Thanks Alex

The former Manchester City goalkeeper Alex Williams has been featured on BBC Radio Five Live recently and took time out to talk about my new biography of another Manchester City star Peter Barnes. You can hear what Alex had to say here:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p09wrmfw

While we’re talking about Barnes… Peter and I will be appearing at the Hazel Grove branch of the City Supporters Club tomorrow (5th October) at 8pm. We’ll have copies of the biography available at the discounted price of £15 (cash only) and, of course, Peter and I will be signing copies on the night. Why not come along and say hello.

I’m currently arranging visits to a number of supporters clubs over the coming months. Watch this space for details soon.

If you can’t attend any of the meetings but would like the book copies are available via all usual stockists. For example:

Thanks Reddish!

I’d like to thank Howard Burr and all at Reddish MCFC Supporters Club for making Peter Barnes & I so welcome last night. It was a great night and we really enjoyed talking about the book.

Reddish is a great branch (if you’re local and not a member then why not?) and it was wonderful to be in a room with City fans again.

Thanks for supporting the book and keep up the excellent work. Some great questions and I hope our answers encouraged a few to take a look at the book and see what it’s all about.

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Available Here!

Tonight Peter & I will be talking about my new book on Peter’s life and career. At Reddish MCFC Supporters Club. If you can’t make it you can still order the book here:

United Kingdom

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – UNITED KINGDOM

Order today for £16.95 (incl UK Postage and Packaging).

£16.95

This 372 page, colour paperback book is £16.95 (including UK postage).

You do not need to have a PayPal account to order – use the ‘Pay with PayPal’ button above and it will give you the option to pay by credit/debit card without creating a PayPal account. UK postage included; outside UK contact me for additional postage costs.

Here are the contents pages:

This is the life story of Peter Barnes who, at the age of 18, scored the opening goal in the 1976 League Cup final. Playing for the team he supported, Manchester City, Peter was idolised by fans and was awarded the 1976 PFA Young Player of the Year award. The following year he made his England debut and was described by one journalist as the ‘saviour of English football.’

These were the days when Manchester City won the League Cup; were runners up in the League (missing the title by a point); and were challenging in Europe but then Malcolm Allison returned as coach and within months Peter, and a whole host of international stars, were on their way out. Peter was sold for a record amount. City’s fortunes suffered while Peter carved out a new career at West Bromwich Albion (where he played for Ron Atkinson).

Another record breaking transfer to Leeds United followed, before spells at Real Betis, Coventry City, Manchester United (playing for both Ron Atkinson and his replacement Alex Ferguson) and Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Written by acclaimed author Dr Gary James, this book covers the highs and lows of Peter’s life with stories about his time playing for some of the game’s biggest clubs and most famous managers. It also discusses Peter’s ongoing involvement with the sport and the significance of his family.

Oh, and if you’re wondering where the cover came from… it’s based on the packaging and advertising for the cult toy from the late 1970s The Peter Barnes Football Trainer.

If you run a book shop and would like to know more about the book please email: accounts@manchesterfootball.org

If you’re a media company interested in interviewing Peter or Gary about the book then please contact author Gary James: gary@GJFootballArchive.com

The ISBN is 978-1-9168852-0-2 and stocks are now available for book shops.

You can listen to Peter in conversation with myself about the book here:

Thanks,

Gary James

Peter Barnes Features and Sellers

I’m delighted to say there have now been a couple of features in newspapers on The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography, while it has now started to make its way into bookshops and other retailers.

The articles appeared in the Sunday Mirror (main image) and the Manchester Evening News.

Thanks to Simon Mullock and Stuart Brennan for those pieces. Both men read the book and highlighted a few stories from it. Simon discussed an incident when Peter nutmegged Maradona in a game while Stuart quoted the book extensively for a piece on Malcolm Allison. See his article for a feel for the quotes/content and so on that appear in the book:

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/peter-barnes-book-hartford-channon-20972079

Of course that’s only a taster of the 110,000 words and the hundreds of illustrations in the book.

