IT is expected to be a busy summer at Valley Parade, as new boss Derek Adams looks to put his own stamp on the City team.

Transfer windows are a tricky business, and not always easy to get right, but sometimes you can strike gold and bring in a player that will be revered for years to come.

And in the summer of 2012, ahead of their now-legendary history-makers season, Phil Parkinson brought in several new faces that went down in City’s history.

Here are five of the best:


Jones was a Rochdale legend, making his name there over two successful spells, but by the time he joined City, he was already 35.

But any fans questioning the decision to bring in the ageing central midfielder were proved wrong in spectacular fashion.

What they got was a true leader, the perfect man to guide Parkinson’s side to their most memorable season in recent history.

Jones provided numerous assists, as well as a fearsome presence in central midfield, and was a key part of City’s best home start to a campaign since 1957.

Not only did he earn himself a place in the PFA League Two Team of the Year, but he led City to that incredible League Cup final appearance, before lifting the play-off final trophy at Wembley just a few months later.

Even if his second season didn’t quite hit the same heights, Jones still started more games than any outfield player other than ever-present Stephen Darby.

He left the club that summer at the age of 37 with Parkinson lauding him as “a role model” for the younger players who “put his heart and soul into the club”.

Jones still speaks fondly about his time at City, after making a huge impact in just two short years.


Darby was hugely popular at City anyway, constantly dependable in the right-back position, scooping a raft of end of season awards in 2013-14, and being made club captain off the back of that.

He was the man with the armband when City pulled off the greatest result in their modern history, a 4-2 win at Chelsea in the FA Cup, and was widely considered a man of the people, always taking the time to look out for others.

Those feelings of love for Darby only intensified after he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2018.

The subsequent setting up of the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds and despite the cruel, debilitating illness, Darby’s positivity has never wavered.

The emotional scenes at Valley Parade as Liverpool visited City for a charity friendly in the foundation’s honour showed how Darby will never be forgotten as one of the club’s greatest servants.


Like Jones, Thompson arrived at City well into his thirties, with the club having failed in an attempt to buy him back in 2008.

A wide man who relied on his trickery, rather than pace, he was perhaps not the most conventional

winger around, but he was an integral part of that history-makers side of 2012-13.

He appeared in 56 of the 64 games in that marathon campaign, and scored a superb volley in the stunning League Cup quarter-final win over Arsenal.

A man for the big occasion, Thompson also netted in the play-off semi-final against Burton and set up two goals in the final.

He was a regular following promotion, before eventually losing his place to Kyel Bennett.

Though he was released in the summer of 2014, he paid tribute to his team-mates, fans and the club in the T&A, and the reaction to his words showed the respect he commanded.


McArdle came to the club after a two-year spell at Aberdeen and that top-flight experience served him well during five seasons at City.

A rock at the back on so many occasions, a key part of the history-makers side, and nearly 250 appearances under Phil Parkinson and Stuart McCall showed how he was a man to rely on.

He was fond of a vital goal or two as well, namely in the League Cup semi-final win over Aston Villa and the play-off final victory over Northampton.

Named the club’s player of the year in 2014-15, McArdle has always been treated with respect on his returns with Scunthorpe, and surely will be when he comes back next season with Exeter.


Many were disappointed with the Australian’s decision to join City’s play-off final conquerors Millwall in the summer of 2017, but there was no arguing with his contribution in five years as an attacking left back at Valley Parade.

He helped the history-makers to promotion before a broken foot derailed his second season.

But he bounced back to become a virtual ever-present over the next three campaigns, as City just missed out on promotion twice.

He earned two caps for his country back in 2015, and was named in the PFA Team of the Year for 2016-17.

That glorious transfer window of 2012 also saw City bring in Nathan Doyle, as well as getting Andrew Davies back on a permanent deal, so if Derek Adams can have half of that success this summer, he’ll have done an excellent job.