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Ian Bishop: A Derby hero of three decades

BISH BASH BOSH: Ian Bishop and Paul Lake celebrate City's 5-1 triumph over Manchester United in September 1989
Saturday 23 September 1989 is a day that lives long in the memory for many an ardent – and long-suffering – City fan.

That date – thirty years ago to the day – bore one of the greatest games in the Club’s history, as a youthful City side stormed to a scintillating 5-1 triumph over much-fancied neighbours Manchester United at Maine Road.

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WATCH: City 5-1 United | Lakey looks back

Guided by manager Mel Machin, newly-promoted City entertained our cross-town rivals, who were led by Sir Alex Ferguson and boasted some of the British game's best talent.

The hosts’ starting line-up included Academy graduates Paul Lake, Andy Hinchcliffe, Steve Redmond and David White, in addition to fans’ favourites Trevor Morley, David Oldfield, Ian Brightwell and Ian Bishop – and what an unforgettable occasion their efforts would create.

Liverpool-born midfielder Bishop was embarking on what would turn out to be the first of two spells at the Club. Admired for his technical ability and calming influence, he wrote his name into City folklore, heading home our third goal of the game inside 35 minutes, after Oldfield and Morley had struck early on, sparking scenes of delirium and igniting an adoration, which remains unwavering to this day.

Donning the sky blue shirt in 1989; then again between 1998 and 2001, Bishop also stands as one of the only players – certainly in recent history – to have played for City across three decades.

As we celebrate 30 years since that special day at Maine Road, the 54-year-old is still highly-regarded amongst the City faithful, and believes his strike against the Reds may have been the catalyst of the fans’ affections.

WATCH: City 5-1 United 30th anniversary: Match highlights

“I’m blessed really,” he said. “I didn’t even realise until someone said a while back they thought I was one of the only City players to play across three different decades – I never knew.

“It didn’t hit me like that and I’m thinking: ‘Wow, that’s some achievement really.'

“The way it worked, I had a spell in between. I’d had nine good years at West Ham – there were some relegations but it was good football-wise.

I’d only been here for four or five months so to have had the 5-1 at City so early on and to become a fan favourite like I did in a short space of time – and for them to then recognise me every time I came back and treat me like one of their own – was really special.

“Then during the times I came back [with West Ham], I had both sets of fans singing my name. The West Ham lads used to look at me saying: ‘What did you do here?’

“I thought: 'That Manchester Derby could have had a lot to do with it!’”

Bishop’s second spell at the Club would prove equally as enjoyable, as the midfielder helped City to successive promotions from Division Two and Division One, steering City to the promised land of the Premier League.

WATCH: City 5-1 United 30th anniversary: Lakey looks back

Of course, in ‘Typical City’ fashion, both promotions would be secured with final day drama – first the 1999 Play-Off Final penalty shoot-out win over Gillingham at Wembley; then, twelve months later, the thrilling 4-1 triumph at Blackburn with fans so desperate to be part of the action, they resorted to watching on the hill surrounding Ewood Park.

More memorable moments to add to Bishop's collection...

“To come back and for all that to happen was incredible,” he reflected. “It justified my decision to come back – it was everything.

“I'd left the Premier League to come back and I got another chance. I would like to have played more in that season but obviously, when you go up, you’ve got to strengthen; you’ve got to build.

“Joe Royle had a certain plan. Personally, I should have been okay with it but I’m never okay when I’m not on the field!

“It’s hard to sit there and kick every ball with everybody when things aren’t going right because we struggled a little bit. You just want to be out there.”

It was that desire and hunger which immediately enamoured Bishop to the City supporters, following a twist of fate which initially brought him to the Club after our promotion in the final summer of the ‘80s decade.

Intriguingly, he almost unknowingly prevented the move, helping Bournemouth to mount an incredible fightback on the penultimate day of the 1988/89 campaign, which almost cost City promotion – and his move!

He joked: “I gave them a little taste, didn’t I? Two games before the end of the season when I was playing for Bournemouth... It was the game where we were 3-0 down and drew 3-3.

“When I look at it all and think about me and Trevor Morley (who would play alongside Bishop at both City and West Ham) and the synchronicity, it's amazing – because if City hadn’t have scored against Bradford the week after, I wouldn’t have signed here!

“It’s things like that you don’t think of at the time; then it crops up later in life. You think: ‘Hold on a minute! I never thought that!’

“My time here was resurrecting me as a footballer. I loved Mel’s style of football and the fact he had got a young bunch of lads – five England Under-21s at the time. I was an older statesman then at 24!

“I’m glad it happened. We learn from everything, don’t we?”

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