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Hinch recalls '86 FAYC triumph

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As City's Under 18 side fine-tune their preparations for the second leg of the FA Youth Cup final, former City and England left back Andy Hinchcliffe has been recalling his memories of the last time a City side won the trophy.

"We all knew each other from a very young age," Andy says in an exclusive interview with MCFCTV.com, "so by the time we came to age 14 and 15 we were a strong side and then when it came to the Youth Cup winning side we had played together for nearly 10 years.

"There were some great individual players like Paul Lake, David White and Steve Redmond but we were a strong team as well. We tended to grind teams down, then score a lot of goals and that's why we won the competition."

From the '86 side Lake went on to be rated by some as one of City's greatest ever players, despite his career being cruelly cut short by a terrible cruciate knee ligament injury. Thankfully, Paul was not lost to football and after retraining as a physiotherapist he is now working at Bolton Wanderers but the passing years have not dimmed Andy's admiration for him.

He continues: "Paul was incredibly versatile, he could play in defence, midfield or attack and play equally well in all of them. He would not just stand in at right back, he would be outstanding at right back, that's how good he was.
"Six or seven of that team went on to play for City, but he was easily the best of the lot. He had terrible injury problems, and had he not had them I'm certain he would have played for and possibly captained England. He was a fabulous player and a big part of the reason why we won the Youth Cup in 1986."

The final of 22 years ago was, just like this year, tantalisingly poised after the first leg, also away, as Andy reflects:

"It was nicely set up, it was 1-1 from the first leg and we knew what we needed to do. There were around 20,000 at Maine Road so we really knew what it meant to the club.

"We didn't concede a goal and deserved to win a lot more than 3-1 on aggregate.

"Jim Cassell has done an incredible job bringing so many good players through, and you have to look at mental strength. If you are comfortable at 17 playing in front of big crowds, then that shows you have the capacity to cope with that week in, week out.

"That's possibly why the 1986 team went on to do well, we knew what the game was about but we had our feet on the ground. We wanted to do well for each other and that's what Jim and all the Academy staff have done. Look at Micah, Nedum and so-on, they all look comfortable in the first team and that's what they have learned at the Academy."
But there's one thread from 1986 that has continued through to the present day, with City's then-skipper Paul Power, pictured celebrating with the team in the dressing room, now on the staff at the Youth Academy. Andy is delighted at the continuity, adding:

"Paul being there was a measure of the man and showed what the game meant to the club back then. He was a City man through and through, and I'm not surprised that he's come back been involved in what has become a successful Academy.”

* The starting 11 in the two legs of the 1986 final were: Crompton, Mills, Hinchcliffe, Brightwell, Redmond (capt), Thackeray, White, Moulden, Lake, Scott, Boyd.  Sub = Macauley.

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