Newsletter #333

This issue will have to speak for itself; the sheer volume submitted, the decrepitness of my body after 5-a-side, and repeated morning calls from my 6-month-old mean that I’m almost comatose. Suffice it to say that there are plenty of reports and match views; ticket news, opinion, more from Noel; an assessment of the accounts by Bernie Le Claire (hope the formatting doesn’t suffer too much in transmission, and a Why Blue.

This one reaches 1,626.

Next game, Ipswich Town away, Saturday 4th October 1997


MANCHESTER CITY vs. SWINDON TOWN, Saturday 27th September 1997

Team: Margetson, Edghill, Beesley, Symons, Brightwell, Horlock, Wiekens, Brannan, Kinkladze (Conlon), Dickov (Scully), Bradbury.
Unused Sub: van Blerk
Attendance: 26,646

Fortunately for me, the kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes because of congestion on the Parkway. I arrived in my seat at 3.05.

Inevitably there were casualties from the Norwich carnival, with Buzzer (quite rightly) and van Blerk (less so) being dropped, Symons, Brightwell and Brannan all being given another chance.

I don’t think I have ever seen a team dominate a match so much from start to finish. Apart from a couple of breakaway attacks, Swindon were never in it. Unlike a couple of whingeing callers to GMR’s post-match phone in, I don’t think any of the defence can be criticised as they dealt with everything in a cool, efficient way. Beesley looked to add some steel and I like the way he is always shouting out orders, telling Edghill when to overlap etc. The three across the back plus 2 wing backs formation certainly worked well with Horlock and Edghill having absolute blinders.

The match continued in the same pattern for the full 90 minutes, so rather than a half by half description I’ll briefly describe the six goals.

  1. City get a free kick on the edge of the box. Kinkladze curls onearound the left of the wall and into the top corner. Digby was nowhere.
  2. Bradbury delivers inch perfect through ball to the overlapping Edghillwhose low and hard cross is turned into his own net by a Swindon defender.
  3. Horlock links well with Brannan in midfield. Horlock makes a beelinefor the box and Brannan’s cross is met with a low diving header fromHorlock.
  4. Dickov is sent through on a one on one. He manages to skip past atackle from the defender and takes the ball round the ‘keeper. The ‘keepergets a hand to the shot but it still finds the net.
  5. Conlon finds himself in the clear and unselfishly squares to Dickovfor a tap in.
  6. Dickov does likewise by setting up Bradbury for his 2nd League goalfor the club.

In truth the score flattered Swindon and I had to keep slapping myself that it was happening. Virtually the same team that couldn’t quite get it together against Norwich suddenly clicked and for the whole 90 minutes. The only explanation I can reconcile is that more effort was put in. Dickov in particular was inspirational up front and Wiekens looked every inch the part in front of the defence. Kinkladze was majestic. I thought Symons had a good game bearing in mind his recent form and even Brannan was given the time and space to look effective.

There must be question marks about the standard of play from Swindon but they did start the match in 2nd place. I certainly thought this was a quality performance from City and enjoyed my weekend all the more as a result. If you didn’t enjoy this game then you’ll never enjoy one.

Final Score, er, 6-0!


Margetson 8 – Had little to do but made 2 world class saves.
Edghill 8 – So nice to see some pace down the right.
Horlock 8 – Versatility and class (Nijinsky 2?).
Symons 7 – Recovered well from slating last week.
Beesley 7 – Seems to enjoy playing alongside Symons.
Brightwell 7 – Looked comfortable.
Brannan 7 – A big improvement on last week. I apologise for last week’s comments as he does look OK when given time on the ball.
Wiekens 8 – Very classy player, never looks flustered.
Kinkladze 9 – Top notch performance. Swindon were scared to death of him.
Dickov 9 – Surely his finest ever game for City. Battled with and bewildered the Swindon defence.
Bradbury 8 – This guy is a quality player whether as a scorer or as a provider.

Scully and Conlon – Strength in depth is something we haven’t had until now.

