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City centenarian Geoffrey saw it all as a Champion Blue


As one of Manchester’s most famous sons, Noel Gallagher has written some of the world’s most iconic rock songs – ageless anthems which will pass from generation to generation.


Top of the list for City's Treble Trophy Tour - Lt. Col. Geoffrey Rothband had City's silverware delivered to his door.

Noel is arguably Manchester City’s most high profile fan, with his melodies and lyrics adopted and adapted as terrace chants and reference points by City supporters.


Noel Gallagher's glorious lyrics applied to Geoffrey's amazing memories as a City fan.

Taken from the classic ‘Live Forever’, one such line is, ‘…Maybe you’re the same as me, we’ll see things they’ll never see…’


Noel’s fellow Mancunian, Geoffrey William Rothband did indeed see more than most of us City fans will ever see.


Born in Withington on August 21st, 1920 – Geoffrey, later to become Lieutenant Colonel Rothband of the Lancashire Fusiliers – witnessed his beloved City win every major honour in the Club’s history bar one.


At he age of 102, Geoffrey finally saw City crowned as Champions of Europe.


He had the ‘temerity’ not to have been born when City beat Bolton 1-0 in the FA Cup Final in 1904.


That biological glitch aside, Geoffrey saw City crowned as Champions of England on all nine occasions, lift the FA Cup half-a-dozen times, win eight League Cups and emerge triumphant in two European finals – the Cup Winners Cup in 1970 and the glorious night of June 10th, 2023, when City finally conquered Europe, to hold the Champions League trophy aloft in the Istanbul night sky.


City's first taste of European glory came in 1970 with the European Cup Winners Cup win in Vienna.

At the age of 102 years, nine months, two weeks and five days, Geoffrey had witnessed the lot – with a myriad of City induced highs and lows along the way.


With relegations and subsequent promotions aplenty he, like many of us present day mortals, was all too aware of what the term ‘Typical City’ entailed.


Former City striker and Chairman, Francis Lee, knew all too well what 'Typical City' represented.

As former star striker and later City Chairman, Francis Lee, once said: “If cups were awarded for cock-ups, you wouldn’t be able to move in City’s boardroom!”


Nowadays, ‘Typical City’ is synonymous with Pep Guardiola’s superlative style of possession, stunning goals, stylish football and a conveyor belt of trophies.


Pep Guardiola's superb style of football brought joy to Geoffrey during the later stages of his lifelong support for City.

When City announced the ‘Treble Trophy Tour’, to bring the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup trophies closer to fans in Manchester and around the world, Geoffrey was top of the list.


The special showcase of silverware was transported to Geoffrey at the Belong Morris Feinmann Care Village in Didsbury, where both he and a further three generations of the Rothband family – all Blues – could marvel at the achievements of Guardiola’s Gladiators.


City's 5th PL title in 6 years meant Geoffrey saw the best of times as a City fan.

Of course, seeing trophies bedecked in sky blue and white ribbons was nothing new to Geoffrey.


Aged just 16, he was sitting in the Main Stand at Maine Road when City won their first First Division (now of course the Premier League) title in 1937. He’d started going to games in the late 1920s-early-1930s with his Uncle Ernest.


Geoffrey stood on the Kippax for decades supporting City.

As a young man he attended games – home and away – with his good friend Maurice Sciama. He stood on the Kippax for decades before it was demolished in 1994, making way for the new all-seater version in 1995 – opened by Bert Trautmann, one of Geoffrey’s City heroes.


Geoffrey bought his seat from the Kippax Stand when Maine Road closed in 2003.

When Maine Road closed in 2003, Lt. Col. Rothband wasn’t one for giving up his seat from the Kippax. He bought it and it’s been in his back garden ever since.


He was at Wembley in 1956 when Bert, an ex-German paratrooper, played on with a broken neck to ensure City won the FA Cup, beating Birmingham 3-1.


City and Trautmann's FA Cup win in 1956 left Geoffrey in tears.

It was one of Geoffrey’s favourite ever City memories.


“At the final whistle I slumped in my chair and burst into tears – I found it so emotional. I suppose the disappointment of losing to Newcastle United the year before, had a lot to do with it.”


21 years after their FA Cup Final defeat to Newcastle, City gained revenge at Wembley in 1976.

Newcastle had beaten City by the same 3-1 score line. Geoffrey wasn’t best pleased, the defeat sparking a lifelong loathing of the Geordies.


He had a measure of revenge in 1976, when goals from Dennis Tueart (ironically a Geordie) and Peter Barnes, were enough to get past ‘The Toon’ in a 2-1 League Cup Final win.


Dennis Tueart's 1976 League Cup Final winner was especially enjoyable for Geoffrey.

He’d never missed City in a Wembley Cup Final in his life, up until June 3rd this year when City beat United 2-1. How he’d have loved to have been there to see the first ever Manchester Derby final, but a win’s a win in any circumstances.


City's 2-1 win over United was the only City Cup Final Geoffrey missed in nearly 103 years.

As history shows us, City’s visits to Wembley weren’t limited to just FA or League Cup finals.


Paul Dickov's 1999 Wembley equaliser was the catalyst to City's rise back to the top.

Geoffrey was there for the late, late show in 1999, when a Paul Dickov equaliser meant extra time against Gillingham in the Play-Off Final. Ultimately it led to a penalty shootout win, as City scrambled out of English football’s third tier.


