Newsletter #469

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on Pinterest


Another sound performance on Saturday saw the Blues come back from 1-0 down to secure a point at high-flyers Walsall. Although we could have done with all three, we can’t be too disappointed with this result; after all, we can’t realistically expect to change overnight from losing and drawing to hammering all-comers 3-0. We have a detailed match report from this game, as well as a matchview.

Nothing much has happened on the news front, which may be good news as far as a takeover and its potentially destabilising influences are concerned. We have a nice comparison of two recent books which have attempted to chronicle the last 20 years or so at Maine Road, but written by authors who have very different personal agendas. There’s also news of a rumoured lifting – or at least alleviation – of the gypsy curse(!) as well as a report on the recent laudable ‘Fans United Day’. In addition to the usual opinion, there’s another excellent Why Blue – more needed.

Next game, Stoke City away, Friday 29th January 1999

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE’ I

WALSALL vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 24th January 1999

I’ve never written a match report before but thought I’d give it a go. So please forgive any blinding errors, lack of skill, inability to achieve goals… but enough about me, what about the match?

We started brightly in what looked like a first choice formation for a change, with the exception of Horlock down the left, as I think he fares much better in a more central position; he didn’t get out very wide in any case.

              Weaver
Crooks   Wiekens  Vaughan  Edghill
Cooke   Pollock   Brown    Horlock
        Goater    Taylor

Half chances seemed to come thick and fast at both ends during the first half. Walsall failed to capitalise on an early defensive blunder by City and then the same happened at the other end of the park. One incident of note though is the first booking; I didn’t notice who was booked as I was venting my spleen at the ref, as I’m sure those with commentry heard. Basically this Walsall player pulled our lad back by his shirt when he was in possession and the City player got booked?! The first of many blunders by a nincompoop of a referee. I must mention Cooke here, it was the first time I’ve seen him, and it is so good seeing City play with width, giving the two strikers some space, opening up the defence. Cooke is very pacy and can beat people and cross the ball, seemed a bit poor at collecting long passes though.

Crowd wise, the Bescot is quite a nice little ground when full as today. The Saddlers’ fans were a bit quiet – we were obviously too boisterous for them! There were good views and the unreserved seating meant that you could pick a spot without the hindrance of pillars if you arrived in good time. However, I reckon there were more Blues than seats as many were left standing in the corners. The pitch seemed quite hard despite the rain we’ve been having and its waterlogged state the week before.

Anyway, onto the second half; more of the same basically. Another defensive blunder gifted them the goal, indeed the only time I got really worried about them scoring sort of intuitively. Anyway, City bounced back with an incredible ten minutes of play, it took a goalmouth scramble, non-league style, but our Jamie popped it in the net and then did his usual fist-waving antics but this time you could understand it. And then we dropped back and sat on the draw; Walsall pressed for the remaining ten minutes and a cracking save from our Nicky in the goals. Walsall are a good side for this division, but they lack what we lack… players who know what to do in front of the goal.

On balance a fair result I think. Now the bit I was looking forward to: My awarding of marks out of ten for the players… always wanted to do this:

Weaver (10) Did a magnificent save a few minutes from the end and looked cool and composed. Even got us singing ‘Weaver’ like the England fans do ‘Seaman’.
Crooks (9) Looked very impressive.
Edghill (9) Yes, it was one of those days where Edghill excelled; I counted three good crosses (yes it is Edghill I’m taking about). Got into space, passed accurately… why can’t you do it every week Edgy!?
Wiekens (9) Another solid performance, someone recently wrote in MCIVTA that our Gerard couldn’t handle being turned… well he can, I’ve seen him do it.
Vaughan (6) Looks alright in the central defensive positions, the odd error.
Brown (6) Didn’t notice him too much, wouldn’t mind seeing one of his Kinky run impressions again mind.
Pollock (4) Probably doesn’t deserve a 4 as he didn’t look fully fit… hobbling around, but his passing was wayward too so it’s a 4 to our scorer (I said I was probably going to be bobbins at this).
Horlock (6) Still like to see him back to the way he used to play, not a bad performance though.
Cooke (8) Described him above really didn’t I!
Goater (6) He does seem to be slowly improving; got a few half chances but wasted them all and his positoning was a bit off. I don’t think it’s because he doesn’t jump for headers, his timing is wrong I reckon. Why do so many supporters pick on him? He’s not our only under-achiever.
Taylor (5) Didn’t really look the part; if we can get the crosses flying in and his positioning improves then I may be more generous.

Corners:
Firstly, when was the last time we scored from a corner (answers on a postcard to the usual address)? Secondly, why have Goater and Taylor standing on the goal line? The ball won’t come to them there and if they meet the ball they’re going the wrong way!

Away games – I don’t go to many away games and my last two before today were the trips to Reading at the end of last season and Fulham this season… they kind of put me off going away(!) i.e. no singing, abysmal play from the Blues, morque-like atmosphere etc. Going to Walsall was so much better, must go away more often.

Gareth Thomas – MightyG (mightyg@easynet.co.uk)

MATCHVIEW – WALSALL

I actually left Bescot feeling as if we had won. Again, the team had been excellent, Cooke has added a whole new dimension to our play with his width, and the fans were right behind the team. At recent games such as Wrexham and Blackpool, our usually excellent away support has been somewhat muted. The change on Saturday was incredible, singing from the start of the match, and even when we went one down, rather than effing, booing, and blaming Goater, the fans responded with ‘Come on City’.

We deserved to win, and quite frankly in the 2nd half we outplayed one of the best teams in the division who were on top of their game. Anyway, I won’t run through the match incidents and bore everyone, but here are the ratings.

