In the first of a festive series, we look back at some memorable games over the Christmas period...
Where and when?
Maine Road, 9 December 1967
City XI: Mulhearn, Book, Pardoe, Oakes, Heslop, Doyle, Bell, Coleman, Lee, Young, Summerbee
Spurs: Jennings, Kinnear, Knowles, Mackay, Mullery, Hoy, Jones, Saul, Greaves, Venables, Gilzean
Christmas may still have been a fortnight or so away, but the snow-covered Maine Road pitch suggested it was a lot closer.
This was a game that would go into Manchester City folklore as ‘The Ballet on Ice’ – and it wasn’t hard to understand why.
The grace and poise the Blues showed in adverse conditions was, indeed, seemingly choreographed as the champions elect took apart Tottenham on the frozen, white surface.
Jimmy Greaves poked Spurs in front after six minutes, but the North Londoners looked uncomfortable throughout, barely able to keep their feet.
Colin Bell levelled for City who had created chance after chance that had either gone narrowly wide or been repelled by the excellent Pat Jennings.
Spurs clung on until early in the second-half when Mike Summerbee powered a header home on 50 minutes.
Neil Young then struck the bar before Tony Coleman scored from close range with 64 minutes on the clock.
Young got the goal he deserved on 75 minutes and City struck the woodwork twice more in the time that remained but settled for a 4-1 win.
What it meant...
The two points consolidated City’s third spot in Division One with Liverpool second on goal difference and Manchester United top by a point.
Spurs remained in fifth spot despite the Maine Road reverse.
The Blues remained comfortably the league’s top scorers with 31 of the 45 scored to that point coming from 11 Maine Road fixtures.
“We arrived at Maine Road not knowing whether the game would go ahead. While the inspection was going on, I told the lads a tip I’d been given by a coach at my old team in Peasedown St John, a mining village outside Bath. He said whenever pitches were icy to take the top layer of leather off your studs. Three little nails held the stud together but taking the leather off meant the nails were on show and you had extra grip. In those days, referees never inspected your boots. It couldn’t have worked any better. That was the day I knew we were genuine title contenders. It was a fantastic performance, the best in my time at City.”
“I remember Skip telling us what to do with our studs and I also know he still really enjoys telling that story! I equalised not long after Greavsie had scored but even before that, the football we were playing was second to none. Pat Jennings was in goal for Tottenham and what a keeper he was. You’d shake hands with him and realise his were three times as big as yours. He saved everything early on."
Glyn Pardoe: “There was a suggestion Tottenham wanted the game postponed but that wasn’t the case in our dressing room. We just wanted to get on and make the best of it."
Mike Summerbee: “What really made the difference were the words of Malcolm Allison and Joe Mercer. Malcolm was an incredible psychologist. We were not worried about ice as he had us believing we could walk on water.”
Kenneth Wolstenholme: “And here we are Maine Road to see Manchester City, the most exciting team in the country.”