The 1981 FA Cup Final

On this day (May 9) in 1981 the 100th FA Cup Final took place between Manchester City and Tottenham.

Here for subscribers is a long read on the build up to that game, the final and the post-final scenes. It contains material from interviews I have performed over the years with Dennis Tueart, John Bond and Joe Corrigan. There are also a few quotes that may surprise readers of what discussions took place after the final.

Here goes….

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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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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:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/03/14/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:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/category/manchester-derbies/

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This was a brief taste of the material on http://www.GJFootballArchive.com If you would like to read all the in-depth articles (including the entire Manchester A Football History book and the audio interview with John Bond) 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 270+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

Kevin Keegan Resigns; Stuart Pearce Becomes Manchester City Manager

Manchester City suffered a 1-0 home defeat by Bolton Wanderers on 7th March 2005 and this game ultimately led to a significant change to the then 12th placed Blues.  Years later, in an interview I did with him the City chairman John Wardle told me that Kevin Keegan, the City manager, took him to one side:  “There were nine games left and Kevin said ‘John, I can’t do any more for you’.  I didn’t believe him.  I thought it was a joke at first but with Kevin you knew when he was being serious.  He said ‘I know when I’m done and it’s only right that you put somebody else in’.  I sat there shell-shocked.  He said that if I wanted him to recommend someone he would.  He then recommended Stuart Pearce. 

“Stuart had already left Carrington and we had to call him back.  I spoke with him, then Kevin talked with him.  It was like a handover.  Kevin packed his bags and left.  We never saw him again at the training ground.  That’s Kevin.  Once he makes a decision to move on, he moves on.  Obviously, it stunned me on the day but I have to stress that I cannot speak highly enough about Kevin Keegan.  He’s a real football person and he also cares about people.”  

Keegan was hugely popular with fans and they recognised that he had been responsible for the second stage in City’s redevelopment following the disastrous mid-nineties.  They also felt that the departure of Nicolas Anelka in January was a sign that financial issues were having a severe impact on the Club.  The player was sold for a reported £7m to Fenerbahce.  At the time this was City’s record sale.  

It is fair to say that Keegan’s time brought a great deal of pride back to the Club.  Director Dennis Tueart felt that bringing Keegan in during 2002 was absolutely the right move for the Club. He told me:  “I knew he wouldn’t stay for years and years because I knew him.  He said to me in 1975 that he would never stay anywhere longer than about five years.  People told us he wouldn’t stay but I said if he can have control for a couple of years and get us out of this division then that’s fine.  That’s what we needed.  Let’s manage first things first and get out of this division.  If we can’t do that then what hope? So it was no surprise to me when he eventually left us.”

Former City and England captain Stuart Pearce guided the Blues through the final nine games of 2004-05, taking over on this day (11th March) in 2005.  Apart from a 2-1 defeat in his first game, the Blues were unbeaten until the end of the season.  This run included victories over Liverpool (1-0), Birmingham (3-0), Portsmouth (2-0) and Villa (2-1).  As a result Stuart Pearce was named the Barclays Premiership Manager of the Month for April.  The Club announced he was the first City manager to win the award since the birth of the Premier League.  That was not true – Alan Ball had, of course, previously won the award in 1995-96.

Subscribe to get access to the entire site

This is a sample of the in-depth material available on this site. If you would like to read all the in-depth articles (including the entire Manchester A Football History book and listen to a frank interview from John Bond) 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 270+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

John Bond Interview – Part 5

Here’s the fifth part of the 1995 interview I performed with former Norwich City, Manchester City and Burnley boss John Bond. In this section, exclusive to subscribers, Bond talks about the great players he had at City. Most notably he talks about Dennis Tueart, Kevin Reeves, Joe Corrigan, Paul Power and Tommy Caton.

He was extremely frank, open and honest – which delighted me because he was a great talker. It’s well worth listening to. At the time we did this 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 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.

(NOTE: If you downloaded part four yesterday before 17.15 UK time then you actually downloaded part 5 instead. I’d posted part 5 instead of 4. I corrected this about 17.15 yesterday so go back to yesterday’s post and you’ll find the real part 4. Sorry!).

