Manchester City Hall of Fame: Joe Corrigan’s significant game

City 2 Tottenham 3

FA Cup Final Replay

14th May 1981

City Team: Corrigan, Ranson, McDonald (Tueart), Reid, Power, Caton, Bennett, Gow, Mackenzie, Hutchison, Reeves

Attendance: 92,500

For Joe Corrigan these two matches may not have brought him a winner’s medal but they did raise his profile nationally and bring him the accolade of ‘man of the final’.  An enormous television audience worldwide witnessed this the 100th FA Cup final and the story of City’s season captured a great deal of attention.  The Blues had commenced the season with Malcolm Allison as manager but results, performances, and a general air of doom and gloom made the first few months extremely difficult.  Then John Bond arrived in October and the atmosphere transformed totally as City progressed to the League Cup semi-finals and the 100th FA Cup final.

City were in control for most of the initial match at Wembley.  Tommy Hutchison had put City into the lead in the 29th minute and the Blues looked unstoppable.  Danger did come from Spurs at times but Joe played magnificently and blocked any danger.  Unfortunately, ten minutes from the end disaster struck.  Tottenham were awarded a free kick twenty yards out.  Osvaldo Ardiles tapped the ball to Glenn Hoddle, who curled it around the wall.  Joe knew he had the shot covered but Hutchison somehow got in the way.  The ball hit his shoulder and was diverted passed Joe and into the net for Tottenham’s equaliser.  Joe:  “I’m sure Hoddle’s free-kick was going wide until Tommy got in the way and deflected it past me.”

Immediately after the equalising goal Joe, clearly disconsolate himself, walked over to the devastated Hutchison, helped him to his feet, and muttered a few words as he patted him on the back.  Clearly at a time when blame would have been easy to apportion the City ‘keeper thought more about the feelings of his team mate than the incident itself.  That says a great deal about Joe’s humanity.

The game went into extra time and with the score at 1-1 after 120 minutes, a replay was scheduled for the following Thursday.  Joe and most of the City side received considerable praise in the media with the Daily Mail stating:  “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 exception of Graham Roberts, Tottenham’s approach was a disgrace.”

All neutrals seemed to share those views and City felt aggrieved.  Personally Joe would have preferred to see the game settled on the Saturday:  “For me the FA Cup Final is all about the Saturday.  The players are all hyped up, the fans are all hyped up, the television is all hyped up.  The Cup Final is meant to be all about who is best on the day.  I’ve no doubt that on the Saturday we were the better team.  The second game did not feel like an FA Cup final.”

Despite Joe’s views, the second game has become recognised as a classic.  It ended 3-2 to Spurs, but contained a couple of superb goals.  The most famous one is Ricky Villa’s 75th minute Tottenham winner, but City fans will always remember Steve Mackenzie’s twenty yard volley as a classic goal.

For Joe the second game put him under more pressure than the first and he certainly performed heroically.  In the years since the final the story of Ricky Villa’s goal has grown and grown yet on the day itself it was the performance of City’s brilliant ‘keeper which won the acclaim.  His profile was raised once again, but undoubtedly Joe would have much preferred to see City win the Cup rather than receive the glory himself.