The Starting Eleven – Gerry Gow

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 Gerry Gow.

Gerry Gow arrived at Maine Road in October 1980 as John Bond’s third signing in two days.  The others were Tommy Hutchison and Bobby McDonald.  Shortly before his death in the mid-90s City chairman Peter Swales remained convinced that those signings were of immense significance to the Blues:  “probably the three best players we’ve ever had as a group.”  He added:  “If Gerry Gow had been injured – which he could’ve been – we would probably have gone down that season.”

Although it wasn’t publicised at the time, according to Bond his chairman took a major gamble on Gow:  “There was no way in the world he would have been able to sustain a medical examination because he would have failed it!  I had a chat with Swales and he asked me what I wanted to do and I said that I still wanted to sign him.  So he let me pay £175,000 and we just had to take a chance… but what a chance.  He was a revelation.”

Gow was only 28 but with his wild hair and handlebar moustache he gave the impression of a very experienced combatant.  Most opponents would have feared him.  According to Bond he had an immediate impact:  “Gerry Gow stopped everything happening for the opposition, and that rubbed off on the rest of the players.  Gow’s tenacity rubbed off on Ray Ranson, Tommy Caton and Nicky Reid and the others.”      

The midfielder did also contribute a few goals, including the second in the 6-0 thrashing of Bond’s former side Norwich in the fourth round and an equaliser at Goodison in the quarter-final.  Worthy contributions, but it was in the final that Gow was at his tenacious best.  Early in the first half he made both Ardiles and Hoddle feel his presence – the Daily Mail described him as “Manchester’s lunging hit-man Gow” while the Observer said “Gow was to employ his talents as a bone-cruncher on Hoddle.”

City fans loved Gow’s commitment, although the Daily Mail felt “The lionising of Gerry Gow may tell us much that is wrong with English football.”  What it actually told everyone was that the midfielder was loved for his determined approach and, whereas some players may have frozen on the big stage, Gow seemed more committed than ever.  He was viewed as the most effective member of the side by many neutrals and it is a fact that he helped ensure Spurs’ midfield were largely ineffectual.

Sadly, Gow did also play a part in Tottenham’s equaliser.  John Bond did not blame the player, but he did feel there was some irony in the fact that Gow and Hutchison, who actually scored the equalising own goal, had been two of the driving forces in City’s transformation:  “Gerry Gow was the one who caused the free kick because he was on the half way line with the ball, and was robbed of the ball.  He chased the player right back to the edge of the penalty area and then he fouled him.   He used to get upset when somebody beat him.  He gave a foul away and Hoddle shot at goal.”

The replay ended in defeat.  “Gow had given so much in the first game that he must have been drained for the second match,” was the honest assessment of goalkeeper Joe Corrigan.  “He still did well, though.”

After Wembley, Gow suffered with cartilage problems and in January 1982 he moved on to Rotherham.  A spell at John Bond’s Burnley followed in 1983, and later he became manager of Yeovil and then Weymouth.  More recently he has worked as a publican, and in the engineering trade in Dorset.

Today, he remains a hero at both City and at his previous club Bristol City.  In April, without his trade mark wild hair, he was given the best reception of the night by Bristol City fans at a function honouring some of the club’s biggest stars.  No doubt something similar would occur at Eastlands.

Gow only appeared in 36 City games but it was enough to ensure he achieved cult status.    

NOTE: Sadly, Gerry Gow died on October 10 2016.

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 – Dave Bennett

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 Dave Bennett.

In the days before squad rotation became the norm, 21 year old Dave Bennett was initially used by manager John Bond in the League Cup to fill the gaps left by the cup-tied Hutchison and Gow, and in League games following injury to Tueart. 

The young Mancunian had made his debut in 1979, but it was in the 1980-81 League Cup run that he really impressed, scoring five goals in the four games he played leading up to the semi-final.  He admitted:  “I’ve really battled hard in recent months, because there were times before when my attitude wasn’t quite right.  I’ve had my chance to grab a regular place in the side, but didn’t play well enough.”

Most assumed Bennett’s chance of appearing at Wembley ended with the League Cup semi-final defeat but, surprisingly, Bennett was selected for the FA Cup semi-final.  Shoot magazine explained:  “Bond opted for the speed and control of Bennett in preference to the guile and experience of Dennis Tueart.”

