Today marks 33 years since our beloved goal keeper, Big Joe, decided to hang up his Manchester City gloves. Of course I am talking of Mr Corrigan and not Hart who, after this latest injury, is sure to have a few more years between the City net. I had recently written about Big Joe Corrigan for this site and so today I would like to focus on the fan most associated with Joe.
Every football team can point a number of die hard fans who are there win, lose or draw and they turn up whether the team is in contention for success or battling against relegation, whether its Champions League or Championship, it doesn't matter.
Rarely do they become known outside of the clubs support, but on occasion time, some become iconic to the ground and known to the regulars and fans watching on TV all across the world. A few seasons ago you might remember the crazy looking shirtless guy in Portsmouth blue hair among the assembly of fans watching their side slide.
Manchester City had their very own iconic fan and although you may not know her name you will certainly have heard her in the stands for over 30 years. It has been just over a decade now since Helen ‘The Bell' Turner died after a series of illnesses. Aged 85, she left a void in the City.
She was a flower seller who had a stand outside the Manchester Royal Infirmary and was a keen Charity Fund Raiser, which continued despite her illness. She also had a friendship with many City players but in particular City Goalkeeper Joe Corrigan, who received a sprig of lucky heather before each game.
Helen has also been in the spotlight during two of City's finest moments. In 1976, when City won the League Cup, Helen was invited onto the pitch for a lap of honor with the team. Of this Helen said: "It was terrific being on the pitch - one of my proudest moments. Mike Doyle let me hold the cup for a bit and I remember all the City fans cheering me."
She was front and center again when City called time on Maine Road in 2003, after 80 years of football. It was Helen and her bell that got a standing ovation that day.
Once in a blue moon fans come along like this and lift the term ‘supporter' to a higher plain. A minutes silence was held in her memory at City's home game against Chelsea that December. It would be two seasons later when, first Sven and Thaksin, and now Sheikh Mansour came into City and the start of the City revolution.
Surely that bell would not have been heard louder or prouder than first in the Semi Final win against United before then winning the first trophy since Helen herself went on the pitch and joined in the celebrations. Would that bell have even survived the last few minutes of THAT game against QPR? Champions League progression, Title chases and spirited cup runs were aspects she very rarely saw during her time as a supporter, and yet the bell still rang.