Reasons to believe
Yesterday was a day that will live as long in the memory as the past 46 years have. My football club, Manchester City, have finally landed the biggest prize in English football – “THE TITLE”. For as long as I can remember, we have been the club that has cocked things up.
Up until last season, when we won the FA Cup, the last thing we won was the League Cup in 1976 and the odd promotion after being relegated, back and forward, from the top league. Even in 1999 – when we won the second-division play-off final, when we came back from the dead against Gillingham – nothing compared to this.
As a City fan, I have been to some duff grounds. I can recall Crewe, Stockport, Huddersfield, Barnsley, Notts County, Wycombe, Stockport and Lincoln among the lower-league ones. I recall losing the 1986 Full Members Cup final 5-4 to Chelsea at Wembley after being 5-1 down. Too little, too late.
This is Manchester City. Perennial failures.
I have watched and hidden after our city rivals Manchester United have won trophy after trophy in my lifetime. As their glory-hunting fans from all points of the globe have sniggered at my support for my club. But as a City fan, you never wane. Call it blind faith or stupidity, there is just something about that club that’s in my bones.
I was locked in Maine Road in 1981 after City drew 0-0 with Stoke City. I was 15. I collapsed in the Kippax – no idea why – and was carted to the St John Ambulance on the other side of the ground to get aid. I was given Bovril and met the then manager, John Bond. I was left there in the empty stadium to make my own way out of the ground and make the four-mile walk home.
I finally escaped through an unlocked gate in between the main stand and the north stand. I got into my bed at midnight and went to school the next day to tell my tale.
I must admit that, at 91 minutes yesterday, for the first time, 2-1 down at home to QPR in the final game of the season, I got nervous. I don’t usually get nervous. I berate fellow City fans for flapping when we play United or are in a big game.
But what if we didn’t score? What if that undeserving club from across the city got their hands on their 20th league title? Oh, my life would be unbearable all summer and beyond. The texts from rival fans we’re hitting my phone, twitter, facebook, email. Life was going horribly wrong – again.
And then … Edin Dzeko scored to make it 2-2. Get another, quick. Then time stopped. The little Argentinian Sergio Aguero done what he had done all season, he put the ball in the net. At long last, unbelievable, unbridled joy. The final whistle, tears, 44 years of being laughed at, ridiculed.
I cried. And I am not one bit ashamed to say so. I still have tears in my eyes.
You see, no matter what happens from here on in, we did it, we won. My team, Manchester City, won the Premier League in the last minute, in the last game, with the last attack of the match. You can throw what you want at us – the money, the ground, the players, the manager, but one thing never changes – the fans will always be there right to the end.
May the force ALWAYS be with you.