Painting the Town Blue
July 31, 2012

This article was published in The Star on 5 August, 2012.



“We’ve waited 44 years. What’s another 20 minutes.”

A blend of anxiety and excitement filled the air as we got ourselves comfortable in the small conference room. In front of us was the Premier League trophy standing tall in its grandeur. Permanently etched on its base was “2011 – 2012 Manchester City”. The sky blue and white ribbon was a refreshing sight. A better sight, if you will.

Before long, a familiar figure walks into the room and did nothing more to make us stand up and deliver a lengthy round of applause. It was Manchester City Hall of Famer and Club Ambassador, Mike Summerbee, or better known by blues around the world, as ‘Buzzer’.

The veterans among us reminisced the times they watched him play on black-and-white television, two weeks after the actual match in this part of the world, bombing up the right wing just as we see Adam Johnson doing these days.

I wasn’t born yet at the time. But when I watched City play for the first time, his son Nicky was our midfielder. Players or supporters, the blue blood just keeps on flowing.

Seconds later, two other familiar figures walked into the room. This time, from the current squad. To the tune of Blue Moon as we sung to the top of our lungs, hard man Pablo Zabaleta and former captain Kolo Toure made their way to the trophy.

We have seen them tackling others and picking up knocks left and right on TV. To see them together with Mr. Summerbee in person was simply an immense privilege. Not to mention that also present were the honorary members of our Malaysian Supporters Club, June and Karen Barnes, wife and daughter of City legend Ken Barnes.

It was barely 24 hours earlier when club officials contacted us for the session. To be there with the players and the trophy on that Sunday afternoon was a fantastic treat we would’ve never passed for the world. City keeps on outdoing itself at bringing the club and supporters closer.

The fathers chatted with Buzzer to catch up on the rest of the infamous 1968 team. While the sons and daughters spent the afternoon taking pictures and getting autographs from their heroes. Just like our gatherings during live City matches throughout the past decade, it has always been a family affair.

The game against Malaysia in Bukit Jalil the next day was an entertaining exhibition that kept us on the edge of our seats. The good kind, for once. For competitive City matches are rarely a walk in the park. After all these years of following the club’s ups and downs, evading the Typical City scare is still a challenge. The final game of last season speaks for itself.

So a friendly with our national team, whom we were also rooting for, was an entirely enjoyable experience. At the Blue Tier, we sang City songs and did the Poznan with fellow blues who flew in from the UK and Australia. To also dance when Malaysia scored later in the second half was just pure joy.

Credit also to the national squad for the impressive display. Our boys put up a good fight and 1 – 3 was a fair scoreline. I thought we did okay considering a Premier League team actually lost 1 – 6 to City last season. Then again, the goal difference probably meant nothing to them anyway.

Nevertheless, that’s all history. Bring on the new season. Come on City.



Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

About
  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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