Newsletter #470

Again a relatively quiet few days, so there’s nothing of note as far as news is concerned, though Peter has still managed to trawl up plenty of interesting stuff. As well as a belated match report (30 seconds, literally), there’s a review of December’s issue of City Mag, a report on Frank Clark’s delusional affliction (Bradbury), and the inevitable ‘live’ report on Ged Brannan starring for Motherwell.

On top of that, there’s stacks of opinion (we seem to have had some contentious topics this year), a Why Blue and some excellent humour.

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


WALSALL vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday, 23rd January 1999

Hopes high after Fulham, my girlfriend and I met Bill King – great bloke and all-round Blue – in Headington at noon for a ride up to the Bescot Stadium, getting there just after half-one and settling into the supporters’ club for a couple of pints and a bite. We agreed that we had to win this one to be in with a chance at second place. Needless to say…

Right from the kick-off, City got into their usual stride for this season, which is to say they got the ball and manage to look good on it without threatening very much. Not that there weren’t any attempts: in the 12th minute, Wiekens tried a B*ckh*m from far out and five minutes later Lee Crooks had a weak shot on target but both were easily saved by the Walsall ‘keeper, James Walker. On twenty minutes, Shauny Goater thwacked the ball into the back of the net after a Taylor knockback but the latter was adjudged to have fouled a Walsall defender and the goal was disallowed. Meanwhile, Walsall looked quite well organised, their no. 2, Marsh, was superb at right-back, and their no. 11, Brissett, was causing problems on their left wing with his speed; two minutes after Goater’s shot, he’d a shot that went just past the post. We’d a series of corners in the 35th minute, Wiekens got booked for having the audacity to get fouled, and Goater forced a good save from Walker. There was a Walsall scare in injury-time but then the teams went in level.

Walsall looked better in the second half, forcing a save off Weaver, and then in the 67th minute the inevitable City sloppiness gave away a goal. It was on the other end of the field, and all I could see was the ball pinballing left and right in the area for an interminable time before Andy Watson finally knocked it in. That was the catalyst for the Blues to raise their game; within minutes, Edghill thwacked the crossbar, Cookie had his shot blocked by a defender and Taylor made a rare, great knockback but there was no one to capitalise on it. Then in the 74th minute came our equaliser: Tony Vaughan picked up a loose ball on the side of the area and sent it in, I think a Walsall player had a touch, but then the ball just bounced off the crossbar and loose a yard from goal and Jamie Pollock leapt in to bundle the ball over the line. Cue hysterical celebrations! The momentum was kept up for a while, as Cookie forced a tight-angled save from Walker and then sent Goater a gilt-edged chance which the Goater missed. Then Weaver had to make a spectacular mid-air fingertips save to keep the score level, and then the game petered out after that.

It was my girlfriend’s first ‘live’ game; she found it rather enjoyable but it didn’t do enough to turn around her closet Rag allegiance. Sigh.


Weaver – 8 – The best City goalkeeper since… hmm…
Crooks – 7 – Brissett slipped him nastily once, but Crooks recovered to (largely) get the measure of his opponent.
Edghill – 7 – Still can’t really pass but was not half bad on the left.
Wiekens – 9 – The classiest! Talk about well-timed tackling.
Vaughan – 8 – Put in a good game beside Wiekens, looked assured on the ball.
Horlock – 6 – Didn’t get involved very much.
Brown – 7 – Good effort but seemed short on fitness near the end.
Pollock – 8 – Another committed, gutsy performance, plus scored the goal. Looked good going forward.
Taylor – 4 – Sorry to say, what a donkey! If his rôle is to win headers he was certainly out-headered today.
Goater – 6 – Unlucky with the disallowed goal. Needs confidence.
Cooke – 8 – Not all there in the first half but my, what a second half.

Jim Whitley (on for Cooke) – Puzzling substitution but had too little time to judge on.
Unused subs: Dickov, Bishop.

CTTCCH – City till the cows come home! Toh Hsien Min (


Stoke Away – Preview

Friday night sees City make their second ever trip to Stoke’s new Britannia Stadium, and as with the first, the Sky cameras will be there to witness it. While the game isn’t quite as momentous as the corresponding fixture last May 3, it will still be a vital match for both teams. After setting the early pace, Stoke have slipped behind first Fulham, then Walsall and Preston. However, they’re still in fourth place, no doubt feeling capable of overhauling a couple of the teams above them, and a victory over us would bolster their confidence in their ability to do so. For City, less convincing than Stoke in the opening few months of the campaign, aspirations of an automatic promotion place are correspondingly more remote but they’ll recede almost into nothingness if we fail to win on Friday.

From a quick scout around one or two of their sites on the web, it seems that HMS Stoke City isn’t a particularly happy ship just now. The current board is reviled by the fans, and the club, drastically short of cash, is up for sale. The man with first option on the shares has so far shown no interest and there are moves under way to raise £2 million from fans to buy out the current regime, though only £150,000 has been pledged so far. In addition, there have been reports, later denied, that manager Brian Little offered his resignation over Christmas, unhappy at criticism from the boardroom. And he’s been unhappy at the reaction from the fans, too, citing the barrage of jeers directed at his (victorious) team at home to Northampton three weeks ago as the worst he’s known in a thirty-year career in the game. Let’s hope we add to their woes.

