Newsletter #456

I don’t know what was more shocking on Friday night (BSkyB – The Jodrell Arms in Whaley Bridge), the realisation that I’m old enough to have fathered most of the clientele who trailed drunkenly through the TV room; the fact that City actually equalised; and most of all, that Dickov scored from more than 3 yards out! I’m afraid no-one has submitted a match report – you must have all watched it! However, if anyone who did can spare the time, for those who are spatially removed, I’m sure it’d be more than welcome.

Howard McCarthy has reluctantly has to give up doing the News Summaries as he was having trouble finding the time – thanks go to Howard for his efforts. Luckily, Peter Brophy has agreed to take over; many of you will know him from TG2, and from his articles in MCIVTA. If you do hear of any rumours or news, please mail Peter as he’s in Moscow, so will be relying on the Internet and you. Peter’s address is at the bottom of each issue.

This time around we have reports of another McVittee FC victory, Peter’s first News Summary, and news of a sale of memorablia which includes several items of interest to MCFC (Bobby Johnstone’s FA Cup medals). If anyone wants to buy them and donate them to the MCIVTA museum, I’d be interested to hear from you. By the way, the museum is located in my bedroom 😉

There’s also the usual opinion, submissions in the ‘Shelia’ competition and some Blue Humour.

We appear to have had a ‘Why Blue’ drought of late, which is a great pity as this has been going since the very early days, and whenever I meet anyone, it’s always one of the things which gets remarked upon. Any offerings will be greatly received.

This one reaches 2,280.

What’s the betting that tomorrow night will be the all-time-record low attendance for a first-team game at Maine Road? Anyone know what the current record is – John Maddocks?

Next game, AWS, Mansfield Town at home, Tuesday 8th December 1998


Sorry this is late, not sure if anyone else had made any comments but the latest McVitee was against Luton WHOSH (Worldwide Hatters on the Super Highway – if you’re interested) at Dunstable leisure centre on Sat 28th Nov (or is my brain misleading me with the dates?).

Dave’s barmy army came out 6-0 victors, third straight win of the season (what, 3 wins on the trot!).

The match was played on a grass pitch that soon turned into a mud pitch due to the incessant rain and heavy-footed oafs running around (yes folks that’s me). Scoreline 2-0 at half time, then defending uphill in the second, but still ran out 6-0 winners!

After the game, just time to wash ourselves off and pop off into Luton for the game, huh! 20 minutes fine, scored and then spoilt it. Morrison with his 3rd of the season from a corner. Injures himself later in the half, doesn’t return to the fray in the 2nd half. Then City just couldn’t defend, or at least what they did was too deep and to be perfectly honest a Luton goal just seemed to be on the cards. 70-odd minutes cue the goal, no presence in the air to defend the set piece – now why doesn’t that surprise me?

Most of the team seemed reasonable in the first half. Second was a complete turn-around, Wiekens played well but the rest of the defence didn’t have a clue, including the stand-in skipper Vaughan, he was plain awful, was it the white tape that affected him? One other notable poor player was Mason – sorry Joe, he’s scared of tackling and from a midfielder that’s bad. There were several times where he didn’t even try to get to a passes, which brought a (justifiable) crescendo of abuse aimed directly at him, then at JR for not removing him from the play!

A 1-1 draw away from home at a promotion rival may seem all well and good, but let’s face facts, whilst we pick up points, Stoke and Fulham seem to be picking up three points hand over fist. If City don’t get on a decent run and soon, the points gap will be insurmountable and it’ll be either the lottery of the play-offs (which is just about what we deserve at the moment) or worse, missing the chance altogether!

So after the early 6:30 rising, a game of footie, watching the Blues, it was a hard motor straight up the motorways and back in Machester for the Holsten Bier Fest, and a few steins to celebrate the McVittee win!

Oh yeah, just to prove how late this report is, City have drawn the Dons away in the FA Cup 3 if they can beat Darlo. So there goes another chance of cup glory – there’s always next year!

