Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Thursday, 9 December 2010


Just to let you know that the signed City shirt which Steve Croft from the Baguley & Brooklands Branch donated back for auction raised a fantastic £320.00 at the Reddish Branch meeting on Tuesday night.

So that's a staggering £1,238.00 in total that's been raised just from the shirt!!

Many thanks for all your support.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010


The whole of the Sierra Leone video series shot by Niel Cole (endermol) Man City TV was shown on Sierra Leone TV Nationally today and Armani was interviewed on the same show so a 45 minute exposure on National TV - MAGIC STUFF

Friday, 3 December 2010


A video of the draw being made for the signed City shirt and Sierra Leone shirt with Armani and Garry Cook at half time during the Salzburg game on Wednesday 1st December can be viewed on the Reddish Blues Facebook page:!/group.php?gid=108082725877326


The winner of the signed City shirt and SL shirt, Steve Croft from the Baguley & Brooklands Branch, has very generously donated the signed shirt back to us for auction.

This auction will now take place next Tuesday 7th December at the Reddish Branch meeting, 7.00pm, Reddish Working Mens Club, Greg Street, Stockport.

For more details visit

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Many thanks to everyone who bought raffle tickets for the signed City shirt and Sierra Leone shirt.
The draw was made at half time during the Salzburg game by Garry Cook and Armani.
A magnificent £918.00 was raised in total but there can only be one winner and that lucky winner is......"STEVE C" from the Baguley & Brooklands Branch with Blue Ticket 196 (serial No. AC739973)

We'll be contacting the B&B Branch to let Steve know.

Once again many thanks to everyone for their magnificent support.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Armani needs to stay in the UK me thinks - oh what fun it is to sing when City win away

Thursday, 18 November 2010

video No 8

video no 8 is on the main site now - bus update

Sunday, 14 November 2010


There's a new section going on the website shortly....Armani's Diary....which will be a weekly update on Armani's visit including photos.

When Armani returns to SL he'll continue his weekly diary (with photos) which will include reports on the bus, how both teams are progressing and player profiles.

Saturday, 13 November 2010


Now you have the chance of winning two great shirts....the additional shirt comes all the way from Freetown and is the Sierra Leone National Team shirt donated by Armani!!!
Many thanks to the Poynton and Reddish Branch Members who have so far raised £340.00.....
The draw will be made on Wednesday 1st December by Armani at the Saltzburg game.

Friday, 12 November 2010

if you want to buy tix for the shirt

and use the donate button great just put a message with your donation that its fot the raffle for the shirt I will do the rest GOOD LUCK


Tonight (Thur 11th Nov) Armani was at the Poynton Branch Meeting with myself, Tony Griffiths and Paul Lake.

We all had a great time and everyone there made us more than welcome....many thanks to John and Steve for organising the evening

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


We've a signed City shirt with 24 autographs including Roberto Mancini, and this could be yours for just £1.

We will be selling raffle tickets for just £1 (you can buy as many as you want) at the Branch Meetings we're going to with Armani and in the Townley before the rags game and Birmingham game.

Armani will do the draw before he leaves to go home.

All proceeds raised will go direct to Sierra Leone.

If you can't make one of the above please let me know and we can make arrangements so that you're included in the draw.


Armani's been at Carrington today, had a full guided tour, watched the players train, then met all the players including Roberto Mancini and presented them all with one his handcrafted plaques.....what a day!!!

Monday, 8 November 2010


This link will take you to a short video of Armani in the home team changing room during his stadium tour


Armani's had a very busy day starting this morning with a radio interview for the Bluemoon Radio show on Imagine FM which will be broadcast this coming Sunday 14th November between 9.00pm and 10.00pm.

This was followed by a stadium tour, then a meeting with Garry Cook which lasted over an hour!!

We then went for an evening meal with Paul Lake


Armani and Tony Griffiths at WBA....

Sunday, 7 November 2010


Just to let you know that Armani’s been to WBA today and had a great day out.

