Newsletter #408

Apologies for the gap in issues; this was due to me away in London and the sparsity of news. This issue however, is fairly full. The main news is that Bobby Brightwell has departed to pastures new and is reported to be delighted at being signed on a free by Coventry City; he also expressed his sadness at leaving Maine Road though. A news item which seems almost to have slipped by, is that Paul Lake has handed in his resignation, apparently to pursue a degree.

This issue has the new fixture list, which should be free of errors, opinion, a Why Blue and some humour.

Something which would interest many people, particularly bearing in mind our upcoming trip into the unknown, are previews of our opponents – background about the club, whether we’ve ever played them before, who’s in their team and that type of thing. However, this would involve a fair bit of research on somebody’s part. Peter Brophy has already started the ball rolling by giving his view of the forthcoming season; however, is there anyone out there who’d like to have a bash at a preview of all the teams in Division 2, or perhaps several people who would like to contribute an article on an individual team, especially if they live local to one of our opponents? If anyone can manage something along these lines, I’m sure it’d be well received by the vast majority, for whom this is all new territory.

Next game, Sunderland at home, Saturday 18th July 1998 (Brightwell)


Rang the ticket office this morning re getting tickets for the Brightwell/Sheff Wed/Cardiff home games next month. All go on sale on Saturday 27 June from 9am and season ticket holders have until 4 July to get their own seats for the three matches. The Bob Brightwell Testimonial cost seems to be £10 but I’m not sure of prices for the other matches.

Carol Darvill


Here are City’s fixtures for 1998/99; the cup and play off dates are estimates so don’t go booking your holidays based on these dates!


Sat  8 Blackpool          H
Wed 12 CC Cup 1st Round 1
Sat 15 Fulham             A
Sat 22 Wrexham            H
Wed 26 CC Cup 1st Round 2
Sat 29 Notts County       A
Mon 31 Walsall            H


Sat  5 Millwall           A
Wed  9 Bournemouth        H
Sat 12 Macclesfield Town  A
Wed 16 CC Cup 2nd Round 1
Sat 19 Chesterfield       H
Wed 23 CC Cup 2nd Round 2
Sat 26 Northampton Town   A


Sat  3 Burnley            H
Sat 10 Preston North End  H
Wed 14 CC Cup 3rd Round
Sat 17 Wigan Athletic     A
Tue 20 Lincoln City       A
Sat 24 Reading            H
Sat 31 Colchester United  H


Sat  7 Oldham Athletic    A
Tue 10 Wycombe Wanderers  A
Sat 14 F.A. Cup 1st Round
Wed 18 CC Cup 4th Round
Sat 21 Gillingham         H
Sat 28 Luton Town         A


Sat  5 F.A. Cup 2nd Round
Wed  9 Auto Windscreens N1
Sat 12 Bristol Rovers     H
Sat 19 York City          A
Sat 26 Wrexham            A
Mon 28 Stoke City         H


Sat  2 Notts County       H or
Sat  2 F.A. Cup 3rd Round
Wed  6 CC Cup 5th Round     or
Wed  6 Auto Windscreens N2
Sat  9 Blackpool          A
Sat 16 Fulham             H
Sat 23 Walsall            A or
Sat 23 F.A. Cup 4th Round
Sat 30 Stoke City         A


Sat  6 Millwall           H
Wed 10 Auto W/S NQ/F
Sat 13 Bournemouth        A or
Sat 13 F.A. Cup 5th Round
Wed 17 CC Cup Semi 1        or
Wed 17 Auto W/S NS/F
Sat 20 Macclesfield Town  H or
Sun 21 CC Cup Semi 2
Sat 27 Chesterfield       A


Sat  6 Northampton Town   H or
Sat  6 F.A. Cup 6th Round
Tue  9 Burnley            A
Sat 13 Oldham Athletic    H
Wed 17 Auto W/S NF 1
Sat 20 Colchester United  A
Wed 24 Auto W/S NF 2
Sat 27 Reading            A or
Sun 28 CC Cup Final