Georgians on No-One’s Mind

Despite rumoured interest from West Ham and Italian side Salernitana, Murtaz Shelia, made available on a free transfer two months ago, hasn’t attracted a single inquiry. I can’t help thinking that if he’s properly fit there are a few teams missing out on a bargain. Meanwhile, Ajax have circulated a reminder of Georgi Kinkladze’s availability to every Premiership club but have yet to receive any bids. Newcastle United are being touted as his most likely next port of call, while the word is that Liverpool (for whom the player, according to persistent media reports, has considerable affection) aren’t interested even though they seem almost certain to lose Steve McManaman in the summer. Their injured compatriot Kakhaber Tskhadadze has travelled to Georgia owing to a family bereavement but should be back next week and will resume light training on his return.

Ball Defends His Record

Alan Ball has featured rather prominently in MCIVTA news summaries recently, and he’s made it again in this issue. For Bally, at the helm when City fell from Premiership grace in 1996, has been defending his record at Maine Road. The most significant charge normally laid at AB’s door is not just that he relegated us but that he left a team bereft of all its best players which was consequently ill-equipped even at a lower level. In his thirteen months in the hot-seat, we saw the departure of the likes of Phelan, Coton, Flitcroft, Curle and Quinn. As is evident from recent MCIVTA debate, opinion is divided on the merits of at least some of these players, but they’d all held down a regular place in City teams in the top half of the Premiership and they all moved to clubs who at the time of the transfer were faring or were about to fare better than us.

Bally claims (and given enthusiastic boardroom pronouncements at the time on the need to slash the wage bill I’m inclined to believe him) that he was just following orders: “I thought they [the City fans] were a bit misled in the fact that they thought that I sold all their best players for them, but you know that is not right. You are given a directive, every manager is given a directive to do certain things and sometimes they have got to do things they don’t want to do.” In other words, as someone commented to me this week, he “was brought in to do the dirty work.” I’m not saying he couldn’t have done better in the circumstances, that he was the right man at the right time for City or that he’s a brilliant manager – these are all separate issues which I don’t have time to assess here. What I do believe is that when he effectively ripped the spine from the team, he was doing what the board told him to. If I’m right, it’s the board rather than Ball who should bear the brunt of criticism for this particular policy.

Lee Behind Shares Bid?

Francis Lee, of course, was the dominant figure in the boardroom throughout Bally’s reign, so we have to assume he was the man issuing the “directives” Bally referred to. Franny seems to have more defenders among the faithful than Bally has, but my impression is that, rightly or wrongly, the prevailing mood would be decidedly against him. And this is why I’m surprised by a low-key but persistent rumour that Lee is set to play a prominent rôle in any deal involving the shares held by the late Stephen Boler. When relinquishing the chairmanship, Lee referred to it as a source of constant aggravation for both himself and his family. Were he to return, he’d have to overcome the hostility of a large section of the crowd, while in the event of fresh failure, one fears that the venom he engendered last time would pale in comparison. In his shoes, I’d steer well clear but maybe he doesn’t want City fans’ lasting memory of him to be as the man who took us on a catastrophic plummet to the brink of Division Two. Time, as they say, will tell.

Another Striker Linked

After York’s Richard Cresswell and Scunthorpe’s Jamie Forrester, Oxford’s Dean Windass is the latest name mentioned as a potential striker target for Joe Royle. However, Leicester and Huddersfield have both had bids rejected, and Oxford have assured manager Malcolm Shotton that he need not generate further revenue from player sales before the summer. Understandably, then, he won’t be selling his best forward. Joe is now playing a waiting game on the transfer front, keeping an eye on possible acquisitions but not wanting to make a definite move as yet. Referring to the lack of goals as the team’s major failing, he says, “I feel we have the players here to solve the problem but if that isn’t happening as we approach the deadline then we will look elsewhere.”

“Stand Up If You Hate Manchester United”

Spurs fan Charlie Whelan, a man with a lot more time on his hands after stepping down as Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown’s spin doctor, seems to be following the David Mellor blueprint of slipping off the greasy pole and into a career in football punditry. Since his resignation from his post at Number 11, Whelan has appeared on Radio 5 sports programmes and has written for The Guardian on football. I have to confess that, as someone who left the shores of home before New Labour’s ascent to power, I had no idea who the guy was until I came home for Christmas and found him all over the papers in connection with the Mandelson affair. Now I can state unequivocally that Charlie’s a wonderful bloke. And this from one who’s never had time for politicos trying to up their cred by pretending to like football – for instance, I loathe the self-publicising soccer illiterate Mellor with a passion.

You see, on Sunday Whelan filled a whole page of The Observer with a lengthy piece entitled “Stand Up If You Hate Manchester United” (sorry, Leo – it’s all the sad glory-hunters I really have it in for, not Mancunian Reds who are genuine fans). As a Blue, it’s hard not to warm instantly to the man when told that he opens his final paragraph by stating: “The real team in Manchester is of course Manchester City, whom we all love.” He continues, “They too hate Man U. One enterprising City fan went over to Dortmund and bought 1,000 Dortmund scarves after Dortmund had knocked Man U out of the Champions League. He sold them all in ten minutes at the next City home game. Now that’s real hate. And I love it!”