Weaver 8 – Outstanding save near the end, what a talent. Let’s hope he’s still playing for us in 15 years.
Crooks 8 – Most improved player this season, excellent 1st half in particular, composed on the ball, never wastes a pass.
Edghill 8 – Possibly at fault for the goal, but made up for it with one the tackles of the season later in the 2nd half. Still error-prone, but class.
Wiekens 8 – Not quite as oustanding as always, but solid game nevertheless.
Vaughan 8 – I never thought I would say it, but he was superb and I don’t know how we can drop him, his last 5-6 games for us have been his best by some distance.
Pollock 9 – Very involved, tackled hard, great leader, what would we do without him?
Brown 7 – Failed to recapture form of late, but had a solid 2nd half.
Horlock 7 – Apparently he was outstanding vs. Fulham, but for me he has been disappointing all season.
Taylor 7 – Another good game, providing the aerial threat up front that we lacked so much earlier on in the season.
Goater 8 – One of his best games, he even turned a defender once! Never wasted possession, and always a threat.
Cooke 7 – Quiet 1st half, but put in a number a good crosses throughout. Pointon brought him down when clean through 3 times, looks a very useful signing, the Red b******.

We have still to play the bottom 6 teams at home, though we’ve got to play 5 of the top 7 away, so I reckon play-offs and Wembley is still the best bet. However, things are looking much brighter now. And if anyone’s interested, since we lost to Reading we’ve conceded just 8 goals in 16 games.

Mark Braude (mark.braude@some.ox.ac.uk)

NEWS SUMMARY

City Earn Point at Walsall

Saturday’s trip to Walsall yielded a City point in a 1-1 draw. After going one down to an Andy Watson strike on 67 minutes, Jamie Pollock’s first goal of the season seven minutes later secured a share of the spoils. The result leaves us still in eighth place, a point off the play-off positions, though several teams ahead of us have games in hand (Bournemouth actually have three). The crowd of 9,517 meant that City again attracted their opponents’ largest home league gate of the season, a distinction we now hold at thirteen of the fourteen away grounds we’ve visited – the 100% record was lost a couple of weeks ago when we drew only Blackpool’s second largest attendance, their derby with Preston having proved a marginally bigger attraction.

The views of the rival managers contrasted somewhat. Walsall’s Ray Graydon claimed that, “City have a centre half worth £1.2 million while my whole squad cost just £35,000 to put together but we still had most of the game.” Joe Royle professed himself reasonably satisfied with a draw, saying, “I’m not arguing with a point. We showed some good spirit to come back after going behind to a goal that may or may not have been offside. We created plenty of chances, hit the bar and were unlucky not to snatch it when Shaun Goater could have grabbed a goal at the end.”

`Massive Confidence’ in Camp

City skipper Jamie Pollock has sounded an up-beat note on prospects for the remainder of the season. City have now “learned to battle” and are consequently, in the captain’s words, “massively confident”. Indeed, he’s so optimistic about prospects for the remainder of the season that he feels we could still earn automatic promotion – even though we’re currently eleven points off the pace. Says Jamie defiantly, “We want a top-two place and I believe we can do it.” Maybe he should have had a word with team-mate Tony Vaughan. The City defender had booked his wedding before the season began, and was planning to tie the knot on the last Saturday in May. It turns out this is the day before the second division play-off final, a fact which has prompted Vaughan to reschedule the wedding for mid-June. Where’s your faith, Tony?

Fixtures – One Change, One Stays the Same

The home fixture with Notts County will now take place on Tuesday 16 March, with a 7.45pm kick-off. The game was originally due to take place the day after New Year’s Day, but was postponed owing to both sides’ FA Cup commitments. Meanwhile, the visit to Mel Machin’s Bournemouth, scheduled for FA Cup fifth round day on Saturday 13 February, will go ahead as planned following the Cherries’ 3-1 Cup defeat away to Barnsley.

Jobson Set for Reserve Return

Richard Jobson is set for a comeback in the reserve team’s Manchester Senior Cup tie away to Oldham this Wednesday evening. The 35-year-old defender has played in only six games for City after his free-transfer signing from Leeds United last March, and has been sidelined for the last nine months with an injured ankle. The damage was originally sustained thanks to a bad tackle by Birmingham’s Dele Adebola at Easter, and though Jobson recovered sufficiently to warm the bench four times early in the season, he subsequently needed further surgery to alleviate the problem once and for all. Joe Royle now has an embarrassment of riches for the two centre-half slots: in addition to Jobson, there’s the current incumbents Wiekens and Vaughan, Kakhaber Tskhadadze (who’s set to return to training soon), Andy Morrison (whose suspension is over following Friday night’s game at Stoke), Murtaz Shelia and Nick Fenton. I’d guess Shelia won’t be the only one the manager judges to be surplus to requirements.

Striker Target?

The presence of City scouts last week at Glanford Park to see Scunthorpe take on Carlisle in the Auto Windcreens Shield has prompted speculation that we’re running the rule over the home team’s Jamie Forrester, who at present is the third division’s top scorer this season with seventeen goals. The 24-year-old Forrester was a player for whom great things were expected when he was a member of Leeds United’s 1993 FA Youth Cup-winning side. Unfortunately, the anticipated success never materialised and he departed on a free transfer to Grimsby. It didn’t work out for him there either, and he made the short move to Scunthorpe on another free.

Whether our interest goes beyond the stage of having him watched is another matter, but Joe Royle has already stated that if he enters the transfer market, a front player will be the target. Presumably Forrester merits consideration as he’s within the City price bracket. Again, though, with the efforts devoted in the last year to reducing the size of the squad, it’s a fair bet that any addition would result in one or two departures among the strikers. Chris Greenacre is already transfer-listed and out on loan, which currently leaves Allsopp, Russell, Dickov and Alan Bailey as competition for the starting duo of Taylor and Goater. It’s Craig Russell who would seem likely to have most to fear from any new buy. As he lost out to Paul Dickov for a starting berth against Stoke, Wimbledon and Blackpool and hasn’t even commanded a place on the bench since the arrival of Terry Cooke, presumably Russell’s performances in November and December didn’t persuade Joe Royle that the transfer-listed player has a future at Maine Road.

