A European Semi Final Victory

Today (15 April) in 1970 German side Schalke 04 were defeated 5-1 in the ECWC semi-final second leg at Maine Road by Manchester City. You can read the story of that game (and watch video highlights) below.

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A European Replay for City

In September 2021 I was in Copenhagen and, as always when I’m in a city with a football ground, I popped over to the Parken Stadium. Most fans will remember that City drew 2-2 there with FC København in February 2009. Nedum Onuoha and Stephen Ireland scored in the UEFA Cup round of 32 first leg and in the return Craig Bellamy scored twice to give the Blues a 2-1 win on the night (4-3 on aggregate). That year we progressed to the quarter finals.

However, Copenhagen’s stadium played a much earlier role in City’s European story and, as today (31 March) is the anniversary of that game, I’m publishing this article looking back at the day when the Blues played a European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-final replay there. 

This 1500 word article is available for subscribers…

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This is Your Life Joe Mercer

Broadcast live on this day (25 March) in 1970 was the This is Your Life TV episode with Joe Mercer as the subject. Here are the details plus a special recording which supporters of all the clubs Joe was involved with could be interested in.

This Is Your Life was viewed at the time as significant recognition for a lifetime’s achievement. Only major stars and personalities were featured in those days, and the main idea would be that the subject of the programme would be surprised by the sudden appearance of presenter Eamonn Andrews and his ‘Big Red Book’. The subject would then be whisked away to a studio or other location where a variety of figures from the person’s life would be brought out to tell anecdotes and the like. The main part of the show would be broadcast live.

This is Your Life Joe Mercer 1970

Back in 1970 young Manchester City supporter John Stapleton was working on the series and he suggested they feature Joe Mercer as the topic of one show. John, who has gone on to be a prominent broadcaster with a well-regarded TV career was interviewed by me a few years back and we discussed the programme and John’s part in the idea of featuring Joe: ‘I did it purely for the benefit of me and my dad.  Eamon Andrews, the presenter, had of course a great interest in sport and I put the idea to him and the rest of the production team.  Together with Norah, Joe’s wife who in recent years I often sat with at games sharing her boiled sweets, we concocted a situation where Joe and Malcolm were in a London hotel before a trip to watch a European game in 1970. Malcolm disappeared – deliberately as part of the show though Joe didn’t know this – and Joe was called to reception urgently.  Eamon leaped out to do the big “This Is Your Life” reveal and Joe had no idea whatsoever. It was a great day for us all and Joe was thoroughly deserving of it as well.’

Joe was staying at a Hilton Hotel in London. As John described, He had been due to fly with Malcolm Allison to the continent to watch ECWC semi-final opponents Schalke but he had received a message to say the game was off. It was all a ruse of course. That night television viewers watched as Eamonn Andrews surprised Joe at the hotel reception desk: ‘Joe Mercer, former England playing star, now manager of Cup winning Manchester City, tonight. This Is Your Life!’

Eamon Andrews This is Your Life Joe Mercer 1970

At the start of the show the City team appeared. This had been an extremely busy time for the Blues. Over a 18 day period City had played two League games, the League Cup final, the second leg of the ECWC quarter-final with Coimbra and found time to work with television to honour their manager. This live show occurred on Wednesday 25 March and City were to face Derby in the League on 27th and Manchester United on 28th, plus they had to play the first leg of the ECWC semi-final with Schalke on 1st. It was incredible that a team would be involved in this at such a busy time but that’s the way it was.

This is Your Life Joe Mercer 1970 MCFC squad

As Joe explains in the show Malcolm Allison was nowhere to be seen. He had been staying with Joe at the hotel and the City manager commented: ‘I’m a great sleeper you see, and subconsciously I heard Malcolm getting up and I thought, oh, he’s going to the bathroom. I thought, well, he hasn’t come back, so he must be having a bath, and then I went back to sleep. I woke about ten and Malcolm had gone, but occasionally this happens – Malcolm disappears!’

Andrews explained that Allison had left early to watch the match which was still on. Joe was flabbergasted: ‘He’s left all his clothes! I’ve had to pack his bag as well!’

During the course of the show, Andrews informed Joe that Alf Ramsey had named the squad he was to take to the 1970 World Cup: ‘I know you haven’t had a chance to hear the news, but I’m going to tell it to you now, that two of your boys have been named by Alf for the World Cup – Francis Lee and Colin Bell. And two more in the twelve reserves – Mike Summerbee and Alan Oakes. Congratulations lads, and to the whole of the Manchester City.’