He’s got a busy week ahead which is as follows:

MONDAY: In the morning he’s doing a radio interview at Imagine FM for next Sundays Bluemoon show then it’s off for lunch with Paul Lake followed by a stadium tour and then a meeting with Garry Cook

TUESDAY: He’s off to Carrington to meet up with the players and manager

WEDNESDAY: It’s the Derby and he’ll be in the Townley before the match. He’s also expecting a phone call from a sports radio programme in Freetown between 8.00pm and 9.00pm so he give them his thoughts at his first ever Derby

THURSDAY: A quiet day but then he’s off to the Poynton Branch meeting

FRIDAY: A day to rest and reflect and then at the night he’s off to the Reddish Blues Race Night

SATURDAY: It’s Brum at home followed by and evening meal with friends.


On Friday (5th Nov) Armani met with Dave Barclay from Barclay Signs Ltd who did the sign writing (free of charge) on the bus.....I'll be posting more photos of Armani's visit as and when we get them.

Friday, 5 November 2010


Next week Armani will be at Poynton's Branch meeting (Thursday 11th Nov) and then at the Reddish Blues Race Night on Friday 12th.

The following week on Monday 15th he's at the Hazel Grove Branch meeting and then on Thursday 18th he's at the Milton Keynes Branch meeting.

If you want to more details then please let me know.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Have been rather busy

Getting to Spain etc - but am here now and playing catch up

Things are moving at a pace - I know its been done as Howard etc has been keeping people informed

But I still want to do it myself - thanks to all both here and on the websites esp Bluemoon for the kind comments and thanks to all who have donated - a BIG thankyou to Ric for his time and effort on the new site - looks really good thanks mate

Armani has arrived at Tony's and I spoke with him last night hes fine but very tired I think - if not he will be by the time he goes back - I re-watched all the vids last night and was getting a bit emtional again - they are just great

Will get myself up to date first now then fill you all in with any news

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


Armani's flight arrived at Heathrow this morning (Wed 3rd Nov) an hour early and was met by Tony....they're both now on the way back to Reddish.

Monday, 1 November 2010


Armani arrives in the UK this Wednesday 3rd November and to coincide with his visit a brand new Sierra Leone website been set up by Ric (Bluemoon) Turner.

Help MCFC Sierra Leone become financially independent.

Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world, with an average life expectancy of 38.

With your help we can make a difference.

See how you can help at:

Thursday, 28 October 2010


Below are the links to the seven 5 minute video clips that were recently on Citys main website.

If you've not had chance to see them please take time out to do so.



City in Sierra Leone I: Intro

City in Sierra Leone II: The Bus

City in Sierra Leone III: Training

City in Sierra Leone IV: Delays

City in Sierra Leone V: Match

City in Sierra Leone VI: Armani's House

City in Sierra Leone VII: The Port


Just in case you didn't know Armani is visiting the UK and is due to arrive on Wednesday 3rd November and will be staying with Tony in Reddish for one month.

Whilst he's here he'll be going to all of City's games (home & away) so if you see him please say hello.

He's also going to a few Supporters Clubs Branch meetings so if you want any details please let me know.



Friday, 15 October 2010

last one no 7
great great stuff from Neil all the way through - thankyou for all your hard work my man

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Another e mail but brilliant

Your efforts, along with that of your entire team is quite amazing.. Being a sierra leonean by ethnicity, I always feel that the country is just a dot on the map and not many people know about it; therefore to find someone so close to home and a man city fan, taking an interest in the country is heart-warming to say the least.


I love these it shows us we are doing the right thing

Video No 5

best yet

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Another great e mail

Ive been watching this series and it is absolutely incredible what you guys have done and you should all be very proud of yourselves.
To be able to make a difference in this world is a great achievement and linking it with the greatest football club on the planet is a mega plus.
Your all top guys



no 4 up and running guys - great suff

Monday, 11 October 2010



a very touching message from a fellow blue and a Salonian

Hi Phil
Ive finally managed to watch the links of SL, its both impressive and very touching the efforts that you guys have made to bring so much joy to kids over there. I would absolutly love to meet Armani, yourself and all others that have been involved in this mission. I would have to get back to you with a definate date because of work commitments, but I will let you know asap. Well done to all of you's and thank you!!!


its up and running guys

its awesome

Sunday, 10 October 2010

and another e mail from holland


Another e mail from Sweeden

The news is travelling fast

I was very touched when i saw the first movie from Sierra Leone. I said to Andreas that you´re in one of the poorest countries in the world to make a difference.
All the best to you and all the people that are involved in this work.
take care!

an e mail from Germany

after I have seen the second part of the video, I have to say it again
You all did a fantastic job!

