A very special Club anniversary is marked today as former manager and captain Tony Book celebrates 50 years since he first joined City.
Tony, who celebrates his 82nd birthday next week, is one of the most successful captains the Blues have ever had and his story as a player is something of a fairytale.
Better known as ‘Skip’, he joined City from Plymouth Argyle in 1966 for a fee of £17,000. Malcolm Allison, who had managed Book at both Bath and Plymouth, persuaded City boss Joe Mercer that, despite Book being almost 32 years-old and never having played in the top flight, he was one of the finest defenders in the country. All this from a player who had just two years earlier been playing for non-league football with Bath City and bricklaying part-time.
It would turn out to be an inspired signing by Allison as Book was installed as captain for the 1967/68 campaign - and the trophies started to roll in.
Book was the recipient of the first ever MCFC Player of the Year award in 1967 as City consolidated promotion from Division Two, missing just one League game that season. He was one of the quickest defenders around and Manchester United star George Best is quoted as listing Book as his most difficult opponent.
Book overcame a serious injury in late 1968 when he damaged his Achilles’. Many thought that his career was over, but six months later, he was holding the FA Cup aloft at Wembley and was also voted joint Footballer of the Year that same season as his fellow professionals acknowledged his tremendous achievement.
Allison said Book was one of the best defenders he’d ever seen and few who saw him play would disagree with that view. Tony captained City to many trophies, including the European Cup-Winners’ Cup, before retiring in 1974.
He later became assistant manager to Ron Saunders and then became manager shortly after, taking City to League Cup glory at Wembley in 1976 and within a point of the First Division title in 1976–77, before being replaced, ironically, by Malcolm Allison in 1979. He later became part of the backroom staff at Maine Road for several more years, including a brief spell as caretaker manager in 1993.
As a captain and as a manager, Book gave the Blues tremendous service, which stretched over an incredible 30 years and after retiring from the game, he became City’s Honorary President.
A true gentleman, Tony attends all home matches and remains a hugely popular figure among City fans and today his 50th anniversary will be marked with a presentation on the pitch.
A true Manchester City legend, everybody at MCFC congratulates Tony on reaching this most notable landmark.
Book, Tony – 1966 to 1974 and Manager from 1974 to 1979
Appearances: 306 + 3 as substitute
League Record as manager: Games: 210 W: 88 D: 60 L: 62 F: 310 A: 241