we used to spend a great deal of time together, almost more brothers than cousins) he was a Leeds fan. The little football table I had was customised to match our different allegiances, with one side all in Leeds white and the other in City blue. I even painted the 'City' left winger's head yellow to denote Peter Barnes' blond barnet. It was only later (I'm not sure exactly how old he would have been) that Steve switched allegiance to City in honour of his father, who was also responsible for my own dedication to the men of Maine Road.
In addtion to Barnes, Paul Power and Dave Watson were key players for me; Corrigan in goal, Donachie (for some reason, we used to deliberately make the 'ch' sound soft) at left back and Tueart up front. He had Lorimer, Norman Hunter, Gordon McQueen, Sniffer Clarke and Trevor Cherry, and what epic matches we had - occasionally - miraculously drafting in George Best, Pele or Clyde from the Harlem Globetrotters to cover for any injured regulars. Striking how many Scottish players there were among the elite in those days. Not the case now, is it? Not only the lack of Scots players, but the whole thing really does seem a world away. The summer of 1976, with its endless drought, images of rugged, mashed-up centre backs with flowing locks and floppy fringes clearing their nostrils stuck into my scrap book alongside cut out Hagar the Horrible strips, Sun Fun cartoons and Mercedes logos.
Yesterday's performance by the Yorkshiremen, if Steve had retained his original allegiance, would surely have made him very angry indeed. I really can't think of a meaningful attack from them in the whole match, and they couldn't have made it any easier for us to shrug off the disappointment of the St. Mary's debacle. Whether this stroll in the park will mean renewed hope in the title race is another point, and a moot one, it has to be said. Chelsea will not be so obliging, and neither will any of the teams we are yet to face - Rags included. The fact of drawing Barnsley in the next round though should at least mean that we progress further in the FA Cup, so things could be worse.
On another note, I am considering retiring this blog. Not long now till I reach a total of 555 posts, and it would seem to make some sort of sense to knock it on the head. My readership stats are very low, and since I implemented text recognition, I don't even get spam comments any more. Maybe I'll try a new venture, like Tumblr or something. I don't know. Will keep you informed.