The Manchester City tunnel cam is a regular feature found on their official website and is a must-see for every football fan regardless of club affiliation. It's reality tv at its finest.
The F.A first introduced the idea of tunnel cams last season but, to my knowledge, Manchester City are the only club who have made a regular feature of them on their official website. If you’re not aware of their existence then they’re certainly worth checking out even if you’re not a blue because they make for fascinating behind-the-scenes viewing of an environment previously considered off-limits to the average fan. The candid nature of the short films that follow each home game is evocative of reality telly which is quite appropriate given that Endemol, the company behind them, were responsible for bringing us Big Brother.
The fifteen minutes of revealing footage has become a Sunday morning addiction in our house, showing the hustle and bustle of the communal area just outside of the dressing rooms on matchdays where the players line-up and people with security tags try to look important or busy.
After a few of them you begin to notice a set pattern. The players arrive from the hotel trundling their cases behind them then shortly after head out for a warm-up. Excited mascots are lined up to high-five each one on their return. Later still both managers, with their captains, amble into the referee’s room to hand in the team-sheets (it was noticeable for the Everton game Moyes sent his assistant instead, the only person to have done so) and soon enough both sets of players are preparing to troop out onto the Etihad pitch. The interaction between the opposition makes up one of the most intriguing aspects of the tunnel cam. Trying to figure out the connection between two seemingly unrelated players as they gangsta slap a warm greeting and promise to meet up after the game can be a challenge. With some they obviously played together at a former club. Others have shared international duty. A few presumably banged a pair of twins after accidentally hooking up in a VIP lounge somewhere.
Brian Kidd, as expected, is the consummate gentleman, shaking everyone’s hand and knowing their names.
Credit must go to the discretion of the lads behind the camera because only rarely do people even acknowledge its presence and the natural behaviour on show lends itself to some illuminating insights into the characters and personalities at the club. Dzeko, Zabaleta and Kolorov are patently the nice guys – always smiling and popular with the staff – while Brian Kidd, as expected, is the consummate gentleman, shaking everyone’s hand and knowing their names.
As the season progresses, and tension builds, there will undoubtedly be some compelling moments to look forward to (I’m personally hoping for a full-on Ferguson meltdown following a contentious 97th minute penalty decision that robs United of a point) but with only a handful of home fixtures gone there have already been some real gems. As Davina might say, here are Tunnel Cam’s best bits….
v Wigan Tevez and his kids
A vignette from the Tevez saga that reveals the level of individuality he enjoyed at the club. The reluctant sub’s girlfriend (or possibly just a really fit au pair) waits patiently outside the dressing room with his two young daughters until the players emerge and Tevez scoops them up. Argentines from both teams wander over and play with the kids while a proud Tevez watches on. It’s quite a sweet scene if you didn’t know how the story eventually unfolds in Munich. Uber-pro Milner meanwhile is nonplussed. No doubt in his view the tunnel is a place for business not family and quite right too.
v Aston Villa Shay and Joe reunite
The former rivals for the number one spot at City swap jerseys post-game and discuss the stud-marks on Given’s chest that was earlier meted out by Balotelli. With plenty of people around it’s difficult to fully make out the conversation but some parts are audible.
Joe: ‘Who did?’
Shay: ‘Mario on me. He was laughing’
The friendship and mutual respect these two have for each other is clear as they arrange to meet up later.
Following his sending off Vinnie storms down the tunnel, eyes fixed firmly ahead, unleashing a tirade of expletives that tests the bleep machine to the fullest.
v Everton Platt discovers Everton’s team selection
The media gather around as the teams are announced. David Platt is leaning against a wall and is looking down at one of the distributed sheets. Upon seeing that their opponents are starting with no recognized striker his reaction is comedy gold, raising his eyebrows in exaggerated bewilderment.
v Wolves Kompany tests the bleep machine
Following his sending off Vinnie storms down the tunnel, eyes fixed firmly ahead, unleashing a tirade of expletives that tests the bleep machine to the fullest. All of them no doubt aimed at the incompetent Stuart Attwell who ruined an otherwise entertaining encounter.
v Birmingham (Carling Cup) ‘This is Manchester weather’
Zabaleta, Tevez and Kolorov depart the dressing room only to discover that the heavens have well and truly opened. They each emit prolong high-pitched shrieks at the soaking that waits them before Zaba jokingly concludes ‘This is Manchester weather!’ Surprisingly it is local lad Nedum Onuoha – playing his first game since the Garry Cook debacle concerning an errant e-mail to his mother – who is the star of this show approaching Tevez and, in no uncertain terms, instructing him that ‘Hey, you need this. You need this’.
v Aston Villa Yaya and Balo, the usual suspects
After the interval and leading 1-0 the players are looking to get back onto the pitch and finish the job off. Except two of their number are missing. Kompany does a quick head-count and determines that it’s Yaya Toure and Balotelli who are absent. Richards loudly declares ‘The usual suspects’. Eventually Yaya lollops into view but Mario has yet to appear. The entire team call out his name with barely disguised ire.
v everyone The food trolley!
Fast becoming a cult feature on the tunnel cam with each game nearing its end two chefs appear with a trolley of food for the opposition. It’s an entirely pointless inclusion yet you can’t help but check out the impressive array of cold meats and pizza.
v Newcastle Platt takes a tumble
Quite an uneventful episode of the tunnel cam is livened up right at the beginning when City’s moon-faced assistant David Platt takes a tumble down the stairs. It’s a piss-funny Platt-fall of Chaplin-esque proportions as he misses out the last three steps and immediately seeks refuge beyond the nearest door. He exits with his jacket covering his face in shame before checking out if anyone actually noticed. Yes we did Platty and we now know who’s been teaching Mario how to take a dive.
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