Joe was overjoyed.

Subscribers to this website are now in for a special treat as an audio of the entire episode has been preserved and can now be listened to here:

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You can listen to this special recording of Joe Mercer, Eamon Andrews, Dixie Dean, Malcolm Allison, Stan Cullis, Stanley Matthews etc. by subscribing. It costs £20 per year (cancel anytime) to access everything posted since the site began in December 2020, that includes history talks, videos, a couple of my books, hundreds of articles etc.

Joe appeared on several other This Is Your Life shows including in November 1988 when Tom Finney was the subject and in 1980 when Emlyn Hughes was. He also appeared on two for Matt Busby, one in 1958 and one in 1971 (which opened at Maine Road).

The Programme details for the Joe Mercer episode are:

  • Edition No: 274
  • Subject No: 276
  • Broadcast live: Wed 25 Mar 1970
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Venue: Euston Road Studios
  • Series: 10
  • Edition: 18
  • Director: Margery Baker
  • Producer: Robert Tyrrell
  • City supporter and broadcaster John Stapleton worked on the show

The guests were:

  • Norah – wife
  • members of Manchester City FC team 
  • Francis Lee
  • Colin Bell
  • Mike Summerbee
  • Alan Oakes
  • Alan Percival
  • David – son
David & Joan Mercer, This is Your Life Joe Mercer 1970
  • Joan – daughter-in-law
  • Arthur – brother
  • Stan Cullis
Stan Cullis, This is Your Life Joe Mercer 1970
  • Billy Dixie Dean
Billy ‘Dixie’ Dean, This is Your Life Joe Mercer 1970
  • Jim Morris
  • Charles Palmer
  • Matt Busby
  • Frank Soo
  • Walley Barnes
  • Maurice Edelston
  • Bernard Joy
  • Roy White
  • George Hardwick
  • Raich Carter
  • Neil Franklin
  • Stanley Matthews
Stanley Matthews, This is Your Life Joe Mercer 1970

Filmed tributes:

  • Malcolm Allison
  • Susan – granddaughter
  • Albert Dyson – father-in-law

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MCFC V Gornik in 1971

On this day (10 March) in 1971 a crowd reported as 100,000 witnessed a 2-0 Manchester City defeat by Gornik in the ECWC quarter final first leg. The story of that game and the rest of the tie is available below (with video clips) for subscribers to this site.

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Manchester Confidential Article 2

My second Manchester Confidential article was posted last week. This one is about Manchester City and European success, looking forward to this week’s Champions League tie with Leipzig and remembering City’s first European trophy success:

https://confidentials.com/manchester/when-will-manchester-city-achieve-european-champions-league-glory?id=63ef59984ff4e

Each month I’ll be focusing on a different club from the region and will write a piece combining the team’s modern day situation with a historical angle. My first feature was about Manchester United. I do intend covering the League clubs of Greater Manchester, plus some of our other prominent sides, over the coming months. I hope you enjoy them. Thanks.

Manchester City versus Chelsea – The story so far…

Tomorrow (5 January 2023) Manchester City play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League and so I thought I’d post a few connections, historical moments and memorable game details here. So here goes…

All-time Record (all first team competitions)

City wins 62, Chelsea wins 71, 39 drawn.

League – 154 played, 53 City wins, 62 Chelsea wins, 39 drawn.

FA Cup – Played 7 (there’ll be another this coming weekend!), 4 City wins, 3 Chelsea wins

League Cup – Played 4, 3 City wins, 1 Chelsea win.

Champions League – Played 1, 1 Chelsea win. You can read about that one here:

ECWC – Played 2, 2 Chelsea wins.

Full Members Cup – Played 2, 2 Chelsea wins.

Community Shield – Played 2, 2 City wins.

Game One

The first match between the sides was on 7 December 1907 in Division One.  Chelsea had been promoted the previous season, and the match ended 2-2 before a 40,000 crowd at Stamford Bridge.

Debuts

City debutants in this fixture include Rodney Marsh, whose first game was the 1-0 victory over Chelsea on 18 March 1972.  Local hero Tommy Booth netted the winner in front of 53,322.

Marsh was a high profile and expensive signing back in 1972. He was signed shortly before the transfer deadline back then. Another major signing who made his league debut v Chelsea was Robinho who joined the Blues on transfer deadline day back in 2008, marking his league debut v Chelsea with a goal that September.

