Newsletter #296

Plenty of controversy surrounds the club at the moment, and we have the first of what may be much opinion on the sacking of Colin Bell. A closer view of the goings on is available, courtesy of the Platt Lane Correspondent, who offers some reasons for the dismissals. There is no more news of Gio but there is a rumour of a certain ex-Rag who may be coming to Maine Road! There’s also news of evenings with Frannie and Harry Dowd(!) as well as all the latest on Internet footie events, including a match report!

It looks highly likely that’ll I’ll be away at the end of the week so I might end up holding everything over ’til next Monday. Apologies for this, but my wife – who’d normally fill in – has her hands rather full at the moment.

Next game, to be announced.


2 VARLEY’S, A VALLEY AND A FUNERAL (Not starring Hugh Grant)

Date: Wednesday 7th May
Venue: The Pulse Stadium at Valley Parade, Bradford
Game: Bradford and Ilkley Community College vs. MCIVTA select XI (ish)

At last the MCIVTA team had a stage of high enough standard to cope with our skills for this game at the home of Bradford City. After various appeals, a team of sorts was cobbled together to play in this charity match against a team of staff and (a lot of foreign, i.e. good) students from the local college. As we came together before the game, a few of the doubting Thomases were still questioning me as to whether I had deceived them into thinking that the game wasn’t really at Valley Parade, but instead on a bit of grass with jumpers for goalposts (“Young boys in the park” etc.). Soon these fears were put to rest as we got to stand outside the ground for 20 minutes without a sign of life from within. Luckily we were finally let in when the opposition turned up (nepotism at its worst – wait for them to turn up!) and in we went.

It was looking a bit bad for us when after a couple of people couldn’t play, dropped out or didn’t turn up, we found ourselves down to 9 players. Obviously we didn’t fancy being docked 3 points, so we were going to play anyway. Although playing away from home, we wore blue home kit that did us proud as it was the only professional thing to come from us all afternoon! 🙂 Warming up in front of a crowd approaching 50-60 people we were soon greeted with the sight of Colin Surrey dashing across the pitch to boost our numbers after a few days in the Lake District doing altitude training or something similar. Also enlisted into the ranks was the sports presenter from the local radio station – The Pulse. We looked good in warm up, so obviously they were fearful of us even if they didn’t show it. We lined up as follows:

			   Martin Barnes
Andy Richardson	    Mark Hampson     Mark Varley     Martin Ford
Sam Al-Hamdani      Joe Coogan       Colin Surrey    Matt Varley
		Paul Sheppard	      Chris Cooper

4-4-2 it was to be and from the kick off we were under pressure. As most of us hadn’t met until 60 minutes before kick off, team spirit and communication wasn’t the easiest thing to foster. Our goalkeeper had suffered a broken leg 5 months ago and was making his comeback, half the team played football only occasionally and Martin Ford and myself are fat b***ards! A victory for us? Maybe not! We fell behind early on from a goal I don’t remember too much about. One of their players lamped it 25 yards and caught our ‘keeper off his line. 1-0 BICC.

We started to organise ourselves a little bit after this and the back 4 started to play the off-side trap a lot better than Arsenal or our lot manage to do it. The offside flag was up often before the linesman made a terrible decision and they scored a second (offside!) goal from a cross. I know it was offside as I had my hand up and our goalkeeper agreed! Proof enough in my book. 2-0 to BICC and it was only about 20 minutes into the game. The floodgates could have oh so easily opened. We stood firm however and continued to catch them offside whilst managing the odd counter of our own. We were getting back into it and were the better team going into the break. Half time, BICC 2 MCIVTA 0

During the break our centre forward from the local radio station proved to be a typical media type and cry off with a sore leg. No problem for us though as God was on our side. Reverend Mike Harrison came on for us in midfield with Joe Coogan pushed up into attack. We started off the second half as the brighter of the two teams and God was indeed shining upon us when we pulled one back via Joe Coogan after a scramble in the area early in the half. BICC 2 MCIVTA 1.