I’ve not actually seen a copy of the article, I’ve just had extracts read to me over the phone. However, I gather that a major plank of his argument was that United have led the way in commercialising the game, ignoring their true fans as they pitch for legions of merchandise consumers with even less football knowledge than David Mellor – the type who bask in the reflected glory but couldn’t locate Manchester on a map. This was also the theme of a letter which, I’m told, featured in Sunday’s Observer. Lawrie Hill of Middlesbrough, who recently attended his side’s FA Cup third round tie away to United, echoes Terry Cooke when he concludes, “Old Trafford is full of supporters, Maine Road is full of fans.” Of course, this is simplifying things a little, but it’s nice to think that in the days of Sky and players earning millions a season, City fans are seen by some as epitomising the passion the game’s supposed to be about.

Loan News

According to the Midweek Pink, Wrexham have expressed an interest in signing on-loan City midfielder Jeff Whitley on a permanent basis, but Joe Royle says the Welsh club is unable to meet City’s valuation. Also from the Midweek Pink: young goalkeeper Michael Brown and midfielder Andrew Porteous have returned from loan spells with Scottish club Raith Rovers, while Steve Rimmer is said to be doing well in his loan spell at Rotherham. The last two reports surprised me a little. I’d not seen anywhere news of Brown and Porteous being sent out on loan, though of course it’s perfectly conceivable that either I missed the reports or there weren’t any. The Rimmer story is more of a puzzle, as three weeks ago several news sources had him on loan at Doncaster. Anyone know the truth?

Reserves Crash – Jobson Comeback

As expected, Richard Jobson made his return to match action as City reserves went down 3-1 to Oldham Athletic in the Manchester Senior Cup on Wednesday. Jobson featured for 45 minutes in a game where Gary Mason’s goal was nothing more than a late consolation for the already well-beaten Blues. Before Christmas, as the first team were struggling to amass a rather pitiful 16 points from 15 league games, the second string were beating all-comers. Now, with the seniors unbeaten in five league games, it all seems to have gone pear-shaped for the reserves. May the pattern continue on Friday night!

Former Blues

Soccernet (and presumably therefore the Daily Mail) carried a long piece on ex-City manager John Bond, tracing his path from Cup final manager to the backwater of likely-to-go-bust non-leaguers Witton Albion. “I think I just self-destructed,” reflects the 65-year-old Bond. Insight into his time at City (though I’ve heard him tell the story before) is that he nearly quit City before the Cup final replay in 1981. For those who don’t know, a director’s comment that “we’ve thrown it again” after the 1-1 draw in the first game with Spurs was responsible for making him consider his position. Reflecting that there was an unhealthy obsession with past glories at Maine Road, Bond says he’s not surprised by City’s recent decline and echoes other departed managers when he adds, “There were some snide people there, people who questioned everything you did but not to your face.” And you’ll no doubt be interested to know that he hasn’t lost any of his self-confidence judging by the claim that, “I could walk into Newcastle, Everton, maybe Liverpool and show them things, basic things, they have never done before.” Don’t think he’ll get the chance somehow.

Peter Brophy (


The ITV debate show Thursday Live was due to tackle the subject: Why does everybody hate Man United? Some City fans have been invited to take part. It was to have gone out tonight (10.40pm Thursday Jan 28), but will now be later in the season.

Miles Barter (


Stoke City vs. Manchester City, Friday 29th January

Tickets for this fixture still remain and will be on open sale until 4.30pm Friday. There will not be any cash admission on the night. Supporters are advised not to travel without a ticket. Full details are available from our website.

Ticket Office, Manchester City


Issue 4

This issue had Andy Morrison giving readers a sideways look on the front – with his very short haircut and “robust” figure, he’s not someone you’d want to meet on a dark night! The issue also highlighted features on the Auto Windscreens Shield, City’s Internet Blues, Fans’ Forum and Peter Barnes in Malaysia.

Maine Frames:
Three pages of photos… Jamie and Shaun with the FA Cup – ah well! Nick Weaver looking as if he could be part of the crowd at the Mansfield AWS match! The right hand side was devoted to the Prestwich & Whitefield CSA trip to Amsterdam to see Gio, then Morrison celebrating his goal against Colchester, the Fenton twins looking rather dapper (I’m glad the caption revealed which was which!) and a pensive ex-chief executive Mike Turner.

More Reasons for Morrison:
A Scottish Devonian eh?! Mmmm – dad is an ex-Marine, hence Andy’s physique! Perhaps Stanley Victor Collymore could learn something having read that Andy’s dad took him and his three brothers on fishing trips getting up at 3.30am and working away for 2-3 days at a time! SVC wouldn’t know what hit him! After joining Plymouth and playing over 100 first team games, Andy then went to Blackburn but with Hendry, Berg and May in the way he became Blackpool’s record signing in December 1994 (and bearing in mind the reception he got on 9 Jan, the fans wish he’d stayed)! July 1996 had him heading for Huddersfield although he unfortunately became somewhat injury prone. However, he played against City three times and remarked in the 1-0 defeat by Huddersfield on Sky, on how the fans would get on the players’ backs giving the opposition a lift (not much changed there then)! Due to Andy missing a couple of games early this season through injury, Barry Horne took over the captaincy from him and kept it. Andy felt the writing was on the wall but matters came to a head after their 4-1 defeat by Norwich (featuring that now prolific Motherwell player, Ged Brannan) that he had a right old ding-dong with the manager culminating a couple of days later with JR getting him on loan… the rest, as they say, is history. He says he was surprised at how City could dominate a game without picking up maximum points! His best mate Marcus Browing was injured in a fair tackle by Andy during the Gillingham game whilst on loan for them – regrettably his cruciate ligament’s injured and he’ll be out for a year. He prefers playing in a back three to a back four as “it gives you licence to get real tight and get personal with someone.” Like the rest of the team Andy is determined to get back to Div. One at the first attempt. On a final note, Andy’s 5 year old son is a smaller version of his dad – as the article finishes “sign him up now”!

