Despite being regarded as one of the biggest clubs in the world nowadays, with an unbelievable financial backing and a squad that boasts some of the greatest players in the world, it was in fact the late 1960’s early 1970’s which is recognised as the pivotal period in the history of Manchester City Football Club. During this period, City were very much one of the best footballing teams around and managed to win the First Division, FA Cup, League Cup and the European Cup Winner’s Cup. Under the steady stewardship of duo Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison, City endured their most successful period in their history, though it is widely tipped to overhauled in the near future.
The combination of manager Joe Mercer and Coach Malcolm Allison was one that flourished immediately. Both had a terrific understanding of the game and at the time of their reign they brought in some shrewd signings, most notably Mike Summerbee and Colin Bell. When the management team of Mercer and Allison joined in 1965, City were at a low point. They had recently been relegated in to the Second Division. But the impact that Mercer and Allison had was immediate, as they won the Second division title in their first season. In the 1967/1968 season, City captured the First Division title for only the second time in their history. They secured this courtesy of a 4-3 win away at Newcastle United. It got even better for the blues as they went on to win the FA Cup in 1969, beating Leicester City 1-0 after a brilliant goal from Neil Young.
Further Success was to follow as City then achieved European glory, winning 2-1 against Polish outfit Gornik Zabrze, with Neil Young and Franny Lee both scoring, claiming the European Cup Winner’s Cup. In doing so, City achieved the major honour, fielding a full English team. Even though they only finished in 10th place that season, it was still a great season for the club as they also went on to capture the League Cup. At the old Wembley Stadium, City emerged victorious with a narrow win over West Bromwich Albion. The blues came from behind after going a goal down and Glyn Pardoe came up with the goods in Extra time, adding another trophy to the collection. If you had thought that the glory days we’re over then you were wrong, as City continued to challenge for honours. They came very close within becoming league champions on two occasions, but were winners of the 1972 Charity Shield, courtesy of a penalty from front-man Franny Lee. City also appeared in the fixture in the following season, losing 1-0 to Burnley.
Many players departed and many were brought in, but there was still silverware for City to fight for. They contested the League Cup Final in 1974 against Wolves, though they were defeated 2-1 by Wolves. In that same season, City were involved in a hugely important derby in the penultimate game of the campaign against Man United. The Reds desperately needed 3 points; if they failed to win they were condemned to relegation. City sent their rivals down to the 2nd division after an exquisite back heel from former Denis Law 2 years later City featured in yet another League Cup final; this time putting things right and subsequently beating Newcastle United 2-1, in a game where Dennis Tueart scored a sublime overhead-kick. This was to be the final trophy of what had been an overwhelming few seasons for the blues.
Here are the main players who played a part in that period of success:
One of the greatest keepers ever to play for the blues. Brave and fierce, a terrific keeper and shot stopper. Big Joe racked up over 600 appearances for the blues and to be honest, deserved a testimonial.
Joined City in 1966 at the age of 30, when it seemed his days were numbered. But in his debut season, he was a regular in the side and won the Played of the Year award. A tenacious right-back who was determined, passionate and committed, Skip as he was nicknamed, is the most decorated Manchester City captain of all-time.
A versatile player who could deputise in midfield and defence. Recognised for his professionalism on and off the pitch, in total he made 680 appearances for City; which is a club record.
A player blessed with complete talent and ability. He was mainly deployed as an inside forward or on the wing. Young spent the best part of his career at City and was an influential figure in the side, scoring some crucial goals, most notably the famous goal in the 1969 FA Cup final against Leicester. Nelly scored 86 goals for City and will always be remembered by the blues faithful.
Despite being right-footed, Pardoe was a predominantly a left-sided player, mainly playing at left-book. Pardoe made his debut at the age of 16 and is cousin to Alan Oakes. Pardoe was capable of playing in pretty much in any position and centre-back was the only position which he never played for the club in. A great player, who scored the winning goal in the 1970 League Cup Final.
A typical striker, who was always a threat in the penalty area. Lee played a huge part in the side, scoring the goals on a regular basis. During his career, he gained a reputation for diving and holds the record for the most penalties scored in a season, winning the vast majority of them. Chipped in with 112 goals in an extremely successful stint with the blues.
A huge City fan, Doyle was a firm fans favourite in his time at City. He could be used in a number of roles and rarely gave less than 100% each game. His spell with City lasted 13 years and he was a huge figure in a solid back-line. A tough lad, Doyle was voted the club’s hardest ever play in the official magazine.
Arrived at City in 1965, when it wasn’t the best of times for Maine Rd outfit. He would go on to become one of the club’s s best ever players and now holds a role as Club Ambassador. His time at City saw him bomb down the right-flank and deliver a perfect cross on a number of occasions. Known as Buzzer by his team-mates, Summerbee was heavily involved in that great period.
In a side that featured many English players, Donachie was one of the players who played in that period, who wasn’t English, having being born in Glasgow. Tussled with Glyn Pardoe for a spot in the team-sheet and when Pardoe was out injured, Donachie established himself as one of the first names on the team sheets. Donachie spent 12 years at City, winning a host of trophies.
Son of former City player Ken, Barnes was a nifty left-winger with a cultured left-foot. He possessed nimble balance, speed, superb dribbling ability and an eye for goal. Barnes only spent 5 years at City, but in his first and most successful spell with the club, was regarded as a huge talent. Barnes scored in the 1976 League Cup Final at the age of 18 and went on to have one more short spell at City.
Booth was a regular in the City side back then, featuring in central- defence. He had a great career with the blues, winning the FA Cup, European Cup Winner’s Cup and winning the League Cup twice. He played 382 times for City, before moving onto Preston.
Upon his arrival at City, Heslop had already been at Everton and Newcastle, but it was at City where he had the best days of his career. He was an integral part of the side that won a numerous trophies, playing at Centre-half.
One of the greatest strikers that have played the game. Law had two spells with City, either side of a stint in Italy and arch-rivals Man United. The former centre-forward is fondly remembered for scoring a historic back-heel flick which relegated United in 1974. A former winner of the European Played of the Year award, it was a privilege to have someone of Law’s quality at Maine Rd, even if it was for a short spell.
Regarded as the best player ever to grace the hallowed turf of Maine Rd, and rightly so. Bell was a player that had unbelievable talent and quality. He had it all, technique, energy, flair, vision, he was a complete midfielder. Coach Malcolm Allison should be thanked for pulling of the deal for Bell, as he waved of other manager’s interested, saying that Bell was hopeless and then prompting other clubs to lose interested, before tying up a deal for Bell to move to City. Bell was a truly magical payer with a superb engine, earning him the nickname Nijinsky, after the race-horse. Bell scored over 100 goals for City, which Is a phenomenal achievement, seen as though he was a midfielder. He has since been inducted into the hall of fame at City and had a stand named after him.
This side was truly great and even though City have a great squad at the moment, it will difficult to emulate what they achieved, so it will be interesting to see if the Citizens can surpass their achievements and create another golden era.
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