THE STARTING ELEVEN – Kevin Reeves

First published in the build up to the 2011 FA Cup final, Gary James’ series looking at the eleven players who made the starting line-up for City’s FA Cup final in 1981 continued with a profile of forward Kevin Reeves.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

THE STARTING ELEVEN – Joe Corrigan

First published in the build up to the 2011 FA Cup final, Gary James takes a look at the eleven players who made the starting line-up for City’s FA Cup final in 1981.  Today, Joe Corrigan.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

THE STARTING ELEVEN – Gerry Gow

First published in the build up to the 2011 FA Cup final, Gary James takes a look at the eleven players who made the starting line-up for City’s FA Cup final in 1981.  Today, midfielder Gerry Gow

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

THE STARTING ELEVEN – Dave Bennett

First published in the build up to the 2011 FA Cup final, Gary James takes a look at the eleven players who made the starting line-up for City’s FA Cup final in 1981.  Today, midfielder Dave Bennett.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

THE STARTING ELEVEN – Bobby McDonald

First published in the build up to the 2011 FA Cup final, Gary James takes a look at the eleven players who made the starting line-up for City’s FA Cup final in 1981.  Today, left-back Bobby McDonald.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Manchester City Hall of Fame: Bert Trautmann’s significant game

City 0 Fulham 1

Division One

14th January 1950

City Team: Trautmann, Phillips, Westwood, Gill, Fagan, Walsh, Munro, Black, Turnbull, Alison, Oakes

Attendance: 30,000

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

MANCHESTER CITY – HALL OF FAME: Roy Clarke

“We love City.  We really love City!” An emotional Roy And Kath Clarke collecting the Hall of Fame award in January 2004

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

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.  

Joe Cassidy

Joe Cassidy was a ‘strong and burly’ forward who had provided Newton Heath with much needed attacking options during the final weeks of the 1892-93 season and the subsequent Test Matches, helping to prolong the club’s First Division status for one more season.  His initial stay at Newton Heath was fairly brief – he arrived in March 1893 and had moved to Celtic in May – but after a successful time in Glasgow he returned to the Heathens in March 1895.  On his second debut for the Club he netted both goals as the Heathens beat Grimsby Town 2-0 and ended that season with 8 goals from 8 games.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

IN SEARCH OF THE BLUES – Joe Corrigan (interviewed in November 2004)

England international goalkeeper Joe Corrigan made 592 League, Cup and European appearances with the Blues between 1967 and 1983.  Today he is a respected goalkeeping coach.  Farewell To Maine Road author Gary James caught up with him at Stockport’s training ground in November 2004

Let’s start with your school days.  I believe you went to a rugby playing school?

I went to Sale Grammar School and there was no football at all.  I played rugby union for the school and for Cheshire, and I guess that helped my ball control, catching ability etc.  Despite this, I always wanted to be a ‘keeper and I played football at any opportunity really.  When I started as an apprentice at AEI in Trafford Park the chance came to play for the works side and I played at centre-half.  I had no choice about that – I wanted to play ‘keeper.  I guess my size made me a defender.  

Then one day I had to go in nets at half time and I suppose I must have looked all right because I was encouraged to go for a trial.  Both City and United were contacted, and a reply came from Maine Road within a fortnight.  After the trial Harry Godwin, City’s Chief Scout, asked me to sign and I joined a youth set up that included Tommy Booth and Ray Hatton – Boxer Ricky Hatton’s dad.

United offered me a trial as well, but once City showed the interest they did I turned them down.  I wanted to be loyal and City had faith in me.  That mattered a great deal.

You mentioned you’d always wanted to be a ‘keeper, who were your early heroes?

There were two – Harry Gregg and Bert Trautmann.  I was fortunate enough to go on loan to Shrewsbury when Gregg was there and he taught me so much.  He really helped.  Trautmann of course was a phenomenal ‘keeper and a wonderful man.  Being a City legend he was the type of ‘keeper I aspired to.  He offered me good advice as well.

