Archive for August, 2013

Blue Moon II


No posts about football for ages then three come along at once. Ah the oldies are the best.

According to reports, like this one, yesterday was a ‘Blue Moon’. it doesn’t mean that the moon is actually blue, just that Blue Moonthere is an extra one in a season, four this summer rather than three. The football link? ‘Blue Moon’ is the song that Manchester City supporters sing, as I witnessed when watching them at their home ground for the first time earlier this week. Why ‘Blue Moon’ what has it got to do with Manchester City? I do not know, however I will bow down to Manchester City historian, Gary James, who was quoted on the Manchester City FC website this morning as saying,

“The first time I can ever recall it being sung was at the opening game of the 1989-90 season at Liverpool,” he said. “It had never been sung by fans during the seasons before that.

“At Anfield, City fans were kept behind for a while after the match and a few lads started singing it as we started to make our way out. They sang a sort of melancholic version, but it caught on.”MoonBlue

The words were written by Lorenz Hart and the music composed by Richard Rodgers. It has been recorded over 60 times including by; Django Reinhardt, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Julie London, Sam Cooke, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, The Supremes, Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart. At the ground different versions are played including those by Doves, Supra, The Marcels, Sha Na Na Na, and Beady Eye.

The most important thing, the words;

  • Blue moon,
  • You saw me standing alone
  • Without a dream in my heart
  • Without a love of my own.
  • Blue moon
  • You knew just what I was there for
  • You heard me saying a prayer for
  • Someone I really could care for
  • And then there suddenly appeared before me
  • The only one my arms will hold
  • I heard somebody whisper please adore me
  • And when I looked, the moon had turned to gold.
  • Blue moon
  • Now I’m no longer alone
  • Without a dream in my heart
  • Without a love of my own.

Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, 1934 ©

Blue Moon


I do not know when I became interested in football. In particular I do not know when I became a fan of Manchester City. Untitled I assume that, like most boys, it happened around the age of 6 or 7. Seeing as the club were in one of their all too few golden spells at the time it might explain how this lifelong affair attached itself to them. Another possibility is that my parents and grandparents are all followers of the red side of Manchester and that I’m just plain contrary, and the fact City had a great team was an added bonus, helping my contrary choice be made much more easily.

Francis LeeThe early memories I have of football involve two things which both happened in 1970. The first was I remember being very interested in the World Cup in Mexico. I collected the coins given away by a petrol retailer (like that pictured left – as something of a hoarder I still have some of them), I had a sticker book (which has now gone), and I had a programme size book that I remember poring over. I am confident about the items as they have a physical existence in the way memories are not so my memories of some of the matches comes from later as my memories are in colour and we did not get a colour TV until a couple of years later.

The other football memory relates to the 1970 FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Leeds. I went to school in a village outside Reading. Most everyone supported a London club. When big football matches came up it was the habit to link arms and go round the playground chanting and singing songs we had made up for one or other of the teams involved. I remember the large number of pupils at the school went round chanting for Chelsea. Most everyone did. My brother was not long at the school and, through the same lottery, was a Leeds fan. I remember being one of a handful who linked arms over shoulders and went round the playground for Leeds. I remember there being times when being in the minority felt intimidating. I also do not remember doing the same for City despite the fact they were in the FA Cup Final the year before, perhaps it wasn’t as intimidating? Who knows.

MCFCSo, all my life I’ve followed Manchester City. As it is held that proper fans should do I have followed them through thick and thin. The great times in the early seventies through the decline in the 80’s and 90’s; till they sunk to the third tier of English football and the famed Manchester derby in City’s case featured the game against Macclesfield Town.(Friends repeated on a regular basis, for it to be annoying, that City stood for Conference [The fifth level of English football] In Two Years.) And then the time of revival and now wealth.

colin_bell_classicIn all the time I’ve followed the club I’ve not seen them often. Growing up in the south I got to an occasional match – I remember seeing the game at Arsenal in the late 70’s when Colin Bell attempted to return from his injury as a treat for my birthday and joining a school friend to see them play QPR in the early 80’s. Not even going to university in the north led me to see them and then returning to the south just seemed to result in me putting it out of my mind. I did see them a couple of times at Reading when their orbits coincided. I got to see a match at Maine Road whilst it was still their home when in Manchester for work. Subsequently, after moving  to France I’ve made do with seeing the matches at a local pub with a friend and fellow supporter.

