The Starting Eleven – Paul Power

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, captain Paul Power.

The scorer of the only goal in the semi-final victory over Bobby Robson’s treble-chasing Ipswich Town, Mancunian Paul Power was a wonderful choice as captain during the early eighties.  He was given the responsibility in October 1979 but his first year came at a time of struggle for the Blues.  However, the atmosphere improved considerably with the arrival of manager John Bond.  Power later recalled:  “By the time we reached Wembley in 1981 the captaincy was relatively easy.  The other experienced players were able to marshal their areas of the pitch well, and the mix between inexperience and experience was good.”

Reaching the final – and it should be remembered the semi-final of the League Cup – was ultimately a great achievement for City but, inevitably, the replay defeat remains a painful memory:  “I’m still very disappointed about the final result,” he admitted when I interviewed him in 2004.   “But it was a major honour to be there and to captain the side.”

“Everybody knows the story of the own goal and of the replay, but I still believe that had the game been played to a conclusion on the Saturday then we’d have won.  We were still going strong and were still confident.  Some of the Spurs players were suffering with cramp and we definitely had the game under our control.”

In the years that followed Wembley City’s fortunes took a spectacular nosedive and in 1983 the Blues were relegated: “Looking back I realise that experiencing the bad times helps you appreciate the good times more, but back then I didn’t feel like that at all.  A very, very low moment.”

Power could easily have moved on but he vowed to help City return to the top flight.  Bargain basement signings were made due to the club’s poor financial state but, despite a gallant effort, the Blues missed out on promotion.  Power, perhaps because he was a reminder of what City had been only a few years earlier, did receive some minor abuse at times:  “I had a great relationship with supporters overall, but I guess for that one season we all felt the frustration.  Funnily, twelve months later we won promotion and I was voted player of the year.”   

In 1986 Power captained City to the Full Members Cup final against Chelsea.  It was a fairly short-lived tournament, with the final watched by 68,000, and at the end of that season the 32 year old captain was transferred to Everton as cover for Pat Van Den Hauwe.  He astounded almost everyone – including himself – when he went on to appear in all but two games as Everton won the League title:  “I suppose in many ways it was like being dropped into City’s Championship team of 1968.  Every member of the side was of the right quality and all I had to do was pass the ball on.” 

Despite his modesty, Power thoroughly deserved his title medal, it was just a pity he was wearing Everton’s blue and not City’s.  That season he also scored a memorable goal against his former side:  “I kicked the ball and remember thinking ‘save it, save it’, but he didn’t and I scored!  I felt awful.  I couldn’t celebrate.  I knew City were struggling and I couldn’t bear inflicting any pain.  Awful!”

Power did ultimately return to City to take on a role with the Blues highly successful Academy.  Worth recalling that when he was first spotted by City, Chief Scout Harry Godwin’s view was that the 13 year old Power needed development himself:  “His left foot was a beauty, but there was nothing on the lad.  No flesh, no height.  Paul was the tiniest of tots, he made Ronnie Corbett look like a giant!”  

After much effort on the young player’s part Godwin took a second look:  “He’d grown, the stride had lengthened and the delicate left foot was still there.  I’d seen all I needed to in the first half hour of the game.”

In 2011 Power now helps some of the Academy’s youngest and brightest prospects develop, but he will always be remembered fondly for his unwavering dedication to the Blue cause during the highs and lows of the early 1980s.

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 – Nicky Reid

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, centre-back Nicky Reid.

Switched to the centre of defence when John Bond brought in Bobby McDonald, twenty year old Nicky Reid formed, with Tommy Caton, the youngest centre-back pairing in FA Cup final history when they appeared in the 1981 final.  Reid, who Malcolm Allison gave a debut to in a UEFA Cup quarter-final two years earlier, was a versatile player who had already performed well as a midfielder, left-back, right-back and in the centre of defence. 

Reid would probably have played in any position for the Blues, such was his love of City:  “I’ve always been a fanatical City supporter.  I would have joined any professional club but obviously when City came in for me, I jumped at the chance.” 

He originally joined the Club from school in 1977 under the guidance of youth coaches Steve Fleet and Dave Ewing:  “They gave me my first experience of proper football.  They showed me what being a professional was all about.”

As the man who gave Reid his first team opportunity, Malcolm Allison once described the player as “the fiercest tackler since Dave Mackay” – a major compliment, particularly as it came at the start of his career and set expectations.  Nevertheless, Reid did impress and Allison had been a major influence:  “He gave me the belief I could do the business and he instilled a lot of confidence in me.”

Inevitably for a committed defender, disciplinary matters meant Reid did not figure in every tie during the 1981 FA Cup run.  In fact, his sending off in a January League game with Middlesbrough came in very unusual circumstances.  Firstly, the visitors wore Manchester United’s home kit as the game was to be televised and Boro arrived with shirts bearing their sponsor’s name – shirt advertising was not allowed on TV at the time.  They made a quick dash to Old Trafford to use the Reds’ shirts instead. 

Later, an over-reaction by the referee saw Reid and Boro’s Hodgson given red cards for a bit of arm and shirt-pulling.  What made this newsworthy was the fact that this was the last day before the red card system ended – it did eventually return later in the decade.  Reid was suspended for the fourth round.

In the build-up to the ’81 final Shoot magazine highlighted the role the Mancunian was to play:  “It is Reid’s job to shackle the menace of the opposing dangermen – a task he carried out to devastating effect when he subdued Dalglish and Mariner in semi-final ties recently.”

The magazine was fairly accurate with its prediction and Reid received significant praise for his performance in the initial drawn game.  In fact the Daily Mail named Reid as one of the reasons why Tottenham did not deserve a second chance:  “For what they are worth to the bewildered Tommy Hutchison, the defiant Joe Corrigan, the prodigious Nicky Reid and the inspiring John Bond, my sympathies are with City.  At least they gave their all for 90 minutes and then dredged up a little extra for the additional half-hour.  With the heroic exception of Graham Roberts, Tottenham’s approach was a disgrace.”

Despite Reid’s endeavours in both games, he left Wembley defeated, but he remained a very popular and important member of Bond’s side, and then later Billy McNeill’s Blues.  

Apart from a summer spent playing in the USA Reid remained a Blue until 1987 when he transferred to Blackburn.  He helped the side gain promotion and then spells at West Bromwich Albion, Wycombe, Woking, Witton Albion, and Bury followed.  In 1997 he became Sligo Rovers player-manager, winning the FAI League Cup, but soon decided to concentrate on the rehabilitation of footballers instead, taking degrees in Sports Rehabilitation and also in Physiotherapy.  

Years of study followed:  “The studying has been a long hard slog, and It would have been very difficult for me financially but the PFA sponsored me.  I am sports-mad and I just saw physiotherapy as a way to stay involved in sport.”

After various fitness and physio roles at Burnley, City, Barrow, Bury and Hyde, he replaced Paul Lake as physio at Macclesfield Town in 2008.

In 2011, his current role has his full focus and keeps him involved in a sport he loves.

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 – Kevin Reeves

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, forward Kevin Reeves.

When Malcolm Allison signed Kevin Reeves in March 1980 he was only the fourth footballer to have cost £1m or more, with City responsible for 50 per cent of those signings.  Allison was happy with his £1.25m purchase:  “He is the nearest thing in today’s soccer to Kevin Keegan… City fans will soon be delighted.  We can all thank the astuteness of our Chairman Peter Swales.  Mr Swales has backed his beliefs and his management team.”

As with Steve Daley, City’s record transfer at the time, the fee put Reeves under tremendous pressure, the difference was that by the time of the 1981 final the former Norwich player was delivering game after game.  Reeves:  “There’s no denying that with City struggling under Malcolm there was pressure, but once John Bond came in the entire atmosphere changed and the fact I had cost a million didn’t matter any more.”

Reeves was also playing for a team he loved:  “My interest in City came when I was about ten and first getting seriously keen on football.  City were winning everything.  The FA Cup final in 1969 was the day I really became a fan.  I wasn’t from Manchester but as a young boy interested in playing I had to support the team that played the type of attractive football I wanted to play.”

In the 1981 FA Cup final replay Reeves scored City’s second goal from the penalty spot – “a remarkably composed despatch” was how one journalist described it – but he felt Spurs held the advantage:  “Steve Mackenzie scored a great volley and I netted a penalty, but Spurs had momentum and once Villa scored that goal it was clear they would win.  It’s nice that it’s remembered as one of the great cup finals and it is also the greatest occasion I played in.  I have to say though it is also my biggest disappointment.  There was nothing anyone could say to lift me.  It’s a day when you understand exactly how the fans feel.”    

Joe Corrigan felt that Reeves’ contribution both in the final, and the season in general, had been high:  “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.”

