Newsletter #358

I’m afraid this issue is rather thin: there are a couple of matchviews of the Forest game, rumour of impending departures, a review of the Gary James bible, and a request for info on the Maine Road ghost/curse.

No Xmas cheer from MCIVTA I’m afraid. After a great performance against ‘Boro, we lose to a poor side with a very poor home record (Crewe) and round the year off with an up and down (largely) performance against Forest. On the one hand, the team show us how they can outplay the best the division has to offer (when they want to), then we see the flip side which has us being turned over regularly by the worst teams. After Sunday’s performance, there was a small demonstration and a lot of irate calls to GMR demanding that Clark should go. I don’t necessarily agree with this view myself; however, much more of this and I can see it happening!

So, on to a new year; well I’m afraid I can’t be very optimistic about it. We can forget promotion and must seriously, very seriously, consider relegation, as we seem unable to string two wins together. Furthermore, I honestly think Gio will be on his way in the next two months and I have little faith in FC to use the money wisely. Rumours along these lines are also beginning to circulate, see later!

MCIVTA may well only appear on New Year’s Day in the unlikely event that I have enough news etc. to make an issue worthwhile; otherwise, everything will be held over ’til Monday 5th. Meanwhile, have a happy new year.

This one reaches 1,800!

Next game, Bradford at home, Saturday 3rd January 1998


I didn’t really expect to win this one, so why am I particularly upset to lose by the odd goal in five? The answer is that Forest are, in truth, a very average outfit with a couple of good players and a dodgy defence; if we’d played as we did against ‘Boro, we’d have beaten them without a doubt. However, and it’s a big however, we didn’t play anything like we did a week previously; we just didn’t compete for 60 minutes, by which time it was 3-0. Furthermore, we gave away two ludicrous penalties, the first was a rash challange by Brown, then again, does he make any other sort of challenge? The second was down to idiotic goalkeeping; Campbell was being shadowed away from goal as he entered the area, so the most he could have done – assuming he performed to his usual dire standards – was to have a shot, so what does Wright do, come steaming out of his area in ‘do or die’ mode. I just thought “Oh know”, as there was never a cat’s chance in hell that he’d make the ball; in fact, the challenge was so crude that he was lucky not see Campbell off the field for good!

Not only did we give away two penalties, the second goal was down to bad defensive work; firstly, Shelia and ‘A.N.Other’ let Forest work a schoolboy one-two and then, when the cross came in, Brightwell decided to try to control it rather than hoof it away – result, ball bobbles free and is hammered home!

So, 3-0 down with 30 minutes left and I feared we might witness a major-league capitulation. Well, this is City so what do we do, we start playing, that’s what we do! We grab a quick goal, put them under loads of pressure and get a second, then fanny about for the last 10 minutes (Wright and Brannan in particular) when it looked like Forest would concede a third.

Final score: City 2 Forest 3.

I’d have been reasonably happy to have been outclassed by a good side, but what we had was yet another inconsistent performance, a first half in which only Wright kept us in the game, followed by 25 minutes where Forest were under pressure – and Forest were trying to play football. As for the tactics, once again there was a huge gap between our midfield and attack, I lost count of the number of times that the ball was cleared by an under-pressure Forest defence, to drop invitingly in front of goal with no City midfielder within 15 yards! Surely this is Clark’s doing? Why was Dickov in midfield? Why was Brannan in at all? Why was Brightwell back in when he’s consistently proven himself to be a poor right back? The questions go on and on!


Wright (7) Two excellent saves but his kicking is simply dire and time and time again he wasted an opportunity to break by hanging onto the ball. Lastly, he has to take 90% of the blame for the second penalty.
Brightwell (5) He can’t cross and the second goal was definitely down to him.
Wiekens (6) Had an off game, got caught in possession a couple of times by the aggressive Campbell.
Shelia (7) Looked solid and gave us some threatening presence up front.
Vaughan (6) Only on for the first half and left after a clash of heads.
Russell (6) The more I see of Russell, the more I wonder why we bought him!
Brown (8) Ran himself ragged – alone almost.
Brannan (1) Quite simply one of the worst displays from a City player that I have ever had the misfortune to witness. It would have been zero but for one excellent pass! He looks very uncomfortable on the ball, almost desperate to get rid of it – usually backwards. In my opinion, he’d struggle in the Beazer Homes League and should be consigned there as soon as possible. It is simply unforgiveable that this excess baggage is given a place week in week out.
Gio (7) I’m embarrassed to watch him work his magic amongst all these dolts; I’ll be sorry to see him go but it can’t be long now.
Dickov (7) Subdued in midfield (!) but scored a good goal.
Rösler (8) Gave us bite up front, and really should have scored two; one came off the bar and another was a free-ish header over.

van Blerk (7) Steady job.
Scully (7) Looked dangerous but it’s hard when no-one gives him the ball!



