City Fans Hijack Mad Hatter Saloon - New York City
Vital Manchester City is delighted to have teamed up with Jonesey from the Mad Hatter Saloon, New York, the only truly dedicated Man City supporters bar in the Eastern United States.
There has been a small following of City Fans in NY since the early 90's, but they have never really had their own bar to speak of. Most of the support was scattered around with the biggest collection meeting in Nevada Smiths for televised games.
Smiths has been THE venue for all things football on the east coast, for donkey's years. Unfortunately it was also the fully decked out NY home of Red Wagoneers. The owners and staff are all reds, and they regularly had about a couple of hundred in for their games that were shown every week. Derby days were interesting affairs with never more than about 20 Blues in attendance, discernible only by our Manchester accents and a knowledge of how to actually get to Old Trafford.
Fewer and fewer Blues were bothering to show toward the end of '08-'09 season, due to the fact that the place was crawling with the unwashed hordes of darkness, and we were often relegated to a single telly without sound in a basement room John Gotti would have cracked in. As a result, we were down to a handful of regulars, and one of those was an Indian Celtic fan who was just desperate for an early morning livener.
MCFC Supporters Club NYC
The Supporters Club that had been started only three years earlier was dying on its arse with numbers dwindling every time renewal came around. Most big clubs Liverpool, Everton, United, Celtic, Barca, and Marseille have there own bars.
Unfortunately we were so few, not many bar owners were willing to give us the time of day, as it often meant opening up at early hours to show the games. What little money could be generated from our slim pickings wouldn't have been any where near worth the aggro. A good mate of mine, Everton Dave told me a bar he knew that might be interested. I feared the worse, as Groucho Marx once said, 'I wouldn't want to belong to any Club that would have me as a member.' It must be a Khazi if he's willing to be home to five City fans and an alcoholic Glaswegian of dubious background, I remember thinking at that time.
It was love at first sight, not only did it have the required 10 - 56' plasmas, but it was spotlessly clean, excellent, fairly priced food, a pool table in the back, and dart boards (ok not log ends but that was hardly a deal breaker). A cool looking bar with a great selection of beers (great Guinness) including the new favourite of the house, Blue Moon ale. It boasted a kick arse juke box, a very tasty beer garden with two more plasmas, Avenue seating for a few beers and a craic after the game, while watching the 3rd avenue show drifting past. The Barmaids, (Kimmy&Diana) were both lovely, and all staff were really friendly. Most importantly, there was no other football affiliation of any kind.
The owners, Mike and Johnnie, two cracking Irish lads, who had sunk everything they had in this place, must have been impressed with our pitch as they were willing to give it a go if we were up to making it grow (seeing as they were both Liverpool fans they must have REALLY been impressed with my sales pitch which included interpretive dance and several costume changes).
MCFC First Game On TV
Our first game was a 7:30am Sunday morning game against Pompey, and outside was blizzard conditions. Hardly the debut to bring in the masses. Seven of us showed up!
Mike the owner (who graciously made us all a full English brekky by way of a welcome), was a complete gent about it, and agreed it would take a while, though in retrospect he must have thought WTF have I got myself into? Slowly but surely we got the word out, and we started getting a decent regular crowd. City got to hear of us and awarded us the Heart of the City award which was presented to us by Garry Cook.
The Infamous Garry Cook Video
I will be eternally grateful to Mr. Cook, (who by the way, contrary to the media bull shit, is a really nice bloke, and won even the most cynical of us over) for the now infamous presentation speech. Though I and all those present that night STILL can't see what the big deal was, it made what seemed like every sports channel and the back page of every paper in the world at that time. The reports all made mention of the fact that the Cookie Monster (he insisted) was making the speech in the Mad Hatter Saloon in NY City.
Since then we have been getting boatloads of true Blues from all over the world making the pilgrimage to the home of MCFC in New York for every game. Mike and Johnnie finally relented and let me re-paint the outside of the boozer. It was decided that as we were officially away from home, Red and Black stripes would be appropriate.
Our Membership of course includes many ex-pat Manchester lads but we also have a growing number of American folks from many different States that are hearing about our history for the first time and have really taken us to their hearts. Our Supporters Club was founded by Donny Schreier, a guy from Long Island, to who we will be eternally grateful for getting the ball rolling in the first place. We also boast Australians, Swiss, Canadians, Irish, Bermudans, Welsh, Dutch, South African, two Phillapinas, a Thai national, a Peruvian lad who married a girl from Manchester (poor sod, came all his way just to get shouted at) two lads from Leeds, and a Indian-Glaswegian who has since been dubbed 'Hawkeye the noo'.
Their backgrounds are equally as diverse with pilots, doctors, accountants, lawyers, roofers, bartenders, football coaches, a florist, an exotic dancer (though looking at him I don't know how he manages it to be honest) a US Marine from Denton, a ticket scalper, insurance salesman, an air hostess, two writers, many professional musicians, CEO's, waiters, a brilliant fashion designer, a publisher, stage hands, teamsters, several actors, brickies, chippies, the manager of the Black Eyed Peas, A UN representative and a portly yet still stunningly handsome painter and decorator from Blackley (yours truly).
On game day we are ALL just Blues and many great friendships have been forged between unlikely individuals as a result. Anybody who is considering visiting for the upcoming tour will be made more than welcome. Activities are planned for the week and we also have tickets on sale for those not buying through the club (ours are also a bit cheaper seeing as how our chief negotiator is a Portly yet stunningly handsome cheeky bleeder from Blackley).
Please visit our site at www.madhattersaloonnyc.com/mcfc for details.
While there take a look around at the gallery, Joneseys Corner and the forum. Like it says on the home page, Come in, the craics lovely.
VMC thanks Jonesey & The Mad Hatter Saloon, New York City.