Newsletter #382

Many out there will undoubtedly be pleased by today’s signing of a hard midfielder – Jamie Pollock from Bolton. Let’s hope he can be as influential as some of his battle-hardened predecessors, namely Steve McMahon and Gerry Gow. A player departing is Lee Briscoe, who was apparently looking for a permanent move whereas City could only offer him another month’s loan.

This issue has another reserve report – good to be getting these as details are often sketchy at best in the media – a detailed article on Lee’s departure from Steve McNally; info on our new signing, and the usual opinion. Anyone out there care to contribute a Why Blue?

Next game, Sheffield United at home, Saturday 21st March 1998


MANCHESTER CITY RES. vs. LEICESTER CITY RES., Wednesday 18th March (7pm)

Venue: Altrincham FC (Moss Lane)

Clough in Man of the Match Shocker! – No Really!

Once again The Wookie proved himself to be an utterly sad b*****d by going to the reserve game at Alty. With the Alty pitch in reasonable nick for a change the City side lined up as follows:

Foster Brightwell Fenton Vaughan (Rimmer 65 min) Hiley
  Crooks     Clough (Capt.)   Morley N (Quinn 75 min)
  Dickov (Phillips 60 min)     Bailey

With the match once again watched by Big Joe, City’s reshaped reserve side (only three players the same as last week’s 4-4-2 joke team) started as though their lives depended on the result, and in some cases it does! With an early Dickov effort just wide of the goal, superb passing play through the workhouse midfield of Crooks and Clough (and sloppy defensive play from Leicester admittedly) led to the ball eventually arriving at the feet of Alan Bailey, the youngster breaking through on goal and finishing well. One nil to the Blues after only 3 minutes. More neat interplay minutes later and a cross came to Cloughie (from Crooks?) who slammed the ball into the corner of the net. Two nil after eight minutes and the crowd found itself in the unusual position of watching a polished City performance. Although a shell shocked Leicester side now began to find its feet, the Blues were a solid and composed unit. The back five were all in their favourite positions and the team had a balance to it with Nigel at the hub of most of the good possession/creative play. Chances came and went with more for City than the opposition; young Bailey can count himself unlucky not to have had a hat-trick by halftime and despite a late scare the Blues reached the break a deserved 2-0 up.

Half time found me in the bar (only ’cause it was cold out honest!) just in time to catch the joyous news that the Rags were losing. Lots of happy Blues trudged out of the bar to enjoy the second half!

The second half was a much more level affair. City sat on the lead a little and Leicester continued to flounder against a tight back five. Big Joe decided to take a look at some of his kids and it proved not to be such a wise decision as the team began to lose its shape in my opinion. Even so Bailey was denied a second by a brilliant point blank save and a Cloughie screamer dipped just over the bar as City continued to have the better chances if not as much of the play.

Then it happened – Big Joe must have signalled it was 2 minutes from time and City went into traditional panic defence mode! Right on time (according to my watch) a Leicester corner resulted in a superb point blank save from Weaver, it rebounded to a Leicester player who slammed the ball onto the bar but the luck held for less than two seconds as the second rebound deflected to Matt Elliot who slammed it home in delight. Two one. City kicked off, attacked and were robbed of the ball. Leicester broke quickly and the ball was swung over from the right to a player completely unmarked at the back post who gleefully slotted home the equaliser. Sickening. Two two. Both teams then proceeded to play a bizarre form of posession football for the further 4 and a half minutes of injury time (why? There was only one 30 second or so stoppage in the half to my memory) as though the draw had been pre-arranged Hakkinan/Coulthard style!

The final whistle blew. A 2-2 draw.

Ratings and things of note from the game:

The defence had a blinder…
Nicky Weaver in goal impresses me more and more each time I see him. He’s big, brave, stops shots, kicks well and comes for the ball at corners. Not at fault for the goals. Time he got the call I think (9).
Brightwell came through the game with flying colours and commanded the line brilliantly for 89.9 minutes (8).
Nick Fenton is a star of the future – cool on the ball, tackles well, fast, heads well and breaks out from defence. A better version of Keith Curle but a little lightweight just yet (8).
Scott Hiley must have heard Briscoe was going because he laid a huge claim to be next occupant of the left back spot (8).
Foster/Vaughan played well – will have impressed any watching scouts (7 each).
Clough – Captain marvel! Shouted, ran, tackled (nearly broke a guy’s legs right in front of me!), passed brilliantly, had shots, scored woah! – somebody wake me up I must have been dreaming! Somebody must have given him a rocket for last week’s crap performance, either that or he thinks he’s got a look in for a first team recall! (9).
Crooks – Passing sometimes off but tackled well. Ran out of gas late on (8).
Morley – Played ok. Still learning (7).
Dickov – Scared the crap out of their defence by continual harrassment. Still lacks the Goalden touch though and fouls too much for me (7).
Alan Bailey – Superb game by the youngster. Did his cause no harm at all. Where has he been hiding? Definitely one for the future. Got stuck in and often beat his defender to the ball. Holds and turns well and as far as I remember had only one shot off the target all game – unlucky not to score a bagful. With the other young strikers on loan around the country he may get a chance on the bench if we’re safe from relegation before the end of the season (9).
Subs – all played ok but lack of experience showed – but that’s what reserve games are about! (6).

