Back in November 1995 I interviewed the former Manchester City manager John Bond. At the time I was researching my in-depth history of the club called Manchester The Greatest City (later updated as Manchester The City Years).
I met John at his home and spent a good few hours with him chatting about the Blues and his career. I loved doing this interview and was always grateful for the time he gave me. He was extremely frank, open and honest – which delighted me because he was a great talker. He was also happy for me to share everything he said in the interview recording. I did end up quoting him extensively in the book (and in others I’ve produced) but, until publication on my blog, none of the interview had ever been heard by the wider public.
This is part four of the interview. It’s about twenty minutes long and this is perhaps the most frank section of the entire recording. At the time we recorded this he was still somewhat upset at the way he’d been treated by City fans at the Bradford promotion game in 1989. I was one of the fans there who had not been happy with what he’d said on TV the night before and I ask him about it a little on here. Whenever I do an interview I’m never looking for soundbites or people to tell me the stories that they think I want to hear. I want the truth and to hear about their feelings. I try to ask them about moments that I remember as a fan but also the things that matter to me. So I wanted to know how he felt about City’s fans.
It upset me hearing how much he had been upset by the treatment he had received and – as you can hear in this clip – he also talks about feeling unwelcome at Maine Road (for various reasons, not simply fans). In 2002-03 I helped City with some of their plans for the end of Maine Road and I made sure that John Bond was on the guest list. I know he was reluctant about attending and had to be persuaded. City had this plan to parade a few legends around the pitch and I felt it would do John Bond some good to hear what the majority of fans actually felt about him. That final day at Maine Road he was given a fantastic ovation.
In a later interview he told me: “I was gobsmacked by their reaction! When I came out and heard the cheering I was delighted. I loved that reaction. Afterwards I rushed home and told my family about the reception and how delighted I was with it. There were times during my management when I received fantastic support from the fans, and at Maine Road’s final game I was delighted with the ovation. I truly enjoyed that feeling when I walked around the pitch. I’d like to thank the supporters for that reaction.”
So, when you’re listening to this section of the interview it’s important to remember that what happened in 2003 had allowed resolution to occur. He no longer felt so negatively about fans. His views in 1995 though should still be heard.
In this piece he also talks about Peter Swales, the City directors, why he left and so on. Again, his views are frank. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he said but much of what he said about the directors during his time should be heard. It adds context to what many of us always felt. As we recorded this in 1995 it’s also worth pointing out that Bond could see what perhaps those of us who supported City could not see entirely – that was the downward path the Blues were following and why. This interview occurred while City were still a Premier League side but listening to this provides some good indications of why things got worse for City as the decade progressed.
Of course as this interview was recorded on my old cassette recorder the quality isn’t the best.
So, here exclusive to subscribers is the fourth part of my interview:
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If you missed the other three parts then they can be accessed by selecting the John Bond tag below or by searching for his name.