Newsletter #38

I only have a few lines as this issue is almost at the maximum permitted size. If your article is missing then it’ll be in the next one. These defeats bring out the solidarity in Blues; we’ve had 5 new subscribers! Although I’ve spoken up for Horton (as have many) I think the board and a sizable contingent of the fans will now want his head after the recent very poor run; will they get it? Write and let me know what you think. Meanwhile let’s stuff Coventry… please!!!

Next game Coventry at home, 14th January 1995


Coca-Cola Cup, 5th Round


On arriving at the ground a little over an hour before kick-off, we headed off towards the pub mentioned by Neil Foskett in MCIVTA 37. Needless to say, it was already full of City fans singing ‘Beagrie Wonderland’; so full in fact that we couldn’t get in! Not knowing any other pubs in the area that would be open, we trudged back to the ground. I was hoping to find somebody selling ‘Eagle Eye’, one of my favourite fanzines, but none were to be found. Outside the ground, I was offered tickets in the City end by two different people. I don’t know if they were touts or just people with spare tickets but I thought the much-reviled Criminal Justice Bill would have put paid to such activities. The City end was indeed sold out but tickets were still available from the ticket office in the Palace end, so those who travelled without tickets almost certainly got to see the game, for what it was worth.

Having nothing better to do, we entered the ground and shortly afterwards saw the team come out to warm up. We were relieved to see Dibble come out after the doubts about his fitness but surprisingly, John Burridge was the substitute goalkeeper. I was under the impression that Martyn Margetson would have been deputising if Dibble was unfit, so where was he? Also passed fit was Keith Curle, a welcome sight after our recent defensive troubles. The full starting line-up was Dibble in goal, Summerbee and Phelan as right and left backs respectively, Curle and Kernaghan in central defence, Flitcroft and Lomas in central midfield, Beagrie on the left, Walsh on the right and Quinn and Rösler up front. As the game progressed, it became clear the Walsh was free to roam wherever he pleased and the two full backs would get forward to support the midfield.

City kicked off, backed by a vociferous contingent of about 3,000 City fans. From our formation it was clear that we’d come to win the match but it was Palace who took the initiative. In the second minute a corner reached Armstrong whose header hit the bar, the rebound being cleared by Quinn for another corner. From that corner, the ball again reached Armstrong who controlled it and fired in a shot that was going wide until Salako deflected it goalwards. The ball flew past Dibble but was hacked off the line by Phelan. Desperate stuff indeed. As the game progressed, it became abundantly clear that Curle wasn’t match fit. Since when has anybody been able to out-sprint him? Salako had no trouble and Palace looked the more likely to score throughout the first half.

City just couldn’t get it together although they gradually came more into the game as the half wore on. Terry Phelan was having a nightmare, passes were going straight to Palace players, he seemed to have no understanding with Beagrie and was a downright liability at times. He was frequently caught out of position, cropping up on the right hand side of defence on a few occasions but nevertheless, his clearance off the line in the 2nd minute wasn’t to be the only occasion he’d rescue us in this fashion. City seemed unable to create any decent openings against a resolute Palace defence who closed City down well in midfield and around their penalty box. Some poor decisions by the officials didn’t help, Quinn and Rösler were manhandled virtually every time they got the ball, most of which went unpunished and there were some ludicrous offside decisions too, including one where Quinn was given offside despite clearly being in his own half when the ball was played!

I doubt that these decisions had any bearing on the result as City seemed unable to take advantage of any situation They were also playing a depressingly large number of long balls up to Quinn and Rösler, possibly a side effect of the return of Curle? Just before half-time, the referee played an excellent advantage which led to City’s best move of the game. Quinn was fouled as he shielded a ball knocked forward. The referee waved play on and Walsh hit the loose ball first time to Rösler on the edge of the area, who flicked the ball sideways to Flitcroft, making an excellent run through the Palace lines. His first touch left him one on one with the ‘keeper but his low shot was brilliantly blocked by Nigel Martyn in the Palace goal. Whilst we were all telling each other that he should have lifted the ball over the ‘keeper and should definitely have scored, the ball was punted down to the other end and a deep cross found Chris Armstrong in yards of space in our penalty area. Fortunately, his header went straight to Dibble.

