“Thanks very much for this. Peter truly loved the game of football. And of all the clubs he played for and that he had the privilege to manage, there was always a special place in his heart for Manchester City, and that’s what makes it so special for all the family tonight. If Peter was still alive today and able to collect this himself he would be very proud. I know I certainly am. This just leaves me to say on behalf of myself and my sister Sue, and my father who unfortunately couldn’t be with us today, and the rest of the Doherty family… Thank you.” Peter Doherty’s grandson Stephen collecting the Hall of Fame award in January 2004
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On this day (November 28) in 1936 Manchester City’s game was abandoned due to fog. For today’s piece I’m taking a look back at the season of 1936-37and that game when City and Brentford were title rivals.
The early months of the season were difficult for City. Despite exciting victories over Leeds (4-0) and West Bromwich Albion (6-2), an opening day defeat at Middlesbrough and another at Old Trafford in the first derby since February 1931 caused a little concern. The United defeat was particularly upsetting as the Reds were a side clearly lacking and destined to return immediately to the Second Division. Further City failures occurred, including a 2-1 loss at Wolverhampton and a 4-2 Maine Road defeat to Sunderland.
Significant injuries to captain Sam Barkas, and attackers Alec Herd and Fred Tilson had hampered our progress during the opening months. All three absences affected the Blues considerably – Tilson missed twenty consecutive League games; Herd eight and Barkas missed seven of the opening nine matches.
These injuries meant it was difficult to find consistency and by November 28 City were twelfth. That day they were to face Brentford at Maine Road, who were already perceived as title challengers after defeating West Bromwich Albion 2-1 the previous week. That victory had meant that Brentford were third, only one point behind leaders Sunderland. If anyone had been asked to predict which of City and Brentford were more likely to end the season as champions at that time they would inevitably have answered Brentford. However, things were about to change for Manchester’s Blues.
Subscribers to my site can find out what happened next…
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Read more of this article when you subscribe today. You can subscribe at either £20 per year (above) or at £3 per month here (cancel any time). For those subscribing £3 per month you will be able to access all content from October 2022 onwards for as long as you are a subscriber. Those subscribing £20 a year have access to everything posted since December 2020.
On this day (22 September) in 1959 Manchester City’s Cup final hero Bobby Johnstone returned to his former club Hibernian after 50 goals in 137 first team appearances for the Blues. Here are a few details on him and a quote saying he was better than Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney & others. Enjoy…
At the start of that season there had been indications that 29 year old Johnstone was nearing the end of his Maine Road career. He had made only 18 League appearances and scored four goals during the 1958-9 season and, although he was vital in a number of games, City were beginning to look to a future without him. Les McDowall had already started looking at a nineteen year old striker playing for Huddersfield. He appeared to offer a great deal, the only problem was the price. City would have to pay a considerable amount to sign the young, exciting forward. His name? Denis Law. It would take McDowall some time to sign the youngster, but as the close season began he considered City’s strengths and weaknesses. City was in a period of transition. Old campaigners like Johnstone were on their way out. Indeed he left for a fee of £7,000 on this day in 1959.
Later Roy Warhurst, the City half-back signed from Birmingham during the 1957 close season, described the Scotsman as the greatest player he ever saw: ‘Johnstone was the greatest footballer I ever played with or against. I was 29 when I came to City and I’d seen all Britain’s best. But there was nobody to compare with Bobby, when he felt like turning it on. Not even Carter, Doherty, Finney, Billy Steele or Matthews. They couldn’t touch him.
‘My first game for City was a tour game in Holland. Bobby was brilliant. As the locals cheered him off the park I kept thinking “this is some great outfit I’ve joined.” It was the greatest display I’ve seen from any player that night.’
It is widely known about Bobby’s goals in the 1955 & 1956 FA Cup finals but here’s a couple in a thrilling game v Newcastle in 1957. City lost 5-4 but it’s well worth watching for the drama of it all. Look out for the crowd scenes, especially the exaggerated acting by a lad after about 1min 25 seconds who spills his drink!
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Although those who claim Manchester City have no history may not like reminding of this fact but it is now over 85 years ago since the Blues first won the League title. Here for subscribers is an overview of that 1936-37 title winning season.
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In 2019 I wrote this profile of Peter Doherty – a man who well into the 1970s was described as the greatest Manchester City player of all time. Of course, views change and other heroes have come and sadly gone since then, but it is clear that Doherty was the leading player of his generation.
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