Sunday, 28 March 2021



What a difference a few months can make. It only seems like yesterday since ‘Pep Out’ was trending on Twitter, City were in the bottom half of the table and Liverpool fans were positively giddy about the prospect of retaining the trophy they’d waited 30 long years to win.

I think it’s safe to say that ship has sailed.

Then we had United fans posting pictures of the Premier League table and claiming Joint Top was a thing.

It isn’t and they’re not. Ole’s reds left with that sinking feeling yet again.

Now Pep is steering City’s juggernaut vessel downwind with the finish line firmly in sight. Since mid December, it’s been virtually nothing but plain sailing for City. Our phenomenal 28 game unbeaten run thwarted only by United, the Incredibles are marching on towards a fifth Premier League title and Pep’s third – but what other trophies will we secure along the way and will we all be able to celebrate together in some capacity if circumstances allow? Brighter days are coming; it’s just a matter of when, not if.


I remember when the world as we knew it stopped turning during the first lockdown in March 2020. When everything came to a standstill: the skies were stripped bare of planes, the streets desolate and football was put on pause. When rumours started to swirl about the Premier League returning, the game as we knew it came under massive scrutiny.

Was it money over safety?  While we were social distancing and wearing masks, players were able to tackle, line up in a wall and celebrate together for goals. Was it right? So many questions were asked, but the show must go on and football did return – and may I say, for the greater good too.

The most recent lockdown has been even more difficult for so many people. We may not have had football during the initial lockdown, but we had sunshine in abundance. The feeling that we were all doing our bit and that it would only be for a limited amount of time meant that people were almost generous in their enthusiasm to stay at home, wash their hands and help out in exchange for their freedom in a few months. We all banged our pots and pans, painted our rainbows and lived in hope for a prompt return to normality.

By the time nine months had passed by and Boris announced another lockdown, the rainbows had faded and most people’s enthusiasm had long waned. With one of the coldest and wettest Winters for years, the days were cold, dark, dismal and repetitive. Homeschooling was a firm part of every parent’s juggling act. But this time, one thing was different. We had the football. We had City – and boy did we need them.

I’m grateful for my children, for their youthful ignorance has been my bliss and a welcome distraction. I’m grateful for my partner for helping to keep me sane, rational and positive. I’m grateful for my Mum, for being our single child support bubble and helping with the boys when the juggle and the struggle has been too much.

But I’m grateful to for City. So, so grateful.

For when most of our basic rights and daily hobbies are taken away from us, City have been the one constant that we’ve still been able to enjoy. Through the snow, rain and freezing temperatures, City have been there to offer us some normality and I think that has really helped me through the past few months. I know that nothing can ever replace going to matches and I’ve really felt that. For years, we have planned our lives around the fixture list and to have something so consistent removed from our lives was initially so difficult. I’ve missed the smells, the atmosphere, the adrenaline and emotions. But most of all, I’ve missed the people.

It may sound precious with the amount of people who have lost loved ones and key workers under incredible pressure, but I mean it with the best of intentions and only in the context of providing us all with something that is relatable, common and the most welcome of distractions. A degree of normality in extraordinary times. Not only have City kept us company, they’ve provided us with the most phenomenal winning run we’ve seen since, well, City did it last time. 22 wins in a row and 28 games unbeaten – with Ilkay Gundogan and Pep Guardiola winning the Premier League Player and Manager of the Month award for January and February.

So many questions had been asked. How would we cope without Kevin De Bruyne? Could we finally win at Anfield? Where does Laporte fit in when Stones and Dias have forged such a formidable partnership? Would Aguero ever play for us again? Possibly the biggest question people had dared to ask was ‘is Pep done at City?’

Every question had been answered and then some.


There have been a couple of questions that I’ve been asked a lot recently when I’ve been invited onto the radio. The first one being, ‘what has changed so much for City to turn their season around since mid December?’ The second is always, ‘which era of Pep football have you enjoyed the most?’

