Former Manchester City midfielder Stan Horne could become the first black footballer to be awarded a championship medal – 52 years after helping the Blues win the title.
City are to approach the Football League asking for recognition for four members of Joe Mercer’s squad who did not play enough games to be granted one of the game’s most coveted prizes when they won the old First Division in 1968.
Horne played five times as Mercer’s men snatched the title from rivals United on the final day of the season.
But that wasn’t enough to automatically earn him a medal. Team-mates Harry Dowd, Paul Hince, and Bobby Kennedy also missed out.
So City are now trying to redress the situation after being made aware that the Football League had fallen into line with the Premier League by granting medals to any player featuring in five games.
Horne, now aged 75, said: “Apart from playing for your country, winning a First Division title medal is as good as it gets. I’ve always taken great pride from being part of the City squad that won the championship.
“But when you haven’t got a medal to show for it then it feels like other people don’t have the same opinion of you. City fans still talk about Colin Bell, Francis Lee, Mike Summerbee, Neil Young and Mike Doyle – truly great players.
“I’m not sure too many of them remember I was part of that team as well. But it’s nice to know the club haven’t forgotten. To hear City are working on behalf of me and the other players who missed out on a medal is great. If I am given a medal, even after all these years, I will absolutely treasure it.”
Horne became the first black player to wear the City shirt after following Mercer from Aston Villa in 1965 when the midlands club cancelled his contract claiming he was suffering from high blood pressure.
He helped City win the second division and consolidate themselves in the top-flight before an Achilles injury limited his playing time as the Blues became champions for the second time in their history. Horne, who still lives in the Manchester area, went on to play for Fulham, Chester and Rochdale as well as spending a year in the United States with Denver Dynamos. It is the recognition rather than the place in the history books he would treasure.
Jamaica-born winger Lindy Delapenha helped Portsmouth win back-to-back titles just after the war.
He made two appearances in 1949 and five the following year – and it’s understood he was not given a medal. Delaphena passed away three years ago at the age of 89.
And Horne added: “It doesn’t matter if Lindy got a medal or not – if he played a part in helping Portsmouth win the title then in my mind he is a champion.
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“There weren’t too many black players around in my day – two or three at most.
“But I wouldn’t say I felt like a pioneer. In fact, I’d say Joe Mercer was the pioneer for being strong enough to sign me for Villa and then again for City. I got a few nasty comments from supporters, but that was all water off a duck’s back because I just loved playing football.
“What upset me more was some of the insults I got off opposition players.”
City officials were only recently made aware of the change in Football League policy.
Football historian Ian Ross has helped five players – Tottenham ’s Frank Saul and Tony Marchi, Bobby Seith of Burnley, Derby’s Jim Walker and Mike Whitlow of Leeds – win title medals retrospectively.
Ross believes there are more than 20 players from Liverpool, Manchester United, Everton, Leeds, Wolves and City who are missing out on title medals they deserve.
The Football League has agreed to look upon any request favourably, but it is the responsibility of clubs. Medals cost about £300 each to mint.
But are worth thousands at auction – and are priceless to the players whose achievement has not been properly recognised.
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