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FA Cup countdown: Book on lifting trophy

Tony Book with FA Cup

Tony Book with FA Cup

Former City boss Tony Book has been reminiscing about being the last skipper to lift the F.A. Cup at Wembley, in 1969.

The Blues face Reading in the quarter final on Sunday, with home advantage providing an excellent opportunity to potentially progress to the semi-finals at the home of football. ‘Skip’ (as he is known by his team-mates) remains the most-decorated City captain of all time after guiding the club to four trophies.

A single goal from the late Neil Young gave City a 1-0 victory against Leicester in 1969 ensuring they returned to Manchester with one of the game's most prestigious trophies. The final is an occasion that Tony remembers with great fondness.

“We were waiting in the dressing rooms to be given the OK to go out,” he recalled.  “When it came, we decided to hang back a minute and let Leicester stew for a few minutes. I’ve noticed that the City team these days have a habit of doing that.

“The fans were amazing that day and I wasn’t quite prepared for all the colour and noise of the huge, ecstatic crowd when we walked out through that tunnel. The experience made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The fans can make a lot of difference and that really spurred us on.

“The match itself was close enough but I never once thought of defeat,” Tony remembered. “When Buzzer (Mike Summerbee) made his way to the by-line and pulled it back for Neil Young, Youngy cracked a shot past Leicester goalkeeper Peter Shilton into the roof of the net from around 10 yards out.

“Both teams had their chances but Young’s goal was worthy of winning any final. To appear in an FA Cup final, let alone win it, was a dream come true. It wasn’t that long since I’d been earning my wages at Bath City and here I was, 35 years of age, lifting the most famous cup in the world.

“For me it was like being Roy of the Rovers and I just let it all sink in as we paraded the cup around Wembley,” he smiled.

“Moments like that make all the blood, sweat and tears during your career worthwhile, they don’t come along too often. One of the things I noticed was how it all passed by so quickly: one minute you’re kicking off, the next you’re holding the cup and getting changed and off to the reception before heading on a train journey home. It’s only afterwards that you have time to reflect on the events. It remains an unforgettable experience.

“Hopefully Carlos Tevez will get that same feeling and experience come May.”

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