Newsletter #344

Another defeat but I have to say that there was far more passion, commitment and entertainment about this game than for any since Swindon. Scully was excellent and we would have won easily, but it’s difficult if you hand the opposition 3 of the biggest gifts you’re ever likely to see in one game!

We have a copule of match reports, news of a new Norwegian striker on loan, and of the desperately unlucky Bradbury. There’s also plenty of City gallows ‘humour’, with articles from Noel Bayley, Phil Lines on music and City, and Kev Cummins on Frank Swift and Munich.

Any of our Norwegian subscribers care to comment on Stig Arild Raaket?

Tomorrow really is a big game!

Next game, Huddersfield Town at home, Friday 7th November 1997


MANCHESTER CITY vs. PORT VALE, Tuesday 4th November 1997

Attendance: 24,554
Team: Wright, Edghill (Morley), Horlock, Symons, Vaughan, Wiekens, Brannan, Scully, Kinkladze, Conlon, Dickov.

“Mr. Banks has left the North Stand”… and he was a bloody good judge.

Treat watching City as you would, say, a night out to the theatre to watch a farce. With this attitude you will not be disappointed. I have studiously avoided (or even pretended the non-existence of) the ‘Silenzi factor’ in assessing Frank Clark’s performance as a manager. Whilst he cannot be blamed for the individual mistakes that were made tonight, I feel he made some basic errors in team selection and formation. The game started off fairly quietly with no attempts on goal for the first 10 minutes. Suddenly City were awarded a corner and Horlock’s (Crewesque) kick was met (Crewesquely) by Wiekens, only this time the ball ended up nestling directly into the net rather than via the ‘keeper and (absent) Greenacre.

After much celebrating ‘Captain Kit’ gave away a needless free kick on the edge of the box. Our smallest (bar Dickov) player, Gio, was placed on the edge of the wall. Gio watched the ball skim over his head at a snail’s pace and Tommy watched the ball go under his body at a snail’s pace. Well at least it was only 1-1 and we wouldn’t make any more silly mistakes would we?

Gio got away from his two man markers for his first kick on 25 minutes and although the run came to nothing the clearance was fumbled and Dickov shot from the edge of the box. A wicked deflection gifted us a rather fortunate second goal. Scully was looking fairly lively and he set Conlon up for a header which was saved well and a shot which hit the bar. For some reason the defence decided it was time to do an impression of the Chinese stone warriors and let Vale walk through us down the right. The cross hit Edghill then hit a Vale striker’s thigh and bounced over the line at about 2mph with everybody looking at each other bemusedly. Half time: 2-2.

The second half began with another howler which would grace even Brian Rix’s collection of anecdotes. A punted clearance by Vale was headed across the face of goal (didn’t he do this at Sunderland?) by Vaughan in the vague direction of Captain Kit. Tony Naylor pounced and hit a sweet volley from 35 yards past Wright whom I think was having a fag. City started chasing the game and the fans really got behind them. Wiekens and Brannan hit a couple of off target shots and we had a couple of free kicks misplaced or saved by the ‘keeper.

I was most annoyed about 2 facets of our line-up. Whilst I was happy to see the full début of Scully, his presence cramped the style of Horlock who is most effective (if forced to play on the left) in an attacking wing back rôle. Scully prevented this from occurring and I feel Horlock should have been switched to the middle where we had no bite. On the subject of midfield, Gio was rubbish. OK he was man marked, so why not substitute him and bring on Brown who had a storming match against Crewe? Morley was brought on too late. FC should have given him 20 minutes up front in place of the tiring Conlon. Final score: 2-3.

Wright 3 – Absolutely hopeless.
Edghill 5 – What has happened to him since the Swindon match?
Symons 4 – Time is running out for Captain Kit.
Vaughan 5 – I think he is the man for the job, but he had a stinker tonight.
Horlock 6 – Some of the crowd are booing him. He’s been our most consistent player this season, so I can’t understand this.
Scully 6 – Started off brightly but faded. A massive improvement on Summerbee though.
Wiekens 7 – Again our best player.
Dickov 6 – Still the only one to give 110%.
Conlon 5 – Tried his best but looked a bit clumsy.
Kinkladze 3 – Man marked but looked disinterested.
Brannan 5 – One of his better games but still poor.