All in all a big improvement on last week.

Your on the spot saddo… erm reporter… The Wookie – alias Colin Surrey (


Tuesday 17th March

Very little going on today other than Lee resignation stuff to be honest. Kinky is being linked to Sampdoria again with their agents apparently being instructed to open up negotiations with City with the aim of thrashing out a deal. Whether anything comes of it we’ll just have to wait and see.

Rae Ingram has gone out on loan to near neighbours Macclesfield, as the Silkmen attempt to plug their leaky defence after a 5-1 hammering in their last outing. It’s thought that this is done with a view to selling him, unlike David Morley’s loan move to Ayr United, as Morley is apparently one of the players the club are confident will come through and make the grade. It’s merely seen as an opportunity to give him some first team experience. Albeit at a lower level.

Finally for today, new Chairman David Bernstein has been quizzed about the Maine Road finances. “It’s fair to say there may now be more flexibility as regards to raising capital. We will deal with any serious parties. There is more likelihood the money will come from the big institutions in the city. I know there is interest from that direction and that is the type of investment that will provide the stability we need. There are many ways of skinning the cat. We need money and we’d like to have it in place for next season because Joe Royle has a difficult job but we can’t make any promises. We will talk to any serious potential investors but we won’t have our time wasted by other parties who show an interest really for public relations purposes and their interest isn’t for real.” And by that presumably he means the likes of Mike McDonald, and maybe even Richard Branson.

Wednesday 19th March

The clearout continues apace with young striker Ray Kelly going out on loan to Norwegian side Stavanger. Ray has made only one first team appearance for the Blues – being thrown in at the deep end by FC during the ‘Great Striker Drought of 1997’. He was on the losing side in the appalling home defeat by Huddersfield back in November for all you lot who have to know the ins and outs of everything. This brings the number of players currently out on loan to six (Barry Conlon – Plymouth, Chris Greenacre – Blackpool, Paul Beesley – WBA, David Morley – Ayr United and Rae Ingram – Macclesfield), plus two sales (van Blerk and Scully) and that makes it eight down about twenty to go I reckon!

That’s about it really. Not exactly earth shattering I know but there were lean news pickings only today I’m afraid. Other snippets are that Ian Brightwell is expected to make his return from injury in the reserves at Altrincham tonight, City are expected to press on with the move to the Millennium Stadium (an announcement is still scheduled for next month), and Reading lost 3-0 last night saving us from the humiliation of dropping second bottom again! Looks like things are looking up then…

Thursday 20th March

At last! Some news! And positive news at that! Jamie Pollock, Bolton’s rough, tough midfielder has signed for the Blues in a £1 million deal after being transfer listed following a bust up with Colin Todd. The 24-year-old has got himself a reputation for being one of the Premiership’s toughest players and his signature will give the lads a real boost in time for Saturday’s crunch game against Sheffield United.

Michael Brown has been talking about his temperament in the wake of the news that he’s picked up another ban, which looks like it will be two games (Bradford and Stockport) and not just one as we reported on Monday. “I have got to be more careful. Sometimes I get involved in skirmishes when there is really no need to. Quite a few of my bookings this season have been a bit silly and could have been avoided. The ironic thing is that I am really laid back off the pitch and don’t let things get to me. Perhaps I need to adopt that attitude in matches. The only problem is that I am so desperate to do well and get stuck in. I think sometimes my heart rules my head.” And that’s why the City fans love you Michael mate! Don’t let them change you!

The reserves did a convincing first team impression last night by letting a two goal lead slip in the last ten minutes to draw 2-2 with Leicester at Altrincham. However, by all accounts this was the best performance the reserves have put in for many a blue moon and should aid the cutting of the wage bill no end with a bit of luck. Goalscorers for the Blues were Alan Bailey and that man Nigel Clough again for those who like to know that sort of thing!

Steve McNally (


Three thirty PM on the afternoon of Monday 16th March 1998 would be a momentous moment in the life of just about any football club. But not Manchester City Football Club. At least not a moment with anywhere near the same significance as it would take on elsewhere. It was just another isolated incident which, on MCFC’s own patented version of the Richter scale will register merely as a tremor rather than a fully fledged earthquake. We’ve seen it all before. We’re well reknowned for changing managers as regularly as we change our ball boys so another bit of backroom upheaval barely warrants more than a shrug of the shoulders and a resumption of the ‘let’s wait and see’ attitude from the more, what was that phrase again, ‘low profile’ City fans.

In Monday’s MCIVTA News Summary we included the pre-prepared statements from both Francis H Lee and new broom David Bernstein, but as expected the fallout has continued for several days and only now appears to be dying down as the focus switches back onto the desperate struggle for survival, the signing of Jamie Pollock (see the News Summary for full details) and Saturday’s crucial game with FA Cup semi finalists Sheffield United. I’ve put this together hopefully as the complete story of the events since Monday but I’m sure that there will be more twists and turns over the coming weeks and especially the close season as the vultures begin to circle to see how cheaply they can pick up the carcass of this once great football club.

