New book revisits the 1999 Second Division Play Off Final
Looks Like Scunny Next Season is David J. Mooney's third book about Manchester City, following on from Typical City (2012) and The Man Who Restored Pride (2013). Mooney is a prominent City blogger for ESPN, and perhaps more familiar to many as the host (and creator) of the Bluemoon Podcast.
The book tells the story of the 1999 Second Division Play Off Final victory over Gillingham, and celebrates the fifteenth anniversary of what is a seminal moment in City's recent history. The title is a reference to the famous words uttered by manager Joe Royle to his assistant Willie Donachie as City trailed 2-0 going into the 90th minute of the game (Scunthorpe having beaten Leyton Orient the previous day in the Third Division Play Off Final).
Having been relegated to the third tier of English football for the first time in their history in 1998, many expected City to win the title at a canter but the Blues struggled to adapt to their new environment and endured a difficult start to the season. The signing of Andy Morrison galvanised the team and City rallied in the second half of the season, only to miss out narrowly on automatic promotion. However, they remained favourites going into the Play Off final against Gillingham, having seen off Wigan in the semi-finals thanks to a debateable goal from Shaun Goater.
City, of course, rarely do things the easy way and required two late goals from Kevin Horlock and Paul Dickov to take the game to a nervy penalty shoot out, where the Blues prevailed thanks to Nicky Weaver's heroics. The significance of that win can't be underestimated, given City's dire financial situation at the time, and it is not implausible to say that the club perhaps wouldn't be where they are today but for the victory over Gillingham.
Mooney managed to track down all fourteen players involved at Wembley, and also manager Joe Royle, and conducted a series of fascinating interviews with the main protagonists from that day. Some of the recollections are humourous, including a bizarre Mexican stand-off between Kevin Horlock and Jeff Whitley, whilst others are darker as players discuss their personal battles with depression, alcoholism and drug addiction. The subsequent careers of the players also make for interesting reading; a couple of players ended up in the MLS, one still works for the cub coaching youngsters whilst another saw active service in Afghanistan.
Mooney's engaging writing style makes this an enjoyable book, and highly recommended reading for Blues of all ages.
Looks Like Scunny Next Season can be purchased from David Mooney's website for a reduced price of £10 plus P&P (RRP £12.99).