Newsletter #196

Everything has gone quiet on the news front which may be a good thing as far as we are concerned! Rumours of a move to Leeds for Curle keep cropping up and I have a feeling that this one might have more truth than the average rumour. Meanwhile, congratulations to Brownie who has been called up to the England U-21 squad. There’s a book review, opinion and a Why Blue in this issue.

Next game, Athlone FC, Friday 19 July 1996


Michael Brown received a late call-up to the England U-21 squad for the annual Toulon tournament after a number of other players dropped out. England manager-to-be Glenn Hoddle will be watching the tournament as he looks for young players ready to break into the full England side under his management.

Uwe Rösler is having talks with Francis Lee in an attempt to reconcile his differences with Alan Ball. Surely Ball should be involved in such talks!?!?! Sunderland are still the favourites to be the team Rösler’s playing for next season.

The Mole


City are again being linked with Kachaber Zchadadse, sweeper and captain of the Georgian national team. His contract with Eintracht Frankfurt (who have just been relegated from Bundesliga 1 and are set to sell a number of players) expires during the Summer and he is almost certain to be moving on. City could face competition from Leeds United though, as Tony Yeboah is thought to have recommended his former team-mate to Howard Wilkinson. Fortunately for us, Sergeant Wilko seems to be more interested in signing Keith Curle!

The Mole


Rumours Rumours Rumours

I asked this week if the recent press reports regarding transfers from the club could be confirmed or denied. I have particularly in mind the reports linking Uwe to Sunderland. The response from the club was basically this:

Don’t believe the papers. Whilst F.H.L. is off on his hols and Bally is in Canada there is nobody to talk to regarding transfer deals. The upshot of this, is that any transfer speculation has come from somewhere else. Interested clubs maybe?

Scoreboard? More seating?

After the recent MCIVTA footy match I was reminded by Paul Haworth to ask again about the plans for a scoreboard (or two) and whether or not anything had been decided about putting a roof and some seating in the gaps at each end of the Kippax. No is the answer. It seems that information like this is difficult to come by, even inside the club.

Nothing radical but VERY different…

Paul also touched on the subject of the changing away strip, so I asked (again). What does it look like? The response was very cagey. “Weeeelllll …….. it’s different.” In what way? says I. ” Mmmmm…. eeehrrr… there’s a change of colour” Great, what colour is it? I ask. “Aaaahhhh…. ummm….. weeelllll it’s very different” was the mysterious reply. Oh, is it radically different? “Oh no, but it’s different” Talk about cards close to the chest. Jeeze! It appears that Umbro get very shirty (sorry) if anyone lets the cat out of the bag about next season’s styles and fashions. I just hope to Christ the new kit isn’t grey!

Season Ticket sales top 10,000

I think it was Ashley who asked how many season tickets had been sold. Now you know.


Just to finish, we need some questions to ask. I expect there will be more to query as the new season gets closer and holidays draw to a close so keep them coming.

Steve Bolton (


A 55 page special described as “your complete souvenir of the 1995-96 season featuring every Manchester City game with pictures.” and with a full page colour picture of Uwe on the front cover seemed like a reasonable buy. I should have known better.

This is basically a re-run of the stories and pictures ripped from the M(U)EN and the Pink. OK, that’s what you might expect; but here in one paper are the seasons’ match reports written by someone purporting to be a City fan, but reading like those penned by a reporter who would rather have been somewhere else. Headlines like “Blues have cross to bear” and “Blues are looking down the barrel after only four games” when the season is only 11 days old are indicative (to me anyway) that this reporter is negative, pessimistic and just not the man for the job. Who is he? Paul Hince. Who else? After reading through this bargain my impression of Hince as a moaning reporter who perceives his mission on earth to be consistently rattling on like a bag of spanners in the MEN, has been fortified. Of course there wasn’t much to sing about last season and to be fair the odd mention of individual brilliance does find its way into this paper. So too though does rather a large (full page, full colour) photo of Paul Scholes; the largest picture in the paper and one of only four colour images in the whole publication. Well done MUEN, what the **** are you playing at? Couldn’t you find a pic of Gio or Kit?

I’m with Martin Ford. I’m not buying that rag (in every sense of the word) until I want a new job.

