Manchester City’s very own captain courageous, skipper Andy Morrison was the man who led the Club to that memorable 1999 League Two Play-Off victory over Gillingham at Wembley.

A teak tough central defender armed with the heart of a lion, there was always so much more to both Morrison the man and player.

An astute thinker about the game and a shrewd judge of character, we got Andy to run the rule over City’s heroes of 99 and offer his unique insight into just what made his colleagues tick…

Nicky Weaver

Nicky was a young lad and had broken into the team that year taking over from Tommy Wright who was a top fella himself and who probably nurtured him.

Nicky was always going to be a top keeper. He suffered with injuries later on, which probably held him back a bit, but the art of goalkeeping is to stop the ball going in the net and Weaves was exceptional at finding ways to do that on so many occasions where he won us the game or kept us in the game all on his own.

He was that good and a top lad as well and a great character, which will be echoed throughout in terms of the quality of all the players, not just as footballers, but as human beings too.

I know it’s romantic now to talk about what could have happened if we hadn’t won the game, but Weaves would have been gone as he was one of the most saleable assets at the time.

He was revered by so many clubs and I know that there were a lot of clubs that would have taken him if we hadn’t gone up.

Obviously, Weaves’ decisive penalty save, and reaction afterwards was one of the magic moments that day. You can’t rehearse that - the crazy celebration just captured the moment. And everything about that day was so special.

Weaves wrote himself into the history books with those saves. But that was the character of the player.

People arrive on a stage at the right time, and you need a stage, and you need a platform. And you know, that was his day in many ways and that moment for Weaves was special and probably everything about his character was there in that moment when he took off and that summed him up.

Just a great guy, so humble, he couldn’t hide his emotions at that moment.

There was also an innocence with Weaves that was just magical.

I keep in touch with him regularly now. I see him frequently at games and he’s just an outstanding lad, you know, as all the boys were.

He’s never changed as have none of the guys.

We were so fortunate. And only the passage of time allows you to actually see the qualities of them as human beings.

The collective strength of that group and the characters of them all was so important to what we achieved. 

Lee Crooks

Coming into this, I had a real think about the side – those that started and obviously the players that came on and made such an impact - and in terms of Lee he was just a solid 8/10 every week.

He was technically incredibly gifted because he was a midfielder, but you know he could have played centre half, and he played full back in many games for us as he did that day at Wembley. And his range of passing was up there with mine.

I remember we used to have ping-offs in training where we would just stand out and we were smashing balls 50-60 yards to each other and seeing if we could keep it two foot off the ground for as long as we could.

So technically Lee was really good, and he was such an athlete too. He could get up and down the field, was incredibly strong. And again, he was one of those players that you know sometimes don’t get the outside credit but within the group, everybody knew how important he was.

Again, he had a strength of character in his own right and I think he realised and knew how good he was. Technically he was exceptional.

So Lee was very talented and played a huge part in that latter part of the season.

Did Lee going on to serve in the military with the RAF Regiment after football surprise me? Yes, it did.

I think any footballer who comes out of football and goes into the services and then ends up serving in Afghanistan, is remarkable.

Let’s face it, that’s not the path or route that footballers normally take but all credit to him.

I read a lot of stuff and I saw a lot of bits on social media and the mainstream media about his journey and it was nice to see it recognised.

And again, I’m going to keep saying this but an outstanding guy.

Everything is generational of course but the adversity and also the pressure that we were under felt no different to what City experience now. You are carrying the expectations of a generation of success.

It was the pressure of expectation that was carried into every game and being reminded that you’re playing for Manchester City and they’re at their lowest point ever. And it’s on your toes, really.

So I think to get the promotion that held everyone in good stead because going into the following season the energy that it created and also the togetherness and the acceptance and the love from the fans, you know, it was remarkable.

There was an acknowledgment of gratitude, I think, from the fans that these lads had dragged us out of the mire and that we were heading in the right direction again.

Richard Edghill

I think when I first arrived at the club, everyone knew the connection that Edgy had as he’d come through the ranks, and he was Manchester City through and through.

And again, you need that. There were so many different characters and so many different facets within the group that created our collective strength and Edgy had been there and he’d been through the good times and the difficult times.

He had been there through the couple of seasons where City had struggled and gone down, but he stayed, stayed strong and played a huge part.

At one stage Edgy had questions asked of him by the fans in a period that was a struggle, but his strength, and the character of the man was remarkable.

And then he came through and just got stronger and stronger. The following season he was possibly Player of the Year in our Championship promotion season and then went on to have a remarkable career for Manchester City.

We all want to win and that’s always ingrained in you.
But when it’s your club, there’s a little bit more to it and I always felt that with Edgy. Where we all played with freedom to do it, he played with the pressure of knowing where he had come from and knowing what it meant and having been on the journey for so long.

I’m not saying it meant more to Edgy than anybody else, but emotionally he was so invested and cared so much about the club.

But he was always there, he never shied away… he was incredibly strong mentally as well as on an emotional level given all he had to deal with the expectations on him.

And another top fella as well - Edgy’s brilliant. He’s a genuinely great lad.

Gerard Wiekens

Whenever I’m asked who my best centre half partner was, I always say Gerard.

Like myself, he wasn’t blessed with great pace, but he read the game so well and he had an incredible technique of being in the right place at the right time.

And also, he was one of the best that I’ve ever played with in one-on-one situations, in terms of his reading of the game. When he was left one-on-one, he always won the ball and he always seemed to block off the danger.

We were coached to be side on in dealing with one-on-one situations. Gerard seemed to meet them square on, but always won the ball. And I remember watching it and then asking him how he did it because one-on-one defending was one of the weakest position points in my game, and he couldn’t answer. He just said I just know what to do!

There was an understanding between us. Gerard was quite happy to allow me to go and do what I’ve done but he could hold his own and we had such good communication.
And he was an exceptionally talented footballer.

On the surface he was fairly quiet and laid back and I think that was his character, but he was fiercely determined underneath that.

Gerard was one of the players in the changing room who came in with the same demeanour every day. He was smiling every day and I know he was incredibly, incredibly popular in the group with the management, you know, with Willie Donachie and Joe Royle.

All the staff loved them as well because he was just solid in what he did.

Gerard was also the most composed, relaxed person ever, and that Gillingham match was just another game to him.

We all dealt with things in a different way. We all had different demons in our head telling us about the worst outcomes. And that’s football. You know, the biggest battle is with yourself.

Gerard was exceptionally talented, very composed and he went on to play a lot of games under Kevin Keegan at City and that speaks volumes about just how talented he was playing with the likes of Eyal Berkovic, Ali Bernabia, Darren Huckerby…

Kevin Horlock

Kevin’s goal to make it 2-1 going into injury time maybe gets a bit overlooked from that Gillingham game but when you look back, everybody played their part, everybody had a role to play and there’s so many parts to the jigsaw and everybody was just as important.

But for tough periods when you’re under pressure, and you’re losing away at Wycombe and then you’ve got a big game at home against Bristol Rovers and you draw 0-0 and you’re under even more pressure, you need characters around you that can lighten up the place. That was Kev.

And I can’t think of any other word to say but that apart from me, Kev was absolutely bonkers (in the nicest sense of the word) on a day-to-day basis! But when he trained, he trained the same as me and he trained with an intensity, and a desire to win. He had a massive heart and would fight anyone to win.

And then when it comes to matchday, you don’t win as many international caps as Kevin does if you allow that characteristic of fun to cross over and he never let it crossover. He knew the boundaries and he had an ability to switch into professional mode, but away from the professional mode, he was incredible!

He just lit up the changing room and had us all in stitches and he could just take the fear out of any moment with his humour.

There’s so many different characters within a successful changing room and you do need people that can do that.
But you’re only playing a part, and the most important thing is the football and to be able to drop it and come into the moment and then play football and train like your life depends on it is special. And Kev did.

There was also a switch there and when he went, you could see it in his eyes and he would never, ever back down. Which sort of summed up that group.

Nobody would take a step back if it came to sort of, ‘Let’s have it.’ Everybody was full on, and I think when I look back, the character and the courage of the players was incredible.
And obviously without Kev’s goal everything that followed wouldn’t have been possible. And don’t forget Kev also stepped up and scored our first penalty in the shoot-out, and then Dicky missed his but that’s life, you know.

You’ve got one person who now is rightly regarded as a pivotal player and another guy who played what was an equally big part. But the timing of the first and second goal is huge and that’s life.

But nobody will laugh more and make a joke about it that Kev.
When we get together, the first thing Kev will do is just get hold of Dicky and say: ‘I’d be flying all over the world if the goals have been reversed!’ And it is great, and we can all laugh, and Dicky will be the first to say I know how lucky I am.

Wembley 99: Classic match replay – Relive the drama 25 years on

Michael Brown

Michael was a young lad that day, same as Jeff Whitley and you do need youth alongside your experience but despite being so young Michael was already very methodical and professional.

I think he still carries himself in the same way now in the way he is with his media work. He always was so incredibly professional.

He carved out a wonderful playing career, as he was so talented. Earlier that season I remember we played away at Darlington in the second round of the FA Cup, and he scored the winner and it was like a Georgi Kinkladze kind of run where he just waltzed through the whole team. But he did that every day in training.

Brownie also had an edge to him. Top player that he was, you don’t go on to play for Fulham, Spurs, Leeds… unless you’ve got an edge, but the edge has got to be outweighed by the talent and he was some talent.

He could carry the ball as well as any player that I played with because he was two footed. So you could protect the ball with your left arm and your left foot when you’re right footed. But when you go the other way to be able to carry the ball with your left foot is not easy and he could do that too.

Michael was just very disciplined and professional and knew where he wanted to go and knew where he wanted to be.
He knew the lengths and work required to get where he wanted to and its the same in his media work now.

He’s so talented in that area too and that’s just another of the reasons why I have such a lot of respect for Michael.

Jeff Whitley

Jeff was very young like Brownie and the two of them were just incredible athletes.

Not in the Yaya Toure six-foot two plus sort of way but they had an energy, and they played the game at a real pace and intensity.

Jeff probably even more so than Michael. Michael could get around the ground, but Jeff was so explosive and his pressing and his closing and the intensity to his game was phenomenal.

I do think the two of them were pivotal in helping us achieve what we did.

They really began to build into the team as the season went on and it came to a point where you couldn’t really hold them back because they were in the team rightly on merit and were key figures that day.

Jeff’s energy and ability were so important at Wembley but in truth it was a drab game where there were few chances.

I mean the way history turned out and the reason we’re talking now is because we were 2-0 down and came back from the dead.

I think that’s why it’s so revered and I think why there’s still the passion there, because of exactly where we were. The depths of how bad it could be echoed by what’s happening across the city with the United Treble.

It’s very romantic, but to have the adversity and be as low as we were and be where we are now, I think just magnifies that moment even more. And I think everyone within the Manchester City family knows just how important that day was.

One of the purposes of life is to experience life and all that goes with it, the York aways, then the Wembley 99. And then what we experienced at Istanbul.

I was lucky. I didn’t have any of the trauma after joining City. I enjoyed back-to-back promotions and had nothing but an incredible time from the moment I came in in October 98. I had nothing but magic for Manchester City.

So, I didn’t go through what the fans went through. But I listened to them, and I heard their pain. And somehow, we eventually managed to put a smile back on their face.

Paul Dickov

Where do you even begin to try and sum up Dicky?

Life’s all about timing and delivering just what was needed at that specific time.

And, Dicky’s goal and his timing in that period and just how important it is in the club’s history will never be forgotten. He’ll always be in the same sentences as Sergio Aguero.

I’m with Paul regularly now and you just see the way he is such a special ambassador and the way he carries himself for the club.

He’s just a great guy. He’s a very honest guy, very humble guy. And underneath all that is probably one of the most ferocious competitors, pro rata, and in relation to his size, I’ve ever come up against.

Thinking back to that goal, I’m picturing it now in my mind’s eye, when Nicky Weaver’s played the ball up the line and then the throw-in’s taken to Gerard and he just lumps it forward.
I see big Gareth Taylor gets a flick on to the Goat…. there are so many parts that were played to it. But the final moment needed something special, and those moments fall to special people and Dicky is just that.

And he’s certainly done the club proud, not just with the goal, but the way he’s been since.

And when Dicky scored for me, it was ‘its game back on’ because it was dead, we were dead and now it’s game back on. We’ve got a chance when we were dead.

When the second goal went in there was something in every one of us that knew we won this. It’s done. They’re not scoring a goal.

The energy it created within our group it had the opposite effect on theirs. They were just devastated and they kind of knew that it’s done.

All my families was there. And all,  from a purely selfish point of view that I’ve done is picture myself going up the steps to pick up the trophy in front of these amazing fans and it’s gone. And then it’s back alive.

And then it was just like I was hypnotised until the final moment when I woke up again. When Weaves made the final save then I was back in the here and now. But for that period there, it just seemed as if everything was in slow motion, and I was just watching this event taking place.

An incredible memory.

Shaun Goater

In our 4-4-2 system the Goat was the perfect foil for Dicky - Goats just scored goals and again I sound like a broken record here but the character of Shaun was outstanding too.

He had a tough time to start with at City because he was in that period of relegation.

But there was always an exceptional, talented footballer and goalscorer there as well who could score in the same way that Weaves could keep balls out of the net.

The Goat had an unbelievable ability to get the ball in the net be that with the end of his nose or off his backside or his kneecap.

You know he scored goals. And such a funny, funny character and he’s still the same man. He was always like that and probably just behind Kev in the joking ranks. And was quite happy to laugh at himself, which is another great quality to have.

To be fair, after that I think Shaun’s career just went to another level. First in the Championship and then into the Premier League, Shaun became the player that Manchester City bought.

I think you could write a book on Shaun with the goals he scored and the huge impact he had. And the song Feed the Goat says it all.

You speak to Shaun now and speak to all of us and we’ll all sort of talk about how the pressure was at that time and how we felt that. But we all seemed to cover it over and we had a great coach in Willie Donachie who drew that fear away from a lot of us.

Shaun really bought into Willie’s ideas, and I think Shaun would say that Willie played a huge part in the way his career went over the next three or four years.

Shaun Goater is known worldwide, not just because of Manchester City but also because of his song and because of the goals he scored and because of how good he was.

Terry Cooke

When you’re looking at the make-up of the team that day Terry was an out and out winger.

When we got the ball to him, because of his coaching in education, he was able to keep the ball in tight areas.

He was able to get us up the pitch and in a one-on-one situation when you’ve got the 4-4-2 system that we played, the two strikers need service and need balls into the box and Terry put endless amount of quality balls into the box.

But Terry was our outlet and was the one that we’d always go to and the following season Terry played an incredible part.

And again, only when you look back and look back at the games in that time, which I don’t do too often, but you see the part that Terry played, the goals that he scored and the assists too – which weren’t really a thing in my day – but that was Terry’s strength too.

It’s obviously not easy to make the jump coming from Manchester United to City initially on loan before joining us permanently. Probably the fact that he was not established in the team would have played a part.

But it was a young, talented player who they were looking to break through and it worked for everyone.

It worked for Terry, it worked for United, and it worked for City because it gave him the exposure and gave him the experience of playing in in a stadium with 33,000 people in the last two and a half months of the season.

But again, an incredibly talented footballer.

Andy Morrison

I always think it’s easier for you to speak to other people about me, but I think to be acknowledged for your footballing ability is nice.

I think when you look the way I look, you play the way I play, when you are as competitive and ferocious as I was in every moment in every game, at that point I went to war every weekend directly against the number nine. All I wanted was to dominate and beat him. And then if I do that, and I win that battle then I’ve done my job.

But to be actually recognised for being able to play a bit too is special.

I think if you speak to Sam Allardyce about when I played in midfield for Sam he’ll tell you… I went to Blackburn for £500,000 when I was 21. You know, you don’t go there if you just head a ball and kick people… you’ve got to have a bit more about you.

I got to the Premier League and I played there for two different clubs. I had a career that was probably curtailed by over 18 operations on my knees, so I’m incredibly proud of what I did.

I don’t want to use the word talented, but I know what I was capable of, but I was quite happy to play that role of - he heads balls, he kicks people and he’s a monster… that suited me perfectly, but I know myself what I could do with a football.

I also think it’s probably fair to say I was born to be a captain. 
I captained Plymouth schoolboys at 11 years old and I captained Devon. Then I captained Plymouth Argyle all the way through. Then, I was captain at Blackburn when I couldn’t get into the team because of Colin Hendry and Henning Berg and David May and Patrick Anderson, I captained the reserves. And then I went to Blackpool as captain, Huddersfield as captain, Man City as captain. So yes, I was a captain, but it was not something that I ever went in and said: ‘I’d like to be a captain’ – it came towards me.

I think I was born with that quality, and I think I was blessed to have that strength of character that it didn’t faze me, 
I’d love to say that there wasn’t fear because I was riddled with fear. However, courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is fear, feeling it, sticking your chest down and saying, ‘Let’s go.’

And, for whatever demons I had and fears that I had in my career, whenever I have walked into a tunnel with a team behind me, I led that group and I always stuck my chest out. And I always said, you know, let’s have it. Come on. Whatever happens today, win, lose or draw, we’re going to be fighting and I’m going to leave everything out there.

So 100% Wembley ’99 was one of my proudest days.
Picking up a trophy for Manchester City was such a proud moment. My family, friends, everyone there that day - the sacrifices I’ve made and the changes I made in my life in that year leading into that final. And it was just a pivotal moment.

We started the following season flying, 12 games into the season when we’re top of the league, you know, my knee goes, yeah, and I never ever got back.

But that’s OK. I’m at peace with that because I kind of got acknowledgement of how good I was and my talent in that Wembley final and without that, I think it would have left a bitter taste or I’d have felt like I’d underachieved.

There was something magical about that day and it was just an incredible journey.


Gareth Taylor

GT was our third striker alongside Dicky and the Goat and I think at that stage of the game against Gillingham, when he came on, he gave us a bit of a platform to go to.

Gareth had different qualities to Shaun. He was technically very good at receiving the ball and being able to bring people into play and his quality enabled us to get further up the pitch.
And again, GT played his key part in the build-up to Dicky’s goal with his flick on.

Gareth was a very humble man but again fiercely determined and had great qualities as a striker. And he was different to the Goat and different to Dicky. He played his part in that game with his physical strength because Gillingham were brutal in terms of their physicality.

They had six players who were six foot four, but Gareth came on and helped freshen things up at that point and just began to dominate them and brought us into the game and got us further up the pitch.

Has it surprised me to see the journey into management Gareth has gone on? It has as I think very rarely do we ever look at someone and say: ‘Oh yeah, I could see he’s going to be a club manager.’

We spoke about Michael Brown earlier on in the way he carried himself and the way he lived for football. Gareth’s exactly the same now as he was as a player. He had that meticulous detail and he’s the same now in his management.

The way he carries himself doesn’t surprise me at all and it’s great to see him being successful with the club’s women’s side.

Tony Vaughan

Tony was another great character who had come in for a fair old fee from Ipswich. That may be carried a little bit of expectation, but Tony was left footed and was just a solid defender. Incredibly competitive, brave and nothing fazed him.