Shares Latest – An Unlikely Rumour

There’s been no fresh news or even speculation since the end of last week on the situation surrounding the shares in the club held by the estate of the late Stephen Boler. I did try to acquire information through the one potential means at my disposal, a source who wouldn’t be involved in negotiations but who has access to people who almost certainly are. I drew a blank, however, and it seems that cards are being played very close to chests. I regard this on balance as a positive thing, since too often in the past on all manner of matters we’ve shouted the odds prematurely or seen damaging information leak out inexplicably. Even so, I’m slightly frustrated at having no reliable clue as to who may be about to assume the biggest single voice in the running of the club. In the absence of any substantive developments, and as the last few days have been pretty slack for news, maybe it’s time to air a rather dubious rumour which surfaced in the middle of last week. This has already been posted on Blue View, and it concerns a man whose impact in his thirteen-month stint at Maine Road certainly hasn’t been forgotten.

None other than Alan Ball has gone on record as saying that he’d like to broaden his horizons beyond purely footballing confines, and apparently he’s keen for a chance to “run a club from top to bottom.” He hinted that the opportunity may come his way in the not-too-distant future and offered an intriguing “no comment” when questioned as to whether it could be with either his current club Portsmouth or his previous employer Manchester City. It’s almost inconceivable that Bally has the personal wealth to be the main player in this type of deal, but could he be drafted in by any new major shareholder to occupy an executive position? Again it’s highly improbable (anyone stumping up the sums of money involved here would surely be inclined to nominate someone with more experience in that kind of rôle), but as it’s Manchester City we’re talking about here, I suppose you never know. It would certainly be a move to put the proverbial cat among the metaphorical pigeons.

Great Expectations

More information has come to light on City’s new schoolboy signing James Almond. Or rather, what’s surfaced is not so much information as opinion both from Scarborough, the club which spotted and groomed him, and from those at Maine Road who’ll be charged with developing his talent from this point on. And pretty glowing opinion it is too. Scarborough manager Mick Wadsworth gushed, “He has the ability to go past opponents as if they don’t exist… I like to think I’m a pretty good judge of a player and I will state here and now that I will be staggered if Jamie doesn’t go on to play at the very highest level of English soccer.” Meanwhile, City chief scout Jim Cassell enthused that, “I have never seen a kid of that age with better feet than Jamie.” Obviously it’s good news we’ve managed to attract a youngster of this apparent quality. My only hope is that stories in the local media implying he’s the new Gio Kinkladze don’t create for him more pressure than he can handle.

Correction

In MCIVTA 468, I stated that Paul Stewart was now playing for Workington Town. In fact, this would be even more of a dramatic career move than a decision to drop to the Unibond League – they’re the town’s Rugby League side! He is, of course, still active in the round-ball code and is turning out for Workington FC.

Peter Brophy (brophpe@moscow.whitecase.com)

TICKET NEWS

This fixture has been re-arranged for Tuesday 16th March, kick-off 7.45pm. full details are available from our website.

Stoke City vs. Manchester City
Friday 29th January, Kick-off 7.45pm

Tickets for this fixture will go on open sale from Monday morning at 9.00am. Supporters should be aware that the ticket office will not post out tickets for this fixture after Tuesday 26th January so early booking is advised.

Postal applications are now being taken for our home fixture with Macclesfield Town on the 20th February. Full details are available from our website.

Ticket Office – Manchester City

BOOK REVIEWS

CUPS FOR COCK-UPS vs. BLEAK AND BLUE

There has been much posted in MCIVTA on the former book, both positive and negative. The more detailed criticism (MCIVTA 452) is based on the author’s affinity for United whilst the positive review in MCIVTA 450 provided few details. The latter book appears to have a consensus that it is not bad and may well be worth reading. A comparison is in order.

To kick off, it is enlightening to compare how the two books refer to the FA Cup quarter final pitch invasion against Spurs in 1993. Ashley Shaw writes in Cups for Cock-Ups: “…when City went 3-1 down the frustrated fans rioted and attempted to take the Spurs end by the most direct route – across the pitch.”

In Bleak and Blue, Winstanley suggests that “a number of City fans in the Umbro stand, chiefly of the urchin variety, decided to get themselves on television and invaded the pitch, in a fairly unthreatening manner, intent on jumping about for the cameras.”

So we know where Shaw stands; this language is not of the disinterested observer. And he couldn’t even get the score right. You don’t have to be Blue, just unbiased and not called Jimmy Hill in order to realise that the latter is the more accurate account of the event.

Despite the above, the Shaw book is not written by someone who has it in for City but by someone who genuinely wants City back in the big time, even if only so that United might pick up a guaranteed six points per season. He tries to assess City’s present position and discuss how the problems might be alleviated or eliminated. Unfortunately he does not have an underlying thesis about how this might be achieved and very often provides arguments that just do not hold water. He rams down the point that City have had two autocratic and flamboyant chairmen and that disaster could be the only outcome. This argument is hardly supported by the Premiership being led by clubs chaired by such media shrinking violets as Doug Ellis and Ken Bates.

Much space is given to the Forward with Franny and Free the Manchester 30,000 campaigns. These groups are part of the problem with City because they enable former players to wield too much influence; first Lee and now Tueart. Because these former players were heroes to many fans, the fans think they will perform heroics in the boardroom. What actually results is jobs for the boys. Lee brings in his friend Alan Ball and Tueart employs his mate Joe Royle.

