John Murray doesn’t remember the date – or even the result – but from the moment he set foot inside Maine Road, he was smitten forever.
The man who holds the longest unbeaten record in British boxing has been singing the Blues since he could talk.
And he predicts a rosy future ahead for his beloved City.
In the year that he hopes to transfer domestic and European dominance into world title success, he believes Roberto Mancini’s side will finally conquer the Premier League.
The 26-year-old has known largely hard times in his life as a football fan, but he is convinced that will all change now that City have broken their 35-year silverware hoodoo with their FA Cup triumph last season.
“That has to be my happiest memory as a fan,” said Murray, who faces Kevin Mitchell in a Battle of Britain next month. “I didn’t go to Wembley, but watched it in a pub near Eastlands and the atmosphere was amazing.
“Obviously, the last time they won something was before I was born, so the feeling of seeing them pick up a trophy was an unbelievable experience.
“I don’t think it will be the last. Roberto Mancini has done a fantastic job in his first full season at the club. He qualified for the Champions League and won a trophy – next season I think we can win the league.
“I just hope they don’t go out and buy a load of players again. It only needs one or two top- quality players to go along with what we’ve already got and you’ve got the making of a title-winning side.
“We still need some of those players to settle at the club and once they do, they’ll get even better.”
FA Cup wins and superstar signings like Carlos Tevez and Yaya Toure are a world away from the City Murray knew as he grew up in Levenshulme.
Before Wembley success over Stoke last season, his highlight was the dramatic play-off final victory over Gillingham in 1999.
That same year United went on to win the Treble, but Murray insists there was never any doubt where his loyalties lay.
“When I was very young my aunt took to me to Maine Road,” he says. “I don’t remember how old I was. I think it was a derby match and I think we won, but I’ve been a fan ever since then.
“It’s not always been successful, but I genuinely think it will be in the future. After what they’ve achieved this season, you have to think it is just the start.”
Murray’s City Dream Team reflects his confidence that Mancini has the players to seriously challenge United for the title next season.
There are places for Micah Richards, Vincent Kompany, Nigel de Jong, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Carlos Tevez, while goalkeeper Joe Hart misses out to the hero of that ’99 play-off final penalty shoot-out.
“I really like Joe Hart,” said Murray. “I think he’s a cracking keeper and he’ll be the England No1 for years – but I used to really like Nicky Weaver.
“He was a cult hero among fans and he was the type of player who really raised his game for the big occasion. None more so than the play-off final.
“I’ll never forget his celebrations after the shoot-out.”
The name of Wright-Phillips might surprise a few with the England winger looking set to leave Eastlands this summer.
“I think he’s a great player,” said Murray. “He might not have had his best season last year, but he’s been a top player for us. He was at his best before he left for Chelsea and probably hasn’t been the same player since he came back.
“But I can remember how good he was then, so he’d definitely be in my team.”
It’s hardly surprising that a ring warrior like Murray has gone for De Jong as his midfield enforcer.
“He’s my favourite player at the moment,” he said. “I just like the way he goes in for challenges. Nothing frightens him and he’s so important.
“I’d also have Georgi Kinkladze because he was just an amazing player who all the fans loved and you can’t have a City Dream Team without Colin Bell.”
Naming Tevez in attack was the easiest decision of all for Murray.
“He’s one of the best players in the world,” he said. “He’s absolutely amazing for us ever since he came. I’d like to see him alongside Niall Quinn and see how they’d get on.”