Newsletter #476

A very brief intro this time around as I’m out for the night! We have two match reports of the McVitee IFC game, a neat little report on the atmosphere at The Swamp, and some background news of that nice man at Bournemouth, Mr Coddington. There’s also a squad update, details of a questionnaire on the Eastlands move, and a long and interesting Why Blue, more needed.

Next game, Macclesfield Town at home, Saturday 20th February 1999


Tempus Fugit

Didn’t do Latin at school myself, but I think I’ve got my context correct. It may have slipped your notice (but not that of the MEN) that today is the first anniversary of Joe Royle’s appointment… doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun!? He became our sixth manager in 19 months and in the last year, 29 players have been shed from the first team squad in an unprecedented clearout operation which I think most will agree was well overdue. He’s also signed 8 players but also given youth a chance, bringing in Nick Weaver, Nick Fenton and Gary Mason, and reviving the careers of Lee Crooks and Michael Brown. Here’s to a bit of stability and success – Happy Anniversary Joe!

No More Boom and Bust?

The Government may have its Iron Chancellor, but we seem to have an Iron Chairman in the making given the figures in the financial statement for the club over the six month period up to November 30th. The club’s financial performance has been much improved on the same period last year; a loss of £446,000 compared to a loss of £5.9 million for the same six month period in 1997. Turnover has been reduced by 27% due to loss of TV and sponsorship money (no surprises there), with turnover for the last six months falling by £2.1 million to £5.6 million. A net profit of £500,000 was announced for transfer fees for the six month period; the same period in 1997 saw City spend £5.3 million… and where did it get us I hear 2,000+ voices say. We need to do something about the £1 million a year interest charges on the £13 million debt which perhaps gives the lie to the recent talk about mystery financial backers. Let’s hope DB can keep his vow not to force the sale of key players to make ends meet; the Nick Weaver contract looks to be a positive sign in this regard.

I didn’t get to tune in to the David Bernstein interview on the official site and haven’t had any follow up sent to me, so I’m hoping that someone has sent something direct to Ashley.

New Skipper

“We’ve done it for his own good. A captain shouldn’t be setting that example.” Not the birthday present Jamie Pollock might have been expecting though he tried to make light of it: “That armband was weighing me down anyway!” he joked. “But I have massive respect for Joe Royle and if he thinks it is the right decision, then that’s fine by me.”

Joe Royle seems to have had enough of Jamie’s interpersonal skills when dealing with referees. The consensus on Blue View seems to support the decision to give the captain’s armband to someone who will hopefully spend a bit more time on the pitch and a bit less time in the bath; opinion was split on whether Andy Morrison was the right man, given that he too looks to be in line for an enforced spell of bench warming. He’s not concerned about taking on what the MEN called a “poisoned chalice” given the experiences of Kit Symons, Ian Brightwell, Gerard Wiekens, Kevin Horlock, Tony Vaughan recently prior to Jamie Pollock – “It’s the greatest honour of my career and I am chuffed to bits.”“This is a massive club, but I am not daunted by the size of the task ahead. Of course, I will have more responsibility than usual but it won’t change the way I approach the game.”“I am always positive and I will just do the best I possibly can.” Andy knows how Jamie feels, having lost the captaincy whilst at Huddersfield during a layup with an injury, but reckons there are no hard feelings between the two of them. As it is, the ref has seen fit to take the matter no further; Brian Coddington made no reference to whatever JP said to him, so the ban stands at 3 games starting a week on Saturday at Chesterfield.

Macclesfield Preview

“If 18 months ago you’d have told our lads that they’d be going to City they’d have thought it was to watch a game, not to play in it” said Sammy McIlroy looking forward to this Saturday’s game. He reckons we’re unlikely to be playing them next season… though not because he sees his team going down. “City are on a great run and have always been my favourites to gain promotion, even in the bad times this season,” said McIlroy “I still think City will be in Division One next season, even if it has to be via the play-offs. There is no pressure on us this Saturday and I hope the City fans give us a good reception because we have come a long way in a short space of time. Joe Royle’s aim this season is promotion – mine is to finish fifth from bottom,” added the Irishman.

