The Manchester City club of 2008 is a far cry from what it was in 1980. At that time, the club was managed by Malcolm Allison, a larger-than-life figure that embodied so much of what was characteristic of the old style of managers (smoking a cigar, wearing a sheepskin coat, etc).

Thanks to our friends at 101GreatGoals, they’ve uncovered a YouTube documentary that takes viewers back to the 1980-1981 season and paints an incredible picture of what life was like behind-the-scenes in those days. The fly-on-the-wall documentary goes into the dressing rooms, and features candid interviews with the personalities involved in the dire situation that City found itself in (including then chairman Peter Swales). Tip: Click on the team photo to see a close-up image of the 1980-81 team photograph.

To me, what is inspirational from this documentary is the honesty that’s on display. The emotions that you can see on people’s faces. The direct answers to questions. And, even, the silence which is most powerful in the dressing room after the Man City and Crystal Palace FA Cup encounter.

Sadly, a documentary like this probably couldn’t be made today. There are too many middle managers at clubs that would want to get in the way and control the footage shown (i.e. strict public relations professionals not allowing film crews to have candid interviews with representatives from the club).

The other thing that the documentary does is paint an accurate picture of the state of the game in the early 1980s. Take a note of the facilities, equipment, press conferences and the antiquated football stands at the grounds.

Lastly, one of my favorite moments in the documentary is the part where the Manchester City board of directors are debating whether or not John Bond should get the manager’s job to replace Malcolm Allison. It shows a rare glimpse at how key decisions were made (and are presumably done so in a similar fashion today). What happens around that table is a fascinating view of what life is like behind the doors of a major football club.

Here’s the six part series of “City!” filmed by Granada Television: