Newsletter #464

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This issue has a belated but nevertheless upbeat match report from the Stoke game – perhaps we should have one every issue? There isn’t overly much happening on the news front, other than the imminent danger of us securing a winger for the rest of the season! As he’s a Rag, I asked a United season ticket holder friend of mine about him: he reckons that he’s too small to make the highest level but is nevertheless very skilful. He’s not as fast as Giggs (who is?) and tends to come inside rather than head for the byeline. However, what might not make the grade at OT may just still be a couple of notches higher than what we’re used to!

There’s a nice story of three of our players taking the trouble to visit a hospitalised young supporter and the feelings they expressed concerning the club and our current position. There’s much opinion, some contentious, including a pretty honest debunking of the much-lauded Peter Reid’s time at Maine Roid. Lastly, there’s an excellent and lengthy Why Blue from Andy Noise.

Next game, Blackpool away, FA Cup, Saturday 9th January 1999

LATE STOKE REPORT – STILL RECOVERING FROM THE FESTIVE SEASON

Over 30,000 faithful crammed into Maine Road, to witness a storming performance by the Blue half of Manchester. When the attendance was announced the bloke behind me shouted ‘Tax Swindle’ as the noise seemed to be a lot more. City went out with the players:

Weaver, Crooks, Edghill, Wiekens, Horlock, Pollock, Brown, Bishop, Dickov, Taylor.

We started the game bright enough, the passing and movement was far better than of late. The midfield was being run by Brown, he tackles, runs, passes and dribbles at defenders. After one mazy run, a lad near me shouted with joy etched on his face ‘Kinkladze’; not quite but you could see what he meant. Up front we are still lacking something, but we are getting better (maybe a cutting edge). Taylor had a goal disallowed for offside; Ray Charles would have given a better decision, but City battled on. Then as usual the cross came over and a Stoke player was left with enough room to (order a pizza, bring peace to the Middle East, sign autographs… well you get the picture) pick his spot with an unchallenged header, which gave Weaver no chance. City heads sunk slightly, and the boo-boys started with their usual polite, helpful points that they try to tell the players, to help them with their game (well that is one way of looking at it). At half time the team got boo-ed off the pitch.

After half time the team came out for the kick-off, straight away they gave the ball away and Stoke were on the attack. ‘Oh no here we go again’ was the general mood around me, then something that wouldn’t be out of place in the X-files happened, City started scrapping, working hard for each other, passing and running riot; the crowd went mad, they were loving it. Dickov duly obliged and banged one in, after Goater had chased what had seemed a lost cause. Goater was playing like someone had his family held hostage, and the ransom demand was ‘Give 100%, and look proud to be in a City shirt’, he was on fire, chasing defenders down, little flicks and I even saw him win some headers (unbelievable I know). Stoke’s heads went down, they didn’t want to know, the sky (laser) blue shirts were bearing down on Stoke’s goal from every angle, the crowd were 100% behind them, cheering all good play, and applauding the effort when a City player made a mistake. Edghill was forgiven for the odd bad cross, but why Joe wants him to cross with his left (weaker) foot is anyone’s guess (I felt sorry for him, if I had to put in quality crosses with my weaker foot, I’d be worried).

Anyway as time wore on, the City players kept going for it and with five minutes left, Taylor did it, there was an explosion of emotion, me and the bloke next to me jumped and hugged, it was perfect, the crowd were totally overcome, they loved every minute, even when the referee added on about 6 minutes, for what? That was one of my favourite games in many a year; it had everything in it, penalty appeals, near misses, despair, anger, sheer joy and relief. The shop was full after with so much joy, as was the local pub. Can someone pinch me, I think it must have been a Christmas dream. I haven’t seen so much joy after a victory since God knows, Swindon 6-0.

CTID, Walter Smith (citysmith@yahoo.com)

NEWS SUMMARY

Blackpool preview

Andy Morrison will probably play his last game before a 3 match suspension (subject to outstanding appeal of which no news to press though Andy himself is on record as saying he deserved to be sent off so let’s hope the ref hasn’t read that too). Meanwhile, Gerard Wiekens apparently has a sore foot (?) which makes him a doubt at this stage, though he is apparently likely to recover. It also looks like Lee Crooks is made of sterner stuff than Richard Edghill as he’s more or less recovered from the chest infection which kept him out of the Cup game, whereas Edgy is rated an unlikely starter for a spot of bracing sea air. Blackpool are in twelfth position, only three points behind us though they’ve played a game more. This season, they’ve won four, drawn five and lost only three of their games at home, so they’re not invincible but not a pushover either. We really need a victory here to keep the momentum going after the two Christmas wins and set us up to face the top three in successive weeks.

