He’s Here, He’s There, He’s Every ‘Ckin Where…Gerry Gow!

As City and Spurs go head to head on Sunday in the League Cup Final, it’s just a fortnight shy of 40 years since the two clubs battled out a historic Wembley Cup Final.

Not only was it the 100th FA Cup Final – it was the first time the ‘Home of Football’ ever hosted a Cup Final replay. Having outplayed the hot favourites from White Hart Lane in a 1-1 draw, the underdogs from Maine Road were valiant losers just four days later, going down 3-2 in an epic encounter.

City went 1-0 up against Spurs in the 1981 FA Cup Final and Bobby McDonald, scorer Tommy Hutchison and Gerry Gow celebrate the goal.

Many a football purist would still argue to this day that the replay on 14th May, 1981, was the greatest FA Cup Final of all time, featuring the famous – or infamous from a sky blue perspective – Ricky Villa winner, a goal which somehow overshadowed an even more spectacular strike from City’s Steve Mackenzie.

A clear case of to the victor belongs the spoils.

City paid their own tribute to Gerry after his untimely passing, aged just 64 years in 2016.

Fast forward four decades and football is fundamentally the same, albeit the culture surrounding it, is completely different. As Pep Guardiola’s team strive for the first instalment, of what could yet be a glorious treble winning season, the beautiful game has become disfigured by avarice, corruption and a blatant disregard for the core principles of fair competition.

It’s a world away from what those of a certain generation would regard as the ‘good old days’ – a time when players weren’t pampered, overpaid prima donnas, a time when players didn’t feign injury and go to ground as if taken down by a sniper’s bullet, a time when football was still – to coin a cliché – the working man’s game.

True Blue Warrior – Gerry bossed the midfield in the FA Cup Final 1-1 draw against Spurs.

You only have to look back at how the likes of Gerry Gow would go through the pain barrier, game after game after game, aided by what must’ve seemed like endless cortisone injections, to fully comprehend how he put his body on the line to play the game he loved.

It was time when Gerry commanded the admiration and adulation of the Manchester City faithful, and the respect and trepidation of on field opponents, as well as opposition fans.

Compare and contrast the greed behind the revolting prospect of a ridiculously labelled ‘European Super League’, with the actions of Gerry, when he switched from Bristol City to Manchester City in October, 1980.

No pain, no gain – Gerry went through the pain barrier each and every time he played for City, but victories like the momentous FA Cup semi final win over Ipswich were just reward.

Even back in those days, the transfer fee of just £175,000 was a bargain, but the tenacious Glaswegian midfielder was still entitled to a £20,000 signing on fee. Rather than pocket what was rightfully his, Gerry waived what was still a substantial sum, to help the cash strapped Robins, for whom he’d played 445 games and scored 54 goals in an 11- year spell.

It was indicative of the character of the man who was idolised by the red half of Bristol, a player who would quickly become the living embodiment of the term ‘cult hero’, on the blue side of Manchester.

The titanic two-game tussle with Tottenham marked the pinnacle of Gerry’s all too short period in Manchester, but his contribution over just 36 games and seven goals, left an indelible mark on every Sky Blue supporter who saw him play.

A magnificent Gerry Gow had the measure of Spurs’ Argentine World Cup winner Ossie Ardiles, in the historic 100th FA Cup Final.

No City fan of the early 80s will ever forget his immense contribution during that FA Cup campaign, not least his equaliser in the 2-2 quarter final draw at Everton, his inspirational showing in the 1-0 semi final win over Ipswich, and his gargantuan efforts to quell Glenn Hoddle and Ossie Ardiles in the drawn Final.

It is, however, easy to forget the importance of the FA Cup Final, long before a top four Champions League place became more prominent than winning the oldest cup competition in football.

Gerry smiled at Wembley when he saw a banner proclaiming, ‘GERRY GOW MAKES GLENN HOBBLE’.

Cup Final day used to mean TV coverage kicking off at 9am on both the BBC and ITV, and continuing all the way through until early evening when the Cup was won. Obviously that wasn’t the case in 1981.

Now, as the modern day City seek to avenge that Wembley loss of yesteryear, is as good a time as any to celebrate the life and times of the ‘Double G Force’ – the moustachioed, wild looking warrior who brought steel, bite and fight to a struggling City side.

It’s my pleasure and privilege to review a new, beautifully crafted biography, on the man who wore both the sky blue and black and red striped Number Eight City shirt with such distinction.

