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City and I: Billy Duffy's life living the Blues

City and I: Billy Duffy's life living the Blues
In the second of our series where we speak to famous figures from the world of sport and beyond about their abiding passion for City, music legend Billy Duffy reflects on a life spent living the Blues

For Manchester music icon Billy Duffy, a passion for City has struck a recurring, reassuring chord down the decades and provided a reassuring backdrop to a life that has taken him from the back streets of Wythenshawe to Los Angeles.

One of the most admired and respected figures to have emerged from Manchester’s rich 1970s musical scene, the guitarist has gone on to enjoy a long and hugely successful career with a number of bands, most notably The Cult.

Aside from his acclaimed musical back-story however, Duffy has also carried a lifelong passion for City, having followed the Club through our many ups and downs for more than 50 years from his days growing up in south Manchester.

READ: Will Greenwood | City and I

WATCH: City DNA #18 | King of the Kippax

Though now based in sunny California, Duffy is still a frequent visitor to his native Manchester and remains a passionate City follower.

And, as he reveals, through good times and bad, from the meagre morsels of the 1980s through to our modern day stack of silverware, that passion for City is something that always stirred in the Duffy family blood.

“My Dad, Billy Duffy Snr, was taken by his Dad, Billy Duffy Snr Snr, in the 1930s, so we’ve always been a City family for the most part with some unfortunate exceptions,” Billy recalled.

“My brother married a girl who was a mad City fan, and is still a season ticket holder, and they took me to my first game in the 1960s. Then my Dad rekindled his affair with City, and we used to go to loads of games.

“Growing up in my youth it was either City or United and both were close in the late 60s. I grew up in South Manchester and it was very much split down the middle. 


                        HOLLYWOOD LIFE : Billy (second right) with fellow members of the Cult at an LA film premiere back in 2000
HOLLYWOOD LIFE : Billy (second right) with fellow members of the Cult at an LA film premiere back in 2000

“That’s how you identified yourself.

“What you didn’t do was switch. One kid switched from City to United and I was appalled - it’s not a thing of character.

“I would attend a lot of games between 1968 and all of the 1970s and then I drifted away a bit with the music thing and touring once I got into the 1980s, but then I got back into again later.

“I’m still in a shock about where we are as a Club now but, for me, my era was in the 1970s. I went to Wembley in 1974 when we lost to Wolves in the League Cup final and was back two years later when we beat Newcastle.

“And I’ve got especially fond memories of that great team we had in 1977 when we missed out on the title by only a point.

“Everyone has a favourite football era just like with music or art in general. Stuff that you are passionate about… there’s always a formative period and that was mine. Every kid has their own era. Some are more fortunate than others and I had a really good era.

“I’m just so happy that kids who grew up when we were truly terrible have got to see us where we are now in their life time."


                        TRUE COLOURS : Billy on stage with the Cult wearing a City shirt
TRUE COLOURS : Billy on stage with the Cult wearing a City shirt

Though he may reside more than 6,000 miles away, Duffy has been able to bear witness to how the Club’s stature and prominence has snowballed since he was a teenager urging his beloved Blues on from the Kippax.

The staggering development of technology also means he never misses a kick in following City’s progress from afar.

And he says being so far from home has also served to emphasise the rise in the Club’s global stature and popularity.

“Following City now is easy,” Duffy added. “The amount of English football on TV is enormous. It’s easier to be an armchair commando over there in Los Angeles than here.

“It’s convenient as time difference means the games are on in the morning or that night’s game at lunchtime so that’s a plus if you on the West Coast.

“But I come back quite frequently so I try to get to as many games as I can.

“In America as with the rest of the world, the reach of the club is growing. It comes with success and I don’t begrudge it.

“We’ve always been a bit of an outsider’s club, City, but I just accept it and embrace it.

“I love to see, both on and off the pitch, the brilliant way to club is run.

“We’ve heard the stories of how it used to be a bit like an Open All Hours corner shop competing in a world of Tesco’s.

“It was charming but those over the road in Stretford were like a machine. But now we’re the machine.”


                        MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS : Billy Duffy with some of his City memorabilia
MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS : Billy Duffy with some of his City memorabilia

With City looking forward to next Monday’s Champions League last 16 draw, for many fans the Holy Grail now would be if we could go on next year and secure what would be a historic, first-ever European Cup success.

Duffy shares that dream and believes that if City were to lift Europe’s most iconic trophy, it would be a fitting way to honour the way the Club has been transformed under the ownership of the Abu Dhabi United Group.

“Looking ahead, would I like to win the Champions League? Obviously yes, but I don’t think we should throw other cup games to focus on it,” Billy declares

“It’s so difficult to win but it would be nice as then we would have the collection.

“We have struggled a bit in Europe despite our dominance, but I’d love us to win it... if anything, just to repay the owners as it is like a fairy tale.

“To see where the Club is now makes the hard times all the more worthwhile,” Billy reflected.

“When my brother’s kids grew up you felt like only a maniac would follow City!

“The cruellest thing is to extinguish hope and there was no hope for City in some periods.

“To see how we’ve come full circle is just brilliant.

“This is 'not in my lifetime' stuff. We’re living the stuff of dreams.”

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