Newsletter #440

This issue is still fairly substantial, despite going out on Sunday and therefore not having any match reports. There is however plenty to read, include an archive report, opinion, and a Why Blue.

Next game, Preston North End at home, Monday 12th October 1998


Here’s a review of the home derby in City’s Championship-winning season… 1936-37. The same season, Man U were relegated, finishing second to bottom. This is an early example of media bias towards TWGFT. Punctuation untouched for Eng Lit. historians.

9 January 1937
Manchester City 1 Manchester United 0
Report by Ivan Sharpe

BANG, BANG! One thud as Herd’s foot hit the ball at goal, and another as the shot struck the Manchester United crossbar. And close on 66,000 people, thrilled to the marrow, yelled in chorus. Twenty minutes later Doherty slipped the ball along the wing to Brook, and the outside man passed it across the jaws of goal. Amid a group of players, Herd showed a leg, and side footed the ball just inside the far post. Loud cheers. The City had scored!

All sounds very thrilling doesn’t it? Blue v Red. Manchester’s “Derby” day, and this mass of pent up people. Exciting, eh? Perhaps it was, to the fervid City man watching his pets defeat the old foe. But those two big moments of the first half were the highlights of the match, which ebbed and flowed but seldom reached a level either of skill or spectacle worthy of the games great frame. Tame, I thought it.

Why did the United play Vose, a centre half back in the position of the injured Bryant in the forward line? That’s the question. I can’t help thinking it cost them the match. Vose is a good centre half of the modern, third back,stick-at-home-and-stop-the -other-fellow type. In the forward line where ball control and the ability to beat an opponent constructively are required, his limitations were exposed and he was all at sea.

In the first half, at inside right – which meant the talents of a skilled craftsman like Mutch being wasted on the wing, for which he hasn’t the speed or style – Vose was unseen. In the second half, at outside right, he was more seen… and more exposed.

But the change did give Mutch a chance to play his part, and he was far more effective, one dribble into the goalmouth early in the half being as good as anything in the forward play in all the match, and certainly the only bit of attacking work with class stamped on it that the Reds’ display revealed.

Red for danger, we have always said, and Hitler and Mussolini are keeping it up. But there was little danger in the United forward line, and that’s why they were beaten. Their attack was definitely poor, only Mutch and McKay, and this pair at infrequent intervals – reaching First Division standards. But they were supported by such a lively, encouraging defence that, if the United had had a frontal section half as good as the rear, they would certainly have drawn, and might have won the match.

As it was, they made several scoring chances, in a straggling way, but shaped at seizing them in the same unfinished way. That’s why they fell. Rowley and McKay sinned in front of goal in the first half, and the inside left was nearer the mark and unlucky before the interval when he forced the ball against the bar. But the City, had had the same experience in the first half, when that ball from Herd hit the cross-piece. The impression I got from the match is that the United defence can keep the First Division flag flying at Old Trafford, if only the attack can do its bit.

In a sound rearguard Roughton was A1, while the half backs were level and likeable – game lads, all. I don’t remember having seen Whalley before. Here, he played a capital game from first to last. Winterbottom, the pivot, was good, too. But the third back role is twice as easy to fill as any other on the field, refereeing included. It was partly because there was a third back in each team – making six backs afield! – that the forward play was so dull. Let’s remember that fact.

The City can say they deserved to win because they got the ball into the net. If so, you can’t really disagree with them. But that’s about all they managed over and above the efforts of United. Their wing play was poor, and there was little cohesion in the attack – partly because of shadowing and quick tackling. Doherty couldn’t quite shake loose and, all told, Tilson the Toiler achieved as many telling moves in his unexpected way -he won the cup at Wembley like that – as any Blue forward, probably more.

In defence, Swift was perfect, and Dale and Barkas quite good. Somehow, Bobby Marshall couldn’t do the right thing in the first half, but he recovered all right. Nice player, Marshall. Chivalrous. I thought Percival and Bray pulled their weight at wing half back, but this wasn’t an impressive City display. They will have to pull out something better for the cup next Saturday or Wrexham may be spelt differently. Or did that “Derby” day feeling undermine the whole thing?

CITY: Swift; Dale, Barkas; Percival, Marshall, Bray; Toseland, Herd, Tilson, Doherty, Brook.

MAN U: Breen; Redwood, Roughton; Brown, Winterbottom, Whalley; Mutch, Vose, Rowley, McKay, Lang.

