The Starting Eleven – Nicky Reid

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 few 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 latest (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, centre-back Nicky Reid.

Switched to the centre of defence when John Bond brought in Bobby McDonald, twenty year old Nicky Reid formed, with Tommy Caton, the youngest centre-back pairing in FA Cup final history when they appeared in the 1981 final.  Reid, who Malcolm Allison gave a debut to in a UEFA Cup quarter-final two years earlier, was a versatile player who had already performed well as a midfielder, left-back, right-back and in the centre of defence. 

Reid would probably have played in any position for the Blues, such was his love of City:  “I’ve always been a fanatical City supporter.  I would have joined any professional club but obviously when City came in for me, I jumped at the chance.” 

He originally joined the Club from school in 1977 under the guidance of youth coaches Steve Fleet and Dave Ewing:  “They gave me my first experience of proper football.  They showed me what being a professional was all about.”

As the man who gave Reid his first team opportunity, Malcolm Allison once described the player as “the fiercest tackler since Dave Mackay” – a major compliment, particularly as it came at the start of his career and set expectations.  Nevertheless, Reid did impress and Allison had been a major influence:  “He gave me the belief I could do the business and he instilled a lot of confidence in me.”

Inevitably for a committed defender, disciplinary matters meant Reid did not figure in every tie during the 1981 FA Cup run.  In fact, his sending off in a January League game with Middlesbrough came in very unusual circumstances.  Firstly, the visitors wore Manchester United’s home kit as the game was to be televised and Boro arrived with shirts bearing their sponsor’s name – shirt advertising was not allowed on TV at the time.  They made a quick dash to Old Trafford to use the Reds’ shirts instead. 

Later, an over-reaction by the referee saw Reid and Boro’s Hodgson given red cards for a bit of arm and shirt-pulling.  What made this newsworthy was the fact that this was the last day before the red card system ended – it did eventually return later in the decade.  Reid was suspended for the fourth round.

In the build-up to the ’81 final Shoot magazine highlighted the role the Mancunian was to play:  “It is Reid’s job to shackle the menace of the opposing dangermen – a task he carried out to devastating effect when he subdued Dalglish and Mariner in semi-final ties recently.”

The magazine was fairly accurate with its prediction and Reid received significant praise for his performance in the initial drawn game.  In fact the Daily Mail named Reid as one of the reasons why Tottenham did not deserve a second chance:  “For what they are worth to the bewildered Tommy Hutchison, the defiant Joe Corrigan, the prodigious Nicky Reid and the inspiring John Bond, my sympathies are with City.  At least they gave their all for 90 minutes and then dredged up a little extra for the additional half-hour.  With the heroic exception of Graham Roberts, Tottenham’s approach was a disgrace.”

Despite Reid’s endeavours in both games, he left Wembley defeated, but he remained a very popular and important member of Bond’s side, and then later Billy McNeill’s Blues.  

Apart from a summer spent playing in the USA Reid remained a Blue until 1987 when he transferred to Blackburn.  He helped the side gain promotion and then spells at West Bromwich Albion, Wycombe, Woking, Witton Albion, and Bury followed.  In 1997 he became Sligo Rovers player-manager, winning the FAI League Cup, but soon decided to concentrate on the rehabilitation of footballers instead, taking degrees in Sports Rehabilitation and also in Physiotherapy.  

Years of study followed:  “The studying has been a long hard slog, and It would have been very difficult for me financially but the PFA sponsored me.  I am sports-mad and I just saw physiotherapy as a way to stay involved in sport.”

After various fitness and physio roles at Burnley, City, Barrow, Bury and Hyde, he replaced Paul Lake as physio at Macclesfield Town in 2008.

In 2011, his current role has his full focus and keeps him involved in a sport he loves.

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:

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