Peter Reid is 57, Niall Quinn 47. Perhaps too late to return to Man City as midfield dynamo and target man. But both would receive huge warm welcomes if they could find time to get along to one of the functions run by the City Disabled Supporters’ Association. The invitation is extended via Salut! Sunderland by the association’s secretary, our ‘Who are You?’ interviewee, Mark Barber*. How about three unlikely points for ‘predictably unpredictable’ SAFC, as Jake called us the other day, in return for an evening with Reidy and Niall? I bet they’re rooting for us, not City, in both forthcoming games …
Salut! Sunderland: In a mood of optimism that you’d be up for this, or that you know someone who would do it, here are the questions:
Mark Barber: Optimism..?? Have you never heard of Typical City… we never take anything for granted…
What a time to be a City supporter. But do you ever miss the old days of the occasional good season surrounded by years of low achievement in United’s shadow?
Don’t miss the smugness of the United fans when we went through the 35 years of pain with no trophies, but football should be about two teams battling each other to win, so games where we beat a team 6-0 which their fans have travelled miles to watch and see how they can cope against our superstars makes me feel sorry for them. Don’t care though if we beat a supposed top 4 by a high score.
Following on from that, to what extent does City remain a proper football club as opposed to a brand?
City is the team of the people in Manchester, always has been, always will be. Whilst the hospitality section is getting bigger and the sponsors sell products none of us can afford, the ticket prices are still very reasonable and City Square (our pre game entertainment zone) keeps the club close to the working class fan and our web site is fantastic in the amount of information they share. The global brand is growing, especially with us buying an Australian team recently and setting up a new club in New York but all this will help increase our income without the need to put up prices
Do you honestly believe City will make this a quadruple-winning season or will you have to settle for everything except the Capital One Cup?
It is the press that is talking about the quadruple, no City fan I speak with thinks we will do it this season. We are nervous that the press are putting us on a pedestal ready to knock us down as they like doing with any English success, so they will report that we only won… rather than congratulate us on any achievement. After 35 years of pain targeting one trophy a season is moving in the right direction for us. Personally I think we will win 2 of the 4. Sorry but I think the Capital One is ours, I don’t feel we are strong enough yet for Champions League but am really looking forward to watching us play Barcelona. The number of games we will be forced to play to win the FA Cup and Premier League makes me think that we will need to target one of those two rather than both.
City have had Francis Lee, Colin Bell and, to mention a couple of buys from SAFC, Dave Watson and Dennis Tueart, is good past squads. How do they shape up when compared with the current megastars?
I started watching City in 1976 so Francis Lee and King Colin in their prime was before my time. Dave Watson was a superb player in his time and Dennis Tueart a real fans favourite as he would spend a lot of his spare time meeting with us fans and always performed on the pitch. To compare to todays players is perhaps unfair but Kompany is such a skilful player for a Central Defender he has to be a better all round player than Dave and a great leader of the team. Silva v Tueart is not even a fair question, Silva is simply unbelievable in the way he can trap a ball and pass it in to space all in one movement.
Any abiding memories of others linked to Sunderland: Niall, Peter Reid, Claudio Reyna, Tony Coton and others, including – going way back – Tony Towers?
Not sure what we have done to upset Niall, he seems anti City in his commentary these days, he did very well for us in a team that wasn’t the strongest in the league. Reid was the leader we needed on the pitch to guide our youngsters and was a great manager for us, such a shame he could not get on with the owners…. For an American Claudio was certainly someone special and is now busy setting up our New York City Team a great choice by our owners to develop the Brand.. Tony Coton is one of many great goalkeepers we have had through the years, been ill in recent times so we all wish him good health for the future. Sorry never say Tony Towers.
The title-winning season and now are clearly highs for any City supporter but have there been others, less obvious ones?
The biggest high for any City fan was Dickov scoring in the 95th Minute against Gillingham in the playoff final, another season in the third tear of English Football could have been the start of the end for our club, instead that goal was the start of the new beginning. Our current owners would not have bought a low league team regardless of how good their stadium was…
And what have been the lows in your time as a fan? Last years loss to Wigan in the FA Cup Final was a real low, not because we just expected to win, but because our team of superstars just did not put in any real effort on the day. We can cope with losing as long as we try our best…
Tell us what it is really like to be able to be condescending about United.
It is actually causing me trouble. each time I drive past Old Trafford the Police stop me and issue a ticket, apparently all visitors to there leave with three points nowadays…
Do any games between our sides, home or away, stick especially in the mind?
No, Sunderland are a really bogey team for us, so never enjoy them, especially now you have Adam, he always ups his game against us.
I suspect you’re hoping we stay up if for no other reason so that you can hope one day to come to the Stadium of Light and not get beaten 1-0.
I think you will survive, there are some real bad teams below you and you have a good manager in charge now. You’re a team with strong links to City as you have mentioned in other questions, so one I always want to be in the top division.
So what will; be the top four in order and the bottom three?
For me the current top 4 will be the teams that finish there, but can’t predict the order of the top 3, Liverpool will finish 4th. My ideal would be City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, but think it could be Chelsea, City, Arsenal, Liverpool. (Mark’s bottom three remains a closely guarded secret; his optimism about SAFC preceded the Hull game – ed)
What most inspires you about the modern game, and what appals?
The skills of the modern players are fantastic and the way they train to reach those standards can only inspire others… It’s such a shame that the atmosphere is so much quieter these days, without being able to stand with a fag in one hand, a pint in the other and a pie in your gob, whilst watching the game. I just can’t see those days coming back…
Brazil: does City’s array of stars from overseas make it the World Cup more interesting or are you too much of a club man to be bothered much?
As a proud English Man I can’t support any other team in the World Cup, we will supply the goalie and perhaps Milner in midfield, the rest of the English Team will be United and Southampton players, so hardly inspiring.
Will you be at our game and what will be the score?
Yes I will be there, at the back of Level one, in the corner of the South Stand and the Colin Bell Stand. Will be in City Square before the game too, make sure you try it out, very friendly area for both sets of fans to mix before the game. The score….?? We have been hurt by Chelsea so the team will want to put in a performance 5-1 With Adam J scoring the first goal for you.
* Mark Barber on himself: I am secretary of the Manchester City Disabled Supporters’ Association. Been supporting the team since 1976 with my first season ticket being in the 76/77 season. I had to give up my ticket for a long time as worked in retail management for 18 years so could not get Saturdays off work, but am now committed to the 9-5 so I can be back there on matchdays… Having become disabled through ill health in 1997 I decided I wanted to help other disabled people live active lives. As such I have done a lot of voluntary work encouraging disabled people to get out of the house and if possible back to work. My work at the MCDSA involves me writing the web site and newsletter and organising our meetings. I promote our members voluntary and charity activities and get many of them in front of their past heroes at our meetings. It is hard work but very rewarding and how smug do I feel with numerous ex-players phone numbers now stored in my mobile… If you’re reading this Niall or Peter, we would love to have you along… The family and friends of many of our members tell me how they have come out of a shell of depression and loneliness now they get to interact with the new friends they have made through our association and have something to look forward to each month. For more info visit our web site www.mcdsa.co.uk
Interview: Colin Randall
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