The Gerry Gow Story, written by Neil Palmer and published by Pitch Publishing, is a wonderful read for Manchester City and Bristol City fans alike.

‘He’s Here, He’s There… – The Gerry Gow Story’ captures the enduring affection for the man whose life ended at the criminally young age of just 64 years, in October 2016.

Author Neil Palmer is able to draw upon the fond recollections of Gerry’s family, friends, team mates and opponents to deliver a thoroughly engaging, easily accessible and hugely entertaining read.

There’s a lovely line where Gerry is being interviewed on the Wembley turf an hour before kick off, and the ITV reporter pointed out a City banner which read, ‘GERRY GOW MAKES GLENN HOBBLE’. The unassuming, and maybe even slightly embarrassed Scotsman, simply laughed and shook his head.

The wild man of Wilmslow – Gerry and his family loved their time in Manchester and the City fans loved Gerry and his combative, all action style.

Gerry joined City at the same time as fellow Scots, veteran wing wizard, Tommy Hutchison – scorer of both goals in the 1-1 Wembley draw – and no nonsense left back, Bobby McDonald, both of whom number among the many contributors to the book.

The trio were truly transformational as City, under newly appointed manager, John Bond, rescued themselves from a desperate relegation struggle, following the sacking of the legendary Malcolm Allison. They brought vital experience to complement the skill, energy and youthful exuberance of the likes of Tommy Caton, Nicky Reid, Ray Ransom, Steve Mackenzie and Dave Bennett.

City’s Number 8, a certain Gerry Gow was a pivotal figure in the 1-0 FA Cup semi final win over hot favourites, high flying Ipswich Town at Villa Park.

The thoughts and words of Gerry’s son, Chris, a Manchester City fan and a man I’m privileged to call my friend, are especially poignant in relation to his Dad’s time at Maine Road.

Far removed from the glitz and glamour of top flight football and Wembley finals, Gerry later enjoyed and endured a ‘colourful’ time in non-league management, making a puzzling decision to resign from one post, before being perplexed and disillusioned at being sacked from another.

The ‘Double G’ in his finest sky blue and decades later in the red of Bristol City for a belated, emotional and much deserved testimonial match, against a Manchester City XI.

What might come as a surprise to the reader – particularly those who never had the pleasure of being in his company – is that for all his ferocity, drive and, lest it be forgotten, no little talent on the pitch, Gerry Gow was not a man who sought the limelight.

There’s something in this book for all football fans, but particularly so for the supporters of Bristol City, Manchester City and Rotherham United – the three clubs Gerry served with great distinction. It’s not the case with his final team, Burnley, where the author makes it crystal clear, there was no love lost between the club and the player! Neil Palmer also gives us a fascinating insight into Gerry’s managerial career at Yeovil Town and Weymouth, including the signing of one of England’s most celebrated international stars of all time – albeit in a different sport.

From a tough but loving start to life in industrial Glasgow, to a comparatively humble, but equally loving final chapter in tranquil Dorset, Gerry Gow’s story is one well told and very well worth reading.

He only played 36 games and scored 7 goals for Manchester City, but Gerry Gow more than earned cult hero status during his all too brief stay at Maine Road.

As the terrace chant would have it, ‘He’s here, he’s there, he’s every fucking where…Gerry Gow, Gerry Gow.’

Five years after his passing, he’ll always be somewhere in the hearts of those who loved and admired him, both as a man and as a footballer.

By David Walker

Published by Pitch Publishing, ‘The Gerry Gow Story‘ is available from numerous outlets including Amazon. Please click on the link if you want to order this brilliant tribute to the ‘Double G Force’.

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

26 Comments

  1. April 24, 2021  7:55 pm by David Kelly Reply

    A great article, what a player Gerry Gow was

    • April 24, 2021  8:04 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Guv - the book is a cracking read.

  2. April 24, 2021  8:08 pm by Martyn Hansen Reply

    Drove to Manchester in Hillman Avenger with a leaky windscreen the day after passing my driving test for the Everton replay. National Express to London for the Cup Final, just like Spurs away in December 1980. As ever, Gerry gave 100% in all three games, and was fondly remembered by the Gloucester and Cheltenham branch for his exploits

    • April 24, 2021  8:12 pm by David Walker Reply

      What a remarkable season - finished mid-table and a good run in the domestic cups, culminating in valiant failure. No trophies, but so many fond memories. How times change. Thanks for your comments.

