March 8th 1972 (1)

“City sign Rodney Marsh for an estimated fee of 200,000 pounds”

Rodney Marsh was something of a maverick football star in his prime. He’d been constantly hitting the back of the net for the past six years with Queen’s Park Rangers, having an enviable ratio of almost 1 goal every two appearances. He had also been picked for the England squad several in the previous year.

He was one of a handful of “media-worthy” footballers at that time (others include George Best and Stan Bowles), who became equally famous for their off-pitch antics (mainly drinking) as they did for their weekend ‘day jobs’

Volatile Manchester City manager Malcom Allison (himself a trend-setting attention grabber) signed Marsh from QPR for a (then) club record of £200,000. City were top of Division 1 when Marsh signed, so fans (like *sigh* me at the time) were cockahoop over this news, which almost seemed to guarantee us the title come the end of the season.

What City hadn’t counted on was a particular fan ‘hex’ which would occur several weeks later. Can you guess what it is?

Later in his career, Marsh would sadly become a mere shadow of himself, eventually appearing on TV as a bigoted and doggedly-opinionated football pundit. He was also a contestant on “I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here” in 2007, a “Survivor”-type show which was a huge ratings hit in the UK. Apparently Marsh quickly proved himself to be a misogynist, and was one of the first people voted off by the public. There’s no doubting that I admired him in 1972, at the zenith of his career, but regard him as “a bit of a twat” these days.

Perhaps his biggest contribution to popular culture is a joke attributed to him. England team manager Sir Alf Ramsey once told him “I’ll be watching you for the first 45 minutes and if you don’t work harder I’ll pull you off at halftime“, to which Marsh allegedly replied: “Crikey, Alf, at Manchester City all we get is an orange and a cup of tea.

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