1972/73 SEASON REVIEW
I heard that Joe had been asked to ‘move upstairs’ but he had no intention of doing that and I know his wife Nora was devastated about the way things were handled.”
Another change at Maine Road was the completion of the new all seated cantilevered North Stand.
City had a pre-season tour of Sweden where they drew 3-3 with Hammarby, then beat Hull 1-0, Partick 5-0 and Ope 8-0. Then back in the UK they won at Bradford 5-0, Bury 2-0 at Gigg Lane, and 2-0 at Swansea.
In the Charity Shield City played Aston Villa at Villa Park and won their first trophy of the season with a 1-0 win courtesy of another Francis Lee penalty.
It wasn’t a happy start to the new full campaign as City lost 2-0 at Liverpool on the opening day of the season, Malcolm Allison was quoted as saying his team played like amateurs.
City then lost again, 1-0 at home to Everton, however three days later Maine Road saw City’s first win, 3-0 against Norwich, however with further defeats, 1-0 at Derby, 2-1 at Chelsea, and 1-0 at Crystal Palace, City were rock bottom of Division 1, albeit after only six games.
Malcolm Allison was a little more relieved with a 1-0 home win against Leicester and then in the League Cup The Blues disposed of Rochdale 4-0 at Maine Road, however on their travels City were struggling, and lost their fifth away game on the trot 4-1 at Birmingham.
The Blues then played their first ever game in the UEFA Cup as they drew 2-2 at Maine Road against Valencia in the 1st leg of the 1st round.
Out of the Blue it was the announced that Wyn Davies had been transferred to Frank O’Farrell’s Manchester United, who were bottom of the league with City just a place above them. United paid City £65,000 for the Welsh striker.
The Blues then managed a third win of the season as they beat Tottenham 2-1 at Maine Road , however amidst an injury crisis City soon swopped places with United at the bottom as they crashed to a 5-1 defeat against Stoke at The Victoria Ground.
27th September 1972 was not the best day City have ever had as it was announced that long time President Albert V Alexander had passed away, and then The Blues played Valencia in Spain in the 2nd leg of their UEFA Cup tie and were beaten 2-1, and therefore out of the competition at the first hurdle. City’s home form in the league was improving and they beat West Brom 2-1 to move up the table to fifth from bottom.
It was to be another embarrassing cup exit though, as City lost 2-0 to Bury at Gigg Lane in the 3rd Round of the League Cup.
In the league City slipt back down to second from bottom as they drew 1-1 at home to Wolves and then lost 3-2 at Coventry.
Malcolm Allison was a little happier with a thrilling 4-3 win over West Ham at Maine Road and then a 0-0 draw at Championship chasing Arsenal.
The improvement continued with a 4-0 Maine Road thrashing of Derby and then a 3-2 victory at Everton to move City up to 14th in Division 1, amidst financial worries as the board reported annual losses of £38,000.
The Blues made it 10 goals in three days as they beat rivals Manchester United 3-0 at Maine Road but then typically slumped to a 3-0 defeat against Leeds at Elland Road.
Malcolm Allison was anxious to bring in a new face and he targeted out of favour George Best at Manchester United, Frank O’Farrell confirmed there was interest from City but no firm bid was ever made as The Blues’ directors did not agree with Malcolm’s choice of player, in hindsight they were definitely correct.
City then drew 1-1 at home to Ipswich and away at Sheffield United. Before beating Southampton 2-1 at Maine Road. During this time The Blues also managed to fit in a friendly at QPR for Frank Sibley’s Testimonial which they won 1-0.
The Blues moved into the Christmas period with a dilapidated squad Allison’s team visited Newcastle on 23rd December without Francis Lee who was suspended and Tony Book and Mike Summerbee who were injured. The Magpies beat the Citizens 2-1.
Things were worse on Boxing Day as Colin Bell and Willie Donachie were also missing through suspension, however City managed a 1-1 draw at home to Stoke, which was the same score in the last game of 1972 at Norwich.