The second half began much like the first, with Palace coming very close to scoring. Dibble pushed a great header over the bar and another header from the resulting corner was cleared off the line by Phelan. City were still in the game though and a long range effort from Flitcroft went right through a packed penalty area but straight to Martyn. The turning point of the game came on the hour; Salako, marauding down the left where George Ndah had also been causing problems got in a good cross which Dibble came for but could only palm the ball to Southgate. He pulled the ball down and laid it back to Darren Pitcher who smacked the ball into the top right corner from 15 yards. It was a great finish but Dibble should have had the cross.

Shortly after the restart, Quinn picked up the ball after a poor clearance by Martyn and passed the ball forward to Lomas who was challenged (fairly) by Coleman as they both tried to get to the ball first. Both players fell over but Coleman appeared to prevent Lomas from getting up to challenge Martyn for the loose ball. Lomas had words with Coleman when they eventually got to their feet and it looked like a scuffle could break out but the referee and other players intervened and both players were booked, which was rather harsh on Lomas I thought. Quinn’s pass was his last contribution to the game, being replaced by Maurizio Gaudino. Unlike the gamble on Sunday which paid off, this substitution smacked of desperation. Taking off a striker to be replaced by a virtually untried midfielder seemed a strange move when we were a goal down in a very important match, though it later transpired that Quinn had a thigh strain and was nearly taken off at half time anyway.

Shortly after the substitution, Beagrie whipped over a good inswinging cross which was met by a superb and extremely brave header by Lomas which was heading for the bottom right hand corner until another brilliant save by Martyn rescued Palace. Lomas clashed heads with Shaw whilst making the header and appeared to have been knocked unconscious. A crowd of players gathered around his prostrate body and signalled frantically to the dug-out. From where we were it looked like anything from concussion to a broken neck could have happened. When he was stretchered off straight out of the ground and not back to the dressing rooms we feared the worst. It later transpired that he’d swallowed his tongue and physio Eamonn Salmon had saved his life, though he recovered enough to travel back on the team coach after the game. This wasn’t mentioned on the radio or over the public address system at the ground, so I didn’t find out what had happened until I saw the video of the highlights when I got home. It was a traumatic experience for us and surely for the players too which may have had some bearing on the events that followed.

Lomas was replaced by David Brightwell and from the corner resulting from Lomas’ header, a head back found the ball at Brightwell’s feet five yards out, in a similar position from which he scored on Sunday. Unfortunately his shot was tame and went straight to Martyn. He hung his head in shame and rightly so, though he must have been surprised to receive the ball in that position with all the bodies in the penalty area. Another corner on City’s right led to the killer second goal for Palace. City had pushed everybody but Curle and Phelan up for the corner but it was a terrible delivery from Summerbee which went straight to a defender near the edge of the box. He cleared the ball up to Armstrong on the halfway line, wide on Palace’s left flank. He controlled the ball well and, despite the attentions of both Curle and Phelan, hit an excellent ball to Salako at the other side of the pitch. Salako couldn’t believe the amount of space he had and ran into the space where Phelan should have been. By the time Phelan caught him Salako was just outside the City box; he jinked inside Phelan and before Curle could block him he unleashed a powerful shot into the far corner from the 20 yards. Dibble didn’t stand a chance.

City now needed two goals to stay in the competition and had only had 10 minutes to get them so they pushed forward even more. Kernaghan was having to do the work of two men with Curle often nowhere to be seen in the second half; Palace were a constant threat on the break and from their trademark set pieces and it was largely down to ‘Big Al’ that the score wasn’t even more humiliating. The third goal, like the second, came from a move down Palace’s right flank. Southgate punted the ball forward for Armstrong to chase behind the City defence and he cut into the penalty area about 6 yards out from the goal line. With Palace’s forwards massing in the middle, he hammered a shot into the roof of the net from his wide angle as Dibble spread himself in vain. Another tremendous finish from the side that can’t score goals in the league!

