Two very different generations of Man City fans on being a blue in 2021 :-‘Where were you when you were s***?’
I’m still the typical City brigade,” says Steve Cunningham. “I can see us going to Cheltenham in the FA Cup and getting turned over. I’m still like that now.
“That’s all I’ve known but the last 15-20 years is the most successful period in our time. I wouldn’t change it, I remember the FA Cup in 2011 was the first thing I’d seen us win in living memory. I remember shedding a tear saying ‘even if they don’t win anything else after this I can die happy because I’ve seen us win something’.”
Fast forward nearly ten years from that memorable day at Wembley when Yaya Toure smashed home for Manchester City’s first trophy in generations, and the club have lifted ten more major trophies (or thirteen if, like Pep Guardiola, you count the Community Shield).
For fans like Steve, 47, every trophy is a bonus. The sheer quality on the Etihad pitch has hardened fans who were there in Division Three and before literally speechless.
“We’ve said while Pep’s here we need to go to every single game, this brand of football won’t be around forever,” he tells the MEN.
“When he’s gone we won’t play like that anymore. That Centurion season, we’re pinching ourselves looking at each other with our mouths open saying ‘is this our club?’”
However, for Dan Cohen, 23, this IS his club.
He says: “You can notice a difference in ambition from fans depending on their age. I agree with Pep when he says we need to compete for all trophies, all the time, every season on all four fronts.
“If we have a disappointing cup performance or Champions League exit my dad and grandma will say ‘it’s not so bad, look how far we’ve come, back in my day and all that’. I’ll clash heads and think if that’s where we need to be and that’s where the club’s ambitions lie, then we’ve got to spend like the European giants to get the right players in if we want to compete and not slide backwards.
Both Steve and Dan support the same Manchester City with the same history, but their experiences couldn’t be more different.
“I was a season ticket holder for 20 years on the Kippax,” explains Steve. “When I was little, my dad used to sit me on a wall on one of the tunnels at Maine Road that the toilets were, because I could see. The same group of people used to stand in the same area, so my dad used to stand and I wasn’t so far away from him and he could always keep his eye on me.
“It was weird because he stopped going because he used to referee on a Saturday so I’d go on my own or with friends. I’d always gravitate back to that same spot where I’d always stood on the Kippax. I felt like I grew up with this group of people who stood in the same spot every week. I knew a few names but not all of them.
Then when I passed my test at 17, there was four or five of my mates who were all big Blues and we started following them all over the shop. I’ve been to Swindon and Lincoln when we’ve been right in the depths of being absolutely terrible.
“That’s when City were my true love. When we were s***, I was following them up and down the country. It was never about the football or about ‘we’re watching this s***’. It was more ‘this is my club, this is my team’ I don’t care if they win, lose or draw, I love them for who they are. I’ll continue to follow them win, lose or draw up and down the country. That’s what we did.
But you never see the same faces now. That was the thing about standing, you could always go and stand in the same spot. I have still got mates who have season tickets but I have family commitments and can’t commit. The lads I used to go home and away still sit together and still see the same faces. It’s lost that, it’s quite sterile but if that means families can go and it’s more attainable for everybody I’m all for that.
Football’s changed, times have changed. I remember going to Elland Road 30 years ago and it was horrible, being absolutely scared out of my head. The edginess. It’s gone, but it’s beneficial for the common fan.”
Steve, and thousands of others, stuck by City when they were, as it the chant goes, not particularly good. That experience has stuck with the older generation of Blues supporters, while the younger crowd have been treated to record-breaking, world-class football in a modern stadium and regular away days across Europe.