In 1951 I was 6 years old and my dad had just got out of army hospital (the one in Leeds – Armley). And he said to me (I’ll never forget it ’cause my mam was working shifts and I thought we would get in trouble). Anyway he said come on, there’s a match on (this was a Wednesday afternoon … no floodlights in those days) let’s go. Six years old and surrounded by all these brilliant guys who just wanted to enjoy life. What a start to football. Haven’t a clue who was playing, whether it was United or City. Didn’t matter. I was footbll nuts. No more ‘Real-time’ for ages.
1953 dad is (probably) dying from his war stuff. But he buys mam a TV. Everyone watches the Coronation (anyone remember the Street party in Egerton Street?), but my memory is of watching England playing Brazil at Wembley and the Brazilians did what would now be called throwing their toys out of the pram – only highlights and 4-2 for England). Then my next match ‘live’. My dad, explaining to me what a special player Tom Finney was (how much for him now? Anelka at £23 million and about a billion plus Man U plc, plus plus for gentleman Tom). Don’t know the score, but enthralled again. By now I’m about 9 and we are going to Maine Road one week and Old Trafford the next. Dad telling me all the stories about how Old Trafford got bombed and why United had to play at Maine Road. How United were once so skint City had to pay their wages for them. And how he hated people who cheat in life. This was about 1954. I remember him saying to me as I queued up at the scoreboard end (now the North Stand) “If you’re only going to watch one team, pay half-price”). It makes me smile now, a generation of gentlemen who would be sad at today’s values. Talk about crowds, we were passed down to the front to sit by the wall. No segregation, no hassle, Just grown men and kids all together. That was the year I became a Blue.
When you watch City and United and City win all 3 games (I think it was 1955 but I’m getting old so I might be a year or two out). That was for me, I was going to be a winner forever :} Amazingly, the next year was the first time I ever went to matches (at home) on my own except for the away match at Old Trafford, and who do I bump into at half-time? (76000 people there and no segregation) yep My mam. And 1955 my second away match… Wembley. Jimmy Meadows, Bobby Johnstone, crying all the way to Wembley chippy until a Newcastle guy gave me his programme. Different days, different people. 1956, and Billy Spurdle getting injured in the Semi. Then he got ‘Boils’ on his neck? Different lifestyles then I guess. Getting to meet Bobby Johnstone and Jack Dyson on the train down to London (no Ferarris for the guys in those days). Drawing at Newcastle the next year and losing after extra-time in the replay in front of millions of Blues… there were so many of us. Still are I expect …. but it was the sheer crowds at Maine road that got me. And everyone a gentleman. No need for segregation or need to get rid of racism. I’m Blue ’cause I grew up with fair minded people who absolutely adored their football (thanks dad).
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #590 on