You all had to solve a lot of problems, but without any hesitation,
you followed one target and you achieved it!!! Great!
You all were and still are great goodwill ambassadors for our beloved club
and for altruism! Think no one here in Europe can understand what you
did for them and no one who hadn’t be there, will ever understand what
your good deed suppose for the lads there!
They have to survive and they have football! AND they now have friends
everywhere around the world! ManCity supporters… what could be better!!!???

And it all started with a bloody United badge! Damned

Hope this will not be the end…

Please, forward this mail to all involved lads!
On behalf of a small branch in Germany,
Cheers, Markus

Extracts from an e mail

I was under the influence but it came from the heart so here we go - talking about the release of the first instalment of the video

I have to be honest - I have watched it about 20 times so far - I used to watch other peoples efforts at various appeals and think why can I not do something like that - na I am not capeable would be the response in my mind - I felt my life was a waste as I could not help others and make a difference and used to well up at these heartfelt stories - I always wanted to do that one thing that made that difference but never had the balls nor opportunity - then SL comes along and I jump on the bandwagon - BUT until today watching that video I did not realise that I had actually made a difference - and it feels good and I am more emotional now than ever I was in the build up or whilst we were there - I know Neil probably thinks me a pratt - do not interview me - film me etc - but that is not me I work in the background - the team was brilliant as Howard said its takes all sorts of skills to make a team and we had them all without a doubt - mine was not in front of the camera - but I can assure all that Howard Tony Paul Garry were made for it as Neil was to be behind it - Also the scene with Alex washing the bus god I wish that was me I want to be that humble - I love the whole thing and wish I was back there right now - I hate the fact I will miss Armani next month - but as I always said this is not about me - This is about a giant of a man called Armani and his mentor Tony - I want to put on record my eternal thanks to them both for letting this dickhead get involved and letting me feel like I have eventually made a very small difference in this world - - The trip itself was awsome - I feel sure that both Paul and Neil did not know what to expect from ordinary fans at the outset - I feel they now know us and like to think that they could do worse - I feel we all bonded and made a lasting and permanent friendship - this may be a crass e mail - it may not be ? Neil is now saying why the fook could this guy not open up whilst we were there ? - There are many many reasons why we are the people we are - I am just glad the people I was with on this adventure were the people they are - end of - I have made friends and at last I have made a difference if only by accident or association - I love every one of you to bits - I am truly humbled by all of your efforts - and I feel sure as a team we made an massive impact

a post from Bluemoon by me thought it relevant

can I thank everyone of you not just Blue Tooth for the kind comments recieved its means such a lot that fellow blues support us in this and they have - they have gone the extra mile - and we will take this further I promise you - watch this space - we have our eye on another - and we cant say what but in near future there will be fund raisers like you have never seen - and the best bit is the CLUB YOUR CLUB are helping us do it - this is truly and easily the best thing I have ever been involved in - there really is A BLUE MOON RISING to coin a phrase and the club are really reaching out to the fans in an unprecendented way long may it continue - you lot make me proud never mind the other way round we asked for your help and money and you gave it willingly - thanks guys

Armani rang Tony today

From the national stadium where S Leone are playing S Africa - and the South African team were singing Man City Man City in the background he has some footage given to him on DVD by the S African camerman can't wait for that


To Adam for his donation - thanks my man



part two

great stuff

Thanks so much

To Del and Annetta another generous donation Thanks again

Joseph and Vicki

thanks so much for the donations - its a big big help

Saturday, 9 October 2010


A big big thanks to Philip David Mark and Lee who have all donated generousley thanks guys


Now the South African team have hired the bus next week to play in Sierra Leone aswell as the Egyptian team a week or two later


A great big thanks to Chris in Reading for his generous donation




The video is out today but there is a sneak preview on the City facebook page here
and the official site has this

can't wait for the whole thing to be shown

Friday, 8 October 2010


The video of the trip to hand over the coach and kit etc - will be shown on Citys website from this coming Saturday 9th October.

There are seven 5 minute video clips which will be shown over seven days and there will also be exclusive material on City’s official Facebook page throughout the week promoting the videos.

Armani will be coming over here on 3rd November to 3rd December and staying with Tony Griffiths in Reddish. I know he wants to meet as many people as possible while he's here to say thank you and would like to visit as many Branches as possible.

