Mike Summerbee

by Bernard Frei on March 06, 2019

Mike Summerbee is as well known for being a vital part of the Manchester City attacking line-up that included Law, Lee, Marsh and Bell, as he is for being Mike Summerbee, outstanding Manchester City England international.

He was born in Preston, on December 15th 1942, grew up in Cheltenham and was the son of George and nephew of Gordon, both professional footballers. Summerbee’s son, Nicky, made it three consecutive Summerbee generations to play the game.

Mike played non-league football for Cheltenham before joining Swindon Town, aged sixteen, when he made his league debut. In six years he made two hundred and eighteen appearances for Swindon and scored thirty nine goals.

His team mates gave him the nickname ‘Buzzer’, which was a comment on his fiery temper.  

The Manchester City manager, Joe Mercer, was developing a squad, then in the Second Division, and which went on to win the league title, European Cup Winners Cup, FA Cup and League Cup between 1968 and 1970, with real attacking intent and Summerbee was his second signing, for £35,000 in 1965, with Summerbee starting every league game of his first season at the club. He made his debut the day after signing, in the opening fixture of the 1965-66 season at Middlesbrough, and was rarely out of the Manchester City starting line-up for the following ten seasons, making over four hundred appearances.

Summerbee didn’t miss a game in Manchester City's fifty-two-match season, scored ten goals, and City were promoted to the First Division as champions. The following season, 1966-67, their first back in Division One, Mercer played Summerbee on the right wing and occasionally as centre forward, City finishing fifteenth.

Summerbee enjoyed his most productive goal-scoring season in 1967-68, the year that City won the title, with twenty in forty nine league and cup games. This earned him his first England cap of the eight he would be awarded, in a 1-1 draw with Scotland at Hampden.

For a winger in an international side whose manager, Alf Ramsey, was well-known for his ‘wingless wonders’ formation, Summerbee would have to work harder than most to be selected for his country and eight caps in five years reflected that. He didn’t play in the European Nations Finals in Italy and won his next cap three years later, in a European Championship qualifier against Switzerland at Wembley, in which Summerbee scored England’s goal in a 1-1 draw.  

Summerbee won three consecutive caps in 1972, against West Germany, Wales and Northern Ireland, his eighth and final one against the USSR in the summer of 1973. He was voted Manchester City Player of the Year in both 1972 and 1973.

At club level, success had continued, the FA Cup following for Summerbee and Manchester City in 1969, the 1-0 win over Leicester resulting from Summerbee’s cross from which Neil Young scored the winner, and two more trophies - the League Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup, Summerbee missing the Final victory against Gornik Zabrze, having broken his leg in the League Cup Final win over West Bromwich Albion - followed in 1969-70. Summerbee had maintained his remarkable consistency until he broke his leg, playing forty nine games during the season.

1970-71 was disappointing by Summerbee’s and Manchester City’s high standards, and included two serious injuries, the first a broken foot in January, the second breaking his leg, in March against Derby County, which ended his season.

1972-73 saw Manchester City reach the Final of the League Cup, which Summerbee and his team mates ended as runners’ up, as Wolves came out 2-1 winners. He continued to show fitness and consistency which few have managed in any era, making forty six appearances in league and cup.

Summerbee’s last season at Maine Road, 1974-75, ended with a move to Burnley, for £25,000, before a brief spell at Blackpool in 1976, being appointed Stockport County’s player-manager in 1979-80 for two seasons and finishing at Mossley.

Capture a piece of Mike Summerbee's legacy with this signed shirt from VintageSports.com

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