Success, trophies, great support and fantastic players in Bell, Lee, Summerbee and we were heading the group of successful clubs along with a few others in English football. What could go wrong? Well a lot, in a short space of time we went from being a glamour club into a steady decline of being average once more.
Peter Swales became Chairman in 1973 and finances needed to be cut apparently, so players were sold and the club as a whole lost its way as it became more about survival than winning. The rest of the seventies were not great, well apart from 1976 where we beat Newcastle United to win the League Cup. Our first major trophy for six years and as it turned out our last for 35 years. We came second in the league the following year too but that’s about as good as it got. We were now a middle of the table Division One team but for how long?
The 1980’s came and we were truly skint, just about surviving but eventually relegated to Division Two in 1983. We then had a few up and down seasons between the leagues before the Franny Lee era. Lee was there and was a founder member of Premier League. The club wanted it but all the money had vanished from within the club itself and on the other side of town, Manchester United were now the best team around. Under Lee’s tenor we were then relegated from the Premier in 1996. We’d had numerous managers try and bring us success but after a 2-2 against Liverpool at Maine Road we were down.
Now bankrupt and another relegation followed, it was 1998 and we were playing in the third tier of English football and playing against the likes of Macclesfield Town, Stockport and Bury. Thankfully Joe Royle somehow managed to revise a team spirit and after back to back promotions which started with that dramatic Division 2 Play Off final in 1999 we were back with the big boys once more by 2001. Relegation followed but we were promoted straight back again as Champions in 2002 under Kevin Keegan this time. A new stadium was on it’s way and so was a lot more. I don’t think any of us could have imagined what.
Thank you so much to Charlie for his brief history of our great club, his “The City of Manchester (Etihad) Stadium – part three” will be updated next month in September. Part one is available too by clicking here.