I’m looking forward to reading Martin’s match critique of this one!

Ken Foster (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. SWINDON TOWN, Saturday 27th September 1997

“We’re the M.I.B.” (Manchester Internet Blues)

Back to Bouncy Castle Maine Road for another “eventful” afternoon? As I queued for what seemed an eternity pre-match to buy two more tickets for the Paul Lake testimonial, I made the comparison of waiting at the dentist to have your wisdom teeth pulled. Is it better to stay at home where you are comfortable but in pain, or do you risk going to the dentist, who is either going to make you feel a hell of a lot better, or worse? I rushed into the “waiting room” (the Kippax) for my 3pm appointment. I always thought dentists’ appointments were at 2.30, you know…. tooth hurty (sad joke). Then the receptionist (Vince Miller!?) told me that I would have to prolong the agony another 15 minutes to see the dental team (City), as some other patients (other long suffering Blues) had been delayed in traffic on Princess Parkway. Would the Department of Transport even dream of cutting such a major road down to one lane if The World’s Greatest Football Team* had been at home? Answers on a postcard please.

An unexpectadly high attendance of 26,646 turned out to see us take on mighty high-flying Swindon Town! The team was announced:

                   Brightwell           Symons           Beesley
           Edghill           Brannan         Wiekens         Horlock
                             Dickov                Kinkladze

Subs: van Blerk, Scully and Barry Conlon (who?)

The team lined up in Flying Saucer formation (how else could you describe it?), with a fat (sorry, flat) back three with an average age of thirty something. That’s what I like to see… experience! No sign of Summerbee or Uwe (think he was injured in training).

The game kicked off at 3.12pm with City attacking the Platt Lane End, and like last Saturday, Kinky went close in the opening seconds. Dickov looked to be fired up, and chased every ball, which encouraged the rest of the team to do likewise. After six minutes Dickov was brought down. Free kick about 25 yards out. The ref pushed the Swindon wall back 10 yards and Kinky curled one into the top left corner. From where I was sat it was difficult to see how much curl he put on it but having just seen the goals on Granada’s Footy Show, it was a peach. I threw my lottery playstrips into the air and scribbled down the time and scorer in the space on the back of the programme. Now if only we can get the breathing space a second goal would bring. City continued to press, and after 13 minutes Edghill was put through on the right. He fired in a low, hard ball across the six yard box from the side of the penalty area which was turned into goal by one of Taggart’s young on loan Tosspots, Casper. No, not the friendly ghost, but Chris, son of Burnley’s Frank. I noted down the time and scorer in another box on the programme.

After half an hour, Swindon’s Darren Bullock (replica of Blackpool’s lard arse Gary Brabin) sent Dickov flying and was lucky to only get booked, after grabbing poor little Paul by the collar while he was still on the ground. Dickov was booked for his reaction. Almost immediately, Kinky went on one of those long, jinking runs where the ball seems to be glued to his toe. God knows how many men he beat but if his final shot from the corner of the six yard box had gone in instead of hitting the angle and going out, it would have been without doubt the greatest goal seen at Maine Road, even better than Southampton, or any scored by Rodney Marsh. The crowd rose to salute the Georgian maestro. This man seems to get better and better. His little turns and body movements alone can and do make experienced opponents look very silly. By now the whole team were playing well as a team, including Kit Symons (yes, I had to rub my eyes), who, to his credit, responded well to last week’s critisism (me included). City were now on fire and after 38 minutes another good move ended with Brannan curling in a low ball from the left side of the box, away from the ‘keeper, which was directed into the unprotected goal by Horlock, with a diving header only a foot off the ground. I filled in the third and last box on my programme, which left 3 empty boxes on the Swindon half for the goals they would probably score in the second half to scrape a draw (it has been known!). Half time 3-0.

