Manchester City supporter Adam Broadbent was born just before his club last lifted the First Division trophy – after a dramatic 4-3 win over Newcastle at St James' Park.
He is one of a generation of Blues who must have thought, at least when City were playing league games against his hometown side, Macclesfield Town, that they would never see City on the brink of lifting the Premier League trophy. But tomorrow's title-deciding game against Queen's Park Rangers is even more important for Broadbent than other City fans.
In March last year, just before Roberto Mancini's side took on Manchester United at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final, Broadbent was diagnosed with a stage four brain and lung cancer caused by a rare genetic mutation. He was given three months to live.
After having radiation treatment, his prognosis was extended to another six to nine months, but a year later, Broadbent is still watching his beloved side and will be at Eastlands on Sunday with his daughter Alex, dad Chris and best mate Simon and his daughter Jess.
Given its timing, just weeks after a fatal diagnosis, a trip to Wembley could have provided a reminder of football's place in the grand scheme of things. But for Broadbent the opposite was true. "After beating United and getting to the final... I was quite emotional," he explains. "Part of that was because of what was happening to me. But part of it was also that'd gone so long promising my daughter that one day we wouldn't be this rubbish. I'd always had blind faith. For that whole weekend nothing else mattered besides the football."
Broadbent then made it to the final to see a Yaya Touré goal beat Stoke 1-0 and City lift a trophy for the first time since the days of Summerbee, Bell and Lee.
As a six-year-old, Broadbent had first-hand experience of City's greatest generation. His father Chris, who ran a clothing company in the North-west, was friends with Mike Summerbee (who had his own tailored shirt business). One day Adam found himself quite literally standing on the shoulders of football giants when his dad – then a lank-haired Eric Clapton lookalike – took him down to Maine Road to meet his favourite players: "I've got pictures of myself in about 1974, sitting on the back of Colin Bell, Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee – them lying on the floor and me perched on the back of them," he says with a giggle.
Since those years, Broadbent has taken over the family firm, making garments for companies such as Henri Lloyd, Foot Asylum and Joe Bloggs. But, while business was good, he was also part of a generation of City fans whose only major top-division triumphs have been the occasional beating of their all-conquering crosstown rivals. Notably, the 5-1 victory at Maine Road under Mal Machin. Broadbent was at that game with his best friend Simon, whom he's known since he was 11 and has been going to City with since the late Eighties. "That was definitely one of my best days – United had a bit of the Kippax, so we spent about an hour before the game singing across to each other. By the time the game started, we were absolutely knackered! I still remember the feeling of the goal when Mark Hughes scored [to make it 3-1] 'Here we go... they're going to come back.'"
Similar days, like the 6-1 thumping of United in October, have provided Broadbent big pleasure over the last 12 months, but there's been serious work to do, too. He and his friends are raising money through the 505050 campaign for The Christie, the specialist cancer hospital in Withington where he's been treated.
Despite his frequent chemotherapy, Adam's been a near ever-present throughout City's incredible run at home this season (17 wins and one draw in the league), something that's helped by flexible hospital staff. "Before the last derby [the 1-0 win over United], I was due to have chemotherapy on the Thursday or Friday before and I cancelled it [so he would be able to go to the match]. Every time I go in for my chemo, they do say, 'Do we need to take into account any games before we schedule this for you?'" he laughs.
City obviously aren't the most important thing in Broadbent's life – that'd be his wife, Heather, and daughters, Alex and Megan – but a win against QPR could add a spot of magic to an incredibly difficult 15 months. But even if the worst happens, and City blow it, he can take solace from knowing that his illness has conflicted one of his many United-supporting mates: "During the last game, he texted me saying, 'You might not believe this, but I want you to win it.' I said, 'You realise that'll never be reciprocal? But thanks very much anyway.'"Reuse content