Kevin Cummins (


As suggested by Marchie I sent a letter to the Ground Safety Officer, Jack Richards with a copy to Dennis Tueart. Incidentally this is the 3rd time I have written regarding the chaos on leaving the Kippax stand.

Jack phoned me on the Wednesday after the Burnley game and I received a letter a few days later. The main theme in the letter was that the Fans’ Committee were the only ones wanting this system to be put into action, neither the club or the police were keen on agreeing to it.

I asked why the away fans cannot be kept in after the game until home fans can get away from the ground, but as he has told me in the past, it is against the law to keep fans in against their will. If that is the case are all the fans that went to Millwall going to sue Millwall FC for keeping them in?

It has been suggested that they knock the wall down at the dreaded corner (North Stand/Kippax) where opposing fans meet head to head but they don’t seem to want to do that. I have even been given the option of waiting around for about 15 minutes after the game before I leave, so things would have quitened down; as a home fan I find this unacceptable, especially in the middle of winter.

I was incensed to write the letter as myself, my husband and niece left the Kippax as directed, detoured across the car park having to battle with the cars as they tried to leave, we then turned back onto Claremont Road but were not allowed to make our way to Lloyd Street where we usually turn right, so we had to detour even further, finding ourselves in a strange street with gangs of lads chasing down and not a policeman in sight. We were frightened and my niece was shaking when we got back to the car; this is not on, especially when it is our home ground.

Is it going to take something bad happening at that corner before the club or the police get their act together? I am fed up being fobbed off with these pathetic excuses. It is sheer madness that opposing fans should come face to face in such a small area, made even smaller by the presence of coaches, police fans and mounted police.

P.S. Jack Shephard did say that the Fans’ Committee wanted the same system to operate for the Preston and Stoke games but he is not allowing this to happen after the chaos after the Burnley game.

Elaine Taylor (


I read Eamonn Lonergan’s comments on referees in MCIVTA 439 with interest. For his (and everyone else’s) information, referees are not graded in the Nationwide League. An official can be at First division Sunderland in front of 40,000 one week and bottom of the Third division Shrewsbury in front of 3,000 the next.

For example, the dreadful Terry Heilbron (who failed to spot the assault by Birmingham City’s Dele Adebola’s on Richard Jobson last season which forced City to end the match with 10 men) refereed – I use the term loosely – City’s match at Notts County earlier this season.

By the same token, Leicester whistler Paul Danson, who was on the Premiership list until two seasons ago but was demoted after a series of poor assessments, could find himself at any ground in the Nationwide. I seem to recall he refereed at Doncaster Rovers last season, though I could be mistaken.

I hope this is of some use.

Mike Barnett, Editor, CITY magazine (


It’s a lesson I guess every City fan learns at some point, and it’d be impossible to follow the club seriously without having come to terms with it. It took me more than three years to understand, which is probably longer than it takes most Blues. I can still recollect clearly the day the realisation dawned and the memories came flooding back when I read the match report supplied by Steve Maclean in MCIVTA 437. I know Steve suggested that archive reports be featured, and I think it’s a great idea. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to any. Still, I think that the events of the Saturday following the Spurs match, in addition to their painful resonance for me, are worth remembering.

The 1978-79 season was my fourth watching City and as in those early years we were one of the country’s best teams, maybe I became a little spoiled. In my first three seasons, we lost only six times at home in 63 league games and a further fifteen cup ties, including some in European competition. To put this in perspective, last season we were in a lower division and lost twice this number of games in only a third of the number of fixtures. Ironically, my début game was the first of those six defeats, but in my book, it didn’t count – my sole memory was of the experience of being there and I was aware of the opponents and result only through being told later. I wasn’t going to every home game at this point, but I was attending often thanks to my persistence in mithering my dad, and it was almost two years before I saw us lose again. The rarity value ensures I still haven’t forgotten it – a 2-0 defeat not long after the start of the 1977-78 season to a newly promoted Wolves side. Our splendid home form ensured that I approached every fixture I saw at this stage with absolute, unwavering confidence and I simply couldn’t understand how we’d lost rather than chalking up the win I’d taken for granted. However, we then reverted to type and I was able to write the Wolves game off as an unwelcome aberration.