Winger search almost over

The long wait for a winger looks like it’s over… thanks to United! Next week (once he’s recovered from a calf injury) we’re set to take 22-year-old Terry Cooke from our Salford neighbours on loan until the end of the season; the maximum for a loan used to be three months but this season Premiership clubs are allowed to loan one player aged under 23 to a non-Premiership side for a longer period. JR has called United’s agreement to this deal a “neighbourly gesture” – Alex Ferguson must have still been under the influence after Hogmanay to agree to help us out. More likely it’s a reflection of how much we operate in different worlds these days. Cooke appeared to impress Joe whilst he was on loan to Wrexham and playing against us at Christmas; he could make his City début against Fulham a week on Saturday.

Wrexham may well be upset, as their leading web site reported on Tuesday that they’d extended Cooke’s loan for another month, which would have been his third. However, they wouldn’t be able to afford to make the deal permanent, while Royle says that if things work out, there’s a possibility of Cooke remaining with City beyond the initial temporary arrangement. Moreover, the player himself is said to consider that Maine Road offers him a big stage to rebuild his career – he suffered a cruciate ligament injury after breaking into first-team contention at United and being capped by the England under-21s. Cooke is said to have been Wrexham’s outstanding player in several of the nine league games he’s played for them since the end of October and is described on their site as having “a lot of pace, excellent skills and an eye for goal”. If he lives up to this promise, he’ll be exactly what we need.

Other transfer news and rumour: Part 1 – incoming

One player not on his way to the Academy is Andy / Craig (depending upon where you read your news) Liddle of Darlington. Joe evidently agreed with earlier observations that the centre of defence is probably the area we least need to strengthen – “I don’t think we need another defender, do we?” was Royle’s response to the transfer talk. Yup, wingers please Joe.

Meanwhile, Joe and Willie were spotted at York’s Auto Windscreens Shield match against Halifax on Tuesday. Rumoured target is the £1 million rated striker Richard Cresswell, who’s been attracting a fair amount of interest lately. With Premiership sides Derby and Coventry among his admirers, and with Barnsley, armed with over £4 million they’ve just received from Blackburn, fancying the player as a replacement for the recently-departed Ashley Ward, it has to be said that Maine Road doesn’t seem Cresswell’s most likely next port of call.

Finally, Wednesday’s Manchester Evening News claims that despite, as we all know, Joe being a fan of English rather than foreign players, the City transfer net may be cast towards Europe. In fact, we’ve been looking at foreign players for some time, as witnessed by the steady stream of trialists in the reserves. And we’ve met with no more luck there than on the domestic front – they’ve all been dispatched back to their native lands without us taking more than a cursory glance.

Other tansfer news and rumour: Part 2 – outgoing

Looks like we might not have to worry about which Whitley we’re referring to for much longer, as Jeff has been transfer-listed. Ironically he was once a target for Joe Royle in his Everton days but now it seems he’s surplus to requirements. “Opportunities for Jeff have been limited this season and there are a lot of players wanting to trying a claim a first team spot. Therefore it is best for all concerned if Jeff searches to kickstart his career elsewhere,” said JR.

Another player unwanted at City is Neil Heaney. A couple of weeks ago, a story surfaced linking him with a move to Hearts, but the Scottish Cup holders then signed former Coventry winger Leigh Jenkinson from Wigan. Heaney’s been injured but was due to make a return in the reserve match last night against Barnsley, and the word was that Hearts intended to have him watched. Would Hearts really want to sign two Nationwide Division Two reserve wingers?

Finally centre-back Steve Rimmer, who’s probably seventh or eighth in the pecking order for the two first team places in the centre of defence, is going on a month’s loan to Conference side Doncaster. Rimmer’s only senior action at City came in the Auto Windscreens defeat against Mansfield last month but he doesn’t look likely to get another chance in the near future.

Our friends from the South

February sees some of London’s finest football fans make their way north for City’s game against Millwall. Given events at the away fixture at the end of September, readers won’t be surprised that a major security operation is planned, with the membership scheme being re-introduced for the game on Saturday, February 6th. Tickets will go on sale to postal applicants first of all from Saturday for the first seven days of sale. Here’s hoping there’s no silly business on the day and that the only thumping that goes on is the ball hitting the Lions’ net.

Reserves

City’s reserves managed a second half fightback from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 draw with Barnsley at Oakwell on Wednesday. The goals came from Murtaz Shelia and Danny Allsopp, but it was Ian Bishop who earned the star reviews for his performance. Encouragingly, it seems that some of the Academy boys are breaking through into the second string – Shaun Wright-Phillips and David Laycock made an impact after entering the fray at half-time, goalkeeper Steve Hodgson made his reserve début and Shaun Holmes also featured.

Tskhadadze setback

Optimism that Kakhaber Tskhadadze could make a timely return from injury as compensation for Andy Morrison’s probable imminent ban has been dashed. Peepo has twisted his knee in training and will need a scan on his knee to determine the extent of the damage – let’s hope it’s a minor set-back on his road to recovery. Meanwhile, forgotten man Richard Jobson, who’s been injured for virtually the whole of the last nine months, is back in light training, though he isn’t pencilled in for an imminent return to the reserves.