If you've a Branch meeting scheduled while Armani's here please let me know and we'll arrange a visit reddishblues@btinternet.con or 07731 846 194

Below is how the series will be run over the seven days and I hope you all enjoy it.

Sat 9 Oct
City in Sierra Leone I
Introducing the story of the project. How it all started with Tony and Armani, the idea of getting a bus and the Club getting on board.

Sun 10 Oct
City in Sierra Leone 2
From Belgium to Freetown – via Ardwick: Shipping the bus to Africa.

Mon 11 Oct
City in Sierra Leone 3
The guys arrive in Freetown and visit a Man City Sierra Leone training session.

Tues 12 Oct
City in Sierra Leone 4
Things take a turn for the worst. The guys try to find out what’s going on at the shipping office and the port - and ask for help when appearing on a Freetown radio show.

Wed 13 Oct
City in Sierra Leone 5
Man City Sierra Leone take on their local rivals – a team in red.

Thurs 14 Oct
City in Sierra Leone 6
A visit to Armani’s house - and watching Premier League Freetown-style for City v Sunderland

Fri 15 Oct
City in Sierra Leone 7
A last trip to the port to see if the boat and the bus has finally arrived....


The bus is drawing attention everywhere it goes and more and more are joining the Supporters Club everyday - the Bus has its first paying job - and also has been booked by the Egyptian Football Association for the African Confederation Cup - not bad eh

Monday, 20 September 2010

we have some photos

of the guys in new track suits and a couple on the first coach trip to the match - will try to get some better ones soon