Bennett performed well and was desperate to be selected for the final:  “Wembley is the ultimate aim.  I want to play, and I don’t care if it’s in midfield or up front as long as I’m out there.  John Bond is a very determined man and he’s also a winner.  I hope I get this opportunity to prove that I can be a winner as well.”

Bennett was selected, becoming the first black footballer to represent either Manchester side in a FA Cup final.  The Mancunian played a part in the final’s first goal and, in the replay, he was the player pushed by Spurs’ Miller which led to a penalty, scored by Reeves.  The final ultimately ended in defeat of course, meaning Bennett’s chance of being a FA Cup winner was over – for a while at least. 

Five days after the 1981 FA Cup final Bennett played in City’s 1-0 League defeat at Anfield.  It was the last game of the season but, surprisingly, it was also Bennett’s last competitive game for the Blues.  The arrival of Martin O’Neill in June for £275,000 made it clear that Bennett’s opportunities would be limited and the following September he was sold to Cardiff for £100,000.

O’Neill’s form at City was poor.  Many fans felt that City would have been much better, both financially and on the pitch, had they kept Bennett.

A promotion with Cardiff in 1983 was followed by a move to Coventry City.  In 1987 Bennett scored and set up another goal as the ‘other’ Sky Blues won their first major trophy, the FA Cup.  He was also the undisputed Man of the Match.  It remains the highlight of his career:  “So special, and it felt like revenge as we beat Spurs who I lost to with Man City in the FA Cup final six years earlier.”

In 1989 he moved to Sheffield Wednesday and then Ossie Ardiles’ Swindon a year later.  The two had come face to face at Wembley in 1981 when Bennett rated him as the best in the League:  “Ossie has skill, control and a quick footballing brain.  He is dangerous, but I’m hoping we can shackle him.” 

Obviously, he did enough to impress Ardiles.  Unfortunately, Bennett was unlucky with injury and only managed one appearance for Swindon.  He suffered four leg breaks between 1988 and 1992, bringing his League career to a premature end.

Employment outside of the game, including work as a warehouseman, followed.  Today Bennett is a regular commentator on Mercia Radio covering Coventry’s games.  In March this year he was highly critical when the Board – at the time under the final days of Ray Ranson’s chairmanship – sacked manager Boothroyd:  “Ten managers in 10 years? Not good is it. We’ve had enthusiasm, we’ve had experience, now we need a magician.”  He joked:  “I’d like to see Merlin come in next!”

When interviewed he often talks fondly of his influences at City, including players Colin Bell and Brian Kidd:  “they gave me a great boost and were mentors for me.  Tony Book gave me my first chance as a professional footballer and took me under his wing.  John Bond helped me improve.”  

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 – Bobby McDonald

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, left-back Bobby McDonald.

Bobby McDonald joined the Blues six months before the 1981 final and soon became hugely popular with City fans.  Together with Tommy Hutchison, he was new manager John Bond’s first signing.  The two men arrived for a combined fee of £320,000 with McDonald’s value an estimated £275,000.  

The former Coventry men, together with Bond’s third key-signing Gerry Gow, added a bit of footballing guile and experience to a side the manager felt needed on-the-pitch guidance.  Fifteen years later Bond gave his ultimate assessment on McDonald:  “I had a few doubts about him when I found out a bit more about him, but he still did a good job for us.  He had a streak in him which was a bit wayward, a bit naughty.  But he did a job and the fans loved him.  

“So we’d got a left back who was a real left back, we’d got a midfielder [Gow] who could tackle, win balls and make things happen, and we had a tremendous fellow [Hutchison] up front.  It seems a simple concept really.”     

The fans did love left-back McDonald a great deal, particularly for his exploits during the Cup run.  Most memorably in the quarter-final against Everton.  He played a part in City’s equalising goal at Goodison Park, then in the replay he scored twice in the space of three minutes.  The first coming after 65 minutes.  The match ended 3-1 with McDonald the undisputed Man Of The Match.  “He loved the glory, ” Bond later laughed.

When it came to the final McDonald – an ‘unexpected hero’ claimed the final’s match programme – made his presence felt immediately.  Garth Crooks certainly knew he was there as the City man pressured his every move.  At one point Crooks appealed for a penalty as McDonald cleverly interrupted his advance on to a pass from Ardiles.  It set the tone.  

Together with Paul Power, McDonald also kept England star Glenn Hoddle under control. 

Fate played its part of course and the final went to a replay.  When Ricky Villa made the replay 3-2 to Spurs, Bond made a switch as the Blues searched for an equaliser.  On came winger Dennis Tueart and off came left-back McDonald in the 79th minute.

