As a five-year old I was a victim of “Red Fever” (The Liverpool strain, not the new, more dangerous Rag kind). My Granny, bless her, thinking she was doing me a favour, bought me a Liverpool shirt, Liverpool lunchbox, Liverpool bath towel etc, etc. Yes, in the late ’70s I was a Liverpool “fan”. I didn’t know much about the team, only that at 5 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon “my team” had usually won.
Growing up and going to school in South Manchester/North Cheshire I found out I wasn’t supposed to support a Scouse team, and so entered the football supporting wilderness. Despite pressure from my dad and school friends, I resisted the urge to turn to the Dark Side. Even then I knew United weren’t the team for me.
Some years later I was offered the use of a neighbour’s season ticket while she was away on holiday. I was about thirteen at the time and had never been to a proper football match before. The feeling of awe as I climbed the stairs and walked out into the top of the North Stand will stay with me forever. Maine Road looked huge. As I sat there staring out onto the pitch, hearing the roar of the Kippax, something strange happened. My heart beat faster, my palms began to sweat, I was entirely caught up in the atmosphere. I was hooked. What’s more, we won(!) and went 16 (I think) matches undefeated. I was told by my friends I must be some kind of good luck charm for the team. Looking back now I see it for what it was, Man City ensuring they had me firmly in their grasp. Building me up so they could knock me down again.
I’ve been stuck on this emotional rollercoaster ever since, dancing on the Kippax when we beat Huddersfield 10-1 and put 5 past the Rags, crying into my beer after another derby defeat. But for all the lows (and there’s been a few!) the high points are the ones that stick in my mind. The feeling as you walked onto the old Kippax at 2.15, the atmosphere already starting to build. Sitting on the terrace, reading your programme, hearing the jokes, drinking your bovril, chatting to your mates. Making sure you were in your favourite spot (half way up, Platt lane end, next to the tunnel). Even when the team were crap, there was still no place I would rather be.
My girlfiend is a City fan now too. At first she found my peculiar devotion to such an infuriating club hard to understand: “Why not just support United?” So, I brought her along to see for herself. Lo and behold City won, and she became another victim of this cruel addiction.
In the ten years or so I’ve followed City, we’ve won nothing to speak of, not been to Wembley or Europe, and been relegated twice, yet, in a perverse way, that’s how I like it. It wouldn’t be the same if you thought you were going to win every week. Obviously, a few trophies wouldn’t do any harm, maybe a European Championship or two, but still retaining that self destructive streak that makes City what they are. The only team for me.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #202 on