Blue

21 Mar

sam

by Sam

As many of you know, I am a Manchester City supporter.  Some of you even had the pleasure of watching the last moments of the first half against Barcelona with me in the Bravi pub.  You may also know that City went on to lose the match 2-nil with a controversial penalty and red card making the difference.  After the match (and a few lonely drinks later) I sat on the balcony reading remarks about the contest.  To my surprise many were negative and downright uneducated, calling our defense “sh**” and our newly acquired manager a “wa****”.  To these people I ask one thing: Do you realize who you’re talking about?

I am talking about Manchester City.  A team that a mere 15 years ago was struggling for a draw against Macclesfield Town.  A team who saw the likes of Shaun Goater, Robinho, and Nicolas Anelka leave without tasting victory.  A team that has been overshadowed for the better part of 3 decades by a loathsome, albeit more successful side in Manchester United.  And one that has had more heartbreak and missed opportunity than a teenager trying to lose his virginity.

But from all of this comes an innate passion for victory which has eluded us ever since the glory days of Mike Summerbee and Colin Bell.  A craving for the spotlight which hadn’t been available until the early 2000s. This brings me to the current and spectacular history of Manchester City beginning in 2008.  Mark Hughes was brought in during the summer of 2008 where he started off with four of the most important signings (in my opinion) in City’s history: Vincent Kompany, Gareth Barry, Pablo Zabaleta, and the Argentinian front man Carlos Tevez. Although he was sacked in the winter of 2009, I believe Hughes was the start of the revival of Manchester City.

Enter Roberto Mancini. In the winter of 2009 this bright eyed Italian came to change things up.  He, along with the seemingly endless funds of Sheikh Mansour, brought some of the biggest names to the other side of Manchester.  The year 2010 saw David Silva, Mario Balotelli, James Milner, and Aleksander Kolorov all make their way to the Eastlands in hope of inciting a struggle for the hearts and souls of the Mancunians. The 2009-2010 campaign ended with City finishing in fifth and missing out on Champions League qualification, yet showed promise for the future.  The 2010-2011 season saw our first trophy since 1976 (FA Cup) and the first time ever qualifying for the Champions League.  2010-2011 was a momentous year and one that continued to inspire every Blue from Manchester to Iowa City.

Then the 2011-2012 season was upon us quicker than you can say “Red card, Balotelli”.  City entered the season as FA Cup champions, with slick new kits, an Italian manager who deemed it necessary to wear a scarf in thirty degree weather, and a strike force envied by the United States Air Force (City added Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri to the already potent attack).  This year saw such spectacles as the 6-1 (should’ve been 10) defeat of United at Old Trafford and the uneasy 1-0 victory over the dastardly Reds at the Etihad.  With point differential favoring City, all they had to do was beat Queens Park Rangers at home to seal the Premier League title.  Here’s what happened:

Sunday, 13 May 2012.  Mother’s Day.  Manchester City x Queens Park Rangers.

I awoke at the ungodly hour of 8:00 and promptly headed to the local gas station to purchase some libations for the match.  Watching Premier League matches in America takes some dedication as the time difference is a whopping 7 hours.  Three of my best friends who had joined me in my journey as a blue all donned their sky blue jerseys and were planted firmly on the couch, biting their fingers, awaiting the match.  I finished my first pint before the kick-off, which I must have believed would help the churning in my stomach and the grinding of my teeth.

Although I’m using the assistance of a match report, I can assure you that my own memory would not put the time off by more than 5 minutes, so here is how the match carried on:

20’ –       Rooney scores against Sunderland to make it 1-0 United

                Us boys on the couch looked at each other, anxiously awaiting a goal from our boys in blue.  Another pint was hastily consumed.

30’ –       City still without a goal against a team fighting against relegation.

                The phrase “Typical City” began to run through my head.

39’ –       Goal Manchester City! Zabaleta with a strong shot off the hands of the QPR keeper! 1-0 City!

                Beers were thrown in the air, hugs all around, neighbors awakened.  We breathed such a sigh of relief that we almost blew the television over.

HALF –   Up 1-0 yet still uneasy.  My buddy Ben runs to the gas station to get some more beer (in hopes that we will need extra for a celebration).

48’ –       Goal QPR!  Lescott embarrassingly mistimes a header and allows Cissé to hammer one home!

                Our heads collectively fell into our hands.

55’ –       Scum of the earth Joey Barton elbows Carlos Tevez!  Referee sees the infraction and sprints over to give Barton a well-deserved red card.  Wait!  As he’s leaving the pitch Barton kicks Sergio Aguero!  This guy is a mad man!  Why do teams continue to sign this miscreant? (Altough he is an ex City player)

A silence overcame us.

