As I newcomer to MCIVTA I’m just realising that it is a sort of Man. City Supporters’ Anonymous and that testimonials confessing past indiscretions in supporting City are part of the cure. David Brierley’s contribution hit a few chords with me and prompted me to make my own contribution – probably more for my benefit than the readers. Firstly I share a birthday with David Brierley but have an additional eight years addiction, I too was brought up in Reddish and had limited playing abilities.
In my case there is a strong genetic pre-disposition to supporting City and I expect to see this confirmed by the human genome project. My first real recollection of supporting City was going to a neighbour’s house to watch City beat Birmingham and Bert Trautmann play with a broken neck on the only TV in our row. Later mum and dad took me regularly to Maine Road in the Les McDowell and George Poyser eras, in those days we went on Melba Coaches. At this stage I was rather smaller than my peer group and my main footballing talent – goal hanging – was not appreciated by either mates or my teacher (Mr Eaton – North Reddish Primary). The left back position gave little scope for this talent to shine. Neither did I make any of Frank Aspinall’s pioneering boys’ teams that provided the talent for many local leagues and a few for City and United.
My sister is several years older than me (sorry Brenda) but shares the affliction; in her case this involved liaisons with some City players (shades of Billy Kramer’s “Little Children”) and eventually marriage to a City reserve player (though he reverted to his Liverpool supporting nature and we had to turn his picture to the wall). In this way I met several City players and even got to play table tennis in my bedroom with Harry Dowd.
When I was 12 I got a bike and this became my transport for the next six years. As I couldn’t compete for the school team (goal hanging was still not in vogue) I used my bike to go to Maine Road spending a few old pence to store it in a back yard during the games. City were not doing wonderfully well and it was a constant battle against relegation that created excitement to end of season games. I have a recollection of being locked out of a derby game and hearing the cheers as Alex Harley scored and being outraged at Dennis Law getting and scoring a penalty for kicking Harry Dowd unconscious (this is on a par with Eric Cantona’s penalty last season and Maradona’s ‘goal’ at the top of my list for world’s greatest ever travesties of justice!).
I remember the only mid-week away game I managed to go to was Shrewsbury for a cup replay. Phil Crookes and I went on the train straight from school and City went one up through Matt Gray and Shrewsbury missed a penalty, all seemed well. The second half and the journey home is one of those memories that have been erased as being too painful to bear. Still there was always Swindon at home on Saturday – why did we drop Matt Gray? That was the first glimpse of Summerbee and the nadir of City’s fortunes.
By the time Mercer and Allison were building City to a world class team I was away to Leeds University and rejoiced from afar. My 21st birthday brought a ticket to watch Neil Young score to beat Leicester for the cup and this time I do remember the tube journey back to London with lots of Leicester supporters. I remember also the fustration of City winning the Cup Winners’ Cup without the game being on television (thank goodness for radio) and watching the Tottenham finals on a rather poor black and white TV on a narrow boat holiday.
Twenty years spent in the south of England with only occasional excursions to Reading, Chelsea and Wimbledon broke the habit of having to go to Mecca but I’m still addicted to following teletext and radio commentary. I used to buy the (Manchester) Guardian because it was the only way I could get reports on City (thank you Eric Todd). When I left the south to come to Scotland my leaving speech from work was centred around a video clip of Dennis Law’s backheeled goal to send United to Division 2 (my luxury on Desert Island Discs).
My addiction to City news remains and the genetic line has survived to some extent in my daughter. It has died out in my son who has no interest in soccer (by that I mean he supports Arsenal) but who has adapted my goal hanging talents to ice-hockey with marginally more appreciation (I have to listen to fellow spectators tell me what a rubbish goal he’s just scored even though it’s saved his team from defeat and no-one else on the team has the wit to be on hand when the puck goes loose around the goal. He still only gets to play for about 5 of the 40 minutes).
Ah well, I feel better for that – sorry for boring you more active and recent addicts.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #242 on