Once the sport of the working class man, the North West of England could boast many clubs, from giants such as Liverpool and Manchester United, to teams from Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, Hyde, Curzon Ashton and Stalybridge Celtic. Practically everywhere you went, when I was a kid, if there was a pitch or a green, with a blade or two of grass on it, there were jackets thrown down as goalposts, and there was a footy game going on.
"Don't mock the afflicted" was a saying I oft heard when growing up. Surely they were on about City fans? From the ever-repeated Ricky Villa goal for Spurs in the replay of the FA Cup final in 1982, to the mocking of us by United fans during their period of dominance in the nineties and the noughties. in general, the last thirty-odd years has been difficult for the loyal followers of Manchester City Football Club.
Not content with successive promotions and relegations, at least we kept things interesting. Middle table mediocrity was neither sought nor achieved. An era was ushered out after the turn of the century, as we left Maine Road, home of the Claremont Road chippy, The Kippax, Platt Lane and dodgy black kids looking after your car for a pound.
Memories of Lee, Bell and Summerbee, Tony Book, Malcolm Allison and Joe Mercer. Memories of the Goat, scoring one with his shin, or Kinkladze, with a mazy dribble, or Niall Quinn, towering over the opposition defence. Dodgy tashes abounded. Jim Tolmie, Neil Pointon, Neil McNab, Paul Power. The Gene Kelly stand, where we didnt care about getting soaked because we were watching City. Beloved City. Tragic City.
Then a transformation. Not quite as biblical as Saul on the road to Damascus, but certainly of epic proportions. A new stadium, a new buyer, big name signings and top managers arriving at the Blue half of Manchester.
Rather unwittingly, throughout the narrative, I chart the meteoric progression of my second love: Manchester City F.C., towards their first league title win, against unbelievable odds, in 44 years.
Despite the obviously incredible and dramatic scenes at the end of the campaign, success was by no means guaranteed, and I hope I have captured some of the rollercoaster emotions that all City fans must have experienced at the close of the 2011-2012 season.
On the Listen page is an audio clip of the day after we witnessed the unbelievable.
"Look What it's Done to Me!"
Words come hard to sum up the final day drama in May 2012, and it is still hard to believe that we eclipsed the incredible comeback against Gillingham in 1999.
One of my favourite videos captures some of the emotions. Entitled, "Look what it's done to me", it still makes me cry watching it!
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