On this day (1 April) in 2000 Manchester City won 2-0 at Swindon Town. The game was watched by 12,397 and the goals came from the now dependable (there had been concern amongst fans earlier in his City career) Shaun Goater – his 27th of the campaign – and Mark Kennedy.
Manager Joe Royle was delighted, although concerned by City’s first half performance: ‘I am delighted with the victory and I thought we fully deserved the points. It wasn’t the best game in the first half, but Shaun Goater did well for the first goal, and we always looked comfortable after the half-time interval and more dangerous after we changed things around.’
The game had not been a good one for 25-year-old midfielder Tony Grant who had made his first start since January. He was replaced by Ian Bishop early in the second half and from that point on the game came alive. Despite the result the Swindon directors were pleased with the match. The Wiltshire club had allowed City fans to occupy both ends of their tiny ground, and it was reported that over half of the 12,397 crowd were supporting the Blues. At £17 per ticket it was calculated the additional gate money was worth over £100,000 to the relegation bound club.
In the table, City had a game in hand over most clubs, and now lay third on 72 points. The near invincible Charlton (87 points) still headed the League while Barnsley (74 points) were second. Ipswich were fourth – one point behind City after the same number of matches – while Birmingham were fifth on 69 points.
On this day (25 March) in 1998 cult hero Ian Bishop returned to Maine Road for his second spell with Manchester City. At the time fans saw that as further evidence new manager Joe Royle understood the club and its fans. Bishop was idolised in his previous spell almost nine years earlier, and his departure provoked demonstrations against then manager Howard Kendall.
Bishop loved the support he got during his first brief spell: ‘I remember we were playing Norwich and the crowd sang my name. I cannot describe how that felt. I never wanted to leave but I knew that there was no future for me at City. Ever since then I have hoped I would get another chance at the Club but you begin to wonder if it will ever happen. Whenever I have returned to Maine Road with West Ham the reception has been amazing.
‘I feel I have at least three or four good years in me because my game has never been based on pace alone. I want to make up for the time I lost because I have always regretted that my first spell here only lasted six months. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to end my career here, although I am not planning to hang up my boots for some time.’
After achieving promotion the previous season City embarked on the 1989-90 First Division campaign with a view to consolidate rather than set the world alight. The relatively low-key City manager, Mel Machin, seemed determined to play down expectations, especially as other clubs – in particular Manchester United – were spending millions on strengthening their squad. City could not afford to spend wildly, although they did increase their overdraft by signing Clive Allen and Ian Bishop during the close season for a combined fee of around £1.75m.
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A flash back to this date in 1998 and the debut of an influential figure in MCFC history…
Manchester City’s first ever third tier season had been one of struggle so far prompting manager Joe Royle to search for changes. He brought in loan signings Michael Branch and Andy Morrison and they made impressive debuts at home to Colchester. The game had been goalless at half time – and City had been booed off! – but substitute Ian Bishop brought some drive to the team in the second half. In the 49th minute Horlock netted a penalty and four minutes later his corner was headed home by Morrison for a debut day goal. Colchester scored a consolation via Jason Dozzell but it was Morrison who ended the day the happiest. Royle: “Morrison was strong-willed and proved a good passer. And at least we have someone who talks at the back!” A week later the Blues made Morrison’s move a permanent one, signing him for £80,000.
Morrison continued to impress in the next game, a 3-0 victory over near neighbours Oldham. Kevin Horlock was actually the star man, scoring twice in the first half, with Morrison netting a volley for the third. Royle was happy with the win but not the specifics of the match: “We were nowhere near our best but we scored three terrific goals, had one disallowed, hit the bar and didn’t get a blatant penalty so I can’t be disappointed.”
The Blues were now up to fifth and there was a feeling that a corner had been turned – but the season had many twists to come yet!
Match stats: 31 Oct 1998 Colchester United (H) W 2-1 Horlock (pen), Morrison Attendance 24,820
On this day (25th March) in 1998 Manchester City cult hero Ian Bishop returned to the club. Here subscribers can read an interview I did with the former Bournemouth, West Ham and City player in 2015.
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