On 14 November 1959 in a 1-1 draw, Alan Oakes made the first of an incredible 665 (plus 3 as substitute) appearances for the Blues – sadly he gave away a last minute penalty, but Bert Trautmann saved it!  You can read more on that game here:

A little over 30 years later Howard Kendall signing Niall Quinn marked his debut with a goal in another 1-1 draw.

Others to have made their debuts include Tosin Adarabioya, Aleix Garcia & David Faupala (scored on his debut). Those players all made their debuts in the FA Cup game on 21 February 2016. 

Television

The first City-Chelsea game to be shown on BBC TV was on 1 October 1955 at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea beat City 2-1. The commentator was Kenneth Wolstenholme. 

The first meeting of the sides to be shown on the BBC’s Match of the Day was 1 October 1966, when Tommy Docherty’s Chelsea beat City 4-1.  Chelsea’s scorers were Tambling, Baldwin, Kirkup and Osgood, while the dependable Neil Young netted for City.

The first live match was on Friday 4 May 1984 with a 7.15pm kick-off, again on BBC.  This Division Two match ended in a 2-0 victory for 2nd placed Chelsea, and the result ended City’s dreams of an immediate return to the top flight.  Chelsea clinched the title that season on goal difference from Sheffield Wednesday and the live game became noteworthy as it was the first Second Division match shown live on television.  Interestingly, the BBC recruited Bobby Charlton as their City ‘expert’ for this game.

Connections

Kevin De Bruyne (made three League appearances for Chelsea), Willy Caballero, Frank Lampard, Scott Sinclair, George Weah, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Nicolas Anelka, Wayne Bridge, Danny Granville, David Rocastle, Gordon Davies, Clive Allen, Clive Wilson, Terry Phelan, and Colin Viljoen are some of the players to have appeared for both clubs.  Further back amateur Max Woosnam had appeared for first Chelsea then City.  He was City’s captain for a while, and was given the honour of captaining the Blues in their first match at Maine Road.  A good all-round sportsman, Woosnam was a Wimbledon doubles champion, and Olympic gold medallist.  He also captained England.

Highest Attendances

The top five attendances for this fixture are:

85,621 – FA Cup semi final, 14 April 2013, City 2 Chelsea 1 

81,775 – 2019 League Cup final, 0-0 City won 4-3 on penalties

72,724 – 2018 Community Shield, City 2 Chelsea 0

68,000 – The highest crowd for this fixture at the old Wembley; the 1986 Full Members’ Cup Final.  

64,396 – 26 March 1948 meeting at Stamford Bridge; a 2-2- draw.

The top five attendances for City V Chelsea at the Etihad are: 54,486 on 23 November 2019; 54,457 on 3 December 2016; 54,452 on 10 February 2019; 54,331 on 16 August 2015 and 54,328 on 4 March 2018. A reduction in capacity at the Etihad means that games from 2021 onwards cannot better these figures.

The highest attendance for City V Chelsea at Maine Road was 53,322 on 18th March 1972. 

Wembley ‘86

The only game between the two sides at the old Wembley Stadium was the inaugural Full Members’ Cup Final in 1986.  Despite taking the lead in the eighth minute, City were losing 5-1 with only five minutes left.  A Mark Lillis inspired fightback followed and he helped City achieve a 5-4 scoreline, before time ran out.  It was a thrilling match and it also helped David Speedie enter the record books.  His hat-trick was the first in a senior domestic final at Wembley since Stan Mortensen in 1953.

You can read about that one here:

Kippax First and Last

City’s first & last games in front of the Kippax Stand were both against Chelsea. The first came on 5 September 1957. City won that game 5-2 (goals from Colin Barlow 2, Fionan ‘Paddy’ Fagan 2 and Billy McAdams), attendance 27,943. The second was on 20 April 1994 – a 2-2 draw (City goals from Uwe Rosler and Paul Walsh), attendance 33,594.

Did You Know?

The two Second Division matches between the sides in 1927-8 were watched by a total of 104,643.  That season City, despite being a Second Division club, had the highest average attendance of all the clubs in the Football League.

Well I Never!

The last match of the 1993-4 season was the last played in front of the old Kippax Stand.  At the time, the Kippax was the largest capacity terraced stand in the country, and Chelsea supporters (dressed as Blues Brothers) laid a wreath in front of the famous old stand.  It was a gesture much appreciated by City fans.  The game ended 2-2 and afterwards supporters hacked off pieces of the old terracing.  Even the old “Colin Bell Bar” Sign was seen being taken towards the city centre after the match!