You can still buy the book direct from me by using the link below, plus it has now made its way to its first bookshop (EJ Morten in Didsbury) and Ginger Wig is selling it online too. Hopefully, soon it will begin to appear in other locations and retailers.

5F6DCE6C-9F6B-4B21-95D3-126608797A2F

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography (£16.95 incl UK P&P)

372 pages, 110,000 words, 100s of illustrations… Of particular interest to fans of City, United, WBA, Leeds, Real Betis, Coventry, Tampa Bay Rowdies & England. Outside UK contact for additional postage cost.

£16.95

Subscriber Post – A Complete PDF Of My 1st Book To Download

Back in 1989 my first book was published and now I’ve decided to add that entire book to this website for download. Ignoring yearbooks, this was only the 6th book (and two of those were more like pamphlets published in the 1930s & 40s) ever published specifically on Manchester City.

The book was published in April 1989 and I talk a little bit about it here:

The 200th Post – Joe Mercer

and here:

A Writing Flashback!

I do not have the original layouts and so I’ve scanned my only surviving copy of the book and put the pages together on a PDF. The pages appear in the order they did in the original but, obviously, as I’ve just placed images of the pages on a word document it’s not as it all appeared. Nevertheless, for those who have never seen it you can now.

There were all sorts of issues with the original publication. My co-author had died and the book was delayed by a year. It was originally due out when I was 20 in 1988. As Keith, my co-author, had died mistakes were made. Keith was also a key figure at the publisher and, without his expertise, the quality of the images and other areas was not as great as it should have been. Even the title was incorrectly published (I’d agreed a different title). Ah well… I got enough of a bug to have started writing my second book within about a month of this coming out.

If you’d like to download the book then you do need to be a subscriber to this site. Subscribers pay £20 a year (works out about £1.67 a month) or £3 a month at a time (cancel anytime). For that subscribers now get the entire From Maine Men To Banana Citizens plus my 2010 edition of Manchester A Football History AND all 380+ articles/interviews posted so far. These include audio interviews I did with John Bond, Malcolm Allison and George Graham in the 1990s.

Subscribe to get access

To access the book and everything else please subscribe here.

Coming Tuesday: A Complete PDF Of My 1st Book To Download

From tomorrow (Tuesday June 22 2021) subscribers to my site will be able to download a PDF of my entire first book. It was published back in 1989 and, Ignoring yearbooks, this was only the 6th book (and two of those were more like pamphlets published in the 1930s & 40s) ever published specifically on Manchester City.

Watch this space tomorrow for more details.

The book was published in April 1989 and I talk a little bit about it here:

The 200th Post – Joe Mercer

and here:

A Writing Flashback!

25 Years Ago – The 1996 Manchester Bomb

25 years ago today (June 15 1996) I was in Manchester Central Library doing some research for my book Manchester The Greatest City when a terrorist bomb went off close to M&S and the Arndale Centre. The explosion was felt across the city and in the library flecks of white paint floated down moments later, creating a surreal site. It looked like it was snowing.

I’ve written about the day before and maybe, when the time feels right, I’ll post more about it here but for the time being it’s worth pointing out that though no one died hundreds were injured. Many of these were seriously injured and it has affected them since.

In addition some lost there homes – there were houses on top of the Arndale centre back then – and businesses suffered too. Many closed down for good (a major loss was the old Corn Exchange – the building survived and was ‘gentrified’ but the small businesses that had operated in there mostly disappeared for ever).

I know we all talk positively of the changes to the city since the bomb but we should also remember those who suffered and the trauma faced.

More here on the day:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-36474535

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography Update

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography is currently being printed and is anticipated to be available from July 1st 2021. If you haven’t managed to order it yet you can do so now and, if ordered before July 1st, your copy will be signed by Peter and myself and posted before it appears in the shops.

This 372 page, colour paperback book is £16.95 (including UK postage).

United Kingdom

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – UNITED KINGDOM

Order today for £16.95 (incl UK Postage and Packaging).

£16.95

The ONLY way to guarantee your copy is from this site by using the order button above or those for non-UK below. You do not need to have a PayPal account to order – use the ‘Pay with PayPal’ button above and it will give you the option to pay by credit/debit card without creating a PayPal account.

Copies ordered by July 1st will be despatched BEFORE the book appears in any shops. Certain online retailers are advertising the book but, so far, none of these have actually ordered a supply. You can get yours before they do by ordering below (non UK see further down this page):

Here are the contents pages:

This long awaited authorised biography, written by Gary James with the memories and stories of Peter’s career throughout, tells the story of Peter’s life from his childhood in Manchester and Wrexham through to the modern day. With particular focus on his footballing career with Manchester City, West Bromwich Albion, Leeds United, Real Betis, Coventry City, Manchester United, Tampa Bay Rowdies and, of course, England.

Those living in the European Union can now order the book for £28 including postage to an address within the EU and those in the USA for £40 including postage to the States. If you’re in Malaysia it’s £35. Sadly, we have no control over those additional postage costs (we have used the Royal Mail international standard rate).

Outside the UK, EU, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and USA please contact for confirmation of postage costs.

Here’s the order button:

European Union

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – EUROPEAN UNION

Order today for £28 (incl postage and packaging within the EU).

£28.00

United States of America

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – USA

Order today for £40 (incl postage and packaging to the United States).

£40.00

Malaysia

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – MALAYSIA

Order today for £35 (incl postage and packaging to Malaysia).

£35.00

Australia and New Zealand

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

Order today for £38.95 (incl postage and packaging to Australia or New Zealand).

£38.95

If you run a book shop and would like to know more about the book please email: accounts@manchesterfootball.org

The ISBN is 978-1-9168852-0-2 and stocks should be available for book shops after it has been distributed to all subscribers and others who have ordered it here. This is anticipated to be in early July 2021.

You can listen to Peter in conversation with myself about the book here:

Thanks,

Gary James

SUBSCRIBER LIST CLOSED: Peter Barnes Biography

The opportunity to subscribe to The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography has now passed. However, you can still order the book before publication and your copy will be signed by both Peter and myself.

This is the only way to guarantee your copy of book.

Publication is anticipated to be June 30 and copies will be despatched in July BEFORE the book appears in any shops. Certain online retailers are advertising the book but, so far, none of these have actually ordered a supply. You can get yours before they do by ordering below (non UK see further down this page):

United Kingdom

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer UNITED KINGDOM

Order today for £16.95 (incl UK Postage and Packaging).

£16.95

The ONLY way to guarantee your copy is from this site by using the order button above or those for non-UK below.

This long awaited authorised biography, written by Gary James with the memories and stories of Peter’s career throughout, tells the story of Peter’s life from his childhood in Manchester and Wrexham through to the modern day. With particular focus on his footballing career with Manchester City, West Bromwich Albion, Leeds United, Real Betis, Coventry City, Manchester United, Tampa Bay Rowdies and, of course, England.

There are quotes from people connected with Peter throughout his career plus archive material too.

Pre-publication you can order the 360+ page, colour paperback book for £16.95 (including UK postage). Those living in the European Union can now order the book for £28 including postage to an address within the EU and those in the USA for £40 including postage to the States. If you’re in Malaysia it’s £35. Sadly, we have no control over those additional postage costs (we have used the Royal Mail international standard rate).

Outside the UK, EU, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and USA please contact for confirmation of postage costs.

Here’s the order button:

European Union

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer EUROPEAN UNION

Order today for £28 (incl postage and packaging within the EU).

£28.00

United States of America

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer USA

Order today for £40 (incl postage and packaging to the United States).

£40.00

Malaysia

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer MALAYSIA

Order today for £35 (incl postage and packaging to Malaysia).

£35.00

Australia and New Zealand

The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography – Subscriber Offer AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

Order today for £38.95 (incl postage and packaging to Australia or New Zealand).

£38.95

If you run a book shop and would like to know more about the book please email: accounts@manchesterfootball.org

The ISBN is 978-1-9168852-0-2 and stocks should be available for book shops after it has been distributed to all subscribers and others who have ordered it here. This is anticipated to be in early July 2021.