We were now back in it. Unfortunately we had no other subs and despite pressurising them for another 10 minutes, fatigue and injuries began to take their toll. Mark Hampson got injured and had to limp around in midfield for the rest of the game. Then yours truly, who had injured his ankle earlier, also developed cramp when clearing the ball and had to limp around too. Now we were down to 8 fit men, 2 cripples and a man of the cloth. Ideal for a church service, not ideal for a game of football.

They started to run us ragged and looked to have made it 3-1 when they put a cross into the 6 yard box and a shot was easily converted from close in. The goal was disallowed though as I was the last man back and slipped off the pitch causing the striker to be offside (Kit and the lads should take note of this!). The legs got a lot more wearier and they bagged 2 more goals to make the final score BICC 4 MCIVTA 1.

Trooping off dejectedly, we were soon cheered up by the selection of pies in the dressing room. Excuses were then made to justify the defeat and it was off to the bar for a drink or two.

Many thanks to all the lads who turned out for this match and made it a great occasion. Quite a bit of money was raised too for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal (he was there to meet us before the game) which was a bit handy!

Here’s hoping that we do a bit better at the Euronet Tournament!

Mark Varley (


Colin Bell, furious at the way he’s been treated by City, has taken home his England cap that he’d presented to the club for display at Maine Road. This is reminiscent of the action taken by Mike Summerbee when Francis Lee was trying to oust the late Peter Swales. Bell’s wife, Marie, said: “Colin was City in the old Bell-Lee-Summerbee playing days but is this any way to treat him? His life is football and he wants to continue in the game at a club that will appreciate his talents. What sort of loyalty is this? He feels he has been let down by certain people at City. He has obviously not left in happy circumstances and is feeling very low.”

Terry Farrell, also sacked along with Bell and Neil McNab, said: “I can’t believe the sacking of Colin Bell. He was one of the greatest City players ever. I feel the youth section is being made the scapegoat for the club’s lack of success. The only players the club has been able to sell in recent years are those who have come from the youth section – Garry Flitcroft who was sold for £3.2 million and Steve Lomas who went for £2 million. The youth section has more than paid its way. Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and Ben Thornley were all allowed to leave City without anyone on the management side even knowing they were with us.”

The sackings are a precursor to the setting up of a totally new youth development programme at City, headed by Paul Power who will take up the post of Youth Development Executive next month. Frank Clark commented: “It’s the start of a new era. The chairman has some really exciting plans for the future of youth development. Paul Power is coming in to try to implement them on the academy and educational side of things. We felt it was an opportune time to start afresh with the youth development.”

Paul Howarth (


City old boy Clive (I’ve had a haircut) Allen kicked a hat-trick of field goals as the London Monarchs beat the Scottish Claymores 16-8 in a gridiron match this weekend.

Tony the tattooed donkey Hulme (


There were seemingly conflicting reports during the week that Peter Beagrie and Alan Kernaghan had been offered new contracts but were available for transfer. It seems both reports were true. The contracts offered are on basically the same terms as their current contracts, which means that neither player is eligible for a free transfer under the English domestic system, despite their current contracts having ended. They could, however, move abroad under the Bosman ruling. Beagrie commented: “I was really looking forward to getting back again. I had no thoughts of leaving City and when I was offered a new contract I was delighted. But now I don’t know what the future holds.”

The list of senior players available for transfer now reads: Beagrie, Clough, Creaney, Foster, Heaney, Kavelashvili and Kernaghan. With the City futures of Nicky Summerbee, Uwe Rösler and Gio Kinkladze still uncertain and Dalian Atkinson not being retained after his loan spell, it could be a very different City side that starts next season.

Paul Howarth (


It seems the Georgian FA have said they’d prefer to see their international players playing in the top division of whatever country they’re working in, but Gio Kinkladze’s name is rarely out of the limelight despite him being with an obscure mid-table English First Division outfit from Manchester…

In this week’s edition of “Hold the Back Page”, they were discussing Paul Gascoigne’s return to the England squad, commenting that he does indeed make a difference to the side creatively, but lamenting the personal and fitness problems that always seem to accompany him. Then the sports writer from the Independent on Sunday (I’ve forgotten his name unfortunately), said: “It’s a pity we can’t have Kinkladze in the England team because then we’d have a half-decent side.”