I’ll answer the first one. I really feel that City’s lack of pre-season left them so ill-prepared for the season of the 2020/21 campaign. De Bruyne has always been vocal about this: how much he struggled to find his feet and settle into the demands and rigours that the Premier League ask from their competitors. I also voiced my own concerns over the potential disruption and uncertainty about Pep’s future and whether that could play a part in players or even the manager himself feeling unsettled.

Once Pep addressed the question marks over his future and the players found their feet, fitness and rhythm in the season, there was no looking back. Everything clicked into place: the momentum built, the consistency was established and, just as important, the mentality and team spirit was clear for all to see. This was a team flourishing; growing in confidence and working hard for each other. A team thriving and striving for success in every competition. It wasn’t so much as Pep was back – he’d never gone anywhere. And let’s thank our lucky stars for that.

As for the eras? It’s a difficult one. Much like the luxurious headache Pep has to endure when selecting his starting XI with such an array of talent at his disposal, we have really been spoilt during the past few seasons with the football that we’ve lucky enough to watch. So much so, that it’s testing at the best of times now when it comes to watching other games on the television. The standard that City have set is so superior to the rest, it’s often a tedious affair trying to sit through neutral matches.

But it’s always only been their own standard that City have been chasing. City have set the bar so high for everybody. The eras of Pep at City have been conveniently defined by the club themselves through the catchy slogans they label the seasons to help the club shop sell leisurewear. The first season was more of a transition season, so we won’t talk about that. The second season, 2017/18, was the Centurions season. The era of free flowing, fantasy football, the likes of which the Premier League had never seen before. The League was won with a 100 points tally – 19 points ahead of our nearest rivals, United.

The third campaign, 2018/19, was the Fourmidables. The season that we won the domestic treble and fought a colossal battle with Liverpool for the title – toe to toe – winning it on the final day with a 4-1 victory against Brighton. I think that season is the most stressed I’ve ever felt following City – well, since the individual games vs QPR 2011/12 and Gillingham at Wembley 1999. The fourth was 2019/20 – a far from normal season as we knew it and nonetheless, slightly disappointing given our recent standards.

But this time round, 2020/21, should be recognized as the season of the Incredibles. A term that Pep used repeatedly after the 5-2 Southampton win because of the Laporte penalty decision and the incredulous Foden penalty/non penalty saga, but incredible fits well with City this season for many different reasons. The reason that impresses me the most is what I like to call The Evolution of Pep.

Too many times last season, we were coming up against teams and walking away post-match declaring that Pep’s style had been ‘found out’. A high line, a low block; hit us on the counter, grab a goal, then sit and defend the lead. Frustrate us. Was it his achille’s heel? How do we solve the problem? Teams know that by playing too open, they run the risk of us going full throttle and scoring three, four, five against them. An open game for us can be like carving a knife through butter.

But Pep has learnt and adapted. This season, we’ve seen a much more cautious side to his style of play. I think a certain amount of it has been down to game management: so many games to play and trying to not expend more energy than necessary. But definitely against United at Old Trafford and Liverpool at home in the League, we witnessed a manager who was displaying restraint. A man would had given due diligence to being undone on the counter by these teams before and who knew the value of one point over three.

He could’ve rolled the dice and gone for it. I’ll admit that I was screaming for him to do it. But he knew that, by doing that, we risked conceding on the break. At the time, I was a bit sceptical. But, looking back, I realise that it was a clever decision to make. We’ve seen a few games this season, the Sheffield United games are first that come to mind, where it’s been methodical and at a much slower and steadier pace than season’s past. The key has been not to use many subs, not to overly exert yourself. Grab a goal, keep possession, see the game out. There have been games this season that we would’ve, or did, lose last season, had we not have evolved and learnt from past mistakes. It’s a sign of a top drawer manager: one who has won most things on offer in football but is still learning, adapting and experimenting. But we’ve seen real guts too. Determination, endeavour, courage, passion and fight. Some games really have just been about getting over the line. Some have been a real battle. In a season packed full of matches, I can forgive them for that. It shows again a different side – no guts, no glory.

