Having read about the various experiences of those City fans who attended Wembley for ‘That match’ or of those stranded miles away unable to see it or obtain a ticket, I have decided to write on behalf of the ‘forgotten people’, namely those who do not support City but have had to endure the many seasons’ worth of agony of their respective wives; husbands; partners; significant others… etc. who do support City. In brief, this is my story of the many seasons I have suffered along with City fans and also ‘that match’ at Wembley.
My wife has been a North Stand season ticket holder at Maine Road for the last 18 years, ever since being dragged kicking and screaming to the ground by her father and elder brother at the tender age of 11. Needless to say, the masochistic side of her nature was brought to the fore and she has been going ever since and in the 8 years I have known her (3 years married) I, like so many other neutral persons married to City fans, have suffered the blues alongside them (pardon the pun).
If I cast my mind back to the begining of last season, it was like the begining of so many other seasons for City fans… one of hope and renewed optimism. This season was going to be different. As the words of the song go … ‘We dreamers have our ways of facing rainy days’… and as the season wore on and the slump continued, the same old story (and song) was being retold/sung in our house and doubtless countless other City households throughout the world.
The annual burning of the season ticket, scarf and replica kit was threatened again (although never carried out). After every game I would wait at home dreading her return in fear of saying or doing the wrong thing as, once again, City had lost or drawn a game they should have won. As the season went on it was looking very bleak but a reversal in fortunes began to take place and I am reliably informed a 20+ match run with only one defeat saw City into a well deserved third place, fantastic considering their position at Christmas. This great run in made for a more relaxed atmosphere at home on Saturday evenings too!
And so to the play-off. Unable to get a ticket in the City end away to Wigan she had to plump to stand in the middle of the Wigan fans along with numerous other City fans. Thankfully a 1-1 draw, after going 1-0 down, brought her home with a smile on her face and saved me from a Saturday night of trying not to say anything wrong… roll on the 2nd leg.
Well the result of the 2nd leg and a place in the play-off final cheered up my little Blue soldier and all that was left was to get a ticket: ‘no problem there’ I thought. She’s a season ticket holder and will have a voucher in the season ticket to exchange for a play-off final ticket, one voucher for one ticket just like everybody else. Well I won’t waffle on about what she and the vast majority who queued descibed as a complete and utter cock up by City regarding the allocation of tickets. How can City justify telling certain season ticket holders to queue one day and the others the next and then go and sell all the top-priced tickets on the first day, leaving the vast majority of those queue the next day unable to get the good seats? Anyway, life was not all roses in our house that weekend but a ticket was purchased and plans were made for the Great Adventure. We searched our attic and found the London A to Z, dusted it off and, flicking through the yellow tinged pages, tried to locate Wembley; after all the last time she needed the A to Z to go to Wembley was back in 1986 for the Full Members’ Cup Final.
Sunday 30th May was soon upon us. My little Blue soldier was awake at 5am due to being unable to sleep because of nerves. This day was planned like a military operation. The replica City top was all clean and hanging up, the blue and white City balloons were inflated and so off she went to meet up with her father, brother and a number of other City fans at Sandbach service station on the M6 motorway to get the coach to Wembley. I won’t go into match details as it’s all been said before and is now history. At about 6pm that evening I received a phone call from a very elated, hoarse and drunk sounding wife ringing on a loaned mobile phone. I can’t be sure what she wanted as the line was bad and there was loud singing in the background but even though slightly drunk myself it sounded like a request for a quickie divorce… something to do with wanting to marry Nicky Weaver there and then!
And what of my day? That morning I went to my parents in Liverpool for a cooked breakfast and had to explain why Wendy had gone to Wembley and explain the play-off competition. I was going to stay all day but at 2pm I began to get restless. My folks don’t have Sky TV and my friends were all either out or those who were in didn’t have Sky so I headed back home and went to the pub at the bottom of our road which does have Sky. I arrived a little after kick off and found it full of City fans and what seemed to be one Gillingham fan (well he kept cheering when the Gills went close and when they scored… on second thoughts he could have only been a Man Utd fan!). I didn’t intend to drink alcohol but City drove me to it. I won’t go on about the game as much has been written by those who know more than me but as one City fan told me ‘Only City would go 2 goals down, come back to 2-2 with the last kick of the game and then go to penalties’. Who would be a City fan?
I staggered out of the pub, very sociable and friendly lot those City fans, and ended up walking home humming ‘Blue Moon’. When I got home I got the phone call requesting a divorce and then calls from friends congratulating City. I spent the next several hours sobering up and awaiting the return of my little Blue soldier, and for one of the few times in recent years not dreading her return. I ask you. Who would marry a City fan if they knew beforehand all of the heartache they have to endure over a season and how that may affect you mentally? Well maybe.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #508 on