Nice ground and all that, but I remember the stewarding being pretty heavy-handed to say the least. I was with the boy and in seats at the edge of the pitch, meaning he didn't see the last five or ten minutes due to a ring of hi viz-bedecked, err, crowd control operatives blocking his view entirely as they stood arms folded looking menacingly at supporters who had stumped up a princely sum for their ticket.
I remember the supporters being in jubilant mood, so much so that one lit a cigar about ten rows back. He may as well have taken the pin out of a hand grenade as three stewards leapt seats and ignorantly sent innocent fans flying to get to him.
So it wasn't too surprising to read this a couple of months back.
A City supporter has been left fuming after he was banned from the Etihad Stadium – for ‘smoking’ an electronic cigarette.
The Blues fan, who asked not to be named, was spotted by stewards with the device at their clash with Chelsea – which came in the first week he had not been smoking.
He was told that the e-cigarette, which can be legally smoked anywhere, was not permitted at the stadium and was then escorted from the ground by police.
And now the lifelong supporter has been written to by Peter Fletcher, City’s head of safety and security, who has told him that his season card has been suspended.
The disgruntled Blue said: “I was on the concourse at half-time having a drink with a few mates.
“I took a drag of it and was asked by security to come into a room – I just thought I was going to be asked to explain what it was.
“I was told they were banned and asked for my season card which I handed over. I was then escorted out of the ground by police.”Nice way to treat someone who has handed over hundreds of pounds a year in advance for the privilege, eh? It seems Manchester City FC are the latest in a very long line of petty authoritarians who are more than happy to enforce pointless rules under the guise of caring about health.
There still isn't a study worldwide showing any health problem from a whiff of real smoke in an outdoor environment, but now e-cigs are also banned just for the hell of it, and fans humiliated and marched off the premises when they use an alternative which doesn't produce the 'deadly' passive smoke the club has been conned to believe in.
Meanwhile, down the road in Burnley they employ a different approach.
The club has recently installed smoking pens outside the stadium exit gates on match days in order to comply with football legislationYes, unlike Manchester City, they actually cater for their paying smokers! Arranging their business to fit in with their customers' preferences? How very novel.
What's more, if you would like to try an e-cig instead, they're happy to see their club associated with it.
And even explain what they are for the uninitiated.
But then, why wouldn't they? It's a win/win all round.
[Anthony Fairclough, Director of Commercial Affairs at Turf Moor, said:] “We are conscious of the problems within the stands by fans illegally smoking cigarettes and contravening the stadium regulations. In tandem with Totally Wicked we feel we can approach this problem with a viable alternative and we look forward to working together on this and a number of future initiatives.”Well, quite. But then, if you're more interested in cracking heads and marching fans out of the ground with a police escort, you'd never spot it would you?
Now, I don't know about you, but if I were in the north west I'd much prefer being treated as a human being - instead of a vaguely sentient form of livestock - while watching my football. As such, my personal choice of venue would be Burnley FC and not Manchester City.
I'd also suggest that Burnley are far more interested in the happiness and health of their fans than the "we've got your money, now fuck off" attitude of Manchester City.
They might have loadsa middle eastern cash (I swear I read that somewhere) and a place in the Premiership, but Championship Burnley thrash the pants off Manchester City for looking after their fans I reckon.
H/T Ta to long-time jewel robber Steve W for sharing the flyers