Just a quick note to thank the power of MCIVTA and also a mini ‘Why Blue’.
I jacked my long standing season ticket in 4 years ago to move to the Highlands and open some self-catering cottages. I should be credited with City’s remarkable turnaround in fortune because the minute I stopped watching them week in, week out, they improved dramatically! My last season ticket was under Pearce when we failed to score at home after New Year’s Day, and I watched every minute of those 9 games!
I first started watching City age 7, in 1982. Swansea Reserves at Maine Road was my first match. After that, my dad took me to virtually every home game, usually sitting on a barrier in the Kippax. Nothing will ever compare to the surges when City scored. I remember my dad being knocked to the floor during the 5-1 when I was 14 but he didn’t care, he was just grinning inanely. My first away match was with long-standing mate Mat age 15. It was Sheffield United away and we got the train there and back; it was so exciting and we felt part of the away gang. We used to wash cars on a Saturday morning to get enough cash to get the bus to Altrincham from Lymm and then the bus from Altrincham to Maine Road. This bus hardly ever materialised after the game and we used to have to make SOS calls to disgruntled parents asking them to collect us from Moss Side at 11pm after a night match had finished and we had given up on the bus! But we didn’t care, the telling-off was worth it so long as we got to get there and see the game.
The tradition of watching City every home game and a very healthy number of away games continued over the next 15 years. During that period I witnessed relegations, promotions, campaigned to get Swales out and Lee in, then campaigned again to get Lee out! My favourite season supporting City was 98-99. I went to virtually every game and the art of wangling tickets in all sorts of weird home ends was polished. More often than not I managed to get in the away end but when they were sold out to people with more points than me I sorted tickets in the home end at Macclesfield, Chesterfield, Lincoln, Walsall; the list of shame goes on.
The turning point for the whole club wasn’t the play off final, it was Stoke City at home on Boxing Day. Dreadful in the 1st half then came out and played like Brazil in the 2nd half thanks in no small part to Andy Morrison, he was the player that turned round the entire direction of the club and dragged it up by his bootlaces, ending up with it being where it is now. I saw him in the crowd at Old Trafford a few years later when he watching the game with Shaun Goater. Legends. A lot changed for me when we left Maine Road. Our pre-match routine of Queen of Hearts in Fallowfield and a curry after the game at the Sangam was gone forever. The new ground is great but we should have had the vision 20 years ago to redevelop Maine Road to a 50,000 all seater stadium; it used to have the same capacity as Old Trafford but they developed theirs properly and we stuck disjointedly weird ‘lego stands’ on in a strange manner, making the ground look ridiculous when it came to the end of its life.
Our first child was born in 2006 and although I still went to all the home games, I could only pick and choose away games. I had also been on holiday to the Scottish Highlands a few times by then, and I couldn’t shake off the feeling that it’d be great to raise a family up there. This feeling grew stronger and in summer 2007 we flew up to Aberdeen to view 7 houses in the Highlands area (all near Aviemore), and all of which had a barn of some sort (we had always wanted to open some self-catering places as we could never find anywhere any good) so decided to give it a shot. Flying into Aberdeen that Friday night, it seemed like coming home rather than going away. It was with a weary heart that I got back on the plane to Manchester on the Saturday tea time; I was surprised at how sad I felt to be returning to Manchester.
We had seen a house on the Glenlivet Estate with stunning views and a huge derelict barn that would be perfect for converting into some cottages to rent out on a weekly basis to holiday makers. It cost about the same as we were selling our small house in Altrincham for! Without a moment’s hesitation we bought it. My last game before moving up was, fittingly, beating United 1-0 at home, the game when Giovanni scored. Walking back to the car after that game was a strange feeling, knowing that I didn’t know when I’d be watching City again.
Since then I have been back to see about 3 or 4 games per year. I still have a load of loyalty points built up over the years but these count for nothing versus a 1st year season ticket holder! Despite that I managed to wangle tickets for the FA Cup Semi and Final. The feeling after the final was weird, the Stoke fans on the train back to London centre were calling us miserable but I don’t think us City fans knew what to do! The night was spent in a drunken stupor and I can just about remember serenading some German tourists in Leicester Square with a rousing chorus of ‘Röslers Grandad Bombed Old Trafford’.
The future up here is bright, we have a little girl now (Ruby) to go with Charlie, both are City fans and know that ‘Alex Ferguson is a naughty man that tells lies’. We watch the Blues on telly and Charlie loves singing the songs. I took him to his first City game last season and he loved it. We’re off to Manchester again in October and are watching Aston Villa followed by Villarreal. I will always watch City about 4-5 times per year, it’s a drug I can’t kick, and not going so often makes it a real treat; I just love being amongst fellow Blues, even if I am a bit jealous that when I had 15 years solid of watching them it probably coincided with some of the worst teams in City’s history!
For the part of the holiday cottages pipedream, these took 18 months to build and they opened in June 2010. Since then they have been booked up about 70% of the time, which is fantastic. I put a note on MCIVTA last year saying that Blues were more than welcome up here and since then 4 lots of MCIVTA readers have been up here to stay. They’ve all really enjoyed it and we’ve stayed in touch.
So if any Blues fancy a break in the beautiful Scottish Highlands and want to stay in the pipedream of a True Blue, please check out http://www.balnedensteading.co.uk/; you can even have a turn in the seat that used to reside in Kippax Seat, Block GG Lower, Row M Seat 203! We are near loads of distilleries, castles, great walks, etc., and the local pub has Sky and ESPN so you won’t miss any televised games!
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #1765 on