‘We’re not going to bother going to that one, it’s got 0-0 written all over it’

That’s what Alex Livesey’s dad said to him when the young lad asked if father and son could go down Maine Road to watch City v Huddersfield in 1987.

It was a November day and City were languishing in Division Two after being relegated from the top-flight the previous campaign.

It’s fair to say that Alex wasn’t too impressed when he checked the Live VidiPrinter later that evening.

“My dad had season tickets in the Main Stand for years so we used to go every week until we got relegated in 1986/87.

“My dad was fed up of going and said ‘I’m not having season tickets this season, we’re just going to go when we feel like going’.

“This was the first season where we didn’t have season tickets and I asked my dad if we could go to that Huddersfield match.

“His words were ‘We’re not going to bother going to that, it’s got 0-0 written all over it’.

“I put the results on the TV on the old VidiPrinter after the match.

“We were waiting for the score to come up and it said ‘Manchester City 10’ but it also wrote the word ‘TEN’ just to confirm it wasn’t a mistake. Then Huddersfield 1.

“I said ‘I can’t believe you didn’t take us!’ I laugh about it now. That’s one match I wish I’d gone to.”

Back then, from the late 1970s onwards, Alex went for the pure passion of following his heroes in sky blue.

Brought up on stories chronicling the heroics of Colin Bell, Mike Summerbee and Francis Lee, Alex followed in the footsteps of his dad – and his dad before him – feasting on the exploits of Dennis Tueart, Kevin Reeves, Joe Corrigan and Tommy Caton.

But, just as the 1990s began, he got an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Livesey was a burgeoning photographer and had just started work for an agency in the capital and they wanted to send him to football matches each weekend.

That meant assignments at his beloved Maine Road.

It would mean swapping singing for snapping – but it was an offer he simply couldn’t refuse.

Reminiscing about his time on the terraces, he told us: “Being a fan was the best thing really. It was the most exciting thing going to Maine Road – the whole build-up of getting closer to the ground.

“You’d park down these little side streets around Maine Road and there would always be some kids who would say ‘we’ll look after your car sir’.

“My dad would give them some money but he always used to say ‘as long as it’s the same when I get back’.


“I loved the build-up and we’d always be a bit late getting there and we’d be running across the road to get to the turnstiles. He’d take me to the sweet shop and we’d get a bag of midget gems before the match.

PICTURE PERFECT : Maine Road, by Alex Livesey
PICTURE PERFECT : Maine Road, by Alex Livesey

“We’d always run past the Claremont Road corner of the ground which used to have a little souvenir store on the corner. You’d just see the ground and it would just open up in front of you.

“That would be the most exciting thing and my dad was terrible for getting us there on time.

“But when we arrived and the team would come out, you’d think ‘this is it’, it just felt like the only place I wanted to be in my life.

“You looked around and there were four separate stands. The North Stand always made me feel really intrigued - completely different from the rest of the ground. It was a bit modern somehow. I don’t know why. The Kippax was always full and busy as I could see it from the Main Stand. Then you had the Main Stand with the weird futuristic roof which I just loved.

“Then you had the atmosphere - it was just rocking every time no matter what the result was.

“Then, from the 1992/93 season - which was the first season of the Premier League - I started taking pictures. It was the best job ever for me to be sent by these guys up to Manchester to cover City matches at Maine Road and sit at the side of the pitch.

“It was like a dream job for me. That’s how it all started really, very quickly.

“It was the weirdest feeling when I got my photographer’s pass and they sent me en route to the pitch. I came out and the crowd was in front of me. The Kippax was there – and I wasn’t in it!

“It was strange to begin with – but I loved it.”

Regardless of whether he was a fan or a photographer, Alex just loved being at Maine Road, his spiritual home.

He enjoyed so many special games in both camps but there’s a nice symmetry about his favourite Maine Road milestone matches – 5-1 and 3-1 defeats of United respectively.

“Going back to when I was a fan, it was really strange that the last derby win I attended as a supporter was the 5-1 at Maine Road in 1989. I was stood in the Kippax watching.

“It was the most amazing game I’d seen at Maine Road. It was certainly the most satisfying match I ever watched as a fan.

“Then 13 years later, I was a photographer at the side of the pitch for the last derby at Maine Road. That was something truly special.

“Despite the fact I was working, I felt there was a buzz about the whole place that day. I just knew we were going to win that day.”