Too true eh?

The Mole


Tony Book has teamed up with former City boss Brian Horton again, accepting an appointment as the new chief scout of Huddersfield Town. Book, 61, will operate on a part-time basis but has been given responsibility for co-ordinating the entire scouting system.

Paul Howarth (


Nigel Clough may be set to follow his dad, Brian, into management. Reports today have linked him with the vacant managerial posts at Reading and Shrewsbury Town. Clough, 30, was transfer-listed last week along with several other senior squad members at City. “Things have not worked out for Nigel at City and he has a problem with the fans here,” said Frank Clark.

Paul Howarth (


I have heard from within that Mark Hughes is definitely going to be pulling on a sky blue shirt next season! Has anyone else got any concrete evidence on this?

Paul Warburton (


Whilst we were at the City ticket office the other day, we noticed a grinning member of staff (not a commonplace sight this season). On enquiring about the reason for this unexpected jollity we were told rather breathlessly that “Kinky’s staying… it’s definite, he’s just sorted it out with Mr. Lee.” Was this just a ploy to sell us another season ticket?

Chris Giles (


Surprise surprise; Gio Was voted City Internet Player of the Year for the second year in a row. Nice second place to Buzzer, and a good win for Whitley in the young player section. Bit of a revenge from going behind Crooks in the big contest.

I’ll send some kind of letter/diploma to Gio (together with my petition letter) to let him know about the voting. And I’ll get one off for Whitley as well.

Svenn Hanssen (


City again make the headlines. Friday’s MEN back page headline is “Blue Rage”, the story being about City’s near wipeout of their coaching staff. In the last month or so Book, Bond, McNab, Bell, Farrell and Willis have all left the club and Paul Power will return to head a new youth development team. When I think back over the hints and remarks I’ve heard recently I can’t say that I’m entirely surprised. Let’s take each case individually:

  1. Tony Book: A great servant of the club, Book served in nearly every jobon offer from manager to youth team coach and did a good job too. He hadhowever made some embarrassing mistakes recently, highlighted in previousreports, and was over 60 and retirement comes to us all.
  2. Kevin Bond: Obviously an Alan Ball appointment, but I was alwaysimpressed with his training methods and obvious keenness, and the reservesdid get promoted… so I’m not really sure on this one.
  3. Neil McNab: “B” team were never out of the top three in the last threeseasons, an excellent coach, good rapport with the lads … but heprobably fell foul of the new management team when he was reluctant to playyoung trialists in the team. Clark wanted to use the “B” team to try outtalent and bring players back from injury and McNab wanted to win games.Whether you agree or not “orders is orders” and Frank Clark is very much incharge (also see below).
  4. Colin Bell: A wonderful footballer and athlete, the best I’ve ever seenin sixty years of watching City. I’m sorry a place could not be found forhim at the club, but he was not cut out to be a coach. His time with the”A” team showed that to be the case (also see below).
  5. Terry Farrell and David Willis: The rumour going around at Platt Lanesays that the four youth team development people (McNab, Bell, Farrell andWillis) had a serious disagreement over new contracts for young players.This was related to me by one of the young players’ fathers. The result ofthe disagreement was that certain people would not speak to others andwould only communicate through an intermediary. This position was not totolerated by Clark and Hill.

All in all nothing to be terribly pleased about, but football is a “funny old game” and I was told a month ago to watch out for very big changes at the end of the season, so there may well be more to come. There is only Asa Hartford left and I wonder how well he will be sleeping tonight.

Neale Hayward-Shott (


Fellow players, those who have offered their services (or would like to offer their services) in the defence of everything Blue against those hoardes in Red, please note the change of venue for the proposed McVittee vs. Rags game. The game still goes ahead this coming Saturday (FA Cup final) but please note the venue change. Can all those wanting to play please confirm that you are still available.

