This nostalgia trip began last week when my sister posted a picture on Facebook.
The quality isn't great. I think she took it on her phone (please, spare me the Iron Man jokes!). Any how, this brought back a ton of memories. Not just of that Cumbrian holiday but obviously the shirt I'm wearing. I wore it ALL the time, even when City weren't playing. I still have it! And it made me think about my first game.
It is Summer 1997. City are in Division 1. I am an impressionable young 7 year old who has decided to go to a match with her Daddy! In the weeks leading upto the game my Dad sat me on his knee and said "City have just paid the most they have ever paid for a player. His name is Lee Bradbury and he cost £3 Million!".
Anyway the details got jumbled in my small brain. I remember the strong smell of horse poo, getting lost in the crowd and, perhaps most importantly of all, City losing. It was against Norwich at Maine Road and the score was 2-1. Lee Bradbury scored that one goal.
I was not a happy bunny.
We got relegated that season.
There was always one detail I wasn't quite sure about... I specifically remember going to a match and there was a silence for Princess Diana. I do not remember if it was my first game or not.
So I started searching the web. I thought I might come across an old match report from the BBC. No such luck. But I did come across a match report from what looks like an independent blog.
Read it and weep. (Source: mcvita)
Goals: MC: Bradbury (27). NC: Adams (38), Coote (64)
Line up: Margetson, Edghill, Van Blerk (Scully), Brightwell, Symons, Summerbee, Brannan (Dickov), Wiekens, Horlock, Kinkladze, Bradbury
Report by: Steve Kay
Queued for half an hour pre match to buy my tickets for Ipswich away and Paul Lake Testimonial. Stopped and chatted briefly to Noel Bayley, who was selling Bert Trautmanns Helmet (not THE Helmet, the fanzine) outside the North Stand. There was a very strange atmosphere at Maine Rd today. In fact there wasn't any atmosphere. 27500 fans stood in impeccable silence for one minute as a mark of respect to Diana, Princess of Wales. This was followed by another 90 minutes of virtual silence as a mark of respect to a once great football club.
Silly me thinking FC might start the game with the line up that finished strongly at Bury. Instead we welcomed back Ian Brightwell!? The team lined up:
MargetsonEdghill Brightwell Symons Van BlerkSummerbee Brannan Wiekens Horlock KinkladzeBradbury
I have to say here and now that this Norwich side were the worst I have ever seen, so in view of the final score, God help us, its going to be a long cold winter!! City created chances-a-plenty and Lee Bradbury finally broke his duck in the 27th minute, slotting the ball into the bottom right hand corner after his first effort was half-saved. I can honestly say that was the only time the crowd broke into voice. Not once did I hear Blue Moon, just a few half-hearted attempts. I had to laugh when Norwich equalised and their fans started the predictable "You're not singing anymore", 'cos we were'nt singing anyway! We need to think of a chant for Bradbury, like "Lee Lee Bradberee". Anything but not just a round of applause. When he scored I was deluged with a load of Lottery playslips cut into strips !! Was it somebody who read my Bury report ? If so make yourself known please, if you were near the front of the Kippax upper tier (FF section). Everybody I spoke to before the game were surprisingly confident of a City win by two or three goals, and this looked like a good bet. But once again City failed to get the breathing space that a second goal would have brought, and poor defending let in Norwich to equalise in the 38th minute, with Adams? curling a right foot shot past Margetson with the outside of his boot from the right hand corner of the box. Half time 1-1.
In the second half City again had chances, Bradbury looked to have stabbed home a second, only to have it cleared off the line. But once again a defensive mix-up led to the Norwich winner. As a qualified referee, I have to say that the goal was clearly offside. As the Norwich player broke down the left towards goal with only the oncoming Margetson to beat, he appeared to pass the ball forward and to the side, into the path of a teammate, who slotted the ball into an empty net. The referee looked at his assistant for a decision. As the flag stayed down, the goal was given. An appalling decision by a poor referee, who gave unnecesary yellow cards, and completely lost it later on when he made an injured Norwich defender, who was obviously time wasting, leave the field after being treated, only to allow him back on BEFORE play was restarted !!
City now drop to 20th place, and if these inept, headless-chicken displays continue, we will be challenging for relegation, not promotion.
Margetson 7 Another steady display, keeping out the fit again Tommy Wright. Brightwell 5 Should not have been picked. Simple as that. Van Blerk 6 Brought off again. Should try him further forward on the left. Wiekens 9 Tireless performance again. 120% effort. Symons 5 Mr "Give A Goal A Game Away". Zero confidence. Booed every time he touched the ball. FC please put the lad out of his misery, take that white bandage off his arm, and drop him. Edghill 8 Played with the same determination as Wiekens. Must have been great for him to play at home again after 22 months out. Summerbee 5 Needs a rocket up his arse ! Has the same fan club following as Symons, i.e every touch booed. By the way Nicky, tuck your bloody shirt in your shorts ! Horlock 7 A trier, but I'm not convinced that he is a First Division player. Bradbury 9 Never gives up. Could have scored 3 at least, but needs an attacking partner (Rösler), AND support on both wings (Scully and Van Blerk). Kinkladze 8 Exiting on the ball, but could have released it on occasions to better placed players. Brannan 6 I always think of him and Horlock as very similar players, so see my comments on Horlock. Scully 7 Caused problems by whipping the ball into the six yard box. I'd try him on the right in place of Summerbee. Dickov 6 Not on long enough to rate, but "Braveheart" battled as hard as ever. Rösler (not used). With ten minutes left, I'd have thrown him on in place of Symons or Brightwell. I cannot understand FCs mentality over Uwe. Either drop him altogether, and hope he finds another club before the end of the season, or play him from the start, and let him sell himself. I have no doubt that while he is still here he would die for the fans, if not the club.
Frank Clark may never have his name in lights, but today he had his name in seats. The initials FC (as in MCFC) were clearly to be seen in the seating behind the North Stand goals, just in front of the Norwich fans.
After watching the standard of football in the current Premier League, on MOTD on Saturday night (I only watched to see Donkey Pallister get sent off), and then casting my mind back six hours to that garbage I saw, it has finally sunk in that we are definitely an average First Division team, and dropping fast. I reckon Taggart could put his "A" team out in the Paul Lake Testemonial, and still win handsomely. Let's not kid ourselves, we are light years behind the Rags. Why are we signing players from ****ing Adelaide Sharks, and players on free transfers ? Where is all this money we have? We probably take around half a million pounds sterling per home game in gate receipts alone. If we are ever going to get out of this tin pot division, we need to use our well known players like Kinkladze and Rösler to attract some big name quality players to the club, who have something to prove. That's the dream. In reality Kinkladze and Rösler will leave for around 10 million, leaving us with no heroes, nothing to bring us back every other week, and therefore no need to come at all. Where could the downward spiral end? Sorry to be so negative, but I've had plenty of practice over the years.
PS I heard over the loudspeaker system at the match, that Helen "the Bell" was poorly in hospital. On behalf of all City fans, can I wish her all the best, and hope she's back behind the goals ringing her bell soon. I sat talking to her at the Open Day, where she reeled off loads of her City memories.
PPS What's happened to Eddie McGoldrick. We need his type at the moment !
City 'til I die, which won't be long, watching this garbage.
I honestly don't remember most of that. It's my first game and I therefore had nothing to compare it to.
And now we're title contenders.
When it comes to City I'm forever the pessimist. It doesn't matter how much of our millions we'll spend, I'm never happy until the final whistle has gone. Whenever my mind wanders off to imagining Kompany lifting the trophy again I always hark back to my first season as a City fan. Experiencing relegation keeps you grounded because when the good stuff happens there is a feeling like no other. If someone told me at the end of that loss that City would win the league when I was 22 I would have told them to get lost!
I was there when we were shit. And I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
City 'til I die!