Decisive Derbies: April 30, 2012

It was one of the most important Manchester derby matches of all time. Second placed City, who were still searching for their first League title since 1968, were to face League leaders United at the Etihad Stadium in a crucial game. United led the table by three points but City’s goalscoring exploits in recent games had swung goal difference back the Blues’ way. With two games left after the derby a victory for United would almost end City’s chance of winning the title, while a City victory would put the Blues in the driving seat.  

Here for subscribers to my site is the story of this monumental derby game.

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Law’s Last League Game

On this day (April 27) 1974 Denis law played his last League game on a day that saw Manchester United relegated. Law was in his second spell at Manchester City and, over the years, many myths have developed about his final game and the weeks that followed.

United fans like to say that this game had no bearing on relegation (though pre match United were not relegated and still had a chance of survival) while City fans like to boast that Law’s goal relegated United (mathematically it did not). Many in the media claim Law’s goal was his last in first team football (it wasn’t) and that he retired immediately afterwards (he didn’t). There are other myths about the pitch invasions (there were two not one) and the actions of the ref, so here for the benefit of subscribers is the true story of that day, including quotes from interviews I have performed over the years. Those quoted are Dennis Tueart, Tommy Docherty, Denis law and Willie Donachie.

So get yourself a brew and enjoy this long read on that infamous day:

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Decisive Derbies – The First All-Manchester Semi-Final 1926

It was a typical season of highs and lows when City and United met in the first all-Manchester FA Cup semi-final, played on this date (27th March) in 1926.  Here I’ve delved into the archives to see what happened at Bramall Lane in 1926.

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The First Manchester Derby at the Etihad

The first Manchester derby at Manchester City’s new stadium (then called the City of Manchester Stadium, now the Etihad) occurred on this date (14th March) in 2004.  For pride’s sake it was important Kevin Keegan’s side did not lose that fixture, but with United some 13 places above the Blues pre-match Ferguson’s side were clear favourites.  It was time for City to upset the form book.

On a wonderful day, perhaps the best the stadium had enjoyed in its inaugural year, a terrific atmosphere helped Keegan’s side achieve a memorable victory.  Fowler opened the scoring in the third minute and Macken made it 2-0 after 32 minutes.  Scholes made it 2-1 three minutes later.  

In the second half goals from Mancunian Trevor Sinclair (73) and Shaun Wright-Phillips made it 4-1 to the Blues.  You can hear my interview with Trevor Sinclair about this game here:

Trevor Sinclair Interview

Matt Dickinson (The Times):  “Humiliated by Manchester City last season, Sir Alex Ferguson and his men used the pain to fuel their drive to the title.  Humiliated again yesterday, they are condemned to live with the despair for months – perhaps even years.”  

Keegan felt the win was thoroughly deserved:  “We had played better against Chelsea and lost.  But against United we got that important early goal which gave us something to hang on to.  We had personnel problems because we had players doing jobs that don’t come naturally to them and also had to make two enforced changes at the interval.”

Chris Bailey explained the significance of the match in the Manchester Evening News:  “Maine Road saw some pulsating derbies in its time but few could have matched this first-ever neighbourly spat at Eastlands.  And how satisfying that Kevin Keegan’s side should choose this day of all days to win their first home game since October 18 and banish all thoughts of the drop.”

In 2012 Dennis Tueart, who was a director at the time of the stadium move, told me his memories of that derby match, believing it was an important moment in the stadium’s inaugural season:  “When we moved to the stadium Kevin Keegan worried about whether the atmosphere would be the same and I told him that fans would take a bit of time getting used to it because they were no longer sat with the people they’d been with for years.  The dynamics were different.  He felt we should try and get fans in the ground earlier, but I said that performance on the pitch would be the most significant factor.  

“When we beat United 4-1 in the first derby at the stadium the atmosphere was incredible.  Kevin came to me afterwards and said ‘I see what you mean’.  That then set the tone of the place.  The place was rocking – people were singing as they walked down the spirals at the end of the match and the atmosphere was absolutely superb.”

