This season seems to be whizzing by, doesn't it? As always, our ever-popular digital City Magazine is packed with interviews and features for all of our teams
So, what do we have this month?
Our cover star and main interview is Julian Alvarez, with our Argentine ace reflecting on a scarcely believable 12 months for club and country.
The World Cup, Treble triumph and plenty of goals - incredible stuff and he admits it's only just sinking in.
Our women's team has got off to a flyer as well this season, and our two featured players for November are Filippa Angeldahl and Ruby Mace.
For our EDS and Under-18 features we showcase the talents of Nico O'Reilly and Charlie Gray .
Former skipper Andy Morrison continues to try and predict the scores of our upcoming games, plus you can check how he got on in October.h Month
Elsewhere, Alan Oakes is the subject of our So Solid Blue, while we have the second part of a fascinating catch up with Elano.
Then we have Norwegian journalist Mikal Emil Aaserud recalling his days as Oscar Bobb's youth coach with Lyn FC.
There's also Marc Riley's Mixed Grill, Technical Area, the FPL round-up and a chance to win exclusive Oasis prizes.
Sylvain Distin is the focus of this month’s So Solid Blue feature, while Andy Morrison continues to predict the scorelines and possible outcomes of City’s games in what looks a tough October.
Better Joy lead singer and City fan Bria Keely is our musician Q&A featured in 'Introducing...'
We also have Kev Cummins’ A to Z of Manchester continues with his usual collection of eclectic stories and images plus a gallery of our Ballon d'Or winners and nominees.
Plenty to go at!
Julian Alvarez reflects on a whirlwind 12 months for City and Argentina…
Julian Alvarez has packed a lot into his young life. Still only 23, he doesn’t do things by half, but what he does do, he does quietly, calmy and with great dignity.
Yet if he wanted to shout from the rooftops about his achievements so far, who could blame him?
The past 12 months has seen the Argentine forward complete a list of triumphs most players won’t have the opportunity to win no matter how long their careers are.
It was in December last year that Alvarez became a World Cup winner as Argentina beat France on penalties in a thrilling final in Qatar.
He scored four goals during the tournament, playing his part to the full as La Albiceleste won the one trophy that had been missing off Lionel Messi’s phenomenal CV.
Alvarez was only 22 when he won the World Cup, but there would be no lengthy reflection and break for the youngster who was soon back in Manchester to help City’s bid to win three trophies.
And, in the space of three glorious weeks at the end of the 2022-23 campaign, Alvarez added a Treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League to his own CV, completing an unbelievable six months.
“It is incredible for me to have won all these titles in a single season,” smiles Alvarez, perhaps even now not quite able to absorb the magnitude of his triumphs for club and country.
“I don't think that many players had done it before. It seems it was my moment, but I also think it is the product of all the effort, sacrifice and, of course, you need a little bit of luck to be on the right team at the right time.”
“Then, I guess you could say it was a coincidence that all happened in the same year.”
Looking back, it’s fair to say that Alvarez joining City was fairly low key in terms of fanfare and media coverage.
It was announced on 31 January 2022, that he had signed for the Blues, but because he would remain with River Plate on loan, his actual arrival in Manchester would not be until a signing unveiling at the Etihad Stadium, when he was introduced to more than 10,000 City fans along with Stefan Ortega Moreno and a certain Erling Haaland.
At that time, he said: “I am incredibly happy, and I feel ready to play for City.
“This is, without doubt, one of the biggest teams in world football. You only have to see what this team has won in the last decade to understand the quality of the setup.
“I feel confident I can flourish here. The style of play Pep encourages is exciting and I can’t wait to be a part of it.
“City has an amazing recent history of Argentinian players and I want to put my stamp on the Club in the same way Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta and Carlos Tevez did.”
It’s fair to say is doing exactly that.
On his fairly low key arrival – no doubt in part to the obvious celebration of capturing Erling Haaland – he admits that he was happy to maybe not stand in the limelight as he adjusted to his new surroundings.
“I came from Argentina, and I knew that in Europe people don't know a lot about South American or Argentinian football, but during my time here, I think I have managed well to become more known,” said Alvarez, with typical modesty.
“I work every day to improve, to grow. Last year I was adapting to Manchester City.
“It’s another country, another city, another language for me. I'm trying to learn from all of that to grow as a person and as a player.”
And his hometown back in Argentina couldn’t be much different from Manchester.
To illustrate the vast change, Greater Manchester’s population is approaching 2.8 million, whereas Calchín has less than 3,000.
A tiny settlement in the north of the country, it is a farming community that proudly boasts ‘home of Julian Alvarez’ on it’s welcome to Calchín signs at either end of the main road that dissects the town.
“The difference is huge,” he admits.
“Calchín has only 3000 inhabitants. Here everything is much bigger. The weather and language are, of course, different in Argentina as well.
“Since I was a kid, I dreamed of playing football. I did it in Calchín and I am doing the same here in a more professional way.
“However, in the end, what I am doing is to continue playing football, which is what I like to do the most.”
And it was as a youngster that he first started trying to hone his skills as a dead ball specialist – something that City are now seeing the benefit of as Alvarez’s reputation from free-kicks continues to grow.
“When I played with my friends or team-mates back home, I always was the player who kicked corners and free-kicks and practiced them all the time," he revealed.
“Last year with City, it was almost at the end of the season when I started doing it here, too.
“Here I practice when we do strategy sessions with the team, but not much more than that.”
As the season progresses through autumn and into winter, Alvarez is gearing up for another stellar campaign.
By the end of October, he had seven goals in his first 15 games for 2023-24 and 24 in 64 matches overall for the Blues - an impressive return for any forward.
And his blossoming partnership with Haaland has also been a pleasant bonus for Pep Guardiola who had tended to play one or the other in the early stages of last season – more and more this term, the City boss has played Alvarez as a more deep-lying forward to Haaland’s out and out striker role.
“There has been a lot of speculation about if we can play together or not,” says Julian.
“We have shown this season that we can do it. In fact, the previous season, too. Whenever we have played together, we have scored goals and contributed with assists between us. I am happy for what he has achieved.”
And going back to that momentous last year, he says the happiest part of winning the Treble with City was the joyous (if not a little rain-soaked) return to Manchester and seeing the delight on the many thousands of supporters is something that will stay with him for all his career.
“It was incredible to win the Treble,” he smiled.
“It's difficult to choose a moment from that season, but I think I’d have to go with the celebrations in Manchester after having won everything.
“It was amazing to travel across the streets of the city and see happy faces all around. It’s something I’ll always remember.”
Interview: Holly Percival/David Clayton
Sat 4 Nov 15:00
City v Bournemouth
Mozzer’s verdict: I don’t want to be dismissive of Bournemouth, but their real battles will come against the sides around them. They will do their homework, press us high and give it a good go, but we will find a way through their press, and they’ll get caught out. I can’t see anything other than a comfortable win.
Mozzer’s prediction: City 4-0 Bournemouth
Tues 7 Nov, 20:00
City v Young Boys
Mozzer’s verdict: We will already have a good inkling of who can qualify and who can’t by the time we play this game – of course, we have three wins under our belt, and this could should be the game we secure qualification to the next phase. They will have lost heart if that’s the case and I would expect a comfortable win.
