Talk About the Passion


FA Challenge Cup 3rd Round

I have in my past seen these two teams play each other twice. On both occasions the side playing away from home were victorious. Things have changed a bit since the previous matches. Surely, Port Vale could not give me the hat-trick.

The first occasion was in 1996, 10 September to be precise. Memory serves me it was a mild evening as a recently relegated City travelled an hour south to Burslem. Their side that included such names as Kinkladze, Rosler, Lomas and Clough ran out deserved 2-0 winners with goals from Dickov and Rosler. City were adjusting to life outside the Premiership under the temporary charge of Asa Hartford following Alan Ball leaving the club.

John Rudge was in charge for both games for The Valiants. Memory tells me he was in charge for about 70 years. He certainly served the club well for a number of years.

After seeing Vale finish 8th in the 96/97 season Rudge repeated his side’s victory at Maine Road the following season with a 3-2 win. City twice took the lead in the first half through Wiekens and Dickov, the visitors levelled through Snijders and Talbot before Tony Naylor netted the winner early in the second half. My over-riding memory of this game was the run-in Summerbee had wit hthe City fans who were also vociferous in their dislike for the current state of the club, chanting “We’re shit and we’re sick of it” and “You’re not fit to wear those shirts”. Vale thoroughly deserved their victory.

Fast forward over 20 years and the clubs were meeting again in my presence. 8,000 fans from the north side of Stoke-on-Trent were in the top two tiers of the South Stand. It was back in those days under Rudge when they last averaged this many fans for a season; these days it is just over half the travelling numbers. If only they would show at Vale Park.

The fans had their moment though as Pope headed in a cross after 35 minutes. The noise they made throughout was brilliant and it is a day that I am sure most will not forget.

City won at a canter. VAR played its part. I got to sit in the posh padded seats.

Attendance: 52,433

Moment of the Match: Pope’s header just about beats the VAR check on a disallowed goal. This was overruled and a goal given. Different way of doing it.

Match Tunes: Murmur – REM

Blue Pastures


FA Premier League

So it was onto the Etihad Stadium from Dukinfield Town, just a 10 minutes bus ride followed by 20 minutes on a tram and you are a million miles away. Football at the top in this country is so far removed from the rest of the game it is unbelievable. A bit like society really.

So after a security check just shy of airport standard I am into City’s home. Taken over after the Commonwealth Games and moved into in 2003 there was little further development until the present owners took over. Since then the ground is continually being developed, an extra tier behind one goal and a ‘tunnel club’ just scratch the surface of what has gone on in this east Manchester complex.

My father, a season ticket holder for 30+ years and a regular for 30+ more years on top of that was away on holiday and gave up his seat to me. He had told me he was close to the City bench, just how close was revealed upon me taking my seat. Any closer and I would have been sat with them. Great seat Dad.

A group of men waited for their moment in ‘Silva 21’ shirts after sponsoring some part of the afternoon, the Tunnel Club patrons shown to their seats, kids ready for their photo with the team. All part of the modern day Premier League experience. The two sides came out and finally after all of those who had partaken in the pre-match moments had gone we were going to get a game.

Though you don’t do you? I had 3 people to my left continually trying to take photo’s of those on the bench, there were a number on the four rows in front of me doing the same and I am sure all around the ground a similar number of tales were unfolding. The Premier League is a different ball game to when I fell out of love with it. Not for the better.

The match? City came from behind to win 2-1. After De Bruyne and Willian both wasted excellent chances, Chelsea took the lead midway through the first half with a goal by Kante. The midfielder through on goal after Pep had screamed at his defence not to drop deep. They stepped up, Kante walked through and was away. His finish bobbling over the line. City looked a little nervy.

It didn’t take long for them to draw level though. De Bruyne’s shot deflecting off Zouma to take it past Kepa and level the scores and then we had the best moment of the game with Mahrez cutting in from the right wing between 2 defenders, as he was being closed down his shot along the ground giving Kepa no chance. 2-1 City.

Aguero missed a sitter given to him on a plate by Kepa. Both sides had further chances to add to their tally without taking them before in the embers of the game Sterling put City 3-1 up. His name was announced in the ground as the scorer of the third before VAR decided NO! Bit farcical this now isn’t it?

Attendance: 54,486

Moment of the Match: Finally getting to the match.

Match Tunes: Whiplash – James