After following Manchester City through plenty of lows over the years, The Rainband frontman Martin Finnigan admits witnessing them lift the Premier League trophy at the Etihad Stadium last season marked the ultimate high.
But while Finnigan is a devout football fan, the Mancunian has turned his attention to MotoGP in recent weeks with the release of the band's charity single 'Rise Again', made in tribute to late Italian motorcyclist Marco Simoncelli, who tragically died last October during a race in Malaysia.
After the record label that had released The Rainband's previous single made it clear they would not support the band's idea to give all profits to the Marco Simoncelli Foundation, the band decided to go it alone and release the song independently - to much success.
Fresh from playing the British MotoGP at Silverstone last month, Finnigan filled us in on the impact 'Rise Again' is having, while also sharing his earliest City memories.
I'm from Manchester, born and bred, so that's why I support City. There wasn't really a choice between City and United because my family are big City fans. I was taken to the games in the mid to late 1980s. We've been City fans through more downs than ups and it made the ups so much sweeter when we won the FA Cup and the Premier League. It made it worthwhile. My first ever away game was York City and within 70 seconds we were 1-0 down. I remember all the City fans were bouncing behind the goal singing 'We're not really here'. Then when we beat Manchester United in the semi-final of the FA Cup I remember singing that same song at the full time whistle. It's a funny journey, being a City fan. There's always been humour amongst City supporters and I think that's something that will always stick in my mind.
What was the atmosphere like at the Etihad when you won the title? I was there when we won the Premier League and I was there when Paul Dickov scored in the third division play-off. It's kind of exactly the same in a daft sort of way. A lot of people had left the ground around where we were. Typical Man City - they always do everything the difficult way but having said that, on reflection, I would never have had us winning any other way. United had one hand on the league. I've watched the footage from the Stadium of Light with Phil Jones looking at Sir Alex Ferguson, and the guys are on their phones and they can't believe the news. There was a lot of people pinching themselves and saying, 'is this really happening?'. I think even though we're in the middle of the summer, people are still saying 'I need to watch that again'.
Another sport close to your heart is Moto GP? Our charity single links back to Manchester City. Marco Simoncelli died on the day that Man City beat United 6-1. I came back from Old Trafford thinking people would be doing the conga in the street because City had hammered United but my nephews, who are 5, 6 and 12 and massive Moto GP fans and massive City fans, were all in tears. So we wrote the song and were approached by the Silverstone event group at our hometown show, who said they'd love to book us to play Silverstone at the Moto GP in June. It just started that we were going to play it at Silverstone as a tribute but my brother-in-law came to me two weeks later with a newspaper article saying Marco's father, Paolo, was setting up a foundation. We got in contact, I went out to Italy and met them, played the song and they loved it. It's not really 'Candle in the Wind', it's more about Marco's spirit. It's upbeat and it's looking forward, and Paolo was saying, we don't want to look back. I agreed there and then to say we'll release it and we'd give them all the profits.
Manchester City 0 Liverpool 5, April 1982
It was against Liverpool and City got beat 5-0. I would've been about seven. I used to go with my dad, who was a massive City fan and so was my granddad and his dad, all the way back. I think when we moved to the Etihad at first people were saying it was going to be difficult because Maine Road was steeped in history. When I first went to matches it was still standing. But the Etihad feels lived-in now, it genuinely feels like there's soul in the place. Up until the FA Cup we hadn't won anything in my lifetime, and we'd been living in United's shadow. But I think when you start to get a culture of success, like what Roberto Mancini has brought, there's a belief we can sustain it and kick on now. So the Etihad, for me, has got a great atmosphere, but where I am in the ground is right next to the away fans, so whoever you're playing and whatever the score is, there's always banter.
He was the first City player I looked at and felt he was almost a world-beater. We had a lot of workman-like players who, because they played for your football team, you'd always be a fan of. But I think Kinkladze was the first player all the other teams looked at and said 'I wish we had him in our team'. There wasn't many players like that at City when we were yo-yoing between divisions. Nowadays it's absolutely David Silva. He's on a different planet in terms of how he plays football and he makes City tick. Then for box office value you have to say Mario Balotelli. He's something of a commodity and there's only one of him. I'm dead proud that he's a City player, genuinely, and I thought his performance at Euro 2012 was brilliant. People forget, as well, that when he came on the pitch against QPR we were 2-1 down. There's a story that Micah Richards was sick on the sidelines because of the nerves and, as the story goes, Mario put his arm around Micah's shoulder and said: 'Don't worry, I'll go and sort this out.' So it was good he was the guy who played the ball through to Sergio Aguero for the winner.
As a comedy villain, a bit like Wolf out of Gladiators, I'd probably have to say it was Gary Neville. He was more pantomime than anything else. I always found it funny the thing the scousers had with Neville. He does it from the comfort of the dugout. Roy Keane was another villain, especially after the Alf-Inge Haaland incident. I think Keane was a great player - in Sunday league I'd play centre midfield and a box-to-box player who wasn't afraid of a tackle. But that incident obviously ended Haaland's career. I didn't need too much incentive to shout obscenities at him. We were at the game when that incident happened and it looked bad at the time. These things happen, I guess, in football and you never know what's been said between players, but Keane was definitely a villain for me.
Man City's relegation, 1983
It was the first time I kind of understood what was going on. I remember my dad being upset, but then within a minute he was saying, 'we'll be bouncing back' and 'at least we'll win a few games next season'. If you look at whenever City have been relegated, which is a fair few times, it's never an easy thing to go through. But, as my old man used to say when I'd come home from school and there was a handful of us City fans in the playground getting loads of grief - it's character building. We took a lot of grief but we always did so with smiles on our faces. That's why I think City, as a club, is kind of well-liked because most of the fans have been 100 per cent loyal, even when we went down divisions.
It was a brilliant name for a Sunday team. We were averagely good and we won bits of silverware here and there, but it was more of a mates thing. I didn't play to any great standard. I don't particularly play now, I don't really have any time between everything going on with the band and everything going on with City. If I ever get any spare time it's really spent watching the Blues. It's difficult to find time to get on the pitch and play. But I do miss it a bit because Sunday League football comes with its own rules and its own banter, and it's more about what you do off the park than what you do on the pitch.
Man City home kit, 1985-87
I've definitely outgrown that one now. Fortunately the band gets a bit of help from Umbro so I've had a bit of gear sent through, like the old retro City tops. I wore one when we played at Manchester City ahead of the Norwich game. We were supporting Ocean Colour Scene that same night in Lincoln and they'd put on their Facebook page 'What a day for the frontman of our support act tonight - getting to play at his childhood football club Manchester City and then he gets to support us at Lincoln'. So then when I turned up on stage there were loads United fans at the front booing. We played the gig and it was all good banter, then just as the band were finishing off I reappeared on stage holding up this red and black City shirt the club had given us. They attempted to shower me but United fans can't even throw beer properly!
The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses
I actually went to their reunion gig and it was phenomenal to be backstage and in the hub of it. It was jaw-dropping really, they were amazing live. I'm not sure there's a better frontman that's come out of Manchester than Ian Brown. So it was my first album and it was nice to kind of recreate it.