Martin Ford (


Darlington Reaction

In a season full of firsts for City, Friday saw another one – our first appearance in the FA Cup second round since 1923-24. The Sky cameras followed us up to the north east no doubt hoping for us to come unstuck against Darlington and we nearly obliged, spending an hour trailing the Quakers before Paul Dickov’s equaliser. Darlington manager David Hodgson was upset over the referee’s failure to award his side a late penalty, a decision (or non-decision) protested vigorously enough by Steve Gaughan to earn him a red card. Joe certainly wasn’t happy with our marking at the corner from which Darlington scored, though admitted he’d have taken a draw if offered before kick-off. The Blue View verdict was less kind. “Looked like a team that couldn’t ever win again”, “like watching park football” and “pretty dire stuff” were three of the more restrained BVers’ assessments of the team’s performance.

Cup Draw

The result meant City went into the hat for Sunday’s third round draw, where we were awarded an away tie with Wimbledon should we despatch Darlington in the Maine Road replay (to take place on Tuesday December 15 with a 7.45 p.m. kick-off). Wimbledon away seems the worst of all possible worlds – probable elimination and hardly a money-spinner. I simply can’t get enthusiastic about the FA Cup this year. In the past, there always used to seem at least some hope we could win the competition, but now that’s a pipe-dream. The bookies agree, quoting us at 500-1 to win the tournament. Incidentally, a win in their respective replays for either City against Darlington or Notts County at Wigan would mean the postponement of the league fixture beween the two sides scheduled for Maine Road on the day the third round will take place – Saturday 2 January 1999.

Drawing the short straw

While a share of the spoils at the quaintly named Feethams ground satisfied Joe, he’s not so pleased with the number of draws we’ve been getting in the league. He feels that on performances and potential, we should be up with the leaders (I can’t comment on the former but I’d certainly agree with the latter). Noting that City have lost the same number of league fixtures this season as leaders Stoke, Joe feels it’s our inability to turn draws into wins which has cost us dear. I doubt he’ll get many arguments on that score.

Reserves and Juniors

The reserves, on the other hand, don’t seem to be having too many problems notching up victories. Their 2-1 win at Tranmere keeps them second in Pontin’s League Division One thanks to two goals from Australian striker Danny Allsopp. The reserves’ record sounds far too much of an optimistic note for a City news round-up, however, so a look at the Academy boys should bring us all back to earth. A glance at my match programme for the Gillingham game shows that between them this term the under-17s and under-19s have won three games out of twenty.

New signing imminent?

One of the means by which Royle envisages making sure the first team emulates the reserves rather than the Academy sides is bringing in a new face. After the Darlington game, Joe confirmed he’s still looking to add to the squad and apparently a signing could be made before we face the Quakers again a week on Tuesday. As yet, I’ve seen no speculation about who Royle’s mystery man might be – a far cry from three or four weeks ago, when any trawl through the Internet news sites seemed to uncover five or six rumoured targets.

Trialist goes home

One man who won’t be signing, at least for now, is Austrian trialist Rolf Landerl, currently with Dutch club Alkmaar. He played for the reserves last week and has now been sent back across the North Sea, but reports say we’ll continue to keep tabs on him. I’ve never been much of a fan of this progress monitoring lark. I tend to feel that either the lad isn’t good enough, in which case it’s a bit of a waste of time, or else he is good enough, in which case we’re inviting someone else to snatch him from under our noses. Remember in the distant past when Big Mal told Chester he’d like to “monitor the progress” of a certain Ian Rush? The rest, as they say, is history.

Branch rooted out

Another man to have departed whence he came is Michael Branch, the 20-year-old Everton striker who followed up his three goals in 40 games at Goodison with none in four starts during his loan spell with us. Royle, a self-confessed fan of the player, was reportedly prepared to offer £750,000 to make the deal permanent but this sum was only half of Everton’s reputed asking price. I’m rather disappointed that Joe appeared willing to find £750,000 to acquire a player with a record like Branch has, while insisting that we couldn’t match Barnsley’s offer for a proven, top-level player like Craig Hignett.

Clear out continues

Meanwhile, in addition to sending back trialists and loan players, we continue to look to shed more permanent members of the professional staff. The decision to off-load Murtaz Shelia has already attracted plenty of comment in MCIVTA, while reserve keeper Michael Brown and full-back Neil Morley are reported to have been released, though I suspect that in fact they’ve been told their contracts won’t be renewed and they can go now for free if they can find a club. Meanwhile, there are also reports a possible loan move to Scarborough for reserve striker Chris Greenacre. According to Stuart Reynolds’ latest squad update, Scarborough already have Ray Kelly on loan. We’re not exactly scoring for fun at the moment (two in four games), so I can’t help thinking that they must be a little hard up if they want two of our strikers who can’t even get near the first team.