  3. April 24, 2021  8:08 pm by Steve+Barker Reply

    The 81 team is one of the reasons I love this club a great blend of youth and experience brought together to.ay football they way it was meant to be played with your heart in your sleeve giving 110% every game. Great piece David brought back some great memories.

    • April 24, 2021  8:14 pm by David Walker Reply

      Indeed, such great memories - that Paul Power free kick at Villa Park to beat Bobby Robson's Ipswich - and Gerry Gow right there with all the muck and bullets flying. Thanks.

  4. April 24, 2021  8:39 pm by DAVID WOMACK Reply

    Great Article as always David, what a pleasure it was to watch that City team. A team full of battlers, giving everything they had in every game! "Pride in battle" indeed. Fond memories of that era, not the flare and talent we have been blessed with in recent years, but a togetherness on the pitch & in the stands. Here's hoping the boys will do us all proud tomorrow after a week of turmoil for the game we all love so much #CTWD

    • April 24, 2021  8:47 pm by David Walker Reply

      Times were different, but you're bang on the money - the camaraderie was unbelievable. We didn't have the glory, but we had the fight - by God we had the fight!Thanks.

  5. April 24, 2021  8:57 pm by Will linsdell Reply

    I saw him first against City at Ashton
    Gate (I lived not too far away in Devon) and remembered how he inspired Bristol C to a one nil win in a game that saw Paul Power bizarrely sent off for the offence of re-entering the pitch without permission after get some dirt removed from his contact lens by the physio. He was as hard as nails and in the same exalted company that way as Mike Doyle, Ron Harris & Tommy Smith. As you say Dave, the like of which you will never see again. He really would have run through a brick wall if asked. Probably only Andy Morrison was as influential for City in so few games.

    • April 25, 2021  8:42 am by David Walker Reply

      I remember that game all too well. I'd gone down to Bristol with the Gloucester & Cheltenham Blues and it really wasn't the best of days. To top it all a local copper deliberately manoeuvred his horse to whack me when I accidentally stepped off the pavement. That's a great list of the enforcers of yesteryear, and yet we never thought there was anything untoward in their play. On reflection some of it was probably a bit on the heavy side, but I'd still prefer that to some of the ridiculous antics of the divers and cheats of today. Thanks for your feedback.

  6. April 24, 2021  9:13 pm by Fred Nelson Reply

    Superb article, David. Such brilliant and heartbreaking memories of the 81 Cup Final. I remember how much it hurt, thought we were so comfortable in the first game,, couldn't see us beaten in the replay. Thank you for reminding us all of how good Gerry How was, fantastic player and I look forward to reading the book. Bravo, sir.

    • April 25, 2021  8:46 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Fred. Yes, it was truly heartbreaking, especially the drawing as opposed to the losing - a strange statement I grant you - but we thoroughly deserved to win the first game, not quite so the second. We were such massive underdogs and had everything under control until poor old Tommy Hutch broke away from the wall. The bitter irony is that big Joe Corrigan had Hoddle's free kick covered. It's all in the book and Joe speaks glowingly of Gerry.

  7. April 24, 2021  9:20 pm by Tracie Wilson Reply

    I have no words for this... great article so well said 💙

    • April 25, 2021  8:50 am by David Walker Reply

      Many thanks TJ. Whether you were a mere slip of a girl back in the day and don't remember the Double G, I don't know, but the book is a revealing insight into the life and times of a professional footballer - light years removed from the £200,000 a week pay days of today. It was a time when footballers were idolised, but still approachable and in tune with us mere mortals.

  8. April 24, 2021  10:02 pm by Malcolm Gruber Reply

    As always, David, you so eloquently put into words what many of us think, and prompt us to recall our memories of times gone by.

    The team of 1981 - what a team that was! I was sure they would rival the City team I remember from earliest times in the late 60's, but alas it was not to be. But those three signings by John Bond - initially scoffed at - proved to be the shrewdest buys by any manager that season. Hutchison couldn't last 90 minutes but his bamboozling skill with the ball and his crossing made up for his lack of pace. Bobby MacDonald at left back was sensational not only for his solid defending but also for the number of goals he scored. And Gerry Gow was the midfield dynamo whose iron will and tenacity endeared him immediately to the City faithful.

    The 1981 FA Cup Final was a double whammy for me - the undeserved Spurs equaliser led to a replay defeat, and that was my last City game before I left England and moved abroad until 2002. (I did ensure that any trips home coincided with me being able to see my beloved Blues play - so I had the delight of seeing them lose at home to Stockport County and draw with Tranmere Rovers and Gillingham - as well attending the play-off final in 1999).

