Frank Harrop the “Ballykea Blue”

Why Blue?

For me it was part of the family tradition, my dad, grandad, uncles etc. were all City fans, so it was a forgone conclusion that I would be initiated unto the sky blue fold. My first recollection of visiting Maine Road is of being passed over lots of blokes’ heads until I was at the front of the crowd. This “pass the boy down” routine then became part of my life until “sod off, he’s too big” was the reply. I must admit that I don’t remember much else about this early period, save the occasional kick about with my cousin under the stands when action on the pitch didn’t hold the attention.

I’m happy to say I saw Frank Swift play, what a ‘keeper he was; his replacement, Bert Trautmann, was and is my all-time favourite City player and I got great delight watching the artistry and guile of Big Dave Ewing. There were also the ups and downs of promotion and relegation between 1st and 2nd Division but that was part of the charm of following City, no 2 matches the same.

I was delighted when having passed the 11+ exam the authorities decided I should go to Ducie Technical School. I could now walk to the ground when midweek matches were played, no floodlights then. On one occasion there was a cup replay against 3rd division Grimsby (I think); the City fans at the school, quite a few then including young Fred Eyre, legged it over after school to watch the end of the match. As the gates opened we asked those that were leaving what the score was: “5-1” came the reply, we cheered. “For Grimsby” was the next phrase; we went in but were unable to encourage City to any further efforts.

Playing soccer for school and 3 other amateur teams at weekends meant I could only get to matches very occasionally. Then it was into the music business, 4/5 nights a week any place in the country, for a few years. Emigration to Australia for 11 years where marriage and a family commenced. I did manage to see them in Sydney when they came out for an off-season tour of Australia and a subscription to “Football Pink” kept me abreast of the times. Now I reside in Ireland, in a village where Ballykissangel is filmed, but wherever I’ve been I’ve had to have my fix of Cityitis. Being connected to the Internet I can once again keep abreast of the times, so here’s another that wishes Doug Bennett et al the best of luck in getting “Blue View” back on our screens.

I have no idea as to why, after 50 years, that I still have this passion for City, I haven’t seen enough games to make a regular, I’ve never owned a season ticket (used dad’s when at home) but I was gutted when they went down to Division 1, and when it was down to Division 2 it was absolute devastation, though I’m still looking forward to next season. With just a small amount of luck City will start the winning habit, gain promotion to Division 1, keep the winning habit and go into the Premiership, passing the Rags on the way! We can all dream.

First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #419 on


Frank Harrop the “Ballykea Blue”