It all began around 1977. Being a young kid in Ireland, the only English teams I was really aware of were the reds of Liverpool and Manchester, which the whole world seemed to support. There were a few notable exceptions, my cousin (Leeds) and his mates. One Halloween staying with said cousin, I was dressing up as a burglar – mother’s tights over my head, big sack with “SWAG” written on it, and not being able to find a top with arrows we plumped for a red and black striped football top owned by the boy next door. I asked him what team this was and he told me Manchester City and of course being very young and naïve I replied “Don’t you mean United?”. This was my first introduction and certainly raised my awareness of the side, looking out for results on the videprinter from then on.
By 1986 I was in love with all things Manchester, The Smiths, The Fall, James, and my sister was already there at University. I visited her a number of times although still never got to a match. Her boyfriend at the time was a Trotters fan so I ended up in Burnden Park once or twice, but it was enough to give me the bug for English football. My local team Derry City were getting phenomenal crowds of 11,000 at the time when the usual attendance in the league of Ireland was 2,000.
Two years later I was in Manchester myself living beside Whitworth Park. Me and my house mates headed off to Maine Road at the earliest opportunity to watch City get thumped by Chelsea and it was love at first sight. I spent the next 6 happy years of my life living in rented hovels in Rusholme and Moss Side just so I could be near the altar I worshipped at. I worked in a city pub up beside the MRI which, although owned and run by Reds, was overrun with Blues daily and the self-effacing humour was something that struck a chord and has stuck with me since.
The Reidy years were great, finishing above United in 1991 and who can forget the 5-1? I moved back to Ireland in 1994 but still make a few games a year. Last year was tough with all the television time and quality football but only on ITV Digital, which wasn’t available here. Now we’ve been promoted to Sky, City owe me a few spectacular games on the box, particularly as they cancelled the Irish tour.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #819 on