Wednesday 9 January 2008

**EXCLUSIVE** 'One Moment In Time'- Field of Dreams (Jan 2008)


‘One Moment In Time’ is a nostalgic look back at events and occasions in City’s past that will no doubt resurrect many impassioned memories for most City fans. Written from my personal point of view, I am hoping that reliving these moments, whether they were good or bad, will prove to be an enjoyable read for all. This month…my role as a mascot against Oxford United.


“No way. Honestly? No, you’re winding me up!”

This was my reaction when my dad told me that I was going to be a mascot for City. Now, you might think that a mascot is somebody who prances around pitch-side in a ridiculous character costume, as an animal, or in City’s case a Blue alien (!). But a mascot is actually a child who leads their team out at the beginning of the game. They have a bit of a kick about with their team captain, pose for a photograph with the captains and officials and that is basically it. Five minutes of fame.

Of course, it wasn’t about the ‘fame’. It was about the dream. The ultimate that 99.9% of football fans can only dream about; leading your team out in front of a capacity crowd, walking onto the hallow turf and hearing the fans roar, playing football with your heroes. What a buzz! Okay, so I was 15 at the time, and I was a girl, but there was no chance anything was going to stop me. I was going to enjoy and savour this moment.

The date was set- 7th March 1998. Yes the opposition was Oxford United and City were in freefall to Division Two, but the crowd would still be 25,000. I began to prepare. I started learning a few basic football skills with Simon. He taught me how to control and kick a ball straight. It sounds pathetic, but I really needed to master the basics. I wanted everything to be as perfect as possible. We spent about 15 minutes every day in the week leading up to the match doing this, and by the end I felt supremely confident of knocking it about with the best of them. I couldn’t sleep the night before, I just lay awake imagining the experience. Then it arrived. The dream was becoming a reality.

I had butterflies all the way to Maine Road. My mum and dad had hired an executive box in the Platt Lane end for the occasion, and invited my famous Uncle Bob and my aunty Shirley, their son Spencer, my best friend Kerry and Simon. When we arrived at Maine Road, we were taken inside the Main Stand, to the reception area. I sat there nervously and, as I looked up, I saw a tall, broad man in a beige overcoat. A very familiar man. A MAN-ager in fact. It was Joe Royle. I nearly fainted. I shook his hand and had a photograph taken with him. The fun had begun.

We were taken around the ground on a tour, which included being taken pitch-side and into the dressing rooms. Players had begun to filter in, and I spotted Ged Brannan, Gerard Wiekens, Peter Beardsley (who was on loan to City at the time) and Paul Dickov. It was all very overwhelming and surreal.

We went to our box and I got told to get my kit on and be ready to go pitch-side for 2:30pm. The knock on the door arrived and there I was: full home kit, complete with socks and platform blue trainers (the Spice Girls were huge at the time). Although it was hardly a high-profile fixture I was still overjoyed and so proud that I was leading my team out. I was escorted with my dad into the tunnel, where I eagerly awaited the players emerging from the changing room while dad videoed every second of my Maine moment.

I could hear Royle shouting and, after a collective ‘COME ON!’, my heroes were in front of me. Wow. My jaw dropped. There was Dickov, Bradbury, Beardsley, Rosler. Next to me. Even though City was doing really badly at the time, I was in complete awe of every player. Uwe Rosler had been a City hero to both Simon and I, and I couldn’t believe that I was stood next to my favourite player, watching him prepare both physically and mentally for the game.

We waited for the officials and ball-boys and it was upon me- the walk up the tunnel. I could hear the announcer on the pitch: “Maine Road, will be please welcome the two teams, Oxford United and Manchester City!” And there it was. I could freeze frame the moment. The roar. The crowd. The pitch. My dad stood with a video camera. I legged it! I had a kick about with our captain at the time, Kit Symons, and I stood applauding the crowd. For a split second it took my breath away. It was over far too quickly. The obligatory photo was snapped and I ran back off the pitch.

City lost the game 2-0, but on that day the result really didn’t matter to me. I had played on the immortal pitch, had lived the dream. It was a moment that I vowed to cherish and never forget.

Emily Brobyn xx

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