This week’s double header for Manchester City against Arsenal will mark the end of Nick Cushing’s era in charge of the team.
He has accepted the job of New York City assistant coach over in the United States and will head over there to begin this new chapter in his career almost immediately after the game against The Gunners on Sunday.
There is bound to be much wrote about his successful time in charge over this week and next, both from the club and the media and rightly so. One aspect that the Manchester City Women Official Supporters’ Club wish to celebrate is the unique and special relationship which our supporters’ club have shared with Nick since our formation in 2015. Many of our members, myself included, have supported the women’s team for many years, indeed many of us pre-date the rebranding of the club to the professional status in late 2013 in time for the 2014 season.
That seismic move by the club to challenge at the top of the game was enhanced by a raft of big name international signings, Steph Houghton, Jill Scott and Toni Duggan to name just a few. The club decided they would appoint a coach from it’s ‘in house’ academy to lead the team. Nick had been in charge of younger age boys groups and indeed had coached current City star Phil Foden as a youngster. His appointment seemed to be one of caution, but his experience and level-headed approach soon produced the dividends as the club found their feet quickly in the FA Women’s Super League and consolidated with ease.
In the FA Women’s Continental League Cup in 2014, the team played their hearts out with an epic victory over Chelsea in the semi-finals earning them a final appearance against Arsenal at Adams Park, very few expected City to win. The first stirrings of an organised supporters’ group was helped at that final as the club kindly provided free coaches to the game to support the team. History shows that an Izzy Christiansen goal did upset the odds that night and Nick earnt a major trophy in his first season. Vivid memories for me that night were Nick and the team bringing over the distinctive trophy and their winners’ medals to the perimeter of the pitch and sharing the success with the fans. It was a truly special, historic night and one we all felt a complete part of. This was because of Nick.
From that night on, we knew we had a coach that ‘got it’. Of course, much more success followed for Nick and the team. We have been FA Women’s Super League champions, lifted two Women’s FA Cups along with two more FA Women’s Continental League Cups. This is the way that most will measure him and rightly so, he has been very successful.
From the moment our branch of the supporters’ club was set up in 2015 with the help of the club, Nick has been so helpful and encouraging towards us all. It would be difficult for me to single out every time but personal messages of thanks to us for our support on Twitter and in person have been regular occurrences from the gaffer.
I would like to highlight just three occasions that Nick has gone above and beyond in my opinion. After a particularly unlucky last minute defeat to Chelsea in the 2016 Women’s FA Cup semi-final, he contacted us with the following message, ‘The fans were exceptional today, our 200 out-singing their 2000 from the beginning. You all as City fans did the club proud today, we fight til the end!’. I read this message out to the fans on the coach home as Nick had asked and we all knew from that moment on that we were in it together.
On a personal note, in the week between clinching the FA Women’s Super League title and winning our second FA Women’s Continental League Cup in 2016, with all the celebrations and preparations that week must have entailed, I was contacted by Nick via Twitter to ask how I was doing as on the Monday of that week I had suffered a family bereavement. Factor into this that Nick was also awaiting the birth of his child, due anytime that week and you can see my point. Again, I feel that this shows the measure of the man, a true gentleman as well as a top class coach
My final example of Nick’s relationship with us supporters was in January 2018 when after a Nadia Nadim goal had secured us another FA Women’s Continental League Cup final appearance after beating Chelsea at Kingsmeadow, he scaled the hoardings opened the gate to our section and came into the stand. He thanked as many as possible, stating that ‘you guys were amazing, you turned it into a home game, you were the 12th man’. This made everyone so proud and again it meant we knew how valued the support is and how much a part of it we are.
These are all special memories that will last a lifetime. Add to these moments the countless times Nick has stopped for a chat both football and otherwise or signed programmes and other items for us all and you can begin to see what a superb character he is.
I will leave the debate over losing him to the men’s game to others better qualified than me to comment but the overall message I wish to convey in this article, is one of thanks. Thank you from myself, thank you on behalf of Manchester City Women OSC and thank you on behalf of all City fans.
We wish Nick every success in his new role and hope he will not be a stranger. He is most definitely ‘one of our own’ and is welcome home anytime. Thank you once again Nick.
Dave (Committee member – MCWFC OSC)