Blogs Manchester City fans

Published on October 1st, 2014 | by Ian Cheeseman

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“Absent friends” | Ian Cheeseman

Written by Ian Cheeseman

Criticising any fan for not attending a game is unfair and unnecessary. For 95% of the population, and I include myself in that group, living is expensive. Life is a struggle with lots of demands on your hard earned cash.

Family, food, travel – everything costs money, and as I’ve taught my boys, you have to make choices. One of those choices is to be a football fan who attends games. When I started going to games on a regular basis in the 1970s my parents paid for my tickets, but as I got older I had to pay for my season ticket and travel, and it was me that had to beg a day off work for midweek games. Football was cheaper then than it is now, and most games were played on a Saturday at 3pm, that’s why I started my working life as a bank clerk. Banks closed at 330pm weekdays and at weekends.

I became involved in the City Travel Club as a steward, which eventually earned my free train ticket, that helped. In the 1980s I got married and my life changed. I had responsibilities, I was finding it even harder to survive with a family, and harder to finance my football obsession.

It’s a long story, which I tried to explain in my book “Best Job in the World” but I started to get involved in the media when City fans were banned from a game at Luton, which (not as easy as it sounds) led to me eventually building a career in the media and a full time job at the BBC.

My aim was to see City in every game, home and away, and still be able to afford to live.

Through determination and luck I got my dream job and currently get paid to watch City and other games too.

I get annoyed when I see and hear fans, who’re not as lucky as me, being criticised for missing games. I know how difficult and expensive it is. Those fans have to buy expensive season tickets, get to and from games, plan their working life and social life around fixture changes at unpredictable times. Some are told they’re not real fans if they don’t buy all three expensive replica shirts a season.

City have loyal fans, most were there through the harder times, but now the club is re-positioning itself, aiming for a new generation, who might not even want to go to every game, but who can afford to pay for tickets and are lured by the quality of football and success that the club has been enjoying. It’s a part of growing, and those new fans should me made as welcome as anyone else, without them the club can’t grow (significantly) and comply with FFP, but on the other side of that coin, some of those newer fans don’t feel the need to go to every match, especially midweek games that are being shown on TV.

Why then do former (millionaire) footballers, turned pundits feel the need to “have a go” at “missing fans”? Are they really that detached from the real world?

All real fans have to do is to have the club in their heart, whichever club that is, and support them in whatever way they can, whenever the can. All fans of your football club whether there, or there in spirit, should be treated with the same amount of respect!

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13 Responses to “Absent friends” | Ian Cheeseman

  1. Brian entwistle says:

    Brilliant as always Ian it’s always a pleasure to hear you commentating or reading your thoughts, I like you have been there through the BAD times and we know there have been many now we are enjoying the GOOD times, as you say it’s a case for people to try an juggle their time an finances but there is one thing we all have in common that’s CITY the club, hope to listen to more an more of you and from us Fans ThankYou for telling it like it is CHEERS MATE!!!

  2. Alison Henrys says:

    Well said Ian and thank you. I used to have a season ticket for years but then got married and had 3 children, priorities changed. My children would all love to go every game but understand that it isn’t financially possible. We go as a family as much as we can but it is a very expensive trip for 5 of us. These pundits need to wake up and take a look at the real world and stop judging people. We consider ourselves true blues as we were there when things were at their lowest and stuck by them. CTID

  3. Gaynor norris says:

    Well put ian and very true !
    I’m one of the lucky ones to be able to go to all the home games and some away fixtures .
    Again this wasn’t the case 10 years ago where I managed the odd game on a friends ticket .
    As a female fan it was a no go to attend matches as it was seen that a woman’s place was with her kids ….plus I could not afford it tbh.
    Now my children have grown up and I am able to watch our beloved team again .

    Some people forget these things ……I’m not as lucky as you mind given you definitely do have ‘the best job in the world ‘ .
    Keep up the good work and long may it continue x

  4. caron says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this, having city in my heart & soul for as long as I can remember. As far as I am concered city fans are not the ‘prawn sarnie’ brigade. I for one are pleased at this….. dont get me wrong i fully apprecite ‘its a business blah de blah, but to me its a bit more than that. From being a kid that sneaked in 3/4 time, to season ticket holder at Maine Road (would like more standing at Etihad) peoples lives change….. moving, work, mortgage, kids. And sadly an expensive mid week ticket is beyond some budgets. This makes me or others no less of a fan, and would like people to consider that.

  5. Col Bury says:

    Excellent take, Mr Cheeseman. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

    Keep up the good work.