Steve Bolton (


Dust Jacket

TITLE          Soccer Round The World
AUTHOR         Francis Lee
PUBLISHER      Readers Union Limited
ADDRESS        PO Box 6,
               Newton Abbott,
               Devon, TQ12 2DW
PRICE          £1.25

This book is a book club edition of 1972; the original was published by Arthur Barker Limited in 1970. I picked up this copy in Spring 1996 with a book search at my local bookshop for the huge sum of £3.50! The book itself has 119 pages with 28 black & white photos. The dust jacket is a grotty brown with a superimposed image of Lee being tackled by West Germany’s Overath in the ’70 World Cup; the corresponding photo on the inside is excellent but the cover is totally bland; maybe it was fashionable in the early 70’s?

The book kicks off with two chapters on Mexico which is understandable, as at the time of publication the nation was probably still preoccupied by the events of that Summer and in particular the amazing way in which victory was turned into defeat. Lee describes many of the events which led up to that game including the Moore incident where a theft charge was manufactured in Bogota. The frame-up was amateurish, picking on the two England players who were most above reproach: Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton. The hatred he experienced in Mexico is almost tangible, he describes crude attempts to keep the team awake but I do wonder, with the passage of time, whether he would today raise the possibility that Banks had been deliberately poisoned before the West Germany game. Whatever, it’s clear that losing this game left it’s mark on him, not only from the manner of the defeat but because he fervently believed that the team was not only the best at the World Cup but was better than the England team of ’66; I personally wouldn’t dispute the latter.

Lee goes on to describe how he was playing cricket four years previously for Heaton in the Bolton League; they elected to bat first so that they’d have the best chance of watching the Wembley final on TV in the bar! He relates his impressions of those footballers and how he never imagined that he would later join them. We already get a glimpse of his reknowned business acumen as he starts out doing a window cleaning round and then onto various other ventures. A nice anecdote concerns him asking the Bolton Wanderers manager Bill Ridding for an extra five pounds to bring his wage up to £25, the level of the senior players (he was top scorer at the time). Riddings refused and replied “What else can you do? You’re only a labourer!”

Here the chronology gets a little muddled as the next chapter describes City’s hot/cold 1970 season. There are plenty of anecdotes in here including a lot about Doyle’s schemes for winding United up e.g. car stickers. Lee admits that the famous indirect free kick goal (League Cup) wasn’t a deliberate attempt to trick Stepney, he just didn’t see that the referee had his arm up.

Back to Bolton again for a fairly acrimonious description of Bolton Wanderers FC. The entire club comes in for severe criticism, not only for the way they handled Lee, but also for the rank amateurism and small mindedness which reigned at the club. Lee relates how he was so disgruntled after giving 8 years of his footballing life to the club that he finally demanded a transfer after several abortive attempts had been made to sign him. He marched into Ridding’s office and demanded his cards, but was told he couldn’t have them; off he went to the Employment Exchange where he found out he was in the right, so he came right back to Burnden Park where he eventually got his cards and ceased to be a player of Bolton Wanderers. He had already refused to play in a game and was ready to quit football at this stage. I wonder what he thinks of it all now? After he turned down a move to Wolves because of his business interests (they wouldn’t allow him to travel) in came City and secured him for £65,000. Lee was very impressed by the set-up at Maine Road and by the way training was conducted extremely professionally. He praises various players from his Bolton days and in particular, a player who was later to come to Maine Road, Freddie Hill.

He calls Allison God, though they didn’t get off to a good start, Allison’s first, less-than-humble words to him were “I could make you into a good player”! He goes on to describe him as “The best coach in the world.” There is a whole chapter devoted to Europe and in addition to the football he gives a good insight into the cameraderie of the team and how they constantly played jokes on each other despite travel arrangements which frequently went disastrously wrong. This of course culminates in Vienna with the win over Gornik.

The last few chapters are almost conversational; he discusses various penalty-taking stories, later to become even more topical, as well as the League Cup campaign where he was booked after a bit of a collision with one Alan Ball! The final chapter looks at poison pen letters and the life of a modern-day footballer; apparently Doyle used to get tons of hate mail from United fans, the more the merrier as far as he was concerned.

This book is basically a ‘snapshot in time’ and was written almost as the events happened, but with some personal history thrown in. It gives a great feel of what it was like to be in the England camp in the World Cup and what it was like to be a part of the City team in their most successful year. More than this though, it gives us a feel for Lee; Lee the footballer, Lee the businessman. Even early on you can see just how strong his self-belief is and just how determined a player and a person he is. Lee’s commercial success almost has an air of inevitabilty about it looking at this book, and we can only hope that those same qualities which took him to footballing and finanicial success will once again take City to the top.


P.S. If anyone fancies reviewing any other books about City then please feel free to have a go.


