I was born and brought up in Manchester until I was twelve, before we moved out of the city. And a question I have been frequently asked since then by the many people I have either worked with, or met on my travels during the last ten years, in particular the recent dark days post Peter Reid’s stewardship up to last Christmas and then the play-offs at Wembley, is Why Blue?
Like all stories of this nature, it starts in childhood, in my case in the mid-sixties when I was five years of age. I can’t remember much about the first game I went to see with my dad and grandad, except that it was at the beginning of February and the weather was terrible, it did not stop raining all day. I think City lost, to be honest I did not see much of the game because it was also very cold and I was wrapped up inside my grandfather’s coat. It was the one and only time the three of us went to see a game together, my grandad died two weeks later just before my sixth birthday.
After that I did not get the chance to see too many games as my dad was on the road a lot of the time, but I always waited with baited breath for the results at 4.45pm on a Saturday afternoon. However, it was not until 1970 that my dad and I started to go to games on a regular basis.
I often used to wonder why grandad and my dad supported City as they both came from The Republic of Ireland, grandad in the late thirties and my dad in the early fifties. It was only recently that I asked my dad about this and the answer was as follows.
Dad came over to Liverpool from Dublin in 1951 and got a job as a lorry driver; he often used to make deliveries to Manchester at the weekends, where he would stay over. So he would go to watch both City and the Rags on alternate weekends. However, he told me that after watching the “scrubbers” as he used to refer to the other bunch, a couple of times, he decided to support the Blues, because and I quote “The fans at City were friendlier and there was a real family atmosphere during the matches and the football was more attractive to watch”.
So later we went to many of the matches in the seventies. In the early days my favourite players were Colin Bell and Francis Lee and like most of the Junior Blues of my generation, I would dearly have loved to play for City. However, it was not to be (still you can dream). Later my favourite players were Joe Royle and Dennis Tueart. I remember writing in to the club programme on a couple of occasions about my favourite players and winning two complimentary tickets each time and we got to meet both Joe and Dennis, dad was made up when we were also given a tour as well.
Into the eighties, things were not quite the same and we went to fewer matches, largely because of work and family commitments, but we never stopped supporting the Blues. Then in ’89 I went to work and live overseas in South Africa, then New Zealand, then Belgium, and I have now been living down South for nearly 3 years. In that time I have only managed to see half a dozen games, although my brother went occasionally with dad. The last match dad and I went to was a game against Everton at Maine Road which we won 1-0 with Niall Quinn scoring the only goal of the game.
Sadly dad had the first of three strokes in August last year and is currently in Hospital and will be for the foreseeable and uncertain future. The last left him unable to do anything for himself. Although unable to talk, he still listens to the radio on a Saturday for the results.
The last couple of years have not been much fun for the family and in parallel for City either. But there is one thing that my dad taught us from an early age, was that you stand by your friends and remember where you come from, no matter where you are and you stand by your team through thick and thin. I have never been through such a range of emotions as I have in the last two years and the fortune or lack of that the Blues have gone through has not helped. I just wanted to share a few moments and to dedicate these words to my dad who will never get the chance to go to Maine Road again and to my mother, also a Blue. Both of whom were always there for me and my brother.
Finally we all have a story about the day of the play-off final at Wembley. Ours is not a long tale, but suffice to say dad and I listened to the game on the radio, talk about traumatic. When City won, it was one of the rare occasions I have seen my dad get emotional, said it all really.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #563 on