The following campaign was something of a jolt to one who’d never seen anything but good times at Maine Road – we lost more home matches than in the previous three seasons put together. I remember us being beaten early in the season by Liverpool at Maine Road. I regarded the fact of defeat as just about excusable but the 4-1 scoreline I found hard to forgive. Still, when the disappointing start faded and we moved into the top four or five with the season a couple of months old, I was categorising that afternoon, like the Wolves match a year before, as a one-off freak. However, we were quickly seeing visitors like Ipswich, Derby and Southampton escape with both points. To me, it was all rather disconcerting. Then I realised what we were playing at – it was staring me in the face all along. As decisive wins over Standard Liege and AC Milan swept us to the UEFA Cup quarter finals, I understood that we simply regarded the League as a distraction from the charge to European glory. We were just biding our time until March, when Borussia Mönchengladbach would duly be sent packing with a suitable flourish. I wondered why I’d ever worried.

It’s easy to look back now and think how little I knew. Now, though I’m partisan in my support, I can recognise and admit when we’re deservedly beaten. Then, any defeat, even one I hadn’t witnessed, drew from me bitter accusations, always impossible to substantiate, that we’d lost only because our opponents had “cheated”, invariably aided by the referee’s nefarious complicity. The other trait my childhood lent to my footballing analysis was a wild, unchecked optimism. This was given full rein when some bloke called Malcolm Allison came back on the scene. I didn’t know who he was, but I remember hearing news of his return on the TV. Everyone seemed to regard it as quite a big deal, and people were talking about him in connection with an exciting, successful City team he’d been instrumental in creating in the past. This fitted exactly with my concept of what we were supposed to be. And he was so confident, too. Seeing him interviewed, it seemed to me that he had exactly the same faith I did in our destiny to progress to greatness. My belief thus reinforced, I simply didn’t contemplate failure.

As a result, I wasn’t too bothered when Allison’s tenure didn’t begin in the brightest of fashions. I remember my dad being particularly agitated when we saw City scrape a goalless draw at home to Rotherham in the FA Cup. He was muttering about this being the same man who’d spent a couple of hundred grand to throw the title away, and whose desire for control had driven Joe Mercer from the club. He was warning darkly even that night that, if Allison was allowed a free rein, no good could come of it. I, on the other hand, didn’t see what he was concerned about. In the previous couple of seasons, we’d been a top English side but hadn’t made an impression on Europe. This guy had arrived to supervise the final push towards putting that right.

I wasn’t even swayed when the same players who’d thumped Milan followed their replay win at Rotherham by crashing out of the FA Cup to Shrewsbury Town. We were just continuing our self-imposed winter break, albeit one in which we had to suffer the minor inconvenience of fulfilling fixtures. When I saw on TV the absolute delirium with which Shrewsbury celebrated their victory, I was impressed by our magnanimity. After all, we’d never move in the same circles as a team like that (if anyone had told me we’d be going there in a league match less than five years later, I’d have thought them certifiable), so we’d graciously allowed them their moment of glory. We had bigger fish to fry and the defeat was a small price to pay for the much bigger, more glamorous triumphs to follow.

However, I knew that we needed to be on a roll by the time the Mönchengladbach tie came round, so I was looking for us to improve during February, moving up smoothly through the gears and being in overdrive when it mattered. The comprehensive win away to Spurs detailed in MCIVTA 437 was the result I seized on to tell me I’d been right all along and that the mouthy bloke with the big cigars was going to produce exactly the effect I was expecting. However, that the return to form should happen at Spurs was particularly opportune given the following Saturday’s fixture – Manchester United were visiting Maine Road. Even if we weren’t interested in the League, we simply had to win that one.

Obviously, the derby was a massive game for every City fan, but I always felt that it was a bigger match for me than for any of my fellow supporters. You see, I’d been born in London but of Mancunian parents and they moved back to Manchester when I was three years old. Or rather, they didn’t move back to Manchester, they moved to Stretford, which, as you’ll all know, is outside the city boundary. I could see the Old Trafford floodlights from my bedroom window, and sometimes the cheers when they scored were audible from our garden. Fortunately, impeccable Blue credentials on both sides of my family saved me from the lure of the dark side, but the same wasn’t true of most of those surrounding me.

While we’ve all used the “United fans are all out-of-towners” line in pub debates, the argument certainly didn’t apply right on their own doorstep. All our neighbours were Reds and so were most of the kids in my primary school class. I took a lot of stick, but, incredible as it seems today, I had plenty of ammunition of my own. We’d finished above United in the League for the previous two seasons, and in derby matches they had at least as much reason to fear us as we did them. Whatever happened, I normally had some kind of answer – when they won the Cup in 1977, for instance, I responded to the gloating by reminding them that the League table proved we were a better side, and in any case Jimmy Greenhoff’s decisive strike had been about as lucky a goal it was possible to score on a football field. Joe Jordan’s last minute winner at Old Trafford in the first derby of 1978-79 had given my classmates plenty of mileage in the banter stakes, so I’d been eagerly awaiting the return. It was pay back time.

