Please welcome my first guest writer - Mike Francis. Mike is an American, but don't hold that against him. We struck up a friendship via Twitter and City (follow Mike here for witty and insightful tweets) and he has put together this piece on being a City fan in the US of A. The only editing I've done is formatting to fit the Blogger layout. Thanks, Mike. Take it away!
AMERICAN CITY- by Mike Francis
Why does an American born on Long Island NY who now lives in Florida cheer for Man City? When this question was first asked of me I honestly didn't know how to answer but after thinking about.....it's in my DNA.
Growing up on Long Island, NY in the 80's you maybe surprised to learn that Soccer, as us Americans call it, was the most popular sport played by the kids. Many of the families who lived in my town were first generation immigrants. Pickup games were seen throughout the town. Italians, Irish, South Americans/Mexicans were all well represented. My best friend was Carlos from Chile. His dad Carlos Sr was the first one to "teach" me how to play. All this meant to a 6yr old was to do something other then toe the ball down the field and run after it. The city league started at age 7 and I still remember it like it was yesterday, 11 kids on each side where the only time we were lined up in a 4-4-2 was at kickoff. As soon as that ball was kicked, it was like a scene from Braveheart, 20 kids running at each other and after the ball yelling at the top of our lungs.
The city league was great but it only went up to the age of 12 so the only other opportunity I had to play organized soccer was in High School. I was still in my "I love to play just to play" mentality. I found out the hard way that playing for fun and playing to win are too different things. I could have dealt with the change in attitude if I had the ability but after playing with the other guys, I knew my playing days were just about over. I was too slow and just not good enough to be playing with these other kids. They placed me on the freshman team and I think it was because they had the room on the bench. I did some mop up time at the end of some blow out games but that was it. My dream of playing professionally in England was over.
Wait, what was that last sentence? Play for England, where did that come from? My grandfather was born in England, specifically Manchester. He moved to New York with his wife and 4 children prior to WW2. I never met the man; by the time I was born he already passed away. Given my love of the game when the World Cup came around, I had to cheer for somebody, I chose England. It wasn't like the US was an option!! The World Cup was the only time soccer was ever on television. I had to watch even if I was surrounded by Italians, Mexicans, Brazilians and South American country supporters. England was my team and I wanted to play there when I grew up.
After my freshman year, I stopped playing. The World Cup was over so there were no games on TV. I lost touch with the game and soon left for college and then the real world. World Cup 2006 was my re-introduction to the game. I was now living in Florida where college football is king. During that summer I would catch some cup games on TV but also go downtown to the Irish Pub. I would go alone as none of my other friends watched the game. It wouldn't matter, as the pub would be packed with supporters. Even though I showed up alone, once there, I wasn't alone. Everyone there was your friend. I have never been to a game in person but the one thing I always enjoyed watching was the atmosphere in the stands. It wasn't just a game, it was a celebration of your team. My love for the game I had as a kid was back.
Options are wonderful to have so when I had the chance to subscribe to satellite television, I jumped on it. I can subscribe to a ridiculous amount of channels if I could only afford it. One of the options is the soccer package, which you may see me tweet about. I love being able to see every EPL game along with all of the UEFA games but why do I need to subscribe to 2 different soccer packages at twice the price in order to see the games I want?? I’m not going in to it here but I did subscribe to one. I finally have the chance to see real professional soccer. Now that I’m able to see the games, I had to pick a team. Knowing that my Grandfather was from Manchester I checked with my dad to see if he knew which team Pop cheered for. I was praying it was City because I hate the color red, I have no red clothes, hate red cars, just don’t like the color. Once my dad said he was a Man City guy, I was relieved and ecstatic. I have my team now and my team is CITY.