Being stuck on public transport surrounded by mocking opposition fans is the stuff of nightmares. For Kevin Henning this became an all-too-real event. And all because he was being a good father…

Every face on the tram was turned towards me and were in various stages of amusement. I needed to get off as soon as possible but my stop was well down the line and I had my young son with me so walking was not an option. To put my humiliation into some context, I need to explain how I’d ended up on a tram full of reds in the first place.
I’m a Manchester City supporter, have been since decision day at school in 1987 when all the lads in my year agreed that everyone had to pick their team for life. I was the only boy who went blue. I’d followed City all over the country and up and down the leagues. Since my eldest son had been born however, my match going wings had been clipped somewhat. Then, more confusion, at the grand old age of 4, he decides he wants to sleep with the enemy. The red branch of my family tree start buying him United merchandise and the whole situation is spiralling out of control. Next came the ultimate test, he asked me to take him to Old Trafford to see them play for a birthday treat.
I’d contacted my oldest friend (red) and asked him whether there were any fixtures on the horizon that he and his brother were considering missing. They both held season tickets in the top tier of the Stretford End. He informed me that as he was forced by United to be a member of the “automatic cup-scheme”, and United had just been drawn at home to Tottenham in the F.A.Cup 4th round, he’d consider selling me the tickets purely in the interests of my lad becoming a rag, sorry, red.

The plan for the day was simple; drive to Eccles from Hull (I live there now), pick the tickets up, tram to Old Trafford, endure the match, tram back to Eccles to catch City’s tie at Sheffield United in the pub with the lads.
Now the game itself was mildly entertaining despite United winning 3-1. I wore my favourite winter coat which has a row of 5 City pin badges across the chest pocket. Naturally, I refused to remove them or acknowledge any of United’s goals so it was pretty clear to all around us that I was a blue on enemy territory. A few reds around us had a bit of banter but there was nothing to worry about, they were too busy assuring my lad he’d made the correct decision. Anyway, the final whistle went and I was out of the place faster than a big lass heading towards a buffet table.

All my attention was now on getting back to the boozer in Eccles to watch the mighty blues. On the way out of O.T. my phone rang. It was my pal who’d sorted me the briefs for the match. He said “You won’t believe me but City are 1-0 up. They’ve only gone and scored the fastest goal in F.A.Cup history.” My lad could hardly keep up, I was almost sprinting to the tram station to catch as much of the action as possible. Whilst queuing to get on the tram, my phone signalled a text message. I opened it and it was the same mate telling me City were 2 up. I was cock-a-hoop, despite my horrendous day at the swamp, City were marching on and I felt the first symptoms of cup fever coming on.

I close my phone and raise my eyes to a crowded tram with all eyes trained on me in anticipation.

This is where is all gets a bit messy. I’m stood with the boy on a packed tram full of reds. One of the uneducated is gabbing on his phone and upon finishing his call, shouts to his mate further down the tram that City are 2-0 down. I couldn’t resist shooting him down in flames. “Erm, I think you’ll find that we’re 2 up.” I state, matter of factly. He tries to assure me that it’s the blades of Sheffield who have raced into a lead. Again I fail to see the warning lights. “No, you’re wrong. My mate is sat in the pub watching it live and told me that City are 2-0 up and have also scored the fastest cup goal in history.”
The red then starts to fire questions at me like a pre-flight checklist. – are you a blue? – why are you on the way back from Old Trafford? – where did you get the tickets from? – is it the same pal who’s telling you City are 2 up?
It starts to dawn on me. I take my phone from my pocket and start to scan the contacts list for ‘C’ for Cornsy, click the dial button and wait for the idiot to answer. He answers. I ask him to confirm that the score is 2-0 at Bramall Lane. He assures me this is the case. I double check that City are leading. His reply knocks me sideways. “Oh shit, did I say City were winning? Sorry mate, my mistake. No, you’re getting stuffed again.” I close my phone and raise my eyes to a crowded tram with all eyes trained on me in anticipation. “Well? Whose winning?” asks the swamp donkey.

I have to say that I’m not proud of the language that followed and hope none of my children ever hear me repeat the profanities that filled that carriage travelling down Eccles New Road. I also recalled the words my own father had said to me years before when he first took me to Moss Side – “Never trust a red, son.” Wise words indeed.

For any of you who like a happy ending, the lad saw the light at the age of 7 and is blue through and through now.