Thursday, 16 September 2010

My Take on the trip by Lakey

The business of taking a bus overseas would seem quite a straightforward process, seeing as vehicles of all shapes and sizes are shipped every day all over the world. So when Garry Cook gave the green light to partner with the CSA (now Manchester City Supporters Club) to facilitate the acquisition and movement of a bus over to Sierra Leone, I thought that a couple of days would sort it. How wrong and naive can one person can be...?
You see, in my capacity as Ambassador for City in The Community, aside of handing out Ferrero Rocher to all and sundry, I had been passed the African baton and told to make this happen. And, while this was undoubtedly a privilege, I hadn’t taken into account the murky, rocky, pothole-ridden road that lay ahead.
My duties were basically as follows. Sourcing the bus (with Tony Griffith’s help) all the way from Antwerp; making ten phone calls and as many e-mails to iron out problems such as the fluctuating Euro; checking the bus could cope with the terrain of Freetown; confirming the chassis number; flying Howard Burr out to Belgium to confirm the bus was in order; insuring the bus from portside in Antwerp to Manchester; confirming import costs; finding a holding company with containers to fit; getting the bus’ signage sorted out; packing the bus up, and finally organising shipping from Manchester to Felixstowe and then on to West Africa. All this and we hadn’t even packed a pair of socks yet!
In spite of this, the sight of the bus with its eye-catching signage (courtesy of Dave at Barclay Signs in Reddish), as well as the boxes full of kit, spectacles, boots, trainers, books and even computers (all donated by fans) it soon became apparent that the trip would have a profound impact upon the lives of people in Freetown and Manchester alike. This primary motive was something that, in the chaos of the build up, had temporarily been forgotten.
Our good mate Neil Cole from Endemol felt that this venture was to be a special one. He recounted to me the sense of excitement he felt whilst filming the bus being loaded into the container at Uniexpress on Hyde Road, prior to making its long journey from Ardwick to Freetown.
As I’m sure you will have seen from my travelling partners’ accounts, the road trips in and around Sierra Leone epitomised the project as a whole; stuttering, slow, occasionally frustrating and, at times, seemingly impassable. However, we soon acclimatised to the way of life in Freetown, and became educated by our guides as to how to work to Salonean time (makes Jamaican time seem urgent). The time came to work out our team formation and plan of attack as our first meal in Freetown beckoned. The waiter, who by a twist of fate was called Toure, became our breakfast entertainment in a Manuel style. No order was ever the same as requested and, when it did come, was usually cold. However, when it came to giving out shirts, our waiter suddenly found an extra gear. That said, we wouldn’t have had Toure any other way; he was priceless.
Our fortunes, sadly, took a turn for the worst when we perused our itinerary for the week. Not only was the ship behind schedule, it had not properly docked in Conakry (the penultimate stop before Freetown). We’d done everything by the book from our end, having heeded the advice of African exporters on the necessity of arriving on time to take control of your cargo, as well as getting all of the paperwork in place . The date of arrival of the boat today at 2pm; check. The duty on the cargo in place through the advice from the Embassy; check. The insurance in negotiations; check. The registration money ready on departure of the vehicle from the docks; check. The hand-over of the bus and the delivery of the kit; check. And, last but not least, the very talented Neil with his camera at the ready; check. But, due to bad weather there was no boat, no container and most importantly, no bus. Our best laid plans were now up in the air.
Our first chance to meet our hosts - Armani and our very competent driver Ibrahim (or Brian to us) took place on the Friday morning. Two very happy young men appeared by the breakfast table, their eyes dancing with excitement, as the day that had been planned for years by Tony and Armani was almost at hand. We sat and chatted for a short time before jumping into the car to Freetown. First stop was the training ground of Manchester City Sierra Leone FC. It was the possible’s versus the probables on a ‘pitch’ that could only be described as like the surface of the moon. In spite of this, twenty-two lean, fit footballers played a game of attractive football. Following the final whistle, they sat with legs crossed as I complimented them on the impressive way they had conducted themselves, offering one or two pointers to improve their game. After a resounding chorus of City Till I Die, we braced ourselves for the trip back to our hotel through the vibrant streets of the capital.
Meanwhile, back on planet Conakry, It first came to our attention that the ship had been delayed at its penultimate stop due to bad weather, but as the week yawned into the weekend, it became apparent via our internet tracker that our ship’s passage had been severely hampered by the dredging of the port itself. This costing us, in total, four days.
Luckily for us, we had a team of guys who, with a lifetime of supporting Manchester City behind them, had the steely determination and a ‘glass half-full’ attitude necessary for us to push on. All of us had taken a turn to appear on Radio Freetown which covered the whole of West Africa, and the support for us and Manchester City was growing by the day. We talked about the association between supporters and the high regard in which the club holds our loyal and unswerving fan base, and this seemed to strike a chord with the Saloneans. We spoke of the bus, and its role for the team and the community. The locals could see that this was a marvellous gesture; wherever we travelled, people would shout, ‘We love Man City, we love Man City’.
We met with so many influential people who believed in what we were doing. From the country’s Sports Minister and his secretary, to Arne Johansen (the Swedish and Norwegian consul and his wife) whose home had once been owned by Simon Mann, infamous for his failed coup d’├ętat in 2004. The people who made the most profound impression on us, however, were Armani and his family. They were all there to greet us on the Sunday before we went to a makeshift cinema to see the boys in Blue play Sunderland. Such genuine warmth and gratitude was humbling, and seeing a family with such little material possessions have so much pride and positivity gave us all a reality check. From here the Freetown Odeon beckoned, but this cinema was devoid of popcorn and trailers. Instead, we arrived to a hut on stilts with three 22- inch TV screens showing the Premiership in all of its glory, with City v Sunderland on screens 1 and 3 and Liverpool v West Brom sandwiched in between.
The passion of the Africans spilled over every five minutes, with various bets having been laid on scores and scorers. The atmosphere was electric as our fellow cinemagoers chatted about the possible champions-to-be, the failed England world cup exploits, and the African players on show. This was the highlight of their week, just like ours, and the buzz as Adebayor came on to the pitch for the last thirty minutes was fascinating to behold.
And so on to our final day. A very early start (not easy after a night of Manchester-style gale force winds and rain) was followed by a lot of tying of loose ends. The climax to our venture was the trip down to the port where our ship, the Claes Maesk, had docked and was ready (in Salonean time), to be offloaded. The captain and the port authorities duly confirmed that the container carrying our precious cargo was ready and waiting, but that there would still be a three-day wait until Armani and the team (and the wider City community) could truly appreciate its contents. A mixture of emotions spilled out amongst the Manchester contingent; whilst we were relieved that the bus had arrived safe and sound, we were frustrated that, through no fault of our own, the timing hadn’t been quite right. With the job all but completed, we headed off back to the hotel to pick up our bags and to embark on the long journey, via boat and BMI, back to Blighty.
I really hadn’t known what to expect from my trip to Sierra Leone. Yet, in spite of the abject poverty, I found a heartland of very resilient people harbouring a burning passion for football. The Saloneans are enriched by the beautiful game, and my life is richer for spending such a rewarding time with them.
Paul Lake
pic just after training - the pep talk

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

I Know he won't mind

Just got an e mail from Tony

Just had a conversation with a very excited Armani. He has just finished distributing all the kit etc. Said it was a difficult task but has now been done so successfully. He said that the whole of Freetown has gone Man City mad and everywhere the bus goes people gather round.

