Vital Points in the 2012 Title Race

People often talk about last game of the season title winning goals (and we do love the drama and memory of those) but often goals in games earlier in the season can be decisive too. On this day (22 January) in 2012 a clumsy challenge in the dying moments from Tottenham’s Ledley King on Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli gave City a penalty and the chance of three points. You can read about the game and see highlights below:

The game was played on Sunday 22 January 2012 with a 13.30 start in Manchester. City’s match stats were:

City: Hart, Richards (c), Savic, Lescott, Clichy, Milner, Barry, Silva, Nasri, Aguero, Dzeko (Balotelli 67)
Unused: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Onuoha, de Jong, A Johnson
Goals: Nasri (56), Lescott (59), Balotelli (pen 90+5)
Booked: Clichy, Balotelli

Referee: Howard Webb

A tight and nervous first half ended goalless and it felt as if the game could well end in a 0-0 draw, however the second half brought 5 goals and plenty of drama.

After 56 minutes Silva found Nasri with a brilliant through ball. The Frenchman was through on goal and he fired the ball past Friedel to make it 1-0 to the Blues. Three minutes later from a corner, the ball fell to Lescott at the back post who sent the ball the yard or so needed to increase City’s lead.

2-0 and we thought City were home and dry but then, within a minute, Spurs scored. Defoe pushed forward around the onrushing Hart to score a fairly easy goal.

As was the case at times during 2011-12 the nerves set in and it wasn’t long before the visitors equalised. Bale picked up the ball from 20 yards out after City had struggled to clear their lines. His stunning effort found the top corner.

Both sides looked for the winner and the general mood around the stadium was one of missed opportunity. It felt like this was going to be one of those days, especially as Spurs had a great opportunity around the ninety minute mark. But then with less than a minute of added time to play, a Clichy clearance fell nicely for Balotelli to run on to. As he moved into the box a clumsy challenge from King brought Balotelli’s run to an abrupt end. Inevitably, referee Howard Webb awarded a penalty. Balotelli stepped up and scored to give City the points.

I know we will always talk about the final day of this 2011-12 season (and rightly so) but without Balotelli’s penalty v Spurs and the resultant three points the title would not have made it to City. There are plenty of these moments in title winning seasons.

Subscribers can read what I said about this game in a piece I wrote in 2012 here:

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Highlights here:

https://www.mancity.com/citytv/match-highlights/2012/january/city-v-spurs-22-jan-extended

I was sat in the North Stand that day. Were you also at this match? If you were why not leave your memory as a comment or email it to me for possible future use on this website?

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Aguero’s 6th in 3

On this day (21 January) in 2020 Sergio Aguero scored his sixth goal in three games as Manchester City defeated Sheffield United 1-0 at Bramall Lane. You can watch highlights of the game below.

Aguero had come on as substitute to score the only goal. The goal was described as a ‘tap in’ from a Kevin de Bruyne cross towards the end of the second half, but the goalkeeper was close at hand. It had been a tight game but the win meant City means could strengthen their place in second place. The Blues had 51 points but were 13 behind leaders Liverpool.

https://www.mancity.com/citytv/match-highlights/2020/january/sheff-utd-v-city-extended-highlights-21-jan

Were you at this match? If you were why not leave your memory as a comment or email it to me for possible future use on this website?

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Franny’s First

Tony Coleman was Manchester City’s regular penalty taker before Francis Lee. Lee later gained somewhat of a reputation at Manchester City for his penalties but it wasn’t until he’d been with the club for over three months that he netted his first at Maine Road.  On this day (20 January) in 1968 Coleman’s substitution meant that Lee’s first City penalty was scored V Sheffield United (see photo of the goal).

City won that game 3-0 and, of course, ended the season as League champions.

I was 3 months old then and doubt I was at this game (although my parents used to take me as a baby). Were you at this match? If you were why not leave your memory as a comment or email it to me for possible future use on this website?

New Monthly Football Column – Manchester Confidential

I’ve got some good news to report. From today Manchester Confidential will be publishing my new monthly column on football in Greater Manchester. Each month I’ll be focusing on a different club from the region and will write a piece combining the team’s modern day situation with a historical angle. My first feature is about Manchester United and next month’s piece will be about Manchester City. Follow the link below for this month’s first article:

https://confidentials.com/manchester/manchester-united-looking-backward-to-push-forward?id=63c9274f540ba

I do intend covering the League clubs of Greater Manchester, plus some of our other prominent sides, over the coming months. I hope you enjoy them. Thanks.