I remember one day after West Ham had beaten us 5-1 – it was Jimmy Greaves’ debut (21/3/70) – I felt awful.  It was my first proper season and I felt I’d ruined my chance.  This was the game when my clearance went straight to Ronnie Boyce and he sent it straight back over my head.  When something like that happens, being a goalkeeper is the loneliest job in the world.

Anyway, I was told that Bert was at the game.  He took me to one side and told me not to worry about that result or that goal.  He pointed out that these things can happen to any ‘keeper and that he’d had some awful individual moments.  I felt much better after that and, I guess, because he had said it, it meant more than if the manager or anyone else had said it.  Bert had been one of football’s greatest ‘keepers and so he knew more than most about how I was feeling.  Mind you, it didn’t stop the BBC showing the goal whenever they had the opportunity!

One of my strongest early City memories is of you watching Bert play in Johnny Hart’s testimonial in 1974.  How did that feel?

Bert was such a great player that I thought it’d be good to crouch on the touchline and just watch.  Even at that age – he must have been 51 – he was fit and agile and someone you could learn from.  The only problem was that I had to tell him he was coming off!  I went over to him and a bloke in the stand shouted, “leave him in nets, he’s still better than you!”  

Thinking about your early City days, you made a couple of League Cup appearances in 1967/8 and then 1969/70 saw you make your League debut.  You made 34 League appearances and also played in the ECWC Cup run.  Did winning the ECWC make you feel as if you’d ‘made it’ as a player?

Never!  I never felt that.  Even when I was playing for England I didn’t take anything for granted.  Playing in the ECWC final was awesome.  It was a terribly wet night and the crowd was low, but that didn’t detract from the importance at all.  To play in such a great side and at that level is a tremendous feeling but you have to keep your feet on the ground.  I’m glad I did, because it wasn’t long before it looked as if my City career was over.

You remained first choice for most of the period up to the signing of Keith MacRae in October 1973, did his arrival feel like the end for you?

Definitely!  They paid an incredible amount – I think it was a world record fee for a ‘keeper – so you know that he has to be first choice. You don’t pay that and leave him in the reserves.  Plus he was a great ‘keeper.  No question.

I was on my way out and this was a very difficult time.  The Club was also going through a few managerial changes, so it wasn’t easy. Then in 1975 Keith was injured shortly before the transfer deadline.  I thought I’d get back in, but I bought the Evening News and saw photos and names of a whole host of ‘keepers that the Club were supposed to be interested in.  It seemed to me at the time that anybody but Corrigan would do.  This was a tormenting time.  I couldn’t bear it.  Every night it was the same.

Fortunately for me transfer day came and went and no one was bought.  I don’t know if time ran out or what, but I know I was relieved.  

You got back into the side and retained your place when MacRae was fit.  What was the turning point?

I’d been working hard when I was in the Reserves.  I’d tried to develop and I was determined not to lose whatever opportunity came my way.  Having said that, we had mixed results and I was worried.  Then we played at Wolves and they were all over us.  I remember Dougan and Richards both came up for a cross and I was whacked.  The ball ended up in the net and I felt awful.  Then the ref blew for a foul on me and from that moment on the luck was on my side.  I truly believe that a lot of football is about luck and opportunity and that day everything switched to my favour.  We beat Chelsea and Burnley in the weeks that followed and I only missed 1 League game in the following 5 seasons. 

You became a major hero over those seasons, how do you think the fans treated you throughout your City career?

There were two definite spells.  The early years when received a lot of criticism – I accept that because if you pay your money you are entitled to say what you think, but it was difficult to take at times.  Then there were the later years when I had matured and developed, and the fans gave me incredible support.  I loved going to events like the Junior Blues and meeting real fans.  I think we had it drummed into us when we first arrived at the Club by Joe Mercer that supporters are the most important people – they pay your wages and you must never forget that!  Once the Junior Blues were created it was stressed that these children would in the future pay your wages.  They are not simply here for a party, they are here because you are an important part of their lives.  Every player should always make the effort.