Like lambs to the slaughter we filled Maine Road to the rafters for another humiliation. In the 1st half we were dire/clueless/dreadful. Forest looked like a team, we looked like a bunch of players thrown together for the first time hoping for something on the break. Yes, we should have had a penalty when Gio was brought down and yes, we were unlucky when Uwe’s deflected shot grazed the bar, and yes, the Forest penalty did look a little harsh. This, however, does not disguise the fact that we are a team devoid of ideas, desperately needing full backs, another decent midfield player and a striker who can hit the target. John Foster, Steve Lomas, Gary Flitcroft, Paul Walsh, Niall Quinn are all players we have either ignored or let go prematurely and who could have done a job for us today. Tactics – did we have any? Can anyone tell me where Dickov was supposed to be playing because he definitely didn’t know. Only for the last 20 minutes when he went into his customary position up front did we start causing Forest any problems. Vaughan was sulking at left back because he doesn’t like playing there, so FC brings the equally useless van Blerk on for him at half time when at 1-0 down; surely Scully was the man to come on?

Countless punts up to Uwe who was playing really well were wasted because he had no support. Brannan flattering to deceive again got into some good positions only to waste the ball every time. When Scully eventually gets on for the last 10 minutes he takes Brown off when van Blerk or Brannan were the obvious choices! On the plus side, when Forest went 3-0 up soon after the break we could have collapsed but we battled away without much shape or direction. Gio started looking for the trojan like Shelia at set pieces and corners and we got a goal back when he connected with one of the numerous crosses/corners that we started to fire in. Dickov scrambled in another after 75 minutes and we almost managed to get something out of the game that we didn’t deserve. FC said in the post match interview that he thought City were unlucky to go in 1-0 down at the break. Well he must definitely have been watching a different game to me because we were completely outclassed for an hour of this match. I have refrained from calling for changes until now but I think FC’s days must be numbered. The papers had a story that Joe Royle was being lined up to take over and I think the time may be ripe for him to come in as he cannot possibly make a worse job than FC for the remainder of the season.

Ken Foster (


The rumour mill is grinding, and this is what it has to say:

  • Clark will be out by the end of the week.
  • Royle will be appointed with Willie Donachie as his No. 2.
  • Tueart will smooth it all through in Franny’s absence (he’s extended hisholidays by a week apparently). Tueart, as you know, is there care of JD Sports who had a good relationshipwith Royle at Oldham.
  • Kinkladze will be going before Royle takes over, either to providemuch-needed cash to buy players with or he’ll be swapped for a load ofEverton has-beens à la Howard Kendall in 1990/91.
  • First signing is tipped to be Fjørtoft.

All this may be b******s, but as I see it, there’s no smoke without fire plus it’ll make interesting reading in the papers this week.

Noel Bayley (


Already facing an uncertain Christmas four points off the bottom of the First Division, the staff and followers of Manchester City must have reacted with a familiar weariness at the news that the club is up for sale.

This is unofficial – the intrigue at Maine Road always is – as is the £30 million price tag, but the reality behind the fractious fiction is that certain individuals on the City board are waiting for an acceptable offer while others are keen to maximise their investment.

Adding to the intrigue are Salford Rugby League club and Sale Rugby Union club. Both have held talks with City with a view to inheriting Maine Road should City depart for a new stadium intended for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

There is even a possibility that one of Rupert Murdoch’s organisations would merge Salford and Sale and buy Maine Road for them to play in. The Super League hierarchy has always been keen on having an important club based in Manchester.

Those said to be prepared to sell include the chairman Francis Lee and significant shareholder, Stephen Boler. Lee, who won an acrimonious battle for control of the club with Peter Swales three years ago, is in the relatively weak position of holding around 13 per cent of the club’s shares and has only been able to watch recently as other major shareholders have flexed their muscles, bringing Dennis Tueart on to the board of directors last week.

Currently on holiday in Barbados, Lee is said to have finally had enough of the day to day hassle of running City – without the power a majority shareholding automatically confers – while Boler has let it be known that he is ready to listen to offers regarding his approximate 25 per cent share of the club. Boler, one of Britain’s 100 richest men, today spends most of his time in South Africa.

Mike McDonald, owner of Sheffield United but a lifelong City supporter, has long been mentioned as a possible buyer of the Maine Road club. He would have difficulty, however, in quickly disposing of his Sheffield United shares, a legal requirement should he try to buy into City.

A merchant banker from the City of London is understood to have examined City’s financial state last week and he came away with a valuation of between £30-35 million. This would mean that Lee and Boler would collect around £4 million and £8 million respectively, figures which might persuade them to try and hang on to their shares as long as possible, still waiting for the long overdue upturn in City’s fortunes.

Lee’s position as chairman though, is vulnerable, as he could be out-voted at an emergency general meeting called at any given time.

However, were a renaissance to occur and City regained their Premiership status, the club’s valuation – and Lee and Boler’s share of it – would rise considerably. If, for example, the present negotiations with Manchester City Council and the Sports Council resulted in the club moving into a 52,000 capacity stadium built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games in a couple of seasons – and City were in the Premiership – the club’s value would soar. Newcastle, after all, with a ground capacity of 38,000 were floated at £180 million.

Potentially, City are as big as Newcastle or, for instance, Leeds although “potentially” is the key word when City are referred to.

Vince Docherty (


If anyone would like to buy an MCIVTA T-shirt there are still plenty left and possibly slightly less embarrassing to wear than a City Kappa shirt. The price is £7.75 (UK), £8.25 (Rest of the World) – this includes post and packing. Sizes available Small and Medium (limited quantities), Large and Extra Large. They can be obtained by sending a cheque or IMO (payable to K. Foster) to: K. Foster, 105 Clifton Drive, Blackpool, Lancs FY4 1RS.

Ken Foster (


Cover Picture

TITLE: MANCHESTER: THE GREATEST CITY – The Complete History of Manchester City Football Club
AUTHOR: Gary James
PUBLISHER: Polar Print Group Ltd., Uxbridge Road, Leicester. LE4 7ST
ISBN: 1-899538-09-7
PRICE: £24.95

Having already written two of the essential books in the (limited) Blue canon, Gary James was determined to fill a yawning gap and write the definitive history of our club. Assisted by Polar Publishing, he has succeeded magnificently. He charts the story of our club from its beginnings as a Gorton church team in 1880 to the present day multi-million pound concern.

Manchester: The Greatest City is a big book. 464 beautifully produced A4 pages, profusely illustrated with well over a thousand photographs, illustrations and newspaper cuttings. The club’s history is related chronologically in twenty-odd chapters, and throughout the book significant players are accorded “Maine Citizen” status and profiled separately. Included amongst these is Ian Bishop, and it is indicative of the author’s approach that a player who made less than two dozen appearances for the Blues should be considered for inclusion. For this is no stuffy sanitized history: it is written from a deeply involved fan’s perspective. The author stresses the significance of the City fan in as “THE MOST important part of this great club”: to flavour the book he has obtained first-hand accounts from fans who saw City before WW2 and also quotes from present day fanzines.

James has avoided the temptation to linger overlong on the heady days of Mercer and Allison and the subsequent long decline, and gives due consideration to the club’s rich heritage. Indeed, well-researched and richly illustrated, the first half of the book superbly documents the pre-Mercer age.The author treads carefully and evenly through the difficult shambles of the last few years and manages to faithfully record the events both on and off the pitch which have seen the club reach its nadir. Peter Swales is given fair recognition for his pioneering work in the seventies Also included is a “Maine Mediography”, a comprehensive Blue bibliography which also gives details of City videos, films and Internet sites. Whilst there is still scope for other books to be written about City, Gary James has fulfilled his ambition and our desire and produced what may be unequivocally regarded as the definitive history of Manchester City Football Club. A City history with its Blue heart on its sleeve. Buy it.

David Butler (


This isn’t a match review for two reasons: I can’t do them and I was too nervous throughout the second half especially the last 20 minutes. I know we were playing brilliantly (OK I’m biased) but I still could not relax – too many let downs, I cannot relax until the final whistle. My sister-in-law could only relax at the Swindon game when it was 5-0! Anyway fabulous game, top result, nice one, sorted and so on. But the most amazing thing happened on the way home. My cousin from Middlesbrough (yes as if it’s not bad enough to live there he supports them as well) had travelled down for the game and was staying with us. After the game, he very sportingly shook my hand as soon as we met up again outside, best team won, you outplayed us etc. all music to my ears. Then a stroll back to the car with a post mortem of the game on the way. Myself, my brother and his wife and the Boro fan all in agreement with the major points of the game until my cousin said and I quote: “but you’re so solid in defence, and strong in the air.” What would your reaction be? When have you last heard that about City? Suffice to say all three Blues were gobsmacked (but well chuffed!).

I’m still on a high; I will not dwell on the Crewe game but I know that we will beat Forest and Bradford and I’m not back to work until after then oh bliss. So have a very Merry Christmas all you Blues and a happier 1998.

P.S. Why can’t we sing like that every week at Maine Road?

CTID, Tricia Joyce (


I am researching a story about the Ghost Of Maine Road and the Gypsy Curse placed upon the club in 1923 for a Channel 4 Television series called FORTEAN TV.

Do you know of either stories? I am seeking any additional useful information to make the programme more interesting, true and valid. I am looking for supporters who believe in the Curse and the effect it may be having on the club’s form. I am looking for fans and ex-players who may have seen the ghost?

Can you help me?

I am at Rapido TV on 0171 229 9854. My E-Mail is both:- &

I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Elliot Reed, Senior Researcher FORTEAN TV ( &


Contributions: Ashley –
Subscriptions & Club Questions: Steve –
Technical Problems: 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.

[Valid3.2]Ashley Birch,

Newsletter #358