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Our Story

Connell Co-op College is a 16-19 college in East Manchester.

We first opened 2014 as Connell Sixth-form College next to Manchester City’s Etihad Campus and we have many links with the football club. Manchester City actually donated the land that the college is built on. Our Sports courses benefit from Manchester City coaches and facilities.


There’s a lot of importance in a name, so when it was suggested that the College be named after the Connell family it seemed just right. The Connell family used the power of football to bring their community together, the same community that we 100 years later are serving. 

We could think of no better name 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 enterprising and inspirational.

In the 19th century, there was lots of unemployment in Manchester and after 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 the 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 the community, by bringing people together for a shared interest, it was a chance to stop the fighting.  With the help of William Beastow and Thomas Goodbehere, she established a series of clubs. One of these clubs 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 that Anna and Arthur knocked on 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 died in 1924. But, Manchester City Football Club lives on.


In 2019 we joined the Co-op Academies Trust, this gave us the chance to offer our students a greater depth of subjects. It also brought about key links with one of the biggest businesses in Manchester. Students can choose to study our Flagship Business BTEC which includes a paid internship at the Co-op.

Just like the Connell Family, the Co-op believes in a different way of doing things, a better and fairer way. Built on the same principles as all co-operatives across the world, Co-op Academies Trust empowers young people to work together for a better education and a better community.

Bringing together Co-op and Manchester City means that Connell offers young people the chance to be a part of two of Manchester’s biggest and best institutions and that’s a great thing for you and your future!