Go Away: Salford City

A 'City of Salford' boundary marker sign on a red background

These days ‘The Hundred of Salford’ is the name given to Salford City’s away following, but at the time of the Domesday Book it was the title of this part of Lancashire and was held by Edward the Confessor, which is why we know so much about it.

There’s been a settlement here since the bronze age, although it wasn’t always known as Salford, the 1169 pipe roll has it listed as Sauford, whilst the 1226 Lancashire Inquisitions have it as Sainford. In case you’re wondering, the 1226 Lancashire Inquisitions are much less foreboding than the Spanish Inquisitions; it’s just a bloke in a cloth cap asking if you’ve had your dinner yet. ‘Ey up cocker, stop yer mytherin’, as tha had tha scran?

Until the 1800s Salford was considered more culturally and commercially important than neighbouring Manchester with small scale industry in weaving, cobbling, brewing and clogging, because apparently blocking up pipes and toilets was a trade back then. The city changed greatly during the Industrial Revolution, with a spiralling population that not only spun round and round but also grew in great numbers. Friedrich Engels, who spent time in Salford, studying the plight of the British working class, described it as ‘really one large working-class quarter …a very unhealthy, dirty and dilapidated district’ He went on to add ‘still, much cheaper than Manchester and you’re on the right side of the city for The Trafford Centre. Would visit again. Three stars.’

The most famous person associated with Salford is the artist L.S. Lowry whose paintings depicted industrial scenes from across Lancashire. His most noted artistic trait was the way he illustrated people in these scenes, their slim minimalist figures, often described as ‘matchstick men’, an approach that famously influenced an early Status Quo early hit, ‘Paper Plane’.

Salford City is the third name of the football club who were formed in 1940 as Salford Central, wearing tangerine shirts. They changed their name to Salford Amateurs in 1963 earning the nickname ‘The Ammies’ as three syllables was considered a little bit too la-di-da by Salfordians. The nickname stuck, even after the club became Salford City in 1990, which you could take as a marker for a fanbase not fond of change, were it not for the events of the 2010s. 

That was when the ‘Class of ‘92’ rolled into town, a group of ex-Manchester United players taking their name from the area’s chronic lack of available teachers. Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, and Paul Scholes, with the help of businessman Peter Lim, set about turning this community club into a Manchester United Lite, changing the club colours to red and inflating player wages to push them up four divisions into the Football League. Their efforts were covered in documentaries by the BBC and Sky who painted Salford’s rise as something of a Cinderella story, albeit the lesser known version where instead of wish from a fairy godmother, Cinders is granted a big sack of cash by an investor, who also ultimately replaces Cinderella with an almost unrecognisable more glamorous actress, by which point the story is being told to largely a completely different audience.

What’s it famous for?

Artistic folk. Beyond Lowry, Salford has a great number of musical connections, most notably Salford Lads Club which features on a famous The Smiths album sleeve, and was also attended by The Hollies Allan Clarke and Graham Nash. Other musicians to hail from Salford include singer Elkie Brooks, Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess, Joy Division’s Peter Hook and Bernard Summer, and Mark E. Smith.

Other famous faces to hail from Salford include spoken word poet John Cooper-Clarke, comedians Jason Manford and John Thomson, actors Albert Finney and Robert Powell, writer Walter Greenwood, writer and director Mike Leigh, and impresario Tony Wilson. Hell of a list, huh? And that’s not including John Virgo, or the main rugby league players it’s produced, the bloody show-offs. Still, makes a welcome change to us scrabbling around trying to find famous people from Stevenage that aren’t Lewis Hamilton.

How to blend in

Seemingly, excel. Pick up a guitar and change the face of popular music, open a ground-breaking nightclub and become a pioneer of decentralised television, write a culturally defining piece of working class fiction, take up acting and win a shelf full of BAFTAs, or play Jesus Christ, try your hand at stand-up and win a Perrier Award, grab a paintbrush and become an eponymous byword for your time and place; all whilst wearing a jazzy waistcoat and making sure to pot as many balls as you can.

What’s the stadium like?

There has been a sports ground on Moor Lane in Kersal since the 1600s, playing host horse racing, athletics, cricket, tennis and rugby. This madness of rugby players dodging horses and javelins, and cricketers thwacking tennis balls at steeplechase runners was only ended when the football club moved in, in 1978. In anticipation of the club’s promotion to the Football League the ground was demolished and completely rebuilt in 2017 and is now known as The Peninsula Stadium, presumably on account of it really sticking out from its surroundings.

According to the stadium’s own promotional material, ‘the 1,354-capacity West Stand terrace is where you want to head for atmosphere!’ Hopefully the other three stands are constructed in the form of some kind of radiation-shielded pressurised bio-domes otherwise we’re in for a very uncomfortable, and frankly breathless, afternoon out.

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