When is a home game not a home game? Newcastle United v Manchester City 4th January 1975

On this day in 1975 Manchester City played ‘away’ at Maine Road against Newcastle United in the FA Cup.  The tie should have been played at Newcastle but the FA ordered that the match be played at Maine Road following crowd disorder at St. James’ Park the previous season.  City lost the match 2-0.

The 100th Post – Why, What and When?

Thanks for reading this my 100th article/post on gjfootballarchive.com. I wanted to take the opportunity of this 100th post in 3 days to thank everyone interested in my work and to explain why I’m doing this; what the archive consists of and how often it will be added to.

First – why? For some time people have been asking me when I’d be doing my own blog and over the years I’ve always been pleased with the responses to my guest appearances on podcasts, vlogs and blogs. The feedback has been excellent but I’ve always had so much more to say. I care passionately about ensuring football’s history is properly researched & recorded and feel there’s always a place for detailed, quality research.

The idea of creating this blog and archive came because I wanted to create new content, based on the research I’ve performed over the decades, while also setting up an archive of my past work. Much of my writing is now out of print and it matters enormously to me that books like Manchester A Football History should be available (subscribers will be able to access the full 2010 edition of that book soon).

I am a self employed historian and spend all my working week writing, researching and publishing my work. I am not an employee of any organisation (I know some think I’m employed by a football club but I’m not an employee nor am I an official club historian of any club). I am independent of any organisation and care passionately about the quality and accuracy of my work. As so much of this is out of print I am keen to create this archive for my work and add to it as time goes by.

Next – what? So what is my football archive? It is a place where already after less than three days 99 posts/articles/features have been posted. These include new material, interviews, profiles, past articles, book sections and more. Some of this material was written some time ago or is based on interviews performed many years ago (including interviews with players who have since died). Most of the material posted so far is connected with Manchester City but there are articles of interest to Manchester United and other teams, including England. Further articles on Manchester’s clubs will follow.

Some articles are free to download but most of the material is available to subscribers only. As mentioned earlier, my research and writing is something I strive hard to ensure is of quality. No one employs me to research or write (I lost my only regular income when physical match programmes stopped being produced last season) but my commitment to those who read my work is that I will always seek to maintain the highest standards. I am eternally grateful to those who purchase my books or subscribe to my work.

To see what articles have already been published go to the search page (using the links under the banner at the top of this page) and either search on a key word or have a look at the categories listed there.

Next – when? There are already 99 posts/articles live and this will increase significantly over the coming weeks. By the middle of February every chapter (that’s over 30) of the 2010 edition of Manchester A Football History (PDFs of the actual pages including illustrations) will be available to subscribers. Over time my biography of Joe Mercer and other books, such as Farewell To Maine Road, will also be available in this archive. I’m keen to hear from subscribers which books, articles, interviews they’d like access to here. I want this to develop into a community of readers whose views absolutely matter.

A limited amount of content will always be free for anyone to read but those subscribing will have access to everything on this site for as long as they subscribe. For subscribers I will post a minimum of 4 new articles alongside adding material from my archives each month. To subscribe costs £3 a month or £20 a year (the 2010 edition of Manchester A Football History which will be posted a section/chapter a day for subscribers from Saturday 9th January 2021 cost £24.95 when published and is now out of print).

If you’re uncertain whether to subscribe or not then why not subscribe for a month at £3 and see if you’re getting value for money. The £20 annual subscription works out about £1.67 a month for a guaranteed 4 new articles per month and access to everything else posted in the archive.

Thanks for reading this. If you’d like to subscribe then please do so below. I really appreciate the support and I promise I’ll continue to add content that informs, entertains and has been researched to the highest standards.

Happy new year (surely it can’t be as bad as the last?). Best wishes, Gary

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Manchester City versus Chelsea – The story so far…

On Sunday 3rd January 2021 Manchester City play Chelsea in the Premier League and so I thought I’d post a few connections, historical moments and memorable game details here. So here goes…

All-time Record (all first team competitions)

City wins 58, Chelsea wins 68, 39 drawn.

League – 150 played, 50 City wins, 61 Chelsea wins, 39 drawn.

FA Cup – Played 6, 4 City wins, 2 Chelsea wins.

League Cup – Played 3, 2 City wins, 1 Chelsea win.

ECWC – Played 2, 2 Chelsea wins.

Full Members Cup – Played 2, 2 Chelsea wins.

Community Shield – Played 2, 2 City wins.

Game One

The first match between the sides was on 7th December 1907 in Division One.  Chelsea had been promoted the previous season, and the match ended 2-2 before a 40,000 crowd at Stamford Bridge.

Debuts

City debutants in this fixture include Rodney Marsh, whose first game was the 1-0 victory over Chelsea on 18th March 1972.  Local hero Tommy Booth netted the winner in front of 53,322.

Marsh was a high profile and expensive signing back in 1972. He was signed shortly before the transfer deadline back then. Another major signing who made his league debut v Chelsea was Robinho who joined the Blues on transfer deadline day back in 2008, marking his league debut v Chelsea with a goal that September.

On 14th November 1959 in a 1-1 draw, Alan Oakes made the first of an incredible 665 (plus 3 as substitute) appearances for the Blues – sadly he gave away a last minute penalty, but Bert Trautmann saved it!  A little over 30 years later Howard Kendall signing Niall Quinn marked his debut with a goal in another 1-1 draw.

Others to have made their debuts include Tosin Adarabioya, Aleix Garcia & David Faupala (scored on his debut). Those players all made their debuts in the FA Cup game on 21st February 2016. 

Television

The first City-Chelsea game to be shown on BBC TV was on 1st October 1955 at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea beat City 2-1. The commentator was Kenneth Wolstenholme. 

The first meeting of the sides to be shown on the BBC’s Match of the Day was 1st October 1966, when Tommy Docherty’s Chelsea beat City 4-1.  Chelsea’s scorers were Tambling, Baldwin, Kirkup and Osgood, while the dependable Neil Young netted for City.