You can listen to Peter in conversation with myself about the book here:

Thanks,

Gary James

2021 Champions League Final

On Saturday May 29 2021 I attended the Champions League final in Porto. Despite the result (a 1-0 victory by Chelsea) it was a wonderful experience and so I’ve decided to post here my story of the weekend. I know every one of us who attended had a different experience but I hope this gives those who were unfortunately not able to be there a taste of what the trip was like. 

If you did attend and would like to talk about your experiences then please post them as comments to this piece or participate in the City Voices project and submit your memories. See this page for details:

Porto 2021 was always going to be a historical moment in the history of Manchester City but, because of Covid and the worldwide situation, it was one of the most challenging finals to stage, participate in and attend. All of us who travelled to Porto had to have numerous covid tests (and I have seen on the Bluemoon forum that some fans on various official and unofficial flights have received news that they need to isolate– I feel for anyone on there in this situation).

Fans travelling on the official day trip were told that if they took a Covid PCR test after 1pm on Thursday that should see them through for the journey out, stadium entry and return journey as a test had to be performed for each of these within 72 hours. I was flying out on Friday and returning on Sunday so initially I arranged for my PCR test to occur after 1pm with a company called Dam. At the time of booking they guaranteed that the result would be with me before midnight on the day of the test so that seemed fine but then, on the Bluemoon forum, fans were talking about a change in Dam’s level of service which meant results were no longer guaranteed that same day. Instead 24 hours was being stated by Dam, though when I discussed this with their helpline even the 24 hours could not be guaranteed. Panic followed!

I eventually moved my test to Wednesday afternoon and booked another via the Official Supporters Club offer with Blindspot which I intended dropping off at Bar Pop on Friday morning on my way to Manchester airport.

The Dam test came back on Thursday, meaning I could fly out, and I dropped off the second test at Bar Pop on my way to the airport. There were a few issues at Dam with the booking but eventually everything was sorted. The Supporters Club/Blindspot test and drop off went really well (though the Day 2 return test result has still not arrived – we’re on Day 5 at the moment) and I am grateful to those involved for sorting this all out. You did an excellent job at short notice and in a pressured environment. Thanks.

After leaving Bar Pop I travelled to the airport, making a detour to take a look at Maine Road and surrounding areas. Somehow it seemed appropriate that this journey to the most significant European final the club has ever been involved with should include a brief look at the site of so many wonderful moments over the decades. I saw my first European match at Maine Road (which also staged the first European Cup game ever played in England as well!) in the early 70s.

At the airport everything went smoothly and I was delighted when I realised that I would be flying out on the Etihad Manchester City plane. I had received an invitation from the club (for which I will be eternally grateful and I know how lucky I am) and to experience that flight, while seeking to chronicle this landmark historical moment, added enormously to the occasion. Thanks to those involved (you know who you are. Thanks).

The Manchester City Etihad plane

The flight included several former players, officials and key figures in the club’s development. Knowing City’s history, personalities, and key moments I recognise that it was no mean feat to have some of these on the same flight. It was remarkable that City remembered and acknowledged the contribution made by these people, which included Chris Bird, Garry Cook, Paul Dickov, Brian Horton, Francis Lee, Andy Morrison, Ian Niven, Dennis Tueart and Alex Williams. Others, including Pablo Zabaleta joined the group in Porto and stayed at the same hotel.

Once in Porto it was great to see so many City fans in and around the city, especially the historic area near the river. Over the weekend I bumped into several friends and faces from my City-supporting life including Jon Bell (Colin’s son), Howard Burr (and other Reddish Blues), Geoff Homer, Will Perry, John Stapleton, Kate Themen (one of the original Manchester City Women/Ladies players who played with my wife back in the late 80s and she was a drummer with The Fall), Dave Wallace, Steve Welch and of course lots of City staff.

On Friday night I was invited to a club event which saw most of the official party board boats at the riverside for a cruise. We had to walk through many crowds of Blues to board the boats and it was great to see and hear fans bursting into song whenever they saw Morrison, Dickov, Zabaleta and other members of the group.

