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Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Manchester City FC Special - The joy of six

As regular readers of this blog will know, I support Manchester City FC. I have done since 1968. It is fair to say that it hasn't always been easy or even much fun at times. Not so long ago the team were languishing in League 1. On Sunday something remarkable happened. They played Man United off the park and spanked them 6-1 in their own back yard. Much as I'd love to write a blog gloating and winding up my United supporting family and friends, I'll refrain from that. There are other issues which are more important in Football. Firstly there has been criticism in some quarters as to the fact that City have bought a team. I disagree. Every football fan be it Manchester United or Barnet FC would love to see David Silva in their team. Not every team will have a rich sheik buy them, but it is something to dream of. That is what football is all about.

Back in 1999 as I sat in Wembley Stadium with 88 minutes gone and City trailing Gillingham 2-0 in the League 1 play off final, with United about to win the Champions League, the concept that we'd spank them 6-1 at Old Trafford in 12 years seemed ridiculous. Somehow they pulled 2 goals back and beat Gillingham on penalties. Even though for a few minutes anything seemed possible, the next day I realised that all that had happened was we'd beaten the mighty Gillingham.

As I write this, there is talk in some quarters that the abolition of relegation from the Premiership is a realistic possibility. Had that happened in 1999, then where would City be now? They certainly wouldn't be parading their pomp at Old Trafford. They are not the only big club who have been relegated. What sane person would make the case for Leeds, Birmingham, West Ham and Southampton being excluded permenantly from the Premiership? They all have the potential (with a rich benefactor) to be Champions League contenders. Who can possibly say that Blackpool didn't light up the league last season? This season we have new boys Swansea paying attractive football having come up. We have Delia Smith at Norwich, possibly the best loved chairman of the lot gracing the terraces of the Premiership. Who can possibly say such clubs should be excluded.

As I mentioned above, many of my friends and family are Manchester United fans. They have criticised City for being bankrolled by their owners. I would be far more critical of the ownership of United. Whilst City's owners have pumped money in, producing a team which is playing superb football, the Glazers have sucked money out. I read the Glazers had cost Manchester United over £450 million in fees, wages and interest payments since they took over. Imagine the team that could have bought? Sir Alex Ferguson publicly says that he's bought whatever players he wanted, but I for one do not believe he didn't cast the odd envious glance at the City bench on Sunday. Owners such as the Glazers and the Americans who own Liverpool are not sentimental. They see the clubs as a franchise and the supporters as cash cows, to be milked. Sadly this means kids like my son, who wants the latest kit.

I watched two games of Football on Sunday. Before the Manchester derby, I watched my sons team Watling FC lose 10-2 at Cressingham Park. The club used to be based at Watling Boys Club. Sadly Barnet Council are selling the Club building off for housing development - http://committeepapers.barnet.gov.uk/democracy/reports/reportdetail.asp?ReportID=10665. Sadly there is no rich sugar daddy for Watling. Unlike Manchester City, who's ground is owned by the Council, Watling FC have a landlord who doesn't give a stuff about providing facilities for young people. They cannot see that providing sports facilities is a positive force for the community. The more things young boys and girls have to do, the healthier and happier they are. I don't expect Barnet Council to buy David Silva to head the team, but decent basic facilities and playing fields to play on, is surely not too much to ask, is it.

Every time I see grafitti, a smashed bus stop or broken shop window, it reminds me of the total failure of Barnet Council to provide basic sports and recreation facilities for youngsters. It really is shameful. A win such as the one City played out on Sunday can lift your spirits. God knows we need it in Barnet.

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