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DATE Thursday 21st October 1999

A less than inspired performance on Tuesday - excepting the marvellous Mr Weaver - actually saw City claim all 3 points! This may seem illogical, but at the moment, the result of the game seems to be inversely proportional to the team's performance! We have three match report, included a blow-by-blow account from a Berlin pub! Oh, and we're now top of the league as all the other top teams lost.

We are still being linked with strikers; the latest is the Icelander Dadason (again) and also Robert Taylor of Gillingham. I must say that £1.5 million seems awfully steep for a Nationwide bustler, especially considering what we landed Kennedy for (and what we look likely to have to pay for Granville). The plus point is that City are allegedly offering the services of Gareth Taylor in return.

We've also got the answer to the origin of the 'Invisible Man' song, an appeal for players for McVitee FC, and a Why Blue.

Roll on Saturday.

Next game: Blackburn Rovers at home, Saturday 23rd October 1999


Weaver the Hero as City Go Top

City returned to the top of Division One on Tuesday evening thanks to a win at Birmingham and defeats for Charlton and Fulham. Richard Jobson's 47th minute header from a Mark Kennedy cross was enough to secure the points for the Blues at St Andrews, but young goalkeeper Nicky Weaver was the main reason City kept a clean sheet. A string of fine first-half saves ensured Joe Royle's team went in level at the break, and the manager was unimpressed with his side's display in the opening 45 minutes. "I thought the two centre halves and our goalkeeper were outstanding throughout. In many ways it was a great sign for me tonight because I don't think we've played well and we've ended up with three points," he conceded. "It was probably our least effective performance of the season over 90 minutes so it makes up for one or two things that have happened to us recently. When we do play well we'll get after someone one day." That Jobson should return City to the summit by scoring at St Andrew's was particularly ironic. Eighteen months previously, a horrendous foul by Dele Adebola at Maine Road in the last league meeting between the sides had ensured that the veteran defender didn't play again at senior level until this season. Neutral opinion insisted Adebola's challenge merited a red card but he stayed on the pitch to score an injury time winner without which City wouldn't have been relegated. Let's hope this is symptomatic of a continued change in fortunes.

Granville "To Sign Next Week" After Fee Agreed

City have agreed a fee with Leeds United for the transfer of on-loan full back Danny Granville, and the ex-Chelsea man is expected to put pen to paper early next week after his agent returns from holiday. The fee is said to be a maximum of £1 million depending on appearance and performance clauses. City manager Joe Royle was delighted to come to an agreement with his Elland Road counterpart David O'Leary and claimed, "I knew Danny had real quality from the first time I saw him in training. Making the deal permanent was all a matter of time. We have been talking to Leeds over the past few days and are delighted to have reached an agreement for an outstanding player." Meanwhile, Granville is also more than pleased with the turn of events. "I have loved it here since the moment I came on loan. The lads have made me feel really welcome. City are a massive club in every sense of the word and the fans have been fantastic," he enthused. "I always hoped that the clubs would get together and agree a deal - I feel it is right for me here. I feel like a supporter; I look at the club and I want them to win. It was like that when I was out injured. I love the way the manager and Willie Donachie encourage players to go forward and express themselves. That fits my game perfectly."

Dadason Linked Again as Taylor Swap Mooted

City have once again been linked with Iceland international striker Rikhadur Dadason. The player has scored 16 goals in 20 games this season for Viking Stavanger, and the Norwegian club is said to be prepared to cash in should they be eliminated from the UEFA Cup by Werder Bremen in the next fortnight. Hearts manager Jim Jeffries is also interested in the player, and the Scottish Premier League side is said to be ready to pay £1 million for the man who scored an own goal when Royle watched him playing for his country in France ten days ago. The City manager may join his Hearts counterpart in taking another look at Dadason in action against Bremen on Thursday as reports claim the two clubs are gearing up for a battle to sign the player. Another striker link which is refusing to lie down surrounds Robert Taylor. The latest tabloid reports claim that Joe Royle is attempting to clinch a £1.5 million deal for the Gillingham striker and is prepared to allow the £600,000-rated Gareth Taylor to move to Kent as part of the deal. One man who now looks unlikely to be coming to Maine Road is Stan Collymore. The latest news is that the troubled Aston Villa man looks set for a loan spell at rivals Birmingham City.

Reserves Win at Wolves

City reserves won 2-0 at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday evening, with the goals coming from Shaun Wright-Phillips and Alan Reilly. The game had been trailed as a comeback for defender Gerard Wiekens, though radio bulletins mentioned only that Terry Cooke completed the ninety minutes.

Stockport Kick-Off Switch Confirmed

City's official web site at http://www.mcfc.co.uk/ reports that the home match against Stockport County on Saturday, 13 November will now kick off at 12.00 p.m. The switch is to avoid a clash with the televised Scotland vs. England game at Glasgow's Hampden Park. The Euro 2000 qualifying play-off kicks off at 2.00 p.m.

Blackburn Preview

The Blues take on Blackburn Rovers at Maine Road on Saturday in the game which will be the centrpiece for Tribal Gathering 3, the weekend of events which will see fans from around the world converge on Maine Road for a weekend of City-related events. The good news is that City are unbeaten in Tribal Gathering fixtures and have yet to concede a goal, though the 0-0 draw against Gillingham last year was regarded as a disappointing result. In the summer, when the Blackburn fixture was selected for this year's Gathering, it was expected that Rovers would be striding towards an immediate Premiership return whereas the more sceptical among the faithful may not have expected to see City in the promotion frame. In fact, with the Blues top and Brian Kidd's men in mid-table, the rôles are reversed. It should be an enjoyable weekend in any event, but the festivities would undoubtedly be crowned with a win over the pre-season promotion favourites. Success for Joe Royle's team against the side managed by his former Maine Road striking partner would also increase the pressure on the Rovers boss - a section of the Ewood Park crowd has turned on the ex-Manchester United coach during recent faltering home performances against Grimsby and Crystal Palace.

