Tuesday, 18 December 2018


I was recently asked to go on a radio show to dissect the Chelsea-City game. I’ve been asked on a few times and the presenters are usually lovely. This time, it was different hosts though and I will spare them their blushes by refraining from naming said show and host here (it wasn’t Cheesy, but that goes without saying!)

After name checking me, the host opened the conversation with the question:
‘So Emily, would you like to congratulate Chelsea on their win?’

I mean, it was 7:20am on a Sunday morning, but did I actually hear that right? Would I like to congratulate a team for beating us? Would I like to congratulate Chelsea on winning a match? Would I? Would I?

It felt like the question spun round in my head for a good half an hour, when in reality it was a matter of seconds. But I was brutally aware that I was live on air and had to give a rational, respectable response to that abomination of a question.

‘Well yes, why not?’ I retorted. ‘Congratulations on the three points, but it’s a title race between us and Liverpool. The three points will serve well towards Chelsea’s battle to secure Champions League football next season.’

After the interview concluded, I made a brew and reflected. Actually, the more I thought about that question, the more enraged I became. I felt like a boiling kettle. Would he have asked that question to say, a Wolves fan that had just got beat by Southampton? Can you imagine it, ‘would you like to congratulate Southampton on their win?’ Of course, it wouldn’t happen. Perhaps if the team had just won the Premier League title or the Champions League final, but certainly not for winning a game of football in early December.

Is this what it has come to? Is this really what it feels like to support a team who is a scalp for everybody and a scapegoat throughout the media? Is it really that much of a monumental event in world sport if we lose a game? The delight opposition fans take when we do; the sheer glee, the revelling up and down the country and across social media. So this is how it really feels to be City? It’s time to start growing a thicker skin if this is the new norm.

It isn’t paranoia on my part. I do genuinely feel like the club has taken a battering recently, especially after the Der Spiegel FFP ‘leaks’. Many a journalist quite happily participated in the media hysteria the ‘scandal’ had whipped up – demanding that sanctions were placed against City for their ‘blatant disregard for FFP’. Ferociously stomping their feet and wagging their fingers over a week-long set of ‘revelations’ that didn’t really reveal much of note whatsoever, apart from throwing yet more mud in City’s direction. The ‘reportings’ only served to add to the media and rival fans’ distain for the Blues.

Then we’ve got Danny Baker – gobshite mouthpiece who keeps bragging about having been on I’m A Celeb despite being voted first out – giving it the big ones on Twitter, comparing the Premier League to Formula One. The tiresome man was trying to claim that City’s domination is making the League ‘boring’ and ‘dreary’, and that ‘elite clubs’ should ‘f**k off to their Euro Super League’.

He’s so factually incorrect it’s laughable. He seemed to insinuate that the title was a foregone conclusion and that, from his tweet, you’d think that City commanded a colossal lead over their rivals. In fact, how City can be dominating to that extent when actually, as I type, it’s Liverpool who are top of the League, is beyond me. It’s almost paranoia on his part, because the media have yet again hyped up the possibility of City having an invincible season, when most sensible people know that would never happen.

Did we have armies of people complaining during the 1980s, when Liverpool thrived and dominated? Was there a huge stink (apart from us Blues of course!) when United, under the guidance of Fergie, swept everyone aside to storm to their greatest ever trophy haul during the 1990s? Apart from Leicester City and Blackburn Rovers, the Premier League years have always tended to have one team who have come along and, for at least a couple of seasons, been hugely successful. United, Arsenal, Chelsea and City are all part of that formula. So to only now state that it’s City that’s making the League boring with their successes is completely baffling.

Of course, it’s not baffling. It stinks of bitterness and jealousy. Blackburn Rovers - who won the Premier League back in the 1994/95 season – took it to the last day of the season to pip United to the title. They had Kenny Dalglish as manager and their secret formula was the magical partnership of SAS – Chris Sutton and Alan Shearer. Sutton scored 15 goals, but it was Shearer who was the talisman, scoring 34 goals to help them lift the silverware. Colin Hendry, Graeme Le Saux and Tim Sherwood all made it into the PFA Team of the Year for them, acknowledging their efforts towards the title win.

The quite unlikely achievement was celebrated because then owner, the late Jack Walker, had invested millions of his own money into Rovers. His estimated net worth was £600 million: he took over the running of the family sheet metal business, Walkersteel, and from that began to invest heavily in the club. His millions went towards new ground infrastructure and new training facilities, not to mention towards signing new flagship signings at Ewood Park. The fans were overjoyed, the media delighted at the sight of his tears of happiness on that final day of the season at Anfield (the only time that ground has ever seen a Premier League title win might I add!) What a story – Walker’s millions made dreams come true. What a hero.

Leicester enjoyed a similar, quite extraordinary fairy-tale Premier League title win. Their 5,000-1 odds at the start of the season showed the extent to which nobody had remotely considered them capable of winning the League.

Under the guidance of manager Claudio Ranieri, the Foxes emerged as the surprise package of the 2015/16 season. The late owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, had injected millions into the club from his King Power duty free empire, enabling Leicester to invest- and really shake up the status quo.

It was the England striker Jamie Vardy that grabbed the headlines with his 24 goals, distinctly and vivaciously assisted along the way by winger Riyad Mahrez’s (wonder where HE is now?!), with his 17 goals. Other players worth a shout included N’Golo Kante, Robert Huth, Danny Drinkwater and Christian Fuchs. Once the team had hit the dizzy heights in the table, belief began to grow and, with the momentum behind them, they took their fans on an astounding journey that culminated in them lifting the Premier League trophy. Proof indeed, that miracles can and do happen.

I’ll lump Chelsea, Arsenal and United together, because their stories are all reasonably similar. Chelsea, with the notorious might of Russian chairman Roman Abramovich’s Roubles behind the club, have won it all. With ‘captain, leader, legend’ John Terry at the heart of their defence, Frank Lampard in midfield and Didier Drogba upfront to name but a few, Stamford Bridge was a trophy haven, and in the Mid 00’s, no trophy hadn’t been graced with the Royal blue and white ribbons of Chelsea.

Arsenal – well, Arsenal were simply a joy to watch. Their foreign signings greatly enriched the Premier League more than any football fan could’ve realised they ever would. What City fan could forget being at Maine Road for that 4-0 drubbing? Yes, the where Carlo Nash’s touches of the ball were just picking it out of the net after each and every Arsenal goal. Say what you want, but at that time, they were an absolute joy to watch.

Under Frenchman Arsene Wenger, the Gunners enjoyed their infamous ‘Invincibles’ season during 2003/04, and won the League and Cup double in 1997/98 and 2001/02. The League was graced with Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars, Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg – who all helped Arsenal to their trophy haul – back in the days when it was catfights aplenty between Wenger and Fergie.

Now, the final team mentioned there, United, I’m not going into their trophy successes in such detail, of course. But, throughout their glory years, they spent millions and millions of pounds on players to help them secure silverware. Yes, they had their home-grown talent, but they wouldn’t have remotely enjoyed such dizzy heights had it not been for such serious, heavyweight squad investments. In fact, they’re still at it these days – spending obscene amounts of money, just not enjoying the same accomplishments.

I’ve made my point in such a detailed way, as to illustrate the intolerable hypocrisy of not only Danny Baker, but of every single fan, critic and journalist who dares to highlight our spending. I know it’s nothing new, but for us to still be on the receiving end of pelters for it is beyond tiresome.

The word ‘boring’ is being thrown around a lot – how can we be making the League boring when it’s absolutely wide open right now? How can our football ever, and I repeat, EVER, be described as boring, when it’s some of the most technically astute, accomplished and visually sensational the Premier League has ever been blessed with? I say that, consciously, with no shred of bids, because every word of it is true.

