Sterling effort to remember a Wembley winning City Blue

Until Yaya Toure hit the winner against Manchester United in the 2011 FA Cup Semi Final, my brother, John Bookbinder, was the last player to score a winning goal for Manchester City at Wembley.

Until Raheem Sterling scored the winning penalty in this season’s League Cup Final against Chelsea, John Bookbinder was the last English player to score a winning goal for Manchester City at Wembley.

So, as City prepare for an FA Cup Semi Final showdown with Brighton today,  John remains the last English footballer to score a winning goal, in open play, for Manchester City at Wembley.

A stunning left-footed volley from outside the penalty area, sealed a 2-1 victory in a seven-a-side youth team curtain raiser, to City’s 5-4 defeat to Chelsea in a rollercoaster, 1986 Full Members Cup Final.

Goal scorer John Bookbinder (front right) is congratulated by Manager Tony Book as he comes off the hallowed Wembley turf, accompanied by Ian Brightwell and David White after a 2-1 win over Chelsea’s ‘apprentices’ before the Full Member’s Cup Final of 1986.

Tony Book congratulated John as he came off the hallowed turf with fellow FA Youth Cup winning team mates, Ian Brightwell and David White. It was a proud moment for my brother.

Equally, it’s a proud achievement that I cherish – a 33-year record not known to the masses – certainly not the new generation of City fans, who think success is an integral element of Manchester City’s DNA.

It’s a record that could arguably fall today as quadruple-chasing City aim for an FA Cup Final date at Wembley at 5.30pm. A sublime Raheem Sterling could so easily be a match winner once again, this time in open play, rather than a nail-biting penalty shoot-out.

Could Raheem Sterling finally take John Bookbinder’s 33-year old mantle as being the last Englishman to score a Wembley winner for City in open play?

Who’s to say fellow Englishmen Phil Foden, John Stones or Kyle Walker might not score the winning goal, if City prevail over Chris Hughton’s underdogs? If any of City’s English players were to do the deed, a mystical record and evocative part of City history will disappear.

 It won’t even make it into the dustbin of City history. I will tell you why.

Even if you have been a devoted City fan for decades, you are entitled not to have heard of John Bookbinder, albeit, most will know of the iconic 1985/86 FA Youth Cup winning squad.

In the middle of the photo, with the trophy, Paul Power, Tony Book, Glyn Pardoe and all the elated, proud young men, there is a 16 year old John Bookbinder, the youngest member of the victorious squad, his smile wide with delight. 

Manager Tony Book has his hand on the shoulder of John Bookbinder during the Sky Blue celebrations after City won the FA Youth Cup in 1986. Sadly an oversight meant John was never mentioned in the official photo caption, an error that has yet to be corrected 33 years on.

But his name was omitted from the honours list by a simple printing error in the May 5th match day programme of 1986. It’s an error which remains uncorrected.

Thus, John Bookbinder’s name was suddenly – and to this day, irrevocably – erased from his rightful place in City history.

The 1986 FA Youth Cup remained as the only silverware added to City’s trophy cabinet between the League Cup of 1976 (won by Dennis Tueart’s famous bicycle kick) and the FA Cup in 2011.

35 years is a long time, particularly when the only victory for City journalists to write about was that glorious night when the club’s rising stars  beat Manchester United’s youth team 2-0, lifting the cup in front of a crowd of 18,000 at Maine Road. 

The original omission of John’s name was repeated time and time and time again. In every subsequent article, news story or radio discussion, about the victorious City Youth squad, John’s name was left out – just as it had been in the official City programme.

For 27 years, I pleaded to everyone I could to correct or address the printing error, writing to City, to journalists, to the publishers of books about City’s history.  But no one wanted to know.  It was as if he were dead.

Proud sister – Susan Bookbinder and her son Zac represented her late brother, John, at an emotional reunion of City’s FA Youth Cup winning squad of 1986.

In January 2006, John did die, from mouth cancer, after suffering more than any man, woman or animal should ever suffer. He was just 37-years young.

I wrote a tribute to him for the following match day programme and thus, the photo of him coming off the Wembley pitch, having scored his record goal, was in the public domain for the first time.

Years later, late one night, I received a phone-call from author Phill Gatenby, who was writing “Teenage Kicks; the Story of the 1986 MCFC Youth Cup Winners”. 

Well covered – City skipper Steve Redmond holds the FA Youth Cup aloft on the front of the superb ‘Teenage Kicks’ book – the tome which finally highlighted John Bookbinder’s place in the 1986 cup winning squad.

I am indebted to Phill for correcting the printing error and re-publishing that photo from the Maine Road changing room, only this time with John’s name on it, putting John back in his rightful place in City history.

My determination to have John’s name remembered by City is on-going. 

I will not give up until my brother’s record is formally and permanently honoured at the Etihad Stadium.

So, if you’re at Wembley today – as I will be with my son Zac – or simply watching on TV and Sterling, Stones, Walker or young Foden grab a City winner, in open play, please remember my brother John’s Wembley goal of 33 years ago – and that John Bookbinder was really here.


By Susan Bookbinder

This is the first time Read But Never Red has had a solo guest writer, but we were happy to accommodate Suzy as she strives to have her brother immortalized in City’s history. It’s a quirky claim to fame, but one that is rightfully John Bookbinder’s and one that should be bestowed upon him after more than three decades. @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu


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