Former Blues in the news

Andy Dibble is apparently set to sue Camarthen Town, on whose ground he sustained severe burns while keeping goal for Barry Town in a League of Wales game. An investigation has shown that the injuries were caused by lime used to paint the penalty spot. No word on when, if ever, Dibble will be able to resume his faltering career.

Frank Clark’s low profile for the last ten months or so was interrupted this week when he was linked by several sources to the vacant manager’s job at his former club Nottingham Forest. After his stint at City, Clark doesn’t seem to be touted for too many managerial posts these days and he probably won’t find new employment with this one – it seems the job is Ron Atkinson’s if he wants it. On the face of it, a return to the City Ground for Frank would be a surprising move. He’s not exactly popular among Forest fans, after all – a parallel might be Alan Ball returning to Maine Road.

Geoff Donkin (citynews@donkin.demon.co.uk)
Peter Brophy (brophpe@moscow.whitecase.com)

TICKET NEWS

Blackpool vs. Manchester City
Saturday 9th January, kick-off 12 noon.

This match is all ticket. Tickets can not be guaranteed.

A limited number of standing tickets still remain on open sale and will be available until 4pm on Friday 8th January whilst tickets remain. Supporters will not be able to purchase tickets on the day. Supporters are advised not to travel without a ticket.

Tickets are priced £10 Adults, £5 Juniors/OAP’s.

No ticket sales or cash admission will be available on the matchday.

Stoke vs. MCFC
Friday 29th January 1999, kick-off 7.45pm

Contrary to certain press reports, we would like to remind supporters that tickets for this fixture will go on sale to regular season ticket holders from 9am on Saturday 16th January.

Bournemouth vs. MCFC
Saturday 13th February 1999, kick-off 3pm

This fixture will be strictly all ticket

There will be no cash admission on the matchday. Supporters are therefore advised to purchase tickets in advance and must not travel without a ticket.

Tickets will initially go on sale to regular season ticket holders on Saturday 23rd January. Full ticket selling details will be announced shortly.

Ticket Office – MCFC

HOSPITAL VISIT

I have not made my regular contributions in recent weeks because my son has been in hospital for double spinal surgery. Whilst he was in, I got in touch with Jamie Pollock who came to see him with Shaun Goater and Gerard Wiekens and also gave him a write up in his column in the following week’s Pink. I’m sure I don’t have to tell any Blues how much the visit meant to him (and me) and consequently I won’t hear a word said against any of them. After talking to them, I can assure you that they feel as bad as we do about the current situation and are determined to get out of this division for the fans.

What they made me realise is how unsettled each section of the team has been season. Wiekens said that he has played in a number of different formations with five different partners at the back. I think once we can get a sustained run with Wiekens and Morrison plus the same two full backs we will stop conceding those stupid goals.

Pollock had just been out of the side after his injury and said similar things about the midfield and I think a sustained run with Pollock, Brown, Horlock and one other (probably Cooke) would also help.

Goater said that he stopped scoring goals when Bradury left – apparently Bradury used do a lot of the running for Goater and draw defenders leaving Goater with just the job of scoring to do. We all know that Goater is not a world beater and will not take on five players before chipping the goalie and also that he misses his fair share but let’s be honest, if this were not the case then he would be playing in the Premiership and not Division 2. We also know that, given the right ammunition, he will score more than his fair share because his record over the last four or five years at this level has proven that. Who have we had to provide the ammo since Bradury left? Taylor tends to go for the same ball and Dickov is more likely to provide the opposition with a free kick than provide one of his team mates with a telling pass. Let’s hope Cooke can provide decent crosses for both Taylor and Goater – Taylor wins his share of headers but needs crosses to attack facing the goal and not with his back to the goal.

Does the above make sense or am I being too simplistic? Let me know?

The other thing that impressed me was the camaraderie between the players and the spirit that was obviously present which has, I think, been missing for far too long – especially on the field.

I must also mention that the lad also had a phone call from Niall Quinn and the big man also took the trouble to phone back after the op to find out how it had gone. I have heard stories in the past of what a decent man he is and I can now personally attest to this – I am sure that if he were still here, then we would not find ourselves where we currently are.

Jagdeep Gill (j_gill@bigfoot.com)

DIRECTIONS TO BLACKPOOL

Anyway, let me continue with directions to Blackpool. We all know how to get to Blackpool and the big car parks near the ground from our many day trips to the Pleasure Beach. However, if you follow the directions below you will avoid the congestion to the Car Parks caused by all the other City fans following the normal tourist routes into the town.

Take the M61 Northbound right to the end and follow onto M6 North. Leave M6 at Junction 32 (M55). At the end of the M55 (the roundabout with the metal statues) instead of following everyone else to Blackpool, take the first exit (signposted A5230 Squires Gate and Airport). At the next roundabout take the third exit onto Progress Way and follow through two sets of lights to the 3rd set which has a Retail Park on the left and the Halfway House Pub on the right. Turn right at these lights (signposted Town Centre) onto St. Annes Road and follow for approx 1.5 miles until you pass the Waterloo Pub on the left. Bloomfield Road is the next left so find somewhere to park.