Apologies for the lateness of this result. 12 sets of votes for April/May. End of season lethargy perhaps? The full result was:

Michael Brown

1st: Michael Brown 16 votes (25%)
2nd: Kit Symons    12 votes (19%)
3rd: Niall Quinn   11 votes (18%)
4th: Steve Lomas    8 votes (13%)
Others:            16 votes (25%)

Other players to receive votes were: Immel, Kinkladze, Frontzeck, Rösler and Clough.

Player of the year poll to follow next month.

Ken Foster (


In reply to the information about the S4C football programme, it’s called Sgorio, which I think is Welsh for goal (not difficult to work out…). The last programme in this series is on this Monday (bank holiday) and it does have occasional subtitles (which I find spoil the game of attempting to spot the Welsh phrases for ‘hits the bar’ and ‘misses a sitter’). You can also learn to count to three in Welsh (sometimes more if there’s a drubbing). So point those aerials towards Newport/Wrexham etc. Oh, it’s on at 10pm.

On a related note, are there any City fans out there based in South Wales? Is anyone interested in either getting together for a pint/moan and/or visiting Exeter (pre-season friendly) / Swindon / Oxford / Llansanffraidd etc?

Adam Joinson (


Planning to go and see City away next season? If so you might need protective eyewear…

Went into the City shop in the Arndale last Saturday; whilst paying for my stuff I asked the bloke behind the counter if there was any information about the new away kit.

He didn’t know when it would be avaliable as “nobody tells us anything” but he’d heard on the grapevine that it was “white with claret and gold bits.”

I also noticed that the home shirt (only been around one season) was on sale at a reduced price. Are the club going to change kit manufacturers at long last?

Yours in Blue (or white with claret and gold bits 8-)), David C. Bradbury (


I think I’ve got over the relegation trauma now but I guess I will relapse when the new season starts. I’ve been thinking about Alan Ball. He strikes me as not an ‘intelligent’ manager. I don’t mean he’s thick or anything but I don’t believe he’s a great thinker. I feel he tried to do too much too soon and ended up getting us relegated. But I’m not exactly sure what he is trying to do. It’s funny that he’s on about selling Beagrie; he tried to buy him when he was with Southampton and when he first arrived he described him as a ‘top player.’

It’s not all doom and gloom, the first division will give room for experimentation. Phillips will be able to start matches, there will be freedom to bring in youngsters without the fear of losing each week. With our squad surely we can’t struggle?

I think Ball should stay as he’s started something, I don’t know what, but I’d like him to have a chance to finish it. I’m now convinced he wasn’t the right man for the job when he took over but if we panic and bring someone new in then exactly the same thing will happen; the first 4 months the players will have to adjust to the new manager’s style and personality, the new manager will strip the team of players who he doesn’t get on with and then bring in players of the same standard who he likes. I hate to see us selling our mediocre players and buying in similar mediocre players.

If we sell Rösler who would we get to replace him? Doesn’t it make sense for Ball and Rösler to sit down over breakfast and sort out their problems with each other? This should have happened a long time ago. They’re both coming from the same direction, it should be simple, but Ball is too stubborn and from the sounds of it there’s plenty of that in Rösler too.

P.S. What does anything mean basically? 🙂



I think I have found out the answer as to why we are all Man City fans, particularly those of us who are in the younger bracket and have never seen a proper trophy at the club in our lifetime.

We are all masochists, we enjoy pain and humiliation, we like sitting on the edge of the seat for the last ten minutes after a 3-0 lead has been cut to 3-2, will we hold on or not? We enjoy the ritual humiliation of other fans, particularly cockney Reds, taking the p**s out of us.

Perhaps these are just the thoughts that Franny has of us, he doesn’t want the club to be too successful as he know City fans aren’t arrogant and couldn’t cope with winning the double twice in three years, so to let us have our perverted enjoyment he has employed somebody with a cracking track record for masochists.

After all we got Alan Ball.

I think every true Blue is in agreement that AB should p**s off to relegate some other club, I think we are stuck with him until we’re in the second division; somehow I hope he proves me wrong and can keep the team together. Forget the c**p about Gio being too good for Endsleigh; yeah he is, but he loves it at City and he’s the player the team should be moulded around; with the squad at present it could do well the season after next in the Premiership.

Lee should adopt Swales’ tactics; if we lose two of our first three games, Ball should go. If he can’t sack him, employ someone who can.

Chin up guys, here’s to a brighter future.

