My story ain’t unique but there’s a sting in the tail.
I was born in Nottingham of pure-blooded North Yorkshire stock, so it was always kind of inevitable that I would support Man. United. I avoided this horrible fate due to the sadism of my brother and an accident of fixture.
My father was a fine bloke of strong opinion (I did mention he was from Yorkshire didn’t I?) and a desire that his sons should be inducted into the noble fraternity of sports fans. Unfortunately father’s sport was field hockey! He had no great feeling on the subject of the beautiful game and, frankly, until the age of 6, neither had I. The same could not be said for my elder brother who was quite a fanatic from the moment he could walk. He would practice his ball skills in the back garden and got a good belting more than infrequently for busting windows and for leaving ball-prints on shiny, painted doors and indeed, on my face.
I know now that the intimidation and abuse of younger siblings is an essential component of any well-balanced upbringing but being the younger and more, ahem, sensitive of the brothers, I found this a difficult behavioural point to fully appreciate.
Brother was a Forest fan. Everyone in our village was. The late sixties wasn’t a terrible time for them. My very first memory of this fine, twenty-two legged beast in sky blue was at the very first football match I attended with father and brother during the ‘eventful’ 1967-1968 season. I remember standing by the barrier at pitch-side at the City Ground on the little stool my dad had knocked-up for me in the shed. I wasn’t a boy of much height.
I also remember, at the very point at which brother inevitably kicked the stool away, City putting away the winner. The defining moment, you might say. What else could I do? City it was and City it remains these long years later.
I have this memory firmly fixed in my mind and replay so many times as I sit in the Kippax. Sometime I can’t help but muse on how things might have been had my brother actually offered me a finger of his Kit-Kat instead of a scabby forehead and busted lip. A couple of years ago I retold the story in my brother’s company. He looked slightly puzzled.
“Of course, Andrew, you do realise that that first game we went to see was Forest v. West Ham, don’t you? 3-1 to the Hammers.”
I checked, he was right. The thought struck me as particularly funny during the god-awful 0-0 with Bristol Rovers last December. Apologies to any sitting nearby who thought I must have been enjoying that s**t. It just hit that not only had I been doomed to love City by the actions of a particularly violent brother but I had opted for the wrong club while suffering concussion! How appropriate is that for a Blue?
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #504 on