I’ve considered writing this for a time, and was finally moved to do so by both Bill Jensen’s and Jon Pickstone’s accounts of how they became City fans.
I grew up in Wolverhampton, England. My dad wasn’t much into football, and consequently I never really supported any particular team.
In truth, I was much more into American sports. I enjoyed watching and playing basketball, but my real passion was for American Football. I was (and still am) an avid Chicago Bears fan. As a lad I played for the Wrekin Giants Junior team and more recently for the Manchester Titans. I just loved the mixture of tactics, athleticism and outright violence.
Consequently, I never really got that much into football at all, let alone supporting anyone. At school I’d always be pulling for my mates’ teams (mostly Liverpool and Villa), but never really settled on one of my own.
Then six years ago, my best mate took me to a Villa game. I sat through a dreadful goalless draw with Southampton. Nothing inspiring happened and I wasn’t entertained, but my best mate was a Villain, and I’d been to see them so that was that. I was a Villa fan, wasn’t I?
A few months later I moved to Manchester, and thought I’d take my wife (a local lass) along to see City (we didn’t live far from the ground and like the vast majority of non-Reds I hated United). I watched us beat West Ham 1-0 in a relegation dogfight. And there it was. The passion. The atmosphere. The spirit. The inspiration and the entertainment. It was an ugly game but I had seen City (particularly Carlo Nash) fight for their lives. I knew that this game actually meant something to the players and to the fans.
Since then I’ve managed to get to about half of our home games (with Kathy in tow) and live and die by those results. It finally means something.
Kathy and I are planning a family. I hope that our kids are Blues – but if they are not, it won’t be a problem. As long as they support a team for the right reason. I honestly believe there’s a moment when the team chooses you. It might be because they win everything in sight. It might be because you’ve heard the jibes of those who’ve won everything and you didn’t like the arrogance. It might be that you saw 11 men and 40,000 fans all giving their all for something that wasn’t glorious, but that meant the world to them. And it doesn’t matter who that team is, as long as you allow yourself to hear the call.
As an epilogue, I actually made the pilgrimage to Soldier Field in Chicago last October. I was that moved (I had waited 17 years to get there), that both my wife and I had tears in our eyes as we walked in through the gate. It was spectacular, despite the fact that we lost the game, scoring only once on a spectacular interception returned for a touchdown – which I missed because I was in the queue for the toilet. I guess there are times when it’s not always good to get ‘the call’…
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #1111 on