If you’re a Manchester City fan you’ll be well versed with the song that contrasts City’s signing of Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero and United capturing the signature of Phil Jones.
Obviously it’s the one that starts out with: ‘This is how it feels to be City…’
It’s not only a very popular terrace chant at the Etihad and on City away days, it’s also the title of a book which compares the devastating lows with the ecstatic highs of being a City fan.
Every Sky Blue knows where they were on that wonderfully unforgettable afternoon of Sunday 13th May 2012, but how many know where they were on 19th December 1998?
In a nutshell these were the dates that act as ‘bookends’ in a seismic shift of fortunes for every man, woman and child who’s supported Manchester City over the past two decades.
They encapsulate the incredible, nigh on unbelievable, ecstasy of City winning their first ever Premier League title in hitherto unimaginable circumstances, juxtaposed with City slumping to 12th place in the 3rd tier of English football following a harrowing 2-1 loss at York City.
‘This Is How It Feels To Be City’ is a gloriously comprehensive tome written by lifelong City supporter, Will Linsdell, and is recommended for every City fan.
Not only does the reader ride the City rollercoaster of the past 20 years, they also get the opportunity to make a contribution in the fight against a foe bigger than Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal combined – CANCER!
You can download the e-book for free by clicking on ‘It’s only 6-1’ and, if you like it, you are kindly asked to donate an appropriate sum to Marie Curie Cancer Care by texting CTID61 £ to 70070. You just need to enter a number after the £ to signify how much you would like to donate. 100% of all donations will go directly to the charity.
It’s an easy read – a must read – not only for those who travelled that path of City’s peaks and troughs, but also for the new generation of fans, those who think finishing 4th in the Premier League and losing a Champions League semi final represents ‘failure’.
Will speaks from bitter personal experience when he recounts City’s all-time low in English football, the day they dropped to mid-table in the Second Division.
He was one of those road weary, battle hardened Blues, who was actually at York’s Bootham Crescent ground as City slumped to defeat against the relegation-haunted ‘Minster Men’.
“I travelled to York against my better judgement as I had already purchased match and train tickets for my nephew, Martyn’s, Christmas present. I can still remember the sheer disbelief and palpable anger among the travelling support when York scored the winner four minutes from time.”
Nearly 20 years on, Will isn’t ashamed to say he shed tears on that bleak December day – tears of anger. He’s also quick to confess crying tears of frustration and joy along his Manchester City odyssey and, contrary to the lyrics of City’s Blue Moon anthem, he was far from standing alone, when doing so.
Various City players have been the cause of many a tear shed by, diehard, long-suffering Blues. Will recalls two of the lows and one outstanding sky high:
- Tommy Hutchison scored for City… and then inadvertently for Spurs in the 1981 FA Cup Final 1-1 draw. City subsequently lost the replay 3-2.
- Steve Lomas – under orders from the hapless Alan Ball, infamously wasted time by the corner flag against Liverpool in the 1996 Premier League finale, mistakenly believing the 2-2 draw would keep City up. It wouldn’t and it didn’t.
- You then dash to the opposite end of the spectrum, when all seemed lost at 2-2 against QPR, time ticking down and City about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as only ‘Typical City’ are capable…and the Aguerrroooo Moment!
Will and Martyn couldn’t get tickets for the match which saw City crowned Champions of England for the first time in 44 years, but they watched it on TV together and shared tears of joy as the Etihad erupted into utter bedlam.
Good and bad, happy and sad, these are all iconic memories for City fans, many of who wore the 35 trophy-less years as a badge of honour during a period of thin, thin and positively anorexic times.
Three-and-a-half decades when City’s ever self-effacing supporters maintained an amazing sense of resilience and humour, characteristics the Swamp-dwellers at the Theatre of Screams will never understand in a million years.
Yes, the Reds have suffered the likes of David ‘Football Genius’ Moyes and LVG, but that’s nothing compared to managers of the calibre of Alan Ball, Phil Neal and Frank Clark at Maine Road.
‘This Is How It Feels To Be City’ covers Will’s formative years as a starry-eyed youngster in the mid ’70s right up to the ‘pinch me and I’ll wake up in a minute’ present day.
It captures the essence of what it means to be a City fan, complete with self deprecating humour, and oft misguided optimism even when the forward line ‘boasted’ Barry Conlon & Chris Greenacre, not forgetting the lamentable Lee ‘Badbuy’ – a snip at just £3m from Portsmouth.
The book’s ‘plot’ centres on the momentous 1998-99 play-off winning year and the 2011-12 campaign. The author intertwines the two pivotal seasons, as we follow them in parallel to their respective glorious conclusions.
The reader gets to relive the moment we first saw the now familiar imbecilic expression of Phil Jones, only for it to be transcended by the blonde and bespectacled silly cow in the red cardigan – the United fan who stopped clapping as news of City’s win over QPR filtered through to the crowd at Sunderland.
Pure comedy gold, surely never to be surpassed.
The book covers tumultuous times. First, when City so nearly sank without trace at the end of the ’90s, and second, when they fell eight points behind with just six matches to go in 2012, before somehow dragging themselves out of the abyss in a way even a Hollywood movie script would never dare suggest.
The beauty of this book lies in that you just know the author has lived every minute of City’s crazy ride from barren lands to rich pastures, from infamous defeats at Wycombe and Lincoln to almost routine wins at Old Trafford, along with regular Champions League adventures at the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Without the heroics of Wembley 1999, the late late show from Kevin Horlock and Paul Dickov and the penalty shoot-out win, it’s highly likely the 93:20 goal wouldn’t have come to pass.
Now, in the present day, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are light years away from the hapless happenings of December 1998, and arguably well advanced on Roberto Mancini’s 2012 title winners, with new and exciting chapters beckoning.
But, if there wasn’t adversity along the way it wouldn’t feel like City.
Only by reflecting on the trials, traumas and yes, triumphs, of the past, can the prospect of an era of unparalleled success be truly appreciated.
By David Walker
There’s a saying you ‘don’t get owt for nowt’ – something for nothing – but you can actually download ‘This Is How It Feels To Be City’ by Will Linsdell free of charge.
However, if you have a conscience or an ounce of decency (which of course you will because you’re a City fan) please make a donation of whatever you can afford to Marie Curie Cancer Care charity by texting CTID61 £ to 70070. You just need to enter a number after the £ to signify how much you would like to donate.
All author’s proceeds from the sale of this e-book will be given to Marie Curie Cancer Care. Registered charity, England and Wales (207994), Scotland (SC038731).
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