“I heard a thump, felt a thud and thought that my leg was broken!”
4th Oct 1975 - ARSENAL 2 CITY 3
City had already lost 1-0 at Coventry, 1-0 at West Ham, 1-0 at Derby and, in the interests of consistency, 1-0 at Aston Villa by this early October fixture and were carrying a burgeoning reputation as the division’s best home side but a dire away one. The previous midweek fixture had seen an away win of sorts, however. This had happened most unexpectedly at Stamford Bridge, but in a game against Norwich City. This was a second replay in the League Cup that City would win later that season, and brought about a stunning 6-1 win and a fine hat-trick from Dennis Tueart. This in the days when not only did the police not mind if a cup tie had to go to a replay but were also happy to accommodate two sets of fans meeting up at a neutral venue for a second replay if necessary. A far cry, it must be said, from the bossy, angst ridden and phenomenally expensive police and steward attention given to the game today. It was hoped at the time that the cracking win over Norwich might just stir the Blues from their slumbers and into a period of improved away form.
Without a solitary away goal all season in the league, City surprised even the Blues support at Highbury by racing into a three-goal lead before the second half was two minutes old. With thoughts of win bonuses and adulatory press reports beginning to occupy the players’ minds, things took a change for the worse and, by the end, the Blues were doggedly hanging on for a 3-2 victory. T'was ever thus.
This absorbing game centred on two titanic struggles in the middle of the park, which would eventually settle the match in City’s favour. The first was between Alan Ball and Mike Doyle. Doyle enthused afterwards in typical fashion, “It was nothing!” whilst Ball, still limping an hour after the game had ended, whinnied in his own inimitable way, “I heard a thump, felt a thud and thought that my leg was broken!” The second, between the young Brady and the wily Hartford, raged all afternoon, culminating in a booking for the City midfielder. By then Hartford had already got his name on the scoresheet as well, however, and Brady’s role had become peripheral.
City sparked into action first, Marsh and Donachie linking well down the left flank. Bell’s far post flick was headed goalwards by Hartford, who saw his first effort saved by the stretching Jimmy Rimmer. The City man made no mistake with his second bite, tucking the ball away under the crossbar. City took the game beyond the Gunners with two rapid-fire goals either side of half time, the first something of a collector’s item, a rocket from 25 yards by Joe Royle and the second an ungainly side header by Rodney Marsh from Bell’s accurate through ball.
With City still busy congratulating themselves on this decisive change of fortune, Ball pulled one back from twenty yards out (his leg still working at this point). Arsenal then played out the rest of the game laying siege to the City goal. Brady’s effort was disallowed before Ball sent Alex Cropley though to jink the ball past the semi-prone Corrigan. With Power on for the injured Tueart, City managed to steady the ship and held out for the win. The effect on City’s away fortunes was also interesting, as a string of score draws replaced the earlier defeats and an emphatic 4-0 win at Wolves, involving a comedy goal as players and referee fell over each other, underlined the point that City’s away hoodoo had been well and truly put to bed at Highbury.
- 1975 - 76 Arsenal 2 City 3 - 16 mins black and white footage, Jimmy Hill presents Match of the Day, commentary by Barry Davies.
Other games available from season 75-76:
Match (comp) mins commentary/channel
|CITY 3 Sheff Utd 1 (TEX)||9||G.Sinstadt/Granada|
|CITY 2 Man Utd 2||8||G.Sinstadt/Granada|
|Arsenal 2 CITY 3||17||B.Davies/MotD|
|Sheff Utd 2 CITY 2||10||K.Macklin/YTV|
|CITY 4 Man Utd 0 (LC)||41||B.Davies/MotD|
|CITY 4 Middlesbro' 0 (LC)||7||G.Sinstadt/Granada|
|CITY 2 Newcastle 1 (LC)||55||B.Moore/LWT|
|QPR 1 CITY 0||32||B.Moore/LWT|
BIG MAL ON THE BRINK
CITY 0 ARSENAL 3
|Reeves backed by Willie Young|
By 1980 City’s home form was as dire as their away form and the only patterns one could discern were strings of dreadful and embarrassing defeats. By this time we were departing the era of Tony Book’s strong late seventies side and were well into Malcolm Allison’s money-laden mystery tour. With the likes of Daley, Robinson, Mackenzie and Bobby Shinton already on board at great expense, Big Mal still felt the distinct need to go out and buy in March of 1980. A small space needed to be filled where the hapless Shinton had already departed, shipped out on loan to Millwall, so Allison spent £1.25 million on Kevin Reeves from Norwich. The arrival of the inexperienced Reeves was talked up to such an extent by the City boss that, by the time his debut ended in the ever-so-slight anti-climax of a three nil home drubbing by Arsenal, Big Mal had been forced to change tack and was admitting that he might get the sack. The irony of his customary press conference cigar and glass of Veuve Cliquot were not lost on onlookers to this truly feeble City performance. Reeves himself added to the fun by missing two presentable chances and giving away the penalty for Arsenal’s first.
This was the thirteenth game in a row without a win (the run would last another six games until a another comical goal at Wolves (seemingly a City speciality) – scored by Reeves after Palmer and Bradshaw had performed a text book music hall routine in front of their own goal- brought it finally to a halt) and included a mind-numbing defeat at the Shay where witch’s curses, a mudbath and the decidedly ordinary footballers of Halifax Town made City’s millionaires look distinctly overpriced. For Big Mal the writing was on the wall and within another month or two of similarly inept displays he would be on his way out of City for good the following Autumn.
Matches available from this season:
Matches available from this season:
|CITY 0 Liverpool 4||5||B.Davies/MotD|
|Crystal Palace 2 CITY 0||30||B.Moore/Big Match|
|CITY 2 Man Utd 0||20||J.Motson/MotD|
|Ipswich 4 CITY 0||9||G.Harrison/Anglia|
|CITY 1 West Brom 3||6||J.Motson/MotD|
|Man Utd 1 CITY 0||23||J.Motson/MotD|
|CITY 2 Bolton 2||7||G.Sinstadt/Granada|