Newsletter #450

City progress to the next round of the FA Cup where we meet either Darlington or Burnley; probably the former would be the one most people would choose, at least as far as novelty is concerned. In fact, I have no recollection whatsoever of us playing them, so it’s entirely possible that we haven’t played them for donkey’s years (I prepare to eat my words!). The big surprise on Friday night was Royle’s astute acquisition of a striker with pace who knew exactly what you do in front of goal; he hails from Manchester City Reserves and is called Russell! This match was really one for the grandchildren – were you one of the 11,106 – thanks go to BSkyB?

This issue has three match reports; two Halifax and one Wycombe. Amazingly, for those who lay great store in stats. it can now be stated with some authority that we are the 21st biggest club in the country – nice to know. There’s news of the Tribal Gathering, a new book called ‘Cups for cock-ups’, opinion, and another Why Blue that defies logic!

This one reaches 2,250.

Don’t forget, articles for the next issue to Jeremy Poynton – see below (

Next game, Gillingham at home, Saturday 21st November 1998.


I shan’t be able to do MCIVTA on Thursday (Issue 451), but luckily Jeremy Poynton has agreed to take over for that issue. So, please send all articles for Issue 451 to Jeremy at:



MANCHESTER CITY vs. HALIFAX TOWN, Friday November 13 – FA Cup 1st Round

There was a strange atmosphere at Maine Road tonight. We recorded the smallest ever crowd for a FA cup game at our place. A kind of premonition of even worse times to come when away supporters will outnumber home fans? Ummmm, it wasn’t very comfortable but at least better news on the footballing front.

City started quite brightly. After about 10 minutes a three man move beginning with a good pass from Goater to Dickov and then a perfectly weighted diagonal pass from Dickov to Russell led to Russell stabbing the ball past their goalie, though it looked like the fellow could have saved it.

Halifax looked hopeless. We showed some tidy passing at the back and then generally booted the ball up to the forwards who mainly failed to control the ball very well. But, no matter. Goater to Dickov, Dickov slid another well judged pass to Russell who this time flicked the ball with the outside of his left foot past the advancing goalie and into the bottom left corner of the goal in front of the North Stand. A well worked goal. A goal, the build up to which, though short, gives one hope and the finishing, gives one more hope.

Half time. The second half was fairly subdued. One bad tackle by Vaughan went unpunished. Halifax tried hard but we contained them. All their efforts were from long range. They did win a lot of corners though and must have had more than us by the end. Before the end though, Russell was put through by Mason (not sure actually) and ran to the goal line before driving a low pass to Goater who scored his trademark goal, from 1 yard out.

On the whole, we didn’t play badly and that’s about all you could say about us except I have some more. We looked a class above Halifax (small comfort I know) and good enough to be at least in the same company as Crewe, Port Vale and Bury.

A quick run down of players reveals:

Weaver – nothing at all to do in the game except boot the ball occasionally and fetch it from row A.
Crooks – looks a bit like Mike Doyle from a distance but the similarity ends there. A true donkey but I suppose teams in this division have to have a few.
Vaughan – Likes to mix it but good enough for Division 2.
Morrison – The most unfit footballer I have ever seen playing professionally, fantastically slow but assured, hard, skilful and with some presence. A perfect Division 2 promotion player.
Wiekens – a class above the rest of the defence. I would even say classy.
Bishop – completely anonymous in this game.
Mason – I’d like to see him hit a pass of more than 5 yards but at least he’s trying.
Horlock – Not his best game, mainly anonymous but some terrible crosses.
Goater – A poor man’s Naill Quinn. A bit awkward and gangly but some of this makes it difficult to play against him. He needs to put on 40 pounds but not lose any speed. Shouldn’t be a problem.
Dickov – a livewire but too lightweight. I’d definitely have him in the team every week. With a bit more confidence he should be wreaking havoc in this company.
Russell – A very poor man’s Dennis Tueart but good enough for the 3rd best Division and with a good run in the team and some confidence, could even turn out to be as good as Nicky Summerbee (remember him?, the w***ker). Actually, the way he took his second goal, I can’t understand why he hasn’t scored loads more. Maybe he will now.

On the whole I saw more than enough to make me believe we should stroll into Division 1 (I’m ignoring the first part of this season) and at least we still have never lost in the first round of the Cup.

Simon Fink (

The MUEN reported that Morrison has flu and wasn’t really fit to play, but insisted! He was apparently sick at half time (physically), but carried on.



Yes, I know it’s shocking but on Friday night I just couldn’t be bothered to drive eighty miles each way and shell out full whack for the privilege ofwatching us scrape a lucky draw against lower division opposition when I could watch it from the comfort of a mate’s house on Sky. Must do it more often.

Joe certainly pulled a surprise by including Craig Russell. I’ve always felt a bit sorry for Craig. Signed as a centre forward, after months of chasing him, he spent a few months at left wing back and was dropped to the limbo that ex-first teamers now live in. He wasn’t even getting a game in the reserves until Barry Conlon was sold! A few rave reviews and he gets a run out as sub. But it was back to the reserves until Joe’s masterstroke on Friday night.

Halifax hadn’t helped themselves by banning their up-and-over-the-trenches captain Hulme, after a mid-week brawl against Chester. Well worth a look if you get a chance, especially Hulme going after Kevin Ratcliffe (still pretty quick). Nevertheless they were top, and sporting a face from the past, Andy May, on their bench. I always liked Andy. Never going to be a star, but very keen. Unfortunately my main memories of him are getting a red card in a very bad-tempered match against Oldham (from Peter Willis who sent Moron off at Wembley two weeks later) and scoring Huddersfield’s penalty in the 10-1.

The other link was Andy Thackerey who I mentioned last week.

So I settled back in the armchair with a can of Boddies and watched us perform as clinically as I’d seen in a long time. I expected them to come out and chase us off the park, as these teams normally do, but we controlled the midfield and the continuous movement from our forwards, always provided options. All three forwards linked up for the first two goals and an amazing burst of pace from Russell set up Goater for the third. In between, the commentators tried to talk it up into a contest. They were banging on about some Halifax player, but who watches the opposition? Weaver had a quiet evening, that was what counted for me.

I always give the players ratings when I’m walking back to the car after the game (Mr Sad), price you pay for having no friends I suppose. Today I’ll think out loud.

Weaver (7) Did what he had to. At times his lack of experience was exposed. Poor judgement on when to collect etc.
Crooks (7) Obviously not a full back but looked happy to have the ball. About time he had an extended run in the team.
Vaughan (6) As above. Got away with a nasty tackle. Not a natural passer of the ball.
Wiekens (8) Nearly always stayed on his feet in his countless well-timed tackles.
Morrison (8) Didn’t lose much in the air. Distributed quickly to get attacks moving.
Mason (6) I didn’t see a lot of him. He’s a bit like that though. Future unsung hero?
Bishop (7) He drifted out the game eventually, but looked classy for an hour. Was very pally with one of their team, for some reason.
Horlock (7) On the left of a three-man midfield is probably his best position. I’d make Morrison captain next time Pollock is suspended, though.
Russell (9) What a turn up! Clinical finishing and what pace. I’m looking forward to Saturday.
Goater (7) Looked a different player after he scored. Perfect run for the goal, as well.
Dickov (8) Royle’s other team change was equally inspired. All the usual graft and two assists.

Brown, Pollock Not on long enough.

Before Royle goes shelling out mega-bucks on Branch, he might want to reconsider one Craig Russell. And we still don’t have a specialist left back.

A final mention for the scary figure that is Brian Kilcline. Recent allegations on Danny Baker’s radio show that he has something of the night about him (