I had it drummed into me by Mercer that you should visit hospitals and kids homes and the like.  It’s all great PR for the Club and the player.  Actually, when I was playing in the States at Seattle a local policeman was shot.  I was appalled and told the team I was going to see him in hospital.  They all thought I was out of my mind.  “Why do it?  What is he to you?”  I went to see him, invited him to a game, and he loved it, but I was stunned to find that I made the news.  The headlines read “Do Gooder Joe Corrigan” – they made out I was a saint, but all I was doing was the PR that was the norm at City.

Thinking of fans, Helen Turner (the lady with the bell) must hold special memories for you?

She always sat behind me in the North Stand and before every game she would give me a sprig of heather for good luck.  At away games she wasn’t always near me, so sometimes it was difficult for her to get the heather to me.  If I hadn’t received it by kick off time I’d be worried.  Partly I’d wonder if she was all right, but I also used to worry about my luck.  If ever we lost and I’d not seen Helen I’d believe that was the reason.  She’s a marvellous, devoted fan, and I know she’s done a tremendous amount of work for good causes.

Your career spanned several managerial reigns, is there one manager who stands out as the best for you?

Because the goalkeeper’s role is so specialised, I gained most from other goalies such as Trautmann and Gregg, but Joe Mercer was the greatest City manager of all time.  He was such a warm, nice man.  He knew how to tell you off as well, of course, but his enthusiasm and love of football was clear.  Malcolm Allison, as coach, was tremendous.  He was doing stuff in 1969 that coaches are only just introducing now and often they claim it’s a new idea!  He tried to make sure the ‘keepers received their own coaching and specialist time, and when Tony Book became manager he tried to ensure this developed further.  Coaches Bill Taylor and Ian McFarlane worked hard with me and I used to come in on the morning of a game to do additional training.  The view was that I would get used to the actual conditions of the day and this definitely worked.

If we were playing away I’d train in the hotel grounds, or in a park.  On the morning of the 1981 FA Cup final I was training in a public park.

Thinking of the 1981 final, one of my key memories is of you immediately going over to Tommy Hutchison when he scored the own goal.  You lifted him up, patted him on the back and whispered something to him.  What encouragement did you give?

My view was that we still had a few minutes left.  We’d still been on top for most of the game.  We could still win.  I also knew that what had happened to him could have happened to any one of us.  So I just told him to “get up, get on with it.  It’s only 1-1 and we are still going to win!”  He was devastated to be fair, but we did almost win it in the dying minutes.  Personally, I believe the game should have been played to a conclusion on that night.  The FA Cup is all about the Saturday and I know we would have won had it gone to a conclusion.  I never liked facing penalties – I think I only saved two – but that night we’d have won.  No question.  The Saturday was our day, after that it all switched.  

Tottenham had no travelling to do; their fans could buy tickets from either Spurs or directly from Wembley’s allocation; and our fans were simply outnumbered in the replay even though we were by far a better supported team.

Despite our eventual defeat, you were made ‘man of the final’ for your performance.  That must have felt like a great achievement.

Obviously, it does mean a lot to me, but I’d rather have won the final.  After the second match I was presented with it by the Spurs manager Keith Burkenshaw.  I remember thanking him and then saying something like “Good luck in Europe next season” and at that very moment it hit home to me what had happened.  I suddenly realised that we’d lost and that we wouldn’t be playing in Europe.  I was devastated.  It was an awful feeling.  I missed out in another way because the game went to a replay.  England were playing Brazil at Wembley on the Wednesday after the final and, although there was nothing official, I understand I was due to play, but the replay (played the following night) meant I couldn’t play.

You played during many great seasons, what were your own highlights?

There were two great sides – the one I joined in the 60s that had already achieved so much and the mid to late 70s.  Both sides were tremendous and the players really knew how to entertain.  Colin Bell was a truly great player and I’m certain he would have gone on to captain England had it not been for that horrific injury.  Losing him was the biggest blow this club has had to face.  He bridged the two great sides and had he been fully fit he would have helped that late 70s side achieve the League title.  People often forget how good that late 70s side was – Dave Watson, Dennis Tueart, Joe Royle, Willie Donachie and the rest.  