Shaw also gives space to the possibility that City Vice President Raymond Donn would present the best alternative. Donn is quoted as saying that Joe Royle is not the man that he would like to be managing City. I happen to agree with him, and his supporting arguments, but Joe Royle is the manager and Donn should not make such public pronouncements. Shaw points out that City becoming a public limited company like United would stop chairmen running City like a personal fiefdom, but then accepts that this would to a great extent take City away from the fans. These points are all discussed but there are no conclusions. The author does not explain what he believes to be best for MCFC. Just as he develops a theme it is curtailed with a “…but…”. As a reader I do not want the author to sit on the fence. It does not matter whether or not I agree or disagree but I want the book to stimulate my opinions.

The main weakness of the book, however, is in its tendency to be inaccurate. In many places facts are incorrectly reported, not just scorelines (of which I spotted two such errors). As an example, Shaw writes that City were the first team to field four foreigners after the Bosman ruling. The implication is that the Bosman ruling paved the way for four or more foreigners in a team. It did not, the Single European Act did. When such things that I know are wrong are written, I start to have doubts about facts that I am not aware of.

To summarise, Cups for Cock-Ups demonstrates the scale of the problems facing City and suggests some possible ways out of them. However, the book is badly researched, is not particularly amusing, comes to no concrete conclusions and relentlessly (in a style that is often gloating) compares City to United as if that was the only thing that mattered to us.

And he calls Moonchester “rather pathetic”.

Bleak and Blue, on the other hand is something entirely different. It cannot be recommended to everyone because it is little more than a running commentary on City in the last 22 years. However, I started following City in the season we made the quarter finals of the EUFA cup. This means that Winstanley’s book pretty much coincides with my time as a City fan. As such the memories came flooding back, the nostalgia of great matches. Those were the days…

In reading the book I found myself itching for the better times that I knew were only a few pages away. What did Winstanley have to say on the party that was City’s 5-1 promotion clincher against Charlton? What about that 5-1?

And therein lies the problem. The book conveys the misery much better than the glory. We all remember Bishop in space in the centre circle. We all remember his long ball deep to the right wing. We all know that it only bounced once before David White’s first time cross sent the ball into the penalty area. We all remember Andy Hinchcliffe storming in to thunder a magnificent header past a gormless ‘keeper in front of the rapidly emptying Platt Lane. You cannot convey that in writing. You just had to be there. And I was.

There is also some entertaining controversy for the experienced Blue. How Winstanley could claim that Allison should have been allowed more time, I do not know. His criticism of John Bond is also unfounded. John Bond saved us from the drop and brought us to Wembley. Our relegation was the fault of Benson. The pillorying of Kevin Bond owes more to his belief in his predecessors in the centre of defence rather than the lack of merit of Bond, who was voted, if my memory serves me well, player of the year in his playing days at Maine Road. He happily admits that he gives loyal devotion to players who have come up through the ranks and this blinkered view means he has too rosy an opinion of players who were just not up to it. Still, as I said earlier, I want my own opinions stimulated and Winstanley does just that.

It should be pointed out that Bleak and Blue conveys the humour that we need in order to follow City. It is easy to warm to the author, for we share his hopes and dreams. And the scores are all correctly reported. However, if you had not been there, done that and bought the replica shirt, then this is not the book for you. It is no Fever Pitch.

Ashley Shaw: Cups for Cock-Ups: Empire Publications £8.99
Craig Winstanley: Bleak and Blue: Sigma Leisure £8.95

I remain, CTID: Mark Geoghegan (MarkGeoghegan@CompuServe.com)

CURSES AND HORSESHOES

Apparently, City have been sent 4 horseshoes from some old eccentric guy from Wiltshire.

This guy claims he bought the horeshoes from the gypsies who laid the curse on City. The gypsies claim that if the horeshoes are present at a game, the curse has no effect.

I know everybody’s first instinct is to think – boll**ks – but you never know. The horeshoes made their début at the Wrexham game in December – a one nil win! Since then they have been ever present (home and away), corrensponding with City’s five-match unbeaten league run. The only game they have missed is Wimbledon in the cup – a defeat!

Lee Douglas (leed@polk.co.uk)

PAUL STEWART

I read the article on Paul Stewart with interest in MCIVTA 468; can I correct one part? Workington are in the North West Counties (North West Trains) League Division One, not the UniBond, they were relegated last season. There was an interesting article in one of the papers earlier this month about Paul, and if anyone wants a copy, can they email me off list? As an aside, if anyone wants to receive my daily email Newsletter about Barrow AFC, email me on the same address.

Ralph Sheppard – Kiwiland (R.P.Sheppard@massey.ac.nz)

SYMONS’ SNIPPETS

There was a full page article in the London Evening Standard this evening (Fri 22nd) previewing Fulham vs. Villa and concentrating on the career, past and present, of Kit Symons. There were a couple of references to City as follows:

1st quote

“There is already just a hint of grey in the hair of Fulham’s 27-year-old defender Kit Symons. On reflection though, it’s surprising that Symons has any healthy follicles left at all, after being captain of Manchester City for two seasons.

The only other experience In Symons’s playing career which comes close to the trauma he experienced during three turbulent years at Maine Road, was when his first club Portsmouth lost on penalties to Liverpool in an FA Cup semi-final replay in 1992.”

2nd Quote

“I really wanted to do well at Manchester City but it wasn’t easy,” he admits. “I had five different managers In three seasons and It wasn’t easy being captain. I take football seriously and I would go home and worry about the problems at the club. It did affect me because my form was crap.”

Think we all worked that one out ourselves Kit!