Sat  3 Wigan Athletic     H or
Sun  4 F.A. Cup Semi
Mon  5 Preston North End  A
Sat 10 Lincoln City       H
Wed 14 Luton Town         H
Sat 17 Gillingham         A or
Sun 18 Auto W/S Final
Sat 24 Wycombe Wanderers  H


Sat  1 Bristol Rovers     A
Sat  8 York City          H
Wed 12 Play Off Semi 1
Sat 15 F.A. Cup Final
Sun 16 Play Off Semi 2
Sun 23 Play Off Final

Paul Howarth (
Peter Brophy (


I should be grateful that the summer’s here. I live in a city where, in June and July, there are the so-called White Nights – it doesn’t get properly dark. It’s an impressive phenomonen, and is the showcase for the best points of a strikingly beautiful city. I’m not grateful at all, of course. I prefer the winter, when temperatures of twenty below zero are perfectly normal (though oddly there are no “black days”, there always being at least six hours of daylight). The reason is simple – it’s the football season in England.

Of course, I’m glad it’s a world cup summer. The three months or so between the end of one season and the beginning of the next always seem to drag interminably, so the surfeit of football for the four weeks between mid-June and mid-July is most welcome. Nevertheless, it’s not quite the same as the season itself.

While I’ll watch all the England games, and while I’ll be supporting the England team, our national side has never managed to arouse quite the emotions in me that City do. Basically, it’s an inferior substitute – I feel a little bit like I used to if I went out and had to drink Kaliber because I was driving. And yes, I recognise fully how bizarre it sounds for someone to compare supporting his country in a tournament involving the world’s greatest teams unfavourably with following his own club when that club is languishing in Nationwide League Division Two.

In any case, one of my favourite major tournament pastimes is no longer viable. During Italia ’90 and USA ’94, I was keeping an eye out for emerging players of quality in the hope that City could move in with a smart bid (yes, I know it sounds laughable now!). Talent-spotting isn’t quite the same when the hopes that a Premiership club might move in with a smart bid thus free up a squad player who isn’t totally clueless and wouldn’t mind the move to football’s twilight zone.

During each summer, I always look forward to two events to whet my appetite for the coming season. One, of course, is City’s first pre-season friendly. It means that the real thing isn’t far off. However, the first cuckoo of my footballing spring is always the publication of the coming season’s fixtures. For obvious reasons, this year I awaited them with a little more trepidation than usual.

Like everyone, I suppose, I invariably study them for the highlights of the fresh campaign. This year, though, I was expectant despite the knowledge that highlights were likely to be few and far between. Actually, I didn’t find the first seven matches quite so bad. A bank holiday extravaganza at home to Walsall hardly promises a glamour-filled afternoon, for example, but at least I can remember us playing them in the league before we were plumbing these depths. The same is true of Bournemouth, and also Fulham, though the presence of Al-Fayed and Keegan gives them another aura altogether. My formative football-watching years were spent watching Granada TV’s Sunday afternoon “Kick-off Match” in the late 1970s, and as Blackpool and Wrexham were both in the real Second Division then, I can just about handle the idea of playing them in a league match. We’ve actually faced both Millwall and Notts County in the top flight in this decade, so those games are positively replete with glitz in comparison to most we’ll play.

It’s the run of games in mid-to-late September which are the first really to emphasise our new status. Enough has already been written about the incongruity of City facing Macclesfield Town in a league game, but, I can hardly drum up more enthusiasm for playing Chesterfield or Northampton – in the last twenty years, both have been anchored in English football’s lower reaches. Then there’s another Tuesday night trip to Lincoln (two years ago, when we made the last one, we thought we’d return to the Premiership at the first time of asking and they were in the basement division) and the big Easter derby with Wigan.