The game sees one of JR’s cast offs return in the form of Rae Ingram, provided he can get over a back injury. “I’m excited about going back to see my old mates Michael Brown and Jim Whitley as well as the office staff. Our problem has been scoring goals but we haven’t lost hope of staying up,” said Ingram.

I’ve not seen any concrete news of the Blues’ team for this weekend, but I’m guessing that Tony Vaughan will be the likely casualty in the wake of Andy Morrison taking on the captaincy in an otherwise unchanged side, Nick Weaver having recovered from being head-butted at Bournemouth, unless something dramatic arises from the reserve game (read on).

Reserve Team Update

By the time you read this, the reserve team should have completed their re-arranged Pontin’s League First Division clash at Sheffield Wednesday, put back 48 hours because the Sheffield Wednesday youth team were in action against Everton in the FA Youth Cup. The reserves’ game could see City go back to second place if they win, although Wednesday are currently just one place behind the Blues in the table. Danny Allsopp will play half a game, with one eye on a possible recall for the Macc game (subs’ bench perhaps more realistic) partnered perhaps by Shaun Wright-Phillips after his hat-trick for the City Academy side last weekend in the 8-0 win against Aston Villa? Richard Jobson and Murtaz Shelia will also get run-outs with a mind to replacing the suspended Vaughan and Morrison for the Chesterfield clash the weekend after next.

Squad News…

Sadly, Kakhaber Tskhadadze has once again broken down in training with a recurrence of his knee injury; he is set to see a specialist amid fears that he will be ruled out for the rest of the season.

Craig Russell has had his loan spell at Port Vale extended into a second month, taking him up to transfer deadline day on March 25th, when we will make a decision as to whether or not to recall him. He’s yet to score for Port Vale but his three goals for City from nine starts is a fair return. Personally, from the reports I got from the Sunderland supporters in the family, I feel he’s never had a fair chance in his preferred forward position, other than in the game against Halifax. Still, I’m not paid to pick the team.

… And Those We Have Loved

Or then again perhaps not. Gerry Creaney has signed for Notts County and should make his first team début at Fulham at the weekend. Let’s hope he discovers the scoring touch and that it deserts him once again when County visit Maine Road on Tuesday, March 16th.

Martin Phillips is set to join Bristol Rovers after being forced out at Alan Ball’s Portsmouth (surely not after being given the £10 million tag?), while former City striker Adie Mike has returned to Leek Town after turning down the chance to continue training with Crewe.

Leave the Ref Alone

Given recent experiences you could forgive Joe for feeling there has to be a better way of controlling games, but, no, he’s actually come out in support of the, ahem, ‘person in the black’, saying the current system should stay, despite four suspensions hanging over the team in two weeks’ time, and already topping last season’s Division 2 disciplinary League Table with eight red cards. He acknowledges that football is full of, what he calls, “glorious imperfections”, which he says add to the romance of the game and create football folklore. Yes, but we’d like to see the imperfection shared around a bit wouldn’t we?

Joe feels there are few enough top class referees as it is, has complete sympathy with those who are just starting out in Sunday football (anyone who’s played at that level will know exactly what he means), believes we should leave them alone to learn their trade, forget about a fourth official and ban any thoughts of instant replays. We’ll see.

The Cooke Report

We may all feel that Terry Cooke is a recipe for success, but JR is refusing to be rushed into a half-baked move to bring us gourmet wing play on a permanent basis. He maintains that players will have to leave Maine Road to release cash before he dips into the transfer market and will not act in haste because he believes there have been too many hasty decisions in the past at the club (and so say all of us) so TC is on the back-burner for a while. Not too long we hope, as I’ve been told that the maximum loan period is 93 days which could mean him missing the last 4 games. On a positive note, the official club site has dumped the archive ‘red’ photo and now has him in action in laser blue.