The first live match was on Friday 4th May 1984 with a 7.15pm kick-off, again on BBC.  This Division Two match ended in a 2-0 victory for 2nd placed Chelsea, and the result ended City’s dreams of an immediate return to the top flight.  Chelsea clinched the title that season on goal difference from Sheffield Wednesday and the live game became noteworthy as it was the first Second Division match shown live on television.  Interestingly, the BBC recruited Bobby Charlton as their City ‘expert’ for this game.

Connections

Kevin De Bruyne (made three League appearances for Chelsea), Willy Caballero, Frank Lampard, Scott Sinclair, George Weah, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Nicolas Anelka, Wayne Bridge, Danny Granville, David Rocastle, Gordon Davies, Clive Allen, Clive Wilson, Terry Phelan, and Colin Viljoen are some of the players to have appeared for both clubs.  Further back amateur Max Woosnam had appeared for first Chelsea then City.  He was City’s captain for a while, and was given the honour of captaining the Blues in their first match at Maine Road.  A good all-round sportsman, Woosnam was a Wimbledon doubles champion, and Olympic gold medallist.  He also captained England.

Highest Attendances

The top five attendances for this fixture are:

85,621 – FA Cup semi final, 14th April 2013, City 2 Chelsea 1 

81,775 – 2019 League Cup final, 0-0 City won 4-3 on penalties

72,724 – 2018 Community Shield, City 2 Chelsea 0

68,000 – The highest crowd for this fixture at the old Wembley; the 1986 Full Members’ Cup Final.  

64,396 – 26th March 1948 meeting at Stamford Bridge; a 2-2- draw.

The top five attendances for City V Chelsea at the Etihad are: 54,486 on 23rd November 2019; 54,457 on 3rd December 2016; 54,452 on 10th February 2019; 54,331 on 16th August 2015 and 54,328 on 4th March 2018.

The highest attendance for City V Chelsea at Maine Road was 53,322 on 18th March 1972. 

Wembley ‘86

The only game between the two sides at the old Wembley Stadium was the inaugural Full Members’ Cup Final in 1986.  Despite taking the lead in the eighth minute, City were losing 5-1 with only five minutes left.  A Mark Lillis inspired fightback followed and he helped City achieve a 5-4 scoreline, before time ran out.  It was a thrilling match and it also helped David Speedie enter the record books.  His hat-trick was the first in a senior domestic final at Wembley since Stan Mortensen in 1953.

Kippax First and Last

City’s first & last games in front of the Kippax Stand were both against Chelsea. The first came on 5th September 1957. City won that game 5-2 (goals from Colin Barlow 2, Fionan ‘Paddy’ Fagan 2 and Billy McAdams), attendance 27,943. The second was on 20th April 1994 – a 2-2 draw (City goals from Uwe Rosler and Paul Walsh), attendance 33,594.

Did You Know?

The two Second Division matches between the sides in 1927-8 were watched by a total of 104,643.  That season City, despite being a Second Division club, had the highest average attendance of all the clubs in the Football League.

Well I Never!

The last match of the 1993-4 season was the last played in front of the old Kippax Stand.  At the time, the Kippax was the largest capacity terraced stand in the country, and Chelsea supporters (dressed as Blues Brothers) laid a wreath in front of the famous old stand.  It was a gesture much appreciated by City fans.  The game ended 2-2 and afterwards supporters hacked off pieces of the old terracing.  Even the old “Colin Bell Bar” Sign was seen being taken towards the city centre after the match!

Feature Match

My feature match is noteworthy as it was played at a time when the Blues were suffering heavy fixture congestion, and squad rotation was still something for the future.

The match is the first leg of the 1970-1 ECWC semi-final.  City were cup holders, while Chelsea had qualified after beating Leeds in the FA Cup Final replay at Old Trafford played on the same night as City’s ECWC final in April 1970.

Malcolm Allison was banned from all football activity by the FA, leaving Joe Mercer in total control.  Joe always believed the strongest team possible should play.  He didn’t hold with the view that players should be saved for the important matches and, although his belief that every team should always field their strongest side was fair and just, in 1971 it was to cost the Blues dearly.  During a relatively meaningless 4 League fixtures over the Easter period injuries piled up.  By the time of the ECWC game Summerbee, Pardoe, Oakes, Heslop, Bell, and Doyle – all crucial players – were on the injury list, causing Joe to play a team of inexperience in the most crucial match of the season.  Shortly before kick off at Stamford Bridge he solemnly told the press his team and then said:  “And may God bless this ship and all who sail in her.”

Despite their naivety, Mercer’s Minors put in a good performance.  Goalkeeper Joe Corrigan, who played the game with his left eye half-closed through injury, was in exceptional form.  Dave Sexton’s Chelsea surged forward in the opening minutes, but Corrigan kept them at bay.  Gradually, the confidence of City’s inexperienced side increased, and at half-time they entered the dressing room still level.

Sadly, a minute into the second half Tony Towers was unable to intercept a cross from Chelsea’s Keith Weller to David Webb, and a mistake by Tommy Booth allowed Derek Smethurst to score for the home side.  It was the only mistake City made all night, and the game ended 1-0.  Joe was proud of his players, and looked forward to the return.

Sadly, others (Booth and Corrigan) were missing for the second match – played only 48 hours after a gruelling 2-2 draw against Liverpool.  Again Chelsea won 1-0, this time the replacement ‘keeper, Ron Healey, turned an inswinging free kick from Weller into his own net.

City’s dream of becoming the first side to retain the trophy ended – a feat no club ever managed to do – while Chelsea went on to beat Real Madrid in the final.

The 1970-1 season had also seen a ferocious boardroom battle tear the club apart, and for the first time had caused friction between Mercer and Allison.  A year later the partnership ended for good.