The John Bond transformation was great as well.  Steve Mackenzie’s goal in the 81 replay has to be one of the greatest Cup Final goals of all time.  The problem with that replay was that Hutchison and Gow had given so much in the first game that they must have been drained for the second match.  They still did well, but they didn’t have enough time to recover in between games. Kevin Reeves was injured early on and that was a major blow – he is one of City’s most underrated players.  Reeves was a very, very good player.

Let’s talk about England.  You were unfortunate to play when there were so many great English ‘keepers.  Do you ever wish you’d played at another time?

No.  I enjoyed playing when I did.  It was good that there were so many great ‘keepers around because that pushed you more.  Sadly, for me it meant I’d have to try and reach a level above Shilton, Clemence, Parkes, and Rimmer.  If I’d been an outfield player, it may have been easier because with a goalie there is only one place to fill.  When I did play for England it meant more than anything else – in football playing for the national side is the highest honour you can have.  One of my favourite performances was when I played against Brazil – the best team in the world at the time by a long way – and we managed a 1-1 draw.  I was under pressure the whole time and remember a couple of saves I am particularly proud of.

Did you enjoy being under pressure more than trouble free games?

Sometimes ‘trouble-free’ games are the worst because you have to be more alert.  It would be easy to sit back and focus on other things, but then if you’re tested you could fail.  I remember one game I had no saves to make at all, but I acme off the pitch totally drained.  Everyone said ‘what’s up with you, you’ve done nothing?’  I would much have preferred to be under pressure for 90 minutes. 

Eventually you left City.  First for Seattle Sounders and later for Brighton, why did you move on?

I think I should have left a little earlier.  I love City but it got to the stage where I knew I wasn’t really wanted here.  The fans were marvellous; the players were great; but maybe it wasn’t really my time any more.  I was approached by Spurs, shortly after the Cup Final, and then Liverpool after we’d beat them 3-1 (Boxing Day 1981) but both moves were blocked, so that made it clear someone still wanted me, but then when Seattle made their approach in 1983 I was told I could go.  Something had changed.

At Seattle I had a great time and the pressures were completely different.  It was a wonderful time.  Sadly, City were relegated while I was away and I felt awful.  It really hit me.  I know I wouldn’t have changed things – Alex Williams did an excellent job – but I felt the same pain I would have felt had I been here.  I worried about the fans.  Funnily enough when I was in the States I played a game at New York and I wasn’t happy with our performance and tactics and I shouted a bit of abuse at the bench.  My own supporters started booing me and telling me I shouldn’t swear at a football match – in my early days at City I was given abuse for being too quiet!  It was all so different.

You eventually moved into coaching – something you still do today.  Presumably, you enjoy putting something back in to the game. 

That day when Bert Trautmann came to offer advice and reassure me in 1969 meant so much to me that I guess I’ve always felt I should do the same.  Bert and the other ‘keepers taught me more than other coaches could because they had been there.  They had experience what I was experiencing, and I feel that I need to do the same.  I’ve coached all over the UK and, at one point, I was flying to Scotland, driving to Yorkshire and the north-east the next day… every day I was on the road.  Then I had ten very enjoyable years at Liverpool, and now there’s Stockport and Chester as well.  It’s great to put something back.

Finally, you were one of the inaugural entrants in to City’s Hall Of Fame.  You received the 3rd highest number of votes after Trautmann and then Bell.  How does it feel to still be remembered by fans in this way?

The Hall of Fame is such a wonderful honour.  On the night I had no idea.  I was interviewed by TV and thought I was making up the numbers but then I was the first one up.  I was choked, truly choked, and couldn’t get the right words in to my head.  Can I take this opportunity to pass on my thoughts to Norah Mercer – Joe Mercer was a fantastic man and he made such a big impression on me when I was first starting out.  Also, I’d like to thank all the players who have worked with me, and of course the supporters.  I was deeply touched by the award.  

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.