The extent of fan jealousy towards us is at fever pitch and it’s no surprise that it happens to coincide with us playing some of our best football. Did anybody ever pick holes in Jack Walker’s spending? Who knocked Leicester City when they won the title with a lot of help from King Power along the way? It was all ‘a breath of fresh air’, ‘what a fairytale’ and ‘how amazing for Leicester’.

Arsenal? Spent millions. Chelsea? Spent millions. United? Spent billions. Yet every fan has the audacity, or sheer idiocy, to make Sheikh quips towards us. Where would any of those clubs I’ve previously mentioned be without the money they’ve invested and spent? In fact, where would any club, or on a greater scale, any business be, without spending money. Everybody worth their salt knows you have to speculate to accumulate – this is not a new notion – and it’s certainly not something that City are pioneers of. It’s been going on long before Trevor Francis became the first British footballer to command a £1 million transfer fee back in 1979 (Birmingham City to Forest, in case you wanted to know).

I think I’m just sick and tired of the stick City constantly seem to get these days. I’m almost at the point where I’m starting to become immune to it. You have the usual suspects – Duncan Castles, Neil Custis and the host off Good Morning Britain who I’m not even going to flatter enough by mentioning his name, because his ego is out of control enough. But there are plenty of others – Matthew Syed, Ian Herbert, James Ducker and many more who led a shamed crusade, via the Der Spiegel links, to encourage action from UEFA to sanction City. John Dillon even incredulously insinuated that City and David Silva had used the horrifically sad circumstances of the Spaniard’s son’s birth, and subsequent recovery to full fitness, to spin negative attitudes towards City.

Sadly, journalism seems to be an industry these days led by ‘clickbait’ articles. The more controversial, misleading and scandalous a story sounds, the greater the reader hits. Even if the story angle is spun, the journalists show no desire to backtrack or apologise. More so, a journalist I have previously worked with (and who I shall keep anonymous), admitted that newspapers tend to lead with stories on the headline grabbers, because they know it gets them the numbers they need online and sells papers.

It’s a truly sad state of affairs – one that has been highlighted all the more through the recent racism furore of Raheem Sterling at the Bridge. I won’t go into it in depth, because I’m sure others have in this issue, but I will say this. The media have made Sterling a scapegoat for the past couple of seasons. They are culpable for brainwashing society’s ill-washed with their complete gutter press and open bullying of the 23 year old.

It’s therefore no surprise that Sterling gets booed at most stadiums he goes to. It’s wholly unjustifiable and hugely unwarranted – here is a young, successful footballer who left Liverpool to further his career. This decision has already proved to have paid off massively for him, with both his personal career progression and his contributions towards helping City achieve silverware. But it’s no surprise because the press have managed to turn him into a pantomime villain. How dare he shop at Greggs, Poundworld and Primark? Outrageous that he bought his Mum a house? Ludicrous he has a tattoo tribute to his late Dad! The headlines become more despicable the more successful Sterling becomes.

Sterling has since come out on Instagram, asking for the media to ‘have a second thought about fair publicity and give all players an equal chance’, saying the press ‘get their message across’ differently for ‘a young black player and a young white player’. He knows the score, he knows it’s a race issue, fuelled by it being also a City issue. It’s made furthermore bizarre because, at the time of writing, the club have issued no statement publicly backing or supporting Sterling. You may say they don’t need to, why should they? You’d just like to think, even know I’m adamant and know for a fact they look after their players and have a duty of care to come out with a message of support would be a good standpoint to deliver. Radio silence it is at the moment though (but we all know the club HATE any slight negative angle towards them).

With great power, comes great responsibility. With great success, comes constant scrutiny. Maybe I’m just not used to it, perhaps I should be by now. I will always, with every breath in my body, continue to fight the good fight and publicly condemn any injustices towards City in the media. But it’s the hypocrisy and short-sighted lunacy that riles and disturbs me. When they won the treble the season we were promoted from the then Second Division, they were the darlings of English media. We win silverware and it’s always tarnished with derived nonsense.

It will continue inevitably, but so will our sensational, mesmeric football.  But I suppose we do come across this in real life. Some people delight in seeing others do well, but a minority absolute loath it. They despise it. And it’s that bitterness, envious and poisonous stance that is trying to take away from the incredible achievements City are enjoying. But it won’t taint us – it will only serve to make us stronger and less tolerant to the bullshit surrounding us.

And long may our successes and achievements continue. Because they will – and I can’t wait to watch those moronic imbeciles squirm while we carry on lifting trophies for the foreseeable future.


I was talking to a very good friend of mine, Ian Cheeseman, recently, speculating about the long-term future of City and the what-ifs. We were wondering what direction the club would go in and musing over the future of the current fan base if we ever won the Champions League.

I already know people who have left their season tickets behind, whether it be for financial reasons or personal, but then it made me think. Could I ever turn my back on my football team? Just the thought of answering the question made my heart drop.

What would I be without Manchester City?

The way of life

For around 25 years, I’ve planned my life around the football fixtures. Before children and responsibilities in general came along, I used to go home and away across the country following City. This meant almost every weekend was spent travelling and supporting my team. Whether it was London, Liverpool, Leeds or Leicester, I’d be there. Sometimes we’d stay overnight, meaning the weekend was taken up with following the Blues. 3,000 of you who have the loyalty points, the time or the supporters’ club memberships, still do this. You lucky sods.

I still mark the fixture list on the calendar (as soon as the rearranged television fixtures come out – no point beforehand!) and add on all cup games. If a friend asks to meet on a Saturday? ‘Let me just check my calendar,’ of course, largely meaning the fixture list. So City have dictated my social life for a quarter of a century already. When I say that out loud, it sounds really sad, doesn’t it? But it’s more than just a hobby – it’s a way of life. It’s all I’ve ever know for a huge chunk of my life. It’s all we’ve ever known.

These days, with having two boys under the age of four, finances and circumstances at the moment mean that we are sharing a season ticket, so we take it in turns to go to the home games. We have dropped down the pecking order points-wise for away tickets, so following City away is now once in a blue moon. Which is fine by me, as it makes it all the more special when we do get to do it. It’s unrealistic to think we could do any more right now all things considered. We can take Vincent to the games as he’s four and really enjoys it, but Noel is almost two and still hasn’t mastered the act of sitting still, so the thought of taking him for the sake of it and chasing him round the stand for 90 minutes isn’t really an appealing one.

It goes without saying that we never miss a game. So the ones we get to – fantastic – the others, like many other people, we watch on the television or on a stream. Does it make us any less of a fan? Absolutely not. These are the sacrifices we inevitably have to make as we make decisions throughout our lives. Living vicariously isn’t always possible when you have a budget to manage and two little humans to feed, dress and entertain. Most people have responsibilities, with decisions to make. A lot of the time, life is a balancing act. Trying to keep everything in balance, everybody happy, everything afloat, can prove so difficult. But the one constant has been City – and that won’t change any time soon.

It’s in the blood

I know so many people who were named after former City players. Colin, Mike, Francis…the memories of those legends of the past will forever resonate through generations: not only because of their skills on the pitch, but because fans during that time created a further legacy for them, by naming their sons after them.

It’s not an easy thing, thinking of what name to give your child. I remember when I was pregnant with my first born, I wrote down a list of potential names to consider and the pressure and practicalities of giving my child that name for the rest of their life weighed down on me with such a heavy burden. All of my friends and everybody that knows me knew it would have some City connection.

But he was always only ever going to be called Vincent. Captain Kompany has earned his place in City’s history with his typically solid, swashbuckling defending displays over the years. Some may remember him for his unfortunate injury record; I for one will only take away the positives, and there are so many to choose from. His attitude is faultless, his heart is golden and his heroics have helped towards many of our trophies. The signings of Stones and Laporte have inevitably seen the Belgian fall down the pecking order, but I’ll always be able to tell my Vincent the stories of just how pivotal a part his name sake played in the story of City’s successes over the years.

