Roger Sharp – The True Story of a Blue Kiwi
As an exiled New Zealander living in the UK I’m often asked, by football supporters of every type, why I support Manchester City? I usually reply with a wry smile that I had the choice of any team in the league and simply decided that City were the best! However, if the truth be known the reasons are a little more diverse (and honest) than that.
By some quirk of fate all the rest of my family were born in Britain and so growing up I was surrounded by “All Things” British. However, much to my family’s annoyance I failed, initially, to pick up on the great tradition of supporting a football team. If the truth be known, I was, like most New Zealand boys, obsessed with the sport of Rugby. How the All Blacks were doing seemed to me infinitely more important than whether my Dad’s team (West Ham) had beaten my brother’s (Liverpool). Having another rugby mad brother who was born in Cardiff just confirmed my belief that Rugby was cool and football wasn’t.
They say there comes a time in every person’s life when a single event, or timespan, does something drastic to alter the course of your life. For me it was the year 1981, when all of a sudden I discovered football. The reasons for this were threefold. Firstly, and to me most importantly, my new “best-mate” was an avid Coventry City supporter and he, more than anyone, finally convinced me to abandon Rugby (New Zealand was wrapped up in the protest violence of the Springbok Tour) and adopt football instead. Unfortunately for my friend I would only start supporting Coventry if I had (like him) a strip, so as to replace my shrinking All Black jersey. And so it was all set, with his Auntie going to Britain to visit relatives, I had at last a chance to get that elusive strip. Trouble was, being a New Zealander, the said Auntie soon forgot most of the details concerning my request and could only remember that the team shirt I wanted was Light-Blue. You guessed it… I instantly became a Man. City fan, much to my, and particularly my friends, amusement. This fateful team shirt (which I still own) greatly influenced the second factor in my Man. City equation – the fact that my mum, and her entire side of the family were/are Man. Utd supporters. Now we’re not just taking your average Red fans; Tommy Docherty used to come around to my Gran’s house for tea and Matt Busby would often pop in for a chat. The (pardon the pun) ragging I got from all concerned at being the owner of a City shirt only served to convince me of one thing… if a team could piss my mum off this much then they had to be excellent. The choice was made, I became a die-hard City fan on the spot. If there were any lingering doubts they were dispelled by the fact that the Blues marched all the way to Wembley that year as well. All of a sudden City seemed to have so many things to do with my life; was I blind not to realise that the year I was born (1969) the Blues lifted the FA Cup? How could I not have noticed that when I was 7 (my lucky number) they again picked up silverware? For a football obsessive such things assume an out of proportion significance!
The final piece of the jigsaw occurred when, 3 years ago, I travelled to the UK to “discover my roots”, or, if the truth be known, to watch Man. City play. I had been a fanatical Blues fan for 13 years now, so the only place I was going to live was Manchester. The fact that some relatives lived there as well provided a convenient excuse. I’ll never forget that first match, a 1-0 home loss (after 13 years a loss!) to Chelsea. I didn’t care, the atmosphere and the enjoyment of finally seeing my team in the flesh far out-weighed the result. I may now live in London but the Blues still occupy most of my travel plans!!. Living in Manchester also provided me with one other lasting feeling… a severe dislike for the rags!!!. Cheers, and Blue Moon,
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #46 on