City were looking shell shocked now; Gaudino wasn’t making much headway and when he did manage to carve out an opening for himself, couldn’t produce a decent shot. When he was signed, City were scoring goals from the flanks and were just missing a bit of variation in the centre. The situation now is that we can hardly threaten our opponents at all and a different type of player, somebody who can hold the ball up and make space for himself in the middle of the field before delivering a penetrating ball (to a City player!) is in order. Maybe he can do the job for us, but he needs to get accustomed to the English game quickly as we’re in desperate need now.

The atmosphere in the stands was changing too. There was a tussle right in front of the City fans involving Summerbee and Ndah (I think) which led to at least two fans coming onto the pitch. One was arrested (proper thing too) and Kernaghan came over to signal to everybody to calm down. Many City fans had left already and there was an air of antagonism towards the Palace supporters, separated by only a gangway and a few policemen and stewards. A couple of lads clambered past me from the next block of seats towards the nearby home fans. I thought for a while that it was going to ‘go off’ but fortunately it didn’t. What is it about these Cup games that attracts moronic scumbags to follow us? There was a similar situation at Cardiff last season where only the brute strength of a dozen or so policemen managed to keep a gate closed and prevent a sizeable group of lunatics from the City end attacking the Cardiff fans on the pitch after the game. Then there were the disgraceful events of the quarter-final against Spurs two years ago. I just wish these people would take up boxing or something similar so they could take out their aggression on some like-minded imbecile and leave us football fans to watch the beautiful (or not in City’s case these days) game.

The final goal came from the former Stockport striker, Andy Preece who collected a flick on from Salako and hit another unstoppable shot in off the post from 20 yards. The Palace finishing was truly superb in the second half and they fully deserved their victory. City’s performance was similar to that at Coventry last season, an appalling collapse in the last few minutes having played poorly but remaining on level terms in the first half.

What’s wrong with City? Well, when things were going well earlier on in the season, City’s main supply of goals was from the flanks. Neither Beagrie nor Summerbee are getting to the bye line and crossing the ball much these days; Beagrie’s cutting inside virtually every time now and Summerbee is usually in a more withdrawn rôle. When he does get forward, he sometimes puts in a great cross but more often it’s very disappointing. Beagrie and Walsh were linking very well earlier on (particularly the Spurs game) but this doesn’t seem to be happening any more. We have to be able to cope with sides that close us down in midfield; otherwise we’ve got nothing but a long struggle against relegation to look forward to in the rest of the season. If you don’t believe me, just look at the league table. While you’re at it, look at who we have to play in the last 5 games. I’m already worried. The murmurs about Brian Horton’s job security are getting louder and it’s time the proverbial finger was pulled out.

Man of the Match: Alan Kernaghan (head and shoulders above the rest, becoming a bit of a cult hero these days!)

Final Score: Palace 4 City 0. Winners to play Liverpool in the semis.

Thought for the day:

“Wembley, Wembley,
It’s a shitty ground in London
That we’re never going to see…”

Paul Howarth


CRYSTAL PALACE vs MANCHESTER CITY, CCCup Q-Final, Wednesday 11th Jan ’95

I should have known from the moment we left North London and headed towards Selhurst Park on my 50 cc Moped in sub-artic conditions, that it was going to be one of those nights.

Having obtained a pair of tickets through procedures that I doubt Lord Justice Taylor would necessarily approve of, we arrived at the game with enough time to buy a few cups of what was advertised as “tea” to help initiate the human body’s defrost system.

It is always hard to have to sit with the home fans and pretend to applaud when Armstrong hoofed the ball from one end of the pitch to another, but I have not yet been able to summon the necessary guts to stand alone surrounded by the opposition.

As always, we had to get seats right in front of a group of Palace fans who screamed abuse at every City player throughout the entire game. For some reason they decided that because England won World War Two and Rösler was a German, that every City player was a “dirty Kraut”. Lomas was a “dirty ginger Kraut”. I always thought that Lomas was Irish – but there you go.