History Talk – MCFC Away Days Now Live

On Wednesday 18 January I held a discussion about Manchester City FC away games. You can now listen to a recording of that talk here. It lasts about 1 hour so get yourself a brew and listen to the story of traveling away.

There’s a link further down this page to the recording. We talk about the train specials that the City Supporters Travel Club used to organise and their coaches too (remember number one coach with Helen ‘the Bell’ Turner?). Amongst the moments/subjects discussed were the history of travelling to away games; Trevor Francis’ debut; railway & coach specials; the experience of being an away fan; games at Notts County, Barnsley, Stoke, Bradford, Oldham, QPR, Leeds & more.  Thanks to all who participated in this for your efforts, especially Graham Ward, Roger Reade and the guys from the Lad & Dad Away Days podcast who all brought up their own memories of games.

The next History Talk will take place on 1/2/23 at 6pm-7pm UK time. This will be more of a presentation and will be about the origins of Manchester City. You can register for that and find out more here:

Here’s the recording of the MCFC Away Days talk. This was freely available until 31 January and now it is for subscribers only:

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Free Online Presentation on the Origins of MCFC – Register Now

On Wednesday 1 February at 6pm (UK time) come and join me for one hour of discussion about the origins of Manchester City FC, focusing on St Mark’s & the club’s development prior to its re-birth as Ardwick AFC. Sign up to listen to this free event where I will explain how the club was born and developed. There are lots of myths out there, so come and listen to the facts. This hour will include the opportunity to ask questions as I’m keen to hear your thoughts on the birth of the club.

The event will be live on Zoom on 1/2/23 at 6pm and a link will be sent to all those who have registered for the event beforehand (probably earlier that day). To sign up for this online Zoom talk please register via this link:

Register now to join this online zoom discussion. The plan is to present the facts and history of the birth of the club and its development in the West Gorton and Gorton areas of Manchester prior to 1887. Dispelling myths and revealing the latest research and evidence of what actually happened.

There will be an opportunity to ask questions about this critical period for football development in Manchester.

The link will be sent out shortly before the event is live to all those registered. Only those registered will be admitted into the video chat site. You must register here if you want to get involved.

The talk will last about 1 hour and will be online on zoom, so you should be able to access it anywhere. This is a free event but there are a limited number of tickets. These must be ordered in advance.

There is a limited capacity so please book early if you want to listen and watch the presentation.

Vinnie Jones 5 Second Yellow!

On this day (19 January) in 1991 Mark Ward scored twice as Howard Kendall’s Manchester City defeated Sheffield United 2-0 before 25,741 at Maine Road. However, the game opened with the visitors’ Vinnie Jones getting booked after just 5 seconds play! He was later sent off too. You can see highlights (and Jones’ tackle) here:

I was sat in the Main Stand that day. Were you also at this match? If you were why not leave your memory as a comment or email it to me for possible future use on this website?

Tommy Wright

Here’s a profile of goalkeeper Tommy Wright who made his Manchester City debut on this day (18 January) in 1997. Enjoy….

Northern Ireland international Tommy Wright joined City from Nottingham Forest on loan in January 1997 and despite being cup-tied and missing out on his new club’s 1997 FA Cup run (City reached the fifth round, losing controversially to Middlesbrough), Tommy made a terrific impression on the fans at Maine Road and finally signed a permanent deal in March 1997.  The Blues had endured a managerial merry-go-round during the early part of the season with four men taking charge of first team games before the arrival of Frank Clark as manager on 30th December 1996.  With injury to Immel both Andy Dibble and Martyn Margetson had played but Clark felt he needed to bring in more experience, especially as naming a goalkeeper as substitute meant that a bigger pool of players was needed than a decade earlier.

Wright made his debut on 18 January 1997 as City drew 1-1 with Huddersfield in Division One and made a total of 13 League games that season.  It would have been more but a leg injury caused him to miss the final six games of the campaign and the start of the 1997-98 season – he suffered a torn quadriceps muscle during the club’s close-season tour to Scotland.  Nevertheless, when fitness returned Clark made sure Wright knew that he was the manager’s first choice and the ‘keeper made 18 appearances in 1997-98.  Clark was dismissed in February and less than a month after the arrival of Joe Royle the new manager replaced Wright with Margetson.

The following season Nicky Weaver became City’s first choice with Wright helping the young ‘keeper develop.  Wright went on loan to Newcastle and Wrexham, making a total of 19 appearances, in 1999 and then in January 2001 he went to Bolton where he made four League appearances.

