I have been only on the MCIVTA list since March of this year, and have read with great interest the Why Blue stories which have appeared during this time. The whole concept of Why Blue interested me enough to dig into the recesses of my mind, way back to starting junior school at the age of 5.
I lived in Bowden near Altrincham from the age of 6 months after having moved there with my parents (obviously) from their place of birth, Berkhampstead. I went to the local junior school, Bolin County Primary, and my class for the 5 years consisted of a mix of Man United fans, City fans, Leeds fans, and even a Dundee United fan.
One of the United fans, who was in our class, was a chap called Robert Law. He was certainly one of the better football players in our class, and this may have been attributed to the fact that he is the son of one Dennis Law, which in turn had probably attributed to him being a United fan.
I joined the school at age 5 in September 1973, and by the time we were first playing football around the yard, a couple of years later, his father was not playing (at least not as he had been) any more. When asked about this, I remember not quite understanding when Robert’s reply as to why his father did not play any more, was that he had “Retired.” Even then it sounded so old!
I also remember a little while later, watching our classmate on television one evening, when it was his father’s turn on that great British institution, “This Is Your Life.” We all had a dig at him the next day, as he had come on to the set ahead of the rest of his family, chest out and kind of trotting like players do when emerging from the tunnel at the start of a match. I may have had a dig at him, but some early jealousy was surely there.
A couple of years later, we also had Mike Channon’s daughter join our school although she was about 2 years younger than me, and I was dumbstruck on sports day probably about 1978, when he came along and I managed to get his autograph. I remember him trying to be chatty with me, and me just being a shy gimp.
Now to the reason Why Blue. I mentioned that Robert was one of the better players in our class; however, I did not say that he was the best!
Another friend was a guy called Andrew Cockhill, who I considered, even at that young age, to be a finer player, and he was a true City supporter. This case of simple admiration for a fellow peer’s footballing abilities, in addition to the other City friends (Alistair Morris and Andrew White to name but two) is the overriding reason I can remember for being Blue. I soon signed up to the Junior Blues, and received my official white and blue “Silk” Junior Blues Scarf, along with the usual badges and brochures etc. I remember going to a couple of meetings, one of which was graced with the presence of Joe Corrigan, the finest ‘keeper the seventies was lucky to have seen.
My sister chose to support United, and I have no idea why, maybe if this gets used, I will ask her.
Over the years at that school, we entered a few local tournaments, with some success, most notably, the Ciba Giegy Trafford Trophy. This tournament we won, and part of the prize was to be allowed to go and watch a game of our collective choice. This game turned out to be (surprise surprise) Manchester United vs. I honestly can not remember who. What I can remember is that the game had little or no goals, and did not contain my or several other of the winners, team of choice. After the match we were allowed to visit the players area, and had a photo opportunity with Gary Bailey and Lou Macari (cheap thrill), and when looking at that picture today, my facial expression reads the same as when you used to get that massive woolly jumper as a gift from a rarely met Aunty, and your mother says “hold up your nice new jumper from Aunty for the photo, smile.”
At the age of 10, I moved from the North with my family, up the road a bit to the West Midlands. I went to the local comprehensive in a place called Balsall Common, and the distinct lack of City supporters made it difficult for me to shout about my team, without several fired up Brummies jumping down my throat about the other Blues or Villa or obviously Manchester United / Liverpool. This said, there was one City fan, who I did not really get on with until we discovered each other’s mutual appreciation of Manchester’s premier team. His name was Gary Owen, and if by chance he reads this, I hope he’s doing all right.
The early eighties was dragging along for City, and my attentions were concentrating on music rather than football, namely the punk sounds I had started to acquire more than a taste for while living in the North.
1985 saw another move for me, this time further down South to Reading. Again I found little, or no City supporters, and now being so far from my roots, gave up looking.So throughout the football fever of the mid to late eighties, I had to sit in ignorant silence, while my peers ranted about Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham, Man Utd or Liverpool.
