Managerial Merry-Go-Round

Due to the general downward trajectory of Manchester City during the late 1990s the 1996-97 season often gets overlooked but it is important to remember that, even in the darkest of seasons, there can be positive moments, experiences and wonderful performances by talented players. Even at the bleakest of times a young fan may be experiencing their club for the first time and, no doubt, in 1996-97 the magic of watching Manchester City for the first time was experienced by Blues who, as adults today have enjoyed some of the greatest football ever seen. Today (25 January) is the anniversary of one positive moment in the dreadful 1996-97 season: City’s FA Cup victory over Brentford. You can read about that game and the season’s FA Cup run below.

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Stan Bowles

On this day (24 December) in 1948 the great maverick Mancunian footballer Stan Bowles was born. Here’s a profile of him…

Bowles joined City as an amateur on 27 July 1965, becoming an apprentice on 1 October 1965 and then professional on 29 December 1966.

Then in 1967 things really began to happen and Bowles’ first game was as a substitute in a League Cup tie at home to Leicester City. He scored two goals in the second half and the following Saturday he made his League debut another memorable one. He scored two again!

Lots of stories have circulated over the years about his time at City. Like Mario Balotelli many years later some are truthful; others are exaggerations and some are completely make up.

The stories go that Bowles once missed a flight to Amsterdam where City were to play against Ajax, and that Bowles’ interest in the horses led to Joe Mercer saying: ‘If Stan could pass a betting shop like he can pass a ball, he’d be a world beater.’ Suspensions and other issues led to Stan refusing to sign a new contract and he asked to leave. That in itself led to him being suspended for 14 days on the advice of the Football League.

Inevitably Bowles moved on, first to Bury (July 1970) and then to Crewe (September 1970).

A spell at Carlisle followed and then in September 1972 a bid of £110,000 took him to Loftus Road where he won five England caps as a QPR player.

Seven years later Nottingham Forest’s Brian Clough bought him for £210,000 but sold him again less than a year later after further issues. Further spells were reported at Orient, Brentford, Hounslow and Epping.

In 2015 it was announced he was suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease, like his former boss Joe Mercer.

At City Bowles made a total of 20 first team appearances, scoring 4 goals, but he remains recognised as a hugely talented player.

There are articles on this site mentioning Bowles. Here’s a selection:

Abandoned Game – MCFC V Brentford

On this day (November 28) in 1936 Manchester City’s game was abandoned due to fog. For today’s piece I’m taking a look back at the season of 1936-37and that game when City and Brentford were title rivals.

The early months of the season were difficult for City. Despite exciting victories over Leeds (4-0) and West Bromwich Albion (6-2), an opening day defeat at Middlesbrough and another at Old Trafford in the first derby since February 1931 caused a little concern. The United defeat was particularly upsetting as the Reds were a side clearly lacking and destined to return immediately to the Second Division. Further City failures occurred, including a 2-1 loss at Wolverhampton and a 4-2 Maine Road defeat to Sunderland.

Significant injuries to captain Sam Barkas, and attackers Alec Herd and Fred Tilson had hampered our progress during the opening months. All three absences affected the Blues considerably – Tilson missed twenty consecutive League games; Herd eight and Barkas missed seven of the opening nine matches.

These injuries meant it was difficult to find consistency and by November 28 City were twelfth. That day they were to face Brentford at Maine Road, who were already perceived as title challengers after defeating West Bromwich Albion 2-1 the previous week. That victory had meant that Brentford were third, only one point behind leaders Sunderland. If anyone had been asked to predict which of City and Brentford were more likely to end the season as champions at that time they would inevitably have answered Brentford. However, things were about to change for Manchester’s Blues.

Subscribers to my site can find out what happened next…

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The First Championship

Although those who claim Manchester City have no history may not like reminding of this fact but it is now over 85 years ago since the Blues first won the League title. Here for subscribers is an overview of that 1936-37 title winning season.

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Title Rivals: MCFC and Brentford

Today’s anniversary game is a meeting between Manchester City and Brentford played on this day (April 3) in 1937. Believe it or not that season City and Brentford had been title rivals.

The early months of the season were difficult for City. Significant injuries to captain Sam Barkas, and attackers Alec Herd and Fred Tilson had hampered City’s progress during the opening months. By the end of November the Blues were 12th and somewhat off the pace. However, things were about to change for Manchester’s Blues with an incredible undefeated run that began with victory over Middlesbrough on Boxing Day.

Before the away game at Brentford on April 3, City had gone 15 consecutive League games without defeat.

Subscribers can read what happened next in this 1200 word article…

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MCFC 6-1 Brentford

Here’s film from this day (23 January) in 1932 of Manchester City playing Brentford at Maine Road. The 1930s was a good era for both clubs – in fact Brentford challenged City for the 1936-37 League title. The game shown here is a FA Cup tie at Maine Rd in front of 56,190.

The game is the second on this film and starts after about 1 minute 25 seconds. Watch out for some lads obviously playing up for the camera at the start of the City-Brentford clip. My favourite is the lad who larks around with his coat (below image).

There’s also a cracking City goal right at the end of the clip. Enjoy!

https://www.britishpathe.com/video/hard-luck-for-the-wolves

City’s scorers were Tilson (3), Brook (2) and Halliday.