Donachie definitely staying

One member of the Maine Road staff who’s definitely staying is coach Willie Donachie. Original reports had him as favourite to join Blackburn as number two to former City player and managerial target Brian Kidd. However, the latest speculation links ex-United player Brian McClair, now at Motherwell, to the rôle. In any case, it’s said that Donachie wouldn’t want to leave Maine Road. And having seen what a splendid bunch the Tribal Gatherers were a couple of weeks ago, who can blame him?

Morrison a reformed character

One man whose character until recently couldn’t have been in the least described as “splendid” is our new centre-half, Andy Morrison. As a Huddersfield fan let us know on these pages when the player arrived on loan, our Andy used to have a bit of a temper on him, which led him into a series of well-publicised and unpleasant off-field incidents. However, he’s undergone therapy and is a reformed character. He’s now working as a volunteer lending the benefit of his experience to others with the same pent-up frustrations and inner turmoil as afflicted him. No, not his team mates, but kids from dysfunctional backgrounds.

Millwall go unpunished

Maybe we should send Morrison to counsel the supporters who, when City played at the New Den in September, mounted four separate pitch invasions and had to be stopped by police from reaching City players and officials after Lee Bradbury’s late equaliser. On Thursday, Millwall were found guilty by the FA of failing to control the crowd in their home game with City. In other words, they didn’t take sufficient steps to prevent spectators running on the pitch and spitting at or threatening our players. However, they aren’t being punished beyond an FA warning as to their future conduct. The FA stated that it was impressed with Millwall’s determination to eradicate this type of incident. Is this the same determination shown in public comments by their chairman Theo Paphitis, who dismissed the perpetrators as all being ten or eleven year olds, or their manager, Keith ‘Rhino’ Stevens, who called the crowd on 29 September, “magnificent”?

Midweek glamour extravaganza

We should avoid quite such a poisonous atmosphere on Tuesday when we have another first – our Autoglass Windscreens Trophy début in a home tie against Mansfield. I understand Manchester United begged us to switch from the Wednesday to avoid their Champions’ League game with Bayern Munich being overshadowed. The game sees Mansfield defender Mark Peters return to the club where he was a junior in the early 1990s. I mention this only because, with our tendency to concede goals from set pieces to unmarked headers and the apparent inevitability that former Blues find the net against us, I know who’d attract my 200 rouble bet on first goalscorer if there were a Moscow branch of William Hills. Mansfield lost at home to non-league Southport on Saturday, by the way, so surely they won’t turn us over? On second thoughts, don’t answer.

Peter Brophy (


McVitee FC, football team representing this mailing list, played their 3rd league match of the season. It was our first away outing down at rain-drenched Luton. With the usual pre-match training of a nightclub in St. Albans followed by nutritional intake of kebabs at 3 in the morning (Glenn, you’ve got your tactics all wrong mate), the boys turned up at 11am at the Leisure Centre. We had 11 players and the Luton lads had 13.

The pitch was just right – muddy as hell, just the way football should be played. The line-up as follows:

                    Richard Savage
Dave Barker   Pete Singleton   Lee Grime  Martin Ford
Colin Surrey  Martin Price     Andy       Tim James
        Lee Hanson              Jonathan Jones

With Luton opting to play against the slope for the first half (typical 2nd division pitch), McVitee went into half-time with a 2-0 lead with goals from Lee Hanson and Andy. The first 10 minutes of the second half saw Luton throw everything at us, but we held out with some gritty defending and some good saves by Richard.

Jonathan then broke and snatched a third which finally broke Luton and a goal by Tim James and 2 by Jonathan sealed their fate.

