Maybe it’s because he’s a Londoner, that I love Manchester City
By Kevin Henning, Wed 04 January 2012 09:41
Most football fans have their loyalties laid out for them generations before they are actually born. During a recent night on the lash with my old man, I began to realise how lucky I am to be a Mancunian by birth and a City fan by the grace of God.
It all starts a long time ago in South London, both Grandparents on my Dad’s side are Cockneys. Nanna from Catford, Grandad Bill from Deptford. It seems a strange concept to me and doubtless to many football fans of my age or younger, but whenever I’ve asked my Dad who his old man supported, he’s always replied West Ham and Millwall. This conflict of interests would never happen these days but in times past, a bloke simply wanted his local teams to win. I put my Dad on the spot during the recent booze up and asked if he had to choose one team for his Dad, who would it be. “Oh, West Ham, he was more like Alf Garnett than Alf Garnett” was the reply.
Anyhow I digress. How did this Cockney family produce three generations of City fans? Well, when my Grandad came out of the Army, unable to buy a house for his wife, Bill sought advice from a fellow soldier he’d served with. His pal John, informed him that he’d be able to buy a home in Manchester for far less than he’d have to pay in the capital. Bill and my Nanna Irene decided to go for it and after a short spell apart when Irene lived with her sister while Bill found a house and a job in Manchester, they moved lock, stock and barrel to Eccles.
Along came four kids (three boys and a girl) with my Dad Paul being the one who showed more interest in the beautiful game than his brothers. In a similar situation to his own Father, Paul as a child followed the fortunes of both City and United until one day when Bill bought a car off a work colleague called Albert. This is where it all gets a bit Billy’s Boots crossed with Jimmy Grimble.
Albert delivers the Morris Minor to Bill who complains that his new motor is filthy and he can hardly see through he windscreen. Albert goes into the boot to retrieve an old rag that he often used to clear ice from the windscreen. He pulls out the sky blue rag and throws it to my Dad to clear the windscreen. Paul unravels the cloth and it turns out to be a City shirt. He takes it to his Mam for it to be washed and once dried, it comes out pristine and a perfect fit for the young Paul. The shirt was rarely off his back as he attempted to copy his heroes in the sky blue shirts.
This was the point when his undying devotion to the City cause began. The thirty pound deal was done and the Citizens had a new supporter. Fast forward a few decades and my Dad tells me that I’m too young to go to football matches on my own and as he refuses to go near Old Trafford, I have little choice other than to become a blue myself. Over the course of the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, we travel all over the country following City. Epic trips that spring to mind were New Year’s Day visits to Newcastle and Chelsea which meant a sober Dad on New Year’s Eve and a Mum sick to the back teeth of Football dominating every occasion.
Around the turn of the Millenium, my parents moved on to North Wales and I found myself loved up in Hull. Struggling to return to Manchester every other week, I made the trek whenever possible leading to a echoes of my Mam from my missus whenever a night out was ditched in order for me to travel over the Pennines in a pilgrimage to Maine Road.
Now, another ten years on, I have three kids of my own. The two boys spread the sky blue gospel in their school and I get more Wife Passes to travel back to Manchester now that she gets to have a peaceful day without a male in sight.
Three generations on from a pair of Londoners that had never dreamt of heading North for a new start, the old windscreen cleaner thrown towards my Dad to wipe the dirt from a Morris Minor, a whole tribe of City fans have been produced and nurtured. My Grandad had a soft spot for City as well but fair play to him, he never forgot his roots and passed away with his London accent and love for the Hammers still intact. His decision to join his old army pal in Eccles was that decision that ultimately led to my Dad, myself and my eldest lad George poznaning for all our worth at the Wembley Semi-Final against United and for that I’ll never forget him.