I am 57 years old and started supporting City in 1952. I was unlucky to have been born in London during the war as my dad worked for an aircraft company in Hendon; although my family are true Mancs, my first football game was Charlton vs. Burnley in 1948 at the Valley, which took ages to get to from North London.
We often went to Manchester to see my family and each visit included a football match, which may have been Burnley or City or even (please forgive me) “The Rags” as they were called in those days. I became a true Blue after watching a derby game in the F A Cup when Allenby Chilton was sent off. My father used to take myself and my brother to watch City and United on alternative weeks but my best recollection was watching Bert Trautmann in goal. Jimmy Meadows, Roy Clarke and the “wizard” Bobby (roll out the barrel” Johnson, captained by the hard man Roy Paul. I remember going to Villa Park in 1955 to watch a semi-final against Sunderland in the pouring rain in a coach which leaked so badly we used umbrellas inside the coach (it was a Leaches coach) from Collyhurst. This was where Colin Barlow lived amoungst others. Nobby Clarke scored the only goal with a diving header but unfortunately was not fit for the final against Newcastle. My dad went to Maine Road and queued up all night for the tickets but only got one ticket so he gave it to me and off to Wembley went I (with uncles, cousins et al). Unfortunately we lost to Wor Jacky a.k.a. Milburn. But the following year we beat Birmingham despite my childhood hero Bert Trautmann breaking his neck (happy days).
Nobody else in my family was a Blue, they all supported the other lot, so I set a trend, and as I now have five children who are all true Blues; at least I have continued the crusade. Remember the old days of “Bring back Dave (Ewing)” to save us from relegation, signing Dennis then selling him, and worst of all seeing him sign for the Rags. I suppose the real reason for supporting City was that they were always different to other teams, such as inventing the “Revie plan”, later the “M Plan” under Les McDowell – remember losing about 9-1 to ? and 5-1 to Preston? The M stood for Marsden, a nondescript player who played centre half. I also went to school with two ex City players, Mike Batty who finished his short career with a broken leg, and Dave Wagstaffe who later caused much grief for City in the 1974 League Cup Final.
One good but true story concerns my uncle Les Batley, a renowned Blue and drinker who went to watch an away game at Sheffield on a Saturday after going to Jack Crow’s pub in Collyhurst (a.k.a. The White Swan) – got home on Sunday night and on explaining to my auntie Mable why he was so late said “I’m sorry love but we played extra time” – in a league I ask myself? Another reason to be a Blue.
If I had to choose which team to watch I would find it hard to choose between the 1956 Cup winners as I was 13 years old at that time, and the 1968-1970 glory team. In the sixties I was playing football rather than watching so I remember the fifties teams (good and bad) with affection, because we were always up at the top or just avoiding relegation, but a joy to watch. Also I met most of the players at the youth club or just because they all lived in “ordinary” areas such as Collyhurst or Moston etc. Remember Stan (the bookies’ friend) Bowles etc.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #611 on
Regards Colin Blake