Mike Hibbert

Why Blue?

I’m a 32 year old True Blue from Cape Town.

I have been a City fan since I first heard of them when I was 6 years old. My father was from Manchester and had been a City fan. He had served with the R.E.M.E. from 1942-1947 and then emigrated to South Africa in 1949 where he met my mother. Stories of Frank Swift’s incredible saves, City’s introduction of the W-formation with Revie and Doherty as key players (the evolution of modern football formations 4-3-3 & 4-2-4) and Roy Clarke’s incredible ability to hook the ball over the crossbar from inside the six yard box are still remembered. My father and I had later met Roy Clarke in 1984 when he had been running the M.C.F.C. Social Club and many footballing stories were shared.

Here at the tip of Africa I have been limited to watching City on videos purchased from a local sports shop or once in a “blue moon” via the TV-pay Channel. I’ve seen City live here in Cape Town when they toured in 1994. They beat Lightbodies Santos 1-0 in a trial match at the Athlone Stadium. I had also met all the players as well as Tony Book (for the second time; my father and I had been introduced to him at Maine Road in 1980). I have many relatives in the Manchester and Stockport areas, mostly Blues fans (some Reds, excluded from my will!!). I used to frequent the Fir Tree pub in Reddish Lane which was predominantly a City Pub. I had also been to George Heslop’s City Gates pub, opposite Belle Vue Racetrack which had been decorated with various City memorabilia and had a superb carpet with the City crest emblazoned across the floor in blue and white.

As in Norway and Switzerland, football fans in South Africa are predominantly United, Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal. This changes from year to year and is dependant upon who are tops in the Premier or F.A. Cup. Some ‘football fans’ in S.A. support two teams. Only the ex-Brits stick honestly to their teams (S.A. boasts over 350,000 British ex-pats and an even larger contingent of 2nd generation Brits.)

I remember watching Cape Town City F.C. in the early 70’s when Tony Coleman, George Heslop and Francis Lee played here (on loan in the English summer). Frank Lord had been the Cape Town City manager and had had strong Manchester City affiliations. C.T. City were the top team at that stage. This was the first time that I had seen Manchester City players in action. Roger Palmer also guested for C.T. City towards the end of the 70,s.

I have been to Manchester on four occasions to see City but will never forget the first time I saw them play. My father and I had arrived at Heathrow on the 13th December 1980 at approx. 9h00. We made the trip to White Hart Lane to see City beat Spurs 2-1 in a league match. Phil Boyer scored for City. The atmosphere was incredible and my adrenalin had been pumping from when I had left my aunt’s flat in London. True, we do get large crowds to rugby matches here in S.A. and we have tremendous stadiums, but the charisma, singing, chanting and frenzy of the occasion is missing. I am also an England rugby fan so hopefully with South Africa hosting this year’s Rugby World Cup, Rugby fans here might learn something from the more emotional northern hemisphere supporters.

I had seen City at Maine Road frequently in 1984 as I was staying with my aunt in Withington and had legged it to Maine Road to watch the reserves in mid-week, City on Saturdays as well as the training sessions at their training ground.

1988 saw my return to England and to Manchester. City were in the 2nd then and saw them play many a match at home and away. Middlesbrough were always our bogey team. I remember losing to them at Ayresome Park. Those were bad times for City in the 2nd and heaven forbid that we go down this year!!!

I went to Euro’88 with eight other City fans to watch England on another unsuccessful European campaign. We had hired a van from Salford Van Hire. The trip was worth it though and the other lads were fascinated by the fact that I knew so much about City and that I was a City fan from Africa!!! I was nicknamed Voljoen (Colin Viljoen was a South African born footballer who had left Johannesburg and later played for Ipswich, City and England).

In Stuttgart, we teamed up with another contingent of City fans.

I am currently studying this year so will be at the books till December but hopefully will be able to return next year to support City and England in the European Championships.

First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #76 on


Mike Hibbert