Friday, 28 May 2010

My Seat

This is the view from my seat at the City of Manchester Stadium - home, if you don't know, to Manchester City Football Club.

This seat is my property. I live here. And I will die here. This seat will be my viewpoint on triumph, tragedy and disaster. And long after I have gone, this seat will continue to exist - in the same way that in the cycle of life, we die, decompose, and feed other organisms, whom in turn feed the next generations.

This seat will be where I am sitting when I hear the news that my dad has died; my son has been returned to prison; my car/house/belongings have all been destroyed in a fire; my girlfriend has left me.

And you know what, I'll sit there, hunker down, take it all in and philosphise that at least there is somewhere that I still belong.

My love for Manchester City is deep and longstanding. On top of that, I've been a seasonticket holder on-and-off for the entire time I've been a parent. It's as if I needed another baby. This year, being a seasonticket holder is more special than ever. City are officially the richest football club in the world. We can buy whoever we want: Pele, Maradona, Shaquille O'Neil, Johnny Depp, Barrack Obama - anyone.

You have to be a City fan to understand what this means. City have always been shit. I mean, always. The gloom has been occasionally lightened by glimmering moments of drama - the play-off final v Gillingham in '99; the Keegan promotion season, and, er, that's it. Since the 60's anyway. United fans have a banner with removable stickers, showing how many years it is since we've won anything. They just change the number each year. That's how crap we are.

Compare our fortunes with 'the other lot'. In 1999 we got promoted from the second division (third division in old money). United won the league, cup and European Cup. Plus 3 Oscars for Best Picture, OBEs, the final of Celebrity Come Dancing and the Queen's Award for Industry. I was living in Hulme, at the bottom of the road which leads down from Old Trafford. United had an open-top bus parade virtually right past my house. The complete BASTARDS. It felt like they were personally rubbing it in.

The ex-manager Joe Royle coined a phrase to describe the fortunes of the club: Citiyitis. What he meant by this was, it doesn't matter how much money we have; how many fantastic players come; how many people come to games; who the directors or manager are - City will always fuck up. If something can go wrong, it will - and still does. That's why many City fans view our new-found wealth with mild amusement, just waiting for Cityitis to kick in.

So what makes a person follow this team?

Perhaps it's an almost Shakespearean fatalism - as if we enjoy the catharsis of the next tragedy which is about to befall us. Conversely, it's a kind of dogged optimism - we've stuck with them for this long, surely things will eventually come good, if we just wait a little bit longer??

For me, it's something more. Every 3 or 4 years, my life can be relied upon to contract Cityitis. If something can go wrong, it will; and try as I may, I seem unable to break this cycle. It's a relationship breakdown; it's the realisation that my career is stuck in a dead-end; it's a financial meltdown; it's some personal tragedy. Often it's all of them together. And I can feel it happenning again, soon. I know the signs - personal and professional relationships sour, to the point of non-communication and fixed, belligerent stance. A sense of being beleaguered by the numerous hangers on and dependents grows - a feeling that you're getting absolutely nothing out of all the effort you've put into life, all the support and help that you've given other people, and all of the money you've thrown at it. There is only one solution - move on. Break the cycle somehow. This usually involves a complete change of circumstances - new town, new job, new friends, new life.

I'm so absolutely fucking sick and tired of it. I want to walk into the sea.

Then I remember City.

So I go to the next game, sit in my seat, believe and belong.


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