Though heavily outnumbered, I wasn’t on my own. There were actually four City fans in my class; two were my best friends at the time, each of whom I’d converted. However, they both came from families where there was no real interest in football, their parents didn’t take them to games (I’ve not been in contact with them for a long time now but I’d be surprised if they still follow the club these days) and they didn’t really participate in the verbal war with the numerous Reds. However, I remember one kid whose enthusiasm matched my own – his real name was Stephen Hornsey, but he was nicknamed Stan for reasons I’ve now forgotten if I ever knew them in the first place. Stan and I gave each other support when we came under attack from the United fans and we certainly weren’t averse to the odd pre-emptive strike of our own.

Both of us were absolutely certain that there’d be only one winner at Maine Road the following week and we took every opportunity to inform anyone who’d listen. City’s convincing display at White Hart Lane, which we’d watched on Granada on the Sunday, had reaffirmed the team’s quality. I can’t remember what United did the same day, but I’d guess from our sublime confidence that they lost. I definitely recall that they had something of an injury crisis, too – their first choice strikers, Jordan and Greenhoff, were out, and the talk was of switching the diminutive Lou Macari up front. The idea of him being in direct opposition to the imperious Dave Watson caused us particular mirth, and we guffawed all week to the United fans that they wouldn’t score if the match lasted until the start of the first derby of the following season.

When they in fact managed the feat in the first half, I assumed that City were toying with them – making the match more exciting for us and their inevitable defeat all the more galling for United after their hopes had been raised. Their two further goals after the break were definitely not part of the script. And after the scorn Stan and I had poured on their forwards, it was viciously ironic that United’s makeshift front pair did all the damage. Some young reserve called Andy Ritchie scored one goal, but it was his partner who really tore us apart. Dave Sexton had decided against redeploying Macari, instead switching Steve Coppell inside from the wing. His two goals capped a devastating performance, and left me dumbstruck (it wouldn’t be the last time his actions had this effect on me, either). I knew I was in for the roughest of rides at school on Monday – it would have been bad enough anyway, but the disastrously unwise pre-match boasting had ensured that there’d be no shortage of takers for the job of ramming my words down my throat.

What made it worse was that, even for someone who viewed matches with the unremitting bias I did in those days, it was impossible to dispute United’s marked superiority. I spent the Saturday night in a mood of bitter and inconsolable dejection, knowing there would be simply no reply to the taunts. It was a defeat I took very personally. I felt badly let down and reflected that Allison ought to bring the players round to my house so they could apologise in person for the poverty of their efforts. Didn’t they know what I’d be made to go through as a result?

It was a highly significant moment in my City-supporting career, and was enough on its own to puncture my previously unshakable faith in our destiny. If the players were capable of ensuring my humiliation by being thrashed at Maine Road in the derby, in my view about as serious a breach of trust as they could have committed, how could I rely on them to do anything at all? I certainly couldn’t have faith in their future ability to match my confident words with the appropriate on-field action, and resolved that I’d be much, much more careful with what I said in future. I understood, too, that even when I had high expectations, there was always the risk they’d be dashed – I’ve never been quite as blithely expectant of victory since. No subsequent defeat, even ones which were objectively much less likely, has been quite as much of a shock to me.

All of a sudden, I had major doubts about the UEFA Cup and these were duly realised – the 4-2 aggregate defeat was by no means a disgrace, but from memory I don’t think we ever really looked like winning the tie (and we’ve never earned ourselves the right to play in Europe since). And, my belief in City’s infallibility shattered, I started to perceive other failings. For example, until this point, I’d assumed (and I know how ridiculous it sounds now) that we didn’t make bad signings. Then we bought Barry Silkman, and I could see straight away that, despite his own apparent confidence in his ability, he was out of his depth (though as we all know, Allison managed to follow this with a number of scarcely credible transactions which made the Silkman deal look like a masterstroke).

