Sport in Manchester

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Sports in the City of Manchester are an important part of the city's culture. SportCity in Manchester is a dedicated sport district in east Manchester for sports such as football, athletics and cycling. Facilities include the City of Manchester Stadium, the Manchester Velodrome and the National BMX Arena.

Manchester City and Manchester United are popular Premier League clubs in Manchester, although United are technically outside of the City of Manchester boundaries in the borough of Trafford, part of Greater Manchester. Fixtures played between the clubs are frequently referred to as the Manchester Derby and in 2012, both clubs finished first and second in the top tier of English football, with City beating United to win the Premier League. Manchester has hosted every major domestic, continental and international football competition, including: FIFA World Cup (1966), UEFA European Football Championship (1996), Olympic Football (2012), UEFA Champions League Final (2003), UEFA Cup Final (2008), FA Cup Final (1893, 1911, 1915, 1970) and League Cup Finals (1977, 1978, 1984).

Manchester has historically been part of Lancashire (and still is considered by traditionalists) before being subsumed into the new Greater Manchester Metropolitan County in 1974. Lancashire County Cricket Club is still based in Greater Manchester and formed in 1865 replacing Manchester Cricket Club.

Manchester has competed twice to host the Olympic Games, being beaten into fourth place by Atlanta in 1996 and coming third to Sydney in 2000. Instead, it was decided Manchester would host the 2002 Commonwealth Games with many first class sporting facilities being built for the games, including the City of Manchester Stadium, the Manchester Velodrome, the National Squash Centre and the Manchester Aquatics Centre. The 2002 games were considered a success, surpassing all expectations[1][2] and demonstrated Manchester as a reinvigorated city for the 21st century[3] whilst giving London impetus to bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.[4]

Future plans for sport in Manchester include a horse racing course[5] and the completion of the £100m Manchester City complex in east Manchester.[6]


During the 1893 FA Cup final between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton at Fallowfield Stadium

Two Premiership football clubs, Manchester City and Manchester United, bear the city's name. Manchester City, has its home ground at the City of Manchester Stadium just outside of Manchester city centre in east Manchester. Manchester United’s Old Trafford is on the west side of the city 2 miles outside the city centre and is the largest club football ground in the United Kingdom,.

Both City and United, as of 2001, had a highly localised fanbase with the majority of season ticket holding fans in the outer postal areas (BL, OL, SK, and WA) of Greater Manchester and within other counties of the North-west[7][8] Only a fraction of both clubs' respective season ticket subscribers came from within the central areas of the City of Manchester. The Manchester postal area includes the (strongly United supporting) City of Salford but also Prestwich and Whitefield in Bury (with one of the largest City supporters clubs). This research was conducted before City moved to the larger (48,000 capacity) City of Manchester Stadium, and before the expansion of United's Old Trafford stadium which now accommodates 76,000 meaning that the situation will have changed in the period since it was written.

Further research, published in 2008, has identified that the Manchester region is split with City's support predominantly coming in the south and east of Greater Manchester and the surrounding area and United's in the west.[9] United's nationwide and international support far exceeds that of City. Polls done in the local media suggest that the support of both clubs is split nearly 50/50 within the city and United edging out City with a small majority in all of Greater Manchester.

Aside from their two Premier League clubs, the City of Manchester hosted the first meeting of representatives from the home nations football associations in 1886, and the International Football Association Board, which makes the rules for the game, was formed following this meeting. FIFA adopted the rules and regulations of football laid out by the IFAB when the organisation formed in 1904.[10] Manchester has remained a regular summit location for IFAB meetings since their formation.[11]

Manchester also hosts several other smaller semi-pro and amateur football clubs, the most notable of which is F.C. United of Manchester of whom play in the NPL Premier Division after being promoted from NPL Division One, where the other Manchester football team currently plays.

The Manchester Football League is the official amateur football league of Manchester.


The Great Manchester Run was established in 2003 and the Great City Games was established in 2009

The city hosted the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and athletics events took place at the City of Manchester Stadium, which is now home to Manchester City and sometimes referred to as Eastlands. Next to Eastlands lies the Manchester Regional Arena, which has been used for British athletics trials and the annual Paralympic World Cup which has been held in Manchester since 2005.