The rotation this season has been clever too. For the best part, we’ve been lucky to have an almost fully fit squad. Many people talk about the value of our bench – this takes me back to the days of Garry Cook and that napkin. Although I worked with Garry for a few seasons, I never saw the napkin, but I know that the idea was to have two players of real quality in each position across the pitch. To be able to swap Stones for Laporte, Zinchenko for Cancelo, Rodri for Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne for Gundogan is an extraordinary opulence. It’s even more impressive in that it doesn’t affect the outcome of games. Each player knows their role when it comes to the bigger picture. It’s a team effort – you only have to see that when the players celebrate goals and at the final whistle. They’re working for each other, striving for their targets and it’s exciting to see.

So many players have stepped it up too. Gundogan, who I have championed since his arrival at the club, was so influential during De Bruyne’s absence and really came into his own. Bernardo is back to his brilliant self – his work rate is nothing short of exceptional. Mahrez – often the scapegoat for so many people – he has been more consistent of late and produced some dazzling goals. I’m also enjoying him being more selfless too. He has one of the best touches and techniques I’ve seen from a footballer; it’s always only been about consistency when it comes to Mahrez. Cancelo has been a revelation: he’s been our joker in the pack and has played more of a midfield playmaker role than a full back. Credit has to go to Zinchenko too. This season he’s been more assured: he’s matured and been more consistent and assertive. The positives are plentiful.

I could heap praise on each and every player, such has been the nature of the football we have been enjoying. I’ll save it for a future article. But I will say this – we cannot underestimate the importance of how improved our defence has been. The signing of Ruben Dias has proved pivotal to that: he’s a naturally confident leader. He marshalls, orders, bellows, instructs and leads with aggression and authority. Alongside a resurgent John Stones, a solid and consistent partnership has flourished and it’s been one of the true joys of the season. The confidence that comes with having a dependable defence has helped to shape our team, mindset and driven us forward throughout our record-breaking winning run. It’s a team effort – but I do believe it will be the amount of clean sheets we have kept and the vast improvement of our back line that has had the biggest say in potentially bringing the title back to the blue half of Manchester this season.


Most City fans would’ve known that our remarkable 21 game winning streak would come to an end sooner rather than later. Many old school blues would’ve know that was bound to happen against United. That’s just the way it goes as a City fan. But to lose the game 2-0 at home in the manner that we did was disappointing to say the least.

I know I may come across as spoilt by saying this, but there is nothing wrong in admitting how disappointed you are at a particular result, despite what the League table says. There seemed to be a real divide on social media after the game. Disappointment yes, but some seemed to be happy because we still had a sizable lead at the top. But there was still a decent amount of blues that were bitterly frustrated by not only the result, but the manner of the defeat.

So many managers of the past have embraced City and what the club represent: its values, traditions and its DNA. But the only thing that Pep has never really seemed to grasp is the importance to fans of winning a Derby game. It may be just another game in a frenetic season to him, but to the fans it’s a Manchester Derby. The term ‘bragging rights’ is mostly abhorred by people in football, but when it comes to a Derby game, it resonates true. Like most blues, I took pelters for years off United fans who were only too happy to revel in the glory of their successes and the misery inflicted on us time and time again.

But it’s funny how the tables have turned. They may not be yo-yoing through the divisions, but their fans seem only too delighted to bask in the triumph that a Derby victory brings, even if that means that City still ultimately win the title. Back then, I lived for anything from a Derby – points from a Derby game meant a successful season in my eyes. I think that banner that a lot to answer for.

After the defeat, I was conflicted post-match. I did feel hurt – it had been a while since I’d felt what a loss felt like. But it doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can still be hugely exasperated at City losing another game to United under Pep and still be optimistic about the rest of the season. It’s never been cut and dry supporting this club, it wouldn’t be City if it was.