Stats:  ECWC Semi-Final first leg 14th April 1971

Chelsea 1 City 0

Scorers – Chelsea: Smethurst

City: Corrigan, Book, Connor, Towers, Booth, Donachie, Johnson, Hill, Lee, Young, Mann

Attendance: 45,955 

If you have enjoyed this article then feel free to use the search field or Category selection below to find other articles. There are approximately 100 posts so far (the site was only launched on New Year’s Day 2021). Some content is free to read while others are for subscribers only. Over time gjfootballarchive.com will be developed to include lots of new content and an archive of Gary James’ historical content. From Saturday 9th January 2021 sections (a chapter a day) of the 2010 edition of the groundbreaking Manchester A Football History will be posted each day until the entire book is available for subscribers.

Manchester United Ticket Prices

The admission price to sit in K Stand for the FA Cup tie with Queen’s Park Rangers on 29 January 1977 was £1.20 for an adult ticket.

The Reds won the tie with Lou Macari scoring the only goal.  Attendance 57,422

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Two shillings and sixpence (12½p in today’s money) would be enough to buy a ticket for the European Cup quarter-final with Red Star Belgrade at Old Trafford in January 1958.  The true value of the ticket today, considering average earnings and inflation, would be approximately £6.

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A ticket to stand at the 1983 League Cup final against Liverpool could be bought for £4. 

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£2.60 would buy a terracing ticket for the Old Trafford derby of March 1986.  The game ended in a 2-2 draw before 51,274.  In February 1990 £3.50 bought a similar ticket for the 1-1 drawn Manchester derby watched by 40,274.

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It would cost £8 to watch United’s Premier League meeting with Chelsea on 17 April 1993 in the uncovered West Stand lower tier.  A similar fixture in October 1963 between the sides at Stamford Bridge would cost six shillings to sit under cover.  The 1963 game ended in a 1-1 draw before 45,351, while the 1993 match saw the Reds win 3-0 four games from the end of their 1992-93 Premier League winning season.

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A junior Stretford End ticket for United’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool in Division One on 19 October 1985 cost £1.20, while an adult ticket for the same game (in the United Road Paddock) cost £2.60.  Eight years earlier an adult ticket for a similar position at the Scoreboard End cost a bargain 80p.  

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A seat ticket to watch Chelsea V United at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday 30 September 1964 cost seven shillings and sixpence.  It would have been well worth it as United won 2-0 with goals from Best and Law.  The attendance was 60,769.

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When United faced Everton in the fourth round of the League Cup in 1993 Reds fans had to pay £11 to sit in Goodison’s Park End.  A crowd of 34,052 saw Giggs and Hughes score as United progressed to the fifth round.  That season United reached the final.

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It would have cost £1.50 to stand in the East Enclosure when Gordon Hill netted twice against Derby County in the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough in 1976.

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A League Cup quarter final ticket for United V Everton in December 1976 cost 80p to stand in the Paddock at Old Trafford.  Attendance 57,738.  To stand in the Paddock in 1959 would have cost 3s 6d (17½p).  

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An FA Cup final seat ticket for the 14th row at either end of Wembley Stadium in 1979 cost £8.  United faced Arsenal in a memorable final.  21 years earlier three shillings and sixpence brought a terracing ticket for the West Stand as United faced Bolton in the final.

Norah Mercer: 11th March 1920 – 12th March 2013

A short while ago (this was written on 13 March 2013) I heard the news that Norah Mercer, the widow of former England captain and manager Joe Mercer, had died this morning.  She was 93 yesterday.  

I first met Norah in 1988 when I was researching for a book on the Manchester derby.  Joe had agreed to write an introduction to the book and I was invited to the Mercer home to talk with Joe.  Unfortunately, on the day the car my father and I were supposed to be travelling in had a few problems and we ended up using a white transit van to get to their home.

As we arrived at the end of their street we started to worry.  We were about to park a transit van outside the house of the greatest Manchester City manager of all time.  Not only that but we were about 45 minutes early.  We couldn’t pull up outside Joe Mercer’s house 45 minutes early and in a transit van!  We decided to park near the junction of the neighbouring road – where we could see the Mercer house – and wait in the van.

At the appropriate time we climbed out of the van, walked up the Mercer road and knocked on their door.  Joe came out with a big beaming smile and simply said “come in”, then Norah appeared from the kitchen wagging her finger at us and saying “you’ve been hiding in that van for 45 minutes!  No need for that you should have pulled up outside.”  From that moment on Norah made us feel welcome and in the 25 years since has been a wonderful friend.

Throughout her life Norah supported Joe wonderfully.  Today people often talk of footballers’ wives – often for the wrong reasons! – but back when Norah and Joe first became a couple it was unknown for a wife to become known by supporters.  However, Norah’s support for her husband was such they she played a marvellous part in every period of his career from the moment her father helped Joe get to Goodison Park in the early days of his career; through the highs and lows of an amazing playing career with Everton, Arsenal and England; on to managerial ups and downs at Sheffield United, Aston Villa, Manchester City, Coventry City and that great spell as England boss; and on to retirement, illness and so on.  Joe passed away on his 76th birthday in 1990 but Norah continued to show interest in football becoming a regular at Manchester City and a frequent visitor to Joe’s other clubs.

When Joe passed away in 1990 I asked Norah if I could write a biography of her husband.  Her response was typical: “Only if it’s not too much trouble for you.”  Too much trouble?  After what Joe had given football, and in particular my team Manchester City, I felt we all owed him something, but typical of Norah she wanted to make sure I wasn’t taking on too much, or doing it for the wrong reasons.

With Norah’s support – and also great assistance from her son David – I wrote the biography over the following three years but, most significantly, I also spent many days at Norah’s listening to her views on football and life, questioning her on odd snippets of information, marvelling at her photo collection, and generally enjoying every minute.  Typically my visits would include Norah insisting I had something to eat – I really didn’t want to intrude too much but soon realised that Norah was always such a welcoming figure.  She was also keen to meet my own family and my girlfriend (my wife since 1992) was as welcome as I was and became someone else looked after by Norah.  

