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Etihad Stadium
Manchester City 
v Tottenham Hotspur
Sunday, November 24th 2013, 1.30pm
Premier League
Jonny Laybourn
(Tottenham Hotspur fan)

After a fantastic visit to Manchester last season, featuring a long-awaited victory at Old Trafford, I thought it would be apt to visit the other club in Manchester with Spurs. As Manchester is such a fine city with a rich cultural heritage as well a plethora of excellent pubs, I wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity to visit a second time.

As the kick-off was fairly early on a Sunday and I wanted a bit of breathing space between my arrival in Manchester and kick-off, I caught the 8:10 train from Euston. The trip was fairly smooth, as you’d expect. After arriving at Piccadilly station two and a half hours later, I proceeded to pick a sandwich up as a snack, and then walked to the Grey Horse on Portland Street for a couple of pre-match pints. I was one of the first customers to arrive after the pub opened at 11am, which soon filled up with City fans, as well as a few Spurs fans. The barwoman handed out some warm homemade sausage rolls for free, which I gladly accepted as I was still a bit hungry. Note to City fans – how I wish you could, but don’t expect the same from London pubs when you come down here! The home fans at the pub were friendly too. The pub seemed like an oasis of ‘local’ in the heart of Manchester.

I then decided to take the long walk to the ground, back past Piccadilly station. It took around half an hour, and became easier once groups of City fans began to appear on the roads leading to the stadium. The ground came into view after passing the station, and it was very impressive. Some have derided the steel masts as ugly, but I think they offer a unique charm to what might have otherwise been a bland bowl. I took a lap walk of the ground and was pleased to see a makeshift stage and a band playing. I was a bit annoyed at the obligatory searching at the turnstiles, which alas happens more often than not these days. I was towards the back of the lower tier and had a good view of the pitch. The leg room was fine and the stewards allowed us to stand throughout. The Bovril was standard matchday fare; pleasing on such a cold day.

Nothing to say about the match. We conceded after fourteen seconds and ended up losing six nil. Our fans were fine: sometimes when the going is so tough you might as well just accept your fate and enjoy the rest of the day out. I was rather annoyed that a fellow ‘fan’ had taken to stealing my programme as I was clapping the team off – maybe I deserved it after being so steadfast after such an awful display!

I again walked back into the city centre, back to the pub. I got chatting to a few City fans who offered me their condolences, before heading back to London on the train.  It was a pity I didn’t see much of Manchester as I did on my last visit, but the day was somewhat soured by the match and the programme incident. Hopefully our team will wake up and smell the coffee after this stern lesson. I’ll definitely be back to the Etihad in due course and will hope for a better display from my team.

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