At the time of writing, City are currently still in all four competitions. But this is a big week coming up – with both the Champions League second leg against Borussia Moenchengladbach and the FA Cup quarter final against Everton to play out. A lot has been made of the club’s chances of winning the quadruple – but nearly all the talk has come from the media. I don’t think I’ve heard a single fan really mention the possibility – but you can be sure that, if it doesn’t happen, plenty of rival fans will be goading us straight away.

‘Ahahahaha, there goes your quadruple!’

Trust me when I say this and I’ll say it louder for the people at the back (who usually have selective hearing anyway and believe only what they’re fed by the media); I will be delighted if the Premier League is the only trophy that we win. To many, it may not be viewed as progress, or demonstrate a severe lack of ambition on my part. But I love winning the title and to win it after the first half that we had to the season too, for me, would be a remarkable achievement.

I understand that expectations have changed and we have to compete on all fronts. I’d love to win all the silverware. But it’s not solely what I’m here for. It’s all part of the roller-coaster ride: I still think we’d get grief even if we won the Champions League. People would stick find some irrational stick to beat us with. I’m still waiting for Pep to receive the plaudits he deserves for not only retaining the Premier League, but for winning the domestic treble that season too back in 2018/19. I know, I’ll be waiting a long time.

Rumours have been rife recently about the prospect of 10,000 fans being allowed in for the last two games of the season. It would be magnificent to see fans return and I’m assuming the club would have to organize a ballot to decide which fans would be the chosen ones. I don’t have a chance because I share a season ticket with my partner at the moment (due to childcare and financial restraints – I’d always had a season ticket; but had to give it up when my eldest was born. Since then, I cherry picked my games until a couple of seasons ago, when we started to share one. Such is life). But you can be sure of one thing – I’ll be the one leading the socially distanced conga outside the stadium!

I think just the thought of that situation would put so many smiles on people’s faces. Nothing has been won yet: as City fans we know better than to get the open top bus out until it’s mathematically certain. Even when we’re 3-0 up in a game, I find myself unconvinced until the final whistle, which is ridiculous considering the football we have played this season. I know that in an ideal world, we would love the Etihad stadium packed to the rafters to cheer on the boys to victory in the blazing Manchester sunshine (should the weather Gods comply). But these haven’t been normal times for a time and I’d be happy to take anything if it meant being reunited with familiar faces that I haven’t seen for so long and celebrating together – even if masks and social distancing has to be in place. Ultimately, like everything during the past 12 months, that will be decided by the government. Let’s see what happens.

It really has been a season like no other and there’s still so much to come from it yet. Rest assured, we will all be back together in the not-too-distant future. We have so much to potentially look forward to. So many reasons to be optimistic. We’re bound by our love of all things blue – so let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope we can all be together to celebrate soon too.

Emily Brobyn


Thursday, 21 January 2021



‘I was put on this Earth to be a footballer’

My tribute to the King of the Kippax, Colin Bell

1946 - 2021

When the news broke about Colin Bell, my first reaction was disbelief. I think in grief, we go through different stages: disbelief, denial, reluctant acceptance, then reflection, amongst many others. As fans, we’re so used to footballers being our heroes. We put them on a pedestal to worship, admire and respect. We don’t stop and think for a second that one day they will be gone. It couldn’t be that day. It surely wasn’t time.

My instant thought was to my boyfriend’s Dad. Stephen Porter is 70 years old – he’d often relay passionate stories to me about the days of following Bury because of Colin Bell. He was such a fan, so enamored that he followed Bell when he made the move to Maine Road and Manchester City – and has remained a blue ever since.

It was the fondness, sincerity and warmth in which he discussed Bell that struck such a chord with me. This player he spoke so highly of left a huge imprint on his life – the days out he had following City and the goals Bell scored during those days that lit up his life. Bell was the one – nobody could ever come remotely close to him as a footballer and, once he’d met him, a person. He wept when he met him, he wept when he heard of his passing. His hero. The hero.