Mozzer’s prediction: City 4-1 Young Boys
Sun 12 Nov, 16:30
Chelsea v City
Mozzer’s verdict: Difficult – very difficult. If Chelsea have found their form by this game – and the signs were they were improving going into the international break – this could be a tricky game. But Brentford won at Stamford Bridge recently and I think just one goal will separate the teams and I’m going for us to edge it.
Mozzer’s prediction: Chelsea 1-2 City
Sat 25 Nov, 12:30
City v Liverpool
Mozzer’s verdict: We need to be at our fluent best for this game, and I’m not sure we’re quite there, yet. They are much better than last season and are dangerous, but we shifted up to another level against them last season in this fixture and they couldn’t handle it. I think it will be much closer this time.
Mozzer’s prediction: City 1-1 Liverpool
Tues 28 Nov, 20:00
City v RB Leipzig
Mozzer’s verdict: If we haven’t qualified already, we will have done after this. They are a good side – we saw that in patches in Germany – but we will be focused and want to secure top spot. Not a straightforward win because they may need points to qualify for the Round of 16, but a win all the same.
Mozzer’s prediction: City 2-0 RB Leipzig
Sat 3 Dec, 16:30
City v Tottenham
Mozzer’s verdict: I see this as being a statement win. Spurs have started really well and topped the table for a number of weeks, but they are up against the Treble winners and I think we’ll want to send a message out in this game with a big win.
Mozzer’s prediction: City 4-1 Spurs
How did Mozzer get on last month?
So far this season, Andy had predicted 12 out of 16 results correctly. Last month, he got our 3-1 scoreline at Young Boys spot-on, as well as predicting we would beat Brighton and United - though his prediction for a win at Arsenal was incorrect. So, 12/16 correct results to date and two correct scorelines.
So Solid Blue sees us pay homage to players who flew under the radar of the football world outside of loyal City fans. The fourth edition remembers Alan Oakes’ record-breaking City career...
City fans are currently enjoying a golden period for the Club.
Pep Guardiola’s side are breaking records in almost every game we play, but there’s one individual metric in particular that our recent crop of stars are nowhere near.
Alan Oakes remains our Club’s record appearance holder, playing 680 times for City between 1959 and 1976 - and that era was one of the best in the Club’s 129-year history.
However, ask most fans around the country about our 1967/68 title-winning season and you’ll first hear tales of Colin Bell, Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee. They may also talk of Neil Young, Tony Book, Mike Doyle and Glyn Pardoe.
Maybe then you will come to Oakes, the ever-reliable presence at the heart of the team that still draws admiration from the likes of Summerbee when he’s asked to reflect on his playing days.
An uncomplicated but highly talented operator, Oakes was the kind of selfless player that rarely grabs the headlines, but no winning side can go without.
The Cheshire-born midfielder was the ultimate professional in an age when other top players were maybe not so, while his personable demeanour off the field made him the perfect team-mate.
That dedication to being the best he could be bore fruit through his sheer number of appearances, playing at least 40 games in every campaign between 1962 and 1971.
He initially signed for the Club as an amateur in 1958 while still only 15, before agreeing professional terms a year later.
For a long term admirer of the Club, there was no hesitation about moving from his home village of Winsford to inner-city Manchester.
Speaking to historian Gary James in 2005, he said: “It was an opportunity I couldn’t miss. Other teams showed interest but City meant so much to me. I’d been to Maine Road a few times – I stood on the old Kippax before it had a roof – and loved the Club.”
His debut came in November 1959 while still only 17 before he settled into the side in the second half of the 1959/60 campaign.
After two more seasons as a rotation option, he was undisputed first choice in 1962/63 and a standout consistent performer in a struggling side as the Club suffered relegation and three subsequent seasons in the second tier.
Manager Joe Mercer and his assistant Malcolm Allison arrived in 1965 to begin the spell that, before Guardiola, was regarded as the finest time to be a Manchester City fan.
Together they led the Blues to five major honours including our maiden European success in the 1969/70 European Cup Winners’ Cup.
Both men were in no doubt as to what Oakes brought to their side.
Allison said of him: “When I first came to Maine Road it was good to find players of Alan Oakes’ quality already here. He is one of the most conscientious trainers I have ever worked with, always in top class physical condition and always willing to learn and improve.”
Between 1965 and 1971, Oakes played a whopping 298 games.
While it was often down to the likes of Bell or Summerbee to supply Lee and Young in the biggest games, they were only afforded the opportunity to do so thanks to Oakes’ tireless support.
One of football’s greatest managers, Bill Shankly, also rated Oakes very highly, saying of him: “The very best type of professional, on the field and off it. He is exactly the kind of player youngsters should use as a model.”
He remained a central figure throughout his time at Maine Road, and played 53 times in a final City season that included a second League Cup triumph of his career.
Oakes was by no means ready to hang up his boots at that point, again proving his consistency by playing a further 211 times for Chester between 1976 and 1982.
Countless incredible players have worn sky blue since Oakes’ departure, but the midfielder remains top of the tree when it comes to minutes on the pitch.
While it’s unlikely to be eclipsed any time soon, Oakes was philosophical about his honour back in 2005.
“Personally, I’m looking forward to the day when the record’s beaten,” he told Gary James.
“I know it will take a lot to beat but I hope somebody does it, and if the person who beats it has the same sort of career and enjoyment at City that I have had then he will have had a fantastic career.
“This is a great club with terrific fans.”
Words: Jack Wilson-Mumford
Manchester City’s start to the 2023/24 Barclays Women’s Super League season was in stark contrast to the campaign that preceded it.
This time last year, Gareth Taylor’s side were gradually recovering from defeats in our first two matches of the season, with victories over Leicester, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool the platform for a remarkable unbeaten league run which would stretch all the way to April.
However, despite valiantly pushing our rivals all the way, City’s slow start would ultimately catch up with us.
As the manager has consistently pointed out, a 22-game season means that even the slightest slip up can be fatal and, with the need for new faces in the summer of 2022 and the lack of a proper pre-season, those unforgiving circumstances took their toll.
It’s a completely different story in 2023/24, though, as Filippa Angeldahl explains.
“Of course, we’re very happy [with our start to the season]. I think we’ve had a really good start, we’re top of the league as we speak, so I’m very happy.
“I think we’ve got a few players in and then kept the squad from last season, so we can build from that. I think that’s been the key.
“We were talking about wanting a better start this year. We need to win and take the three points in the next game and just keep going.
“It’s been really good and of course everyone has been so happy, so we just have to keep going.”
As 2022 ticked into November, Angeldahl and company were fourth in the WSL table. Fast forward 12 months and City are top of the pile.
Our opening four league matches of the campaign have seen Gareth Taylor’s side grab 10 points, finding the net nine times and conceding just once.
It’s the start that, as Angeldahl alludes to, she and her team-mates were desperate to have, and the free-flowing brand of football which has complemented those results has added further weight behind City’s potential title credentials come May.
But it’s far too early for any talk of silverware. As the Swedish international explained, the focus is simply on the next game.
That being said, this could certainly be a defining month for Gareth Taylor’s exciting young team, with trips to Arsenal and Manchester United in the space of three weeks in November.
Defeats to both in the final weeks of the season saw City cruelly fall short at the final hurdle in 2022/23. Angeldahl is under no illusions that a positive result this time around could have a huge bearing on our overall ambitions in the current campaign.