Peter Brophy (brophy_peter@hotmail.com)


BIRMINGHAM CITY vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Tuesday 19th October 1999

An early season 6-pointer. Birmingham's form this season and their final placing in recent campaigns suggests they will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season. So the result of this match could make all the difference at the end of the season. Oh Dear, Oh Dear, Oh Dear - what had Sky done to us! I approached the match trying to blot out the results of the Wolves, Southampton and Ipswich games hoping that the players would do the same.

Exiled in Leamington Spa, this was one of the easy ones to get to for me. Met girlfriend Lisa in The Clock on the A45 for a couple of pints of the black stuff and an interesting Caribbean chilli con carne (a bit heavy on the coconut and light on the hot stuff for my liking). The journey to the ground was so smooth and the parking unusually easy that we arrived a full 25 minutes before kick-off. This gave me a chance to watch the players go through their warm-up, Moonchester's dance steps and the Birmingham City 4-year old cheerleaders nearly die of hypothermia. The ground has changed quite a bit since my first visit here in season 77-78. Only one stand from that era remains, The Main Stand. I actually sat in the Main Stand over 20 years ago because my mates who had been the previous season had been battered in the un-segregated terracing and refused to go back in there. Things have improved over the years but I am still wary as Birmingham have more than their fair share of nutters.

The teams came out, City in all white doing a good impersonation of Leeds United. Was this an omen? Leeds are after all top of their division! Birmingham's strip was an abomination. The team was the same that started against Tranmere with the un-concussed (no such word but you know what I mean) Edghill in for Crooks. Birmingham allegedly had 8 players out, the most noticeable Lazaridis, Furlong and Ndlovu. Lazaridis has apparently been doing for them what Kennedy has for us. So, this was as good a time as any to play them. The weather was cold but dry and should have been conducive to good football.

City just didn't seem up for this game. We probably had 2 efforts in the first half - a deflected Bishop 30-yarder and a Morrison header from a corner which ended up going well wide. We were sporadically putting some neat passing together without going anywhere but the main problem was when the opposition had the ball. City just let them run with the ball unchallenged. It wasn't that Birmingham were doing anything special. Morrison seemed the only one to care and on a number of occasions had to make last-ditch tackles after the midfield had invited the Brummies to the edge of the box. Weaver had made one good save early on and with 5 minutes to half time I remember thinking that we had got away relatively unscathed given our lack of combativeness and passion. During the next 5 minutes, even though it didn't seem possible, City actually moved down a couple of gears. Luckily, Weaver went into overdrive. In the space of a few minutes he made three great saves and saw a free header clip the top of the bar. Half-time and nil-nil, unbelievable.

City had to do better in the second half and they were kicking towards us. Right at the start of the half City got a corner. Birmingham cleared and I was just about to remark that we would never score no matter how good Kennedy's crosses were when we only had three men in the box and they had about eight - when the ball came back to Kennedy who put in a peach of a cross for Jobson to rise at the far post. Jobson's header was heading straight towards me and seemed to be in slow motion. At first I thought the 'keeper was going to get it, then I thought it would hit the bar, but it arced nicely between the two - yeessss! I then realised that it was probably going to be total panic for nearly a whole half and that the silly duffers had scored too early. However, for about 15 minutes after we scored we actually started to pass the ball around and Birmingham were not getting many touches - exactly what you want when one nil up away from home. This didn't last for long, the players soon realising that this wasn't the City way and reverting to type.

It's difficult to describe the last half hour. It was all down the other end from the City fans so those watching on Sky will have a better idea of how close Birmingham came to scoring. The City penalty area resembled a pinball table with white flippers propelling the ball outwards only for it to be pinged straight back in by those damn blue flippers with the funny white stripes. City did have one good chance in the second half. Edghill was dithering on the edge of the City box and looked like giving the ball away. Instead he fired a long ball upfield towards the right corner flag and Dickov gave chase. Dickov beat the defender to the ball, stopped the ball almost on the line and turned quicker than the Birmingham player who slightly impeded him. He was just about to throw himself to the ground whilst complaining to the linesman when he realised he had the ball and Whitley was in acres of space. The pass was good and all Whitley had to do was shoot past the 'keeper into the net. He spent too long teeing up his shot (probably understandable after his recent attempts at getting into the England/Ireland/Zambian world cup rugby teams as a kicker) and a defender got back, taking the pace off the ball and the 'keeper saved comfortably.

The final whistle went and immediately chants of "we are top of the league" went up. Surely both Charlton and Fulham couldn't have lost? Could results really have gone our way and were we to go top after playing so badly? Walking down the steps of the stand the result from Marseille was announced - I never felt more like singin' the blues and... you know how it goes.

The real reason for this turn of events - my lucky yellow anorak. Strictly speaking it's not really an anorak - more of a waterproof, windproof and at the moment loss-proof jacket. It was bought a few days before the Port Vale game and due to the seat position - front row of lower Kippax - was worn to good effect, both on and off the pitch. Its second outing was on Tuesday night. Need I say more? So, if towards the end of the season we have a crucial match on a gloriously sunny day and you see someone looking like they are going on an Everest expedition wearing a yellow anorak - you know why!

