“Munich bastards!” a City fan shouted at my dad and me as we approached the council house for our game towards the close of last season. We’d just driven in to town, found a carpark close to the ground, and set off on the walk. Seemed like a fairly good idea at the time. It wasn’t even midday yet, so we didn’t anticipate any trouble, so kept our heads down and got in to the ground.
I’d been to the council house only once before for derby day, and had only managed to land tickets with the home fans. This time I was sat with our fans and was hoping for a win, knowing that we could reclaim our title if Arsenal prevented Chelsea from winning the following day. I had a drink with my dad surrounded by United fans as we sang “Build a bonfire” and the like. There’s a large wall which rises up from the ground but doesn’t quite meet the ceiling, and the City fans were on the other side. It wasn’t long before they started singing their Munich songs at us, which we could hear loud and clear due to the gap at the top of the wall. Our crowd were surprisingly calm though, not retaliating, but instead outsinging them with our usual chants. I recalled only the season before when they’d started singing about Munich in the minute’s silence that had been held before kick off. The ref had to blow his whistle early, which lead to the United fans jumping to their feet and shouting “Fuck off City” repeatedly for the next few minutes.
The game was pretty dull, if I’m honest. It started with the pathetic scarf twirling from the City fans, who’d all found a free blue and white scarf under their seat, an attempt to increase their docile atmosphere. “What the fuckin, what the fuckin, what the fuckin ell was that??” the United fans mocked when they finished.
The only goal of the game came from a Ronaldo penalty, after Michael Ball tripped him in the area. It was just desserts for the thug who’d earlier stamped on Ronaldo’s chest when he was on the deck. The City fans held their arms out, rocking from side to side, putting on their best aeroplane impressions. A few rounds of “Who’s that lying on the runway, who’s that dying in the snow” picked up around the ground (the words of which are – who’s that lying on the runway, who’s that dying in the snow? It’s Matt Busby and his boys making all the fucking noise cos they couldn’t get their aeroplane to go). Their smug, demented faces were soon left rather solemn, however, when Van der Sar saved in a penalty in the final minutes of the game.
Truth be told, Liverpool and Leeds are the only teams who get the same kick out of mocking those who died in the Munich Air Disaster as City. The fact that Frank Swift, their former legend, also died that day seems to pass them by. Swift played for City for sixteen years, the only club of his entire career. He won the league title and FA Cup with them in the 1930s before becoming a journalist. He had been with the United team reporting for the News of the World and was one of the twenty three passengers who died that night in Munich.
Manchester City are obviously all too aware what scum bags they have in their ranks, and have been pussy footing around their supporters who have tickets for derby day on February 10th. This is the game closest to the 50th anniversary, which is February 6th, and where our memorial service will be taking place. Enclosed in the envelope with the tickets for the game, City fans will receive a letter from Sven, which reads, “Many supporters will already be aware that Manchester City lost one of our own in the tragedy, goalkeeper Frank Swift. Twenty-two players, staff and journalists also lost their lives. We ask that all supporters uphold the good name of Manchester City and respectfully support the commemorations which will also be attended by friends and family of the victims including Frank Swift’s family.” Credit to them for making the effort but it is pathetic that such a reminder has to be given. Should human beings really need to be sent a persuasive letter to stop themselves from mocking the deaths of innocent people?
I am not for one second saying all City fans are such vermin, and for the most part, I imagine the travelling fans will be dreading the actions of the minority come derby day. There has been talk of employing a minute’s applause ahead of kick off, instead of a minute’s silence, for fear that some bitters will ruin the occasion. I for one think that is bollocks. People died and Manchester United was left in tatters. We should have a time for quiet reflection on such a tragedy, not deafening applause to drown out the sick things the scum bags might shout. A minutes silence should be held and if any bitters want to show up their fans and their club, then so be it.
Part of me believes that maybe the fans that show up will be respectful and want to share in remembering the day that Manchester mourned so many bright young talents. It is the younger fans, the ones that have never seen their club lift a trophy, who are more likely to cause the trouble, and I just hope there are enough older fans in their section to give a clip around the ear to those that deserve it.
Can we see a united Manchester on February 10th? I’d love to believe that we could, but my better judgement, coming from years of dealing with the bitters, tells me that we will be left disappointed.