The first half exploded within the first few seconds into a very open game. City were the better team, using the midfield and pushing Flitcroft and Lomas forward. Quinn was marked out of the game by the Palace defence who were lucky not to be picked up by the ref (who made some very strange decisions) for using Quinn as a climbing frame.

Walsh pushed hard throughout the first half, taking on too many players maybe. However, he offered a dedicated and committed game. With Hill out, Summerbee was forced to play at the back and as a result Walsh had to contend with a midfield rôle. With no quality supply route on the right, it was left to Beagrie to service a marked Quinn and a below par Rösler up front.

It did not take long for Palace to work this out and by half time, after Flitcroft had beaten the defence but not the keeper, Palace had begun to swing the game.

The second half soon stripped naked City’s weak defence, with Phelan’s lack of height against a very tall Palace attack and Curle’s lack of 100% fitness clearly on show for the Palace forwards to take advantage of.

The goals then began, despite a few good saves from Dibble and a surprisingly good performance from Kernaghan. After the first, the show was over and City fell apart. Lomas went close and forced Martyn to make a great save but on his way down swallowed his tongue and was stetchered off in the 70th-minute. Neither David Brightwell, who missed an easy chance, or Gaudino were able to influence the game and as we pushed forward in desperation, Palace rang up the goal tally.

Some City fans began to take out their frustration on the hoardings in the closing moments of the game. If you’re going to support City, you have to take the good and the bad. It’s all part of following the Blues. We would all like to win every game, especially important cup games, but City are City. If you want to win every game, support another team. Our time will come, and when it does it will be that much more rewarding, and deserving.

Our defeat leaves a number of questions. Is Horton the right man with the right vision? When are we going to buy a quality player? Is Mark Hughes on his way to Maine Road?

Miles Webber


Yet again, the team that can’t score came good in the Cup – I don’t know what it is about this competition but the Palace players certainly perform to the heights that we all know they’re capable of so bring on Liverpool and let’s get proper revenge for the opening day’s 6-1 defeat.

Manchester City began the game brightly with a sustained period of pressure without really creating anything to trouble Nigel Martyn. However, once Palace began to attack, it was clear that the City defence was in all sorts of trouble as the woodwork was struck twice in quick succession by unmarked players.

The first half was a close affair with both teams playing open exciting football but the difference was the superb form of Richard Shaw and particularly Chris Coleman in the centre of defence – these two are the best kept secret in English football and the main reason why Palace are conceding very few goals. Darren Pitcher was also having a marvellous game in midfield and Salako and Armstrong were terrorising the City defence.

Salako was sent clean through on Dibble late in the second half only to strike his shot narrowly over but the best chance of the first half fell to City right at the end as Garry Flitcroft ran through from midfield to find himself with only Martyn to beat but the ‘keeper saved with his feet before calmly gathering the ball.

Half-Time: 0-0

At half-time we were beginning to get worried about Flitcroft’s superb running from midfield. The Palace defence seemed to have City’s three strikers in their pockets (I don’t think any of them had a single opportunity) but nobody was able to pick up Flitcroft who was drifting around in midfield – we needn’t have worried.

The second half began with the Eagles forcing a number of corners, all of which were disappointing but finally they got what their performance deserved when a cross from the left was only palmed out by Dibble to Gareth Southgate who calmly played it to Darren Pitcher on the edge of the box. Pitcher fired gleefully into the top corner and Selhurst Park erupted.

Inevitably, this led to City pushing more and more players up looking for an equaliser and they very nearly found one in the 70th minute when Peter Beagrie crossed superbly for Steve Lomas to head down to Martyn’s left – it had to be a goal but Martyn somehow managed to get an outstretched hand to the ball and push it out for a corner. In heading the ball, Lomas had injured himself in a collision with Shaw and was lying motionless on the ground for several minutes until he was stretchered off. It later transpired that he had swallowed his tongue but luckily Paul Walsh quickly realised the situation and cleared the blockage.

The resulting corner produced nothing and this was to be City’s last chance of saving the game as Palace went goal crazy in the final 10 minutes. First Armstrong played the ball to Salako on the half way line who sped down the right hand side before cutting in to the edge of the penalty area and unleashing a powerful shot past Dibble and into the top corner.

