Sunday, 1 May 2011

Manchester City - Maine Road

27th April 2003

Manchester City 0-1 West Ham

As tickets for the last ever match at Maine Road sold out pretty swiftly, this game was my compromise – ‘twas the second last one.  West Ham United were the visitors, and were a side very much in trouble.  

The start of this match found them sitting in one of the three relegation slots, four points adrift from safety, and with only three matches remaining.  To make things worse manager Glenn Roeder had just been taken ill five days earlier, leaving former player and current club director Trevor Brooking to take over the reins.  Thus did this match become a managerial tussle between former England team-mates Kev ‘n’ Trev; City’s current boss being, of course, Kevin Keegan.

My first impressions of Maine Road is that it looked a good place to be moving away from – quite a scary and run down area, it seemed.  If my car had any wheels left on it at all after the game, I would view that as a good result.  

I loved the funny roof on the main stand, and the three intricate mosaics spelling out the club name above the stand entrances.  I briefly wondered if the club would let me have one – they were going to pull the place down in a few weeks, after all.  I know one ended up at the new stadium, but does anyone know where the other two went? 

Can I have one of these from Santa, please.

Exterior of the Maine Road main stand.
From the front row of the main stand (where I ended up) the sheer scale of the Kippax Road stand opposite was breathtaking – a veritable wall of people, which my pic does not even come close to capturing.  The rest of the ground was a rather odd concoction, which I supposed reflected the fact the stadium had been developed over a number of years.  

Behind the goals stood the North and Platt Lane stands; similar yet different, each housing a selection of glass-fronted hospitality boxes.  But what made the set-up look really odd, in addition to the hulking Kippax of course, were the sets of temporary seating which had been shoe-horned into two corners of the ground.  Neither had any roofing, and those populated by the visiting Hammers’ fans looked particularly precarious.     

The frankly rather unsafe-looking away accomodation.

The Platt Lane stand.
Not half as precarious as West Ham’s status in the Premier League, and the club really had to win this match to maintain any hope of avoiding the dreaded Trap-Door.  Brooking could have done without Les Ferdinand first forgetting his shooting boots – he passed up three gilt-edged opportunities – then coming off worse in a thumping clash with home ‘keeper Peter Schmeichel, which resulted in the striker’s departure on a stretcher.

Visiting custodian David James was also in action in a singular sequence of events, which first saw him spill a shot from Nicolas Anelka out to Robbie Fowler, whose half-hit attempt trickled through James’ legs towards the goal-line.  Fowler, tumbling over, attempted to help the ball over the line with his head, but City defender Rufus Brevett arrived in the nick of time smacking ball and Fowler’s head with admirable impartiality.  This was, however, a rare foray into the visitor’s box for City, as they struggled to summon up much enthusiasm for the fray. 

Ten minutes from time, West Ham got the reward their perseverance deserved when Frederic KANOUTE poked the ball in from all of six inches after Don Hutchison’s shot had spun back off a post.  In the end, though, it all counted for naught as the Hammers, despite a subsequent 1-0 win over Chelsea and 2-2 draw at Birmingham, were relegated with Bolton’s last day win over Middlesbrough.

The Kippax Road stand at Main Road, Manchester - Wow!

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