My second born was slightly tougher. I didn’t want him to have a name that he could potentially be one of a few in his classroom, so that ruled out Kevin, David, Joe. Many people said Sergio to me and laughed, but it did actually get to a point where I seriously started to consider it. I mentioned it to Adam and his response was laughter, of course. He’d definitely be the only Sergio in his class, that’s for sure! I thought Serg for short was pretty cool too, but, ultimately, we both decided to go for it as a middle name, with Noel (of Gallagher, Oasis, fame) as his first name.

So, with sons called Vincent and Noel Sergio, it’s pretty hard to escape which football team I support. That’s a conscious choice I opted for and one that will stay with them now for the rest of their lives. It’s in their blood. Vincent has been to quite a few games now; he’s seen us lift the Premier League trophy at the Etihad and the Capital One Cup twice at Wembley. Noel is yet to go because, basically, he doesn’t sit still yet! But hopefully one day, like many fans before them, our match day traditions and love for our team will strike a chord for them. One day they’ll be going in Mary D’s supping pints before the game. One day they might meet their girlfriend because of City. One day they may have a hand in naming their child after the next generation of City heroes. One day.

It’s that generational support that is so vital to the club. City are focusing so much at the moment on attracting the global and corporate fans. I’m all for that and I encourage that entirely. But what about the local fans? The fans that have been there since day one? The great Grandfathers, who took the Grandads, who then passed on their support to the Mums and Dads. The families throughout the years: aunties, uncles, cousins, sons and daughters that went week in, week out at Maine Road and now turn up at the Etihad without fail. That hardcore support that City relied on during the club’s plummet to Division Two, are still going, but will eventually, slowly stop. We have to make our best effort to pass on our allegiance to our children and encourage them to partake in our hobby just as passionately as we have done throughout the years to ensure the fan base remains. I want them to be able to enjoy it just as much as I have done – even when the day out was much better than the football!

It’s a different generation now though. The club has evolved beyond anything it ever looked like when I started going. The stadium, the players, the management, the football, the philosophy, even the mentality has started to shift. ‘Typical City’ was the tag we all used to refer to – the new ‘Typical City’ norm is winning. A winning mentality, a winning habit and winners across the pitch. The losses sting perhaps more now, because they’re so few and far between. The football is mesmerising, hypnotic but just as addictive. Like a habit so hard to shake, to quit, to walk away would be impossible. Not even the heaviest of hearts could make such a decision. It’s blue blood – that will never change.

Memories for life

So many memories I have throughout my life, are memories that I’ve made involving City. The good, the bad and the ugly. Every single boyfriend I’ve had with the exception of one have been City fans. I met my current boyfriend, Adam, through Twitter and this only happened because he was a blue. The first time we met was at the Etihad. Some of our best memories together have been shared there, falling in love and having our baby boy, Noel Sergio. We’ve celebrated many of our successes together and it’s one of the hobbies that we share and enjoy as a couple.

Ten trips to Wembley when at one point in my life I thought I’d be lucky to ever experience one. The first time securing promotion to the then Division One by the tip of our fingernails, the second beating United to pave the way to the third - ripping the banner down by winning the FA Cup. The nights out that have ended in spectacular hangovers, the days seeing the joy on my little Vincent’s bewildered face. Finding a copy of King of the Kippax at my Grandad’s house after he passed away from prostate cancer, only then discovering he read my work. Going to games with my Mum, Dad and brother as a family, together, before they divorced and Dad moved to Hong Kong. Celebrating our second Premier League title on the pitch when I was 20 weeks pregnant with Vincent, only to run on again, this time with him celebrating on his knees arms aloft, after our third title win. Travelling down to Stamford Bridge with Adam’s Mum and Dad on my birthday and telling them an hour before the game that I was pregnant with their third grandchild.

I’ve only scratched the surface. Every match brings different memories – and there have been hundreds. Whether with friends or family, strangers or colleagues, football has this often unique way of unifying people. It’s tribal, it’s infectious, but, ultimately, we’re all family. It’s a bond we all share, a tie that binds us. What would I be without these memories? Where would my life have taken me? Who would I have met? Would I be happy?

The goose-bumps, the sighs, the eye rolls, the agony and the ecstacy. The bruises, the aches, the sore throats and the limbs in the celebrations. The rivalries and the harmonies. I’ve experienced every emotion possible following City; I’ve invested my heart and soul to the club. The results define your mood every weekend – who was that guy who said football wasn’t a matter of life and death, it was so much more? Ah, yes. Well, you’ve got to say, he makes an excellent point.

The opportunities it’s created

As I’ve written about previously, I first started writing for King of the Kippax when I was 15 years old and still at high school. It was largely down to Dave and Sue that I continued down the path of writing. I loved English at school and I knew I had to do something in life connected to it: I was writing all the time in my spare time, so it made sense to try and pursue it in some way. The encouragement and confidence that Dave and Sue gave me inspired me to eventually go to university and study a degree in Sports Journalism.

It was my passion for everything City that extended into my writing. I wrote opinion pieces, player profiles, match reports, features and about personal experiences. I was more than capable of writing impartially about other teams and still am, but it was all things blue that kept me up until midnight. I sent off work and wrote voluntary for many different organisations, I was invited onto radio programmes by the BBC and the now defunct Key 103 (now Hits Radio). I wrote match reports for the Mirror and articles for Football Fancast.

After I graduated and had the weight of not only years of voluntary media experience, but a recognised qualification too, it was working on BBC Radio Manchester’s hit City radio show, Blue Tuesday, that led to my job at City. I worked there for three years: I got to interview all the first team squad, to celebrate those trophies with them and to help out many worthy charities with signed club merchandise. I have many unbelievable memories that I will treasure from during my time there.

Since then, my children have become my immediate priority and focus. But I still take great pleasure in writing for King of the Kippax and have been lucky to have worked alongside my friend Ian on the City Watch Podcast, an iTunes Top 10 Sports Podcast. I still dip a toe in the water whenever I can and writing will always be one of my favourite hobbies. Who knows, perhaps in the future, I may have an opportunity to revisit it as a career. But, without my club, the love, knowledge and passion for my team, Dave and Sue and the unwavering support from Ian, I wouldn’t have even thought about going down this career path, and for that I have to be grateful.

The people you meet

For me, this is one of the most important parts. Without City, there are a lot of truly wonderful people that wouldn’t be in my life. I have met so many friends who I have only met because they are City friends, and their friendships have actually become stronger over time than many of my friends whom I have known for many years.

A lot of people criticise social media, but it’s played a huge part in being able to connect with so many fellow fans and meet up with them at games. I love meeting people I follow on Twitter at games. We’ve all discussed it many times and there’s just no way that our paths would have ever crossed in life had it not been for City. I’ve met fans from across the country, even across the world. When we went out to Dubai, we met up with a few blues out there and watched the game at their Official Supporters’ Club. If I ever happened to go on holiday during the season (usually a big no-no!), the first thing I’d do is find out where their Supporters’ Branch is to be able to go and watch the game.

It was because of my family, namely, my Uncle Bob and my brother, Simon that I decided to support City. But as the years have gone by, friends and colleagues have become so important in my life. I’ve already mentioned Ian: he’s a genuine, loyal and deeply passionate person and by far the biggest blue I know. I’ve known him for almost as long as I’ve known Dave and Sue, who are both truly caring, wonderful and generous people, for whom I’m always grateful for publishing my musings.

Twitter is full of amazing, funny, brilliant people who I’m lucky to call friends. Maddie, Abbie, Nicki,  David, Dan, Kathy, Nicola, Juli, Barbara, Anne, Richard, Nathan, Alan, Ryan, Deb, Samantha, Jenny, Rach…I could write a paragraph of names and smile thinking about all the memories I’ve shared throughout the years, both individually and collectively, whether at an away game, or at Wembley, or at the Etihad.

