Monday, 30 May 2011

Manchester City - City of Manchester Stadium

2nd October 2005

Manchester City 2-0 Everton

Having seen one of the last ever matches at Manchester City’s former ground Maine Road.  I was keen to take a look at their new home, The City of Manchester Stadium.  Originally designed to be part of the city's bid for the 2000 Olympics, the ground was eventually constructed to house the 2002 Commonwealth Games.  Once these were over the venue was converted into one suitable for football by the removal of much of the running track, and the lowering of the playing surface to facilitate the installation of additional seating.  Manchester City decamped to the new stadium in time for the 2003/2004 season.   

This particular match v Everton was, presumably at the behest of Rupert Murdoch, set to kick off at the ungodly hour of 11:15, which led to a group of home supporters choosing to attend in their pyjamas, as some sort of protest, I assume.  Not having arranged a ticket in advance, I was more than slightly disconcerted to see the length of the queues at the ticket booths.  But I had only stood in line for a few minutes before I was approached by a chap, claiming to have a single ticket for sale.  Now I do tend to be rather wary of touts and the potential for forgeries, so usually stay clear of such situations.  But the queue was long, and didn’t seem to be moving at all, so we did a deal and I purchased the ticket for (as far as I can recall), the hefty face value.  Then, rather alarmingly, my seller (who appeared to be of East European origin) just melted into the crowd as soon as my cash had been handed over, and was gone.

I scrutinised the ticket more closely – and yes, I know I should have done this before parting with my hard-earned.  It had the previous day’s date on it, but that did not worry me as the match had been switched at short notice from the Saturday to a Sunday.  It also had a message on it inferring it was part of a hospitality package for some travel company, whose name I cannot recall.  Hmmm.  It began to dawn on me I may had been conned here, a feeling which did not diminish when I noticed whilst waiting to enter the stadium, that my ticket was green, whilst everyone else’s appeared to be blue.  The turnstile was one of these unmanned jobs, where one slid the barcode area of the ticket into a scanner and the turnstile turned……..or not, as the case may be.  But mine did!  No Probs.

The next surprise awaited me when I found my seat.  It was a luxurious padded affair, right in the centre of the Colin Bell Stand.  Already seated were a collection of very affluent looking folks, exuding that glow which rich people do.  I, in contrast, unshaven wearing t-shirt and black jeans, looked like the sort of bloke who emptied their bins.  I just couldn’t sit in there!  So, instead I found a crappy wee prole seat a few metres away, and tried to look inconspicuous.  I think I must be the first football supporter ever to voluntarily sneak into a cheaper seat.  At half-time all the well-heeled men and ladies in the block, got up as one and wandered off, presumably to indulge in the hospitality laid on by whoever had funded their tickets.  I briefly considered tagging along – after all, my ticket suggested I was entitled - but being a wimp, chickened out.

That being said, I really deserved some sort of entertaining during the break, as I had enjoyed precious little during the preceeding 45 minutes.  Everton, then propping up the league table and on a four game losing streak, were dreadful; totally bereft of any sort of creative ideas.  City were really not much better, but at least they had the busy Darius Vassell up front, who at least looked as if he may score.  After 70 minutes of sleep inducing stuff (I am sure the guys in pyjamas would have long since dropped off), Danny MILLS whacked in a beauty from 25 yards, after which everyone in the stadium jumped up and down a bit, before nodding off again.  Antoine Sibiersky should have scored a second for City late on, but hit the ball straight at visiting ‘keeper Nigel Martyn, before VASSELL finally repaying my faith tapped one in during injury time.

And that was that.  Another defeat for Everton, and another three points for City at their new home.  Impressive though the City of Manchester Stadium is, especially those feminine curves around the roofline, it surely lacks the jaw-dropping impact of the Kippax.  But I guess that’s progress for you.

Approaching the stadium.

The ill-fated B of the Bang - a fatal impaling waiting to happen.

Panorama of The City of Manchester Stadium.

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