Four minutes later Southgate sent Armstrong clear and he took the ball into the area and fired it past Dibble from about 10 yards.

Finally, substitute Andy Preece picked up the ball 20 yards out and smashed it past a stranded Dibble to make the score 4-0 and send Palace deservedly through to the semi-finals.

Final Score: Crystal Palace 4 Manchester City 0

Unfortunately, the game was marred by little pockets of crowd trouble throughout the game but after the 4th goal, the Manchester City fans began to kick the advertising hoardings down and throw whatever they could find at the stewards. It looked as if they might invade the pitch (presumably to get the match abandoned) but thankfully this didn’t happen to ruin a magnificent game of football in which both teams played their part.

Personally, I thought the scoreline flattered Palace a little because Manchester City’s possession in the first half should really have given them more chances but the admirable Shaw and Coleman along with the full backs, Humphrey and Gordon mopped up all the problems that City attempted to create. This along with Darren Pitcher’s tigerish tackling and clever passing kept the scores level at half-time which allowed Salako and Armstrong to wreak havoc in the second half.

Man of the Match: Darren Pitcher – a tremendous performance topped off by a marvellous goal. Perhaps Palace have now found their ball winning midfielder?

Simon Gleave


Hughes from MU to Everton. 3.25!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John Shearer


Today’s Guardian (12/01/95) states

Southampton are set to make a 500,000 pounds offer for Manchester City’s out-of favour striker Carl Griffiths.

Steve Tobias


After that thoroughly disappointing and depressing end to City’s Wembley dreams, there comes more bad news.

Steve Lomas will be out for at least one game after being knocked unconscious and swallowing his tongue in the Palace defeat. Under FA guidelines he’ll miss at least one game to enable him to recover. Fortunately he seems to be recovering well.

Flipper and Quinn also picked up injuries in the defeat. Flipper strained, yes you’ve guessed it, a hamstring, whereas Quinn picked up a thigh strain. These injuries must surely make them both doubtful for Saturday’s game against Coventry.

It also looks like City may have finally received a firm bid for Carl Griffiths. After all the teams he’s been linked to, Southampton can be added to the list. Alan Ball’s reportedly made a firm bid for him, but he’ll have to pay 500k for him.

Martin Ford


Former City manager Howard ‘Judas’ Kendall has been appointed as the new manager of Notts County. Former manager Russell Slade, not the most popular person with the County fans from what I read in their fanzine ‘Flickin’n’Kickin’, will be his assistant.

Paul Howarth


All City fans must be aware by now of the curse of live TV. We always lose when we’re on Sky. Well I know that’s not strictly true: we beat Leicester this year and Reading in a cup replay (and those with a longer memory will recall the victory at Villa Park in 1990, shown on ITV).

All those performances were away from Maine Road though and in my efforts to compile a list of performances by City at home, I have come up with the following.

Season    Opponents        Result       Comments
------    ---------        ------       --------
87-88     Liverpool        L 0-4        FA Cup (rd 5 or 6) City in Div 2.
88-89    ?
89-90     Villa            L 0-2        Only shown in selected ITV regions.
90-91     Leeds            L 2-3
91-92    ?
92-93     Spurs            L 2-4        FA Cup (round 6)
93-94     United           L 2-3
94-95     Arsenal          L 1-2
          Blackburn        L 1-3

Can anyone fill in the gaps? Have I got so accustomed to under-achievement that I’ve missed a good result?

