Michael Bayliss

Why Blue?

Why anything else?! I think it all started back in 1972. I was 4 and supported the Blues before then, but that was ‘cos my dad told me I did, and every time City won something, he would throw me in the air shouting “We love City, yesss.” Let’s face it, in the late 60’s, early 70’s, there was a lot of “throwing” to be done, especially when I’d just had my dinner and City had won, again!

But something happened in 74. My dad had tickets for the League Cup final, he decided (my mum really) that I was too young, so he took my 2 elder brothers, both apparently City fans. We all know what happened as far as the match goes. I had this feeling of complete and utter remorse (not knowing what it was at the time) – my God how that feeling has kept coming back. I felt so sorry for my dad, his/our super Blues had lost. I don’t remember them coming home, but the next day I heard him telling my mum how he, and my 2 brothers, sat on terraces crying their eyes-out. My brothers never said much about it but they had red eyes for ages. Not long after that, neither of them spoke much about City at all, and then horror of horrors, the truth reared it’s ugly red head: my eldest brother uttered those words: “I support United now”, or something like that. A turncoat! Then, my other brother piped up something about really liking the Leeds kit, and the cool tie-ups they had, and that was that. Just me and my dad. They maintain that they didn’t want to go through the tears again and that it was best to stop supporting City. I still reckon it was done just to p**s my dad off – it worked. For the record, John still supports the scum and Richard has rediscovered his roots. He now supports Bury.

Of course glory days were still just around the corner for City, a good season in 75 – I think, and a cup final win in 76. No I wasn’t there, but as soon as City had lifted that trophy, I was in the park, doing my best Dennis Tueart kicks (my sister now in the goals, ‘cos my turn-coat brothers didn’t want to know me). Life was great, City had won a cup, my brothers left me well alone -jealous, ha!- and most of the kids in my class supported the Rags or Bolton. Although, my dad didn’t throw me up, he made sure that he drank enough home brew so he could throw up, and my mum ironed a number 10 on my black and red striped City top. Now that was ace.

I can’t remember much about 77, runners-up? It was hot, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee (most people still liked the royals then). All the street was decked out with Union Jacks. But most of all I remember getting my first full City home kit. I looked like a tiny Peter Barnes, long sleeves with Umbro logos running down either side. I loved that kit, I honestly even went to bed in it a couple of times. While all this was going on, my dad was still going to see City whenever he could but I still hadn’t seen them ‘live’. All I knew about my beloved City was the programmes my dad had saved from the late 50’s ’til now (being then). Then my chance came; it is still quite a blur, it may have been before 77. I’m not sure, but City were playing a reserve game at Gigg Lane, Colin Bell was making his much-awaited comeback (again), I think we played in a white kit with a red and blue stripe from shoulder to hip, or was that the opposition? Palace. At some stage in the game I looked at my dad; I was sure he had tears in his eyes. He looked at me and mumbled something about how Nijinski was struggling. I thought why is he going on about horse racing? He pointed to Colin Bell and started to tell me what utter class he was; of course I already knew this, who didn’t? After a moment of silence, I began to get that 72 feeling all over again. My heart hurt! My dad was sad, Colin was bad, and I just stood there. I felt s**t. So I started shouting “come on City, come on City” in my high-ish pitched voice; other people were also shouting and the more I did it the better I felt. It got louder, I felt great, even Colin seemed to get a lift. I knew from then that if you cut me through it would say “Blue”.

Things seemed to move slowly after that, the World Cup came and went, I actually had a copy of the theme music, City looked good but we were winning nowt. Then in 80/81, a certain J Bond arrived, there had to be something in that name. The cup run had started and City looked good. I don’t think Norwich had any idea of what City looked like, we were too quick for them. I was desperate to see some of this cup run before it ended, but my dad had been staying away from footy ’cause of all the violence around that time, there was no way I could get to a game on my todd. Then, I don’t know how, but we got tickets for the semi at Villa. What a day. That was my first big away match. Loads of people with red and black checkerboard flags, with a big City badge in the middle – I’ve still got mine, have you? I don’t know what end we were in but it was full of City fans. I think it was the one opposite to the Holte End, we were standing right in line with captain Power, when he swerved that beauty in the goal. What a goal, what a day, what a team, Wembley here we come.

