x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

FA Cup victors Manchester City are the toast of UAE

Manchester football fans cheer the team's victory in Dubai.

DUBAI // "Thirty-five years - we're still here!"

Jubilant fans of the Manchester City football club cheered last night after the team's 1-0 win over Stoke City for the Football Association (FA) Cup final, and its first trophy in decades.

Other celebrants also sporting their team's powder-blue shirt threw their arms around each other and sang to their victory.

It was Manchester City's fifth-ever win in the FA Cup. Their competitors had never made it to the final.

Rod Carnochan, a 49-year-old retiree from Manchester, was ecstatic as he headed out to celebrate.

"We waited 35 years for a trophy, and tonight in Dubai we've got it," Philip McPartland, a 63-year-old project manager from Manchester. He had planned to watch the game from a box at Wembley Stadium, but after a fatal accident at his worksite, his passport had been confiscated.

Instead, he and over 400 others packed into the Crown and Lion English bar at the Byblos Hotel in Tecom to watch the game on eight big screens.

Manchester City supporters spilled across the entire bar from their usual corner, overcrowding their rival fans, said the manager, Craig Leader.

However, some Stoke fans did not seem bothered by being outnumbered - or by their loss.

"There are only five of us here... Back in the UK Stoke are the loudest team," said Lee Robinson, a 36-year-old accountant from Stoke, wearing his team's red jersey.

"We might have lost, but we are still happy," he said. "A lot of teams didn't make it. A lot of teams didn't think we would make it."

Mr Robinson said his only regret was that he had held Stoke City season tickets for a decade before moving to Dubai last year - only to miss watching them play in their first-ever FA Cup finals.

Andy Jackson, another Stoke supporter, said he did not feel too disappointed, either. A Manchester United loyalist and 31-year-old teacher from England, he had rooted for Stoke even though he expected them to lose, because Manchester City was a rival of his favourite team.

"I don't mind," he said.

About a dozen members of Dubai's Manchester City Supporters Club had flown to the UK to watch the match at Wembley Stadium.

"It was just brilliant," the club leader Mark Lynch said by phone, as he was hurrying off to the rest of a wedding he had skipped to attend the game.

chuang@thenational.ae