As a postscript this is how I would line City up:
Weaver, Edghill, Shelia (subject to permit), Vaughan, Foster (is he still with us?), Wiekens, Whitley, Brown, Horlock, Dickov, Morley (until Bradbury is fit which is now going to be after Christmas due to a hairline fracture in his back).

Ken Foster (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. PORT VALE, Tuesday 4th November 1997

Just when you think it can’t get any worse…

Despite all the goings on, the one thing we haven’t had (so farR) this season was goalkeeper trouble. MM has been sound as a pound and not at fault with any goals to date, but was replaced by Tommy W, presumably for reasons vocal/organisational regarding the defence. Tommy then went on to keep 2 clean sheets, so you couldn’t really complain about unfair treatment of MM etc. too much could you? Read on:

Form Guide:

Tommy W (2): Oh dear. Pretty badly as some of the rest of the team played tonight – the reason for this defeat lies fairly and squarely on TW’s shoulders – and he knows it. We have been struggling badly in attack (i.e. not scoring) – but tonight we get 2. As the defence seems to have tightened up a bit recently, we should expect to win scoring 2 at home shouldn’t we? For those of you who are reading this that weren’t actually there – you just will not believe how bad all 3 goals were. Goal 1 was a pathetic direct free kick from outside the box that trickled to him on a greasy surface (I say that to give him the slightest cop-out of an excuse). Down he goes, underneath him goes the ball (elementary rule 1 goalkeeper stuff of body behind the ball and all that). Goal. No. 2 was worse. The ball was bouncing lose in the box for what seemed like half an hour after a cross from the left. He stayed rooted to the line and when he came out eventually he was so slow to respond as the ball was badly deflected in (off Brannan for an OG I think). No. 3 was a really poor defensive header by Vaughan. Tried to head it square across the box – diabolical of course. But he was about 35 yards from goal and Symons was around to cover (whether he would have or not is another matter). Hence Naylor took it on the volley from miles out and struck it really sweetly, but it was miles out and bounced before it went in as TW stood there rooted to the spot. Perhaps he was stunned by the poor header, but to quote an old phrase he had time to drop his shorts and knock it out with the part of his body that was otherwise strapped to his head all night!

Edghill (5): Getting worse by the game. Can’t explain why.

Horlock (9): Excellent. Why oh why oh why oh why is he playing left back? Solid in the tackle, good passing, good heading, didn’t see anywhere near enough of the ball.

Symons (7 for his game, 4 for his captaincy): Despite all the criticism that everyone has dished out – he had a good one tonight. Port Vale never looked like scoring (never mind the fact that they got 3 – see above) – and he marked Naylor quite well (who’s their only anything like decent player). No leadership or organisation throughout the team however.

Vaughan (6): Again played relatively OK, and much better than Bobby Brightwell in general – but was badly at fault with the 3rd (deciding) goal with a very poor header. A lot of the crowd seem to really hate him and give him loads of stick. I don’t know – he’s not as bad as a lot of the others who have come and gone this season.

Wiekens (8): Solid defensively as usual. Scored a cracking header (direct from a Horlock inswinging corner) for the first goal – but was a bit lacking creatively when we were piling on the pressure in the last half hour – tended to pass backwards. But then again, do you expect your defenders to open them up in such circumstances? Similarly, Symons kept on cropping up on the right wing getting crosses in.

Brannan (4): Crap. As above, given the formation of the team, he is one of the midfielders who should be scoring, creating, passing etc.

Kinky (5): Shouldn’t have been on the pitch. It was so obvious that he wasn’t fit. Really tried hard towards the end and looked very dangerous. Port Vale double marked him (a real dirty little git No. 8 was very lucky to stay on actually, given the persistent fouling), but he didn’t really get going until late on.

Scully (9, 1st half, 5, 2nd half): Really got at them from the start and was extremely pacy and direct. One cross (which Conlon got on the end of and thudded a shot against the bar) would have been goal of the season. Basically could beat the full back for fun. Reason for the poor second half showing was that the rest of the team/midfield didn’t give him the ball.

