I was present at the Etihad on Saturday night for the latest Soccer Aid fundraiser. It was my first experience of attending Soccer Aid, although I have watched it each year on television of course. It was also the first time it was staged at the Etihad after previously being held at Old Trafford, Wembley and Stamford Bridge.
It was a great event and it was wonderful to see some highly successful former Premier League players like Pablo Zabaleta and Wayne Rooney on the same pitch as entertainers, musicians and reality stars.
Inevitably the crowd was also mixed with many regular football attendees present together with others who came to perhaps their first match as they were fans of one of the celebrities, or maybe they simply wanted to support the charity appeal. It actually created a good atmosphere with certain stars getting great support. The Manchester rapper Aitch was certainly popular, as was singer YUNGBLUD, YouTuber Chunkz and singer Olly Murs.
Due to chance I ended up in a great place to see the Rest of the World players as they arrived at the stadium and you could see the delight on the faces of many of the players as they arrived at the Etihad. Line of Duty’s Martin Compston seemed to be taking in every moment – as he did during the game.
Obviously, the quality of football varied but it was great entertainment. I thought singer James Bay played well. Chelcee Grimes seemed to set up Lee Mack for significant attempts on three occasions – a couple of which Mack fluffed – and she did some of the work before Mack finally scored. The other goals were both scored by Love Island’s Kem Cetinay and the Rest of the World won 3-0.
There are videos and match reports out there so I won’t go through any of that but I do want to say that it was a somewhat surreal experience at times. Most will know that ITV did a Masked Singer like reveal for the Soccer Aid mascot. Before the second half started his head was removed to chants from the crowd of ‘Take it off’ and it turned out it was entertainer Stephen Mulhern. He then played a few minutes in costume (without costme head) and it did seem odd seeing footballers like Paul Scholes in the same team as a costumed sidekick to Ant & Dec. However the majority of children – and many adults – in the stadium loved the pantomime of it all and his name was chanted at times.
For me the whole night was about raising funds and providing some entertainment. It wasn’t meant to be a major clash between two of the world’s strongest footballing teams and, for those reasons, I think anything that adds to the entertainment value of those in the stadium is fine.
When we watch these things we want to see if the former footballers have still got it; whether that reality star or the people who talk about the game really can play; whether the comedian is doing it for laughs and so on.
At the end of the game the players did a lap of honour and by the end of it YUNGBLUD and Olly Murs had given away their shorts to fans. Earlier, during the match, there was a great moment when Aitch was substituted for Max Whitlock. Aitch took off his shirt and handed it to a boy in the stands. He then signed it for the lad and the boy was delighted. He put on the shirt and Aitch took his place on the bench. Within only a few minutes Mo Farrar had to come off through injury and they decided to send Aitch back on. He shouted across to the lad to give him back his shirt but fortunately another shirt appeared and Aitch could get on the pitch. It was one of those typical testimonial style moments.
Soccer Aid is of course a worthy charity and can be supported via donations here:
Congratulations and thanks to everyone involved. This was a nice, positive and well supported event. Important work too!
On a personal level I thought the Etihad stadium looked fantastic on the night and it certainly added to the occasion. Hopefully, Soccer Aid will return there next year. As well as the entertainers on the pitch there were also several ‘faces’ in the stands including, a few rows behind me, Shaun Ryder. It was great to see the event supported in this way.
Manchester City fans are extremely proud of the development of young players. Throughout the years City’s Academy has developed some extraordinarily talented players. Today I’m taking a look at some of the club’s landmark youngest record holders.
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To mark today’s (20th March 2021) FA Cup meeting between Manchester City and Everton here are a few historical facts, memories and video highlights of games between the clubs.
The December 1989 meeting between the two sides was memorable because of events off the field rather than on it. The match ended goalless but the attention the game received from the national media was incredible, and it was all because 20th placed City had appointed the former Evertonian Howard Kendall as manager.
