Monday, September 26, 2016

CELTIC FRINGE


Manchester City and Celtic have never met in a competitive match before. The 2016-17 Champions League Group C therefore puts City into an all-but unprecedented situation, playing a competitive fixture against Scottish opposition. However, despite its lowly status, the Texaco Cup of 1971 saw City's first and hitherto only proper fixtures against a Scottish side.

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While there have been many high-profile matches between sides from either side of the border (Leeds v Celtic, Liverpool v Aberdeen, Manchester United v Celtic, Nottingham Forest v Celtic, Rangers v Leeds all spring to mind. Even Dunfermline and West Brom and Aberdeen and Ipswich and Leeds and Kilmarnock have squared up to each other over the years), City have steadfastly avoided being paired with Scottish teams.

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AIRDRIE!

Two games against Airdieonians in 1971 delivered a 2-2 draw at Maine Road and a 1-2 defeat at Broomfield Park sending City packing from a tournament that did not last long, despite its interesting format. Just over 15,000 watched the first leg end in stalemate, with City's goals from Ian Mellor and a Mike Doyle penalty cancelled out by Goodwin and Busby for the away side, who had played with understandable - yet on City's part underestimated - spirit.

Ian Mellor nets for City in the 2-2 draw with Airdrie at Maine Road
A large Broomfield crowd of 13,700 saw Airdrie prevail in the second leg by a 2-1 scoreline. These two fixtures - played some 45 years ago - remain the only competitive matches between City and sides north of the border to date.

Even non-competitive games with Celtic can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The first was a 1-1 draw in 1953 pre-season, a game which saw City field a very strong side - Trautmann, Branagan, Little, Revie, Ewing, Paul, Hayes, Hart, Broadis, Clarke and Cunliffe.

In 1970 Malcolm Allison and Joe Mercer took a strong side to Parkhead to play Jock Stein's remarkable side (picture at the top shows a gathering of football minds). The match had been switched to Hampden Park, as the photos and programme stills show. Still feted as the first British winners of the European Cup, after the Lisbon Lions beat Internazionale in the Estadio Nacional of Lisbon, Celtic held City to a 0-0 draw.

Reporters were issued with crampons and a roll of rope.
Francis Lee takes on Jimmy Johnstone
John Hughes gives skipper Tony Book plenty to think about
Programme cover and inside shots courtesy of Graham Ward 


TOLKA!

It would be over 20 years before the two sides met again, in a pre-season friendly at Tolka Park in Dublin.  With the customary strong southern Irish backing for Celtic, City's supporters were treated to a difficult afternoon's viewing as Celtic ran out 3-1 winners. It formed part of player-manager Peter Reid's preparation for the all-new Premier League, which would kick off that August for the very first time with a Monday night live-tv fixture against QPR.

Fitzroy Simpson and Paul McStay tussle at Tolka Park, Dublin in 1992
The 70s witnessed two City pre-season appearances in warm-up tournaments for the coming action in Division One. In 1976, City were part of the Tennent's sponsored Caledonian Cup, drawing with Southampton, before losing a marathon penalty shoot out to go into a 3rd/4th place play-off with Partick Thistle, a game won easily 4-1.

SKOL!

Three years later City returned north as invitees in the Skol Cup, taking place at Tynecastle, home of Hearts. City lost 1-3 to Coventry City, resplendent in their new brown Admiral away kit, then drew 1-1 with Hibernian, before ending their presence in Scotland with an identical score against the hosts.

In modern times, City faced Celtic in pre-season in two consecutive summers, 2008 and 2009, one taking place in Manchester, the other in Glasgow.

As far as Manchester's competitive record against Glasgow is concerned, City will attempt to uphold a near-perfect record established by neighbours United, their only defeat in eight competitive fixtures with either Rangers or Celtic came in the 2006-07 Champions League tie at Parkhead, won 1-0 by Celtic.

1979-80 City v Coventry at Tynecastle Park


Celtic also showed little interest in holding on to manager (and ex-hoops legend) Billy McNeill as their boss in 1983. With City freshly relegated and looking for a new messiah to lead them back to the promised land, McNeill was persuaded to come south and duly took City back two seasons later, before jumping ship in ignominious circumstances to join Aston Villa.  As both Villa and City went down that season (1986-7), many City fans later enjoyed recalling how McNeill had managed to steer two clubs to relegation in the same season.

Here are all the other City matches against Scottish opposition:

In 1953-4 City played Hearts at Maine Road to inaugurate the floodlights, winning 6-3.


1972-73
Partick Thistle
Sweden
5-0
1973-4
Aberdeen
away
1-0

St. Johnstone
away
1-0
1981-2
Rangers
away
0-2 see image below
1984-5
Hibernian
away
0-0

Partick
away
4-1
1995-6
Hearts
away
1-5
1997-8
Livingstone
away
4-0

Stirling Albion
away
0-0

Kilmarnock
away
4-0

Falkirk
away
1-1
2014-15
Dundee
away
0-2

Hearts
away
2-1


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