She nods: “Of course, it’s two big games, but we love to play these types of games when we know we need to take three points.
“You always want to play the big games, so we’re really excited for that.
“We had a really good game against [Arsenal] last season [at the Joie Stadium] and want to play that well again. It’s always important to win against Arsenal, we want to be top of the league so it’ll be a big game.
“You always have a lot of motivation when you play Manchester United. It’s a derby and everyone’s excited and of course from last season we want to win and show that we’re the better team.”
That sort of high-stakes environment brought the best out of City at times last season and, if our thrilling encounter with Chelsea in early October was anything to go by, it’s the same story in 2023/24.
Despite being reduced to nine players, Gareth Taylor’s side were minutes from a memorable three points over the reigning WSL champions at the Joie Stadium.
Guro Reiten’s 96th-minute equaliser forced us to settle for a share of the spoils, but the fact that City were ultimately disappointed with a draw demonstrated the character of the performance they had just put on at the Joie Stadium.
Usually famed for our attractive, free-flowing football, the hosts had, on this occasion, shown a steel to match that usually abundant silk.
Psychologically, that performance felt like a significant moment for the team according to Angeldahl, and something that could well be an important chapter in the rapidly developing story of 2023/24.
“It was really important,” the Swedish international said of the Chelsea performance.
“It shows how close and strong we are together as a team to play with 10 against 11 or 9 against 11 and still keep it together.
“It showed us, but also the other teams, that we’re really strong this season.
“I think we’re happy and relaxed. We just really like to come to training, work hard and be better and better every day. It’s been good.
“Everyone here wants to win titles. We want to win the league so of course we’ll work hard to do that.”
Nico O’Reilly says he will come back armed with an even greater desire and appreciation for football when he makes his long-awaited return to action for our Elite Development Squad early next year.
One of the most gifted midfield talents in City’s Academy, Nico is currently working on his recovery from a serious ankle injury which has sidelined him just before the start of the 2023/24 campaign.
Such a setback involving both surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation would be a tough scenario for any player – but for O’Reilly, it stopped him in his tracks just as he was preparing to launch the next phase of his fledgling career.
A stellar 2022/23 campaign had seen the Manchester born youngster lift his own individual game to new heights.
Not only did he captain City’s Under-18s to both regional and national Premier League title success, along the way he lit up the league with some spectacular strikes – not least a stunning last minute scorpion kick winner at Middlesbrough as well as an audacious lob in a derby success against Manchester United.
O’Reilly also made a big impression in City’s march through to the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup along with our progress through to the last-16 of the UEFA Youth League.
Having been elevated into our Elite Development Squad at the start of the summer, and with most of a successful pre-season under his belt, the creative midfielder was poised to kick on once more when the fickle finger of footballing fate stepped in.
Nico sustained a serious ankle injury towards the end of pre-season training.
It was an injury that required both surgery and a lengthy recovery time with O’Reilly now eyeing a potential February return.
Needless to say it was a hugely frustrating setback for EDS head coach Brian Barry-Murphy.
But though a bitter blow for Nico himself meanwhile, his long, lonely road to recovery has helped to make him stronger both mentally and physically, and also armed him with an even greater appreciation for what the game means to him.
“I am probably looking at another two or two and a half months before I can play again, so it has been quite frustrating,” Nico revealed.
“I sustained the injury in pre-season training right before the first game of the season and I knew straight away that it was serious, and it was a tough moment.
“I snapped a ligament and damaged two other ligaments and fractured the bone in my ankle, so it was quite bad.
“I had surgery on it and I’m eleven weeks post-surgery now. I’ve got a few more weeks to go but yes it has been really tough.
“It’s an exciting feeling knowing that I will be back soon. It has been a long time out so far but now I have just got to build up and get back to where I left off.
“Mentally it has been very tough having to watch the games.
“Seeing all the players gather and get ready for the games while I’m just sat there and can’t do anything about it.
“It is tough, but it just comes with the game, I guess. It’s a part of football. It is mentally very challenging, and some days are definitely tougher than others.
“But I have got the right people around me who can help support me and I think mentally it has helped me get stronger so there are positives to have come out of this.”
What has made things even harder is that it was the first major serious injury of O’Reilly’s career.
And he admits that the help and support of family, friends as well as his City colleagues has helped him navigate some of the tough moments that inevitably come with a long-term rehabilitation.
“I haven’t really been injured before. Last season I had a hairline fracture of my knee but that took me just two weeks to get back on the pitch, so this has been my first major injury,” he admitted.
“It has definitely helped make me appreciate playing football even more. 100 per cent.
“Every day I am missing it more and more and now I just can’t wait to be back.
“Family and friends have been very important during this time, especially my Mum.
“Every day she has been asking ‘how is it, how has my day been?’ things like that.
“When I was at home straight after the operation, I couldn’t move for two weeks and every day, she was there helping me.
“The guys at the Club have also been great. They have kept me in line with everything about tactics, all the meetings on game days.
“They have tried to involve me as much as possible which I appreciate a lot.
“It’s a great feeling knowing that they want me back as soon as possible and I’m excited to try and play my part when I do come back.
“The best is definitely yet to come!”
Interview: Neil Leigh
At City our fans are integral to the Club. The Official Supporters Club has been an independent entity since 1949 and through the hard work of fans around the globe, the OSC has branches spanning across 75 countries.
Paul Haillay, the Supporters Club Executive here at Manchester City, has spent the past three years in his role supporting the Club’s engagement with the OSC and their Executive Committee. He’s also supported the creation of branches as well as facilitating ways in which members can feel even closer to their beloved team.
Paul sat down with the City Magazine to talk about the importance of the OSC, the hard work done by the Executive Committee and how much he enjoys getting to interact with so many City fans from around the globe.
CITY MAG: Paul, can you explain a little bit about what the OSC is for any fans that aren’t familiar and how your role aligns with the OSC?
PAUL: With pleasure! Last season the OSC had 350 branches around the world with approximately 25,000 members globally. For those who don’t know, the OSC is a separate entity and is a body of fans who are all volunteers. The great thing about the OSC is we want its members to have their own voice and their own platform to speak independently. My role is to engage with those fans, having a close relationship with the OSC Executive Committee and supporting growth both in the UK and internationally.
CITY MAG: It sounds like a great relationship between the Club and OSC, are there any shining moments that stand out to you?
PAUL: With the two working in such close proximity to each other I’ve seen a lot of amazing charity work from a large number of our branches, in particular raising money for City in the Community. We have an annual dinner for the OSC and then also just through general fundraising the OSC members have raised thousands of pounds each year with goes straight to CITC.
Along with the Annual Dinner, we have also held season opener events at the City Football Academy for the last 3 years. These events have allowed OSC members the chance to see the CFA and experience hospitality before the first match of the season. This year’s event saw all four trophies in attendance, with OSC members becoming some of the first fans to see the Super Cup in person.
As part of my role, we’ve also been able to facilitate several Trophy visits to UK-based branches. Giving branches the opportunity to see the Treble trophies (now four!) has been amazing. We’ve already been to the Edinburgh, Bolton and Chesterfield branches to name a few.