Alan Holt (acholt@clara.net)

JUNIOR BLUES SCARVES

Just a comment about the Junior Blues scarves (as mentioned by Robert Evans MCIVTA 468), When my daughter was one-year old, I joined her up to the Junior Blues, and I definitely signed her up to the tots category. When the introduction package arrived it contained a scarf that was over five feet long. She is now four, and even now, the scarf almost smothers her when she trys to wear it. What are the club trying to do – starve toddlers of oxygen in the hope that the resulting brain damage ensures they stay City fans for life? An answer would be appreciated.

CTTTSW (City Till The Therapy Starts Working), Chris Ffelan (chris.ffelan@blackburn.gov.uk)

APOLOGIES!

I meant to say ‘BETTER DEAD THAN RED’ had been shut down by lawyers representing Man Ure. I must have been very tired when I wrote the ‘BETTER RED THAN DEAD’ Email – or deep down I am a glory seeker: Either way I got it wrong. My thanks to the 35 (so far) correspondents who have pointed out the error of my ways.

CTID, Richard Mottershead (richardjohnm@hotmail.com)

BETTER DEAD THAN RED

As mentioned in the previous MCIVTA, the Better Dead Than Red site has been forced to (temporarily? hopefully) close after letters were recieved from Scumchester United’s solictitors (James Chapman), threatending legal actions. If you want to have alook at the actual contents of the letters, take a butchers at Betty’s website:

http://www.boocock.net/chapman.htm/

If you do look at the letters, have a laugh at the first paragraph, just goes to show who comes first in the pecking order at the Swamp.

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

WAS IT PAUL DAGLISH?

Just if anyone is interested in knowing who the big name player who City ‘nearly’ signed on loan last week was. Joe’s hints indicated a striker, and Joe also said he was a ‘big name in every sense of the word’. Therefore it would have to be someone with a very famous father as an ex-player. I thought Jordi Cruyff, but he’s gone to Celta Vigo. But it must have been Paul Dalglish, who had fallen out of favour with Gullit. Also, the deal broke down, this would have been because of recent injuries to Ferguson and Saha, while Shearer picked up a booking last Sunday thus giving him a suspension. So Gullit would have pulled the plug on the deal due to his sudden shortage of strikers.

So there you go.

Mark Braude (mark.braude@some.ox.ac.uk)

FANS UNITED DAY – 15 JANUARY 1999

Now it may well be that like me, you have no intention of having anything to do with anything called United – I even cancelled my Refuge Assurance policies when they became United Friendly Assurance – but the recent fixture between Chester City and Brighton on Friday 15th January was surely worth a bit of support. You may know that both clubs have been and indeed still are on the very verge of bankruptcy, and so when this fixture was switched to Sky on a Friday night, the supporters of both clubs declared it an opportunity for small clubs to make a plea for a lifeline at a time when some clubs are getting obscenely rich and very many others are living on a shoestring and a rather threadbare one at that.

Apparently supporters of all clubs were invited to come along to the match and show their support. And so I went along and took my MCFC North Staffs flag to show, when I arrived I was amazed to see that admission was by ticket only and the one window at the ticket office had a queue stretching round the ground. This was in spite of an expected crowd of 50-75% of capacity. Undeterred, I ignored the ticket office and walked straight to the turnstile and paid a tenner cash to get in – very curious.

Once in the ground I set up the MCFC flag and settled down. There were an awful lot of Everton and Liverpool supporters in our section, one or two reds, and a sprinkling of various other club supporters Lincoln, Southend, QPR, even Stoke City. Most of the other supporters showed me sympathy as a City fan – bad enough when it’s from Liverpool fans, downright annoying from Bury fans!

The game was really not all that bad. David Flitcroft, younger brother of one time Blue Garry was playing for Chester and put in a “committed” (i.e. dirty) performance. Two players who caught the eye were left winger Sam Aiston (on loan to Chester from Sunderland) and the marauding full back Alex Smith. Bags of pace, strong tackling and a shooting foot as well. Get the cheque book out Joe. Apparently Brighton’s star players were injured/suspended. Chester dominated the game and took the lead right on the stroke of half time.

At half time there was a type of procession round the pitch organised by Oxford fans. They had written to all 92 clubs asking for a scarf and knitted them all together. The only club not to have sent a scarf was Spurs (shame on you Mr Sugar). They paraded these scarfs round the pitch looking a bit self concious but it actually looked quite impressive. Incidentally, they did finally get a Spurs scarf from a local branch of the Spurs Supporters’ Club. Everyone applauded the giant scarf without really knowing why, it was really quite surreal. Also, at half time it was announced that there was to be a reception at the town hall after the match with admission by showing your ticket stub. As I had not got a ticket stub I missed out on that which made me realise why there had been such a queue at the ticket office.

The second half was much as the first the home team dominating without adding to the score mainly due to some dreadful finishing. Then in injury time Brighton won a dubious penalty and equalised. On a night when the whole focus was about the inequalities of wealth distribuion in the game, it was ironic that the visitors should steal a point in injury time. The guy sat behind me said it was the fourth match in succession that Chester had conceded a last-minute equaliser. On the final whistle with the home fans distraught, the tannoy announcer could only say “ladies and gentlemen it’s a funny old game”; well the locals were not laughing.

On a more serious note the day gave everybody a chance to show that there is a place in football for the small clubs, they have a part to play in the whole game, football is not just about the Premier League, Champions League etc. Hopefully something can be done to help these small clubs at a tiome when I hear about 50-grand a week pay packets etc. for top stars a fraction of that would keep clubs like Brighton and Chester afloat.

Jim Curtis (jimcurtis@cwcom.net)

ANY INTERESTING IDEAS?