Phil Knight


The News of the World article on Sunday wasn’t the first time Dibble’s extra-marital activities have featured in the tabloids. The cover of KK31 depicted a queue of women at the ticket office to see the ‘Dibble Spectacular’ following a story in one of the dailies that Dibble (allegedly) slept with seven women in one night and that Keith Curle (allegedly) videoed it! Forgive me if I’m wrong – I didn’t see the article myself…

Paul Howarth


I regularly get KK and EB and enjoy both. Blue Print hasn’t appeared this season so I must assume it’s no longer going. The petty backbiting still goes on, particularly over the ‘fan on the board’ election but there’s enough good material in both to make up for this IMO. King of the Kippax is the best-seller and easier to read, using a black, bold typewriter font but my personal preference is for Electric Blue, although its use of a small font and blue ink make it less clear to read. There are far fewer contributors to EB which would seem to be a disadvantage but in the end the editorial team just write more themselves. Since they write intelligently and articulately, the end result is very good content. I think both fanzines are better now than they’ve ever been (particularly KK) though their production values have fallen behind the glossy publications such as ‘The Gooner’ (Arsenal), ‘1-0 Down, 2-1 Up’ (also Arsenal), ‘Heroes and Villains’ (Aston Villa) and most of the United ‘zines.

Paul Howarth


I am too depressed to write a report on the Palace game but I would like to make this point which arose from the game. It seems as though Horton has a selection problem in that he is not certain which of his strikers to play. Last night he tried to accommodate all three – playing Rösler and Quinn as out and out strikers and Walsh at right midfield. Clearly this did not work and something needs to be done. Walsh is not a midfielder and is wasted back there. You always feel that something is going to happen when Walsh gets the ball and the more he gets the ball closer to the opponents’ area the more I like it. I feel it is time for Horton to pick his two most effective strikers (he can vary his choice from game to game) and play the other one on the bench for a fresh pair of legs. Personally I would play Walsh and one other (maybe Rösler slightly ahead of Quinn) and play the 2 wingers with Flitcroft and Lomas in the centre.

What do other people think?

PS What has happened to Gaudino; he looked like a class player at Newcastle but seems to have gone backwards. Maybe it is still all due to fitness?

Steve Tobias


Personally it’s got to me pretty bad. I know in the past I’ve said I don’t let results get to me but this one hurt. I suppose it was the fact that we were within one tie (two matches) from Wembley, or that fact that Palarse stuck four past City in 30 minutes. That’ll teach me not to fall into the trap of believing City can get to Wembley for a final. :-(((

I saw the highlights of the match yesterday (didn’t listen to it on the radio as I went to watch Rochdale play Stockport County!!) and from what I saw it seemed like a fair result. The Palarse players seemed pretty fired up and wanted to win. I mean in the first 3-4 minutes Armstrong hit the bar!!!

I honestly believe that this result is the finish of our season, it represented the best chance of getting to a final. I can’t see City doing anything in the league or FA Cup, so bang goes our season again; come the end of January we’re playing for nothing again, besides pride.

Martin Ford


In response to Ashley’s comment about alcohol sales at football grounds, the reasoning behind the law is that you can’t drink enough to get drunk at the match if you can’t watch the game (which after all, you’ve paid good money to see) whilst you’re drinking. Of course it doesn’t stop people getting drunk in the pub before the game but then they get arrested as soon as they’re in the ground (particularly in the West Midlands).

Paul Howarth


I’m afraid that the advice to keep your tickets stubs has actually been publicised as well as can reasonably be expected. Every programme for the last couple of seasons has contained a reminder to keep the stubs and for the benefit of those who don’t buy programmes, there are ‘advertising boards’ facing the stands at Maine Road which also carry this advice. The last two Maine Road derbies (at least) have required fans to produce ticket stubs in order to purchase tickets so it’s hardly an unprecedented move either. Whilst this is bad news for genuine fans who’d like to see the game, there have been a number of incidents in recent years involving large numbers of United fans in City areas and I support the club’s efforts to prevent recurrences of these incidents. It’s a shame that there’s such bitter feelings between the fans that precautions like these need to be taken really.

Paul Howarth


Thanks to Miles, Neil, Phil, Paul, Simon, John, Steve & Martin.

The views expressed in MCIVTA are entirely those of the subscribersand there is no intention to represent these opinions as being thoseof Manchester City Football Club, nor of any of the companies anduniversities by whom the subscribers are employed. It is not inany way whatsoever connected to the club or any other relatedorganisation and is simply a group of supporters using this mediumas a means of disseminating news and exchanging opinions.

Ashley Birch,

Newsletter #38