Posts tagged ‘Manchester City’
Dave Weston’s dad comes from the blue side of the Manchester divide. So you’d think it would be a formality he’d end up following in his father’s footsteps…
The merciless rise of the shiny, sanitised ‘English Premier League’ has resulted in whole generations of kids who don’t know what ‘real’ football used to be like. But I know.
I know because I listened to my Dad’s stories about life as a Blue, following Manchester City up and down the country in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. I’ve seen his pictures too. Pictures of my Dad as a young man, with his long hair and his flared jeans. As a kid they made me think about the rock stars of the ‘70s and the hippies of the ‘60s. But there was no ‘peace and love’ in English football during that time. It was the age of the football hooligan.
With my dad’s passion for football, I’m surprised it took him as long as it did to try and take me to a game. And I can only imagine his discussions with my mum after he announced his plans to take me to Maine Road. Understandably, she didn’t think a stadium full of hoolies, in the middle of early-‘80s Moss Side, was the ideal place for her firstborn son.
My dad didn’t give up though. And between them, my parents settled on some arbitrary date when it would no longer be too dangerous for me to go along. 30th September, 1985. My seventh birthday.
I wish I could say that my excitement mounted in the days leading up to this momentous occasion. That I reached fever pitch – staring at the clock and wishing the time away so that I could take my place in the boisterous crowd, holding my dad’s hand as we surged towards the Kippax. But I can’t. My dad was definitely more excited about the whole thing than I ever was.
Like I said, in those days kids weren’t bombarded with glitzy images of multimillionaire footballers and their interchangeable model/popstar wives. Celebrity culture hadn’t kicked in and there weren’t games on TV every other night. I was much more interested in kicking a ball about with Mark, my nextdoor neighbour, than I was in standing on the terraces, struggling for a glimpse of players I wouldn’t even recognise if they walked past me on the street. City must’ve been playing away from home on my actual birthday because the game Dad decided to use as my introduction to top flight football was against Chelsea, a few days later.
On the Saturday before my birthday, my uncle came round to our house, offering to mind me while Mum and Dad went to the local supermarket for the weekly shop.
What my dad didn’t know was that his brother, my Uncle Barry, had planned a despicable act.
My dad and his brother are part of the last generation of Mancs to grow up watching United one week, City the next (and Stockport County on the rare occasion that there wasn’t a game in Manchester). My Dad was a Blue. My uncle, a Red. And while Mum and Dad shopped, I jumped on the train to town with my uncle.
He spent the entire journey telling me that I was going to Old Trafford to see the best team in the country. He filled my head with talk of Mark Hughes and Bryan Robson (“the best player in England”). But most of all, he kept telling me how funny it would be if I went home and told my dad I was a United fan.
I couldn’t tell you what colour Southampton’s shirts were that day. I don’t even remember seeing Mark Hughes’ winner. But I do remember going home and declaring that I was a Red.
Looking back, it was a horrible thing to do. I can only imagine my dad’s disappointment. Facing the fact that he’d been denied the opportunity to take his boy to the football on a Saturday afternoon – a rite of passage for every dad and lad, and something he’d probably been looking forward to for years.
I only half remember being dragged to Maine Road in the drizzle the following weekend and I’ve virtually no recollection of us standing there as a poor City side lost to Chelsea. What I do know is that the game certainly didn’t change any allegiances in our house.
After that, my dad kind of gave up. He didn’t try and convince me to change my mind. And he didn’t force me to go along to any more games.
What he did do was decide to avoid ever making the same mistake again. I don’t think my mum even put up a fight when Dad started taking my little brother to Maine Road, even though he was no more than a toddler.
I don’t remember seeing my dad get any more excited than the day my brother signed schoolboy forms with City. I doubt he missed a game during my brother’s six years on their books.
