Noel Gallagher created it, Oasis conquered the world with it and Manchester City’s long suffering, but always resilient, supporters adopted and adapted it!
Don’t Look Back in Anger is one of the most incredible and enduring rock ‘anthems’ of modern times and now, 23 years after it hit the Number One slot, it’s the title of a book written by City fans for City fans.
The description ‘by the fans for the fans’ always sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s never truer than in this instance, with authors Sean Riley, Don Price and others, regaling the reader with tales of woe and wonderment, drawn from decades of football famine - before moving onto feeling hungry, perhaps a little peckish and finally, feasting on the menu that is modern day, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
With a slightly disturbing emphasis on the violence and wanton hooliganism of yesteryear, many of the stories will resonate all too easily with the older generation of Blues – those that were steadfast, defiant and indefatigable – when City were most definitely shit!
To the younger demographic who, by comparison have experienced nothing more than a hint of adversity along the way, it will be an education of the nigh on relentless suffering, inflicted upon their City supporting grandparents and parents, by what is commonly known as ‘Typical City’.
For those innocents not acquainted with the term of self deprecation, ‘Typical City’ referred to the club’s perverse ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, to completely feck things up when all had previously seemed fine.
Back in an age where social media didn’t exist, ‘PC’ meant Police Constable, and ‘Snowflakes’ were what transformed the bleak streets of Moss Side into a ‘winter wonderland’, it was a tough old world being a City fan. Not only because we tended to lose far more games than we won, it was actually bloody dangerous attending football matches – especially away from Maine Road.
Only a psychopath would want to see a return to the football violence that was part and parcel of your average match day experience of the 1970s and 1980s. That said, I’m sure people of such a persuasion exist in society, especially in these highly charged days of simmering political extremism and social discord.
As a City fan since 1970, I can easily relate to so much of the content, particularly the chapters written by a true City Super Blue – Sean Riley. It’s a privilege to be able to call Sean a friend, not only because he is an incredible fan, but more so that he’s a man devoid of ego, genuinely humble and always engaging.
He’s a man who attended his first City match 45 years ago, but it wasn’t just any old match, it was the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford – sorry make that The Swamp – when a Denis Law back-heeled winner, help consign United to relegation from the top flight of English football. How appropriate that this review is being published just hours before City resume hostilities with the Red Scum at the Etihad Stadium.
They say records are made to be broken, but if any City fan ever surpasses Sean’s incredible record of 30 years without ever missing a City first team game (between 1989-2019), I’ll buy a pint for every Liverpool and Manchester United fan, from Toxteth to Thailand and from Stretford to Singapore.
Put another way – it isn’t going to happen. The thing with Sean is he doesn’t think of himself as any better than any other City fan, despite his remarkable achievement.
I understand completely his gamut of emotions watching City. The misery of FA Cup humiliations at the likes of Shrewsbury and Halifax, the gut-wrenching agony of losing the 1981 FA Cup Final replay against Spurs, the anguish of seeing Colin Bell stretchered off the pitch in 1975, the unbridled helpless and hapless plunge into the third tier of English football, not forgetting those horrible moments when, outnumbered by opposition/enemy fans hell-bent on smashing your face in, and that certain 'Oh Bollocks' feeling of vulnerability.
Equally, I’m on the same wavelength when remembering the ecstasies of watching Dennis Tueart’s overhead kick win the 1976 League Cup Final, Paul Power’s FA Cup Semi Final free kick winner against Ipswich in 1981, Trevor Francis’ goal-scoring debut in the blazing Stoke sunshine – the highs were so often outweighed by the lows – but if you were a proper City Blue, it made not a jot of difference.
Don Price and Dave Wallace – the elder statesmen in the list of authors – take the reader back to the 1950s and 1960s, well before Sean was even a twinkle in his Dad, Jimmy’s, eye. It was an era which pre-dated anything remotely ‘Typical City’, albeit the City fan base still had to take the rough with the smooth.
Amongst a myriad of contributions to the book are pieces from Ian Cheeseman, Susan Bookbinder, Anthony Rawson – better known as The Ginger Wig, Craig Simpson, Phill Gatenby, Eddie Sparrow, ex-players including Peter Barnes, Andy Morrison, Kenny Clements, David White, along with opposition fans and of course other City supporters from both home and abroad, particularly ‘A Norwegian Blue’ – but there’s no sign of Monty Python!
The book will be an enjoyable read for Manchester City supporters – and let’s face it there are plenty of us – 28,000 at every home game in the third tier of the league – and that’s before you look at the 7.4m Twitter followers of @ManCity. It's available to purchase from The Ginger Wig.
As Slade’s Noddy Holder used to sing – and still does at this time of year: ‘Are you hanging up your stocking on your wall?’
Well, if you are, you now have a pretty good idea of what to put in it! Never mind that red-nosed reindeer – Manchester is blue!
By David Walker
www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu