I did contribute a Why Blue some years ago but thought I would re-contribute as people are always asked to, and especially as I’m on a bit of an unexpected high today.
As a young boy I was a regular attender at Edgeley Park, home of Stockport County, on a Friday night (Friday night is County night) with my dear beloved long lost grandad. My hero was Ken Mulhearn, the all-in-green County goalkeeper. When he was transferred to City in a swap deal with Alan Ogley, I started to take an interest in City results. This interest grew stronger and stronger as my age progressed and I realised there may be something better than watching County’s then perennial fight against re-election. Remember those days? When it was re-election, not automatic relegation.
My first game came a few years later at Bolton in a League Cup game. What a frightening experience that was, in the days before crowd segregation, a crowd well in excess of the usual 1,500 at County and fireworks being lobbed between the fans. We lost 3-0. For some reason all these things didn’t put me off and I became a regular visitor to Maine Road, and in the 70’s most away games too. City at that time were the enigma they have always been. One week we’d beat Liverpool 4-0 at home and the next we’d lose 3-0 to Middlesbrough away. In fact I followed City one season where I think we had the best home record in the league and the worst away record. But you forgave the long miserable journeys home because you knew next week you would watch the real City tear somebody apart.
I have only seen City live at Wembley once and that was in the ’76 League Cup final against Newcastle. What a great day out for a young 15 year old. I still haven’t forgiven Ricardo Villa for his “greatest goal ever at Wembley” in ’81 that tends to overshadow Steve MacKenzie’s volley in the same game and Denis Tueart’s overhead kick in that ’76 final.
That ’76 final was also the day I learnt about a mother’s true love. I had stayed over at a friend’s house the night before the game, literally across the cobbled street from our house. When I returned home on Sunday morning my mum told me her dad, the aforementioned beloved grandad, had died on the Friday night. I screamed at her “Why didn’t you come and tell me?” She said “Because you couldn’t have done anything and it would have ruined your day”. Even now it makes me cry, literally as I type, to think of how selfless this act was, although I probably didn’t understand it so well at the time.
I remember in ’81 when I couldn’t get tickets for the final or the replay, I was living “darn sarf” by then, I took leave on the Thursday of the replay so I could drive back up north to watch the game. How bizarre is that? They have TV in the south. Anyway, on the journey up my car broke down in the middle of Stratford-upon-Avon. So, as any fan would do, I abandoned it and got a bus to Birmingham and a coach to Manchester, arriving at Victoria just in time to hear Dennis Tueart’s close miss for the equaliser on a taxi driver’s radio. God he was p****d when he realised I only wanted to listen to his radio and wasn’t going to give him a fare.
Through the remaining years we all know there have been a lot of downs and a few ups, but to the true fan those few ups more than counter the downs, and I think that is what has made being a City fan the brother(and sister)hood it is.
Oh yeah! Why the unexpected high? Following a long shot appeal in MCIVTA last week I have had an email from a Blue season ticket holder who unfortunately for him, and fortunately for me, cannot make the Southampton game. Not only does this reflect the power of this publication but also the fellowship of Blues that he bothered to write (I haven’t named him in case he doesn’t want me to).
Good luck to all fellow Blues and here’s looking forward to the continued development of the team and the new future at The City of Manchester Stadium.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #896 on