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Colin Meldrum remembers

After one of the most enthralling Premier League seasons in history went to the final minute at The Etihad Stadium, former Reading full-back, Colin Meldrum was reminded of the last great Manchester City side of 1967/68. Joe Mercer’s Sky Blues side overwhelmed Third Division Reading in that season's FA Cup competition. Despite the huge gulf, the underdogs came close to a major upset – but were then on the end of a seven-goal thrashing in the replay. Colin, who spent eight years at Elm Park, playing 300 games and was twice Player of the Year, recalls: “In the previous round we had drawn 0-0 with non-League Dagenham, and only got through after a replay. “My upbringing on the tough streets of Glasgow taught me that it’s the wee fellas you have to worry about. You should never regard a smaller opponent as inferior.

As soon as you do that, you’re on a sticky wicket and I’m sure some of our players thought it was a foregone conclusion. “It was a complete turnaround when we played Manchester City at Maine Road. They were a great side with half a dozen internationals but I knew from experience that they wouldn’t enjoy it if we got stuck in. “It was obvious three or four of their players thought they just had to turn up to win. We worked really hard, closed them down and came away with a 0-0 draw. “But that result gave them a big kick up the backside.

They got a lot of stick in the papers and I knew we were in for a hiding back at Elm Park. “Some of our lads thought they had done all the hard work, but City showed their class and beat us 7-0. “We had some good players but we didn’t turn it on consistently.” Colin's connections to last season's last day drama were not confined to City. In his early career he played alongside Sir Alex Ferguson in the Glasgow schoolboy team where he was by a Queen’s Park scout who also had links with Arsenal and Colin joined the Gunners in 1958. He said: “Living in London was a bit of a change for a lad from Townhead in Glasgow. I played in the youth team alongside players like Terry Neill and fellow Scot John Sneddin. “I was then in the Metropolitan team and then the reserves. But then, when Billy McCullough got injured and they replaced him with a right-back in Len Wills, I didn’t think I was going to get a chance. So I spent three years with Watford before moving on to Reading.”

After Leaving Elm Park in 1969, Colin went into the record books by scoring Cambridge United’s first ever League goal. He went on to become player-manager at Hillingdon Borough, chief coach at York City and player-boss with Workington. As manager at Stafford Rangers he reached the final of the FA Trophy at Wembley in 1972.He then became a sports development officer in Blackpool where, aged 71, he now enjoys retirement. A Reading team line-up in 1967/68. Back: Arthur Wilkie, Ron Baylis, Ernie Yard, John Chapman, Dick Spiers, Colin Meldrum, Rodney Thornhill, Front: Alan Scarrot, John Collins, John Sainty, George Harris, Denis Allen

12 July 2012

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