“Ooh, City used to come out to this,” I said to my university flatmate as he was getting ready for a night out in Preston. Yes, nights out in Preston were (and presumably still are) such a thing, not that I partook in them that often. In fact, the one time I did, I ended up sharing some very weird photos with some people who scared the living daylights out of me and I lost my hearing for three days.
Anyway, after I’d said it, Chris looked back at me with a blank expression. See, Chris and me have very different music tastes. He likes Marilyn Manson, Slipknot and Machine Head. I like Belle and Sebastian, Travis and Ed Sheeran. There’s very little crossover in our Venn Diagram of artists liked. It was often a miracle when I’d heard one of the songs he was playing in the flat before, so this was one of those times.
“Why?” he asked. “Why did City used to come out to this song?”
And I couldn’t answer him. It’s not really a football anthem. It’s not really a song that you’d link to Manchester City. It’s not really a song that was huge in the UK, peaking as it did at number 11. Yet somebody somewhere decided that it was perfect for funnelling through the PA system at Maine Road when the teams were joining the pitch. It might even have been at Eastlands, I can’t remember properly – but given it came out in 1996 I’d have expected it to have been the former stadium.
The song was Nightmare by Brainbug.
Tell me you can’t see Richard Dunne, Steve Howey and Kevin Horlock knocking bright yellow balls around the pitch while two kids take a penalty kick against Carlo Nash in the goal as you listen to that.
Then something amazing happened.
I was doing something in the kitchen while all this was going on, as Chris was pottering about between rooms. His Xbox, which was connected to the TV in the main living room, was shuffling his entire library of songs and it managed to pick another one I knew.
“Oh, I know this one, too,” I told him, with a smirk.
Again: “Why, Mooney? Why do you know this one?”
“City used to come out to this, too.”
He was sure I was making it up. He couldn’t believe that somebody at Manchester City had, in all seriousness, said yes to both Nightmare by Brainbug AND Sandstorm by Darude being pumped out to get the fans going ahead of kick off.
For those of you struggling to place it:
Again, my memory might be sketchy, but I’ve got a funny feeling that the club used them both for a while. I’m fairly sure Sandstorm would be the song that signalled the teams were in the tunnel and it was the subtle hint for everybody to stand up and then Nightmare was to alert everybody to the fact that the captains were about to lead their players to the pitch.
I don’t really remember what happened to the entrance music after that. I know that, somewhere along the line, Fatboy Slim featured with Right Here, Right Now. I also know that it went away for a bit before returning a couple of seasons ago.
For some strange reason, during Mark Hughes’s only full season at the helm, the Blues experimented with the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and that it didn’t really work. Though that might have also been hindered by how dreadful the performances were for the mostpart that season.
It was the Manchester derby that got me thinking about music. Specifically, it got me thinking about entrances and that Blue Moon wasn’t really a decent anthem to get the blood pumping. When you think about, for instance, You’ll Never Walk Alone, it has the air of an anthem that, with a whole stadium singing it, can have an emotional effect. The format of the song Delilah does the same for Stoke City in many ways.
Equally, the way Blue Moon is belted out makes it sound like a funereal dirge. It doesn’t really inspire confidence. In that sense it’s perfect for the good old ‘anything that can go wrong will go wrong’ attitude that goes hand in hand with Manchester City.
Far be it from me to suggest the club pushes to change it, given how much of a brand it actually is – hell, even I’ve piggy backed on it with that there podcast I do – but the very fact that the only properly upbeat version I could find is by an a cappella doo-wop band tells the story. It’s a slow, sad song.
As City were knocking on United’s door, which was beginning to crumble in resistance, the chorus of a downbeat Blue Moon doesn’t really say ‘let’s do this!’ to those on the pitch. It’s not even a ‘come on City!’; it’s more of a ‘don’t you bloody dare screw this up City (though we half-expect you will)!’.
And yet, that is why I love the song. That is the exact reason why it’s perfect for this very club. No matter how much is invested in the team. No matter how many trophies the manager or players win. No matter how huge Manchester City becomes. No matter what outrageous number of goals the strikers score. No matter how many clean sheets the defenders keep. No matter what happens to build the Blues to be more successful than they’ve ever been before.
None of that will change that the fans remain utterly dyed in the wool convinced to the point of brainwashing that somewhere, somehow Manchester City will implode and end up back in the third tier playing Bristol City and Northampton Town and getting players sent off for aggressive walking.
There’s a line in one of my favourite songs that describes the club so well. I didn’t even notice, it was spotted by Typical City’s very own Ciaran Murray. Belle and Sebastian’s Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying says: “Think of it this way, you could either be successful or be us.”
And in many ways, we all love that. Secretly.
We’re all kinda proud to know that if anyone is going to bugger up this opportunity that’s been gifted to them, then it’s Manchester City. Even in winning everything and becoming the greatest team in the history of ever, only City could make hard work of things and could disappear into the wilderness for only the funniest of reasons.
Even the lyrics – “you saw me standing alone, without a dream in my heart” – suggest despair and despondency.
While Blue Moon is being belted from the stands as City’s song, there will forever be that connection to the club that got relegated as league champions. There’ll be that connection to the team that got knocked out of the FA Cup by a balloon. There’ll be that connection to the bunch of 11 daft lunatics that held the ball in the corner to preserve their status as a relegated side.
Brainbug and Darude (and even Fat Boy Slim) represent just passing fancies. Blue Moon is the lifeblood of this club.
And long may it continue.
Written by David Mooney