Before Manchester City’s quarter-final elimination from the Champions League by Tottenham Hotspur last week, Pep Guardiola claimed he felt a lot of City fans were not bothered about getting through to the next round.
The claim came on the back of a long hostility City fans have for UEFA over their handling of the Financial Fair Play ruling and a number of issues.
There was also the €20,000 fine imposed on Porto of for racially abusing Mario Balotelli compared with City’s fine of €30,000 for being approximately thirty seconds late getting back on the pitch in the second half.
When CSKA had to close their stadium for the match against City following racial abuse by their fans, City fans were also banned but on the night there were a number of CSKA fans in the stadium wearing colours and drinking in front of UEFA officials and nothing was done.
All of which has left City fans feeling the governing body has an agenda against the club. They have booed the Champions League anthem prior to kick-off ever since, despite pleas from Guardiola and club legend Francis Lee.
Guardiola was attempting to get the fans behind the team as much as possible to overturn the 1-0 deficit they were bringing to the Etihad following the previous week’s defeat to Spurs in the first leg.
The fans did not disappoint the manager and were in terrific voice as they urged their team to get the result that would see them through to the semi-finals for the second season running.
It was a great effort by the team, fans and manager. But had Guardiola been manager prior to 1994, it would not have been necessary for him to rally the supporters because a deafening volume was the norm in the infamous Kippax Stand at Maine Road prior to big games.
Back in 2000, Noel Gallagher recalled how he came to support City and his early memories of the Kippax.
“The reason was basically a family one – my dad didn’t like his brothers. They were all Irish people who came over here and decided to support United. My dad chose City instead, just to annoy them. No other reason than that. Liam and I should by rights have been United fans.
“My dad used to take us into the Kippax Stand and sit us up on this narrow brick wall at the back, where we’d lean against this big sheet of corrugated asbestos, and then he’d go off to the bar with all the other dads.
“The Kippax was basically a big shed. It was very dark – there was no lighting and a really huge roof coming down low, so it was like looking at a television screen.
“Nowadays in football grounds fans tend not to sing a lot. But in the seventies it was deafening in the Kippax. It was like the sound coming out of a speaker.”
Despite its dilapidated state, City fans adored the Kippax. Running the full length of the pitch, it helped to generate a famous atmosphere inside Maine Road, especially for big games.
City and United fans once mixed for derby matches, explained Francis Lee, who, as club chairman following the Taylor Report released after the Hillsborough disaster, announced the demolition of the Kippax and a 10,000 seater stand in its place.
“It was a huge stand and for the big games, the noise was massive,” he says.
“There was no segregation until the problems started in the 70s. But to see two sets of supporters intermingling and creating a great atmosphere was fabulous.”
The last game in front of the old stand was a 2-2 draw against Chelsea on 30th April 1994. It was reopened by Manchester City’s legendary goalkeeper Bert Trautman in October the following year and remained in operation until the club moved from Maine Road to the Commonwealth Stadium in the 2003/04 season.
Lee says the new all-seater incarnation vastly increased the amount of money the club could generate.
“That’s the reason I got involved with the club – because they couldn’t afford to build it!” he says. “The plan initially was to re-roof it and put some seats on the existing steps, which was barmy. But we got it all together and eventually decided to build a new one.”
“It cost us about 17 million quid. The plan was to eventually continue it round the whole stadium in that shape but within about two years Sir John Hall told me ‘you won’t have to build another one because you’re going to get the Commonwealth Games stadium’, so it was our lucky day.
“It increased the revenues of the club at the time. There were around 30 to 40 boxes included and restaurants and other kinds of facilities. I remember saying to Mike Summerbee and Geoff Durbin that if you want to do something really worthwhile for the club, go and get those facilities sold.”
Monday night sees City host Leicester in what will be their final home game of the season and a game which will decide if the Blues head to their final match away to Brighton still top of the league. The atmosphere should be incredible.