My family originate form Haughton Green and Denton but I was born in Stockport in 1961. As a toddler we moved to the sweet suburbia of Bramhall where new housing estates were springing up at an amazing rate. In this middle class paradise I became… a United fan.
I couldn’t help it. My mother’s family were all Reds – my uncle (my mother’s brother-in-law) was even a regular season ticket holder in the Stretford End. My Father wasn’t interested in watching football – cycling was his sport. Even my best friend, Mike Stockton, was a Red. City were buried in the depths of the second division and seemingly useless.
Then at the beginning of the 67/68 season, at the age of 6, my uncle took me to my first football match…
I was happy that United won (I can’t remember who they were playing) but something was wrong, terribly wrong. Was it the atmosphere? – it was just so angry. Here they were, the most successful team in England, at the time, and the supporters were full of hate. I was a small kid who at the time was being bullied at school and the way the United fans behaved reminded me of the bastard who was bullying me. However, when I got back to school, my best friend convinced me that there was nothing to worry about – all football crowds were the same…
Later on in that season, my uncle took me to my second football match…
After 5 minutes, United were one up. Then the other team took control and they were glorious: Inch perfect passing and cavalier attacking eventually led to a 3-1 victory for… the team in sky-blue. The bullies had got what they deserved – a sound thrashing. There and then, my mind was made up. My favorite colour was sky blue and I too was going to be Blue, I too was going to support… Manchester City! My choice was vindicated, for City pipped United for the championship that season. I was delighted – although not wishing to upset my best friend I kept quiet about my new allegiance.
A new school opened up closer to my home and I went there instead, leaving my best friend behind. Away from his influence my allegiance to Manchester City solidified and blossomed. I even got my dad to redecorate my room in a sky-blue and white colour scheme. On top of this were plastered as many City posters and pictures and stickers as I could get my hands on.
One day, while talking to my paternal Grandma, to my delight, I discovered that my grandfather (her husband) and great-grandfather had both been ardent Blues. Alas both had died before I was born – I wish I could have talked to them about the old days. The only fly in the ointment was grandma’s ominous warning about my new passion: “You’ll regret it you know. City are just so unpredictable.”
I ignored her warning and, as with all converts, began supporting the Blues with missionary zeal. I desperately wanted to see them play again. The problem was how do I get to a game? The only relative who went to football regularly was my uncle and he was a Red. I began a nagging campaign against my father. Eventually he gave in and started to take me 3 or 4 times a season. They were the cavaliers of the early 70’s – much like Newcastle are today. Dashing, exciting, brave and yes unpredictable – but I didn’t care the good games far outnumbered the bad.
I started high school and was reunited with Mike, alas, he was still a Red. We became pals again but there was no going back for me, I was Blue and proud of it. We used to have endless discussions about football, and still do, but it was nearly always reasoned argument. For some reason we never wanted to really upset the other, so it rarely descended into an argument.
As the years went on, it became apparent that 3 or 4 times a season was not enough for me – I wanted more. Eventually, at the start of the 74-75 season (a month before my 13th Birthday), I plucked up the courage to go to the Academy on my own! I told my mum I was going round to Mike’s for tea; and I would be back at about 8pm. I told a half truth – yes I did go to Mike’s for tea at 6:30pm, but first I went into town. I got the 157 bus and after what seemed an age, alighted at Platt Fields and walked to the Academy. I saw them beat QPR 1-0 with a goal scored by Rodney Marsh. Satisfied I returned home wanting more.
This became I regular outing: Eventually though, my conscience got the better of me and I told my mum and dad where I was really going. I expected all hell to break loose, but nothing happened. Apparently my mum knew where I was going all the time. She didn’t mind, at least I wasn’t hanging around on street corners getting into trouble.
At the start of August 1975, my father gave me a small parcel and said it was my birthday present. As my birthday is on the 4th of November, I thought this was a little strange. However, my doubts turned to delight as I opened the package – inside was my very first season ticket.
Eventually, I became friendly with a lad called Paul Slater. Paul went to matches by car with his older brother Robert and his dad. Eventually they invited me to go with them. I lost contact with Paul about twelve years ago, but he will still be a Blue – he too had fanatic faith (if you’re reading this Paul, drop me a line – it would be nice to talk about the good times again).
I had a season ticket until about 3 years ago, when work away from home and family illness made it totally uneconomic to have a season ticket. In my heart I still want to go regularly, and someday soon I will. I now live in the Midlands, but still get to see 10 or so live home games a season and 3 or 4 on the telly.
But one thing’s for sure, my grandma was right about City – they are unpredictable. However, I have never regretted it once.
Over the years, a few questions about City have always puzzled me. Like:
- Why do we always lose (or try to lose) if we play better than the other side in the first 5 minutes of a game?
- Why do we always play crap in televised live games?
- Why does the club make it so difficult (expensive) for season ticket holders to start bringing their children to games? You have to buy another ticket for yourself as well as your kids – you cannot transfer your season ticket to another seat for any game. In this day an age of computer technology, this would be extremely simple.
To end here are the highlights / low lights of my life as a Blue:
- Wembley 1976 – that stunning overhead kick winner by Dennis Tueart.
- Villa Park FA Cup Semi 1981 – that Paul Power free kick winner.
- The 10-1 demolition of Huddersfield Town. A peculiar game this one: For the first 20 minutes, Huddersfield were by far the better team – they should have been two goals up before we scored our first.
- The 5-1 victory over United. Was there anybody in the ground that day who, prior to kick off, didn’t think we were going to lose heavily that day?
- Drawing with Spurs in the Centenary Cup Final. We were by far the better team. If only Hutch had not deflected the ball – Corrigan would have easily saved it. If only Tueart’s shot in extra time had gone in, instead of just missing the post.
- Being relegated after the Luton Town game in 1983. It was just so unexpected I even cried – something I have never done at a Football match. Still it gave the Blues another record – The only team to be relegated, without being in the relegation zone until after the last game!
- Being relegated last season, after our resurrection from the dead during the previous November.
- Steve Coppell resigning.
- Every game this season – truly the worst Manchester City side ever.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #259 on