I must have been about ten when I changed allegiance. My dad used to take me and my younger brother to watch United, this was between 1971-73 when working class families could still afford to visit their ground. Then one week my dad took us to see City reserves versus Wolves. This experience, together with some persuasion from a somewhat biased next-door neighbour we knew as Uncle Joe, converted me to the Blues.
Over the years there has been much debate, some would say criticism, that Old Trafford had more atmosphere than Maine Road. My first and lasting impression has always been to the contrary. Maine Road always had a friendly welcoming atmosphere, whilst Old Trafford seemed a cold, sterile place. My first proper matches at Maine Road must have been about 1973-74 when I used to pay on the gate for Platt Lane, but my first season ticket for the Kippax must have been the following season. One thing that stuck in my memory from that time was reading about Francis Lee’s move to Derby County whilst on holiday in Rhyl. I was so disgusted that he could turn his back on City that I threw the newspaper away, much to my father’s annoyance. Lee’s betrayal (in my naïve mind) was to colour my opinion of his spell as chairman in recent times, and although his choice of managers was criticized, I must admit that his business vision paved the way for City’s recent revival.
Other memories from my visits to Maine Road included a lady called Ellen (nicknamed Anna-Bell) who used to sit behind the goal in the North Stand, ringing her ‘School-Bell’ to rally the team on. There have been some lows that I recall, namely walking out of a home-game against Liverpool when we were 5-0 down; I felt guilty at my actions, but sometimes it was too painful to watch. One high that I recall was watching City 3-0 up at half-time against A.C. Milan in the second leg of a UEFA Cup match; we’d already drawn the away leg 2-2, but that victory and Asa Hartford’s goal from what seemed like the half-way line will stay with me forever. So much for my romantic ramblings, anyway here’s a question for any trivia buffs out there: what was so unusual about the names of all the teams that we played in the League Cup in 1975-76 season? Answers on an email to the address below.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #625 on