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If you would like to listen to the fifth part of this frank interview (and the other parts) 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 250+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

Re-Using Match Tickets

Today (26th February) reminds me of how football clubs would often do anything to save a few quid or to avoid spending money they didn’t need to. The reason? Because on this day in 1977 Manchester City’s League game with Sunderland was postponed.

The game was postponed because the Blues were drawn to face Leeds United in the fifth round of the FA Cup that day and so the original League fixture was rescheduled. Tickets had already been sold for the Sunderland League game and, rather than issue new tickets, the club simply announced the original tickets would be used for the new game. It made common sense and this was something that happened often when cup games meant League games had to be postponed. Now, in the days when entry for home fans is mostly by card (though some tickets are issued of course), it seems an unusual occurrence.

The re-arranged game saw City beat Sunderland 1-0 on 9th March with a goal from Dennis Tueart. As for the FA Cup tie – that ended in a 1-0 defeat before 47,731 at Elland Road.

Recently Noel Bayley wrote a guest blog on match tickets and their significance. It’s a free read here: https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/16/guest-blog-noel-bayley-to-be-retained/

Swansea and City

It’s Swansea v Manchester City tonight in the FA Cup and so I thought I’d put together a few historical facts and stats about games between the two clubs.

Game One: The first competitive meeting between the two teams came in Division Two on 25 September 1926. The Blues had been relegated the previous May and the historic first meeting with Swansea Town (Swansea was not a city at this point) ended in a 3-1 City victory at Maine Road, before 24,314 fans. George Hicks, Tommy Johnson & Frank Roberts netted for the Blues.

The return game also ended in a 3-1 win on 12 February 1927. Hicks and Johnson both scored again, with Johnson netting twice. A Swansea crowd of 20,345 watched on.

The first top flight game between the sides didn’t come until 21 November 1981 (following Swansea’s promotion) and saw two each from Kevin Reeves and Dennis Tueart (the first a penalty 4 minutes before half time) help City to a 4-0 win. Here’s film of that game – see if you can spot the fan carrying two pints (presumably of Greenall’s or Grunhalle!) back to his seat (the days when we were allowed to drink in our seats or on the Kippax – well, not quite all of us. I was just 14 at the time!):

The first Premier League meeting came on 15 August 2011 – another 4-0 City win. This time Dzeko, Aguero (2) and David Silva each scored at the Etihad before 46,802. Film of that game here:

https://www.mancity.com/citytv/match-highlights/2011/august/city-v-swansea-60-seconds

Incredibly the first FA Cup meeting didn’t come until 16 March 2019 and this saw City win 3-2 at Swansea (OG from Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Bernardo Silva & Sergio Aguero). City had been losing 2-0 (a penalty from Matt Grimes in 20th minute and Bersant Celina netted the other in 29th minute) up until Silva’s 69th minute goal. The action from this game can be viewed here:

https://www.mancity.com/citytv/match-highlights/2019/march/swansea-v-city-highlights-extended

Prior to tonight’s game of course: In terms of all time record the two teams have met on 36 occasions:

Played 36; City won 25; Drawn 4; Swansea won 7.

Breakdown by competition is:

League P34; City won 23; Drawn 4; Swansea won 7

FAC P1; City won 1; Drawn 0; Swansea won 0

League Cup P1; City won 1; Drawn 0; Swansea won 0.

The highest scoring game between the teams came in August 1927 when City beat Swansea Town 7-4 in Division Two. 34,316 watched a hat trick from Tommy Johnson and other goals from Peter Bell, Charlie Broadhurst, George Hicks and Frank Roberts.

Here’s hoping tonight’s game brings as much entertainment as that one did.

While you’re here, it’s worth taking a look at something else already posted on http://www.GJFootballArchive.com. It’s a profile of Tommy Hutchison who was a cult hero at MCFC and also spent time with Swansea City:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/2020/12/30/the-starting-eleven-tommy-hutchison/