Very mixed feeling from a far eastern Japanese fan of Man City.
I have been a City fan since 1987 while I was a student of University of Manchester. No Premier League at that time. Instead, Barclays League Division 2 to which Man City belonged.
My motive to watch a City match was simple. I was living in Whalley Range and Maine Road was walking distance. One day, a Manchester-born mate at Uni asked me if I was interested in football. Those days, no professional football league existed in Japan and I had never imagined that the Japanese League (Gary Lineker played two years with Nagoya Grampus but he spent most of his time rehabilitating his old wounds) would be established within my lifetime. So, I was fascinated with English style football in 1987-89 at Maine Road.
So to speak, those were the days of one of the worst periods of English football. Disaster at Heysel and Thatcher denounced English football fans as Shame of a Nation. I felt that everybody loved to follow matches, but generally speaking, there was a common feeling that any university intellectuals shouldn’t speak out about football in general. The Hillsborough disaster only made things worse in 1989. As Japanese, I felt why those hostilities exist and step up to the physical violence and occasional fatal incidents.
My last attendance at Maine Road was a historical 5-1 win over United, the shame of Manchester. I was standing on the Kippax and well remember a pitch invasion and a restart of the match.
Ever since, I have occasionally visited Manchester and enjoyed a match at the City of Manchester Stadium. But miserably, no win I have witnessed so far. Draws with Leeds and Liverpool in 2003 and lost against Chelsea in 2005.
Hopefully I will be back this season and celebrate my first experience of a win at the stadium.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #1349 on