Has there ever been a better time to support Manchester City?
It’s a rhetorical question as City look to clinch the Premier League title with a win over Manchester United, along with a Champions League semi final berth at the expense of Liverpool.
Pep Guardiola has confounded all his critics by imposing his tactical genius and unique style on English football, complete with sublime skills, electrifying pace and goal-fests aplenty.
As City continue to mesmerize opponents and delight lovers of the ‘beautiful game’ in equal measure, it’s the easiest gig going nowadays to be a City fan.
But it wasn’t always like this – oh no!
For decades being a City fan meant pain, false hope, disillusionment, misery, albeit there was the occasional ray of sunshine, before the storm clouds returned and the rain came pouring down again.
Forget ‘thick and thin’, City’s long suffering support stayed true through thin, thin and nigh on anorexic times, as their beloved club would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with alarming regularity.
It takes a special breed of football fan to laugh in the face of adversity, take self deprecating humour to new heights and still remain resolute in their love for their team, their colours, their very passion in life.
Manchester City fans are cut from such cloth and the essence of being a ‘True Blue’ is encapsulated in We Never Win At Home, We Never Win Away…a new book from Don Price & published by Empire Publications.
It’s a tome packed full of personal experiences and anecdotes as supporters reminisce about the good, and recall the bad, times over the years.
Heralded as a book ‘written by the fans for the fans’, Don and a collection of contributors combine to give an insight into the DNA of what makes a City fan just that – a City fan.
It’s an eclectic mix spanning well over half-a-century, encompassing a diverse and dizzying array of City stories.
The reader sees it through the eyes of those who bore witness to the highs and lows on the Sky Blue rollercoaster ride.
Don and his cohorts take fellow Blues on marathon treks including a risky 500-mile round trip during the Cold War, a two-day booze fuelled pilgrimage to Pompey just a fortnight before City’s lowest ever league attendance, plus a hitchhiker’s guide to Vienna, complete with highly unorthodox sleeping arrangements, just a few feet away from City’s finest European glory.
As any time served Blue will readily testify, there’s plenty of tales of woe to be found in the history of a club that some imbeciles would have you believe has no history.
Back in the dark ages of domestic football hooliganism it was often a toss-up as to who posed the greatest threat to the travelling City support – opposition hard cases or the unlawful uniformed thugs in a variety of constabularies.
Don questions the wisdom of the age old phrase ‘Go West, young man’, bearing in mind the rough ‘justice’ often meted out by the respective police forces of West Yorkshire and West Midlands.
There’s boardroom bust ups, fanzine fisticuffs and the notorious mismanagement of Manchester City down the ages, plus a Who’s Who and What’s What of City pubs of the past, along with Don’s guided tour of his favourite and not-so favourite away grounds.
Don also reveals the origins of popular City terrace anthems such as ‘The Invisible Man’ and the book title, ‘We Never Win At Home…’ His revelations lay to rest many a myth and will surprise many.
The remarkable Sean Riley – City fan extraordinaire – who hasn’t missed a City game since 1989 (it doesn’t count when you’re not allowed in at CSKA Moscow because of UEFA corruption and incompetence) – shares his first City match experience…and what an experience, especially with the Manchester derby at the Etihad, just days away!
A female perspective is forthcoming courtesy of Sean’s wife, Jane, Don’s wife, Cath, and an intriguing chapter from Loz Southon, who stepped into the then, almost totally male dominated, world of supporting City.
Phill Gatenby – author of Teenage Kicks: The Story of Manchester City’s 1986 FA Youth Cup Team – tells of the time he turned out to represent City against Liverpool in the USA, while Dutchman Eric Jonker weighs in with how his desire to be ‘different’ sparked his City allegiance in the 1970s.
For my own sins, Don asked me to write a chapter in the guise of Read But Never Red.
I indulged myself in recounting how masquerading as Francis Lee on the streets of Cleethorpes, became entwined 42 years later, with the ’Aguerrrooo Moment’ on that fateful day in May 2012.
The ‘scribblings’ from 16 contributors in all – some seasoned writers, whereas others are comparative novices – combine to serve up a mixture of Manchester City memories spanning three generations, from the 1950s to the present day.
Don remarked: “Whilst three of the lads have written books themselves and have contributed to City fanzines, other contributors haven’t written so much as a letter in donkey’s years.
“Many thought they didn’t have the skills or talent to write what they have. I encouraged them by saying ‘…just write it as you would talk to somebody in a pub, or in your front room…’
‘We Never Win At Home…’ should hold a broad appeal for City’s ever growing fan base.
The older ‘hardcore’ element who have lived through the good, bad and the ugly prior to Sheikh Mansour’s arrival, will readily identify with all 25 chapters spread over 232 pages.
For the new generation of supporters who’ve only really known City as an entity that sits at the top table of English and, arguably, European, club football, it serves as a raw eye opener on what preceded ‘the money’ in 2008.
It’s an illustration of the indomitable spirit that drives City fans on, watching their team go from punch drunk prize fighters, to landing knockout blows and lifting titles.
‘We Never Win At Home…’ published by Empire is available at £9.95 from http://mancitygifts.bigcartel.com/
Don would welcome any feedback on the book and he can be contacted by email at email@example.com or via Empire Publications firstname.lastname@example.org
By David Walker
We have three copies of ‘We Never Win At Home…’ signed by Don Price to give away. All you have to do to have a chance of winning is describe in three words or less, what qualities it takes to be a Manchester City fan.
The winners will be those judged to have best summed up what and why it takes to be a True Blue. Closing date for entries is this Friday 6th April and the winners will be announced via the Read But Never Red website and social media channels after the Manchester derby.
This blog is dedicated to George Hands (25), a City Blue who is battling bowel cancer. George is a real fighter who even had Anthony Joshua in his corner, via a one-to-one FaceTime chat, in the run up to AJ’s World Heavyweight Title win over Joseph Parker on Saturday night.
Come on George – punch the living daylights out of cancer!
www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu