Les McDowall – A Forgotten Manager, Remembered

When talking about the influx of foreigners into the Premier League it may surprise you that City actually had an Indian in their team in 1937! Ok so he was only ‘technically’ an Indian as he was born in Gunga Pur, India he was raised in Scotland as a Scot. I am, of course, talking about Les McDowall.

He joined City towards the end of the relegation 1937-38 season and couldn’t help avoid the inevitable. Despite making 126 appearances, scoring 8 goals and even being captain at some point it wouldn’t be on the pitch that he would become a City legend.

In 1950 Les took over a Manchester City side that had just faced Relegation under John Thompson with just 8 wins in 42 and conceding seven in one game against Derby County! Les McDowall got promotion in his first season and consolidated the next. He lost his first derby game in September 1951, but then went until the last day of 1955 before losing again. This run included the double in 1954-55 in which City won 3-2 at Maine Road and then hammered United 5-0 in the away fixture.

 He would then lead City to a FA Cup Final defeat to Newcastle before returning the very next season to win the Cup at the expense of Birmingham. McDowall was also involved in other points of City history before leaving in 1963, every season except the first in the top tier.

1955 Don Revie won the Football Writers player of the year award before Trautmann would win it the next. The 1955-56 season was McDowalls best after he saw City finish fourth. The next season he was in charge of the first game filmed by the BBC  which was also the return of Bert Trautmann who would go on to appear over 500 times for City. Then he had his own ‘Typical City’ moment in the next season when City scored and conceded 100 goals in the one League season. Despite this City still finished 5th!

That was a sign of things to come though as in the final game City or Villa could be relegated. The penultimate game was between the two and that draw helped keep City up and send Villa down. At that point Villa were managed by a Mr Joe Mercer. 

In the 1960’s City would decline due to an aging team and limited resources. In his last four seasons City would finish 16th, 13th and 12th before finally getting relegated in 1963 and the end of the Les McDowall era. He went on to manage Oldham but only stayed in the business for two more years before quitting in 1965.

Les died in August 1991 at the age of 1978.

PA Cityboy