Turn around, arms out, grab the person next to you and jump up and down on the spot… No, the Hokey Cokey hasn’t been updated: this ladies and gentlemen, is the Poznan.
Quite how this craze swept over the Blue half of Manchester back in the 2010/11 campaign is quite difficult to explain… to those who do not follow City. If you’re a City fan, you just get it: that humour, that sense of togetherness, that belonging… it’s deeply ingrained. (I mean, how do you explain how on earth the inflatable banana fad is linked to Imre Varadi?!)
In our latest CITY+ special documentary 'The Story of the Poznan', our fans looked back fondly on that unforgettably enjoyable period in the Club's history, recalling the origins of the Poznan and infectious charm, whilst also attempting to explain the reasoning behind its adoption!
During a time when City were just starting to become a competitive force once more, the future had never looked a brighter shade of Blue. The buzz and excitement surrounding the Club was absolutely electric. Something special was about to happen… and everyone involved could feel it.
For one, European football was back at the Etihad Stadium. City had qualified for the Europa League with a fifth-place finish the previous season with Roberto Mancini at the helm – and the charismatic Italian had recruited a star-studded selection of talent over the summer.
The new faces included future Club legends David Silva, Yaya Toure, Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov. Lining up alongside fans’ favourites Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Joe Hart, Micah Richards, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Carlos Tevez, Nigel De Jong et al, the City squad boasted a glorious mix of youth and experience, flair and fight, ‘Hart’ and soul… A winning combination.
Although the ‘10/11 season would of course, pan out to be fondly remembered for the Club’s domestic success, as we lifted the FA Cup to end our 35-year wait for silverware and secured qualification to the Champions League for the first time with our first Premier League top-four finish, one European night under the lights will live long in the memory; more for the events that unfolded off the pitch than on it.
One night in October saw Polish Champions Lech Poznan visit the Etihad Stadium in Matchday Three of our Europa League adventure. With the long-awaited return of continental action and a positive opening to our campaign, anticipation was high for the midweek clash from both sets of fans – we welcomed 6,000 staunch away supporters for what proved to be a significant night in our success.
Admired for their unwavering, loud and resolute backing, the travelling faithful revelled in their supporting role, creating a wall of noise from the South Stand and a sea of royal blue. Then, quite unexpectedly they unleashed their signature move: turning their backs on the game, linking arms and bouncing!
It was some sight – row upon row of waving chains: and a true show of solidarity that only football fans can portray. The City fans absolutely loved it and so, from that night on, decided to adopt it for ourselves.
In recognition of its roots, the act was dutifully named ‘The Poznan’ – and it would become an integral part of the fans’ matchday routine: during the team announcements, on kick-off and most notably, after a goal. The joy of celebrating a goal was somehow increased with the fun of grabbing your seat neighbour and bouncing around with glee!
The players loved it just as much as the fans. Our much-loved midfield enforcer Nigel De Jong declared at the time: “I think our supporters took it over! It’s great to see everybody in the whole stadium standing up and jumping. It’s a nice thing to see!”
It became the norm – everywhere the City fans went, the Poznan made an appearance – much to the delight of opposition fans, who also joined in the fun across the country.
As the Blue Army bounced around the United Kingdom and beyond (City were eventually eliminated from the Europa League at the hands of Dynamo Kyiv at the Round of 16 stage), Mancini’s men leapt to a strong finish to what would prove to be an unforgettable season.
After negotiating tricky replays against Leicester and Notts County, City reached Wembley for the first time since the Division Two Play-Off Final in 1999, having defeated Aston Villa and then Reading in the FA Cup – a trophy we had not lifted since 1968/69.
There, we would face cross-town rivals Manchester United for a place in the Final: a scenario script-writers would envisage in the most uplifting of fairytale football stories. The Poznan made its Wembley debut to stunning effect – before and after Yaya Toure’s sensational match-winning strike.
Duly, the dance would make a Wembley encore in the Final, when City locked horns with Stoke. Once again, Yaya Toure proved to be the choreographer, netting the only goal of the game to guide City to glory once more – and on this occasion, the Poznan would make its way onto the pitch!
In celebration, the players gathered in front of the jubilant City fans to perform their own Poznan – demonstrating the spirit and togetherness of the whole Club during one of the most exciting periods in our recent history.
Joyfully, it continued throughout the summer (City legends Mike Summerbee, Francis Lee, Glyn Pardoe and Tony Book hilariously kicked it off at the FA Cup’s homecoming event at the Etihad Stadium) and into the ensuing seasons.
Sadly, as with all new crazes, it would lose its novelty and faded out as the years rolled by. Now, it lives only in the memory from a magnificent era in City folklore – one of the most enjoyed fan engagements of our decorated history.