On May 14 2012, the day after City’s title winning victory over QPR at the Etihad, Manchester celebrated as over 100,000 took to the streets to welcome the Champions.
Some had to be there simply so that they could come to terms with what had actually occurred in those final moments of the QPR match. They were still finding it difficult to comprehend even though many of them had spent every moment of the previous 24 hours reading newspapers, talking with friends and watching television replays of the key moments. For the story of Aguerooo day see:
On YouTube and other websites some fans had posted their own reactions while others had created split screen footage showing the actions at the Etihad alongside those at the Stadium of Light. Viewers could see the United fans’ celebrations turn to despair as Agüero’s goal entered the net.
Unlike City’s 1968 success a worldwide audience was able to take in every moment of the Blues’ success and analyse it ad infinitum. Those that had actually been amongst the lucky 47,435 at the Etihad had been fortunate to experience the greatest moment in the Club’s entire history – it was well worth waiting around 132 years for!
On Monday May 14 2012 I stood amongst the crowd (in excess of 100,000) to witness City’s Premier League homecoming parade. As I waited for the team to pass, I thought about City’s history and the journey the Blues had taken to get there.
Football success is usually measured in trophies won, games played and so on, but on that Monday evening as I waited I realised that the homecoming parade itself was perhaps one of the most significant moments in the Club’s history, just as City’s very first homecoming in 1904 had been.
Back in 1904 the press focused on the size of the crowds, the welcome received and, most significantly as far as I am concerned, the unifying aspect of City bringing national footballing success to Manchester for the first time.
To find out more about that 1904 success, the homecoming and its significance to Manchester’s football development see:
The 1904 homecoming saw fans of all ages, social backgrounds and stature join together to celebrate as one. This made City a Mancunian institution and one which was able to boast that it was Manchester’s club. For decades afterwards neutrals talked of City as ‘the popular club of Manchester’ or ‘Manchester’s premier team’. City’s first success was seen as the defining moment when football began to matter to Manchester.
I felt the 2012 parade was similar and, for me, the first major public example of City becoming the choice for the current generation came when I stood on Deansgate the day after the Premier League title was won. I looked around and took it all in. There were people of all ages, all backgrounds, and ethnic mix. There were office types, labourers, pensioners, hoodies, mothers, fathers, boys, girls and babies in their prams and pushchairs. Every generation, ethnicity and sector of society appeared to be there.
There were youths sitting on ‘phone boxes, lads on traffic lights clinging on for their lives. Others climbed up on to other vantage points such as the veranda at Kendal’s. Restaurant staff, some of east European birth, rushed out on to the streets as the parade bus came near to share in this moment of Mancunian pride.
This brought the realisation home to me that City’s 2012 success could have a similar impact to the 1904 FA Cup success. That day Manchester united in its support of the Blues and, in 2012, it felt as if the population had once more viewed City’s success as theirs. Of course, there are now two successful teams bearing the Manchester name whereas, in 1904, the Blues had been the only one to achieve national success. Nevertheless, the manner of City’s victory and the scenes witnessed on both the Sunday and at the parade seems to have created a situation whereby the Blues’ success is perceived as in the long term best interests of Manchester.
The 2012 bus journey started with a capacity 20,000 in Albert Square. In 1934 when Pathe News claimed there were over a million people on the streets for City’s second FA Cup success, Albert Square was packed without any capacity restrictions. That day fans young and old, male and female sang a well-known City song of the period “Who Said City Couldn’t Play Football” – in 2012 a similarly mixed group sang the modern day anthem “Blue Moon.”
After various activities in Albert Square, the parade made its way along Princess Street, down Portland Street, Chepstow Street, Great Bridgewater Street, Albion Street (close to where the 1904 parade started at Central Station), Whitworth Street West, and then up Deansgate. The homecoming travelled all the way up Deansgate, part of which (from Peter Street) also formed part of the first trophy parade.
Thousands lined the streets with an estimated 80,000 on Deansgate alone. Some simply had to be there because of the manner of City’s victory the previous day. Others had waited their entire lifetime for this moment.
Parents lifted their babies up as the bus drove past with Vincent Kompany lifting his baby, the Premier League trophy, for them all to see.
The route continued into St Mary’s Gate and, while the original 1904 route had continued up Market Street, the 2012 tour turned at Corporation Street, went on through Exchange Square and ended between Urbis (the National Football Museum) and the Printworks. Although it is doubtful any one on the bus or stood in the streets surrounding this area realised, finishing outside the Printworks was appropriate from a historical perspective as it was in the Old Boar’s Head that used to stand on that site that in 1894 the newly formed Manchester City gained admittance to the Football League. That day the streets were packed with partying Mancunians (the Ship Canal was officially opened and Queen Victoria visited) as they were again in 2012.
This was Manchester in all its glory.