The first game of 1973 should have been Chelsea at Maine Road but the game was postponed due to fog, instead the first match was a home 3rd Round FA Cup tie against Stoke which The Blues won 3-2.
In the league City drew 1-1 at Leicester and beat Birmingham 1-0 at Maine Road, as they climbed further up Division 1 to 11th position.
They then travelled to Anfield in the 4th Round of the FA Cup and earned a replay drawing 0-0 with Liverpool. Four days later The Blues won the replay, beating Liverpool 2-0 in front of a Maine Road crowd of nearly 50,000.
Back in the league and City moved up to 8th with a great 3-2 victory over Tottenham at White Hart Lane, before meeting Liverpool for the third time in a fortnight, the match ending 1-1 at Maine Road.
City’s season ended as regards winning a trophy when after drawing 2-2 at home to Sunderland in the 5th Round of the FA Cup they lost the replay at Roker Park. Sunderland winning 3-1.
In the league The Blues went down to a disastrous defeat at Molyneux losing 5-1 to Wolves, and then drew 1-1 at Southampton to slip down to tenth with just a quarter of the season left.
The City board were concerned with the Maine Road finances especially now that there would be no prize money coming in this season. The club were paying £800 per week in bank interest on their overdraft and therefore decided, against Malcolm Allison’s wishes, and sold Ian Mellor to Norwich for £65,000, to ease the financial burden.
The Blues were now in free fall and they lost 2-1 at home to Coventry, 2-1 at West Ham and 2-1 against Arsenal at Maine Road.
A 1-0 defeat at home to Chelsea , watched by a crowd of just 24,000, was the sixth loss in the last seven games and it also signalled the end for Malcolm Allison as City’s manager. Prior to the game at home to Leeds It was announced that Malcolm and City had parted company and a day later Malcolm was confirmed as boss at Crystal Palace at a reported £13,000 per year, more than his £10,000 annual salary had been at City.
Johnny Hart was named Caretaker manager for the home game against Leeds and City managed their first victory in ten games winning 1-0.
Rodney Marsh who had reportedly always said if Malcolm Allison ever left the club then so would he, appeared to be backing up those statements as he handed in a transfer request to Hart, who was now confirmed as first team boss until at least the end of the season. The board reluctantly accepted the request and he was put on the transfer list.
City then travelled to Ipswich where a 1-1 draw left The Blues 13th in Division 1 with just five games left to play. City then sent a strong side to Boundary Park for Jimmy Frizzell’s Testimonial, The Blues beating an Oldham XI 4-1
City’s improvement continued with home wins over Sheffield United, 3-1 and Newcastle 2-0, and Johnny Hart’s unbeaten reign continued with a 0-0 draw at Manchester United and a 2-1 win at West Bromwich.
Fate brought Malcom Allison back to Maine Road for the last game of the season and his Crystal Palace side beat City 3-2 to leave City finishing the season in 10th position.
Johnny Hart’s excellent record since taking over from Malcolm Allison earned him a permanent contract as City’s boss.
The Blues played a testimonial for Mike Bickle at Plymouth winning 3-2, and then they had planned an end of season tour to Japan, but this was cancelled due to problems with the promoters, and so instead the players went to Greece.
Joe Corrigan writes in his biography “we headed out for an end of season trip to Greece to wind down.
We were there to play Olympiakos… We stayed at a top hotel and had originally been scheduled to play just one game during a sunshine break, but were asked to play a second game to help cover our travel expenses. Unusual but it meant more time in a beautiful country so nobody complained.
We played Olympiakos and lost 2-1 and a week later we drew 0-0 against Olympiakos again, and it was after after that game I was told the real reason we’d played the second game was so the Greek side could take another look and buy me. It was news to me! I was flattered by their interest, but I would never have gone to play football in Greece, it just wasn’t for me.”