The boats then dropped us off at a venue where City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak made a brilliant, heartfelt speech about his journey with Manchester City, recalling the moment he was asked by HH Sheikh Mansour to become chairman and his first day in Manchester when he was taken to Carrington, Platt Lane and the stadium. He talked with real passion for the club, its people and the fans. He recognised the history of the club and the journey that we’ve been on paying particular attention to some of the people who had helped along the way, including many of the officials and former officials in the room, as well as fans of course.

There was also a speech by CEO Ferran Soriano about the development of the City Football Group and a video was played about the Champions League journey over the last decade. 

DJ Yoda put together an excellent mix of City related music, videos etc. including the recent footage of Pep and his cigar (if you don’t know what I mean do a few internet searches, it will soon appear). It was a definite highlight and something that added a bit of humour to the event too.

Saturday was of course match day. I spent some time in the City Fanzone, where I chatted to a few longstanding Blues I know, but also time around the city. Close to the bars at the historic centre there was a small group of local musicians going around playing City chants/songs such as ‘Singing the Blues’ and Blue Moon. Fans were joining in and it seemed quite bizarre hearing these musicians belt out most of the words to ‘Singing the Blues’, hoping to engage a few fans. A little later, as I wandered further down the river I spotted the same musicians doing similar with Chelsea chants/songs – you’ve got to admire their entrepreneurial skills! I can imagine them on the night the final was moved to Porto rushing to the internet to seek out MCFC & CFC songs. They must have made a few Euros from us all. 


The entire atmosphere, as far as I could see and experienced, was positive with City and Chelsea fans enjoying being there. Personally, this was my first trip outside of England and Wales since November 2019 (when I talked at a film festival in St Gallen about the Bert Trautmann film I was a consultant on and then met up with a few Blues in Zurich). It was great to be outside of the UK and wonderful to finally get to see other human beings and to share an experience with fellow City fans. 

I loved the way former players like Paul Dickov, Andy Morrison, Pablo Zabaleta and Shay Given were spotted by fans who, without fail, would burst into a chant or song about them. Some were mobbed too of course. At one point, I saw a group of fans opposite our hotel do an impromptu Poznan which I know was loved by the former players and staff who saw it.

Porto seemed like a fairly normal environment. Obviously, like all those attending I tried to ensure I kept to the usual social distancing rules and wore my face mask etc. but this was not always possible, especially when queuing to get into the stadium. I know others were on crowded buses too.

In comparison with the League Cup final at Wembley, it did feel as if UEFA had picked the wrong stadium. Looking around the venue it also made me realise how fantastic the Etihad Stadium is. We take it for granted but our facilities are considerably better than the majority of venues. 

If we consider all the extra requirements placed on fans then UEFA definitely picked the wrong stadium and it seems so obvious, particularly with some of the stories coming from Chelsea and City fans about being told to isolate on their return, that the final should have been held in the UK.

The decision to stage the game at Porto was made exceptionally late and, because of this, both clubs were unable to prepare in the way they would have liked. I am aware from City personnel of the short notice they received about tickets, travel and so many other logistical areas. I can only admire the work they have done and the efforts they made to ensure they could get fans to the final and back again. Inevitably, there will be some who had issues (I’m aware of the delays to flight 12 which, from what I hear, has created a sort of Dunkirk spirit amongst those involved) but I do think the ordinary staff and management at City deserve praise for all they did.

As I arrived at the stadium on the coach, which had been delayed due to a traffic accident, we saw Jeremy Clarkson rushing down towards the turnstiles. 

Security seemed tight and men and women were separated into different queues with somewhat zealous security types objecting to many, many items. Inflatable bananas, lipsticks, perfumes and many other items were cast aside before intrusive searches were performed (it reminded me of Leeds away back in 1983!). After security we got into the ground with about fifteen minutes to spare.

The Marshmello video was shown; the UEFA anthem was played (City fans started booing it and the volume seemed to be turned up to drown out the booing!); fireworks went off and then we were ready.

