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Forever Blue With Ian Cheeseman

Manchester City returned, after the International break, with a functional win against struggling Burnley.

It wasn’t up to the extremely high standards I’ve become accustomed to but Pep Guardiola’s team won comfortably in the end, despite a couple of defensive scares. They’ll have to play better in Bruges when the Champions League action happens in midweek.

I’ve travelled home and away with the Blues all my adult live and I remember many years ago that I went to Plymouth twice in the same eight days that City also played at Ipswich. The first of the games at Plymouth was postponed as the supporters coach I was travelling on reached Taunton. We arrived back at Maine Road at midnight to be told, before the days of social media, that the game had been rearranged for the following night, so twelve hours later I was back at Maine Road, clambering back on board for the second attempt.

The fact that I spent many years travelling up and down the country as a journalist working for the BBC didn’t make the travelling any easier. I was almost always the driver to and from the games as well as doing a full days work broadcasting. I can count the times I stopped overnight on the fingers of one hand, but I didn’t care one bit. I wanted passionately to be at all those games and it wouldn’t have mattered if I hadn’t been working. I’d still have been there.

During the next three City games I will travel as a passenger in a car full of passionate Blues for the game in Bruges, setting off just after the rush hour on Monday morning and arriving back on Wednesday evening. We’re going over on the Dover to Dunkirk ferry and will stay in Belgium for two nights, making sure we leave the country within the 48 hours allowed under the current Covid rules.

I’m not dreading it, I’m excited about the prospect of a road trip with my mates, even though I’ll be shattered by the time I’m back in my own bed. On Saturday I’ll take the wheel for the return journey, in a day, to Brighton for the Premier League game. The following midweek I’ll be driving again, this time to East London for the League Cup tie at West Ham, probably getting home at about 4am. Win lose or draw I’ll love the days ahead. It’s what I do and what I love. These days I’ll be vlogging about my trips as well. I host my own Youtube channel called “Forever Blue” with the aim of chatting to as many fellow fans as I can and trying to show those who don’t have the time, money and inclination to go to the crazy lengths I do to follow my team.

The City players will travel in considerably more luxury than I will, of course. These multi-millionaires have to be protected from the rigours of travel so they can perform at their best when the match comes along and hopefully the team will get great results from all those games. If they do, it will make the journeys home much more enjoyable, but even when City were underperforming, in the lower divisions, I loved watching the games, meeting fellow fans and experiencing so many different places.

For the record I think the toughest of the three I’ve just mentioned, might be the trip to Bruges. I’m not quite sure what to expect from the Belgian team, who drew with PSG and beat Leipzig and top the group going into the City game. I have happy memories of City winning at Brighton when winning the title there and West Ham has been a happy hunting ground for the Blues since they moved into the old Olympic Stadium so I’m feeling confident, but you never know how things will turn out. One thing’s for sure though, it’s great being a Blue!        

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