40 Years Ago Today: Trevor Francis Debut

I feel old today as 40 Years ago today (September 5, 1981) I attended my first away game. That day my parents told me we were going to Stoke v Manchester City. The reason why? It was to be the debut of new City striker Trevor Francis. This was perceived as a huge transfer at the time (don’t be fooled into thinking major transfers have only come in recent years!) and part of manager John Bond’s plan to challenge for the League title – and for a while it looked as if they would!

Here for subscribers is a piece on that day and what followed with quotes from interviews I’ve performed with Trevor Francis and Peter Swales who tell the story of that time. There are also contemporary match reports too:

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Bidding War Between MCFC And Villa!

On this day (25 August) in 1981 Manchester City and Aston Villa were in a bidding war to sign Trevor Francis.

I know recently City have been criticised by some in the media for both high spending and for not spending more than they deem a player is worth (what a crazy world it is when a potential purchasing team is criticised for not wanting to spend what a selling club want when there are no other clubs interested in buying that player at that price!) but in 1981 the desire to sign Francis meant they were prepared to spend big if necessary.

A bidding war is always in the best interests of the selling club and occasionally a friendly word with a journalist or another club can create a bidding war even if there really isn’t much interest from a club. Thinking back I can’t remember Villa seriously going after Francis but this Daily Mirror report suggests they were interested.

It wasn’t long of course before City got their man.

Notice the brief mention of Peter Barnes at the bottom of that cutting? If you want to know more then obviously I recommend The Peter Barnes Authorised Biography (use tabs/menu to find out more).

The Starting Eleven – Tommy Hutchison

It’s the 40th anniversary of the 1981 FA Cup final today (May 9) and ten years ago, as we looked forward to Manchester City appearing in the 2011 FA Cup final, I was asked by the Manchester Evening News to write profiles of the eleven players who started the 1981 final.

For the last few days I have been posting these profiles, one a day, free to read here. These will only be free to view until May 16, so please take time to dig them out and read them while you can. Thanks.

Here’s the last of the eleven (appearing here as it was written in 2011)…

As we look forward to the 2011 FA Cup final, Gary James takes a look at the eleven players who made the starting line-up for City’s last FA Cup final in 1981.  Today, goalscorer Tommy Hutchison.

33 year old Scottish international Tommy Hutchison became a cult hero for the Blues.  A dedicated, consistent and skilful professional, he was also superbly fit. 

Earlier he played for Alloa and Blackpool before signing for Coventry in 1972.  It was an inspired purchase by former City boss Joe Mercer, who had been a fan of the player’s for some time, shortly after he had left Maine Road.  Hutchison was later voted the greatest Coventry player of all time.

John Bond also recognised the player’s strengths, signing him for City eight years later:  “I said I’ll give you £400 a week, which wasn’t the best wage in the world.  His attitude was good and he signed without making a demand.”

Hutchison’s arrival helped City enormously.  Bond:  “There isn’t a City supporter anywhere who says anything but good about Tommy Hutchison.  He was absolutely tremendous, and became a real star.  He made everything happen.  He was a revelation.  I know people say this kind of thing a lot but he was a different class.  I always enjoyed having him in my side.”

Hutchison of course played his part throughout the Cup campaign.  In fact frustration had seen Everton’s Kevin Ratcliffe sent off for head-butting the City man in the 85th minute of the quarter-final.  In the subsequent replay Hutchison created two goals within the space of three minutes.

In the 29th minute of the Wembley final, Hutchison dived to head a centre by Ranson.  The diving header flew past Aleksic’s left hand from some distance out.  It was the 150th goal scored in Wembley F.A. Cup finals.

As the game progressed City looked certain winners, then ten minutes from full-time Spurs had a free-kick.  Ardiles tapped the ball to Hoddle, who curled it around City’s defensive wall.  Corrigan was certain he had the shot covered but Hutchison, who had dropped back behind the wall for the free kick, somehow got in the way.  The ball hit his shoulder and was diverted across goal for the Spurs equaliser.  

Goalkeeper Joe Corrigan walked to a disconsolate Hutchison, lifted him up, patted him on the back and tried to encourage him:  “My view was that we still had a few minutes left.  We’d been on top for most of the game.  We could still win.  I also knew that what had happened to him could have happened to any one of us.  So I just told him to “get up, get on with it.  It’s only 1-1 and we are still going to win!”  He was devastated to be fair, but we did almost win it in the dying minutes.”

