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1975-76: Joe Corrigan
Few players have managed to turn a negative situation around as well as Joe Corrigan did.
His early years at City saw him struggle with confidence and weight as he tried to establish himself as the Blues’ No.1.
But it wasn’t until Keith MacRae was signed that he really got his act together – not about to allow another keeper take his jersey, he spent the best part of a year dieting and training hard so when he returned to the first team, he pretty much kept his place for the next eight years, rarely missing a game.
Winning the confidence of the supporters was the final leg of his journey and he was a worth winner of the ‘75/76 honour.
1976-77: Dave Watson
When you think of a colossus in defence, Dave Watson springs to mind.
Towering in the air and sure in the tackle, forwards knew they’d been in a battle when they came up against the Blues’ No.5 – and invariably they came off worse, too.
A rock in the Blues’ back four, Watson was excellent throughout the ‘76/77 campaign and one of the main reasons City came within a point of winning the title – an effort that was acknowledged with the Player of the Year award.
1977-78: Joe Corrigan
A second Player of the Year award in three years for ‘Big Joe’ who was now regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the country.
Unlucky to be around at the same time as Ray Clemence and Peter Shilton, in any other era Corrigan would have been an automatic England No.1 – not that the City fans let that make any difference with chants of ‘England’s No.1’ echoing around Maine Road for every home game.
City finished fourth in ’77-78 and again, Big Joe was one of the reasons behind that impressive campaign. And it wasn’t the last of his awards, either…
1978-79: Asa Hartford
Dynamic midfielder Asa Hartford mixed industry with class to great effect.
The Scotland international was an integral part of the City side of the mid-to-late Seventies and even though the ’78-79 campaign didn’t go so well for the Club, Hartford could always be relied upon and deservedly picked up the MCFC Player of the Year trophy.
With 55 appearances in all competitions, Hartford thoroughly deserved the recognition the fans bestowed on him – though even he would become part of Malcolm Allison’s ruthless rebuilding project and was sold to Nottingham Forest later that summer.
1979-80: Joe Corrigan
A testament to his consistency, Corrigan picked up his third award in five years after the end of a turbulent campaign.
Big Mal’s reshaped squad had seen several high profile, experienced departures but Corrigan was not one of them.
Arguably, the brilliance and bravery of Big Joe kept City from being relegated during a miserable season and the Player of the Year award was just reward for his sizeable contribution that season.
1980-81: Paul Power
Something of an unsung hero for several seasons, the unassuming Power went about his role in midfield or full-back with consummate professionalism.
Nothing flashy or elaborate, just good old fashioned hard work and industry is what Power brought to the team.
His crucial goals along the way to the 1981 FA Cup final probably swung the vote this season, with the Blues’ skipper curling a magnificent free-kick into the top corner in the 100th minute of the FA Cup semi-final against Ipswich Town.
This was well-earned recognition for an underrated player.
1981-82: Tommy Caton
One of Malcolm Allison’s discoveries, Tommy Caton made his debut as a 16-year-old and stayed in the City team for the next four seasons.
A talented centre-back with a thunderous shot, Caton became the youngest player to play 100 top flight games during the ’81-82 campaign, aged 19 years and five months and he was tipped to go on and play many times for England.
He was part of the City side that topped the table just after Christmas but eventually finished in tenth, he remains the youngest winner of the MCFC Player of the Year award.
1982-83: Kevin Bond
It would be fair to say that some City fans gave Kevin Bond a tough time when he was signed by his father John, then City manager.
Bond sometimes replaced terrace idol Nicky Reid and that cast the elegant centre-back as the villain in some eyes.
It took time for Bond to win over his critics, but City fans are nothing if not willing to get behind any player who shows they are prepared to fight to play in the shirt.
Bond kept working hard, the dissenting voices became less and less and he was rewarded with the Player of the Year prize at the end of a campaign the Blues lost their top-flight status.
1983-84: Mick McCarthy
Touted as one of the best defenders outside the top division, City moved swiftly to secure the services of Barnsley centre-back Mick McCarthy.
New manager Billy McNeill saw the granite-built Yorkshireman as the ideal leader to get the Blues back into Division One and he would be proved right – even if it took another season to achieve.
McCarthy was an old-school defender who played with his heart on his sleeve with his no-nonsense defending and the fact he won the Player of the Year award in his first year with City speaks volumes of how the fans took to the big No.5.
1984-85: Paul Power
Further evidence of why the fans called him ‘Mr Dependable’, Power’s second Player of the Year award came in his tenth season with City.
This would prove to be his penultimate campaign in sky blue, but he once again led the Blues with great pride and dedication during the ’84-85 season which ended in promotion back to the top flight on the final day, while passing the 400-game landmark in the process.
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