Manchester City FC Fans Have Loved (Inflatable) Bananas Since the 1980s

Some Manchester City FC supporters have been blowing up bananas for decades to show their fandom.

Brandon Charles - Author
By

May 20 2024, Published 5:28 p.m. ET

Manchester City Trophy Parade on June 12, 2023
Source: Getty Images

Fan bases sometimes embrace random items or random chants or random songs, and even the people who love those items, chants, and songs probably don’t know the origin of why they love what they love. It's highly unlikely the majority of 2023-'24 Premier League Champion Manchester City FC supporters know exactly why some of their fellow fans have an inflatable banana lying around the house. Man City's colors aren't even yellow.

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A mixture of booze (probably), an inflatable, and a somewhat unique last name led to Man City supporters incorporating bananas in their fandom over the last four decades. Thankfully, that mixture doesn’t involve what a lot of people probably think of when they think of bananas and football.

Man City fans on May 19, 2024
Source: Getty Images
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Manchester City FC fans bring inflatable bananas to games because an inflatable banana was lying around.

Legend has it one guy brought one five-foot inflatable banana to a Man City game and it just clicked. According to a Sep. 13, 1996 article on Manchester City Supporter’s Homepage, a fan named Frank Newton brought the inflatable to the Aug. 15, 1987 Man City vs. Plymouth Argyle. Frank was a big toy collector, had the banana around the house, and thought it would be funny to bring an inflatable to the game. It was. And it was hot. So Frank took off his his Man City shirt, put it on the banana, someone drew a face on the banana and even more people liked it.

The legend grew later in the season when Man City fans wanted player Imre Varadi substituted into the game. Because "Varadi" kinda, sorta sounds like "Banana," at least when chanted, Imre took on the nickname Imre Banana. It clearly did not bother the athlete; his current Twitter handle is @imre_banana and he frequently uses the banana emoji.

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Manchester City's Imre Varadi on Dec. 6, 1986
Source: Getty Images

Manchester City's Imre Varadi on Dec. 6, 1986

Not every club enjoyed the Man City fans that were bringing something inside a stadium that could obstruct another fan's view. Arsenal banned inflatables for obvious reasons. Like most fads from the late 1980s, or most things involving inflatables, its popularity has fluctuated with the success of the team. And the availability of giant inflatable bananas.

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Since that 1987-'88 season, Man City fans have brought their own inflatable bananas to matches, and for certain big matches, the club provides the inflatable. In January 2016 the club distributed a few thousand to supporters in their League Cup semi-final game against Everton. The bananas worked; Man City defeated Everton 4-3. Though the tradition was already 29 years old, fans across social media were just as confused why the team that wears blues were holding big yellow bananas.

Man City fans on Apr. 10, 2022
Source: Getty Images

Bananas and football are typically a bad combination.

Unfortunately, the yellow fruit and the beautiful game aren’t typically associated with lighthearted frivolity. There are multiple instances of racist fans harassing players of color by throwing bananas onto the pitch. From when Black players first joined the Premier League in the early 1980s to the most recent Men’s World Cup, there’s a negative connotation between the banana and football.

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