That own goal guaranteed Hutchison a place in Wembley history as the first player to score for both sides in a FA Cup final – it even became a question in the Board game Trivial Pursuit – but it never changed how fans viewed him.  He remains one of the Club’s biggest heroes, even though his time at City was ultimately too short.  Hutchison was one of the biggest reasons why the Blues had reached Wembley, and the goal was simply an unfortunate incident, albeit a very important one.

A year after Wembley, Hutchison’s role as a stabilising force was over and he was transferred to Bulova (Hong Kong).  

At the age of 43 he received a special merit award from the PFA to mark being the oldest player in League football while appearing for Swansea.

In 2011, Hutchison heads up Bristol City’s Football In The Community Scheme.  It’s a role he has enjoyed for over a decade:  “The great thing is seeing some young kids, who I first met 8 years ago when they were trouble waiting to happen, change.  One even pulled a knife on me once.  It’s great to see that our work has really made a difference.”  

My biography of Peter Barnes is now available to subscribe to. Order by May 15 and you will receive a copy signed by me & Peter, the book posted to your home address before it appears in any shop AND your name printed in the book. Order (and more details) here:

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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The Starting Eleven – Tommy Caton

It’s the 40th anniversary of the 1981 FA Cup final on May 9 and ten years ago, as we looked forward to Manchester City appearing in the 2011 FA Cup final, I was asked by the Manchester Evening News to write profiles of the eleven players who started the 1981 final.

For the next few days I will post those profiles, one a day, free to read here. These will only be free to view until May 16, so please read them while you can. Thanks.

Here’s the latest (appearing here as it was written in 2011)…

As we look forward to the 2011 FA Cup final, Gary James takes a look at the eleven players who made the starting line-up for City’s last FA Cup final in 1981.  Today, centre-back Tommy Caton.

Together with Nicky Reid (aged 20), 18 year old Tommy Caton made history by forming the youngest pair of centre-backs ever seen in the FA Cup final when they played at Wembley in 1981.  Despite their age both had been playing first team football for a couple of seasons with Caton managing 12 first team appearances before his 17th birthday.  

Caton was actually the fourth ever youngest City player when he made his debut on the opening day of the 1979-80 season.  The media and most supporters thought pre-match that this was one of Malcolm Allison’s more off-the-wall selections.  In fact Allison had wanted to play the defender in the first team the previous season, but claimed he had been prevented from doing so by the school authorities because of Caton’s age.

All suggestions that the 16 year old’s debut was an Allison-gimmick were soon proved false.  Caton helped City keep a clean sheet and his assured performance proved he thoroughly deserved the chance.  The defender retained his place for the rest of the season and, together with Joe Corrigan, Caton was an ever-present in all competitions that season.

Shortly after his 17th birthday, Caton gave his view of his career to date:  “I came to City in March 1978, signing on associate schoolboy forms and then started a full time apprenticeship in July, this year.  It was a bit strange to say the least when I played in my first few games.  I think the biggest tests have been against Arsenal, at Highbury, facing Stapleton and Sunderland.  Plus the match against Forest when it was Woodcock and Birtles.”

He struggled with injury a little during 1980-81 – a chipped ankle bone caused him to miss a period of what became a crucial season – yet he recovered in time to play a major part in John Bond’s Wembley bound side.  

Although the Daily Mail described Caton as “City’s inspiring young defender” in their match report of the cup final replay, the positive aspects of his contribution were soon overlooked as Ricky Villa’s goal became the media’s defining incident.  On his way to goal the Spurs player passed the 18 year old Caton twice, as well as others, and the media proclaimed it as a truly great goal.  City Manager John Bond was not impressed:  “I bet if Keith Burkinshaw [Spurs] had been in my place he wouldn’t have said it was a good goal.  He seemed to beat six or seven people in the space of four yards or so.”

It is worth recalling that Caton had an unusual claim to fame by becoming the first man to be booked twice in one final – he was booked in both the first game and the replay.

In March 1982 he created another record when he became the youngest player ever to appear in 100 League games for any club.  He was also, by this point, regularly tipped to become a full England international, but City’s relegation in 1983 suggested Caton needed to move to progress his career. 

In November 1983 he was sold to Arsenal after rumours that he stood little chance of playing for England while playing for a northern Second Division side.  Worth noting though that the Blues desperately needed the £500,000 fee they received, and so he was encouraged to make that move.    

