Delia’s Day

On this day (28th February) in 2005 goals from Robbie Fowler (2) and Antoine Sibierski gave Manchester City a 3-2 victory at Norwich City, but the most newsworthy part of the night came when Norwich’s Delia Smith went on to the pitch at half time to encourage the home fans to make a bit of noise.  

She memorably called out: “A message for the best football supporters in the world: We need a twelfth man here. Where are you? Where are you? Let’s be having you! Come on!”

A lot of people in the media both then and in the years that have followed, criticised Delia but the truth is that she was exhibiting the type of passion and fervour for her club that many of us want to see. Maybe the manner was a bit too much but how great would it be if those in charge of our clubs could demonstrate similar passion?

John Bond Interview – Part Four

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:

Subscribe to get access

If you would like to listen to the fourth part of this frank interview (and the other parts) and read all the in-depth articles on this site (including the entire Manchester A Football History book) then please subscribe. It works out about £1.67 a month if you take out an annual subscription (£20 per year) or £3 a month if you’d like to sign up for a month at a time. Each subscriber gets full access to the 250+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

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.

A Special relationship

As West Ham visit the Etihad Stadium today (27th February 2021) to face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Premier League I thought I’d take a look at the special relationship between the fans of the two clubs.


Both City and West Ham fans have a shared understanding of football history, status and achievements with supporters aware of their club’s traditions, rivalries and shared history. The two clubs’ roots are very much based around hardworking working class areas of their cities with the supporters of both the Hammers and the Blues coming traditionally from the working classes. In recent years an analysis of the original shareholders at the majority of Football League clubs identified that by 1900 City’s shareholders came mostly from the working class – a larger percentage than at any club other than West Ham who had a slightly higher percentage. This demonstrates that those who owned both City and West Ham were representative of the fans on the terraces and that these clubs were similarly organised and run. As a result of this both clubs were representative of their communities in ways in which their nearest local rivals were not at the time.

Both clubs have enjoyed stylish, attractive football over the years with a belief that the game should be an entertainment. The roots of this go back decades at both clubs with West Ham’s Ted Fenton and Ron Greenwood influencing men such as Malcolm Allison and John Bond who managed the Blues. 

Recently, City fans have been delighted to see Manuel Pellegrini and Pablo Zabaleta become Hammers following a line that includes other popular Blues such as Ian Bishop and Trevor Morley.


The support both clubs have received has varied at times but what is abundantly clear is that they have remained the most loyal in the country regardless of League status. West Ham, like City, have never been the worst supported club in their division (both United and Arsenal have!) and West Ham’s attendances over the decades have been fairly consistent, never dipping below 16,000. Recent years have of course seen both City and West Ham eclipse previous record average attendances thanks to the larger capacity of their current homes.

Successes and Struggles

Although West Ham did not become a League side until 1919 (City joined the League as Ardwick in 1892), the Hammers didn’t waste much time in progressing, reaching Division One and their first FA Cup final in 1923. The 1960s was a glorious period for West Ham – as it was with City – winning their first European trophy, the ECWC, in 1965. City won the same trophy in 1970 meaning that the Hammers were the second English team to win a major UEFA trophy and City were the fourth (For those wondering – the Fairs Cup was not a UEFA tournament and its entry requirements were not based on performance at times).

Of course both teams have had periods of struggle, ensuring that when success is achieved the fans of both clubs do not take this for granted. The great Malcolm Allison, a former Hammer & Blue, once told me in an interview that it’s important to “celebrate each success as if it’s your first, because it could well be your last.” Although he was perceived as a boastful character at times his philosophy, gained through his experiences at West Ham as a player, is one both sets of fans seem to agree with.

Celebrating the title – 2014

We must not forget how gracious and sporting the majority of West Ham fans were in 2014 when City became champions of England, securing their first ever league and cup double. That day the Blues beat the Hammers 2-0 with goals from Nasri (39) and Kompany (49). Manuel Pellegrini’s City were applauded and congratulated extensively that day – something that hasn’t happened with the fans of some other clubs when City have won the title.