To you, reading this, those names probably mean nothing. You will have your own band of friendships that you’ve formed down the years going to City. Or perhaps you go to every game with your Mum, your Dad, your children or your partner. Those rituals, those routines, those experiences that fill your heart with so much joy (and sometimes, pain), you wouldn’t swap for anything. Imagine if you didn’t have that. You may have also lost a precious soul who was a blue and that will continue to happen: we’re all not getting any younger, so that’s why it’s so important to encourage all the young blues to carry the news. Their legacy can be their future.

I’ve reached a conclusion. I couldn’t remotely imagine my life during the season without City.

Times are hard, money is tight and people are being stretched even more than ever. This leads to having to make tough, heart-breaking choices. Like I said, we share a season ticket at the moment, because our children are both young; we can’t afford to have two and our childcare situation means that more often than not, we have to alternate going to games. I know a few people who do that.

I know people who are not as fortunate and can’t afford to go to games at all. Or people who have given up their season tickets because they feel like the club is moving too far away from their core working class support, towards attracting the corporate clientele. I also know people who have moved abroad and have to work their lives around not only the fixture list, but factoring in time differences to be able to make kick offs to watch the game. The club may be attracting a new, global fan-base: they have to, to help with merchandise revenue, but there have been plenty of ex pat and foreign blues there long before the money started rolling in.

I also, sadly, know blues who don’t think foreign fans count towards being genuine supporters. They are no friends of mine. Unfortunately, as well as meeting plenty of fantastic, genuine City fans, you do meet the odd dickhead along the way. I’m sure you know who you are, and thankfully, social media has plenty of ways to prevent such people from engaging with you, if you so wish.

All this passion, this dedication, this tribalism. All this energy and effort directed towards a football team. But it’s not just a football team. It’s City. It’s all we’ve ever known. It’s all we ever will know.

I’ve already mentioned that, without City, I wouldn’t have met my boyfriend, Adam. I had a season ticket with my ex, Chris, Vincent’s Dad. So, without City, I definitely wouldn’t have the two beautiful, healthy children I have today.

Now, if that isn’t something to be truly thankful for, I’m not sure what is.


The Summer of 2018 is the one we will remember for the rest of our lives.

It’s the one where we had continuously scorching hot sunshine. The one where we had barbecues every single day and didn’t get bored. A Summer where I took my children to a different beach every weekend in the UK: from the seaside in Cornwall to the shores of mid Wales, beaches that looked more like the Caribbean or the Mediterranean than our own country. Heat so ferocious it fuelled fires that burned for days on the Moors and Winter Hill.

It’s been the Summer that you longingly hope for year upon year but doesn’t come to fruition. For this year, those balmy nights and hazy days, tropical temperatures graced the shores of Great Britain, the Jorginho deal was ‘close’ every day – and England reached the semi finals of the World Cup. Did I actually just type that? Yes you heard it right. England were part of the final four in the biggest tournament in world football. Football may not have come home, but it united a nation bathed in sunshine and for that we should all be grateful.


I was looking forward to the World Cup this Summer just to provide me with my football fix before pre-season with City started. I hadn’t been heavily invested in international football for many years. I love watching the World Cup and the Euros when they roll around; mainly to use it as an excuse to scout upcoming talent that I’d love to see playing for City – but the tide has turned that much at the Etihad that most of the really impressive players on show already played in sky blue.

The last time I was really patriotic, and I mean jumping around like a maniac in an England shirt with a flag, was 2002. It’s been a while since I’ve really cared about the national team, although it goes without saying that I keep an eye out to see how City players fare for their respective countries. I guess all those years of hurt really did take their toll on me and I just lost interest in England. How neglectful/glory fan of me!

But going into Russia 2018, the mood seemed different with England. There was little to no expectation from anybody towards the Young Lions. It’s a different generation; a squad that carries no baggage is a squad with a different mentality, with a psychological edge. Free from the shackles that have tied others down for years, able to perform with a new found energy and confidence. It’s been a joy to see, a delight for all and a surprise for the nation.

Throughout the countries, it’s been a relatively mixed bag from the City players there. Germany – Joachim Low made the stupendous mistake of leaving Young Player of the Year Leroy Sane out of his squad – tumbling out at the group stage. Why you would leave such a talent behind is beyond comprehension, particularly as it was his pace, drive and energy that they so severely lacked. Argentina – Sergio Aguero scoring twice but frustratingly benched twice – again, he can only do his job when he’s on the pitch, something Jorge Campaoli failed to acknowledge, allowing his rift with Aguero to affect his team’s performance. Nicolas Otamendi didn’t have his best few games, with a couple of typically hot-headed moments, leaving last season’s form largely in the dressing room at the Etihad (let’s hope he finds it there on his return).

Bernardo Silva had some moments of brilliance for Portugal and has done his case with Pep no harm, as did David Silva for Spain. Both put in displays we’re used to seeing from them week in, week out, but ultimately exited at the quarter finals. Ederson didn’t get to play but Fernandinho and Gabriel Jesus both featured for Brazil: the latter displaying his usual hustle and energy upfront but failing to score any goals. Then there was Belgium, with Vincent Kompany rested for a couple of games after his recent injury, but brought into the side and played well. Kevin De Bruyne – the GOAT –played an absolute blinder and scored similar too –but ultimately their efforts weren’t enough to see Belgium progress into the final after getting beat by France in the semis.

But England. Oh, England.


They didn’t quite do that. But boy did they give it a really good go. I didn’t expect to be gushing over both England and City this year. What a football year 2018 has been.

‘Not in my lifetime’ is a phrase branded about quite frivolously – and tongue in cheek because of Fergie – by some, but City winning two trophies, breaking a load of records and England getting to the semi finals of the World Cup whilst being managed by a player who missed THE penalty in the Euro 1996 semi final shoot-out sounds like a fable mocked up in your local boozer late on a Friday night. These things don’t happen, ever.

I’m a big fan of the documentary ‘One Night in Turin’, which charts England’s journey through Italia ’90. The late Sir Bobby Robson, so hideously mocked by the press at the time, took his team of England players off to the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Nothing was expected of them: they’d been chewed up and spat out by the red tops, with rising star Paul Gascoigne becoming the tabloid’s next target for his late-night boozy antics and jack-the-lad juvenile, jovial behaviour.

But what happened to them was nothing short of sensational. They reached the semi finals that year – knocked out on penalties to West Germany, Chris Waddle blazing his penalty over the crossbar. But they united the country, gave England hope when fans and critics had wrote them off before a ball was kicked. They came home heroes – and rightly so.

This almost mirrors what has happened to England 28 years later. Many of the players in the current national squad weren’t even born when Italia ’90 was played out. When they left the country to head to Russia, there was no great fanfare, no bustling crowds sending them on their way. Many people didn’t know what to make as Gareth Southgate as manager; he’d picked a young squad – The Young Lions. There weren’t too many survivors from a previous era of hurt and upset. People wrote them off: ‘too young’, ‘not enough experience’, ‘won’t get out of the group with that lot’.

But what people failed to stop and think about was that the England squad had winners in it. Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Kyle Walker and Fabian Delph all went to Moscow after that incredible season at City. Their confidence was sky high and they were playing some of the best football of their lives. The youth in the England squad also brought vitality, a fresh outlook, a new attitude, free from many of the shackles that have burdened and tied down so many in the past after the heroics of 1966.

Tunisia and Panama – nothing to be afraid of, with Belgium always destined to be the hardest game in the group. But nobody could’ve possibly predicted the 6-1 annihilation of Panama and this is where the excitement started for many. A Harry Kane hat trick and two goals from John Stones, a rampant England side recording their biggest win ever in the World Cup finals, the result set the country alight with a real buzz in the air. Maybe, just maybe, this time could be different. A kinder route to the final after the Belgium defeat did nothing to prevent the giddiness, a nation growing in cautious confidence, could this be the dawn of a new era? Could it be?

