For the start of the 1882-83 season St. Mark's moved to land off Queen's Road, approximately three-quarters of a mile east of Clowes Street. The land is believed to be the present day Gorton Park and, if this is true, this is the only actual former venue of Manchester City that is still staging football today.
At the time the local newspaper referred to the venue as Clemington Park – although this is not a name that has ever really been utilised by Gortonians – while supporters at the turn of the century were reported as calling it 'Donkey Common' although reports never referred to this name. During the 1940s a booklet called “Famous Football Clubs – Manchester City” referred to this ground: “In later years this ground developed into a park, but it looked more 'parky' than anything else in those days.”
The history of St. Mark's during this period is confusing and match reports suggest only three home games were played there in 1882-83 and five the following season, and that there was a merger with another local team. While material written during the 1930s and early 1940s – a time when some of the original founders were still around – suggest around twenty games (ten at home) were played each season.
Although little proof exists today, it is clear that this venue was the first to last more than one season, and that it was the first venue which allowed the side to seriously play football. The St. Mark's connections were reducing to some extent, but the game itself was developing.
In 1884 the Club split with the original St. Mark's men renaming their club Gorton Association Football Club, while the others created West Gorton Athletic. That side survived for a few years, first at Queen's Road, then near the Gorton Brook Hotel at the top end of Clowes Street, but eventually the side folded. The St. Mark's men, however saw their side grow considerably over the following years.
All history and statistical material has been produced based on the research and writing of Manchester football historian Gary James (www.facebook.com/GaryJames4). It is maintained by Ric Turner & Gary James. All text remains the copyright of the original contributors.
Gary's book, Manchester - the City Years: Tracing the Story of Manchester City from the 1860s to the Modern Day, is available to order on Amazon.