Well I suppose it all started way before I was born. My grandfather, Bill Griffiths, got the Blue ball rolling. Born in Moss Side, a stone’s throw from Maine Road, Bill would wait outside the ground with the other local lads until about 10 minutes before the end of the game when they would be allowed in for free and would collect bottles so that they could claim the deposits back from the local shopkeepers. As he got older Bill developed a love for City that still remains to this day. He has written an excellent book about his childhood called ‘Growing up in Manchester – The First 10 Years’ – published by Didsbury Press, which if it is still available in the shops is certainly worth a read.
Inevitably this obsession for the club was passed on to my father and in turn to my brother, Paul, and me. Our first game together, grandad, dad, Paul and me was in 1975 – I was 5, Paul 7, and all I remember is a terrible fear of being left alone when Paul and I had to go through the boys’ turnstile without the adults. When we were inside though it was Ok and I started my “City” journey.
Eventually, when I was 8, I got a season ticket for Christmas and my dad, Paul and I became regulars in the North Stand, just behind Helen and her bell, whilst grandad prefered the comforts of the Main Stand. When we reached our teenage years we prefered the Kippax and me and Paul would be stood with the ‘singing’ section whilst my dad stayed near the middle with the older crowd. During the late 80’s and early 90’s we would go to all the home games and many of the aways (Paul subbed me for many a game as I was a student at the time, so finances were tight!) and by now The Parkside and Boddingtons played a big part.
Memories of this time include (in no particular order):
- Going down to Luton and David Pleat’s white shoes skipping across the hallowed turf.
- Going up against Charlton and the subsequent pitch invasion.
- The football special and being bricked by ‘Scallies’ on a Tuesday night trip to Goodison.
- Crystal Palace away on a glorious Summer’s day, when all the fans drank and sang together (they were playing the Rags the next week in the cup final).
- A massive away support at Stoke City when all the local pubs ran out of beer (someone in our pub tried to nick the fruit machine!).
- 5-1 Maine Road Massacre of course.
- 10-1 against Huddersfield.
And many, many more.
I have now been living overseas for the last 5 years but still manage 4/5 games a season, and Paul with a boy of his own isn’t able to get to as many games as he used to. My dad and grandad still listen to GMR every week and share the ups and downs (Paul and I were at Wembley of course) and still have a love for the Blues that will never go away.
Things are looking up for us again now and by the time I get my next season ticket we will, I’m sure, be the force that we were in the 50’s/60’s. Our new stadium will be fantastic (will we really miss Dog S*** Alley, The Kippax toilets and The Gene Kelly Stand? Probably!). Whatever, City will always have great supporters and a spirit to be proud of. Thanks grandad for starting it all off and thanks Ashley and MCIVTA for allowing me to continue finding out about my club.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #586 on