If you would like to read about other Manchester derbies then check out this:

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Manchester Derby Day

It’s Derby Day! I know we don’t need anything to get us pumped up for this game but if you want to know a bit about the history of this fixture of would like to relive past games, here are links to articles/posts/videos on my site about past games…

There’s also the entire Manchester A Football History free to download for subscribers. Start here:

The 2011 All-Manchester FA Cup Semi Final: 1 Hour Special Audio

It’s FA Cup week AND Manchester Derby week, so the time seems right to post this special 1 hour long audio I produced last year on Manchester City’s FA Cup semi final victory over Manchester United at Wembley on April 16 2011. This recording looks at the game and the years between the 1976 League Cup success and the FA Cup glory of 2011. The 2011 semi-final was a crucial step in City’s journey since the 2008 takeover and I felt it was vital to do a special marking this.

So what’s in this special recording? Well, I’ve included exclusive material from interviews and recordings I’ve done over the years with Garry Cook, Brian Marwood, Roberto Mancini, Peter Barnes and Peter Swales.  Why Swales? Well, have a listen and you’ll hear why. Basically though I’m trying to set the tone for why the 2011 FA Cup semi final victory and overcoming Manchester United was so significant.

On Mancini… I include a few words from him recorded in 2011 and at one point he talks about the view that was then being expressed that City were ‘trying’ to buy success (now they say City ‘have’ bought success!). His words are a reminder that City have been having that particular criticism thrown at them for over a decade! Oh well, I wonder how long those criticisms were laid at other clubs who had seen major investment which propelled them forward?

Anyway, get yourself a brew and be prepared to be transported back in time. Here’s the recording:

If you enjoy the recording then please let me know, comment or subscribe to the site. If it’s of interest then, over the coming months and years, I’ll produce others like this highlighting key points in Manchester City – and Manchester’s – footballing history. It costs £20 a year to subscribe (it works out £1.67 a month) or £3 if you’d like to sign up a month at a time to get full access for as long as you subscribe (you can always try it for a month). It’s worth bearing in mind that the 2010 Manchester A Football History cost £24.95 and all subscribers will be able to access all of that for as long as they are a subscriber (plus all the other stuff of course). You can subscribe below.

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Match Stats for the 2011 FA Cup Semi-final

City 1-0 United (HT 0-0)

Yaya Toure 52

City: 25 Hart 04 Kompany (yellow card), 05 Zabaleta (yellow card), 13 Kolarov, 19 Lescott, 11 Johnson (Wright-Phillips 79), 18 Barry, 21 Silva (Vieira 86), 34 De Jong (yellow card), 42 Y Toure, 45 Balotelli (yellow card). Substitutes 12 Taylor, 38 Boyata, 07 Milner, 08 Wright-Phillips, 24 Vieira, 10 Dzeko, 27 Jo

United: 01 Van der Sar, 03 Evra, 05 Ferdinand, 15 Vidic, 22 O’Shea (Fabio Da Silva 84), 13 Park Ji-Sung, 16 Carrick, 17 Nani, 18 Scholes (red card), 25 Valencia (Hernandez 65), 09 Berbatov (Anderson 74). Substitutes 29 Kuszczak, 12 Smalling, 20 Fabio Da Silva, 08 Anderson, 28 Gibson, 07 Owen, 14 Hernandez

Referee: Dean

Attendance: 86,549

Goater’s 9 Second Goal

After defeating Manchester United in the November derby (the last at Maine Road), Manchester City were hopeful of success in the return derby at Old Trafford. The game, played on this day (9th February) in 2003, went down in history for a remarkable appearance by substitute Shaun Goater.

The story of this game was written up a couple of years ago for an update of my 1991 book The Pride Of Manchester (co-written with Steve Cawley). Sadly, that book was never updated, though Steve and I put considerable effort into creating all the content. 

Here, exclusively for subscribers, is the story of that game as drafted to appear in the updated but aborted Pride Of Manchester.  

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I Just Wellied It!