Top of the Forum:
Mr Bernstein has always advocated better communication with the fans so branches from both the Official Supporters’ Club and the Centenary Supporters’ Association attended on 24 November 1998. Also present were David Bernstein, Joe Royle, Bernard Halford, Dennis Tueart, Jim Cassel and Richard Burgess with Jimmy Wagg in the chair. Ground rules of no personal questions re players, contracts etc. were laid down so after the Chairman’s opening remarks questions were asked re the first team squad, buying of players, tactics, youngsters, ticketing, how transfers worked (with an illuminating reply from JR), the late Stephen Boler’s shares, beaming away games to Maine Road, our portrayal in the media and last, but not least, Eastlands. The overall impression given was that, as an experiment, it worked well and it is hoped more can be held in the New Year.

Up for the Cup – Auto Windscreen Shield matches etc.!
Having told John Maddocks that I’ve been asked to review the mag, he has threatened murders if I don’t do a decent job! Ahem! Our match vs. Mansfield was our first taste of the AWS (forgive the abbreviation but my pinkies hurt!) but we have always been involved in smaller cup compys since our days as Ardwick and Gorton with the Manchester Senior Cup initially used to give fringe players and other reserves a taste of higher competition than the Lancashire Combination or Central League. This was followed by the Manchester & District Cup primarily for first teamers only but from John’s records (not his memory, he ain’t that old!) results proved we didn’t take it too seriously until April 1891 when Newton Heath (yes that lot) were beaten 1-0 at Whalley Range with Davie Weir being the hero of the hour! The Lancashire Senior Cup was also primarily a first XI compy which we won 6 times until WW2 but after the War it was reduced to a reserve competition as long as First Division clubs were concerned. 1970/71 saw the birth of the Anglo Italian Cup where the League Cup winners of both the English and Italian Leagues played each other in a two legged final which gave us chance to added more glitz to the boardroom although we lost in Bologna to a third minute goal and also lost the second leg.

The Texaco Cup featuring 16 English & Scottish clubs was launched the following season with City playing Airdrie, drawing 2-2 at home but with an almost full reserve team apart from Willie Donachie & Derek Jefferies lost 2-0 causing lots of ructions and the loss of appearance money! In the 74/75 season City played Blackpool, Sheff Utd and Oldham with differing results and lots of injuries but failed to qualify for the later stages. The following season we entered the Anglo-Scottish Cup playing Blackpool, Blackburn away and then a 3-1 win at Sheff Utd (by which time we were out anyway!).

August 1976 saw City in the Tennent-Caledonian Tournament at Ibrox. The first game saw City vs. Southampton and, after penalties with everyone scoring the final score was 11-11 and Southampton won on the toss of a coin! This after John was dumped on the floor by his chair! Third place was achieved by beating Partick 4-1. the Thistle goal scored by one Jim Melrose who later played for us of course!

From then we played some tournaments abroad, and one off friendlies rather than in sponsored tournaments and cups apart from the Full Members’ Cup Final!

Hope that merits a large v&o John!

Away Day Blues:
Featuring Bill Black’s band of merry men and women on their trip to Wycombe. It would seem a good day was had by all although sympathy must go to Debs who broke her arm in a bizarre accident! Get well soon Debs! The ratings were good too! Shame about the result tho!

Looking East – Peter Barnes in Malaysia:
PB is over in Malaysia courtesy of the DTI and Marketing Manchester to help cement relationships between Manchester and KL after their successful staging of the Commonwealth Games. The main bulk of the interview covers Peter’s thoughts on his career with City, WBA, Leeds (which cost him his place in the 1982 World Cup Finals), Real Betis, Leeds again, Coventry then OT! As he said candidly “They were an awesome team, and it was a wonderful move for me professionally. I just wish I’d gone there five or six years earlier.” After 19 appearances which even mooted a return to England duty, Peter returned to City under Jimmy Frizzell. Unfortunately, after relegation and JF’s replacement by Mel Machin he then moved to Bolton, Port Vale, Hull amongst others plus Malta, US and Ireland finally retiring at 35 having racked up over 20 clubs in his career. He felt that he was unlucky that when he was playing wingers were being slowly phased out. Peter is coaching youngsters whilst he is in Malaysia saying they are skilful with good technique and balance but would need to toughen up for the way the game today is played – and yes, he would recommend any outstanding talents to City!

