It was September 1974, I was eight and this was my baptism. I climbed to the top of the steps at the back of the stand and saw the ground with 50,000 talking, drinking, smoking, chanting fans surrounding the early season, sunny pitch. It was too much to take in, my legs gave way and I tripped over. I wasn’t embarrassed, I was too overwhelmed. The noise took hold and shook my little body. We beat Liverpool 2-1. Afterwards we crushed towards the exit, I couldn’t keep by the side of my dad, he was swept forward, then I was carried past him. What a day, that’s Why Blue.
The next year I had my first season ticket. The whole book cost £5, to see every single home game, both Division One and Central League. I always walked to the ground, and a few years later I’d walk to the Swamp on odd Saturdays. This wasn’t heresy, this was superficial, not worship. I played football, in my own way. On one Saturday morning, on a cold school pitch in Wythenshawe, Harry Gregg scouting for the dark side came to watch. I wasn’t tempted to impress and so I wasn’t disappointed when he pushed off to his next game after 5 minutes.
I only saw Colin Bell play for a season, and then make cameo appearances a few years later, but he has been my most oustanding player from the last 24 years. Gio’s ball skills are entertaining, but Colin Bell lifted his polished football from the top drawer every week.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #393 on