Final score: Luton 0 – McVitee FC 6

A good performance in difficult conditions sees us currently 4th in the league which currently stands:

Team    PLD     W-D-L   W-D-L-  F       A       Pts
Readng  6       3 0 2   0 1 0   25      12      13
QPR     4       1 0 0   3 0 0   21      9       12
West H  4       1 0 0   2 0 1   15      7       10
Man C   3       2 0 0   1 0 0   18      6       9
Bham C  3       2 0 0   1 0 0   13      4       9
Stockp  3       1 1 0   1 0 0   15      5       8
Gills   3       0 1 0   2 0 0   11      9       8
Watfrd  4       1 2 0   0 0 1   11      11      8
Hudds   4       2 0 0   0 0 2   11      14      8
Forest  3       2 0 1   0 0 0   11      8       7
Luton   3       0 0 1   1 1 0   9       10      6
Lncoln  3       0 0 1   1 0 1   8       22      5
Leic C  2       0 0 0   1 0 1   4       6       4
Villa   2       0 0 1   1 0 0   3       5       4
Saints  2       0 0 1   1 0 0   3       7       4
Ipswch  4       0 0 1   0 0 3   6       16      4
WBA     1       1 0 0   0 0 0   4       1       3
Hibs    1       1 0 0   0 0 0   5       3       3
Derby   1       1 0 0   0 0 0   4       3       3
Crewe   2       0 0 1   0 1 0   7       8       3
Cov C   3       0 0 1   0 0 2   7       11      3
ColUtd  3       0 0 1   0 0 2   8       15      3
Bradfd  1       0 0 0   0 1 0   2       2       2
Wolves  2       0 0 2   0 0 0   1       7       2
Shef W  1       0 0 0   0 0 1   3       4       1
Dncstr  1       0 0 1   0 0 0   5       7       1
Dnfmln  1       0 0 0   0 0 1   3       5       1
Man U   1       0 0 0   0 0 1   4       7       1
Arse    1       0 0 0   0 0 1   2       6       1
Brnmth  1       0 0 0   0 0 1   1       5       1
Swindn  1       0 0 1   0 0 0   1       6       1

We are currently playing 5-a-side at Bowlers near the Trafford centre on a Thursday night 9-10. We still need more people turning up to make it worthwhile (3-a-side last night nearly killed me!) so if you fancy a kick-around once a week, or if you want to get involved in the matches, send me an email.

Dave Barker, Manager – McVitee FC (


City great Bobby Johnstone has given some 28 lots to a football memorabilia sale in Glasgow. Among the 28 lots are a gold 1956 Cup winners medal, a 1956 Cup final runners-up medal, other medals, International shirts and caps. The sale is estimated to raise £20k, with the Gold medal expected to reach £3k. And the reason for the sale: “I never look at them, most have been stuck in the loft for 20 years. And the insurance on things like these is very expensive, so we decided to sell them.”

I would be nice to think that someone at City will actually go out and buy some (if not all) these momentoes, let them come home and be shown to the fans. But that’s very doubtful, it’s too much like spending money! Have City got a museum open to the public (à la Rags)?

Martin Ford (


Exchange from last week’s Drop the Dead Donkey

“How depressed are you? Slightly, very or Virgin rail passenger?”
“Virgin rail passenger who supports Man City and is married to Anne Widdecombe”

Mention from Have I Got News For You?

Referring to a Manchester artist’s Turner prize winning entry, who uses elephant s**t on his canvasses:

George Melly: “I didn’t realise that there was that much elephant dung in Manchester”
Paul Merton: “Haven’t you seen Man City play recently?”

Andy Noise (


  1. Whilst Vaughan remains left back, Donachie will always seem the best we’ve ever had.
  2. He’s too good – see Gio Kingkladze.
  3. When he said he was ‘raring to go’, Joe misunderstood.
  4. We’re managed by madmen.
  5. Ermm
  6. That’s it.

Tim Edmondson (


“We have to let him go because he’s making the other players uncomfortable by displaying an unfair amount of playing ability. Clearly, in order to promote some team spirit, all players must be equally talented and Murtaz is simply not. On these lines, we are in negotiations with St Johnstone FC to try to broker a swap of Gerard Wiekens for Alan Kernaghan and, furthermore, may we say that whenever a player starts to show any real ability he will be either sold for a more equal player or just disregarded for a long time.” You have been warned.

Simon Fink (


I see in today’s Guardian (Friday 4th Dec), that His Holiness St Niall of Quinn confesses taking the not-banned performance enhancing drug ‘creatine’ once only… for the 0-5 reverse at the Swamp under Horton.

Rest easy Niall, as I remember it was someone’s bright idea of asking David Brightwell to mark Kanchelskis that really screwed us up that night!

Ian Bilsborough (


The annual party will take place in Carlisle, Cumbria on Friday 22 January 1999.

