During World War 2, nationwide FA Cup matches were suspended, and instead there was a “Northern Cup” and a “Southern Cup” contest. Naturally City were in the Northern group.
A vital cup match was City to play Liverpool away (I am pretty sure it was Liverpool, but it may have been Everton, so I will refer to them as Liverpool, but if you go to old statistics to check my story, and you can’t find it under Liverpool, then you will find it under Everton).
My dad (who was a true Blue) said to me “Let’s go to Liverpool to see City play”. I was only mildly Blue at this stage and was not overly interested in a train journey and the prospect of standing around in the rain. However, having nothing else on, I said “OK”.
When we got to the ground it was packed, but we managed to get a standing place just inside the outer wall of the ground. It suited us because the ground was higher there, and my father was only 5’1″ and me at 12 years old was about the same height.
Even before the kick off, we realised that we were smack in the middle of a crowd of Liverpool supporters, with not a City fan in sight. My father glanced nervously at the tall, tough looking mob around us and whispered to me “Don’t say a word about City, and whatever you do don’t cheer them”.
It was a hard-fought match and at full time the scores were level. After 2 periods of extra time, it was down to the “Golden Goal”.
Against the run of the play, City managed to get the ball downfield to their right-winger, who lobbed it across the face of goal. City’s star forward Peter Doherty, skilfully anticipated the cross, and leapt in the air to nod it past the goalkeeper. Even before the ball reached the back of the net, the Liverpool fans yelled “Hands”. Doherty appeared to have “helped” the ball along with his hand (situated on the referee’s blind side). However, the referee allowed the goal, whereupon the whole ground erupted, and Liverpool supporters invaded the pitch. As the Liverpool players pleaded with the referee, the City players briefly jumped for joy and then ran straight off the ground.
In the euphoria of the moment my dad and I forgot where we were, and yelled and jumped for joy, to the amazement of the burly fans (dockers?) surrounding us (who up until that time hadn’t a clue that we were “closet” City supporters). Their amazement quickly turned to rage and they started pushing and shoving us around before someone shouted “chuck the b**tards out”. Whereupon the mob, acting in unison, grabbed us unceremoniously by the arms and legs and threw us over the wall.
I have never been so scared in my life. I was sure our time had come.
But God was looking down kindly on City supporters that day. It had been raining heavily and we landed ungraciously but unharmed in a thick carpet of Liverpud mud.
On the way home on the train we continued to celebrate, along with the few intrepid City supporters who like us had made the journey to support their team.
My dad was so happy that he said he would take me to the Midland for dinner. This alas was not be, because as we entered the hotel, we were confronted by the doorman (who was as big as the Liverpool fans). He had seen us come through the entrance, covered head to toe in mud, and ordered us to leave immediately.
When we eventually got home and my mother saw us, she gave us hell, and wouldn’t let us go upstairs to wash until we had stripped down to our underwear.
What a day it had been! We had been battered (nearly killed by Liverpool supporters), banished (evicted from the Midland Hotel), and berated (in my mother’s bad books for weeks to come).
Yes there we stood, in our underwear, battered, banished, and berated. But still dad and I couldn’t get the grin off our faces! We hadn’t a care in the world! City had won and that was all that counted.
Since then I have been a “True Blue”. I have now lived in Australia for over 50 years, and haven’t changed my allegiance one jot.
I am 74 years of age now, and I have just one more thing to do before I can die happy. That is to see the Blues again ‘in the flesh’.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #994 on