John Wilson (john.wilson@ibm.net)


BIRMINGHAM CITY vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Tuesday 19th October 1999

Went with the Bolton blues to Birmingham, mad rush from work to get the coach for this one, but just managed it, thus the report. After Tranmere I've decided to go sober to games for a while, I remember very little of Tranmere, thus no match report. So I was the sober one on the Bolton bus, top bunch of lads. Got to the ground well on time, and noticed that I was sat on row one right behind the goal, so spent the match telling Weaver how good he was and Bennet of Birmingham how bad he was. Right from the off we were under pressure, Morrison deflected a cross into the bottom corner of the goal, only for Weaver to get down and palm it around the post; little did we know then that would be the first bit of brilliance by the young goalkeeper, this was the best display of goalkeeping that I've ever seen from Weaver, even better than the Bolton game earlier this season, he truly is a diamond in our team. Teams in this division are looking more at us and seeing that we do rely heavily on Kennedy; I feel that we should now introduce Cooke on the left and give teams major problems. Birmingham marked Kennedy very tightly, which meant he wasn't as brilliant as usual, but he did supply that killer cross. Granville I felt played well, but stayed back a bit in the second half (mind you if Morrison told me to stay back, I wouldn't argue).

Birmingham in that first half battered our goal and even hit the crossbar (as we also did with a long range effort). After a while in that second half it was becoming obvious that it could just well be our night, they threw everything at us and it was still level. How many times has that happened to us? Their forward Adebola was just a big fairy, Morrison growled at him, then put him in his pocket.

The second half got underway and before you knew it City had gone one nil up, so that was top, because the crowd didn't seem to appreciate the fact that City fans were there. City were far better in the second half (they couldn't be much worse). They took the game to Birmingham a bit more, Birmingham had to attack, which left more space at the back (I would have brought Cooke on to exploit this space). Weaver had less to do in the second half, but still this was far too much. A few points I haven't mentioned: our forwards because they don't even deserve that, they were abysmal. The Midland police were their usual friendly self, threatening an OAP sat near me with ejection, along with anyone else who pointed out that he'd done nothing. Why sit the Brummies above the City fans so anything can come down on top? I'm the bloke behind the goal with the mad yellow hat on, just seen the goal on telly. Had a brilliant escort from the ground, felt like royalty, straight out of Birmingham (the way I like it, if the truth be known). Go to other grounds nick all the points, and get out of there fast.

Oh and we are top of the league!

Walter Smith (Citysmith@yahoo.com)


BIRMINGHAM CITY vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Tuesday 19th October 1999

7.45pm CET. Berlin. I´m sitting in Berlin´s "Pickers Sports Bar", a gemanised vision of what (they think) a sports-themed bar/restaurant should look like and I for one can´t be bothered to telling them (the Germans) that they´ve once again gone over the top on the Designer-Diner-Chic... Anyways I´m waiting for 8.30pm to roll around so that revenge can be swiftly administered for the events that led to my hangover on Sunday morning just passed when some consolatory Saturday night drinkies turned into a fully fledged sorrow-drowner where it was decided to celebrate the lives rather than mourn the deaths of the two points lost at Prenton Park. So I´m suppin´ on my third bottle of Millers and I get a brainwave. I´m going to write a match report!

Having already agreed with Simon (the wierd Dubliner barman who´s been in Berlin as long as I can remember) that come 8.30pm (7.30pm GMT) he´d turn the TV closest to me onto Sky for the game, there now remained only one thing to be sorted out...

"Simon I need a pad and a pen please, cheers."

Simon obliges and puts a fresh Millers next to the requested stationery. I didn´t ask for it but knowing Simon I wouldn´t be asked to pay for it either... At last coverage time arrives, which was nice.

Sky do their usual opening blah blah and Nigel Spackman (who I´m convinced gets his hair re-spiked just before every broadcast) is giving his usual "I quite like City but I´m not going to come out and say it straight out on Sky ´cos they´ll sack me for disloyalty to the country´s favourite plc" view on City´s season to date and what he feels they´ll achieve come May... typical non-commital nods and winks abound as we cut off to have a look at the respective starting elevens, which were:

Birmingham City: Bennett, Rowett, Hughes, Holdsworth, McCarthy, Johnston, O´Connor, Adebola, Purse, M. Johnson, A. Johnson ("AJ"). Subs: Bass (on for M. Johnson on 78), Hyde (on for "AJ" on 68) - unused: Haarhoff, Newton, Poole.

Manchester City: Weaver, Edghill, Morrison, Jobson, Granville, Horlock, Whitley, Bishop, Kennedy, Dickov, Taylor. Subs: Allsop (on for Dickov "Mr. Angry" according to Alan Brazil on 88), Crooks (on for Taylor on 84) - unused: Cooke, Tiatto, Wright.

With both sides missing their leading scorers and with similar televised disappointments under their belts the feeling that the game could go either way was fairly difficult to ignore so I readied myself for 90 minutes of furious note-scribbling.

The teams strutted out to be greeted by a crowd of 22,126 with a not insignificant City following cosily ensconsed in the stand behind the goal to the right of the main camera shot. City, resplendent in white "look up for it" was the first note I made. The game starts and the overall impression for the first 15 minutes was that City were coping adequately in the midfield areas but looking somewhat mopey up front and dithery at the back... all except one man in particular. Nicky Weaver. He looked the meanest of all of them coming out of the tunnel and soon after kick-off he showed, in spectacular fashion, why he is the most coveted goalkeeper in the English league.