The city also hosts the annual Great Manchester Run which has been hosted since 2003 and has become one of the most popular 10 km runs in the UK. In addition, the city also hosts the annual Great City Games, featuring a 110m sprint track on Deansgate in Manchester city centre. The world's top athletes are invited and in 2009 Usain Bolt took part.

The B of the Bang, a sculpture commemorating the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

Rugby League[edit]

Even though the north west of England is a power base of Rugby League in the UK, the sport has a chequered history in Manchester. There are currently two teams playing rugby league in the city. Manchester Rangers are an ambitious amateur Rugby League club playing out of Manchester Regional Arena, Manchester. The club has a vision of entering the Championship levels in the near future on a semi-professional basis. Mancunians RL is a progressive club based in the South of the city and ground share with Broughton Park Rugby Union F.C. at their Hough End base.

Rugby League was first played at professional level in Manchester when Broughton Rangers moved to Belle Vue Stadium from neighbouring Salford. Broughton Rangers later changed their name to Belle Vue Rangers then went out of business a few years later and there hasn't been any professional rugby league in the city since. Manchester Rangers are picking up where Belle Vue Rangers left off and look to emulate the success of its rich history. Having secured the fantastic Manchester Regional Arena as a home, the future looks bright for the Rangers. Mancunians RL have recently declared their intention to join the semi-professional ranks and are working with several partners to develop their current ground at Hough End, Chorlton to Championship 1 standards.

Manchester Rangers open age team are currently coached by ex-Great Britain international Steve Molloy to help guide the team to success, whilst having a Community Development Officer and sports development apprentice in place. This is to ensure community involvement and develop strong relationships in the local area. Manchester Rangers also run an 'A' team for developing players and players new to the game. There is a rapidly growing schools rugby league scene and the year 7 girls team from St Peters High School, Gorton are currently British national champions with Wright Robinson Sports College also enjoying success in the boys game.

The Manchester College employ a full-time Rugby League coach which is funded by the Rugby Football League and Manchester City Council working to a strategy devised by a working group from the funders, The Manchester College and Mancuninians RL. Manchester Rangers currently have staff in both the Moston and Nicholls campus of The Manchester College delivering Rugby League as well as in numerous Primary and High Schools across the city.

Rugby union[edit]

Although many of the big rugby teams in the north west of England play rugby league, Manchester's rugby teams have a long tradition of playing rugby union.

Burnage Rugby Club currently sit in National 3 and based near Parrs Wood Entertainment Complex offer a good standard of rugby and are one of the few teams in the country to have an IRB, RFU approved 4G synthetic rugby pitch.

Manchester Rugby Club, was founded as the "Manchester Football Club" in 1860, eleven years before the formation of the Rugby Football Union, the club is one of the oldest rugby union clubs in the world along with Blackheath Rugby Club and Liverpool St Helens F.C.. The club's ground is located at Grove Park in Cheadle Hulme, and is divided into different sections - 1st XV, 2nd XV, Warriors, Ladies, and Mini, Juniors, Colts.[12] See main article: Manchester Rugby Club

Broughton Park Rugby Union F.C., is one of the oldest rugby union clubs in England and was established in 1882, just one year after the Lancashire County Rugby Union was founded and eleven years after the formation of the national Rugby Football Union. The club has had a number of different grounds in its time, mainly in the Salford/Prestwich area, but also in the south of Manchester. Since 2004, its current facility is at Hough End in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester. Originally, the club had only one senior side, but now fields four senior sides and supported by one Colts (U19), four youth (U13-U17) and four mini (U8-U12) teams; a total involvement of some 220 players each week. Broughton Park R.F.C. is the City of Manchester's highest placed representative in the Rugby Union Leagues.[13]

Old Bedians Rugby (Union) Club was founded in 1954 by Des Pastore as an Old Boys club for St Bedes College. Originally based in Chorlton, Old Bedians became one of two Didsbury rugby clubs in 1965. In 1991, car thieves torched a car in close proximity to the clubhouse and the club burnt down; following this, the current two storey brick structure was built.

