MX23RW : Monday, September 24 06:15:21

On this day: Manchester City drop down to third tier

Sixteen years ago today, Manchester City are relegated to Division Two, despite winning 5-2 away at Stoke City.

Today, with the financial backing of Sheikh Mansour, Manchester City are not only challenging for English football's major honours, they are also one of the wealthiest clubs in the world.

It's a far cry from the situation that the club found itself in 16 years ago today when they made the trip to Stoke City.

Entrenched in the lower regions of Division One, Joe Royle's side knew that even a victory at the Britannia Stadium may not be enough to stop them from slumping into the third tier. With the hosts also in the bottom three, the loser would definitely be relegated, while much depended upon the results that fellow strugglers Port Vale and Portsmouth collected.

Reports at the the time claimed that such was the significance of the encounter, several thousand City supporters made the trip to the Potteries, with many sitting among the home fans. As there was so much riding on the outcome and with the tension high, it came as little surprise that there were violent outbreaks on occasions.

On the pitch, City did all that they could to secure their status, romping home to a 5-2 victory courtesy of a brace from Shaun Goater, while Paul Dickov, Lee Bradbury and Kevin Horlock also contributed. As for Stoke, Peter Thorne's double was not enough to prevent them from being demoted.

But what of City? Where would they be playing their football during the following campaign? Well, Portsmouth ensured that they would finish a point better off than the Citizens by winning 3-1 away at Bradford City, meaning that the only side that could be caught was Port Vale, who had travelled to Huddersfield Town.

Vale had won just five matches on the road all season, but they took that tally to six with a resounding 4-0 win, relegating City to Division Two in the process.

Speaking about that day to the Daily Mail two years ago, former City defender Jamie Pollock said: "I had just pitched up from Bolton and there were dozens of different players. What had happened was that managers prior to Joe Royle had brought their own players in and the club hadn't been quick to get rid of them.

"It didn't make for a great team spirit. It wasn't healthy. I can't remember too much about the game apart from Joe and Willie Donachie telling us that it was still in our own hands at half time. Whether it was, I don't know. I did go over to collect the ball from the crowd with about 20 minutes to go and the reaction from our supporters told me that we were going down. A sad day."

Meanwhile, Kit Symons added: "[It was] an incredible afternoon and that was even by our crazy standards at the time. I knew all about rough times at City. There was a time when I was so unpopular with the fans that when I got booked in a game at Stockport our own travelling fans were chanting for me to be sent off!

"It wasn't a squad. It was just a mish-mash of players from everywhere. So what happened was perhaps no surprise. It was a culmination. But it's still devastating when you realise you have gone down."

STOKE: Southall; Pickering, Heath, Sigurdsson, Tweed; Keen, Forsyth, Wallace, Kavanagh; Thorne, Lightbourne (Taaffe),

MAN CITY: Margetson; Edghill, Horlock, Wiekens, Symons; Vaughan, Jim Whitley (Brannan), Pollock; Goater (Kinkladze), Dickov (Jeff Whitley), Bradbury

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Shaun Goater celebrates scoring against Manchester United on November 09, 2002.
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On this day: Goater scores Manchester derby brace
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