Then there are those two blank Saturdays on November 14 and December 5. Until now, missing fixtures in these months could only have meant one thing – imminent World Cup or European Championship qualifiers for which at least two or three of our players would be selected. Now it signals our participation in the opening stages of the FA Cup proper, alongside Yeovil, Woking and Cheltenham.

Maybe to fans of other clubs all this would sound unbearably arrogant. I would beg to differ. I fully appreciate that we’re in this division on merit, as are the other teams, so we have no right to complain about playing them. I’m not complaining – I’m simply saying that the surroundings will be a little more humble than we’re used to. No-one can deny this, because we now enjoy the lowest status we’ve ever occupied in 106 years in the English league structure. It’s not an unreasonable observation to make, either. For a person brought up in a mansion to end up in a three-bedroomed semi would be a comedown, too. Moaning that it’s an injustice isn’t a reaction to be sympathised with, but saying it’s not quite what we’re used to is entirely understandable.

Strangely, though, having perused our forthcoming forty-six Nationwide engagements, I find myself looking forward to this season of discovery. Given my utter dread of this prospect last Christmas, when I first started to think of it as more than a notional possibility, I’m somewhat surprised. While I’m always highly unlikely to witness many matches in the flesh (my tally last season was two), I have a much more definite intention to make every effort to see games than was the case a year ago.

It seems that I’m not alone if the figures for season-ticket sales are anything to go by. Indeed, I heard from one City-supporting friend that the ticket office at Maine Road saw queues a mile long last weekend. We’ve obviously reached new levels of collective masochism. I suppose it’s just that we’re in uncharted territory, which has the appeal of the unknown. I very much doubt I’d anticipate a second season at this level anything like as eagerly, and again don’t think I’m untypical. If this will be a one-off, it will probably be a lot of fun. On the other hand, if we’ve found our level and will stay there, it’s a profoundly depressing thought.

It’s not the right time now to try to assess which is the more likely of these prospects. When the season’s imminent will be the time for predictions and previews – we’ll be able to see for certain which players have come and gone and whether there have been changes beyond those on the football side. For the time being, all I can say is roll on August 8.

Peter Brophy (


I’m not sure whether this has been mentioned before but what the hell.

You may or may not remember, but during Peter Reid’s spell as manager (1992),we made an effort to sign a young Dutch left back from Twente Enschede (or something like that!). We had apparently agreed terms with the player and the Club, but the Dutch PFA stepped in and advised him that a move to England (and City) would damage his career (they were probably right with hindsight!). Although we had offered over £1m for him, PSV Eindhoven’s bid of £800,000 was accepted instead.

That young left back was none other than Arthur Numan, currently a fixture in the Dutch National team and who has just made a £5m switch to Rangers (better late than never to ruin his career!).

Bearing in mind the problems we’ve had in this position since then, just sit back and think about what could have been… unfortunatley the next time Reidy went to Holland for a player he came back with… Alfons Groanendijk.

Oh well, he’s not really an ex-City player but as I bored my mates with this story when Holland played, I thought it was worth a mention.

City ’til I die, Chris Bevan (


A few of the Midlands-based Blues from Blue View are meeting up on Friday to watch the England-Columbia game. If anyone’s interested, we’ll be in the Australian Bar, on Broad St, in Birmingham.

David Lamb (


Just thought fellow McVittees would like to know that the filth are copying us again. Their new kit has a gold star above the badge rather like the 3 we added last year. The only things they don’t copy is poor management, bad results etc. oh and having fans from Manchester…

Still bitter (not really), still Blue, Jim Parsons (



Hello hello it’s us again from far down in the Falklands, only we’re not actually in the Falklands anymore. After a disastrous finish to the season, it’s taken us this long to get the courage together to scribe out another E-mail. There are two reasons that we’re dropping you a line, firstly it’s to thank you and everyone who contributes to the compilation of McVittee and it’s distribution, as it’s the only up to date information on what’s happening at our beloved club. So please keep up the good work, as the season will be just about ready to kick off again by the time we get back. Secondly it’s to see if there are any Blues out there who live in New Orleans, Tampa, Baltimore or Boston. The reason for this, is that now we’re making our way back to the UK, these are the places we are stopping at (and you thought we had it easy didn’t you?) during July. It would be good to meet up with any Blues from these places, reminisce about old times and dream about a brighter future.