As expected from a character as volatile as Franny he didn’t go as quietly as his initial statement seemed to suggest he was going to. Speaking from a secret hideaway and with the pressures of bereavement and a seriously ill son to contend with, he lashed out at the situation in general. “I have had four years of unfair pressures. I have been blamed for the performances of the team on the field – why I don’t know. We can only allow managers to buy players who they consider are good enough to play for Manchester City. And if those players don’t perform or are not good enough, then it is the managers who must take the blame. But unfortunately I seemed to get the blame for everything. I don’t want to individualise on which managers but in the last four years upwards of £30 million has been spent in this club one way or another and we have got very little to show for it. We have not bought quality and organised them right, it has not worked for us on the pitch. Everything at a football club depends on the results. If you win 1-0 and play nonsense people will accept it for a certain time. We have not had a good run here. When I arrived the club was completely bankrupt and we bought in Paul Walsh, Uwe Rösler and Peter Beagrie and it kept us in the Premier League. But the purchase of players from then onwards have not been worth the value we have paid for them with the odd exception of Georgi Kinkladze. I have endorsed the signings. Before we buy a player I have asked every member of the board and told them the price and whether they were in agreement. But some of them I have not even seen them play. From day one, I have been criticised for interfering in team selection which is complete nonsense. You can speak to Frank Clark or anyone about it and they will back what I say. I have been accused of all kind of things in newspapers which are totally untrue. Off the field everything is super. It is now a big club with a turnover of £14 million this year and that’s without Premier TV money. If we had that it would be £25 million. The commercial side is strong and the youth set-up is definitely the best in the country.”

To me, this outburst suggests two things. A real feeling of bitterness towards the managers who’ve held the job for any significant reign (Ball and Clark definitely, possibly Horton too), and to those elements of the support who refused to believe that he wasn’t meddling in team affairs despite constant denials. Perhaps then his greatest faux pas came during the search for a new manager after the sacking of Horton when he stated that he ‘hadn’t ruled out’ taking the job himself, in the short term at least.

The tirade continued though, with reference to what he claims was a vendetta against him. “There are, behind the scenes at Maine Road, some very insincere people who have tried to blacken my name during my tenancy as chairman. I could have got rid of some of those people, but when they had gone they would have been an even bigger menace and I’m not allowing them to do that. There were enemies within and without. I don’t make that as an excuse, it’s more an explanation for the situation. The quality of my life had begun to suffer. It has been difficult for my wife, my children and my family. My wife and I talked it over and we considered that the best thing would be for me to step down. This decision has taken a long time, I didn’t make it rashly or quickly. I just feel it might be better to stand down.”

A line of thought that obviously has the full backing of his embattled wife Jill, who was obviously a major factor in Franny’s decision to quit. “I did want him to step down, eventually. It all became too much to handle. I don’t think he has failed, but people have failed him. We had a nice lifestyle and life before he took over, I just hope we can get that back again.”

But even in departure, Lee still feels the club is in a strong position to regain their former glories claiming, “The club is on a wonderful platform to go forward. There is a new stadium coming and a new financial structure to come into the club. Everything is set now for Manchester City to go on and be one of the big clubs in this country, if not Europe.”

So what about the new bloke then? ‘David who?’ was my initial reaction as I listened to the press conference I must admit. Well, it turns out (and I’m sure most of you already knew all this, but for those who don’t) he’s a millionaire businessman from ‘darn sarf’ who is chairman of successful clothing chain French Connection, and through his contacts was the mastermind behind the highly successful acquisition of Italian sportswear company Kappa as kit manufacturers. However, he’s not come in all guns blazing, promising a quick fix as happened four years ago (to my mind another big mistake on Franny’s part), stating that there is ‘very little extra money available’, and that “if something happens down the road where a situation merits a change, I will not stand in the way.” That obviously suggests that at the moment he feels something of a caretaker chairman (a sort of a boardroom Phil Neal if you will!), and that at the first opportunity he would like to go back to his more preferred behind the scenes rôle.

And that opportunity could come very quickly indeed with Stephen Boler again reported to be wanting to offload his 24 per cent holding, and Raymond Donn and Mike McDonald both already expressing an interest. There is no doubt then that Bernstein would not stand in the way of anyone who’s prepared to back up their words with the millions needed to wake City up from the nightmare we are all currently enduring. True to his promise of being a much more hands off style chairman than we’re used to, Bernstein himself has said very little indeed since Monday afternoon other than to say, “Francis always put tremendous effort into his work for the club and has always acted with great integrity. In many ways the club is in better shape than when he took over. John Wardle has joined the board and Dennis Tueart will assume all board responsibilities for football matters. Our heritage, aspirations and support demand that this club achieves success on the field. However, we must focus on present realities, not former glories. We are very fortunate to have Joe Royle and Willie Donachie and they will be given every support in achieving the difficult task they have undertaken. Over many years the club has suffered from being under-capitalised and over-borrowing. It will be a priority to bring in sufficient funds to provide stability. The last two decades have witnessed constant and damaging speculation about the boardroom and change of control issues. We intend to stabilise the club at all levels, diffusing the constant hype that plagues us. It is a great privilege to be offered the chairmanship. I have been a passionate supporter for 40 years and am acutely aware of the depth of feeling resulting from our lack of success on the pitch over many years. I am able to devote sufficient time to the club and I will do whatever it needs. I am totally committed to getting this place right.”

