The Starting Eleven – Dave Bennett

It’s the 40th anniversary of the 1981 FA Cup final on May 9 and ten years ago, as we looked forward to Manchester City appearing in the 2011 FA Cup final, I was asked by the Manchester Evening News to write profiles of the eleven players who started the 1981 final.

For the next few days I will post those profiles, one a day, free to read here. These will only be free to view until May 16, so please read them while you can. Thanks.

Here’s the latest (appearing here as it was written in 2011)…

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

In the days before squad rotation became the norm, 21 year old Dave Bennett was initially used by manager John Bond in the League Cup to fill the gaps left by the cup-tied Hutchison and Gow, and in League games following injury to Tueart. 

The young Mancunian had made his debut in 1979, but it was in the 1980-81 League Cup run that he really impressed, scoring five goals in the four games he played leading up to the semi-final.  He admitted:  “I’ve really battled hard in recent months, because there were times before when my attitude wasn’t quite right.  I’ve had my chance to grab a regular place in the side, but didn’t play well enough.”

Most assumed Bennett’s chance of appearing at Wembley ended with the League Cup semi-final defeat but, surprisingly, Bennett was selected for the FA Cup semi-final.  Shoot magazine explained:  “Bond opted for the speed and control of Bennett in preference to the guile and experience of Dennis Tueart.”

Bennett performed well and was desperate to be selected for the final:  “Wembley is the ultimate aim.  I want to play, and I don’t care if it’s in midfield or up front as long as I’m out there.  John Bond is a very determined man and he’s also a winner.  I hope I get this opportunity to prove that I can be a winner as well.”

Bennett was selected, becoming the first black footballer to represent either Manchester side in a FA Cup final.  The Mancunian played a part in the final’s first goal and, in the replay, he was the player pushed by Spurs’ Miller which led to a penalty, scored by Reeves.  The final ultimately ended in defeat of course, meaning Bennett’s chance of being a FA Cup winner was over – for a while at least. 

Five days after the 1981 FA Cup final Bennett played in City’s 1-0 League defeat at Anfield.  It was the last game of the season but, surprisingly, it was also Bennett’s last competitive game for the Blues.  The arrival of Martin O’Neill in June for £275,000 made it clear that Bennett’s opportunities would be limited and the following September he was sold to Cardiff for £100,000.

O’Neill’s form at City was poor.  Many fans felt that City would have been much better, both financially and on the pitch, had they kept Bennett.

A promotion with Cardiff in 1983 was followed by a move to Coventry City.  In 1987 Bennett scored and set up another goal as the ‘other’ Sky Blues won their first major trophy, the FA Cup.  He was also the undisputed Man of the Match.  It remains the highlight of his career:  “So special, and it felt like revenge as we beat Spurs who I lost to with Man City in the FA Cup final six years earlier.”

In 1989 he moved to Sheffield Wednesday and then Ossie Ardiles’ Swindon a year later.  The two had come face to face at Wembley in 1981 when Bennett rated him as the best in the League:  “Ossie has skill, control and a quick footballing brain.  He is dangerous, but I’m hoping we can shackle him.” 

Obviously, he did enough to impress Ardiles.  Unfortunately, Bennett was unlucky with injury and only managed one appearance for Swindon.  He suffered four leg breaks between 1988 and 1992, bringing his League career to a premature end.

Employment outside of the game, including work as a warehouseman, followed.  Today Bennett is a regular commentator on Mercia Radio covering Coventry’s games.  In March this year he was highly critical when the Board – at the time under the final days of Ray Ranson’s chairmanship – sacked manager Boothroyd:  “Ten managers in 10 years? Not good is it. We’ve had enthusiasm, we’ve had experience, now we need a magician.”  He joked:  “I’d like to see Merlin come in next!”

When interviewed he often talks fondly of his influences at City, including players Colin Bell and Brian Kidd:  “they gave me a great boost and were mentors for me.  Tony Book gave me my first chance as a professional footballer and took me under his wing.  John Bond helped me improve.”  

