As City travel to Middlesbrough for the final game of the season, it’s time to reflect on another trip to the north east that became one of the most famous games in the Club’s history.
May 11th 1968 saw City win the First Division Championship thanks to a thrilling 4-3 victory over Newcastle United at St James’ Park, the title triumph being made all the sweeter by the fact that Manchester United finished in the runners-up spot.
The two clubs were level on points going into their final games, with Liverpool lurking in third and hoping to take advantage of a game in hand. City had a much superior goal average over United, who faced lowly Sunderland at Old Trafford, so the Blues knew that all they needed was a win.
Over 20,000 Blues fans made the journey over the Pennines and witnessed a real rollercoaster of a match. Mike Summerbee put City ahead early on, only to see Newcastle’s Sinclair hit back almost straight away, and he took the lead for the Magpies to set City hearts fluttering.
Neil Young equalised before half time and then set City on their way just four minutes after the break. Francis Lee grabbed the fourth on 63 minutes, but there was still time for more drama when the hosts, bidding to secure a place in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup, made it 4-3.
When the final whistle blew City were champions, and the news filtered through that they were clear champions with United having lost at home.y
Looking back to that day, Mike Summerbee tells us:
“It was a windy day, three sides of the ground were open to the elements back then, so we knew it was not going to be easy. We needed an early goal, and luckily enough I got it.
“The boss and Malcolm laid it us, in a nice way, at half time, they simply told us that it was there for the taking.
“It was such a popular win with the fans, and with the press as well, because we were such an attractive side to watch. We gelled together, and behind it all were Joe Mercer, who was so respected by everyone, and Malcolm Allison, who gave us the belief and the confidence in your ability. That was the key to that side.”
For the record, the team that day was:
Mulhearn, Book, Pardoe, Doyle, Heslop, Oakes, Lee, Bell, Summerbee, Young, Coleman. Sub: Kennedy.