On one occasion when I was researching Joe’s Aston Villa material Norah insisted I have a beer.  When she brought the drink in she nodded to my girlfriend and then gave me the tankard – Joe’s League Cup winning tankard from his days at Villa!  I was petrified that I was going to damage it.

Norah was born in Liverpool in 1920 and was the daughter of a popular grocer, Albert Dyson, on The Wirral.  Albert was a passionate Evertonian and had various contacts at the club.  As Albert’s business was based in Ellesmere Port inevitably he came into contact with a young Everton player called Joe Mercer.  Joe and another player were invited to the Dyson home for tea one day. The other player couldn’t come but Norah did meet Joe for the first time:  “Old cheeky face Mercer came!  At the time I was 11 and Joe was 17 and he treated me like a sister.”  Around six years later a relationship began to develop between the two of them and Norah became an intergral part of Joe’s life.

In March 1941 Joe and Norah became engaged and on 3rd September that year they married with Everton’s TG Jones the best man.  Norah explained to me fifty years later that the honeymoon was cut short by a day so that Joe could play for Everton:  “We left early Saturday and he played Saturday afternoon.  So that’s how our marriage started… with football!  And that’s how it went on.”

Norah was knowledgeable about football herself.  In fact some of Joe’s teammates teased him that Norah knew more about the game than he did!  She played her part in all the big moments of his career:  “Playing for Everton meant a great deal to us all because we were all Evertonians, but I suppose the greatest moment in his pre-war career came when he was selected to play for England.  He was at our house when it came through on the radio – no one ‘phoned you then to tell you you’d been selected.  

“He was delighted.  We all were.  It was such a honour to play for England.  It made us all so proud.  When he played at Hampden in one of his first internationals Joe’s mum came with me and my father to watch him.  That meant everything and Joe was named the Man of the Match (England won 2-1).” 

The couple were, of course, separated for significant periods during the war years.  It was a difficult time for all, but once the war was over it also looked as if Joe’s footballing career had come to an end.  Joe became a grocer like his father-in-law, but he often admitted it was a poor substitute for playing football.  Then a chance came to join Arsenal and arrangements were made for Joe to train on the Wirral and travel to Highbury for games.  Whenever possible Norah would travel, together with their young son David, to London for games.  She was, of course, present at all the landmark moments of Joe’s career with the Gunners:  “I went as often as possible, and of course we had David by then.  If I didn’t go to games I’d be waiting for him up here after the game.  He used to catch the 5.30pm from Euston and arrive back to The Wirral around 10.30.  We lived near the line then and I used to look out for the train.  Of course, Joe often fell asleep and would end up at the end of the line!  Once he said to a guard ‘why didn’t you wake me?’ and the guard said ‘because of what you did to my team today!’  Arsenal must have beaten his team.” 

Once Joe’s playing career ended he moved into management with Sheffield United, Aston Villa and then Manchester City.  As football management required a much closer presence the family moved whenever Joe’s career took a different course.  Norah, for her part, tried to ensure everything ran smoothly for Joe and David.  She also played her part as a welcoming aspect at each of the clubs.  In 2003 she told me: “I used to come to all the games of course, and both before and after the match would be with the wives of the directors, visiting officials, and even the referee’s wife in the Ladies Room.  We were all told who the referee’s wife was and we tried to make her feel welcome, although for some ladies it all depended on how well her husband had refereed the match!”

Norah supported Joe fully throughout his managerial career, especially during some difficult periods at Aston Villa and the final days at Manchester City. Norah, talking to me in 2003:  “He didn’t want to leave City but felt he had no choice.  He obviously wanted Malcolm to succeed and he did not blame him, but the new directors could have sorted it out properly.  Once the takeover had happened and the new directors came on board (1970-72) the club had changed.  It wasn’t really until Franny returned to the club (1993/4 season) that efforts were made to invite me and others back.  Of course Joe had passed away by then, but I was delighted to be asked to games.  That invite has carried on ever since and it is great to feel part of the club again.” 

Joe passed away in 1990 after suffering with Alzheimer’s.  Norah did all she could during that period to ensure Joe was comfortable and she insisted on looking after him, even during some very difficult days.

Norah continued to attend games at City from 1994 through to the present day.  She also came to the ground for other activities and functions over the years, including the unveiling of the Mercer mosaics in 2005.  That day she was accompanied by her son David, but sadly, a little over two years later he passed away after a struggle with cancer. Life must have been difficult once more for Norah.  

Away from football Norah tried to play a part in her local community.  For many, many years she worked in charity shops on The Wirral.  In fact, when I went to see her once when she was in her late 70s she told me that earlier that week a man had stolen a handbag from someone inside the shop and that Norah had chased after him.  Only losing him when he jumped on a waiting train at the railway station:  “if that train hadn’t been there I’d have caught him!”

On another occasion when she was approaching ninety she told me of her upset at being “made redundant!”  The charity had decided to stop using volunteers and had employed younger permanent staff instead.  I’m pretty certain that few permanent staff would have had the same level of dedication and determination that Norah had.

I once asked her about her family’s interest in football:  “It’s changed so much since Joe and I first met.  Throughout his career I supported him all the way.  To Joe football was the most important thing.  The people… the money… the grounds even change, but Joe used to say that the game itself doesn’t need to change.  Football is a great game and that’s what mattered to Joe.  I often joke that football was everything to Joe.    When he met me it was football then me.  When our son David was born it was football, David, then me.  When our granddaughter Susan was born it was football, Susan, David, then me!  Football was always number one and we all knew that.  Football was Joe’s life.

By 2009-10 I had become a little frustrated that the Mercer name was not often remembered outside of the clubs Joe had been involved with and so I decided to update and revise my biography of Joe, but first I asked Norah’s permission.  Just like twenty years earlier she said “Are you sure?  Will anybody be interested?  Don’t do it unless you feel it’s worthwhile.”  “Joe Mercer: Football With A Smile” came out in April 2010 and I made sure that the book explained Norah’s continued presence and interest in football – to me it’s a shared story.  It was the least she deserved.