Dickov (6): About time he got a poor mark as you can’t go on giving bags of effort all the time – you have to show a bit of quality every now and then. Offside far too often. Too small to be played up front without sizeable support. You just cannot fault the guy for the pressing defences, running, tackling, and winning throw ins and corners – but somewhere down the line we need strikers to contribute more: i.e. goals. Dickov did score the second, but it was really an OG (deflection) from their centre half (that bald git who played for Leeds for a while – Aspen or something like that I think).

Barree (6): Not a bad début really. Did a few good things and dropped a few howlers. Not really the answer in the short term I feel. I know we slagged him off early season but Badbuy is being sorely missed as a target man – we really do need a target man as well – with the continual “hoofing” from the back. Similarly, as Scully appears to be doing OK down the left, we need someone to put those crosses away: I mean, Dickov isn’t going to rise up at the far post is he?

Regarding the game. We had total possession. Port Vale were totally s***e. They had 2 shots on goal and scored 3 times?! To see their manager (Rudge is it) behaving as if they had won the cup at the end shows the limit of their ambition. They are s***e and will always be so. We are s***e, but roll on the time when we aren’t so we can put the likes of Vale, Stoke, Norwich, Reading, Crewe, Ipswich (aaaarrrgghh – the list goes on…) back in their rightful places. Next year? Next decade? Next century?

Bring on Huddersfield. He can’t really change the team that much can he – he’s played everyone in about the last 8 games. Michael Brown for Brannan is a must – as is putting Horlock in midfield. However, you never know who’s going to play these days do you?

David Johnson (


God preserve me from the negative moaners who populate the GMR post-match phone-in. I could hardly believe my ears as caller after caller banged on about the dire performance and that we should sack Lee, Clark and the team tealady. Personally, I thought this was the most positive display I’d witnessed since Swindon, and it was all thrown away by defensive ineptness of a hitherto unseen magnitude. Scully’s runs were a joy and Conlon looks a really good prospect. Our fitness was clear to see in this game; Vale were finished with 20 minutes to go and only held out with a major slice of luck.

Our first goal was a powerful header from Wiekens after a lot of probing play, but this was almost immediately cancelled out by a Port Vale free kick which Wright inexplicably failed to keep out, despite the fact that he was behind the ball and it was travelling at the astonishing speed of 2 feet per minute! City built again and out of nothing – justice probably for Port Vale’s goal – Dickov scored with a low shot after the goalie appeared to slip. Vale’s second equaliser again materialised out of thin air, a cross in appeared to be deflected past the hapless Wright. He blamed the defender but it looked easy enough to reach to me. The winner was high comedy yet again; Vaughan headed very poorly square, a doubly serious error of judgement as the man inside was none other than our illustrious captain. Symons failed to antipcipate any danger, and the ball was brilliantly cracked in from 30 yards by a Vale striker – past the poorly positioned Wright, though he might be forgiven for not expecting it when the pillar of our defence was surely going to clear it!


Wright: (3) Must surely lose his place to Maggie after one of the worst goalkeeping performances of recent years, and as we all know, there has been some serious competition for this prized accolade.
Horlock: (7) What a bloody waste of this player at left back, for Gawd sake play Brannan here and get Horlock in midfield from where he can score.
Edghill: (4) Every time he received the ball he was in trouble as it bounced 5 yards away due to a complete absence of rudimentary ball skills – needs ejecting from the team forthwith.
Symons: (3) Captain calamity strikes again; he has completely lost it and needs dropping forthwith. The third goal was his fault, although Vaughan played him into trouble to a certain extent; any half decent player would have easily coped with this. The free kick which led to their first was from a free kick from a poor Symons tackle.
Vaughan: (7) Good performance once again, good and hard tackler with good vision and some excellent long balls out of defence.
Wiekens: (7) He’s here, he’s there. he’s every ****ing where. Only a metter of time before he’s wearing the number 5 and the captain’s armband.
Brannan: (6) More influential than usual but he really is a journeyman.
Gio: (5) Looked unfit and only came into the game when the Vale defence were utterly knackered with 20 minutes to go.
Scully: (8) Ran the Vale defence and himself ragged and put in several excellent crosses.
Conlon: (8) This guy looks good, hit the bar with a rip-snorter from a Scully cross and the post with a header. He has control and a striker’s instinct. It’s only a matter of time before he starts banging ’em in.
Dickov: (6) Not fit but still managed a goal.