During the half-time interval we were “entertained” by the usual City kids versus Opponents’ kids penalty shoot out, with Moonchester in goal. Everybody knows that Moonchester can only see out of his/her nostrils, so if you hit the ball above nose height, you score. Pity the City kids didn’t know this, ‘cos once again we lost. This was preceded by the half time draw, by Vince Miller, who was celebrating his birthday (yawn, yawn). But this was to be no ordinary draw. City’s new female goal announcer, Jo Blakeway, who does the weekday traffic reports for Piccadilly Radio from the “eye in the sky”, had “donated” a second prize of a flight in the plane. This was unfortunately announced by Miller as: “The second prize winner can have a ride with Jo Blakeway”, which was greeted with thousands of wolf whistles by the crowd. My half time entertainment usually comprises of me watching the father and son sat next to me tucking into a massive pork pie, which is perched on the wall in front of us. I’m not one to critisise fellow Blues, but the son, about 20ish, usually just sits there during the match with his sunglasses on, trying to match up the different strips of lottery tickets that have landed on him. The only time he opens his mouth is to push in another piece of bloody pie. I have tried to get a conversation out of him, but he justs sits there. Perhaps he is a deaf mute, in which case I apologise for taking the mickey out of a disadvantaged person!

The second half kicks off and once again City are in complete control. Dickov is playing a blinder (he admits after the game it’s his best game in a City shirt). He simply cannot do anything wrong and the crowd applaud him throughout. With five minutes gone, Bradbury puts him through just inside the Swindon half. Dickov runs in on goal, pursued by a defender. The ‘keeper comes out, Dickov goes wide, ‘keeper half saves, but Dickov cooly places the ball into the net, between the ‘keeper and defender on the line. The crowd goes wild. I note the time, but s**t, there’s no space left on my programme. I have to write it underneath. Ask me am I bothered? Naah. 14 minutes gone, and Dickov gets his second. Kinky bends in a corner from the left, which Symons heads back across goal from the back post for Paul to volley in from his almost customary one yard. Edghill goes on one of his runs, which ends with his fierce shot being pushed wide by the ‘keeper. Barry Conlon (an 18-year-old striker from the “A” team) came on for Gio and soon headed the ball into the path of Dickov who broke through on goal. With only Fraser Digby (nice name, crap ‘keeper) to beat, Dickov saw Bradbury unmarked at his side, and unselfishly passed to him, to score off the ‘keeper. Dickov was replaced by Scully and received a standing ovation the likes of which are usually only given to Kinky or Oasis. Margetson made one very good save late on for his first clean sheet. At the final whistle, the crowd stood and applauded loudly, as the team reciprocated (clapped back!). Full-time 6-0.

The perfect end to a perfect day was when the final score came through from Elland Road: Leeds Utd 1 TWGFT* 0. As Gary Owen said on the radio: “If a City player gives 100% effort during a game, the crowd will never jeer him”, which is fair comment.

Star Ratings:
All players 8, except for Dickov and Kinkladze, who deserve 10 out of 10.

* TWGFT and The World’s Greatest Football Team are trademarks, and must not be used without permission.

P.S. This one goes personally to, who, in today’s programme, asked for fans to communicate with him. Job’s a good ‘un Chris!

P.P.S. Thanks to your response re travel to the Ipswich game, there’s four of us going down in my car (including Noel “Bert” Bayley).

P.P.P.S. Can anybody suggest the best way down to Ipswich? Perhaps the Blues who live local to our away games could send directions via MCIVTA?

I’m City ’til I die, I’m City ’til I die, I know I am, I’m sure I am, I’mCity ’til I die: Steve Kay (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. SWINDON TOWN, Saturday 27th September 1997

Steve McMahon: “They won’t beat us 3-0 this year!”

What can you say? After last week (for which I emailed a report to the wrong place – must have still been stunned on Monday morning) I think everybody expected the worst – especially after the team was announced. Just so that we don’t get carried away, I’ve recovered said lost report and stuck it at the end of this one, just to remind us of how bad we were last week!

I arrived at the ground just as the MCFC ladies team were taking a lap of honour to a round of applause and expectations that they might actually take the field at 3.00 (or 3.15 as it turned out).