Andy Morrison doing what he should be doing, puts his head on (what would have been) a whippy Birmingham cross from the right in the opening minutes only to deflect the ball into a viciously curve towards the near post where Nicky´s beady eyes advise him that he must take some action. One cat-like dive and strong left hand later and Weaver has scooped the ball away to the safety of the advertising hoardings behind the goal. This was a cert goal against any other ´keeper and the truly outstanding save earned the deserved praise of the match commentators who, incidentally, were Alan Brazil and someone who´s name I can´t recall, but who thankfully did most of the talking during the game leaving Brazil only limited opportunity to add one of his usual pearls of wisdom in a voice that grates like no other commentator's can.

Back to the point. Weaver, the hero of the minute, wasn´t to be allowed the luxury of spending the next 40 odd minutes folding his towel into amusing shapes as the Birmingham attacks were going to continue, albeit sporadically, for remainder of the first half.

Our build up play in the first half hour was very pleasing to watch with some very crisp ping-pong passing until the ball arrived at Taylor when, more often than not, his first touch just ponged. Literally. As with most recent performances all passing moves went through Bishop who, although he has had better games, gave a solidly competent showing as midfield-kingpin. Indeed it was from Bishop´s boot that City´s first real attempt at goal would eventually come.

There had been a few "shots" from Dickov which to be honest were so weak, I´d be surprised if the nerve-endings in his feet actually registered enough contact to even send a signal to his brain. If indeed his brain received any signal at all it will have been along the lines that he had just kicked a child´s helium "Barney Balloon". With the stick removed.

On 22 minutes, following some more quality build-up play down what should now be called "Kennedy Street", the ball breaks loose from the Brum penalty area and gives Bish the chance to lay it up for a shot. His shot was hit with 50 times the venom previously mustered by our strikers but unfortunately had "Goalie" written all over it, bar the 1 square inch space that said "Hughes´ forehead" on it. It was the forehead of Hughes that sent the ball careering off the expected flight path (destination Bennett) to instead head for the far post, which by now may as well have been 200 yards from Bennett as he´d never have got back to it having already positioned himself for the easy catch. He went down on his knees and thanked the lord for the outcome I´m sure, which brings me to a somewhat embarrassing moment... which, at detriment to my own person, I will recount to you thus:

Right. Now from where I was sitting and with my beer goggles admittedly getting hazier by the minute I could have sworn the ball had gone inside the post, through the netting, out into the crowd behind the goal. I was of course sadly mistaken, a fact I only discovered after fully executing a quite spectacular celebratory leap from my stool - arms and voice raised for several seconds - hopping around the bar and impressing on anyone who had a functioning sense of hearing that Man City were indeed the only football team to come from Manchester (doing my bit for "Campaign for Man City Awareness In Europe"). Simon, behind the bar, stopped laughing at me some ten minutes later rejoicing in the fact that there´d be plenty of replays during the half time break to remind me (and the other customers in the bar) what I´d looked like. "F*ck off Simon" I muttered under my breath and polished off the last of another bowl of nuts.

I decided to order something to eat before I really started seeing wierd things like Taylor showing a good first touch for example. Nahhh....

"Simon! Another beer and more nuts please. And another pad. Cheers"

I didn´t rate Horlock's performance much in the first half and made the same note two or three times that he was too easily knocked off the ball (and vice versa). However, seen overall, he too did his part and certainly wasn´t the worst City player on show. I expect he was probably still a bit disappointed at a third red card in eight months from the previous Saturday at Prenton Park. Jeff Whitley on the other hand should be highly praised for a game made of pure hard work. He scrambled after every ball that came within a twenty yard radius of any part of his body. There can´t be a single Brum player who at some stage during the game wasn´t pestered to within an inch of losing his sanity by the persistance of Jeff´s hunger for the ball. I half expected him to slide in on Horlock toward the end of the first half.

Mr. Weaver front and centre please. The quality of the goalkeeping from Weaver from the first minute on was world class (I´m sure a lot of you who saw the game came to the same conclusion) and he added several more outstanding saves to his overall performance before the half time whistle was blown. Most notable were the two saves he had to conjure up from one Brum attack where our defence unusually seemed unable to clear the lines after the initial onslaught. The first a good dive to his left to push the ball out of immediate danger only for it to break back to "AJ" (I think) who drove a low shot which Nicky belted away from goal with his right leg which was stretched to the point of risking an injury.

That was on 36 minutes. City break away again down Kennedy Street only for a cross directed (misdirected?) at the slow one to end up rolling out harmlessly for a Brum throw. Taylor looked to completely lose the flight of the ball on that occasion, despite never appearing to take his eyes off it. I´ve seen this from GT a few times in the past and I can´t help feeling he has a confidence problem of biblical proportions, but worryingly a problem which match practice appears unable to change. I actually felt quite sorry for him if truth be told as he really did freeze solid on a couple of occassions in front of goal. Although I don´t rate him (currently - even I am going to be patient) as a striker I have to say that as the match wore on his workrate improved. That´s the best I can say. Sorry to all Taylor fans.

A Granville cross seconds later on 37 minutes caused Bennett again to wish he´d positioned himself differently in his own goalmouth but he was again relieved as the ball dropped harmlessly onto the roof of the net. More deafening silence from the Brum fans was to follow on 39 minutes as another good City build up ends with Bish crossing from the right from inside the box but his low cross-cum-pass was deflected twice in a tangle of legs in the six yard area before being led away by the Brum back four.