If you come back the same way, you’ll avoid most of the traffic to the M55 and save around 20-30 minutes.

Jag (j_gill@bigfoot.com)

USEFUL SITE

Just trawling as usual and came across this:

http://www.football.nationwide.co.uk/

It’s new to me and might be useful to MCIVTAs. It gives predictions (nil-nil at Blackpool) and directions to all the away grounds.

Martin Purdy (martinpurdy@softology.co.uk)

NEW BOOK?

I noticed in yesterday’s Independent there was a list of the current top 10 sports books, and at No. 3 was “Bleak & Blue – 22 Years at the Manchester Academy of Football Farce” by Craig Winstanley.

With a title like that, it could only be about City. However, I don’t know anything about it and can’t recall seeing a review in MCIVTA. Can anyone throw any light on this book? (Or point me to the right MCIVTA issue number if I haven’t been paying enough attention!)

Richard Jenkins (richard.j@seaweld.co.uk)

AN EVENING WITH THE LEGENDS OF 1981

Friday, 15 January 1999 from 6:30pm.

Heaton Park Social Club, Bury Old Road, Prestwich.

Gow, McKenzie, McDonald, Booth and Bennett plus a Blue Comedian.

£1 a pint and £1 entry.

Don Price (c/o dylan@itl.net)

RE – WALES:ENGLAND

Colin Jonas (colinjonas@compuserve.com) wrote in MCIVTA 462:

I was a little surprised to hear the Wrexham fans chanting ‘Argentina, Argentina’. Can’t quite see what relevance the English team has to City fans at this moment in time, especially while it’s loaded with United players. The last City player to play for England was David White over five years ago. Maybe, I’m out on a limb on this one, but I really couldn’t care less about the English team at this moment in time.

Now if you’re a non-English City supporter that’s fine, it’s not your home nation. However, if you’re English then I’m sorry, you are way out of order! I don’t give a flying f*** who plays for England (well with a few exceptions), it’s my country and I’ll support whoever pulls on the white England shirt. Are you ashamed to be English? It’s your national team; for “whoever’s” sake, you should be proud and want to support them. OK put club loyalties first, but these should be discarded for the National team!

Martin Ford – English ’til I die (mford@fs1.li.umist.ac.uk)

RE – GENERAL SADNESS, MCIVTA 463

No video “nasty” was produced for the 1997/98 season – the only video I managed to get hold of was the 100 bestest goals ever!

No club handbook has been done this year – from what I’ve heard it was costing too much to produce (I can check with my source and confirm that). Even the MUEN didn’t do their annual Blues Review which annoyed many of us who collect them to go with their programme collection.

As for Bleak & Blue, I got this for Chrimbo (not having had chance to read it yet) it’s about £8.95 and is by Craig Winstanley who is a true Blue. I’m told, by someone who has read it, that it’s extremely funny! And for those of us who started following the Blues at the time he writes about, it brings back a lot of memories!

If you really want a good laugh, get a book called “Stand up if you hate Man United” – it is a total hoot (my hubby got one for Christmas and spent most of Christmas morning laughing!). A must for any United haters and for any Rags who have a sense of humour – not many there then!

Carol Darvill

OPINION – FRANNIE SUPPORT

Neil Haigh – Franny Supporter (this may have already been responded to, I’m working my way thru the festive backlog)

Let’s split what Franny did into two decisive divisions:

1: Off-field

Yes thankfully we finally had a man with financial business acumen, he turned round the off-field money pits into a more structured business plan, which is starting to pay dividends. At last we’ve got some money coming into the club from the Club shop (better than the £50k under PJS) and the “catering facilities”, which is desparately needed in our current plight.

2: On-field

True, there is no concrete evidence, just heresay that Franny went into the dressing room and told the manager and players how to perform (however, the phrase “no smoke without fire” springs to mind).

So what did he do wrong? Yup, Ball just about sums it up.

However, let’s not forget his most crucial destructive decision, cutting the wage bill and getting rid of the higher earners, Phelan, Curle, Quinn, Beagrie, Lomas, Flipper, Coton, Walsh to name a few. Let’s face it, I’d prefer to have these “high earners” at the club instead of the shambles we’ve got to watch now. If FL hadn’t been so hell bent on self destruction then maybe, just maybe (most likely) we wouldn’t be in the 3rd division (that’s what it is), we’d possibly still be in the Prem, earning millions from Sky TV, which surely would have helped to pay the way. But no, we’re in the 3rd having to rely solely on the supporters to keep the club alive and the odd Sky game, a mere drop in the ocean compared with what we should be getting.

You can still be a Franny supporter, but would you not agree his decisions were destructive and certainly helped to put City where they are today?

Martin Ford (mford@fs1.li.umist.ac.uk)

OPINION – SOME FOR ANDY!