I am a teacher in a secondary school in York and I am determined to stop the advance of the dark side across our kids. I came out of the closet two years ago when I proudly wore the trendy Kappa strip to a PE lesson. I even laid my soul bare in an assembly the Monday following our demise into the 2nd Division, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

The only silver lining I conceded, was the opportunity to see the boys at Bootham crescent. Then, lo and behold, the fixtures come out and the swines are playing on the day of my wedding. But, over 30 kids went along to watch the game. I have a pretty strong contingent and over 60 will be going with me to Maine Road in May to watch the York return leg (please God, don’t let it be another last match of the season cliff hanger, I don’t think I could take that).

Anyway, to the point. I am putting up a big display of City memorabilia in the school to try to cajole a few others into the fold. I have a few programmes from the 60’s, 70’s, a replica shirt cup final shirt from the dodgy shop next to Maine Road, real Daily Express photo’s of Colin Bell scoring in our 3-1 win over the Rags, and others from Summerbee (the real one) et al. Does anyone have any other ideas and any interesting pictures/photos? I would really appreciate photocopies or scans of them if you have the time. Even photocopies of programmes would be great.

I feel we are a Blue beacon in the suffocating Red mist. But our day will come!

CTIDDD: Any stuff would be gratefully recieved AND displayed by… Mike Bardsley (Bardsm@bootham.york.sch.uk)

LIST OF PLAYERS

Thanks to Stuart Reynolds for keeping us up to date on the City players. What surprised me is that Michael Brown is transfer listed? The way Michael Brown has played in his latest games I would hope he stays at Maine Road.

Thanks also to Andy Noise – for the best part I enjoy your articles very much, don’t stop writing about our favorite club, that’s what makes MCIVTA the best on the Internet, the fact that all comments are different with tit bits of information for us the supporters of the best football club in the world – Manchester City.

Ernie Barrow (EB2205@aol.com)

MAN UNITED HATRED

In the Sunday (Jan 24th) Observer, there was an interesting article on hatred between footy clubs in general and Man U hatred specifically. It stated that everybody hates ’em these days and that the real team in Manchester is (of course) City. And this was written by some Spurs fan, apparently. With the article there was a nice quiz called “So you think you really hate Man Utd?”

1. When Man U play Inter Milan in the quarter-finals of the Champions’ Cup, will you?
a) Support Man U
b) Support Inter Milan
c) Travel to Old Trafford, buy a ticket from a tout for a massive sum, and support Inter.

2. Peter Schmeichel is opening a new supermarket at the end of your road. Do you?
a) Go along and ask him to autograph your packet of bacon.
b) Go along and heckle.
c) Travel the extra mile and start shopping at Asda.

3. Your child crawls into your bedroom and utters his first words: “Glory, glory, Man Utd.” Do you?
a) Say, “Oh look, darling, isn’t diddums clever?”
b) Ignore him/her.
c) Contact the Bramleys to see if they’d be interested in adopting another child.

4. A man wearing a Roy Keane replica shirt walks into your local and asks if you would like a drink? Do you?
a) Ask him for a lager and talk to him.
b) Ask for a lager and a short, and ignore him.
c) Chin him.

5. Rupert Murdoch is given the green light to buy MU. Do you?
a) Grumble and do nothing.
b) Cancel your subscription to Sky Sports 1 , 2 and 3.
c) Boycott all Murdoch products, picket Wapping, and put a “Eurosport watchers stay up all night” sticker in the back of your car.

6. Your boss turns up at work wearing an Henning Berg replica shirt. Do you?
a) Say, “Nice shirt”.
b) Pull a sickie.
c) Hit him with a trumped-up sexual harassment charge.

7. Someone you considered a close friend dies in mysterious circumstances. In his will, he asks you to scatter his ashes over Old Trafford. Do you?
a) Comply with his wishes.
b) Ignore them.
c) Repackage the contents into tea-bags and send them to MUTV.

8. Your neighbours invite you for christmas drinks. On entering you discover that everybody are wearing identical Nicky Butt replica shirts. Do you?
a) Accept a glass of mulled wine and mingle.
b) Make your excuses and leave.
c) Lock the bathroom door, turn the taps on, and run.

9. Your parents turn up at your wedding wearing Gary and Phil Neville replica shirts. Do you?
a) Ask them to get you one.
b) Tell the photographer not to bother developing any photos containing them.
c) Cancel the event.

10. You get home to find your wife starring in a film directed by Dwight Yorke (odd as it may seem). Do you?
a) Make them both a cup of tea and thank Dwight for droppping round and taking an interest in your wife’s career.
b) Take pictures and sell them to the tabloids.
c) Tie him up, burn everything he’s touched. Divorce the wife.

Mostly a’s: You’re a closet Rag.

Mostly b’s: Mentally well adjusted Blue.

Mostly c’s: Not so well adjusted Blue.

(their definitions…)

Andreas Lloyd of Randers Denmark (hardcorenerd@hotmail.com)

PHELAN – A RESPONSE

The rumours about Phelan being blue shirt, red knickers were always about, but don’t forget (not that I condone it) his words when he was on top of a Red fan in the Copthorne Hotel: “Peter Reid’s blue and white army…” – the case where he was helped out by a certain club employee in court… best not mention that name though eh?

I suppose that doesn’t prove anything… but it does bring a smile to my face as it reminds me of the time that he and Schmeichel were wrestling with the ball for a throw in, and Phelan, half the size of Schmeichel, came away with it.

Anyway, back to Curle… nice goal, but thanks to the Curle fan club anyway.

Justin Hanson (J.Hanson@ccw.gov.uk)

BRADBURY NIGHTMARE CONTINUES – RESPONSE

In response to Martin Jackson’s article regarding Lee Badbuy’s continuing absence of form – Can’t he see that the joke is not only on the player – but more so City/Palace who it has to be said have both been robbed by the managers who were prepared to pay vast sums for such an ordinary player. It is the club’s (ex-) management/directors who should be ridiculed. I for one wish Lee the best of luck – he after all did not set the price. If only we had £3 million (or whatever is was) to spend now!

