Way back in the days of yore, with City in tiny black speedo shorts and white shirts that screamed not only "SAAB" but also "this is the 80s", Manchester was in denial. Following on from the unthinkable Luton relegation match, City were now making an unhappy meal of the league below, having been surprised to find one too many "sleeping giants" for a comfortable promotion campaign (Sheffield Wednesday, Chelsea and Newcastle all deciding to wake up from their own comic slumbers simultaneously).
Here we catch up with the Blues on their travels as winter is setting in; a cold grey London afternoon in one of the season's first top-of-the-table clashes. City line up debutant Gordon Dalziel, another embarrassing steal from north of the border, courtesy of Big Seizure. He slots in nicely alongside Tolmie, Parlane and McNab, as City get a firm grip on the cross border people-smuggling of low fee Scots with modest talent. Funny the police never noticed what was going on until it was far too late.
Dalziel, however, is making his debut and he's damned if John Motson is going to pass him by. He's on the telly and his mam's watching back in Cowdenbeath. A flick on the touchline sends the message up to the tv gantry loud and clear "oh that's a true Scottish touch there" warbles Motty, as Dalziel backheels an overhit pass back into midfield. A scampering tails-up performance from Chelsea "good ball by Johnny Bumstead..." threatens to derail City's efforts in the wind and cold, as half time approaches, but the Blues have another trick up their ultra tight sleeves.
In a rare sortie upfield, City win a free kick and Jimmy Tolmie, despite the wind playing havoc with his bubble perm, flights a Zico-like swerver into the top of the net. Niedzwieki, later to serve the Blues himself in the famous goalkeeper coaching chair occupied by so many to so little effect down the years, puts hands on hips in true what-the-hell-was-that goalkeeper chagrin. As Motson comes nicely to the boil, City's players frolic across the turf to congratulate the wiry Tolmie.
As the gloom closes in and Chelsea's efforts get more frantic, the possibility of an away win begins to dawn on the knot of City fans, who make themselves heard above the grumbling of the home support.
This is a classic bit of second division action, seldom seen but often talked about. Even in those crisis-laden days, a win at the Bridge was a worthwhile thing of beauty. Watch out for numerous agile saves from Alex Williams, suffering a torrent of abuse from the Shed, Kerry Dixon trying to increase his 17 goal tally whilst mincing around in a pair of shorts that Daisy Duke would have baulked at and the super-mobile Mike Walsh paddling against the tide of time at the back for City. Truly a collector's item, if ever there was one.
- Div Two 83-84 Chelsea 0 CITY 1 MotD with John Motson, 16 minutes highlights from the Bridge