Sometimes reading MCIVTA and the invective that comes out against Man Utd, I think I must have grown up in some cocooned area of Manchester because my experience as a City fan growing in the north Manchester area has not led to any ‘hatred’ of Man Utd. There is huge rivalry of course and I would love City to thrash Utd in the derbies and win more cups, championships etc. than then, but this is friendly rivalry underscored with affection for the other ‘Manchester’ team (forgetting all that cr*p about them not coming from Manchester, except for use in friendly banter with Utd fans; yes I too have one of those t-shirts saying ‘City, the only team to come from Manchester’).
But I stray off the point. I was born in Moston, Manchester, a suburb in the Northern part of Manchester but one which is within the Manchester city council area, i.e. our local council is Manchester city council, so a true ‘Mancunian’ for want of anything else to say. I now live in Australia, moved here when I was 24, so spent all my youth growing up in north Manchester (and to me south Manchester was another world, we never went there, the furthest we got was Maine Road). Normally though, the city centre was about as far south as we got. I know all areas of Melbourne better than I know south Manchester. We always lumped south Manchester as the posh bit.
Again I stray a bit. I went to Moston Fields primary school and onto North Manchester High School for boys (no girls unfortunately). Other feeder primary schools were Moston Lane, Lily Lane and New Moston plus others I forget. Our big rivals at secondary school was Moston Brook, now long demolished.
Apart from the odd Oldham fan (and by God, were they odd!), the school was full of City and Utd fans. I don’t remember any particular preponderance of either City or Utd fans, it always seemed pretty even-steven to me in terms of numbers. Also the make up of groups/gangs in the playground was not along City/Utd lines. In my group there was both City and Utd fans and we all became the best mates for life. Now, as I approach 40, and even though I live the other side of the world, I am still in contact with nearly all the core of my best mates from school – the Utd ones and the City ones, and we meet up for a booze up when I get home to Manchester.
I see the Utd ones as the same as me. True mancunian kids from the northern side of the city, coming from good working class stock (my mum and dad for instance were from Collyhurst – my dad was a Red in fact, but he never took me to Utd and instead I went with a mate’s dad who was a Blue and so I became a Blue and went to Maine Road. In fact the first time I have ever been to old Trafford was about a year ago when my brother, who is also a Red, took me to watch a Utd match after I had taken him to see City – we both live overseas, he lives in the States so it was a rare event for us both to be home at the same time).
My dad, and City fans will love this, as he got older got more and more angry with Utd, despite their wins, and from being someone who followed them all over the country in his youth (he was always telling me of taking his work ladder to Maine Road just after the war so he and his mates could climb in to watch Utd who used to play at Maine Road after the war ’cause Old Trafford got bombed, unfortunately not destroying it completely). Anyway he got more and more angry with their commercialism for want of a better word, and even though he would never say he was a Blue (he wasn’t), he became much more interested in talking to me about City and how they were doing than Utd.
So what am I trying to say? I grew up in Manchester in a world of City and Utd fans. In my case it was pot luck who I supported but because my mate’s dad took me to Maine Road I became a City fan. The Utd fans I knew were the same as me, just Manchester lads supporting the local team, which they still do. None of my friendships at school were based on who people supported.
There was no hatred for one team or the other that I saw anyway (and this is where my ‘was I living in a cocoon’ comment comes from) – friendly rivalry, banter with your Utd best mates, going to fever pitch at derby time but it was all good fun.
None of my Utd mates hate City. They seem just as keen as me for City not to go down. They like having City in the Premier League, they like the derbies, they would like City to have a good team and be challenging – it all adds to the friendly rivalry and fun of the whole thing.
And it is the same for me, I love City but have this local Manchester affection for our rivals Utd. If City can’t win something, I would rather Utd win it than anyone else. I want them to win this year’s Champions’ League for instance. Why would I want some foreign team to win it or some other English team?
I have much more, not hatred as that is too strong a word, but dislike for teams like Liverpool, Leeds, Arsenal and so on, that I do for Utd.
But it seems that I must have been growing up in some Waltons’ world of north Manchester where it was City and Utd fans growing up together, being best mates and having a fun friendly rivalry.
It seems now that if you are a City fan you must ‘hate’ Utd. Well I can’t and I don’t.
I just love City!
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #993 on