On this day (February 3) in 1990 Manchester City and Manchester United drew 1-1 at Old Trafford. The derby became remembered as the ‘Wellied It!’ derby. Here is the story of that day with quotes from an interview I did with Ian Brightwell a few years ago. He explains how the ‘Wellied It!’ phrase came about and why he said it. Enjoy….

Howard Kendall’s City arrived at Old Trafford for the return derby match on February 3 1990. So much had changed since September when Mel Machin’s City had defeated Alex Ferguson’s United 5-1 and so the game was always going to be a difficult one to call. As the Blues were now supposedly a better side it is true to say most City fans eagerly awaited this particular match. Disappointingly, United only gave City 600 seats and 4,500 terrace tickets, although even that was considerably more than in the years that followed. The eventual attendance was only 40,274 in a stadium holding a minimum of 48,000, as many disenchanted United fans stayed away. 

Although there were noticeable gaps in the United sections, the paddock in front of the Main Stand appeared full of City supporters. They were later joined by Blues evacuated from the Stretford End and estimates from impartial observers suggested there were around 12,000 City fans in the 40,000 crowd. 

The match was the 100th meeting in the First Division and commenced with City tearing into the Reds as they had in September. The Blues were actually two points better off than United in the League and the difference in position prompted City fans to chant “Fergie in” to annoy the home contingent… Football humour, hey?

Squandering some early chances, City looked the more composed overall but when Clarke missed a sitter some fans still muttered about Everton rejects (it had been a thing ever since Howard Kendall’s arrival and transfer of several former Evertonians to Maine Road). It wasn’t just the Evertonians who should have given City the lead; Ian Brightwell was also guilty of a shocking miss when, with Leighton off his line, the youngster feebly lobbed the ball wide. Don’t worry, he made up for it!

Against the run of play it was actually United who took the lead when Clayton Blackmore was gifted a free header. Fortunately, within five minutes Mark Ward found Brightwell who, from fully 25 yards out, blasted a stunning shot past Leighton for the equaliser. Afterwards the delighted player explained exactly how he’d scored by succinctly telling the media: “I just wellied it!”  In May 2010 he remembered how the expression came about:  “We totally outplayed them, but Clayton Blackmore scored even though we’d had most of the chances.  I had a chance in the first half, but that’s a different story.  Once they went a goal ahead you’d normally think it’s going to be difficult, but we still had a lot of chances and I felt we’d still do it.  I remember that the ball was out on the right and Mark Ward sort of half-crossed it.  It came to me and I’ll never forget this – I heard Steve Redmond on the half way line shout:  “Bob…” I’d best not say his exact words, but let’s just say he wanted me to have a go in his strong scouse accent!  It was on my left foot, which isn’t my strongest, but I did what Reddo said.  It went in the top corner!

“I ran off and jumped about twenty feet in the air – or at least that’s how it looks on the photos.  I remember the noise because back then the away fans used to get about 10,000 tickets at Old Trafford and it was phenomenal.  

“When we came to do the post-match TV interview I was asked the usual stuff and then was asked about the goal.  So I told him what I just told you, being careful not to say what Reddo actually shouted!  Just as I was doing it, someone walked past and we had to do the interview again.  But then the same happened again.  So we had to do it a third time.  By this point I thought I had to say it in a different way – inexperience I guess.  I didn’t need to, but I ended up saying:  ‘the ball came out to me and I just wellied it!’  It’s true I did, but now it’s the phrase that people remember.  It summed it up nicely, but it wasn’t what I’d meant to say.”

The match should have brought a City victory, but everyone seemed satisfied with a point. You can watch highlights of the game here: 

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On This Day: An All-Manchester FAC Tie (Story and Film)

On this day (29th January) in 1955 –goals from Joe Hayes and Don Revie give Manchester City a 2-0 victory over Manchester United in the FAC in front of 74,723. Here’s the story and film of that game (some great footage here!).

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On This Day – A FA Cup Manchester Derby (Story And Film)

On this day (24th January) in 1970 Manchester City and Manchester United met for the fourth of five meetings that season. This game was in the FA Cup and the following article tells the story of that game and includes highlights of the match.

If you would like to view this article 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 500+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming months.

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