Gary Maxwell (gamaxwell@compuserve.com)

OPINION – ONE OF US?

The Phelan and Curle saga keeps rumbling on, still it’s nice to have a bit of debate rather than continuously mouthing off and no one replying.

I’m sure that I remember Phelan as a City fan, or was it a publicity move? Bit like Tony Vaughan who was sold to us as a City fan who stood on the Kippax, whereas he was a ball boy, who watched both us and the Slime.

I remember nothing of Curle as a Rag either, although his attitude was certainly unpopular with the fans. When asked to sign a copy of King of the Kippax, he said he wouldn’t even wipe his arse on it, if my memory serves me right (or was that you Noel?).

Maybe it’s time for us to compile a definitive index of Blues, so come the revolution brothers… For starters we have Robbie Earle, Geoff Thomas (who said he’d walk to Maine Road if an offer was made, and then signed for Wolves), er, some Stockport player who scored against us, er… struggling. Does anyone know of any players that use the net? One of Rotherham’s players (don’t ask how I know this), Vance Warner (and his wife!), used to contribute regularly to their chat page.

Kevin Cummins’ insight into Clive Allen’s curtailed career was most welcome. This is exactly the insight that we crave, and need to communicate, as the rest of the media won’t. That said, he did score 21 goals from 42 starts, whereas his nemesis Heath managed 6 from 68.

Incidently, Dave Kilroy, anoraks should be brown (lightish, complete with hood), greasy and have plenty of pockets for notebooks. They should be worn with old NHS specs held together by sticking plaster and a pair of brown cords… (time for your medication Mr Noise).

Andy Noise (anoise@globalnet.co.uk)

OPINION – RE NEIL TIPTON, MCIVTA 468

I fully endorse Neil’s views. These are the same I held last season,and are being mirrored this. We play well against the top teams, whose cup final it isn’t, and badly against the smaller clubs, whose cup final it is. Apart from Fulham away this season when we seemed unable to regroup after Tskhadadze’s (can’t be bothered to check the spelling Andy) injury.

It will be interesting to see how we do at Walsall, a small club doing very well. We’ll know the result before this goes out. Based on my 8 points from four games I predict a draw at Walsall and a win at Stoke.

Hope I’m wrong and it’s six from the next two.

Dave Kilroy – CBIC (davidkilroy@cwcom.net)

OPINION – INTERNET COMMENTARY I

In three years, I have only contributed to this magazine with a why blue and a regular update on the squad at Maine Road. However, the comments made by Paul Keelagher in Melbourne regarding being charged for Internet commentary for City matches left me angry enough to express my feelings through this forum. The money he would pay for full City commentaries is far, far less than the money spent by the tens of thousands who attend City matches week in, week out. I have already spent over £2,000 sterling watching City this year and when I hear someone complaining because they are being offered a service at an unfavourable rate it makes me sick. If you think $60 a year is too much then just don’t pay and don’t listen, please do not insult true fans by rambling on about your penny pinching exercises. I hasten to add that I have nothing whatsoever to do with this service and have never even listened to it.

Stuart Reynolds (SREYNOLD@FR.oracle.com)

OPINION – INTERNET COMMENTARY II

I don’t mind paying for live commentary games from the City Web site but if they are going to start charging for the service, which after reading Paul Keelager’s piece in MCIVTA 468 it appears they are, then I would hope they might be a little more professional about it.

The last time I tried it (which was when I was still living in the UK) I had to turn the sound card volume to maximum to get a barely audible signal. That was until just before the commentary ended when someone at the site said something which almost launched my speakers across the desk. I did email them at the time to try to get the (match) volume turned up a little but obviously judging from Paul’s description it’s still at the same low level as before.

I can cope with 6 pounds a month but please let’s have some value for money.

James Egan in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia (jegan@sahara.com.sa)

HELP – STATIONS NEAR MAINE ROAD

I have been to Maine Road a few times, usually travelling by train from either Chester or Manchester airport. I usually get off in Piccadilly or Oxford Road stations and I would be obliged if any Blues would let me know of a station closer to Maine Road.

CTID, Paul Fegan (paulfmc@tinet.ie)

REQUEST FOR INFO – SOCCER ACADEMY FOR YOUNG PLAYERS

My youngest son (8 years old) has just had trials with Coventry City (we live in Long Eaton, between Nottingham and Derby) with the view to being offered a place at their soccer academy.

The upshot of this is that he has been offered a place on a 10-week assessment course with the possibility that he will be offered a chance to attend one of their Development Centres. If successful he will train at the Development Centre for a set period (undisclosed at this time) and then if he continues to progress will graduate to their academy.

The difference between the Development Centre and the academy is that whilst attending the Development Centre he (Oliver) can continue to play for his local club but on entering the academy he can only play for Coventry City, not even the school team!

Is there anyone who has first hand knowledge or experience of how these “Development Centres” or Soccer Academies work?

Good to see the boys putting a good run together, long may it last. Let’s hope we get a good result against Walsall.

CTID, Steve Booth, Nottingham (stephen@sbooth.demon.co.uk)

REQUEST – CALLING LONDON BLUES

Calling all London Blues, I am meeting my mate Rob in London, to watch the game against Stoke on Friday night. The only problem is we don’t know where there will be a big screen. Or even better, if Blues get together to watch Sky games in London. I don’t fancy walking into a Stoke pub, wearing colours (and in that away kit, there will be no hiding place). So could some one E-Mail me ASAP before Friday, or even Friday morning, to tell me of a Blues meeting pub etc.

Thanks very much.