Aguerooo - Geoffrey shared THE most iconic moment in City's history with his son Nigel and daughter-in-law Nicole.

His son, Nigel and daughter-in-law, Nicole, were stood alongside him as City launched their astonishing comeback from 2-0 down.


Likewise, they were together for the Aguerooo Moment in 2012.


May 13th 2012 - Geoffrey and son Nigel, were at the Etihad to see City crowned Champions of England after 44 years.

It must’ve been something of a conundrum for Geoffrey when asked to name his favourite City player of all-time, especially given the club’s extraordinary success of recent years.


Having witnessed Aguero's 93:20 heroics, Geoffrey was delighted to meet Sergio in person.

Would it be David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, Kevin De Bruyne or, going back further, Colin Bell, Francis Lee, maybe even Bert Trautmann?


No.


Reflecting on distant memories, Geoffrey was in no doubt. It was Peter Doherty – the 1930s equivalent of Sergio Aguero – scoring 30 goals as City became Champions of England.


City's 1937 First Division title winning hero Peter Doherty was Geoffrey's all time favourite player.

The 1937/38 season saw the defending champions from Maine Road score more goals than any other team, but still manage to be relegated. Now that was ‘Typical City!’


With City out of the topflight, Geoffrey’s match going days were interrupted in 1939 by the outbreak of the Second World War.


The 2nd World War and military service interrupted Geoffrey's visits to Maine Road.

He joined the Lancashire Fusiliers and was among more than 338,000 Allied soldiers successfully evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940. He found a small boat and rowed out to a Royal Navy destroyer in the harbour, scrambling up netting on the side of the ship, before being transported back to England.


After that he saw action in East Africa, Madagascar and was involved in hand-to-hand combat in Burma. He rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel, becoming the commanding officer of the 5th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers.


101 not out for Geoffrey, pictured with grandson Harry in 2021..

City marked his 102nd birthday last year inviting him and family members to watch a game at the Etihad from a VIP box.


Geoffrey and his family were VIP guests at the Etihad for his 102nd birthday, hosted by former City star, Gary Owen.

Taking the Treble Trophy Tour to him this July, was intended as an early birthday present, before Pep and the team jetted off on the preseason tour of Japan and South Korea.


The FA Cup Final win against Stoke in 2011 was City's first major trophy in 35 years. Geoffrey was there with wife Margaret and grandsons Harry, Jack and Oliver.

Sadly, Geoffrey didn’t make it to that 103rd milestone, finally succumbing to his advancing years. Like his beloved club, he fought until the end, but none of us can live forever.


In the self-same manner Lt. Col. Geoffrey William Rothband was loved and respected in life, he was given a fitting send off in death.


It's not just City's players who earn medals for their service.

Three standard bearers from the Lancashire Fusiliers attended his funeral. In finest military tradition The Last Post was sounded followed by a minute silence and then Reveille – symbolising the end and start of a soldier’s day.


Manchester City are a man down as they go into battle to retain their hard-won trophies in 2023/24 but, unlike most of us, Geoffrey saw them delivered to his door.


RIP Lt. Col. Geoffrey William Rothband.


By David Walker


My thanks go to Nigel Rothband - a great friend and someone with whom I experienced the joys of Champions League glory in Istanbul - for his help in researching this dedication to his Dad.


Twitter @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

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14 comentarios


A Wonderful tribute & an excellent article. I remember my Dad, who was born in 1908, saying that his choice of best ever player was Peter Doherty also. My first City game was in 1952, so I can relate to a lot of ups & downs as a Blue, but my trip to Istanbul this year was the Pinnacle.

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Miembro desconocido
02 ago 2023
Contestando a

We’ve certainly known the highs and lows as City fans haven’t we - well at least those of a certain age. Unbelievable to imagine the young City fans e.g. 15 years and below have only known success - but good luck to them. You have the edge on me, my first game was 1970 so I missed the 67/68 title and 69 FA Cup, but I was full on for the League Cup and ECWC. Thanks for reading and your feedback.

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Fred Nelson
Fred Nelson
01 ago 2023

You have surpassed yourself here, Dave. A wonderful story of a fantastic blue. Beautifully written, thank 💙

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Miembro desconocido
01 ago 2023
Contestando a

Very kind of you Fred, I didn’t want to make a balls of it, not when dealing with such an emotional story. I ran it past Geoffrey’s family for their blessing.

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Susan Bookbinder
Susan Bookbinder
01 ago 2023

You write to honour others - that is beautiful- the fa t that your writing is a joy to read is an honour to you

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Miembro desconocido
01 ago 2023
Contestando a

Thanks Suzy, it was a privilege to seek to document important elements of Lt. Col. Rothband’s life. It was just regrettable it needed writing at this time. We never met, but he was obviously universally liked and respected. He embodied the very best aspects of being a City fan and he will be missed.

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tracie465
tracie465
01 ago 2023

Another beautifully written story ... another legend ... thank you 💙

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Miembro desconocido
01 ago 2023
Contestando a

It was uplifting to learn and write about Geoffrey’s life and longevity, but so sad that it had to be written due to his passing. Thanks TJ.

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Great story about a wonderful man so glad he got to see the treble trophies.

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Miembro desconocido
01 ago 2023
Contestando a

He did indeed see things we’ll never see and we’ll probably never see the likes of Lt.Col Rothband again - a wonderful City fan over many generations.

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