DERBY DELIGHT : Shaun Goater helps City win the final all-Manchester derby at Maine Road, by Alex Livesey
DERBY DELIGHT : Shaun Goater helps City win the final all-Manchester derby at Maine Road, by Alex Livesey

Alex had been ‘on duty’ at Maine Road since the Premier League began.

He snapped away come rain or shine as the likes of Peter Reid, Brian Horton, Alan Ball, Steve Coppell, Frank Clark and Joe Royle whizzed round on the managerial merry go round.

Despite the ups and downs of both covering City and supporting them, he loved it all.

The expectation cranked up, though, with the arrival of ‘King Kev’ in 2001, the architect of that Shaun Goater-inspired victory over the Reds.

It’s an era that Alex remembers fondly.

“He was entertaining – just like he’d been at Newcastle. The appointment excited the City fans.

“He wasn’t criticised too much for losing matches as long as we went out and had a go.


“The players he brought in were more daring. Anelka, Berkovic, Benarbia.

“He was animated, wore his heart on his sleeve and was always good to photograph.

“There always seemed to be something happening with him in charge.

“I remember a match when Danny Tiatto got sent off against Norwich and Tiatto was kicking off at the opposition bench.

“I got a good picture of Kevin grabbing him around the throat pulling him down the tunnel.

“That was typical City because, although we were heading to winning the league and earning promotion, it just felt like we’d do our best to destroy things along the way as much as possible.

KING KEV : Kevin Keegan tries to calm Danny Tiatto after his red card, by Alex Livesey
KING KEV : Kevin Keegan tries to calm Danny Tiatto after his red card, by Alex Livesey

“I also remember when Kevin sent me a letter. I’d got to one game early and was in the photographers room and he just came in and said ‘can I have a photographer now?’

“He needed someone to take a picture of him with some guests. So I took it. He thanked me. I thought nothing more of it.

“He sent me a lovely letter later saying ‘many thanks for doing those pictures, it was really good of you, all the best, Kevin Keegan’.

“I just thought that was brilliant because he didn’t have to do that.

FAN FERVOUR : Supporters loved Kevin Keegan, by Alex Livesey
FAN FERVOUR : Supporters loved Kevin Keegan, by Alex Livesey

“I remember a story about him with Rose Woolrich too, who used to look after the photographers at Maine Road.

“I know the likes of Kevin used to come in to see her and have a cup of tea before games. He’d send her a Christmas card every year. He’d put £20 in for her too.

“When we moved to the Etihad, she said was going to pack it in because it was too far away from where she lived. When Kevin heard about this, he was having none of it and from that moment on, he paid for a taxi for her to get to the ground each matchday. What a lovely touch!

“It was great times – and I’ll never forget that 3-1 win over United that he was manager for in that last season at the ground.”

That final Manchester derby in 2002 was a dream but the final game, itself, against Southampton was a nightmare, with City losing 1-0.

Alex – now one of the top-ranked photography professionals in the UK with over 30 years of experience at the likes of Getty Images - is indifferent looking back because he was more concerned about the occasion than the result as the sky blue fans said goodbye to their unique old ground.

FAREWELL TO MAINE ROAD : The players say goodbye to Maine Road in 2002, by Alex Livesey
FAREWELL TO MAINE ROAD : The players say goodbye to Maine Road in 2002, by Alex Livesey

“That was weird. I’d been taking pictures at the Etihad because I was involved in the Commonwealth Games project and so I knew what was coming. I knew this was going to be our new stadium.

“In terms of what’s happened since, I wouldn’t want to change anything. The success we’ve had obviously has been hard to believe. I wouldn’t have believed it back then.

“But that final game at Maine Road was really sad more than anything. The ground always felt a bit old and a bit knackered but that was the charm and that’s what I liked.

“I remember, despite the emotion, wanting to get a photograph of the actual kick-off on that final afternoon. I thought that was important, when you think back at how many games have been played there and this was the symbolic start of the last ever one at the ground.

LAST GOODBYE : The final kick-off at Maine Road, by Alex Livesey
LAST GOODBYE : The final kick-off at Maine Road, by Alex Livesey

“In terms of the result, we lost. But it didn’t matter. It was all about not being there anymore.

“Now we’re at the Etihad and it blows my son’s mind. He loves it here.

“The success we have now – and the team that Pep Guardiola has put together – I wouldn’t change it for the world.

“The stadium is amazing, the team is amazing, the coach is unbelievable.

“It’s a completely different world now as a City fan. But I’m so glad I have those memories of Maine Road. They were wonderful.”