The Starting Eleven – Joe Corrigan

It’s the 40th anniversary of the 1981 FA Cup final on May 9 and ten years ago, as we looked forward to Manchester City appearing in the 2011 FA Cup final, I was asked by the Manchester Evening News to write profiles of the eleven players who started the 1981 final.

For the next eleven days I will post those profiles, one a day, free to read here. These will only be free to view until May 16, so please read them while you can. Thanks.

Here’s the first (appearing here as it was written in 2011)…

As we look forward to the 2011 FA Cup final, Gary James takes a look at the eleven players who made the starting line-up for City’s last FA Cup final in 1981.  Today, Joe Corrigan.

Heralded as the Man Of The Final for his performance over the two games, Joe Corrigan was one of the biggest Maine Road stars of the period.  The 32 year old England goalkeeper had already been a Wembley Cup Final winner twice with the Blues – the 1970 and 1976 League Cup final – and his appearances in the 1981 final; cemented his name and reputation as one of England’s best.  

During the final Corrigan played superbly, making several brilliant saves, most notably when Tottenham’s Roberts sent a downward header goal-bound and another time when he rushed from his line to check Crooks on the edge of the area. 

Ultimately, Corrigan was beaten but the goal was a freak own goal scored by Tommy Hutchison.  Despite his obvious disappointment one of the most memorable sights was when the City ‘keeper walked over to Hutchison, lifted him up and patted him on the back.  Corrigan:  “We’d been on top for most of the game.  I knew that what had happened to him could have happened to any one of us.  So I just told him to ‘get up, get on with it.  It’s only 1-1 and we are still going to win!’  He was devastated to be fair, but we did almost win it in the dying minutes.  Personally, I believe the game should have been played to a conclusion on that night.  The FA Cup is all about the Saturday and I know we would have won had it gone to a conclusion.  No question.”

With the final ending in a draw Corrigan missed an important opportunity.  England were playing Brazil the following Wednesday and it is widely accepted that the City ‘keeper was to appear.  With the FA Cup replay taking place the next night, Corrigan couldn’t play and the opportunity to gain the upper hand in the race to be England’s permanent ‘keeper went begging.

After the FA Cup final replay defeat Corrigan was presented with his Man Of The Final award by Spurs’ manager Keith Burkenshaw.  “It does mean a lot to me, but I’d rather have won the final” he later admitted.

Corrigan’s reputation as one of City’s greatest players developed with the final, and he remained a popular and significant member of John Bond’s side.  However, by the summer of 1982 the Club was changing.  Finance meant Bond’s squad building plans were brought to a swift end.  The signs were not good and players like Corrigan deserved better.

The ‘keeper realised City had changed:  “I think I should have left a little earlier.  I love City but it got to the stage where I knew I wasn’t really wanted here.  The fans were marvellous; the players were great; but maybe it wasn’t really my time any more.  When Seattle made their approach in 1983 I was told I could go.”

A spell at Brighton followed before Corrigan moved into coaching:  “Bert Trautmann and the other ‘keepers taught me more than other coaches could because they had been there.   I felt that I need to do the same.  I’ve coached all over the UK and, at one point, I was flying to Scotland, driving to Yorkshire and the north-east the next day… every day I was on the road.  Then I had ten very enjoyable years at Liverpool, and then Stockport and Chester as well.  It’s been great to put something back.”

In 2004 Corrigan was the first player inducted into the MEN sponsored Manchester City Hall Of Fame and his name will forever be bracketed with Swift & Trautmann as three of the game’s greatest goalkeepers.

My biography of Peter Barnes is now available to subscribe to. Order by May 15 and you will receive a copy signed by me & Peter, the book posted to your home address before it appears in any shop AND your name printed in the book. Order (and more details) here:

1 Comment

  1. Stephen Keenan says:

    He was one of the best, I went into playing goals when I played any football English or Gaelic

    Liked by 1 person

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