Book Review: Teenage Kicks

By Ric Turner, Fri 31 May 2013 18:02

Book Review: Teenage KicksPhill Gatenby and Andrew Waldon's new book tells the story of Manchester City’s 1986 F.A. Youth Cup winning team

Teenage Kicks: The Story of Manchester City’s 1986 F.A. Youth Cup Team, published by Empire Publications, tells the story of fourteen teenage lads who created history by becoming the first City side to lift the prestigious trophy. Two went on to play for England, three were rejected by the club just weeks after the triumph, and one (John Bookbinder) tragically died of cancer aged just 37.

The book is co-written by Bluemoon regular Phill Gatenby (whose previous work includes Morrissey’s Manchester) and Andrew Waldon, author of numerous City books. Whilst names such as Paul Lake, David White and Andy Hinchcliffe will be familiar to most Blues as part of City’s “Golden Generation”, less is known about the likes of Steve Crompton, David Boyd and John Clarke.

There is a chapter dedicated to each member of the squad, detailing how their careers progressed after 1986 right up to the modern day (Steve Redmond now works in Customer Services & Sales for Travis Perkins, apparently), interspersed with match reports and news snippets from the time.

The story has special resonance for me as I started attending City games the following season (1986/87), just as the likes of Lake, White, Hinchcliffe et al were breaking into the first team. These youngsters offered genuine hope to my success-starved generation. With the rapid progress City as a club have enjoyed over the last five years, winning the F.A. Youth Cup seems relatively insignificant but it’s important to place it in context.

After relegation in the final game of the 1983/84 season against Luton Town (Raddy Antic, and all that), City were in the doldrums. The coffers were as empty as Peter Swales’ broken promises, and there was a growing sense of disillusionment on the terraces. Nationally the game was in malaise, with hooliganism rife and attendances falling to an all-time low.

The future for City looked bleak, but in the youth team, guided expertly by Tony Book and Glyn Pardoe, there was a glimmer of hope.  It’s rare to get a crop of youngsters all coming through at the same time, but the club’s desperate situation actually helped the fledglings, as a succession of managers (Billy McNeill, Jimmy Frizzell and Mel Machin) had little choice but to place their faith in youth; there were no funds available for buying more established players.

Teenage Kicks is meticulously researched and a thoroughly enjoyable read. It's essential reading for any Blues who grew up watching City in the 80s.

The book is now available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle version.