Goals on the Web

Just a short plug for a site hosting the goals from the Blues’ games. Jason (?) e-mailed me to say that he’s posting the video clips of our goals on his site Down Under at Let’s hope he has to fill his homepage space to bursting point with AVI files in the months ahead and the Murdoch copyright police don’t track him down.

Footnote:- Celtic Til I Die?

Just when you thought romance had been squeezed out of the game; I spotted a reference to the captain of the Scotland under-15 team being chased by a host of Premiership clubs. A personal plea from one Alex Ferguson after the lad had spent some time at OT and serious enquiries from many of the other clubs all came to nought when he opted to sign for Celtic, the club he’s supported all his life. Now how many of us would have liked to have been the subject of that “happy ending” story?

Geoff Donkin (


Current rumours are that due to work being carried out on their stadium, Gillingham are making their final 4 home games ‘home fans only’. This of course includes City’s match on 17 April. We await further news.

Andrew Cleaver (


Manchester City vs. Macclesfield Town, Saturday 20th February

Tickets in the North, Kippax and Platt Lane Stand are now extremely limited. Supporters are advised to purchase as quickly as possible.

Ticket Office – Manchester City


The weekend saw McVitee FC, football team for this mailing list, head south to the seaside town of Bournemouth. Even being so far away, we still managed to assemble 11 of the regular McVitee players, with 3 new players coming from down South. Our usual pre-match training involved heading into the night-life on a Friday night to sample the best Bournemouth had to offer.

Everything was going to plan until we tried to get into a nightclub called the Cage – myself, Lee Hanson and Mark Cohen got straight in, but the next group were stopped by the bouncers – they asked where they were from, and someone said Manchester – big mistake. They said that they’d heard that a load of Manchester lads were coming down to cause trouble and were stopping anyone from there coming in. So we came back out and headed off to the Opera House – 8 quid to get in and 3 quid a beer. Really bad nightclub as well, so me and Lee headed back to the hotel to try and crash a 21st birthday bash and left the lads to it – turned out it was a fancy dress party and most of the girls were wearing St. Trinians schoolgirl outfits so that was a result!

Onto the match. We assembled at the venue about 11am, with only 5 Bournemouth lads there to start with. Also, the council had called off all matches saying the pitches were unplayable which would have been a right pain with the distance we’d travelled for this fixture. One of the Bournemouth team is actually the chairman of Bournmouth AFC and he persuaded the council differently (David Bernstein if you’d like a trial give me a shout!).

Bournemouth managed to assemble a full team and we started with:

                      Richard Savage
Martin Ford    Lee Grime     Neil Corney    Gavin Hodge
Rob Hodge   Spenner Grady   Nigel Burstow   Andy Holgate
               Lee Hanson           Ian Hall

Dave Barker
Mark Cohen
Colin Surrey

The new lads were Neil, Nigel and Ian. The match started with Bournemouth dominating the opening 5 minutes after which their striker broke through our defence and slotted an easy shot past Richard. However, Lee Hanson equalised immediately after kick-off and we thought we were on for a high-scoring match. Not to be as the remaining 35 minutes saw McVitee having numerous attempts on goal but always just going wide or hitting the bar. It was very even between both teams and we were lucky not to go down again as Bournemouth broke through the defence again, but thanks to the striker’s poor finishing we managed to go into half-time even.

A change was made bringing Nigel off, I took over from Neil in central defence, moving him into midfield, and Colin Surrey replaced Martin at right-back.

After re-grouping we played most of the second half much better than the first, dominating right from the start. The passing was good and the running off the ball was excellent. However, we still couldn’t get the finishing right until Ian Hall was brought down, leaving Lee Hanson to take the pressure and place it in the bottom right corner. We still couldn’t finish them off even with our playing better and were always nervous of conceding another (especially with my woeful heading from a ball coming from the skies – ‘Daves’, and then miss by a mile!). Lee Hanson crossed from the left leaving Ian to slot the ball home to a great relief for McVitee. Mark was brought on for Ian and we played the last 10 minutes defending with a couple more attempts at their end but the scoreline stayed as it was and finished 3-1 to McVitee.

