The Story Behind Manchester United and Manchester City: Were They Really Founded by Churches?

Football is a big deal in Manchester, with two major teams stealing the spotlight – Manchester United (MUFC) and Manchester City (MCFC). You might have heard a cool story that these clubs were born in the embrace of churches in Manchester. But is it true? Let’s take a simple journey through history to find out.

The Tale of Manchester City and St. Mark’s Church:

Some folks say Manchester City started its journey at St. Mark’s Church in West Gorton. The story goes that a team called Gorton AFC, linked to the church, laid the foundation for Manchester City. Here’s the twist: while it’s true that St. Mark’s had a football team named Gorton AFC, Manchester City’s real roots trace back to a different team – St. Mark’s (West Gorton) FC, formed in 1880. The club went through a series of name changes before officially becoming Manchester City in 1894. So, while St. Mark’s Church was connected to football, it didn’t directly give birth to the club as the story suggests.

Manchester United’s Alleged Church Connection:

Now, let’s shift our focus to Manchester United. The myth here suggests a connection to a Methodist chapel, specifically Newton Heath LYR Football Club. Newton Heath began in 1878, started by railway workers at the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway depot in Newton Heath. Here’s the clarification – while the club did have its beginnings there, there’s no proof tying it directly to a Methodist chapel. The name change to Manchester United happened in 1902 when the club faced money troubles. They dropped the “Newton Heath” part and embraced the name we know today.

Separating Fact from Fiction:

In a nutshell, the stories of MUFC and MCFC starting off in the cozy arms of Manchester churches make for interesting tales, but the truth is a bit different. Yes, St. Mark’s Church and Newton Heath had links to the beginnings of these clubs, but not in the way the stories often claim.

Both clubs have diverse roots in the neighborhoods of Manchester, growing from the communities around them. While there might be a charming ring to the idea of football clubs born in the heart of churches, the actual stories behind MUFC and MCFC are just as captivating. They are tales woven into the fabric of 19th-century Manchester, shaped by the people, the industries, and the communities that played a role in their formation.


So, the next time you hear the myth about Manchester United and Manchester City being founded by churches, you can share the real scoop. While churches like St. Mark’s and the Methodist chapel were part of the football scene in Manchester, they didn’t directly give birth to these legendary clubs. The true stories are a testament to the rich history and community spirit that have shaped MUFC and MCFC into the football giants we cheer for today.

100 Church Road, Gatley, SK8 4NQ