Roy Clarke and the 1955 FAC Semi Goal

In 2003 I interviewed Roy Clarke about his 1955 semi-final goal for Manchester City (which happened on this day, 26 March, in 1955). It was the only goal of the game and sent City through to the 1955 FA Cup final where they faced Newcastle. Roy was always an entertaining character whenever I met up with him. This is what he said about his goal when we discussed it all those years ago:

‘Joe Hayes centred a free kick towards Bobby Johnstone.  I was in the outside left position near the back of the box and I just had a feeling that Bobby would miss the ball.  I don’t know why but it was clear as day to me that this would be my chance, not Bobby’s.  Before the ball even reached Bobby I started to dive.  It passed him and I connected.  I headed with such pace that the ball flew past the Sunderland ‘keeper and into the far corner.

‘There’s a couple of photographs taken of the goal.  One shows the mud and the wet, the other shows the cold, wet fans stood in the Villa Park Main Stand paddock.  They didn’t celebrate or show any emotion because I think they were soaking wet and couldn’t move!

Subscribers can read more about Roy and that game here:

Bishop’s Back

On this day (25 March) in 1998 cult hero Ian Bishop returned to Maine Road for his second spell with Manchester City. At the time fans saw that as further evidence new manager Joe Royle understood the club and its fans.  Bishop was idolised in his previous spell almost nine years earlier, and his departure provoked demonstrations against then manager Howard Kendall. 

Bishop loved the support he got during his first brief spell: ‘I remember we were playing Norwich and the crowd sang my name.  I cannot describe how that felt.  I never wanted to leave but I knew that there was no future for me at City.  Ever since then I have hoped I would get another chance at the Club but you begin to wonder if it will ever happen.  Whenever I have returned to Maine Road with West Ham the reception has been amazing.

‘I feel I have at least three or four good years in me because my game has never been based on pace alone.  I want to make up for the time I lost because I have always regretted that my first spell here only lasted six months.  Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to end my career here, although I am not planning to hang up my boots for some time.’

This is Your Life Joe Mercer

Broadcast live on this day (25 March) in 1970 was the This is Your Life TV episode with Joe Mercer as the subject. Here are the details plus a special recording which supporters of all the clubs Joe was involved with could be interested in.

This Is Your Life was viewed at the time as significant recognition for a lifetime’s achievement. Only major stars and personalities were featured in those days, and the main idea would be that the subject of the programme would be surprised by the sudden appearance of presenter Eamonn Andrews and his ‘Big Red Book’. The subject would then be whisked away to a studio or other location where a variety of figures from the person’s life would be brought out to tell anecdotes and the like. The main part of the show would be broadcast live.

This is Your Life Joe Mercer 1970

Back in 1970 young Manchester City supporter John Stapleton was working on the series and he suggested they feature Joe Mercer as the topic of one show. John, who has gone on to be a prominent broadcaster with a well-regarded TV career was interviewed by me a few years back and we discussed the programme and John’s part in the idea of featuring Joe: ‘I did it purely for the benefit of me and my dad.  Eamon Andrews, the presenter, had of course a great interest in sport and I put the idea to him and the rest of the production team.  Together with Norah, Joe’s wife who in recent years I often sat with at games sharing her boiled sweets, we concocted a situation where Joe and Malcolm were in a London hotel before a trip to watch a European game in 1970. Malcolm disappeared – deliberately as part of the show though Joe didn’t know this – and Joe was called to reception urgently.  Eamon leaped out to do the big “This Is Your Life” reveal and Joe had no idea whatsoever. It was a great day for us all and Joe was thoroughly deserving of it as well.’

Joe was staying at a Hilton Hotel in London. As John described, He had been due to fly with Malcolm Allison to the continent to watch ECWC semi-final opponents Schalke but he had received a message to say the game was off. It was all a ruse of course. That night television viewers watched as Eamonn Andrews surprised Joe at the hotel reception desk: ‘Joe Mercer, former England playing star, now manager of Cup winning Manchester City, tonight. This Is Your Life!’

Eamon Andrews This is Your Life Joe Mercer 1970

At the start of the show the City team appeared. This had been an extremely busy time for the Blues. Over a 18 day period City had played two League games, the League Cup final, the second leg of the ECWC quarter-final with Coimbra and found time to work with television to honour their manager. This live show occurred on Wednesday 25 March and City were to face Derby in the League on 27th and Manchester United on 28th, plus they had to play the first leg of the ECWC semi-final with Schalke on 1st. It was incredible that a team would be involved in this at such a busy time but that’s the way it was.

This is Your Life Joe Mercer 1970 MCFC squad

As Joe explains in the show Malcolm Allison was nowhere to be seen. He had been staying with Joe at the hotel and the City manager commented: ‘I’m a great sleeper you see, and subconsciously I heard Malcolm getting up and I thought, oh, he’s going to the bathroom. I thought, well, he hasn’t come back, so he must be having a bath, and then I went back to sleep. I woke about ten and Malcolm had gone, but occasionally this happens – Malcolm disappears!’

Andrews explained that Allison had left early to watch the match which was still on. Joe was flabbergasted: ‘He’s left all his clothes! I’ve had to pack his bag as well!’

During the course of the show, Andrews informed Joe that Alf Ramsey had named the squad he was to take to the 1970 World Cup: ‘I know you haven’t had a chance to hear the news, but I’m going to tell it to you now, that two of your boys have been named by Alf for the World Cup – Francis Lee and Colin Bell. And two more in the twelve reserves – Mike Summerbee and Alan Oakes. Congratulations lads, and to the whole of the Manchester City.’

Joe was overjoyed.

Subscribers to this website are now in for a special treat as an audio of the entire episode has been preserved and can now be listened to here:

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You can listen to this special recording of Joe Mercer, Eamon Andrews, Dixie Dean, Malcolm Allison, Stan Cullis, Stanley Matthews etc. by subscribing. It costs £20 per year (cancel anytime) to access everything posted since the site began in December 2020, that includes history talks, videos, a couple of my books, hundreds of articles etc.

Joe appeared on several other This Is Your Life shows including in November 1988 when Tom Finney was the subject and in 1980 when Emlyn Hughes was. He also appeared on two for Matt Busby, one in 1958 and one in 1971 (which opened at Maine Road).

The Programme details for the Joe Mercer episode are:

  • Edition No: 274
  • Subject No: 276
  • Broadcast live: Wed 25 Mar 1970
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Venue: Euston Road Studios
  • Series: 10
  • Edition: 18
  • Director: Margery Baker
  • Producer: Robert Tyrrell
  • City supporter and broadcaster John Stapleton worked on the show

The guests were:

  • Norah – wife
  • members of Manchester City FC team 
  • Francis Lee
  • Colin Bell
  • Mike Summerbee
  • Alan Oakes
  • Alan Percival
  • David – son
David & Joan Mercer, This is Your Life Joe Mercer 1970
  • Joan – daughter-in-law
  • Arthur – brother
  • Stan Cullis
Stan Cullis, This is Your Life Joe Mercer 1970
  • Billy Dixie Dean
Billy ‘Dixie’ Dean, This is Your Life Joe Mercer 1970
  • Jim Morris
  • Charles Palmer
  • Matt Busby
  • Frank Soo
  • Walley Barnes
  • Maurice Edelston
  • Bernard Joy
  • Roy White
  • George Hardwick
  • Raich Carter
  • Neil Franklin
  • Stanley Matthews
Stanley Matthews, This is Your Life Joe Mercer 1970

Filmed tributes:

  • Malcolm Allison
  • Susan – granddaughter
  • Albert Dyson – father-in-law

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Beagrie Arrives

On this day (24 March) in 1994 Peter Beagrie signed for Manchester City from Everton and soon established himself as a hero.  With his trademark somersaulting goal celebrations Beagrie scored 5 goals in 58 (plus 7 as substitute) appearances, but his contribution to the exciting style of play enjoyed under Brian Horton was much more impressive than those statistics suggest.  

Beagrie’s debut came in a goalless game v Oldham the following Saturday.


Back in March 1986 City drew 2-2 with United at Old Trafford one day and then faced Chelsea in the inaugural Full Members’ Cup final the following day.  The competition was one of two competitions created in response to the ban on English clubs playing in Europe following the Heysel European Cup Final of 1985.  Here’s the story of that Wembley final…

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One Week Today: Free History Talk on Manchester City 2005 to 2009

I’m delighted to say I’ll be performing the next free online History Talk this time next week (Wednesday 29 March at 6pm until 7pm). This talk will be on Manchester City FC between 2005 to 2009. It’ll last about 1 hour and is free to attend but places must be reserved in advance. It will follow a similar format to previous talks I’ve done on the origins of MCFC but this one will specifically focus on the transformational period of 2005 to 2009. I’ll talk about the development of MCFC during the period.

During the 2000s I spent considerable time behind the scenes interviewing and meeting those who played a part in this transformational period. I’ll discuss the development of the club from the dedicated chairmanship of John Wardle, through a season or so of Thaksin Shinawatra and on to Khaldoon Al Mubarak. I will talk about meetings I attended and interviews I performed during this period, including discussions with all three chairmen, plus other significant figures.

This hour will include the opportunity to ask questions as I’m keen to hear your thoughts on these transformational years for the club.

The event will be live on Zoom on 29/3/23 at 6pm and a link will be sent to all those who have registered for the event beforehand (probably earlier that day). THIS WILL BE EMAILED OUT SEPARATELY AND NOT VIA THE EVENTBRITE WEBSITE.

You can register here:

You must register here if you want to get involved. If you’d like an example of what the talk will be like take a look at:

The talk will last about 1 hour and will be online on zoom, so you should be able to access it anywhere.

You can see posts about other History Talks here:

1969 FA Cup Semi – Everton v Manchester City

On this day (22 March) 1969 Manchester City and Everton met in the FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park. Here for subscribers is the story of that day, including material from interviews I have performed with some of the key people (such as Tommy Booth). Enjoy!

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To read this and all the other in-depth articles please subscribe. It’s £3 a month (cancel anytime). Monthly subscribers get full access to everything posted since 1 October 2022 and everything scheduled to be posted during their subscription.

I’d like to thank you for taking the time and trouble to visit my website. I have been researching and writing about Manchester football since the 1980s. I am not employed by anyone and I do not have sponsorship either and so I’ve set up this website to help share my 32 years plus writing and research.

The intention is to develop the archive and to provide access to as much of my material as possible over the coming weeks, months & years. Subscribers can already access hundreds of articles/posts including PDFs of a couple of books and exclusive audio interviews, talks etc.

It costs £20 a year (it works out £1.67 a month) or £3 if you’d like to sign up a month at a time to get full access for as long as you subscribe. If you’d like to check whether it’s value for money, have a search through content before subscribing – or even subscribe for a month, access what you want and then cancel!

Thanks for the support, Gary.

David Johnson

After a glittering career with Preston, Everton and Liverpool, striker David Johnson joined Manchester City on this day (21 March) in 1984.  Johnson scored on his City debut – an 83rd minute equaliser v Cardiff in a game the Blues went on to win 2-1 (Image is of that goal). Unfortunately, despite a reputation as a lethal striker – and hard evidence of achievement – Johnson’s time at Maine Road was not particularly successful.  After one goal in four (plus two as substitute) games Johnson moved to play soccer in North America in May 1984.   

Johnson died in November 2022 and the following piece was written by Samuel Meade and published in the Mirror:

Celebrity Fans

I spotted this photo as part of my research earlier. It’s from 1997 and, amongst others, it shows musician Liam Gallagher and actor Kevin Kennedy sharing a box at Maine Road. It’s a combination most would be surprised at seeing and all came about because of their support of Manchester City.

Over the years there have been many celebrities who have been proclaimed as fans of particular clubs. Some of these are known to have attended games before they became famous, others perhaps were not so familiar with ‘their’ club before they made their names.  In 2009 I compiled a list of those widely accepted as celebrity Manchester City supporters at that time or before.

Occasionally, some of City’s celebrity fans have been incorrectly claimed as supporters of other clubs.  The most significant of these is the artist LS Lowry.  Lowry was without doubt a supporter of City, however because of his interest in painting Salford scenes it has occasionally been claimed that he was a Red.  Fortunately, artist Harold Riley (himself a Red) has made this abundantly clear whenever the error occurs.  Lowry was a Blue!

The following list is not meant to be comprehensive, however I am keen to develop this list and create a more definitive list covering every era of City’s existence over time. If you have evidence proving additional celebrity City fans then please contact me via this website.

Please note each celebrity listed below is highlighted for one main claim to fame however they may be famous for other activities as well.  This is most obvious with musicians and actors (they have all acted in other areas).  Obviously, some of the celebrities listed here have passed away.

Badly Drawn Boy (Damon Gough) – Musician

Amanda Barrie – Actor, Coronation Street

John Beavan – Political advisor to the Daily Mirror in 1970s

Susan Bookbinder – Broadcaster

Mark Burgess – Musician, The Chameleons

Craig Cash – Actor & writer, Royle Family & Early Doors

Michael Croft – 1970s Television producer

Ian Curtis – Musician, Joy Division

Timothy Dalton – Actor

Howard Davies – Former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England

Lee Dixon – Former Arsenal footballer

Joe Donovan – Musician, Blossoms

Billy Duffy – Musician, The Cult

Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff – Cricketer

Liam Gallagher – Musician, Oasis

Noel Gallagher – Musician, Oasis

You can listen to my interview with Noel here:

Jimi Goodwin – Musician, Doves

Will Greenwood – Member of the England Rugby World Cup winning side

Graham Haberfield – Actor, Coronation Street & The Dustbinmen

Ricky Hatton – Boxer

John Henshaw – Actor who appeared in Early Doors

Bruce Jones – Actor, Coronation Street

Mike Joyce – Musician, The Smiths (provided significant support to the MCFC museum music exhibition)

Archie Kelly – Actor, best known for Phoenix Nights

Ben Kelly – Artist (staged an exhibition of his work at the City museum in 2009)

Kevin Kennedy – Actor, Coronation Street

Eddie Large – Comedian (lived on Maine Road as a boy)

Clive Myrie – Broadcaster, BBC News & Mastermind

Nick Leeson – Trader, held responsible for the collapse of Barings Bank

Sally Lindsay – Actor, Coronation Street

LS Lowry – Artist

Jason Manford – Comedian (his brother Colin worked as a tour guide in the MCFC museum)

Bernard Manning – Comedian

Johnny Marr – Musician, The Smiths

Tom Ogden – Musician, Blossoms

Steve Penk – Broadcaster

Mike Pickering – Musician, M People and legendary DJ

Mark Radcliffe – Broadcaster

Reni – Musician, The Stone Roses (wrote a wonderful poem on being a ball boy which was displayed in the City museum during 2007)

Marc Riley – Broadcaster

George Robey – Music Hall comedian (organised charity game to commemorate City’s 1904 FA Cup final win). Robey is proclaimed as a fan of many, many clubs.

Frank Sidebottom – Broadcaster

Mark E Smith – Musician, The Fall

John Stapleton – Broadcaster

Ben Thompson – Actor, Coronation Street

David Threlfall – Actor, Shameless

Rick Wakeman – Musician (though usually acknowledged as a Brentford fan)

Jez Williams – Musician, Doves

Andy Williams – Musician, Doves

Bob Willis – Cricketer

Bernard Youens – Actor, Coronation Street (played Stan Ogden and, along with the character Annie Walker, was part of the cast who attended a City game filmed for an episode broadcast on 29/11/1967) 

As I mentioned at the start this list was compiled in 2009. Many more names need to be added to this list.

True Blues – Billy Meredith

Continuing the weekly series of ‘True Blue’ figures associated with the early years of Manchester City, here’s an article on Billy Meredith who was the captain and goalscorer for Manchester’s first major trophy success. You can find out why this man was such an important figure in Manchester City history below:

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There will be another ‘True Blue’ featured next Monday. Use the tag ‘True Blues’ to find other profiles in this series.