My persona amonst my peers, was now established as one who knew about music, but did not really have an opinion in football. Whenever I was asked though, I would always proclaim my support for Manchester City, which was usually greeted with lots of sharp intakes of breath with commentary about how badly they were doing considering they were a big club, but they have got a couple of good players etc. and the obvious hatred in the South for Man United became apparent. Luckily this hatred did not transcend to Manchester City.
The late eighties saw me getting heavily in to the Rave scene, and all that went with it!
This change in direction for music and social activities carried on throughout the first four and a half years of the nineties and football featured less and less for my friends as well as myself, until for various reasons, we all started to come back down to earth, and reality, with rather a large bang.
The death for us all of this scene, as we had known it, happened around the end of 1994, and with it slowly came all of my friends’ renewed interest in football. Within a few months, with the skills of the Mighty Georgian being talked about with some regularity, and the emergence of Oasis wearing City Shirts, I started to take more notice of what was going on in with my team in the Premier League also.
Things were not going brilliantly, and as we all know, after just the one season in the 14 years since I last took notice, we went down to “That Division”. I watched the game in between some other match that day down at my local pub, and was gutted with the relegation, after such a performance against Liverpool. And I have to say, that the consensus of opinion in the pub was the same. Most Arsenal, West Ham, and Chelsea fans were sad to see City go down, and the South/South divide with Rags fans grew even larger.
Although we went down, the new season brought hope to me, in that I was convinced that we would go straight back up. And I now had the chance of seeing my team play about a mile and a half from my house for the first time in 16 years, albeit at Elm Park (Reading).
This match I attended with a couple of Reading fan friends I know, and it turned out to be the worst evening out I had had in a long time (and that is really saying something after living in Reading for so long).
Not only did we lose 2 nil, but I could only get a ticket in the home stands, as I had left it too late to buy from Maine Road. To those who have experienced this, they will understand the nightmare of standing motionless in the midst of 8,000 screaming jumping cocky opposition fans as they score not only one but two goals.
The rest of the season I became more and more clued up on what was going on in both Division 1 and Division 2 as well as the Premiership. Relegation does that to you, I don’t think I had ever had any interest in my early days of what was going on in the lower divisions (except maybe when Altrincham drew with Spurs).
January saw me going to my second City match in 4 months, and it was the match that proved to be the turning point for last season. I went to see City vs. Brentford in the FA Cup third round. This time I sent off to Maine Road for my ticket, and stood proudly among the 2,500 City fans who had made the long journey (some for the second time! Remember the frozen pitches). The atmosphere was great, the Brentford fans were silent, and the City fans produced some very entertaining songs to smile to (I hadn’t learned the words yet!). Most notably, a rather vicious tribute to that effin Red Nose that took over our club shortly before Mr Clark. It went something like this “My Old Man, said to me, Stevie Coppell’s *** with a nick knack paddy whack, give a dog a bone, Stevie Coppell, ***k Off Home!” a cruel jibe, especially if you do suffer from this condition, but ashamedly hilarious when taken in context as sung by 2,500 Coppell haters. A victory at last. O.K. so it was only one nil and a bit of a poor game, but who cared, We Won. I had gone with a Brentford fan friend of mine. The match proved to be a turning point for them also, they went on a steady downward spiral, and after that, under the brilliant Frank Clark, it looked like we couldn’t be beaten.
Obviously the disappointment of not going up was lurking somewhere in the back of the mind at the end of the season, but after looking like contenders for another relegation before Mr Clark’s appointment, the finishing run was much appreciated.
I have since started a job which allows use of the Internet, so immediately subscribed to this fine electronic publication. Again I will be going to see City vs. Reading, but also I have managed to get advanced seats for the QPR game at their ground, through my Brentford friend. I also hope to go to one of the bigger clashes at Maine Road this season, although judging by the amount of season tickets flying through the gates, I realize that this may be harder than in previous seasons. I can but try.
I am currently awaiting my new Kappa Home shirt which I ordered two weeks ago, I am told it will be with me in the next 24 hours, I only hope they are right, as I have recently had some weird dreams in which I have been wearing it, any way, that’s another story.
So that’s it, a bit long, possibly a bit boring but certainly the way it was.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #320 on
Richard Brandon fully rejuvenated and always “City Till I Die”