The Armitage Centre wasn’t available when we wanted to play, so… I’ve managed to provisionally book a pitch at Timperley Cricket and Hockey Club, which is in S. Manchester, near Altrincham. It’ll cost £58.75, which is about £2.70 each. Kick off will be at 12.00 and we can have the pitch until 2pm.

I’ll confirm the booking unless anyone has any objections.

Martin Ford (



Here’s the squad for the upcoming Euronet 97 tournament in Middlesbrough (in no particular order):

Martin Ford, Mark Varley, Richard Fenton, Kev McMeeking, Jon Fielding, Colin Surrey, Andy Brookfield, Benny, John Warrington, Sam Al-Hamdani, Gary Fones, Rob Watson and Scott Moore +3/4. (Three of the squad are still a little unsure of whether they will be able to make the weekend).

So that gives us a squad of 16/17 if everyone can make it. As the squad can have a maximum of 22 players there’s still places open, so if anyone fancies coming along to play then please let me know ASAP. If you want to come along to watch then also let me know.


The numbers for the official site have to be with the organisers no later than this Friday (May 16th). So if you want to bed down at the official site then please let me know. I will also need to know which nights you intend to stay (Fri/Sat/Both).

More Details

If you want more details then have a look at the official site:

Martin Ford (


There is a spoof chat show on BBC2 called “The Mrs Merton Show”. The audience is made up of the same 50 or 60 people every week and are involved in the chat. To the best of my knowledge they are friends of the family of the actress who plays Mrs Merton.

They have just done a series in Las Vegas, since which the local and national papers have had articles about one of the guests. He is Harry Dowd the City goalkeeper in the 1969 F.A. Cup Final against Leicester City.

I think that he works as a rep for J.W. Lees, a local brewery, and is quoted as saying “I reckon that I’m more famous now than when I was playing.” For those who remember him and have BBC2, may I suggest you have a look in.

Brian Leigh (


During Francis Lee’s visit to Jersey at Easter I persuaded him to meet the City fans over here one evening. He very kindly accepted my offer and came along to the Corbiere Phare with his wife Jill to chat to the City fans about his career, the goings on at Maine Road in recent years and what we have to look forward to.

The couple of hours we spent asking him questions was great fun and I think he enjoyed the evening as much as we did which I think comes over in his answers. I hope you in enjoy it to. The full transcript appears on the Supporters’ Club Internet site at

Bob Young (


The following was forwarded by Martin Ford:

Following on from the Euronet 97 débâcle (the FA’s big brother act), it looks like ‘we’ might be fighting back on behalf of everyone who’s ever kicked a football.

We have had a call into IFA headquarters from a TV programme who are looking to do a story on the FA débâcle. In discussion with them it became clear that it is felt amateur footballers get a s**t deal in a lot of places from the men in grey suits – both at local and national level.

Anyway, the guy I was talking to said could I ask you lot for a favour which I have agreed to. What he wants you to do is to ask your lists the following:

Have any of your list members who play amateur footie been mistreated in any way by their local FA? He is especially interested in anyone from either Essex or the West Country, but other areas will also be of interest.

The programme makers are convinced that the FA at both local and national level is not necessarily run in the best interests of amateur players. They are also looking at the way people are treated according to race, age etc.

If any of your list members have got anything in the way of a tale to tell can they contact myself on with a header that says: Sweet FA.

All things being equal the FA débâcle will be featured in a programme to be screened shortly. Now wouldn’t that be nice?


I have just read an article in ‘Blue View’ about Colin Bell and ‘the future’ written on 5/10/97 by Keith Elliott. Also I have, obviously, been reading the general comments over the last few days. I now confess to being rather frustrated and a little angry too. My anger is not really aimed at the article, I think it has just been the final stimulus for me to give my opinion on the Manchester City story, as I see it.

As a boy I lived in Winsford, I went to school with relations of City staff and players, played table tennis with Glyn Pardoe and Alan Oakes and caddied for Joe Mercer. I was at Maine Road for the 3-3 draw with United along with 63,000 other supporters (it is still the best game I have ever been to).

I am a “Blue” – I have no choice in this. It is as much a part of my identity as my family or my nationality. I could choose to cut myself off from results or news and construct a life without any City involvement (active or passive) but City would still be my team. As I have said, I can no more change this then I can change my mother.