In 2019, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Official Supporters Club, and I was delighted to have supported on the delivery of an amazing event for more than 600 members. It’s the 75th anniversary in 2024 and I’m excited to explore more opportunities where we bring the OSC closer to the Club.
Another shining moment would be the growth of branches in cities and countries that have had trophy tour stops. The Buenos Aires branch, for example, was created after the trophy tour stopped in Argentina and we’ve seen continuous growth there – also because of Julian Alvarez and how amazing he’s been! The US pre-season tour last year is another great example. After stopping in Houston we saw the United States OSC branches grow by 44% which equated to around 1000 new members.
CITY MAG: It’s amazing to hear we have so many fans getting involved in the branches worldwide - how much of a growth have you seen since you started your role?
PAUL: The growth since my department was created in 2016 has been huge. When we started, the OSC had around 180 branches that were almost exclusive to the UK with a handful of long-standing branches such as New York and a handful in China. Now, at the time of us chatting, we have 370 branches. And more of those are based internationally which just highlights the growth of the Club globally and it’s great to know so many like-minded City fans find friendships through these branches. I also think the Club being in close connection to the OSC has aided in it’s growth.
CITY MAG: What is it about the OSC and all its branches that make it so great and also might encourage others to join?
PAUL: I think it’s that community feel. The OSC’s objective is to connect like-minded fans together. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world as a City fan, the important thing is that you can share experiences with fans down the road to you and make connections with other supporters. It gives you that feeling that your city, your town is represented, and you have that connection to Manchester City. The relationship between the OSC and the Club is fantastic and we are really fortunate we get to share so many amazing opportunities with fans and we are unique in that.
CITY MAG: It does sound like an amazing way to make more friends and meet more City fans. How do you see it continuing to grow?
PAUL: I think we could see a huge number of more fans getting involved with their already established local branches but also the creation of new branches around the world. This year alone shows how much the OSC can continue to grow – since July we’ve seen the establishment of 30 new branches globally and the credit all goes to the fans. Now we have representation in Senegal, Austria, Tanzania, Bolivia and so many more. Of that number, 11 have been established in the UK. It’s a really exciting time to be connected to the Club – whether that’s here in Manchester or overseas.
Interview: Holly Percival
Manchester band Better Joy released their debut single ‘Hard To Love’ last month via new independent label Fader Amp. Fronted by Bria Keely – a lifelong City fan – City Magazine caught up with Bria as well as getting an insight into her band…
For anyone new to your music, how would you best describe your work?
Fun and light but emotional and real.
What are your musical influences?
My sound is heavily influenced by guitar rock bands like The Cure and The Strokes, but I love listening to music from so many genres - I think I’m definitely seasonal in what I listen to! Ones that have always stuck are classics like Johnny Cash and Oasis to newer favourites like Alvvays, Olivia Dean and Phoebe Bridgers.
How and when did you become a City fan?
Through my dad and brothers really! Over the years it’s became more and more important to me. Their matchday nerves are and have always been something else - my dad can barely watch the matches he gets that nervous; he ends up listening on the radio, coming down when they score only to head straight back up. It was impossible to be anything other than Blue in my house.
What made you fall in love with City?
I don’t even remember the moment, it’s just a family religion.
Do you get to many games?
I’ve been to quite a few games and a few of my mates have season tickets so I go whenever I get the chance to go with them. I’m a remote fan, ha!
Favourite City memory so far?
Think it’s got to be the iconic 2012 Aguero goal. I think every City fan will remember when and where they were when Aguero scored that winning goal for the title. I was watching it at home with a City majority and three Man United fans. It was brilliant (for us).
Your all-time favourite player
Ahh it’s a tough call!! I really loved Ilkay Gundogan, he was unbelievable for City and scored such important goals towards the Treble win. He also just seems like a good guy!
Which current City player - in your opinion - would make the best pop star?
John stones, seen a video of him dancing and he’s got some moves.
Should City fans listen to your music?
I want to spend my career singing and making music - and enjoy every minute of it.
Your dream for City?
Pep to stay forever!
Charlie Gray – The Under-18 midfielder who overcame a spinal injury to become a key figure in City’s Academy
City’s Under-18s are continuing to thrive in the Under-18 Premier League North division, going unbeaten in their four league games at the time of writing.
Ben Wilkinson’s squad have also excelled in the Under-18 Premier League Cup, beating Everton and Peterborough 2-1 and 5-1 respectively.
And a figure who is ever-present in the heart of City’s midfield is Charlie Gray.
The 17-year-old is perfecting his style of play in a second year under Wilkinson’s tutelage.
But it hasn’t been the easiest of roads for Gray, who had to overcome a spinal injury before getting to the level City fans have seen him perform at so far this season.
“I started the season very well, playing a lot of games, got into a good spot, got into a good run of form and then in one of the games I got an unfortunate injury with my back,” explained Gray when asked for his assessment of his time last season with the Under-18s.
“I fractured the top of my spine which set me back. After a lot of hard work to get back out on the pitch, I really had to fight for my place in the team because it’s a very competitive position and we have a lot of great players who can play in that position but I had an OK season overall.
“I’ve had injuries in the past which I think helped me understand the process involved with recovery and so I was determined to do the same with the spinal injury.
“All the staff involved, physios, coaches, they were all amazing in helping me get better quickly and back out on the pitch playing.
“All the amazing facilities we have here at the CFA was a huge help too, it’s just a fantastic place to grow as a player.”
Gray has been part of City’s Academy since the age of 5, training at Platt Lane before the Club’s transfer over to the CFA.
The Manchester-born midfielder has been in love with football since he could walk, learning to play football with his Dad from the age of two.
Since then, Gray expressed how much he has learnt about his role on the pitch and how it fits City’s style of play which is implemented across all age groups.
“I think a lot of my role is on the ball,” said Gray. “We have so much possession in most of our games, especially when teams like to sit back against us and try to grind out a result.
“So a lot of what I do is trying to help create goals from a holding position. And then off the ball, helping make sure we win back the ball as quickly as possible so we can look to try and score again.
“Obviously some games are more difficult than others but we make it tough for all our opposition when we look to win the ball back so quickly.
“For us, it becomes a lot easier to dictate play so pressing is also a big part of my game and the whole team.”
Now fully fit and featuring in almost every match week, Gray is looking to aid in another league title victory.
“It was great to win the league last season, it’s your goal for each season. This season we obviously want to go and win it again. There is no better feeling than being crowned the best team in the country.”
Interview: Holly Percival
Selected Under-18 matches are available to view on CITY+ alongside original documentaries about players past and present and in-depth coverage of the first team.
The Big Interview: Elano (part 2)
Our former Brazilian favourite on why he left City, being a penalty king and what life would have been like playing under Pep Guardiola…
Between 2007 and 2009, Elano Blumer offered City fans a touch of samba magic.
On the back of a turgid 2006-07 campaign, the Brazilian playmaker was a shining light, blessed with wonderful technique, vision and intelligence, he lit up a City team coming out of a dark few months.
It was no coincidence that on his home debut, he played a big part in the Blues ending a run of more than 13 hours without a home goals as he and Michael Johnson exchanged passes before the latter scored in a 1-0 win over Derby County.
Elano would go on to make 84 appearances for City, with his return of 18 goals better than one strike in every five matches, plus his numerous assists making him a firm crowd favourite.
It was reciprocated, too.