My biography of Peter Barnes is now available to subscribe to. Order by May 15 and you will receive a copy signed by me & Peter, the book posted to your home address before it appears in any shop AND your name printed in the book. Order (and more details) here:

The Starting Eleven – Bobby McDonald

It’s the 40th anniversary of the 1981 FA Cup final on May 9 and ten years ago, as we looked forward to Manchester City appearing in the 2011 FA Cup final, I was asked by the Manchester Evening News to write profiles of the eleven players who started the 1981 final.

For the next few days I will post those profiles, one a day, free to read here. These will only be free to view until May 16, so please read them while you can. Thanks.

Here’s the latest (appearing here as it was written in 2011)…

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

Bobby McDonald joined the Blues six months before the 1981 final and soon became hugely popular with City fans.  Together with Tommy Hutchison, he was new manager John Bond’s first signing.  The two men arrived for a combined fee of £320,000 with McDonald’s value an estimated £275,000.  

The former Coventry men, together with Bond’s third key-signing Gerry Gow, added a bit of footballing guile and experience to a side the manager felt needed on-the-pitch guidance.  Fifteen years later Bond gave his ultimate assessment on McDonald:  “I had a few doubts about him when I found out a bit more about him, but he still did a good job for us.  He had a streak in him which was a bit wayward, a bit naughty.  But he did a job and the fans loved him.  

“So we’d got a left back who was a real left back, we’d got a midfielder [Gow] who could tackle, win balls and make things happen, and we had a tremendous fellow [Hutchison] up front.  It seems a simple concept really.”     

The fans did love left-back McDonald a great deal, particularly for his exploits during the Cup run.  Most memorably in the quarter-final against Everton.  He played a part in City’s equalising goal at Goodison Park, then in the replay he scored twice in the space of three minutes.  The first coming after 65 minutes.  The match ended 3-1 with McDonald the undisputed Man Of The Match.  “He loved the glory, ” Bond later laughed.

When it came to the final McDonald – an ‘unexpected hero’ claimed the final’s match programme – made his presence felt immediately.  Garth Crooks certainly knew he was there as the City man pressured his every move.  At one point Crooks appealed for a penalty as McDonald cleverly interrupted his advance on to a pass from Ardiles.  It set the tone.  

Together with Paul Power, McDonald also kept England star Glenn Hoddle under control. 

Fate played its part of course and the final went to a replay.  When Ricky Villa made the replay 3-2 to Spurs, Bond made a switch as the Blues searched for an equaliser.  On came winger Dennis Tueart and off came left-back McDonald in the 79th minute.

After Wembley, McDonald was a consistent member of Bond’s defence, with his most-headline grabbing moment coming three games into the 1982-83 season.  In only the third minute against newly promoted Watford, goalkeeper Joe Corrigan suffered a dislocated shoulder.  These were the days before substitute ‘keepers.  McDonald:  “We didn’t have anyone named before the game for Joe’s job, and it was a shock to see Joe injured.  As soon as I was told to go in goal I accepted it, and it seemed the best decision at the time because Paul Power could take over from me at left-back.”

For the remaining 87 minutes McDonald performed superbly, making many fine saves.  In fact a Gerry Armstrong shot two minutes from time resulted in a save that any ‘keeper would have been delighted to make.  McDonald’s performance helped City win 1-0 and head the table after three straight victories.  

During the game the supporters chanted ‘Scotland’s Number One’.  McDonald:  “I appreciated the reaction from the supporters.”

At the end of that season the arrival of Billy McNeill, following relegation, brought a premature end to McDonald’s Maine Road career.  A well-publicised breach of club discipline during the 1983 pre-season led to the left-back being transferred to Oxford United that September.  The majority of supporters were disappointed to see the player go, but the manager wanted to ensure his total authority from the start.

McDonald helped his new club to the Third Division and Second Division titles in successive years, and later had spells at Leeds, Wolves and a host of non-League sides, including VS Rugby, Redditch United and Burton Albion.

