It’s far from simply supporting your local football team.
Being a City fan quickly becomes a way of life, you live and breathe it. So, being a City fan is not an easy choice for any of us. You had to be very thick-skinned for a start and be able to laugh at the insults aimed your way from those who support the other lot from Trafford.
When I first started watching City during the 1970s, the other lot was winning everything they possibly could while City just seemed to limp from one catastrophe to another. I quickly learned to deflect the constant insults about supporting ‘that bunch of losers’ with a shrug and a laugh, never letting anyone see how much it hurt when they lost yet another game.
That was the key you see; don’t let your bitter rivals see how much your team's demise is hurting you. Let them think what they like - you’re a City fan and that’s an end to it and you need to develop a very good sense of humour, City fans are renowned for their legendary humour and their ability to laugh when in reality any other fan would be crying.
Watching your team lose week in and week out and yo-yo down through the lower divisions while still managing a smile is no mean feat I can tell you. It’s the choice you made in the 1970s/80s when you chose City.
Unfortunately, once you let them into your life you are lost. It quickly becomes an obsession. One minute you’re just like any other football supporter, going to the odd game and getting on with your life pretty much as before. The next minute City has taken over, permeating every part of it, your every decision is made with one eye on what City are doing.
For example, when my Brother (A red!!) chose to get married on derby day, I told him immediately I would not be attending as I had no intention of missing this game. In my brother’s defence, he did try to explain it to his bride. He was fine about it, he understood how I felt even though he supported the other lot. My parents disapproved strongly (I was supposed to have been their bridesmaid), but I was 19, so they could do nothing. I didn’t help myself by arriving when the wedding was over and the reception well underway still wearing my City colours. I walked in and gave everyone a big smile - after all it wasn’t every day City beat their neighbours!!
It was Saturday, November 10th 1979, and City had actually managed to beat them 2-0 with goals from Henry and Robinson, so I was in a delighted mood. My Brother just laughed and took my ribbing in good humour but his new wife wasn’t happy at all; she just couldn’t accept that anything was more important than her big day, and it wasn’t if I’m honest. She had every right to be angry with me for upstaging her on her big day. I was 19 though and nothing was more important to me than my beloved City. They were my life and watching my team came first no matter what the occasion.
This is what it meant to be a City fan; you will find scores of stories from fellow supporters who have missed important occasions just like I did so they could attend a game.
City get under your skin and into your heart when you aren’t looking and without even realising it, you are making the same excuses and missing other people’s important life events just like I did.
Bill Shankly, the Liverpool Manager once said: ‘Football’s not a matter of life or death, it’s much more important than that.’ How true his words turned out to be.
My whole life has centred around who City were playing and if I could possibly watch/listen to the game somehow. Nowadays I can rarely afford to actually attend games. I get to the Etihad about 8 or 9 times a season, enough times to make my Citizens Membership worth continuing! I never dreamed I’d see the kind of football we play now, never seriously believed we’d win so many trophies, let alone a TREBLE! (Thank you Pep!!)
My City. The team the other supporters loved to laugh at and make fun of. The Team that became a huge joke to the football world. The team who have the most devoted supporters in the league that never, ever give up on them. My love for City has not diminished over the years. It still burns as brightly as it did when I first stepped into Maine Road as a bright-eyed fourteen-year-old.
Now, when I meet my friends to watch City games on TV in our local pub, the years fall away and it’s just like it was when we were the teenagers who stood on the Kippax together. We may be older, greyer and have children and grandchildren of our own, but we are still Blues, still loving our team and still hurting when they lose. Some things just never change. We’ve laughed together, we’ve cried together and on that magical night back in June, we did both together when our City finally broke the hoodoo that has haunted them.
Our philosophy at City is very simple: One Club, One Team, One Love, Win, Lose or Draw we are all Forever City. You only have to see the relationship between the players, managers, owners and supporters. No other Club has what we have and no other supporters have seen what we have seen or been through what we have been through. We are unique no matter what UEFA, the FA and the Premier League try to tar us with we survive and we move on together.
So, there you go, that’s what it means to be City. Whether you are new to our club or legacy fans like me, all are welcome to join our family but be warned it’s like any other addiction:
Once you’re bitten you can never give them up.