2013-14 : Once other atmosphere groups around City had disbanded there were a handful of people who wanted to take this on. The name 1894 Group was picked as it reflected the historical date when Manchester City FC were formed and at a time when the club was changing beyond all recognition, it was important that match going fans were still able to reflect the club's traditions and the name was a starting point. There was a "trial" flag day in the FA Cup against Barnsley - this took place in "kippax corner" with 80 or so flags in a 5-0 win. It was viewed as a success and that it should be carried on into the next season after a re-vamp.
1894 made it's official debut on August 19th 2013 for the home game with Newcastle United , a 4-0 win. Things got off to a great start off the pitch however on the pitch it wasn't a great start. A huge surfer "Joe Mercer came we played the game" went out at a funny angle and also 200 flags we had ordered from Poland came back in the wrong shade of Blue - more an Everton Blue than a City blue. We learned then from experience that the colours that certain printers produce for us might not always be what we ordered. This game saw a minute's silence for Bert Trautmann and we produced a small banner for him on the night-which was either stolen or lost ! One thing that came from that night was the fact that Bert Trautmann deservedly received his minute's silence however the season previous, Mike Doyle, captain and legend and winner of 8 trophies with the club didn't get one- supposedly because the club "don't do this sort of thing anymore". This was a "wrong" we were able to "right" later in the season...
We decided to then try and sell flags covertly on the concourse before games. £2 for small flags, £3 for big flags. The idea was to get our money back on the outlay, a flag gets used by someone who really wants to use them and then we are able to re-invest the money in further flags or banners. We were over in the kippax corner for this one for the game v. Hull but only sold 20 flags.
Soon after we had the 4-1 derby with United "David Moyes is a football genius rang out around the ground. The atmosphere for a derby you'd always expect to be good but this day was amazing.
Some of the early kick offs produced sensational atmospheres too - Everton and Spurs at home. Spurs we did inflatables that day only as a nod to the past, People liked it that day but later on we found out that they didn't want to see them regularly on the terraces. Further superb atmospheres against Arsenal and Liverpool and the fans were in a great mood going to games on the back of free flowing football under Manuel Pellegrini.
February saw a large scale ticker tape display in the kippax again for the televised game v. Chelsea in the FA Cup and although we produced a large shirt with "Rosler 28" on for the Wigan FA cup tie, the former Blue had the last laugh knocking us out of the Cup at The Etihad.
By now funding was being boosted by a songs app people could download onto their phones. The idea was to get some of the traditional old songs back into circulation. This allowed us to produce a second large surfer with all the previous club badges on.
The club were by now taking an interest in what we were doing and a line of communication had been set up. We used this to push for a minute's applause for Mike Doyle in the League Cup final v Sunderland. This allowed us to push for this through the media and we also got Wembley to show a picture of Doyley on the screen at Wembley. That gave us the belief that we could put across fans' views and get something back for them too. Supporters also, having become frustrated with trying to get answers out of the club on issues , were now turning to us to ask on their behalf.
We had previously put together a singing block for fans for the league cup semi final v West Ham which we won 6-0 and there was interest now from fans situated in other parts of the ground to try and join us. The main issue was that as south lower was mainly season ticket, there were very few "spare" seats available. Those that were we tried to secure and offer to fans who wanted to sing and shout.
This season was one where we went round some of the official supporters club branches, so people could see who we were and that the whole project was transparent.
In Europe we had a card display v Bayern in the North Stand but there were some quiet nights v. CSKA Moscow, Viktoria Plzen and even the Barcelona game failed to ignite. There was noticeable difference between domestic home games and European home games as the European games seemed to attract a different type of supporter.