The game itself… Ah, I think we all know how we feel about that. I was on a coach going to the ground, close to a couple of former players when the team news came through. I read it out to those around me and one of the former players immediately asked about Fernandinho. He described how things would go and predicted the result immediately. Sad to say, he called it spot on. He wasn’t the only one of course. 

The segregation in some areas of the ground seemed somewhat questionable. I was in level one on the side opposite the tunnel, close to the corner. On both sides at that level there seemed to be alternate Chelsea then City blocks. The block I was in was close to the main Chelsea end (to our right as we looked at the pitch) and there was another Chelseablock to our left. The same seemed to occur in the opposite stand. Why UEFA did this I don’t know but common sensewould say that these blocks should’ve had all Chelsea closest to Chelsea fans and all City closest to City fans with genuine neutral blocks in the middle (like Wembley does for major finals).

There were no major issues where I sat but we did feel somewhat drowned out by celebrating Chelsea fans from the moment the goal was scored.

At the end of the game Fernandinho came over to the section I was in; climbed over the barriers and hugged his son. Understandably, they were both emotional and the sight of a player searching for his son so that he could comfort him really got to me. As a parent seeing your child upset is one of the hardest things to experience and I loved how in this moment Fernandinho was not a footballer, he was a dad. Other players, including Ederson and Kyle Walker also came over to console family members.

I think we all saw how emotional our team was, especially Sergio. Like all fans I wish his City journey had ended with Champions League success.

As soon as it seemed right I left the stadium, went to my coach and waited to travel back to the city centre. I was invited back to a post-game event where the mood was understandably and appropriately muted. Wingman (Nigel Clucas), who had worked hard in the fanzone earlier in the day, got the mood spot on by playing The Smiths ‘Heaven knows I’m Miserable Now’; The Cure ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ and similar songs. Wingman did an excellent job that day and must have been exhausted.




The next morning we boarded our coaches and headed back to the airport. Both check in and security were somewhat time-consuming but, to be fair, many staff at the airport had probably been overworked for much of the night.

Compared to Porto, security at Manchester airport seemed a doddle (so long as the correct documentation had been completed beforehand) and within minutes of arriving at security I was on my way home.

Since then I have performed my Day 2 covid test, as required, and sent that off. Now, on day 5, I am still waiting for the results. From many Blues I’ve heard from it does seem like this part of the process is failing and may be something the Government needs to address if they expect UK residents to do these tests when they return from holiday overseas over the coming months.

There’s been the news that Portugal has now been removed from the UK Government’s green list. The cynic would say that the decision to stage the final in Porto influenced the decision to make Portugal a green list country in the first place. For me I don’t know what political decisions have been made and how they’ve been influenced but it does seem somewhat odd. Of course, we all know that logically a final between two English clubs which would see in excess of 12,000 travelling from the UK in the middle of a pandemic should have been staged in the UK. UEFA can say all it wants about fans being at the heart of the game but the bottom line was that the final was staged outside of the UK for the benefit of UEFA officials, sponsors and their friends. If they really wanted to help fans it would have been staged in the UK.

Ah well… Politics, hey?

So Chelsea won the trophy and while the result was a painful one for City fans it must be stressed that Chelsea are one of Europe’s elite and have now won more European trophies than Manchester United. In fact they are the second most successful British club in Europe after Liverpool and, like City, they won a major European trophy BEFORE Liverpool, Juventus and many other clubs. Chelsea’s fans, like City, have seen some dark days (most notably in the 80s) and we should all remember that their development, since the investment, is a few years ahead of City’s. If their achievements in Europe are an indicator of progress then clearly City are not too far behind.

Finally, I know this has been a lengthy piece but I just wanted to throw a few thoughts, memories and comments down. If you’re one of the people who managed to get to Porto I hope you managed to enjoy it despite the result. I was extremely fortunate this year (this is the first time I have ever been a guest of any football club for an away fixture and I know how lucky I was – I will never forget it).

Here’s to the next major final featuring Manchester City who, let’s face it, have won more trophies in 2020-21 than any other English club and have been incredible champions. It could be argued that the ONLY club that stopped them from winning all four major trophies was Chelsea (though Leicester may have in the FA Cup final of course) and they are the European champions.