After Wembley, McDonald was a consistent member of Bond’s defence, with his most-headline grabbing moment coming three games into the 1982-83 season.  In only the third minute against newly promoted Watford, goalkeeper Joe Corrigan suffered a dislocated shoulder.  These were the days before substitute ‘keepers.  McDonald:  “We didn’t have anyone named before the game for Joe’s job, and it was a shock to see Joe injured.  As soon as I was told to go in goal I accepted it, and it seemed the best decision at the time because Paul Power could take over from me at left-back.”

For the remaining 87 minutes McDonald performed superbly, making many fine saves.  In fact a Gerry Armstrong shot two minutes from time resulted in a save that any ‘keeper would have been delighted to make.  McDonald’s performance helped City win 1-0 and head the table after three straight victories.  

During the game the supporters chanted ‘Scotland’s Number One’.  McDonald:  “I appreciated the reaction from the supporters.”

At the end of that season the arrival of Billy McNeill, following relegation, brought a premature end to McDonald’s Maine Road career.  A well-publicised breach of club discipline during the 1983 pre-season led to the left-back being transferred to Oxford United that September.  The majority of supporters were disappointed to see the player go, but the manager wanted to ensure his total authority from the start.

McDonald helped his new club to the Third Division and Second Division titles in successive years, and later had spells at Leeds, Wolves and a host of non-League sides, including VS Rugby, Redditch United and Burton Albion.

In 2011, McDonald coaches in Scotland and is a youth coach with Aberdeen FC helping guide youngsters in the Glasgow area.

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 – Joe Corrigan

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 eleven 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 first (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, Joe Corrigan.

Heralded as the Man Of The Final for his performance over the two games, Joe Corrigan was one of the biggest Maine Road stars of the period.  The 32 year old England goalkeeper had already been a Wembley Cup Final winner twice with the Blues – the 1970 and 1976 League Cup final – and his appearances in the 1981 final; cemented his name and reputation as one of England’s best.  

During the final Corrigan played superbly, making several brilliant saves, most notably when Tottenham’s Roberts sent a downward header goal-bound and another time when he rushed from his line to check Crooks on the edge of the area. 

Ultimately, Corrigan was beaten but the goal was a freak own goal scored by Tommy Hutchison.  Despite his obvious disappointment one of the most memorable sights was when the City ‘keeper walked over to Hutchison, lifted him up and patted him on the back.  Corrigan:  “We’d been on top for most of the game.  I 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.  Personally, I believe the game should have been played to a conclusion on that night.  The FA Cup is all about the Saturday and I know we would have won had it gone to a conclusion.  No question.”

With the final ending in a draw Corrigan missed an important opportunity.  England were playing Brazil the following Wednesday and it is widely accepted that the City ‘keeper was to appear.  With the FA Cup replay taking place the next night, Corrigan couldn’t play and the opportunity to gain the upper hand in the race to be England’s permanent ‘keeper went begging.

After the FA Cup final replay defeat Corrigan was presented with his Man Of The Final award by Spurs’ manager Keith Burkenshaw.  “It does mean a lot to me, but I’d rather have won the final” he later admitted.

Corrigan’s reputation as one of City’s greatest players developed with the final, and he remained a popular and significant member of John Bond’s side.  However, by the summer of 1982 the Club was changing.  Finance meant Bond’s squad building plans were brought to a swift end.  The signs were not good and players like Corrigan deserved better.

The ‘keeper realised City had changed:  “I think I should have left a little earlier.  I love City but it got to the stage where I knew I wasn’t really wanted here.  The fans were marvellous; the players were great; but maybe it wasn’t really my time any more.  When Seattle made their approach in 1983 I was told I could go.”

A spell at Brighton followed before Corrigan moved into coaching:  “Bert Trautmann and the other ‘keepers taught me more than other coaches could because they had been there.   I felt that I need to do the same.  I’ve coached all over the UK and, at one point, I was flying to Scotland, driving to Yorkshire and the north-east the next day… every day I was on the road.  Then I had ten very enjoyable years at Liverpool, and then Stockport and Chester as well.  It’s been great to put something back.”

In 2004 Corrigan was the first player inducted into the MEN sponsored Manchester City Hall Of Fame and his name will forever be bracketed with Swift & Trautmann as three of the game’s greatest goalkeepers.

