John Ward

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Why Blue?

My grandfather was Blue, my father is Blue (see MCIVTA 549 ‘Why Blue’) and so there is only one answer to the question of why I am Blue; It has been passed down from generation to generation like some ingrained expectation; “When you grow up son you’ll inherit all this – someday it will be yours”. At times it has seemed like an onerous burden (what other club would have sold Peter Barnes and spent that much on Steve Daley?) and at other times it has seemed as if no one else could touch what we have (that goal, that penalty shoot out, the 5-1 Rag beating).

I don’t remember my grandfather, he died on holiday in Austria when I was two. He was a farrier and ran a small business in Manchester. He was old enough to have enjoyed City’s successes of the 30’s and to know the hardships of the second world war. He was also lucky enough to have seen City’s next great period of success before he passed away in ’69.

My father didn’t see much of a future in fur (foresighted man that he is) and so didn’t take up the reins of the family business. In fact none of his brothers did either. Instead my father joined the Navy where he ran sea-going libraries and saw exotic places like Bahrain, Cape Town and Sydney.

During his time in the Navy we lived in the south where I was born in a house that backed onto the Naval Air Station (I’ve always had a soft spot for Pompey – but not their manager).

After he left the Navy my father took us back up north to exotic Audenshaw to live in the house the fur business had bought. I didn’t see City play at this time (about 1974) but I remember dad driving us past Rag HQ and looking at what seemed like the biggest structure I had ever seen with red all over it – had I known its significance I would turned to avoid my eyes falling upon this pagan place of worship.

Not long after this we moved to Australia with me a City supporter in name only. I had never seen them play and didn’t feel that real attachment that I know now.

Lucky for me my parents missed the old country too much and we were back in Manchester for the 1976-77 season. I will never forget my first game; City vs. Newcastle United at Maine Road. I was only 9 and I can remember looking across at the Kippax in awe at this seething ocean of City fans. I remember thinking that the match was fantastic, not even dreaming of how good it would be if City had actually scored (it ended 0-0). Score they did in the next match I saw; City vs. Derby County with Brian Kidd coming back into form with 2 goals in a 3-2 win over a side that included Roy McFarland, Charlie George and Kevin Hector. Our side boasted the likes of Kidd, Tueart, Donachie, Barnes, Hartford and Corrigan with Bell still on his way back from injury. In the twenty years since I don’t think City have produced a better side although the signs are there now that we can build a side like this again.

We caught a few more games that season including our home draw against WBA in the 3rd round of the cup where my aunt Dorothy had my name announced over the loudspeaker as a bye-bye from City as we were moving back to Australia. I returned to Australia as a real City fan and soccer fanatic (it’s not called football here – that name is reserved for Aussie Rules). I joined a local club and we used to get hammered by double figure scores every week in my first year but I loved it and persisted to enjoy the good times – just like playing for City.

I have enjoyed all the highs and lows from afar. I remember sitting up late to watch the 1981 F.A. Cup final and then the replay with its swag of freakish goals from Steve MacKenzie and then (worst luck) Ricky Villa. That we lost is history but there was no doubting its entertainment value.

As I grew older and priorities changed I didn’t take so much notice of City’s results. I would still look for them in the results column of the paper from time to time and watch the odd game when I could catch them on TV here. Yes, that included Raddy Antic’s last gasp strike to send us down when we only needed to draw at home to lowly Luton or the time we beat Liverpool 3-1 at Anfield and Phil Thompson put in a better save during that game than anything Bruce Grobbelaar did (although I now wonder whether Bruce was paid a ‘commission’ for that game in light of the bribery scandal that erupted around him).

My interest was fired up again a couple of years ago as I watched our inexorable slide down the Division 1 table. I had always taken it for granted that we would yo-yo between the Premier and the First. I don’t think we had ever done any worse than 13th in the old Division 2 and here we were fighting to stay up and losing the battle!

Down we went and now I found myself checking the results religiously and reading as much as I could at http://www.mcfc.co.uk/. For a long time it looked like Wolves all over again – big side going down and losing their way. The rest of course is history and it looks to me as if that brief nightmare in Division 2 was one of the best things to ever happen to the club.

Nicky Weaver’s run around Wembley after saving that penalty is the stuff of legend and I think it signifies the turnaround at City. From our lowest point ever we are now looking like winners and there is a definite change in the fans’ expectations – I no longer check the results with a nagging feeling of pessimism although having said that the 1-0 away win at Charlton was more than any of us could have hoped for.

Like my dad in MCIVTA 549 I have to thank my cousin Tony (avid MCIVTA reader) for sending us the Gillingham video – it’s now in a glass case where it is revered as a holy relic, and to my cousin David for sending me that City shirt all those years ago – I still wear it with the words ‘Brother’ fading on the front of it. It’s a shame their dad (my uncle Eddy) isn’t around to pen a ‘Why Blue’ – he could sure write and tell a good story.

I love Australia and will die here but my heart is Blue, not because I’m sad but because I’m City and that’s how my son will be too (he’s not yet 3 and already he is a hooligan). As for the wife she is for the Hammers but I live in hope.

First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #557 on

1999/11/29

John Ward


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