The “You’ll be back” Game

The biggest demonstration of the special relationship between the fans of the two clubs came in May 1987. City were relegated after a 2-0 defeat at West Ham.  At the end of the game City supporters and West Ham fans climbed over the fences and onto the pitch. Some thought that the two sets of supporters were about to confront each other, but the fans knew differently. The Hammers began chanting “You’ll be back” and both groups swapped scarves and souvenirs on the pitch. It was the kind of moment that should have been widely reported in the media but at the time focus tended to be on hooliganism and confrontation rather than the positives of football support. City had been relegated, but their supporters did not seek revenge.  The West Ham fans could have ridiculed, but they didn’t.  If only those condemning football fans at the time could have seen the two sets of loyal supporters genuinely appreciating and understanding each other.

The relationship between the fans of the two clubs is not something that is widely discussed or promoted but it is something that has endured. City fans have never forgotten the ‘You’ll be back’ game and in recent years, as others have unfairly mocked both sets of fans, the supporters of both the Blues and the Hammers seem to understand and respect each other. Inevitably, there will always be banter during a game but outside of the match the mutual recognition and respect always seems to win through.

To many West Ham are the City of the South – a proud football club with a great history and heritage, combined with a loyal and passionate fanbase.

Want To Read More Like This?

If you would like to read more like this and all the in-depth articles on this site (including the entire Manchester A Football History book and the audio interview with John Bond) then please subscribe. It works out about £1.67 a month if you take out an annual subscription (£20 per year) or £3 a month if you’d like to sign up for a month at a time. Each subscriber gets full access to the 250+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

While you’re here why not check out the frank audio interview with former WHU player and MCFC boss John Bond? Taster clip here:

Brian Clough’s Last

On this day (27th February) in 1993 Manchester City defeated Nottingham Forest 2-0 at the City Ground in the Premier League.  The scorers were David White and Garry Flitcroft.  The win in this first Premier League season was important to City of course but this game was also the last time Brian Clough managed a side against City.  

Look carefully at the above photo – clearly that’s David White, but look at the Forest player to the left of the image. Yes, it’s Roy Keane.

I did the last recorded interview with Peter Swales back in 1995-96 and I asked him about Brian Clough and the England job. Swales had been the boss of the FA Selection Committee for many years and Clough never seemed to be given the chance to manage England. Swales responded to my question about Clough by saying words to the effect of ‘We could’ve had Cloughie at England – and at City – bit he’d have wanted to run the whole thing. And that was my job.’

In the interview Swales explained that Clough had wanted the City job in 1983 (when Billy McNeill was appointed).

Guest Blog – Steve Bolton: The Pioneering Manchester Ladies Part One

Over the last few years much has been written about pioneering women’s football teams and I’m delighted to say that Manchester has had several of these over the years. I’m sure anyone reading this knows about my book on Manchester City Women (available here: ) and about the other articles on this blog discussing other clubs, including the Manchester Corinthians (see: ).

Thanks to the Manchester Corinthians the story of pioneering Mancunian female footballers has received some decent coverage in recent years but it would be wrong to think that the women who played for Corinthians were the first women who played football in our region. There are games staged in Manchester going back to the 1880s of course. However, following the 1921 ban (which saw the FA ban women’s football games from FA affiliated pitches) opportunities were restricted significantly.

In Preston the famous Dick Kerr Ladies have been heralded for their efforts and in the 1950s & 1960s Manchester Corinthians found global fame for their exploits, but football tends to overlook many other clubs and in 1940s Manchester, before the Corinthians became established there was another female football club that promoted the sport, charity work and female prowess.

For today’s guest blog researcher Steve Bolton provides the first part of his research into the stories, facts and evidence of this Manchester team:

Part two will be published soon.

If you played for a women’s team in the Manchester region during the 1940s to 1960s then please get in touch. I’m writing a detailed history of women and football in Manchester and your information may help both mine and Steve Bolton’s research.

If you played an active part in developing women’s football prior to the FA ban then please get in touch by emailing or follow me on twitter: @garyjameswriter or 

Re-Using Match Tickets

Today (26th February) reminds me of how football clubs would often do anything to save a few quid or to avoid spending money they didn’t need to. The reason? Because on this day in 1977 Manchester City’s League game with Sunderland was postponed.

The game was postponed because the Blues were drawn to face Leeds United in the fifth round of the FA Cup that day and so the original League fixture was rescheduled. Tickets had already been sold for the Sunderland League game and, rather than issue new tickets, the club simply announced the original tickets would be used for the new game. It made common sense and this was something that happened often when cup games meant League games had to be postponed. Now, in the days when entry for home fans is mostly by card (though some tickets are issued of course), it seems an unusual occurrence.

The re-arranged game saw City beat Sunderland 1-0 on 9th March with a goal from Dennis Tueart. As for the FA Cup tie – that ended in a 1-0 defeat before 47,731 at Elland Road.

Recently Noel Bayley wrote a guest blog on match tickets and their significance. It’s a free read here:

75 Years Ago Today-Colin Bell Was Born

On this day (26th February) in 1946 Colin Bell was born. Today would’ve been his 75th birthday. Sadly Colin, recognised by most Manchester City fans as the greatest ever player for the club, passed away earlier this year.

The above photo comes from Peter Barnes’ collection and was taken at Champneys where City were staying prior to the League Cup final in 1976. It was, of course, Colin’s 30th birthday. My thoughts and best wishes are with Colin’s family today. Many of us know how tough it can be on the first birthday after a family member’s death (my mum died last year and it would’ve been her birthday last month) and it’s often a difficult day. Here’s hoping the knowledge that Colin was loved by so many helps in some small way.

I’ve interviewed Colin and written a lot about him over the years. A few posts are available (free to read) here for anyone who wants to learn more about Colin or remember some of his incredible achievements:

‘Nonsense at Board Level’

For those who haven’t listened to my John Bond interview yet, here’s a snippet from one of the sections. All 7 parts to Bondy’s interview will be posted by the end of next week for subscribers. He was frank throughout and this is a taste of what he had to say:

If you would like to listen to the rest then the details and so on can be read here:

Of course I’ve also posted this brief clip on John Bond’s views on the reaction of Liverpool when they’re defeated:

John Bond Interview – Part Three

As before, there’s a lot to interest and perhaps surprise here. This is the third part of my interview with John Bond from November 1995. I loved every minute of our chat but some of the things that were said stunned me at the time.

In this clip John talks about the aftermath of the 1981 FA Cup final with Tottenham; the way he thought City would challenge and the transfer of Trevor Francis. Within this section came the first time ever that I’d been asked to turn off the cassette recorder while the person I was interviewing explained something to me. We agreed that everything on the tape could be quoted – hence the reason I’m happy to play this now – but anything off tape would have to be checked. All these years later I still respect John’s wishes of course.

When you listen to the recording you’ll recognise the point where the tape is switched off and some related comments have been edited out. I have to stress that John’s comments seem a little out of sync because of that and it is worth explaining that his comments were not about anybody alive today. They merely explained something that had happened that he did not like or agree with but these comments were not about a footballer from the time or anyone alive today (2021).

So, here exclusive to subscribers is the third part of my interview (like the other parts it lasts about 17 minutes):

Subscribe to get access

If you would like to listen to the third part of this frank interview (and the other parts) and read all the in-depth articles on this site (including the entire Manchester A Football History book) then please subscribe. It works out about £1.67 a month if you take out an annual subscription (£20 per year) or £3 a month if you’d like to sign up for a month at a time. Each subscriber gets full access to the 240+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

If you missed the first part it’s available here:

And the second part is here:

Liverpool 1 MCFC 3 – John Bond’s Views on Liverpool’s Reaction

Back in 1995 I interviewed former Manchester City boss John Bond at his home. The interview lasted about two hours and here’s a brief snippet from that interview where Bond talks about beating Liverpool on Boxing Day 1981.

The Blues won 3-1 (Bond, Hartford & Reeves) then two days later (Bond says it’s the next day in this clip but it was 28th December) City defeated Wolves 2-1 at Maine Rd. John discusses a brilliant goal from Trevor Francis. City went top of the League after the Wolves victory.

Stick with the clip because it ends with Bond’s views on how Liverpool used to react to wins and defeats. I’d best not comment – have a listen:

This is only a brief clip of my John Bond interview. The full interview is being uploaded here in stages for subscribers. More details here: