Tag Archives: manchester city

April 12th 1972

“Man Utd 1 Man City 3. YIPPEE. Francis gets 2, Rodney get other. City move up to 2nd”

I mention this otherwise mundane entry to goad United fans just as they deserve to have be goaded for the past several decades. (Regardless of my team affiliation, there’s always a certain sense of ‘football satisfaction’ when City beats United, as happened last week, here in 2008)

“Francis” refers to Francis ‘Franny’ Lee, who was pretty much my footballing hero in the early 70’s. A prolific goalscorer, his worst trait was “dramatically falling over” when merely nudged by a defender. This habit was a big part of his game several decades before it became a ‘trendy’ thing for European players to adopt.

Here he is not falling over. Pre-dating a cameo in “Life on Mars” perhaps?

In the 90’s, Franny became chairman of Manchester City, following entrepreneurial success in the ‘toilet paper business’. But it was a disastrous reign. Maybe he should have adopted the ‘fighting spirit’ he had when playing for Derby in 1974?


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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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January 20th 1972

“Man City picture arrived”

I suspect this ‘City’ embarrassment will live with for some time during these early diary entries. The fact that I have dutifully written in EVERY match result on the day it took place some kind of peculiar testament to how much I ‘loved’ them.

It’s somewhat weird to consider that for most of the 80’s and early 90’s football fell RIGHT off my personal radar – indeed, if truth be told, I couldn’t care any less about it! – but back in the seventies I was evidently obsessed by ‘the beautiful game’.

I remember having notebook after notebook chocked full of imaginary “full season football leagues” I would set up. I would start by working out all the home & away schedules for each of the four divisions (1, 2, 3 & 4 – none of your nonsensical “premiership” or “championship” bollocks back then), then wrote them week by week on alternate pages. In between I would hand-draw 4 league tables to then work out and fill in as they would be after those games.

It took me about a week or so to play a full season, all done by the simple act of throwing a pair of dice, two colours – one for the home team, one for the away.

Needless to say method this resulted in a certain “randomness”, many HUGE goalscoring games (“and today Huddersfield Town beat Liverpool 6-5 at Anfield“) and massive fluctuations in league positions from week to week (back then it was only 2 points for win).

Now, I can’t remember specifically manipulating the die to *ahem* ‘assist’ Manchester City further up Division 1, but my conscience can’t tell me I never did!

For the record, I also included both the League and FA Cup runs, going so far as to writing all the teams on pieces of paper and pulling the match-ups from a hat (or maybe my schoolboy cap?). Replays? Yep did those too.

If the words “sad” and “tosser” haven’t quite crossed your lips yet, then now is the time to mumble it.

Soccerama Board GameOf course if I’d had my later “entrepreneurial’ head on back then, I would’ve turned my own little game into a successful money-making business, printing up the books ready for eager schoolchildren to fill in/play with during their lessons.

It kept me busy and “out of trouble” I guess? If I’d still kept just one of those notebooks, I suspect it would amuse me for quite the while, as both naive and unnecessarily complicated it must seem in comparison to today’s computer generated games and sports software.

I’m sure that my then-fascination for notebooks was born out of my repeated (sadly, solo) play of the late 60’s board-game Soccerama (seen right).

In Soccerama – endorsed by no less a top-notch sporting celebrity than 1966 World Cup winner Alan Ball (R.I.P.) – you managed your own imaginery team through all the domestic divisions, played them in Cup games, even the (as it was then) European Cup competition – if you were good enough. (I played this game so much, I was!).

It was hideously addictive to me back then. So much so that that I held onto it for years and years afterwards.

I know what you are all thinking…. did he go so far as to ship it across the Atlantic and stores it downstairs in the household games cupboard? I’ll *ahem* “take the fifth” on that utterly disgraceful accusation!

As for the “Man City picture arrived” diary entry, I’m afraid that – as important and life-changing as it may have been 36 years ago – in 2008 I have NO CLUE as to what I was referring.

Another “memory dark hole” moment I’m afraid.

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The 1972 Diary

As you can see, I have decided to remain coy about my real name by fuzzing out the incriminating evidence.

Not surprising when my hand-scribbled cover of this 1972 “personal memo diary”, printed by Northern Novelties (Pencils) ltd., from Bradford, is already proving incredibly embarrassing to the 50-year-old me.

Not only do I describe myself as a “M.C.S” (Manchester City Supporter*), but I appear to have pledged my 14-year old self to an extremely questionable list of bands and artists:-
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Curved Air
Deep Purple
King Crimson
and erm……. Fudd (yes, you may well ask who the hell Fudd were. Even allmusic fails to have a listing for them!)

I suspect this cover was not drawn in one go, rather scribbled on in spells as the year progressed, Fudd actually being the giveaway because I know for a fact that they didn’t come across my naive teenage radar until September of 1972, the date of my first ever rock concert!

*The whole Manchester City thing is/will be HUGELY embarrassing to me. I am actually a die-hard Southampton FC fan, having been born within miles of The Dell. My fascination in 1972 for Man City was obviously due to
a) the phenomenal success they enjoyed
b) the GREAT team they had back then
c) really NOT knowing the ‘ground rules’ of football supporting

I was, thus, no better than the prawn sandwich eating Man Utd fans other supporters enjoy taking the piss out of in the 21st Century. If there was a turning point, I suspect it was May 1st 1976, although my diaries may tell a different story?!

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