There are times when you just to have to say it.  Last night at the Etihad was as good as it gets, whatever “it” is. So good that I won’t even ridicule the “tourists” who spent the first half looking for their seat and the second half visiting the (alcohol-free) bar, thereby missing what they seemed to have travelled several thousand miles to watch.


I’m only mildly embarrassed when I begin rail trips to Manchester from the home of temporarily beleaguered Stockport County, but frankly half of City’s support comes from Stopfordians these days.

I’ve found a new cheapish hotel with that all-important superfast WiFi too; the bizarrely named Trivelles Mayfair being ideally placed for Heaton Chapel.  The water fountain means you can’t miss it on the A6.


The Trivelles is a Heaton Hop away from the UK’s No.1 town’s newest real ale gem, which I seem to have managed to avoid despite passing it on my last trip to the Heatons. It’s two minutes off the incomparable A6.

This won’t be the most unique looking micro/bottle shop I go in all year, but it is magical. That might come from that feeling you get in a cosy room of drinkers as dusk descends in November, from the morose City fans even less confident than me, or the frankly potent Track IPA that dulled my senses for the expected Messi onslaught.

But as with pretty much all micros, it’s the chat that makes it.  You can’t escape it in Heaton Hops, whether it’s about train timetables from Heaton Chapel or the qualities of the Shindigger.


Wellington Road North was a virtual beer desert ten years ago; now I doubt there’s a better mile in the country for diversity of pubs and quality of beer. If only the Chinese takeaway offer was as good.

Stockport looked especially lovely last night, even if I did miss last orders at the Armoury.



  1. The Etihad looks a bit different to watching games from the Trent End which had those crap barriers in front to stop the Forest fans attacking the away fans, those days in the mid eighties were so good,only proper fans and those who wanted a good scrap and got one,we loved to see the fighting and run the away fans before and after the match.
    Where would i prefer to watch a match on terraces jumping about and singing or sat miles from the touch line in a massive seated stand with as you say loads of people not knowing what they are doing there.
    I really liked Maine Road and the area it was in,a great shame that all seated grounds have been forced on to us.


    1. Agree entirely Alan. I started going to City away games at places like Luton and Oxford in the early ’90s. To be fair when I go away now the atmosphere is a lot better than the Etihad as everyone stands up (and gets told off all game).


    2. What has led to the reduction in violence at football games? I went to one Arsenal game in the 80s and there was a definite edge to the environment. My second game was Stoke around 2007. Much quieter and less aggressive atmosphere. Family friendly we would say here. From what I read the football environment has changed a lot. Is it policing? Ticket prices? Reconfigured stadiums?


      1. Alan will have something to say, I’d say your last point. All seater stadiums for the bigger teams from the early ’90s, largely as a result of Hillsborough.
        There’s a lot more middle-class supporters too; football is more popular than it was in the late ’80s (attendances have doubled). Spectating not playing mind.


      2. It was bad for violence from the late 70s through to the late 80s,when Forest were in the old First division what is now the Premiership the only people going were proper supporters who also was up for a fight if it broke out,when we played teams like Man Utd and Chelsea we were lucky if we got 18000 in a ground that held well over 30000,families would not go and middle class people would no go for fear of getting their heads kicked in.
        Hillsborough was a turning point and as usual it was the scousers who *ucked up the game on all fronts with the introduction of all seated stadiums in the top two leagues.
        What made grounds safer was CCTV if there was any fighting around the ground or inside you would soon be picked up,then the prices went up,which put off working class supporters,so more middle class people turned up for games,singing almost stopped and grounds became sterile.
        So now you will see kids and grown men and women crying when their team loses a cup game or gets relegated.

        I agree with Martin that away games are now better for atmosphere,that is because it is usually to proper die hard fans who go no matter what the result will be or who they are playing against.


      3. Yes. And no. A lot of games in the ’80s were played to half-empty grounds (less so at Nottm Forest and Man City perhaps). The nostalgia I feel for standing on an open terrace at Luton in the rain while blokes urinated down the middle isn’t shared by Mrs RM.


      4. Yes. At many grounds, it is like spending an afternoon in a morgue these days. Football should be tribal. Whilst I am not a hoolie myself, I would say that something is missing from a trip to Cardiff if, barring relegating L**ds on your visit, you are not continually watching your back.

        Martin, I’d go in that away end at Luton in Mrs Jones’ back garden or stand on the open terrace at Halifax in the snow in a flash if I had the choice of going to some plastic ground like the Reynolds Arena or St. Mary’s. Bring on the trip back down the leagues.


      5. Tom I agree. Cardiff was much to cheery. I saw Cambridge win 7-2 years ago and I was one of worst days of my life.

        Don’t worry though, you’ll be back at Blundell Park soon.


  2. As somebody who saw the late stages of the fun at ‘Fer Ark, I’d partly say ticket prices backing people out, however the rioting stopped earlier than that, bar the odd tasty encounter. Instead, I wonder if it is a reflection on the country as a whole, rather than just football, with the middle classes taking over.

    I would have liked to have gone to Maine Road, Eastlands isn’t a football ground, it is an athletics arena in which football is played. I would also have liked to have seen the City Ground pre modernisation, whilst the Forest fans are capable of making some noise I get the feeling it isn’t a patch on what it once was.

    I don’t remember the last time I sat in a ground. It is a fair while since I last had an argument with a steward. Modern football is still shite and will get steadily worse until a big club goes bust. I don’t care which one, but I think it needs to be the red Scousers, Newton Heath, Chelsea or the Arse. Possibly Manchester Hunter at a push. Nobody else, unless it is a series of multiple bankruptcies, will do the trick.

    By the way, that photograph of Stockport Viaduct with the bus station below is a classic. Superb.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lots to chew on there. Wish we could follow this one up in conversation. The football thing has intrigued me ever since I read “Among the Thugs.” One quick question. What does it mean to argue with a steward? Don’t hold your breath on the bankruptcy. Someone wealthy will always want a toy.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. That, Sir, is why you need to keep your blog going.

      I do like the way City fans at away games see how many rules they can break that they comply with at the Etihad – smoking in toilets, standing all game, openly consuming coloured cider. All games should be played away, possibly in Halifax.


  3. Why is the demonym for someone from Stockport “Stopfordian”? Not being lazy. I don’t see this online anywhere. And I can prove I looked since I didn’t know what a demonym was ten minutes ago.


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