Elano was very much at home in sky blue, so when it was announced on July 30, 2009, that our midfield jewel was heading for pastures new, there was understandably dismay among supporters.
Why was he allowed to leave? Was he forced out? Did he ask to go?
All these questions and more, but now, 14 years on, Elano reveals it was what today’s youngsters refer to as FOMO – fear of missing out – with the 2010 World Cup on the horizon.
Not convinced he would be a regular starter under Mark Hughes, when the promise of guaranteed first team football was presented, he accepted the offer in order to ensure he had the best possible chance of making Brazil’s World Cup squad.
Though he enjoyed his time in Turkey, he still regrets leaving City when he did.
“Look, If there’s one thing I think I did wrong in my career was leaving City,” said Elano.
“I should have stayed, but I have a reason.
“The change was happening, and I believe that if I had stayed independently of the manager and independently of the group, I really believe in my capabilities.
“I was part of the Brazilian main squad, but I guess I should have insisted a little more to stay - but I was a year away from the World Cup, so I needed to know I was playing.
“Back home, Brazilians are like, they ‘need you to be playing’ when it came to their potential squad members.
“So that's what left me a little - a little swayed - and when I had the proposal from Galatasaray for me to play and I set up a training project along with the games, so I could then play in the World Cup, I said yes.
“I really like Galatasaray, I have great affection and respect for the club, but my departure from Manchester City, it only happened for the World Cup.
“I got worried, because in 2005, when I was in Santos, when I left Santos, in 2005 and went to Ukraine, I ended up not being selected for the 2006 World Cup.
“I wasn't selected because it wasn’t this digital era yet where you can watch games from around the world, and I ended up not going.
“So I got worried because my dream was also to play in a World Cup, and I only left for that reason.
“But I should have stayed. I apologize to the fans because I didn’t want to leave.”
Apart from the odd goal of the season contender and stunning free-kick, Elano was also one of the Club’s most reliable penalty takers.
He would leave City with a 100% record, something only Mario Balotelli and Yaya Toure would repeat in years to come.
So, was there a secret to his success from the spot – and what advice would he give the City players of today, who have been somewhat hit and miss in recent seasons?
“A penalty is very particular, right? The goalkeepers today are much more agile,” said Elano.
“Today, the placed penalty, I see that a lot more, though I missed penalties in my life, too.
“The penalty, if you hit it well, the goalkeeper hardly has a chance.
“There are goal situations that if you shoot with precision, you hardly miss.
“But there’s the emotional side of the game and sometimes the goalkeeper is there too.
“He has already studied you, he already understands, there are the percentages.
“So it really depends on the moment of the game.
“I think it is not possible to measure quality or personality, or what the athlete is if he misses a penalty.
“But it happens, only who’s there knows. But it's very much dependable of the moment of the game.
“I think there’s the guy who can shoot looking at the goalkeeper; there's the one that comes very concentrated to execute the task.
“So I've always been a guy that had already decided the place where I wanted the ball to go.
“If you are focused and you are balanced so you can put the ball where you want, the goalkeeper will rarely get near it and then it comes to that emotional side.
“I lived a very nice emotional side with Manchester City.
“So I was always fine, always happy. So this side of missing a penalty, I watch the games of today and if I meet Pep Guardiola, I’ll say,’ let Ederson shoot one!’
“It's difficult because we are talking about high level players, very high level players. But a penalty has some peculiarities.
“I'm happy to never having missed a penalty with City and I took quite a few!”
One question that we often ask of our former players is an obvious one and though only hypothetical… how much would they have enjoyed playing in a Pep Guardiola side?
Of course, we ask Elano the same…
That was my dream too, you know? I talk to some friends, we talk a lot about football,” he smiles.
“For you to become great, you have to work with the best. And when you have this, I, thank God, my career there was very positive, because I had great managers.
“And great managers, great commanders elevate your level of play, the level of demand, the quality level, the mental level, that today we talk a lot about mental issues, but the athletes, the managers I had were managers who have helped me a lot throughout my life.
“All of them. Every one of them.
“So I think that elevated my level of competition, but when I see Guardiola near the field, I get angry thinking like: ‘How I wish I had been that guy's player!’
“You have to improve every day. If you win, OK, cool, but tomorrow we have it again. And I think that's life.
“’What did you do today? Tomorrow you'll have to do it again, and you have to do it well, you have to train every day, you have to dedicate yourself, you have to deliver’ – these are the values he instils in his players.
“You look at the athletes, You look at someone like Rodri, He's a guy who stands out, stood out last season and is already off to a good start – but he improves under Pep.
“So Guardiola has this capability, in addition to all your intelligence and all his knowledge, all his gain as a former players and also as a manager, the players understand this demand, you know?
“The players understand this attitude of 'you have to give, and you have to deliver’, right?
“So this is very good. I believe I would play on his team.
“Because being a versatile guy, I played for the national team, I played as a right back, as a midfielder, I played with number nine, I played with number ten, I played as a winger – even though not being as fast as today's wingers.
“But I was able to play. I believe that yes, I would play with him, because I understand what he wants.
“I played against him, and he liked this kind of fast game, a positional game, a transition game, so he has these capabilities.
“It’s fantastic. It would be a great experience for my career to have played under Pep.”
Part 3 next month…
It’s an incredibly short career as a professional footballer...
While there are certainly exceptions, a player will probably expect to enjoy 10-15 years stepping out across the white line should they avoid seeing their time in the beautiful game cut short.
It’s why having a plan after hanging up the boots, for many, is so crucial. And Ruby Mace, who only turned 20 in September of this year, could well have found her post-retirement calling already.
That’s not to say the England youth international doesn’t still have plenty of years at the top of the game. Having helped Leicester City avoid relegation at the back end of the 2022/23 campaign during a successful loan spell, she’s now becoming an important figure for Gareth Taylor’s side.
However, Mace certainly has an eye to the future, and a keen ambition to pass on her wisdom to the next generation of talent looking to tread the same path which she currently finds herself on.
Indeed, the midfielder has set up her own coaching business, where she provides young girls with one-to-one sessions.
The enthusiasm is evident in Ruby’s voice as she begins to break down what the project involves, and the benefits she hopes it will have for the next generation.
Mace was lucky enough to experience something similar with former Arsenal and Chelsea wide player Gemma Davison, who now plies her trade at Watford in the Women’s Championship.
"It’s called ‘RM Elite Coaching, It’s just something which I think will benefit me in the future and is also now helping younger girls."
“It’s something I would’ve wanted when I was younger, and something that I did have. I was coached by Gemma and it really helped me so I thought ‘why not?’.
“I’ve only been doing it for a few months now, but it’s going really well. I’m not having too many people at once, I’m taking it slow and easy and just seeing where it goes.”
On several occasions photos of our Women’s team meeting their heroes at early ages have surfaced on social media, only for them to then be lucky enough to call those idols their future team-mates or colleagues.
Georgia Stanway was pictured alongside club captain Steph Houghton when the former was in the Blackburn Rovers youth ranks, for example, while the Club also famously posted a photo in the aftermath of City’s Champions League triumph of Esme Morgan and Nedum Onuoha, first as a mascot in 2010 and then as a fellow Matchday Live pundit 13 years later.
Mace had a similar experience when moving to the City Football Academy in 2021.
