Johnny Marr is The Smiths guitarist. Dennis Tueart is a Man City legend. They live two doors apart and are great mates. Here, they talk song lyrics, sock tags and overhead kicks

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Elevenses in leafy Cheshire. The shortbread’s out with a few biscuits, Dennis Tueart’s graciously sorting the brews. There is a quick debate with the guy who lives two doors down on whether to reach for a decaf teabag or not.

Johnny Marr decides he needs his caffeine and wants a black tea. The founder of the Smiths, seminal guitarist of his generation, looks at home lounging on his neighbour’s sofa, arm draped over the back. These two have been close mates for well over a decade, predating Marr moving in eight years ago.

Tueart was his childhood hero, even before that iconic overhead kick when Manchester City beat Newcastle in the 1976 League Cup final. Now they’re a volley apart, Marr living on land formerly Colin Bell’s.

Tueart recounts a special night he recently saw his pal live at the Apollo on Stockport Road, about a mile from where they often watch City together. Marr defers to the man on his left, the dazzling winger of 70s City, whenever conversation moves to football.

There are brief moments when Marr transports back to that 11-year-old stood outside Maine Road waiting for Tueart’s autograph. He thinks back to the feather cut and wearing scarves around his wrists. There is still that reverence, that twinkle. It’s quite a unique friendship in that way and a unique experience to share that with them for a morning.

Johnny Marr (left), founder of The Smiths, and Dennis Tueart, Man City legend, are great mates

Johnny Marr (left), founder of The Smiths, and Dennis Tueart, Man City legend, are great mates

The two of them sat down with Mail Sport's Jack Gaughan (right) in Tueart's Cheshire home to talk song lyrics, sock tags and overhead kicks

The two of them sat down with Mail Sport's Jack Gaughan (right) in Tueart's Cheshire home to talk song lyrics, sock tags and overhead kicks

Tueart (bottom row, third from the right) helped Man City win the League Cup trophy in 1976

Tueart (bottom row, third from the right) helped Man City win the League Cup trophy in 1976

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Unique, too, that the pair of them had three first meetings. The last was when Marr had a copy of Tueart’s autobiography signed; the first when Tueart amiably signed stuff outside the ground. ‘Players used to pull up on the street and walk – leave your car, your Hillman Imp or whatever – and then be swarmed by a load of lads,’ Marr says. ‘I remember some of the players were nice and some of them were not so nice. Years later, you’re thinking “no guestlist for you – I don’t think so”.’

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Tueart – president of the Junior Blues – felt he owed young supporters his time, although probably didn’t bargain for them showing up for a cuppa 50 years later.

The other first meeting, sandwiched between those, happened to be on a flight from Gatwick in 1994. ‘I vaguely remember it,’ Tueart says. Marr grins. ‘You don’t, it’s fine! We have conflicting stories about this, the partnership’s broken up here, Dennis.

‘I was coming back from holiday in the Caribbean,’ Marr starts. ‘There’s a delay. We’re waiting for the passenger next to me. I’m thinking it’s a little old woman, holding everything up. Passenger comes over and f*** me, it’s bloody Dennis Tueart.’

Marr stops, leans forward. ‘This is true! He plonks down next to me. I’m a bit frazzled – I think I used to drink back then! - and he looked like he’d just come out of the gym.

‘My boyhood hero right there… I was telling myself “don’t mention the overhead kick, don’t mention the overhead kick”. And I just heard myself go: “Bet you’re sick of people asking about your overhead kick, aren’t you?” Honestly. He grabs his newspaper and goes, “I am a bit, yeah”.’

A warm smirk is exchanged. Tueart had seen Marr in the Hale area before that encounter anyway. Both of them were keen runners and Tueart would jog by Marr’s old place. Marr, a master of self-deprecation, offers that he didn’t make much of an impression. Neither can nail down how they actually became friends but here we are, a few days before City win an unprecedented fourth consecutive Premier League title, the two of them thick as thieves. Marr goes to the West Ham victory with Noel Gallagher, Tueart in the chairman’s lounge.

Marr and Tueart recounted their first meeting, which came on a flight from Gatwick in 1994

Marr and Tueart recounted their first meeting, which came on a flight from Gatwick in 1994

Marr was the lead guitarist and founder of The Smiths, with Morrissey (left) the lead singer

Marr was the lead guitarist and founder of The Smiths, with Morrissey (left) the lead singer

Similar characters, really. Both creative – Tueart in sport then business, Marr with strings – and both equally inquisitive about the other’s passions and stardust. Both from council estates, Wythenshawe and Newcastle’s east end. Working-class heroes. And when two people click like this, that background has to mean something. It has to be a way of identifying with each other. When they did their stuff in front of thousands, both say their childhoods gave them a greater appreciation of the responsibility at play.

