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mark esmith

Time for a chat with Mark ESmith of The Fall, whose football experiences include encounters with a

You grew up in Salford, which is more United than City. Is there a reason why you’re a City fan? Not really, just to be contrary I suppose. Also you want to support the opposite team to your dad and my dad had been a United fan. Back in the 1950s he’d to go to away games on his bike - he’d cycle to places like Leicester. But I converted him to City.

I had another United connection, though. I applied for a clerical job atthe Edwards family's meat factory after I left school. It was / 9 a week. It m ight even have been Martin Edwards who did the interview. He said “Well the meat wagons come in, just sit there, fill in these forms and file them." I said, "When would the job start?” and he said “You’ve started” and he left me in the office.

How long did you keep the job? An hour. Iwas there all by myself. He’d locked the door. When he came back, I left.

Did you watch United winning the Champions League? Iwas walking to my local pub just when they scored and this huge roar went up. There was a free bus into

Manchester laid on halfan hour after the game and they said “Come on, even though you’re a Blue, you're getting on this bus” and I haveto say it was a great n ig h t-a ll the clubs you could never normally getin hadtheir doors open, free drinks and everything. And in a funny way it d idn’t feel like it had happened to United, itwas like they were a cricket team or something.

Did you used to see City regularly? I used to stand on the Kippax but one o fthe reasons I stopped going was because o fthe moaning. Now, when you haveto sit down, you can’t escape them. In the Peter Reid days, they’d be w inning 2-0 and they’d be saying, "Oh, it ’ll be3-2..." Thethingaboutthe moaners is you know they’re always goingto comeback. I remember talking to these young City fans before Joe Royle came and they were practically suicidal and I said, “ Look, it’s always been like that." When I started supportingthem in 1965, they were bottom ofthe Second Division. Butthese kids think City’s history began with Colin Bell.

Justabouttheonly good thing Oasis ever did was to threaten to takeovertheclub.

That galvanised people into action and they got this new guy, Bernstein, in like a shot. Now Sky are involved and it could be the downfall o fthem . Does Murdoch know what he’s taking on - 30,000 miserable gets? "Livefrom Maine Road, it ’s Man City v Hartlepool.” Try sellingthat in America.

“Justaboutthe onlygoodthing Oasis everdid wastothreaten totakeoverthe club.That galvanised peopleinto action”

Who were your favourite players? Harry Dowd, the goalkeeper in the championship team in 1968, was the best. He still worked as a plumber part-tim e and my dad was a plumber too. We used to go behind the goal and Harry would wander over and talk about washers and copper jo ints. I remember being at a cup tie once and Harry was saying “ Do you know if this goes to extra tim e today, only I've got a job on at half five?” then suddenly people are shouting “ Harry Harry!” and the team we were playing are charging down the pitch and Harry rushes out, dives at someone’sfeet, throws the ball upthe pitch then comes backand starts again, “ So, is th is extra tim e today...?’’

The local paper had a “where are they now?” feature recently on City’s team from the Rodney Marsh tim e in the early 1970s. There were a couple who just seem to have disappeared o ff the face ofthe earth. One was quoted as saying “ I f Iwasn’t a footballer I’d bea tram p” and I think he’s done it.

Did you collect things like football stickers? Yes, I had the 1970 Mexico World Cup set. The Romanians had been photographed in black and white then coloured in. You’d open a packet and it would be one ofthe east Europeans and you’d scream. And then when the World Cup came around, ha If o f them weren't even in the squad. The pictures were all from about 1962.

Did you goto see other teams in the area? Quiteafew. Prestwich Heys were the local non-League team and Iwent to see them in an Amateur Cup tie against Sutton United. I was on the pitch celebrating a goal and got arrested by my neighbour, who was a parttim e policeman.

At Buryyou could get in forfree ifyou went though the cemetery behind one end and jumped overthe fence. They were always losing though, because they had the best pitch, this great lush grass that all the other teams liked to play on. We used to go to see Oldham when they had Ray Wilson from the 1966 World Cup team and he could hardly walk. You could see why he became an undertaker, because he was halfway there.

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