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:

John Bond Interview Part 7 (Final Part)

We’ve reached the final minutes of my interview with John Bond from November 1995. I hope you’ve enjoyed it so far. As before, there’s a lot to interest and perhaps surprise in these frank views.

At the time this interview was performed 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 extremely frank, open and honest – which delighted me because he was a great talker. 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. 

Subscribe to get access

If you would like to listen to the third 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 240+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

John Bond Interview Part 6 (of 7)

We’ve entered the final thirty minutes of my 1995 interview with John Bond with these final minutes split into two sections. This section, part 6 of the full interview, sees Bond and I discuss City’s directors, lack of success and so on. For anyone wondering what the issues were with City in the 80s and 90s it’s well worth listening to this. He ends with his views on a game between City and Liverpool from Boxing Day 1981.

At the time of this interview in November 1995 I was researching my in-depth history of Manchester City 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 extremely frank, open and honest – which delighted me because he was a great talker. 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. 

Subscribe to get access

If you would like to listen to the sixth 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.

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!).

Subscribe to get access

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.

John Bond Interview – Part Four

Back in November 1995 I interviewed the former Manchester City manager John Bond. At the time 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 extremely frank, open and honest – which delighted me because he was a great talker. He was also happy for me to share everything he said in the interview recording. I did end up quoting him extensively in the book (and in others I’ve produced) but, until publication on my blog, none of the interview had ever been heard by the wider public. 

This is part four of the interview. It’s about twenty minutes long and this is perhaps the most frank section of the entire recording. At the time we recorded this he was still somewhat upset at the way he’d been treated by City fans at the Bradford promotion game in 1989. I was one of the fans there who had not been happy with what he’d said on TV the night before and I ask him about it a little on here. Whenever I do an interview I’m never looking for soundbites or people to tell me the stories that they think I want to hear. I want the truth and to hear about their feelings. I try to ask them about moments that I remember as a fan but also the things that matter to me. So I wanted to know how he felt about City’s fans.

It upset me hearing how much he had been upset by the treatment he had received and – as you can hear in this clip – he also talks about feeling unwelcome at Maine Road (for various reasons, not simply fans). In 2002-03 I helped City with some of their plans for the end of Maine Road and I made sure that John Bond was on the guest list. I know he was reluctant about attending and had to be persuaded. City had this plan to parade a few legends around the pitch and I felt it would do John Bond some good to hear what the majority of fans actually felt about him. That final day at Maine Road he was given a fantastic ovation.

In a later interview he told me: “I was gobsmacked by their reaction!  When I came out and heard the cheering I was delighted.  I loved that reaction.  Afterwards I rushed home and told my family about the reception and how delighted I was with it. There were times during my management when I received fantastic support from the fans, and at Maine Road’s final game I was delighted with the ovation. I truly enjoyed that feeling when I walked around the pitch.  I’d like to thank the supporters for that reaction.”

So, when you’re listening to this section of the interview it’s important to remember that what happened in 2003 had allowed resolution to occur. He no longer felt so negatively about fans. His views in 1995 though should still be heard.

In this piece he also talks about Peter Swales, the City directors, why he left and so on. Again, his views are frank. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he said but much of what he said about the directors during his time should be heard. It adds context to what many of us always felt. As we recorded this in 1995 it’s also worth pointing out that Bond could see what perhaps those of us who supported City could not see entirely – that was the downward path the Blues were following and why. This interview occurred while City were still a Premier League side but listening to this provides some good indications of why things got worse for City as the decade progressed. 

Of course as this interview was recorded on my old cassette recorder the quality isn’t the best.

So, here exclusive to subscribers is the fourth part of my interview:

Subscribe to get access

If you would like to listen to the fourth 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.

If you missed the other three parts then they can be accessed by selecting the John Bond tag below or by searching for his name.

A Special relationship

As West Ham visit the Etihad Stadium today (27th February 2021) to face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Premier League I thought I’d take a look at the special relationship between the fans of the two clubs.

Similarities

Both City and West Ham fans have a shared understanding of football history, status and achievements with supporters aware of their club’s traditions, rivalries and shared history. The two clubs’ roots are very much based around hardworking working class areas of their cities with the supporters of both the Hammers and the Blues coming traditionally from the working classes. In recent years an analysis of the original shareholders at the majority of Football League clubs identified that by 1900 City’s shareholders came mostly from the working class – a larger percentage than at any club other than West Ham who had a slightly higher percentage. This demonstrates that those who owned both City and West Ham were representative of the fans on the terraces and that these clubs were similarly organised and run. As a result of this both clubs were representative of their communities in ways in which their nearest local rivals were not at the time.