So firstly let me say that I don’t necessarily disagree with Keith Elliot. Any manager in any business has got to do the job or the business will fail. A football club is a business too. So I do not disagree with the sacking. But, to me, the situation should never have come to that. The problem with Manchester City is not about good or bad players, managers or supporters. It is about how these resources are utilized. That’s what management means. In my opinion City has been mis-managed for most of its history. That is really what I want to say.

Different companies need different strategies to be successful. City has for years taken short-term solutions to long-term problems. In managing the club absolutely nobody seems to have any idea about how to take the long view. By that I do not mean give the manager of the team 3 years instead of 1 in the job. I’m not even talking about the team as such. I’m talking about the whole club, supporters, players and staff. The Colin Bell situation has given me the platform I need to express this idea.

Let me be more specific. To manage the staff of any business it is important (in the Western society at least) that employees have a clear career path and that they are given the training and help they need to reach their full potential. There is no sentimentality to this. It is just good management. The business is rewarded with competent, happy, loyal staff. If somebody is not doing the job, but is doing their best, then they should be treated with respect and consideration. Not to do so is simply bad management. This is true in any business but it is doubly true in the case of a football club “business” and even more so in the case of the Manchester City F.C. “business”. I will give my reasons why.

It is doubly true in the case of Manchester City because as well as being a business we are also a club. And as well as being a club we are primarily a locally supported one. For City to be run effectively the “club” aspect of the “business” has to be utilized to its full potential.

With this in mind, to complain of nepotism in football is to open up a whole grey area. Family links are an integral part of supporting a club, how many “Why Blue” articles clearly state the “passed on from father to son” aspect of support. As I have already said supporting a club is not a business decision. It is something we often have no say in and is commonly passed down from one generation to another. That sounds pretty nepotistic to me. So to suggest that there should be no nepotism in club management is to completely separate the support and the management of a club. How can that be? Supporters become players and players become manager and directors etc.

If I had been good enough to play for City I would gladly have signed on for nothing. If I had then progressed to the first team I would have excepted much less money then another non-supported player because, compared to other players, I would be less enthusiastic towards the prospect of a move to another club.

If the club is run on purely short term business ideas then the club can get a benefit from exploiting its most loyal players, supporters etc. Maybe this is now beginning to sound familiar.

I am very firm in the belief that City have to look to the future in order to achieve success. Success for City is now being measured in terms of play-off places when it should be European trophies. Clearly something has been wrong for a long time. In my view it is the short sighted business management that is responsible. We need long sighted “club business” managers.

Now I have no complaints with any of the directors, chairmen or managers that I can remember at Maine Road. Starting with Mr. A.A. and including much maligned Mr P.S. No complaints about their dedication and loyalty to the club that is. I just think they were not up to the job. The same applies to Mr F.L. A football club is not a paper factory. To manage each need slightly different skills. I’m sure Mr. Lee believes fully that to run the club on an efficiency “money” based policy will be best for the club in the long run. I have my doubts. A club is its people not its balance sheet. And at City we have a history of treating our people badly. Supporters as well as managers, directors and players.

In hindsight I am truly ashamed of the way we the supporters treated Peter Swales. I think the sacking of Colin Bell is symptomatic of this problem. As well as being a truly great footballer (every bit as good as Best or Gio), he was a loyal, hard working, honest player. He put his whole career in the hands of Manchester City (even after somebody … I think it was ****ing Buchan… virtually ended it for him). He was even a model professional in the way he tried to regain his playing fitness. He gave everything to the club. He was still trying to do so (how effectively is a matter for debate) when he was sacked.

He now feels let down and humiliated by the very organization to which he has devoted the majority of his working life. It’s not a matter of whether he should have been allowed to continue or not. It’s not even a matter of whether he should ever have been given the job in the first place. It’s a question of how he has been treated, and whether it was good management to do so.