In MCIVTA 437, Steve made a number of contrasts with the present day. Looking back over what I’ve written, it’s easy to see why. City favourites for the derby? I’ve just gone through the record and seen we’ve won one in the last twenty-four. Playing Shrewsbury in the league an inconceivable idea? I guess we all got used to the prospect of life outside the top flight a long time ago, so there was always the odd game against a small club riding the crest of a wave (Shrewsbury themselves, Bournemouth, Walsall and others) – what’s different is that now we’re playing clubs with comparable resources, histories and facilities most weeks. Thinking City might win the UEFA Cup? It wasn’t a fanciful notion, as English teams were extremely successful in Europe at this stage and we had one of the most accomplished squads in the land – you can bet Mönchengladbach regarded us as a tough draw even though they actually went on to win the competition whereas even the prospect of playing in Europe seems light years away today. City virtually impregnable at home? We lost half our home games last season and have failed to win half our home league games this season in what’s really the third division.

Maybe the abject performance against United and others like it were instrumental in persuading Allison that Tony Book’s team needed to be remodelled. Certainly a team with the calibre of player we had should have been able to manage better than a fifteenth place finish so maybe some judicious rebuilding was in order? That’s not quite what we got, though. It’s a tried and tested method to run a team down by selling players and finding inferior replacements, but it takes some style almost to bankrupt the club in the process. However, we managed to recover to finish fifth in the top flight twice in the early 1990s – how we slid from there to where we are now can’t in my view be ascribed to a disastrously ill-conceived spending spree in what in football terms is the distant past. The mistakes in recent years of Swales and Lee, Ball and Clark, to name a few, have all played a highly significant rôle in a spectacular decline. Still, there’s no doubt that the consequences of the insanity of 1979-80 lived with us for a long time. The financial legacy ensured that in the 1980s, weighed down by debt and interest payments, condemned to search for bargain basement signings rather than being able to buy quality, we lost our status as one of England’s major clubs. We’ve never really been able to regain it.

Looking back, if I’d had the same attitudes and expectations for most of the time I watched them as I did when I was first watching City, I’d never have stuck with it. The derby of February 1979 probably signalled the end for one of City’s best sides, but ironically it also made me grow up a little as a fan. I wouldn’t now want to be blinkered and petulant in my support like I was then (though it’s a state some never seem to leave behind), and it was a helpful coincidence that I acquired a degree of realism and stoicism in time for an era when being a City fan would require those qualities in large measure. A critical faculty is no bad thing – it’s just a shame City have given me so much cause to use it.

Peter Brophy (


Can anyone tell me why City fans, exiled in the South of England and are not season ticket holders, cannot get away tickets for love nor money? Every away game I have tried to get to this season has been a non-starter, Northampton being a prime example. Maybe I’m missing something – no on second thoughts, I’m not. City are still as bad as they were last season… but still, I would welcome the opportunity of supporting them!

Alison Prior (


I see we have some City fans in Bermuda; any of you remember the ship “Ocean Monarch” 1966? We sailed between New York and Bermuda for 11 months, well, I was the Manager/Coach of the ship’s team back then, and then played most of our games in Hamilton, Bermuda. We were the 1st British ship to win the coveted “Atlantic Cup” organised out of New York. A team had to play 8 games; we won all 8, with 46 goals for and only 1 against. Our team also beat one of Bermuda’s top teams back then, the Devonshire Colts, and drew with the Bermuda Police (who had guest players).

For the record I went back to New York in 1969 on the “Empress Of Canada” and won the Atlantic Cup for Great Britain the second time. I left the ship and flew home at my own expense to be at Wembley to see City in the F.A, Cup. It was worth it; I backed City with the bookies, got my fare back and had a new job on the Holyhead ferries the following Monday.

I can honestly say I have seen the City 1st team, the reserves, and in the 70’s the A and B teams play. Yes I am a City fan ’til I die and I think I know football.

P.S. We had 2 players from Bermuda on our team – a striker whose name eludes me right now, but the goalkeeper who was brilliant in any league was Cyril Raynor, anyone out in Bermuda heard of him? I feel sure after we left and he went ashore he would have been picked up by a top team in Bermuda; 46 for only 1 against says it all. The rest of the players were from Blighty (I even wrote to Joe Mercer back then about one 18-year-old; I never even had a reply. I told Francis Lee about a player 4 years ago; he did reply). The player I recomended now plays for Wolfsburg in the German 1st Division; they got promotion with him in the side a couple of seasons ago. Well he might have never have fitted into the City side – tell me who has (not now but back 4 years ago)? I still think City have a team this season that will get us back into Division 1 (but we have to win at home). We have good men in charge in Joe Royle and Willie Donachie. Good Luck!