Both clubs have enjoyed stylish, attractive football over the years with a belief that the game should be an entertainment. The roots of this go back decades at both clubs with West Ham’s Ted Fenton and Ron Greenwood influencing men such as Malcolm Allison and John Bond who managed the Blues. 

Recently, City fans have been delighted to see Manuel Pellegrini and Pablo Zabaleta become Hammers following a line that includes other popular Blues such as Ian Bishop and Trevor Morley.

Attendances

The support both clubs have received has varied at times but what is abundantly clear is that they have remained the most loyal in the country regardless of League status. West Ham, like City, have never been the worst supported club in their division (both United and Arsenal have!) and West Ham’s attendances over the decades have been fairly consistent, never dipping below 16,000. Recent years have of course seen both City and West Ham eclipse previous record average attendances thanks to the larger capacity of their current homes.

Successes and Struggles

Although West Ham did not become a League side until 1919 (City joined the League as Ardwick in 1892), the Hammers didn’t waste much time in progressing, reaching Division One and their first FA Cup final in 1923. The 1960s was a glorious period for West Ham – as it was with City – winning their first European trophy, the ECWC, in 1965. City won the same trophy in 1970 meaning that the Hammers were the second English team to win a major UEFA trophy and City were the fourth (For those wondering – the Fairs Cup was not a UEFA tournament and its entry requirements were not based on performance at times).

Of course both teams have had periods of struggle, ensuring that when success is achieved the fans of both clubs do not take this for granted. The great Malcolm Allison, a former Hammer & Blue, once told me in an interview that it’s important to “celebrate each success as if it’s your first, because it could well be your last.” Although he was perceived as a boastful character at times his philosophy, gained through his experiences at West Ham as a player, is one both sets of fans seem to agree with.

Celebrating the title – 2014

We must not forget how gracious and sporting the majority of West Ham fans were in 2014 when City became champions of England, securing their first ever league and cup double. That day the Blues beat the Hammers 2-0 with goals from Nasri (39) and Kompany (49). Manuel Pellegrini’s City were applauded and congratulated extensively that day – something that hasn’t happened with the fans of some other clubs when City have won the title.

The “You’ll be back” Game

The biggest demonstration of the special relationship between the fans of the two clubs came in May 1987. City were relegated after a 2-0 defeat at West Ham.  At the end of the game City supporters and West Ham fans climbed over the fences and onto the pitch. Some thought that the two sets of supporters were about to confront each other, but the fans knew differently. The Hammers began chanting “You’ll be back” and both groups swapped scarves and souvenirs on the pitch. It was the kind of moment that should have been widely reported in the media but at the time focus tended to be on hooliganism and confrontation rather than the positives of football support. City had been relegated, but their supporters did not seek revenge.  The West Ham fans could have ridiculed, but they didn’t.  If only those condemning football fans at the time could have seen the two sets of loyal supporters genuinely appreciating and understanding each other.

The relationship between the fans of the two clubs is not something that is widely discussed or promoted but it is something that has endured. City fans have never forgotten the ‘You’ll be back’ game and in recent years, as others have unfairly mocked both sets of fans, the supporters of both the Blues and the Hammers seem to understand and respect each other. Inevitably, there will always be banter during a game but outside of the match the mutual recognition and respect always seems to win through.

To many West Ham are the City of the South – a proud football club with a great history and heritage, combined with a loyal and passionate fanbase.

Want To Read More Like This?

If you would like to read more like this and all the in-depth articles on this site (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 250+ articles posted so far and the hundreds scheduled to be posted in the coming weeks.

While you’re here why not check out the frank audio interview with former WHU player and MCFC boss John Bond? Taster clip here:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/24/liverpool-1-mcfc-3-john-bonds-views-on-liverpools-reaction/

‘Nonsense at Board Level’

For those who haven’t listened to my John Bond interview yet, here’s a snippet from one of the sections. All 7 parts to Bondy’s interview will be posted by the end of next week for subscribers. He was frank throughout and this is a taste of what he had to say:

If you would like to listen to the rest then the details and so on can be read here:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/12/the-john-bond-interview/

Of course I’ve also posted this brief clip on John Bond’s views on the reaction of Liverpool when they’re defeated:

https://gjfootballarchive.com/2021/02/24/liverpool-1-mcfc-3-john-bonds-views-on-liverpools-reaction/