One eye on books, the other on the ball; This Student Life

Students get a rough ride in this city at the best of times - so don't let on you're a Man United fan. ; Summer Term, week 5 at the Manchester Student House
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The Independent Culture
WHILE EXAMS and revision are at the top of the agenda, there is an equally pressing subject for the students' attention: football. Everyone has one eye on their textbooks and the other on the ball. But it's not success on the pitch that interests them so much as the players' failings outside the stadium walls. United's Roy Keane's behaviour has led to much debate.

Ian doesn't think that footballers behaving badly have any influence on lads his age. "I bet they're quite influential with 13-year-olds, though," he muses. "People my age look at it all more objectively. I think the press highlight what footballers get up to so that they sound like criminals." But he's dubious about Keane's apparent assault on a girl in a bar.

"I've seen what people do to footballers when they go out to bars," he says. "People go up to them and say the nastiest things because they are trying to get them going. If Keane did anything it was just out of rage."

Manchester United might be the more successful of the city's two football teams, but Leona is convinced that Manchester City gets most of the local support. "United's not really a true Manchester side, because everyone in Britain seems to support them. City's Maine Road stadium is just down the road from here, and it gets serious when they all leave at the end of a match."

"City supporters are rough," says Robbie, "they're the real yobs of football. United supporters are more family orientated, and I think part of that is due to the efforts of the club itself." Robbie also reckons that location has a lot to do with it. City's stadium is situated right in the middle of Moss Side.

"When you see them out on the street they just look like ruffians," he goes on. "They've got a reputation for fighting, and once or twice I've been on the bus and it's been heaving with City supporters in their sky- blue tracksuits. But it doesn't really bother me because they are just drunken yobs. If you don't bother them they don't bother you." This has not been Tash's experience, however, as Leona explains. "She was on a train full of them, and they wouldn't let anyone past them without making a nasty comment."

Interestingly, as Leona observes, City supporters don't stop off to cause trouble in the student-packed area of Fallowfield. This is odd given that "they hate us because any student that comes to Manchester is much more likely to be a United supporter. I suppose students are glory supporters, and Manchester City followers hate glory supporters."

But the football fans aren't the only ones to get the hump with students. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Fallowfield locals object to the appropriation of the area where they were born and bred by the student population. Leona continues, "There are lots of NUS pubs around here that will only let students in. We get some trouble in the bar where I work. And my manager gets death threats because he's kicked out and barred locals who cause trouble."

Leona thinks that sometimes the pubs' attitude towards "Mancs" gets out of hand. "I was talking to this local once who was really nice. He told me that he went to one of the pubs just for a quiet drink at the end of the night. He said he was completely sober but no one would let him in because he didn't have an NUS card.

"He had to lie and say he'd just come back from the Navy and was on leave. In the end, they let him in on the condition that he wouldn't cause any trouble. He said, `why would I have caused any trouble?' and I could see his point of view."