In September 2009 I included an interview with Norah in the Manchester City match programme.  In that piece I asked her about present day City and ended the piece with a simple question: Looking to the future, who would you like to win the League?

Her response:  “After City you mean?  Well, the top four would have to be City, Everton, Arsenal and Liverpool, but apart from City as champions I’d best not say which order.”  In 2012 she got her wish and, most significantly, she was there when City defeated QPR to lift the title for the first time since Joe’s side had in 1968.

My thoughts are with her granddaughter Susan and the rest of her family.

Gary James

12th March 2013

John Maddocks – A Man For All Seasons

This piece was Gary James’ obituary of the former Manchester City historian John Maddocks.

John Maddocks was born on 19th May 1938 – the day after the Blues beat Aarhus 11-1 in a tour match – and was taken to his first game by his father Bert in the 1945-6 season.  Naturally, it didn’t take long for him to become fascinated with the club and its history, and by October 1984 – when he was asked by Bernard Halford to become City’s official historian after the death of his predecessor Bill Miles – John had become a leading expert on the Blues.

He was a popular member of the Association of Football Statisticians (AFS) and spent considerable time and effort researching the history of the Blues, but his interest wasn’t confined to the first team, for John was also keen to record details of the reserves and youth team.  In fact, it was this interest that set him apart from most football historians.  He didn’t see just the first team as ‘City’, to John the other sides were equally important and received the same treatment.

In addition to his research, John also wrote a great deal on the history of the club.  He was a regular contributor to the programme with his Memory Matches, Flashback pieces, A-Z of players, and general historical pieces.  He also wrote various articles for fanzines, the AFS, and magazines such as The Footballer; and was a regular contributor to the City handbook.  He wrote The Manchester City Quiz Book (1988), and did much of the work for the Manchester City Official Pictorial History (1997) – during the research for this John spent many hours organising and improving the Manchester Evening News Photo Library.  He also provided vital assistance to Alec Johnson for The Battle for Manchester City (1994).  Over the last few years he has been compiling his A-Z of City players and it is hoped this will still be published in the near future.

John – who bore a slight resemblance to Harold from Neighbours – was always approachable and provided me with assistance from the moment I first contacted him in the mid-80s.  He helped with every one of my books, and it’s clear that John has made life easier for every City historian over the years.  When he and his contemporaries first started compiling records it was near impossible to find accurate information on the club pre-1950.  

Away from City (not that he ever was!), John was Head of the English Department at Brinnington School for 27 years before he moved on to be Head of Year at Avondale School for 4 years.  He suffered a heart attack in 1992 and then retired on the grounds of ill health the following year.  From then on he spent a great deal of time researching the career details of all City’s players, but was still dogged by ill health.  He had a bypass operation in 1994, and endured a number of setbacks over the last few years.  Throughout all of this John tried to remain positive and was lovingly supported by his wife Joyce.  

City’s history owes a great deal to John.  He may not have scored an important goal or managed the club to success, but it’s because of his lifetime commitment to the Blue cause, that so many of us know the names and career details of the men who did.

John was certainly a man for all seasons – even those depressingly poor ones!  He will be missed by many.

Stan Gibson Obituary (former MCFC groundsman)

Stan Gibson was one of the unsung heroes of Manchester football.  He was City’s groundsman for forty years and created a playing surface worthy of the club’s stature, particularly during the sixties and seventies when the pitch was possibly in its best ever state.  

Born on 10th September 1925, Stan worked as a stoker during the war for the Navy.  Always a keen sportsman – he was a Naval boxing champion and had football trials with Burnley – but by his 30s was becoming well known as a groundsman.  He arrived at Maine Road from Chorlton Cricket Club in 1959 after a recommendation by City ‘keeper Steve Fleet, and in the years that followed he worked hard to create a perfect pitch.  

By the time of City’s promotion in 1966 Stan had made the surface one the club could be proud of.  Both Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison were keen to use Stan’s expertise to develop the pitch further, and thereby increase City’s chance of success.  Working with Allison, Stan made the pitch the biggest  – and many would say the best – in the League.  

Both Mercer and Allison recognised his contribution to City’s success.  It’s a little known fact that Stan was trusted with the job of looking after the FA Cup following City’s homecoming in 1969.  He chose to put the prized possession in the safest place he could think of, and the trophy spent its first night in Manchester locked in his toilet!

Stan loved City – he was even on the club’s books for a while in his youth – and felt the pitch was his own.  He could never relax during a match though:  “I watch the pitch rather than the game!  I shouldn’t really, because I get very upset if I see a divot, especially if it is the opposing side who have churned it up.”

Inevitably, the pop concerts in the 80s and 90s brought him a few headaches, but he welcomed other innovations, such as the undersoil heating implemented in 1979.

Stan was always an important influence and others often sought his views.  At one stage Rod Stewart tried to lure him away to tend his own turf, while Ken Bates was desperate for him to join Chelsea.  Stan would have none of it:  “I know I’m biased, but to me there’s nowhere better than Maine Road, and there’s nothing nicer than someone coming up to me on a Saturday and saying how great the pitch looks.  Makes all the toil worthwhile.”

His love for the club and Maine Road was never in doubt, and was perfectly summed up in 1994:  “City is my life.  That pitch out there is my baby.  I can’t keep away from it, and I couldn’t imagine my life without it.”

He leaves his Australian-based son Stuart and his daughter Janice – another popular face around Maine Road.

Stan passed away on Christmas Eve 2001 and this was first published shortly afterwards

Manchester City Hall of Fame: Joe Corrigan’s significant game

City 2 Tottenham 3

FA Cup Final Replay

14th May 1981

City Team: Corrigan, Ranson, McDonald (Tueart), Reid, Power, Caton, Bennett, Gow, Mackenzie, Hutchison, Reeves

Attendance: 92,500

For Joe Corrigan these two matches may not have brought him a winner’s medal but they did raise his profile nationally and bring him the accolade of ‘man of the final’.  An enormous television audience worldwide witnessed this the 100th FA Cup final and the story of City’s season captured a great deal of attention.  The Blues had commenced the season with Malcolm Allison as manager but results, performances, and a general air of doom and gloom made the first few months extremely difficult.  Then John Bond arrived in October and the atmosphere transformed totally as City progressed to the League Cup semi-finals and the 100th FA Cup final.