Morley; ? Difficult to say when a centre back plays centre forward but, my God he’s tall!



From Press Association

Manchester City’s £3.5 million striker Lee Bradbury could be out of action until the New Year. A scan has revealed Bradbury, who has missed his side’s last six matches with a back injury has fractured a small bone in his back.

Frank Clark blasted his side’s defence after they were defeated at home by Port Vale. Clark said: “You don’t get points when you defend as poorly as that. We have got to pick the morale up after that. We have a game against Huddersfield on Friday but at the moment it is one step forward and two back. I thought a lot about our game was good but you cannot make defensive errors and concede goals like that.” He added: “I am as frustrated and disappointed as the supporters. They are entitled to voice their opinions as long as they did it in a lawful manner.”

Personally, I don’t see how he can be as frustrated as us. We have to pay to get in!

Jim Sim. (


According to The Mirror, City are trying to sign John McGinlay on loan from Bolton. Apparently, we can’t afford the fee of £650,000 until we sell Uwe. The move looks set to fail as Colin Todd has slammed the rumours saying: “John McGinlay doesn’t have to go out on loan to prove himself, and for that matter I wouldn’t let him go. It’s ridiculous for anyone to come in for a player of his stature on loan. There’s no point to it.”

This is the 2nd time Todd has slagged City and he seems to have a problem with the club. I heard him saying on Piccadilly Radio a few weeks back, that he wouldn’t be interested in signing any Man City players. This was in reference to the Pollock/Summerbee swap rumour. Well Todd, I hope you and your bunch of vicious git players get relegated this year! As for McGinlay’s stature, if he’s so good, why can’t he get into Bolton’s side, and why is his fee so low?

Charles Pollitt (

He signed for Bradford today.



It has now been confirmed that Lee Bradbury will be out until the New Year with a hairline fracture to his back. City’s record signing went for a scan earlier in the week. He had been taking pills and had had a cortisone injection to try to ease the pain of the mystery back injury he sustained whilst playing for the England U21’s four weeks ago. City will be seeking compensation from the F.A. “The first X-rays that he had taken did not show anything but more detailed ones revealed a hairline crack in a bone in his back. It’s a relief, I suppose, to know the extent of the injury but it’s a major blow to lose Lee for such a long time. Lee has been told to take a complete rest to cure the problem,” said Frank Clark. Bradbury commented: “I’ve never been injured before, and this is a real blow; I thought I was beginning to play well before it happened, and I’d started scoring goals too.”

Tommy Wright will be out of action for the foreseeable future with a cartilage problem. This could well mean surgery for Wright who has already missed most of the season through thigh trouble. Frank Clark was set to stand by the Northern Ireland international ‘keeper following his embarrassing mistake against Port Vale on Tuesday, saying: “You cannot leave somebody out following one error. If he makes another one and another one, then that’s a different thing and you have to address the problem. Tommy has held his hands up and accepted that the first goal was down to him. He is as upset as anyone.” However, the injury means a quick recall for Martyn Margetson in Friday night’s clash with Huddersfield Town at Maine Road after being axed against Crewe last week.

Ian Brightwell and Eddie McGoldrick are back in the squad after injury, though they may not be selected, and Jeff Whitley is also available after playing for the Northern Ireland under-18’s in their 2-1 defeat by Croatia on Monday.

Frank Clark has confirmed that the club approached Bolton with regards to the availability on loan of John McGinlay, two weeks ago. News of City’s approach surfaced in the press this week prior to McGinlay’s £625,000 move to Bradford City, and Clark was again annoyed that the private business affairs between two clubs should again appear in the press “in a distorted fashion.” He added: “I asked Bolton about John McGinlay but Colin Todd did not like the idea of a loan move. It is one of the options we have been considering.” Colin Todd said: “It’s ridiculous for anyone to come in for a player of John McGinlay’s stature on loan.”

