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FA Cup Final: 35 years and still here

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Carmel O'Grady | 14:40 UK time, Wednesday, 11 May 2011

35 years and we're still here.

Supporting Manchester City is a birthright in my family. There are United fans among us, through marriage, and there's one defector (known as Turncoat Billy). But from the top down we're sky blues. And the Don? My Grandma O'Grady. She never goes anywhere without a city badge and gave her sons 'a love of their own' when she bought them season tickets for Maine Road back in the Sixties.

My earliest memory of football, after being carried over the turnstiles, is clinging to my Dad and walking into the noise and madness that was the Kippax. I was five. We never queued because we always arrived post kick off. My Dad and his pals were known in the Osbourne House as the ten-to-three boys. Not because that's when they left to go to the ground, but because that's when they got the last round in.

I loved going to the match as a little girl. My cousins Tom, Faith and Rosie were always there. The same cousins I'll be sat with at Wembley this coming weekend. Half-crazy on pop and crisps, we were hoisted up over the crowd to get a good look at the pitch. I don't think I really appreciated watching the game back then. It was all about being there.

Joining in with the songs and trying to remember the offensive chants directed at the referee. "Don't tell your Mum I said that" - my Dad's constant plea. The elation on the Kippax when city scored was something else. Everyone jumping and hugging, beer (and sometimes us kids) flying over the crowd, and to see my Dad and Uncle being so silly and so excited was and still is the best.

The O'Grady family

Family photos on my dad's wall.

As a City fan I've been to Wembley twice. The first time was for the Second Division play off final against Gillingham. What a day that was. Fellow blue Will Greenwood was talking to Rachel Burden about it on 5 live recently. He summed it up for me when he said "the best sporting moment I was involved with was nothing to do with the World Cup. It's City beating Gillingham in 1999 at Wembley. Two nil down, minutes to go. It doesn't get better than that. It's all about that behind the sofa moment, you're biting your nails, thinking 'can we do it?'" We did it.

That weekend we perfected the O'Grady rush, up and down London's many escalators, came up with one of the daftest football songs I've ever heard - "you're my pigeon, you're my dove, you're my city you're the one I love" - and all eight of us went home with bruised knees (thank you old Wembley). The numbers from our seats remain proudly framed on my Dad's wall, alongside an unimaginably tasteless City clock and a signed shirt.

For some reason, even at two nil down, I never gave up hope that day. 10 more years watching City's consistent inconsistency and that optimism seems to have deserted me. The second game I saw City play at Wembley was something of a trial...

A Manchester derby for a place in the FA Cup final. We queued for close to four hours at Eastlands to get tickets. I reckon we'd have lined up for a week. Until the big day there was talk of nothing else. The morning of the game, however, we wanted to talk about anything but. The nerves were bristling.

Our Faith saw more good omens on the way to Wembley than I can remember, but best of all was our seat numbers. They were the same as they had been for the Gillingham game. Surely it doesn't get better than that? We took our lucky seats just in time to Poznan through the United team sheet. The little boy in front of us was crying with nervous anticipation for the first few minutes of the game. From then until half time many of us felt the same.

Then for 15 minutes we relaxed and even remembered to phone and sing happy birthday to Grandma O'Grady. I don't think Mancini was singing to the players in the dressing room as City came back out a different team, creating chances, keeping the ball. A defensive mistake saw Toure clear. The ball hit the back of the net, our jaws hit the floor and blue moon bellowed right round Wembley.

But soon after, the excitement dampened and worry set in. Whispers of 'it's too early for my liking' started up. Even the cheers when Scholes was sent off were more than a little tinged with fear. The feeling that it was all too good to be true couldn't be quashed.

The clock didn't move for the last ten minutes. We thought the ref had blown up at one point - he hadn't. In reality the final whistle went seconds later. To us it felt like days. "This is when they score" was the thought that wouldn't be dismissed, even when we had the ball. Let's face it though, we're no strangers to Fergie time - 96 minutes anyone?

As it turned out, none of that football fan pessimism mattered. We beat United at Wembley, and the prize? For the first time in our lives my cousins and I might see City lift a trophy.

Come on City, do it for my Gran!

Blue Moon.


Carmel O'Grady is a senior producer on the Victoria Derbyshire programme


Related links
Mark Pougatch's Cup Final preview
League Cup Final 1976
Manchester City


Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Shame for Stoke fans. But I suppose 5Live isn't moving to moving to near the Britannia Stadium.

  • Comment number 2.

    May I just add to this blatant Manchester bias post above? Last night on Livesey. Last item of news: Featured anti-Stoke piece about Lonely Planet's view of the place. Random and mean. Cut immediately to Livesey talking about the Salford Swimathon. I have seen the future and it is - manky.

  • Comment number 3.

    carrie - there will of course be a Stoke City blog. Carmel wrote hers first, so it went up a bit earlier - I'm waiting for the Stoke fan to send me his. There isn't much to it than that.

  • Comment number 4.

    Sorry, typo above. I meant 'there isn't much more to it than that.'

  • Comment number 5.

    And a news and journalism organisation couldn't organise to have them up at the same time? Blimey, here's an idea, combine them even.

  • Comment number 6.

    Let's see, who are you asking? Dominic Cork, Jeremy Bates, Andy Robinson, Julian Clary, oh no, it will probably be Nick Hancock.

  • Comment number 7.

    What is this again ? 5live being a gigantic publicity machine or rallying call for Manchester and the North West ? The idea of moving out of London was so that the rest of the country could get a look in.What you are now doing is not what was intended.

  • Comment number 8.

    Disgraceful partisanship. Still no Stoke blog, as if you were ever going to do one. You are all obsessed with Manchester. Even if you couldn't find anyone to write it at short notice, as journalists you could have made it up, at least it would have looked a bit fairer.

    I hope that all Manchester United fans and fans of football everywhere support Stoke City.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hey, Carrie post a blog about Stoke if it means that much to you. Carmel is only telling how it feels for her!

  • Comment number 10.

    I just thought it was unfair not to have a Stoke blog at the same time. Predictably it is Nick Hancock supplying one belatedly.

    When you support an unglamorous team that is just a feeder for big clubs to grab your best players, believe me I support every one playing against the likes of those with unlimited money in events like the Cup Final.

    I also cannot abide this 5 Live obsession with anything Mancunian. It is manky and that is not a good word.

  • Comment number 11.

    Carrie does come across as bitter and twisted and obviously has some dislike towards Manchester.
    However I think her disappointment will be immense around 1700 Hrs tomorrow when Mancini's team will beat Stoke comprehensively.
    Carrie? theres always next season ducks!!!!!!

  • Comment number 12.

    Carrie wrote saying she hopes every Man Utd fan and fans everywhere support Stoke in the FA Cup final. Dont worry Ducks no need to drum up support they are! and so too are the media because the world is against Man City they are jealous of their wealth.
    It wont make much difference because by half time Stokes enthusiasm will be dampened by a 2-0 scoreline to Man City -- GAME OVER DUCKS! seriously Carrie please try and chill out your bitterness is there for all to see - very sad in all truth but there we are!

  • Comment number 13.

    Carmel I loved your story, you obviously have a very nice family.Liked the phrase ten to three boys,God bless your Granny BTW!!!!!!

  • Comment number 14.

    Come on you Potters !! No one likes the mancs !!

  • Comment number 15.

    Damning piece from the Guardian about 5Live's "rising star" Robbie Savage. Well worth a read. I agree with every word.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2011/may/16/robbie-savage-tv-bad-joke

    "Last week he won an award for radio presenting – which is a good joke, but only if you make Tony Blackburn Footballer of the Year at the same time"

 

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