new frontiers (issue 8)

Tony Canham

With Tony Canham in his testimonial season, I feel a tribute to him is well overdue. He deserves it, he has thrilled us all over the last 10 seasons.

I first became aware of Tony Canham at the end of 1984, he was running rings round defences in City's reserve side. So much so, that reserves games were just as compulsive viewing as the first team games.

He was playing for City as an amateur, while at the same time working full time in Leeds and playing for Harrogate Railway Athletic. Professional football seemed to have passed him by. A trial with Leeds having previously proved unsuccessful.

Tony made his first team debut in March 1985 and scored the winner, the only goal of the game coming from a header. He hasn't scored many headed goals since. He signed a professional contract that summer. He marked his professional debut with a goal against Plymouth.

Within a few weeks he had scored a hat trick, a shot, a headed goal from a Keith Walwyn cross (yes, really) and a penalty as regular penalty taker, John MacPhail stood aside.

He had made the number 11 shirt his own. His long mazy runs thrilling City's supporters and mesmerising the opposition. At the end of the run, often there was a vicious shot. Just like that night at Anfield, running down the left wing, towards The Kop, away from the City fans, he took the ball past several defenders before beating Bruce Grobbelaar with his shot. It was 1-1, for the next 50 minutes, he and the City side dominated Liverpool, a Liverpool side on their way to the double 3 months later.

Another Tony Canham speciality was the free kick. Around the edge of the area he was deadly. Many of his goals have come from delicately placed free kicks. Sadly, this talent seems to be under used these days as Wayne Hall and Ian Blackstone, to name but 2, seem to take the bulk of the free kicks.

The fact that he has held his place for so many seasons is a testimony to his fitness, ability, consistency and loyalty. He saw Denis Smith's side disintegrate as players opted for greater rewards elsewhere. Tony Canham remained loyal, that loyalty was rewarded last season with a trip to Wembley. He came so close to opening the scoring that day. Now, in his testimonial season, I'm sure every City supporter will want to say a big thank you to Tony Canham, and dig deep into their pockets to reward a City player who has thrilled us all, so many times over the years.


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