After the defeat at Liverpool, the media were as usual, handing the league title to Anfield. We made a plea in the media to the fans to lift the plyers again. We offered to do a display to celebrate the 120th anniversary of Manchester City for the West Brom game but we were knocked back as we were told the club as going to do "something big" for the 125 Anniversary (this didn't really happen 5 years later either). We also said to the club that Liverpool were being carried to the title on a wave of emotion and that the club should ditch some of the corporate build up and concentrate on playing fans' anthems before games and kept the atmosphere build naturally. In a remarkable turn around , similar to 2012, City fought back in the title race and with our flags becoming even more visible at home games, the Aston Villa game was one where the whole ground stayed with the team, showed patience even when it as 0-0 after an hour. City went on to win 4-0 an the roof nearly came off the place.
We went into the the last game of the season v West Ham with everything in our own hands. Twenty five 1894 members assembled in the rain at 8am on that sunday morning to put out the display across the Kippax - the message was "TOGETHER" again the club tried to change it, saying could we add a hashtag on to tie with their on campaign, we said no too corporate, they relented and it went ahead. Some of the group went on SKY Sports live just after 8am to speak to the media. The game was won, the atmosphere was great, the usual pitch invasion ensued and we looked back on a season where we had learned so much - we'd pulled off a whole season of fan funded displays and we now had a growing influence.
2014-15 : The first home game was Liverpool who were despatched with ease, 3-1, another incredible atmosphere and with "You nearly won the league" ringing round the ground we put on a big show in the Kippax again which was a card display out with a massive surfer in between - "we are the champions.. champions of England", the same display was repeated in the north stand for the November derby against United. The idea was that the message was right in their fans' eye line.
This season was different in the league. After a promising start we were falling behind in the title race and most of the "big" games came at home in the early part of the season. This meant fans weren't getting themselves up for games against other "lesser" premier league clubs, who would often bring good noisy support because they were coming to the "champions" and they wanted to claim a scalp at our place. As a result we started to be outsung at times in our own stadium for league games. On the back of big investments and trophy success the club were ramping up prices by now and this ultimately meant some long standing fans were drifting away, being replaced by newer fans.
The FA Cup ties v Sheff Wed and Middlesbrough where the south stand (still 2 tiers then) was given over to away fans totally highlighted the need for the City fans to have one "end". The issue had always been the police and other bodies not wanting to move the position of the away fan. The club were asking for views from fans on the possibility of where away fans should go if the ground was to be extended, we asked the club to attend a meeting. They then offered the use of their own facilities and around 100 supporters attended the event. We later got the go ahead to move into blocks 115 and part of 114 as these were blocks that were now going to become empty as the away fans vacated them. Away fans would now be spread over three tiers not two. It would mean no City fan would forced to move on our account - but that if people did wish to relocate into the section then that would be a totally voluntary measure on their part.
The champions league brought its' own issues. City fans were banned from attending the fixture away in Moscow as a result of the misbehaviour of Moscow fans. The ruling came very late in the day after supporters had booked time off work, arranged flights, bought tickets, hotel accommodation etc and now there were being told if they tried to turn up at the stadium they would we turned away. Not only did UEFA hang City fans out to dry but the club itself, it was felt by many, could have done a lot more.
A similar situation happened with Bayern fans and the Bayern fans got in touch and said do we want to do a joint protest with them against Uefa. We pressed all parties to look again at the decision or refund City fans at the very least. We also asked Uefa to send someone to meet both sets of fans before the game. All these reasonable requests were met by silence. As a result the "Respect Fans" protest took place against Uefa not just at our ground but at many other grounds that night across Europe. Everyone had beef with Uefa, fans were being sidelined. We encouraged the crowd at City to whistle or boo the anthem and turn their backs on Uefa for the duration of the anthem. We only made that plea the once, yet City fans then carried that on for years afterwards.
The group was similar to the one we'd had the year before and that coupled with the fall-out from the Moscow incident, the different type of supporter coming to European nights (mainly on account of a) ticket prices and b) not able to get alcohol inside the ground) meant that tickets were not selling for this competition. We felt the club made a huge mistake for the Moscow home game where they gave out 20,000 free tickets for a champions league game ! We are all for affordable football but people will always see past big and disingenuine gestures. Not only did this devalue the competition which took years for the club to receive from but it also proved the club COULD make ticket process favourable if they wanted to. As a result only 8,000 of the 20,000 fans actually came and we were left with rows of empty seats. Not just that but Moscow fans still travelled and got into the ground, jumping up and cheering when we scored which angered the City fans so much that this could possibly happen.