John Wardle – JD Sports company boss and undoubtedly one of the main protagonists involved – was naturally upbeat after being elected onto the board following Franny’s departure, “I am quite sure that the new manager will bring success to the club. I have had a good relationship with Joe at Oldham when JD Sports were sponsors there. He did a great escape there when Oldham were in relegation trouble, and I’m confident he will complete a great escape here. I’m here purely for the interests of this club and I have a great love for City. This is not an easy job and I have taken it on only with the total support of the major shareholders. We are looking forward to a unified situation going forward for the future.”

Joe Royle, naturally uncomfortable with the situation given that the whole club needs to concentrate on issue’s on the field and not off it said, “I’m sad to see Francis go as a friend and a great player for the club and a great Manchester City fan. But realistically that shouldn’t effect my side too much. I have got to get on with the playing side and get better results than we have been getting. I had a meal with Francis on Friday and I had no indication of what was going to happen. I have spoken to him since and he has explained the reasons. We now have a new chairman who has assured me that my rôle stays the same. I know Francis more as a friend than as a chairman and he was admirable as both.”

Dennis Tueart, seemingly contradicting his hatchet man image and suggestions that he was brought in to oppose Lee said, “I see my rôle as the bridge between the boardroom and the football side. It’s a sad situation. I was initially looking to work with Francis when I came in as a director a couple of months ago but he’s made his own decision and I have to take it on from here.”

However, not everyone is feeling sorry for Franny. It seems that some have never forgiven him for the dirty tricks his supporters employed during the shameful ‘Forward with Franny’ campaign four years ago, and while there’s no suggestion that Lee himself was involved with any of the appalling acts that were carried out during that time, as figurehead some feel he should shoulder the blame. One such voice is Chris Muir, Maine Road director and lifelong friend of the late Peter Swales.

“That campaign, in my view, killed Peter Swales in the end,” said Muir. “If Lee thinks he’s had it bad over the past few weeks, it’s just chicken feed to what Peter Swales had to endure. Compared to what Peter had to contend with this has been nothing. What happened to Peter was a disgrace, what Francis Lee has had to cope with is minor. When the campaign to oust Peter was at its height, fans got into the nursing home where his mother was being looked after and caused trouble. His home was attacked, and fans spat in the face of his wife Brenda when she was out shopping. There were threats to beat him up, eggs were thrown at him in the directors’ box and he had endless abusive phone calls, day and night. In the end his phone was monitored so every call was checked before he answered. There was a torchlight procession from the town hall to the ground, all the demonstrations outside the stadium, and thousands of leaflets distributed saying ‘Don’t save the Swales.’ He stood up to all that for months. Peter had a heart murmur right at the end of the campaign to get him out, it was thought not to be serious at the time. But I have always blamed the campaign to remove him for his death, and so have other people. I stood with Peter during those times, he never failed to take his seat in the directors’ box. I sympathise with what has happened to Francis Lee but there is hardly a comparison. Francis Lee was like a Second World War soldier, while Peter Swales was a First World War infantryman in comparison – that’s the difference between what they had to endure.”

Finally, there’s been plenty of comment from some of City’s self professed ‘high profile’ supporters, but from a personal point of view I’ve decided it’s not worth including and I’m sorry if that offends any MCIVTA readers. It’s just that, given that most of these individuals were ringleaders in the Forward with Franny campaign I find it quite sickening the way they’ve been celebrating his resignation. Such short memories. So I’ve saved what I considered to be the most poignant comments for the end, and ironically they come from the fans’ fallen idol himself. “My parting words to the new chairman were that under no circumstances should he ever let the youth system be affected by anything. I’m very proud of the academy, and there’s no doubt it’s the best in the country. I would like to help with coaching these youngsters. I will still be coming to matches, mind you I might have to wear a beard, some dark glasses and a dirty raincoat. If this small section of supporters, whipped up by what they read in fanzines, get their way, then City have no chance. It’s a big problem because they can deflect the concentration of the players, but I must say 95 per cent of the supporters have been very very good and until the last few months they have been wonderful. There are many things in life that you regret, but my biggest regret at the moment is getting involved in the first place.”

