This is not a tale from foreign lands of being surrounded by Rags and finding true happiness in a blue shirt, but a simple tale of a 57-year-old who was born in Whalley Range and lived in Chorlton.
My father, a veteran of the 84,000 crowd against Stoke in 1934, took me to my first match when I was about 9 years old. City vs. Liverpool and City won 2-0. Billy Liddell played for Liverpool and City’s team comprised, I think, Trautmann (my father said Frank Swift), Williamson, Phoenix, Hannaway, perhaps Paul and Clarke (we saw Roy Clarke at last year’s President’s Dinner – still a gentleman).
I went to school at William Hulmes’ GS, I say this not to brag about my educational prowess but to explain that because you had lessons on Saturday mornings and games in the afternoon, you soon acquired guile and cunning to attend matches.
Games were in two “sittings” so you had to ensure that you were in the early afternoon team so you could get to Maine Road by about kick-off; if you were unlucky and played later, you raced across Princess Road and up Parkside Road to get there for the gates opening at time.
Father probably regretted ever taking me to City when, because my birthday and Christmas are close together, my presents were City away games in January in the pre-motorway age. I dragged my parents to the Newcastle away cup tie 3rd round in 1957 and thence various destinations from Aston Villa to Cardiff to Grimsby (yes, still going to Cleethorpes!).
My ultimate childhood memory – complete with Scarf, Bob Hat and Rattle was the 1956 City vs. United Cup tie – 75,000 attendance. Again, cunning played a part as I hadn’t got a ticket. At the time I was friendly with the Vicar’s son at Holy Trinity Church on Platt Lane (Godfrey Maddox I think), so I had an excuse to peddle hopefully towards Mecca on the pretext of friendship and as luck would have it I was given a ticket by a passing Copper and got “shepherded” down the Kippax and sat in front of the perimeter wall to watch Barnes, Trautmann, Hayes, Dyson and Co. win the match. A sign of age I know and mentioned by others – how good it was that in those distant misty days, fans of both teams mixed during games and there was banter not bottles.
To skip a few years when I played football to the times when football and beer are encroached on by the fairer(?) sex – a word of advice to all 20+ year olds – don’t only judge a possible companion by good looks and the capability and desire to buy their own drinks – think Blue and does the girl have the potential to be City daft! i.e. would a lunchtime in a Rusholme pub seem more exciting than an afternoon in the Trafford Centre?
So I found “Bluemoon” Val and we enjoyed the Halcyon days of Bell, Lee and Summerbee and visited all the grounds we don’t go to now (keep your fingers crossed, we soon will) including Newcastle 1968 and Wembley on numerous occasions – how blas