Eric Lancake

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Why Blue?

A good question! One that I have never considered before. In all other respects I consider myself quite normal! I suppose three reasons really, the first being the geography of Manchester.

I was born in 1946 and lived near Belle Vue, Gorton, not far from where the 53 bus route winds its way through the suburbs of the city. My father introduced me to football via reserve games in about 1953 or 54, and since Maine Road came before OT on the 53 bus route, I suppose it was natural to go there. My father was, and still is, a City fan, in fact one of the 84,569 who watched City beat Stoke 1-0 in the 1934 FA Cup 6th round, so I suppose parental influence must be my second reason for being a Blue.

The arrival of 1955 and I was still not considered old enough to see first team games. But what a great year! City were in the FA Cup Final and I was taken into Manchester where the team were in Lewis’s Store signing autographs on specially printed books. I still have that book, now very tattered, but containing the autographs of Don Revie, Bobby Johnstone, Ken Barnes, Roy Paul, Joe Hayes, Jimmy Meadows, Dave Ewing, Paddy Fagan and the great Bert Trautmann.

How I hated Newcastle United, watching on our 9 inch B/W television as they beat City 3-1. Poor City, playing most of the match with only 10 men, Jimmy Meadows carried off, and no substitutions in those days. How sweet is revenge I thought as I watched Tuearts’ overhead kick give City the League Cup in 1976. Then came 1956! even better than 55, the absolute pinnacle, City won the Cup. Although unable to go to Wembley, I was glued to the television and I was outside Belle Vue when the team returned with the trophy and drove through the streets of Manchester. To me the Blues were the most successful team in the city. So at that moment, stood outside Belle Vue, I became a Blue. The only time I ever supported the Rags was during the FA Cup final of 1958, but then, so did everybody who lived anywhere other than Bolton.

I soon found out just how unpredictable City can be when they were relegated in the 1962-63 season and until Mercer/Allison took command, looked like remaining there for a long time. The great years 1967-71 followed with what I think was City’s best ever team. Even that team however was so frustrating and unpredictable. I remember watching City draw 0-0 with Leicester (who had come to force the replay) in the FA Cup at Maine Road, and being unable to attend the replay, listened to it on the radio.

At 8.55 City were coasting to victory 3-0 when, after considerable pressure from a friend, we went out for a drink. As we entered the pub I heard a voice say ‘Hard Luck about City isn’t it?’ – They had lost 4-3.

City’s unpredictability works also in the opposite way and watching a League Cup match against Wolves in 1971, things went from bad to worse as the game progressed. Nine O’Clock and the score was City 1 Wolves 3. We were just considering leaving when, during an electric final ten minutes, goals from Colin Bell, Franny Lee and Wyn Davies pipped Wolves by the odd goal.

Yes, being a Blue gives you a strange attitude towards football, as I said to my two nephews (both Reds?) as we watched the derby at Maine Road last season and they were disgusted as the teams left the field at half time with City leading 2-0, ‘Remember, you can never trust City to do the expected!’.

Oh yes, The Red! Hyde United of the Northern Premier League, because they sell the best pies I have ever tasted, and who this season actually made it to the first round of the FA Cup and were leading Darlington 1-0 before finally being beaten 2-1. Perhaps I may visit Wembley this year after all because they are still in the FA Trophy, having so far survived three away ties against the ‘stronger’, top- class opposition of Stalybridge, Telford and Runcorn.

First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #63 on

1995/03/15

Eric Lancake


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