City were in control for most of the initial match at Wembley.  Tommy Hutchison had put City into the lead in the 29th minute and the Blues looked unstoppable.  Danger did come from Spurs at times but Joe played magnificently and blocked any danger.  Unfortunately, ten minutes from the end disaster struck.  Tottenham were awarded a free kick twenty yards out.  Osvaldo Ardiles tapped the ball to Glenn Hoddle, who curled it around the wall.  Joe knew he had the shot covered but Hutchison somehow got in the way.  The ball hit his shoulder and was diverted passed Joe and into the net for Tottenham’s equaliser.  Joe:  “I’m sure Hoddle’s free-kick was going wide until Tommy got in the way and deflected it past me.”

Immediately after the equalising goal Joe, clearly disconsolate himself, walked over to the devastated Hutchison, helped him to his feet, and muttered a few words as he patted him on the back.  Clearly at a time when blame would have been easy to apportion the City ‘keeper thought more about the feelings of his team mate than the incident itself.  That says a great deal about Joe’s humanity.

The game went into extra time and with the score at 1-1 after 120 minutes, a replay was scheduled for the following Thursday.  Joe and most of the City side received considerable praise in the media with the Daily Mail stating:  “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 exception of Graham Roberts, Tottenham’s approach was a disgrace.”

All neutrals seemed to share those views and City felt aggrieved.  Personally Joe would have preferred to see the game settled on the Saturday:  “For me the FA Cup Final is all about the Saturday.  The players are all hyped up, the fans are all hyped up, the television is all hyped up.  The Cup Final is meant to be all about who is best on the day.  I’ve no doubt that on the Saturday we were the better team.  The second game did not feel like an FA Cup final.”

Despite Joe’s views, the second game has become recognised as a classic.  It ended 3-2 to Spurs, but contained a couple of superb goals.  The most famous one is Ricky Villa’s 75th minute Tottenham winner, but City fans will always remember Steve Mackenzie’s twenty yard volley as a classic goal.

For Joe the second game put him under more pressure than the first and he certainly performed heroically.  In the years since the final the story of Ricky Villa’s goal has grown and grown yet on the day itself it was the performance of City’s brilliant ‘keeper which won the acclaim.  His profile was raised once again, but undoubtedly Joe would have much preferred to see City win the Cup rather than receive the glory himself.

Manchester City Hall of Fame: Colin Bell’s significant game

City 4 Newcastle United 0

Division One

26th December 1977

City Team: Corrigan, Clements, Donachie, Booth, Watson, Power (Bell), Barnes, Owen, Kidd, Hartford, Tueart

Attendance: 45,811

This match has entered Manchester folklore as one of those games you just had to experience to fully appreciate.  All of those present that night from players, to fans, club officials to newspaper reporters, talk of this night as one of football’s most emotional nights.

The story of Colin Bell and his injury had become one of football’s most discussed issues.  The teatime BBC television news show Nationwide had profiled Colin’s tragic story and as a result the player received thousands of good luck messages from neutrals and ordinary non-footballing members of the public.  They had been touched by his long, hard training schedules; his lonely runs through the streets of Moss Side and Rusholme; and by his absolute determination to return to full fitness.  To them Colin’s story was incredible, to City and England supporters it was a deeply disappointing and tragic story.  

Colin’s gruelling training regime ensured he forced his way into manager Tony Book’s thinking by December 1977, and on Boxing Day he was named as substitute for the visit of Newcastle.  Anticipation was high as supporters believed this would be the day they would see their hero return to action.  

Chairman Peter Swales rated Colin highly and shortly before his death in 1996 the former Chairman explained:  “The supporters loved him.  You can never kid supporters.  They know great players.  It’s no good a manager saying, ‘this is the best player we’ve ever had’.  The supporters will know after a few weeks whether he really is the best.  Bell was the best.  No question.”

On the night itself Tony Book had planned to send Colin on as substitute for the final twenty minutes, but an injury to Paul Power meant the manager had to take decisive action.  The supporters didn’t realise, but as the players were making their way into the dressing room for the interval, it was decided that Colin would play the second half.  During the interval fans started to speculate as to when they would see their hero, with the majority believing he would come on for the final flourish, but then as the players came back out on to the pitch it was clear that Paul Power was missing and that Colin was coming on.  

The stadium erupted and the fans on the Kippax terracing began to chant his name.  It was a truly marvellous sight and the tremendous feeling of anticipation and excitement had never been felt midway through a match for any player before.  It was the most amazing individual moment witnessed at the old ground.  Dennis Tueart, a player on that day, remembers:  “He came on at half time, and it was like World War Three.  I’ve never known a noise like it in all my life!  The crowd gave him a standing ovation and he hadn’t even touched the ball.  I’ve never seen a guy work as hard to get back.  The hours and hours he put in.  The pain he went through…  it was a phenomenal amount of work and he definitely deserved that ovation.”

For the player himself the day remains one of the most significant memories of his life:  “As I came down the tunnel I could hear a whisper go right round the ground.  I knew that reception was for me alone.  I was never an emotional player but that afternoon I got a big lump in my throat.  I’ve been lucky to win cups and medals and play internationals, but of all my great football memories, that is the one that sticks in my mind.”

“The City crowd and I had this mutual respect really, and that standing ovation from over 40,000 people brought a lump to my throat for the only time in my career.”

The substitution totally transformed the atmosphere and the result.  The game had been goalless, but the Blues tore into Newcastle as if they were playing in the most important game of all time.  Dennis Tueart played superbly and scored a hat-trick, with Brian Kidd also scoring, to make it a convincing 4-0 win for the Blues.  At one point Colin had a header which just sneaked over the bar, but the fairytale goal on his return did not arrive.

