A typical Saturday at Manchester City’s former ground Maine Road — dismal, bleak, depressing; much like the football displayed by the side who called it their stomping ground. The home of Manchester City from 1923 to 2003 was always a place where you could expect an easy day out if you were the away side. Knowing full well that whatever your position in the table was, you could expect a minimum of one point from this fixture, a totally different story to a trip to our neighbors a few miles up the road.
Optimism, a word that many fans of The Citizens rarely used, be it home or away. Usually it was optimistic to expect a result where your team lost, conceding only one goal. I was fortunate enough to grow up during the era of Kevin Keegan where things started looking up for our boys in blue. The football was still not fantastic, but it was more bearable than it had been of recent years.
The stadium turnstiles at Maine Road would clatter, and the paint would crumble — all signs that the old place was on its last legs. Ticket stub in hand, faded from the torrential downpour you just encountered, you’d push your way through middle aged men wearing blue and white. If you managed to find your seat with no cigarette burns, or your clothes alcohol free, you could say the day had already been a success.
There was no stereotypical smell of pies and chips because frankly they couldn’t be further away from what they were aptly named. Dry, burnt, spheres of pastry with a substance that can only be compared to dog meat were crammed in the center.
Once seated, the majority of the time you wouldn’t budge until the final whistle. If your boys got a chance, great. If they managed to get on the scoresheet, even better. Cries of “Blue Moon” would echo from the Kippax — a surprising roar, that wasn’t expected considering the game that was on offer. The noise would get louder and louder and a sense of overwhelming pride would carry you to your feet. Suddenly you’d forget about the abysmal football, the shocking excuses for footballers and your position in the table. All that mattered was this was your club and yours ’til the day you die.