On the 11th of May in 2003 the final game was played at Maine Road, home of Manchester City, in typical City fashion we lost, 1-0 against Southampton to be precise but for the first time ever that day wasn't about the match or the result, it was about saying goodbye to our stadium which he love so dearly, it was about saying goodbye to the club shop which stood outside Maine Road, it was about saying goodbye to the indescribable Maine Road smell, in a way it was a day where we said goodbye to our club or at least to our club as we knew it back then.
Maine Road was finally demolished in 2004 to make way for a housing plan which has created over 400 homes for families in Moss Side. A sad ending for the stadium once nicknamed “The Wembley of the North”.
In 2003, Manchester City left Maine Road for the City of Manchester Stadium which had been redeveloped after being used in the Commonwealth Games of 2002 and it has been the club's home ever since, even being renamed to “Etihad Stadium” in slightly suspicious circumstances. It is now our home and after a transition period of a couple of years it is finally starting to feel like our stadium, it holds no heartbreaking memories of relegation nor has it got a roofless stand which allows for some bitter cold viewing. In fact Eastlands (Sometimes “affectionately” changed to “Middle Eastlands” by certain Daily Mail journalists) holds some of our best memories: Champions League football, winning the Premier League, bringing the FA Cup back home and our 1-0 win over Arsenal in 2006 all come to mind, but despite the good memories, lack of relegations and the fact of it being a palace of football which allows us to watch some of the best players in the world and Samir Nasri in City shirts it will never be able to even match the all round match experience of watching City at Maine Road.
With the “Etihad” being a larger stadium there's a feeling that the fans aren't us “together” as we were at Maine Road, don't get me wrong the match day atmosphere at Eastlands is one of the best in the Premier League but it is still a long way off matching Maine Road's, because despite it being a far from perfect stadium and at times City being a far from perfect team we more than made up for it with our match atmospheres, a notable example of these atmospheres could be our chanting after being relegated to the third tier of English football, most fans would be distraught and be in silence, we were distraught but we chanted “Are you watching, are you watching Macclesfield?” and that chant summed up the spirit we had in the old days and that spirit went hand in hand with our stadium. Sadly I think that that spirit is a shadow of its former self nowadays as despite us going through our best period since the Mercer-Allison partnership of the late sixties we still find ourselves moaning about our club and in general, taking things too seriously.
Our stadium may be gone and our spirit of those days may be resting but the memories of those times will linger forever and that in itself is comforting.