Don Price asked me to write a short article for the Mad For It newsletter (Prestwich & Whitefield Blues), which I would like to share with McV readers.
To start with as I write this it’s a cold and wet Sunday morning in Oz a few months after Jean and I returned from our big trip around the world to catch up with our families and friends and for me especially to get back in touch at first hand what has been so much part of my life since I can remember and that is being a true Blue. I can trace the family history of supporting City back to my grandad who actually watched Ardwick FC back in the late nineteen hundreds before they were renamed Manchester City!
My dad used to recount to me his experiences when he was as a lad and growing up in Ancoats in the early twenties, how he and his mates used to walk to Maine Road and sneak into the ground by climbing over a wall or if they got caught they used to wait for the gates to be opened just after half time and go in and watch the remainder of the game. So for me City is part of my being that thankfully that has been passed onto my son Mark who has just arrived in Manchester on working holiday and hopefully will catch up with some of you at the supporters’ club and a couple of games while he is there.
Jean and I came over to Manchester around Easter and for me it was my first trip home in 11 years so we planned our trip so that I could get four games in over a three week period and Don managed to get me tickets for all the games. What a star! We had only been in Manchester ten hours when I found myself at nine in the morning having a few pints in the Beehive with Don surrounded by the lads in City shirts. By the time we got on the coach to go to the Reebok Stadium for the Bolton away game, I was totally bewildered, half p**sed and couldn’t get over what was happening to me. The last City game I had seen was at Maine Road in 1992 against Liverpool; since then the only way I can follow City is on the Internet watching the Oz equivalent of Sky Channel and relying on the newsletter for information, so to suddenly find myself listening to all the crack from Don, Aide and others was complete magic.
After the game finished in a defeat I think I was the only one on the coach who couldn’t give a stuff about the result and that we got beaten that day as I had seen the lads play again, I had watched Robbie Fowler and Nicolas Anelka team up and ponce around and I had experienced the crowd and all the spectacle that goes with watching Premier League football again after being starved for all that time; bring on more.
More came in the shape of my first game at Maine Road against Middlesbrough. There I was back in the Blue heartland up to my neck with all the happy fans in City shirts drinking a bad bitter pint of bitter with a half cold potato pie in my hand, looking at the Kippax where I served my apprenticeship as a City supporter. Could it get any better? Yes it could; the moment City ran onto the hallowed turf as the announcer worked the crowd up with “This is your Manchester City” my heart nearly stopped. Here I am, I thought, a fifty one year old bloke getting all excited at watching a football team, who gives a s**t the feeling was just as strong as when I went to my first match with my dad at Maine Road when he took me to see Glyn Pardoe make his début at the age of 15 in 1962, that’s forty one years ago so who’s counting… the experience of watching KK walking the line, the lads in laser blue, the crowd, the excitement, the buzz. Talking of buzz another highlight of my trip down memory lane was when Don organised for an official tour of Maine Road for a few of us overseas Blues and a couple of old local drinking partners from the past.
Bob Price and Steve from the Dutch Blues came over for the weekend and the ground tour. Bob and I have been mates since we were kids as we were born in the same street a week apart and have been in contact all our lives. I just can’t describe how good it felt to be sitting with him in the Shambles getting p**sed together like old times, then a couple of days later we sat together at the West Ham game like we hadn’t been apart. How City brings people together. As kids we played our hearts out in St Mary’s Park with Don and all the local kids who were City fans pretending we were Bell, Lee or my super hero Mike Summerbee. I still don’t believe it when on the tour of the ground and we were all gathered in the trophy room, and as you can imagine it’s not the biggest room at Maine Road, when in walks Summerbee as large as life; he must have seen me gawp at him as he walked straight across to me and mumbled something, shook my hand and then disappeared through a side door. I just stood there dumfounded.
Another great experience for me was at the meet the players night at the supporters’ club. I had a chat with Roy Clarke, a genuine City hero from the early 50s. I can still remember my dad talking about him as he was a prolific goal scorer in his day. I ended up p**sed again that night and staggering home from Heaton Park to Blackford Bridge where we were staying totally ecstatic from the night’s events. I managed to scoff down pudding, chips and peas on the way home; what a gastronomic delight on top of a belly full of warm beer! Talking to the old players and meeting up with the lads from the supporters’ club, some of them I had been on the Internet to and be able to buy them a pint was superb. It’s a great club and it was just brilliant to see loads of kids there all enjoying the occasion.
I managed to get four games in during my trip and each one has been punctuated with particular memories, especially the Sunderland game where Don and I went to Maine Road in the Sunderland supporters’ coach having spent a good few hours in the boozer with them watching would you believe Newcastle beating the Red scum… Does it get any better?
One of many other happy memories of the club is of Colin Broadhurst who with Lez his missus both made me feel really welcome to be back home and on match days always managed to squeeze me in the back of their car with three other lads for a Schmacker style ride home!
Thanks also to Don and Aide who were just brilliant and to all the lads who I had a few beers with – thanks for the crack and I hope you will look after our Mark when he comes to the club for the first time soon.
So from a die hard Blue from Down Under my view is that City and the P & W MCFC Supporters’ Club are and always will be the best team and best supported club in the world. Enjoy the new stadium and the new season.
City ’til We Die!
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #946 on