Well here is another Why Blue for you, from over the pond. I originally became fond of City in the late 70’s as I was introduced to the sport with the success of soccer in Canada and the US. I was living in Vancouver at the time and these were heady days for Canadian soccer. The Whitecaps were by now ‘Soccer Bowl’ Champions, and all things footy related were given unprecedented media coverage. Of course, the Whitecaps weren’t really Canadian, with only 2 (and later 3) players being ‘North American’ on the pitch (or astroturf as it was), the rest being from anywhere else on the globe. Vancouver, being so heavily influenced by all things British in those days, naturally leaned towards British players of the likes of Ray Hankin, Phil Parkes, Kevin Hector, Trevor Whymark, Roger Kenyon, and lots of others. So it was that one needed to support a team from the ‘old country’, be it England, Scotland, Italy, whatever, as well as the Whitecaps. These were also the days of the touring clubs, which brought City (twice), Man U, WBA, Napoli, Nott’m Forest, etc. to Empire Stadium. I became a City supporter simply by birth really. As soon as I expressed an interest in the sport, my family, all being Blues (from Didsbury, home of the other famous Blues supporters, Oasis) naturally made sure I was also supporting the right team. It was truly solidified when I was forced to skip school for the FA Cup replay in 1981 (11.30am in Vancouver). This of course went over well and I was hooked. From then on team photos and player profiles from Shoot magazine became my new wall decorations, much to my mother’s chagrin.
I have made three pilgrimages to the Academy in my life. The first was 1984, when I saw the Spurs pre-season friendly, and saw crowd violence for the first time. Also in the same trip was the first (I think) home match of the season to Fulham in then Div 2. I managed to squeek my way in as a ball boy. If anyone happens to remember a gawky 6 foot 15 year old retrieving errant Paul Power clearances, that was me. When was the last time you saw a 6 foot ball boy? Anyway, it made the trip, meeting the team and getting autographs in the changing room.
I have made two subsequent trips. In the summer of 1990, after being in Italy for the World Cup, I travelled back to the UK and saw City play at Spurs on the opening day of the season, an unfortunate afternoon. At least I can say I saw Paul Lake fit and playing well. I returned again in the spring of ’91 because I wanted to stand on the Kippax where so many of my family had been before. I also wanted to travel with the massive away support. I saw Forest and Sunderland at home and Coventry and the rags away. The Sunderland match was memorable just for the size of the away support. They filled every available spot and were brilliant throughout with not a hint of trouble. Seeing the derby was both brilliant and so disappointing (how Ryan the wonderboy could claim that Hendry own goal as his own is beyond me. I was no more than 10 yards away and the little prat never touched the ball. Also, anybody wonder how our defensive problems wouldn’t exist if PR hadn’t sold Hendry to Blackburn?) Anyway that’s my story. I’d love to hear from any other Blues in Canada (firstname.lastname@example.org), as we are so outnumbered here by rags fans (amazing how they’re the same the world over, isn’t it?) that it would be nice to talk some sense.
Here’s keeping our fingers crossed for the rest of the season, as difficult as it seems.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #79 on