Anyone interested could contact me for further details and tickets. The latter are five pounds each.

We are anticipating a current City player or other personality as our guest (to be confirmed).

Peter Birbeck (


Q – See MCIVTA 455

A – There is an as yet unrecognised prion in the atmosphere of Maine Road. This is similar to the BSE prion but manifests itself in three forms in humans: mad manager disease; mad player disease and mad fan disease. In all three forms the pathology of the illness is the occurence of great voids within the space where normal people have brains.

In managers (and chairmen?) the illness takes the form of a compulsion to buy players at inflated prices and then to play them in positions that emphasise their weaknesses and disguise their strengths. Having therefore decimated their market value the players are sold at a low price; given away or, wait for it, paid to leave (see current manager of Burton Albion). The buying and selling is often carried out with the same person (Terry Venables?). With time, managers find it impossible to judge the performance of players and operate on the grounds of pure prejudice. A form of xenophobia – especially towards talented Eastern Europeans is sometimes seen.

In players, a tendency to play in the reverse direction is seen with 90% of passes being made towards their own goal. This is coupled with a tendency to play the ball to forwards in the air, especially when they have a height disadvantage over their defenders. In advanced cases players often completely lose the ability to distinguish between their own side and their opponents. There is also a progressive amnesia as to the purpose of the game (i.e. to score more goals than the opposition).

It is a mercy that the prion also affects fans since their would clearly be great suffering otherwise. In affected fans there is an illogical sense of optimism. Thus the fan believes each Saturday that the corner is being turned and things will improve; this is only clouded by brief senses of déjà vu whilst watching the game. There are signs that as the disease advances the purpose of attending games becomes hazy and fans sometimes start to encourage the opponents instead of City.

Within players there is anecdotal evidence that the disease is reversible once the exposure to the prion is removed. A large number of ex-players appear to have lost the symptoms on moving to other clubs – often playing at a higher standard than City. There are a few signs of resistance to the disease in players (Wiekens?); players showing signs of recovery from the illness (Bradbury?) are quickly disposed of by the management (before they become too valuable).

Despite City’s legendary profligacy with managers the evidence on recovery of managers following departure is inconsistent and may be genetically pre-determined.

Amongst fans the prognosis is poor; as evidenced by MCIVTA, recovery is rarely effected even when fans are separated by vast distances from Maine Road. Worse, cases are seen where no direct contact with Maine Road has ever been made (NB a similar prion MUGS – Manchester United’s Greatest Supporters – is well known to have its greatest effect on people who have never been near Manchester; this prion does not appear to affect players or managers but simply produces a completely empty skull in supporters, also see Millwall virus).

There are two theories as to the origin of this prion. The first is that it arrived at Maine Road shortly before the departure of Peter Reid and first affected the executive staff of MCFC. However, a study of the history of City (e.g. see Manchester – the Greatest City) suggests that it has been around at least since the 1920’s but has mutated over time either through odd periods of dormancy or when resistant personnel have been introduced to Maine Road. An example of this overcoming resistance is seen in Malcolm Allison who with Joe Mercer was clearly resistant to this illness but was later seen to show classical symptoms including an aversion to talented Eastern Europeans (Kazimer Deyna) and a tendency to buy high and sell cheap (the name escapes me but he came from Wolves). The form of prion that resulted from the mutation in Allison has proved the most virulent in the history of the club to date.

Sorry that it’s a large postcard – please send my prize to the Battersea Dogs’ Home.

CTIGROTP – City till I get rid of this prion, Dave Lewis (


Totally agree with Ros Lawton about the d**kheads on Friday night who tried to ruin a perfectly good evening. As I live in Swindon and find it difficult to get to many matches I find the Tribal Gathering a great opportunity to meet other far-away supporters. Although last year was probably the best week-end ever, it was helped by the small numbers who went to P&W MCFC Club. This year, with the huge increase in numbers the organisers needed a specific venue, and brought in the club to help. The last thing Donachie, Tueart, Owen, Barnes and Dowd wanted was the obuse from these plonkers, these reps get enough stick from media etc, all they wanted to do was help us out and cement a good relationship for the future.

Anyway, what another great week-end, can’t wait for next year.

Michael Mannion (


When my Rag brother-in-law phoned me at half-time to ask what I thought, I said bring on Paul Dickov, he won’t score but he will create space for somebody. At least I was half right.