Andy Noise has asked for some opinion – Here’s some: “stop complaining” You are always looking for the negatives. For 1999 be positive. Andy you get a little fraustrated, this team will not win us silverware but I do think they will at least get us promotion. Then next season will be another story, one season at a time to get back to Premership football where City belong.

Ernie Barrow (EB2205@aol.com)

OPINION – TV

Re: Pay per view / Sky subscriptions

Regarding the comments on the proposed Sky pay per view game against Colchester in your last issue.

First of all, let me make it clear, I agree totally with the argument of paying ‘extra’ for events when I’m already paying £26.99 a month! In fact, I cancelled my subscription just before Christmas. How can they get away with such a rip off! Don’t subscribe. Don’t contribute to the ultimate success of the Scum (this is what you are doing if you pay for Sky, they will very soon own the Rags remember!). Phone them up and cancel. And tell them the reason (I did), the reaction was one of surprise (unbelievably).

Anyhow, here’s a sneaky tip… if you cancel your subscription and remove your card beforehand, they cannot switch you off. They will constantly try for a day or two, then they attempt to switch you off at random (during a big Premiership game for instance). I write on the 5th and I’m still watching all three sports channels. I am led to believe the number of cancelled subscriptions is high and increasing…

Other matters, Edghill. How, why does this guy make the team? Against Stoke he was truly dreadful. But this is every game, Wrexham a few days before the same. I’m sorry, I’m not moaning or whinging, he is simply not up to it. Surely the coaching staff can see this? (Donachie was a gifted full back remember!). Apart from that a glimmer of hope. Another false dawn? We will know after the Fulham game.

CTID, Ray Bardsley (RBardsle@smcpneumatics.co.uk)

OPINION FROM ROME

I discovered you last summer and I wrote you telling about my love for Man City. This season is horrible, we haven’t a good postition in the table, even if the last two winnings permit us to stay near the 6th place, sufficient to do the play-off.

Yesterday another lost match in FA Cup arrived but it could be natural against a team of Premier League. We have to think as a team of 2nd Division and not as a team of Premier because if you feel still as before you can’t go nowhere. In Italy many great teams of the past as Torino or Genoa when they falled in Serie B they hadn’t the mind to reach the Serie A immediately and they are still there after 4 years. However, without good players you can go anywhere, but the players must have the right mind. I can’t follow by TV City matches, here I can only watch some Premier matches, I saw only the 2 goals in the draw 1-1 at Darlington for the 2nd round of FA Cup and I can say we have a defence of butter. Dickov scored a great goal, but we need more.

However, we have to remain near the team till the end, and be the best supporters of the world, hoping our players will be almost better. Everyone who can send me something about the team of this season will be a great…

Ciao, CTID, Domize Simone (liamrome@tin.it)

OPINION – WHY WE LET REID GO

In his highly informative News Summary (thanks Geoff) – Geoff Donkin asked why we let Peter Reid go, despite the fact that one of the answers to his question was contained in his very first news item, wherein he described our cup exit against Wimbledon (a disgrace … we’ve spent more on our squad than they have on theirs, so there is really no excuse I’m afraid) and in particular he mentioned City letting Michael Hughes go all those years ago. Can you guess who was the manager who did this? Well surprise surprise, it was Peter Reid… here’s more reasons why this arrogant SOB was shown the door by Swales, and not before time too.

Peter Reid’s judgement of players was pathetic. Hendry and Pointon were given away to be replaced for £6 million with Curle and Phelan, a complete waste; we got nothing back for these two, and remember this is when three million quid got you Alan Shearer or £0.25 million got you John Aldridge. Note that Blackburn were able to show a tidy profit on their deal with City, when they sold (Premiership winning) Hendry for circa £4 million to Rangers. Michael Hughes was kicked out (because he was too maverick and skilful) and replaced by the solid (sic) Rick Holden for £1 million. He was so unfit and past it that he had to be given away subsequently. Ditto Steve McMahon, purchased from Liverpool for £1 million when they were ready to give him a free… what a sucker Reid was, but guess which suckers paid for it when City ultimately got nothing in return when McMahon retired from playing football? Reid preferred Adrian Heath to Clive Allen; now one of these players had the killer touch in front of goal, the other didn’t have a clue… can you guess which one was played for 80 minutes in every game whilst one was always substitute? (see – Man City versus Port Vale in the FA Cup for the answer). Remember Kåre Ingebrigtsen, Alfons Groenendijk… no I can’t even spell them, but Reid bought them.

On the subject of general management, Reid kicked out the ever loyal City backroom staff for no reason whatsoever. He also talked absolute bollocks about football whenever he was interviewed on TV (believe me, he was an embarrassment), he always pretended he was an expert, when in reality he was a complete novice at football management, turned over by Lennie Lawrence’s Middlesbrough 4 times in one season, and then by Terry Venables’ Spurs 4 times the following season… the last fixture against Spurs in the FA cup was so pathetic that the fans invaded the pitch and even then, they blamed Peter Swales! Why? They should be ashamed of themselves. Swales gave Reid a ton of money and got nothing but disrespect in return. City’s record under Reid during his last 9 months was abysmal, fully warranting his departure. He had finally broken up Kendall’s simple but effective squad and replaced it with garbage. It was a pity he went because he should have got some credit for wrecking this club, as we plunged out of the table.

