On the road: The Jekyll and Hyde club who are red… and blue
22:00 GMT, 29 April 2012
It has become known as the strange case of doctored Hyde: the club that was wound up, then saved by a bucket; the club which changed its name and its colours, escaped relegation and then zoomed to promotion. All in the last two-and-a-half years.
Manchester may be fixated with the City-United match on Monday night, but over in the east of the city, up the hill at Ewen Fields in Hyde, they are relaxed.
Their season’s work is done and in August Hyde will be playing in the Blue Square Bet Premier, one step from the Football League.
Comeback: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made his return from injury at Hyde's ground
Hyde, formed in 1885, have never been in the League, they have never been as high as the Blue Square Bet Premier, not as Hyde, nor as Hyde United, the club’s name from 1919 to 2010.
But then Hyde have never been so close to Manchester City, so close that the City crest sits beside Hyde’s on the main stand, so close that the seats there are City blue, so close that the only advertising at the ground is for Etihad, so close that the magnificent-looking pitch was installed by City.
And, most controversially, so close that the red and white of Hyde United became the blue and white of plain Hyde.
Walking around the ground, Hyde’s club secretary Andy McAnulty explains the background.
‘We were wound up in September 2009 and City very kindly let us go to Eastlands for a Monday-night game for a bucket collection.
‘That brought us several thousand pounds and kept us afloat. We had been wound up but we managed to get it back on appeal.
‘We’ve always had a good relationship with City, their reserve side played here for a number of years. In close season 2010-11, the previous board reached an agreement with Manchester City that they would, in effect, renovate the stadium and change it from red to blue. City wanted it to be a home from home.
‘They pay us the going rate. At this level, anything helps. They pay for all the advertising around the ground and they sponsor the shirts.
‘They play 20 to 30 games a season here. We had the NextGen game between City and Barcelona here, then Carlos Tevez making his comeback a few weeks ago.’
Special guest: Carlos Tevez has also made a comeback of sorts at the ground
Season 2010-11 also happened to be
Hyde’s 125th anniversary. They had been formed as Hyde but were known
for 90 years as Hyde United. They wore red.
For the anniversary season, they
reverted to the original club jersey, which was white. But navy shorts
and socks were added. Red went. ‘United’ went. In protest, so did some
of the 350 regulars.
Hyde avoided relegation from the Conference North on the last day of 2010-11. Eight days ago they won it. The co-incidence of City’s investment seems obvious. There is also a link to Glenn Hoddle’s Spanish academy.
‘People who say we are where we are because of City’s money are incorrect,’ says McAnulty. ‘It’s down to the management and players. We are in existence because of City’s money — but the budget is still tight. For us to do what we’ve done this season is phenomenal.
‘We’d be bottom-half of the division in terms of budget. Next season we’ll get more money but we’ll still be bottom-half. Fleetwood Town, we aren’t.
‘This is the highest position we’ve been in 126 years. To stay up next season, that’ll be our target, fifth- bottom. With all due respect you’re going from playing Vauxhall Motors to playing Luton Town.’
Link: Glen Hoddle's academy is linked with Hyde
There will also be a derby with Stockport County. Not so long ago, Stockport used Hyde for reserve games too. But then so did Manchester United. Six years ago the big comeback story was not Tevez but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. That was at Ewen Fields.
With City’s massive training ground development underway, the contract with Hyde expires at the end of next season.
‘United’ could return.
But the Abu Dhabi City money means debts of 250,000 are now zero. A new clubhouse, 3G community pitch and academy are planned.
Rivals would love such good fortune. But it is not just shekels at Hyde, McAnulty is a volunteer like everyone else.
There are no staff, just graft and short-term contracts.
Plus, after that 125th anniversary season, the shirts went back to red. The blue shorts and socks stayed, though. In kit at least, Hyde have united the city of Manchester.
Mac men down and out
Hyde will play Macclesfield Town next season in another North West derby.
Fifteen years after Sammy McIlroy hauled Macclesfield to the Football League, they lost at home to Burton Albion on Saturday to seal relegation.
Brian Horton (former Manchester City manager) had been brought in for the last nine games to save the Silkmen.
It worked before, in 2004, but not in 2012.
Horton will leave Moss Rose, but Macclesfield still have a game on Saturday at Southend.
It is a big one, because if Southend win at home and Crawley and Torquay don’t win away Paul Sturrock’s side will leap into third place.
Automatic promotion is at stake and Crawley and Torquay will not be expecting a shock at Roots Hall. Macclesfield Town’s relegation came because they have not won once in 2012. Not once.