Most summers I’ve been working in the UK but have finished before the football season starts. This season I’m working in the UK for longer so I was present for the start of the football season. Working in the north of England and not the south also means I am in easy reach of Manchester.

I wrote before about my bucketlist. One item I had put upon it was to see Manchester City play a match at their home ground. the Etihad Stadium. The Premier League fixture arranger organised that the first match of the season was to be at home, against Newcastle United. Stories about the stadium selling out its 48,000 seats lead me to be concerned about the possibility of making this dream become a reality. However on the day the tickets went on sale, despite spending half an hour discovering that a device was not working then having to register on the website, I managed to get a seat for the match on Monday 19th August.

I finished work on 19th August at 15:30, went home and changed then walked to the station and collected my tickets to Manchester and back. A pleasant train journey through the Pennines calling at towns in wooded valleys such as Huddersfield and Dewsbury, before sighting the Etihad Stadium from the train in advance of arriving as Manchester Piccadilly. I had received an email from Manchester City setting out a route from the station but I had not brough it with me so I walked around the station but did not find it so headed in what I thought was the right direction. 20130819_180705[1] Between the occasional sign for Manchester SportsCity, asking locals and my inbuilt sense of direction I had my first sight of the stadium (pictured right) no more than 30 minutes after leaving the station – not a lot more than the 20 minutes the official route had promised. 

20130819_182523[1] On arrival, as planned I headed to the shop (pictured left) and resisted every other form of merchandise offering to entice me so I resolutely managed to get away with a replica shirt for £55. I was given a free copy of the autobiography of Mike Summerbee, which everyone buying something, whether just shirts or just anything, was getting. Near the store was City Square where there was entertainment, drinks and food outlets giving something of a party or celebration atmosphere in the evening sun. After getting some pulled pork in a bun, food at a football match has come on some since I first went, I waited near the entrance for the arrival of the City team. Untitled After seeing them safely arrive and trying to insert the wrong part of my ticket into the barcode reader (pictured right) I went through and had my first look at the inside of the stadium then a couple of pints before the match.

I discovered that I had a seat near to the Newcastle United team dug-out with a group of season-ticket holders who had become very friendly with each other. One of them had given up the season-ticket for my seat so they were interested to learn if I was going to be a replacement season-ticket holder for the seat, I was asked also by a couple of people who were interested in getting a season-ticket for the seat. When I sat down the teams were already out warming up on the pitch. City had decided to dedicate the match to the memory of their famous goalkeeper, Bert Trautmann, who had died in the close season so all the players were warming up wearing green goalkeepers shirts with Bert’s number 1 on the back and when they came out for the match Untitled (pictured left) the players had black armbands on  and there was a minutes clapping before the game started.

I will not write a report of the match, the journalists present can do that better than me, here’s the Manchester City website report, the Daily Telegraph, Guardian, and Daily Mirror. Obviously with City scoring after little more than five minutes, having already having had a couple of chances, gave hope that we would win the match well. I did not relax though until Newcastle had a player sent off when we were already 2-0 up, just before half time. At that point Newcastle had to take a player off to allow them to replace the defender who was sent off and the people around me commiserated with him for being taken off, especially when he was playing so well. I’m not sure the commiserations were totally generous and that they weren’t winding up the player. Not long after the people around me started a conversation with the fourth official about how many extra minutes he would give the two teams, starting with a couple of minutes and bidding it up to five. He gave three extra minutes. There had been a jokey discussion with him about his svelte figure so at half-time he was asked if he wanted a burger to which the response was to just have the lettuce.

I didn’t think there was the time at half-time to do anything other than visit the toilet, Untitled further drinks would not be consumed in fifteen minutes without needing a further toilet break during the second half. (people in the concourse pictured right.) The number of people arriving back late from the first-half and having to leave during it showed to me the correctness of this view. Two more goals and an incorrectly, in my view, disallowed goal, completed the match. I clapped the players off (pictured left) Untitled and made my way though the crowd to walk back to the station. Leaving the stadium and the floodlights I noticed for the first time how dark it had got. I started on the route I should have taken to get to the ground and, although I’m not sure I had still taken the right route I arrived back at the station in less time it had taken me to do the outward journey. The train stopped in more places on the journey back and had on it some Newcastle supporters drowning their sorrows whilst making their long way home via York, and not expecting to get home before 2 the next morning. For me, I was home before midnight but not much before.

