It’s pretty weird to think that, if all goes well at Manchester City over the next few years, there’ll be youngsters who will grow up assuming that success is something that’s always been synonymous with the club. When the vast majority of the fanbase was growing up, things were a little different – there were relegations, embarrassing defeats, waste of money signings…
Perhaps the problems of old aren’t that different right now.
Back in April 1984, manager Billy McNeill took his Manchester City side to Swansea’s Vetch Field stadium – for what would turn out to be the final meeting between these sides at that ground. The Blues were in fifth position in the old Second Division, seven points behind the top three and chasing a spot in the promotion places.
Swansea, meanwhile, were in trouble. They were second bottom and 15 points away from safety and fourth-bottom Oldham Athletic.
In the end that year, neither side would achieve their aim – Swansea couldn’t climb out of the bottom three and City couldn’t break into the top three, in their bid to bounce back from relegation from the First Division at the first attempt. They would end up winning promotion the following season.
As the crucial run-in approached, the Blues travelled to the Vetch Field on the back of a 1-0 defeat to Charlton at Maine Road. Swansea weren’t in good form either – both were going into the match with just two wins in their previous six fixtures. City hadn’t won at the Vetch Field in four visits, either – losing their last three.
On that April afternoon in South Wales, though, everything changed. Inside 12 minutes, the visitors had the advantage. Mick McCarthy got up well to win the ball in the air on the halfway line, before it bounced kindly for Steve Kinsey to slip in behind full-back Wyndham Evans. His pull-back into the box seemed underhit, but it was perfect for Derek Parlane to belt into the top corner with his left foot.
City doubled their lead later in the first half. They had been set-up to defend a Swansea attack, but a loose ball inside from the right flank by Nigel Stevenson allowed the visitors to reclaim possession and begin a counter attack.
Graham Baker picked up the ball in midfield and carried it into the Swansea half. As he was closed down, he chipped it wide left towards Andy May. The defender crossed towards the near post, but it was too close to the goalkeeper, who came off his line to punch. However, the ball landed straight back to May, whose header inside found Kinsey – and he volleyed back across goal and into the right corner.
The next time City would travel to Swansea, they’d be headed to the Liberty Stadium in March 2012, the year where they would lose 1-0 and where it felt like the wheels were falling off the title challenge. Of course, Roberto Mancini’s side would clinch the championship – and Swansea were one of five teams to beat the Blues that year.
City: Williams, Lomax, Wilson, Bond, May, McCarthy, Smith, Baker, Parlane, Kinsey, Tolmie
Lionel Richie was top of the UK charts on this day with his timeless classic Hello.
Smashing the box office on the UK cinema on this afternoon was the comedy classic Police Academy.
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Written by David Mooney.