7. Feb, 2022

Do we view the past with rose-tinted spectacles?

I started watching a random City game on Tiger Tube today. It’s like digital heroin. A question pops up in your head about City, in this case the question was this.

“Who was the non-league team we were playing when Roary the Tiger got ejected in the FA Cup for trying to put off the goalscorer?”

Then when you google that (well done stattos for remembering it was Hayes away in 1999) it leads you to the highlights on the excellent Tiger Tube, then it leads you to the replay highlights… and well there goes half your day.

I honestly have little memory of replay which we won 3-2 and actually found myself quite drawn into the action, Hayes scored a really good goal to pull the game back to 2-1 but we got over the line thanks to a very rare sight in that era which was an excellent strike from Jamie Wood. BBC covered the first game if you remember and again apart from some randomness (A young Mike Edwards scoring a very odd first career goal) it was by and large pretty entertaining.

Now, all this meandering isn’t for nothing dear reader, as it reminded me of a discussion I had with fellow city fan and holder of strong opinions Mr. Stu Wallis a few weeks ago. City fans were discussing players to go into our hall of fame, and Stu basically said that the Great Escape team were actually pretty crap, specifically Justin Whittle. I didn’t agree and we had a bit of a debate. Which leads me nicely to the topic of the day.

Old vs New, Rose tinted glass vs Reality. Were City in popular eras amongst fans aged 30-70 actually much overrated or is the opposite true and do we have too high an opinion of the modern, technically gifted, more scientific, better facilities versions we’ve seen in more recent times?

And the answer is… both I think. At times.

Hold tight Stu, but I think we fell into some rather good players in the nineties, not least Dean Windass, Mark Greaves, Andy Oakes, Theo Whitmore, Ian Goodison, Graeme Atkinson, Leigh Jenkinson, Gary Brabin etc. Yes, there were shockers, I don’t have long enough on the planet to explore the dross but the game is intrinsically different in this era. Even superstars of the nineties in the Prem often had quite humble beginnings or could be a little on the industrial side of things technically (see Ince, Batty, Pearce, Shearer, Wise etc)

Football was by the early nineties a moving piece, but it had a long way to go towards the slick, safe and technically smooth product we now are presented with. There’re players in the last five years that I’d have a much dimmer view of than some of the names we just discussed, but I would have to question whether that’s because they were inferior technically or just lacked the desire to actually wear the shirt with a bit of pride. Ask yourself the question, the list I reeled off in the previous paragraph, would you swap them as a six-a-side team (plus two subs) for… Pennington, Ridgewell, Maddison, Scott, Lihaj, Stewart, Long and Batty? No? Me neither.

But there definitely is something in what Stu says, the football was at times verging on unwatchable and heroes then don’t stand up to those we love to watch now. But there’s also something to be said for good old-fashioned grit and determination. City were sometimes just plain outclassed in the nineties, Chelsea came to BP on the very same cup run I watched on Tiger Tube and swatted us away like the lower league team that we were, Liverpool did more or less the same in the league cup the same year. BUT when we were matched with a team that was roughly equitable to us, a lot of the lads of that era showed that intestinal fortitude that we still yearn for in any city team. There was no quit in Brabin’s, Rodney Rowe’s, Jon Whitney’s etc, and that made us love them a little bit more, perhaps more than we should have in fact.

One of the proudest moments of being a City fan for most of us was watching us in the FA Cup Final and the heroic efforts we put in to try to win the game, yes, we had some technically brilliant players, but it’s the sight of a hobbled and weary Curtis Davies going up front for the last five minutes as we tried desperately to get the equalizer that filled my heart full of pride. The moral of which is this, good, bad or ugly periods, you are always going to be able to handle a defeat or a tough run of results if you can see that the passion and effort is there. And it doesn’t matter what the level, City fans will, for want of a using a cliché, always love a trier.

Thus, Justin does get into a hall of fame for me (not this time) over more technically gifted lads who came and went to less acclaim, because as I said to Stu, it’s the hall of fame, not the hall of very good players.

Now this won’t change Stu’s opinion, and it’s not an attempt to. We have different perspectives and I respect his, whilst not entirely agreeing with it.

That’s quite a novel way to end the latest blog, sure there’s some bald headed, rent a-wife, half-witted eejits that I wouldn’t give the time of day to, but there’s a ton of other City fans that might have takes I don’t exactly agree with however it doesn’t make them or myself right or wrong, it’s just an opinion and some of the smugger elements of our fanbase might remind themselves of that at times, none of us are experts, we are just fans with opinions, and sometimes it’s just fun to talk about them.

I’m off to watch Tiger Tube.

Thanks for reading.