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Bishop: The Blue Hammer with 'unfinished business'

BLUE HAMMER: City legend and fans' favourite Ian Bishop

BLUE HAMMER: City legend and fans' favourite Ian Bishop

As the clock ticks down to City's eagerly-anticipated Premier League opener against West Ham, we recall a beloved former Blue, who also proved a Hammers' fans' favourite...

Ian Bishop’s desire to finish what he had started at Manchester City was so great that he turned down a testimonial year at West Ham to return to Maine Road. 

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The midfielder left a lasting impression on City supporters during his 24 appearances in 1989, with the third goal in our 5-1 victory against Manchester United a particular highlight.

But then-manager Howard Kendall deemed Bishop surplus to requirements at City and sanctioned a move for the former Everton trainee to the Hammers.

Bishop, who says he ‘cried his eyes out’ following his final City game, became a cult hero during a nine-year spell at Upton Park but found opportunities hard to come by under Harry Redknapp in the 1997/98 season.

City boss Joe Royle came calling and, despite our relegation to the third tier, Bishop didn’t need to think twice about the chance to return to Maine Road.

“I didn’t expect City [to be interested],” he recalled.

“I was out in London and my wife called to say I needed to come home. I said she said that all the time when I was out with the boys, but she was insistent.

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“She said it was Mick Maguire and that he was working with the PFA and was best mates with Joe Royle. She said Mick had called and that Joe wanted to speak to me.

“And I thought wait, Joe Royle? Man City? Wait a minute. See you lads! I wouldn’t have gone home any other time.

“I’d only been here for four or five months but and the times I came back [with West Ham], I had both sets of fans singing my name.

“The lads used to look at me saying, ‘what did you do here?’.

“I thought that Manchester derby that could have had a lot to do with it.”

Bishop met Royle at City’s reserve team game against Port Vale the following day and a deal was soon thrashed out. Not that the Liverpudlian required much convincing.

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“I remember saying at the time I’ve got unfinished business at Man City,” Bishop said. “I didn’t care they were going down to the third tier.

“Nine years at West Ham were memorable but I wouldn’t have left them for any other club.”

Bishop, who was 32 when he returned to City, was part of the group who secured the club’s return to the top flight by the end of the 1999/2000 season.

And he admits that the success rapid made his return to the north west particularly special.

“I couldn’t foresee what would happen but I didn’t care because I wanted to get back here and finish what I had started,” he said. “Luckily enough it all worked out!

“We got back into the Premier League with two successful promotions and then I left on great terms. I loved the coaching staff and the supporters here and I felt I achieved what I came back to do."

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