Any takers can contact us on this E-mail address and we’ll let you know the exact dates of our arrivals and departures.

P.S. We are gonna hammer Blackpool… (pass the alcohol)

CTTAICWO (City ’til the alcohol induced coma wears off), Johnny Mac & General Booth (


We await the start of the new season in the Third Division and like any “True Blue Believer” I am confident that “we shall return.” Looking forward anxiously to the start.

Having said that I think I need to comment on the antics of the moronic “England Fans”(?) in France.

Down in the Antipodes it is hard enough being a football fan where they believe football is only played with an elliptical piece of inflated leather. How much more difficult is it for the game to achieve credibility and recognition when we are shown news footage of these wa**ers who appear to have more interest in the battle off the field than the battle on the field.

Are the days gone when attending a football match was a good crack where you could engage in friendly banter?

It is surely a sad day for football and any English fan, because whether we like it or not these images only result in us all being tarred with the same brush.

I agree with the French, lock the b*****ds up for long spells and allow the decent fans to support their team, whatever nation, to do so without fear of this animalistic behaviour.

Graham Jones – Jam Jar Jones (


No not Division Two, the recent discussion on McVittee about the colour of City’s shirts. Now I like the Kappa shirt design, expect for one major design flaw: the colour. “Laser Blue” is turquoise as any fool knows, and City play in sky blue not turquoise. The reason we play in turquoise is not that it’s an exciting new colour Laser Blue – especially designed for our spanking new kit that we’re gonna wear in the Premiership RIP. No, the reason is simple, it is one of Kappa’s basic design colours that they use on several other kits (e.g. Sparta Rotterdam, away). Go to the excellent Kappa HQ, Kappa Centro at Via Foggia, in Turin, if you don’t believe me.

When our former merchandising manager, Mick Peak, was doing the deal with Kappa it looked like it was a case of “Meek! You can ‘ave anee sky blue so long as a eet’s thees sky blue!” (or “Mick, potete avere tutto il celeste a condizione che sia questo il celeste”, if he spoke Italian).

Now I think City should play in sky blue not turquoise, but we’re stuck with it for another season at least. For what it’s worth, I like the pale (but not pallid) sky blue worn by the magnificent teams of ’67-’72. It started to get darker through the ’70s, and in my opinion (IMO) became light blue not sky blue. The kits of the early ’90s were light blue too (IMO) The last two Umbro kits were sky blue but very pallid, not surprising as Umbro could not design their way out of a paper bag. Surely it is not beyond the wit of Kappa and City merchandising to design a decent Sky Blue that does not look grey and washed out on the telly. IMO, the present colour looks like that stuff you wash woolens in.

Tim Chadwick (


I obviously have to be very careful what I say on this subject so I will keep it short and sweet. Last night I was watching the Nicky Campbell debate programme on ITV at 10.40. To my absolute disgust this so-called England and City fan (sadly wearing the blue shirt of City), starting yelling obscenities to the audience, swearing his head off and claiming that he wasn’t a yob but he was just defending himself over in Marseille the previous Monday. I’m not saying he was or he wasn’t, all I want to say is what a disgrace to see a fellow Blue behaving like that on national TV, sad ass’ole! Please show some dignity when wearing the shirt, after all, many playing in it last season failed to, so we must maintain the good name of the club.

Mark Dutton (


I must comment on the disgraceful behaviour of those so called English fans in Marseille! I know not all fans act this way but the f*****g a***holes who do should be fingered to the authorities. I know for a fact that if an Irish or Scottish supporter started throwing bottles at rival fans, he’d soon get a swift kick up the ringhole and told to cop on!