He named my boyfriend after him – Colin was a popular name amongst Mancunians of a certain age who had been lucky enough to witness Bell play. If you were one of those lucky ones – treasure those memories. The outpouring of emotion from so many City fans after the tragic news broke was remarkable, with hundreds of blues sharing their own personal stories and tales of what Colin meant to them and the emotion they felt to hear of his passing. It was the mark of the man to the reach and effect he had on so many.

A generation of us in that sense were born in the wrong era and only have the grainy YouTube videos and stories passed down to us to go off. But every story shared, each tale told, helps to educate the younger blues on why Colin is held in such a high regard by City fans, the club and football as a whole. The videos of young City fans on away days in the concourse, beer flying everywhere, arms flailing, singing ‘he’s the leader of Man City’ to Colin’s song from the terraces is further proof to that – the respect we all show to the former footballer who has left a legacy in sky blue behind, transcending the ages, for all of us to cherish.

A legend in every sense of the word

A man who had a stand named after him by the club he achieved so much at. A man who could never understand why people would walk up to him outside the ground and ask to shake his hand, want a photograph with him to treasure or an autograph to frame. A man so humble and so unaware of the impression he had left on so many people’s lives – yet Colin Bell really was a legend in every sense of the word.

After starting his career at Bury, he made his name playing for City in the so-called ‘golden era’ of football during the 1970s. He was part of the ‘dream team’, playing alongside Mike Summerbee and Francis Lee and won numerous accolades and trophies for the Blues.

Colin went on to play for England, but his career was cut tragically short when he severely injured his knee during a match against City’s arch rivals, Manchester United. He was only 29 and at the peak of his career. After recovering, Colin went on to play in America at the San Jose Earthquakes, but eventually retired, leaving behind a career full of silverware and goals.

I was lucky enough to interview Colin – I am still incredibly aware of just how fortunate I am to have been able to do this, because he very rarely gave interviews. When I asked him where was best to meet, he suggested in the Marks and Spencer cafĂ© at the Gemini Retail Park in Warrington. This was typical of Colin – beyond normal, not an ounce of flash or awareness as to his distinction or fame in any way. He even bought the teas. He was warm, passionate, genuine and a lovely, decent human being. Above all – he absolutely loved football. Football and Manchester City.

‘I don’t know if anything made me want to become a footballer,’ Colin said.

 I just thought that I was put on this Earth to be a footballer. That’s the way it went through the early stages of my life in school. I was always playing football. I always went everywhere with the ball at my feet. I was playing football at school at an early age. I just thought, at the back of my mind, even though I was going through school, I would become a professional footballer.

‘It’s only in hindsight, years down the line, you realize how lucky you are that it all happened that way. There are a million kids that dream of becoming a footballer now and it never happens for them. But fortunately enough for me, it happened.’

Modest, unassuming yet astonishing

Happen it did. He started his career at Bury and scored 25 goals in 82 appearances for the Shakers. After three seasons and being club captain, in 1966 he moved to City for £45,000 under manager Joe Mercer. During his 13 years at City, he scored 152 goals in 492 games and endeared himself to the City fans forever, who gave him the nickname ‘King of the Kippax.’ He was a box-to-box midfielder who did everything: ran, chased, tackled, tracked back, passed and scored. He was a complete footballer – he ticked every box. But he almost acquiesced in just how brilliant a footballer he was. Modest, unassuming yet astonishing. Football was all he ever knew.

‘I was close to three players at City because they had a similar personality to me – quiet and reserved. Alan Oakes, Glyn Pardoe and Mike Doyle. If we ever went away on club trips, we would tend to run together and play golf together. We did everything together when we were away with the club, basically because we shared a similar personality and temperament.

‘I just loved football. I just wanted to be a professional footballer. I just loved it. To me, it was a hobby, but to become a professional footballer and get paid for doing something that you love, there’s nothing better in life. I was getting paid to do something I loved. It was fantastic. From being a young child, I wanted to be a footballer and it worked out for me. I was very lucky.

