I have been contemplating submitting a Why Blue for some time but never quite got round to it. However, Phil Jones’ recent posting contains so many parallels to my own story that I have been prompted to action.
I was born in 1965 and brought up in South Manchester in an ostensibly Red household by parents who had never, to my knowledge, been to a football match in their lives, and certainly not during my lifetime. As a child, when asked the question, “What team do you support?” I could never remember their name. I knew there were two local top flight teams. I knew that both their names began with “Manchester”. I knew that Georgie Best played for one of them and I knew that was the one we supported in our house. So that was my answer: “The one that Georgie Best plays for”.
I may gradually have come to know their name (although I won’t mention it here) and George’s playing days came to an end but, subject to that, the situation remained the same for a good few years. I loved football. I was nominally Red but I had never been to a football match in my life. At that time, you could still get a ticket for matches at the ground I thought I wanted to visit and I would pester dad to take me. “Football hooliganism” was the excuse given for the refusal. In fact, it may have been a valid factor in the decision but I suspect that more was due to dad’s “why on earth would I trek all the way over there and pay when I can watch them on the telly for nowt?” mentality.
Then “uncle David” came to the rescue. Some of you, particularly anyone who studied at Manchester University or lives in Fallowfield, might know him: David Taylor of Taylor’s Newsagents, opposite Owens Park. In his youth, he had been on the Red team’s books but, as a supporter, he was a Blue. More importantly, during the mid-late 70’s he was a Maine Road regular and he offered to take me. My view was “it’s a football match and it’ll be good for a laugh”. I managed to persuade dad to allow it and off we went. I too became a Maine Road regular – though still, initially I thought, a Red one.
I have surmised that I must have started to attend the Academy in the 1976-7 season, missing out on the League Cup win and joining, basically, just at the time the rot set in (yes, of course, I blame myself. I am also the blame for the abolition of the minimum student grant and the crash in the London property market).
As a (nominal) Red, initially I quite enjoyed City’s poor form. A loss brought me more pleasure than a win and I would tease uncle David and my other City mates about their team’s lowly performance. Then came the Tottenham home game. If I’d not lent my copy of Bleak and Blue (a great read) to Uncle David, I could tell you exactly when, but I think it was the 1997/8 season. For some reason I didn’t go to the game and I remember watching the results on the news. City had won 5-something (again, I need Bleak and Blue for accurate details but you get the general picture). I could not believe it and I was so delighted for the Blue boys that I have supported them ever since.
The degree of my support has waivered, generally with my geographical location rather than with the success or otherwise of the team. Whenever I have lived in and around Manchester I have been a regular home game attendee. During my time backpacking in Australia/NZ in 1990/91 there were regular drunken calls home in the early hours of Sunday morning (Australian time) to get the result – which wasn’t always remembered. I spent a lot of years in London when I would press anyone I could into coming to watch City play at the London venues. I spent 1993-95 in New York and the telephone results service was resumed. During 1996-98 I was back in Manchester, living not five minutes walk from the ground. City were cr*p but I loved them. I went and I suffered. Finally, I could stand it no more and upped sticks and moved here, to the other side of the world, and as if by magic City are back on track. So, you all have me to thank. Indeed, I shoulder the responsibility for the emotional roller coaster which was the play off final – I returned for the game. Without me, they’d have romped it. So, for the good of the Club I am now forced to stay here (oh it’s tough!).
The irony is that, as a result of McVittee and the MCFC website, I probably now know more about the goings on at the Club than I ever did when I lived right there. I am, I think, a member of the Sydney branch of the Supporters’ Club (am I, Bill?) and a more ardent fan than at any stage in my supporting life – all without the benefit – which it hasn’t always been – of seeing them play live. I am sent videos of any of Sky’s coverage which, despite the recent research, I like to think does not present an accurate picture. Whilst not wishing to jinx it from 12,000 miles away, I can say that for the first time in 23 Bleak and Blue years I think things are right and feel confident, rather than merely the usual hopeful/optimistic, that things will go well. There is a different feel about the Club and, to me, it was epitomised in the recent Wembley game, just as being a City fan was epitomised in the reaction to it. The events of that day were so different to events at the same venue in 1981 (where I was also in attendance and where I also cried – but for very different reasons). Anyway, that really is my very longwinded way of saying that, despite dodgy beginnings, I am City Till I Die!
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #569 on