“It was just about finding your feet and giving you confidence, because at that age it’s about having fun, not the tactics,” the midfielder recalls of her time being coached by England international and former City defender, Lucy Bronze.
“Back then, I needed that motivation to keep going and know good things would come. Going to their sessions really helped.
“It was crazy [to play with Bronze]. It was like a dream come true really. Just training with people you idolise is always good.
“It makes you feel confident and having someone who knows about the game, knows football and genuinely wants to help means a lot as well.
“When I was coached by Lucy, I must’ve been about seven and then went on to play in the same team as her.
“It could be the same for some of the girls I’m coaching as well, which would be great.”
While Mace is enjoying her initial foray into coaching, she is acutely aware of the added demands it places on her when considering the time needed to devote to her own game.
However, she believes the two can be mutually beneficial, providing her with a new perspective on the training pitch as both a player and a coach.
She adds: “If you play in a team you have to know every role anyway and definitely coaching a left-winger when I’m a centre midfielder is going to be different to how I coach someone else.
“That’s where you need to switch on and realise what different players need and what they need to know about their position.
“It’s good because in a team like City, you get taught about different positions as well because if you come to play there, then you know what to do which definitely helps.
“It’s kind of come naturally. That’s the reason I started it in the first place.
“Sometimes I have a lot of free time in the afternoons after my sessions and, instead of watching TV, I could be doing something else while looking toward the future and what I want to do after football.”
And so, an interesting and candid conversation concludes with a discussion on exactly that, her future.
Like many professionals, football is far more than an occupation. It’s an obsession, and something that Mace certainly isn’t planning to turn her back on when her playing days are over.
Despite her tender years, she’s abundantly aware of the rapid growth of women’s football and is desperate to play her part in continuing that remarkable trajectory.
“To see people smiling, happy, playing football and also introducing young girls to the game [is amazing],” she concludes.
“Since the Euros, women’s football has been crazy and seeing all the little girls who want to come onto the field and showcase what they can do, for me to be there and support them with that probably means a lot to them as well.
“Obviously I’ve got other plans as well, but I feel like coaching could be a good starting point for me.
“I have such a big passion for football, I don’t stop talking about it. After football, I’m going to be lost, so just to have that connection by the coaching will really help me.”
Interview: George Kellsey
City Magazine takes a look at the progress of our ‘other’ Norwegian star, Oscar Bobb – through the eyes of a youth coach who knows him well…
It’s funny how paths can cross and intertwine in life.
When Lyn FC youth coach Mikal Emil Aaserud (pictured below) was asked to help train a group of gifted and talented youngsters in 2013, he couldn’t have imagined that he would one day be covering the Premier League adventures one of those kids with Norway’s biggest tabloid – and be doing it all in Manchester.
Today, Aaserud writes for VG about Erling Haaland, Martin Odegaard… and Oscar Bobb.
In 2013, Bobb was being coached by the same man who now informs Norwegians of his impressive progress!
“I work for VG, the biggest tabloid paper in Norway and I work in Manchester as a football correspondent, primarily to cover Erling and Martin Odegaard, but during the summer it became obvious that Oscar was going to make a breakthrough because many things went his way with Cole Palmer and James McAtee out of the picture for this season,” says Aaserud.
“I’ve known Oscar since he was 11. I was a youth coach at his first club, Lyn, for four or five years (pictured above - Mikal bottom row, first on left and Oscar is bottom row, in the middle).
We were asked to take a group of really talented kids with a lot of potential, and me and my colleague, who both had experience coaching at all levels including senior level, thought it was a really cool opportunity to take this group and work with them.
“I had coached some kids who had gone to Manchester United, but these youngsters were at a different level.
“Oscar had been on some journey since – but what strikes me today is that he is the same boy he was when I first met him.
Back then, we called him ‘The Little Wizard’ because we could give him the ball and he would take on anyone – he would do it in the domestic league and also when we were in tournaments and up against teams like Atletico Madrid – he always stood out and he just did his thing.
“In many cases at that age, they have a tendency to be unselfish and be a good passing player or a dribbler who looked down and took on their opponent all the time – it was one or the other – but with Oscar, he could do both equally well.
“He had such a mature way of playing and though he had great skills, the way he trained and approached the game was very different from other players his age.
“We have an important youth tournament called the Norway Cup – it’s a big deal in Norway – and so Oscar was known to Norwegian football fans from an early age because he was a phenomenon.
“It was televised by TV2, and many people have followed his progress since.
“I coached him until 2015 when of course he went to Portugal for a while and we moved in different directions, but he is the same as he always was when we met again back at Wembley after the Community Shield.
“His parents were very supportive and almost always at training and games, and he lived maybe a kilometre away from the ground in a place called Tåsen.
“Oscar was always so calm, and I’m always surprised when I meet him in the mixed zone after games and suchlike because it is the same calm Oscar I always knew – maybe he’s even calmer and more relaxed with everything than he was back when I coached him!
“That’s quite a special attribute to have for a young footballer, I think.”
Bobb had featured in five senior City games this season going into the October international break and won his first two full international caps.
It’s been quite a start to the 2023/24 campaign for the 20-year-old forward.
“Many people in Norway are surprised at Oscar’s progress this season because although we saw what happened in pre-season with City, that happens to a lot of young players who maybe get an opportunity with senior players returning later or whatever,” says Aaserud.
“We can look at Isak Hansen-Aaroen, at Manchester United who also played in preseason but hasn’t featured again since. So yes, people in Norway are surprised and pleased that Oscar has been in and around the first team this season and done really well, too.
“After Palmer and McAtee left, I think it became obvious that Oscar would get the odd chance here and there – maybe in the Carabao Cup or the FA Cup – but he has played in the Premier League and Champions League already, so he’s exceeded Norwegians’ expectations – including mine!
“He sort of went off our radar when he went to Portugal, but now he’s very much back on it.
“At Academy level, we didn’t see him playing for City or Norway’s youth teams, but when he is playing for City’s first team, everybody knows, and we are all really pleased for how things are going for him.”
And will fellow Norwegian Erling Haaland have an influence on his younger compatriot?
Aaserud believes he almost certainly will.
“I can’t say for sure, but I imagine Erling is a sort of mentor for Oscar and he will be learning off him in many ways both on and off the pitch because Erling is so professional and focused,” he said,
“So yes, Oscar will be learning as much as he can off Erling, I’m sure.”
The limited-edition collector’s formats of Oasis’ iconic album ‘The Masterplan’ are released this month – and City Magazine readers can win one of three fantastic prizes!
It is 25 years since the original release and to celebrate the silver anniversary, November 3 will see new formats made available including CD, cream cassette, and limited-edition double vinyl formats (heavyweight silver, green and black marble and black).
The new formats feature remastered audio, taken from the ‘Chasing The Sun’ reissues - available for the first time as one collection. Pre-order here.
‘The Masterplan’ is an extraordinary collection of B-sides originally featured on singles from Oasis’ era-defining first three albums, ‘Definitely Maybe’ (1994), ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’ (1995), and ‘Be Here Now’ (1997).
Far from being inferior to the A-sides they backed, many of the 14 tracks that feature on ‘The Masterplan’ have become as cherished as the band’s biggest hits from that seminal period. Oasis were following in the tradition of artists like The Jam and The Smiths; both influences on Noel who took great care over their B-sides.