 65’ –      Goal QPR! Put in by Jamie Mackie!

                Only City could give up such a rubbish goal against such a rubbish side with ten men.  This time there was yelling and screaming, as we all but knew the fate of our beloved Citizens

80’ –       United still up 1-0 against Sunderland at Old Trafford.  City need to win this match to become champions and they have just a bit over ten minutes to do so.

              The old house at 319 S. Johnson Iowa City, Iowa became a football cathedral, as we were praying more in the second half of this match than we had during our entire Catholic school education.

89’ –       United are victorious over Sunderland meaning City need 2 goals in 5 minutes.  But the assistant referee holds up +5.

                Maybe God was looking down on our boys after all.

92’ –       Silva sets up a corner for City, sends it in… GOAL DZEKO!!!  A rocket of a header past the keeper who has been stopping everything today.  Sergio Aguero quickly snatches up the ball as Dzeko motions with his arms sprinting to mid-field, urging his team to get one more goal.

                Jumping, screaming, hugging, and then all of the sudden…silence.  We appreciated Dzeko’s wonderful goal, yet we knew that it was useless unless we scored a third.  We promptly sat down on the couch, folded our hands, and continued our prayers to the football gods.

93-94’   Niles de Jong sends a long pass to Aguero from midfield, Aguero passes it on to Balotelli at the top of the box.  Balotelli, being hassled falls over and barely gets a pass off out to the right to Sergio Aguero. Aguero takes one touch, he fires the ball…GOAL Sergio Aguero!!!!  City take the lead in the dying moments of the game, certainly this goal will make them Premier League Champions!

                All four of us piled on top one another, surprisingly not breaking our resilient couch.  Tears streamed down my face like never before as I basked in the beer bath that was our living room.  Hugs all around, punching the wall, my friends dropped to their knees.  I ran outside and throw a chair out into the street while simultaneously shouting “CITY!” I’ll never forget the look on my neighbors’ faces.  “Hey, what happened?  What are you guys doing?”  I replied, “City won!  City won!  We’re the champions!”  To which they replied “huh?”  I rushed back inside to enjoy some of those victory beers that Ben had bought during half time.

After the match I got a call from my mother congratulating me on City’s victory.  I wished her happy Mother’s Day and told her that I would see her that afternoon (not telling her I had to sleep off a couple of pints before driving to my grandparents’ house).  After the phone call with her I sat back down on the couch to reflect and watch all of the post-match coverage.  I was in Heaven.  Did I mention QPR’s manager?  It was Mark Hughes.  The man who coached City just four years ago.

Now, Iowa City probably wasn’t the craziest, most exciting place to be as a City fan that day.  Nor is it the most exciting place to be ever, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.  Almost nothing will come close to the feeling I had that day, sharing a victory like that with three of my lifelong friends. I believe every blue Mancunian would have been proud of us that day.

After that school year we moved out of “the 319” as we called it.  I still keep in touch with all of my friends but nothing will ever compare to that Mother’s Day morning on the couch.  I am almost certain that when I die the first place my spirit will go is to the living room of the 319, hoping to feel some of that energy still floating around the room from that glorious, title-winning day. Never has a team given so much to its fans.

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So, to the people today who have decided to whimsically follow an “underdog” Manchester City side, I say this: In the last 3 years we have won a Community Shield (nothing spectacular, but hardware nonetheless), an FA Cup, and a Premier League title.  Our defense is currently tied for the second position in goals against (27) and our attack is second in the premier league with 69 goals scored.  We are currently the fastest team in England to reach 100 goals in all competition and we boast one of the best midfields in the game.  We continue to set attendance records, make great strides in our development team, and sign quality players that fit well into our system.

And let me emphasize, this will not last forever.  But it’s in those moments, when City surprise, disgust, and enthrall you, that you feel what it’s really like to be a Blue.  I haven’t missed a single game in two years and I believe that has already taken a good year off of my life.  I plan on not missing a match for many more years to come, which in theory, will probably take fifteen more years off of my life, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.  I’m so grateful to be a Blue, and unlike half of the new “fans” that cheer for City now, I will never change my allegiance when the boys are back playing Brighton-Hove Albion, or struggling for a point against Watford.  So please, all you fans from Indonesia, Hong Kong, Ecuador, Dubai, and wherever else in the world where you get to watch one match a month and then whine and moan about the outcome, I politely ask you to shut your mouth.  You’re complaining that we lost to Barcelona?  Barcelona wasn’t even in our vocabulary 10 years ago.

CTID,

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One Response to “Blue”

  1. miguelelluesma March 26, 2014 at 3:58 am #

    I remember watching early in the morning, jumoing in my bed calling my cousin (also a City fan) screaming at the top of my lungs.

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