Appearances:  League: 33 FAC: 2 League Cup: 1

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The ‘Flu Limits MCFC’s Selections But They Beat Liverpool 5-0 (Roberts 4 Goals)

On this day (17 January) in 1925 Manchester City’s Frank Roberts scored four as Liverpool were defeated 5-0 in Division One.

Roberts’ feat was remarkable because he was playing as centre-forward (a position he seemingly was not keen on playing) due to regular centre-forward Tommy Browell being struck down with influenza.

He normally played as City’s inside-right, his preferred position.

It was Roberts’ first outing as centre-forward that season and it was the first time he’d ever scored four in a game. It made him the League’s top scorer with 24 goals so far that season.

City’s opening goal had been scored by legendary, amateur footballer Max Woosnam in the opening minute. Sadly, accurate time keeping was not a feature of football then (some would argue that some referees still don’t have accurate time keeping but that’s for another day) and so we don’t know how few seconds this was actually netted in. Some reports say straight from the kick-off.

The Liverpool Echo talked of the game starting in a gale which worked against the Liverpool club (some local newspapers still make excuses for their teams). The Athletic News makes no such comment preferring, instead, to talk of City’s ‘lightening like movements’ and their approach being ‘the way to win’.

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Middlesbrough Lose to City Wearing Utd’s Shirts!

Here’s a story I’ve told often but I still see it incorrectly reported on occasion. It’s the tale of the 1980s game when Middlesbrough played Manchester City at Maine Road wearing Manchester United’s shirts. It’s the anniversary (17 January) of that game today, so here is the story, a match report and some video clips of that game…

It was January 1981 and Middlesbrough travelled to Maine Road for what was nothing more than a mid table top flight clash. John Bond’s City had faced Liverpool in a controversial League Cup semi final first leg 3 days earlier – don’t get me started on that one! You can read about and listen to John Bond comment on it (from my interview with him back in the 1990s) elsewhere on this site.

The City-Middlesbrough game wasn’t scheduled to be on TV or anything. Remember this was a time when games would only be filmed if they were to be shown as highlights on TV that night or the following day and the news of what games would be on the telly would often be kept secret until shortly before kick off, or sometimes announced at the end of one of the lunchtime football shows on BBC or ITV, depending on which channel had the TV rights for Saturday night games that year. In 1980-81 ITV had the rights to Saturday night football and in Granadaland our programme was called Match Night, presented by Elton Welsby.

That night Granada TV planned on showing the Bolton home game as their match but a waterlogged pitch at Burnden Park meant that game was called off, so a quick decision was made to move the Granada cameras to Maine Road and film the City game instead. I remember arriving at Maine Road with my Dad and being surprised at seeing the Granada TV trucks outside the Main Stand. In those days spotting the TV trucks outside the ground brought a bit of excitement because it also meant you’d have the unusual experience of seeing a game, or at least highlights of it, again. I was 13 at the time, and this was always a big bonus.

Of course, I wasn’t the only person surprised by the TV switch to Maine Road as Middlesbrough were also caught out by it. Back in 1980-81 shirt sponsorship was still a bit of a thorny issue in football and clubs were allowed to wear sponsors names on their shirts but not in games televised. Middlesbrough arrived at Maine Road with shirts wearing their sponsor’s name and this meant the filming of the game was now in jeopardy.

City hadn’t yet struck a deal for shirt sponsorship – that was to come later in the year when Saab became the club’s first sponsor – which meant the club did not need as many shirt variations as Middlesbrough. Whether this had any bearing on what happened next isn’t clear but, instead of wearing City’s second strip, Middlesbrough asked Manchester United if they could borrow their shirts instead. Someone sent for a full set of United home shirts from Old Trafford and Middlesbrough played in United’s unsponsored red instead of their own shirts.

The game was filmed and broadcast that night – Granadaland viewers had the choice of the game or the end of the Parkinson show/start of a Burt Reynolds film.

The game ended in a 3-2 City win with goals from Tommy Hutchison, Bobby McDonald and Kevin Reeves. Middlesbrough’s Hodgson became the first man to score wearing a United first team shirt at Maine Road that season. In fact, Hodgsonnand McAndrew were the ONLY men to score at Maine Road that season in a first team game wearing United’s colours!

Were you at this match? If you were why not leave your memory as a comment or email it to me for possible future use on this website?

You can read a report of the game here:

Here’s some film of the match too:

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