Why I Hate David Pleat
one of the little football memoirs I wrote..
Every Man City fan worth their salt hates David Pleat. Not because of his poxy role as director of football at Tottenham once upon a time. Not even because of his really awfully bad summarising on ITV which makes you wonder why they even bother to let him commentate, as he excruciatingly gets another continental player's name hopelessly pronounced wrong. If there's one thing City fans have in common, they hate David Pleat. With a passion. City fans in particular still have the memories of one game, which for me summed up the topsy turvy way that my team in the 1980s and also showed the most pathetic attempt at dancing ever. Oh yes.
May 1983. City had struggled throughout the season, and after a disastrous 4-0 defeat to Brighton in the FA Cup fourth round, John Bond the then manager, resigned. City were resigned to having very much the caretaker role in John Benson, and slowly the team lost confidence and slid down the table at an alarming rate. It all boiled down to one game at Maine Road. All we had to do was draw with (or even better of course, beat) Luton, and we would stay up. That's all we needed. Manchester United of all teams had helped us out with a win against Luton in the final week of the season. But could City hold their nerve?
I remember walking with my grandad, who was a steward in North Stand back then, into the main stand. He seemed worried about the occasion, but didn't show it. As we walked round and into the North Stand, and to Block S which he stewarded, I was looking towards the pitch and just held my breath hoping that one day of all days the team would do it. It was a mixture of hope, desparation, worry and passion, all mixed in with the fact that this was indeed Manchester City and anything could happen, and it probably would at the same time.
The rest, as they say, is history. City dominated the game and did everything but score, and throughout the game the confidence started to ebb away and it was like we were almost settling for a 0-0 draw. A fatal mistake in football is to sit back, because you don't know what will hit you and when.. Then in the 85th minute a deathly silence, almost as if the Grim Reaper had cut his way through the Kippax. The ball fell to Raddy Antic (who later became a successful manager) and he struck home. From where I was sat, those few seconds seeing the ball go in haunted me for months to come as I watched it go in. City went up the Platt Lane looking for a vital equaliser which never came, and Luton sent us down and stayed up themselves. And this is where we really got to hate David Pleat.
As Eddie Large, who was sat in the dug out that day, held his head in hands, much like I was doing, all of a sudden everyone caught a glimpse of a bloke in a white suit going completely mental, jumping and bounding around like he was on hot coal or something and hugging the men in the vile coloured orange shirts. Yes, it was David Pleat. David "I want to sign my death wish in front of 40,000 odd City fans by winding them up" Pleat. David "Oh I think I'll just embarrass myself with that stupid bounding/dancing action" Pleat. David [bleep]ing Pleat. Needless to say after that it kicked off afterwards as some of the Luton fans taunted City, and it was soon a familiar 1980s hooligan scene, police on the pitch trying to segregate the fans and restore order. I went home, and I just was completely upset for weeks afterwards.
Nothing had prepared me in that the first season I go to a few City games, and at the tender age of eleven, I'd seen them drop down to the Second Division (as was then.) It really did hurt bad, I felt I'd been kicked in the goolies by my worst enemy and then for good measure kicked again. And what was worse for us City fans that we then had the nightmare scenario of Manchester United winning the FA Cup a couple of weeks later, doing what we couldn't do and win after a replay. They know how to rub it in don't they?
But worst was to come as Pleat would then end up having a backroom role at Tottenham and becoming director of football and all the perks associated with having such a suspicious role. You had a feeling that when City beat Tottenham 4-3 in that FA Cup epic tie on 4th February 2004 that the City fans just wanted to dance on the pitch in the same embarrassing manner. No worries. As Pleat is currently the Tottenham caretaker manager, such revenge of a win like this was sweet enough.
I still hate him, though.