Manchester City FC

Tommy Booth - Manchester City FC - Biography of his football career at Man City.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 16 February 1980

Click on image to enlarge

      Central Defender
      Wednesday, 09 November 1949
      Manchester, England
  • Manchester City FC
    • Club Career Dates
    • League Debut
      Wednesday, 9th October 1968 in a 1-1 draw at home to Arsenal (Aged: 18)
    • Club Career
      380 League apps (+2 as sub), 25 goals
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Tommy BOOTH - Manchester City FC - Biography of his football career at Man City.



                                                                     1967 - 1969


 Tommy Booth was described by manager Joe Mercer as 'the best footballing centre-half since Stan Cullis'. Cullis was a former England team-mate of Mercer's in the 1930s, a man known for his controlled and cultured way of defending as opposed to the 'stop 'em at all costs' style that was more prominent at the time. Langley-born Booth first came to City's attention as a 15 year-old when he was spotted by chief scout Harry Godwin playing Sunday morning football as a centre-forward. He'd been a former player with both Middleton Boys and Manchester Catholic Boys and when Malcolm Allison watched him one week he asked Godwin to make enquiries. 'No need to worry' replied Godwin, 'he's already on the books' came the reply from City's most productive scout. Booth signed amateur forms for City in September 1965 and turned professional in August 1967, all the while serving an engineering apprenticeship and training with City two nights a week. Under the coaching staff at Maine Road he'd moved from a centre-forward to a centre-half and, after a string of fine performances in the reserves, it was in this position that he made his debut in the first team. Replacing the regular first team centre-half George Heslop, Booth lined up along his more illustrious team-mates (City remember were the current First Division Champions) for a League Cup clash with Second Division Huddersfield Town on 2nd September 1968. The game finished goalless with Booth 'settling down well' according to boss Mercer, although the player was rewarded for his efforts with a suspected broken nose and concussion!


Just over a month later, on 9th October, thanks to a combination of Heslop's illness and lack of form, Booth made his League debut, this time in a 1-1 draw with Arsenal at Maine Road. It began an unbroken run of 24 matches in the League for Booth; it also meant the end of Heslop's permanent reign as the regular first team centre-half. In total that first season, 1968/69, Booth made 28 League appearances (scoring once against Coventry at home at Christmas) and played a further seven times in the FA Cup as the Blues progressed all the way to the Final with Leicester at Wembley. In a tremendous battle with Everton in the semi-final that year the game was still goalless going into the dying seconds when Neil Young's swerving shot struck Everton's goalkeeper Gordon West high up on the shoulder and went behind. From the ensuing corner Mike Doyle headed the ball down; Mike Summerbee flicked it on and Tommy Booth, the local boy in his debut season, volleyed his beloved City to Wembley. In the final itself a single goal from Young was sufficient to give City victory, capping a memorable debut season for the teenage Tommy. (Ian Penney - author of The Legends of Manchester City)


                                                                  1969 - 1970.


At the end of Tommy Booth's debut season he'd written himself into Manchester City folklore by scoring the winning goal in an FA Cup semi-final and then taking part in the successful final itself, a 1-0 win against a soon to be relegated Leicester. If this leap from almost obscurity to equally almost rapid fame fazed him any, it certainly didn't show on the pitch and he began the 1969/70 season as the first choice centre-half, missing just one game (against Coventry in September) of the entire 42 in the League. In fact only Mike Doyle, with 60, played more than Booth (with just one less!) in what was to be another highly successful season. Despite all these appearances he was to score just one goal in the whole season. Yet again it proved to be a crucial one, coming as it did in City's difficult first leg of their First Round European Cup Winners' Cup tie against Athletic Bilbao in Spain. With the Blues trailing 3-1 on the night Booth scored with a right-foot shot from the edge of the penalty area when Summerbee's corner was only partially cleared. The game eventually finished 3-3 and so began what was to be an ultimately successful European campaign. Unfortunately for Booth he suffered an ankle injury in Bilbao, an injury that caused him to miss the aforementioned League clash with Coventry three days later. City surrendered their FA Cup at Old Trafford in the Fourth Round and finished tenth in Division One at the end of 1969/70, a somewhat disappointing position although it was three places higher than Booth's debut season twelve months earlier.


