I feel old today as 41 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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On this day (25 August) in 1981 Manchester City and Aston Villa were in a bidding war to sign Trevor Francis.
I know in recent years 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).
As before, there’s a lot to interest and perhaps surprise here. This is the third part of my interview with John Bond from November 1995. I loved every minute of our chat but some of the things that were said stunned me at the time.
In this clip John talks about the aftermath of the 1981 FA Cup final with Tottenham; the way he thought City would challenge and the transfer of Trevor Francis. Within this section came the first time ever that I’d been asked to turn off the cassette recorder while the person I was interviewing explained something to me. We agreed that everything on the tape could be quoted – hence the reason I’m happy to play this now – but anything off tape would have to be checked. All these years later I still respect John’s wishes of course.
When you listen to the recording you’ll recognise the point where the tape is switched off and some related comments have been edited out. I have to stress that John’s comments seem a little out of sync because of that and it is worth explaining that his comments were not about anybody alive today. They merely explained something that had happened that he did not like or agree with but these comments were not about a footballer from the time or anyone alive today (2021).
So, here exclusive to subscribers is the third part of my interview (like the other parts it lasts about 17 minutes):
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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.
Back in 1995 I interviewed former Manchester City boss John Bond at his home. The interview lasted about two hours and here’s a brief snippet from that interview where Bond talks about beating Liverpool on Boxing Day 1981.
The Blues won 3-1 (Bond, Hartford & Reeves) then two days later (Bond says it’s the next day in this clip but it was 28th December) City defeated Wolves 2-1 at Maine Rd. John discusses a brilliant goal from Trevor Francis. City went top of the League after the Wolves victory.
Stick with the clip because it ends with Bond’s views on how Liverpool used to react to wins and defeats. I’d best not comment – have a listen:
This is only a brief clip of my John Bond interview. The full interview is being uploaded here in stages for subscribers. More details here:
There’s a lot to interest and perhaps surprise Manchester City fans here. This is the second part of my interview with John Bond from November 1995. When I interviewed him he was frank in his views and at times outspoken – and I loved every minute of our chat!
In this clip John talks about the controversial 1981 League Cup semi-final with Liverpool; the FA Cup final (first game) against Tottenham; the way City’s directors handled the draw with Spurs (this astounded me at the time of our interview); how certain directors treated him; and how he almost resigned in between the FA Cup final and its replay.
As this was recorded in November 1995 it is important to remember that our comments about the ‘present day’ Manchester City refer to the club as it was at that time. Similarly, when we talk about the takeover we mean the 1993-94 takeover of the club. Listening again to this piece now I’m quite pleased that my own perception was fairly accurate.
There’s also some great comments about Norwich City which will please supporters of that club.
This is about 17 minutes long (the previous piece was a similar length too). So get yourself a brew, relax in your favourite chair and listen along.
Subscribe to get access
If you would like to listen to the second part of this frank interview 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.