‘I wouldn’t have changed when I played. The only thing that I would probably change would be the wages and probably the pitches. Other than that, the time I played, the people that I played with and against, I personally feel that it was a better era. A better time in life and a better standard of football, better everything other than the two things I mentioned.’

The influence of Bell alongside players like Francis Lee, Pardoe, Doyle, Oakes, Neil Young, Mike Summerbee, Joe Corrigan amongst many others, helped City to win the Second Division, First Division, the FA Cup, the European Cup Winners’ Cup and the Charity Shield and League Cup twice. He made 48 appearances for England and played three games during the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

‘The thing that I am most proud about is when you come out on top after those 42 League games,’ Colin mused. ‘So I would say winning the Championship was my favourite achievement. Winning the League is so, so hard to do. It’s a huge achievement.

‘But for glory, it would probably be the FA Cup in 1969. I was lucky enough to win that as well. Both of those come very high in honours really. But the most important thing for me was when I got injured and I came back from the bad injury to really be able to finish my career.’

‘I had this connection with City supporters from day one’

The knee injury that Colin sustained in 1975 came as a huge blow. He was only 29 and at the peak of his career. His determination to recover and play again for City from the injury gave him his favourite memory as a footballer; the game that marked his comeback after two years out, against Newcastle United on Boxing Day, 1977.

‘My favourite game has to be that day,’ Colin said. ‘There were 45,000 fans there and I got a standing ovation from both sets of fans. I just had this connection with the supporters from day one at City. They just took to me straight away and the reception that I got on this particular day was absolutely fantastic. Football is a team sport, but this day I came on as substitute at half time, it was a standing ovation for me personally. I will always remember that game, it was my number one game. I’ve played for England, I’ve won these trophies, but that had to be my favourite game. It will stay with me forever.’

After 13 wonderful years at City, Bell made the move across the Atlantic to play for San Jose Earthquakes, alongside another footballer who had made his mark in Manchester, this time playing in red – George Best. Bell, so reluctant to recognize his own brilliance, was quick to heap praise on others when and where he felt it was deserved.

‘George was very special,’ he said. ‘He will stand out in history as a great player and he really was. But the number one thing about George Best, even though he was a great player, he was a lovely person. I used to run with him when we played for the Earthquakes. We played away somewhere and we would run together. He was a genuinely lovely person. I hadn’t met him prior to that: all the times that I played against him when he was at Manchester United and I was at City. I hadn’t bumped into him or gone out with him. But for a few months at San Jose, I got to know him and he was lovely. But, as everybody knows, he was a very special player.’

Bell called time on his career after only a few games for the Earthquakes but looks back with nothing but the fondest of memories. He went on to open a restaurant in Whitefield, alongside his former Bury team-mate Colin Waldron, called Bell Waldron, before becoming a Club ambassador for City.

‘I opened a business when I retired,’ Bell stated. ‘I had a restaurant in Whitefield, many years ago. I knew that it was a short career. Nowadays they can retire on the amount of money that make, but in those days you had to have something to fall back on. So I opened a restaurant for when my career came to an end and I had it probably for about 10-15 years. But now, if they play for three or four years, players can be set for life.’

‘I’ve always considered City as a big, big club’

Bell’s first wage at Bury was £12 a week and he admitted how much football has transformed since throughout the years, conceding that finances were key to success in order to compete at the highest level. But it wasn’t always that way.

‘Football is moving with the times,’ Bell said. ‘The thing that I have always thought about over the years, is why somebody with money hadn’t invested in City sooner. I’ve always considered City as a big, big club. Why we hadn’t had interest from people with money before, I’ll never know. I’ve had my fingers crossed for a long time that somebody would finally come in with money and I’m so glad that finally happened.’