Let me give an hypothetical example. If as a manager I place my son in a position he has neither the qualifications or experience to do well in, and then sack him without warning or consultation later when he fails to perform, it is my competence as a manager that should be questioned not my son’s. If, on the other hand, I tell to my son I want him to work for me, send him for training, put him in a junior position and watch his development and potential. When, and if, I eventually do give him a high position I can be confident that he can do a good job. Very few people would complain of nepotism then. Also I would have a better staff pool and less dismissals.

This approach is even more important in football than in many other businesses because football is about emotional as well as business decisions. My life-long support has never been a business decision, the very idea is ridiculous. If football was purely a business why the hell has anybody bothered to write to Gio asking him to stay? If it is okay for a club to sack someone on the whim of a new manager then how can any paid staff at any club be expected to show any loyalty at all? If the only value that a club puts on loyalty is its exploitation value then where does that leave the supporters? I think we are all beginning to find out in terms of ticket prices and availability.

Manchester City F.C. have to accept that in dealing with Colin Bell as with nearly all the staff we have been guilty of mis-management. I wonder what message Gio got from the little episode. If I were in his position I would be thinking, “Yes, they love me now but what is going to become of me in 20 years time if I trust my future to this club?”

Let’s not talk about nepotism in football or even sacking in business. Lets talk about ways of making sure that City has a clear management policy on how to encourage and reward loyalty and commitment in every area of the club. Tangible rewards that are seen for what they are. That is, good management decisions for the future success and prosperity of the club, and not blind charity.

Well I feel better for getting that off my chest. It’s been years in the making, the only problem is that I’ve just read it back to myself and I’m not sure even I understand what I’m trying to say. My only consolation is that it’s so long and boring nobody will read it anyway. I guess what I’m really saying is that over the years I think I could have done a better job managing City. I know a lot of people feel like that. I guess the truth is that things like this are never as easy as they seem from the outside looking in.

To all fellow worshipers thanks for reading this and see you all next season.

Patrick D.A. Smith (


Well the clear-out has now started. One of the players to go is Nigel Clough. Not a surprise to most of us who have been to a game this season. The mUen is reported as saying he will go into management. It also reports that one of the reasons he is to go is because “It would appear that things have not worked out for Nigel at City.” said Frank Clark. “He obviously has a problem with supporters here, or they have a problem with him.”

I say this because we have now got a reputation throughout the footballing world as the best fans in the game, fans who if you win us over will support you with blind faith. That is a very good reputation to have, but there has been one or two times over the last season that we have got onto a player’s back and like a banshee not let go. Don’t get me wrong I have at time shouted loud and long on these very pages for someone’s (red)head but with what happened with Buzzer (how has now become the player we knew he could) and Clough it has got me to thinking! Are we in danger of wanting/needing a scapegoat, to blame for the last few years?

We pay our money and have every right to have a go now and then, but we also have to give someone a chance to “come good” again. At the end of the day he is in a blue shirt and while he is he has also got the right to expect support from us. So come next season, think long and hard before you and me chase the next player out of Maine Road, because if we get the reputation of turning on our own we will be in a very sad state.

Lastly, to all of you out there who will write in and say we are wrong to get rid of Colin the King, remember also how long we have shouted about the “old boys club” that has been too long at Maine Road. Yes it could have been handled better, but we now have a Manager who is doing exactly what he said he would. How many times have we heard we are to have a “clear out” only to see nothing. Is he right… only time will tell, but at least he is doing what we have asked managers for the last 5 years plus to do!

Tony the tattooed donkey Hulme (


I always thought that Paul Power would return to Maine Road in some sort of a managerial capacity. He was always too much of a Blue to stay away forever. I am glad that he’s back but I would have liked to see Neil McNab stay as well (after all he did prove his absolute loyalty in that game against Oldham when he broke his wrist).

Helen Pickup (


My dad took me to my first game when I was 5 and I’m afraid all I remember about it is going into the ground through the junior turnstiles in the Kippax, which I continued to do until I was 17! My oldest memory of a game is playing Juventus in the UEFA Cup. I’m now unable to visit Maine Road for every game as I am working abroad but I look forward to seeing Big Niall back at The Academy next season.

Dave Griffiths from Cairo (


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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 #296