Ernie Barrow (


The following was forwarded by Geoff Donkin:

REQUEST FOR DISCUSSION for (unmoderated)

Summary: Manchester City Football Club


Manchester City Football Club (MCFC) is one of the top six teams in the country based on home support. However they are currently languishing in division two, a completely alien experience in comparison to an illustrious and successful past. Consequently the circumstances described make MCFC a highly topical and controversial subject, for which a specific newsgroup would provide a welcome and much used forum for debate on MCFC.


The group is for discussion of The Manchester City Football Club who currently play home games at Maine Road, Manchester. Players, results and any other matter related to Manchester City are relevant subjects for debate. Fans of other clubs are welcome to post to this forum provided they respect the group and do not post for the simple reason of getting a response. Advocacy of other clubs and flames directed at Manchester City from fans of other clubs are not permitted.

The newsgroup will not be moderated.


Advertising is forbidden, with the following exceptions:

Suppliers of goods and services relevant to Manchester City FC in the UK may post a pointer to their website or invitation to request details. This may not exceed four lines and may be posted no more often than once every three months. The subject line should begin “AD” or “ADVERT”.

Participants in discussions may include under four line references to their Manchester City FC related business in their .sig


Posts must be in plain text only. Non plain text posts (e.g.HTML and Rich Text) are forbidden. Binaries (picture files, sounds etc, whether related to football or not), with the exception of PGP signatures, are also forbidden. ASCII art (especially more than four lines) which is irrelevant to the current debate is forbidden.


Anyone posting contrary to this charter may be reported to their news-admin/ISP.

Proposed by: James Francis (


This RFD will be discussed in for a minimum of 10 days (until 20 October 1998.) This RFD is valid until 19 November 1998. If there is a large degree of support for the group It will be fast-tracked otherwise a vote will be asked for.


I cannot believe that Neil Haigh has raised the issue of interference by the Chairman in the running of a football club (MCIVTA 439). The simple answer to the question “Does the chairman have the right to interfere in the running of his business?” is a resounding “NO”.

In general business terms, the “Cadbury Report on Corporate Governance” in the UK in the early 1990s required that the rôles of Chairman and Chief Executive be split, and laid down explicit duties for the Chairman and Board of Directors, such as strategic and policy issues. Interference with operational issues would be contrary to best practice (though I’m not sure that Sir Adrian Cadbury had wing-backs in his thoughts at this stage of his report).

In a football club, the division of duties between the Chairman and Team Manager is even more important. Remember how difficult it was to find a successor to the ginger “Football Genius” in late 1996? The widespread allegations (true or not) that Franny Lee liked to get involved in the dressing room can’t have helped. Examples from last season of clubs where the Chairmen were alleged to have an unhealthy interest in day-to-day team affairs serve as a lesson as well – Crystal Palace (relegated from the Premiership) and Doncaster Rovers (relegated from the Football League). Bernstein has his hands full trying to improve the commercial side of the club, while hopefully, Tueart will ensure that the interests of the team and fans are looked after at Eastlands Stadium. If everybody does the job they were appointed to do, City can begin the long climb back to the Premiership.

P.S. Neil, you’re dead right about the dreaded “wing-back” system. 1 clean sheet in the last 10 matches hardly indicates a rock solid defence, but at least it’s a higher number than the league goals scored by midfielders this season. What are the chances of seeing a winger playing in (laser) blue at Maine Road this season?

Eamonn Lonergan (


Just a point about the Scum/BScumB merger; some people may remember some of the propsals that were circulated about, around the time that Rugby League sold its soul to Mr Murdoch. These included merging teams like Salford and Oldham as Manchester, and setting up a collection of regional super teams in highly populated but non-rugby league territory such as Newcastle and Birmingham, not to mention Paris and Dublin. This is very similar to what has been seen in American Football which is also run by media types.

Established but struggling teams are hijacked, re-packaged and dropped into another area in order to keep the viewing figures up. Sky may not have the same levels of control over the game but their power and influence is growing every season (squad numbers, Monday games etc.). People may laugh at Wimbledon/City and Scum/City mergers, but I’m sure that if they felt they could conceivably get away with it, the men from BSkyB would do so, and would you be have faith in Mr Bernstein resisting the temptation of a big fat cheque?

Be wary.

CTMMPLP (City till Mr Murdoch pulls the plug), Chris Ffelan (


Been reading MCIVTA from the Army (yes actually Army) Hotel here in Hanoi, Viet Nam… keeping me out of trouble at any rate. In response to certain emails I have to say that City’s current plight cannot for one moment be blamed on the fans, however much they get on the backs of the players at times. Everyone knows that a few good moves, goals even, and performances, and the crowd get behind them. If 30,000 fans roaring you on can’t get you motivated then what can?