In today’s streaming led musical landscape where the traditional single no longer exists, it could be argued that Oasis were the last truly great singles band, and that ‘The Masterplan’ is proof of that. Watch the album trailer here.
The album includes several landmark Oasis songs, tracks like ‘Acquiesce’, originally found on the ‘Some Might Say’ CD single and unforgettably co-sung by the Gallagher brothers, and ‘Half The World Away’, from the ‘Whatever’ CD single, which later found fame as the theme tune to the much-loved comedy series ‘The Royle Family’ - not to mention the epic title track, which originally appeared as the fourth bonus track on the ‘Wonderwall’ CD single. Noel has often described ‘The Masterplan’ as one of the best songs he has ever written. It also includes ‘Talk Tonight’ a remarkable solo acoustic recording by Noel, plus ‘Stay Young,’ ‘Listen Up’, ‘Going Nowhere’, ‘Fade Away’ and ‘Rockin’ Chair’… songs so good they would have been singles for any other band.
‘The Masterplan’ charted at No.2 in the UK Official Album Chart UK selling almost 122,000 copies in its first week of release in 1998. It went on to be certified triple platinum and has sold over three million copies worldwide.
We have 3 great prizes up for grabs!
1st prize – Green Marble Vinyl, T-shirt, Cassette & CD.
2nd prize – Silver Vinyl, T-shirt, Cassette & CD.
3rd prize – Black Vinyl, T-shirt & CD.
To enter, answer the following question: Which song below features on The Masterplan?
C. Don’t Look Back In Anger
Send your answer to [email protected]
in focus: Jeremy Doku
Summer signing Jeremy Doku’s promising start to life at Manchester City has translated onto the Fantasy Premier League stage.
Arriving from Stade Rennais, the blisteringly quick Belgian international was one of four acquisitions by Pep Guardiola in preseason, alongside Mateo Kovacic, Josko Gvardiol and Matheus Nunes.
In total, he has registered 20 points so far in the game across six matches – with a strong average return of slightly under four points per match.
But with only a current total ownership of 1.4% across all teams, could the wing wizard prove to be a superb differential?
Doku’s best return in a single match so far this term has been during City’s impressive 3-1 win away at West Ham.
Undeterred by James Ward-Prowse’s opener for the hosts, the visitors hit back through the 21-year-old shortly after the interval when he weaved into the box and drilled an effort into the bottom corner.
It represented his first goal for the Club in only his second appearance Guardiola’s team.
Further goals in the capital from Bernardo Silva and Erling Haaland secured three points over David Moyes’ team.
He followed his maiden strike with his second for City which arrived in our 3-1 over Champions League success against RB Leipzig at Red Bull Arena.
Then, in our Premier League encounter with Brighton at the Etihad Stadium following our return from the October international break, he recorded his second highest points tally in a single fixture.
Thanks to assist for Julian Alvarez’s smart finish in the first half, he tallied six points as we returned to winning ways.
*All stats correct as of Thursday 31 October 2023*
Words: Sam Cox
This season I’m taking you on an A-to-Z tour of Manchester and possibly taking a few liberties with the alphabet. Expect lots of musicians, an occasional session with a footballer and whatever else I can find in my archive.
This issue we’re already up to the letter C.
I was going to feature Ian Curtis, but I was distracted by finding these Mick Channon pictures.
On the morning of 1 August 1977, I was despatched to Ringway Airport in a fast car, alongside Dennis Tueart and Junior Blues supremo Roger Reade. We were going to meet top Southampton winger, Mick Channon, who we’d just signed in a club record breaking £300,000 deal.
Two days earlier, I’d had my first piece published in the NME – the World’s Biggest Selling Rock Weekly. Now I was in a big shiny limousine, speeding towards the airport with The King of all Geordies. I felt my time had come. The only drawback was that I was far too nervous to photograph footballers who I watched – and idolised - every weekend. It was much easier photographing my contemporaries. I was more comfortable with young musicians whose achievements were similar to mine, which added up to pretty much nothing back then.
I took a photo of them shaking hands as I hadn’t got a clue what else to do – and that was it.
I think City paid me £10 for the privilege – even then I probably felt I’d over-charged them for a photo of two blokes shaking hands.
A year later, in August 1978, I was photographing Buzzcocks in TJ Davidson’s Rehearsal Rooms when I got a phone call from City. Apparently, some guy had been in touch with them, saying he was the spitting image of Mick Channon and could he have his photo taken with him.
No limo was sent this time, so I made my way on the bus to Maine Road to witness and photograph this extraordinary event. Obviously, I took a photo of them shaking hands, which seemed to be my default shot with footballers at the time. To be fair, looking at the photo, they could actually be related.
I always liked Mick Channon since I once met him one late night in a pub with six rolls of wallpaper under his arm. He told me he’d gone out after training to buy the wallpaper, as his wife had been asking him for weeks to decorate their sitting room. He went for a pint to recover from his shopping expedition, and er, ten hours later, he was still enjoying a large amount of liquid refreshment.
I never found out if he decorated the sitting room, but if he did, I hope he didn’t do it when he finally got home that night.
Scottish writer and podcaster Lee House has written a book on Noel Gallagher entitled ‘Listen And You Will Hear Us Singing’ – here he explains his influences and reasons behind the project…
Tell us a bit about the book and why you decided to write it?
I have had thoughts about this sort of book for a long time. I couldn’t find anything close it around so I wanted to explore what the music meant to me but also what Noel might have been going through.
Revisiting the songs was such a happy experience and really made me think about my life. I just sat and started to write poetry and short stories. I would often lie in bed visualising this characters and what they might have went through.
Being a huge Noel Gallagher fan it was always in my mind to do something about his songwriting. When I left a gig in Dundee watching him I heard lots of people discussing what the songs meant to them or what event they reminded them off. It just stuck with me.
Does Noel know about it and if so, have you had any feedback?
As far as I know Noel is aware of the book. I have been in touch with Kat his manager and have sent copies to them. I am friends with Jess Greenfield in his band and she has been helpful raising awareness of the book.
The feedback from the fans of Noel and Oasis has meant a lot. People are really connecting with it as it touches on a range of subjects like mental health, anxiety, and panic attacks. Noel talks a lot about moving forward and letting go of the past in his songs. It really resonates with so many.
What did you enjoy the most about this project?
I think just being creative and having license to write about how the songs made me feel and what stories I could tell. I have really enjoyed connecting with fans of the band and meeting so many cool people so far. I love communicating so it has been the perfect project for me.
You have a podcast, too – tell us about that…
Well yes, I did have a podcast. I started this through Covid and just wanted to keep busy speak to interesting people about there lives and what made them so passionate about what they do. I had some great interviews with Edith Bowman, Lucy Spraggan, Mat Whitecross and Jess Greenfield from Noel’s High Flying Birds band. I aim to re-start it at some point and link it in with the book. I would love to speak to fans about what the songs mean to them.
Are you a City fan and if so, did that make this book easier?
I am actually a Glasgow Celtic fan but also have started to fall in love with City after writing the book. I have spoken to so many City fans and lots of people living in the local area especially around where Maine Road now rests. I felt a huge sense of being overwhelmed when I visited where the old ground stood. All those memories of loved ones and watching their team it really made me feel emotional. It was here that the booked sparked in to life with the change of title.