Brum on the break. 40 minutes. Dangerous cross meets the head of Hughes who just seemed to stroll through a gaping hole in the centre of our back four only to crash it off the cross bar. Weaver beaten? Even here I don´t think so... as in the replays he seems to be feeling for the height of the ball and deciding that he know it´s going to come back out. For me excellent goalkeeping again. 42 minutes, nerves a-jangling now as Brum step up the assault and a shot from "AJ" (again I think - all Brums look the same to me) bounces up in front of Weaver who again deals with the danger in masterly fashion with another great stop.

43 minutes... Weaver again keeps City in the game with yet another act of pure stubborn grit that said "over my dead body, Brum!"

The first half ends with City counting themselves very lucky indeed not to be 2 or 3 down and with absolutely no room for complaint that we hadn´t sneaked a goal here or there as we simply didn´t have a single telling strike on goal, with the exception of Bish´s deflected drive on 22.

Whilst Simon the barman mercilessly ribs me during the half time break, JR mercilessly roasts the City players in the dressing room.

The second half begins in much the same way as the first with the first few seconds taken up with ping-pong midfield play. Soon after this opening play Bennett fumbles a relatively simple looking catch, probably due to boredom because of his limited involvement up till now. The ball breaks out to Horlock who sprays it out to Kennedy on the left (natch), a quick jink and he launches the ball back into the box. Who´s that? Jobson? He meets the ball and directs a controlled header back to where Bennett has just been standing but the outstretched arm of the Brum ´keeper just needed to be another inch longer.

Goal! City take a 1-0 lead on 46 minutes and the phrase "Licking p*ss off a thistle" springs freely to mind as Mr.Francis is pictured looking suitably stunned on the touchline. This time Simon the barman allows me to continue with my celebrations unhindered and gives me another free beer as a peace offering for the half time extraction of mucho Mickey.

Nice one Simon. "I couldn´t get another pad off you could I?" (they´re only small things for writing down drinks orders!).

By this stage I´d had a few beers more than I´d planned on having when I left the office earlier in the evening but I didn´t care a damn.. City were one up and the updates on other games appearing intermittently on the screen gave reason to think we could be going back to the top of the division by the end of the night. The play had settled down a bit now and City were looking a little more like the controlling force on the game but even this didn´t look set in stone.

At some stage here I made a note that reads "Kennedy looks a picture of health" along with another stating "Nicky needs a haircut". I´ve no idea why I wrote that but I´m sure it must have had something to do with the fact that I´d made a quick dash to the bogs and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror on the way out looking the distinct opposite of someone in a healthy state. I´m quite pleased with the haircut I got this afternoon though... makes all the difference. Eeeeeeh how clever am I eh? To go as far as to have my very own subliminal advertising in my scribbled notes.

Kennedy, looked not only healthy, but also looked as if he could hold up play 'til midnight if need be and showed some nifty close ball control. Whitley threatened to return to heavy use of the "pass and fall" manoeuvre of old but thought better of it and soon reverted to the pestering activities that had seen him do well in the first half. At this point the commentator (not Alan Brazil, the other one) mentioned that JR scored his first goal for City against Birmingham. I raised my eyebrows like everyone does when they hear something trivial and vaguely interesting but was soon thinking I should have maybe ordered something proper to eat earlier as another strange sight presented itself on screen. The latest scores were rattled off and I´m sure I saw Badbuy being mentioned as one of the night's scorers. I looked accusingly at my beer.

"Simon can I have the bacon cheese burger please but with chips instead of the baked spud? Cheers. Yeah I´ll have another beer if it´s going down as spillage.. ´course!"

Next note says "Not impressed with Adebola" and to be honest I wasn´t. Poor with the ball at his feet on this showing; fearsome intentions I´m sure but not particularly fearsome actions to follow it up. I´m sure he´d fit into the current strike force quite well if given the opportunity. Here´s to hoping that opportunity doesn´t materialise.

Around the 55th minute the somewhat shocking news was announced that Kennedihno was moving to a new position on the right. I was pretty blo*dy concerned at this development as JR couldn´t possibly have overlooked the fact that Cookie was sitting on the bench if the right wing needed strengthening. The alarm bells in my head faded off as it transpired that Kennedy apparently only wanted to speak to someone on the bench. Or b*****k Taylor. One or the other. Phew.

Somewhere near the hour mark "AJ" and Weaver came together with an almighty clatter with Brum's "AJ" quite clearly the worst of the victims. Well actually the only victim as Nicky was thankfully unscathed. "AJ" had kicked very hard into Weaver's upper thigh (I think) in an attempt to claim a 50/50 ball which again Weaver dealt with. How Nicky survived this impact is beyond me but "AJ" looked ready to be scooped into a wheelbarrow and carted off to casualty with a nasty knee problem.

Remarkably, however, Trevor Francis chose to leave him on the pitch. I´m sure he regretted this decision about five minutes later as AJ just collapsed whilst hobbling about with noone near him, probably having compounded the original injury many times over in that short period... ah well it´s Francis´ problem. So off he was schlepped and on came Hyde only to disappear into anonymity - well I didn´t notice him after he came on.

One funny(ish) thing happened though when "AJ" hit the floor prior to being taken off and I think it was Jobson who cheered me up by quite literally "hammering" the ball out of play into the Brum fans three or four rows back in the main stand so that medical attention could be offered to Brum stricken striker. Wonderfully subtle abuse of a goodwill gesture if you ask me. Keep it up that man. By the way, that was also the hardest any City player kicked the ball on the night. I know. I made a special note of it.

A few minutes later Horlock, chasing a ball slotted through midfield, chopped down a Brum player from behind although he made a decent effort to get to the ball. Alan Brazil in his typical "know all" manner, however claimed Horlock wasn´t anywhere near the ball. I can´t understand how that man gets work on TV. Or for that matter how he get´s work outside the dish-washing area of any given hotel kitchen. Never mind there were possible arguments for and against the yellow card and I´d honestly say it was IMHO a clumsy tackle and the card was justly awarded. This is also the first time we´d seen the ref (Mr. Laws) put his hand in his pocket. He had a pretty bleeding good game by all reckoning.