A blast from the past!
This article featured the Masters Tournament held at the MEN Arena featuring veterans from City, Arsenal, Liverpool and them! The tournament was played on a six-a-side basis with our team being Paul Power, Frank Carrodus, Alex Williams, Tommy Booth, Peter Barnes, Ray Ranson, Jim Melrose, Kevin Reeves, Dave Bennett, Willie Donachie and Asa Hartford. The first match was against Arsenal which we lost 2-0 then Liverpool lost to them 2-1. We drew 1-1 with Liverpool, United beat Arsenal 3-0 who then beat Liverpool 2-0. Now for the “derby” match which ended in a 1-1 draw. Unfortunately they won the tournament from Arsenal on goal difference both getting 7 points with us and Liverpool getting 1 point each.

City top of the class:
This featured the newly opened After-School Study Support Centre which enables children from various schools to enhance their learning with trips to the club enabling them to approach core school subjects and relate them to every day life at the club i.e. numeracy could involve the ticket office or a chat with Jack Richards and history covered by taking a look at the club’s own colourful history. Judging from the comments from those children selected to attend it’s a great hit!

The Gathering of the Blue Clan:
I know this subject has been covered quite a bit within MCIVTA, I’ve enjoyed reading them so with everyone’s permission will just say that this had a very good one-page spread in the magazine – everyone had a great time and they hope that the next one will be just as successful. A contact e-mail address was given for Clive Tysoe on and further information can also be obtained on

Carol Darvill


For the benefit of anyone travelling to Bournemouth on Sat 13th February, the away end (Brighton Beach End) is shallow concrete steps and is uncovered! In the corner there is a small seated area for visiting fans which is covered. I realise that a little rain and wind is nothing to the hardy travelling Blue, but I should have an extra bowl of porridge that morning if I were you. If you come by car, you might want to know the road system gridlocks by about 2:00pm. Best to park up in the large adjacent car park early and go find a pub. See you there.

Stuart Wells (


As a follow up to Chris Ffelan’s comment about the five-foot scarf for a junior, is there a place to buy City shirts for a child? I too have a 4-year-old who is too big for the romper suit sizes but too small for a full junior shirt. Please help me introduce her into the fold before it’s too late. I caught her singing “Ooohh Vialli” to the tune of ‘Vienna’ the other day.

Stuart Wells (


I spotted the following in the Media Watch section of Football365 on 25/1/99.

Mellorphant Dung

With legions of disgruntled Talk Radio listeners returning to the fold on Saturday, it was crucial that David Mellor should put in one of his usual flawless performances on Radio Five Live’s Six-O-Six show. How the Mellorphant Man obliged. After 30 minutes of the usual patronising drivel and endless references to “my club, Chelsea”, a breakthrough as the former Minister for Fun announced that the next caller was none other than former Nottingham Forest and Manchester City manager Frank Clark. “‘Ullo, David,” droned the famous nasal tones, with Clark going on to say that he’d just been to watch Newcastle beat Bradford and wanted to agree with David that Dietmar Hamman was playing rather well for the Toon. However, ventured Frank, he’d really called to talk about Alan Shearer. He didn’t think the England captain had played that well despite scoring, and was beginning to wonder if his time on the international scene might be up. Luckily, there was a ready-made replacement to hand: Crystal Palace’s Lee Bradbury, “who I signed for Manchester City. I think he might be the new Shearer.” Not even the Mellorphant could fail to notice this implausibility of anyone holding this particular view, and the call was promptly cut off with a stumbling Mellor, hedging his bets to the end, lying that “it’s a bit of a bad line, so we’ve got to lose you now.” If it’s as funny as this every week, what have we all been doing listening to Baker And Kelly?

I can’t personally comment on the skill levels and deadly finishing of Frank’s astute purchase as I haven’t seen my beloved City play for the last 10 years (I have been in Australia, PNG and now the Philippines), but by avidly reading MCIVTA and following The Lads via the Net, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read the article. I think Frank needs help or a new pair of glasses.

On a personal note, are there any fellow followers in The Philippines?

Steve Brown (


Might I suggest using the MIRC chat forum as a good way of keeping in touch with all things ‘City” especially now as the real audio link is not reliable.

MIRC is chat software that can be downloaded from the Net and easily set-up on Win 95 and then do the following:

  1. Pick Undernet
  2. For those in the UK use London UnderNet.
  3. Then type the following: /join #soccer

In the event this works it is simple to make your own room i.e. Man City or whatever; this would be ideal for people like me whom cannot get to the matches or hear what is really happening. Finally, #soccer is full of Rags so it would make a pleasant change to listen to sense and not crap.

Hope to hear from someone soon.

Stephen Burt – Changi, Singapore (


I have been reading about the “Better Dead Than Red” affair and have been unable to suppress a shudder. You see, and I am sure you will all be riveted to know this, I used to work for the solicitors who wrote the threatening letters (James Chapman). Yes! Little did I know I was walking into the lair of the Red mist.

I daren’t say too much about them in case they threaten to sue my ass too, but let’s just say I only lasted there about 2 months. One particular incident stays in my mind. Cast your mind back to when City were in the Premiership. It was when we were playing the Rags at OT on a Sunday I think. We were 2-0 up. Oh my God! And then, as we all know, we ended up losing 3-2, a certain Frenchman scoring the winning goal.

The next day I went into work. I didn’t really talk to many people there (it was such a friendly place) so footie matters weren’t discussed. I realised the firm had something to do with the Rags as I used to receive cheques from players, but little did I know the horrible truth. Anyway, on this day I was walking down the stairs while 3 men were walking up. Being such gentlemen, I nearly bumped into one of them who was walking right at me. I looked up to see a tall, dark man wearing a baseball cap. He looked at me and oh no, horrors of horrors I realised it was none other than M. Cantona himself, scorer of the winning goal against my beloved Blues. While I was digesting this fact I noticed the other guy was Taggart and I didn’t recognise the other (turned out to be an interpreter, apparently).