A quarter final against Sweden, the IKEA Vikings, and a solid 2-0 win sending England to their first semi finals for 28 years. We all now believed. Gareth Southgate and his squad had given us new hope and many people the best moments of their Summer. We’d watched the Panama win with our family during a barbecue on a scorching hot Sunday. We watched the Sweden win in a packed bar in Manchester, with everybody spilling out into Peter Street to celebrate with reckless abandon afterwards. Thankfully no stomping on ambulances here, just many chants of ‘football’s coming home’ with people dancing, jumping around and hugging each other in the blazing hot sunshine. It was a very surreal moment. Everybody so joyous, so happy, so together in their celebrations – what a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of, something so unexpected and truly wonderful.

Then came the semi final. A night where the country stood still. Roads were silent, with friends and family gathered around the nearest television screen to witness history in the making. The furthest England had progressed in a World Cup since 1990 – potentially 90 minutes away from a World Cup final.

The old football cliché ‘a tale of two halves’ is prevalent here. England sent into dreamland within the first five minutes with a Kieran Trippier free kick sailing into the top right of the net. The Three Lions coping well with anything Croatia had to offer and attacked with gusto. Sterling tormenting their defence time and time again; creating opportunities but failing to find that important second goal. But the second half England lacked that impetus and looked out of ideas and sluggish. Croatia capitalised on sloppy defending and, after extra time, we were out of the World Cup again.

That really hurt. I didn’t expect to be so emotionally invested in our national side, it had been so long. Like many, I allowed myself to be swept along in the hysteria, a feeling that felt so good, adding spontaneous delight and delirium to everybody’s Summer. I truly believed that we could do it. We were 22 minutes away from the World Cup Final. It felt like a real kick in the stomach. It was such a golden opportunity for a new generation to make their mark; so many big guns had disappointed and fallen flat on the big stage, whereas England had soared. The comedown was real. I hadn’t felt that disappointed over football for a long, long time. It was a bit of a reality check. I almost feel like, with getting that close, we will never get so close again. Next time, the expectation and pressure will be back. World Cup semi finalists – surely we can repeat that? I’m not so sure. The boys are young, but finishing in the final four means the weight of the world next time round.

But really, the boys do come home with full credit to them, with most of their reputations enhanced. Stones rediscovered that form he had before his injury at City, with many citing him as the next Bobby Moore, putting in some outstanding performances and scoring twice. Walker proving to be just as valuable and Sterling – well, if anything, this World Cup has just shown me how many people don’t truly understand football. So many people were quick to jump on social media to lambast Sterling for ‘missing so many chances’, without stopping to think about the fact that he created them in the first place. His pace and energy put the fear of God into the opposition, opened up space for others to run into. He is an attacking midfielder – he did his job with aplomb – the only game we lost was when he didn’t start, and every time he was subbed we looked worse off for it.

With One Night in Turin. the boys came home to crowds of thousands and an open top bus. I don’t believe that reception is really warranted this time round. Yes, they’ve done remarkably well and come so far, but there is still much work to be done. At the time of writing this, England still have to play Belgium in the play-off game for third place (what a nonsense game, surely nobody cares about who finished third after missing out on the final?), then the boys will be granted some much needed time off before coming back to City and preparing for the 2018/19 season defending the Premier League trophy. And breathe.

Don’t be sad it’s over, be glad it’s happened. Some of those celebratory moments made my Summer what it was. My first World Cup with my two beautiful sons and my partner. It will never be forgotten. Very precious memories.


It’s hard to put into words just quite what last season was like for us City fans. It was so much more than we could’ve all possibly hoped for, could’ve dreamed of. We left the opposition trailing in our wake, a gap so embarrassingly dominant it was almost like playing in our own League. There’s no arrogance; just a startling honesty that the standard of the football that we played was at least 19 points better than the closest team to us. Even now the dust has firmly settled, it’s hard to process the level of control we had and the standard of football we played – breathtaking, mesmeric and captivating fantasy football.

So, where do you go from smashing dozens of records and winning two trophies? Where do we go after such a record-breaking season? You move to defend your titles, win more and somehow still improve further.

Signings-wise: at the time of writing, Jorginho (a name quite frankly that I am sick to the back teeth of hearing) looks to be heading to Chelsea because he would prefer to live in London than Manchester – his loss. But City have made their record signing with former Leicester man Riyad Mahrez signing for £60 million (that unveiling at the Etihad though with Moonchester and Moonbeam – talk about cringe). We were linked with him of course in January, but the midfielder has now made the move and, to be quite honest, yes, a fantastic player, but I’m scratching my head at where exactly Pep will play him. He already has the Bernardo/Sterling dilemma on the right and Sane has been flying on the left, which is Mahrez’s preferred position – not a bad headache to have, and I am excited to see what he’ll offer in a team he’ll no doubt thrive in when he gets the chance.

Angus Gunn leaving did disappoint me. I’ve seen the young goalkeeper progress so much since I used to work for the club and covered the EDS back when they played at Platt Lane and I really thought we’d move to keep them and have him as our reserve. But £10 million plus add-ons is a lot of money to turn down and I’ve no doubt he will go on to be England’s number one in the future when he thrives at Southampton. Zinchenko has also been linked with leaving, but for now he’s still at City. Pablo Maffeo has gone to VFB Stuttgart and I’ve probably missed others out, but for now that’s the main movement in the transfer window. Not a great deal, but we didn’t need to drastically strength. Most of the improvements were made last Summer, although a back up for Fernandinho would make me sleep better at night.

After our entirely PR-driven pre-season tour of the US (sorry, I just don’t pay any attention whatsoever to pre-season games, they serve no purpose apart from selling shirts and spreading the word in foreign countries for the club), it’s the Community Shield against (at the time of writing, managerless) Chelsea on the first weekend of August and then Arsenal at the Emirates for our opening game of the 2018/19 season. Talk about a baptism of fire. It’ll be an interesting start that’s for sure, with many players returning late after featuring in the World Cup, although at least Otamendi and Aguero will have had an extra long rest (sorry boys!).

There’s no reason we can’t go out there and defend our title with the same excitement as we provided last season. The main difference was the gulf in class between us and our rivals – and that difference as mentioned was 19 points. I am yet to see any evidence of any teams around us strengthening and improving to the tune of a 19 point difference. Don’t get me wrong  - I don’t think it will be as much as a walk in the park as it was last season by all means. But people realised that other squads needed to be added to in order to try and bridge the gap and I’m not sure that has really happened at all. I just worry about making a good start – hopefully all our players come back refreshed enough, ready to push on and achieve more dreams in blue.


I usually spend the Summer more or less wishing the time away, but this time was different. As soon as the season finished, Adam and I were preparing to take Vincent and Noel Sergio down to Cornwall for 10 days for their annual holiday there. We absolutely love it down there: the week we go in May has been blessed with incredible weather now for the past two years of going and the place we stay, in Portreath, is beautiful. We’re lucky to be able to go out of season at the moment because the boys haven’t started school yet, so there were no crowds and quite often we find ourselves the only people on certain beaches.

The whole 10 days were spent bathed in magnificent unbroken sunshine, on a different glorious beach every day, with Vincent building sandcastles and Noel legging it into the sea and eating sand pies. Porthcurno, Marazion, Porthgwidden, Portminster, Portmeor, Kynance, Towan, Watergate, Fistral, Perranporth, Hayle and Gwithian. All ridiculously stunning, with golden sands and turquoise waters. Every evening we drank beer and Aperol spritz watching the breathtaking sunset over the sea in the hot tub. It was like a dream – and best of all, we didn’t even need our passport. Yes you need to be lucky to get the weather, but boy did we. It was quite possibly my favourite holiday and set the tone for our wonderful Summer.

So we’ve spent the Summer (sorry if you follow me on Instagram and are bored of seeing my seaside photos!) having as many days out as possible to enjoy the delightful sunshine we’ve been living under. I wasn’t here in 1976 and I’ve heard so much about it, so it’s been a joy to experience days and days of prolonged sunshine in our country and, along with the football, it’s really provided that feel good factor for most of us. We’ve discovered more of our beautiful UK coast, with trips to Barmouth and Abersoch in Wales, and many more days out at zoos and parks. We wanted to squeeze the zest and juice out of the weather and I definitely feel like we’ve done that – I’ve not had this good a tan since I last went on holiday to the Caribbean!