Richard Jobson was injured for most of that season but for myself and Gerard and Tony we were in and out and if I was suspended or missed the game then Tony would come in and likewise with Gerard. 

So, between the three of us really for that period towards the end of the season and he came on and it was Tony who came on for me when I had to go off towards the end of Gillingham game.

You knew the qualities of the guy because of the position he played and that you worked so closely with him, and he knew that you wouldn’t let anyone down.

Tony also gave us balance, because he was left footed, and he could pass a ball as well.

And again, the character of the man was top class. Tony was a funny lad, and we were all able to be the butt of the joke. There were no egos in there which is always important.

But we were always able to laugh at each other and have that crack. That’s how strong the bond was between the group.

Ian Bishop

Bish is still the most talented player that I played with, and I do think Bish is the one player who could play in the current Manchester City team from those that I played with because he was that talented.

I remember when I first came to the club and people would shy away from the ball because of the pressure. There wasn’t a fluency to how we played. It was very much back to front.
But Bish used to say to me, ‘Just give me the ball.’ There was no fear. ‘Give me the ball. Doesn’t matter if there’s a man on, just give me the ball and I’ll deal with it.’

As defenders, if we were under pressure we’d have a range of passing and we have a get out but whether it was Edgy, me, Gerard or Lee Crooks, we knew that when we took our first touch, if we were in trouble, you knew that Bish would be there.

Bish was always the first pick in training because in the small-sided games where it was about keeping possession, he would just keep the ball.

He was just so wonderfully talented. He really was but some people didn’t appreciate how good he was.

We all probably know of players who had their own agenda and wanted to show how talented they were at the cost of the team. But Bish never did that. So, he had a strength of character as well within the team structure.

There was no ego, he was just a great team player and a wonderful lad and is still exactly the same today.

It’s important that I get the point across that every player I’m talking about when it comes to training and it comes to match day and it come to focus, their strength of character was incredible, but away from football, we had players, me being one of them, who were bonkers!

It was the funny farm in many ways. But when it came to football, and training and matchdays, everyone seemed to have the ability to leave the humour and just go into game mode. That seemed to come very easily to us all.

I think the fans felt that affinity. And there was that special connection there with the fans too. We were in the car park and the pubs and clubs with the fans – it was a special connection, a special time and a unique group.

Joe Royle/Willie Donachie

I think time has shown the achievement of what Joe and Willie did in securing back-to-back promotions.

I hear the plaudits that the Ipswich manager Kieran McKenna has quite rightly got on the back of back-to-back promotions with Ipswich. That was a club that were coming from a still point whereas we were in regression.

The boat was sinking, and Joe turned it around and I think back-to-back promotions into the Premier League have only been done four or five times.

Joe also had the quality of being able to manage different characters, though I think we were an easy bunch as Joe knew when to say enough is enough and he knew when we needed to praise and his man management was the best I’ve ever experienced, and that’s not to diminish the qualities of any other manager I’ve worked under.

And he had the perfect assistant in Willie Donachie. I still speak with Willie on a daily basis, he is a remarkable man.
A real thinker about the game and the most humble man I’ve ever come across in football. And I think the people who have worked closest to him will all be able to say what an amazing impact he had on their careers.

Your legacy is always the impact you had on players – and Willie has had an amazing impact.

It’s worth stressing too they both had fantastic playing careers at City. I never realised just the career that Willie Donachie had at Manchester City in particular. It’s remarkable. How long he was here, the games he played and the level of football he played. It’s a remarkable story to have played the games they did for the club and to have had the impact and then gone on to manage and coach us to back-to-back promotions.

They were perfect as a partnership because Willie took the training and took the players while Joe led the football club.

Just think too about what they did together at Oldham where they have even got the Joe Royle Stand, think about what they did at Everton, winning the FA Cup in 1995… just incredible.

And I think it’s nice for other people like me to acknowledge the huge role that they played and just how important they both were.