This was by far the hardest game we’ve played so far – especially being so far away from home and having new players as well. The new players played really well since they haven’t played with us before and did a good job. The Bournemouth lads also played very well and it was a very even match. I was very impressed with their determination and effort.

Their manager sent me this message today:

Great to meet you guys, and thoroughly enjoyed the morning game. No hesitation in having you back down again whenever you want. Most used phrase from our players afterwards was how good spirited you were.

This shows how well the lads behave against opposing sides and are a credit to us. It is what Internet Football is all about – building bridges between rival sets of supporters.

The match in the afternoon showed why Bournemouth are unbeaten for so long – the referee was an absolute disgrace – however, I’ll leave it to another fan to give you all those details. Our man Spenner Grady started his own chant after swilling his pot noodle with ‘There’s only 1 pot noodle, one pot noodle’ for all the away fans to join with him. You really are a leader amongst men.

The after match celebrations went much better than the night before. We knew we had to get to the Cage early to try to get in. We split into 3’s and denied all knowledge of Manchester. First group were from St. Albans and the other group was on their birthday bash from Sheffield. Two lucky lads scored in the opening 5 minutes. It was only 10.30 when 2 ladies were hip-dancing, groping and kissing – and then they swapped around!

The theme for the whole weekend was ‘do you want some’, shouted between the lads and chanted at the right moments to be funny (I think). I suggested that we all had to go up to a girl, and holding your groin or chest say ‘do you want some’. It was generally agreed but I really didn’t think anyone would do it. Daft idea but things you do when drunk. About 11.30, one of the lads (won’t tell you who he was to save his embarrassment – but he tends to play a game of football with his hands…), he suddenly shot over to a girl and shouted ‘do you want some’, hand on groin. She was completely gob smacked – I’m sure she was going to cry. Got to be one of the funniest moments you could ever see.

We left Bournmouth around 11am on the Sunday. We really didn’t want to go. It was a great weekend and we met some great lads from the Bournemouth team and the place itself is recommended for a good weekend away. Thanks to everyone who came and played for us, especially for the supporters’ club who came and supported us Saturday morning.

We’ve now won 6 out of 6 in the league and we have 6 matches remaining. I’ll keep you all posted of our next match.

Dave Barker, Manager – McVitee FC (


As I was saying, there’s two parrots in a tank… no that’s not right, I know there are two goalfish on a perch, one turns to the other and says “You want some!”

Oops, sorry a lapse, sleep depravation! It’s 4:30am, the alarms blaring, the body and soul wants to ignore it, can’t do that leaving the boys in the lurch. So up and about and out to the car for this early start for the Bournemouth game. First stop Ashton to see the suspicious Andy Holgate shuffling down the road. Then onto Cheadle to pick up Dave Severn (Cheadle Blue) – a non player – only wanted a lift down at that godforsaken time!

Onto the motorways and a decidedly quiet drive – how surprising, who else would be up at this unearthly hour? Make good time and stop for a motorway service breakfast – highway robbery. Then the final drag onto Bournemouth, just on the outskirts and the phone rings, a decidely “croaky” voice on the other end tells us to get our kit on, we’re playing – sounds like a good time was had by all in Bournemouth – hic!

Arrive at the ground, after only one missed turn, to find no one else there (10:15) and a sign saying “Pitches unfit for play” – groan, all that way for nothing! The pitches look in good condition – a little wet but that’s about it, I’ve played in much worse conditions. A trickle of players arrive, both City and Bournemouth and things look promising. The match eventually kicks off, both City and Bournemouth having a full 11. Bournemouth have one sub, plus a few supporters (it should also be noted that the chairman plays for them – any chance of Bernstein doing the same for us?). McVitee FC have a full 11, three subs and a watching audience. Dave B included three new players in the starting line-up (two making their débuts, Neil and Nigel):

Martin  Lee G   Neil    Gavin
Rob     Nigel   Spenner Andy H
        Lee H   Ian H

Wookie, Dave B, Mark C

The game started in its usual frantic pace, both sides trying to find a weakness, niether being really able to dominate the early exchanges. Both sides created chances, which were either saved or missed!