It appeared that the general opinion of MCIVTA last week was similar to my own, in that Summerbee, Brightwell, Symons and Brannan took most of the flak for last week. Imagine the groans when 3 of that quartet were selected again, with only Summerbee cast aside to the scrap heap (hopefully). It has to be said that the other trio played in the Swindon game as if their life (or career) depended on it and all put in excellent performances. Now for the consistency?

Calls for the appearance of any from Morley, Vaughan, Beesley, McGoldrick, Scully, Dickov, Rösler etc. brought about only 2 changes and a notable change of formation. We went back to the 3 at the back routine (Brightwell, Symons and Beesley), which was the trio that brought about the “good run” of last year. Beesley, although not appearing to set the world on fire, certainly seems to have a calming influence on the other calamitous pair, and the defence looked solid all afternoon. Brightwell even got booked – my God who’s ruffled his feathers! Edghill was totally superb – up and down the right wing all game, causing all sorts of problems now that the other clown is out of his way. I felt a bit sorry for van Blerk, who didn’t really deserve to be dropped. Brannan and Wiekens were solid in the middle, with the former playing well. Last 4 times I’ve seen him he’s been total s***e (Blackpool), excellent (Forest), total s***e (Norwich) and excellent (Swindon). Wiekens is superb, just in front of the defence. Wins it, gets it down and passes it. Horlock played as left “wing back” so to speak, and whilst not in the Edghill class, played well. Kinky, in his free rôle, just took the p**s. One dummy in front of the Main Stand sent half their team the wrong way. Dickov played up front with Bradbury and was a total revelation. Despite his size, his effort and aggression really disconcert defenders and he should now have his place for keeps.

Not much to say about the game in general. 6-0 against 3rd in the table says it all. Swindon were pretty crap – but were much better than Norwich. In general they tried to play it about but were just outclassed. They had a dirty fat git in midfield who tried (and failed) to kick several players – but the fact that they were 3rd just about sums up the standard in this division.

If we play like this every week – absolutely no problems. The question is – will they play like that every week?

To remind us of the bad ways, here is last week’s “lost report”.

Manchester S****y 1 Norwich Total S***e 2

I’ll start off with a “form” guide.

Margetson (7): Nothing to do. Had no chance with either goal as he was completely exposed.

Edghill (6) and van Blerk (7): Both OK in first half. VB did not deserve to be substituted in view of the performances of others. Especially as he was replaced in the re-organisation by Horlock, who gave the Bury goal away in the same circumstances. Edghill started trying to do too much in the second half, but can you blame him with what was going on in front of him?

Brightwell (3) and Symons (4): Disgraceful. Nothing to do but let 2 appalling goals go in down the middle. Distribution was awful. I cringe when I see the name Brightwell on the team sheet – the guy has got absolutely no talent. I used to have some time for Symons. He is not playing well this season. Norwich just hoofed it high and long towards the end and this pair looked really dodgy under no pressure at all. Replace with Morley (what more can you do than MOM and score) and Beesley. As for captain? There was a spell in the second half when Fleck was putting on an injury whilst we were 2-1 down. During the wait, what was old Kit doing… standing alone with his hands on his hips. There is no leadership in the back 4, never mind the team.

Brannan (4) and Horlock (5): These 2 are the same player in disguise. Bearing in mind the fact that we now have a decent “holding” player in midfield (Wiekens – see later), there is no way that both of these can be accomodated at the same time. We need creativity. Horlock shows more promise and appears to have some skill and goalscoring ability but he needs a severe kick in the pants.

Wiekens (8): Excellent game. Won all his tackles and gave good, simple passes to colleagues in space. He is not a creative player – that is obvious, but as a “holding” player in front of the dodgy back four; he’s exactly what we have needed for some time. Along with van Blerk and Bradbury, the only one to show any notable aggression and stiffness in the tackle.

Kinky (8): Superb for the first hour. Opened them up at least 8 times, putting the goals on a plate for the likes of Horlock, Bradbury and Summerbee to miss. Tried to do too much towards the end and seemed to get a bit p****d off with the inability of the rest. Can you blame him?

