When David Moyes re-iterated the importance of class and dignity following last week’s victory at Eastlands, it echoed similar comments he made to a Spanish waiter a couple of years ago, and pretty much underlined that a new bitter rivalry has emerged this season.
Much has been written about this divide, with its biblical connotations – Cain and Abel and David vs Goliath, as I will later discuss – and I agree with much of it, especially as the majority were complimentary to Everton.
However, few seem to have commented on the breakdown in the relationship between the two shades of Blues since last summer.
At this point I need to explain that I am not particularly anti-’Citeh’, indeed, when growing up I had something of a soft spot for them. They had some ‘cool’ (to a ten year-old) kits, they had those blow up bananas, and they shared some players and managers with my beloved Everton: Beagrie, Ward, McMahon, Reid, Kendall and Royle amongst others.
My Year 6 teacher was even a Maine Road season ticket holder, unfortunately not in the fantastically named Kippax Stand, and she arranged for Jimmy Frizzell to open our summer fete that year. All I remember about that day is getting his autograph then having some Subbuteo figures stolen.
Meanwhile, the sky blues also lived in the shadow of their neighbours, something else we had in common. Whoever wrote that book Manchester United Ruined My Life really encapsulated the frustrations of, I thought, both Citizens and Evertonians, though in our case we were more bothered about the Loveable Reds across the park.
Various relegations, takeover fiascos, and Stuart Hall’s labelling of them as the theatre of base comedy “I call it the Theatre of Base Comedy because a sense of comedy is essential for every City fan“ made them something of a laughing stock as I entered my teens. Despite my knowing a couple of ‘sound’ City fans, many held the view that they were all like Paul Calf, the Gallaghers, or more recently, their Uncle Frank.
They left Maine Road and arrived at the fantastic new stadium, which we’re never sure what it’s actually called, and I sat through a terrible Sunday morning defeat there quite envious of their fortune – for now, non-financial – but safe in the knowledge that we were cut from the same cloth, of the same ilk, shared an affinity, and would probably always be a bit better than them.
As we know, that all changed a couple of years ago, and I’ve written before about the effect that seeing City fans singing ‘we’ve got Robeeneeo’ wearing tea-towels on their heads live on sky Sports News on deadline day whilst the reporter came close to spontaneous combustion, had on me. It was easy to think ‘that should have been us’ but something about it all just suggested that City would find some way to mess it all up and it might just be an elaborate hoax after all.
But that wasn’t the case, and as myself and other more esteemed scribes have documented on this site in the past, last summer the billboards were literally put up heralding the new era.
Of course this also brought the affectionately called LESCOTT SAGA, which came to an end with us getting three arguably better players and some money left over, plus Jo for another year. Perhaps these two actually epitomise the changes at City more than any other players – new money, same old comedy, as both performed much better for us than for them, so far, despite our not having the money to pay so much over the odds for them in the first place.
Since Christmas, we have met twice, and although City look destined to finish above us in the league, it has been one of the highlights of the season so far to enjoy two two nil victories over them, incorporating some great footballing moments such as http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQyHLwzdXsU reminding them that class and dignity for this season at least, is not temporary, even though riches may be.
Such riches, and related pressures, were clearly the reason for Mark Hughes’s dismissal, and perhaps for Mancini’s aggressive attempted retrieval of the ball towards the end of last week’s game. It doesn’t, however, excuse City fans’ over-exuberant encouragement of the exodus of a friend of mine at a game last season, nor the alleged way that the chief exec may have dealt with a guest of Everton’s in the director’s box last weekend – an argument which was strenuously denied, but can someone who once accused one of the greatest clubs in the world of ‘bottling it’ and welcomed Uwe Rosler into “Manchester United’s Hall of Fame” (thanks for those, The Guardian) really be trusted?
Indeed, one journalist even suggested at the weekend that City could do worse than look at Everton as a well-run club to aim at, and Moyes as an exemplary boss to aim for, though the incessant Manchester United rumours suggest this would be unlikely.
And I’ll tell you what else – those horrible cheap scarves sum it up for me, and the TEAM BRIDGE t-shirts recently worn. City made a real statement of intent by winning at – ironically – the Bridge, then spoiled it with for example Craig Bellamy’s post-match diatribe. I know I’ve mentioned that before but it seems to underline the mentality, just as the billboard, the arrogance and general rubbishness also do.
Or maybe it’s the green-eyed chip on our shoulders.
Either way, for various reasons, there is a new, potentially vicious, battle of the underdogs, taking place up and down the M62. United and Liverpool may always be the big draw but, to end with a nod to a likeable City fan Ricky Hatton, the undercard just got even more interesting.