Wilf Wild began what would be a 30-year stint as secretary and later manager of City in 1920.

Aged 26 when he began his journey, Wild’s initial role was to assist manager Ernest Mangnall with administrative tasks but following the departure of Mangnall and arrival of David Ashworth, Wild’s role officially became Club secretary and he continued in the role until 1932 when Peter Hodge left Maine Road to become Leicester City boss.

Wild had long championed the idea of a full-time manager without the added stresses of being secretary as well and his assistance to Mangnall, Ashworth and Hodge had made him an integral part of the Club,

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It was, therefore, ironic that when the Manchester City board offered Wild the role of manager, he accepted it and continued his secretarial duties – the same dual position he had campaigned against! In spite of his initial concerns, Wild would show the split role was not only possible to perform, but that it could be done with great success.

An industrious and likeable man, Wild’s transition to manager was seamless and in his first season in charge Manchester City reached the 1933 FA Cup final but lost 3–0 to a Dixie Dean-inspired Everton.

In Division One, the Blues limped to a 16th place finish, but with one or two astute tweaks – including the promotion of teenage goalkeeper Frank Swift as the Blues’ new No.1 - Wild’s second campaign was a great success as he again led City to the FA Cup final, this time emerging as 2–1 winners against Portsmouth to win the trophy for only the second time. The FA Cup success was accompanied by a fifth place League finish, and the two following seasons also resulted in top half finishes.

 

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Wild had steadied the ship and in 1936/37, he would lead City to the holy grail.

Few would have guessed what was to come as the Blues followed up early victories over Leeds and West Brom with a run of seven matches without a victory.

And the league form continued to stutter into December where City fans’ festive celebrations were spoiled by a 5-1 defeat to Sheffield United and a 5-3 loss to Grimsby Town on Christmas Day.

But things were about to get much better and Wild’s side – which included his signings Peter Doherty, Alex Herd and Sam Barkas - embarked on a remarkable unbeaten run. On 10 April City faced the dominant team of the decade, Arsenal, and the 2–0 victory for the Blues, watched by more than 74,000 Maine Road fans – a win that in many eyes confirmed Wild’s men as genuine contenders for the championship. The top flight title had eluded City in 43 years of existence, but after a 20-match unbeaten run, the Blues took on Sheffield Wednesday in the penultimate game of the season and a 4-1 win over the Owls confirmed City as champions for the first time and with one game to spare.

 

In his first five years in charge, Wild had won the FA Cup and League title – an incredible achievement for a man who had little or no previous experience of managing a football team.

However, in a remarkable turnaround in fortunes, it seemed that Wild’s success had upset the football gods and the season after lifting English football’s most glittering prize, City were relegated! The reigning champions had never before lost their top-flight status so quickly and, hardly surprisingly, it’s never happened since.

 

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Though the Blues came within five points of an instant return to the top division, the outbreak of World War Two meant City would spend nine years as a Division Two club and like his old boss Ernest Mangnall before him, Wild guided City through the war years and when League football resumed in 1946, he began the season that would ultimately take the Blues to an unprecedented fifth Second Division title.

But the responsibility had taken its toll on Wild and though he remained in the manager’s seat until November 1946 when he handed team affairs to the man who had once captained his team, Sam Cowan.

He was a hard-working and loyal servant to Manchester City, Wild resumed his secretarial duties for the Club ending his 14-year spell as manager. He died in his office in 1950 doing the job he loved, aged only 57.