Sports
3:22 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Manchester's 'Other' Soccer Team The Best In England

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 6:49 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The streets of Manchester, England ran sky blue today as tens of thousands of soccer fans cheered a parade celebrating Manchester City's triumph as champions of England. Their shocking come-from-behind victory yesterday won Manchester City its first championship since 1968.

Here's how it sounded on ESPN when Manchester City scored the final heart-stopping, game-winning goal in the fourth minute of injury time.

(SOUNDBITE OF PREMIER LEAGUE)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Looking for the - Balotelli drops - Aguero, he can win it. Oh, he's won the title (unintelligible) for Manchester City. An unbelievable finish, two goals in stoppage time.

BLOCK: Manchester City's win leaves their hometown archrival, Manchester United - and the announcers - stunned.

(SOUNDBITE OF PREMIER LEAGUE)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Who is writing this stuff? Oh, my God.

BLOCK: Well, joining me is Jim White, sports columnist with the Telegraph. He's also a native of Manchester. And, Jim, tell me about the scene in the streets today, tell me about this parade. How frenzied was it?

JIM WHITE: Oh, they were very, very excited. They've waited 44 years for this, Melissa. The whole town had been painted sky blue. There were, as you would imagine, small boys hanging from lampposts, people sticking their heads out of office windows. It was like a kind of collective broad grin, really.

BLOCK: And a long time coming. Let's describe the very ending of that Manchester City game yesterday. They were down two goals to one at the end of regulation time. Right? They were playing Queens Park Rangers. And then Manchester City scores twice in two minutes to win the game and the Premier League championship. Shocking.

WHITE: That's right. And their poor fans' emotions had been put through the wringer because they were expected to win this game. They were blowing it. They were absolutely throwing away the best chance, at last, to get one over on the hated rivals across town who, incidentally, in the 44 years that they had failed to win the trophy, had won it 12 times. So, you can see there was a bit of expectation. And these poor people were thinking, oh, no, tomorrow we're going to have to go to work. We're going to have to face our friends at work who are United supporters and they're just going to take the Mickey out of us for failure.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

WHITE: And then suddenly, out of nowhere, looking as though they couldn't hit a barn door with a banjo, they actually managed to put two shots in the back of the net and the celebrations were completely frenzied.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

WHITE: Now, I was at the Manchester United game, which was taking place in Sunderland. And the reactions there were the complete opposite. Manchester United fans thought they'd won it.

BLOCK: And, Jim, we should say - full disclosure - you are a Manchester United fan. Right? I guess if you're a Mancineon(ph), you can't be neutral on this.

WHITE: You can't be neutral on this and it is roughly split half and half between the United and City. And we in the red half of the city have been in the ascendant for so long, I suppose we shouldn't begrudge them their moment in the sun, should we? He said through gritted teeth.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BLOCK: Well, put yourself in other's shoes, if you can. To be a Manchester City fan, I've heard it's even describe it as the laughingstock of English football. What does this mean for them?

WHITE: Oh, it is, absolutely, vindication of years of suffering. They'd shoot themselves in the foot. They'd make a mistake. They'd blow it at the last - they always did. However, four years ago, things changed completely when the club was taken over by the Mansour family of Abu Dhabi who have literally no bottoms to their pockets and they have pumped endless amounts of money into Manchester City to turn them by the best players in the world, by the best manager, by the best facilities and turn them into the champions of England. And this afternoon, I don't think there is a single member of the Manchester City wider family who begrudge that payment.

BLOCK: Well, Jim White is sports columnist with the Telegraph, speaking with us through gritted teeth from Manchester, England. Thank you so much.

WHITE: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.