The club, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2003/2004, is located on Millgate Lane in the heart of Didsbury Village, in the south of Manchester, close to neighbouring areas Withington, Fallowfield, Burnage, and Stockport. The club fields three teams each week; the 1st team plays in the North Lancs Division 1, and the 2nds, and 3rds play in Miller Homes Leagues in Division 4 south and 5 south respectively. The club also has an established junior section and was fortunate enough to be awarded lottery funding for this section in 2007.

Old Bedians Rugby Club is well known for its social side and can be regularly seen drinking in Didsbury on Saturday night. In addition, they have an annual Sportsmans Dinner with such rugby legends as David Duckham and Jeff Probyn.[14]

Didsbury Toc-H Rugby (Union) Club was founded in 1924 as "Toc H Manchester" and was situated in Victoria Park. After moving to various sites the club arrived in Didsbury and in 1986 the name was changed to "Didsbury Toc-H" to identify with the location of the clubhouse. The club, which celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2003/2004, is located at Ford Lane in the heart of Didsbury Village, in the south of Manchester, close to neighbouring areas Withington, Fallowfield, Burnage, and Stockport. The club fields four teams each week, the 1st team plays in the North Lancashire & Cumbria league, the 2nds, 3rds, and 4ths play in competitive "intermediate leagues". The club also has an established junior section. The "Toc-H" part comes from a soldiers club at Poperinghe in Flanders in the First World War. Soldiers and officers could get a respite from the battlefields. This place was named Talbot House in honour of a young lieutenant who was killed in action the year before. Signallers pronounced the letters 'T' as 'Toc' and 'H' as 'House'. When the rugby club was founded, Manchester soldiers called the new club as "Toc-H Manchester".[15]

The City of Manchester also has other rugby union teams: the University of Manchester Rugby Club,[16] and Manchester Village Spartans RUFC


Perhaps the most famous swimming baths in the United Kingdom are the Victoria Baths in Chorlton-on-Medlock.[17]

The City of Manchester has its own Olympic-standard swimming pool in the Manchester Aquatics Centre which was built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. It is situated in the Manchester city centre and is now part of the University of Manchester. The university now runs the University of Manchester Swimming Club at the aquatics centre which was formed in 1885.[18]


Old Trafford cricket ground, located in the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford, was originally the home of Manchester Cricket Club, but became the home of Lancashire County Cricket Club in 1864 upon the club's formation. Built in 1856, the ground is on Talbot Road, Stretford.

A test match venue since 1884,[19] the 155 year-old ground is one of the most famous in world cricket, only The Oval in London can claim to have hosted an England test match earlier and the ground has hosted three World Cup semi-finals. The ground has seen many Ashes moments, including the 1902 Ashes test where Australia won by 3 runs (the closest test match winning margin and one which stood for nearly a century until 1993[20]), "Jim Laker Test" in July 1956 where the England spinner took 19 wickets,[21] Shane Warne's "Ball of the Century" against Mike Gatting and more recently the tense 2005 Ashes Test at Old Trafford when more than 20,000 fans had to be turned away due to tickets being sold out.[22]

Redevelopment plans have existed since the early 2000s (decade) as the cricket ground was in need of renovation, and even a move away to Sportcity nearby Manchester City F.C.'s City of Manchester Stadium was touted as a serious possibility.[23] Nearly £25m is expected to be invested in the redevelopments at Old Trafford.[19] Similar to its counterpart, one end of the Old Trafford cricket ground is called the Stretford End, the other end of the ground is called the Brian Statham end.

Lancashire hold the record for the most tournament wins in the Pro40 tournament (5 times) which ran from 1969 to 2009 and the Friends Provident Trophy (7 times) which ran from 1963 to 2009. Despite this strong one-day success, Lancashire have not won the top tier of the County Championship since 1934. In total they have won the County Championship on eight occasions in 1881, 1897, 1904, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1930 and 1934. However, they still remain one of the top county cricket clubs in the country and Lancashire maintains a healthy rivalry with Yorkshire, which is sometimes referred to as the Battle of the Roses (a pun on the actual War of the Roses which involved Lancashire and Yorkshire on opposing sides).


