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The tough part about being a glory hunter is the occasional opprobrium that comes with it. Maybe you don’t remember the name of ‘your’ club’s all time goalscorer, or know what the most recent (adopted this very year!) fashion on the terraces is. Maybe you don’t even know the name of the club’s anthem, or even where the club plays its home games. This could be the cause of acute embarrassment when wearing your club’s shirt at your local Fado’s and a curious tourist asks you a basic question about the club whose badge you are bearing.
This information, after all, is difficult to find on the internet for the world’s richest clubs.
One club is going out of its way to help those hopping on their oil-fuelled bandwagon: Manchester City Football Club.
Manchester City have kindly presented a ‘bluffer’s guide‘ to ‘supporting’ the club on their official website presumably for all their new fans blocked from accessing Wikipedia.
Amazingly, this guide – which could have served the same purpose but been less embarrassing for the club if done in a smarter way – is presented without any humour or self-awareness whatsoever.
It begins: “Loyalty, commitment, passion and, during the darker times, a sense of humour has been needed over the years to follow the Blues.”
And goes on to suggest the complete opposite is now needed to follow City:
If you are asked who your favourite players are from down the years – your credibility is at stake here – don’t say Francis Bell, Colin Summerbee and Yaya Dzeko though these names exists, they are combinations – have a good scan over the club website and check out who the current favourites are and who the club legends are and take notes!
This brazen toadying to the club’s new legion of customers (obviously needed to even begin repaying the millions pumped into the club) must be depressing for loyal City supporters, who indeed have been known for being down to earth and bearing a dark sense of humour over the club’s struggles in recent decades compared to their Manchester rivals.
City once seemed like the club with the most soul in Manchester. Before I moved there in the late 1990s, my grandmother told me of her brothers, who had followed City down to London to support the club in its 1930s FA Cup finals, when United were the smaller team – and postwar, the johnny-come-latelys to glory.
Maine Road, City’s stadium back then, was embedded in the middle of the city’s toughest area, Moss Side, near the city centre; walking to games there was everything you’d imagine supporting a proud old gritty English urban club would be like. Old Trafford, by contrast, was perched further out in bland surroundings, close to a giant shopping mall, the Trafford Center – almost as big as Old Trafford’s megastore.
Fortunately for City’s newer fans, the bluffer’s guide explains its storied past at Maine Road in great detail: “If asked where we play our football, it’s the City of Manchester Stadium – also nicknamed Eastlands due to the area of Manchester it is in. It’s worth noting that from 1923 to 2003 we played our home games at Maine Road.”
Yes, it’s worth noting all right – and apparently nothing further about the club’s entire existence in that period is even to be bothered bluffing about.