Manchester: The City Years

John Bond


John Bond

Born: Colchester, 17th December 1932

17th October 1980 - 29th January 1983

Former West Ham player John Bond arrived at City after a popular run as manager of Norwich City. Like his Maine Road predecessor he was known throughout the game for his flamboyance and his appointment at City seemed to give him the perfect stage. With significant media interest he focused on improving attitude and confidence within the Club. In fact his very first meeting with the players was filmed by Granada TV as part of a fly on the wall documentary and the media focused on Bond’s style of management - he wanted to be known as Boss and stressed he wanted players to show the right ‘attitude’ - almost twenty years later, that same scene was parodied in a one-off TV comedy called “Bostock’s Cup” starring Nick Hancock with the actor Tim Healy playing the ‘Boss’.

Bond’s impact was immediate: “Attitude is important in football, and I always tried to instil the right approach in to my players. But I have to say they were great lads. They didn’t have too much confidence when I arrived – we worked on that – but they did have a desire to succeed. They wanted to listen and learn. They responded well, and gave me great support. As a manager that’s what you look for.”

“Don’t forget I also won the manager of the month award twice for the transformation which was the talk of football. It was a great period. From Tottenham (22nd October 1980) through to the middle of January we only lost two out of fifteen games. I brought some players in… improved confidence… and we progressed.”

Those experienced players brought in were Tommy Hutchison, Bobby McDonald and Gerry Gow, and these men helped steady the side. Bond’s Blues started to move up the table, but the real story came in both cup competitions as City progressed to the League Cup semi-final and the FA Cup final. Bond: “It was all a question of confidence and attitude. The young players seemed baffled when I arrived so I tried to make life simple and rebuild their confidence. It worked because we should have won the League Cup semi-final – and the whole of football knew that – and then we should have won the FA Cup. Again, the whole of football knew that as well!”

City lost the League Cup tie after a controversial disallowed goal gave Liverpool the upperhand, while the FA Cup ended in defeat against Tottenham in the replay after Tommy Hutchison had been unfortunate to score for both sides. Neither defeat should detract from what Bond had achieved in only six months.

The season after Wembley Bond signed Martin O’Neill and Trevor Francis and the side briefly headed the League. Unfortunately, Francis missed rather too many games through injury and, according to Bond, was always intended to be the first of several major transfers that season. Two players he tried to sign were Joe Jordan and Justin Fashanu but both deals fell through at the last moment. Another player he desperately wanted to see back at Maine Road was Peter Barnes.

Due to high spending in the Allison era, City were struggling financially. Francis was sold within a year and Bond felt let down. He wasn’t the only one as attendances plummeted by almost 8,000. In addition some of the directors simply did not like Bond although he continues to claim he always enjoyed the full support of Peter Swales.

He left City after an embarrassing Cup defeat at Brighton in 1983, but considerable rumour surrounded his departure. Events in his private life made the headlines – Bond later claimed a club director pressured him to resign by threatening to provide stories to the press – and the Brighton defeat seemed to be the final straw. Although the defeat was an extremely difficult one to accept for most Blues, Bond’s resignation was too soon. Prior to his departure the worst position City had held was mid-table, once he left the club was in free fall with relegation coming in May 1983.

Always outspoken Bond went on to Burnley, where supporters turned against him. As a summariser for Granada TV he upset City supporters in 1989 with his view that City’s young side was not good enough for promotion. Some fans felt this was disloyal, Bond felt it was the truth and, as with earlier in his career, he demonstrated his belief in always saying what he believed.

In 2000 he helped John Benson, his former assistant, take Wigan to the play-off final, and in 2003 he received a terrific reception from the fans as he was one of the Club’s guests at Maine Road’s final game: “I was gobsmacked by their reaction! I have to be honest and say that I didn’t know what reaction I would get. I didn’t know if they’d be glad to see me or not, so beforehand I was very uncertain. When I came out and heard the cheering I was delighted. I loved that reaction. Afterwards I rushed home and told my family about the reception and how delighted I was with it. There were times during my management when I received fantastic support from the fans, and at Maine Road’s final game I was delighted with the ovation.”

Regardless of how his managerial career progressed, it is clear that the first year or so of his time at Maine Road was immensely satisfying to thousands of Blues. Gow, Hutchison, and McDonald brought a real determination to the club and that, coupled with the entertainment provided by Nicky Reid, Tommy Caton and the others, meant that it was fun being a Blue again.


All history and statistical material has been produced based on the research and writing of Manchester football historian Gary James (www.facebook.com/GaryJames4). It is maintained by Ric Turner & Gary James. All text remains the copyright of the original contributors.

Gary's book, Manchester - the City Years: Tracing the Story of Manchester City from the 1860s to the Modern Day, is available to order on Amazon.

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