A Wonderful Year for Manchester City Is Mixed with Sadness
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I am a dyed in the wool Blue. I am City through and through.
As the song goes "City, the greatest team in the land, in all the world."
Like so many football fans I owe my club allegiance to my dad. And I owe football so much as it was, for many years the only thing that dad and I had in common and were able to talk about.
Football acted almost like a relationship councilor—it created an unbreakable bond between us that will never be broken.
This season has been joyful but also the saddest one of my life.
City winning a trophy after 35 long years is almost without parallel for supporters of any of the "big" clubs and the relief, the joy is beyond description.
City smashing their way into the Champions League is something that has had just as much impact for Blues, but being level points with Chelsea in second is remarkable.
This is the season where all the prayers were answered, where all the hard times were repaid.
This is the season many would have expected that tears of sadness were replaced by tears of joy. But that's not quite true.
This is also a year where City lost some club greats, Ken Barnes, Malcolm Allison and the local boy Neil 'Nelly' Young.
I wrote a piece on Neil Young's death. That was a truly sad day, but for me, looking back on it and my dad's reaction is one of the saddest memories I now have.
When Neil was fighting his battle against cancer I wrote this piece.
In it, I describe how being a local lad Neil was familiar to most Blues of a certain age as the local boy who came good. Dad played football with Neil and knew his family well and his battle with cancer was hard for my dad to accept. He was losing a real hero from City's past but also a school pal, a friend. Dad was losing another part of his past.
I remember at the time talking about Nelly and may dad said, "I hope I don't go like that."
In a truly cruel twist of fate my dad died of cancer within months of uttering those words.
Worse still, he died days short of City's victory at Wembley against United, it was only a couple of months before City lifted that famous old jug-eared trophy, the FA Cup after 35 years of failure.
Dad was as Blue as you could be and City's failure hurt him because he had also seen the good times. He had drunk bitter out of the FA Cup in City's old Social Club next door to Maine Road.
Dad has seen the good times, but he had to put up with so many lean years that he even counted it in days. At a rough estimate, that would have been 12,775 morning waking up to City being second behind United.
This season has been bitter sweet for all Blues though as we have lost club people who deserved to see City lift a trophy. So the tears are both joyful and sad, the emotions are mixed.
For me personally, this will be remembered as the season that dad died not the season when City won the cup, but it is also the season where I was truly grateful for having City there for us to share.
My five kids also have a link to the memories of their granddad that keeps their memories fresher, happier and more personal.
Every time I go to a game or watch City on TV, every time I see one of the kids in a City top I will think of my dad.
City will forever be our families club because of Dad.
I just wish we could have shared the good times for as long as we shared the bad times.
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