So when you ask why we got rid of Reid, look at the history books, look at the transfers, look at the results and you will see that when it comes to the top flight, Reid was/is absolutely useless. Sunderland are doing well, only because he has no money to spend, and Reid’s very capable coaching skills are being used to the fore, but like with Big Mal, we mustn’t confuse coaching with management – they are totally different functions. Can anyone tell me just exactly what Reid did to get such continuing support from City fans?

PS: Can anyone tell me who got rid of Ashley Ward and Neil Lennon?

PPS: I was surprised to see that there were no replies to my pro-Franny posting of a few weeks ago? Stand by then for my revisionist treatment of the last decent manager we had at the club… Alan Ball!

Keeper of the Blue Flame, Neil Haigh (nhaigh@relayer.u-net.com)

Ward left in July 1991 during Reid’s reign as manager!
[Paul Howarth]


OPINION – MERCHANDISING

Thanks to everyone who provided info regarding the lack of video and handbook this season, and opinion on recent City books (not that this is a reason for a contribution in itself).

I thought I’d precis the replies as one of my bugbears has resurfaced.

  1. No video from last season. The general response was that it was dueto the Club’s perceived lack of demand, not echoed by my responses.
  2. No handbook for this season. As above, although, a couple of ‘fromthe horses mouth’ pieces of intelligence, cited Polar Publishing asreaching the end of their tether. Apparently they get little help fromthe club, who in turn give away stacks of copies, and also negativefeedback from the fans bemoaning inaccuracies concerning players’favourite colour, bootsize etc.
  3. Bleak & Blue – not a classic but tolerable. Cups for Cock-ups -snidey Rag propaganda, although some found it readable.

Just from the response to my posting and the sales of the above books proves that there is a market and that potentially we will buy anything. Now this might sound a bit egotistic but it caused me to root out, OK open the file, of an article that I did for BTH about two years ago. The crux was how wide of the mark our merchandising is at times. Two items I criticised were videos and the Handbook for their lack of imagination and failure to understand their target audience, e.g. showing opposition goals from three (any?) angles. Why even show a 0-5 defeat? Anyway, I wrote all this before.

My point is that people would have bought a video of last season, especially the right one, which, if you’ll cast your minds back to the summer of ’97, I’ll now describe.

  1. Begin with interviews with players, staff and fans prior to season.
  2. News on signings and departures.
  3. Some pre-season friendly goals – the Burnley game was certainly on film.
  4. Show all the goals, game by game, including some near misses andgood saves. Leave out any games we lost without scoring, unless therewere any real Blue highlights.
  5. Include cup games, normally omitted (copyright?).
  6. Show extended highlights of the best games – Forest away, Swindonhome, Boro home, Stockport home, Stoke away.
  7. Include news items on signings, sales, new managers, new chairmenetc.
  8. Finish with the apologies from captain, manager and chairman. Notforgetting a bit of fan anger and a tribute to Kinky and Uwe.

It’s not rocket science, is it? 27,000 still turn up each week, they buy the shirts, mugs, calendars etc. Why do the club presume not videos? I could do a similar job on the handbook, but my anorak hood has blown in front of my eyes.

Andy Noise (anoise@globalnet.co.uk)

WHY BLUE?

(Incorporating How, What, Where and When Blue?)

Most regular attendees of Maine Road have some tangible reason for supporting City, not many as tenuous as this, though. At the tender age of six and two weeks, I wandered into the lounge one Saturday afternoon to find my dad about to watch football on the telly. Incidently ‘telly’ in those days was a 10 inch black and white. Turned out the match was the ’69 Cup Final, City vs. Leicester. I apparently chose City to win and being the contrary little git that I was, decided they were my team.

Background info: Living, as I did, in a miserable little outpost called Borehamwood (between Barnet and Watford), all the kids at my school supported London teams. The nearest 1st Division clubs were Arsenal and Spurs at about ten miles away (no one outside Watford actually supported Watford and Barnet were non-league). For some reason Spurs weren’t fashionable at the time and everybody supported Arsenal or the then glamour team, Chelsea.

I remember no more details of City until the following years’ Cup Winners’ Cup final against Gornik, when I was allowed to stay up and watch the highlights on Sportsnight. I do remember that Franny Lee had already become my hero, although on what basis I’m not sure.

The following season staying up became the norm if we were on Match of the Day. A cup game against Wigan whose outcome was closer than it should have been, sticks out.

By now, I’d discovered Midweek Sports Special on Radio 2. As we were in Europe again, I was happily going to bed at 7.30 to listen to games on the radio. We beat Gornick again (as usual, thought I) and next were Chelsea. I wasn’t prepared for the shock when we lost. This was our cup. I expected us to win (youth, eh?).

