Well, it’s difficult to explain…
I usually lose the plot almost immediately after beginning the explanation… many I’m sure think I’m not “Blue” at all, but rather “green” and from Mars!
I’m jealous as hell of those lucky enough to get to Maine Road on a regular basis, supporting the team week in week out, with pride, passion and nonsensical loyalty. I live in Surrey, which can make things difficult for a “Blue” – I’m sure you understand what I mean 😉
Not being able to get to the ground regularly, doesn’t mean that exiles like me are any less passionate in our support, just slightly less privileged.
Anyway, for me, it all began when my parents decided to move for the first of many times, when I was about 3 or 4. We left the footballing hotbed of Peterborough for the delights of Manchester. We stayed there until I was about 8, when the family continued on their travels, but by then, there was to be only one colour!
Manchester was great. We lived in a nice house on a quiet street, close to the local park. We had a colour TV and loads of other football mad kids to hang out with. It was a place of major firsts – new schools, best friends, mischief, girls and of course a first trip to a real football match.
Now my dad loves sport and I’ve been lucky enough to inherit his passion (and some ability). Like many people, I will tell you that I was a pretty good player in my day. I represented the school, the local club, the local pub and all the county teams I could play for. Basically, if I could get a game, I was there. And yes, I had trials for a couple of league clubs too! Given how much we moved around, that’s a lot of teams I’ve played for! Alas, I never made it to the big time, which I blame solely on having to move to Saudi Arabia at a time in my youth, when you either get picked up by a club or you don’t. I’m sure that the phone call from The Academy would have come, if only I’d been in the country!
Despite the nomadic lifestyle and moving abroad when I should have been starting my apprenticeship, my dad has been a good rôle model. He’s successful, looks after his family and can always be relied on in times of need. For every major decision I’ve had to make in life, I’ve always asked him for an opinion. He’s rarely wrong, so I rarely ignore it when he hands out advice.
Having spent all the hours that God sent, kicking a football against the back of the house, playing “kerby” in the street or more likely over at a friends house (Peter Lambert (sp?) – remember me?) playing “3 and in” or “headers and volleys”, dad decided it was time to take me to a football match. It was Maine Road and I’d have been about 7.
Thank God, dad never chose London Road, home of his beloved Peterborough United, as my first “big match” experience. We went “home” to Peterborough often enough, to visit family, so it’s fortunate I’m not Blue of a different kind. I could have ended up a “POSH” fan and when you think about it for a second, I’m sure you’ll agree that I was very lucky.
I’ve no idea who City played that first time I saw them, dad thinks it was Wolves, but I think it was Derby or Liverpool. Some things I do remember vividly.
It was I think a very sunny day. I remember worrying we wouldn’t get in, as there seemed like a million other people were going to the game as well. Boy, did they make one hell of a racket. As we went through the clicking turnstiles, you could hear the crowd singing. As you walked up the steps, the noise just got louder… at some point I remember getting knocked over in the rush and dad lifting me up, carrying me up to the top of the steps… and then it hit me, the spell of Maine Road had been cast and I’d been well and truly caught.
There was the biggest, widest, greenest football pitch in the world. The biggest stadium, filled with “millions” of people shouting “City, City, City”. It was so loud! I could hardly see a thing, but I didn’t care. This was completely different to what I’d seen on the TV. This was real football. From then on, there was only one possible outcome. I was a Manchester City fan.
As for the game, I’ve no idea what the score was. I think Joe Corrigan saved a penalty with his legs. The guy next to my dad kept swearing his head off and the bovril dad said you had to drink was terrible.
Anyway, that day was one of the few times I’ve totally ignored my dad’s advice. I remember him saying afterwards “you don’t want to support this lot son”.
We moved away from “Manchester” when I was about 8, but by then I’d seen City play enough times to know the team inside out. I guess it helped that we were quite a good team in those days, but I don’t think it really mattered how good we were. To me, City, were and have always been “the greatest football club the world has ever seen”. At 7 years old, you’ll believe almost anything about your club! At 30+ nothing’s changed!
Wherever we moved to, I harboured dreams of emulating my hero, Colin Bell, and playing number 8 for City. I still do! Didn’t matter if I was living in Saudi Arabia, America or Surrey, I always thought it would happen. I stopped playing football a few years ago, but I’m still convinced that Joe is going to give me a ring, maybe now though it will be to join the coaching staff rather than a spot in that midfield.
I haven’t been to Maine Road for ages, despite living in the UK for quite some time. But, writing this has made me think it’s time I bl*ody well got up there. I try to see City play whenever I can. With TV it’s easy, but I go to the London games when I can. I was lucky enough to be at Wembley last year for “that game” and had one of the best seats in the house. What a day.
Some may say that not going to home games makes me a follower and not a fan, but that’s cr*p. City have fantastic fans all over the world. I often wear my City shirt when I’m abroad and it’s amazing how many ex-pat City fans come running over to say hello. Bangkok, Mauritius, Dallas, Oz, everywhere. Doesn’t matter where you are, you still love the club.
I try to do my bit for the cause, indoctrinating my young godson at his christening. He is the proud owner of a large City shirt, with plenty of room to grow into it, much to the consternation of his Tottenham/Wimbledon supporting parents. He’ll be 7 soon too and his mom and dad won’t mind me looking after him for a weekend. Now there’s a thought.
Now, just close your eyes for a few seconds and remember that first time you saw City play.
That’s why I’m Blue.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #599 on