Book Review – 101 Manchester City Matchworn Shirts: The Players – The Matches – The Stories Behind the Shirts by Mark McCarthy

Football shirt collecting seems to have grown in popularity in recent years with this reflected in the  number of books recently published around the subject. These have included amongst other, The Arsenal Shirt: The history of the iconic Gunners jersey told through an extraordinary collection of match worn shirts, The Spurs Shirt The Official Book History of the Tottenham Hotspur Jersey, and The Leeds United Collection: A History of the Club’s Kits. This has been added to by Mark McCarthy’s 101 Manchester City Matchworn Shirts: The Players – The Matches – The Stories Behind the Shirts.

Whereas the Arsenal, Spurs and Leeds United editions are in a large format (i.e. what is commonly known as coffee-table book size), this Manchester City offering is A5 in size. What it means is that although all the books have similar information, such as images and description about the shirt, the larger versions offer more detailed text for readers. So whilst this might be a ‘nice to have’ it certainly shouldn’t dissuade any potential buyers wanting to purchase the book.

Mark McCarthy began his interest in football as a nine-year-old in 1983 after a visit to his grandfather’s house, when he was told that his cousin Mick McCarthy was joining Manchester City. Mark’s intention was to one day own one of Mick’s City shirts, however, by 2021 when this book was published the collection had grown to over 400 original matchworn or issued shirts.

This vast array of shirts is whittled down to 101 in the book, which range from a 1926 FA Cup Final shirt to a Champions League top from 2020/21. The selection is dominated by shirts from the 1980s onwards, reflecting both the modern trend for new shirts being released year on year and the fact that prior to that kits were recycled through the first-team, reserves etc. until they ultimately fell apart and were thrown away.

Whilst fans from the blue half of Manchester will pore over each and every shirt, for neutrals (and perhaps indeed for collectors themselves) the interest lies in those rare and quirky shirts which have a story to tell. As a result amongst the pages of the book there is an unused and unnumbered spare long-sleeved shirts from the 1981 FA Cup Final, a Nicolas Anelka shirt from the last Manchester ‘derby’ at Maine Road and a 1953 one-off top made from a shiny, silky material (which was supposed to help players see each other under floodlights) worn in friendly against Hearts. It was good also to see that goalkeepers were well represented within the book, with classic plain green shirts from Joe Corrigan included, all the way through to the luminous colours favoured by modern day incumbents such as Ederson.

This is a great addition to the growing list of titles about football kits and shirts in particular, which is undoubtedly aimed at City supporters, but will appeal to anyone interested in shirts and their history.

(Publisher: Conker Editions Ltd. October 2021. Paperback: 192 pages)


Category: Reviews | LEAVE A COMMENT

Book Review: Caught Beneath the Landslide – Manchester City in the 1990s by Tim Rich

Looking at today’s roll call of talent, the impressive Etihad Stadium and the record-breaking feats and trophy hauls of the last few years, it is almost impossible to conceive of a time when Manchester City weren’t at the height of English football.

But yet, somewhat unbelievably only a couple of decades ago, it was a very different story for the blue half of Manchester. Despite a veritable thrashing of their nearest neighbours and greatest rivals, Manchester United, in September 1989, 5-1 at Maine Road, the game signalled not the start of the glory days but rather the beginning of a downward spiral that would see them, at their lowest, languishing in the third tier of the English game in 1998/99, and it is these dark days of City’s recent past that Tim Rich chronicles in Caught Beneath the Landslide.

The success of the club’s youth team in 1986 and that victory over United three years later could have seen City dominate in the way that the Class of ‘92 did in the nineties, but behind the scenes unrest and mismanagement saw a very different outcome.

Rich’s tale of City’s fall from grace charts some of the key figures, decisions and players in these uncertain times and it is a fascinating reminder of just how far City fell in the mid-nineties – when their neighbours were celebrating an historic treble, Manchester City were celebrating winning the Play-offs in a dramatic game against Gillingham to be promoted after finishing third in the old Third Division.

However, their decline also highlights just how far they’ve risen from the ashes since then. It really is incredible to read the authors narrative of the City of old in the context of the City of today.

Manchester City fans, especially those who remember and were witness to, the turbulent years of the nineties, may not want to be reminded of this uneasy past, whilst the new generation of Cityzens who have grown up with a City side at least competing in, if not dominating, the top flight of English football are likely to find the history unthinkable, but either way it’s a significant backdrop to this club’s past and its present, a reminder that success is not a given, it is earned and can just as easily be lost.

