I was 16 in the fateful year 1980. The Iron Curtain, which separated communist countries (including mine – Romania) from Western Europe hardly let any information, newspapers or magazines reach us. I’ve always had a soft spot for English football, but at that time all I was hearing was Liverpool winning this and that all over Europe.
However, in March I took the risks (i.e. interviews with the Romanian Secret Police) and managed to find an English pen pal, who was sending me the Shoot magazine. As I became knowledgeable about English football, it was about time to choose my favourite club. Knowing this would be a choice for life, I thought the utmost care should be paid when doing it.
So, after a thorough search, I decided it will be City. The reasoning was absolutely logic: At the end of the 1979-1980 season, City had just escaped relegation and yet, Maine Road attendances were third to Liverpool and U????d. I said to myself that City’s are true Blue supporters and I should be one of them. I must admit it took me some time to realise that City and logic are like two parallel lines, with nothing in common.
It all started so brightly the following season, with City reaching the FA Cup Final and my name aired by BBC’s Romanian Service as I had won their football-forecast competition 1980-81. I did not have to wait too long until some guy from the Secret Police paid a visit to my home to gather information about my links with the BBC. My father “greeted” him and took him into my room (walls covered by “Shoot” posters) to explain that everything has to do with football. A personal interview followed at school.
I can tell you it was very difficult to rely on BBC World Service on Saturday afternoons to hear about City’s performance. I was annoying my parents and later on my wife because there was nothing they could to stop me from getting stuck to my radio. Before getting married, I somehow sacrificed a Saturday evening to take her to the disco (open hours in communist Romania were 18.00 to 22.00). It was the day City thrashed Coventry 5-1 and she had then realised how harsh it was for me to miss the radio that evening.
There are so many places I associate with the team’s success and failure. Crying in my bed on a Thursday night as City were beaten by Spurs in the Cup Final. I was in the Army, with no access to a radio, when City were relegated in 1983, so my father drove all the way to the barracks on Sunday to give me the bad news. Then I got so excited in 1985 about our promotion that I went to the campus’ disco that night wearing my City scarf – to everyone’s amazement. I’ve listened to the Bradford game in May 1989 as I was attending a rugby union test match: Romania vs. England. The 1996 disaster got my family and me parking by the motorway. I felt like driving to a funeral after the Liverpool game was over.
The magic moment eventually happened in 1991, when I have visited Maine Road for the last game of the season vs. Sunderland. The visit was repeated a couple of times in 1997, the proudest moment of my life being when I took my son to Maine Road for the Stoke game. I should thank now my friends and fellow City supporters Alistair Wade and the Chester Branch, Lionel James Major and Ian Cheeseman for always making me feel welcomed during my visits.
My son is now 13 and a life member of the Junior Blues. I am glad that the passion for City shall live for another generation in my family and I look forward to City winning promotion this year when I will celebrate 20 fabulous years of tears and joy as a City fan.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #597 on