This week I had the pleasure of welcoming the film crew of our friends from Croatia who wanted to see Manchester in all its glory!
They were particularly interested in learning about Manchester’s rich football heritage and how Manchester set the foundation for The Premier League, broadcast to over 4 billion people annually!
I explained the history of the football league and the reason that there is a plaque in the centre of Manchester celebrating its founding, before walking down Market Street and turning right onto Cross Street. I told the story of the I.R.A. bomb that decimated the city centre near the red post box en route to Shambles Square. After telling them the history behind The Wellington and Sinclair’s Oyster pubs we headed towards The Old Nags Head via King Street.
There I explained how I went to the same Primary and Secondary School as Liam Gallagher and told a few anecdotes about him whilst standing outside his shop Pretty Green. Named after a Paul Weller song, the store is full of Mod memorabilia and even has a drum kit inside. At the same spot I talked about Rio Ferdinand and his restaurant Rosso which stands opposite Liam’s shop. As Manchester United were at their Old Trafford home playing Arsenal, The Old Nags Head was full to the brim.
The cameraman got some shots of old photographs that decorate the wall and of the fans as they jostled for position at the bar. He also recorded my peice to camera where I recounted a couple of quotes from George Best including ‘In 1969 I gave up women and alcohol. It was the worst 20 minutes of my life.’ I bumped into an old friend so I stayed for a couple of pints. He offered me a ticket for the match but I had agreed to play five a side myself so I politely declined the offer.
The next day I arranged for Dave Shanahan, who I work with at North Manchester Fm 106.6, to be interviewed alongside his colleague from the National Football Museum where Dave also works. Dave is a massive Red while his workmate Nigel is a big Blue. Robert hosted a playful interview and everyone enjoyed the experience.
Fortuitously, Manchester Food and Drink Festival was on right next to us so I joined the Croatians for lunch from The Ottoman Stall. Afterwards, we walked to Piccadilly Gardens for Robert to conduct some interviews with some Dinamo Zagreb fans. I waited with Gregor until we joined the cortege to the Etihad Stadium.
Once at the ground I split from Gregor and went into the home enclosure. I bumped into a few friends once inside and I had a growing respect for the way the Dinamo fans were as relentless in cheering on their team as City were in pursuit of a goal.
The Croatians created a special atmosphere. It’s still early days in the Champions League but I would like to see both Manchester City and Dinamo Zagreb go through to the knockout stage of the competition. In a one sided affair Raheem Sterling scored a poacher’s goal just after the hour mark.
In the dying seconds he turned provider, feeding the ball to late substitute Phil Foden for the Stopfordian to put the proverbial icing on the cake. A two nil win for the sky blues that on another night could have been many, many more.