In 2011, McDonald coaches in Scotland and is a youth coach with Aberdeen FC helping guide youngsters in the Glasgow area.

My biography of Peter Barnes is now available to subscribe to. Order by May 15 and you will receive a copy signed by me & Peter, the book posted to your home address before it appears in any shop AND your name printed in the book. Order (and more details) here:

The Starting Eleven – Joe Corrigan

It’s the 40th anniversary of the 1981 FA Cup final on May 9 and ten years ago, as we looked forward to Manchester City appearing in the 2011 FA Cup final, I was asked by the Manchester Evening News to write profiles of the eleven players who started the 1981 final.

For the next eleven days I will post those profiles, one a day, free to read here. These will only be free to view until May 16, so please read them while you can. Thanks.

Here’s the first (appearing here as it was written in 2011)…

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

Heralded as the Man Of The Final for his performance over the two games, Joe Corrigan was one of the biggest Maine Road stars of the period.  The 32 year old England goalkeeper had already been a Wembley Cup Final winner twice with the Blues – the 1970 and 1976 League Cup final – and his appearances in the 1981 final; cemented his name and reputation as one of England’s best.  

During the final Corrigan played superbly, making several brilliant saves, most notably when Tottenham’s Roberts sent a downward header goal-bound and another time when he rushed from his line to check Crooks on the edge of the area. 

Ultimately, Corrigan was beaten but the goal was a freak own goal scored by Tommy Hutchison.  Despite his obvious disappointment one of the most memorable sights was when the City ‘keeper walked over to Hutchison, lifted him up and patted him on the back.  Corrigan:  “We’d been on top for most of the game.  I 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.  No question.”

With the final ending in a draw Corrigan missed an important opportunity.  England were playing Brazil the following Wednesday and it is widely accepted that the City ‘keeper was to appear.  With the FA Cup replay taking place the next night, Corrigan couldn’t play and the opportunity to gain the upper hand in the race to be England’s permanent ‘keeper went begging.

After the FA Cup final replay defeat Corrigan was presented with his Man Of The Final award by Spurs’ manager Keith Burkenshaw.  “It does mean a lot to me, but I’d rather have won the final” he later admitted.

Corrigan’s reputation as one of City’s greatest players developed with the final, and he remained a popular and significant member of John Bond’s side.  However, by the summer of 1982 the Club was changing.  Finance meant Bond’s squad building plans were brought to a swift end.  The signs were not good and players like Corrigan deserved better.

The ‘keeper realised City had changed:  “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.  When Seattle made their approach in 1983 I was told I could go.”

A spell at Brighton followed before Corrigan moved into coaching:  “Bert Trautmann and the other ‘keepers taught me more than other coaches could because they had been there.   I felt 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 then Stockport and Chester as well.  It’s been great to put something back.”

In 2004 Corrigan was the first player inducted into the MEN sponsored Manchester City Hall Of Fame and his name will forever be bracketed with Swift & Trautmann as three of the game’s greatest goalkeepers.

My biography of Peter Barnes is now available to subscribe to. Order by May 15 and you will receive a copy signed by me & Peter, the book posted to your home address before it appears in any shop AND your name printed in the book. Order (and more details) here:

John Bond Interview Part 7 (Final Part)

We’ve reached the final minutes of my interview with John Bond from November 1995. I hope you’ve enjoyed it so far. As before, there’s a lot to interest and perhaps surprise in these frank views.

At the time this interview was performed I was researching my in-depth history of the club called Manchester The Greatest City (later updated as Manchester The City Years). 

I met John at his home and spent a good few hours with him chatting about the Blues and his career. I loved doing this interview and was always grateful for the time he gave me. He was extremely frank, open and honest – which delighted me because he was a great talker. He was also happy for me to quote everything he said in the interview. I did end up quoting him extensively in the book (and in others I’ve produced) but, until now, none of the interview has ever been heard by the wider public. 

