‘They’ll carry on the glory of the City, keeping City in first place…’ It was appropriate yesterday that a banner appeared at the front of the South Stand with the words ‘Blue & white they go together, we will carry on forever more’. I’m sure some will think this is an arrogant, modern day boast but most Manchester City fans will recognise that the words come from the 1972 club song ‘The Boys in Blue’. It’s an iconic piece of Mancunian history and another Manchester icon, Alex Williams MBE, presented the Premier League trophy. These things are important. As was the pitch invasion (more of that later). It’s also worth noting, though it was generally missed yesterday, that the victory over Chelsea and trophy presentation came on the anniversary of the club first being accepted into the League as Manchester City back in 1894. No history? See:
Football clubs are often criticised and I get that. People have talked about money spent or the activities of managers and players over the generations but the truth is that a football club is a community of people. It unites a large cross section of society in a way that many other leisure activities do not. From the richest to the most disadvantaged a football club can touch all of society, or at least it can try if it wants to. Manchester City has tried and wanted to for generations now. And that is why selecting Alex Williams to make the presentation, supported by Tom O’Dell (see https://www.mancity.com/citytv/mens/city-2223-citc-trophy-lift-alex-williams-63820275 ), was important.
Alex received racist abuse from rivals throughout his playing career and has spent decades working for Manchester. He is a wonderful man, a truly nice guy and someone who absolutely dedicated his life working for Mancunians and those who for whatever reason needed support in some way. He quietly goes about his business and, though he has a MBE, he deserves national recognition at the highest level. Tom O’Dell is a young man who turned his life around via that connection with City in the Community – an organisation established in 1986 by a club whose community work stretches back many decades before this. In fact the club has been doing community work – though it didn’t see it as ‘work’ just being a responsible Mancunian business – since the start.
Manchester City, and other clubs of course, have a long history and legacy. They are here through the generations as an important element of the life of their city and, most importantly, the people. I am aware of three people (I’m sure there are more) who have witnessed every one of the 9 League titles City have won – Geoffrey Rothband, Eddie Bickerdike and the father of Margaret Core. I’ve interviewed Geoffrey before but I’d love to interview the others about their experiences. That continuity in football is important but it often gets overlooked by those who like to criticise. Incidentally, if you know someone who has seen all nine title successes and can talk about them then please get in touch. It would be great to record their memories of 1937 for example.
Yesterday was a wonderful day and a great celebration. I’d heard stories of potential punishments if there was a pitch invasion (some are still waffling on about that) and so, even though I’ve always supported peaceful, celebratory pitch invasions, I posted a tweet suggesting we heed the club’s warning. In the end I’m glad people didn’t and the pitch invasion is a wonderful exhibition of how much winning this trophy still matters. Some claim City fans have no passion or don’t care. That we’ve been spoilt. We all know that’s absolute rubbish and that pitch invasion, along with the other celebrations proved there is still a beating heart within City’s fan base.
Here’s the start of that pitch invasion:
Malcolm Allison once said to me ‘celebrate every success as if it’s your first, because it could be your last’ and I think that’s a valid point. Most fans recognise that no football club dominates for ever (not in England anyway) and that success can be taken away at any point, so let’s make sure we always celebrate these moments as if they are our first.
There were so many positive moments yesterday and throughout the season that it’s impossible to pick out the best yet – and hopefully there’ll be a few more great moments in the weeks to come. Yesterday, I just loved seeing the players celebrate. It’s also telling just how many young fans were around the place or being interviewed by TV… It looks like City’s fanbase is going to continue to grow for some time. Maybe the stadium will need expanding again after the North Stand work is completed?
Oh, and finally, I loved capturing this moment. An excited Rico Lewis running away with the Premier League trophy: