It was a huge surprise when I received an email invitation to a preview screening of Blue Moon Rising. It was an opportunity I was never going to pass up but I was a little apprehensive about a film based on the blues for two reasons.
The first reason being the fact that City have not won anything since 1976, a fact documented in the film and also noted in our annual visit to Old Trafford. When I first heard of the film being in production, I thought it would be documenting City’s assault on the top four following the millions invested into the club by ADUG. In truth, before I received the invitation, I expected some sort of season review with input from fans and players, with the main footage being from the games themselves.
My mind relaxed a little when I discovered it would follow a group of die-hard City fans, who travel home and away to see the blues, using a battered Renault Espace called Helios. But then I thought of another fear and this was about production.
The producer, Nick London surely couldn’t be a City fan and with this in mind, would he be able to capture the true passion of the supporters?
How wrong was I? Blue Moon Rising captures, in all its glory the very essence of the City supporter. Hope, not expectation is still clearly in existence amongst the many fans who are just waiting for that one moment, the one trophy success that will open the floodgates that will allow more success to follow.
Settling into the opening, we are reminded, as if we need it, that we have won nothing since the League Cup in 1976. There is a brief but frank statement from Garry Cook and Khaldoon al Muburak regarding the state of the club and you can’t help but wonder if the blues were close to administration prior to ADUG’s takeover, particularly when Cooke states ‘ we couldn’t pay the wages. There was no way out’. It certainly wouldn’t have surprised me if they were, considering the problems the club had while under the control of Thaksin Shinawatra.
As well as the City executives, the film contains interviews with Noel Gallagher as well as Emmanuel Adebayor giving his feelings at playing against former club Arsenal for the first time, dressing room footage of Craig Bellamy geeing up the team before a match and Carlos Tevez providing a little insight as to his feelings about United, Sir Alex Ferguson and there’s some good footage surrounding the Gary Neville incident. We also get to see the funny side of City boss Roberto Mancini as he attempts to learn English.
But the real stars are the true blue supporters and their passion that really make this movie. Among them is Steve Haley, the driver of Helios who makes sure the group get to every game and ensure that Helios is up to the job. There’s also some good footage of him and his daughter, who despises anything red, which leads to her throwing anything away of that colour. He’s brought her up well. There’s also Pete Watson, who sadly lost his City loving father last year and he remembers with fondness the moment when, as a youngster, he ran out onto the pitch as a mascot with Keith Curle, with his father watching proudly from the tunnel. Joining them on the amazing journey last season were Adam White, Danny Godfrey, Rob Smith, James Greer and Donny, who risk life and limb in Helios to see their beloved blues in action.
Their dedication to the blue cause, their passion for the club, delight at success and despair at failure is so superbly captured that any City fan watching the film will feel the heartache like they are sitting right next to them. Match day footage of the five follows them as key moments in the games unfold and we see their ecstasy as the blues recorded a brilliant victory over Chelsea, including the Shay Given penalty save, and of course, the anguish at United’s last minute clincher in the second leg of the League Cup final.
There are also interviews with other supporters, who explain through reconstructions where they were at certain key games in the club’s history, such as the 1976 Cup Final, the Gillingham Play-Off Final at Wembley in 1999 and the 1981 FA Cup Final, which includes a very logical reason that City may have lost the replay because of a pork pie. One unfortunate girl is branded a jinx by her brother who claims City lost on the day she was born and is relegated to the garden while he listened to the he Wembley penalty shoot-out against Gillingham.
Actual match footage is spread well throughout the film and I thought that was much better than including it in every other scene. After all, this was a film about the supporters, not 90 minutes of goals. Even though we know how the story ends with City just missing out on a place in the Champions League, you still sit there and want, almost beg for a different outcome.
The film is to the point and incredibly frank, with the supporters giving their views on the sacking of Mark Hughes as well as Khaldoon giving his side of the Hughes story.
In Summary, Blue Moon Rising was unlike any docu-film I had ever seen and is not only a must for City fans, but also for other supporters who are passionate about their team. The film is not City showing off their millions but a real, up-front look at the real people who make the club special; the supporters. It is also an opportunity for supporters partners to see exactly what we have to go through week in, week out. Maybe now they’ll understand.
Passion, Obsession, Football. Blue Moon Rising captures all three brilliantly.
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