Feature Match

My feature match is noteworthy as it was played at a time when the Blues were suffering heavy fixture congestion, and squad rotation was still something for the future.

The match is the first leg of the 1970-1 ECWC semi-final.  City were cup holders, while Chelsea had qualified after beating Leeds in the FA Cup Final replay at Old Trafford played on the same night as City’s ECWC final in April 1970.

Malcolm Allison was banned from all football activity by the FA, leaving Joe Mercer in total control.  Joe always believed the strongest team possible should play.  He didn’t hold with the view that players should be saved for the important matches and, although his belief that every team should always field their strongest side was fair and just, in 1971 it was to cost the Blues dearly.  During a relatively meaningless 4 League fixtures over the Easter period injuries piled up.  By the time of the ECWC game Summerbee, Pardoe, Oakes, Heslop, Bell, and Doyle – all crucial players – were on the injury list, causing Joe to play a team of inexperience in the most crucial match of the season.  Shortly before kick off at Stamford Bridge he solemnly told the press his team and then said:  “And may God bless this ship and all who sail in her.”

Despite their naivety, Mercer’s Minors put in a good performance.  Goalkeeper Joe Corrigan, who played the game with his left eye half-closed through injury, was in exceptional form.  Dave Sexton’s Chelsea surged forward in the opening minutes, but Corrigan kept them at bay.  Gradually, the confidence of City’s inexperienced side increased, and at half-time they entered the dressing room still level.

Sadly, a minute into the second half Tony Towers was unable to intercept a cross from Chelsea’s Keith Weller to David Webb, and a mistake by Tommy Booth allowed Derek Smethurst to score for the home side.  It was the only mistake City made all night, and the game ended 1-0.  Joe was proud of his players, and looked forward to the return.

Sadly, others (Booth and Corrigan) were missing for the second match – played only 48 hours after a gruelling 2-2 draw against Liverpool.  Again Chelsea won 1-0, this time the replacement ‘keeper, Ron Healey, turned an inswinging free kick from Weller into his own net.

City’s dream of becoming the first side to retain the trophy ended – a feat no club ever managed to do – while Chelsea went on to beat Real Madrid in the final.

The 1970-1 season had also seen a ferocious boardroom battle tear the club apart, and for the first time had caused friction between Mercer and Allison.  A year later the partnership ended for good.

Stats:  ECWC Semi-Final first leg 14 April 1971

Chelsea 1 City 0

Scorers – Chelsea: Smethurst

City: Corrigan, Book, Connor, Towers, Booth, Donachie, Johnson, Hill, Lee, Young, Mann

Attendance: 45,955 

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City 3 Bilbao 0

On this day (1 October) in 1969 Manchester City’s first home tie in the ECWC ended 3-0 (6-3 on aggregate) as the Blues defeated Athletic Bilbao.  City scorers were Alan Oakes, Colin Bell and Ian Bowyer.  Attendance 49,665. You can read more (and watch a video) about the game here:

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MCFC 20TH CENTURY CHRONICLE SEASON 1969-70

The League Matches

A 4-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday on the opening day of the season gave many supporters hope that 1969-70 would see the Blues challenge for the League title, however 3 successive defeats followed and the Mercer-Allison side struggled to find consistency.  Nevertheless they did manage to reach 4th place – 9 points behind leaders Leeds – by 18th December, and defeat Manchester United 4-0 on 15/11.

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MCFC’s first European final: ECWC victory over Gornik Zabrze

Background

On 29th April 1970 Manchester City won the European Cup Winners’ Cup beating Gornik Zabrze from Poland 2-1 at the Prater Stadium in Vienna.  Here are a few comments and feelings from supporters, players, and others affected by the game. These were gathered as part of a project I organised to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the final. As we’ve now past the 51st anniversary they have become an even greater historical record.

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The 1970 ECWC Semi-Final

Tonight (May 4, 2021) Manchester City will play the second leg of their Champions League semi final with PSG. It’s not the first European semi final the Blues have played of course, but for those thinking City’s European heritage began after the 2008 takeover here’s the story of City’s first European semi-final. This came way back in 1970!

In 1969-70 City, managed by Joe Mercer, played their first European semi-final. The second leg was was to be the best and most important European victory ever at Maine Road.

Here for subscribers is the story of both the first and second legs of that first European semi-final for the Blues.

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