Caton’s move south was not the success everybody hoped.  After only 95 League and Cup appearances with the Gunners – a developing Tony Adams was challenging him – he became Oxford’s captain.  

Early in 1993 he was forced to announce his retirement after a serious foot injury while playing for Charlton required repeated surgery.  That April he died suddenly at the age of 30 of a heart-attack. 

Of all the players who appeared in the 1981 final, Caton was the one expected to have the greatest footballing career ahead of him.  Sadly, the potential was never really fulfilled.  Caton should however always be remembered as a highly talented defender who, by the age of 17 was easily able to outperform some of the game’s biggest names.

Caton had enormous talent and ability, but ultimately so little time. 

NOTE: Tommy Caton’s son Andy made 13 appearances for Swindon Town between 2004-2007 before damaging his skull in a car accident.  A spell at Bath and Weymouth (in 2009) followed.

My biography of Peter Barnes is now available to subscribe to. Order by May 15 and you will receive a copy signed by me & Peter, the book posted to your home address before it appears in any shop AND your name printed in the book. Order (and more details) here:

The Starting Eleven -Steve Mackenzie

It’s the 40th anniversary of the 1981 FA Cup final on May 9 and ten years ago, as we looked forward to Manchester City appearing in the 2011 FA Cup final, I was asked by the Manchester Evening News to write profiles of the eleven players who started the 1981 final.

For the next few days I will post those profiles, one a day, free to read here. These will only be free to view until May 16, so please read them while you can. Thanks.

Here’s the latest (appearing here as it was written in 2011)…

As we look forward to the 2011 FA Cup final, Gary James takes a look at the eleven players who made the starting line-up for City’s last FA Cup final in 1981.  Today, midfielder Steve Mackenzie

Malcolm Allison’s signing of Steve Mackenzie stunned the football world.  The 17 year old signed from Crystal Palace for an incredible £250,000 in July 1979.  The fee alone was huge – six months earlier the transfer record stood at £516,000 – but the fact that Mackenzie hadn’t even appeared in the League and was now the costliest teenager ever was astounding.

Inevitably, great pressure followed.  Mackenzie appeared in the opening 14 League games of 1979-80 but spent more time playing reserve football.  However, by the spring of 1981 Mackenzie was a permanent fixture in the side, delivering game after game.  Captain Paul Power said at the time:  “We look a different team when Steve is playing.  He has fought his way back and proved to the boss that we can’t afford to be without him.  He adds stability to our midfield.”

Mackenzie, as well as general play, contributed some significant goals such as the spectacular 25 yarder in the 4thround tie against Norwich, and the solitary goal in the February ’81 Manchester derby – “Mac The Knife” read the MEN headline. 

It was Mackenzie who rolled a free kick to Power – a move they had worked on in training – that brought the only goal of the semi-final.

In the 58th minute of the final with the Blues leading 1-0, Mackenzie came close to scoring.  John Bond remembered:  “Reeves and Mackenzie played this magnificent 1-2.  Mackenzie got behind the defence, went around the goalkeeper, went to slot the ball into the net and it hit the post and went wide.  They’d have been dead and buried!”

Three minutes after Spurs had taken an 8th minute lead in the replay, Mackenzie equalised with one of the greatest cup final goals of all time.  A Ranson free kick was met by a half clearance allowing Mackenzie to volley home from about 20 yards.  It was a tremendous goal and the type of effort that should have won the cup.  Paul Power:  “I still believe Steve Mackenzie’s strike was just as impressive as Villa’s second goal.  If that goal had been the match winner it’s possible that would have been voted the best goal of all time.”  Bond agreed:  “Steve Mackenzie’s volley was unbelievable!”

As we all know, Spurs went on to win the replay.  Mackenzie played in one further City game but was sold – to raise money for the purchase of Trevor Francis – for £600,000 to West Bromwich Albion the following August.  Considering his age and performances during 1981 it was a disappointing departure.  

Spells at Charlton and John Bond’s Shrewsbury followed.  Once his playing career came to an end Mackenzie pursued his interest in computers to gain a BA Hons degree in Interactive Multimedia Communication in 1998.  With a strong interest in teaching and learning Mackenzie gained further qualifications in teaching and e-learning.    

He also obtained the Advanced Level FA Football Coaching award and coached at West Brom’s Academy until 2000.  He also had an enjoyable two year stint in non-league management at Atherstone United.  

Since 2003 he has worked full time in Higher Education at De Montfort University primarily as a designer and developer of distance learning courses. 