I then had to witness the tragedy that was the secretaries all fighting to take coffee in for the great French one while I was in a rage and I couldn’t talk to anyone about it!

Needless to say, I left the firm shortly afterwards.

This has brought unpleasant memories back. Going for a lie down.

Christine Haynes (


In part of a long Daily Mail (Jan 28th) article John Bond says: “I was never happy at City. I think I did o.k. but there were some snide people there, people who questioned everything you did but never to your face. It did not surprise me when the club crashed straight through two divisions. There were too many people there living in the past. They talked about it so much that in the end, I wanted to shout ‘to hell with Bell, Lee and Summerbee’. Hopefully, the club has now turned a corner, cleared out the old faces and erased the past. I should have left Maine Road straight after the Cup Final replay. Then I was among the top half-dozen managers in the country. I had turned down Benfica and been short-listed by United.”

The article is comparing his decline with the (relative) success of another flashy manager – Ron Atkinson. Bond is now in charge at Witton Albion, in receivership, in the Unibond League.

Peter Kewley (


As my wife is a Motherwell supporter I was dragged off down the pub on Sunday night to watch them play Hearts in the Scottish Cup. Motherwell have a pretty poor record against Hearts, they are their bogey team.

Anyway I soon remembered that Ged Brannan was playing for Motherwell after he scored their opening goal. And what a goal it was too, a well worked corner laid to the edge of the penalty box where Ged unleashed a swerving daisy cutter that flew just inside the post. I was understandably shocked and indeed choked on my beer.

Ged then proceeded to command the midfield and make a few runs into the heart of the Hearts defence. Motherwell won the match comfortably 3-1 dumping last season’s winners out.

One of the locals was a Hearts fan who had the p**s taken out of him mercilessly during and after the match. I think the others were amused/intrigued to see a woman not only watching football but wearing a Motherwell top in the pub. To me this is not unusual, having carefully selected my girlfriend/fiancee/wife on the grounds that she is a lifelong Motherwell/football fan. How many other blokes can arrive home from work to find the TV is already tuned to the football, indeed during the months of Oct and Nov with European football on Tues/Wed and Thurs, each night!

I digress… unsurprisingly Ged was awarded the man of the match. This comes of no surprise to all of us who are now readily accustomed to seeing ex-Blues seemingly look a “different player” once they leave our club.

Jonathan Tod (


Been to the Bescot before (not saying who with but that ended up 1-1 as well) so I knew what to expect. What I couldn’t fathom and still can’t is why did a club produce tickets with block numbers and seat numbers pre-printed on, then hand stamp “unreserved seating” on every ticket. Surely they knew that chaos would reign? Fortunately we got there early, picked a spot and basically didn’t move until after the final whistle. However, latecomers arrived to find a distinct lack of seats and ended up stood either in the corner or against the back wall. Then the cheek of it, the stewards and plods told people not to stand in the hash marks exit/entrance walkways; where else could they have gone? Surely the club should look at itself before condemning the paying public. I would seriously like to know just how many Blues were allowed in the ground and how many valid seats there were?

Onto the game, another sterling team performance, with committed players and a genuine formation and style. With more games like this under the belt then the chance of promotion could become more of a reality. Which just begs the question(s):

Why did it take JR so long to get the team to play? Doesn’t this justify our claims and pleas of what we needed all season, a settled side and a winger? OK maybe Cooke hasn’t been banging in loads of crosses or taking on hundreds of defenders, but just his presence has balanced the team.

JR hang your head in shame – the early season damage may still prove irreversible.

Nice to see that JR has (already) named an unchanged team for the Stoke game (3rd on the trot). Well done Joe, the penny’s finally dropped, stop unnecessarily p**sing about with the team!

Martin Ford (


In Peter Brophy’s report on a rumour about the squeaky ginger one (no not Chris Evans but about as annoying) taking over at Maine Road, he quotes Mr. Ball as saying he’s ‘Keen for the chance to run a club from top to bottom’. Well that’s exactly what he’s already managed at Maine Road. Is he saying that he’s going to come back and finish us off completely?

The results over the last few games are starting to look a bit more promising, but it’s a bit early for me to start getting excited.

Stuart Langley (


I’m sure I won’t be the only person responding to Stuart Reynolds’ comments with regard to the proposed charges for “Live Commentary” over the Internet for City games. I’m also sure that Stuart himself is not surprised that there are a few responses to his comments. I may be wrong, I doubt it though. If Paul Keelagher in Melbourne’s comments spurred Stuart to be “angry enough to write”, then Stuart would be hardly surprised that his comments caused my blood to boil. “Please do not insult true fans by rambling on about your penny pinching exercises.” Can this man really be serious! Because of geographical location, you cannot be considered a “true fan”. So, he’s made a £2,000 commitment to City! Well, that’s about how much it would cost me to attend one match this season. One’s geographic location should never be used as a measure to one’s loyalty to a club.

