Manchester City - End of An Era, Farewell Maine Road DVD

Fremantle Media FHED 1656
90 mins main feature, 22mins extras

Maine Road is no more. As I write, the ground is surrounded by wooden fences, soon to give way to the demolishers in their JCBs. I really don't want to look at it happening, but instead we can all look back on the last eighty years of Maine Road history with another City DVD, a commemorative one. But does it cut the mustard?

First impressions on the packaging are promising: it's region 0 again (so if your TV can handle PAL standard, you're happy) and a nice arty drawing for Maine Road (complete with Gene Kelly stand) on the front cover. On the back cover though you'll soon start to see the limitations of TV coverage coming into play here: the memorable games start from 1967, due to the TV age. Shame that there wasn't any archive footage of Maine Road in the early days that could have been shown and mentioned on the DVD, but no matter. A quick press play on the trusty Pioneer DV646A and here's the menu.

The menu is very nicely done, the three stars on City's current badge are for the selections, of play the whole thing, history (which is a sort of chapter select - allows you to pick which section you'd like to see) and extras. The history and extras are also presented with the stars, each having little bits of footage therein. Presentationwise at least, it's really well done and it's good to see professional quality standards here. The music for the menus sounds like something out of an old Hovis advert though.

The opening part deals with the final day at Maine Road and it's a poignant scene seeing club secretary Bernard Halford close the gates for the last time on a match day. It also features Shaun Goater a fair bit as he signs numerous autographs etc, and reflects on Marc-Vivien Foé being the last ever City scorer at the ground. Good of them to mention that. If you don't have a slight tear in your eye hearing the crowd sing Feed The Goat as The Goat comes on for the last time, then you clearly have no emotion. Good too that this is here.

The In the Beginning chapter features City historian Gary James, and explains how the ground came to be, and that a fire at City's old Hyde Road ground probably speeded up the need for a new stadium that would befit City, and so in 1923, it was built, despite a plan to move to Belle Vue! Both Gary and James H Reeve explain it well. There's a few archive pics, showing City players as they were, including Sir Matt Busby (yes, he used to play for us for many a year!), Bert Trautmann etc. One pic of a player with a City kit on shows a lot of how football was back then and that's a good insight. The radio broadcaster Stuart Hall (yes, he who presented It's a Knockout, folks!) reminisces about his favourite players, done in the same style as his radio commentaries now, John Stapleton of GMTV does his bit. These halcyon memories are actually quite well done and are fascinating.

Naturally, it would be daft not to look at the all conquering late 60s/early 70s City team, and although probably best done by the BBC's Lee Bell and Summerbee video (even after all these years) there's still some good footage here. To be fair, both Franny Lee and Mike Summerbee explain it was a team effort and give credit to the likes of Neil Young, Alan Oakes, Tony Coleman, Glyn Pardoe, Mike Doyle and so on, which is nice to see. Shame that for whatever reason we couldn't see Colin Bell talking about the great side we were back then. Rodney Marsh also does his bit talking about the side too, and there's also some good black and white footage here too. Too good to be true, isn't it? It's actually looking very promising!

Until we get to the Honours section, where the researchers go and spoil it as Alistair Mann proclaims City won the league title in 1936. Oh dear. It was 1937. Small inaccuracy maybe, but as this is a history of Maine Road and in some extents City, inexcusable. It really is. There's footage of the 1956 FA Cup final, and some more of the trophy wins, which were covered also on the Blue Goals DVD as well. Now you get the feeling of deja vu - although you see Tony Book lifting the FA Cup, both goals from the 1970 League Cup final and so on. Shame though there wasn't much TV coverage to supplement the 1968 league title, there must have been something lost in the archives, maybe.

The Mercer and Allison section goes into more detail about the great partnership between the two of them that ultimately produced the great City side. Kevin Keegan himself refers to the days where you really had to come to Maine Road with courage or get nothing. Franny Lee makes an interesting point in that Allison never made it as a manager but realised that he was a great coach, and this point of him being a great coach is added to by Tony Book's excellent memories. Some nice Granada footage of Malcolm as manager in the late 70s still in coach mode in the dressing room really adds it up well, and good to let the man himself have the last word in this part.

Now to the first section of favourite matches - and thankfully here common sense prevails as they're all at Maine Road. As the derbies are covered later on, it's left for mainly Tottenham to be on the receiving end of pannings by City. Although I'm sure everyone will have different favourite games, you can't argue with the Ballet on Ice 4-1 win against Tottenham in 1967, a 5-0 crushing of Tottenham in 1977 with Peter Barnes in form, the 1977 3-1 win over Liverpool (goals of which were on the Blue Goals DVD!), the UEFA Cup heroics against AC Milan, Standard Liege, Juventus et al (so nice that they plundered the Granada archives to see Paul Power's away goal in the San Siro - an absolute must!), the FA Cup run of 1981 with the 6-0 fourth round panning of Norwich, the 3-1 sixth round win over Everton (despite the Elton Welsby commentary here), and so on. So nice to see the likes of Peter Barnes, Gary Owen, Paul Power et al really give a great account of the games from their own point of view as well. On the whole too, the selection of games are very fairly balanced and give a good account of both the team and the memories of the ages.

Of course, being a City fan, you've had to get used to low points, and the next chapter recalls some of them - or rather most faomously one. City lose 1-0 to Luton Town, David Pleat (then Luton manager) goes dancing on the pitch, and everyone in football hates him ever since. Ex-City manager Brian Horton was a Luton player then and it's intrguing to see it from his side as well as some of the players back then. Still f****g hate David Pleat, though. Wanker.

The Kippax section reflects on memories of the Kippax stand with mainly celebrities, but it's a shame there wasn't footage of the last game in the Kippax when it was a standing section (a 2-2 draw against Chelsea) to go with that, and it would have been nice as well to have some of the fans' memories of this stand as well, particularly as it was synonymous with the City singing end. Stuart Hall and John Stapleton do touch though on the one memory anyone has of Maine Road, the humour and good nature of the City fans. And that has to be worth it. And now to Georgi Kinkladze, good to have a section about him really, with many good memories of the skills, the goals et al. Ricky Hatton gives about the best memory saying every time he got the ball, the crowd would hush thinking what he'd do next. The section doesn't last a quarter as long as it should, although it does mention his goal against Southampton. Utterly disappointing, this.

More Favourite Matches reflect on the 80s and 90s memorable games, and two of which were a) not at Maine Road, and b) so exhaustively covered on the Blue Goals DVD they should not be here. What a waste! We do get the 5-1 against Charlton with a good memory provided by Paul Simpson (bit of an unsung City hero in my view), the 10-1 against Huddersfield with David White and Paul Simpson providing the memories, and then the 1994 5-2 win over Tottenham, quite possibly one of the best ten Premiership games ever, that's how good it was. I always felt Brian Horton was an unlucky City manager, and so it proved here. The team did play with some style, as proven by the likes of Paul Walsh, Peter Beagrie at al. The 1999 playoff final and the 2000 win at Blackburn - waste of time. Yes, they're part of the history but they're not at Maine Road, and that's crucial for me!

No bit of City would be complete without a look at the derby matches, and many celebrities recall their memories of the derby game, and last year's 3-1 win features, as does a 3-0 win in 1972 with Colin Bell instrumental, the 1975 4-0 thrashing of them in the League Cup (also the game where Colin Bell sadly broke his leg), and it wouldn't be complete without the 1989 5-1 win. Good to see Ian Brightwell and Steve Redmond talk about the game as well as Paul Lake, who really gives you the City mentality of that day: we will not be beaten! Good that many good derby wins were featured, not least to have a good laugh at the terrible goalkeeping of the then United keeper Alex Stepney! Finally, The Future, and a look at the new stadium. Serves as a good preview for when you go there, it really is superb.

So what of the extras? Well, here's what you get:

Interview with Chairman John Wardle: Although he mainly talks about the new stadium, it's nice to see him be interviwed and also to see that despite his sports shops background, the heart and desire seems to be in the right place for City. We shall see.

Extended highlights of the 10-1 Huddersfield Town win: Does what it says on the tin, most of that was on a video of the game Granada made in association with the club shop, which was long deleted. Also see even then how well Martin Tyler (now Sky's main football commentator) was doing his job, with a great passion for the goals as they went in. "White - NINE!" he exclaims. A lot of these highlights though were also on the Manchester City Golden Goals video..

Coronation Street Blues: The stars of Coronation Street (well three of them: Kevin Kennedy, Sally Lindsay and Bruce Jones) speak about their memories of being a City fan and what it means to them. As ever, Kevin Kennedy is excellent, really showing how passionate he is and how much it means to him, especially when he talks about the 3-1 win over United from last season: "I wanted it so badly". However, with all three people, some of the interview is actually taken from the main DVD which is also a bit sloppy to say the least. Awww no!

On the whole, it is an improvement on recent Manchester City DVDs, even if a fair number of the goals have previously appeared on the Blue Goals DVD. The footage isn't too bad, there's a fair number of former players and managers interviewed to give their side of things, and it moves along at just the right pace. Had some different matches been selected and indeed the researchers done their job to be factually correct more often, it would have been even better.

Warren's rating: 81%