In 2004 at the age of 42 he made one appearance – and scored – for Gresley Rovers.  Today he keeps in touch with the game, reporting for the Press Association, and takes a keen informal interest in football coaching and player development.

Looking back in 2011, Mackenzie’s strongest recollections from 1981 focus on his side’s endeavours: “pride in fighting so hard to win the cup, knowing if we had to lose we could not have done much more.”  The highlight remains, of course, his goal:  “the exhilaration of scoring a spectacular goal to get us back in the game – I think my beaming smile said it all.”

Janice Monk (former City Store), Glyn Pardoe and Steve Mackenzie at the launch of Manchester The City Years in 2012

My biography of Peter Barnes is now available to subscribe to. Order by May 15 and you will receive a copy signed by me & Peter, the book posted to your home address before it appears in any shop AND your name printed in the book. Order (and more details) here:

The Starting Eleven – Ray Ranson

It’s the 40th anniversary of the 1981 FA Cup final on May 9 and ten years ago, as we looked forward to Manchester City appearing in the 2011 FA Cup final, I was asked by the Manchester Evening News to write profiles of the eleven players who started the 1981 final.

For the next few days I will post those profiles, one a day, free to read here. These will only be free to view until May 16, so please read them while you can. Thanks.

Here’s the latest (appearing here as it was written in 2011)…

As we look forward to the 2011 FA Cup final, Gary James takes a look at the eleven players who made the starting line-up for City’s last FA Cup final in 1981.  Today, 1981’s number two Ray Ranson.

Despite being only twenty at the time of the 1981 FA Cup Final, England under-21 right back Ray Ranson had been a member of City’s first team for over two years.  After making a name with both the Merseyside and England schoolboy sides, Ranson signed as an apprentice for the Blues in July 1976.  Other sides, including Liverpool, Leeds and Arsenal, had shown interest in him, but once he arrived at Maine Road his love of the Blues developed at a pace.  The right back later admitted that he became ‘City daft’ from the moment he arrived.  

Ranson’s first team opportunity came when he was 18 following injury to Kenny Clements.  He made his debut against Nottingham Forest on 23 December 1978 and the following season, after several impressive performances both for club and at Under-21 level for England, he established himself as the Blues’ regular right-back.  This meant that he was already a very experienced defender, despite his age, when the 1981 final was staged.

The match programme for the 1981 final described him as a “player of high potential” and it is true that much was expected of him at Wembley.  In the 29th minute of the first game, Ranson didn’t disappoint as he played a huge part in ensuring the Blues took the lead.  An exciting exchange of passes between Dave Bennett and Kevin Reeves near the right corner led to a great centre by Ranson.  Tommy Hutchison dived spectacularly to head the opening goal.

Ultimately, the final went to a replay.  In the seventh minute Spurs took the lead.  Three minutes later it was Ranson’s free-kick that led to City’s equaliser.  His kick was met by a half clearance which allowed Steve Mackenzie to volley home from 20 yards – a goal that was worthy of winning any cup final.  Sadly, Spurs went on to win the final with a goal that has become one of the most repeated in television history and one that must pain Ranson every time he sees it.  During an amazing weaving run Ricky Villa seemed to pass a dozen players but he actually passed Tommy Caton twice, Ranson and then Joe Corrigan.  Ranson will forever be reminded of this.  It’s an absolute certainty that at some point on Cup Final day this year the right-back will be forced to relive the nightmare moment once again.      

After Wembley Ranson remained a City regular during a difficult period for the Blues.  Then in November 1984 the St. Helens’ born player moved to Birmingham City.  At the time it was reported he had fallen out with manager Billy McNeill.  The fee City received was a bargain £15,000 – desperately low for a FA Cup finalist who was still only 24.  At St. Andrew’s he won promotion alongside City in 1985.  

Ranson later played for Newcastle – under Kevin Keegan for a spell – and then returned to Maine Road initially on loan under Peter Reid in January 1993.  

A move to Reading came in the summer of 1993, but a serious Achilles injury in February 1994 prematurely ended his time there.  Ranson eventually became player-manager of Witton Albion, before becoming involved with the finance industry.