So as those long, hazy days roll by and the season approaches, I’ll be sad to wave goodbye to the heatwave that has gripped us so tightly recently. But normal service will resume in a matter of weeks – football may not be coming home, but City are coming back – and we all know what that means. More thrills, less spills, more of that incredulously unbelievable Pep Guardiola football we were so lucky to watch last season.

As always, I’ve no idea what to really expect with City. But I do know it won’t be boring. The pressure and expectation will be there and we’ve got to know how to cope with everybody wanting to beat us again. Déjà vu, c’est la vie.

But I’m really excited for it all, are you?

Monday, 12 March 2018


We’re not really here.

The fans of the invisible man – we’re not really here.

I wrote an article back in 2010 trying to explain what the definition of ‘we’re not really here’ was to me. Back then, eight years ago, I said it’s a representation that I can’t quite believe I’m here compared to where I’ve been in the past as a City fan. It seems an appropriate time to bring that article back to life and up to date – a lot has happened in those eight years after all.

There could be no more fitting tribute to Dave and Sue in the 250th issue of the best fanzine in the land (and all the world) to indulge myself and the readers in a journey that was once more tragedy than triumph. It’s also a cracking way to put those loyalty doubters at bay, particularly after last month’s silliness.

So here’s to Dave and Sue. With King of the Kippax first on sale on 24th September 1988 at Oakwell, when I was just six years old, it’s a credit to the talent, dedication, hard work and quality of them both and the team around them as to the longevity of the much-loved fanzine. Where others have been and gone, Dave and Sue have persevered to bring us a superb monthly publication full of quips, satire, facts and top drawer writing. We thank you for your dedication to the cause as we embark on a journey so incredible, so phenomenal, only us blues could ever believe it would happen – because we lived and breathed every moment.

My City journey began in the late 1980s. I was always close to my older brother, Simon, so when he started following a football team called Manchester City, I made like most easily-influenced siblings and did the same. I’d skip into primary school and stand talking to the boys about football instead of playing with all the other girls. The love affair started when I was about nine – and is still just as passionate 25 years later.

Although my fandom began at a similar time to when King of the Kippax originated, my first match came a few years later. Simon had been allowed to go to games for years: me being the delicate flower I was (a girl – unheard of now!), I wasn’t allowed to go until I was old enough. I was living and breathing City; going into school wearing my precious Umbro jacket, talking tactics with the only other blue in my years, Adam Barratt, being mocked by the glory fans in my class, but desperate to experience the beautiful game for real.

After nagging my Mum and Dad for seasons, they finally relented, and my first game came on a school night. Wednesday 15th March 1995 was the date: I was 12 years old and City played Everton away. We bought our tickets for £12 in a portakabin outside Goodison Park. City drew 1-1: Terry Phelan was sent off, Mauritzio Gaudino scored but David Unsworth equalised with a penalty late on. That was it. Going to a game only served to fuel my love for City.

Almost bizarrely, my love for City flourished at a time when the Blues were floundering on the pitch. I wasn’t in it for the glory like most of the Liverpool and United fans at my school. Going to a football match was an alien concept to them. I was in it for City – and was in over my head. I think at one point it really did become an obsession: my walls were covered in pictures of the players at the time. Most girls would have boy bands or a hunky pin-up on their walls, but not me. I had Peter Beagrie, Nicky Summerbee, Niall Quinn and Paul Walsh. There was hardly an inch of the wallpaper in my bedroom that wasn’t covered with photos of the players (and that lasted for a good eight years).

But it took a year to then persuade my Mum and Dad to let me venture to Maine Road. The landmark date was Saturday 13th April 1996 – three days before my 14th birthday. It was Sheffield Wednesday at home. I loved Maine Road: I know none of the stands matched, it was in the heart of Moss Side where gangland shootings were popular at the time and it was a bit of a shithole, but it was our shithole. It was where most of my memories were made – for better or for worse (mostly the latter). On that day of my first game sat in the Kippax, an Uwe Rosler strike was enough to give City a 1-0 win, but was far from the saving grace in a season that saw the Blues relegated from the Premier League.

The tears flowed but it only stemmed to make me ask to go to more games. So I did – and it was March 1997 when I sent in my first contributions to King of the Kippax. I’d written a match report for the 0-0 draw against Sheffield United and an article about ‘Premier Passions’: a BBC show that had followed Peter Reid during some of his time at Sunderland. Dave and Sue had very kindly obliged me and published both pieces – I was still at high school, but had a huge passion for creative writing, so this was massively encouraging for me.

It was around this time that City were at the peak of their decline. The 1996/97 season we had been to quite a lot of games. Simon had passed his driving test, so we could go to games more regularly, so when the 1997/98 season came round, we took the plunge and got our first season tickets. I was also the club mascot for City. On Saturday 7th March 1998, City played Oxford United at Maine Road. I led the team out at the tender age of 15 (!) and felt a sense of great pride as I applauded all four stands (five if you include the Gene Kelly!). But, amazingly, the rot had well and truly set in. That day, City got beat 2-0. By Oxford United. At the end of the season, we were relegated to Division Two.

It’s hard to put into words what those ‘dark days’ really felt like. We’d go to Maine Road always expecting a defeat. Anything else was a bonus. Relegation was like being drop-kicked in the stomach: a cold, desolate feeling that swept over you, leaving you limp and numb. We were the laughing stock of football. The butt of everybody’s jokes. As United continued to dominate, we were left to commiserate. Constant humiliation – it’s all we ever knew.

But we stood in solidarity. We renewed our season tickets and went to more away games. We watched us play Northampton Town, Walsall, Macclesfield Town and Colchester United. We watched Millwall rip up seats and throw them at the North Stand while the helicopters circled overheard during a 3-0 City win. We watched Stockport County beat us at home 2-1. We sat through thousands of minutes of scrappy, scruffy, shitty football – and watched us finish third in the League – facing the possibility of promotion only via the Play-Offs.

After running on the pitch when we beat Wigan to get to the final at Wembley, I had no idea what to expect. City were favourites, but we knew anything could happen. I still remember that day like it was yesterday. The emotions resonate with me even now. 2-0 down and we didn’t look like scoring. Commentator and ex-manager Brian Horton screaming, ‘that’s it, that’s game over.’ Then Kevin Horlock and Paul Dickov somehow took it to extra time. The penalty shoot-out: words can’t describe the roller-coaster of that day. From facing Division Two exile head-on to Nicky Weaver’s mazy run as we all went wild. City were back.

That’s when the fun really started. For seasons, we went go home and away following City. Planning my life around the fixture list is all I’ve ever known. Travelling the length and breadth of the country following the Blues was a pleasure and a privilege: from the Riverside, St James Park and the Stadium of Light to Oakwell, Valley Parade and Elland Road. From Highbury to Hillsborough, Prenton Park to Pride Park, we had the time of our lives with our disposable income following City.

When Joe Royle left, it was time for a new era and Kevin Keegan brought with him his trademark ‘we’ll just score more goals than we’ll concede’ approach. At that point, the football we played was more than we could’ve possibly dreamed of. Scoring over 100 goals in a season, beating United 3-1 and watching Eyal Berkovic and Ali Benarbia play in our midfield was an absolute joy. Players like Paulo Wanchope and Nicolas Anelka playing for our club, getting pissed up and down the country watching City. For me, that was living the dream. It may have been the best of times, it may have been the worst, but up until leaving Maine Road, I’d cherished every minute of the highs and the lows.

