Being a non-Manc Blue, I feel I have to sometimes justify my reasonings for being a Blue and, what with the recent slamming of non-Manc Rags, places a guilt, bordering on embarassment, when people ask me “Why City?” these days.
Like most people in a town without a real football club, I started out following the local team. In this case Hull City, for whom I still have a soft spot. However, like most kids in this footballing isolation, we ‘adopt’ another team.
In 1970’s Hull, there were few choices. Leeds, being the most local team, had probably the largest following. The Rags had a huge share of the marketplace and together with Liverpool, made up the “Big Three” at Wheeler Junior High School.
I don’t know why, but it never even crossed my mind to start following any of the Big 3. It wasn’t until a day in 1976, when I watched a team in a fantastic sky blue strip playing in the League Cup final. When Dennis Tueart scored, it was love. I was ten years old and sat staring at the telly transfixed, like I would soon be staring at Miss Iceton’s cleavage. Miss Iceton being my form tutor and being true to her ‘form’, wore low-cut sweaters. Her leaning over the desk each morning perked up registration no end. I digress.
Mr Mallory was the “Sports Teacher” – fat, bald, perpetually sweaty and the dress-sense of John Thaw in “The Sweeney”. He slobbered all over Miss Iceton, whenever he got a chance, which was thankfully seldom. He always smugly called her “Pauline” in front of us all (I was disgusted, she was “Miss Iceton” for God’s sake). He was affiliated with none other than our Wembley friends Gillingham and, like most sports-cum-maths/chemistry/geography teachers, “Had A Trial For <insert-lowly-team-you-can-never-check-up-on-here>”. With hindsight, he had no idea about football whatsoever – we believed him though, a few people even professed to “support Gillingham”. Lemmings, I ask you.
Peer pressure was mounting, I was awash with people wanting me to support ‘their teams’ and I must admit I very nearly bought a season ticket to St James’ park when Miss Iceton announced she was a Newcastle fan. Ironically, that day in 1976 changed it all. This was my team. The more I found out about them, the more hooked I became. I even managed to “convert” my best mate Nick and we became lone Blues in a sea of red and white.
I bought the whole City strip… right down to the socks – and wore it all together (!) – this then progressed onto various questionable items of attire, including a memorable Sky Blue City “Leisure Suit” that I thought was tops. I looked like a white pimp with acne.
Devoid of fashion sense, I persevered and through Malcolm Allison, Tony Book, John Bond (not to mention a good supply of Clearasil cleansing lotion) I emerged from those early teens with my team and I standing proud (or was that something else?).
This was the team that I chose, above all others. I could have gone for anyone and chose City, or rather they chose me. There is something different about this club that has no equal anywhere else. Someone once coined it “The Church of the Latter Day Blues” and it is close to a religion.
In the past few years, no other teams’ fans can ever come anywhere near understanding what we’ve been through – we may not have won the Premier League or the European Cup, but the highs of the last two seasons almost make the lows worthwhile.
Over here in the Cayman Islands, McVittee and the other Internet publications/websites have kept us all informed and together. Now we can look forward to some good televised coverage too. Also, here are a fantastic set of Blues who outnumber the Rags by so much, it is quite the opposite of what I’ve always been used to.
I recently watched the City & Rags videos back-to back in a local pub, ending with their varying degrees of success. The difference I have to say, was a chasm. Not in footballing terms, but in the lack of passion at The Swamp when Keane & Co lifted the trophy. Compared with the scenes at the Birmingham game and at Ewood park, it was just a different league altogether.
For me, that will always be the difference.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #624 on
Andy Gascoigne a.k.a. “Brother Andy”