Shortly after City’s move to the new stadium, media reports suggested Ranson was interested in buying into the Blues, then similar stories appeared linking him with a potential takeover of Aston Villa.  Later in the decade stories suggested he had come close to taking over City, but ultimately he fronted a takeover of Coventry City.  Ray Ranson became chairman of the ‘other’ Sky Blues in December 2007 but stood down at the end of March this year (2011) taking on a football consultancy role saying:  “I am more than happy to assist the new Chairman and Board as well as the football management team to get our results back on track.”

Ranson’s City career saw him make a total of 234 (plus 2 as substitute) appearances but interestingly Ranson’s spell with the Blues in 1993 meant that he was the only member of City’s 1981 FA Cup final team to appear for the Blues in the Premier League.

My biography of Peter Barnes is now available to subscribe to. Order by May 15 and you will receive a copy signed by me & Peter, the book posted to your home address before it appears in any shop AND your name printed in the book. Order (and more details) here:

The Starting Eleven – Paul Power

It’s the 40th anniversary of the 1981 FA Cup final on May 9 and ten years ago, as we looked forward to Manchester City appearing in the 2011 FA Cup final, I was asked by the Manchester Evening News to write profiles of the eleven players who started the 1981 final.

For the next few days I will post those profiles, one a day, free to read here. These will only be free to view until May 16, so please read them while you can. Thanks.

Here’s the latest (appearing here as it was written in 2011)…

As we look forward to the 2011 FA Cup final, Gary James takes a look at the eleven players who made the starting line-up for City’s last FA Cup final in 1981.  Today, captain Paul Power.

The scorer of the only goal in the semi-final victory over Bobby Robson’s treble-chasing Ipswich Town, Mancunian Paul Power was a wonderful choice as captain during the early eighties.  He was given the responsibility in October 1979 but his first year came at a time of struggle for the Blues.  However, the atmosphere improved considerably with the arrival of manager John Bond.  Power later recalled:  “By the time we reached Wembley in 1981 the captaincy was relatively easy.  The other experienced players were able to marshal their areas of the pitch well, and the mix between inexperience and experience was good.”

Reaching the final – and it should be remembered the semi-final of the League Cup – was ultimately a great achievement for City but, inevitably, the replay defeat remains a painful memory:  “I’m still very disappointed about the final result,” he admitted when I interviewed him in 2004.   “But it was a major honour to be there and to captain the side.”

“Everybody knows the story of the own goal and of the replay, but I still believe that had the game been played to a conclusion on the Saturday then we’d have won.  We were still going strong and were still confident.  Some of the Spurs players were suffering with cramp and we definitely had the game under our control.”

In the years that followed Wembley City’s fortunes took a spectacular nosedive and in 1983 the Blues were relegated: “Looking back I realise that experiencing the bad times helps you appreciate the good times more, but back then I didn’t feel like that at all.  A very, very low moment.”

Power could easily have moved on but he vowed to help City return to the top flight.  Bargain basement signings were made due to the club’s poor financial state but, despite a gallant effort, the Blues missed out on promotion.  Power, perhaps because he was a reminder of what City had been only a few years earlier, did receive some minor abuse at times:  “I had a great relationship with supporters overall, but I guess for that one season we all felt the frustration.  Funnily, twelve months later we won promotion and I was voted player of the year.”   

In 1986 Power captained City to the Full Members Cup final against Chelsea.  It was a fairly short-lived tournament, with the final watched by 68,000, and at the end of that season the 32 year old captain was transferred to Everton as cover for Pat Van Den Hauwe.  He astounded almost everyone – including himself – when he went on to appear in all but two games as Everton won the League title:  “I suppose in many ways it was like being dropped into City’s Championship team of 1968.  Every member of the side was of the right quality and all I had to do was pass the ball on.” 

Despite his modesty, Power thoroughly deserved his title medal, it was just a pity he was wearing Everton’s blue and not City’s.  That season he also scored a memorable goal against his former side:  “I kicked the ball and remember thinking ‘save it, save it’, but he didn’t and I scored!  I felt awful.  I couldn’t celebrate.  I knew City were struggling and I couldn’t bear inflicting any pain.  Awful!”

Power did ultimately return to City to take on a role with the Blues highly successful Academy.  Worth recalling that when he was first spotted by City, Chief Scout Harry Godwin’s view was that the 13 year old Power needed development himself:  “His left foot was a beauty, but there was nothing on the lad.  No flesh, no height.  Paul was the tiniest of tots, he made Ronnie Corbett look like a giant!”  

After much effort on the young player’s part Godwin took a second look:  “He’d grown, the stride had lengthened and the delicate left foot was still there.  I’d seen all I needed to in the first half hour of the game.”

