Fairly straightforward. Sibling rivalry plus best friend was a Blue.
My parents were not the sporting type, and with no TV it was hard to get a taste for the game, apart from playing in the street and risking the wrath of neighbours with tidy front gardens, and occasionally in the park. Phil Radcliffe across the road was my best friend. His dad Les was a Blue, and so was Phil, whereas my brother (who knew nowt about football) “supported” United. Yes, it was like that even in the early 50s.
Mind you, he did have his photo in the Evening News when they snapped him in Ladybarn Park with Don Revie when I was about 6 (1956). I can’t remember what the story was – Revie training again after injury perhaps?
I was into trains, he was into planes (and still works for BA). I was 8 when United’s plane crashed at Munich – I can remember being pleased (a) that it was a plane that crashed not a train and (b) that it was his team. I was only eight.
But at least I was taking a bit of an interest in the game beyond playing three pops in using the grids in the road as goals. I don’t remember if I pestered or was just invited, but Phil’s dad took me with them to Maine Road.
March 14th, 1959. City vs. Newcastle. Placed on the sloping concrete of one of the old Kippax tunnels. Remember nothing now but the score – 5-1. Second big memory was 65,000 for Burnley (winning the League?) in 1960, though I do remember at one match shouting “Let’s have another goal, City, or at least hang on to the one you’ve got” when it had been disallowed for offside – so I learnt the rules then.
But it was different times. You used to debate which team you’d support if you lived in Bimingham/Liverpool/London (much less idea of football commuting), but Phil and his dad (like many others) used to go alternate weeks to Old Trafford and I went to a few matches. I can’t remember whether we “supported” United – it seems unlikely – or just went as neutrals, and the only thing I do remember is Paddy Crerand’s début and one very good through ball he played. I soon gave that up, but it was a couple of years before I started going regularly to Maine Road – the season of Alex Harley – and the next season I added away matches to the fun. Well, Scunthorpe away was fun…
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #662 on