In terms of our League position I feel positive… ish. One plus for me is that the downward slide has at least stabilised/bottomed out. Just ’cause we’re in Division 2 and we’re City doesn’t mean we’ll automatically come flying back up. It might on paper but psychologically stopping the rot has been important. OK missed chances are a problem but it’s still refreshing that we’re scoring in the last minute to gain points rather than lose them… and isn’t Goater top-scorer in the Division? To me he’s the opposite of Kinkladze who was pure class but didn’t influence enough results.

If we hold steady, tighten up the back then there’s only one way we’re going… and that’s up.

Yours in optimism… Matti J. (YORK@NETNAM.ORG.VN)


Why do we always need someone to hate? Ever since I’ve supported the Blues, there’s been someone whose name gets booed before the kick off and gets the insults flying before he’s even touched the ball. Now it’s Richard Edghill. Everybody is starting to slag him off, whether they watch him every week or just read what other people write about him. Get off his back.

He’s a full back. Always has been, always will be. He’s now being asked to play a new rôle, right or even left wing back, which he’s clearly not right for. By the same token, neither is Kevin Horlock. Now he’s not looked half the player he was since he came back from injury (a bit like Edghill). How many good games has he had this season, in fact? But Kev’s beyond reproach for some reason.

I agree at the start of the season, Edghill didn’t even seem to know where he was supposed to be. But now he doing no worse than many of the team. I mean, we’re hardly shining in the 2nd Division, are we?

It’s not his fault that he’s playing out of position. Blame Royle. In fact blame Royle (or Donachie at the moment) for even picking him. Edghill’s not going to drop himself, is he?

Opinion – The Others

Weaver, Mason and (especially) Fenton fit into the good prospect category, but they’re going to make mistakes and have times where they need a spell in the reserves. I’d be happier with a more experienced ‘keeper (not Wright) at the moment.

Still not happy with the defence. Without Tskhadadze we’re weak in the air and we’re still ponderous on the ground at times. I still don’t rate Vaughan. Wiekens’ll do fine, though.

I’ve mentioned the ‘wing backs’. Neither give us any attacking option.

Quick quiz: When was the last time a Blue got to the byline and pulled back a cross? No I don’t know either. Probably Beagrie or Summerbee for Rösler under Horton.

Back to the team. Wing backs. At least Tiatto is a bit more exciting. He needs an extended run in the team, though. Gave Derby plenty to worry about and gave the team some real width.

We’ve got an abundance of decent central midfield players. I’d have thought that Browny was the obvious replacement for Pollock, though. I’ve a nagging feeling that him and Jeff Whitley will be sold. I’d like to see Lee Crooks given a run in the team. He looks quite cultured in the reserves. Able to distribute the ball.

As individuals, Dickov, Bradbury and Goater have all been grafting this season, and you can see Bradbury improving all the time. I must just mention another player attracting stick. Shaun Goater. He’s scored nine in fourteen games and that is good enough for me. He’s a Second Division goal-scorer, and that is what he does. He’s not bad at holding it up and looks effective when he drops back behind Bradbury and Dickov. But most of all, he scores goals. Plenty of them. Not our strong point in recent seasons.

Opinion – The Team

A big problem seems to be that we don’t get the ball forward quickly enough. This is probably due to a few things:

  • The lack of width in the middle. How often do I shout during a game“Give him an option” (yes, it’s me. Sorry if it gets boring).
  • The lack of width up front, where our three crack forwards seem to plough the same furrow.
  • Lack of pace anywhere in the team.
  • Lack of midfielders joining the attack so the forwards have to hold it up forever.
  • Lack of any real aerial domination at the front or back so even thehoofed ball that we seem to resort to, is doomed from the off.
  • Lack of variety in all departments. Our whole team is too samey. Maybethat’s what happens at this level?

Another concern is dead ball work. We just do not look a threat at corners and free kicks, or penalties for that matter. No one is that accurate with the ball to put corners anywhere that’ll hurt people. There’s no one who you would fancy to score from a free kick. And against Chesterfield, no one around me even knew who our penalty taker was. It wasn’t entirely obvious after either.