The National Cycling Centre includes a velodrome, BMX Arena and Mountainbike trials and is the home of British Cycling, UCI ProTeam Team Sky and Sky Track Cycling. The Manchester Velodrome is the UK's first purpose-built indoor Cycling Velodrome, which was primarily built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. It is situated near the City of Manchester Stadium in Sportcity. The great success at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing has been attributed to inheriting the track alongside Sport England and Manchester City Council. British Cycling have stated their wish to remain based in Manchester, in stead of moving to The London Velopark for the 2012 Summer Olympics, as development continues with the construction of a National BMX Arena next to British Cycling's base at the Manchester Velodrome.[24][25]

The Velodrome has become one of the fastest velodrome tracks in the world and its board tracks consist of 80 kilometres of 40mm Siberian pine on 380 trusses around the velodrome track. The Velodrome is covered by a 122 metre arched roof enabling unrestricted viewing for the spectators.[26] The Velodrome has hosted the UCI World Championships which is the set of world championship events for the various disciplines and distances in track cycling and are regulated by the Union Cycliste Internationale 3 times in 1996, 2000 and 2008 - no other venue has hosted more.

Fallowfield Stadium was an athletics stadium and velodrome in Fallowfield, Manchester which opened in May 1892 as the home of Manchester Athletics Club after it was forced to move from its home next to Old Trafford Cricket Ground.[27] Fallowfield was most regularly used for cycling by the Manchester Wheelers' Club, who held their annual competition there until 1976.[27]

Speedway racing[edit]

Belle Vue Stadium where Belle Vue Aces speedway racing and greyhound racing takes place
Speedway racing at Belle Vue in 1963

Motorcycle speedway racing has been staged at four venues in Manchester. The first events were staged at the greyhound stadium in Kirkmanshume Lane in 1928 and was known as Belle Vue Speedway. Speedway activities continued under the Belle Vue name at the stadium in Hyde Road from 1929 to 1987, without any breaks even during the war years of 1939 - 1945, when the stadium was sold and redeveloped. Speedway racing returned to the greyhound stadium in Kirkmanshume Lane in 1988 and continues to operate there. The speedway team are known as the Belle Vue Aces. Peter Craven, Ove Fundin, Peter Collins, Jason Crump are amongst the riders who have won World Championships when riding for the Aces. The White City stadium was used in the pioneer days from 1928 to 1930 and a training track at Newton Heath operated in the early post war period.[28]

Other sports[edit]

Team games

The Manchester Titans were the only American Football team in Manchester; they played in the British American Football League, Division 2.[clarification needed] The Titans played at Broughton Park Rugby Club, Mauldeth Road West in Chorlton. As the gridiron game had been popular in the region in the past with teams such as the Spartans and the All-Stars, the Titans were formed in 2003 and have experienced continual growth with the 2007 season finishing 7-2-1, and getting to the playoffs semi-finals.

As of late 2010/early 2011, Manchester Metropolitan University introduced an American Football Team to their many other Union Sports. Niall Sweeney, then a student at the University took on the remit of building a team to compete in the British University American Football League (BUAFL). At the initial development stages there were approximately 20-30 players who trained and took part in the sport over 3 games to show the league that the team could be a contender. The team initially went by the name of MMU Mercenaries and for the 2011 season changed this to a more friendly name of the MMU Eagles. As of 2011/2012 season the team under the guidance of some existing students expanded to 50-60 players and train using the 3G Astroturf at the Manchester City Academy for their Tuesday sessions and then training on Platt Fields, located directly beside the Academy on Sundays.

Manchester also has an ice hockey team called the Manchester Phoenix, which moved into a new purpose-built arena called the Altrincham Ice Dome in February 2007. The city was previously home to the Manchester Storm ice hockey club, who in 1997 played in front of the largest audience ever to watch an ice hockey game in the United Kingdom—17,245 people saw the Storm defeat the Sheffield Steelers 6-2 at the MEN Arena.

Manchester also has two roller hockey teams, which have combined and reached the cup final against Bury St. Edmunds (at U13 level only).[29]

Manchester has a UKDBA Dodgeball team, the Manchester Bees Dodgeball Club. The club was formed in 2013 and in their first season won the Division 1 North UK Dodgeball League.[30]


Belle Vue Stadium in Gorton is home to the Belle Vue Aces speedway team and also hosts regular greyhound races.