First half City had the two classiest players on the pitch. Gerard Wiekens (who would not disgrace the Premiership) and Gary Mason (who is, unfortunately, too lightweight for this Division).

Brilliant goal (we don’t see too many), and although our second half performance deserved more, I’ll settle for the replay overall. At least we’re in the Third Round draw. I wouldn’t have bet on that two weeks ago. Oh! And congratulations to the team on surviving whilst playing on a trampoline.

CUSACM (City Until Somebody Actually Certifies Me), David Kilroy (


After hearing that Murtaz had been put on the transfer list, I was as many other Blues are likely to feel, surprised and disappointed with the decision. After giving it some thought though, I can understand why that decision has been made. After reading what Willie Donachie had said in the last issue of MCIVTA about it not being fair for an established international playing in the reserves etc. of course such a comment sounds silly, but I think the reasons are pretty obvious:

  1. When he has played this year, Murtaz has never looked the player that hewas last season. Strong, reasonably quick and not at all shy in the air, hewas my favourite player last year and always seemed solid and reliable inevery game he played in. This year, I think I’ve seem him play twice andboth times he was a shadow of his former self. Whether recovering frominjury or not, he looked big, daft and strangely, out of his depth whenplaying in a lower league.
  2. Believe it or not, we do have a half-decent set of centre-halves evenwithout him. Wiekens does look a class above in this division and hasrarely put a foot wrong this year. Nicky Fenton has looked like a greattalent every time I’ve seen him and another one who has rarely put a footwrong but unfortunately it’s usually led to a goal the times that he has.Good in the air and only made to look bad by Edghill’s amazing reluctance tomake runs down the wing in our wing back days. Morrison is a beast andperfect for this league. Just like Murtaz but has a lot more awareness.Murt’s mate, Kakhaber although still injured, always looked a decent enoughplayer but I think after Murtaz has gone, won’t be long in following him.Even Tony Vaughan isn’t a bad centre half. Never a left-back, but didn’t lookas dire when I’ve seem him play in the centre, admittedly only once and cometo think of it, I’d prefer Murtaz over this lad any day. Really though, Ithink we do have a glut of decent enough central defensive talent and won’tmiss him too much.
  3. He can’t speak English. On too many occasions I’ve seen Weaver andWiekens flapping around, trying to get Murt to either go out wide or marksomeone with very little success. Usually, he clocks on one in every threecorners that someone is lurking at the back post and picks them up. Lastyear, this didn’t seem so apparent, but this year it has stuck out somethingrotten. Wiekens and Morrison have formed a solid partnership and I find ithard to imagine Murtaz gelling at all successfully with either of these two.Of course, just because he can’t speak English doesn’t mean he’s a badplayer and doesn’t mean he can’t fit in, but with City being in disarray atthe best of times I don’t think having him in the defence would helpmatters.
  4. It’s more than likely that he’s going to be on a good crack at City. Ican’t imagine him playing for peanuts and with Joe Royle’s current playerpurge, a player on a decent wage who isn’t performing and who doesn’t looklike fitting in with the current set-up surely must be a prime candidate forthe chop.

There could also be other reasons that are beyond the management’s control such as work pemit problems because he’s missed so many games or he may just wants to leave because he’s not getting first team football and doesn’t want to lose his international place or simply, he just might not be happy. Whatever, surely City, although it wouldn’t suprise me would let him go for a trivial and/or bizarre reason.

I didn’t mean this tirade to be particularly anti-Murt. As I mentioned before, he was the best player last year for me and always looked forward to seeing him knock opposing centre forwards all over our half, win anything and everything in the air and score the odd goal, but now I think letting him go won’t be the disaster that many people think.

Chris Chapman (


I have just watched the match against Darlington on TV. I have not heard of any post-match reactions from Joe, but if I hear him say once more we played really well and did everything but score – that’s it. Let’s go back to basics. The objective in a football match is to score more goals than the opposition. If we do this, this is good, if we don’t do this, this is bad. On current performance history we are not good, but we are exceptionally bad – crap in fact. It’s about time this simple truth was drummed into the powers that be at MCFC and someone did something. No excuses – no more wages until they get their finger out. I think we were outplayed by Darlington who deservedly got a replay.