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John Bond Interview Part Two

There’s a lot to interest and perhaps surprise Manchester City fans here. This is the second part of my interview with John Bond from November 1995. When I interviewed him he was frank in his views and at times outspoken – and I loved every minute of our chat!

In this clip John talks about the controversial 1981 League Cup semi-final with Liverpool; the FA Cup final (first game) against Tottenham; the way City’s directors handled the draw with Spurs (this astounded me at the time of our interview); how certain directors treated him; and how he almost resigned in between the FA Cup final and its replay. 

As this was recorded in November 1995 it is important to remember that our comments about the ‘present day’ Manchester City refer to the club as it was at that time. Similarly, when we talk about the takeover we mean the 1993-94 takeover of the club. Listening again to this piece now I’m quite pleased that my own perception was fairly accurate.

There’s also some great comments about Norwich City which will please supporters of that club.

This is about 17 minutes long (the previous piece was a similar length too). So get yourself a brew, relax in your favourite chair and listen along.

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If you would like to listen to the second part of this frank interview and read all the in-depth articles on this site (including the entire Manchester A Football History book) then please subscribe. It works out about £1.67 a month if you take out an annual subscription (£20 per year) or £3 a month if you’d like to sign up for a month at a time. Each subscriber gets full access to the 240+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

So, here exclusive to subscribers is the second part of my interview:

If you missed the first part it’s available here: 

https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/12/the-john-bond-interview/

Johnny Bond, Johnny Bond, Johnny Bond

On September 25 2012 former City manager and West Ham FA Cup winner John Bond died at the age of 79. Bond followed Malcolm Allison as manager of the Blues in October 1980 and within his first seven months he turned a struggling side into one that reached the FA Cup final and the League Cup semi-final. I wrote an obituary to John in the days that followed.

Here, for the benefit of subscribers to my blog, is that obituary.

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If you would like to listen to read this and the other in-depth articles on this site (including the entire Manchester A Football History book) then please subscribe. It works out about £1.67 a month if you take out an annual subscription (£20 per year) or £3 a month if you’d like to sign up for a month at a time. Each subscriber gets full access to the 220+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

I’ve also posted an audio interview I performed with John back in 1995. For details see: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/12/the-john-bond-interview/

The John Bond Interview

Back in November 1995 I interviewed the former Manchester City manager John Bond. At the time I was researching my in-depth history of the club called Manchester The Greatest City (later updated as Manchester The City Years).

I met John at his home and spent a good few hours with him chatting about the Blues and his career. I loved doing this interview and was always grateful for the time he gave me. He was quite frank, open and honest – which delighted me because he was a great talker. He was also happy for me to quote everything he said in the interview. I did end up quoting him extensively in the book (and in others I’ve produced) but, until now, none of the interview has ever been heard by the wider public.

Now, for the first time ever you can hear the opening 17 minutes of the interview. Here he talks about the steps taken by City to appoint him; the interview (and the directors involved in that notorious filmed interview for the City documentary in 1980-81); the signing of Tommy Hutchison, Bobby McDonald and Gerry Gow. As I said earlier, he is quite frank in his comments and that may surprise a few.

This audio recording of the first 17 minutes of the interview is available to subscribers of my blog until 19th February 2021. If you want to hear it then please subscribe below. If subscribers enjoy this piece then please let me know and, if you do, I will release other sections of the interview over the coming weeks.

Of course as this interview was recorded on my old cassette recorder the quality isn’t the best but I’m working on improving that for future pieces.

Subscribe to get access

If you would like to listen to this frank interview and read the in-depth articles on this site (including the entire Manchester A Football History book) then please subscribe. It works out about £1.67 a month if you take out an annual subscription (£20 per year) or £3 a month if you’d like to sign up for a month at a time. Each subscriber gets full access to the 220+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

The second part of the interview is now available here: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/22/john-bond-interview-part-two/

I’ve also posted an obituary I wrote to John here: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/12/johnny-bond-johnny-bond-johnny-bond/

Manchester v Liverpool

Today marks the latest in the series of games between one of the Manchester clubs and a Liverpool team. Yesterday (6 February 2021) we saw Everton score an equaliser deep in extra time in their 3-3 draw with United). Much will be made of the Manchester-Liverpool rivalry today and it is true that the two cities have been rivals for over 150 years (it certainly predates the building of the Ship Canal!) BUT the football clubs have not always been rivals.