It’s all part of ‘we’re not really here’ for me. When I think back to Maine Road, the memories begin with parking up on a side road with Simon in Moss Side, to be greeted by an exuberant child asking if ‘they mind the car please.’ After advising them we would pay up post-match if the car was still intact, we would head into the Beehive pub for a couple of pre-match drinks before setting off for the ground. We’d often turn down the man selling jerk chicken outside Bunty’s off licence for sausage, chips and gravy from the Blue Moon chip shop on the corner of Maine Road instead.

Recollections of queuing up to get in the club on match day, walking around the back of the North Stand, past the away support to the Kippax turnstile, guessing which number game it would be out of my season-ticket book along the way. Once inside, we headed up the concrete steps to my seat in Kippax CC Lower and read the match day programme while the teams warmed up on the pitch.

The clock ticked down and before you knew it, it was 3pm (yes, Saturday at 3pm, those were the days!). The teams emerged from the tunnel at the Main Stand to the guitar introduction of Oasis’ ‘Roll With It’ and a mighty cheer went up. Whether it’s Horton or Joe Royle on the touchline, Tony Coton or Eike Immel in goal, the loyalty never wavers, refuses to falter. The Kippax seagull blows wildly in the breeze and Helen’s bell rings consistently. The minority that occupy the ‘Gene Kelly’ stand shiver in the rain as the Kippax tannoy states that Mr Banks is on Level One. Chants from the North Stand urge the Platt Lane stand to give them a song and an almighty roar engulfs the ground as Uwe Rosler volleys home. The scoreboard still says 0-0 but the City faithful knows they’re ahead. Some things never change.

A vast multitude of moments drench the memory banks. Too many to distinguish between: Uwe Rosler chipping Peter Schmeichel at Old Trafford after a sublime through-ball by Georgi Kinkladze. The Georgian’s tears on that dark day against Liverpool in 1996 but his unequivocal brilliance and ingenuity lighting up my match tickets single-handedly. Steve Lomas, Garry Flitcroft, Peter Beagrie, Niall Quinn, Tony Coton and Paul Walsh. Gerry Creaney’s last minute winner against Charlton, a disastrous own-goal by Tranmere at Prenton Park handing us a point from nowhere and watching Bolton win the First Division title on our own turf (horrific). Barry Conlon getting a standing ovation during a 6-0 demolition of Swindon Town, a 28,000 set of collective tears during Lakey’s testimonial and being forced to leave St. Andrews early after Murtaz Shelia scored only to find out on the M6 that we lost the game. Richard Edghill, Kit Symons, John Burridge, Martin Buster Phillips (the first £10 million player, allegedly) and Kevin Horlock.

Leading the team out as a mascot at Maine Road in March 1998 against Oxford United at home only for the Blues to lose 2-0. Jamie Pollock’s own goal adding to Vinnie Jones’ post-match celebrations for Queens Park Rangers as storm-clouds literally gathered after a penultimate ominous result. Relegation to Division Two (gulp). Playing Blackpool the first day of the season in Division Two to a sell-out crowd of unbelievable believers and getting soaked to the bone at Springfield Park when the Goat scored the winner against Wigan. Watching Millwalll tear the North stand apart while police helicopters circled in the sky. Jeff Whitley, Andy Morrison, Paul Dickov, Nicky Weaver, Michael Branch and Terry Cooke. Taking to my seat in the Kippax to watch the play-off screening at Wigan only for City to concede within the first couple of minutes then witnessing the hand of Goat before running onto the pitch in sheer ecstasy having reached Wembley during the second leg.

Going to the Twin Towers, Wembley, and singing Blue Moon at the top of my voice. Feeling the disappointment, anguish, agony, amazement then utter disbelief and seeing Dickov sliding on his knees. Holding my head in my hands when every penalty was taken, crying throughout. Watching Weaver do his unpredictable run. Jumping on my seat and bouncing to M People’s ‘Moving On Up’, realising the great escape really was possible. Only a season later, Ewood Park full of City fans celebrating back-to-back promotions.

Travelling to Gillingham in the hot sunshine for a pre-season friendly with my mate Spenny hanging out of the car window while we played ‘Blue Moon’ excessively over Tower Bridge, a Gerald Wiekens wonder volley giving City three points at Elland Road and substitute Shaun Goater earning a standing ovation when replacing the substituted George Weah. The Ipswich Town Cup game postponed due to a waterlogged pitch after a sporadic ten minute spell of torrential rain, being affected by smog inhalation after visiting the Riverside and being spat on from the tier above at Anfield. Carlo Nash’s first four touches of a game being picking the ball out of his own net four times against Arsenal at home.

The Goat’s hat-trick being almost marred by Spenny getting head-butted outside Turf Moor, coming back from the Hawthorns depressed after a 4-0 drubbing and travelling to Highfield Road to be impressed by a new signing called Ali Benarbia. Making the journey across the Pennines with six thousand other Blues to watch an incredible team performance during a 6-2 away victory, only for City to lose 4-0 against Wimbledon at Maine Road the next week (the joys of the Kevin Keegan era). Paulo Wanchope, Eyal Berkovic, Stuart Pearce, Lucian Mettomo and Steve Howey.

Travelling to Oakwell on Hallowe’en to get stuck in terrible traffic on the M62 and arrive at half-time, having missed all three of City’s goals. Darren Huckerby applauding an empty away stand at Millwall, New Year’s Day hungover at Bramhall Lane. Topping the First Division, signing a French player by the name of Nicolas Anelka to partner the Goat upfront then going to Villa Park only to reach Hilton Park service station and realise we’d lost our four match tickets. Going to Highbury and leaving empty-handed but leaving St. Andrews with all three points. Driving to Gresty Road with no ticket and sitting outside listening to the cheers only for the City team coach driver to invite me aboard to listen to the game with him.

Wigan fans coming up to me after their Cup victory at the then-JJB Stadium claiming revenge for the ‘Hand of Goat’ incident. Being knocked out by Wigan only for Gary Neville to feed the Goat in a 3-1 final derby at Maine Road victory and watching the Bermudan hero equalising at Old Trafford during the return fixture. Having to pay a tenner for two drinks in a pub outside Stamford Bridge before witnessing Chelsea’s 5-0 drubbing of City after four hours of driving, then encountering a horrific eight hour drive back from St. Marys after Southampton beat us 2-0. The final game at Maine Road against Southampton, with City typically getting beat 1-0. As if the end of an era wasn’t hard enough to stomach, the horrific and unexpected tragic passing of Marc Vivien Foe on June 26th 2003.

Witnessing Michael Tarnat’s wonderful free kick at Ewood Park before embarking on the epic journey to Lokeren via Luton, Heathrow and Brussels. Upon arrival, enjoying a two hour taxi journey to the ground and Spenny’s luggage only turning up when we checked in for the flight back to England. Sitting in the home end in Deepdale and getting ejected for singing Blue Moon and having missiles thrown at me. Sylvain Distin, Mark Bosvelt, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Darius Vassell and Andrew Cole.

Stuart Pearce taking charge of the club; playing goalkeeper David James upfront during a 1-1 home draw against Middlesbrough in May 2005, missing out on UEFA Cup football through a Robbie Fowler missed penalty. Only scoring 10 goals at home throughout the 2006/07 season, with Joey Barton being our top goal scorer - netting six goals. Bernardo Corradi, Georgios Samaras and Emile Mpenza. Sven Goran Eriksson replacing Pearce and City getting beat 8-1 to Middlesbrough at the Riverside. Thaksin Shinawatra buying the club for £21.5 million in June 2007 despite having been charged with corruption in Thailand and having his $2 billion assets seized. The City directors knew this and still approved the sale – knowing Thaksin had zero funds. Mark Hughes being appointed as manager – and then came the best deadline day we’ve ever known.

It’s the collective, eclectic and stupendous array of memories that have helped define my personal ‘we’re not really here’ stance. It’s being aware of the past when I dare to dream in the present and for the future of the football club I support. More memories will be created along the way, but for now I’ll treasure the ones I have in the hope that my heart remains intact along with my sanity. It’s never been easy but then nobody said it would be when I pledged my sky blue allegiance all those years ago.

