You always remember your first day at university.
I wasn’t particularly nervous. I had been living away at boarding school for a few years, so was already reasonably independent…and extremely confident. So I strode into my new halls of residence with my chest out and head up.
I was scanning everyone and was happily stunned by the array of attractive ladies (my boarding school had been an “all-male” affair). But despite the hoards of eye-catching blondes, as I walked into the JCR two individuals stood out and grabbed the attention.
And they weren’t women, far from it, they were big lads – northerners – dressed in full Manchester City kit – shirts, shorts, socks and boots!
It was a Sunday and these two second years had already settled into their seat to watch City’s first match of the season. I couldn’t resist, I grabbed a can of super-strength lager and sat down with them.
For the following two hours I was regaled with stories of City’s few highs and many lows. They were ‘proper’ fans, and they actually took pride in their teams heartache, failure and persecution. They weren’t envious of their neighbours ongoing success – quite the opposite – their teams struggles and failures drove their passion.
Looking back, I probably should have joined the elite set and charmed some of the gorgeous girls in the hall bar. Others judging me on that first afternoon would have formed an obvious first impression – beer swilling football thug (which wasn’t true, I was just too timid to step out of my comfort zone).
But until about 3 years ago, Steve and Tony were the only passionate Manchester City fans I have ever met. However, especially over the past three weeks, I have noticed something very strange happen. Facebook and Twitter seems to be awash with photos of people I have known for years proudly sporting their 2012 City shirts. They are even photos of babies decked out in mini strips and wrapped in scarfs.
In fact at least one of these ‘passionate fans’ was there that September afternoon in 1999… Sitting in the bar charming some of the aforementioned blondes!
On Sunday I wanted City to win the league, largely because I am getting bored of United’s dominance (& because you can’t help but enjoy a smug Ferguson squirm). But their hard earned title shouldn’t be for the old flirters, with their brand new City baby grows – it should be for fans like Stevey Hough (who 13 years later I did email to congratulate).
I really hope he got a ticket, or at least sat their last Sunday afternoon in his 1999 shirt, shorts, socks and boots…