In my opinion Franny is, and always will be a true supporter of Manchester City Football Club. He was put forward as our saviour by the same people who turned on him, when to my mind he never was the right person to become chairman in the first place. His biggest crime seems to me to have been listening to bad advice, and surely we’re all guilty of that every now and again? I’m glad he’s gone, both for his sake and ours. Now if only we could get rid of some of those ‘high profile supporters’ as well we might just about be back on the road to glory…

Francis Lee Factfile

1944: Born April 29, in Westhoughton, near Wigan.
1960: Makes début for Bolton against Manchester City.
1967: Moves to Manchester City after making 189 League appearances and scoring 92 goals for Bolton.
1968: Wins League Championship with City.
1969: Wins FA Cup medal, beating Leicester 1-0 in the final. Wins first of England caps against Northern Ireland.
1970: Lee wins two more medals with City: European Cup Winners’ Cup and League Cup.
1972: Makes 27th and last appearance for England, having scored 10 international goals, against West Germany.
1974: Leaves Manchester City for Derby after making 249 League appearances (112 goals) for the Maine Road club.
1975: Wins League Championship with Derby, his last season in professional football, after 62 League appearances and 24 goals for the Rams. Retired from playing and went into business recycling paper (later sold for £8 million). Other business interests include household goods and food manufacturers, and racehorses at a stud farm in Cheshire.
1994: Takes over as chairman of Manchester City.
1995: Sacks Brian Horton as City manager and installs Alan Ball to the City hot-seat.
1996: Manchester City are relegated from the Premiership. Ball quits and Steve Coppell replaces him. He resigns after 33 days, Phil Neal takes over as caretaker-manager and Frank Clark becomes the new boss.
1998: February: City slump to 23rd in Division One – their lowest ever League position. Joe Royle appointed City manager to succeed Clark.
March 16: Announces he is quitting as chairman but keeping 11% shareholding.

Factfile from Sporting Life.

Steve McNally (


City today completed the £1 million transfer of Jamie Pollock from Bolton. Pollock is expected to play against Sheffield United at Maine Road on Saturday. City are also being linked with the West Brom striker, Andy Hunt. Hunt will cost City around £300,000.

Charles Pollitt (


The Swinton and District CSA are holding a benefit night on Tuesday 14th April 1998 in aid of the Ian Brightwell Testimonial Fund. Guests already confirmed include Ian Brightwell, Joe Royle, Kit Symons, Paul Lake, Tony Book, Tommy Wright, Richard Burgess (MUEN), Bryan Brett, Joanne Parker and Jason Beckford. It is expected a number of the FA Youth Cup winning side will also be present. Staying with the former youth team players, if anyone knows the whereabouts of Ian Scott, Steve Mills or Steve Crompton perhaps they could contact Alex Channon on the number printed below so that they can be contacted and invited too.

Tickets are priced £3 non-members; £2 members; under 16s free.

The format for the evening will be a question and answer session supplemented by raffles and auctions. Please support City’s longest serving player.

Date: Tuesday 14th April 1998.
Venue: Pendlebury British Legion, Bolton Road, Swinton.

Further details from Alex Channon on 0161 281 7517

Martin Lever (


City want to sell Kinkladze to Ajax for 10 million guilders. Last year they could get 20 million from Ajax, but then they refused. So this year costs us 10 million guilders (3 milion pounds).

Martin Kampherbeek – The Netherlands (


I’ve just heard that City have signed Jamie Pollock for £1 million, so here’s some information on him:

Position: Midfield.
Born: Stockton, 16/2/74.
Previous clubs: Middlesbrough, Osasuna (Spain), Bolton Wanderers.
International Caps: England U-21

A player that Bolton tried to sign a couple of years ago, he decided to play his football abroad with Osasuna in Spain. This was a move that did not work out for him, and he was thankful that Bolton paid the £1 million needed to bring him back to England. Not the fastest of players, but he has the vision to compensate for that. He is a real work horse in midfield, and when needed he is the man who can upset the opposition with his physical presence. He is also not afraid of trying his hand at scoring goals, he was the man who scored Bolton’s 100th league goal of last season at Tranmere. Should be a good season for this man who is still only 24 years old.

D Ward (


The landlord of the Lantern Pike, in Little Hayfield, Derbyshire, would like to thank all the City Supporters and guests who attended his Supporters’ event in February (see MCIVTA 374). The event turned out to be better than they had anticipated thanks to the marvellous support they received. There were many players from the past but the present players were nowhere to be seen, surprise surprise! Even with 53 players on the books, not a single one could be bothered to attend. Not even the sick, lame or lazy. The landlord would also like to thank MCFC for the concern and treatment that he (George) received when he attended the Oxford Match; he had complementary tickets and the use of a car parking space and on his arrival just after KO, he parked up after asking if he needed a car park pass, but was told it would be OK by the parking attendant. When he returned to his car he found it had been towed away as it was causing an obstruction! He was informed by the club that they could do nothing for him from a very arrogant head of security. So he had to fork out £148.00 the following day to get his car back; he has since contacted the Club again but they say it is not their problem.

You may draw your own conclusions of how important the supporters (or even an ex-player) is to Manchester City FC (after they have got your money). PS: If any City Fans are going on holiday to Tenerife they can get a 10% discount off car hire at Tenerife Rent-A-Car; contact Steve or Sue, just mention George from the Lantern Pike (it’s Steve’s father).

Chris Woolley – Macc OSC (


I note Chris Woolley’s article in MCIVTA 379 about the players not attending branch meetings any more. Well mate you’re lucky, not one of those over-paid, under-employed “superstars” has attended a branch meeting here in Oz.

Why couldn’t any of them, when they’ve finished training, come to one our meetings, it would only take five days to get here, have a beer and return, not much to ask is it!

Still in a frivolous mood, put your money on Jason van Blerk leaving Maine Road shortly. Why? Well the Oz branch has asked him to be their president and we’ve got a great track record. We asked Niall, and before the letter reached England he was on his way, then we asked Colin Bell, he refused, but he was marked. Then it was Tony Book, he accepted and six months later he also, was on his way. So if there’s any player you want to get rid of let me know and I’ll send him a letter asking him to become the branch president.

Enough of that b*****ks and to let any Blues in Sydney and New South Wales know that the Sydney Blues are going to be at the Australia Olympic XI vs. Brazil Olympic XI game on Saturday night (21st March). The game is at Parramatta Stadium, kick off 7.30pm. We’re meeting behind the goal at the Leagues Club end (north end), it’s got a bar, which is very important.

So George, Josh and any other Blues we haven’t met, see you there. Must go now and put a jumper on the temperature has just dropped below 30 degrees C.

Bill Chapman (


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

What a week; it’s all been happening! Did Port Vale town centre look like Trumpton or what? What a disaster it was to lose there, of all places. Still, it shook Franny down to some tune. In a way I’ll be sorry to see him go, but after two hands-on chairmen, I’ll be interested to see what a decidedly hands-off chairman can do?! If nothing else, it should curtail Free The Manchester 30,000’s embarrassing activities.

Well the way things have been going at Maine Road, we’ve got to get our little consolations from wherever we can. Europe: the final frontier? Monte Carlo or bust? Well, bust is the short answer; Rags blubbing like babies all over the telly… brilliant! Oh my aching heart! And after Arsenal too. Hell’s bells, I even made a point of watching MOTD last Saturday! Should have been 4-0 for the Arse! And the Rags even had their favourite twelfth man playing: Alan Wilkie.

And another thing… the new issue of Bert’s out on Saturday: The ‘Fwee Wodewick’ Special (if you don’t understand the reference, keep your lugholes open the next time David Bernstein’s being interviewed!). It’s also the 50th edition! Well, that’s the plug sorted out; see y’all on Saturday.

Noel Bayley (


Can anyone help? I’m a manager and a City fan but one of my staff is a MU fan. I feel so sorry for him because every time they lose, which is not often enough for me, he throws a wobbly.

Look at last Saturday against Arsenal. After the match he ripped his lovely red shirt in half, then he sanded off his house name plaque (Old Trafford) and revarnished it. I’m at my wits end. I just don’t know what to do to help him. Can anybody out there please give me some advice on what to do?

Eric Adams (


As a Blues’ supporter for longer then I care to remember, there has always been the consideration that things can only get better but after the last five years of the s**t across Manchester winning everything they choose to and having to take stick from Pompey (or scum as they are better known), I am finding it very difficult to convince my seven-year-old son that he should follow his dad’s footsteps and follow the mighty (delusions of grandeur) Blues and not follow our home town club Southampton.

This aside I am trying to convince myself why I should continue to support such a crap and disorganised club. Please help as I am facing a critical decision.

? (


Last Sunday I was one of 80,203 who squeezed into the Arruda stadium, Recife, Brazil for a local derby which meant little in real terms – both teams are virtually assured of getting through to the next phase anyway – but was hugely important in terms of local pride. The game finished in a 2-0 win for Sport Club over Nautico.

Imagine your team goes 2 nil down with twenty minutes left against your local rivals. What do you do? Nautico fans stopped barracking their players, as they had been doing for most of the game, and headed home. The few that stayed set fire to their shirts in protest at the disappointing performance of their team. It was Nautico’s first defeat of the season.

Spoilt b*****ds! They should try a season at Maine Road, I said to my Brazilian friends. 28,000 every home game, I said, that’s what being a fan is all about. Then I got thinking: what’s better – blind devotion or wild protest? After all, why should these overpaid t***s deserve our unconditional love?

My conclusion, of course, is that the players surely react more positively to encouragement than to booing and, if it comes to it, to fires on the terraces. Nautico’s young players must have been scared s***less on Sunday afternoon.

City Ate Morrer, Daniel Marcus – Blue in Brazil (


Again we see the club apparently being torn apart by behind the scenes manoeuvring. It seems that at every level apart from the team there is constant bickering, and a high turnover of staff.

Well it has been said many times that the club is doing very well off the pitch, those areas where the board is supposed to be doing work, whereas the team is the part of the jigsaw which isn’t fitting. Maybe they should panic a bit more, and keep being changed, so that they are forced to fight a bit more for the club?

I don’t know about this, but isn’t the club able to sack players who they don’t want to keep on the staff? They would be forced to pay compensation, I know, but if a player still has a lot of time left on his contract then I think this would be likely to be less than the wages we would have to pay them anyway. Perhaps someone who knows the law would be able to comment.

Also, when Franny went he talked of £30 million being frittered away by managers on poor players, with players that have been brought in since Horton not being of a high enough standard to represent the club. This leads to a few thoughts.

  1. I can’t think of thirty million pounds worth of players that we have signed, never mind when you take away the money raised by sales.
  2. Comments like these are hardly going to lift the morale of the squad at times when we are fighting relegationand need all the help we can get.
  3. If it has been the managers sinceHorton that have frittered away money, then that means that the onlyone who was good at his job was the one he didn’t appoint. If he hasfailed to make the correct choice for manager in six attempts thenthat means that he has as bad a track record at spotting managementtalent as they have at spotting playing talent.

Sam Al-Hamdani (


Tony gets up on his high tattoo’d donkey over a post which questions the book “Guv’nors” by Mickey Francis.

Okay, so I feel a need to chip in with my tuppence ‘hapenny worth. Saying “everyone hates Scousers” is not racist IMO. How can one this be racist when most scousers are of the same racial groupings as most Mancs- of which there is obviously more than one racial group, which in itself defies the point of the phrase.

On the other hand, the point with which I was in full agreement with the anonymous chappie (and if he wishes to remain so, then I believe that is his perogative [it was Jim Simmons, see MCIVTA 381 – Ashley]) was in saying that it is an utterly ridiculous idea that being a full time hooligan is just a case of picking out your rivals in the crowd and having a jolly old Eton rules punch up with them (yes that’s exaggerating the Mickey Francis point, but you get my drift?).

From my perspective, I have never lifted a single finger against another opposing football fan (other than a good mate of mine who is a Blackpool fan and got what he deserved a few years ago at Bloomfield Road… but that was in fun… honest… except for him… perhaps). What was utterly obvious to anybody just reading the book (never mind us supposedly sad “scarfers”) were the obvious discrepancies within.

For example, one minute we are being told about how “civilians” are left alone, and yet a few pages later we are told of pubs and coaches being attacked and bricked by people who, in all honesty, have no idea how many old gents or just faithful footy fans might be inside.

I myself have suffered too many times to believe the lie that it’s just a battle between those who seek it (yeah right, and the Mafia are also respectable gents who never ever take their world outside of their own people!).

I have been forced under my seat on a coach in Coventry whilst the locals felt a need to brick us, forced onto the pitch whilst the match was still going in Nottingham, found myself in a “Warriors” like situation at Stockport’s back alleys, dragged through an absolute tunnel of mayhem whilst nine years old by my uncle at the Swamp, had the crap kicked out of me in both Blackpool and Preston, had bottles miss my head by inches at Anfield, and been p***ed upon on the old double tiered stands at Goodison (remember them?).

I have also been at many service stations in which my City scarf/hat/pin/kit (actually, not so much the kit, as that was later than me) bearing was my sole saviour from a bunch of thugs who would otherwise have ripped me apart So anyway, I totally reject some of Mickey Francis’ theories, although I will admit that the only reason I read his book was because his allegiance was City… any other team and I wouldn’t have bothered, sad but true!

Steve O’Brien (name not witheld so that either Mickey or Tony can come round and beat the crap out of me, should they desire:-))

Steve O’Brien (


We’re probably going down: City’s track record for avoiding relegation in our current circumstances has always been poor. To make matters worse we have a board that is totally split and can’t (or won’t) invest a penny in players – as a result JR will not be able to buy the players this club needs to avoid relegation.

Fortunately there is some hope. JR’s track record on building teams with no money is pretty good – look what he did for Oldham (and when he first arrived at Everton).

However, unless we stop getting on the backs of the players we haven’t got any future at all, let alone a chance of avoiding relegation. I’m as good as the next man at slagging off bad passes, poor defending and attacking – but it has to stop. Now!

If it doesn’t we’re doomed. We will do to our own club what most Rag fans would like to happen to our club. Frankly it makes me want to puke. The treatment handed out to Lee Bradbury during the Oxford game was a case in point: OK he missed a couple of decent chances, but he’s only recently come back from a very serious injury. Overall during the game, his work rate was excellent and he was getting into the scoring positions.

So in closing can I make a heartfelt plea to all you Bertie Magoo’s out there. Stop being Bitter Blues and get behind the team.

Richard Mottershead (


So I’m sure that many people will read the words of FHL’s resignation statement with a twinge of sympathy. Personally in this world of all manner of strife I choose to save my sorrow for more deserving cases.

As a kid growing up in the 70s I loved Lee. Next to Colin Bell I thought he was the best player I’d had the privilege to see on any kind of a semi-weekly basis. Whilst this feeling might have lessened a tad by the time Dave Watson was regularly seen dominating Joe Jordan like a high class call girl with cocaine-smeared nipples would treat Frank Bough, he nevertheless remained one of my all time heroes. It didn’t matter that even as a player he was one of the most devious cheaters in the game. He cheated outlandishly but he cheated for our gain and that’s all that mattered (that and the fact that his antics would wind up the Rags’ fans tighter than a clockwork mouse with an itchy ar**, which was always a wonderful sight to behold).