We had gone into kippax corner for the Bayern game because we had he same banners and it would have been easy to share banners over the divide if we weren't able to get ours in. City came from behind that night and the anti-Uefa feeling didn't hamper the team, it actually spurred the fans and the team on. A superb Sergio Aguero hattrick meant a win in Rome would take us through. We had a lot of banners out in Rome, it was very much an away display in Europe.
On the back of our mails to Uefa and to various other group across Europe we started to attend "Fans Europe" which was made of official supporters groups, independent supporter groups and ultras groups. We have made some good connections and friendships off the back of that. We also joined the FSF (now the FSA) and again work with supporter groups in this country on a regional and national level on a range of issues.
The February 2015 game v. Hull saw our "Legalise Safestanding" banner appear for the first time. We then sent the banner across the UK and to New York City FC too, in total around 20 stadiums saw our banner used.
The league cup tie versus Sheffield Wednesday brought a 7-0 win and also a message for Paul Lake. "25 years, thanks Lakey" on the anniversary of the famous 5-1 win of 1989. Yes the whole team played well but Lakey was man of the match by a mile.
2015-16 : This was the first season of the south stand being open, We had spent months discussing this with the club. We were given the chance to get as many people into the vacated blocks, 114 and 115 as possible. Following messaging on social media and via the Evening News- and from leafleting at games - 693 fans said they would join. We then needed them to pass on their full details to the club by a certain deadline. 515 did so. When the season started up though there were far fewer than 515 across those areas, which had an overall capacity of 1,150. We weren't told about tier 3 pricing which came in significantly cheaper than tier 1. We always felt the atmosphere tends to come from the areas where the seats are cheapest in price. Having a different pricing policy for tier 3 meant that up to half of the people who met the deadline then relocated to tier 3 ! Who can blame people for taking the chance to move to tier 3 - a great view and cheaper prices. We were told that the only place the club would turn a "blind eye" to standing through the game would be in tier 1. Tier 3 being too steep a gradient. Not only that the club wanted flags and banners in one place following their decision to introduce digital advertising boards - which meant fewer places where supporters could hold up their flags and banner.
One other thing to note was that only 9 fans moved from Block 111 to 115. So the vast majority of people from south east corner stayed where they were in the original singing section. The singers were split following the move to the Etihad- Maine Road North Stand was now across tiers 1 and 2 of the South Stand whilst the kippax lower went to the East Stand with many from Block AA Maine Road picking up the corner next to away fans. The club and police didn't want to move the away fans so as a result we have had more of the noisy fans congregating either side of the three tiers of away fans. When everyone can hear each other the atmosphere carries but the fact remains fans still t this day can't always hear each other. 111 cant hear 115 and 114 cant hear 314.
As a result if you sit elsewhere in the ground you might hear 2 or more songs starting at the same time and even now you might not know which song to join in with. So the songs don't always spread around the ground. The desire to have "one end" remains. The other end, the North Stand, then became an expanded family stand. One of the issues here was also around kick off times and if people are bringing kids to matches then often there may be empty seats as the kick off times can have an impact on who attends. As a result we started to see more empty seats dotted around the stadium.
Things started promisingly with the new block and everyone was "up for it". The Chelsea 3-0 saw Pellegrini wipe the floor with Mourinho and the ground loved it. Home games with Watford, Newcastle and Bournemouth saw an avalanche of goals and you could hear the extra noise once all parts of the ground where able to hear the same song at the same time.
This season we dipped in the league and it's noticeable that as the team didn't have the title to fight for , so to the second half of the season in the league saw a straightening out of atmosphere. Funding wasn't as strong for us this season so we had a smaller number of big displays.