  6. Matthew says:

    This is an interesting article, but saying that a lack of supporters turning up is part of ‘growing and repositioning’ is clearly wrong. What is clear is that manchester city have a pool of about 50,000 fans that could come to games. It is highly likely that fans of other clubs and ex-players are taunting city supporters over the lack of attendance because it has been the standard argument from blues that I know that they somehow are the most loyal supporters who stick by their team and there are lots of them all aching to get to the games. Clearly this is wrong and that argument of being a close second in support to united can be out to bed.
    This idea that certain fans are the most loyal is nonesensical as all fans are loyal, and have their club in their heart. It’s just not all fans feel the need to say they are the bigger club in their geographical location!
    The other thing is that city fans I speak to are ‘bored of winning every week’ and that sense of drama is being diluted by a predictability that nobody truly enjoys. Where your team attack and the opposition for most matches simply park the bus. It isn’t worth the money. It isn’t entertaining.
    The romance of the club has really started to go and has been replaced by some great footballers…but with the exception of kompany and zabaletta can we really say that any player has the club in their heart? Obviously that goes for all teams. It would be great to go back to the days of Paul lake (I doubt any new customers know who he is) but sadly that can’t happen.
    Slowly but surely the club is being killed off by the pursuit of money. It’s desperately sad, and city fans know it…which is why they don’t go to games

  7. Tony Wood says:

    Bollocks Cheesy! I’m not a City fan but i’m not a Utd fan either. What i see (as a supporter of a lower league team) is that City are suddenly not as attractive as they used to be when they were climbing the ladder to success. Why? Because it came all too easy as a result of the Arab money. Had City gradually improved (a la Liverpool of the last couple of seasons)…..there would have been genuine excitement at the ‘new found’ level of success and the feeling amongst fans that ‘our club’ is now matching it with the best in the land.Frankly, most honest City fans see a bunch of mercenaries playing their trade for cash without the attachment to the fans that other clubs have. Chelsea, with Abramovich’s money have managed to do what City haven’t. That is, to build rapport with the genuine fans by having a couple of long standing ‘home grown’ players at their core. these players have ensured that no-one amongst the playing ranks can disrespect the badge or the club in the way that for instance, Toure has. At Chelsea, those players were sent packing quickly because the dressing room had ‘Chelsea men’ in there. It’s a major mistake on City’s part. Kompany is the closest you’ve got to the right kind of character…..but do you ever see him get stuck into Toure? Nah, and never will….it’s a weakness that needs remedying. Point is Cheesy, you are as embarrassed as the rest of us at City’s poor support for the CL (and many a league game actually) but as a fan and a local journalist, you can’t bring yourself to admit it as you would distance yourself from the core support. Scholes and Ferdinand are correct. The atmosphere at CL games in England (and Scotland) is far better at every other ground than at Etihad. Until city can breed some ‘homegrownness’ into their squad, you will continue to be embarrassed on and off the pitch in Europe.

    • Grandsolo says:

      And how much have Liverpool spent in the last few years?

    • Robbie Brewer says:

      What a load of garbage!As a “not City or Utd fan” then you haven’t got a clue what City fans are thinking…as a City fan that goes to games I can tell you that with the exception of one or two the attendances at CL games in the early rounds are pretty much the same all over Europe-is Barca sold out?Madrid?Liverpool?Chelsea?Really?Don’t think so…the fact is that the Bayern game at the Etihad is pretty much a guaranteed sell out,as it was last season…as Cheesy says,due to escalating living costs fans are having to pick and choose which games they attend-City are involved in so many these days!I saw a breakdown the other day that said to attend virtually all the matches home and away should City get to the finals season would cost around 4k..hardly pocket change,to a predominately local support in the middle of a recession.To take one of my kids the other night would’ve cost £50-and that’s before petrol,buying a drink etc….and that ‘s not to mention the unease many fans feel towards a competition and parent organisation who’s dubious “seeding” seems designed to ensure that we don’t progress too far at the expense of any of it’s regular TV cartel….and then fines our owner 50M for investing his OWN money into the club and the surrounding area-then gives the “fine” out to competing clubs…how is that classed as “fair” then??

      • Tony Wood says:

        Yep, you’re a City fan alright! Moan, point finger at other clubs, moan, quote conspiracy theory, moan, quote defensive rhetoric, moan, moan, moan.

        By the way, if you didn’t have to ‘buy a drink etc’, maybe you could afford to take your Son.

  8. john edwards says:

    when was the last time scholes and ferdinand bought a ticket for a football match ?

  9. Paul hodkinson says:

    well said Ian I have been following city for 48 years some thin allot thinner but all great I go to every home game around trip of 50 miles never miss my wife suffered a stroke twelve weeks ago but she knows how I love to go so I am lucky I don’t miss any games I pay for my grandson who is now in sixtform I am self employed and life is hard and in a season I say I must spend about 3000 pounds supporting the club I love a year minimum so to have people who are detached from reality kicking people when we have just gone through the worste recession in our lifetime .its really dumb and out of tune with life

  10. shirley jones-hurst says:

    well said Ian,i have been going since early 70s but through my job now i can”t go midweek and if we play on sundays i swap to working saturday(they let me off saturdays because i told them yrs ago i am a season ticket holder, i should work every other saturday and sunday)

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