Many of the key names at Manchester City Football Club have been Masons, as Jonathan Richards found out.
Newly promoted Manchester City is already well into the 2002-2003 Barclaycard Premiership season. Kevin Keegan's side will have faced Arsenal, Newcastle United, Leeds and Aston Villa, and the pattern for what is likely to be a difficult first season back in the top division of English football will be set.
Whether the club is winning or losing, though, one thing is for sure: Maine Road will be packed to the rafters for every home game.
Over the past 30 years few sides have experienced the ups and downs of the Manchester club, and thanks to an almost constant cycle of relegation, promotion and behind the scenes unrest, City have some of the most devoted and long-suffering fans in English football.
Ask even the most dedicated amongst them, though, and it is unlikely that they will be aware of the crucial role played by Freemasons in founding the
club, and later establishing the glory days of the 1960s and 1970s, when City
swept all before them in both European and domestic football.
Whilst many clubs at the turn of the 19th century simply bought a ground, appointed a manager and built a side, City very much evolved organically.
Originally called St Mark's in West Gorton, they were formed in 1880 and took their name from the local Baptist church. Soon, however, they distanced themselves from the church, and over the next seven
years changed their name and location almost annually.
Finally, in 1887, they settled on the name Ardwick, an area adjoining West Gorton, and four years later joined the Football League in the second division.
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