I became a Blues’ supporter when City beat United with a splendid goal of Niall Quinn, a player I liked because he played for Ireland. However, I’m a Oasis’s fan and their love for City drove me in the choice.
This Why Blue appeared in Bert Trautmann’s Helmet and has been passed on to MCIVTA – with the author’s blessing – by Noel Bayley as it’s such a good one:
What made you decide to support Manchester City, then? I’ll bet you’ve got some really good reason, haven’t you, like your dad took you to Maine Road when you were six and City lashed in four or five goals or your family has been Blue for generations or something? Well, I haven’t got a decent reason at all and it’s something I feel I need to get off my chest. It was 1968, City had just won the League, United the European Cup, I was eight years old and I knew nothing about footy but I was just starting to take an interest. What to do? Being brought up in the salubrious, leafy suburb of Old Trafford I was surrounded by Reds and The Swamp was just around the corner, so the natural thing to do was to go along to see what all the fuss was about. My friend’s dad offered to take three of us and so my first appearance at a game was to see United reserves beat Bury reserves 3-1. I would have preferred a first team game, but this bloke was one of the original “I’d go, but I can’t get a ticket” brigade. My little chums and I had a great time doing what eight year olds do at football matches, which was playing ticky-it on the terracing, eating those little packets of Jaffa cakes that used to be on sale and trying our first taste of Bovril. Luckily, I wasn’t convinced by the skills on show and carried on searching for something to capture my imagination.
My dad wasn’t interested in football and my favourite uncle, being Irish, was a fan of hurling, which is like hockey only with more blood and hairy arses, so I got no guidance at home. Then one day I bought some chewing-gum and found that the packet contained football cards; not the smarty-arsed kind of Panini things that are around today, no these were just cheap, nasty and badly drawn caricatures. One of the first that fell into my sweaty, dirty little hands was of a United mascot. The overriding memory is of a short, stumpy little b*****d complete with horns, pointed tail and a pitchfork, with a smug, evil grin on its ugly mug. I wasn’t impressed at all; in fact I seem to remember being a bit frightened by it and my quest continued. Eventually, I came across a card with a drawing of a Manchester City player on it and in my youth and naïvete I was struck by the tall, slender, graceful-looking bloke staring out at me; his nose in the air, a haughty, aloof look on his face and those wavy lines behind him, signifying a mazy dribble that had left defenders trailing in his wake and I knew that I had found my destiny.
Yes, I’m afraid I have to admit that I became a Blue because I liked that picture. So began my long trek towards becoming a fully fledged City fan, getting the full kit for my birthday, pestering people to take me to Maine Road, being laughed at in the playground, all that stuff. Nobody seemed to be able to work out why I, raised within spitting distance of Old Trafford, had become a Blue, but even at that young age, I knew better than to admit that I had been swayed by a picture of a good-looking bloke, so it’s remained a mystery until now.
The first game I went to was the Derby in 1970 when we drew 3-3. I’ve been told that it was a great game, but I must confess to knowing nothing about it. As a ten-year-old in a crowd of over 60,000 I didn’t get to see very much and it was another couple of years before I was allowed to go regularly, so I missed the real glory years, joining up when the team was starting to slip slightly. I didn’t get to Wembley in 1974, but I was there two years later and I thought that I’d never be happier than I was when Tueart’s overhead kick won us the League Cup. Unfortunately, I was right. Since then I’ve seen some great players at Maine Road (usually playing against City, though) and some first-class, top-of-the-shop planks (usually playing for City), the ones at whom you could shout: “My mum could do better than that!” and know that it was true.
The mid-to-late ’70s were not the time to be a Blue. After finishing second to Liverpool in 1977 it was all downhill to relegation in ’83 with a couple of disasters along the way, at Shrewsbury and Halifax for instance. Remember, these were times when being beaten by lower division dross was still a new experience. There was a bit of a break in the middle when we stopped off at Wembley along the road to oblivion and that gave me my first glimpse of the now trademarked false dawn. And yes, I did sing “John Bond, we love you” in 1981, but, in my defence, I also sang “F*** off, John Bond!” at Bradford in 1989.
My memories of the early-to-mid ’80s are somewhat hazy, maybe my body’s natural defence mechanism has taken over to spare me the agony of remembering my heroes being leathered by nobodies, but I do know that I was at the age where every goal conceded was like a kick in the nuts and every home defeat like a blow to the head, so I spent a lot of 1984 metaphorically doubled up in pain, except at the Chelsea game where the pain was actual, having made the mistake of answering a chirpy Cockney’s request for the time in a Manc accent.
As big an arsehole as Kendall turned out to be, he did at least, provide us with a bit of hope and stability for a while and it seemed that the ’90s would see us start to fulfil all the promises that had been made. Much as I hate to admit it, he did seem to have an idea of what it was all about and when he p****d off back to the wife our troubles really began. I avoided pleading for Reid to be given the job and I was pleased to see him go. Until Horton turned up that is. He was never the man for the job and he proved it in a very short time, although I must place on record my thanks to the people in charge at that time for giving us the opportunity and the reasons to take to the streets after home games. The football was crap, the club was a mess, but the demonstrations were great!
Everyone knows what happened afterwards and to tell the truth, if it wasn’t for all the managerial shenanigans, the period between Horton going in the bin and last Christmas wouldn’t even have registered on my consciousness, the place and its inhabitants were so dire. We had got to the stage where our results were close to becoming the “And finally…” bits of humour at the end of News At Ten and our match reports were on the cartoon pages in the tabloids.
So another season has crept up on me, I’ve shelled out for my season ticket and my car park permit, I’ve shot my gob off at work, I’ve purchased both home and away shirts and I firmly believe that, this year, we’ll do it. It seems that the bloke who drew that picture way back in 1968 has got a fair bit to answer for.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #343 on