Dickov battled on in his usual diligent way but failed to produce anything warranting real mention, apart from maybe one very determined run he made down the right, choosing even to ignore the furious flag waving from the linesman which indicated that Dickov had already earned himself a free kick as he was manhandled on the line, he (rightly or wrongly) decided to play a ball into Whitley who sadly couldn´t put any real bite in the shot.

The pitch was officially declared a "Johnson-free-zone" in the 78th minute when Micheal Johnson was replaced by Bass. Edghill had previously gotten involved in a tussle with "MJ" (which is what I´m going to call him) around the same time as Horlock´s booking and I feel "MJ" may have had nasty plans for Edgy´s immediate future as retaliation looked likely. I think this may have prompted the substitution by Brum who possibly saw the intentions in his eyes. One way or the other let's hope for another "Johnson-free-zone" at Maine Road on the 27th when Ipswich come to town.

It´s around the 80th minute now and the pressure from Brum appears to be increasing again. Weaver is called on again to make a save from Hughes (again). The resulting corner ends up with a header whizzing no more than 8 inches wide of the post. JR, seemlingly concerned, decides we need to have 11 men on the pitch and subsequently substitutes Taylor, bringing on Lee Crooks in the 83rd minute. I don´t recall seeing Crooks ending up on his backside this time. Well I have no notes recording the fact if it did happen so the benefit of the doubt must prevail in Lee´s favour.

A few minutes later Weaver is again called upon to clear a dangerous situation although Alan Brazil touted a handball incident I´m not convinced Adebola knew much about the whole thing and Weaver certainly didn´t have time to rely on a decision from the ref (which may or may not have come) and he duly did what had to be done by knocking the ball to safety. A bit after this (sometime around the 85th minute) Nicky raced to chase a ball running away down his own goal-line only to batter it away into the crowd after it had already gone out just to prevent a quick corner which would have left him standing in no-mans-land. My heart pumped as I recalled previous similar instances resulting in red cards in other matches. Sensible refereeing however won the day and Nicky couldn´t argue with the yellow card he got for his troubles. Who here is going to hold it against him eh? He earned that yellow card just like he eventually earned the man of the match award on Sky. I hope he enjoyed them both. Great stuff.

In the 87th minute I hummed along to Blue Moon (mouth full of the remainder of a bacon cheese burger) which was struggling to make itself heard from the right hand side of the picture where the City fans were camped. I´m sure the singing was a lot more audible than it sounded during the game and I put it down to poor microphone placement and a noisy bar than anything else. Any implication that City didn´t sing is flatly denied by the author. I made a special note to do so.

Final scores coming in from other games now: Charlton lose 4-2 at Ipswich, Fulham lose 1-0 to Wolves at home... 89 minutes gone here... we're going top! 3 minutes on the injury time board... feck you Francis for dithering in the "AJ" substitution! Come on City!

"Rack´em up Simon, my bottle's empty!" Beer number umpteen calms the nerves.

City finish strongly with several minutes (it seemed) of unchallenged possession. I drink the rest of the beer much more slowly once the final whistle has been blown and City are confirmed leaders of the 1st Division. The relief on the City bench was noticable in the facial expressions of JR and WD as they knew we hadn´t played anything like the best football we´d produced this season so far. Far from it. But we´d battled, stuck to the task and nicked all three points. What more could we ask? Well we could have asked to get rid of the "worst Sky record" in the division... and get rid of it we did. Here you go Birmingham, you have it for a while. We could have asked for the other results to go our way... and go our way they did. Thank you Wolves and Ipswich. We could have asked that the Rags get beaten in Marseille... and get beat they did!

But because we didn´t ask for any of these things, and they all happened by themselves, we have to feel there´s a guardian angel looking over our passage back to the Premiership. On a note of a more serious nature, our strikers again failed miserably to contribute equally to the overall performance. I thought Taylor was pants in front of goal. He had the odd moment outfield and looked like he wanted to do more, he just infuriatingly didn´t do more. As for Dickov, well hard work blah blah but completely inneffective in front of goal tonight. I´d expected him to come out of his shell a bit, given that Goater wasn´t around to steal any available glory, but was sadly disappointed by his prowess and in particular, his shooting.

Leaving the pitch, Weaver rightfully takes a minute to savour the worship of the travelling Blues who were lucky enough to get to rub their eyes in amazement at the world class goalkeeping performance they had witnessed throughout the game. Surely this performance beats Nicky´s previous finest hour back in May.

Quick beer for the road... Simon presents a bill so low he guaranteed himself a hefty tip... taxi home. Bed. Now sitting at 10pm in the office typing this up. Hope you enjoyed the game as seen through my beer goggles.

CTID, Cathal Whelehan - wheelie on blueview (wheelie@mancity.net)


Queens Park Rangers vs. Manchester City
Saturday 6th November
Kick-Off 3.00pm

Only severely restricted view tickets left - £11 Adults, £6 OAP's/JNR's

Manchester City vs. Stockport County

This match is now scheduled for Saturday 13th November 1999, kick-off 12.00 noon.

MCFC - Ticket Office


McVittee FC have begun their league campaign for this season with a win over Man Utd - our next game is this Saturday 23rd October against Crewe in Crewe. Currently I have about 9 players available so if you would like to play send me an email for details.

Wish us luck!

Dave Barker - Manager, McVittee FC (dave.barker@moonfish.co.uk)


If you are in the OSC and have access to the web please check out your Branch info on http://www.mancity.net/osc/.

This info can only ever be as good as I am given and I know that some branches are missing, some data is wrong and some branches could supply me with more information.

The pages are for the use of all City fans and should provide useful information - if branches want extra information adding I am glad to do that.

Also if you have a mate who supports another team (as if) can you get them to look at homeview at the same address - I am happy to add other club information (English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Lunar) to the site. What's more I don't even care if they are Premier or Non League.

Finally: have a great time all those Tribal Gatherers, have a beer for me.

Andy Birkin (birkin@genie.co.uk or any mail links from OSC site)


B rilliant
I nspiring
R esult
M akes
I dol of
N ick the
G oalkeeper -
H e
A lone
M anufactured

C lean-sheet
I n spite of
T ender
Y ears.

Yes I know I've cheated slightly on this one, basically I'm too tired to work harder to make it more polished. Sorry!

Steve Maclean (Stevemaclean@stm1.freeserve.co.uk)


Concerning Pete Rawling's question about the origin of the Invisible Man song, the best answer I suppose is from the piece my brother Don had in the October issue of King of the Kippax.

This Invisible Man Song
What does it mean?
What is its origin?

I first heard it in the Forresters in Prestwich when we sang it in memory to one of out mates who departed the planet early in this life (1991). In a football context it was aired in Ireland when we had a party with the Cork branch when City were on tour. I had to make a speech to the Chair of the Cork branch and it seemed the right thing to do. Since then it has been sung on and off in pubs and coaches on the way to away matches. This season it has taken a whole new meaning with us not wanting to be and not believing we are in this division and having to visit some of the grounds we have been to. The original words were:

If you drink you will die
If you don't drink you will die
So it's better to be drunk
Than be sober when you die
Just like the fan of the Invisible Man
We're not really here
We are not
We're not really here

Bob Price - Amsterdam (Marlies.Wisselingh@aucs-europe.com)


I want to wish everybody well for this weekend's Tribal Gathering! Bob Young and his team have done an incredible job and I must say, they couldn't have picked a more suitable weekend for TG3. Top of the League, big local derby versus Blackburn, big crowd, MCFC in buoyant mood and a fantastic list of events with an awesome guest list should make this the Best TG Ever. The only sad thing for me is that I won't be there!

I must also add a word of thanks to Steve Sayer at MCFC who has stood by the TG team from the inception. The Club have been brilliant this time and I'm sure they now realise that the TG Dream is now a reality!

I hope you all have a great time and I will definitely be there for next year's TG2000 vs. the rags at Maine Road in a table-topping Premiership battle!

Reality is better than the dream... Proud to be Blue

Clive Tysoe (formerly Gio's Bootlicker)


I realise that you will all think that I am lazy and staring aimlessly out of the window, but I am busy and I needed to look out of the window. Anyway back to the reason I am writing. I have just seen a lorry - amazing I hear you shout - and I suddenly understood why Uwe went cr*p at the end of his time playing in blue. OK you can argue that he needed someone to play off, needed to follow the line and not lead it, was disenchanted by the whole deal or that he was a fat and useless bloke who had a bit of luck for a couple of seasons. Back to the window, I have just seen a lorry with Rösler(UK) on the side - down to the accent above the O. A profitable sideline I suspect, but very tiring I assume - I mean driving all over Europe in his spare time must be tiring. I now hope to see truck companies for Summerbee, Bradbury (still going I suspect, how else does he keep moving clubs without being caught up in a house buying chain?) and sincerely hope we never sign anyone called Eddie Stobart!

Mike Thomas (mike.thomas@careerpaths.org.uk)


First up, Radio One have been asking people to phone in with their 'one song' and the reason it means so much to them. You know the c**p, some show off comes on boasting about his '6 month holiday in the Seychelles' or there's whimpering Sharon saying it's Take That because it's the record that was playing when I met whoever and 'I love him'. Fear not though, one bloke comes on and he just oozes style and guess what, he's one of us. Chris from Manchester wanted 'Roll With It' by Oasis because "That's the song they were playing at Paul Lake's testimonial when Paul Lake walked onto the pitch." Cheers Chris you're sheer class.

Secondly... Recently work has been taking me more and more to London and the other week I was in a pub near The Elephant and Castle. The landlord saw I was wearing a City 'T' shirt and so engaged me in conversation about football in general. Suddenly, a geezoh (see I've picked up the phrases already) pipes up, "Man City they're c**p they are, not like Millwall. Ah mean when wuz the last time you lot wuz at Wemberlee." Before I could answer, London's answer to Hurricane Andrew continued, "We wuz at Wemberlee in the Auto Windscreen fingy. It was great that day there were fasands of us there that day." Again before I could say anything the landlord piped up "But you lost 1-0 didn't you?" Completely missing the point the Neanderthal carried on, "City what 'ave you ever done?" So I merely mentioned we were at Wembley a month after them for something slightly more important, oh and I seem to remember telling him we won! With that he slunk back into his corner.

By the way the above story has been edited, I've removed the 14 'F' words used by our Southern friend, whilst reading this please feel free to to insert them wherever.

Be loud, be proud, be Blue, Nigel Pickles (Pickles@brooklands312.freeserve.co.uk)


The Essex & Suffolk branch of the CSA will be holding their next meeting on Friday 22nd October 1999 at "The usual Haunt" of The Duke of Wellington Public House, Hatfield Peveral, Essex from 7.30pm.

Contact Paul Gallagher (01708 787227) for details.