‘The money was needed without a doubt, you can’t go anywhere without money nowadays in football. The Premier League had become very predictable, it was always the top four clubs winning everything because they had money. That’s unfair to the rest. In my time, everybody in the First Division always had a chance of winning the Championship because it was the same wages for everybody. Everybody could afford the top players so everybody had an equal chance. But now, it’s a crying shame that the other clubs are just struggling and there’s talk of relegation from day one. It’s a crying shame.

‘I do think the money involved these days though is well and truly over the top. It’s a short career and I do believe that footballers should be paid decent wages because they are entertainers. They are classed as entertainers. I think it should be a good wage, but the wages at the moment that you keep reading about in newspapers are well and truly over the top.’

‘I can’t blame the players for taking the money. It isn’t their fault. If somebody comes along to you and says there’s X amount of money, I’m sure you would just say thank you very much. It isn’t their fault. There should have been a ceiling years ago on transfer fees and on wages. Somebody at the top should’ve done that a while ago. It’s too late to change it now. A lot of footballers would agree that they are very lucky to be picking up the kind of wages that they are.’

‘Let’s give some of our youngsters a try’

Bell was lucky to play alongside so much homegrown talent in a City side that featured many Mancunians – something that is increasingly rare nowadays in the sport. But he also acknowledged that the game now has benefitted from an influx of foreign talent, although he still wanted to see the youth prevail too.

‘There were a lot of Manchester lads back then,’ he said. ‘Which was great because I was a Manchester team. I would think that about 50% of the players were Manchester lads. You talk about foreign players coming in now; I don’t mind the quality players coming in, I didn’t like it a few years ago when they first started coming in, but you’ve got to draw the line somewhere. Once the quality players are coming in, I would rather give English players a chance after that. By all means, bring quality in if it’s going to improve the team, but at some stage you have got to draw the line and say, we have got the quality players now, let’s give some of our youngsters a try or our own players. I think it should be a happy medium really.’

Colin also had some words of advice for the younger generation of footballers. Facing the glare of the media spotlight and the scrutiny of a social media-driven world, it’s a very different era for players these days to the one that Bell excelled in.

‘Football is a short career and you have got to knuckle down and be whiter than white,’ Bell stated. Especially nowadays with the amount of press and television coverage. It only lasts perhaps 10-15 years, so it isn’t a great length of time, so you have to put the brakes on everything and be whiter than white. That’s how professional footballers should be. I get annoyed or frustrated when they get caught out, whether drinking or doing things that they shouldn’t do. They know what the press are like, they are looking for anything. They shouldn’t give them an excuse – they should be squeaky clean.’

‘I was blessed and so lucky to play football’

For such a glittering career, his injury was his own regret. In 2004, he received an MBE for his services to football. Yet despite all his achievements, he still felt like he could’ve won more.

‘I picked up an injury when I could’ve played for another five years with the way my career looked at that moment in time,’ Bell said. ‘To add another five or so years onto my career when I was at the top and had played 40-odd times for England, I could’ve probably reached 100. I could’ve probably won more trophies. I could’ve probably got another 200 or so appearances in, my goal-scoring chart would’ve looked better…there’s so many things.

‘But that’s my only regret. I was blessed and so lucky to play football.’

The thousands that were fortunate enough to have witnessed his genius will agree. They were all exceptionally lucky to have stood and watched his talent, his skill, his dedication and his passion. Those who didn’t, have listened to the tales with disbelief, in bewildered awe. He starred in the ‘ballet on ice’ game, featured during the match that condemned United to relegation from the First Division and remains City’s 4th all-time top scorer.

For a player to touch people so deeply with such longevity, tells you everything you need to know. Colin Bell will be remembered not only by City fans, but by football as a whole, for being one of the best midfielders the sport has ever seen. He made the number eight shirt his own. He was the beating heart of the Club.

King of the Kippax. A legacy for a legend. So drink a drink a drink to Colin the King, the King, the King. Forever the leader of Man City.


Emily Brobyn