When Manchester City host Tottenham tonight in their crucial Premier League game, many will no doubt recall 1981 for their last showdown of epic proportions. Wembley's famous old ground provided the backdrop and the FA Cup, in its centenary year, was the prize at stake. It took a replay to produce a winner and a goal that will live long in the memory.
Ricky Villa, Tottenham's Argentine midfielder, dribbled his way around the City defence before slotting the ball past Joe Corrigan, the City goalkeeper, to seal a dramatic 3-2 victory. Corrigan is constantly reminded of that magical moment, but will not be alone in hoping Carlos Tevez, City's own Argentine hero, can help produce a happier memory this time. "It will be nice to put that ghost to rest," said Corrigan, who spent 16 years at City after his debut in 1967. "It was a special goal to beat us, but I think Steve MacKenzie's goal for us was the best of the final. I was so disappointed for the fans because they had supported us through thick and thin that year.
"We had a bad start and John Bond took over as manager and we got to the semi-final of the League Cup and then the cup final. "But I thought the FA made a rick by having the replay at Wembley for the first time. For me, the cup final should be done and dusted on the day, with extra-time and penalties like now. The replay didn't have the same feeling. There were nearly twice as many Spurs fans there as it was difficult for ours to come back to London.
"I hope it will be a different outcome tonight. The fans deserve something good after so long." City are a point behind Spurs in the table with two games left and victory could arguably provide a greater reward than in 1981, with a place in the Champions League now seen as more prestigious than winning the FA Cup. Corrigan, 61, agreed as he added: "It's such an important competition to be in for any club. I was with Liverpool as a goalkeeping coach for 10 years and the times we got into the Champions League was phenomenal.
"You are then playing against the best teams in the world and best players. This game against Tottenham is massive and bigger than a cup final because it will be a step forward to so much more." Corrigan said the 3-1 win against Aston Villa on Saturday showed how much City wanted the coveted fourth spot. "They showed desire," he said. "For me, they have to take the bull by the horns and get at Tottenham. When they are flowing at their best, they are some team to watch. With Tevez, Craig Bellamy and Emmanuel Adebayor, City look strong up front and Adam Johnson has been a revelation since he joined the club."
Marton Fulop will be another key figure to help stop Tottenham. Having signed on an emergency loan from Sunderland last week, the keeper had a tough debut against Villa. But Corrigan said: "I didn't envy the lad. He came in for a massive game and had one or two nervous moments. But we all do and I think he will be OK." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Man City v Tottenham, 11pm, Showsports 1 & 2