I'm Blue Dah boo di dah boo dah, Paul Gallagher a.k.a. Paddy O' Blue on Blueview (paulg@mancity.net)


What a perfect night: we win, we go top, United lose!

Makes a nice change for us to win at St.Andrews... and on Sky.

It's blo*dy good job that Weaver and Morrison were on top form - then again, Birmingham couldn't score in a brothel! I don't think I've ever been to an away game where the home crowd was so quiet - it was like a morgue at times... no atmosphere at all. Great turn out again by the sky blue fans anyway - plenty of noise to keep us warm on a cold Tuesday night.

Let's hope we can stay top for a few weeks longer!

Jon Walsh (JWalsh@calorgas.co.uk)


Re Fans' Committee Minutes:

5. City STores

Although the Club has a massive support in Greater Manchester, they feel it would not be the right time to open City stores around the Greater Manchester area. The Club are to carry on concentrating their efforts on the store at Maine Road. What are your views on this?

I can understand the Club being nervous of setting up a number of shops and all the hassle that goes with that. I would have thought however, that a small amount of research could identify a couple of likely locations.

Another option could be to take some floor space in an existing retail outlet (Lewis' are looking when M&S move out) and merchandise that area. This would be low-risk, low overhead. Come on City, tap into that impulse buy. I still find it a pain to trek down to the Maine Road store and only go when I want something, and I would not dream of going to it on a match day.

John Colburn (jcolburn@sequent.com)


How can anyone in their right mind think that Stan Collymore is the answer to our striker problem?

We've finally managed to get a team of players who play for each other. The team spirit is good and we have an excellent captain in Andy Morrison, therefore, why spoil it all by bringing in Collymore?

I remember attending Prestwich and Whitefield Supporters' Club when Frank Clark was Manager. Alan Hill was there and he didn't have one good word to say about Collymore. He said he was always missing training and that he used the excuse of attending his granny's funeral at least three times!

It was only yesterday on Teletext that I read he had missed training at Villa on his first week back there and that he had been fined by them... I rest my case!

Elaine Taylor (elaine.taylor@tesco.net)


I would very much like a copy of the Birmingham vs. City game on video tape. If any one can oblige send me an email or phone 01902 827404 so we can sort it out.

Paul South (paul@psouth.freeserve.co.uk)


I had to miss a few games recently due to the birth of my beautiful daughter. Before I missed the Walsall game I hadn't missed a league game for over three years and I would like to get back into the swing of things. Has anyone got a Walsall stub that I could use to get a Charlton ticket from our efficient ticket office? I will return it afterwards if required and buy the person who provides the stub a lovely pint of beer plus allow them to gaze in awe at a picture of my daughter.

John Denton a.k.a. Fatbloke a.k.a. Tallulah's daddy


All the new home shirts I have seen City fans wearing have almost all got the 'EIDOS' name on the front but the one I bought on line from the City store at Maine Road has no sponsor name on it. I paid the full whack so why is the Eidos name missing? It may seem a minor complaint but the shirt doesn't look right.

Steve Oatway (oakaman@hotmail.com)


Legend has it that I first became a Blue at around the age of two (1964), when my mum sat me on the steps of the house we then lived in, in (shock, horror) Old Trafford, and encouraged me to shout suitable antagonistic slogans at the less intellectually gifted members of the family, as they headed for a game at the nearby pig sty. Thus began my lifelong love affair with the Blues. The 60's passed filling in wallcharts from the Evening News, in the days when it was still a newspaper, in rivalry to my misled older brother. I was only a kid and championships and trophies meant nothing to me, I just loved my favourite players Lee and Bell, and the kit which my parents got me for my birthday, you remember the one with the socks with maroon and white stripes at the top.

Then at the age of eight my dad took me to my first game. It was a night I will never forget, City vs. Coventry on a cold November night in 1971. The lights, the noise, the atmosphere are all forever etched in my memory. Needless to say City were runaway winners.

It was 1975 before I was allowed to go on my own with my mates from school. Those were great years, all the home games, lots of aways. Wembley in 76, 2nd in the leauge in 77, great players, good times. My favourite games were the European nights. I'll never forget seeing Juventus warming up in the tunnel in 76 and being scared to death of them, and listening to the radio as we went out in Turin the last time I can remember crying! Then in late 78 I got a job working at Lewis's travel. It included some Saturday work which was a disaster. They sold tickets and I had to take back the unsold ones on the morning of the match, pure torture. I used to walk to the ground and spend the bus fare to buy programmes for my collection. I arranged my days off to coincide with City games. I well remember going to a League Cup game at Sunderland on the train, there were only about twenty on it and as we reached our destination each of us stood leaning out of a door so that the local thugs would think that the train was full! One of my finest moments following City was going to Germany for the U.E.F.A. Cup match with Borussia Mönchengladbach; that trip is a story in itself. Little did I know that it would be City's last competitive game in Europe. Went to some overseas friendlies and then big Mal came back. Today I can see that this was the beginning of the end, and that we're still paying the price today. But then I thought he was the messiah and I still love the man.

Well, as you know things went from bad to worse apart from temporary relief via Wembley in 81. In May 82 I and fellow Blue Mike Turner quit our jobs to hitchhike round Europe, and I arrived in Israel for the first time. I returned for the second half of the season including the Luton débâcle. Shortly after I returned to Israel and have more or less lived in exile ever since. Life as an exile is a whole other story, but I'll save it for a rainy day.

Peter McNally (mcnally@mishkei.org.il)

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[Valid3.2]Ashley Birch, mcivta@tollbar.u-net.com