We didn’t get tickets for the first final, me and my dad cried when Tommy scored his first, then cried when he got his second. We was robbed! The scramble was on. Tickets were hard to come by but you could get them. We did. We got to Wembley late, the match had just kicked off. Most of all I remember 2 things, Wembley looked much bigger on telly than in real life, and Manchester City were absolutely brilliant. We lost, I cried. Two Spurs fans in front of me shook my hand and told me that I should be proud of City etc. I was. But I was gutted, bitter, p****d off, dreading having to face the classroom full of Rags but I still didn’t have that 72 feeling, I waited for it, but it didn’t come. All I knew was that I supported the best team in the world. They were to me and loads of others. It felt like supporting City was something only the chosen few (or should I say he chosen loads) could have, it still does.

I don’t support City because it’s trendy, or ’cause we win things, yet, but I think, I’m not sure, it could be that City are as much me as I am City – was that a bit heavy? Anyway, when I got back to school the next day, there was only one kid that didn’t give me a hard time, also a City fan. He said something like don’t worry we are a top side, we’ll be back. His name was Paul Moulden; if they had held on to him, he might have been half right. In 1983 we emigrated, so did City – to the old 2nd Division. It was pretty difficult to keep track of what City were doing but I was aware of the roller coaster ride they had embarked on. I hoped we would sort ourselves out. Good job I didn’t hold my breath on that one! I moved back to England, the south, in 89, and set about finding out where the grounds were that I would be visiting to watch the mighty Blues. First off was a freezing night at Millwall, we all stood at the corner of this crappy ground, enclosed by metal caging, being pelted with 1p and 2p coins by 10-year-old kids – morons. Clive Allen scored I think. Did we lose? After the match we were herded to the station, behind some fat-arsed police horses. The s**t was everwhere, and that was not just the Millwall fans. Then it was Wimbledon at Plough Lane. I standing in this portaloo-type thingy, it’s pouring with rain, I’m having a p**s, loads of City fans pile in to keep dry, we’re all looking out of this tiny window, trying to watch the match, singing songs and I’m bone dry – until someone knocks my elbow that is. Wimbledon got an iffy penalty but we equalised, was it Beckford or Allen again? I’m not sure of dates and scores at this stage, it was just a case of seeing City whenever possible.

The last match of the season at Palace was great, Blues brothers everywhere, the whole ground chanting anti-scum songs (Palace were to play them in the cup final a couple of weeks later). We drew 2-2 but that was secondary; being in that ground on that day was what it was about. I went to Q.P.R. a few times – we seemed to play them on a regular basis. Great little ground that. You could get really close to the pitch. I’ll never forget Vonky Vonky’s face after he scored in the cup game against them (Les Ferdinand should have had a hatful). By now, my wife (girlfriend at the time) had started coming to the matches (a converted Bolton fan – she used to stand on a milk crate at Burnden Park using her dad as support, not ’cause she was short but ’cause she was about 8 at the time). After the Q.P.R. game I think, she pretty much made up her mind that City were the team for her. Unfortunately for her and the rest of us, that winning feeling was becoming a bit of a rarity. We ended up moving to South Africa in ’93, I left the same day as City played Q.P.R. – again. Moving to Cape Town, I had no idea when I would see the Blues again. I had only been in the country a couple of weeks when I found out City would be coming here on tour. I couldn’t believe it, watching City under Table Mountain. Unfortunately they played as if they were trapped under a mountain. Dave White couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo – nowt new there then! I had to convince my new found mates that City had had a long, hard season. The real reason was something to do with the local brew. Anyway that is about that, although I could find loads more stories, this Why Blue has dragged on a bit – sorry about that.

First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #431 on


Michael Bayliss