When we spoke he was driving to various venues to drum up business for the bus. Armani passed the phone to Ibrahim and he sounded very happy.

The team arrived at a match the other day in it the players got off in their tracksuits, but he has told them that they have to make their own way back after the game so as not to dirty the bus. Wonder how that would sit with our players???

The mirror is fitted and more photos on the way.

PS the team have played 2 won 2 since we left.

Armani and Ibrahim send their best wishes to all.


Tuesday, 14 September 2010

sorry its been a couple of days

But I am knackered - what with the trip - trying to get ALL my pupils through and getting ready for the Spain move with boot sales - trailers - organising etc etc - I just do not have enough hours in a day - but here we go - my take on the whole thing

I do not believe in chance encounters - ergo - Tony and Armani were meant to meet

From selling watches and sunglasses on a beach do giant Oak trees grow or more apt Cotton trees

Blues amaze me - they are the salt of the Earth I am one always was always will be - but they still amaze me in fact I amaze me - I do not understand me or blues but just feel the connection

The trip - Lakey what a gent a better ambassador you could not have - Neil another gent and a great photographer wait till you see the CityTv stuff and the BBC - Tony yet another he started it and was like DAD out there a gem - Howard yet another his organisational skills did not go amiss - and of course Alex who can't help but make friends wherever he goes - then we have Armani and all the players and supporters what a crowd they make lovable people and so humbling .They say a team is only as good as its component parts - we had all the right parts

Manchester airport and meeting all together for the first time - that journey delayed for hours stopping in Malaga - the helicopter- not sleeping - the odd nightcap - Armani - Ibrahim who would become the bus driver - red tape - African time TIA - the schools - the glasses - helping Aberdeen - the radio broadcasts with the lads - the sights - the sounds - the smells -Annie the mad Prof - Rick Shearn - Ray Anderson all great people who helped our cause - the welcome in Armani's community and by his family - watching the game in the "cinema" - our MINDERS - the poverty - the politeness - the frustration at times - the Johanson's great people - watching both teams play and train - Lakeys pep talk - kids running up a hill - a certain toilet - lollies - the joy on peoples faces - City till I die everywhere - the staff at the hotel and the Sierra Lighthouse and Country Lodge - the "police" on the beach road - a child's story - feeling welcome - being ripped off - the gratitude - the love - the place - the guys - everything about this trip was right and felt so

I was humbled, grateful and thankful - I will go back someday - the generous Blues who made this all possible - the Club please lets not forget the gigantic role they played in all of this without YOUR club this would not have been possible - this was my 15 mins I just hope when you get yours its as good as mine was - I hate interviews and being filmed so you won't see too much of me when that comes out but this is not about me or any of the others on the trip this is about MCFC Sierra Leone and a man called Armani a rock a giant in his community a very very determined guy - in short I loved the place the people the country

Thanks to all who in any way no matter how small made this miracle happen - it was a honour to play a small part in a big thing

Thank you blues "you made my day "
Pic the "boys" Neil was off getting his pulitzer I think - I can't find 1 photo with all six of us

Thursday, 9 September 2010


Well I have been waiting to write my feelings about this adventure until the bus and its contents were safely out of the docks and in the hands of the right people, that has just happened.

When I first met Armani in December 2003 I sensed that he was different to most people I had met there, but just how special he was I did not realise. Since our first meeting he has never ceased to amaze me with his drive and determination in the cause of City. I am glad I met him and was able to start the City ball rolling because one day I suspect someone would have realised his potential and, who knows there may have been a bus riding round Freetown with Accrington Stanley or Hamilton Academicals or similar written on it……….well it’s possible, ………….in theory.

Little did I think then that 6 ½ years down the line we would be in a position we are in now. The fact that MCFC has supported our efforts has made a massive difference and the fact that Paul Lake came on the trip with us has raised the profile of our efforts tremendously, and what an ambassador he was out there.

