Connell 6th Form College – inspired by the past, inspiring the future
Inspiration, resilience and enterprise are three of the strongest characteristics of Connell Sixth Form College.
The suggestion that the College should be named after the Connell family seemed both right and appropriate for a college offering an excellent education to the young people of Manchester. The Connell family (especially Anna and her father, the Reverend Arthur Connell) were, in their time, enterprising and inspirational.
In 19th century, there was a great deal of unemployment in Manchester and, on moving to West Gorton, the Reverend Arthur Connell felt the need to set up a relief fund for the local population, distributing mainly soup, bread and coal. Anna also became involved in community work for that area. She was very concerned about the conflicts which had led to regular fights between the warring gangs of Manchester. At times, up to 500 people were involved in inter-gang violence.
Anna believed that sports clubs for men could help improve the community, offer people an area of shared interest and a chance to stop the fighting. With the help of William Beastow and Thomas Goodbehere, she established a series of clubs. One such club was the St Mark’s Church Cricket Club. This team was a great success and the Archdeacon of Manchester said that Miss Connell should be congratulated on the success of these organisations.
Replicas of the doors on which Anna and Arthur knocked to ask the men of Gorton to take part in these clubs form part of the decor inside the Etihad Stadium.
Anna, seeing that sports clubs could be very successful, then went on to establish the St Mark’s Church football team. In 1884, the team was renamed the Gorton Association Football Club. William Beastow, who played in that team, supplied a new kit with a black shirt bearing the emblem of a white cross. In 1887 the club moved to a new ground at Hyde Road and they changed their name to Ardwick. During the 1892-93 season, the Football League decided to form the Second Division and, in that season, Ardwick finished in fifth place. By 1894, it had been agreed to change the name from Ardwick to Manchester City.
The Rev Arthur Connell died in February 1899 and Anna in 1924. However, Manchester City FC lives on!