The 93:20 Podcast Mailbox: Your Favourite Ex-City PlayerBy Howard Hockin | 19 March 2020
Kompany and Yaya seem too obvious. So I’ll go with Balotelli, sometimes crazy, sometimes lazy, always interesting. He’d probably really wind me up if he played for us now but when I was a bit younger I loved how much of a maverick he was, and it’s often forgotten how much talent he had. The only time he deigned to set one of his team mates up for a goal was the Aguerooooo moment, which is just so appropriate.
It was Paulo Wanchope until a certain Yaya Toure muscled him aside. SO many “heavy”, crucial goals. SO many. Okay, Cakegate and all the rest of his oddball episodes but my gratitude to him knows no bounds. Already a City legend.
I won’t lie he was a dreadful player, fully aware of that, but he bowled up in that Pearce team, and just looked ‘different’ andwhen you add in the two late winners he got, as far as I’m concerned he’s a good’ un. Plus the dreadlocks, how could you not love the dreadlocks, I even named my pet rabbit after him.
Richard Dunne will probably always be my favourite City player, despite the heroics of players like Vinny, David and Sergio. He wasn’t the greatest defender ever and was certainly always primed for a red card challenge, but I always loved and respected the way he played the game. He always led from the front and put everything into every game.
Roy Paul, because my mum used to watch him play for Swansea at the Vetch Field in the late 1940s before he captained City into the First Division and a FA Cup win in the Trautmann final. I also have fond memories of left-back Vic Gomersall, who played for the Swans in the late 60s after clocking up 39 appearances for the Blues.
1967/1968 Maine Road . David Connor – “Mr Versatility”
A First Division season with City ending up as Champions despite a small squad . King Colin emerging and Franny Lee added. A long, long season during which every injury was covered by the introduction of David Connor as the emergency replacement. Watched him play in defence, midfield and on the wing. Having been to Newcastle for our 4-3 clinching of the title, without a trophy presentation or #MOTD coverage, watching him dance around the pitch with the trophy after the friendly match v Bury was a genuine pleasure and a very, very strong memory. Sadly I suspect this versatility was also the downfall of his career. In my humble opinion his contributions were never widely recognised and I have never heard about him retaining contact with City. Cheers David, I REMEMBER.
This is very easy for deeply personal reasons. My favourite ex-City player is Neil McNab for the fantastic support he gave my wife and I during the most traumatic experience we’d ever faced as a family. In 1996 our Son Lee was on schoolboy forms with City as a goalkeeper. Lee was picked to play against Walsall in the F.A. Youth Cup on December 16th 1996, he was the youngest keeper at the time to represent City at this level as he was still attending High School. City won the game 4-2 with a team that included the Whitley Brothers and so was cause for great celebration in the Daly household. Lee had took a knock in the back close to the end of game that at the time seemed quite innocuous but turned about to be ours and Lee’s worst nightmare. Lee took ill during the night and was subsequently rushed to Withington Hospital and diagnosed as having a ruptured Kidney. He spent 2 weeks in ICU losing 9 pints of blood to internal bleeding amongst other complications that ensued. We will never forget the support Neil gave us throughout Christmas and beyond until Lee was finally discharged the following February. Lee made a full recovery and went on to sign as an apprentice at City when he left School in 1997. Unfortunately Neil and all the Youth Team coaches were victims of the Frank Clarke regime before Lee had a chance to ever play for him again.
David White. Then Uwe Rosler.
Kinkladze. Lit up some right dross as the time.
Ali Benarbia. If only we could have had him a couple of years earlier.
After SWP left, City lacked that hero. Joey Barton briefly played the part, but it wasn’t until Micah Richards came along that in my opinion we really got that player who you could genuinely be proud of. He wasn’t the most technically gifted player, or the fanciest, but he ran forever, got forward and back well and bullied some of the best wingers the Premier league has seen. He’s still the youngest defender to have played for England and it’s an absolute crime that he never got to go to a national tournament. Man of the Match in the 6-1 at Old Trafford, absolute hero, even if he is lying about never doing weights in the gym!