Manchester is also home to two Roller Derby teams, the Rainy City Roller Girls and Manchester Roller Derby, which as well as the traditional women's team also has a men's and junior derby team. The sport continues to grow in the UK and Manchester and roller derby bouts held in Manchester regularly sell out as of 2011.[31][32]

Combat sports

Boxing is popular in Manchester. It's the home of Ricky Hatton in nearby Hyde.

Manchester has also hosted several events for World Wrestling Entertainment, as professional wrestling is not only popular in Manchester, but in the United Kingdom as a whole. Manchester is also the home of The British Bulldogs Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid.

Major sporting events hosted in Manchester[edit]

Below is a list of international sporting events that have been held in Manchester at various venues








  • Snooker World Championship - 5
    • Houldsworth Hall - 2 (1952, 1954)
    • City Exhibition Hall - 1 (1973)
    • Belle Vue - 1 (1974)
    • Wythenshawe Forum - 1 (1976)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The best Britain has seen". BBC. 1 August 2002. 
  2. ^ "Manchester Games hailed a success". BBC. 5 August 2002. 
  3. ^ "Manchester delivers great show". British Broadcasting Corporation. 4 August 2002. 
  4. ^ "Rogge rules out joint Olympic bid". BBC. 3 August 2002. 
  5. ^ "Horse racing: When stars shone in Salford". Manchester Evening News. 9 November 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-27. 
  6. ^ "Revealed: Sporting mecca at the heart of Etihad's record sponsorship of Manchester City". Manchester Evening News. 9 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-27. 
  7. ^ The other counties are Lancashire, Cheshire, Merseyside and Cumbria. Also studied were the Stadium Neighbourhoods, i.e. M14 postal district for City and M16 for United. The M postal area is much more extensive than the City of Manchester.
  8. ^ Brown, Adam (2002). "Do You Come from Manchester?": a postcode analysis of the location of Manchester United and Manchester City season ticket holders, 2001. Manchester: Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester Institute for Popular Culture. hdl:2173/12506. 
  9. ^ James, Gary (2008). Manchester - A Football History. Halifax: James Ward. 
  10. ^ "The History of the Laws of the Game". FIFA. 
  11. ^ "Move to bring in HawkEye". Manchester Evening News. 5 March 2007. 
  12. ^ Manchester Rugby Club
  13. ^ Broughton Park Rugby Union F.C.
  14. ^ Old Bedians Rugby (Union) Club
  15. ^ Didsbury Rugby (Union) Club
  16. ^ The University of Manchester Rugby Club
  17. ^ "Victoria Baths: a brief history". BBC. 
  18. ^ "The University of Manchester Swimming Club". 
  19. ^ a b Anon (2007-05-09). "Cricket ground makes 150 not out". BBC Online. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  20. ^ "Test matches - Smallest margin of victory (by runs)". 
  21. ^ "Classic Ashes clashes - 1956, Old Trafford". BBC. 2 November 2006. 
  22. ^ Anon (2006-04-21). "Ashes to Ashes". BBC Online. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  23. ^ "Lancashire consider leaving Old Trafford". Daily Telegraph. 4 November 2003. 
  24. ^ "British Cycling will not relocate to London after Olympics". 20 November 2009. 
  25. ^ "Manchester still our base - Brailsford". Sporting Life. February 2011. 
  26. ^ "Manchester Velodrome - About Us". Manchester Velodrome. 
  27. ^ a b Inglis, Simon (2004). Played in Manchester. Swindon: English Heritage. p. 62. ISBN 1-873592-78-7. 
  28. ^ "History of The White City Track",, retrieved 15 July 2007.
  29. ^ National Cup Finals & AGM venues in Manchester. URL accessed 11 November 2007.
  30. ^ UKDBA NDL1 League results. URL accessed 14 April 2014.
  31. ^ "Roller derby makes a play for Manchester sport fans". BBC. 16 June 2011. Spurred on by the sell-out, Ms O'Connor says Manchester is coming round to the sport "slowly but surely and soon we'll have the whole city". 
  32. ^ Glendinning, Amy (3 February 2011). "Roll with it... after all roller derby is a wonderbrawl". Manchester Evening News. 
  33. ^ "Old Trafford's Ashes target". Manchester Evening News. 6 May 2009. 

External links[edit]