Jade Craddock

Category: Reviews | LEAVE A COMMENT

2013/14: Barclays Premier League – Manchester City v Fulham

Saturday 22 March 2014 (11:00)

It’s almost ten years to the day since I last watched Fulham at Manchester City. Back then, on 27 March 2004, it was a very different scenario to the one today. With eight games to play, Fulham still harboured ambitions of a getting into one of the European spots, while City were only 4 points off the relegation zone. How times have changed. However for all that was riding on the game, the Fulham website summarised the subsequent 0 – 0 draw as, “a game sparse of quality”. At the end of that 2003/04 season City finished 16th in the Premier League with 41 points, whilst Fulham ended seven places higher and with 11 more points. The teams that day were:

Manchester City: D. James, Sun Jihai, S. Distin, R.Dunne, M. Tarnat, S. Wright-Phillips, A. Sibierski, P. Bosvelt, C. Reyna, N. Anelka, R. Fowler. Substitutes: A. Arason, T. Sinclair, J. Barton, J. Macken, P. Wanchope.

Fulham: E. van der Sar, M. Volz, C. Bocanegra, Z. Knight, A. Goma, M. Djetou, S. Malbranque, L. Boa Morte,  S. Davis, M. Pembridge, B. Hayles. Substitutes: D. Beasant, Z. Rehman, J. Inamoto, F Sava, B McBride.

Today, as ten years ago, the fixture is important for both teams, but for very different reasons. City are looking to maintain their challenge for the title, whilst bottom of the table Fulham are hoping to build on their 1 – 0 win at the Cottage against Newcastle United last Saturday. Would I settle for a 0 – 0 today? Of course. But how realistic is that? Can the miracle of the ‘Great Escape’ of 2007/08 be repeated? WE STILL BELIEVE

Saturday (22:30)

The fact is that nothing was going to be decided today, in that win, lose or draw, Fulham would still be in a relegation battle. However, another battering in conceding five goals does nothing for the morale of the players or the fans.

cityHowever, when you are struggling, nothing goes your way and so it proved today. As expected City dominated the opening period of the first-half, but Fulham coped fairly comfortably. Then on twenty six minutes a long ball by James Milner saw Negredo get beyond the Fulham centre-back Amorebieta. As the defender stretched to reach the ball, there was contact with the City forward, who theatrically went down. After consulting with his assistant, referee Moss pointed to the spot and booked Amorebieta. Yaya Toure converted leaving Fulham feeling that the ‘big’ club tag of City had earned them a most dubious penalty. That was enough to give City the lead at the break, but how different would the game have been had it remained at 0 – 0? Would City have got frustrated and could Fulham have nicked a goal on the break? We’ll never know.

Into the second-half, the game was effectively over on fifty three minutes. This time even from the away section of the ground, there was no doubting the decision, as Amorebieta crudely brought Silva down. The Venezuelan defender was shown a red card and Yaya Toure did the rest from the penalty spot. Following this, Fulham reshuffled as Kacaniklic and Richardson were replaced by Roberts and Holtby. However, the substitutions were merely attempts at damage limitation.

Nonetheless, it didn’t stop Yaya Toure completing his hat-trick, as on sixty five minutes he was left with time and space to curl in a brilliant third goal for City. With the Manchester ‘derby’ on Tuesday, City manager Pellegrini looked to rest some of his players as Silva, Yaya Toure and Nasri were replaced as the game entered the last twenty minutes. City went in search of further goals and they came up with two more on eight four and eighty eight minutes. Fernandinho scored City’s fourth, after cutting into the box and firing home, with Demichelis getting his first goal – a tap-in – to complete the 5 – 0 rout.

The Manchester grey skies and the torrential rain that had been a persistent backdrop to this game made for a weary and draining exit for the Fulham faithful from the Etihad Stadium. The joy and the sunshine of the victory last week over Newcastle seemed a lifetime away. Thankfully results meant that the gap of four points to safety was unchanged and as Fulham boss still maintains, avoiding relegation is all about winning the home games. Everton visit Craven Cottage next Sunday, and anything less than a win surely means that Fulham’s thirteen years in the Premier League will be at an end.