In 2011 Power now helps some of the Academy’s youngest and brightest prospects develop, but he will always be remembered fondly for his unwavering dedication to the Blue cause during the highs and lows of the early 1980s.

My biography of Peter Barnes is now available to subscribe to. Order by May 15 and you will receive a copy signed by me & Peter, the book posted to your home address before it appears in any shop AND your name printed in the book. Order (and more details) here:

The Starting Eleven – Nicky Reid

It’s the 40th anniversary of the 1981 FA Cup final on May 9 and ten years ago, as we looked forward to Manchester City appearing in the 2011 FA Cup final, I was asked by the Manchester Evening News to write profiles of the eleven players who started the 1981 final.

For the next few days I will post those profiles, one a day, free to read here. These will only be free to view until May 16, so please read them while you can. Thanks.

Here’s the latest (appearing here as it was written in 2011)…

As we look forward to the 2011 FA Cup final, Gary James takes a look at the eleven players who made the starting line-up for City’s last FA Cup final in 1981.  Today, centre-back Nicky Reid.

Switched to the centre of defence when John Bond brought in Bobby McDonald, twenty year old Nicky Reid formed, with Tommy Caton, the youngest centre-back pairing in FA Cup final history when they appeared in the 1981 final.  Reid, who Malcolm Allison gave a debut to in a UEFA Cup quarter-final two years earlier, was a versatile player who had already performed well as a midfielder, left-back, right-back and in the centre of defence. 

Reid would probably have played in any position for the Blues, such was his love of City:  “I’ve always been a fanatical City supporter.  I would have joined any professional club but obviously when City came in for me, I jumped at the chance.” 

He originally joined the Club from school in 1977 under the guidance of youth coaches Steve Fleet and Dave Ewing:  “They gave me my first experience of proper football.  They showed me what being a professional was all about.”

As the man who gave Reid his first team opportunity, Malcolm Allison once described the player as “the fiercest tackler since Dave Mackay” – a major compliment, particularly as it came at the start of his career and set expectations.  Nevertheless, Reid did impress and Allison had been a major influence:  “He gave me the belief I could do the business and he instilled a lot of confidence in me.”

Inevitably for a committed defender, disciplinary matters meant Reid did not figure in every tie during the 1981 FA Cup run.  In fact, his sending off in a January League game with Middlesbrough came in very unusual circumstances.  Firstly, the visitors wore Manchester United’s home kit as the game was to be televised and Boro arrived with shirts bearing their sponsor’s name – shirt advertising was not allowed on TV at the time.  They made a quick dash to Old Trafford to use the Reds’ shirts instead. 

Later, an over-reaction by the referee saw Reid and Boro’s Hodgson given red cards for a bit of arm and shirt-pulling.  What made this newsworthy was the fact that this was the last day before the red card system ended – it did eventually return later in the decade.  Reid was suspended for the fourth round.

In the build-up to the ’81 final Shoot magazine highlighted the role the Mancunian was to play:  “It is Reid’s job to shackle the menace of the opposing dangermen – a task he carried out to devastating effect when he subdued Dalglish and Mariner in semi-final ties recently.”

The magazine was fairly accurate with its prediction and Reid received significant praise for his performance in the initial drawn game.  In fact the Daily Mail named Reid as one of the reasons why Tottenham did not deserve a second chance:  “For what they are worth to the bewildered Tommy Hutchison, the defiant Joe Corrigan, the prodigious Nicky Reid and the inspiring John Bond, my sympathies are with City.  At least they gave their all for 90 minutes and then dredged up a little extra for the additional half-hour.  With the heroic exception of Graham Roberts, Tottenham’s approach was a disgrace.”

Despite Reid’s endeavours in both games, he left Wembley defeated, but he remained a very popular and important member of Bond’s side, and then later Billy McNeill’s Blues.  

Apart from a summer spent playing in the USA Reid remained a Blue until 1987 when he transferred to Blackburn.  He helped the side gain promotion and then spells at West Bromwich Albion, Wycombe, Woking, Witton Albion, and Bury followed.  In 1997 he became Sligo Rovers player-manager, winning the FAI League Cup, but soon decided to concentrate on the rehabilitation of footballers instead, taking degrees in Sports Rehabilitation and also in Physiotherapy.  

Years of study followed:  “The studying has been a long hard slog, and It would have been very difficult for me financially but the PFA sponsored me.  I am sports-mad and I just saw physiotherapy as a way to stay involved in sport.”