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‘What Johnny does and what I do… when you perform, you are living the dream of the people watching you,’ Tueart says. ‘Living their dream. They see themselves in you.’

Marr nods in agreement.

‘I always think with Johnny, when you’re writing a song, how do you come up with those lyrics? But he’s intense about doing it. I’ve not quite finished his second book, Marr’s Guitars… how many are there, 160?’

Marr says it’s around 130.

‘The style of each guitar stimulates lyrics,’ Tueart adds. ‘And I’m thinking, “wow”.’

Marr gently teases Tueart about the number of questions he asks but admits those constantly fly in both directions and being in their company is like nestling inside a tumble dryer. Marr says he doesn’t want to ‘get to pseudo about it,’ before offering that their vocations – his word – were simultaneously their calling and shaped their personalities. They often talk about evolving, evidenced by Tueart’s corporate diversity and Marr’s back catalogue of wildly successful albums across several bands while soundtracking Inception and No Time To Die with composer Hans Zimmer.

Marr (pictured in 1999) is regarded as one of, if not the, greatest guitarist of his generation

Marr (pictured in 1999) is regarded as one of, if not the, greatest guitarist of his generation

Tueart and Marr now live just a stone's throw away from one another in the Cheshire suburbs

Tueart and Marr now live just a stone's throw away from one another in the Cheshire suburbs

‘We’re both almost hyper,’ Marr says. ‘Dennis played like his personality. Determined. A bit edgy! A bit narky! Don’t turn your back on him. A lot of energy and tenacity, a little bit of devilment and style.

‘I got Dennis to introduce me once on stage at an event for City. It was quite a big show at the G-Mex. A mate who I’ve known forever said, “you know what Johnny, I’ve watched you do all of this stuff over the years but now I’m really impressed”. Never mind about the Bond film, then.’

A smile spreads across Tueart’s face.

This interview never actually starts. It doesn’t really involve many questions. And those are the best ones. They begin chatting away about why so many Scottish players gravitated to Manchester United, the opponents at Saturday’s FA Cup final – an occasion we forget to mention over the next 90 minutes - and the tape just starts rolling.

Marr – a winger who played for City’s youth team, ‘freezing his head off’ at training on Hough End Fields - has had an Italian friend staying in the week and explains, ‘without sounding bitter or biased, sarcastic or snarky’ why ‘people from London like United’. Tueart discusses how he knows a whole generation of United supporters who cannot handle failure and you wonder whether that affliction will take hold of the blue half of the city in years to come.

They’re gossiping about which houses might be up for sale down the road when Tueart’s wife, Joan, wanders in. She’s off to Pilates, reminding her husband to bring the washing in. ‘Can you believe that?’ he leans over. ‘I used to be a superstar.’

A superstar he was. With 109 goals over two spells, a real, bona-fide City great who like so many others fell in love with the area and kept the club in his life. ‘I was from a family of hardcore Irish Reds and the rebel, do you know what I mean?’ Marr says. ‘My best mate, his family were super Blues. He was Colin Bell mad. I started going in ’73, the year before Dennis came. Hooked straight away.

Across two spells with the club, Tueart 109 goals from 224 appearances for Man City

Across two spells with the club, Tueart 109 goals from 224 appearances for Man City

Tueart, in his own words, was a 'superstar' for City and was also Marr's childhood hero

Tueart, in his own words, was a 'superstar' for City and was also Marr's childhood hero

‘It was brilliant being a Dennis fan. You look out for all these little details. Sock tags and everything. I don’t want to embarrass him – he loves it really – but fans are like that. You notice whether they wear the shirt in or out, long or short sleeves. Details. How they celebrate.

‘There should always be an element of showmanship I think. Dennis was really subtle. You always used to wave to the Kippax, didn’t you? Dead subtle.’

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Tueart picks it up. ‘I just walked slowly to the wing and when I got near, I’d just look up and smile,’ he remembers. ‘And the crowd would go up. They expected it. I wanted to relate to them. That Kippax, packed with 18,000 people, was just fantastic.’

Marr asks the man 14 years his senior whether he minds divulging something about his image as a player. It transpires that Tueart used to have his kit tailored. Marr’s eyes widen as he explains how proud he is of him.

