Scoring a lot of goals against Chelsea is not the done thing these days, but - within the space of two consecutive seasons in the late seventies – City had not only managed the feat (10 in all), but had also seen two separate hat tricks celebrated in doing so.
Dennis Tueart’s three goals came in an overwhelming 6-2 Maine Road victory in November 1977.
The link between then and more recent times comes with the other hat trick hero, however. The following season’s game at a sunny Stamford Bridge found City without the departed Tueart, who had joined forces with Franz Beckenbauer and Pele at New York Cosmos. Struggling to find a decent replacement for the England international, manager Tony Book had alighted on the slightly more unheralded goal-scoring prowess of Luton Town’s Ron Futcher.
Futcher had in fact been a makeweight in his twin brother Paul’s £350,000 transfer to City’s central defence the previous summer. On 16th September 1978, it was brother Ron, who would grab the limelight, however, with the classic hattrick of right foot shot, left foot shot and header.
Resplendent in their stylish away kit of white shirts with a diagonal double sash of red and black plus black shorts, City cut a dash on the fashionable King’s Road and took the home side to the cleaners in footballing terms too. Chelsea’s 1970s incarnation was far from the well-oiled machine of modern times and the side led by Ray Wilkins fell foul on this occasion to the great Northern delight of visiting the capital to show Londoners how to play the national sport.
Futcher, well served by a hard-working and productive midfield of Asa Hartford, Gary Owen and future Chelsea player Colin Viljoen, turned the game into the highlight of his career, which only stretched to a meagre total of 17 games at Maine Road.
Curiously the closest any City player would come to sinking another hattrick at the Bridge would not occur until 30 years later, when both Craig Bellamy and Carlos Tevez netted twice in a stunning 4-2 win in London in February 2010.
Even more curiously, on that sunny Saturday lunchtime, City were once again kitted out in a replica of the 1978 white shirts with red and black sash and black shorts. This time a gritty midfield trio of Pablo Zabaleta, Nigel de Jong and Gareth Barry provided the ammunition for the twin strikers to wreak havoc, exploding Chelsea’s unbeaten home record that season into tiny fragments.
Indeed there had been little warning of what was to come, as City had failed to score a single goal at Stamford Bridge in seven previous attempts and Chelsea had arrived in late February with only eight home goals conceded all season.
It was to be the match remembered for the non-handshake between ex-team mates Wayne Bridge and John Terry, but was also the game that confirmed Roberto Mancini’s early stewardship of the club to already be running along the right lines. The Italian’s period as manager would deliver the FA Cup and the Premier League to thrust City into their brave new world of trophy-winning.
Between them, Dennis Tueart and Ron Futcher plus Craig Bellamy and Carlos Tevez had scored the goals that brought City’s biggest wins over Chelsea in this 40 year period. It has been an era marked by both clubs’ fluctuating fortunes: European successes in the early 70s, relegation and despair in the 80s and renewal and grand success in the modern era.
Much water has passed under the bridge since Ron Futcher hit those three goals in 1978, but City and Chelsea still represent the unpredictable ups and downs of football fortunes as well as any of the 2016-17 Premier League’s member clubs.
There will be full coverage of Chelsea v Manchester City on mancity.com and across the club's digital channels.