The World Cup is the best stage in the world for your country in football and it should be enjoyed in a friendly atmosphere and you should be thankful to even be there. We Celts like our beer but we’re able to handle it not like those tw**s who are only ready to fight when locked, and in a gang! I’d like to see some of those fat c**** (that were rioting on TV) in a one to one situation and I’d put my mortgage on it that they’d run like the cowards they are!

My stomach turned when I saw one of these a***holes running away down the street after breaking a shop window (now that’s a real brave act). He was wearing the laser blue top of M.C.F.C. I’ve always been a fan of City, through good times and bad (too many bad times) but on Sunday for the first time I was ashamed.

Niall Fitzpatrick (


There seem to be a few Blues out there who are less than confident in Joe Royle’s ability to manage MCFC. Well it seems to me that we should put last season behind us, forget about Joe dropping Gio and look to the future. We must stick with Joe Royle for next season at least and let’s hope that David Bernstein isn’t going to start sacking managers as a knee-jerk reaction whenever things start to go wrong. I believe that to get out of Division Two (and in the right direction this time!) we will need to combine good football with physical football. Royle seems to think that, with a couple of exceptions, we have the players to do this and I have to say I agree. Obviously we need a left back, aside from this we should have a fairly solid defence. There’s a good choice of centre backs in Wiekens, Vaughan, Shelia and Jobson, and Edghill should be good enough at right back. In midfield, Pollock and Brown can both pass a ball OK and will do the physical bit. Up front Goater is proven at this level and Bradbury, who in my opinion was showing a great improvement towards the end of last season, whould be good enough to partner him.

Royle has said that he wants to bring through some youngsters next season. Frankly if the best of our young players aren’t good enough for Division Two football then something’s going badly wrong in the football academy we’ve all heard so much about. So there may be no need to buy new players in some positions with home grown players coming through to take their places. And it’s good to see Royle is serious about trimming down the squad, something that’s obviously been lacking with some of his predecessors. A smaller squad, allowing the reserves to be used to bring through the more promising youngsters instead of the shop window for the second rate players we don’t want any more, and a settled first team side should provide a good basis for the rebuilding that should really have happened years ago, without which we might not have had to face the likes of Colchester and Gillingham next season.

Lastly, tactics: I heard a few complaints about the long ball game creeping into City’s play last season. Well if route one, or any other unattractive tactic for that matter, is what it takes to get us promoted at the first attempt then we shouldn’t complain. We’d all like to see City playing what Ruud Gullitt would call “sexy football” but we need to get promoted twice before that becomes a priority.

So let’s get behind City and Joe Royle next season.

CTID, Julian Griffiths (


Having just returned from a week in Hong Kong – 32 degrees C with 98% humidity (lost some weight and managed to get brown without conking out completely!), I was lucky in the first three days not to see a s**t shirt. However, slowly I started to spot them; at the end of my 6 day visit I must have seen about 12 of the damn things! I need to ask a Blue who resides in Hong Kong and who gets MCIVTA the following:

  • How come I didn’t see any MCFC stuff apart from what I was wearing!
  • As electrical goods are so cheap out there (for the Hong Kong-ese that is) and nobody is without a mobile, pager orSharp Handycam/Viewcam, are the shirts used as extra advertising/fashion accessory?
  • Or are there really so many flaming Rags out there?

Carol Darvill


Re request to contact Helen Bell; as far back as March she was still selling flowers on the new entrance to the Manchester Royal Infirmary. I’m sure some of the bods from the WRVS would have a contact number.

Chris Griffiths – Chorlton Blue (


I have a request – if anyone has a Laser Blue shirt (large, less than £25) – or knows of how to get one cheap – preferably last season’s design – for sale – for a Blue fan living in Africa.