‘It didn’t fit,’ Tueart says. ‘A bit wide, a bit long. So I got it taken in. The girls in the laundry room did it. She got the pins out and sorted it.’

Marr beams. ‘See what I mean about those little details?’ he says. ‘I’m dating myself but Peter Barnes had a style. Kinkladze had his distinctive way of running. Dennis Law, every United fan knows his sleeve was over his knuckle. Iconic is very overused but those sort of moments… it’s not just a game, is it? It’s pop culture.

‘I liked the culture, without getting too rosy about it. It was really exciting, slightly terrifying. You’d see lads with no eyebrows because they were into David Bowie but were acting in an aggressive fashion. It was a quirk of the times.

‘You’re clocking the clothes, a lot of language you’d not heard. A big part of it was to do with clothes and behaviour. Getting off the train at Lime Street for Liverpool and it being treacherous. Part of being a tribe. I felt that. Villa was tricky, I remember getting chased there. Middlesbrough was terrifying.’

Discussing his days at City, Tueart admitted he used to have his kit specially tailored

Discussing his days at City, Tueart admitted he used to have his kit specially tailored

The two creative greats discussed their favourite City memories over a brew in the living room

The two creative greats discussed their favourite City memories over a brew in the living room

The violence, which Marr wanted no part in, contributed to him falling out of love with the game for a while. Tueart’s departure to New York Cosmos in 1978 might have too. But he is enjoying reminiscing.

‘You’re hearing all about how Liverpool had come up with this casuals style. And I’m thinking, “I’m pretty sure it was City fans”. I’ll tell you one thing for sure: it wasn’t United fans. I brought some of that into the Smiths, which was unusual for a musician.

‘I’m on the tube once and I’ve got a jumper on and another jumper around my waist – just to make the point. It’s little details, like Dennis with his sock tags, the necklaces on the outside of a crew neck jumper. That to me was dead important. Guitar playing sorts itself out but wearing the right Cecil Gee jumper… that comes from the terraces.

‘Anyway, aren’t we supposed to be talking about the cup final? This is how you sold this to me, Tueart. We’re like Saint & Greavsie here.’

A walking, talking Dennis Tueart encyclopaedia, Marr wants to discuss his mate’s role at board level, instrumental behind the scenes as a director and key in Kevin Keegan’s appointment. He ventures that Tueart never received the credit he deserved for his input in City’s move to Eastlands and making sure it resembled a football arena, not athletics. ‘Some of my design features are in the stadium,’ Tueart says proudly.

‘I wanted a stadium that would work away from matchdays with the function rooms. They were going to build Barca-like dugouts, buried. I wanted them raised up so the manager had a choice. You can see blinds in the corners to open up off a matchday for air circulation.’

Tueart still loves it. He regales a tale of Joe Royle transfer listing Paulo Wanchope – wrongly, in his view, after a heated row – and how he rues the club’s decision not to extend a loan deal for Albert Riera, instead signing DaMarcus Beasley.

Tueart scored 46 goals from 178 appearances for Sunderland before joining Man City in 1974

Tueart scored 46 goals from 178 appearances for Sunderland before joining Man City in 1974

He is then reminded of the purple leather coat hanging upstairs. Tueart wore it when signing for City from Sunderland. He has to go and retrieve that, Mail Sport photographer Ian Hodgson’s eyes lighting up. Marr clocks this and puts his foot down. No photos. Joan would blame him. Which is a great shame, because when Tueart – at 74, still in the gym three times a week - comes back down, it still fits and he oozes class. ‘Every so often, I ask him to get it out,’ Marr says. ‘Jay-Z or Kanye West wouldn’t be able to pull this s*** off.’

The gatherings down a road Marr affectionately mocks as like Stella Street, the ‘90s BBC comedy, must be some affairs. ‘I hung out with Sergio (Aguero) a little bit,’ he says. ‘He was almost isolated but he was such a quiet guy that it didn’t really matter.’

Nathan Ake – ‘modest, polite’ - is down the way. Across the road, Paul Pogba was spotted performing wheelies. ‘His demeanour was like a 14-year-old but with 50 grand in each earlobe!’ Marr says. ‘Really nice guy.’ Vincent Kompany’s close. Past and present include Alisson, Nick Pope, Ben Mee, Fabian Delph, Manuel Pellegrini, Phil Jones. Roy Keane regularly wanders through on his daily walks.

And that’s just the footballers.

‘None of them have got Colin Bell’s plot though, have they?’ Marr says. ‘For me, it was either Bell’s or Dennis Tueart’s.’

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