    When I again took up a season ticket, football in this country had changed beyond recognition from those days of the early 80's. Gerry Gow represented the "old" age of football which wouldn't be tolerated in today's non-contact game. I'm so grateful to have been able to witness football over the last 50+ years. Thank you David, for bringing it to the fore.

    • April 25, 2021  8:57 am by David Walker Reply

      Many thanks for your gracious comments and for echoing the sentiments of so many City fans in respect of the early 1980s renaissance of a struggling team. You're right in that it is impossible to overestimate the impact of Gerry, Tommy and Bobby on the side. It was a wonderful turnaround but one which ended in glorious failure. Losing to Spurs was a real heartbreaker for Gerry - as it was for everyone associated with City. As the book reveals Gerry very nearly ended up going to Spurs instead of Bristol City, but the Tottenham scout at the time recruited a young Graeme Souness instead. The irony of course is that things didn't work out for Souness at Spurs.

  9. April 24, 2021  10:32 pm by Pete Reply

    Gerry Gow, Bobby Mac and Tommy Hutch saved us from certain relegation. As I recall we made the semi- final of the League cup as well only to be robbed by poor refereeing to a very lucky liverpool. ( Things haven't changed that much) They also smashed our coaches that night too. ( still no change there). Back to Gerry great player his firebrand playing was infectious and raised the drive of the squad as a whole. ( I don't think the trio could play in the League cup). I seem to recall a paper doing a report, one year on, stating City would be top of the league over the 42 games since the trio signed if they had been in one season. great days.

    • April 25, 2021  9:03 am by David Walker Reply

      Excellent recollections of a season we both enjoyed with the rest of the Gloucester & Cheltenham Blues. I remember we had a 'posh' coach with lamps on the tables for the Wembley trip. I also recall demolishing a bottle of Southern Comfort with you on the way down to the 1-1 draw. I ended up doing press up in the motorway service station with four of my fellow Blues stood on my back...as you do! Good times, apart from NOT winning the Cup. Better luck today hopefully.

  10. April 25, 2021  12:08 am by Susan Bookbinder Reply

    Another richly written and much deserved tribute to an absolute cult hero. You always get the angle that connects emotionally to City fans, guess that is because your writing, although it is what you do, always comes from the heart when it's about the Blues. Well done again David!

    • April 25, 2021  9:08 am by David Walker Reply

      Gerry certainly was that and so much more. I think every City fan who saw him play loved the guy. He embodied the efforts each and every one of us would have poured into every performance, had we ever had the chance to don the sky blue or red and black striped shirt. Thank you, as ever, for your most generous feedback.

  11. April 25, 2021  9:07 am by Richard Cooper Reply

    That Spurs final does not seem That long ago to me it in terms of how the game has changed it is an age ago. To me. the biggest. change is on the pitch where rolling around, feigning injury, shirt tugging etc are common place and apparently accepted as part of what is termed the modern game.
    Gerry Gow and others typified the game we have to some extent lost. Tough yes but more but more "honest" where tackles were given and taken in a better spirit as being part of the game.
    Gerry. Gow is missed as he is remembered for his tigerish spirit and commitment a quality sometimes lacking today.

    • April 25, 2021  9:13 am by David Walker Reply

      Totally agree RC - yes we love the modern day City and the wonderful football we play, but there are so many facets of football in general which are to be frowned upon. You used the word 'honest' and that is very appropriate. Football in the days of Gerry Gow was much harder, a far more bruising affair, but it wasn't snide, there wasn't the horrible levels of cheating we see in just about every game.

  12. April 25, 2021  2:37 pm by John Nightingale Reply

    Great read as ever, watched Gerry on both Saturday Final and Replay. 2 great games, shame no one ever mentions Steve Mckenzie's goal as one of the best at Wembley.

    • April 26, 2021  9:38 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks John - the book is a great read, emphasising how crestfallen Gerry was after we lost to Spurs. As for Steve Mackenzie's goal, it's a travesty that it is overshadowed by Villa's.

  13. April 25, 2021  3:51 pm by Ian Barton Reply

    Gerry Gow was an excellent addition for us, he gave his all and helped drag us in an upwards trajectory. Great to read David. Lovely that Chris Gow, Gerry’s son is an avid Blue

    • April 26, 2021  9:39 am by David Walker Reply

      He certainly was - truly inspirational. As Joe Corrigan laments in the book, '...if only he could have joined City a few years earlier.' Yes, Chris a top bloke and a big blue. Thanks for your observations.

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