Earlier that season Peter Swales had dismissed the rather quiet, unassuming Mel Machin despite him guiding City to promotion and a memorable 5-1 victory over United. He publicly approached Joe Royle, who turned the club down, and then turned to Kendall.
Almost immediately the ex-Evertonian stamped his authority on the side and quickly brought in Peter Reid and Alan Harper to make their debuts at Goodison. Disappointingly, the highly popular Ian Bishop was named as a substitute. Kendall: “It was not a popular move. I walked out at 2.55pm to hear my supporters chanting, ‘There’s only one Ian Bishop’. Nice welcome that was. The Bishop situation developed into a saga, the like of which I have never experienced in football before.”
It wasn’t long before the long-haired Bishop was sold to West Ham. Earlier in his career Kendall had transferred him out of Everton.
Kendall’s new look City managed to keep ninth placed Everton at bay in a rather dour televised match to earn only their second point in six games. City ended the season in 14th place while Everton finished 6th.
The first League game between the two sides was a 2-1 Everton win on 23rd December 1899 in Division One. The match was played at Hyde Road with Billy Meredith scoring for the newly promoted City, while Jimmy Settle and R Gray netted for the Toffees. City ended their first season in the top division in 7th place while Everton finished 11th.
The first meeting of the two clubs to be televised on BBC’s Match Of The Day was the 1-1 draw on 23rd August 1969. Film here:
The first ‘live’ televised meeting was the famous Howard Kendall match played on 17th December 1989 (see above). The game was shown on ITV.
When Everton appeared in their first FA Cup final it was played at Fallowfield, Manchester. The 1893 final against Wolves was the first, other than the 1886 replay, to be played outside London. Wolves won the match 1-0 and a row of houses in Wolverhampton were given the name Fallowfield Terrace in celebration.
The Fallowfield site now forms part of Manchester University’s student campus.
Well I Never!
City fans demonstrated against the transfer of their hero, Tommy Johnson, to Everton in March 1930 for £6,000. At City Johnson entered the record books by scoring most goals in a season – he netted an incredible 38 in 39 League games during the 1928-9 season. He was a popular player and lived amongst the fans in Gorton. He was often seen drinking draught Bass at The Plough on Hyde Road, and was something of a trend-setter in the area. As soon as he was spotted wearing a wide brimmed trilby hat it quickly became the fashion all young men wanted to follow!
His greatest individual game for City must have been the 6-2 defeat of reigning champions Everton in September 1928, when he scored five goals. Eric Brook scored the other while Dunn and Weldon netted for the Toffees.
In the 1960s Tommy was a regular attender at Maine Road where he and Billy ‘Dixie’ Dean would watch Joe Mercer’s City side. On 28thJanuary 1973 Tommy died at Monsall hospital aged 71.
Everton beat City 9-1 on 3rd September 1906 to record their record victory and City’s record defeat. This was only City’s second match following the findings of the FA investigation into illegal payments which resulted in the suspension of 17 players, the manager Tom Maley, the chairman, and two other directors. The entire summer had been spent finding a new manager and new players – any would do – to fill the void. City’s consolation goal was scored by debutant A.Fisher. The great Sandy Young had netted 4 of Everton’s 9 that day.
Two days before this game, the Blues had been defeated 4-1 by Arsenal in an incredible match that saw City leave the field with only six men. The rest were mainly suffering from heat exhaustion – it was 90 degrees in the shade!
The Young Royle
When Joe Royle made his debut in January 1966 against Blackpool he became the youngest player to appear for Everton in the League. He was 16 years and 282 days. His first game against City was the on 29th April the following year – only his 6th League appearance.
Obviously I’m biased but I’d urge everyone reading this article to also read:
The first Premier League meeting between these sides ends in a comfortable City win before 20,242 at Goodison Park. Two goals from Sheron and one from David White gave the Blues a 3-0 lead before an own goal from Brightwell made it 3-1 on Halloween.