I have to admit feeling a little nervous at the start of our trip. I had been there 13 times before and was assuring the others that, whilst the trip would be hard work and somewhat chaotic, they would be safe out there and that they would be made most welcome. With the exception of the fact that the ship was 5 days late we could not have expected anything more on our visit. I never had any doubts or concerns about the ability of the guys on the trip to do anything other than to work hard to promote the good name of Man City, and that’s exactly what they did. I can tell you now that we left the country with a great impression of Man City and it’s supporters.

I do not propose to talk about my impressions of the country as things were not new to me and have been very well covered by others. What I would say is that the visit made me so proud to support my club, in fact I have always been proud to support the blues, but this project has taken my pride to new levels. Our football club is on the verge of greatness and I am so happy that, with the right people holding the rudder, it is taking its supporters with it on the adventures ahead.

Thanks to everyone on the trip but more importantly thanks to everyone who has made it possible from the smallest donation upwards after all we were only representing you out there. We need to keep the donations coming because there is still all lot of money to be paid for the bus.

I know you can do it blues.

Tony Griffiths
PIC - exhausted waiting at the speedboat dock on the way home


To give an overview of my week in Sierra Leone would take me forever as we did and saw so much. However I do have many instant memories so here goes:

The madness that was Lungi airport on our arrival, helicopter ride, stupid bureaucracy, families and young children breaking stones to earn a living, awful tin huts and shacks that so many lived in, seeing vultures circling in the city centre, getting my head around 6,200 Leons to £1-00, hearing that 9 children and 5 adults died when their house collapsed in the heavy rain shortly before we arrived, young children are sometimes swept away and drown in the huge gullies at the side of the roads that are there to take the heavy rain water away, seeing so many amputees as a result of the cruel war, the joy and friendliness of the people we met, so many blind people usually led by young children, good football played on impossible pitches that I wouldn't take a dog for a walk on, the joy and excitement on the children's faces when Uncle Phil dished out hundreds of lollies, seeing so many beggars, learning that so many rely on rice for breakfast, dinner and tea but on special occasions adding a little bit of fish and meat, seeing Armani's cramped living conditions, the fantastic and beautiful countryside, visiting Waterloo Market, the torrential rain, visiting a High School in Freetown where there was just 1 outside tap for the 300 students and medieval cooking facilities, visiting a Primary School up country where the plight of a 5 year old girl I held in my arms was explained to me, delivering thousands of donated spectacles that were so gratefully received especially at the optical department of a major hospital, eating at 2 offensively luxurious venues but essential to meet important contacts whilst knowing the utter squalor that is down in Freetown, enjoying the company of 5 good guys that were with me, meeting the nicest professor in the world from Canada (please marry me), enjoying a quiet drink at night with the chaps, the frustration of waiting for our shipment, meeting Armani's Mum.

I could go on but I think you now get the gist of my mainly happy memories of Sierra Leone in just one week. I intend to go there again sometime in hopefully not too distant future. My most abiding memory will always be so many wonderful and helpful people we met there.

My thoughts on the final day at Freetown was the utter relief and joy I felt at seeing the ship with our precious cargo. It more than made up for my earlier frustration of waiting for it's arrival.


Alex Channon

pic at one of the schools - top 4 ?

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


From Alison - I know this girl - great stuff Ali -and thanks for the support
Blues never cease to amaze me - I know Alison won't mind - but she will be embarrassed when I say she apologised because the donation was not more - yet the donation was very generous - love ya ta bits girl - follow Alison's example please any donation no matter how small helps

Thanks to all who have already given - but please keep it coming

I have some overviews of the week

By the lads and I will also post one - but for the next 24 hours lets just look at the bus and enjoy the fruition of your hard work - again thanks to one and all



First Howard then Tony today have been in constant contact with Armani as customs checked our container against the shipping manifest - it was a chaotic day to say the least and literally only an hour ago was the bus driven off the docks to a safe storage area - where the distribution can take place of the kit etc - We are still hoping that the British High Comissioner will do the official handover - Armani assures us he has lots of photo's of the bus coming off so as soon as we get them we will post them of course. What this now means is I can let you see what you have all been waiting for - so I will post pictures of YOUR bus for your enjoyment well done to one and all - but please remember we are still collecting.