As a regular contributor to Blue View, I’ve come to find that Manchester City fans are some of the most diverse you’ll find anywhere. Sitting in Bermuda sharing the excitement of match days with people from as far afield as Vietnam, Australia, California, Canada, Russia and comparative locals from London and the Midlands is as close to the real thing as many of us can get. Believe me we’d dearly love to be on the terraces, but in most cases this is not feasible. The proposed charges for what a best can be called a “lousy service” sends shivers down my spine. What Stuart fails to realise is that the actual cost of following City via the Internet in Bermuda is actually remarkably expensive. Something I’ve budgeted for. Having this figure rise by $60, but the quality of the service still being somewhat in doubt upsets me, but I’ll deal with it.

I’m not going to try to justify my commitment and loyalty or my right to be a “true fan” simply in financial terms or in terms of games I’ve attended. I love Manchester City and by no choice of my own, I’ve been Blue all my life (thanks dad!) and I’ll continue to be Blue until I die. I won’t rant and rave, but I’ll vehemently defend my loyalty until someone can prove I’m not a “true fan”. As Stuart admits, he’s never used this service. My advice, perhaps he should try it and then we’ll see if he’s prepared to spend his money. Tomorrow evening I’ll be amongst about 1,500 people watching Bermuda’s national side (without the mighty Goater) play Denmark U21. Why? Because I love this game, but if City were playing on Tuesday night I’d be at home, online and singing my heart out(!) and confusing my neighbours.

CTID – BTWAET – City ’till I die – bollox to what anyone else thinks, Dave Lees – Flatt’s Village, Bermuda (


I agree with David Killroy that if there was a moment in of time from which City were doomed/cursed whatever, it was the moment they they let mouth Allison talk them into sacking Joe Mercer. The ingratitude of that act was so monstrous that it just pleaded to be punished with the football equivalent of eternal damnation. The reception Mercer received when he came back to Maine Road with Coventry in the seasons thereafter had to be seen to be believed. He got the biggest cheer of the afternoon whatever happend on the pitch. If City do go to a new stadium it would be a good move to name a stand after Genial Joe.

Ian Nixon (


I have just read Stuart Reynolds’ piece re the Official Commentary site, in which he has a go at Paul Keelagher for daring to say he wouldn’t pay $60 for the commentary, and then admits he has never heard the commentary himself.

If he had have listened to the commentary he would know why Paul, myself and a lot of other fans will not be taking the commentary subscription at any price. At this time actually getting commentary is a lottery in which most of us seem to miss out; those that do manage to log on quite often complain about the lack of volume, the noise on the line, and the number of times the commentary goes missing, “Net Congestion” being the biggest problem there.

This has been ongoing since the first commentary in July 98, since when I’ve tried to connect to every commentary and have succeeded in getting 2 uninterrupted commentaries only. Numerous e-mails have been sent and received between Planet and us, the excuses given for the poor service have been wide and varied, finishing a couple of weeks ago with the information that “our journalists are using equipment that is a different speed to their system”… but they didn’t know they were using this new equipment.

If Planet could give us a service where one was reasonably certain of hearing a commentary, the take up on the Subscription offer would be the largest in the country without doubt.

I feel sure that for your £2,000 you manage to see football being played. At the moment we rarely hear football being described and that’s worth nowt in my book.

Finally a thank you to Stuart for his updates to the City squad, a great service and much appreciated.

CTID, Frank Harrop – Ballykea Blue (


In response to Stuart Reynolds’ article, I have to side with Paul Keelagher in saying that £60 a year is not a very good deal. The comparison between such a tacky service as Planet offer and going to see a live game is so unfair as to be an irrelevance.

The Planet service has been absolutely terrible so far. Having tried to get connected around a dozen times, I have probably only actually connected about four times, and consider I have had a good connection only twice.

Even when you get connected, the commentary has been less than brilliant. When it is a GMR (local radio) feed with Gary Owen, it has been acceptable, but on some occasions they have used their own feed which sounds like someone sitting in their own sitting room watching it on the telly. Guess why?

On one occasion, some woman was telling everyone we were losing 2-0 (which was incredibly frustrating when the signal was dropping in and out all the time), in a game that finished 1-1.

And as for the GMR feed, well there were the sponsors’ messages. Now think about this. If GMR can put it on the radio free, thanks to the sponsorship, what makes Planet think they can charge £60 a year for what is essentially a free service with added sponsors’ messages? Surely the larger worldwide marketplace would be more attractive to sponsors? Local radio made global.

The whole deal seems a fairly tacky money-making scheme between City and Planet, along the lines of MUTV, but without the pictures. City is not a charity at which we throw money because we feel we ought, like other clubs it has to offer value for money.

That is not to say I am against City making money, but the scheme is financially flawed, and is not capable of making much (if anything) for City, yet it alienates long distance fans by using a monopoly position to force them to pay for what other fans get free.

Why is it flawed? Well on Planet’s own figures, setup costs are £305,000 (extortion compared to the technical setup costs), and at £60 per annual subscription, that makes over 5,000 fan/years to pay off the setup costs. As there are only 2,000 subscribers to MCIVTA, and probably less than 100 regular posters to BlueView, then where are the listeners going to come from?

Being practical, they are going to get 200 (max) subscribers over the first year which will raise the princely sum of £12,000 – probably just enough to cover the financing costs of a £300,000 investment. Even with a dramatic increase in numbers, profitability will be many years off.

