Bob Kelley

Why Blue?

Perhaps no one who is as big a fan of the club as I has less of a real connection than I do. I was born, and spent every day of the first 28 years of my life, in the US. My father was a sportscaster, so sport was all around me growing up. From the very first time I saw the English league (I was probably 8), I was just spellbound by it. The first match I ever saw was Leicester vs. West Ham in the early 1970s. I can still remember what Filbert Street looked like that day. From then on, I watched whatever I could (not easy then, or now, in the US). I checked a book out of my local library called “The Glory Game” – about Spurs more or less, and from that day on, made regular trips on the bus downtown to check on results in the English papers. While I was home cleaning my mother’s house recently, I found a letter from MCFC postmarked 1977 – that would have made me 12. I still, though, was not totally Blue, as I had also written to Arsenal, Leeds and Chelsea. You have to know that I grew up right outside of Philadelphia (America’s version of Moss Side). When I was young, Philadelphia had perhaps the worst baseball team in the country, perhaps the worst football (gridiron) team in the country, and the worst basketball team in American history (9-73 in 1972)! I hated my friends who lived nowhere near places like Dallas, but were big Cowboy “fans,” or nowhere near Cincinnati, but were big Reds “fans,” just because they were good when I was little. As a big (for an American) soccer player, I similarly hated the bastards who had all sorts of MUFC gear or Liverpool gear, but couldn’t have told you squat about those clubs. Somewhere in there – in the late 1980s (when, by the way, all the Philadelphia teams were enjoying great success), I adopted Man City as my club.

I was lucky in that just before English footy disappeared from American TV, ESPN gave us the best coverage of the FA Cup season that we have ever gotten – before or since. It happened to be the year that Paul Power’s glorious winner against Ipswich at Villa Park put City in the final against some Argentine side from London. After that, I went away to college, and tried to keep up as best I could, as City struggled mightily either to stay up or to get back up. I wished them well, but the passion was gone.

Then, two things happened – the FA returned (once a week) to American TV, and the Internet gave me up to date access to results and the like. I was hooked again; and with American professional sport becoming lamer by the day, this time it was deeper than ever. I wrote to City, asking for a fixture list and the gift catalogue last year. They sent me a nice letter and a few match programs, so I wrote back a Christmas card of thanks. They printed that in some program, I guess, because before I knew it, I had been adopted by some postman from Heywood, named Arthur Gardiner, who sends me papers, scarves, mugs, “King of the Kippax” fanzines (I think these are my favorite things of all), and all sorts of other wonderful crap. In fact, I just got a “Last Stand of the Kippax” poster from him yesterday – very nice.

If all goes well, I will be making my first trip to an actual English game (I’ve been to Stamford Bridge and Loftus Road, but there was nothing going on in them) on Boxing Day night against Blackburn Rovers. The club has a ticket set aside for me, and all I have to do is get from London to Manchester that day, which probably won’t be easy. I suppose if I get there, I’ll hook up with Arthur and take some sort of armed transport over to the ground. Anyone who wants to hook up for a pint or six, please let me know. Sorry for the length of this, but it was a rather odd road that I took to wind up at Maine Road.

First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #17 on


Bob Kelley