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Brave City Blue Dave saw things he thought he’d never see

Updated: Feb 22

Manchester City fans have witnessed truly wondrous sights in recent seasons, winning everything that club football has to offer the world over.

 

For the past few years City supporters have adopted a lyric, 'We see things they'll never see...' from Oasis’ exquisite ‘Live Forever’. It pays homage to the dizzying success of the club, especially under the genius of Pep Guardiola.

 


Noel Gallagher's Live Forever lyrics resonate with City fans.

The next line of the song – written by Noel Gallagher, one of Manchester’s most famous sons – goes, ‘…You and I are gonna live forever…’

 

Noel certainly didn’t have lifelong City fan, Dave Hughes in mind when penning the song, but the words are so apt when reflecting on his heroic nine-year battle with cancer.

 

Diagnosed with Stage Four spinal and renal cancer in 2015, Dave became the embodiment of City’s ‘Fight Til The End’ war cry. Time and time and time again, he defied the odds, via a myriad of surgical procedures, endless bouts of chemotherapy and a multitude of inoperable tumors.

 


Dave Hughes defied cancer to see things he thought he'd never see.

Last Thursday the bastard disease finally caught him with his guard down. His indomitable spirit wasn’t broken, neither his mental resolve, but his ravaged body couldn’t hold out any longer.

 

Dave – a former member of the Cheshire Regiment – had fought his last, at the criminally young age of just 57. He’d been my friend for nigh on two decades and, as much as it embarrassed him to hear it said, my hero in latter years.



Wembley winners 2020 with Hughesy (right) one of the bravest men I've ever known.

 

Here was a man who never complained about his lot. He never asked the question anyone stricken with this evil disease would be entitled to ask – why me?

 

Talking with him - just being with him - was a humbling experience, but there was never time for any self-pity or maudlin thoughts from Dave. He’d shrug it off, “It is what it is, you’ve just got to get on with it.”

 


Seeing City crowned World Champions was the pinnacle of Dave's 50 years supporting City.

And get on with it he did for something approaching 108 months or 468 weeks or 3,285 days – fighting every inch of the way.

 

If he’d succumbed to medical logic, he’d have seen very little of the ‘Pep Years’, as City won two FA Cups, four League Cups, were crowned Champions of England five times over a six-year period, before winning the Champions League in June 2023 and going on to become World Club Champions last December.

 


'Champions of Europe' - Dave got to sing that!

Dave, from Flixton, Manchester, saw things his doctors thought he’d probably never see, and he saw it all with his loving family of four generations of City fans; Bill, his dad, wife, Julie, sister, Tracy, sons, Dan and Jordan and his grandchildren Olivia and Freddie.



Dave with sons, Jordan and Dan at the Etihad this season.

 

I was fortunate to be with him at two Wembley finals – the 6-0 FA Cup win over Watford in 2019, and the League Cup victory over Aston Villa in 2020, just before the Covid19 pandemic.

 


Wembley 2019 and Two Daves saw City become The Fourmidables.

Not only did he fight cancer on his own behalf, Dave did what he could to help fellow cancer sufferers. In the deep winter chill of December 2022, he vowed to walk 100-miles in 31 days to raise money for Maggie’s Cancer Support – a charity so near and dear to him.

 

Despite a gruelling chemotherapy regime and arctic-like conditions, Dave was true to his word, covering the miles and raising more than £13,000 for Maggie’s in Manchester. Part of the distance included walking around the Etihad Stadium.

 

Back in 2008, Dave and I were part of a team supporting the United Nations World Food Programme in Tanzania. We had occasion to visit a school where the children had benefitted from WFP aid.



Dave (3rd from left) at the Etihad on his 100-mile charity walk for Maggie's.

 

In temperatures touching 110 degrees, we were greeted by a turnout of dozens of young children, singing a song of welcome. It was incredibly moving and I’ll always remember Dave – wearing his sunglasses – turning to me and saying: “I’m glad I’ve got these bloody shades on, I’m tearing up here!”


The WFP delegation – including Dave and myself – were invited play a football match with the children. We thought, why not, what harm can it do?

 

In the searing heat, on a sloping, rock hard pitch of mud – which seemed bigger than any other we’d ever seen – we found ourselves playing a team of teenage kids who were, somehow, as fit as a butcher’s dog.

 


Into Africa - Tanzanian schoolchildren gave Dave & Co an emotional welcome.


Dave was an accomplished rugby player at the time, and I hadn’t been too shabby a football player in my youth, but both of us, along with the rest of the WFP makeshift XI (comprising men and women), were absolutely knackered long before the final whistle.

 

The Tanzanian kids had scored three times between the goalposts and crossbar made from tree branches. The WFP team had managed a big fat zero.

 


Dave (left) masked his emotions behind his sunglasses.

Upon our return to England we liaised with City, asking if they could donate any kits for us to send to Tanzania – to the school where we’d been soundly thrashed – and to children at an orphanage, who'd touched our hearts.

 

City duly obliged and five dozen home and away strips were transported to the African continent, helping swell City’s global support in the wake of Sheikh Mansour’s takeover.


I’ll end this tribute to my friend – one of the bravest men I’ve ever known – with another reference to Noel Gallagher’s lyrics.

 


Dave with grandaughter, Olivia, the next generation of City Blues.

Dave Hughes was a phenomenal man. The fact he soldiered on for nine years in the face of such adversity was nothing short of incredible.

 

When his son, Dan, told me his Dad was entering into end of life care it was so hard to comprehend.

 

As daft and illogical as it sounds, Dave had fought so hard and for so long, it almost seemed as though he would indeed live forever.

 

#RIP Hughesy you will be missed so much by so many.

 

 

By David Walker

 

 

Twitter @ReadButNeverRed

@djwskyblu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Comments


Wow! What a man! What a story to tell! Hats off to you Dave! May God bless you.

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Replying to

Thank you - truly one of the good guys 🩵💪🏻🩵💔🩵🙏🏻

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lee dower
lee dower
Feb 20

Dave was my Ops Manager when I worked at TNT. Firstly at Trafford Park and then at Bredbury. He was one of the fairest guys I ever met. Always willing to help and managed like a squaddie. Always had a joke but could pull out the stops when needed. Being a fellow blue helped us get on. When he became GM at Bredbury he took it in his stride. Never changing. He truly was a great man and it's a sad sad loss to everyone who knew him and anyone who ever had the pleasure of his company. RIP Hughesy.

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Top, top man, even more so in adversity.

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This story of Dave and his brave battle is really humbling. Although I didn't know him, as a Army veteran myself, I can appreciate the fighting spirit he had.

May Dave rest in peace now he is at rest in Blue heaven.

God bless you Dave.

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Thank you for your words 🩵💔🙏🏻

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tracie465
tracie465
Feb 19

What a beautifully written and extremely emotional read ... you have done your friend proud here Mr 💙

Hold your special memories close ... this true Blue hero will never be forgotten

Thoughts and prayers to you, his family and friends 💙

RIP Dave... God bless

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Thanks TJ - he was a remarkable man who really did Fight Til The End 🩵💪🏻🩵🙏🏻🩵💔🩵

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Such a sad story David and one I'm sure you didn't want to write.

You've bought tears to my eyes as I read about this wonderful man he may be gone but will never be forgotten.

One last thing to say about your wonderful friend NOT ALL HEROS WEAR CAPE'S 😢. This is me Dave Doug Henshaw.

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I always know it’s you Doug - thank you. As you’ll be all too aware, this bastard disease doesn’t differentiate who it goes after. One day - one day - we can but hope it will be defeated one day.

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