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Towers reflects on Cup Winners' Cup final inclusion

Towers reflects on Cup Winners' Cup final inclusion
The key contributions of all-time greats such as Colin Bell, Francis Lee, Tony Book and Neil Young in helping to secure our 1970 European Cup Winner’s Cup final success are, of course, well documented.

But there was another vital - if overlooked individual contribution - driving City’s 2-1 triumph over Gornik Zabrze in Austria, the 50th anniversary of which we celebrated yesterday.

The vital role played by tigerish teenage midfielder Tony Towers.

During his six years at the Club, the Manchester-born star rarely received the accolades afforded his more famous colleagues, despite making nearly 150 appearances in total.

But Tony played a key part in City’s march to the final – not least scoring a dramatic extra time quarter-final winner against Academica Coimbra with the tie poised to go to penalties.

And with Mike Summerbee ruled out of the final against Gornik through injury, manager Joe Mercer and coach Malcolm Allison had no hesitation in entrusting Towers with a starting berth… much to his shock, as Tony recalls.

“To be perfectly honest I was barely 18 when I played in the final,” Towers reflects.

“I had no inkling that I would be playing. Malcolm just read the team sheet out and that was it really.

 “At that age you don’t take it in. You tend to take it for granted – its only later in life that you appreciate quite what happened.

“Everything happened so fast. It was a whirlwind and I just regret not taking it all in. But, like they say, you cannot put an old head on young shoulders!

“At that age you think things will always be like that.

“As for the game, I was just doing my job. Malcolm told us what to do and I just went out there and tried to follow what he said.

“We didn’t get nervous at all. We had a great squad of players who looked after us youngsters and Malcolm always believed in his young players.

“He gave all the youngsters their chance and he had so much time for us younger players.

“With Joe acting as the father figure and figurehead they were a brilliant partnership.

“People also forget that Joe and Malcolm built that squad on a shoestring. They didn’t spend fortunes and they worked absolute wonders.”

WATCH: Rare European Cup Winners' Cup celebration footage!

Towers’ unstinting work and diligence in City’s midfield engine room against a physical, combative Gornik side containing seven Polish internationals didn’t go unnoticed by his colleagues.

Both Colin Bell and Francis Lee were amongst those to praise TT’s important work.

But, for the injured Mike Summerbee, who was looking on from the sidelines that night in Vienna, Towers’ display came as no surprise.

“’Growler’ did so, so well against Gornik,” Buzzer recalled. “He was a major part of that win in Vienna - he came in and he was fantastic.

“Tony could play anywhere, and he was a very good player. He didn’t play as many games for us as he should have done but whenever he came in, he did a really impressive job.

“He really made his impact on that team. He was tough, strong, had good vision, he could play, and he scored some key goals.

“We had a squad of about 15 back then and every one of those lads deserved to be playing.”

Fifty years on from that rainy night in central Europe, pride is the overriding emotion for Towers, who after leaving City for Sunderland in 1974 subsequently went on to play for England under Don Revie.

“Looking back, it was a complete dream and I was so proud to be a part of that squad,” Tony concludes.

“We were like a family – we are all cared about each other. And if I speak to any of the boys now, it is like we are still playing – the bond is still so strong.

“From the age of 17 to 21, not many players get the medals I got in the space of just a few years. The European Cup Winners’ Cup, the Charity Shield, the League Cup… it was an amazing time.”

WATCH: European Cup Winners Cup final highlights: City 2-1 Gornik Zabrze
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