Newsletter #435

The Blues went out on Wednesday, but put in a good performance, particularly from Bradbury; we have a match report and a matchview. The soft news is filled with rumours of a Norwegian takeover, but the hard news easily outdepresses anything – we made a massive loss last season. I just hope Bernstein has stayed the haemorrhaging, as the year did end on 31st May and we have since sold Gio and cut almost 20 people off the wage bill.

The truth behind Allsopp’s nickname – ‘Madge’ – is revealed; there are directions to Northampton, some opinion and a Why Blue from the Valleys.

Next game, Northampton Town away, Saturday 26th September 1998


MANCHESTER CITY vs. DERBY COUNTY, Worthington Cup, Wednesday 23rd September

Clearly the result last week at Derby had been a good one and it was reasonable to assume that we would give them another good game at the Academy, and in so doing allow our dream of a glorious treble to live on. The glittering prizes of the Worthington Cup, the Second Division title along with the romance and sheer magic of the Auto Windscreens Trophy would be enough to satisfy the hunger of any fan. However, it is not to be, but we can be pleased with the performance from the Blues last night.

We arrived at our seats at about 7.20 and although we are used to the ground looking fairly empty until about 10-15 minutes before kick off, even 25 minutes before kick off it was looking a little emptier than usual. This was to be confirmed later when the attendance was given as 19,662. Somehow I’d thought there would have been more for this match. It has to be said as well that Derby brought with them a smaller contingent of supporters than probably any of the other teams who have visited the Academy this season.

Wright stared in goal again, with Weaver still out injured. Horlock was in for Tiatto and Whitley for Dickov. Dickov starting on the bench was certainly a surprise to City fans sat near us.

The game kicked of at 7.45 and within minutes of the kick off Bradbury had the crowd on their feet, when he shot wide in the fourth minute; only two minutes later he played a magnificent dummy to allow the ball to run though as City built another early approach on the visitors’ goal. Bradbury looked confident.

Round about the 10-minute mark, Wanchope broke down the right wing and it was great to see Tony Vaughan match him all the way for pace and then slide in to take the ball away from his feet and safely out for a corner, which ended up being headed high over the City bar by a Derby forward.

I think we had the better of the first 15 minutes, but then Derby began to step it up and we were beginning to lose some shape. About 16 minutes into the game Derby had another corner, the City marking was juvenile and a short corner to the unmarked player on the edge of the box resulted in a real let off for City as the shot was deflected wide. And then the same thing, we were screaming for the spare man to be picked up – it seemed impossible that our back four could allow them so much space. In the end the corner was taken and it was too high and too long and went out for a goal kick.

We then moved up a gear, Pollock breaking through to fire in a first class cross only to win a corner. Minutes later the ball was in the back of the net. From where we were we think it was disallowed for a City handball, but I’m not sure to be honest. We now moved into a stage of the game where the ball was moving from one end of the field to the other. Bradbury set off on an excellent run, his jinking movements towards goal had us on our feet again, he was looking good and fired in an excellent cross. Derby cleared and moved straight back down to win a corner. Only minutes after this, and I think against the run of play, Wanchope hit the ball from near the corner flag in a sort of looping cross and it ended up in the back of the net leaving Wright stranded. It was a lucky goal, although I didn’t see it take a deflection the teletext news said it had, and I think if you get the chance to see it you’ll agree it was a bit of a fluke.

Just after the half-hour we appealed for a penalty as Bradbury was brought down, but the referee was having none of it. At 8.17 Wright was at full stretch to save as City were caught with some slack marking to provide Derby with another corner. Approaching half time the ball was floated high into the City box, Wright did well to climb up and with both hands punched it out only to see quick thinking Derby forward look up. He scooped he ball high into the air to chip into the net, but what looked like a certain goal was avoided when Wright scrambled back to tip it out for a corner.

The second half saw Danny Allsopp come on; within a minute he was sending a shot in that was on target but that lacked power. Seven minutes after the restart Allsopp had the ball in the net. The goal was well taken but we were caught offside (I think a fair decision). Close to the hour Allsopp made a fantastic run down the right, he ran and ran and ran, beating three or four players before being pushed out for a corner. City were playing well, the real weak link and disappointment to me and to virtually all those around me was our right back, Edghill. I have to say I just don’t know how he gets a game.

