The Maine Man

Blue Moon

I first visited the current Premier League winner’s old ground in 1973. The glory team of Bell, Summerbee and Lee was all but gone and although cup finals at Wembley and a creditable second to Liverpool over the next nine years, barren and infertile winds swept over Man City, Moss Side Stadium, Maine Road, Manchester 16. In 1999 we found ourselves in the third tier of English football. A once great club seemingly on the verge of extinction. A peculiarly sweet smell of horse shit, hot dogs and laundry drying on the washing lines of the local terraced housing was my first memory. ‘Mister, can we mind your car, Sir – only 50p?’ was heard as we passed the Saab-sponsored cars of the players and into the ground. My Father being a Chelsea fan and a practical man had recently relocated to the north. He took me first to Old Trafford, then to the blue citadel of the Citizens and I wisely chose the latter. Was it Shakespeare who wrote ‘All will come to those who wait’? THE FAMILY LIVED FIRST IN BOWDON VALE, KNUTSFORD AND FINALLY HALE. BUT THIS WAS LEAFY CHESHIRE WITH RETIRED MAJORS, MANICURED LAWNS AND OSTENTATIOUS DISPLAYS OF WHITE AND RED ROSES. MY FIRST GENUINE MANC HOME WAS NEXT TO ST. JOHN’S CATHOLIC CHURCH WHERE SIR MATT BUSBY AND MORE RECENTLY MARIO BALOTELLI AND ROBERTO MANCINI WERE RUMOURED TO PRAY. St Clements Road, with its dog Sam, Macca’s motorbike and caravan, plus ready-made soccer team TKFC, would be home for the next three years. Manchester as a city was on the up, although the country had high unemployment, there was a massive student population with readies to spend. It seemed to have an appreciation of food and music that many towns in the midlands and south lacked. Looking back the range and choice of food was mind-boggling and the taste of the curry and chips transported me to the cuisine of a country most of my mates had not even heard of.

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