Manchester City have a history of putting their fans through absolute hell to the point where free private healthcare should come with every seasoncard. All clubs no doubt have their share of strange fortune, but it just seems like City are the kings of it. Here, we take a look at five instances that could only happen to Manchester City.
1938 – The Champions Are Relegated
We start our look back almost 100 years ago when City won the First Division title for the first time in their history. The blues had won the league by three points from Charlton Athletic, winning 22 of their 42 games, scoring 107 goals and amassing 57 points (2 points for a win then). To make life sweeter for the blues, United finished second bottom and were relegated. Good times.
Fast forward to 1938 and the blues received a couple of unwanted record that still stands to this day. City are still the only reigning champions to be relegated the season after winning the First Division title, and also the only team ever to be relegated despite being top scorers in the league. City scored 80 goals in that fateful season, three more than champions Arsenal. And just to rub salt into the wounds, United were promoted at the first attempt.
Dibble Take Centre Stage
City have had their fair share of decent keepers over the years. The legendary Frank Swift who was sadly killed in the Munich air disaster was one of the finest ever to grace Maine Road. Bert Trautmann broke his neck in the FA Cup Final but played on as City won 3-1 and Eric Nixon got himself the dubious honour of getting himself sent off for hitting Crystal Palace striker Mark Bright in 1987, with City 1-0 up. We then lost 3-1.
But one keeper stands out for a couple of reasons at City. Andy Dibble was signed from Luton Town by the second division blues in 1988 as City went for promotion. Dibble was an inspirational signing until one day at Walsall in a bizarre match that City could have lost, should have won but ended up drawing. The home side raced into a 2-0 lead and City were staring down the barrel of defeat when Dibble took a goal kick. The ball barely reached the centre circle and all attention turned to the keeper who was lay on a heap on the ground. A few minutes later, Dibble was stretchered off and Nigel Gleghorn went in goal. By half time, the score was 2-2, and seconds after the restart, City scored again. Neil McNab missed a penalty and Walsall equalised as the game ended 3-3.
Dibble was at the centre of controversy two years later at Nottingham Forest. With the score at 0-0, Dibble held the ball in his right hand ready to launch it upfield, when Gary Crosby nipped in from behind, headed the ball from Dibble’s palm and knocked it into the goal. There was no way that was going to stand until the ref pointed to the centre spot, giving the goal. Dibble was incensed, as were the City team but the ref cited that the ball was in play and not in full control of the keeper. From that day on, Dibble always looked round to see if there was anyone behind him before kicking it again.
Paul Cooper’s Diving Header – For Barnsley
In 1989, the blues were heading for promotion, but had just been thrashed 4-0 at Blackburn. The jittery blues were beginning to stumble, but if you’d though they would sweep past Barnsley in the following game, you’d be completely wrong, but it was a match that saw probably the best diving header by a goalkeeper, just not in the sense City fans would want.
One of the Futcher brothers playing for Barnsley (not sure which one) took a shot from way outside the box which flew past the entire City defence and smacked against the post so hard, the sound of leather on metal was heard way up on the Kippax. Paul Cooper, deputising for the injured Andy Dibble, dived to deflect the ball wide, but as the ball hit the post, it rebounded back on Cooper’s head and rolled into the net, leaving City fans wondering what else could befall their team this season. City lost the match 2-1.
See the goal here
Last Minute Winners Are Great, But Not When It’s For The Opposition
We all love a last-minute goal. Aguero against QPR, Dickov against Gillingham or Morley’s at Bradford were all vital goals. But what about when it’s against us…when you’re 1-0 up…and it’s the last minute…and you lose 2-1.
That’s what happened at Birmingham in 1997. With the score at 0-0, City went on the attack in the 88th minute and scored with a header from Murtaz Shelia. Yes, a last-minute winner at Birmingham, we need these points. But City had other ideas.
In injury time, the blues conceded two quick goals and promptly lost the match 2-1
The Ghost Of City Past
There have been many names given to that feeling towards the end of a match. Whether your team is clinging on to a slender lead, fighting for an equaliser or pushing for a winner, the feeling is still the same and blues fans have felt this on way too many occasions to count.
In 1999, City trailed 2-1 to Gillingham until Paul Dickov hammered home an equaliser to send City fans wild and break Gillingham hearts. There’s no way that sort of drama could ever be topped, could it Mr Aguero?
In 2012, City’s title charged had looked like the wheels had fallen off. A draw at home to Sunderland and defeat at Arsenal left City eight points behind United, but the blues fought back to top the table on goal difference and that was how it stood going into the final day. City at home to QPR. Forget what United are doing, City had one job to do…simply beat the Londoners.
The blues had won all but one of their league games all season, so three points against Rangers would surely be a formality, and it looked that way when Pablo Zabaleta fired City in front just before half time to ease the nerves. 1-0 up, there was no way City would concede the lead…party time.
But the older heads knew better than to get carried away and sure enough, they were proved right as the ghost of City past made an appearance. QPR equalised, then went down to ten men, then went 2-1 up. Hello ghost of City past, we have missed you but please can you not possess new, brilliant City right now?
The ghost of City past refused to leave the blues as they missed a host of chances to get back into the game. United were set for the title and the laughter of the ghost of City past could be heard throughout the stadium. Then something remarkable happened…City equalised from a corner.
The ghost of City past was silenced, but the blues still needed a third goal. With time ticking away, the ghost was exorcised as Mario Balotelli played in Aguero, who hammered home to send the ghost packing and the City fans wild with title delight.
The ghost still makes an occasional appearance and who knows when it will next resurface?