When I first came to Manchester in 1967 I spent a couple of hours every Saturday afternoon at a place called Maine Road, where some mainly local lads (many still live in the area) kicked a football around with great theatre and skills.
The alternative to visiting the old stadium was listening to the roar of the crowd from my nearby lodgings, so it was better to be part of the event than to be on the fringe of it.
Once I moved away from the immediate vicinity of Maine Road, and the game seemed to me to be less attractive to watch, I slowly lost interest.
A new stadium was built for the Commonwealth Games, held in Manchester in 2002, the magnificent City of Manchester Stadium. It was brilliant, and our visits to watch the athletics were memorable.
Since then the stadium has been adapted for other purposes and is currently known by the name of a foreign sponsor. Last week I received the kind offer of a pass into the stadium for a prestigious event. I was curious to visit and made my way to the evening match. The vantage point was excellent. I watched for an hour and a quarter as some (mainly) foreigners in blue passed a white ball to some other foreigners in red, who then passed it amongst themselves and occasionally kicked it past the blue people into a net, before graciously handing it back to the blues to repeat the performance. There was a large contingent of very red and very noisy supporters at one end of the stadium. The rest were silent and blue. (And masochists?)
I wasn’t the only person to leave early. I shan’t be going again.