Player name in full: Richard Asa Hartford
To/from dates: 1974 to 1979 and 1981 to 1984
Number of appearances: 320
Goals scored: 36
Biography and City Career:
Richard Asa Hartford was born on 24th October 1950 in Clydebank Scotland. Asa joined West Bromwich Albion in 1966 becoming a professional in October 1967 and making his debut at 17.
Asa joined City for a fee of £225,000 from West Brom in the summer of 1974. A strong, talented midfielder he made his debut in a 4-0 win over West Ham in August 1974 then scored the winner in his second game against Spurs.
In the following season Asa was the one constant in the team, with his role as leader and a creative force crucial. He took the added responsibility in his stride and ended the season as City’s third top scorer in the league with nine goals, scoring five in four games during one spell. He was also influential in City’s progress to the 1976 League Cup final, playing in all eight ties and picking up his first winners’ medal in the final.
Asa’s third season was arguably his best as he marshalled youngsters Paul Power, Gary Owen and Peter Barnes into a formidable midfield that was ultimately only bettered by Liverpool, who won the league title over City by a single point.
The fans had taken Asa to their hearts because he was a player who never gave any less than his all, and he was an unusual mix of skill and aggression. He was undoubtedly one of the best midfielders of his generation, although he did not always receive the credit he deserved.
In his fourth season, City finished fourth and Asa was at the peak of his powers so much so, that he played for Scotland in the 1978 World Cup finals in Argentina.
In his fifth season at the club, Asa scored vital goals in the UEFA Cup run including one against AC Milan. At the end of the 1978/79 season however he was transferred to Nottingham Forest where he infamously stayed just a few weeks under Brian Clough before moving on to Everton.
After just a couple of years away John Bond re-signed Asa who slotted back into the No.10 shirt as though he had never been away. He played 68 more league games for the Club, but was powerless to stop City from being relegated in 1983.
Asa was named after his father’s favourite singer Al (Asa) Jolson and he famously failed a medical with Leeds United in 1971 when it was discovered he had a hole in his heart.
International Career: Hartford played for Scotland gaining 50 caps between 1972 and 1982.
After leaving City, Asa joined Norwich City, Bolton Wanderers and Oldham Athletic before taking on a role at Stockport County in 1987 as player/manager, moving to Shrewsbury Town in 1990.
Asa returned to Manchester City in 1995 as assistant manager and continued to provide his expertise as reserve team coach until 2005.
Since then he has continued to provide coaching expertise to Blackpool, Accrington Stanley and Birmingham City.