Some young whipper-snapper types with their Excitebike game cartridges and their lasers may not know the bitter angst that tends to follow Manchester City fans like the clouds that perpetually form above BMO Field on game day. Well, thanks to the YouTubes, we can—with minimal context—provide a short, brutal history of the blue half of Manchester.
City’s golden period began in 1968 with their title win, only their second in history. This was followed by an FA Cup win the following year, and in 1970 a League Cup and the UEFA Cup-Winners-Cup (lots of cups there).
After that, it all kind of went pear-shaped over a protracted period of time, but not without some agonizing near-misses along the way, including an an injury plagued-semifinal loss in the 1970-71 Cup-Winners-Cup to Chelsea in two legs, their pissing away a four point lead in the 1971-72 First Division to finish second, and their failure to secure the title in the 1976-77 season, by a single point to Liverpool.
City bumbled along into the eighties, a decade that produced some epic moments of woe. They reached the FA Cup final in the 1980-81 season and drew 1-1 with Spurs, which meant the final had to be replayed. City coughed up a 2-1 lead against Tottenham to lose 3-2 to an epic goal from Spurs’ Argentine player Ricky Villa.
Then in the 1982-83 season, needing only a draw against Luton Town to stay up, they lost, getting relegated to the second division, which sent David Pleat romping out on the pitch.
And of course, we’re just revving up the engines of doom. After gaining promotion in 1989, City seemed to get things back in order a bit, until 1994 when the club finished near bottom in 16th place. Despite acquiring Georgiou Kinkladze in the 1995-96 season (see below) they were once again relegated from the top flight.
How does one top that? Relegation to the third division, in the 1997-98 season. City need to beat Stoke on the final day of the season to stay in Division 1, but hadn’t counted on all three teams ahead of them in the table (one of which was QPR) to win their matches. Both Stoke and City were relegated.
But that only set-up the incredible moment in the 1998-99 season when Paul Dickov scored in the 95th minute of a Division 2 playoff against Gillingham, which put the game to penalties which City won, putting them back in the second tier and staving off another year in the doldrums.
They won promotion to the Premier League in 2000-2001, so everything was okay from then on—NO, IT WASN’T. Relegated again to Division 1 that same season, which this grainy, surreal video illustrates beautifully.
And then since then, they crawled back to respectability, fortune, fame etc. But dear god, being a fan of European football is bloody difficult.