Summerbee (0): An absolute disgrace. Should not even be considered for selection again for some time to come. Had so much possession and produced absolutely nothing. The chances he missed.

Bradbury (5): Cannot be faulted for effort. The jury is still out on him. He missed a couple of sitters early on, but then scored a good one. Had a chance to seal it with a point blank header – over the bar. Should not be up there on his own. Rösler is obviously away – so he has to be tried with Dickov (who is too small, but at least gives his all).

Sub: Scully (7): At least he got at them and got the ball across. Looked dangerous.

Report: Norwich were absolutely, totally, completely and utterly s***e! I know there have been poor home defeats in recent years, but the excuse can be that we were in a bit of disarray (Oxford etc.). However, we should now be sorted and to lose to this bunch of no-hopers is hard to take. They showed absolutely nothing and still scored 2 (should have been 3). The commitment from certain members of the City team (most notably Summerbee, Skipper Kit, Brightwell and Brannan) was non-existent and they should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves with this drivel. The score should have been 2-1 after the first five minutes, with Kinky setting up two sitters and Fleck (I think) missing a header from 6 yards. Bradbury, Horlock (2) and Summerbee then missed clear chances before Bradbury scored from an unexpected position just outside the box. A good goal! He had a chance to seal it when Brannan(!) floated over a good cross for an unmissable header but he skied it. Then, from out of nowhere, they equalised. An inocuous through ball caught our centre backs in cuckooland leaving Adams (I think) with a one on one and he put it away with a delightful chip. Why can’t we finish like that? Still the chances came and went with almost total possession – but the commitment to get in there and finish them off was just lacking. Bradbury became a bit lost up there on his own whilst Brannan and Horlock stolled around the midfield. When the ball ended up with Summerbee, the Norwich left back just said “cheers mate” and took it off him. Wiekens was the only midfielder to show any fight, winning many tackles and headers. The second half called out for Scully to come on for Summerbee, but who went off – van Blerk(?).

Still the chances came. One notable one was when Kinky split them open with a reverse diagonal ball for Summerbee to run in on a 1-on-1. He shot first time from outside the box and nearly hit the corner flag. It was so bad it was laughable.

Towards the end, a mix up between Symons and Brightwell led to their 2nd (which was technically offside, but they should have scored anyway) and you just knew that there was not enough fight to come back from it.

Frank Clark must take some of the blame for his selection. You cannot have Brannan and Horlock playing when Wiekens is doing the job of both of them. Some creativity is needed. I don’t know what Scully and Morley will be like in the long run but they were the best players at Bury (Kinky excluded) and deserved to be in. It looks like he was giving loyalty to the team that actually won at Forest but changes are needed now. Regarding the captaincy, a change is needed there but who are the candidates? On current form (and not wanting to give it to a forward) it has to be Wiekens (or Edghill?).

Fortunately, everyone else is losing games as well. However, if we don’t win the next few games we will be adrift at this early stage of the season and talking about late play-off challenges etc.


David Johnson (


Not a real match view, but mainly an attempt to contrast the performances from last week with this. I’d honestly say that we had just about as much of the play on both days, the only differences being that Swindon were worse than Norwich (at least after the third!), we didn’t make a couple of defensive howlers, and we put the ball where it belongs!

I must admit that I wasn’t filled with confidence when I saw both Bob and Symons in and van Blerk gone. However, I’m quite used to my predictions being utter ‘bobbins’.

It was 3 across the back, Bob, Symons and Beesley; Edghill and Horlock as wing backs; Wiekens, Gio and Brannan in central midfield; and Dickov and Bradbury up front.