Altogether a fantastic evening in a fantastic atmosphere. A great way to see my first match at the Etihad. Not just the score but the fellow supporters, the atmosphere, everything made up a great evening.

Red or Dead


I have not read any of the writing by David Peace, yet, although it isn’t for a want of trying. I did see ‘The Damned United‘ the TV film of his story about the time Brian Untitled Clough became and then was the manager of Leeds United. I have bought another of his books from the Red Riding Trilogy, Nineteen Seventy-Seven, as a paperback but thought I would wait to read it until I had read the precursor which I bought on my old Sony Reader but, unfortunately, it died before I was able to read anything.

Last week he was in Leeds at Waterstones bookshop for a reading and signing for his new book. The picture below shows the book lined up waiting to be bought. I had read a less than complimentary review of the book in When Saturday Comes and an interesting excerpt from it in the magazine in the Times last Saturday so I was interested to hear the author read it and to hear the questions.

I arrived and got a complimentary glass Red or Deadof wine and bought my copy of the book. The room started to fill up (as seen a couple of pictures below) and there must have been over a hundred people present when David Peace, Anthony Clavane and someone else called, I think Bob, who was the MC, entered.

David Peace (pictured below) read first from a piece in his book about Bill Shankly ringing Don Revie up the night before the Liverpool – Leeds match in 1965 and then about the match.

Then Anthony Clavane started asking questions and the first one became a discussion of the pronunciation of the surname of the former Leeds manager Don Revie. Was it Reeeeeevie or Don Revie, with a very short e. A straw poll of the Leeds audience had it as the short e. He picked up on the fact there was a friendship between the managers in the sixties and seventies, that they would call each other up, sometimes not to the best Red or Dead interest of the players when the managers agreed to keep down the wages of players.

Anthony Clavane then asked David Peace why, as two of the managers of the greater teams of the time, he thought there now was a positive view of Shankly’s time but a negative one of Revie.  The answer given was that Don Revie was uncomfortable with the media whereas Bill Shankly would practise one-liners in front of the mirror until he had got the quote well-formed.

Anthony Cleavane then read from his book, Red or Dead ‘Does Your Rabi know you’re here?’. His excerpt was about trying to play football with his schoolmates  when the headteacher would confiscate whatever they were using for a ball and tell them that  their playing football would end up with them being secular. David Peace asked if he had ever considered writing this, or his previous book ‘Promised Land: The reinvention of Leeds United’ as novels. He replied (pictured above) that the earlier one had become a play and there then was a discussion about the line between fiction and non-fiction and how people seem more comfortable with this in America and Norman Mailer, with his fictionalised accounts of Marilyn Monroe and Gary Gilmore were given as examples.

David Red or Dead Peace then said that he had sent the draft of this book to people from LFC websites and one of the people came back and said, ‘would it be OK to send some suggested corrections?’ He said OK and received back 6 foolscap pages of corrections!

Anthony Clavane then asked about both the subject of David Peaces’ books, Brian Clough and Bill Shankly were socialists to which David Peace says that it brought him onto his second reading. The first half of the book is about Bill Shankly’s time at Liverpool and the second half is his life after he retired. This one, chapter 82 of 90, was about him listening to the 1979 Charity Shield at home on the radio then being interviewed by the local radio in Liverpool on the result, Liverpool won 3 – 1, and then talking with some youngsters who knock on his door for a game of football.

Afterwards David Peace(DP) got a question asking if he had a view about the premature retirement of Bill Shankly and it was something he said he had been intrigued by Shankly’s resignation and  his own autobiography is ambiguous on the matter. We’ll never really know. David Peace suggested that it could have been sheer exhaustion as Shankly had carried the club for more than a decade and his wife was not well.  Anthony Clavane said he was fascinated that he did it at 60 when you consider Alex Ferguson has only just done it at 72 and went on to say that Liverpool treated Shankly shabbily. He then contrasted the way Don Revie had not built a succession at Leeds whereas Bill Shankly had managed the transition of his first team into their successors whilst maintaining their success. DP said this was too simplistic a view of what happened and that Shankly was offered money and directorships and that he had wanted Jack Charlton to succeed him and not Bob Paisley yet there is a picture of the celebrations after Liverpool won the 1981 European Cup and Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley are at the bar chatting. He was offered lots of other jobs, including managerial jobs, but didn’t take them, he probably didn’t want to do anything other than manage Liverpool. Red or Dead

The next question was about the amount of repetition in the writing, the person asking had difficulty with it before. DP said it was just as well his publishers were not there as he could say to look at the book before you buy it. When he started he wanted to write about the resignation and retirement of Bill Shankly but come to the view that he couldn’t do so without talking about his achievement, this was the man’s life. DP wanted it to be a lived experience, that by the time you get to his retirement  you have experienced the sacrifice managers at thins time made for these clubs. Bill Shankly trained every day for 15 years, just writing that doesn’t give the impression of what was involved.