Walter Smith (Citysmith@yahoo.com)

RESULTS

Due to technical difficulties, Dorien hasn’t been able to do the results recently; however, normal service should be resumed for the next issue.


WHY BLUE?

Why oh why indeed. I have Sam Leitch and the once great Football Focus to thank for my lifelong Man City affliction. As an innocent and impressionable 9-year-old, I would watch Football Focus featuring the equally once great Man City haring down the pitch to score what seemed to me a hatful of goals. It was always hugely exciting, with the ball zipping from one sky blue shirt to another, the ball eventually nestling in the opposition goal after another breakneck-paced attack. Misguidedly believing the badge to be an apple, which doubled my admiration for this exciting team, I decided there and then that this was the team for me. Lee, Bell, Summerbee – even Derek Jeffries and Ian Mellor seemed impossibly glamorous to me. 1971 it was.

I remember Rodney Marsh signing, thinking things could hardly get better. The discarding of Wyn Davies had, at the time, no catch for me. So when the championship was lost with if I remember right, a disastrous defeat against Stoke (or Derby), I thought it was merely cavalier bad luck rather than the now more familiar managerial folly.

My first sighting of the mighty Blues in the flesh was a stormer, but for all the wrong reasons. City came to Nottingham Forest in the fourth round of the FA Cup to play one of the first ever Sunday games. My Forest-supporting uncle and I took our places in the unprecedented 40,000+ crowd and I rubbed my hands in anticipation of City steam-rolling this average 2nd division side. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about Duncan McKenzie at the time. And neither did the City defence by the look of it. It ended up 4-1 to Forest, Rodney Marsh limping off after 5 minutes and Mr McKenzie destroying Doyle, Donachie, Barratt and Co. Keith Macrae was in goal, for what that was worth. I was gutted. I think I realised then that supporting Man City was not going to be all sweetness and light. The League Cup Final defeat against the unfancied Wolves merely confirmed this suspicion.

During the following years, I saw City regularly at Leicester, Forest and Derby. I was always thrilled to see Joe Royle, Joe Corrigan, Asa Hartford, Gary Owen, Mike Doyle, Peter Barnes and especially Dennis Tueart, who I loved more than I’m sure is healthy. I believe I saw Dennis Tueart’s last game for City before he went to America. Another cup game at Forest, another defeat, this time only 2-1.

Moving on a few years, I wonder how many of you reading this were amongst the thousands singing “We’ll be up at 5 o’clock!” in and outside The Navigation pub outside Notts County’s ground in 84/85? I was there, and once more the local team dashed our hopes, City going down 3-2 (there seems to be a bit of a pattern here).

I saw the 6-0 defeat at Derby – Justin Fashanu coming on as a sub! – I saw the 3-2 Zenith Data Systems Cup defeat against Forest, and the 1-0 defeat in the FA Cup against County when City did everything but score – even Alan Harper – before foolishly sending up both central defenders for a last minute corner – you remember the rest I’m sure.

I saw plenty of wins too, but they’re harder to remember – the absence of pain diminishes the memory for some reason.

My first visit to the academy was spectacularly late. Bearing in mind City’s track record when I had been in the crowd, I was reluctant to jinx City in front of their supporters at home. But on a freezing cold December afternoon, I was moved to tears as I approached the legendary Main Stand for the first time ever. We were playing Spurs. Lineker, Gascoigne and that interloper Stewart all in the line-up. I remember Gascoigne scored by throwing his arms into the air every time a City defender threatened to interrupt his mazy run. But we won 2-1 with a late penalty from Mark Ward, a victory which lifted us into 5th place in the top division. It seems like a lifetime ago.

Other memories include a rare Wayne Clarke goal in a win away at Forest over Christmas, and City wiping the floor with a doomed Forest – Keane included – with Garry Flitcroft scoring late on to send me into raptures.

The 4-0 against the champions elect Leeds was fabulous. I have never felt more proud to be a City fan, we were that good.

I also won a clubcall competition – the tie-breaker “Power, touch, skill and fight – there’s more to Niall than his height” proving successful for me. The prize was a day out at Maine Road, a tour of the ground with Roy Clarke – I also met Tony Book, Glyn Pardoe and Peter Swales, who was even uglier in real life than I could imagine. The boardroom was a joke, the odd pennant adorning the tacky 50’s decor. It was shameful. But after a slap-up lunch with the sponsors, we beat Aston Villa 2-0 and, even though Roy Clarke whacked me on the shin with Keith Curle’s boot to demonstrate how easy it is to get injured, I went home a happy man.

Unlike now, where happiness at being a City fan is a bizarre concept. Being amongst City fans at the two Notts County games earlier this season was a bit sad, morale was that low. It’s especially hard not even being taken seriously by Rags fans anymore. We are that inconsequential to the outside world. But I will always love City, no other team can enjoy the emotional attachment City fans have for the club. The last 27 years have been a rollercoaster, and no doubt the next 27 years will be too. I only hope there are more ups than downs ahead.

CWISGMSNTPHOMBWWWBF (City While I’ve Still Got My Signed 1974 Team Picture Hanging On My Bedroom Wall Which Will Be Forever)

Martin Rockley (Rockley@bigfoot.com)

WWW MANCHESTER CITY SUPPORTERS’ HOME PAGE:
http://www.uit.no/mancity/


MCIVTA ADDRESSES:
Contributions: Ashley – mcivta@tollbar.u-net.com
News & Rumours: Peter – brophpe@moscow.whitecase.com
Subscriptions & Club Questions: Steve – sbolton@buxtonrd.u-net.com
Technical Problems: Paul – paul@city-fan.org


DISCLAIMER
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, mcivta@tollbar.u-net.com

Newsletter #469

1999/01/25

Editor:


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on Pinterest