We went to the brink a couple of times. The Swales era. Who knows what could’ve happened if Kevin Horlock wouldn’t have scored that goal back in 1999. Or Paul Dickov. God only knows what might’ve happened had Sheikh Mansour not chosen City: at one point the club was borrowing money from the bank against television money that hadn’t yet been paid to City, just to pay the bills. City even asked former shareholder John Wardle if he could lend them money to pay the players. Thaksin was a fugitive on the run and nobody at the club really had much of an idea a) where he was and b) what was going to happen. The club was in a state – then came 4th August 2008. Sheikh Mansour – the seismic shift in the order of Manchester City Football Club. A defining date in the stature and future of the club.

I’ve just come back from my 10th trip to Wembley watching City. I’ve seen them win there seven times, with three losses. I’ve watched them win the FA Cup, the League Cup three times, the Community Shield and the Premier League twice – soon to be three times. How I wish I could go back in time and tell my 15 year old self – it’ll all be worth it. Everything will be alright. The loyalty you’ve shown - that never wavered and only strengthened through the relegations and humiliation - will pay off in the most flamboyant and elaborate way. One day the football club you support will be the envy of not only rival supporters, but other clubs and have the critics who really know their football salt, fawning and adoring.

When Mansour bought the club, his open letter to the fans stated, ‘we intend to build a team capable of sustaining a presence in the top four of the Premier League and winning European honours.’ The papers screamed the headlines FANTASY FOOTBALL: Manchester City, now rich beyond their wildest dreams, plan of handpicking the best players in the world to build a legacy the likes never seen before in the world football. No player is out of reach. Names were banded about – the word ‘project’ has never been so overused. It was an exciting time – but we never really believed how far it would go and just how these ambitions would come to fruition.

Those bad days, the really bad days, will never be forgotten. They’ll only serve to make sure I really appreciate and savour the best football I’ve ever watched at my football club. In a way, they affect how critical I am of the football we play now. It’s hard to be harsh when you’ve sat through half of the rubbish I have. Thousands of minutes of absolute tosh; football that bad it was hard to see the light back then. These are the heady, glory days I never thought I’d ever witness nor enjoy at Manchester City.

The Mancini era was as good as I thought we would get. Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli, Yaya Toure, Joleon Lescott, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Samir Nasri, Gareth Barry and David Silva. The 6-1 derby win. The win at Newcastle: absolute bladdered, celebrating with a load of Geordies who hated United almost as much as we do. 93:20 – quite possibly the single best ever moment we will enjoy as City fans because it involved not only winning the Premier League, but denying United of that in the final minute of the game. The FA Cup win bringing the banner down. The Mancini years laid the foundations for the club to build on towards an exciting era, the likes most Blues have never seen before. Manuel Pellegrini continued this, adding two League Cups and a Premier League trophy to the tally, but with the greatest of respect, it was more of an interim move until a certain Spaniard was available.

The here and now is this: Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are playing the best football ever seen in the Premier League. It’s inventive, creative and innovative. It’s hard work on the ball and even harder work off it. It’s probing, pressing and passing. It’s delightful, mesmeric and magical. Superlatives barely do it justice. Some of the old guard still play their huge part in it – Silva, Aguero and Kompany – but the new generation of recruits are having a huge say and playing their way into the history books. Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva, Ederson, Gabriel Jesus, Kyle Walker, Danilo, Phil Foden, Brahim Diaz, Tosin Adarabioyo and Lukas Nmecha. 

But perhaps most impressive of all has been the improvements Pep has made to players he inherited. Raheem Sterling, Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne, John Stones (post injury slump aside), Nicolas Otamendi and Fabian Delph. Even Aguero, whose work rate has improved massively under Pep’s reign. Otamendi is now the best centre back we have at the club and one of the best in Europe. De Bruyne – what can possibly be said that hasn’t already? He’s a remarkable box-to-box midfielder, who works tirelessly creating opportunities, with stunning vision, movement and passing. Sterling giving Aguero a run for his money with the amount of goals he’s scored this season. Fernandinho, possibly the most underrated player in the Premier League, he plays such a crucial role as our main defensive midfielder.

City are now a global brand. Gone are the days where I used to go on holiday and people used to ask who the football shirt I wore belonged to. When people used to believe there was only one football team in Manchester.  I used to have to explain who I supported – that’s crazy. Supporting City used to be greeted with either laughter or the sympathetic head tilt.

‘Awwww, little City.’ Yes, I got that a lot.

Despite all the trophies, I think the moment that the change has hit me was only a couple of weeks ago. Going to Wembley, for the 10th time, and beating Arsenal 3-0 in the League Cup final, only to play them again just a few days later in the League and beat them again 3-0, is nothing short of astonishing. That’s a mark of how far we have come. I will never forget watching the Arsenal invincibles and being in awe of that team. Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira. They used to beat us – hammer us – consistently.

This time in particular was Wednesday 11th April 2001. I mentioned it before. Arsenal were apparently under strength – and they still scored four goals against us in the first 35 minutes of the game. Carlo Nash resigned to just picking the ball out of the net. We were hopeless: Arsenal were on a different level to us and we just chased shadows for 90 minutes. All we could do as fans was applaud the travelling side – at that point, they were the team I aspired to. That was the kind of football I wanted my team to play. Unforgiving, punishing, full throttle, captivating football. It would never happen.

But it has. Oh how it has. Goosebumps football. Standing ovation football. Imaginative, defining football - the likes never seen before in the history of English football. Beating Arsenal twice in a few days so easily, whether they are a shade of the team they once were, sent a psychological shockwave to me. This is what you wanted Emily. This is the football you could only ever dream about, being played by your football team, beating the opposition team you once applauded off the pitch instead of applauding your own team.

But it is hard to believe that’s my football team. Arrogance will never happen; we are all in awe of what is happening at City and accepting this is still a struggle for me. Surely not. Really? We are the best team in English football. Even saying it is weird!

How is it possible? I watched City get beat by Stockport County, Wycombe, Lincoln City, Blackpool, Wimbledon, Oxford United and Bury. I turned up and sat through the lot.

So don’t tell me I haven’t paid my dues and that I’m not loyal. I’ve visited 52 away grounds (I know that may not seem a lot, finances dictate that) singing Blue Moon at the top of my voice. Now we have people supporting us for the glory – one day the thought of that would’ve been laughable! My eldest, Vincent, has never seen City get beat. Out of all the games he has been too so far, including two cup finals at Wembley, he’s yet to see them get beat. How do I even begin to explain to him what we went through? I’ll show him the photos, the videos and the programmes. But you only truly know if you lived through it yourself. The pleasure off the pitch and the pain on it. The days of singing at the Platt Lane from the Kippax to try and keep us entertained throughout 90 minutes of dross. Those days may be gone, but for me will live forever.

I am an optimistic realist. I’m absolutely loving every single second of supporting the most dominant force in English football at the moment. It takes a bit of getting used to following the team that everybody wants to beat. It’s uncomfortable and doesn’t come naturally, but to hell with the haters. Two fingers to the green-eyed types that cite money as our biggest success. They only wish it would happen to their club.

But it happened to ours. Pep came to ours. It’s our football club breaking the records and wowing football fans with spellbinding play. It’s us that are blessed to watch it week in, week out. To watch Silva weaving his magic through midfield, De Bruyne floating a pinpoint ball in for Aguero, Ederson assisting from a goal kick and Sane dancing down the left wing. They play in sky blue, for Manchester City, in 2018. For us to admire, adore and applaud. Never has loyalty been so richly rewarded, so unequivocally deserved. Long may it continue. Long may we enjoy. If it all ends one day? At least it happened. We’ll be here no matter what. It’s all I’ve ever known.

We’re not really here - but we should be really, really glad that we are.

To Dave and Sue – thanks for the memories. In good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, a huge part of this club and the humour that helped us fans through it all. Thank you.

Emily Brobyn