Forty-three years after their sole previous European Cup campaign, Manchester City were back – and our fan reporter Paul Seery certainly wasn't going to miss it
After years of watching the Champions League on TV, the time had finally arrived – my club Manchester City in the group stage. So often the butt of jokes, the team that managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, to many little old City. But under new ownership, signings started to arrive; Carlos Tévez, Yaya Touré, David Silva and Sergio Agüero to mention just a few, and a first foray into the Champions League soon followed.
Pitted against German, Spanish and Italian opposition in the form of Bayern München, Villarreal and Napoli, the opening game was a 1-1 draw at home to Napoli. The first away trip was to Munich, the home of German giants Bayern, and it was a game I just couldn't miss.
After spending some time looking for flights to Bavaria, I decided to fly out on the morning of the game via Zurich, which would get me into Munich on the afternoon of the match. Looking for a hotel proved much more difficult as it was Oktoberfest, so most were fully booked or way out of my budget.
The morning of 27 September 2011 finally arrived and, with a small bag packed with toiletries, toothbrush and a change of football shirt, off I went to the airport, passport in hand. Both flights went to plan and I arrived at Munich airport in the early afternoon. From there I made my way to Marienplatz via the U-Bahn and what a fabulous place this was, the town hall basking in the autumn sunshine.
It was time for some light refreshment, duly found at a handily placed table in the square that enabled me to watch the world go by with Bayern and City fans mingling and creating a great atmosphere.
After a couple of hours, the stadium beckoned; off to the U-Bahn again and from Fröttmaning Station, a 15-minute walk to the stadium. When I arrived I made my way up the stairs to the top level where the away fans were sitting. The ground looked as awesome as I'd imagined and, with kick-off approaching the atmosphere was starting to build as both sets of fans made plenty of noise.
The teams came out and the Champions League anthem played and then it was straight into the action. From what I remember, City had a couple of penalty appeals turned down before Mario Gomez opened the scoring late in the first half, then added a second on the stroke of half-time.
The second half produced no more goals but an incident which completely changed City’s season. Tévez, a substitute, refused to warm up when asked by manager Roberto Mancini – something that would rumble on for the next few months, although I didn't find out about it until the following day in the media.
The final whistle blew, City had lost, and it was time to go home. Was I disappointed? Yes. Had I enjoyed the experience? Dead right I had. Would I go on another European away trip? Considering as I’m packing for my trip to Copenhagen for the Round of 16 this time around, the story is nowhere close to over!