So anyway, things changed. He was welcomed in with open arms and many a fine promise was made. Unfortunately, one by one, those very same promises fell by the wayside and it eventually became clear that when we (or at least they, the team(s)) couldn’t live up to his words on the pitch, then he wasn’t going to live up to them off it. Suddenly it was the old Franny again, except this time it was us that were being cheated.

Say what you want about Swales but there is no way that he would have allowed us to sink so deep… and no, I’m not so daft as to think that our current predicament isn’t in some way his fault… hey, I still hold Big Mal Al very much responsible despite the fact that any club worth its salt would have sorted itself out from that particular ego-centred spending spree many years ago.

Anyhow, the more I’m getting annoyed at thinking about what we are today in comparison to what we should be (a succession of incompetent powers that be, at way too many levels, notwithstanding) the more I veer from my original point.

So can I just leave you with this thought – what started off as a highly celebrated “Forward with Francis” campaign finally dissolved into nothing more than: “Backward with the Bog Roll man”.

Sorry if this comes across as a little bitter but as the lone lifelong City fan (now exiled in the less than football friendly US of A – for my own sanity’s sake) in a family filled with Rags – the whole combination of whom can’t add up the time spent at that Salford ground to my years on all four corners – or at least sides of the sacred ground, I have to ask you all, as fellow sufferers – what do you expect?

Steve O’Brien (


There has been some debate in MCIVTA about some of our players of questionable ability being loaned to clubs playing in the First (Second) Division. I cannot see the argument against this practice.

It is with these generally overpaid players that we have managed to attain 20th place in the Division. They have obviously failed for us. I would think that there is a very good chance that they will fail whichever club they play for. In fact, loans of these players makes perfect sense. We no longer have to pay them and not only that, they spoil the chances of the club to which they are loaned surviving or being successful. They should really be regarded as infiltrating viruses. We let them loose in our opponents’ teams and we must benefit from the resulting deterioration. Think about it. Wouldn’t you prefer us to be playing against poor Brannan or Symons each week rather than say, a pair of footballers? Imagine facing a team which included Clough, Brannan, Symons, Conlon, van Blerk, Crooks et al. Not a very daunting prospect you might think, unless of course, your team facing them was playing in the Manchester Sunday League, and even then…

If we could loan the whole side out each week to our opponents and install in the team a group of men and women impersonating Queen Victoria, we could hardly score less goals, or get less points than we do most weeks. Yes, I know Kinky’s magic and Shelia’s the first centre half we’ve had for years. It’s just the rest of the boys are truly hopeless.

I watched a bit of Colin Bell on the box a few nights ago. That, I suppose, is what accounts for the tone of this article. I would personally sell Kinky, Shelia and Alan Shearer (if we had him), for anyone nearly as good as Bell. And I’d give ’em some cash too! But, I suppose it’s pointless looking back and yearning. It’s just that the corner that we wait to turn seems to be at the end of the road, and I don’t think that that’s a great place to be trying to get to.

Simon Fink (


Full-time score for Tuesday, March 17 1998

Oxford United        3 - 0 Reading
Beauchamp (44, 70)
Gray (77)

Up to and including Tuesday, March 17 1998

                             HOME            AWAY
                      P  W  D  L  F  A   W  D  L  F  A   Pts   GS
Nottm Forest         37 14  2  3 43 19   8  6  4 20 14    74   63
Middlesbrough        37 13  3  2 38 10   8  6  5 23 26    72   61
Sunderland           37 10  6  2 38 17  10  4  5 30 22    70   68
Charlton             37 12  5  1 37 15   6  4  9 27 32    63   64
Ipswich              37  9  4  4 33 17   7  9  4 27 21    61   60
Sheff Utd            35 13  4  1 34 13   3  9  5 20 24    61   54
Birmingham           38  8  6  4 21 12   7  8  5 29 19    59   50
Wolverhampton        35 11  5  3 32 18   5  2  9 13 18    55   45
Stockport            38 12  5  2 41 17   4  1 14 19 37    54   60
West Brom            38  8  5  6 19 19   6  5  8 18 24    52   37
Oxford Utd           38 10  5  4 31 16   4  3 12 22 35    50   53
Bradford             38  9  8  2 22 15   3  6 10 16 24    50   38
Swindon              38  9  3  6 25 20   5  4 11 13 38    49   38
Crewe                38  7  2 10 21 30   7  3  9 24 24    47   45
Norwich              38  7  8  5 20 24   4  4 10 17 33    45   37
QPR                  38  8  7  5 27 19   2  6 10 16 34    43   43
Huddersfield         38  7  4  8 24 23   4  5 10 18 34    42   42
Bury                 38  5  9  5 17 19   3  9  7 18 27    42   35
Port Vale            38  6  6  8 22 22   5  2 11 22 32    41   44
Portsmouth           37  7  5  8 24 28   4  3 10 16 23    41   40
Tranmere             36  6  6  5 21 17   4  4 11 16 28    40   37
Man City             38  5  4 10 22 22   5  5  9 20 24    39   42
Reading              38  7  4  8 25 27   3  5 11 11 39    39   36
Stoke                38  5  5  8 22 30   3  8  9 14 27    37   36

Russell Town (
With thanks to Soccernet


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 #382