Why will City fans enjoy this book?
Of course I know that not every City fan will be a fan of Noel or Oasis, but I have tried to keep that spirit of the people throughout the book. The title was changed after visiting the old Maine Road centre spot which has the words “Listen and You Will Hear Us Singing” around the concrete circle. I walked away and thought that is the title. I loved it. There is also a poem dedicated to City in the book which I really loved writing after my visit to a match last season against Villa.
If you are a Blue, what’s your story?
Well I now have a members card and have made a good few new pals that go to the games. There is even a few from Edinburgh that travel down so will be going to a few games with them in the future. I was at the Brighton game last month and was lucky enough to be shown around the stadium before the game. It is some arena.
Have you any other projects on the go?
This project will continue to run on due to the demand. I will also be going out on Noel’s UK Tour in December selling the book at the gigs which will brilliant. There will be more to come in 2024 so keep an eye on my social media to find out more.
Where can people buy/download the book?
The best place to buy the book is on bandcamp or shopify where you can search for “Listen and You Will Hear Us Singing”. You can also follow me on Instagram @noelgallagherbook which has all the links to buy in my bio.
In this episode of the Mixed Grilling, I didn't have to look too far. I’ve known her all her life - and most of mine. It’s my cousin - and die-hard City supporter Helen Wilson.
I’ll let Helen take over here…
I’ve been a City fan since birth as my older sister and brother were big fans so I followed their example, and I am so glad I did. When I was 16, I got a job working at Maine Road in the North Stand selling pies and I loved it. The rest, as they say is history.
I’ve been through some bad times over the years, but I’ve also been lucky enough to be present during some amazing times!!
Me and my hubby are season ticket holders in the South Stand, and I am also the Chairman of the Alkrington branch of the Official Manchester City Supporters’ Club, which is a role I took on last season and I have to say I absolutely love it.
I have met some fantastic people through the supporters’ club, and we always have a brilliant time together. The branch does a lot of charitable work and it’s nice to feel like we are making a difference to not just national charities but also to local charities too. City is a massive part of my life; I wouldn’t change any of it and I am just enjoying every moment.
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF GOING TO A FOOTBALL MATCH?
I was a City fan first because my older sister and brother were massive fans, but at that point my 16 year-old self wasn’t overly bothered about going to the games, I was more interested in hanging about with my friends and going into town shopping, but I needed a part-time job and my dad’s workmate’s wife worked at Maine Road and got me a Saturday job there and that was it, I was hooked!! It was my first part time job, and I was working on one of the food concession stands in the North Stand. After half-time - and once I’d cleaned up - I could go and watch the rest of the game and you could sit anywhere you could find a seat. I vividly remember you could always hear Hells Bells ringing her bell and I used to absolutely love it, but not in the winter as it was always absolutely freezing!! Once I left working at Maine Road, I went to university and suchlike and it wasn’t until my late 20s I got back into it. The hubby and I are now South Stand season-ticket holders and City is a massive part of our life. We have met so many fantastic people along the way. We are so lucky to get to watch this team week in week out and long may it continue.
WHAT IS THE MOST PECULIAR OR MEMORABLE THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU AT A CITY GAME?
I was working the FA Cup game we played against Spurs in 1993, I cleared up my station and did my usual of going out to sit and watch the rest of the game, we were getting beat by Spurs and some City fans ran on the pitch. I remember all the players getting shepherded off the pitch and all the police horses coming on to the pitch. My 16 year-old self was a mixture of terrified and excited at the same time!! It was a daft thing to do but think the fans frustrations just boiled over, and let’s face it there were many frustrating times at Maine Road!
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND PREVENT ONE MATCH FROM BEING PLAYED -WHAT MATCH WOULD THAT BE - AND WHY?
Probably the FA Cup final in 2013 when we got beat by Wigan! Still to this day I have the old school City mentality and never get cocky, but for some reason I wasn’t worried about that game at all and thought we would win it. That day really sticks in my mind as my stepson was absolutely distraught at full time, there was no consoling him and I remember having a terrible hangover watching it which was made much worse by the result! It was a bad day all round and it was the fact that it was such a late winner. I did not enjoy going into work on the Monday!
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE CITY GOAL YOU HAVE WITNESSED (“Aguerooooooooo…” aside…)?
I would have loved to say Rodders goal in Istanbul, but sadly we were unable to go so I would have to say when we were trailing Aston Villa by 2-0 and Gundo went on to score his brace and we won 3-2. I thought our luck had run out with the Sergio goal against QPR. I know I shouldn’t think like that now, but I still have to pinch myself sometimes. It didn’t seem to be going to script so in frustration my hubby went down on to the concourse as he couldn’t watch and then we scored the first and then another so he decided to stay where he was as he thought if he moved, he would jinx it and then Ilkay scored that glorious winning goal. I still get goosebumps watching it back. It’s unbelievable to think how far we have come.
HAVE YOU EVER MET ONE OF YOUR MAN CITY HEROES… IF SO - WHO…AND HOW WAS THE EXPERIENCE?
I had a massive crush on David White, and I remember him coming to our secondary school when I was about 14 to do a coaching session, I managed to get to meet him and get his autograph, I remember I couldn’t speak to him! I loved watching that team in the 90s!! I have also met Peter Barnes and Tommy Booth (little bit before my time but great storytellers) and Nedum Onuoha who is a lovely bloke.
WHAT ARE YOUR MEMORIES OF THE LAST MATCH AT MAINE ROAD?
It was the end of an era and it felt sad, but it also meant an exciting new era. I do remember wondering how I would get to the new ground as it felt like it was miles away! There were some bad times, but also some great times at Maine Road, I do miss it!
AS YOU LEFT THE GROUND, WHAT WERE YOUR EMOTIONS?
Sadness as it was being demolished, but excitement at the prospect of a brand new stadium and it felt like we were going up in the world! I loved the whole atmosphere around the place though, the nose of the Kippax, getting some chips on the way home, walking past The Parkside, the inflatable bananas, it was a unique ground, and the fans were always amazing week in week out.
WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT MAINE ROAD?
I was sad to leave; it had been part of Moss Side and the community for so long. We didn’t live too far away from it then, so I could always walk home after the match, and it just felt so local. It wasn’t the nicest looking ground, but I liked that about it, it wasn’t polished but that added to its charm. I have some great memories from my time working there. The Etihad is a fantastic facility, but part of me misses our old home.
WHATS YOUR MOST DISASTROUS AWAY GAME EXPERIENCE?
To be honest nothing disastrous has ever happened but I will say the stairs at St James’s Park are an absolute killer!
WHO IS YOUR MOST FAVOURITE CITY PLAYER OF ALL TIME?
Hmm… this is such a tough question, there are so many to choose from, but for me I would probably say Vinny. He was part of the team that won our first Premier League, and he was just such an unbelievable leader in the team. You could tell he would bleed blue for the club, and it meant so much to him, he just got it, and he knew the history of the club. I just loved him and still do!
IF YOU COULD PICK ONE CURRENT CITY PLAYER TO BE ON YOUR PUB QUIZ TEAM - WHO WOULD IT BE - AND WHY?
I would probably pick Jack Grealish as he seems a lovely lad and I bet you would have a cracking night out with him afterwards!