Round about 20 minutes in, Allsopp beat three men, slipped it into Goater who got it to Bradbury who was unlucky to see his shot crash against the woodwork. We got more efforts in on goals as the minutes ticked away; Pollock, who had a great game, fired in from about 25 yards only to see the ball go over, Fenton doing similar to win a corner.

We were doing well and there were some good City performances. For my money Lee Bradbury had the best game that I have seen him play and this seemed to be the general feel in the crowd. He had looked confident, quick and sure. The bloke a couple of seats from me thought Bradbury had begun to show his class. Not only that he had worked bloody hard, he was all over. You can imagine the surprise then when he was brought off with about seven minutes to go. I have to say I thought the decision was bizarre and it was loudly booed around the ground. Dickov came on and did well, but by this time Derby were hanging on and managing to waste precious seconds as the clock ticked on and we went out.

Overall then, a good performance. I don’t think anyone could say that you could see there were two divisions between the teams. Wiekens was great again, Pollock was solid, Bradbury the best I’ve seen him, Allsopp was excellent, not a bad team performance in all. But we must do something about Edghill. Finally, on the Bradbury performance, when we got home my wife who had listened to some of the match on the radio said that Gary Owen had also been surprised at the decision and that he also thought Bradbury had looked his best since joining the club.

Tony Burns (


After the 1-1 result at Derby, my hopes were high for an upset in the Worthington Cup. We had done well down there to get the draw and on our own turf we should be able to beat them (after all they’re only 2nd in the Premiership).

Reading the M(U)EN before the game I read that Fenton has signed a new contract; nice to see Joe investing in youth. Straight from the kick off City tried to attack but it was quickly broken down by Derby. From then on Derby looked very impressive. Wanchope went through our defence like a hot knife through butter. Derby looked stronger in midfield and quicker on the attack. They were first to everything and that fact wasn’t helped much by some dreadful passing from the Blues. City had a couple of half-taken attacks but it was all Derby. Then the inevitable happened, Wanchope, from a very tight angle, had a shot, it clipped a defender and looped over Wright into the net. City then tried a fightback. Bradbury got the ball, turned and was pulled down inside the area but no penalty. Goater went for a bouncing ball and was deemed to handball it before scoring and consequently got booked. The replay in the bar afterwards showed he never touched the ball, total injustice. Pollock had a looping cross which Goater should have either dived for or stuck a foot out and it would have been in.

Half time: 1-0

This was the turning point in City’s game, a lacklustre Mason was taken off and Madge was put on. City then took the game to Derby. Derby had outclassed us first half but City looked good second half. Several chances went begging, Bradbury with 4-5 mazy runs down the wing, Allsopp playing a blinder, but it wouldn’t be our night. Pollock screamed one over from 30 yards, Bradbury hit the post, Horlock had another chance and Goater’s deflection off Whitley was saved on the line. Bradbury was replaced with about 10 minutes to go and he got a standing ovation.

It ended up 1-0 Derby, 2-1 Derby on aggregate.

Considering the vast gulf between the 2 teams, I thought we rose to the occasion well and we certainly weren’t humiliated. Derby had to work hard to beat us. Encouraging to say the least, just wish we played that way week in, week out.

Wright – Old and sometimes made some scary decisions (like coming 30 yards off his line and missing the ball).
Horlock and Wiekens – played well at the back.
Edghill – Not a bad game.
Bradbury – Outstanding, unlucky to hit the post.
The rest – not a bad performance.

Nicky Weaver has a slight injury but should be back for Saturday’s clash with Northampton. Micheal Brown’s future is still unsure, should have been on the bench, but was still in the bar at 7.40, Port Vale had made an offer for him but it has been rejected.

CTTGCWO (City til the gypsy’s curse wears off), Andy Holgate (


A report in Norwegian financial daily Dagens Naeringsliv stated that the conglomerate Aker RGI was discussing a takeover of MCFC through its Wyndmore unit. Aker is a company based in offshore drilling services to shipping and petroleum companies. Its services include platforms, drilling and well operations. It had current assets at the end of 1997 of £551 million.

Sean Cable (


I read today in the Norwegian paper Dagen N