Manchester City vs Manchester United

Growing up in Manchester in the 1950s and 1960s [some recollections here], I could not fail to be aware of the rivalry between supporters of Manchester City and fans of Manchester United, although personally I had little interest in football (which is still the case). I particularly remember in 1956 (when I was almost eight) Manchester City winning the FA Cup Final with a German goalkeeper continiung to play (unknowingly) with a broken kneck. And, of course, I recall the sadness of the Munich disaster of 1958 (when I was 10) when so many of Manchester United’s ‘Busby babes’ lost their lives.

Now, in spite of my lack of enthusiasm for sports, it was almost impossible not to pick a football side to support, if only notionally. As I walked to my secondary school each day, I could see the floodlights of the then home of City at Maine Road, so really it was my local side. More significantly, my younger brother developed a passionate interest in football and would play mock games in which he performed the roles of all 22 players. He supported United and, to create a bit of rivalry, I kind of backed City.

After successes in the 1960s and 1970s, City had an utterly humiliating record in the 1980s and 1990s, so my ostensible support was totally unrewarded, while United continued to score success after success. The last decade has seen happier times for City and in 1998 the situation was transformed when the club was purchased by massively rich Abu Dhabi interests. The revival of Manchester City was crowned when this weekend they thrashed old rivals Manchester United by an astonishing 6-1. The last time that United let in six gold at home in the league was 81 years ago.

So, to my brother and all United fans, I say today: “Kick it!”

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