Many thanks, Glyn Albuquerque (


I’m starting a new website for long-distance Blues and need help with match reports and articles from newspapers in Manchester. If anyone could help out, or has any suggestions for the site, please e-mail me at

Thanks, Carol McGregor (


Alex Ferguson is watching a rather tame game at struggling Doncaster when he spots a young lad with real potential. Keen to build on his continued success by developing young talented players he approaches the lad and offers him a contract.

The day comes when the lad is about to play in his first game. Alex calls him aside to firm up on the details of the contract: “Right then lad, I’ve decided to start you on a salary of £5,000 per week.”

The lad replies “£5,000 per week! I was lucky to get £250 at Doncaster!”

Ferguson continues: “Well we’re talking Man United here… the best team in the country, you’ve got to aim high and think big! I’ve also arranged a house for you, a 7-bed detached in Wilmslow… set in 5 acres with its own pool and tennis courts.”

The lad is ecstatic. “7-bed detached! I only got a council flat at Doncaster!”

Ferguson continues: “I told you, we’re talking Man United here… the best team in the country, you’ve got to aim high and think big! I’ve also arranged your transport, a Jaguar XK8 for the week and a Ferrari F50 for the weekend.”

The lad is on cloud nine. “A Jag and a Ferrari! I only had a Reliant Robin at Doncaster!”

Ferguson continues: “I told you, we’re talking Man United here… the best team in the country, you’ve got to aim high and think big! Right, I will put you on at the start of the game, but don’t be surprised if I pull you off at half time.”

The lad can’t believe it. “Pull me off at half time! I only got an orange at Doncaster!”



I’ve just returned from a holiday in Hungary – not the most obvious destination for a week away, but very interesting and very cheap.

Early in the week I had spoken to a fellow traveller who told me he lived in the North of Scotland. It never occurred to me when I binned all the McVitee’s I’d taken with me to read on the coach that anyone else might have been interested in them. However, later in the week David Buxton opened another conversation with the line “I’ve been told you are a City fan.”

On returning to England I sent off a selection of McVittees to supplement the answers I had given to questions about Francis Lee, Gio and Joe Royle, Frank Clark’s demise and all the other events that kept us enthralled last year.

David was born about three miles from City’s old ground at Hyde Road, although it’s only fair to say City had moved from there many (well, some) years earlier. He doesn’t have access to the Web and email, but has sent me the following contribution. I suspect it won’t be his last.

Roger Haigh (


I haven’t been supporting City for 111 years – it just feels like it sometimes. Like many of you I started when my dad took me along to the Holy of Holies. In my case that was in 1945, so I’ve been suffering, with brief uplifting interludes, for almost half the club’s history!

In 1948, my three best friends (friends?) transferred their affections to that other team, who had by some fluke won the F.A. Cup. The fact that I stayed with City will tell you something about me (mad? – no, the word I had in mind is “loyal”). What will surprise many of you and possibly cause you to stop reading at this point, is that I haven’t watched City in the flesh for over 20 years! Nevertheless, I can tell you that their two recent relegations have hurt me every bit as much as they have obviously hurt those of you with season tickets.

For the past 23 years I have been living in the north of Scotland, a season ticket holder watching Forres Mechanics in the Highland League (if the present trend continues, do you think you could arrange for City to move to the Highland League next year, rather than the Vauxhall Conference? It would make things so much easier for me …).

From afar I have the impression that City have been a bag of nerves during season 1997-8, and if certain names are booed when the team sheet is being read out, I’m not all that surprised! For many of the teams in Division 1 (2), visiting Maine Road evidently provided the sort of challenge relished by non-league clubs drawn against league opposition in the Cup. I fear that in Division 2 (3) this will be even more noticeable.

As an armchair supporter of City I have been reduced on many occasions this season to sitting in front of the telly with the text on the screen, just waiting for the inevitable late goal against them appearing long after all the other results are in! In the case of Birmingham City it happened twice!

At least the appointment of the new chairman augurs well. Wasn’t it Bernstein who wrote: “Something’s coming, something good” and “There’s a place for us”?

David Buxton (c/o


Contributions: Ashley –
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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 #408