Why are there no photos in a book over 700 pages long. DP said there had been an intention but it didn’t happen for various reasons but he did use photos as a reference when writing the book.

There was then a question about socialism in football and whether, with the retirement of Sir Alex, there is an openning for someone. AC said that he also taught in Barnsley  and has worked with pupils and the local school and that it is to be found in places like that where the football club is at the heart of the local community. DP said that Shankley’s socialism had come from the Kop, from the people.  He also talked about how inspiring he found what Bill Shankly had done, that he hoped the book was not just a lament but would serve as an inspiration.

There was then a question to Anthony Clavane about the role of football in secularising the Jewish community to which he talked about the integration of people into the city and country, people came to Leeds and became part of it. This led into a discussion of the incident in Leeds where their then two players  were involved in a situation with racist overtones outside a nightclub. From the floor it was suggested that lee Bowyer, one of those involved in the nightclub incident, and a current Liverpool player (Well when this is being written) Luis Suarez both show sociopathic tendencies.

DP then talked about being in Liverpool to film a piece for the book and the recording took place at the Albert Dock and there were a group of 14 year olds hanging around, asking questions about what was happening and then trying to get into the 20130812_233546[1] picture once they knew what it was. After filming he had talked to them and a few said their father or grandfather had talked about Bill Shankly. Then one kid said he had been to see Liverpool  Anfield and the others said it was true he had.  It was posed what this said about the current state of football if only one of a group of Liverpool teenagers has got to see the team?

It was suggested that Geoff Boycott might be suitable as a subject for a future work by David Peace to which he joked about his style being perfect, “ball comes down wicket, ball comes down wicket….” So what comes next them he was asked. The reply was that he wanted to finish the third of the Tokyo trilogy then that in writing this book, and other work he had touched upon Harold Wilson and he seemed to say that he would be interested in doing something on it.

Anthony Clavane was asked about whether he had experience anti-Semitism to which he replied that he was punched once on the kop at Elland Road but not really. When Leeds were doing badly when Billy Bremner was the manager the chairman was Jewish and there was some then but it disappeared as soon as they became successful. In Yorkshire when there is any anti-Semitism it tend to be directed at Leeds but the situation with racism and anti-Semitism now is totally different and it is just not acceptable.

There was a question about whether the panel had optimism for socialism to which DP talked about how a biography of Burns was a bible to Bill Shankly and that was where he had got it from and he saw it in the kop, in the Liverpool team. There was nothing similar there now and it was part of the motivation for DP to write the book.

20130812_233534[1] Someone from the floor asked about whether there would be any inaccuracies in the book, that Peter Lorimer had definitely scored the goal in 1965.(Presumed to be a reference to the Damned United) AC said that the film of that book had more inaccuracies. DP said that people had picked him for having Brian Clough refer to Hartlepools whereas he grew up there and it was how people talked about it at the time. He also had not seen the film properly.

The final question asked DP whether all the books were imagined out of his head or did they come another way? He went back to the piece he had read. The all from the journalist about the Charity Shield really did happen and was printed in the paper the following day but the conversation between Bill Shankly and the children after came from his imagination, helping him to fill out the scene and paint a picture of what was being said.

I joined a long Red or Dead queue to get my copy of the book, purchased that night, signed. When I got to David Peace and was chatting with him as he did it I asked him about something I had read that weekend. Like me he was a teacher of English as a Foreign language, for him it was in Istanbul and  Japan. I asked what he liked about the work and he said that it was the people and then talked some more about it. I left thinking what a nice genuine human being he was, no rush through and get your autograph but he wrote something more and took time to talk to me. I have posted a copy of the monograph above.

UPDATE: This was edited on 20th August to correct a mispelling of Bill Shankly’s name.

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