Not a happy rabbit.

Paul Murphy, Chorlton (


This time last year (give or take a couple of weeks), Shelia was a revelation. A bargain-basement class act. Seemingly another centre half filling our ‘problem’ left back slot (it’ll remain a problem until we sign a left back, – wow, insight). He was happy on the ball, hard in the tackle and even knew where the opposition’s goal was. He gets a bad injury, misses nine months and is rushed back into the first team as we have run out of defenders. Does OK, but is obviously not ‘match fit’. Now he’s on a free.

Contrast this with Tony Vaughan.

This time last year Vaughan was s**t. A £1.3 million donkey. Seemingly another centre half filling our ‘problem’ left back slot (it’ll remain a problem until we sign a left back, wow – insight). He was uncomfortable on the ball, late in the tackle and didn’t know where either goal was. He gets dropped, misses nine months and is rushed back into the first team as we have sold all our defenders. Does as badly as before. He’s our first choice left back.

Any explanations offered?

Andy Noise (


Whilst we’re on the subject. I know it’s early days yet, but what exactly is a Gareth Taylor for? Judging by his build, he needs to come with two free wingers to have any chance of being effective. That said, the few decent crosses that we did put in on Friday (from Edghill, generally) had Craig Russell on the end of them. Still, like the Mighty Murt, Taylor’s obviously not match fit yet.

I feel a bit sorry for Dickov. He was probably the player of the last season, the Brown vote was a protest vote, and makes a difference whenever he’s come on this season. Despite last Friday’s cracker, he’s not that good in front of goal, but if we’re not going to put a lot of early ball into the box, and we are painfully slow at getting forward, a big centre forward will not be effective.

It concerns me a lot, the way Royle selects forwards on an ad hoc basis. He started off with the quantity approach. Goater, Bradbury and Dickov. But they all played down the middle and got in each other’s way. He occasionally dropped one of them for aways but merely stuck another body in his widthless midfield. Bradbury goes and Branch arrives. Royle ditches his three centre forward policy and plays with – three centre forwards! Except now Allsopp (later Russell) and Branch are used as widemen. So he’s acknowledged the need for width, but can’t actually bring himself to use a real winger. With pseudo-winger Branch returning to Everton, he brings in Taylor. Fair enough. Don’t know much about the guy, but Palace paid £1.25 million for him once, then again they paid £1.5 million for Lee Bradbury. But as I said earlier, his reputation is in the air. Early ball to his head to give knockdowns to a speedy partner, or pulled back crosses from the byline. Neither of which we do. So what is Joe’s attacking game plan?

Whatever it is, it’s only yielded twenty goals in the last eighteen games and four wins in seventeen! I could go on about what qualifications an ex-player has to pick a football team, but look at the one that Joe has picked. I’ll give him (plenty of) credit for Pollock and Morrison. He rested Fenton at the right time (what about Mason?). Weaver for Wright was obvious, he inherited Edghill (and played him out of position) and Wiekens. He’s tried to ignore Kinkladze, Tschadadze, Brown and Dickov. Persisted with Bishop and Vaughan, played Shelia and Horlock when not remotely fit and like his predecessors tried to play everything down the middle of the pitch. Not too smart against the seven centre halves that most of our opponents use. One word Joe, wingers.

Still, Vaughan may be crap and Taylor’s purpose in life unclear, but get behind them ‘cos during a game the players that are actually on the pitch are our best hope of winning. Deep, eh?

Andy Noise (


I watched the game at my local pub in Essex; as soon as I walk in people treat you differently if you’ve got a City shirt on. People treat you like your Grandmother just died (with utter sincere sympathy).

City for me looked good all over the park except up front, where they had no cutting edge. Wiekens struggled up against Marco Gabbiadini, their man up front, who was fantastic in the air. Was it my imagination or did all their players look like they had escaped from Strangeways, they looked a rough ol’ bunch (and that was just the pom pom half time entertainment). City did for me look solid and assured going forward, but totally lacked it up front. When Goater broke free for his one on one, you knew he was going to miss, everything about him said so. Very poor from Goater.

What was that big orange thing in the corner of their ground? It was ugly.

