On the 50th anniversary of the MCFC Player of the Year award, first introduced in 1967, we look at the years 1986 -1995, with the honour yet to be bestowed on a player born outside of the UK and Ireland… but that would change.
1985-86: Kenny Clements
Regarded as one of the best uncapped full-backs in the country, Kenny Clements was a swashbuckling right-back who enjoyed two spells with City.
During his first spell (’72-79) Clements was unfortunate to break his leg against Ipswich Town when he was at the height of his powers. Though he recovered, he was one of the many top players sold by Malcolm Allison and it was Oldham Athletic who benefitted with six years of solid service.
Following City’s promotion, former Latics boss Jimmy Frizzell took command when Billy McNeill quit as manager and it was Clements he turned to, bringing the former favourite back to Maine Road.
In his first season back, Clements, now playing centre-half, showed that while his game and playing style had changed, he was no less effective as a defender and it was fitting that a player who had served the club so well during his first stay should be rewarded with the Player of the Year award.
1986-87: Neil McNab
Much-travelled Neil McNab arrived at City in 1983 and like a fine wine, got better as time went on.
His £35,000 purchase from Brighton made few headlines and didn’t excite the City fans, but over time, McNab developed into a skilful, combative midfielder who became a huge crowd favourite.
Not unlike Asa Hartford, McNab was a schemer who could pick a pass and kept the team’s tempo ticking over.
The Blues were relegated in this campaign, but McNab was the choice of the supporters who appreciated his industry and efforts over the course of the campaign.
1987-88: Steve Redmond
A product of the City FA Youth Cup winning squad, Liverpudlian Steve Redmond was a solid and popular centre-back.
One of a crop of exciting youngsters to emerge from the youth ranks, Redmond was natural captain material and became the Club’s youngest skipper in 1988, just reward for his mature, calm displays in defence.
Though not the tallest player, he was excellent in the air and a good passer of the ball.
He won the fans’ vote after a solid season in Division Two – not bad for a 21-year-old.
1988-89: Neil McNab
The Scottish play-maker won his second prize in three years after another excellent campaign as he helped guide City back to the top flight.
His vision and tenacity made him one of Division Two’s outstanding talents during an entertaining season for Mel Machin’s side, capped with promotion on the final day of the campaign at Bradford City.
1989-90: Colin Hendry
The award stayed with Scottish blood in ’89-90 with the popular Colin Hendry taking the award.
The marauding centre-back who loved to attack quickly won an army of supporters among the Blues’ fans and it was no surprise that he capped a wonderful first season with the prestigious fan award.
A player who was just as happy trying to score goals as he was stopping them at the other end, Hendry was a worthy winner in his first year at Maine Road.
1990-91: Niall Quinn
Known universally as ‘The Big Irishman’, Niall Quinn joined City in March 1990 having failed to nail down a regular starting berth at Arsenal.
City paid £800,000 for his services and City fans expected little more than a six-foot four-inch striker who would be useful in the air.
Quinn, however, quickly showed his poise and skill on the floor – perhaps more so that his aerial ability – and became a hugely popular figure among the City fans.
His first full campaign couldn’t have gone much better as Quinn forged a lethal partnership with David White, scoring 21 goals in 43 games to deservedly take the Player of the Year award.
1991-92: Tony Coton
After a succession of goalkeepers that perhaps didn’t quite live up to the tradition of great City custodians, the £1m purchase of Watford keeper Tony Coton was an inspired one by manager Howard Kendall.
Coton was superb – brave, agile and intelligent – he soon had his name chanted on the Kippax with regular renditions of ‘England’s No.1’ chanted.
Coton was the rock of Kendall’s mean defence and won the Blues many points during his time with the Blues.
During the ’91-92 campaign, Coton was a model of consistency and City fans were left perplexed by his absence from the England team for whom he would never win a single cap.
1992-93: Garry Flitcroft
Another product of the Blues’ successful youth production line, Garry Flitcroft was an energetic, combative midfielder who had everything he needed to become a top player.
A tough tackler, he also had an eye for a goal and could pick a pass.
He was one of the most coveted young midfielders in English football and was tipped to become an England regular.
His performances during his second full season in the senior side aged only 21 years-old, fully merited his MCFC Player of the Year award.
1993-94: Tony Coton
Tony Coton followed in the footsteps of Joe Corrigan by winning the fans’ vote during the 1993/94 season – his second in three years.
Again, Coton was superb – though a knee injury would blight the last 18 months or so of his time with the Blues.
During a difficult season that saw manager Peter Reid sacked just four games in, Coton’s performances played a huge part in City not being relegated – as had seemed likely going into March – and his reward was the Player of the Year award.
1994-95: Uwe Rosler
Signed by manager Brian Horton along with Paul Walsh and Peter Beagrie the previous March. Uwe Rosler was an almost instant cult hero.
The three new players added the verve and vigour up front that had been missing for sol long and undoubtedly helped keep the Blues up.
Rosler scored five goals in the last eight games, ensuring his status among the fans who echoed his name around Maine Road and away grounds to the tune of ‘Go West’.
Rosler was made for City and he had found his spiritual home, playing with passion and determination that defined his five-year stay with the Club.
His first full campaign proved the £500,000 or so fee the Blues had paid FC Nurnberg was a steal.
Though City raced out of the blocks, the season gradually deteriorated and eventually only four points separated City from 19th-placed Crystal Palace as four teams went down to decrease the size of the Premier League.
Despite the struggles, Rosler scored 22 goals in 38 games and coasted to the Player of the Year award – becoming the first player outside the UK and Ireland to win the honour in the process.