Monday, March 10, 2014

Is 'City Women' the most spectacular own goal since Jamie Pollock's?

This one has to be filed in the 'What were they thinking?' folder.

In order to mark International Women's Day on Saturday, the club launched a new section on the official site, City Woman.

Bizarrely, the new section contained no mention of the football team it was named after. Instead, it was filled with 1950s-style recipes and fitness tips, plus a chance to win tickets for every woman's favourite band, One Direction.

Rather like the women's clothing at the online club shop (example left) the club's marketing people seem to have a "one size fits all" approach to women fans.

City Woman immediately got a pasting on Twitter. Lifelong City supporter Ann Marie Carty condemned it as "sexist & condescending", while Arsenal fan Kelly Wood called it "disgusting" and "patronizing". She continued: "Listen up @Arsenal…don’t you dare even think about it, you hear".

But most puzzling was the choice of debut columnist, Angela Epstein, who penned the not-entirely-popular article on women and tattoos.

Aside from being a right-wing polemicist (in 2009 she boasted about becoming the UK's first ID Card holder), Epstein also writes click-bait articles for the Daily Mail, with headlines such as OK, I admit it - we Northern women simply don't have a clue how to dress and Why it's every wife's duty to make other men fancy her.

As City fan Jill R pointed out on her blog, Epstein is a divisive figure who regularly voices her hostility to feminists, whom she once characterised as "grumpy women in bad clothes who spend their days in a state of agitation about whether it’s right to let girls play with dolls".

Which doesn't exactly fit with the whole #together thing. As a female poster on Bluemoon pointed out:
"I feel like this is not only degrading toward all female footy supporters but also toward the club. If they want to talk about fitness and different workout things target it to all supporters, being physically active is important for all people. Eating healthy is important for all people. Health and fitness could probably be put together with CITC as a new outreach to ALL people." 
On the same thread, a female City fan of 45 years standing wrote:
"I don't need a separate section - and they certainly seem to have picked the wrong person to 'edit' it. I'm a proud feminist because I think feminism is about letting everyone, male and female, be who they want to be and not be defined by some ancient constraints."
Indeed, the reason female fans visit is precisely the same as their male counterparts. In fact, as this picture from the Wigan match suggests, City fans of both sexes have more than just one thing in common.

Clunge, as I discovered today, is a slang word for a vagina

As well as an interest in football and sex, male and female City fans also share a strong dislike of crappy lifestyle articles.

The club should have got that message in 2012, when the ManC magazine folded after 17 years. Its corpse was picked over in this Bluemoon thread, which describes how a "great wee publication" mutated into a "truly awful" lifestyle-and-City magazine, filled with "video game reviews, recipes and adverts for crazy high priced clothes".

But I don't want this article to turn into too much of a moan (though to get a final one in, running a story about the City women's team headlined 'Blues suffer double injury blow' three days before the League Cup final was not exactly clever).

In fact, in this new era of multi-million pound signing, trophies and even, of late, "Wembley fatigue", I find it strangely reassuring that at least one part of the club remains forever in 1990s 'Cups for cock-ups' mode.

Oh, and here is that Pollock moment from 1998. Lest we forget.

~ As part of my scientific research for this piece, I asked my fiancee what she would have in a City women's section. "Pictures of Aguero and Silva wearing nothing but tool-belts," was her reply. I've emailed her suggestion to the club, arguing that it's less degrading then making Vincent Kompany flog dodgy foreign exchange trading packages (more on that here, below the article of City and Chelseas's spending).

When football was a Man's Game

One of the themes of my new book is the way early football was promoted by Victorian social reformers as a way of making young men more "manly". In fact, the notion that football was the exclusive preserve of men became so ingrained that when the first women's football match took place in Manchester, in 1881, it sparked riots.

The 218-page paperback, A Man's Game, took me three years to research and two more to write. It reveals significant new evidence about City's formative years, and rejects the claim that the club was founded in order to tackle "scuttling" and social deprivation.

The book also reveals why City's forerunner, Gorton Association, wore a Maltese Cross on their shirts - and names every person on the iconic 1884-85 team photo.

You can read some of the reviews lower down the page.

Buy direct through the publisher for £9.75 + £2.75 P&P via the BuyNow button 
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MCFC Official Programme

"An essential purchase for any fan interested in the early days of association football in Manchester.

Old Newspaper clippings and Ordnance Survey maps from the 19th century provide a glimpse into the past, with Keenan's considered commentary and analysis adding fascinating insights into the formation of the club, and even the naming of Maine Road".

New light on an Old Subject 
Emeritus Professor Steve Rigby (Manchester University School of History)

Andrew Keenan manages to unearth a mass of new material about the origins of the club and offers a number of important and original interpretations of City's genesis, in particular challenging familiar views about the part played by St Mark's church, West
Gorton, in the club's formation.

Keenan locates the development of football in Victorian Manchester in the wider context of the city's political and social history but his background in journalism means that the book never becomes dry or overly academic even though it is based on original research into the primary sources.
(Steve's two-page review is in the current issue of King of the Kippax, available here.)

Brilliantly Researched & Well Worth A Read
Lee Hayes (co-owner,

This book is not just for fans of Manchester City, anybody with an interest in the history of the beautiful game will find it to be a brilliant and interesting read.

The amount of research that has gone into the book is staggering, and is backed up with evidence such as newspaper cuttings and old maps. As well as introducing new evidence on some aspects of City's history italso challenges important information such as how and when the club actually came into existence.

If you think you know all about the history of MCFC, read this book and I guarantee you will learn something new.

Great Read
Jon Camden (assistant headteacher and history teacher)

I love social history and I love football and if, like me, you do you'll love this book. A Man's Game is an extremely well researched, interesting read. Keenan successfully weaves the story of the origins of Manchester City with the wider social history of Lancashire and Manchester to produce a fresh, fast paced, and fascinating account
of the beginnings of Association Football in the North West. Sex, religion, politics and football: a winning combination.

 I read this relatively short book cover to cover in a few hours and found it hard to put down. And no, you don't have to be a die-hard City fan to appreciate it, I'm a South London Palace fan, this book has a broad appeal to anyone interested in the history of football.

An Original, Well-Researched and Engaging Read
Michael Marriott (history graduate, Exeter University)

'A Man's Game' ... skilfully weaves the club's history in to Manchester's rich socio-religious past. The author is not afraid to slaughter sacred cows; the book reveals shocking truths about Arthur Connell, one of the Eithad's historical heroes.

What is most notable, however, is the way in which the author substantiates his arguments with an impressive array of original contemporary sources; newspapers, correspondence and photographs are all used to better illustrate his points. It is through this fastidious research that Andrew Keenan succeeds in providing a more nuanced and sophisticated history of Manchester City Football Club.                               


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