Published on August 15th, 2014 | by Ian Cheeseman1
Ian Cheeseman re-introduces his blogs for the new season
Written by Ian Cheeseman
Every week I’ll write a City blog, but for those finding it by accident, or for those who are thinking, “who is this Ian Cheeseman?”, here’s a little introduction.
My route into sports journalism wasn’t the usual one. I was a fan, to be honest an obsessive fan, of Manchester City, and football in general; I still am.
I went to my first Blues game in 1970, by 1974/75 me and my Dad were season ticket holders at Maine Road, by 76/77 I was travelling home and away, to every game.
I got to know Charlie, Howard and John who ran the Supporters Club “football specials” (trains) and was asked to become a steward, which I enjoyed doing; it passed the time and saved me money.
For fifteen years I sold the pies, sandwiches, drinks, crisps and chocolate in the “cage” at one end of the train. In 1981 I was in charge of a train of my own, as thirteen “specials” headed to Wembley, twice in a week.
By the early nineties, the break up of British Rail meant running a football special became too expensive for the supporters club, of which I was a member, so I started to travel to games by car with my mate Charlie.
We continued to go to every game, home and away, he had a full time job, just like me. I worked for the Co-op Bank in Manchester, but was finding it difficult to get half-day holidays for matches and I was struggling to afford tickets. I also went watching other local clubs when City weren’t in action, and always loved match days at Oldham, Rochdale, Bury, Stockport, Wigan and Bolton. I’m also a fan of the German club Schalke 04, who are from my Mum’s home town, Gelsenkirchen.
During the late 70s and 80s I visited all 92 grounds in the league, but never going to a neutral game if City were playing. I’d always be at the City game, if they were playing somewhere.
In 1994 I was invited to apply for a job at BBC GMR (now Radio Manchester) and to my amazement I got it. I’d been presenting a radio show on Hospital Radio for a decade, as a hobby, and freelancing (for petrol money). I did match reporting, football and rugby league for various organisations, and commentating for free on the Manchester City club video. I introduced summarisers on these videos, like Mike Summerbee, Glyn Pardoe, Bobby Johnson, Mike Doyle, Fred Eyre etc (they did it for free too).
I took the gamble of working for the BBC because my dream was to commentate on all the City games. I didn’t know if I’d get the chance but seven years into the job, my boss, mentor (the man who taught me how to be a journalist) Andy Buckley, moved on and I got my dream job; that was on 17th October 2001 (my Dad’s birthday).
I don’t just do the City games for the BBC, I’m an employee, so I have to do all sorts of things, but the “cherry on top of the cake” is that I’m the City reporter, I go to every game, home and abroad and report on club activities and stories.
As a journalist I have to do this objectively and without bias, but inside I’m still that fan, pinching myself that I achieved my boyhood dream and get paid to describe the action to those who can’t be there.
I’m in my 21st year with the BBC and I’ve never sought to move into another job, or even be promoted. I’m sure I could have earned more or moved into network radio or even TV, if fame or money was my motivation.
I’m a proud Mancunian, I was born at St.Mary’s Hospital (which is now where the “Sainsburys” is opposite the Palace Theatre). I was lucky enough to spend three years writing Colin Bell’s autobiography and I’ve spent my life meeting City players and various footballers, and reporting on the game I love.
For most of the time I’ve been the City reporter, the great Fred Eyre has travelled to away games with me, as co-commentator, and currently it’s the legendary Shaun Goater who sits beside me for home games.
I described the Aguero moment, I cried when City won the FA Cup, knowing my City-fan son Daniel was there to see them win a trophy.
I was at Bristol Rovers, Lincoln City and Macclesfield (and York City 2-1 defeat December 1998, City’s lowest moment) as a fan. Now I sit in the press box and get treated like royalty – how lucky am I? So far I’ve attended over 2,000 City games, from first team to EDS, and over 1,000 more “neutral” games, plus over 50 Schalke 04 games!
I wrote a book called “Best Job in the World” about a season in my life, there could surely be no better title.
I have no desire to stop doing this job (ever), though of course ultimately I have no control over that, I’m an employee, so I will enjoy every moment, for as long as someone allows (asks) me to.
I write all this because you may not know my story (you might not care of course) but if you’re reading this now, you should know that a year ago I started to write a blog on the City Supporters Club website.
I don’t get paid, I do it in my own time, usually on my day off, but always at home in my time. The Supporters Club is a non-profit making organisation, I’m no longer a member, as it’s not seen as right for a journalist to be a member of a fan organisation, but Reddish and Bredbury branches have asked me to be their honourary vice presidents – which I’ve accepted with humility.
I visit supporters groups, when asked, and it fits in with my work commitments.
I write my blog for pleasure, and the opinions I express are my opinions, no-one else’s and I write with no agenda. You can agree or disagree, you can read or ignore.
I’ll try, like last season, to do a blog after every game, but I’m not promising. If I don’t have time, so be it; equally I might throw in an extra one, if the mood takes me.
My son Daniel is a City fan, you’ll see his blogs on the Supporters Club website too, and he’s just as passionate as me!
As far as the Community Shield is concerned, I’ll just say, it was a glorified friendly. The manager and players treated it as such. I knew the team would not be at full strength, and frankly I’d rather they called friendlies “training games” which would be more honest, then no-one could complain if they felt short changed.
I went along to City Live this year, and was a bit disappointed. It seemed over produced and lacked soul. Only the players who won awards spoke, and then only briefly. I’m not a Smiths fan so I left once the players did, I believe it could have been a lot better. I told you, you might not always agree with me, but that’s my honest view.
My opinion (by the way) on City (and football matters) is no more or less valid than yours, and I’ll never claim it is!
I can’t wait for Sunday’s big kickoff at Newcastle and another season of football. I’ve already attended five games, including a City EDS game and I’ll pop along to Bolton v Forest on Saturday, because I just love football!
Here it comes again, hold on, it’s bound to be exciting, and have it’s ups and downs, but I, for one, wouldn’t want it any other way!