Eric Graham

Why Blue?

Why Blue? … Why Not! I first started going to the Academy in the late 1940’s, as a very small boy. I had an old aunt whose brother played for City in the twenties, and she used to take me. She was that most dangerous of species – a raving Blue with a season ticket and an umbrella, which she used to ‘correct’ any nearby rival (or home) fan who dared to criticise any player in a sky blue shirt; nowadays she would be in police van by 3.05pm! When she grew too old to go to matches, she gave me the job of cycling from Blackley in north Manchester to Maine Road for every home game, then afterwards I had to give her a full match report (I didn’t use her season ticket though, as my mates and I had our own spot on the old scoreboard end – North Stand now). From there I watched the likes of Bert Trautmann, “Pull up at Dave’s” Ewing, Bobby “What’s wrong with living in a pub” Johnstone, Roy “you do that again and I’ll lay you out” Paul (that was to his own ‘keeper), Don “I’ll manage England one day” Revie, and others – including one Ray Willamson, the only player I’ve ever seen carried off on a stretcher during the kick in (no subs then). Marvellous images come to mind from that time – Roy ‘Nobby’ Clark’s solo charge through the thick mud of Villa Park to score the goal that put us in the 1955 final, only to have the heartbreak of Newcastle beating us at Wembley, then joy the next season as we won the cup against Birmingham (Trautmanns broken neck final).

By this time I was lucky enough to be working as a press cameraman for one of Manchester’s evening papers (there were two then), and I had the double joy of not only watching my Blues, but also getting paid (not very much at that time!) to do it. Then came the best years of all – the late sixties and early seventies, when I had the privilige of travelling with, and taking photos of, a bunch of footballers who enjoyed life as much off the field, as on it. Mike Summerbee and Frannie Lee, always trying practical jokes on the travelling journos, Colin (Nijinski) Bell reading about racehorses. Big Mal Allison putting ten bottles of champagne and a cigar on your room number (try explaing that to you editor!). Trying to keep TC (no not that one, winger Tony Coleman), out of trouble. That nicest of men, and great football manager, Joe Mercer, who would keep you up in a hotel lounge till 4am talking about football – and you wouldn’t realise the time because every word he spoke was good football sense – oh that we had him now. That wonderful day at Newcastle in 1968, when we won the Championship, Wembley ’69 – 1-0 against Leicester, that marvellous, wet night in Vienna, when TB lifted the European Cup Winners’ Cup, all the European ties, the League Cup finals and the FA Cup finals later.

I just wish we could have some success in the near future for all the younger fans who were too young to remember the above – I’m sure it will happen again, for there’s no better feeling than being a Blue when you win a trophy, in fact there’s no better feeling than just being a Blue.

PS. As a journalist I am, of course, completely neutral, and unbiased.

First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #166 on


Eric Graham