We’re a close family now. Even my dad and his brother eventually sorted things out and put the differences of my seventh birthday behind them. But whenever we’re all together at Christmas and the talk inevitably turns to football, my dad still calls my little brother by the title he was given in those early years: “Son Number One”. And it still rankles.
Growing up in the ‘90s and 2000s I watched my team set record after record, winning trophy after trophy. In 1999, days after United stunned everybody by winning the European Cup in the most dramatic way, my dad and brother were forced to take consolation in a play-off final win against Gillingham – and promotion out of the third tier of English football.
If I could go back to 1985 knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t change my decision. I’m pleased I became a Red. But that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally still feel bad about stitching my dad up, leaving him to fight the Blue fight on his own until my brother came of age. The remnants of that guilt are probably why I’m not too cut up about City winning the league this year.
When I heard that my dad actually cried after City’s title-winning goal went in, it brought a smile to my face.
Enjoy it, Dad. Your team’s been rubbish for way too long.
Dave Weston is a big hitting media relations manager in academia. He also recently got engaged. Congratulations to you both from Debra and I
Tags: Bryan Robson, Chelsea, English Premier League, Kippax, Maine Road, Manchester City, Manchester United, Mark Hughes, Moss Side, old trafford
Posted in Blog | No comments »
Rob Turner discusses the much used phrase ‘the beautiful game’.
Well this is it. Norwich City are back in the Premier League, alongside Queens Park Rangers and Swansea. My hope is that after the media’s adulation of Blackpool and Barcelona (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d type) there will be more calls to abandon long throws and kicking people in the mud.
I think people sometimes forget that football is called “the beautiful game”. This is not to say that the physical side should be ignored. Arsenal are an example of a team that has all the art but not always the grit required to fight for a result when it is needed. By contrast Manchester United arguably lost a big chunk of magic when they sold Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo. Nonetheless it was still enough for them to retain the title.
But again I ask people to be honest. Yes we all want to win and sometimes that means winning ugly. But I want to emphasise the sometimes. Football should be entertainment and it should be played in a way that people want to watch. If footballers are being paid wages on a par with movie stars, then let’s see some Hollywood stuff!
As a Norwich fan I still take pride that we remain the only English team to beat Bayern Munich at the Olympic Stadium, courtesy of a beautiful 40 yard volley from Jeremy (The God) Goss. However this was not the moment that I witnessed a few years ago. While many will think I’m mad for me it was a catalyst for something truly beautiful.
His name was Marc Libbra and I am not ashamed to say I had a small man crush on him. I’ve always been a fan of that Gallic swagger when combined with skill, whether it’s Descartes, Jean Reno or Eric Cantona. I was there in the stand against Manchester City when he hit THAT volley.
Why do I call it THAT volley? Because at the time Man City were cruising to the Premier League and we were destined for relegation. After that moment, there was the emerging thought that Norwich could be better. We then made the play offs and then after that became champions.
Granted after that for a long time it went wrong, especially when Fulham beat us 6-0 with a combination of beauty and brutality that would make Muhammad Ali tip his jaunty hat. It was not until Paul Lambert’s return that the inner beauty of Norwich was properly rediscovered and the result is there for all to see. His German coaching badges provided sophisticated tactics, bold attacking play and an eye for players who suited those tactics.
I don’t want Norwich to be the next Blackpool. I don’t want to be patted on the head and patronised. Neither I suspect does Paul Lambert. I want Norwich to be like Cristiano Ronaldo. Truly beautiful teams not only look good but they also beat people. And when you beat people you are inevitably hated.
(Rob is a writer/producer for Polycomical. To find out more or how to get involved in the webcomic and cartoon project Reynard City go to www.reynardcity.com)
Tags: arsenal, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Blackpool, Cristiano Ronaldo, Fulham, Jeremy Goss, Manchester City, Manchester United, Marc Libbra, Muhammad Ali, Olympic Stadium, Paul Lambert, Premier League, Queens Park Rangers, Swansea, the beautiful game
Posted in Blog | No comments »