After various fitness and physio roles at Burnley, City, Barrow, Bury and Hyde, he replaced Paul Lake as physio at Macclesfield Town in 2008.

In 2011, his current role has his full focus and keeps him involved in a sport he loves.

My biography of Peter Barnes is now available to subscribe to. Order by May 15 and you will receive a copy signed by me & Peter, the book posted to your home address before it appears in any shop AND your name printed in the book. Order (and more details) here:

The Starting Eleven – Kevin Reeves

It’s the 40th anniversary of the 1981 FA Cup final on May 9 and ten years ago, as we looked forward to Manchester City appearing in the 2011 FA Cup final, I was asked by the Manchester Evening News to write profiles of the eleven players who started the 1981 final.

For the next few days I will post those profiles, one a day, free to read here. These will only be free to view until May 16, so please read them while you can. Thanks.

Here’s the latest (appearing here as it was written in 2011)…

As we look forward to the 2011 FA Cup final, Gary James takes a look at the eleven players who made the starting line-up for City’s last FA Cup final in 1981.  Today, forward Kevin Reeves.

When Malcolm Allison signed Kevin Reeves in March 1980 he was only the fourth footballer to have cost £1m or more, with City responsible for 50 per cent of those signings.  Allison was happy with his £1.25m purchase:  “He is the nearest thing in today’s soccer to Kevin Keegan… City fans will soon be delighted.  We can all thank the astuteness of our Chairman Peter Swales.  Mr Swales has backed his beliefs and his management team.”

As with Steve Daley, City’s record transfer at the time, the fee put Reeves under tremendous pressure, the difference was that by the time of the 1981 final the former Norwich player was delivering game after game.  Reeves:  “There’s no denying that with City struggling under Malcolm there was pressure, but once John Bond came in the entire atmosphere changed and the fact I had cost a million didn’t matter any more.”

Reeves was also playing for a team he loved:  “My interest in City came when I was about ten and first getting seriously keen on football.  City were winning everything.  The FA Cup final in 1969 was the day I really became a fan.  I wasn’t from Manchester but as a young boy interested in playing I had to support the team that played the type of attractive football I wanted to play.”

In the 1981 FA Cup final replay Reeves scored City’s second goal from the penalty spot – “a remarkably composed despatch” was how one journalist described it – but he felt Spurs held the advantage:  “Steve Mackenzie scored a great volley and I netted a penalty, but Spurs had momentum and once Villa scored that goal it was clear they would win.  It’s nice that it’s remembered as one of the great cup finals and it is also the greatest occasion I played in.  I have to say though it is also my biggest disappointment.  There was nothing anyone could say to lift me.  It’s a day when you understand exactly how the fans feel.”    

Joe Corrigan felt that Reeves’ contribution both in the final, and the season in general, had been high:  “Kevin Reeves was injured early on and that was a major blow – he is one of City’s most underrated players.  Reeves was a very, very good player.”

It should be remembered that he was also at the centre of controversy in the League Cup semi-final against Liverpool.  The Blues were harshly treated with a Reeves’ goal being disallowed for ‘illegal jumping’:  “This was the most controversial incident of my time really.  There was absolutely nothing wrong with that goal and the television film proved it.  It was perfectly legitimate and the referee could never properly explain why he disallowed it.  What made it worse was that after scoring I ran to the Kippax celebrating with the other players unaware of the referee’s decision, and then discovered Liverpool were attacking our goal.  The entire match changed by a very, very unfair decision.  We were all furious.  If I’d have known I’d done something wrong then I’d have owned up at the time but, believe me, all these years later I still know I did nothing wrong that day.”

That goal would, almost certainly, have seen the Blues progress to the 1981 League Cup final as well, but the initiative swung to Liverpool who went on to win the tie 2-1 on aggregate.

Reeves finished both the 1980-81 and 1981-82 seasons as City’s top scorer and proved to be the best value of City’s million pound stars of the high-spending late 70s/early 80s, but relegation in 1983 brought an end to his City career: “It was the worst moment of my City career.  The club needed to cut costs and inevitably I had to leave.  A terrible period really.”

A move to John Bond’s Burnley followed but ultimately Reeves’ career was to be cut short by an arthritic hip.  Various coaching posts followed, most notably with Swansea.  In 2011, Kevin Reeves is chief scout at Wigan Athletic.

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