FA Cup 3rd Round: Remembering When Man City Hammered Huddersfield 10-1

The pair meet on Sunday with the Terriers fearing another big defeat
07:00, 07 Jan 2024

Forget Haaland, Alvarez and Bernardo Silva, a gung-ho and free-scoring Manchester City side is nothing new, as was proved on November 7, 1987 when Mel Machin’s Blues put TEN goals past Huddersfield Town on an afternoon which anyone present will be able to proudly say: “I was there.”

The two sides, who meet at the Etihad on Sunday afternoon in the FA Cup third round, would actually face each other no less than five times that season after something of a marathon cup series, but it would be the Division Two encounter at Maine Road that autumn which would provide the most memorable result out of all of the meetings.

And for those in attendance on that grey afternoon, what they witnessed would turn out to be a fitting reward for getting themselves out of the house on a dank, uninviting day for a game that, on paper at least, appeared to promise so little.

In the early stages the match looked likely to live up to its low billing as the only real topic of conversation amongst those on the old Kippax terrace was the bizarre and slightly revolting yellow and black checkerboard design away kit that the visitors took to the field in.

But for those who were beginning to question why they had bothered turning up, or perhaps their own sanity, the most nondescript looking of games that day suddenly burst into life in a way that nobody could have predicted.

Neil McNab, a City stalwart in those dark days of Second Division football, opened the scoring with a left-foot drive from the edge of the box. And to say the floodgates opened would be something of an understatement.

Further first-half goals from Paul Stewart, Tony Adcock and David White made it 4-0 to City before the break, with Town boss and former Newcastle United and Arsenal striker Malcolm MacDonald, a man who knew a thing or two about finding the net, left with the unenviable task of trying to get his side back into the game.

But if Huddersfield’s band of loyal fans who had made the journey across the M62 that day thought they had seen the worst of it they were sadly mistaken, as each of City’s rampant sorties into their opponents' half seemed to result in another goal.

Two more strikes from Adcock, to complete his hat-trick, Stewart, who also bagged three, and White, made it nine for the home side as a somewhat punch-drunk Brian Cox - no, not that one... or that one - in the Huddersfield goal appeared to be bewildered by what he was seeing in front of him. There might have only been 19,583 people in the old ground that day, but by now the atmosphere was electric.

As City fans of a certain age will vouch, their club has always had a habit of not doing things the easy way, and with 90 minutes on the clock full-back John Gidman conspired to ruin the whitewash by giving away the most needless of penalties; allowing former City player Andy May to score the most academic of consolation goals with what most people thought was the last touch of the game (even the City fans cheered Town’s goal).


With just a few seconds remaining, however, City mounted one last attack and a pathetic attempt by the Town defence to play offside failed miserably, allowing David White to claim a 10th goal and third hat-trick of the match - securing a record-breaking margin of victory for City and a worst ever defeat for Huddersfield.

Under the headline MAINE ROAD MASSACRE! in the following day’s Huddersfield Examiner, Mel Booth didn’t pull any punches, writing: “Town left Maine Road in utter disgrace after being reduced to a laughing stock on the blackest day in their history as a rampant City revelled in Town’s ineptitude, while the way in which Malcolm Macdonald’s side faltered, buckled and threw in the towel amounted to an obituary for the pride and honour of the club they represent.”

Malcolm Macdonald lasted only seven months in charge and was relieved of his duties as Huddersfield hurtled towards Division Three. He never managed again and still hasn’t lived down the nature of that defeat.

"Relegations are forgotten, but record-breaking defeats are not,” he later told The Mirror. “Every club has its record defeat and Huddersfield’s happened to be on my watch. It’s there in the record books and I’ll always be associated with that awful day. The crazy thing is we had 19 shots to their 12!”

As for City, although they never quite managed to reach the dizzy heights of 10 again, that season they certainly knew where the goal was. They put six past Plymouth in the very next game and actually boasted more than one goal scorer in a game on an incredible 18 separate occasions – not bad for a team that struggled to finish ninth in the Second Division.

For a Huddersfield side struggling to keep out of the Championship relegation zone in 2023-24, there's the distinct possibility of another heavy defeat in the east of Manchester this Sunday.

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