Margetson: (8) Had nothing to do except stop long-range shots, which is meat and drink to him; did however make one superlative save late in the game.
Bob: (7) This game suited him, had a rare old physical battle, pushing, shoving and generally showing the physical side of the English game. He did make one good pass, which was greated by open mouths and cries of ‘was that Bob’ – by me anyway!
Symons: (7) I can’t agree with booing the captain, whatever he has done. He had a reasonable game, more ‘up for it’ than of late and really got stuck into the awkward Allison.
Beesley: (6) Hardly saw him all game – maybe he was doing a good job!
Edghill: (8) His technical ability and pace were too much for the left back; excellent game and could have scored twice.
Horlock: (8) Great game again, his goal was a beauty, he started it on the halfway line and I just couldn’t believe it when it transpired that the diving head belonged to him!
Wiekens: (7) The more I see of Wiekens the more comfortable he looks, very calm, and with good vision.
Gio: (9) Vintage 30-yarder to open with, several other good chances and several brilliant pieces of skill, including one where he took on the entire team – twice – and then hit the upright.
Brannan: (7) A different player in his correct position (OK, it was actually Paul Howarth who said this to me at half time). Likes to dribble and made Horlock’s goal, did a lot of running and tackling.
Dickov: (9) Absolutely outstanding, ran his heart out, turned his marker almost at will, excellent ball skills, 2 goals and it could have been 5.
Bradbury: (8) This guy has got what it takes to make it at the highest level. He’s hungry, athletic, wins the ball consistently and has that rare gift of knowing when to make a run and where to be to score goals. I know he only scored one goal, but he missed another 3 good chances and ran the Swindon defenders ragged.

Scully: (7) Only on briefly, but he does look a good player.
Conlon: (7) I had to rub my eyes as I thought Terry Henessey had returned via a temporal anomaly! Apparently only 18 or 19 but looks about 42! Almost scored.

Chants to remember:

‘What the **** is goin on’ when we went three up!
‘Barry, Barry give us a wave’ (he did) to Barry Conlon.



I’ll leave a full match report to someone else, but here’s a few general observations from Saturday’s game:

The late kick-off saw fans strolling in whenever they could be bothered, apparently not expecting us to do owt against ‘mighty’ Swindon, with the team roll-call hardly generating any cheers, and even booing Kit. Whilst he may be usless as captain, and not even particularly good at doing anything than hoofing the ball up the pitch, it clearly wasn’t going to do his morale any good being greeted by such a reaction.

The first 20 minutes looked typical for this season – no team looked competent of doing anything much, so when Gio scored a blinding free kick, the expectations were that we’d end up losing. Two more goals, and whilst the fans didn’t get overly excited, bizarre things were occurring. City started passing, looking competent, moving intelligently, and playing attractive football. At points, the fans even cheered the passing, rather than the usual requests to tonk it up the pitch.

Bobbing down at half-time to see replays of the goals, I was well narked to see the Ryder cup on the telly instead. First time in ages there’d’ve been owt decent to watch on those tellys, and this is what they do to us.

Still, trepidation going into the second half, expecting City to blow it. Instead, Swindon had the appearance that they couldn’t be bothered, giving City more time on the ball and allowing us to carry on passing. The few times that Beesley or Kit saw the ball, they had time to do what they wanted with it.

Around 4 or 5-0, the fans eventually rallied as it looked like there was no way this game could be lost, and started to get behind City, being supportive of all the team. Indeed, even chants of ‘There’s only one Lee Bradbury’ occurred when Dickov was kind enough to set him up rather than complete a hat-trick. Dickov had looked truly inspirational – always making the best space and playing some excellent balls. So long as Uwe has a bad back, we’re going to look faster, more competent and challenging up front, particularly if Scully could link with him.

The only disappointment was that the players didn’t really acknowledge the fans at the end for all the c**p we’ve had to endure, and there’s still the feeling that we’ve pulled out one good game, so what’s the point in doing it again? But positively, the play was better, the fans were better after a slow start: not a single anti-Rags song, although the biggest cheer of the day did arise when the final score from the Leeds game came up on the board. Also, it was nice to speak to so many happy people in town on Saturday night, rather than the usual maudlin crowd that you bump into.

2 quid a goal – best value in ages. Bring on the Rags