However, both the League and European Cup Winners' Cups proved to be much more productive in 1969/70 season. Booth played in all bar one (a 3-2 home defeat of Liverpool in Round 3) of City's seven matches in the League Cup, including the final itself when the Blues came back from a goal down to beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1 courtesy of goals from defenders Mike Doyle and Glyn Pardoe. Tommy had now won two Wembley medals in just 18 months as a first team player. On April 19th 1970, in a rain-soaked Prater Stadium in Vienna, he picked up his third winners' medal as City beat Polish Cup holders Gornik Zabrze (also by a 2-1 scoreline, the goals coming from Neil Young and a Franny Lee penalty) to lift the European Cup Winners' Cup and set a record as the first side to win both a domestic and European trophy in the same season. Tommy's red and black striped shirt worn in Vienna now holds pride of place in a display cabinet at the club's museum in their new City of Manchester Stadium. As the new decade began, Tommy Booth, still a few months short of his 21st birthday, was a 'veteran' of 95 senior appearances for Manchester City. (Ian Penney - author of The Legends of Manchester City)




Tommy Booth kicks as Colin Bell watches  at Maine Road on 27th. October 1973.

Photo G. Herringshaw.  ©

                                                                        1970 - 1974.



In the late 1990s coach Malcolm Allison looked back at City's glory days and said of Tommy Booth, 'I remember him winning that semi-final against Everton for us. He was a brilliant reader of the game and was underestimated as a centre-back. When I watched him with Harry Godwin as a youngster I could see then he was a good footballer with two good feet. He wasn't the fastest player around but he was a good passer, had good control and was good in the air. I always had confidence in him.' So much confidence in fact that for four consecutive seasons from 1970/71, Tommy Booth averaged almost 45 games a season in what was always a reliable and consistent - especially in cup competitions - City side. His lowest return was that 1970/71 season when he played 37 games (he'd played 59 the season before) missing almost three months because of surgery to an injured cartilage. It was a terrible year all round for injuries as City lost seven regular first teamers with a catalogue of long-term injuries and not surprisingly their European Cup Winners' Cup as well. Despite their best efforts they eventually lost out to Chelsea in a two-legged semi-final. Booth scored twice in 1970/71; once against Everton in the League and once against former opponents Gornik, this time in the Third Round of the ECWC.


The following season saw City finish fourth in Division One (their highest since winning the title in 1968) and just a single point behind eventual Champions Derby County. Booth missed two of the 42 League games and scored four times, his highest return to date. Tommy's goals came against Crystal Palace (4-0), Wolves (5-2), Huddersfield (1-0) and the decider in a 1-0 home win against Chelsea in March. This clash with Chelsea was Rodney Marsh's much-publicised debut for City and was also Booth's return to the first team after suffering a broken nose against West Bromwich Albion three games previously. A further 44 League and Cup appearances followed in 1972/73, a generally disappointing season with City's best run ending in the 5th Round of the FA Cup at the eventual surprise winners Second Division Sunderland. Booth's goal tally of six bettered last year's efforts with three coming in six games (all home games against Liverpool, Coventry and Arsenal) in a six-week spell between February and March. Despite continuing managerial changes off the pitch, Tommy Booth was yet again a model of consistency on it in 1973/74 as City reached the League Cup Final only to suffer defeat at the hands of Wolves. Booth's combined figure of 54 appearances was bettered only by Willie Donachie, with 56, and Colin Bell, with 55. He played in all of City's 11 games in the League Cup run and scored against both Coventry and Plymouth, exactly half of his entire tally for the season - his league goals helping City to wins against Spurs and West Ham. (Ian Penney - author of The Legends of Manchester City)