Monday, 6 September 2010

after Tony paid the taxes - TIA

we expect the bus to be delivered tomorrow - but TIA - like I said TIA - the bus will be delivered on the morrow Weds 8th Sept - so look out for photos later on Weds

breaking news

Tony has been camped on the phone all day to SL - it seems we can not avoid the import duties so we have to pay 30,000,000 Leone in taxes to import the bus which equates to about £5000 - if we don't it sits on the dock and accrues storage charges day by day - so a great expense to himself Tony has paid this by credit card via western union which in itself was expensive to do - so an unexpected expense we have to find - we can just about pay Tony back with the last of the monies in the old CSA account - but this was earmarked for the running of the bus etc etc - so here we go again we need you to give give give now - this is an emergency - we need £5000 quick - please help

So to the day - we have to get it today - don't we

Up early again and we are all off to the shipping company to pay container charges - this is the same office where they tried to fine us $200 a few days ago this time the paperwork is filled in with no mention of a fine - it leaves us wondering are our new friends to thank ? - this takes about an hour then they say we can't pay in sterling so off to the money changers and back then another hour before we finally get our container cleared they also tell us it will 12.00noon before the ship docks - off to the docks where we go through the same rigmarole as the day before to get clearance for us and Neil's camera - where we find out that the ship will not be in until 2pm and we need to leave at 4pm to get back to hotel and then to the airport - not looking good we are now resigned to only seeing the container before we leave - it has been decided that nobody will stay as it could be quite a while before the bus actually clears the dock - this has proved correct as it is still in there as I type we expect it out on the morrow we hope - we through our new friends did pull off one minor coup - no less that the British High Commissioner for Sierra Leone is going to go to the docks on release of the container and hand it over to Armani and MCFC SL on our behalf . Neil got some good footage and did some interviews by the cargo ship we took photos - we were exhausted to a man and even though we did not see the actual bus coming off we like to think that is was mission 99.9% accomplished - we have formed new ties and made a good immpression wherever we went (I hope) - If the Man City name was big before its massive now - and we helped a few people along the way - we dragged ourselves away from the docks at 4pm and headed back to the hotel where we ate before heading to the airport to fly home everyone was hit with a sudden loss of energy and it was mainly a quiet trip to the airport - some of us did not want to leave. The guys are typing up an overall view from a personel perspective which I will post soon but I will leave this post and pic of Armani at the container ship up top for a while seems fitting.

Tuesday 31st August our last day

I have asked everybody to post an opinion on the last day which I will edit together and post as soon as I can - I hope Paul is well enough to pen a view from the Clubs perspective (his knee is really bad and a replacement is being muted) Neil I hope is going to give us a view through the camera mans lens so to speak - I think I speak for all of us when I say that this was an experience of a lifetime and a very humbling one at that - I for one will be back - I have fallen for the place - it takes a few days to realise that these are some of the best people in the world - I am well and truly humbled - hats off to Tony Griffiths who I feel sure back in 2003 did not see this coming has managed to achieve a minor miracle I am very very proud to have played a small part in it and bring his plans to fruition - the story continues....................................

ps --- you need to go through a few pages now to get the updates as there have been so many over the last few days to get a true picture of the story to date

Last night Mon 30th August

After a successful Sunday PR night with Rick Shearn from the British High Commission and Ray Anderson, Ray contacted Tony on Monday to inform him that he'd arranged a meeting/evening meal with Isha Johansen who in Ray's words "is the Queen of Sierra Leone and football mad" and was keen to meet with us to hear our story and help in any way she could.

We met with Ray who then took us to Isha's house, well we were all in for another surprise.....Isha is the wife of the Norwegian and Swedish Consul General to Sierra Leone and the Managing Director of the Sierra Leone Cement Factory (LEOCEM), Arne Birger Johansen and he was there to welcome us.

A few years ago Isha and Arne set up a football academy in Freetown to help get the young boys off the street and were very sympathetic and understanding to the troubles we were facing with all the red tape, bureaucracy and difficulties we were facing.

After a fantastic roast lamb meal they showed us a couple of DVDs about FC Johansen and you could see the similarities in what we're trying to do and what they have already achieved.

Isha, Arne, and Ray offered us their support and ongoing support for Armani once we had returned home and they assured us that along with Ray, they would be making a few phone calls in the morning to help us.

On the way back to the hotel we were all buzzing with expectation as to what our final day in Sierra Leone would bring.

Howard Burr

pics from youth team game

lining up - team meeting - the kit man