The footballing rivalries came during the late 1960s but intensified in the late 70s. Prior to this one-off seasons may have seen grudge matches or significant games between clubs from the cities but nothing more than that. In fact for many, many years Manchester United and Liverpool, for example, were extremely close. They once put forward a suggestion to the Football League that all home teams should wear red and away teams white – the rest of football soon got wise to the plan!

There was also the time when United and Liverpool ‘fixed’ a game of football. It’s a long story (amazingly United’s solicitor was part of the ‘neutral’ investigating committee!) and can be read here: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/01/14/match-fixing-manchester-united-v-liverpool-a-long-read/

The rivalry between the footballing clubs developed in the 60s and there were many significant games between all the clubs in the two cities with several prominent matches (there were significant grudge matches between Everton and City for example in the 60s and at one point Liverpool’s Bill Shankly told the media that City were Liverpool’s biggest rival!).

I’ve covered one particularly bitter moment in the City-Liverpool rivalry from the 80s here: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/01/14/on-this-day-illegal-jumping-alf-grey-and-manchester-city-sorry/

I hope today’s game between City and Liverpool goes well (for the Manchester side of course) and it’d be great if one of the Blues could score four goals as Fred Howard did on his debut against Liverpool – see: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/01/18/imagine-scoring-four-goals-for-mcfc-against-liverpool-on-your-debut/ – and Frank Roberts did: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/01/17/the-flu-limits-mcfcs-selections-but-they-beat-liverpool-5-0-roberts-4-goals/

40 Years Ago Today (Yes, 40!) – ‘Illegal Jumping’, Alf Grey and Manchester City (Sorry!)

On this day (14th January) in 1981 Kevin Reeves had a goal disallowed for ‘illegal jumping’, according to referee Alf Grey, in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final against Liverpool at Maine Road.  

Afterwards manager John Bond claimed the referee would “never make a worse decision for as long as he lives.”  

When I interviewed Bond two decades later he was still fuming about the decision.

Even the Liverpool players, such as Souness. Phil Thompson and Alan Kennedy, believed it was a valid goal. This is even more significant as Kennedy was the player Reeves is supposed to have impeded when he jumped up to the ball!

Subscribers to http://www.GJFootballArchive.com can read an in-depth piece, with quotes from some of my interviews with those involved that night, such as John Bond, Kevin Reeves and the late Eddie Large talks about his post match discussion with Bill Shankly:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/01/13/manchester-city-liverpool-and-the-1981-league-cup-semi-final/

If you would like to read more pieces like this and the in-depth, longer articles on this site then please subscribe below. It works out about £1.67 a month if you take out an annual subscription (£20 per year) or £3 a month if you’d like to sign up for a month at a time. Each subscriber gets full access to the 120+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

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Manchester City, Liverpool and the 1981 League Cup Semi-Final!

The 1981 League Cup semi-final has gone down in history as one of the absolute grudge moments between Manchester’s Blues and Liverpool’s Reds. People often think the two clubs have only been rivals in recent years but throughout the late 60s, 70s and early 80s games between the two clubs were viewed as major events.

This tie in 1981 is one that still angers many associated with Manchester City, including former players and officials. If you would like to read the story of the tie and the reasons why, then please subscribe to this blog.

If you would like to read the in-depth articles on this site, plus content such as the entire Manchester A Football History book, then please subscribe below. It works out about £1.67 a month if you take out an annual subscription (£20 per year) or £3 a month if you’d like to sign up for a month at a time. Each subscriber gets full access to the 120+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

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