Does anybody remember that scene from the movie “Fever Pitch” (about a fans lifelong obsession with Arsenal) when he goes to his first football match with his dad?
They climb the stairs to the top of the stand and, reaching the top, a wonderful scenario unfolds in front of his eyes. A bright emerald green pitch immersed in a sea of thousands and thousands of people and a ear shattering roar of excitement that sounded like a steam train at full pelt speeding through a station.
The first time I saw that scene in the movie I felt a wave of nostalgia and déjà vu and my mind went racing back to Maine Road, Moss Side, Manchester 1967.
I was born in Salford in 1956 (the year that City won the FA Cup) and at eight years of age our next door neighbours in Hattersley near Hyde had a son Tony Jackson who was training with Manchester City at the time and very kindly had gotten tickets for my dad and me to attend my first ever match.
It was exactly like the scene I described, except the steam train had turned into thousands and thousands of the City faithful screaming “CITY, CITY, CITY…”
It was a life changing moment for me and still sends a shiver up my spine now some 43 years later. From that moment, I became a lifelong supporter of the “Sky Blues”. I don’t remember much of that first match (I think we were playing Wolverhampton Wanderers) but I do remember the euphoria erupting in the stands after the final whistle and being swept away with the unbelievable excitement of winning a football match at Maine Road.
I soon had my favourite player sorted out (Johnny Crossan, until he left at the end of the ’66-’67 season) and then turned to an inspirational player by the name of Mike Summerbee. I still have a framed picture of him hanging in my bar.
I attended every home game that fantastic 67′-68′ season by saving my pocket money and helping the local milkman with his rounds before school. I can recall proudly purchasing tickets from the local paper-shop for my first ever Manchester derby (you could buy tickets in those days with absolutely no hassle).
My grandmother, God bless her soul, had bought me a brand new City beanie hat that I was so proud of and with the excitement building, my ticket to the Kippax Street stand in my hot little hand, at this stage I was ten years old, I got on the bus with the rest of the City supporters and headed for Maine Road. So began my lifelong hatred of Man United.
I had no sooner passed through those ancient turnstiles behind the Kippax when a group of United supporters spotted me and came charging down and ripped my brand new beanie from my head and went running off up the stairs yelling and screaming as if they had just won the FA Cup. It was a traumatic experience for a ten year old and I have never forgotten it.
But it was not all doom and gloom. I can say proudly that I got to see that day, some of the best footballers that Britain has produced. The formidable trio of Lee, Bell, and Summerbee. Doyle, Young, Pardoe, the balding head of George Heslop and also some of the United greats: Charlton, Stiles and of course Georgie Best.
Unfortunately, my brief two year encounter with Maine Road came to an abrupt end in March 1968 when my dad informed the family that we were emigrating to Australia. We were going to become £10 Pommie migrants.
I hated those first few months in Melbourne. No football as I had grown to love, only some poncey game called “Aussie Rules” (aerial ping pong I called it) and I soon had my Mancunian accent beaten out of me at school. The only news you could get then about British football was a small snippet in the local Monday paper with the weekend’s results, which I devoured every week looking for any news about my beloved Man City.
Growing up in Australia, my obsession with City began to wane and during the seventies and early eighties my interests had turned to things like cars, beer and of course girls! I met my beautiful Dutch girlfriend Truusje (Trish) in 1976, the year that City won the cup again, and in 1977 we got married. We managed to produce four healthy children over the next six years (three boys and a girl) who all play football or soccer for our local team Bayswater Strikers, and I am proud to say the are all fanatical City supporters and so are most of their mates, with a bit of influence from yours truly.
I now have three beautiful granddaughters and last Christmas they all got City shirts from Santa.
So here we are at the start of a new season with a new owner, a new manager and a bag full of cash to spend on new players. Judging by the friendly results over the past few weeks, could this be the season where everything falls into place and Man City become the great football club that we have always known they should be?
I for one am certainly hoping so. If the echoes of the past can reverberate into the future we are going to be in for one hell of a ride.
“CITY, CITY, CITY…”
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #1347 on