RAMBLE: Manchester City -v- Wednesday

RAMBLE: Manchester City -v- Wednesday

When we beat Burnley in the last round and this draw was made there was much rejoicing across the Wednesday fanbase.

At last we had a decent draw, the champions of England away!

What more could you want?

At the time, I wasn’t as excited as others.

I’d been to Man City before when we played them in the FA Cup in 2007.

At that time there wasn’t much difference between the teams. We were a good Championship side in Brian Laws’ first season and would just miss out on the play-offs. Man City were a poor Premier League side who were reliant on a young Joey Barton and led by Stuart Pearce.

The difference now is money. Man City have been propelled to new heights with first Thai cash, and are now bankrolled by Dubai-based Sheikh Mansour.

I’ve never seen Man City as a huge club. They’re not one of the top clubs. I’d have been more excited about a trip to Old Trafford, Anfield or the Emirates. What’s more, even the most optimistic fans would go into absolute delusion to think that we could progress further.

But it’s still a Cup tie away at the champions and they’re a good club with a long-suffering, large and loyal fan base. Sound familiar, Wednesdayites?

I don’t do many midweek away games due to work, a lack of a car or ability to drive – so I was making the most of this.

I had the afternoon off at work and managed to get away as planned. The sun was out and I was due to meet James in the Sheffield Tap at 1pm. I had time to get back, buy tickets, get an M&S meal deal down me and let the fun begin.

By pure coincidence James and I met walking into the Tap and started with a couple of pints of toffee beer. It was good, although not as good as a toffee vodka I had in Norwich a couple of years ago.

Enjoying a pre-match pint. Better than a Megson warm-up

Enjoying a pre-match pint. Better than a Megson warm-up

We were soon joined by Tom and hopped on the train. It turned out that some who had bought tickets in the home end had been sussed out and had their tickets cancelled. This happened to James and Tom’s lift home and they didn’t have train tickets for the return! Those meanie Mancs eh?

The train was in good spirit and there were a few other Wednesdayites, mostly drinking and some playing cards. Before long we were in Piccadilly and the others bought their train tickets home.

The trains later were mixed: there was a half ten train, an eleven-ish and a ten-to-midnight. I’d assumed that we’d be getting the ten to midnight one. You never know how long it will take to get away from a game and if the game goes to extra time, it’s definitely the late one!

We found the Piccadilly Wetherspoons, which to our delight was serving Peroni. Perfect. The Peroni (and later Guinness for James) was flowing as was the conversation, very little of which was about football. Barack Obama was on the tele talking in front of what looked like a bizarre green background.

A couple of rounds each later and we headed off for the tram. James seemed to know where he was going so I followed him. The tram ride was busy but mainly full of commuters.

Manchester's needlessly complicated tram system

Manchester’s needlessly complicated tram system

We’d forgotten this was going home time for most of Manchester, not that it stopped us having a few songs on the tram, to the amusement or not of our fellow passengers.

Suddenly I was getting pushed off the tram on one stop. I thought I had to get off to let others on when I realised we’d arrived at the Etihad Campus.

We were soon at the ground, with those weird outside swirly staircase things. It also turned out that for the second game that I’d attended with them we were in opposite ends of the away end, so we spilt with a promise to meet after. Meet here!!

I was at the Cup game in 2007 but all I’ve heard of the place since was of the Aberdeen Angus burgers. I had to get in on this.

I found the food but have no idea if it was Aberdeen Angus.

This was beside the point; it was absolutely brilliant. Even if it did cost a small fortune.


To my surprise, Gray stuck with the same team that he’s been playing the Cup. Zayatte, Madine and Kirkland were in.

This was a mistake surely and the Man City team was strong with Frank Lampard and Yaya Toure in the middle.

The Wednesday fan in me wasn’t happy but I was thrilled Lampard was playing –  a great treat to see him play in the flesh.

My view was rubbish and I was drunk so my recollection is sketchy but we matched them well first half. We had a good shape and at times retained the ball well.

This was going well and everybody was quite content at half time.

Wednesday were comfortable at the break

Wednesday were comfortable at the break

Then it all changed. They upped the gear and we just couldn’t cope. They’d barely kicked off when Lampard scored.


This should be fine, just keep it tight and we’ll get a ch …. shit, 2-0.

Oh no.

3-0. What the hell is happening?

I and others around me weren’t angry, more shellshocked and I think the Wednesday players were too. Then Zayatte was clumsy in conceding a penalty and getting sent off. 4-0.

4-0, down to ten men against the champions. The champions with Lampard and Toure purring in the middle and controlling the game, and Jesus Navas tearing Joe Mattock a new one on the right.

Dzeko nods in another...

Dzeko nods in another…

They had the lead and they were brilliant at strangling us. We couldn’t move. What was so impressive was the sheer calm that the likes of Lampard have on the ball. His passing is like swift paint brushes, all inch perfect and box to box. This was a master at work.

Soon it wad 5-0 and I started to think about getting away. A quick text to James and it turned out he’d had enough too. So had I. I wanted home and I didn’t fancy staying in Manchester until midnight. That’s it, I’m off. The click on was 87 minutes.

As I got out of the ground there was a big cheer. That’ll be 6-0 then.

I went to move towards the tram stop but the police had put barriers up to stop us. I tried to walk past but policemen on horseback stopped me.

“I need to get to the tram stop.”

“Tram stop’s just ooer there.”

I set off in that general direction. I was drunk, there were no signposts and it was dark. I found a motorway type junction and no idea where I was going.

I saw a City fan who pointed me the right way. It was ‘just over there’, but I was rudely informed that the trams don’t stop there at this time. What the?!

Another cheer. That’ll be seven.


There’s a game on and you’re close to a stop. I had to take a five minute walk down the tram track with NO idea where I was going.

I was now really angry. Weirdly I was angrier now than during the game. This was cumulative anger.

I found a stop but had no idea which side was for Piccadilly. There were other Wednesdayites who didn’t have a clue either. Thankfully some local girls were there too who confirmed it was the right side.

Soon some fit French footballers appeared, as did the tram. At last we were moving and should still get that 10.30 train. And I could look at these lovely footballers. Lovely they were.

We got to Piccadilly in good time and I went for food. My drunken mind decided that I needed Burger King.

I then got crammed on the train which was only stopping at Sheffield. What relief.

It was standing room only and managed to eat this burger with all the dignity possible.


It was a very long train journey and I was soon in bed. Relief.

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