1993 – Last Day
On the last day of the season Everton win 5-2 in a frustrating match for City fans. Goalscorers for Everton included future Blues Beagrie (2 goals) and Beardsley. White and Curle (penalty) scored for the home side.
1993 – Rideout Goal
The first away match of the season ends in a 1-0 City defeat. Rideout scored for the Toffeemen on 17th August before 26,025.
1994 – Double Double
Two goals each from Rosler and Walsh give City a 4-0 home win on 27th August. The Maine Road sell out crowd of 19,867 is City’s 3rdlowest crowd in the Premiership. The Kippax Stand was in construction and the capacity was severely restricted as a result.
1996 – Former Blue Scores
Former City hero Andy Hinchcliffe scores a 47th minute penalty to ensure a 2-0 Everton win in February 1996.
2000 – Five Stars
Wanchope (14), Howey (23), Goater (42), Dickov (54), and Naysmith (own goal in 67th minute) give City a thrilling 5-0 victory over Everton at Maine Road in December.
2002 – Anelka hat-trick?
City fans celebrate an Anelka hat-trick but his 14th minute opener is later ruled an own goal, scored by Everton’s Radzinski. In addition, Wright-Phillips is controversially sent off in the 28th minute but this is later downgraded to a yellow card. Despite the controversy and confusion City win the match 3-1 on 31st August.
2003 – New Year’s Day
Over 300 million fans watch this 2-2 draw on Chinese television. Everton took the lead in the 6th minute, City made it 2-1 in the 82ndbefore Everton equalised 2 minutes into injury time on January 1st.
2004 – Keegan’s Disappointment
On the season’s final day, City beat Everton 5-1 with goals from Wanchope (16 & 30), Anelka (41), Sibierski (89) & Wright-Phillips (90). The victory caused the two sides to swap League places. The Blues ended the campaign on 41 points, eight more than relegated Leicester, Leeds and Wolves. A decent enough margin in the end, but that did not change the way most felt about the season.
Prior to that final match Keegan explained truthfully how he felt: “We are just about at the end of the most disappointing season of my managerial career. I haven’t enjoyed it and I am sure the same goes for everyone connected with Manchester City.”
2005 – Early Morning Blues
Everton, so often a bogey team during the previous decade or so, were defeated 2-0 on 2nd October. This was the first Sunday morning kick off in the Premier League and the match commenced at 11.15 with some fans making a point of the early start by wearing pyjamas. It was also Stephen Ireland’s first full Premiership game. Before the match he admitted to being “very nervous” and post-match he commented that the rest of the team had supported him: “That helped me ease my nerves and settle in as one of them.”
2006 – Richards the Hero
One player, who would help City win the FA Cup and Premier League a few years later, was beginning to be seen as one of the club’s most positive assets this season – Micah Richards. He performed to a consistent standard and, on 30th September, he actually netted an equaliser for the club in the dying seconds against Everton to ensure an away point. The 18 year old Richards made his first full international appearance a few weeks later when he played for England against Holland on 15th November. Henry Winter, writing for the Telegraph, claimed: “England may well have discovered Gary Neville’s long term successor.” By this stage in his career Richards had only made 23 Premier League starts.
At Everton Richards’ goal was very important but City’s dominance during the final minutes of the match should have seen the Blues snatch a winner according to goalkeeper Nicky Weaver: “The last five minutes we absolutely battered them and every time the ball went in the box we looked as though we were going to score. Then when [Samaras] hit the post, you’re thinking ‘is it not going to be our day?’ But we kept going and deep, deep into injury time, we got something out of the game.”
Everton’s captain Phil Neville admitted: “It feels like a defeat… we should have got the second goal and killed off the game.”
2011 – Super Mario
In September City defeated Everton 2-0 with goals from substitute Mario Balotelli and James Milner. It was an important victory over a team that continued to be a bit of a bogey side in recent seasons, and ensured the Blues were now back on equal points with Ferguson’s Manchester United, who had drawn 1-1 at Stoke despite leading at half time.
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