It didn’t happen.

Still, soon after, a parcel turned up for me and it was my first City kit. The plain blue shirt with a white collar and cuffs and a badge to sew on yourself. This arrived via the post, needless to say, as finding any thing to do with City in the local shops was rare to say the least. Ironically, since ragomania broke out, it’s even more difficult now. By hook or by crook I was acquiring all the necessary trappings of a ’70’s football fan, the silk scarf, metal badge, holdall (or whatever we called them then), and the Subbuteo team. One Christmas, I received the Subbuteo Continental Club edition. You got a couple of teams included, Everton and Bristol City as I recall, but in addition to these I got Man City. A dab hand at Airfix kits, I painted numbers on their backs (they gave you sticky numbers but they were crap), gave Franny blond hair and later gave Dave Watson a permanent nose bleed (he’d had one on Match of the Day, presumably). This was surpassed by adding glue to Brian Kidd’s head and painting it to give him a big curly perm. This made his ability to swerve much greater, no doubt why the Liverpool team of the time achieved so much.

Back to reality. I managed my first game when I was eight, away at Spurs. 1-1 and the guy over the road was on the books at Spurs and got me into the dressing rooms after the game. When confronted with Franny, my idol, I was speechless. Joe Corrigan was obviously no big deal as I managed a few words with him.

As I said earlier, at school you were either Chelsea or Arsenal. There was a Rag at secondary school, but this was the days of back heels and one derby defeat in six years, so I was King in that battle. Barring two Spurs fans (who were certified odd) the rest of the school was split firmly in two. You could normally escape the major battles or be roped in as a mercenary. Suffice to say you didn’t necessarily have half the playground on your side when the other half was chasing you. And you never left your City bag unattended. Good character forming stuff.

Being young and in the South, chances to see the Blues were rare. It was Fulham or nothing in our house, so that’s where we went. At least I was going to a game every week. No other kids did. It never occurred to me what it would be like going to see City every week. By Christ, however, it was exciting when you did. I got to a fair amount of City’s games at Arsenal and Tottenham, but that was not enough and my enthusiasm waned in the late seventies when punk became more important. Not a lot of football/music crossover in those days. I think that Malcolm selling my second (and final?) Blue hero Dennis Tueart didn’t help.

If, to all ‘born and bred in Burnage’ Blues, this sounds a bit like the excuses of a Rag glory hunter, I was sixteen OK? Football was not the main priority.

Ultimately, I don’t agree with supporting some team on the far side of the country. Given the choice I’d rather not. It’s expensive, lonely and dangerous. But a moment’s folly at the age of six has shafted me for life.

Needless to say, when it came to applying for University, my choices were UMIST and Salford, because “I support Man City and I’m into Joy Division (who were singerless at the time!)” I told the old codger interviewing me. Blank response.

Crap grades and Salford it was. Maine Road was a mere 55 calf-aching minutes’ walk away. It was the time of Trevor Francis and… Aage Hareide. Variable to say the least.

But now I was on the Kippax every home game. I had a spot. I’d enter through the back of the Kippax and walk up towards the away fans, finishing about a three quarters of the way along and a quarter of the way from the front. I’d arrive at 2.30, read the programme and nod to those who I recognised and then shout my lungs out for 90 minutes. Well that’s how I remember it.

Aways were down to Victoria (normally) and another ground to tick off the list. I can still remember returning from Carlisle in a pitch black train and barred windows on more than one occasion.

I’d at least grown out of hero worshipping a certain player by now (apart from Maradona). Nicky Reid’s was the name I’d cheer the loudest (he was once actually cited in a Dear John letter, an ex-girlfriend sent me), but as I said, Tueart was my last real hero. Is it growing up, or lack of quality, but I don’t even have a favourite player these days? After Reid there was Wilson, Lake, Quinn and Rösler. Now?

I digress.

The Luton game was in there somewhere. I felt physically sick for the rest of the weekend. It really never crossed my mind we’d actually go down. After the previous week’s party at Brighton (when Kevin Reeves scored one of my all time favourite goals, not a classic but you had to be there), we seemed OK. I even went to the Sty on the intervening Wednesday, Luton’s second last game. I stood on the United Road side adorned in my City shirt, yelling abuse at Luton. Probably seemed like a bit of cabaret to the Scum in retrospect, but, I was young (-ish).

Relegation, however, just made me want to go even more. It was the winter of Parlane and Tolmie. We had a couple of 6-0’s, Chelsea away when about 150 of us were very lonely in the middle pen in the away end, and being City, Newcastle away, when we lost 5-0 and our goalie was still the man of the match. Went on the service (a normal train!) and got chased through the town centre as a bit of my City shirt was showing out of my coat. Although the service gave you more freedom to have a mooch and a pint, it was considerably more hairy. If you wore colours, the above happened. If you didn’t, getting in, with a southern accent, was a hassle. More than once at London games, I was quizzed about City by Police or stewards, before being allowed in. Who were your summer signings, what terrace do you normally stand on, etc?