A modest Colin feels he didn’t contribute a great deal:  “I don’t think I touched the ball.  It was ten men versus eleven, but the atmosphere got to our team and we ran away with it.”

MANCHESTER CITY – HALL OF FAME: Joe Corrigan

“In comparison with some players, I’ve not won that many awards at Manchester City.  Not as many as some of the great players, but I do think that this is one of the best.  I’m absolutely delighted.  Thank you” Joe Corrigan collecting the Hall of Fame award in January 

Joe Corrigan’s City career is an inspirational story for any young goalkeeper.  He achieved great success with the Blues and became a regular member of the England squad.  However, there were also significant setbacks along the way which he overcame through determination and desire to prove himself.  A very popular figure, Joe was idolised by the Maine Road faithful.

Early Life

Manchester-born Joe went to Sale Grammar School and enjoyed participating in sporting activities, however the school curriculum put more emphasis on Rugby than football and Joe’s opportunities to develop as a footballer were limited.  However he did excel as a second row forward for the school rugby team.  This must have helped improve his general co-ordination and ball handling skills, even if the ball was a different shape.

After school he became an apprentice at AEI and played for their football team, sometimes as a centre-half.  A colleague was particularly impressed with his general aptitude for the game and suggested he should have a trial at Maine Road.  One thing led to another and a trial was organised for him.  Joe:  “City signed me that night, after my first trial.  It was the sort of situation you would never have today.”

It was manager Joe Mercer who signed Joe as an amateur in September 1966.  Joe remembers fondly this period of his goalkeeping career and of the roles played by Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison in setting the right environment:  “There was such a great atmosphere and the best thing about Malcolm Allison was that he treated every player the same.  It didn’t matter if you were in the first team, or the B team.  I was only a kid but I could tell Malcolm was a great coach.  He was more like another player than management.  Joe used to be the front man – the ambassador.  He was the manager and we all knew it.  Together the pair worked perfectly.”

First Team Debut

On 25th January 1967 Joe turned professional.  A little over eight months later, an injury to regular ‘keeper Harry Dowd, coupled with new signing Ken Mulhearn being cup tied, allowed Joe to make his first team debut in the 3rd Round League Cup tie against Blackpool on 11th October 1967.  Clearly, his elevation to the first team a month before his 19th birthday was a major test and, for City, a major gamble but the Blues had no real choice.  The game itself ended in a 1-1 draw with some reports suggesting a more experienced ‘keeper would have saved the Blackpool goal, however Joe retained his place for the replay a week later and City defeated the Seasiders 2-0.  

At this stage of his career it was inevitable that Joe’s spell as number one was a temporary one and for the fourth round League Cup tie a fit Harry Dowd returned to action, while Ken Mulhearn had established himself as the first choice for League games (he had signed for the Blues in September 1967). 

Mercer & Allison had found it difficult determining which ‘keeper – Mulhearn or Dowd – was their number one.  Injuries, inconsistencies and nerves all seemed to play their part in limiting each player’s spell.  Mulhearn made most appearances during the 1967-8 League Championship winning season, while Dowd seemed to be the preferred choice during 1968-9.  Joe was really the third choice and this made it difficult for the young ‘keeper to be given first team experience.  Joe was determined to learn and had a spell away from Manchester.  Joe:  “I had three months on loan at Shrewsbury under Harry Gregg, the ex-United ‘keeper.  Even though I only played reserve games, I learned so much.  Harry was tremendous, a man who knows what keeping is all about and who was one of the all-time greats himself.  Up until then, my career had been at a stalemate.  Within a couple of months of coming back, I made my full League debut.”  

Rapid Progress

Joe’s full League debut in a 2-1 defeat at City’s bogey team Ipswich Town on 11th March 1969.  He made three further appearances that season – 1-0 defeats at mid table Nottingham Forest and eventual Champions Leeds United, and then a 1-0 victory over Liverpool on the last day of the season – although City’s fortunes varied, it’s fair to say the ‘keeper played well.  This was Joe’s first clean sheet in the League:  “Those games gave me the chance to really show what I can do.  Luckily, I did okay and the next season, with a lot of pushing from Malcolm, I was City’s first choice.”

Joe’s progress was relatively rapid, especially when full consideration is given to the fact that Ken Mulhearn had been bought by Mercer & Allison to be the first choice.  Joe was still only 20 when the 1969-70 season began and the Blues were proving to be the most successful side in the Country.  It is very unusual for any side at the height of its power to make such a young ‘keeper their number one choice, especially when that side already possessed two established medal-winning ‘keepers.

The opening game of the 1969-70 season saw the Blues beat Sheffield Wednesday 4-1 and Malcolm Allison started to tell the media and anyone else who cared to listen that Joe would be “as great as Swift”.  Most thought this was typical Allison hyperbole but over the years Joe would find himself rated in the same bracket as Swift and Trautmann.  He would also go on to become one of the Club’s longest servants.

On 15th November 1969 Joe played in his first Manchester Derby match.  It was a thrilling 4-0 victory for the Blues and was summed up by the Manchester United reporter David Meek as the most one-sided Derby of all time.  That wasn’t exactly true, but for Joe it was a significant match, watched by over 63,000 at Maine Road, and the first of his 26 derbies – no other City player has matched that total.  

Roy of the Rovers

1969-70 was a rather mixed season in the League with the Blues finishing a disappointing tenth.  However, in knock-out competitions City ruled, reaching two finals – the League Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup.  Joe’s progression was moving at a pace no one could have predicted and he played a significant part as City won both trophies:  “Both finals were tremendous thrills.  Real ‘Roy of the Rovers’ stuff.  The League Cup win over West Bromwich Albion especially.  Here I was, three years after playing Sunday football and school rugby, at Wembley.”

Those successes were followed by a call-up to the England u-23 squad to play the USSR and Joe appeared to be on the verge of a truly great career.  Then Joe played exceptionally well during the first leg of the 1971 ECWC semi-final with Chelsea.  It seemed nothing could go wrong, then disaster struck when he was injured and replaced for the second leg of the ECWC tie.  The Blues lost – Joe’s replacement, Ron Healey, was credited with an own goal – and City’s chance of success was over.  

Joe continued to be the preferred number one for the next couple of seasons, however criticism was starting to be directed at him.  Mistakes made him an easy target for supporters who were expected more and, at one point, it was reported that Joe dreaded the thought of playing at Maine Road.  There were even suggestions he was thinking about giving up on the game.  He certainly did not get an easy ride and nobody seemed to think about his great contribution during City’s great 1969-70 season.  Joe:  “It’s a part of football that will never go away.  I have no bitterness about it.  In fact, I think I was lucky because the press were a little kinder back then.  They would lay off a bit.  I would hate to go through the same thing now.  My view was that I was paid to do a job to the best of my ability.  At times that wasn’t good enough to get into the first team and I accepted that.  It’s alright moaning in the press or whatever, but you can’t hide – especially in goal!”

Scottish under-23 international ‘keeper Keith MacRae was signed in October 1973 for £100,000 and Joe’s time as first-choice seemed over, especially as MacRae was two years younger than Joe and deemed a much better prospect.  Joe:  “I went on the transfer list in response to that signing.  After all it equalled the record for a goalkeeper at the time.”

However, Joe’s chance was to come again just as it looked likely he would have to leave Maine Road to resurrect his career.  Joe:  “One thing that was a big help happened in 1973-74 when I broke my jaw and had it wired up for three weeks.  I lost about a stone in that time and felt really fit when I came back.  That played a big part in keeping me down to 14-14.5 stone – my ideal playing weight.” 

Back on Form

A spell over Christmas 1974 didn’t really show Joe at his best, but the following March MacRae was injured and had to leave the field in a match with Leicester.  With no goalkeeping substitutes in those days, Mike Doyle went in nets, but for the following match Joe’s opportunity to shine came again.  The player was determined that if this was his City swansong he would give it his best shot:  “You have these situations in football and have to battle away.  If you give up, you not only lose the club you are at, you carry a reputation as a quitter.  I was determined to at least go down fighting.”

Joe played the final ten games of the 1974-75 season and, although results were mixed, both fans and the media were impressed with his form.  The following season opened with him as City’s first choice and in February 1976 he played in City’s great League Cup final success over Newcastle:  “I thought this was the start of another great team at City.  Dave Watson proved what a commanding centre-half he was that season.  As a keeper it made such a difference playing behind two great centre-halves like Dave and Mike Doyle at Wembley.  I remember the feeling of disbelief after I saw Dennis Tueart’s incredible winner.  Twelve months earlier I had been told I was useless.  Here I was – a Wembley winner!  It just shows what you can do if you’re prepared to work at it.”

The amazing turnaround in Joe’s career was the talk of football for a while and City fans fully appreciated the efforts their ‘keeper had made to re-establish himself.  Supporters voted him their player of the year in 1976 – an amazing accolade considering the achievements of the other truly great players in the squad that season – and at long last the likeable ‘keeper had established himself as one of City’s best stars.  Further supporter player of the year awards followed in 1978 and 1980 but the biggest honour of the seventies had to be Joe’s selection for England only a few months after the 1976 League Cup final.

England were playing in the US as part of a Bicentennial tournament and Joe’s opportunity came on 28th May in New York when he came on as substitute at half time for Jimmy Rimmer:  “At half-time of the Italy game Les Cocker, the trainer, told me to get stripped and come on as sub.  We were 2-0 down at the time and, while I’m not saying I had anything to do with it, we won 3-2!”

Joe went on to make a total of nine appearances for England but neutrals recognise that in any other era his tally would have been much higher and he would have been given more opportunity.  England at this time possessed several fine ‘keepers – Ray Clemence, Peter Shilton, and Phil Parkes – and manager Ron Greenwood tended to share the number one position between Clemence and Shilton, with Joe the third choice.  Clemence was the more experienced of the three and was also playing regularly in Europe with Liverpool, as was Joe with City, while Shilton had been more used to relegation dog fights with Stoke at the time of Joe’s debut.  His last appearance for England came on 9th June 1982 when he was 33 years old.

Wembley ‘81

In 1981 Joe made another appearance in a Wembley Cup Final.  City lost the 100th FA Cup final in a replay to Tottenham, but Joe had received tremendous praise for his performance in both matches.  The Blues had also been very unlucky to lose the League Cup semi-final with Liverpool that same season.

Less than two years after Wembley, Joe left City.  He had become City’s elder statesman and a much respected figure but the Blues had started to struggle financially.  Expensive and largely unsuccessful transfers – City were the first side to buy three £1m plus players – during the late seventies and early eighties impacted City’s ability to develop, and when the struggles came senior players had to be sacrificed.  Defeats against Southampton in the League Cup during November 1982 and Brighton in the FA Cup the following January meant the Blues were out of contention for any trophy.  Manager John Bond left and his deputy John Benson was left in charge.  Joe:  “I knew I was on my way.  With the Club’s financial position City couldn’t afford to keep the higher paid players.  It was very sad to leave.”

Joe was transferred for a surprisingly low £30,000 to Seattle Sounders in the North American Soccer League in March 1983 after making an overall total of 592 League, cup and European appearances – second only to record holder Alan Oakes.  He later returned to England with Brighton, and went on loan to Norwich and Stoke.  

During the 1990s he became a highly sought after goalkeeping coach.  In 2004, after spending several years at Anfield working for a variety of managers, Ian Rush asked Joe to become goalkeeping coach at Chester City.

Joe will be remembered for a very long time as true Blue hero.  He is typical of the type of determined, hard-working players the fans love to watch, and his consistency during the late 70s and early 80s helped the Blues enormously as they strove to find success both at home and in Europe.  As with Trautmann and Swift before him, many games were won – or salvaged – simply because of the ‘keeper’s committed performances.