John Roughton

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Why Blue?

My great sadness in life is that the first F.A. Cup final I remember seeing on T.V. was Leeds vs. Chelsea in 1970. I don’t know whether that was the year we first got a telly, or whether in ’69 at 6-years-old I just hadn’t got into footy, and was too busy playing with lego. My dad started taking me to Maine Road in 1971, having been going himself since the war. We used to sit in the Platt Lane stand (my mum insisted I was too young for the Kippax! We didn’t miss a home game for seasons, and saw some of the great Bell, Lee, Summerbee moments.

But for me, the Why Blue thing grew out of three life changing experiences.

  1. 28.2.74. Wembley Man City 1 Wolves 2. It was my 10th birthday present to be taken to the League Cup Final, so I knew we must win. In tears at the end at the loss of innocence, at my first hard lesson in life, but conscious of the fact that what I was feeling was defiance and passion. My scarf was clutched tighter on the journey home, and I knew that supporting City was beyond choice now.
  2. Colin Bell’s comeback match vs. Newcastle on Boxing Day 1978 (I think). A packed Maine Road made more noise than I had ever heard when Colin came on after half time, and with his first touch, headed just over the bar. We won 4-0 and though he was never the same player as before the injury, that was a wonderful afternoon.
  3. Peter Barnes’ first season. Before the days of live footy and every game being videoed, every right back in the old First Division had the pi** taken out of them by the unknown Peter Barnes. I remember the ground going quiet as the ball was played to him, and the noise gradually rising as he got closer to goal, inevitably beating 2,3,4 defenders before chipping in a cross from the by line for Joe Royle or Mick Channon to convert. My all time favourite City player, and I felt so proud the following season when at last he made his England début in the World Cup qualifier against Italy, and nearly pulled off the 3-0 win we needed with a typically mazy run near to the end.

During the early 1980’s, my dad started to struggle with the long walk to the ground, and soon he had a heart attack and eventually had to have bypass surgery. I’ve carried on going to a few games a season, and having moved away from the Manchester area, found it harder and harder to get to many matches through work commitments. Last year though was the 50th anniversary of my dad’s first visit to Maine Road, so I treated us to two seats in the Main Stand. He’s not too clever on his pins now, but it was great to see him jump to his feet when we scored, beating Stoke 2-0 with goals from Dalian Atkinson and Steve Lomas. I don’t think I had remembered that when City scored was the only time we really hugged each other. He was knackered when we got home, and I suppose we may not get to Maine Rd together again. I guess there must be loads of fathers and sons like us, with little else in common maybe, other than an often unspoken affection that only shows itself on match days, when we know we will be City till we die.

First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #323 on

1997/08/25

John Roughton


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