We need to keep the discipline together as well. The ref’s are crap at this level. The tackle from behind is not even an automatic yellow, but we’ll have to live with it. We’ve had three red cards already and should have had a couple more. In case you’ve forgotten: Edghill catching a Bournemouth player with a sweet right. Vaughan’s punch, and as the ref was arriving, kick, on a Chesterfield player. Both times amazingly a yellow. Either a red or nothing I can cope with (either saw the incident or didn’t).

Still, I’ve never known us score so many late goals to grab points. We’ve scored in the last five minutes to secure a point (or three) in our last four league aways, and our last home game. Just need to concentrate on the first eighty five minutes, now.

Andy Noise (


I have asked myself that a few times over the past few years, but I suppose that in my case it started off as why not, and now I could not stop if I wanted to. And sometimes I really want to.

I lived my childhood in Chester and as far back as I can remember, I was a football nut. I had all the stickers in my album, spent all my pocket money on football stuff, knew everything about clubs, their grounds, their nicknames and who played for them. Anything to do with football I craved. My school books were covered in pictures of footballers cut out from newspapers.

Unlike most of my school friends I did not have a team as such. Most people at school “supported” Everton, but none would ever make the 20-mile trip to see them play. As a football anorak, I did not go to any games either, until I was 11 and one of the big boys in the street took me to Sealand Road to watch Chester play Blackpool. I was amazed at Sealand Road. I had never seen such a huge stadium. My entire experience of football watching had consisted of school playing fields and television. I suppose there was a crowd of 3-4000, but I was well and truly addicted. All my ravenous reading of Scorcher magazine had been preparing me for this – actually watching live football.

Over the next few years I would go to more Chester matches. The bus to the ground cost 2p for a junior and admittance was 20 new pence. We used to buy a packet of Wrigley’s and when the team came out we would throw a stick of “chuddy” to the Chester goalkeeper Grenville Millington. He always took it, but kept it for after the match. I suppose he did not want to risk a choking accident by chewing during the match. Very steady was Grenville.

As I grew older and into my teenage years some of my schoolfriends started venturing farther afield and would return from Liverpool, Everton, and Manchester with stories of 50,000+ and a swaying mass of humanity. Not for them the homely delights of Chester. A new boy came to the school, his family had moved from London. He was a Spurs supporter and he and I, supported by paper rounds and generous grandparents would go to watch Spurs in away matches at Bolton, Anfield, Maine Road and other grounds in the North West. Here I saw the bigger grounds and the crowds of Londoners nearly always very drunk and itching for a fight with any “F***ing northern w**kers”. I was not a bit scared, but I did try to effect a cockney accent at these games. Pure self preservation you understand.

When I was 18 I moved to Manchester to become a student and immediately set about trying the local clubs for size. Stockport, Bury, Oldham and Rochdale were all lower division and although they had a certain honesty it was hard to relate to them and their supporters. There were lots of in-jokes which I as an outsider couldn’t fathom. I went down to Old Trafford and was put off by the arrogance and self importance of the club and their supporters. You must know that this was 1980, the Rags had not won the League for 13 years and were not to win it for a further 13 years but the club even then considered themselves the elite and called themselves the world’s biggest club.

At college there was a lad called Rod Young, a soft spoken Irishman from Derry. He would go to Maine Road and invited me along for a match. City had lost the previous week to Liverpool 0-3 at home and were bottom of the division. I went along and saw MCFC vs. Birmingham. As a long time Chester supporter, I took great joy to shout “Come on City”, “Up the Blues” as these were also Chester shouts. The game was awful but just when you thought it was 0-0, Birmingham scored a last minute penalty through Archie Gemmill. City were rock bottom and things looked grim for new boss John Bond. Afterwards Rod would say in his understated manner that the team were not playing well and maybe next week would be better versus Notts County in the League Cup.

It was and Dennis Tueart scored 3 as City won 4-2. From then on I was hooked. The crowd were fantastic and cheered the team on even though they had suffered a poor start to the season. This was what football was all about. I bought a season ticket as Rod promised me that City get to Wembley every few years. If only.

The years have passed and I have long since lost touch with Rod. My wife and I go to all the games now where finances and time commitments allow, and City are what punctuate my life. I have graduated from the snotty kid who memorised all the FA Cup winners and Champions since the war and marvelled at the scale and magnificence of Sealand Road (now an Olympus Sportsworld and drive thru MacDonalds) to a Man City anorak. I am sorry but that is the person I am.

Sometimes I wish I was a master of repartee and wit, but I cannot be what I ain’t. and what I am is CTID. In every sense.

Jim Curtis (


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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 #440