Another obvious answer but it’s gotta be the big man himself, Vincent Kompany. In the summer where we’d seen Arjen Robben and Thierry Henry leave the Premier League for Spain and even new owners in at City splash out on Robinho, nobody could foresee the young Belgian as he was then become the revered legend we love now. Vincent Kompany defined Manchester City, he lifted all but one of his honours here as Captain. That header v United. The MOTM performance v Arsenal for Pep’s first title, and of course the moment against Leicester in which everyone hoped he wouldn’t but he did. The word legend was made for Vincent Kompany. Where d’you want your statue after all?
After my second full season as a season ticket holder ended in record-breaking desolation – Stuart Pearce’s tactic of regularly playing six defenders unsurprisingly left us goalless at home from New Years Day onwards – something really had to change. A slew of much needed signings came in summer 2007, one of which was the brilliant Elano Blumer. He was composed and productive in possession, but worked hard without it too. He had an absolute laser of a right foot and his set-piece mastery could light up any game. Frankly it was just a relief to finally see a city player who didn’t fall to pieces the second they crossed the halfway line. He’s not the most well-known or appreciated, but he definitely paved the way to Manchester for the likes of Robinho and Gabriel Jesus. Who can forget that free-kick against Newcastle too?
Colin Bell. I was lucky enough to see him play – I was at the game against United when he was injured and his emotional comeback against Newcastle. If I was to compare a modern player to him it would be Kevin De Bruyne.
Ian Brightwell – our President when I was member of Chester Branch in 80s & 90s. Always great supporter of branch, gave honest answers in difficult times for the club. Invited his Mum & Dad to our Annual Dinner one year. We asked of his Mum (Ann Packer) a special request and true to her word, she brought her Olympic Gold Medal for us to view. Lovely family.
Kinkladze – others (probably yourself included) have written far better on him than I ever could but he was a player head and shoulders above anyone else around at the time. Did things with a football that I’d only every seen on TV before, a player worth the entrance fee alone.
Ali Bernarbia. At a time when we were struggling, we’d just lost 4-0 at West Brom, he came and lit up our lives. A wonderful, supremely talented footballer playing for us when we’d spent years watching Jamie Pollock, Ged Brannan and so many more useless tossers. Shame he was only with us for 2 years.
The Ian Bishop story is a cracker. And 100% genuine. Me and a mate trying to get a cab outside the Midland back to Altrincham post-Chrimbo do. One shows up and I flag it and as it slows, I make out the passenger readying to get out paying the driver. As the door opens I recognise it’s Ian Bishop and much hugging and hand shaking ensues. He wishes me well and tells me to get home safe. Driver asks me who it was. I tell him it was the hero and slayer of the Rags in the famous Maine Road massacre, Ian Bishop. Driver not a football fan but tells me he picked him up from a bloke’s house – booking was under Dickov. Driver said Bish had told him he’d cleaned up at the monthly cards evening and wanted to keep his roll going at the casino at the Midland. Driver also revealed our trip home was already paid for by Bish!!
Met him in New York for a City game a few seasons back when I was living over there. Absolute gent.
In the spring of 1994, we could all see, and support, what Brian Horton was trying to do. He desperately wanted a more attacking City but with David White sold and Niall Quinn injured, we were clueless in attack. If you think the Stuart Pearce side was bad, you haven’t had the privilege of watching Carl Shutt, Carl Griffths and Mike Sheron.
Gambles needed to be taken. Uwe Rosler was cheap and low risk, so why not give him a chance. One match was all it took for Blues to universally agree he was worth a run. Paul Walsh was old, often injured but far higher quality than what we had. When it became clear that he and Rosler seemed to play well together, that was settled. But Beagrie? Really? An Everton reserve. But he was exactly what we needed, even if his incurable habit of beating his full back five times before crossing put years on our lives. There’s never been a signing I was so unimpressed with at the time but who also proved to be so exactly what we needed. A solid but really boring team was transformed into a really fun bunch of players. Beagrie’s time at City was marked by huge inconsistency, probably caused by the fact that at times we seemed to be playing with 10 men. But when he was in the game, we may have had no money and been lurching from one crisis to the next, but we could entertain anyone and cause even the best teams real problems.