Bournemouth however, managed to get on the score sheet first. Some indecision at the back left McVitee unable to clear the ball. A neat passing movement on the left left McVitee short and the whipped cross into the middle was scored between the goalie and defender. Straight from the kick-off, McVitee levelled through the irrepresible Lee H. A quick interchange of passes down the middle of the park broke to Lee on the edge and he beat the ‘keeper. The rest of the half was a fight with both teams creating chances, but nothing came of them. So it was 1-1 at half time.

Dave B made two substitutions, Col replaced Martin in the right back berth and Dave B replaced Nigel, but with a slight tactical switch; Dave B moved in the back four and pushed Neil into midfield. This has the desired effect of steadying things. It was still a battle, but the Blues poked their noses ahead when Ian H was up-ended in the left side of the box. Lee H bagged his second goal of the game from the penalty spot.

The third and decisive goal came from Ian H’s boot this time, from a pass from Lee H. With a comfortable lead but never secure, Ian H left the pitch to be replaced by Mark C. The lead was threatened through the remainder of the half, but Bournemouth were unable to pull a goal back. At the other end City had chances as the Cherries pushed forward. An amazing goalmouth scramble, with boots swinging wildly at the ball, ended when the Cherries’ ‘keeper grabbed the ball after a richochet off a knee. Time ran down and McVitee claimed their sixth straight win after a stern test from the lads from the South Coast. Thanks to all the McVitee Blues who made the game, the Bournemoth lads (including their chairman – any chance of David Bernstein taking heart?) and the council for letting us play on the pitch (it turned out to stand up to the game very well).

A quick shower and change and then onto Dean Court to watch the first team in what turned out to be a dire game.

After the match it was 1.5 hours before we could get back on the road outta Bournmouth. If you ever go to Bournemouth for a game, try not to park on the official car parks by the ground, it’s a nightmare.

The journey home was interspersed with phone calls in both directions to see how those staying behind were celebrating the win. Finally home to bed for a few hours sleep at 11:00 p.m.

Martin Ford (


McVitee are playing their first tournament this year in Huddersfield on the 28th March – consisting of 12 teams.

Our regular ‘keeper is away and won’t be able to play. Nicky Weaver also has other commitments so we are looking for someone who can fill his boots for us. Let me know if you’re up for it – it’ll be a great day out.

Dave Barker, Manager – McVitee FC (


If any exiled Blues out there saw the London Branch advert in the Bournemouth prog, can I just make one alteration! The contact name for the Membership Secretary is Carol Darvill and not Dave Carvill as I understand was printed. This has already caused hilarity and pointed comments – I can only assume the sea air got to the printers! Please note that the phone number given is right and all other details are correct.


Carol Darvill – Membership Secretary, MCSC London Branch


After Terry Cooke’s comments about the great atmosphere at City games I decided after the game at Bournemouth on Saturday, to visit Old ‘Death Star’ Trafford on Wednesday to see Arsenal. Not feeling brave enough to sit with the cockneys (United fans), I bought a ticket to sit in the away end, and decided to sing along with the Arsenal fans. The 3,000 Arsenal fans were in fine voice, they started singing ‘Stand up for the Champions’, which was not appreciated by the Stretford fans (but I was killing myself laughing); this was greeted with a little ‘United, United’ (how can 52,000 people be so quiet?).

