“Watching Manchester City is like having your heart on the end of a yo-yo string. How do their supporters stand it?”
The Guardian 19/12/95
I’m afraid I can’t claim to have the necessary credentials to be ‘Blue through and through’. I’ve only ever been to watch them play on a handful of occasions; for long periods of my teenage years I tried hard to ignore them and I’ve only set foot in Manchester three or four times. I was born in Leicester but spent most of the first ten years of my life in North Oxfordshire. Who to support? Oxford United? Coventry City? I just wasn’t inspired. I flirted with Wolves for a while because my best friend supported them. My dad’s a Chelsea fan and the kids at school supported all sorts of different teams. I however, wanted to be different from all of them. I could have picked a name out of a hat but I wanted a reason to follow a team. On 19 April 1978 I got a reason and since then I have been a supporter of Manchester City FC. On that night, at the age eight, I sat down with my dad to watch my first ever football match. The venue was Wembley, the teams were England and Brazil and the score was 1-1.
I can’t remember what sort of a game it was. I know I was just as excited about seeing the Brazilians as I was the English players. I suspect it was a fairly unremarkable game but two players stood out. On the left wing was a young (20), blond-haired dazzler called Peter Barnes who really caught my eye. If anyone was searching for a footballing hero that night as I was, then the youthful Barnes, with his sharp skills and tremendous pace, certainly fitted the bill. The other player who had a profound affect on me was the big man in goal, Joe Corrigan. I don’t know that he did anything spectacular but I do remember being mightily impressed with his size and presence. He just looked the part – solid, reliable and unbeatable (years later I realised that Dave Watson was also playing in that game. Was this the last time three City players were in the same England team?). I didn’t know anything about their past glories, all I knew was that they both played for Manchester City. So I decided upon two things. Firstly I was going to be a goalkeeper, and secondly that I was going to support Manchester City.
Over the next few years I got the kit for my birthday, hat and scarf for Christmas and saved up for badges, stickers and a City Subbuteo team. It wasn’t until I moved to Sheffield as a student that I went to see them play. I have to say (and I’m sure most football fans would agree) that watching your team from the stand is a fairly hellish affair. Admittedly there’s little to beat the highs but the lows can be a little too intense for my liking. I tend to go and watch the likes of Rotherham, Chesterfield and Sheffield United where I can (fairly) impartially watch the football and other peoples’ misery.
So that’s why I started out as a City fan. I’ve continued because of a general sense of loyalty but also because their fortunes have always provided entertainment. It’s the knowledge that they will always do things the hard way or shoot themselves in the foot, that they will do the unexpected and display brilliance and ineptitude within minutes. It’s the quirkiness, the struggling in the face of adversity and the fact that Manchester City are not Manchester United and are therefore (if nothing else) always going to be the moral victors.
Thanks for all the hard work involved in puting MCIVTA together. It has kept me going through some dark times. The glory could (as ever) be just around the corner. Expect the unexpected!
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #154 on