James Talbot (


If we want a new manager we could do a lot worse than Sammy McIlroy of Macclesfield Town. As a Macc fan myself I know that every other week there is something in the paper about him going to another club (e.g. He was linked with Notts County) In three seasons he has won all three of the major non-league honours (Conference Title, Conference League Cup and FA Trophy). With all the speculation about his future it would seem that he is going to leave sooner rather than later and if he has to leave Macc then I would rather it be to City than anyone else.

P.S. Can we have Niall Quinn/Keith Curle as player manager in exchange?
P.P.S. does anyone know if Paul Power is Macc striker Phil Power’s brother?
P.P.P.S. No Macc can’t have Kinky can they.. ?

Forever Blue (Macc play in blue as well as City),Thomas Rance (


Judging by the last edition the anger at being relegated seems to be subsiding. At last the calls for the sacking of Ball seeem to have abated and maybe we can get on with supporting the club.

When I heard that Cruyff had been given the boot (and his son who plays for Barcelona is none too happy) I thought ‘great, bring him into the club as coach to work with Ball.’ Having heard how much Robson will be getting to do the job (1000 grand +) I thought ‘why didn’t they ask me?’

I think we need a team like the Mercer/Allison days with a good coach and a manager to look after the day to day running of the team. The coach would need to be a motivator and the manager a good listener and tactician. Ball does not seem to fit into either of these camps too well but we have got him and let’s face it no one else would want the job. I agree with the comment about Graham, at least we are exciting to watch (it may bring on heart attacks but it’s exciting). With Graham as manager it would be Mogadon City Football Club 🙂

We are building a new team and there is a lot of promise in the current squad. I have always thought that Quinn would make a great captain, he has acted as spokesman for the team for most of the season with Curle making no comments about some of the awful displays (Wimbledon away etc.). Quinn is also a tireless worker and motivator. There is some ill feeling from certain players towards the management but they are workers and should work. My guess is Ball will stay for at least another season so we should get behind him and the team.

City are a great club and will be again, but we need stability to develop. We may not like the way things are going but it all takes time. Last season we had an almost totally new squad with Georgians, Germans, Swiss, Irish etc. etc. The team did put in some great performances so they can do it; give Ball a chance and let’s see what happens next year. If we are really terrible I’ll be the first to say Ball Out!

Andy Birkin (


I agree on sticking with a manager and giving him time but this theory only gives hope with a manager that has had proven success at other clubs. If we had been relegated with George Graham (he seems to be the manager City fans seem to like) I think a lot of Blues would be optimistic about next season; with AB nobody seems optimistic. His arguing with players through the media is very unprofessional and should be taken care of within the four walls of his office. His substitutions at times have been puzzling to say the least. The one cock-up that sums up the season has to be the time wasting instructions given to Lomas against Liverpool, words escape me on that one.

Wasn’t one of AB’s reasons we had such a bad start that it was due to having so many new players in the team? Well with the reported clearout and the obvious need for 3/4 new players isn’t the start of next season going to be the same situation? Franny seems to be a man of his word so far and he insists Ball stays; he also said “if Gio goes I go” near the end of last season, so Kinkladze should stay. If he does go I think City fans will feel relegated all over again as he’s been the only bright spot at the club in years. Trying to be optimistic I hope a season in Div 1 wouldn’t hurt him too much? He ripped Leicester apart. Maybe he would get a little extra protection from referees as he would easily be the star attraction of the whole league and would pull in extra fans both at home and away. I think any kicking he gets will only be on a par with our so called chumps, Keane and Butt at the Swamp and Bruce trying to take Gio’s head off with his elbow at Maine Road.

He wouldn’t get hacked as much if danger came from other players on the team. Less time would be spent man-marking him, enabling him to drift in and out of games giving him more time and space to work his magic. He can’t carry the whole team again like he did last year. We must find other match winners or else he’ll probably get p****d off and leave. Teams know if you stop Gio, you stop City. There isn’t any top Premier team that relies on one player like we have, and that includes the Rags. C*ntona played a lot of very average games throughout the season but Giggs, Butt, Beckham, Keane and Scholes have stepped up to score vital goals.

Gio’s only 22(!) and that’s too young to carry a whole team/club especially in a foreign country with a foreign language. He was outstanding this season, he came into a struggling side in his first year which is usually the most difficult. They say you peak around 28; that’s 6 years away so he should get even better as he settles. If he’s as happy and loves the club as much as we’re told then next year can be another developing/settling in year for him, learning the language etc.

IMO we have a player on our hands that skill-wise a certain Frenchman isn’t fit to lace his boots, I just hope he stays.

The bookies have just announced we’re second favourites to come up next year, who’s first?….. the Titanic!

