City Blogger: Rovers Return
- 14 January 2014 11:51
- Posted by @bifana_bifana
Simon Curtis looks ahead to Wednesday's FA Cup clash with Blackburn with a look-back at some classic Rovers encounters...
As thoughts begin to turn away from just what age some other Premier League bosses think our dear manager happens to be and towards the exciting prospect of Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup, so memories come flooding back of previous encounters with Rovers and the men who made their names from those games. With a disallowed goal at Newcastle making the whole planet tilt to one side with indignation, its is heart-warming to report that none of the goals or games that will be mentioned here caused consternation, nationwide bonfires to be lit in high places or a total meltdown on the part of our opponents’ supporters.
Recent success against Rovers (we haven’t lost to them since 2007) masks the fact that for many years our northern cousins held quite a sign over City. In the Premier League era, a win for the Blues was a rare beast indeed. Once outside the comfortable confines of top flight football, however, and heading further back in time, this pattern of Blackburn domination in the fixture begins to be disturbed a little more successfully. Still, overall, Blackburn have had a reasonably light time of it from City.
City’s victories in the old second division included a 6-0 thrashing in the early season sunshine of 1983-84, helped on its way with a fantastic hattrick from Derek Parlane. Indeed Parlane it was, along with the diminutive strike partner Jim Tolmie, who had cost absolute peanuts in the summer of 1983. Drafted in by Billy McNeill on the back of a less than generous transfer budget eased cautiously from Peter Swales’ dust-covered purse that close season, the unlikely strike duo had started confidently, both scoring regulalry in the early Maine Road fixtures v Barnsley, Portsmouth, Crystal Palace and Grimsby Town. Tolmie’s low centre of gravity and easy ball control dovetailed perfectly with the taller, stronger Parlane in the days when clubs were all but obliged to play the English staple of a big guy and a little guy as a strike partnership. This was possibly all down to Liverpool’s infamous pairing of John Toshack and Kevin Keegan, which worked so well over the years that everyone decided to copy them. Tolmie indeed, probably much to his own discomfort, having flown in from playing a small-to-invisible role in Lokeren’s survival in the Belgian first division, suddenly found himself being lauded as none other than the “New Kevin Keegan”. This, we were later to find out, was more down to his wonderful frizzle perm than any great likeness to the future City manager’s on-field style of play. But, for a few short months that season, the two Scots held sway at Maine Road, their goalscoring confidence boosted no end by their glorious day in the sun versus Blackburn Rovers.
Steve Kinsey was another lightweight City striker, who made a name for himself in a game against Blackburn, scoring with a waft of his right foot in a tense winter match the season after, 1984-85 to seal a vital one-nil win up at a noisy and boisterous Ewood Park on the way through one of City’s typically fraught promotion campaigns. The wind was so boisterous that day, it practically blew Kinsey over the touchline, but the young striker stuck at it and got his reward for perseverence. A massive City following lapped it all up, as the Blues charged to the top of the table and on towards a date with destiny against Charlton Athletic in May.
Those of us that remember these great encounters with this week’s FA Cup foes will no doubt qualify to be called old aged pensioners or other such common or garden “banter” unprintable in such polite circles as this, by others showing a little less respect than is generally called for. In fact, just like the dignified gentleman at the helm of the good ship Manchester City, we are not old, but merely heavy in experience and grateful for it.