miles away from the home of the club.’


Louis Rocca, the man who thought of the name Manchester United

Season Statistics 1902-1903

Chairman : John Henry Davies
Manager : James West
Second Division : 5th
FA Cup : Second Round
Top goalscorer League : Jack Peddie (11)
All : Jack Peddie (15)
Highest home attendance : 40,000 vs Manchester City (25 December 1902)
Lowest home attendance : 2,000 vs Stockport County (23 March 1903)
Average home attendance : 10,091

John Hope “Jack” Peddie, also called Jock Peddie, (3 March 1876 – 20 October 1928) was a Scottish football who played for various clubs in both England and Scotland, including Newcastle United, Manchester United, Plymouth Argyle and Hearts. As a Plymouth Argyle player he is most famous for scoring their first ever goals in the Western and Southern Leagues.


Top goal scorer this season Jack Peddie or John “Jack” Hope Peddie

After five seasons at centre forward Peddie moved to Manchester United in June 1902. He departed in 1903 for Plymouth Argyle ahead of their first season as a professional club. He scored their first competitive goals in both the Southern League and Western League, and scored 21 goals from 46 appearances in his one year at Home Park. He returned to Manchester United in 1904. In 1906, Peddie made an important contribution of 20 league and cup goals as Manchester United won promotion back to the First Division. In total, he scored 58 goals for Manchester United and became their club captain after the retirement of Harry Stafford, pictured in the above team photograph.

Remember my post regarding the troubled season of 1901 (Check back in the thread). The picture below is taken around 1903 and is the site of the fund raising event in 1901 with Johh Henry Davies and the dog.

St James Hall C1903 Site of the fundraising bazaar of 1901

Below is a rare original postcard and real photograph of Dick Duckworth who played 251 games for Manchester United from 1903-1915. One of uniteds greatest players of the pre-Great War era. Dick Duckworth was a right-half scoring eleven goals – six of those came in an eight game spell of the 1904-05 season.

Duckworth was a one man club and made a goalscoring debut in a 4-2 victory over Gainsborough Trinity on 19 December 1903. In his 11 season career - ravaged by injury - Duckworth won two League Championships and one FA cup.

To be continued …