Walter Smith (


One last reminder. South Florida City fans will be meeting at 8:00p.m. on Friday December the 11th. Yes that’s this Friday folks! Venue is the Tudor Inn, 5782 Powerline Rd. Ft. Lauderdale. Just south of Cypress Creek Road. Directions from I 95. Exit Cypress Creek Road West. Go 1 mile West to Powerline Road South for 1 mile. Tudor Inn is on the left (east) side of the road. Telephone, in case you get lost, 954 491 3697. Bring a mate and join the fun with fellow Blues, Phil Calderbank, Paul Duncan, and Stuart Booth.

Phil Calderbank (


I seem to have found myself working in Bonn – Bad Godesberg. Whilst German life, and more importantly beer, is agreeing with me, I have one major problem: Where is Sky TV so that I can, at least occassionally, watch the Blues? If anyone out there knows of a pub, please email me asap! Are there any Blues fans in the area?

Ginette Baerten (


I will be spending Xmas in HK from the 15th to 28th of December, if any Blues exist in H.K. and get McVittee e-mail me before the 14th or c/o afterwards and perhaps we could meet up for a drink and rant at each other about such things as ‘Why Mighty Murt has been transfer listed?’ and get a live live match report on the Bristol Rovers game.

Gareth Thomas (


Thanks to everyone connected with MCIVTA for bringing us all, the Newsletter twice a week all year long. May I wish you and all City supporters in Manchester and around the World a Merry Christmas and a Division 1 New Year!

Ernie Barrow, CTID (


Two blokes were chatting in the office first thing Monday morning.

1st guy : I see there was nearly a big F.A. Cup upset on Friday night then?
2nd guy : Oh yeah, what was that then?
1st guy : Manchester City almost beat Darlington!

Geoff Collins (


Full-time score for Sunday, December 6 1998

KINGSTONIAN             0-0    LEYTON ORIENT             --,---

Full-time scores for Saturday, December 5 1998

CARDIFF CITY            3-1    HEDNESFORD TOWN           --,---
Middleton (45)                 Carty (87)
Fowler (59)
Wiiliams (82)
DONCASTER ROVERS        0-0    RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS         5,396
EXETER CITY             2-2    BRISTOL ROVERS             4,352
Flack (36)                     Penrice (43)
Gardner (49)                   Cureton (76)
FULHAM                  4-2    HARTLEPOOL UNITED          6,358
Horsfield (6, 84)              Midgley (41)
Di Lella (og 47)               Howard (58)
Morgan (81)
LINCOLN CITY            4-1    STEVENAGE BOROUGH          4,375
Battersby (22)                 Alford (90)
Alcide (49)
Finnigan (66)
Holmes (69)
LUTON TOWN              1-2    HULL CITY                  5,021
Davis (36)                     Morley (29)
                               Dewhurst (63)
MACCLESFIELD TOWN       4-1    CAMBRIDGE UNITED           2,650
Askey (35)                     Campbell (55)
Tomlinson (60, 65, 71)
MANSFIELD TOWN          1-2    SOUTHPORT                  3,210
Lormor (72)                    Gamble (pen 25)
                               Ross (46)
NOTTS COUNTY            1-1    WIGAN ATHLETIC             3,591
Jones (27)                     Lowe (57)
OLDHAM ATHLETIC         1-1    BRENTFORD                  4,217
McGinlay (pen 74)              Freeman (pen 35)
PRESTON NORTH END       2-0    WALSALL                    8,488
Nogan (58)
McKenna (69)
ROCHDALE                0-0    ROTHERHAM UNITED           3,346
Eyre (pen 54)
Forrester (82)
SWANSEA CITY            1-0    STOKE CITY                 7,460
Appleby (41)
TORQUAY UNITED          0-1    AFC BOURNEMOUTH            2,929
                               Robinson (22)
WREXHAM                 2-1    YORK CITY                  2,836
Roberts (pen 33)               Jordan (25)
Connolly (72)
WYCOMBE WANDERERS       1-1    PLYMOUTH ARGYLE            3,493
Baird (31)                     McCarthy (og 76)
YEOVIL TOWN             2-0    NORTHAMPTON TOWN           5,218
Thompson (14)
Patmore (82)

Full-time score for Friday, December 4 1998

DARLINGTON              1-1    MANCHESTER CITY            7,250
Bennett (16)                   Dickov (77)

Dorien James (
With thanks to Soccernet


Contributions: Ashley –
News & Rumours: Peter –
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 #456