City Blogger: Home from home
- 27 February 2014 11:49
- Posted by @djwskyblu
The adage ‘There’s no place quite like home’ sits well with most people, after all, we all like our creature comforts and are most at ease in familiar surroundings.
Manchester City FC already reside in a splendid des res and now have permission for an ‘extension’ that goes way beyond what most of us would consider the ‘norm’ of an extra bedroom above the garage with an en-suite!
Once completed, a 62,000+ capacity Etihad Stadium will stand proudly amongst the world’s finest football stadia, very much in keeping with what is rapidly becoming one of the best club sides on the planet.
Ever ambitious and progressive, City have also taken a bit of a shine to a second home in recent times, a place to which supporters of the Sky Blues had no reference point for more than a decade…a certain Wembley Stadium, London HA9 0WS.
This Sunday will be City’s sixth appearance at the new national stadium in less than three years. It would have been seven, had it not been for the 2012 Community Shield victory over Chelsea being switched to Villa Park because of the Olympics.
Indeed, City could be back for a seventh time if they can overcome Wigan in the FA Cup quarter final and reach their third Wembley semi final inside 36 months.
Prior to Sheikh Mansour’s investment at the Etihad it had taken City 30 years - ten times as long – to accumulate the same number of 400 mile round-trips down from Manchester to the ‘home of football’.
Victory in the 1969 FA Cup Final was followed by a trio of League Cup Finals in 1970, 1974 and 1976 winning against WBA and Newcastle but losing to Wolves in between, drawing and ultimately losing to Spurs in the 1981 FA Cup Final, going down to Chelsea 5-4 in a spectacular Full Members Cup cliffhanger in 1986, before signing off on that never to be forgotten Division Two Play-Off penalty shoot-out win over Gillingham in 1999.
When City ‘debuted’ at the new £800m Wembley in April, 2011, the joke doing the rounds was that City skipper Carlos Tevez had to sit at the front of the coach alongside the driver, because he was the only one who knew the way to the stadium.
Thankfully, not anymore!
As the Summerbee Bar and Mary D’s are synonymous with a pre-match pint or two on Etihad match days, so too The Green Man is now City’s premier watering hole at Wembley. Bar staff now greet City’s well travelled season ticket holders with familiarity and a hearty salutation of: ‘Will it be the usual?’
Long may it continue.
Admittedly appearances are more frequent now because FA Cup semi finals are hosted in the capital, but show me a City fan who gets tired of the warm glow of anticipation as they walk along Wembley Way to another showpiece occasion.
No, I didn’t think you could.
City have savoured the sweetest of wins over Manchester United, Stoke City and Chelsea in recent times. They’ve also experienced the worst of woes when Roberto Mancini’s odds on favourites went down 1-0 last May to rank outsiders Wigan Athletic.
It’s a sign of the times that the Capital One Cup is only fourth on City’s list of priorities nowadays.
When skipper Mike Doyle last lifted, the then uncommercialised League Cup in 1976, it was a much bigger ‘deal’.
Doyle, the most ‘decorated’ player in City’s colours , died aged just 64 in June 2011, having lived long enough to witness the beginning of City’s renaissance.
In keeping with the title of his autobiography ‘Blue Blood’ ‘Doyley’ was as blue as they come in his familiar No 4 shirt.
Momentum is gathering, via social media and on-line City forums, for his memory to be honoured in the 4th minute of Sunday’s Final with 60 seconds of applause – it’s a nice touch and a tribute that should be boisterously observed.
Fast forward another 86 minutes – plus the inevitable added time – and, if Manuel’s marauders have once again overcome opponents from the North East to land the League Cup, the decibel levels will be at fever pitch.
Even in their second home, City can still show themselves to be extremely noisy neighbours.