Friday, September 13, 2013


75-76 STOKE 4 CITY 0                                  In 1975, things are different. There is mud everywhere. Shirts are plain and ready to be spattered with it. Your best view features a stanchion and the back of the head of the bloke in front. Joe Royle and Geoff Hurst are considered objets d'art and the Victoria Ground plays host to a home side who regularly play the best sides in the land right off the park. City in 1975 are not one of the best sides in the land but that does not put stop them from also being played right off the park on this occasion. 4-0 to the Potters and goals galore for Moores, the age-defying Hurst and Alan Hudson. There are Pejics and Greenhoffs, Conroys and Smiths and all of that is too much for our Blues. > Whilst the home side celebrate Hudson's goal, a desolate looking Willlie Donachie trudges back to prepare for kick-off. ---
above - 80-81 STOKE 2 CITY 1
Run up to the 81 Cup Final and City are beginning to get the jitters. Even though we have entered April, Stoke are without a win in the calendar year up to City's arrival. In those days, you just knew what that meant and Stoke duly go on to record the victory that the statistics told us to put money on. A huge tide of emotion from the Potters faithful plays its part.Bobby McDonald's trademark close-in header is only a consolation as it whips past Dodd and Fox of Stoke.
below -81-82 STOKE 1 CITY 3
Fast forward a couple of months and City are bright and brave on the occasion of Trevor Francis' debut in sky blue. The away end is awash with Blues, come to see the mercurial skills of the ex-Forest flier. He does not disappoint with a quickfire double as City scamper to a famous win in the early season sunshine. Anybody there that day will not forget it in a hurry, as a great bank of away fans prepares to party all the way back to Manchester. Kevin Reeves is first in for a cuddle with City's new darling as the first wave of Manchester's finest prepares to mount the fences and join them 

below -80-81 CITY 1 STOKE 1
The snow lies thick on the ground in Rusholme. Claremont Road is a skating rink and Windy Corner is closed as it is too treacherous for the heavy drinkers of Manchester to try to stand up on. Instead we huddle together under the Kippax roof, waiting for excuses to clap like maniacs. The tv cameras are here too, as all the other games have been called off. City will climb to the top of the table if they win. A giant chimney stack called Brendan O'Callaghan scores for Stoke to put the kybosh on that idea and Tricky Trev does the same for City, but first place eludes us for another week. Francis jumps high in the snow-filled air to chest the ball down in front of Stoke's defence

below 96-97 STOKE 2 CITY 1

When Alan Ball brought his City side to the Potteries in 1996, trouble was brewing. Big trouble. Anyone permitting him or herself a visit to more than one of City's games per month during this period needed to see a doctor urgently to receive medication. This game became so poor that Stoke's fans started singing Bally's on the dole". They didn't realise how prescient their singing was about to be. With a poisonous atmosphere spreading through the club and onto the terraces, Ball's inept management came to a halt after this dreadful game, the small man with the funny voice throwing his checked cap to the floor in resignation. Whether he handed in the crinkled, sweat-stained shell-suit as well is still not clear. What was crystal clear was City were in a mess, soon to be magnified tenfold and to come back and bite us all on the backside when we returned to Stoke a season later...

below: 1997-98 STOKE 2 CITY 5
Anyone, who does not remember the gut-wrenching sensation at the end of this match, is a lucky individual. Most people's worst ever City moment and an event showered in tears and phlegm long before the final whistle confirmed that City were down in Division Three for the first time in their proud history.


  1. Your Twitter feed mentioned carnage and mayhem since time immemorial at the Victoria Ground, first visit, 23rd September 1972, and a 1-5 loss to a third from bottom Stoke.
    City had gone into that one with 5 away defeats out of 5!

    1. Ah, those were the days, Graham. People forget Stoke had their best ever side between 1971 and 1976, packed with talent and the Victoria Ground was a place many of the top teams foundered, including champions Leeds 3-0 on one memorable occasion.

  2. This has nothing to do with Stoke, but have you seen the new Lazio shirts? They're wearing them to honor Silvio Piola, who starred for Lazio and Italy in the Thirties.

    They are remarkably City-esque. I know City's red and black change shirt was inspired by AC Milan. Was Lazio's choice of sky blue an homage to City? Or is it just coincidence?

    1. Nothing to do with City that I know of, Cort. Link is to the Greek national colours and the Olympic ideals of sportsmanship and fairness, which Lazio fans always try their very hardest to keep up.

  3. Thanks for the memories Simon. I attended the memorable Francis debut match and the fancy dress Boxing Day adventure. I did not go to the relegation to the third division game as I was overseas, but a trip to Stoke that sticks in my mind was a League Cup tie that went on until about 10.30 PM. The two sides could not be separated after extra time and City won 9-8 on penalties. When was this?

    1. 28th October 1981 with Big Joe the hero, as I remember.


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