By Rob Clyne
Oh Brother: Manchester City’s Kevin Horlock celebrates with a fist pump after converting his penalty during the shootout in the 1998-99 playoff final versus Gillingham at Wembley. City won the shootout and promotion
My beloved Manchester City may finally be turning into a force. But what much of the football world (and some City fans, shockingly) tend to forget is that for an unimaginably long time we were really, really shit.
The 1990s was a decade of bleakness. No trophies. Not one victory against United. Not even a promotion to celebrate and give us hope. Nope, the highest achievement was in 1993 when, in the FA Cup quarter final, Terry “You’ve got that Lovin’” Phelan sprinted past the entire Spurs team to score an incredible solo goal in the last minute of the game. Sadly we’d already conceded four and instigated a pitch invasion by that point. But we had to take any scrap of glory that came our way.
So by the time a hilarious Jamie Pollock own goal condemned us to third-flight football in 1998, we took solace in the fact that at least our Kappa kits looked good. How wrong we were.
Manchester City’s Richard Edghill kisses the badge on his shirt after scoring his penalty during the shootout against the Gills
The 1998-99 third kit boasted sickly bright yellow-and-blue stripes. It can only have been designed to remind us how abhorrently low we had sunk. And it’s my favourite City kit of all time. Why? Because City were wearing it when they gave me and 35,000 other Blues the greatest football moment of our lives. At the Second Division play-off final against Gillingham.
2-0 down at Wembley with 89 minutes on the clock under a gloomy sky, having witnessed the dullest match ever, City were facing oblivion. Fans started leaving in droves. Talk of next season had already begun. Who would stay? Who would go? Would we hang on to our star players Gerard Wiekens and Kevin Horlock?
Six minutes later, and Paul Dickov hammers in an equaliser after a Horlock goal and five minutes of unannounced injury time. Pure ecstasy. All of a sudden, that ugly football shirt became a thing of beauty. Winning on penalties was a formality.
Whatever City achieve in the future, I doubt it will ever feel quite like that magical moment.
More in the fav kits series (home kit unless otherwise stated):