It would have been far better if City had approached a local radio station and suggest an expansion of their licence agreement (the radio stations already pay City for the privilege) to enable them to multicast over the net. Problem solved, City get the money, local radio gets extra coverage, sponsors get global exposure, fans get live feed without extra Internet costs.

P.S. Someone on BlueView pointed out that a monthly subscription is probably cheaper than the annual sub, because of the summer break.

Martin Reynolds (


Yikes! Did I set the cat amongst the pigeons. First let me apologise to Stuart Reynolds and all the other “true” City fans who it seems I either “insulted” or made “sick” with my “ramblings”. “Ramblings” they were. After being cut off once too often in the middle of the night, the news of the charges was the straw that broke the camel’s back. So I wasn’t entirely thinking straight when I wrote it.

I have received several personal responses to my letter, unfortunately even the most positive described me as “silly”; he obviously not being quite as forthright a gentleman as our Stuart (I now know how Simon feels). So, for the record, I am now bound to say I think 60 quid a year is a fair price to pay, for complete, good quality, uninterrupted coverage of City’s Live Games. This I now accept – OK! The thing that swung me in this decision, is that one of my correspondents, hopefully correctly pointed out, that the charges would mean less people wanting to connect. Resulting in the quality service I crave. So it’s a Win Win for me… apart from the money that is. But as Stuart so kindly pointed out, if I ever want to become a “true” City fan, I am going to have to ditch my “penny pinching” ways and think big! One of my other correspondents was asking me(!) advice on how to connect up, poor deluded soul. So can anyone please help me and him out and answer a few questions?

Is it possible that it was my 2 previous ISP’s and not the much maligned (by me anyway) City service that were the cause of my connection problems all this time? Does the volume go down as the number of listeners increase? What other tweaks or settings can be checked or altered for the best performance? Finally, does being further away mean it is more likely you won’t get on or will be dumped off? I know these questions may seem a bit silly to some, but as has already been established I am a “silly” person.

Lastly, the final benefit of payment service means that the next time I am chopped off in the middle of the night, I don’t have to bother you good people, I can ring direct and complain. Although that would mean a phone call at international rates… Oh no there I go again!

P.S. Could anyone lend me a tenner until next month?

CFTNFWAL (City for the next few weeks at least), Paul Keelagher (


I’ve tried to keep away from the ongoing Reid debate, but couldn’t after reading Kevin Cummins’ contribution regarding Reid’s stated comments on Clive Allen (“The man is a complete and utter c**t… can’t wait to get rid of him” etc). To my mind, this sort of attitude from a City manager is precisely the reason why we are in so much trouble. It is a typical example of one of our (so called) managers, letting his personal preferences get in the way of his actual job, which is to produce/pick the best possible football side, from the available resources. I actually couldn’t give a toss one way or another regarding Allen’s so called attitude towards City or indeed Reid’s feeling towards him (which was probably mutual in this, and some other cases). The fact of the matter is, that at the time, Allen was a highly potent striker and easily the best at Manchester City. To get the true measure of Peter Reid as a ‘manager’ you need to consider what the follow-up question to him should have been, following his comments on Clive Allen: “Okay Peter, so personally, you don’t like him, but which of the following footballers is the most likely to score a goal as centre forward for Manchester City: Clive Allen, Adrian Heath or Alan Harper?” The record shows that there is only one correct answer to this question, but what would Reid have said? I also bet the board didn’t have the guts to ask him what was going on at the time. Maybe, this is the sort of attitude and behaviour that ultimately got him fired? I think the man was completely beyond control whilst at City, running the club as his personal fiefdom at our expense (both literally and figuratively).

To be honest though, it’s not just Reid is it? I am totally sick of this sort of thing happening at City. As I’ve mentioned before, Machin not playing the free scoring Paul Moulden was a classic stomach-churning example. Royle not playing Kinkladze last season was another (and a total hypocrisy, considering his amazing persistance with the Gio-like Gary Mason this season). Even Royle refusing to play Craig Russell as an out-and-out centre forward is now starting to pi** me off no end – certainly compared to the number of chances Bradbury, Goater, Taylor and Dickov have all been given. On top of this, we have Royle’s decision to put on the transfer list, without even watching him play, the fans’ choice of player of the year for 1998: Michael Brown. And yet look how well Brown is playing – the fans were spot on in their assessment of our squad. Royle’s decision to list him, is the kind of prejudiced, spiteful thinking that makes it very hard for me to be anything but totally suspicious of his motives and feelings towards this club. Is he really buying, selling, dropping and selecting players on merit? I don’t think so. It also begs the question, “How many times have City sold the fans’ Player of the Year the following season?”

So, over the last few months, there have been a number of postings that have stated that the supporters should get behind the team, stop criticising and basically shut up. I would absolutely love to be able to do this – and I will do so when I genuinely feel that the manager is picking our best eleven, for our (i.e. the club’s) benefit, rather than out of some internal political issue or desire to prove some ridiculous point at our expense e.g. dropping Gio = avoid relegation, great idea, thanks Joe. So I think the best way for the City manager to stop the fans’ moaning is quite simple: start picking our best team, on merit, every game. Obvious really, but it so rarely happens at this club.

Suspicious Blue, Neil Haigh (


Anybody have any info on Trevor Christie’s time at Maine Road? I don