Despite reports to the contrary, it seems that Sunderland have put their plans to sign Uwe Rösler on hold. Peter Reid said: “I have discussed the matter with Frank Clark but there’s nothing doing at the moment.” Uwe’s ankle injury is still a mystery and he is not expected back for at least the next few matches, which is holding up any possible move for him. “He has to start playing again before he can get a transfer away from here,” said Frank Clark. “Nobody can check on him until he gets back into action,” he added. Sunderland, Everton, Sheffield Wednesday, Birmingham City and Bradford City have all been linked with Rösler recently.

City will not be offering a permanent contract to Italian defender Mirco Taccola, the left-back who’s been trial at City for the past few weeks. The Blues decided not to pursue their interest and the player has returned to Napoli. City are still awaiting a work permit for their Georgian international defender Mertaz Shelia but it is expected to arrive by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, City have taken 19-year-old Norwegian striker Stig Arild Raaket on a week’s trial from Calusenengen FK, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first club. Raaket scored 29 goals in 22 appearances last season and is regarded as one of the hottest properties in Norwegian football. He was recommended to the club by Peter Barnes, who had been taking coaching classes in Norway. Alan Hill said: “We don’t know a lot about him yet but he obviously has an eye for goals to judge from his scoring record and he has clearly made a favourable impression on Peter. He certainly looks the part. He’s a big lad who stands about 6’2″ tall, and we might just have got a player on our hands. We will have a look at him in training and arrange a couple of full-scale matches behind closed doors next week to see how he shapes up in competitive situations.” City are prepared to sign Raaket on a permanent basis if he impresses enough, but no fee has yet been agreed between the two clubs.

A time capsule was buried under City’s new astrodome today (Thursday) to mark the building of the latest stage of the club’s Platt Lane Complex. Francis Lee and other officials from the club gathered with city councillors to bury the capsule (containing club mementoes and current match programmes) under the dome, which is due to be opened in April.

On-loan striker Gerry Creaney scored his eighth goal for Burnley in their 3-2 win at Luton on Tuesday. Naturally, the Clarets are keen to extend his loan period to the maximum 3 months.

City captain Kit Symons has said that he will relinquish the captaincy of the Blues if a suitable candidate can be found to succeed him. He said: “If I thought for one minute there was someone who wanted the job who could do better than me, then I would be more than pleased to hand it over because I want what is best for the club. As long as it is beneficial for City is all that matters. It’s a great honour for me to have. It’s not a bed of roses but I’m not going to just jack it in.”

Paul Howarth (


Ok then, let’s start by introducing myself. I’ve just joined MCIVTA. And I’ve only just began to be interested in Man City. Why? Well it’s clear I think. Since Man City have bought Wiekens I just had to look. So you bought Wiekens. I know it isn’t going crescendo at the moment (I think that’s an understatement) but let me just tell you, you have got yourself one fine player. Because Gerard has been playing for Veendam for several years now and let me tell you he was the cornerstone in our team. Although is doesn’t show at the moment (at least according to your match reports) I say: “Just wait and see”. Gerard is an excellent player and if City would only play passing style a bit more and give Wiekens a bit more responsibility you will see what a great player he is. Well we miss him already. Since his departure Veendam have struggled. So the best of luck to City and Gerard.

Andre Pathuis (


Members of the London Branch of the Supporters’ Club will be found in Terry Neill’s Bar on Holborn Viaduct this Friday watching the Huddersfield game. Anyone living in London and the South East is welcome to join us. Nearest stations are Chancery Lane, St. Paul’s, Farringdon and St. Paul’s Thameslink.

Julian Cooke, Chair – Manchester City Supporters’ Club, London Branch (


by Noel Bayley (editor of Bert Trautmann’s Helmet)

So there I was outside Maine Road on a damp Tuesday evening; I’d just seen City trounced by a team that many of my workmates think play in either Sweaty Sock Land or Wales (Port Vale in case you were wondering) and I didn’t much fancy protesting or, for that matter, hurling barricades at the Main Entrance along with 200 others (Daily Mail) or 500 (Daily Mirror). I knocked all that on the head in 1983; well until 1987 when I had another go. Still, it changed nothing and no-one then, so why should it be any different now?

Anyway, as the Port Vale fans streamed out to their waiting tractors and combined harvesters, they were delirious, punch-drunk even as I soon found out. Over he came, the thickhead: “Oi. Is that the programme?”

“Does it look like the programme?” I replied, having heard it a million times before just that night alone.

“Eh?” We continued in a similar vein for what seemed like hours.

“No, it’s not the programme, dickhead!” The dickhead wasn’t happy.

“What did you call me?”

“I called you a dickhead.”

You know the expression ‘slapped by a dead kipper’ – well, this guy’s slap – for that is what it was – was more reminiscent of a dead stickleback. Sure, he tickled me a bit, but I was having none of it. The fanzines were in my bag and I was after him… Only, Leanne (five foot tall in her best Spice Girl platforms) appeared from nowhere to intervene. She grabbed the yokel by the neck before sending him packing, with a swift boot up the arse for good measure! While I wasn’t pleased at this invasion of my privacy, it must have seemed pretty hysterical to passers-by. Anyway, if you see me on Friday, I’ll be the one with the boxing gloves on. Leanne, on the other hand, won’t be bothering; she doesn’t need any!

Wednesday morning and I knew it was going to be one of those days. It’s bad news when the Rags are sympathising with you, although many of them were too busy splashing on the Brut 33 for the big occasion to notice… Rotterdam? No chance. They can’t even find their way to The Sty. Luckily for them, there’s loads of pubs in town with big tellies in ’em so off they went… at dinnertime! I think it’s part of the big match build-up for them: settling down in front of the telly, seven and a half hours before the kick-off. They could have walked to Holland in that time!

Anyway, Trevor (the office Rag) dropped a bit of a bombshell today. He informed me, all casually like, that he was, “Going to Old Trafford on Saturday.”

“What, the B&Q?” I inquired, thinking it couldn’t have been for the match as City should have been at home that day.

Tricky Trev was having none of it. “No, the ground.”

Now I know he likes his cricket but, “Hasn’t the cricket season finished, Trev?”

In the end he sheepishly admitted that he was going to The Sty!

After I’d come round in the casualty bay, I immediately got the A-Z out for him and the bunting down out of the Christmas decorations’ cupboard before telling him he’d love all the new roofs they’ve got down there nowadays; I think they played Bradford Park Avenue on his last visit.

It was only then that he told me that he was off to see the rugby, whatever that is. Still each to his own, that’s what I always say.

Noel Bayley (


Who’s that lying on the runway, who’s that dying in the snow? It’s, erm, Frank Swift, former Manchester City and England goalkeeper, one of the greatest footballers ever to play for the Sky Blues. Doesn’t quite scan, does it? Doesn’t sound so amusing now. Manchester City was Frank Swift’s only club. He played in his first and only Cup Final aged 19 in 1934 and to his eternal embarrassment, fainted at the final whistle when City beat Portsmouth 2-1. Frank went on to make 376 appearances for the Blues and was the first goalkeeper to captain England, making 19 full international appearances in a career disrupted by an enforced seven-year break due to World War II. During his career, he was the most popular footballer of his generation, receiving approximately 1,000 fan letters per week, and such was his nature that he would try to answer them all. He intended retiring at the end of the 1948/49 season, but was brought back due to his replacement Alec Thurlow contracting a serious illness that finished his career.

In his intended last home appearance, vs. Arsenal, 27/4/49, the programme editors paid him this tribute: “Frank will not be remembered for his play alone. Hundreds of players have benefited from his advice. When playing for the English league against the Scottish league at Ibrox Park, he noticed a part of the Scottish goalkeeper’s game he thought he could correct. At the interval, he made for the Scotland dressing room and had a word with Bobby Brown, the Scottish goalkeeper, and discussed the point with him, much to Bobby’s delight. That was typical of Frank Swift. Farewell Frank, and the best of luck always.”

He finally called it a day on 7/9/49 with a clean sheet vs. Everton. He carried on playing non-professional football, leading a Frank Swift XI around the country, raising countless thousands of pounds for testimonials and charities, as well as working full time for the News Of The World sports desk. He was on assignment for the paper, covering the Red Star Belgrade vs. M** U match, when disaster struck.

This season, predictably, we’ve heard more of the Munich songs than ever before. It’s our only ammunition, some would say. Until May ’93, we’d always had ‘You’ll never win the title’, but that’s long gone now. For several years, M** U fans have been able to taunt us knowing that we no longer have a serious reply. ‘Bitter Blues’