Published on October 19th, 2014 | by Ian Cheeseman1
“Three days to remember” | Ian Cheeseman
If you ever had any doubt about the direction City are going in, then there were three days that should have told the story, better than I can – Thursday 16th October to Saturday 18th October 2014, and I was lucky enough to witness (almost) all of it!
On Thursday I drove down to Wycombe’s Adams Park to commentate on Manchester City v Arsenal in the FA Women’s Superleague Continental Cup Final. I’d been to Wycombe before, to see football league games featuring Bury and Oldham Athletic, indeed I’d also been there to see City play in a league game, and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss any of them.
This time was a first for me though. I’d attended a few of the City women’s games, but I hadn’t commentated on any, although I did do an England game a few years ago in Warrington, but this was City.
Alongside me for the evening was Gillian Coulthard, capped over a hundred times by England, a true legend of the game. She’d driven down from Castleford, and I must admit I feel a fellowship with Yorkshire folk, and she didn’t let me down, she was a fantastic sidekick and great company.
The game was tremendous, two evenly matched teams, and I remember commenting early on, that the style of football City were trying to play had the same philosophy as the Men’s senior team, the Elite Development Squad and the U19s.
I’d been disappointed to see Betsy Hassett on the bench, she’d impressed me in previous games, but the eleven who wore the sky blue, did so with great distinction.
Toni Duggan led the line with selfless commitment, more used to the glory or scoring, she kept the Arsenal defenders busy. In central midfield Jill Scott enhanced her “box-to-box” reputation with great energy and the “woman-mountain” Steph Houghton organised and held the Gunners at bay with style.
The goal was perfection, the tireless Krystle Johnston crossed onto Izzy Christiansen’s head for a glorious winner, in front of a crowd of just under 4,000. All the players played their part, and rightly celebrated in style at the end. What an honour to see Manchester City complete a trophy treble in 2014.
Less than 48 hours later I was at the Etihad Stadium to see the girls parade their trophy before the boys put on a masterclass against Spurs. Sergio Aguero, in particular, was unplayable, supported by an inspired Joe Hart and the always impressive David Silva, and the rest!
There were moments of imperfection in defence, which were highlighted later on Match of the Day, but I love the footballing philosophy running through the club, which says it’s about playing with a smile on your face and entertaining.
Spurs played their part in that Premier League game too, and during the first half Eriksen was almost as unplayable as Aguero, and you know what, I might be a Blue, but I enjoyed Tottenham’s contribution to a wonderful game of football too. They didn’t come to park the bus, created good chances and can consider themselves unlucky to be on the end of a 4-1 scoreline.
In between those games was Friday 17th October, my Dad’s birthday. I sang happy birthday down the phone to him.
I’ve always considered 17 to be my lucky number, for a few reasons, my Dad’s birthday helps, but it’s a number that crops up in my life, not least on 17th October 2001 when the head of Radio Manchester told me I was to be the station’s new City reporter, a month later I commentated on my first game in the job, 17th November 2001.
Before that I’d done other games, commentated on City matches on the club video, but now I had my dream job – the Best Job in the World, and from 16th to 18th October 2014 I was reminded why – not that I really needed reminding!
Next up is a very different experience, CSKA Moscow v City. I was there a year ago, so it’s not the game or the ground or the City of Moscow I’m talking about, it’s the fact it’ll be played in a near empty stadium. As a fan I’d feared such a game, now as a journalist I’m guaranteed entry but I have huge sympathy and understanding for the fellow obsessives who will be desperate to get into the Khimki Arena for the game.
I’ll be in touch with them and their stories and of course I’ll be providing full match commentary on the game on Tuesday from 5pm UK time, with Gary Owen adding his expert comments back at Media City, so make sure you listen on 95.1FM, DAB or outside Greater Manchester on mcfc.co.uk – it’ll be like Millwall away all over again – I even told Joe Hart the story of the “we’re not really here” celebrations at the Den that night when Kevin Horlock and the gang applauded the empty away end, after the goals.
Here’s hoping there’s more of that in Russia!