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Helen Turner: Mrs Manchester City Remembered
It doesn’t matter what ground you go to in England you will find a number of die hard fans. Some live for the games and are mad about the side they support while others are just mad. Every now and again you get to see something out of the ordinary and special at a football ground and, for Manchester City fans at least, that came in the guise of Helen Turner.
If you went to a City home game you would no doubt hear a bell ring out through the game, and that was her.
Today, September 23rd 2014, will be nine years since that bell fell silent in the stands and how passionately and excitedly would that bell be ringing now if Mrs Manchester City was still alive. Two Premiership titles, domestic silverware and European football are all on show at Manchester’s new ground today, along with some of the Worlds best footballers and that is a world away from what it was like a decade or so ago.
It wasn’t always like this and the new ground City moved to was known as the City of Manchester stadium for the two seasons they would continue to see each other.
The Manager was the ex England U-21 coach and now Nottingham Forest manager, Stuart Pearce and mid table was considered a good finish. City had enjoyed a couple of wins at home to rivals Manchester United but essentially the club had only just removed the vale of its most darkest time. The 1980's and 1990's offered so much promise with the Youth Cup winning team of 1986 graduating to first team action and the return of former legend Francis Lee to own the club he once put his body on the line for. All gave City fans hope in their time, but all were false dawns and still the Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison years were the most recent examples of consistent good times. In 1976, the last time she would see her beloved City lift a major domestic trophy, she was invited onto the pitch and parade the trophy around with her boys. Of the day she said this “It was terrific being on the pitch - one of my proudest moments. Mike Doyle let me hold the cup for a bit and I remember all the City fans cheering me.”
That was a high, but the reality of being in the third tier of English football two decades later, for the start of the 1998/99 season, was a sobering low. Financially decimated the club was on the brink of disaster and, if not for a late comeback in the Playoff Final, may not be here today as we know it.
The day after Helens death City would play Newcastle away, and in typical City style,lose. Two years later, and in time for the start of the 2007/08 season, there was a buzz with City being taken over by Thaksin Shinawatra, the ex Thai Prime Minister with serious financial muscle behind him. Installed as the new manager was the ex England head coach Sven Goran Eriksson and with a flurry of players coming in a new dawn was promised. City would do the double over United that season, including a 2-1 win at Old Trafford on the 50th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster.
That was a one season wonder and before the end of the season the wheels came off with reports that Eriksson was gone and Thaksin would be facing trouble with the government in his home country. A decade after being relegated to their lowest point it was looking to get even darker and then the Abu Dhabi group came in. Now, six seasons after the takeover, things look good for City.
Two Premiership titles, domestic silverware and regular European football have City fans looking toward the top of the table, mouths drooling at the prospect of silverware again, rather than looking at the bottom of the table and figuring out who needed to ‘do City a favor’ in order to survive in the Premier League for another season. Like every fan, Helen saw her beloved clubs highest highs and lowest lows, but that bell just kept on ringing no matter what. And that is a special fan, sorely missed.