Well yesterday was another one of the many joyous days that I have had in my life. The first thing that I knew about this event was an e-mail from the wonderful Frances Done who was the Chief Executive of Manchester 2002.
She told me about three events taking place to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games.
Firstly there would be an exhibition at the Manchester Museum of Science & Industry. Secondly, volunteers from the 2002 Games would be taking part in the Manchester Day Parade and that would be followed by a get together at the Dukes 97 bar in Manchester. I just knew I had to be at Dukes that evening.
Looking back, it is incredible to think that the Manchester Games took place 10 years ago…my how time flies. And what did those games mean to Manchester and to the UK?
Well in just a few weeks time London will be hosting the 2012 Olympics and from what I have seen so far they are going to be truly wonderful.
In the run-up to these Games there have been acres of newsprint and hours of broadcasting about the event and while there has been the usual sniping, the vast majority of the comments have been positive.
I was listening to a discussion on the radio recently and one of their guests, who should have known better, was talking about the sporting landscape in the UK back in 1995.
He mentioned Picketts Lock bid for the 2005 Athletics World Championship.
If you don’t know the story, read about it here. He then said that it was the Olympics that put the UK back on the sporting map.
One of the comments from that BBC story is, in my opinion, quite telling, “It is also a big blow for British hopes of staging the 2012 Olympics”.
I don’t know if the other guests in the studio put him right later in the conversation but I immediately switched off the radio and put on one of my cds.
The major sporting event in the UK between Picketts Lock and the London Olympic Bid was The 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
Had the Games in Manchester been an utter disaster then we would not have had another major sporting event in this country for 30 years (estimated).
Thankfully Manchester 2002 was the most wonderful Games and regained the respect of the Sporting world, opening the door to the 2012 Olympic Bid led by Lord Seb Coe.
I had a number of involvements with the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester some of which you can read about here. I look back on those days with total joy and one of the most joyous was being asked by BBC Radio 5-Live to be part of their commentary team on the Opening Ceremony of the Games.
As I recall there would be a team of three led by the genius that is John Inverdale. The second person would be legendary British Olympian Lord Seb Coe and the third would be me. (Was there a 4th person? To be honest I can’t remember, but I am sure someone will remind me.)
We had a ball and I know that Lord Coe was very impressed by what Manchester had done.
Manchester had of course also made two failed bids under Sir Bob Scott for the Olympics. These bids however, led directly to the bid for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
As you can imagine, over the years I must have carried out thousands of radio and television interviews and one of my absolute favourites was done on BBC 2002 Commonwealth Games Radio.
It was a phone interview with another legend, Sir Bob Scott on the morning after the Closing Ceremony of the Manchester Games. It was wonderful and you can listen to it here. Manchester had made its mark and probably more importantly, the UK had made its mark and from here on in we were going to be serious contenders.
And so 10 years on we were going to get together to celebrate those glorious days in Manchester in 2002. A year I might add which also included the Queens Golden Jubilee.
On that Sunday morning I met Frances Done at BBC Radio Manchester where she was to be the guest on the Gordon Burns show. It was a wonderful interview as she told the many stories of Manchester 2002.
As I walked into the event at Dukes 97 it was a joy to see all the people there, most in their Games uniform, some with their original back pack including games umbrella. The Manchester Day parade was a complete success and they had come straight to the party from there.
Frances was of course there as was the leader of Manchester city Council Sir Richard Leese.
Arriving fashionably late was the legendary Mumtaz Bashir who was in charge of the Manchester 2002 Volunteer programme and who was a star in her own right.
It was truly a joy to see so many of the people who were involved with the 2002 Games and to hear some of their wonderful stories. My favourite story was of a group of volunteers who have met each other every two or so months since the Games and have kept in touch for the last 10 years.
I also met a number of people who are going to be volunteers at the 2012 Olympics in London. I wish them well. I know they are going to love it.
A number of people brought in their photos from 2002 and that brought back some wonderful memories. Fortunately, on this ocassion, I had my camera and managed to get a few snaps.
To put it mildly, I think a good time was had by all and I hope it won’t be another 10 years before we all get together again.
Footnote, The exhibition celebrating the legacy of the Games is being mounted at the Museum of Science and Industry(MOSI) in Castlefield. With four themes – ‘doubts and dreams'; ‘spotlight on Manchester'; ‘regeneration Games’ and ‘count me in’ – the exhibition will open to the public on Saturday 23rd June 2012 and will run until 2nd September 2012.
The Unofficial Mike Shaft Photo Album
City of Manchester during the Games. Photos below by Peter Maguire
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