I remember travelling around Europe one summer, wearing my City shirt until it rotted. This was pre-Heysel and the English were still welcome. I wore the shirt to a Juventus game and a group of fans I’d met on a bus earlier got a chant of ‘Manchester’ going. It was a great way of ingratiating yourself with the locals.

Mid-eighties, work was scarce and after a time on the dole, I got a job in back in London. This time I was still managing plenty of games. It’s typical City that what stands out are the spectacular defeats. 1986 and I’d gone to Holland for a couple of months. I’d gone to the Members’ Cup games against Hull (Northern Final, no trophy), so flying back for the final was a must. Ended up (in our section) next to a Chelsea fan who was too scared to sit with his own fans. My other memory was the infamous relegation game at West Ham. I’d persuaded a West Ham supporting mate to stand with me in the City end. All was well till after the game, when, for those who were not there, all their fans poured on the pitch and made their way to our end. My mate was shitting himself (I was none too happy). The prospect of a kicking from your own fans is, well but no. We all joined in with mutual back slapping and community singing.

In late ’87, I upped sticks and moved to Holland and had my second dip in City support. Amazing as this followed the most prolific goal scoring spell in living memory (nice way to leave, a ten, a six and lots of fours). Following Feyenoord seemed far more important and such highlights as the 5-1, I only read about on the Monday morning. I presumed that it was a mis-print in the paper, and we’d lost 5-1! It was only when I saw an English paper, later in the day, that I believed it.

My (still) love of Feyenoord means a staunch loathing of Ajax. Since Gio went there, I’ve even started looking at their results. Echt grappig, dit jaar (it’s been along time and it’s probably wrong).

After three years in Holland, I got a job in Turkey. Needless to say, I shared an office with a load of Fenerbahce fans, who wound me up mercilessly. Turkey had had a rough time in the seventies and eighties and their win against us was still a big deal. Not anymore, I hasten to add. I already liked Galatasaray, so that merely strengthened my allegiance. By now I was firmly back into City again and got to see the goals on TV each week. Not to mention getting fanzines and newspaper cuttings sent to me aswell. After witnessing Feyenoord’s worst period in years, I saw Galatasaray win just one (!) trophy in two years. Like City, it did nothing to dampen the fans. The crowd were awesome. They got a bit confused when me and a mate, after a few beers, started singing English football songs with a Turkish slant. “Hayrettin, Hayrettin, give us a wave.” “There’s only one Tugay Kerimoglu”. “En buyuk Cim Bom Bom” got a much better reaction.

After two years, I returned to the UK and actually managed half a dozen City games. It was the Autumn of ’92 and I saw Lakey play for one last time and away wins at Wimbledon and Sheff Wed (Ooh Vonky, Vonky) before departing again, this time for Malaysia.

It was incredible. There were more Reds than in Torquay. I hear the Scum have actually opened a shop there now. I went to watch the National team one night, wearing my City shirt naturally, and I had people chanting at me. Left two weeks before the Scum won the league, it would have been unbearable to stay.

It was whilst here that I started writing stuff for the fanzines. Initially bits for K of the K, and for the last three years, a regular stream of drivel for Bert Trautmann’s Helmet. Over the last six months my ego has stretched to putting stuff in McVittee.

Spent six months travelling, managing to listen to City on beaches, in swamps and adorning the world with City car stickers and graffitied club badges. Never met a single Blue although came across a girl in the middle of Indonesia one day. Spoke no English but was dead proud of her City T shirt.

Returned to the UK at the end of ’93. Again tried to find work in Manchester. To no avail.

Ended up in Chesterfield, without a job and a car. It was early ’94 and Franny was imminent. Every home game now was a half hour walk to Chesterfield station, 1.5 hours on the train and another half hour walk from Piccadilly. All told this amounted to 12 miles of legwork, worth it to watch Rösler and Walsh but Shutt and Griffiths was pushing it.

These days I live in Derby, so it’s a couple of hours each way just for a home game. Pretty grim coming home on your tod after a mid-week defeat. Still, the saga of my last few years has been done to death in Bert.

My obsession with the Blues, however, seems to get worse. The more I write, the more stats obsessed I get (databases etc.). I’ve also started going to a few reserve games each season.

The internet has certainly changed things for City fans outside Manchester. Keeping up with the gossip and trivia was always a problem. Nowadays who needs GMR and the M(U)EN?

This was supposed to have been just a Why Blue, not a life story. Sorry, call it catharsis. Cup Final day, this season will be my thirtieth anniversary of being a Blue. I don’t see us picking up any new fans in the manner that I was ensnared.

Any Derby Blues ever fancy starting a Supporters’ Club branch? I’m too lazy.

Andy Noise (anoise@globalnet.co.uk)

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[Valid3.2]Ashley Birch, mcivta@tollbar.u-net.com

Newsletter #464

1999/01/07

Editor:


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