John Durham

Why Blue?

It might have been the moment when, in the playground at Bazley Road Primary, Northenden, I was asked if I supported City or United and I replied without hesitation ‘City’. It might have been the day my dad took me to see my first game, in 1963, I think. Neil Young made his début, we lost 1-2 to Villa and I got a sore backside sitting on those incredibly hard benches in the Platt Lane stand. And we got relegated that year too. Remember ‘Sack Mac’?

At some point I must have become infected, and discovered that my dad has also been a lifelong Blue. He went to a game in the 1930s at Maine Road where they had a record league crowd, over 80,000 I think. He went to the 1955 Cup final, missed out on the 1956 one and went with me to see them win it, in 1969. Happy days.

I was luckier than most Blues – I went to Newcastle in 1968 and stood in the Newcastle end (the Leazes?). The next season me and my mates were squashed against a crash barrier during that incredible surge forward after Tommy Booth scored the winner under our noses at Villa Park to take us to Wembley. I was hoarse after the 1970 League Cup final and wetter than I’ve ever been on 29th April that year at the Prater Stadium, Vienna (a stadium with the total absence of a roof). I missed the 1974 League Cup and went to the 1976 one.

I’ve lived in Melbourne since 1980, apart from four years in Norwich, arriving back half-way through the 1988-9 promotion season. I have suffered from afar (believe me, getting up at 4.00 a.m. to watch Ricky Villa dancing through our defence… twice! is no picnic), but I’ve always felt (known?) that City are a great club and will prove it on the field one day. We keep going down and we keep coming back up. The trick is to stay there and to win something.

My eldest son is 10, born here. While we were living in Norwich, I took him to see City play only once, against Norwich (2-1, Quinn and White, I think) at Carrow Road. Since then he has developed into a walking Blue encyclopaedia and wants us to move back to Manchester so he can attend the School of Excellence. And now he won’t be able to watch his team on the Monday night Premier League highlights (an excellent show, if your team happens to be in the Premier League). Thank you AB.

I’m too depressed to comment at length on our current predicament, except to say that the late Peter Swales’ policy of sacking a manager after he’d lost three games on the trot looks quite attractive in hindsight. If you look back over the season at the games lost by a goal (Rags, Arsenal, Boro, Coventry, QPR) the daft decisions (Frontzeck, Frontzeck again, Asprilla, Asprilla again), the deflections (Quinn, Curle, etc) the odds do seem to have been stacked against us. We’ll be back.

One day I hope that I’ll be able to take my sons to Wembley to see us win the Cup, or better still, to the Swamp to see us crush the Rags in front of 50,000 cockneys. I’ll see you all there.

Why Blue? Must be in the genes.

P.S. Thanks for all the good work you do to produce MCIVTA.

First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #195 on


John Durham