The league cup semi final against Everton brought a great atmosphere. Everton had of south tier 3 which meant the City singers from that area came back down to the lower tiers. This brought an intense atmosphere amongst he City fans. The Everton fans were very loud themselves so whilst it sounded great on TV the truth was the City fans in south stand couldn't hear the Everton fans singing and vice versa - although if you were in another part of the ground you would have heard a constant noise from both sets of fans.
Europe brought a more exciting group. The club were looking at idea , play Blue Moon full version whilst handing out a free scarf to everyone for Juventus at home. The idea was to have a club anthem playing in full, build the atmopshere naturally and try and change the culture around European nights. Blue Moon - which we were having a battle getting played by the club anyway (they seemed to want to drop this song) was played for about 20 seconds, just as it was starting to build and the scarves went up - it cut away to something else and the moment was lost. One thing we learned was that the time building up to kick off and the half time entertainment, there were various things that had to happen at various points- an advert for Nissan and so some aspects of the club's planning were non-negotiable.
2016-17 was Pep's first season in charge but after an initial bright start it turned out to be a season of transition. We unveiled our massive surfer for him in his first home game v. Sunderland "this is your City".
Europe came into focus a lot this season as we were drawn against Pep's old team Barcelona. A 3-1 win brought an amazing atmosphere and the first time we had put out 300 free flags in bins at the back of south lower for fans to use whenever they wished.
Monaco was another amazing atmosphere and even Steaua at home had its' moments as the whole stadium said goodbye to Joe Hart.
We have occasionally used a drum at games but they have been very few and far between. For everyone who says they hate it there will be someone else who says they'd like to see it. It's how it's used. The Borussia Moenchengladbach game was one such night. They were bringing 2,200 fans and 2 drums. We felt because our fans would be overpowered by the drums it would be the kind of night to try one out in our end after all it would still be quieter than the Borussia drums. The game was called off last minute and replayed the following night. What this meant was only 700 Borussia fans were able to see the 2nd game and their ultras had taken the 2 drums with them. Yet our drum was still in the ground and we'd told the club's security that we were going to use it, so we went ahead with it on the 2nd night so as not to mess the club about. It did produce an increase in noise but people were singing over it rather than singing with it. So it did produce a reaction. Although the jury very much remains out on the drum until we had a songbook which would suit the use of a drum - and the cultures and attitudes towards it changes.
Elsewhere we continued to campaign on various fronts. Years of campaigning alongside others in the "twenty's plenty" campaign for cheaper away tickets resulted in a £30 cap being brought in.
2017-18 was the centurions season. 100 league points and great atmospheres along the way in some many games. The goal fest against Stoke brought an avalanche of noise. The crowd believed in the team and stuck with them. The last minute injury time win v Southampton being a case in point. The support base had a Fight To the End mentality. Somehow the two homes games in April v Liverpool and United were lost even though the noise levels were tremendous. Although fans were generally delighted with the progress on the park, continued price rises were now starting to irritate the supporters. We made it clear that the club should freeze prices given the amazing money coming from TV deals.
2018-19 was the treble winning season. No English club had ever previously won a domestic treble.
It was a showdown between City and Liverpool and it was a sweet victory for City fans given the goodwill and support City fans had shown Liverpool fans over the years (foodbanks, hillsborough, ticket prices, don't buy the sun etc) was forgotten by a small minority of Liverpool fans as they attacked the City team bus. This together with the media writing us off yet again meant the swing back to us was an incredible victory. The home win just after Christmas against Liverpool saw the whole ground respond.
The Spurs champions league game saw an incredible atmosphere also and the place was bouncing for the demolition of Schalke where we had our first moving display, when we walked the City ship from the badge through the support.
At other times though, despite the amazing football, atmospheres could be hit and miss and mainly because we still don't have one "end" where everyone can hear each other.
2019-20 : A season where City played really well at times yet somehow found ourselves a long way behind Liverpool in the league. There have been protests against VAR and Uefa and City fans raised thousands of pounds for a display against Real Madrid in the 2nd leg of their champions league tie. With the club seemingly on course for another treble - this time the champion league potentially replacing the premiership trophy, the COVID-19 pandemic stopped the season in its' tracks.