The stadium radio curiously kept getting turned up, as the Arsenal fans got louder, until it got to deafening, it was both childish and ridiculous. They obviously don’t like noise at Old Trafford. The Arsenal chants were funny, ‘We’ll see you on the way back home’, ‘Do you come from Manchester’, ‘Silverware, you’ve got no Silverware’ etc. It was nice to see United fans having their noses rubbed in it, they returned with a feeble ‘United, United’

As for the match, United got a dodgy penalty, as reaffirmed on ‘Match of the day’ that night, how they cheered, Dwight ‘I love my new chum Andy’ Yorke missed, how we cheered. The Arsenal fans started again: ‘Teddy, Teddy we want Teddy’, and my favorite, all the Arsenal fans started chanting in a girlie Monty Python way: ‘United, United’: this carried on for about 3 or 4 minutes, it was well funny, this was met with silence, then after a while, they started with ‘United, United’, (now forgive me, but have we heard that one somewhere before?). The lack of passion was incredible and that was against Arsenal, God knows what it must be like on a Saturday, when all the day-trippers from Scandinavia, Ireland, Timbucktoo turn up to watch Wimbledon, Charlton etc…

Oh by the way the game ended one – one.

I feel dirty now, and only City’s match against Macclesfield will cleanse my mind, body and soul. It’s times like these that I reflect and think ‘Mmm United, they have success and constant media exposure, thank you God for making me a City fan’. I’m going to go this Saturday and sing ’til my throat hurts, and then sing some more.

Walter Smith (


From Mike Barnett, Editor, CITY magazine:

I was given a seat next to the non-playing Bournemouth staff last Saturday. I think a couple of their players were there, too. They too were as bemused as I was by the referee’s performance, although it must be said that, as Joe Royle confirmed, there is no excuse for dissent. On the Monday back at work, one of my colleagues in the systems room at the Manchester Evening News, who refs in the Mid-Cheshire League and runs the line in the Unibond League, confirmed the rumour about the ref, Brian Coddington of Sheffield. He was indeed slung off the Nationwide League refs’ list a couple of seasons ago (possibly for 2 years though I’m not 100% certain) after a succession of low marks by the assessors. He was promoted back to the Nationwide list for the start of this season. I understand Joe Royle is aware of this fact. Incidentally, Mr Coddington declined, as he is entitled to do, to speak to the press afterwards. Make of that what you will.

Mike Barnett (


We are currently carrying out extensive research into Manchester City’s proposed move to Eastlands. A questionnaire has been designed to assertain the fans’ views as to whether or not they feel they have been included in the consultation process.

If you wish to receive a copy of the Questionnaire, please send your name and email address marking the subject “Eastlands FS01”.

Questionnaires will be mailed week commencing 22.02.99.

Thank you,

Martin Lever
Research Associate
University of Manchester
School of Geography
Mansfield Cooper Building
Oxford Road
M13 9PL

Martin Lever (


Changes to previous squad list:

Stephen Rimmer is Back from loan
Andrew Porteous is transfer listed
Lee Daly is back from loan
Steven Hodgson signed as pro
David Laycock signed as pro
Tony Dunfield signed as pro
Leon Mike signed as pro
Christopher Shuker signed as pro

Tommy Wright
Nick Weaver
Steven Hodgson
Michael Brown Transfer Listed
Gerard Wiekens
Tony Vaughan
Richard Edghill
Lee Crooks
Anthony Fenton
Nick Fenton
Richard Jobson
Danny Tiatto
Kakhaber Tskhadadze
Andy Morrison
Shaun Holmes
Stephen Rimmer
Murtaz Shelia Transfer Listed
Kevin Horlock
Jamie Pollock
Gary Mason
Jim Whitley
Michael Brown
Ian Bishop
David Laycock
Tony Dunfield
Christopher Shuker
Andrew Porteous Transfer Listed
Terry Cooke On loan from Manchester United
Neil Morley Transfer Listed
Neil Heaney Transfer Listed
Jeff Whitley Transfer Listed and loaned to Wrexham
Paul Dickov
Shaun Goater
Danny Allsopp
Gareth Taylor
Shaun Wright-Philips
Leon Mike
Chris Greenacre Transfer Listed and loaned to Scarborough
Mikhail Kavalashvili Loaned to Grasshoppers Z