It should be remembered that he was also at the centre of controversy in the League Cup semi-final against Liverpool.  The Blues were harshly treated with a Reeves’ goal being disallowed for ‘illegal jumping’:  “This was the most controversial incident of my time really.  There was absolutely nothing wrong with that goal and the television film proved it.  It was perfectly legitimate and the referee could never properly explain why he disallowed it.  What made it worse was that after scoring I ran to the Kippax celebrating with the other players unaware of the referee’s decision, and then discovered Liverpool were attacking our goal.  The entire match changed by a very, very unfair decision.  We were all furious.  If I’d have known I’d done something wrong then I’d have owned up at the time but, believe me, all these years later I still know I did nothing wrong that day.”

That goal would, almost certainly, have seen the Blues progress to the 1981 League Cup final as well, but the initiative swung to Liverpool who went on to win the tie 2-1 on aggregate.

Reeves finished both the 1980-81 and 1981-82 seasons as City’s top scorer and proved to be the best value of City’s million pound stars of the high-spending late 70s/early 80s, but relegation in 1983 brought an end to his City career: “It was the worst moment of my City career.  The club needed to cut costs and inevitably I had to leave.  A terrible period really.”

A move to John Bond’s Burnley followed but ultimately Reeves’ career was to be cut short by an arthritic hip.  Various coaching posts followed, most notably with Swansea.  In 2011, Kevin Reeves is chief scout at Wigan Athletic.

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 – Gerry Gow

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 Gerry Gow.

Gerry Gow arrived at Maine Road in October 1980 as John Bond’s third signing in two days.  The others were Tommy Hutchison and Bobby McDonald.  Shortly before his death in the mid-90s City chairman Peter Swales remained convinced that those signings were of immense significance to the Blues:  “probably the three best players we’ve ever had as a group.”  He added:  “If Gerry Gow had been injured – which he could’ve been – we would probably have gone down that season.”

Although it wasn’t publicised at the time, according to Bond his chairman took a major gamble on Gow:  “There was no way in the world he would have been able to sustain a medical examination because he would have failed it!  I had a chat with Swales and he asked me what I wanted to do and I said that I still wanted to sign him.  So he let me pay £175,000 and we just had to take a chance… but what a chance.  He was a revelation.”

Gow was only 28 but with his wild hair and handlebar moustache he gave the impression of a very experienced combatant.  Most opponents would have feared him.  According to Bond he had an immediate impact:  “Gerry Gow stopped everything happening for the opposition, and that rubbed off on the rest of the players.  Gow’s tenacity rubbed off on Ray Ranson, Tommy Caton and Nicky Reid and the others.”      

The midfielder did also contribute a few goals, including the second in the 6-0 thrashing of Bond’s former side Norwich in the fourth round and an equaliser at Goodison in the quarter-final.  Worthy contributions, but it was in the final that Gow was at his tenacious best.  Early in the first half he made both Ardiles and Hoddle feel his presence – the Daily Mail described him as “Manchester’s lunging hit-man Gow” while the Observer said “Gow was to employ his talents as a bone-cruncher on Hoddle.”

City fans loved Gow’s commitment, although the Daily Mail felt “The lionising of Gerry Gow may tell us much that is wrong with English football.”  What it actually told everyone was that the midfielder was loved for his determined approach and, whereas some players may have frozen on the big stage, Gow seemed more committed than ever.  He was viewed as the most effective member of the side by many neutrals and it is a fact that he helped ensure Spurs’ midfield were largely ineffectual.

Sadly, Gow did also play a part in Tottenham’s equaliser.  John Bond did not blame the player, but he did feel there was some irony in the fact that Gow and Hutchison, who actually scored the equalising own goal, had been two of the driving forces in City’s transformation:  “Gerry Gow was the one who caused the free kick because he was on the half way line with the ball, and was robbed of the ball.  He chased the player right back to the edge of the penalty area and then he fouled him.   He used to get upset when somebody beat him.  He gave a foul away and Hoddle shot at goal.”

The replay ended in defeat.  “Gow had given so much in the first game that he must have been drained for the second match,” was the honest assessment of goalkeeper Joe Corrigan.  “He still did well, though.”

After Wembley, Gow suffered with cartilage problems and in January 1982 he moved on to Rotherham.  A spell at John Bond’s Burnley followed in 1983, and later he became manager of Yeovil and then Weymouth.  More recently he has worked as a publican, and in the engineering trade in Dorset.

Today, he remains a hero at both City and at his previous club Bristol City.  In April, without his trade mark wild hair, he was given the best reception of the night by Bristol City fans at a function honouring some of the club’s biggest stars.  No doubt something similar would occur at Eastlands.

Gow only appeared in 36 City games but it was enough to ensure he achieved cult status.    

NOTE: Sadly, Gerry Gow died on October 10 2016.

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 – 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:

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.

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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/

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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