The Maine Road Massacre – 23rd September 1989

by Karl Hofer.

The demolition of United by Vincent Kompany and company sets a familiar tone. In recent years derby wins for City, whilst not being a regular occurrence, have often been spectacular; amongst Citys’ nine victories in the last 25 years we’ve had a 6-1, a 5-1 and a couple of 4-1’s.

Here we recall one of those gems – Affectionately referred to as ‘The Maine Road Massacre’ by fans of City, and it took place 24 years ago today;

Manchester City 5-1 Manchester United, 23rd September 1989.

This was the first Manchester derby in three years, and newly promoted City’s fans were at melting point in anticipation . The game was a fairly even one before the players were taken off the pitch because of crowd trouble, emotions were clearly running at their highest.

And when they players returned, it was City that ran riot, with David Oldfield, Trevor Morley and Ian Bishop putting City three up, before Mark Hughes scored a spectacular scissor kick to briefly give United hope of a fightback. Maine Road was already shaking at its very foundations after Oldfield’s second of the game restored the three goal cushion – and then City fan Andy Hinchcliffe added the fifth.

Rising to meet David White’s cross, he dispatched a header past the helpless Jim Leighton to make it five-one in front of the dejected United fans. Seizing the opportunity to install himself as something of a City legend, he then gleefully brandished five fingers at an elated Kippax Stand. Twice.

The star of the day was the Australian-born Oldfield, he had been bought by City boss Mel Machin for a modest £600,000 from Luton Town the previous season. He went on to make barely two dozen appearances before he joined Leicester City in a swap deal for Wayne Clarke, a move set up by Howard Kendall who had since taken over the reins at Maine Road.

What made it all the worse for United was their investment in the quartet of Gary Pallister, Neil Webb, Paul Ince and Mike Phelan who had all arrived in the summer, it made the whole day all the more embarrassing for a team expected to mount a serious title challenge.

Said Ferguson after the game: “Every time somebody looks at me I feel I have betrayed that man. After such a result you feel as if you have to sneak around corners, feel as if you are some kind of criminal.”

Ian Bishop takes the acclaim after making it 3-0

In an interview with The Scotsman years later, Archie Knox, Ferguson’s assistant at the beginning of his time at Old Trafford, recalled the trauma it caused.

“I think Alex said he felt like going home and putting his head in the oven. That’s it. It was a disaster. After games, we were parking our car under the stand and leaving through the laundry and that kind of stuff. There was a bit of that going on. It affected him.

“He says he became a bit of a hermit and, aye, he went into his shell round about that time. We weren’t maybe as close socially as we had been. I was trying to get him out for a drink but he didn’t want to.

No doubt the defeat hurt United, but Sir Alex Ferguson used the pain to good cause. ‘The Maine Road Massacre’ as it became known would be the last time City managed to beat United for 13 years. History indicates that those in doubt of David Moyes’ credentials for the job should bite their tongue for a while longer at least.

United and City would both finish in the bottom half of the table that season, but United won the FA Cup, the first piece of silverware Sir Alex would win with United, but not by any means the last…

David Oldfield, now 42, used to run the reserve and under 18 teams at Peterborough United alongside Darren Ferguson, son of Sir Alex. He is now in charge of the development squad at West Bromich Albion.


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