To get the formalities out of the way, I was born on the 4th March 1954 at Beech Mount Nursing Home in Harpurhey. I grew up in Moston, first in Silton Street, then in Bayfield Grove. When I married I moved to New Moston, then Castleton in Rochdale, spent some time in Newmarket in Suffolk and now live in Warrington, Cheshire.
Having read previous submissions, I began to think why I supported City. For me this was a revelation as it has always been something you just did, like eating, drinking or liking women. Anything else wasn’t normal! It was, as so many previous writers have stated, all down to my dad. He was, I have been told, a pretty good amateur goalkeeper whose hero was Frank Swift. He always admired Frank, especially after his speech to the Italian FA after he’d captained England in the thirties (Frank, not my dad!). I still have a photograph of my dad with Frank at an end of season awards dinner. Additionally, my mum was a book keeper for a building company where there was an apprentice plumber called Harry Dowd. My dad took Harry under his wing and taught him everything he knew!
So, I was “Blue-Blooded” from day one. To get me used to the layout of the ground, my dad started taking me to reserve games in the late fifties. I remember delaying the start of one match after climbing over the wall to get Bert Trautmann’s autograph. Another time I remember being sat on the wall with my legs dangling on the pitch side of the wall. When the play came down near us the referee ran over and pointed out to my dad that this was a bit dangerous for me. He said “It’s only the reserves, they couldn’t hit a barn door!” He took me down any way.
My first first team game was a Second Division match in about 1963 against Bury when George Poyser was the manager. We drew 1-1. To my recollection, Harry Dowd scored both goals. An own goal/cock-up early on for them. He then broke a finger, and, in the days before substitutes, finished the match as centre forward and equalised with a header. Alex Harley (remember him?) went in goal to replace Harry as I recall.
Shortly after this, Joe and Malcolm came to the club and things improved immeasurably (KK and Arthur today, perhaps?) and things went from good to better. Dad only took me when the crowd wouldn’t be too bad. 60,000+ was not uncommon in those days and I have vivid memories of injured people being passed to the St John’s Ambulance men at the front over the heads of the spectators. For a good view I would squeeze up a gap at the side of the Kippax and be 5 feet higher than the rest of the crowd. I saw many great matches, including the “ice ballet” against Spurs when Jimmy Greaves put them in front, but we were superb and beat them 3-1.
I also remember my first game against the Rags. I don’t remember the score, I think we won 3-1, and it was in the infamous Mike Doyle days. I was in the Kippax, over towards the Platt Lane Stand, and the City fans broke in to their usual chant of “Sha-La-La-Summerby” and the Rags’ fans immediately returned with “Who the f—ing hell is he?” We City fans thought for a minute, repeated the chant and returned “The greatest centre forward in history!” Say it all together, remember the Small Faces, and it works like a dream.
By this time I went to every home match and as many away matches to which my wages as a paperboy would take me. I was on a childrens’ pub trip to Southport on the day we won the league in Newcastle, though, and my dad couldn’t afford to take me to the Cup Final against Leicester the next season.
One memory I do have from the Cup winning season was a quarter final against Spurs at home. Before the game my kid brother and I went to a shop across the road from the Main Stand where they were selling photographs of City stars. Colin Bell, Frannie, Neil Young, Tony Coleman and a few others were there to autograph them, for a fee. I remember being surprised at how many of them smoked. Anyway, getting the autographs made us late and we ended up in the Scoreboard End with the Spurs fans. I think we won 2-1. I’m not certain of the score, but I know we won and I know Spurs scored. I know Spurs scored because I found eight half crowns at my feet when they’d finished jumping up and down after their goal. A quid was a lot of money in 1968.
I could go on and on about the ups and downs of the next 35 years, but hopefully you’ve now got some idea about why I’m a Blue – it’s exciting. The goal scoring record we tried to beat this season dates from the thirties when we won the title. The City bit of it all comes from the next season when we set two records. We are the only team to win the First Division Championship (the current Premiership) and be relegated the next season. As a side record we are the only team to be relegated and have scored more than 100 goals.
See what I mean? That is why I’m a Blue. The rollercoaster ride is why we’re all Blues. It’s just great fun. Who wants to win everything every year?
OK, nurse, please come and collect me now.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #807 on