Paul Whittaker (


I must admit to feeling a bit of a fraud. Here I am sitting comfortably in North Carolina with mid-May temperatures in the mid to high 80’s with only limited access to the “Blues” over the last 20 years – and I’m attempting a “Why Blue”. A fraud because I’m a “born Again” City fan. In fact I completely lost sight of them and their progress throughout the decade of the ’80’s.

I saw my first game in the 65-66 season. They were in the 2nd Division and I travelled to Gigg Lane with my girlfiend who was a City supporter from way back. My memory says they lost that night – but I was on hand several days later when they clinched promotion away against Rotherham. I remember going to a party and meeting some of the players in the closed season. Dave Conner, Neil Young, Ralph Brand, Matt Gray among them. They were a loose bunch and obviously looking forward to the 1st Division.

What a rude awakening that was – after a decent showing at Anfield, Chelsea and West Ham came in and ripped our guts out. I think that first season back in the big league was one of the most satisfying that I can remember. I know they won the Championship the following year and the Cup the year after that but the challenge of survival in Div 1 was something else. My memories are of small events during that time period (late 60’s):

The sound of the grass swishing as David Conner ran in to tackle Charlie Cooke at the half way line. The sight of Ian Storey Moore breaking his leg in front of the Platt Lane goal (I think he had just joined the Rags at that point). The sound was really clear. The game where City played Burnley at Maine Road and were two up in 3 minutes and went on to win 7-0. I remember the Easter weekend when Paul Hince made his first team début (too old at 20 he was told). Ralph Brand played in that game too – and I remember the twinkle in Brand’s eye as he glanced over to Hince just before the kick off. They were both excited at the prospect of Hince playing. Hince got two goals that day in a 2-2 draw against either Chelsea or West Brom.

I remember the total frustration I felt watching Joe Corrigan in one of his early games kick the ball upfield in a game against Spurs. He then turned his back to run back to his goal line. He didn’t see Jimmy Greaves lob the ball into the goal from the centre circle whilst his back was turned.

I saw the development of some terrific players during those days – Tommy Booth, Ian Mellor, Tony Towers, Willie Donachie, John Barnes, Stan Bowles, Joe Corrigan and my favorite Ian Bowyer. I liked Bowyer not because of his talent (he was a journeyman player) but what a spirit he had. He was all arms and legs – but he had a talent for goal scoring. I think he made a decent career for himself with Nottm Forest. I also saw some memorable flops – Arthur Mann, Bobby Owen (known to the Kippax as “Bungalow Head” because he didn’t appear to have too much upstairs!).

I think though throughout the 60’s and 70’s the thing that kept me coming back to watch the Blues was their battling spirit. A win was never a sure thing – even with their championship team you often left the ground with the opposition scoring the winning goal in the 89th minute. But they battled. There are two players of that era that exemplify that spirit for me: Mike Doyle and Wyn Davies. Doyle was in my opinion one of the most underrated players the club had. He was passionate about playing for the club and never gave up. Davies was one of the bravest players I have ever seen. I have lost count of the number of games he played with a bandage around his head covering a cut he’d gotten in an aerial challenge.

In the mid 70’s I moved over to the US – the draw of the US dollar was too great and I didn’t go back to the UK until 1987. I lost sight of the team and today when I read in MCIVTA people’s reminiscences from the 80’s the names are just names to me. We has a pro soccer team in Charlotte in the 80’s “The Carolina Lightnin”; the manager was Rodney Marsh and the left half was Bobby Moore. The were quite successful for a couple of years and then they folded. Other than that soccer didn’t exist for me.

I went back to England in 89 on a business trip in November and decided to go along to Maine Road – didn’t know any of the players, but watched them lose 3-2 to Leeds. They were fantastic. They fought, they attacked relentlessly – just like the teams of old – and I was hooked again. Since then I’ve managed to see a couple of games every year – I try to coordinate business trips to the UK during the season. in ’91 I took my two sons to watch the Blues play Sheffield United on Boxing day – they are hooked too. I am not as lucky as some subscribers to MCIVTA in the US who can see games over satellite – so seeing soccer is a rare treat for me. On TV they have started showing the odd game every now and then from the Dutch league – and I enjoy that – but my lifeline is this website. I thank all who organize and contribute. I do not agree with all that is said (why should I?) but the fact that I have access to the discussions and debates is great. Many thanks to all.

Mike Edwards (


Contributions: Ashley –
Subscriptions: Adam –
Club Questions: Stephen –

Thanks to Mike, David, James, The Mole, Tim, Steve, Thomas, Andy, Adam, Ken & Paul.

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 #196