Former City manager and player Joe Royle recalls the characters from the dressing room of the mid 1970s…
The Class of 1976…
We had a strong, close-knit team that came within a whisker of winning the top-flight title in 1977. We finished just a point behind Liverpool and they had a fantastic team at the time. We had so many great players, many of whom were internationals and I think that was the best side up until the ‘new City’ arrived a few years back. I didn’t score many that season, but Brian Kidd and Dennis Tueart did playing off me.
Joker: Tommy Booth/Rodney Marsh
Tommy is the driest man on the planet. He was then, and he still is today. I love Tommy to bits and what a footballer he was as well. He was so comfortable on the ball and had a great sense of humour so when I think of Tommy, I always smile. He was always doing wind-ups – usually at Mike Doyle’s expense – and that in turn would end with Joe Corrigan giving Doyley a clip around the ear.
Rodney Marsh was a great character and a funny lad, too. He was a good guy and it still surprises people when I say he was a great professional, too. He lived a life, there’s no doubt, but when he trained, he gave his all each and every time.
It was no secret Rodney was deaf in one ear, so during games if you shouted on his deaf side, he’d cup his ear as if to say he couldn’t hear you – but if you did the same on his other side, he’d turn his head around and do the same thing again!
Quick-witted: Asa Hartford
Asa was another funny guy – always fast with a riposte and often getting Mike Doyle in trouble!
FURTHER READING - FROM THE ARCHIVES
Quiet man: Colin Bell
Colin was a magnificent player who had been badly injured in a League Cup tie with Manchester United. It was clear he would never be the same again and there were rumours we were going to sign Gerry Francis which would have been a great coup for us, but the manager decided to get rid of me instead!
Colin would be quiet throughout the week, but when Saturday came, you couldn’t keep him quiet for 90 minutes and he never stopped talking, much to the referee’s chagrin who’s ear he would inevitably be bending.He would sit there smiling at the nutters in the dressing room and just be content to laugh and giggle at the them.
Hard man: Dave Watson
We were all strong and there were no shrinking violets. Joe Corrigan was a big lad and nobody messed with Joe, but Dave was fearless on the pitch – more of a gentle giant off it – so I’d have to go for Big Dave.
The thinker: Willie Donachie
Like Colin Bell, my old mate Willie Donachie liked to let the others get on with the tomfoolery in the dressing room and just smile to himself as he kept on the periphery.
That said, he was dynamite whenever he got together with Asa – we used to call them big slugger and little slugger. If either one of them was in trouble, the other would turn up moments later as they were usually up to mischief together, but I’d say Willie was a deep thinker.
The leader: Various
We had a lot of leaders in the dressing room and we were very strong and opinionated, none more so than Dennis Tueart. Big Joe would always let everyone know what he was thinking, as would Brian Kidd, another strong character, too. But everyone was happy to put their thoughts across when it was needed.
The gaffer: Tony Book
A really good guy and a great manager who trained with the squad every day. We were never quite sure how old Tony was because he seemed to forget his birthdays, but it wouldn’t have mattered what age he was because he was always fit as a fiddle and a great example to all of us. He sold me and brought in Mick Channon, thinking that would lead to us scoring more goals, but it didn’t quite pan out that way.