There are two types of City fan, those that loved George Honeyman, and those that were wrong.
In mid-September 2021, we’d really hit a wall. We hadn’t scored or won since the first game of the season and it all looked too much for us. We looked naïve and were getting pushed about by bigger stronger players than we’d come across before. Whether that was Brereton Diaz, or Mitrovic or on this day, Billy Sharp.
It was 1-0 to Sheffield United at the MKM at half time when Grant McCann had brought on a half fit George Honeyman for his first appearance of the season after he’d recovered from an ankle operation that summer. It should have been more though if it wasn’t for Matt Ingram saving a penalty and he didn’t make an instant impact however because we were soon out of the game as John Egan helped himself to two headers from our generous and lacklustre defence.
Then it happened. The moment that I really believed woke up our season. George, angry and unhappy with the white flag waving he’d witnessed, absolutely clattered our lead tormentor in Billy Sharp and was booked. It was weeks in the making. He walked off barely acknowledging the ref. He’d sat and watched us capitulate too often and we might have lost several of those games with him, but one thing was for sure, we weren’t going to go as lightly. If we were going down with a George Honeyman led team, we were going down fighting. He was setting down a marker. We could get beat by better teams or bad luck, but we were nobody’s pushovers anymore. Not on his watch.
Not since perhaps David Meyler had City fans seen a midfielder quite as committed to the cause as George. Despite his arrival being before the start of the 2019-20 season which would eventually disastrously collapse, he was perhaps one of the few that wasn’t to blame for the capitulation we witnessed. Both he and Keane Lewis Potter could say with their hand on heart they didn’t quit. It was however not exactly an auspicious start.
However the next season is where the Mackem Pirlo really earned his stripes. In one of the most remarkable turnarounds in the history of the club, City bounced back, first time of asking, as Champions with George in the heart of the side. He scored goals, he grabbed assists, he ran himself into the ground and he set tone along with strong characters in Josh Magennis, Richie Smallwood and Greg Docherty. He won awards, plaudits and the hearts of the fans that season. He was peerless, the best in the league in his position and nobody could take that away from him.
It may be because we as a society were in the mud then, covid, lockdowns and rest, but I will always hold a place in my heart for that squad. No fans, no life outside of their houses, yet they delivered. I swear Malik Wilks winner vs Crewe is as loud as I’ve ever shouted at a TV. They were hope when there really wasn’t much about. And in the middle of it was George.
Later on it turns out he should have had an ankle operation in the run in, yep, that wasn’t going to happen. He wasn’t going to stop until the job was done, and then lead the celebrations with the greatest karaoke performance we’ll ever see.
Then came this season, and those who would say he was a league one wonder would be sorely mistaken. He played a key role in our November turn around, and it was fitting that he scored the first goal of the new era vs Blackburn. Not to mention the biggest shithouse finish against Birmingham City earlier in the season from a cross that came from four rows inside the north stand.
Which takes me to shithousery. George had it by the bag load, he had Tavernier at Boro on strings and if there was a bit of tear up, you didn’t have to wait too long until the Honeymonster turned up. Once again though he was playing hurt and he finished the season with a shoulder injury that would have laid most players up.
Was George the flashiest? With the best touch? Or the most flair? Probably not. But he connected to the fans, he got it, you could say he struggled sometimes, but honestly in over one hundred performances, you could never say he didn’t leave it all on the pitch.
All my heroes, Peter Skipper, Ian Ashbee, David Meyler, Gareth Roberts, Gary Brabin, Nicky Barmby and Brian Marwood had that in them, they didn’t hide, they didn’t quit, and they set the tone. And that ladies and gentlemen is why George deserves your gratitude and respect. Because he gave it everything he had and he cared.
So George, if you ever read this, I’ve got two words for you.