Newsletter #491

A far better weekend for City than I’m sure most of us could have wished for. The cheeky Imps of Lincoln were sent packing, Macclesfield remembered how to win just in time to shock Preston and Colchester blew a large raspberry at Walsall. Chances of us going up automatically are still quite slim, but another few results like this and who knows?

There’s plenty of match reports, news of the MCIVTA football team and another week of the Anoraks’ Form Guide. Oh yes, even the odd bit of comment too.

Just a quick thank-you from myself for all the contributions over the past few issues from everyone. I now realise what a job Ashley has a couple of times a week editing MCIVTA. I think everyone should club together and buy him something nice to celebrate MCIVTA 500 soon. It’s no wonder his hair has a tint of grey to it!

So, in the words of Stuart Hall I shall bid you all a fond farewell 🙂

Next game, Luton Town at home, Wednesday 14th April 1999


Please can you all send all articles for MCIVTA to Ashley ( again as he is back from his break and editing MCIVTA as per usual.


Like many of the games that we have been involved in this season I have often made a point of reflecting on my knowledge of the hometown of our opponents. On occasions my knowledge has been so limited that I have had to look on a map to check out the whereabouts of the relevant town or city. I’ve never been to Lincoln but I have had a lot of their biscuits.

As a mark of respect I made sure that during our weekly shop we bought a pack of Lincoln biscuits and I ate a half dozen on match day. This was a sort of ceremonial/ritual eating of the opposition and I would like to think that in some small way it did actually contribute to what was to become a magnificent victory.

As I dunked my biscuit in my morning coffee I thought it odd to live in a town named after a biscuit, after all who ever has heard of Custard FC, Bourbon Town or Digestive Villa? Although I understand that Shrewsbury is named after the lovely Fruit Shrewsbury biscuit.

Other than being named after a pleasant but rather plain biscuit, I guess Lincoln itself is the main town in Lincolnshire and I do know that this is a semi-rural area with plenty of cattle and sheep rearing along with products for the agricultural industry.

So in a sense I suppose actually coming to a big city was a super day out for the farm lads and lasses, quite apart from seeing their team, nicknamed The Imps, playing on the lush, green turf of the Academy.

The weather in Manchester was a bit mixed really. It had rained in the morning but was now overcast with the sun breaking through now and again. It was a little chilly when the wind blew. None of this could stop the fun that the youngsters from Lincoln were having. Tractors and combine harvesters were parked neatly in rows. It seemed to me that it was in fact a mini travelling agricultural show that had descended on Maine Road as supporters laid out bales of straw for makeshift seats, lit small fires and danced and sang. I suspected that folklore itself was being created as new songs were made up to pass down to future generations telling of the great time they had had in Manchester.

The crowd was a little lower than of late, 26,298. Lincoln clearly had not sold their allocation, as the part of the North Stand set aside for them was empty in the lower two blocks. Having said that, for a team that only averages about 4,000 for its home games they had done well to bring so many fans with them. They are a scruffy lot though and made a real mess of the pitch as they threw red paper and let balloons go as their teams ran out. I made a mental note never to buy Lincoln biscuits again and if that led to the unemployment queue for some of them, so be it.

The Imps’ kit was a rather odd and tasteless design. The centrepiece of the shirt features a white stripe from collar to shirt bottom, this is then bordered on either side by a thicker red stripe, then a thin red stripe then a black stripe with red sleeves. The playing outfit also features well-cut shorts. These are mostly black but then to match the rather garish shirt they sport a thin white and thicker red stripe down each side. The hose finishes off the outfit with red and black hoops, commencing just above the ankle and finishing just below the knee.

The game itself was a real mixed affair, you know the score but to be honest the first 20 minutes or so were as scrappy and lacklustre as any we have seen this season. For a game where I thought they would be “up for it” from the start it was surprising and disappointing to see such a slow start.

We were without Wiekens (out injured), Horlock was in for Pollock, Tiatto was at number three and much to my daughter’s delight Dickov was starting for the full 90 minutes.

The Lincoln fans proved themselves to be geographically challenged when they began to sing “There’s only one Lincoln City”; how stupid of them, there are I think over 30 in the USA alone with others in Argentina, New Zealand and perhaps elsewhere. The yokels sang this to the tune of Winter Wonderland. Another sort of farmyard chant of theirs was “you’re not famous anymore”. I wasn’t sure who that was aimed at but in any case the City fans in the North Stand were as ever able to deliver a quick, sensitive and witty riposte, singing “who the f*** are you?”

There isn’t a great deal to report before the first goal, Horlock had launched a decent strike on goal only to see the ‘keeper collect cleanly, Tiatto and Brown had tried a few neat moves around the box and Goater and Cooke had combined well on the odd occasion. Cooke had a decent free kick go over the bar but to be honest this was a dull affair. I don’t really want to be too critical of our players but Goater was just missing his first touch too many times for my liking, it’s not really fair to single him out though as the team were looking decidedly dodgy and jaded.

This changed just after the half-hour as City, kicking towards the Platt Lane, moved forward. Tony Vaughan put in a decent cross for little Dickov to head into the net. Once the goal had gone in, there was much relief around the ground and the result was never in doubt after that. The boys started to step up a gear; Goater was unlucky not to score when his header was cleared off the line by an Imps defender. Brown, who was having another good game, played in the style of a Brazilian just before half time as he evaded a purposeful challenge to dance round his man before slinging a good cross into the six yard box – bang Dickov hit the ball high into the roof of the net.

The young farmers who had made the trek must have known it was not going to be their day. Their league position shows that they have had quite a few bad days and as the second 45 kicked off they got on with some synchronised dry stone walling, they were certainly quiet now and knew very well that they would have nothing to shout about now.

Within minutes of the restart Dickov claimed his hat trick and the match ball, firing in from Bishop’s excellent pass. If you get the chance to see his goal celebration you must do so. From where we were it looked pretty good as he ran and turned handstands in front of the North Stand.

This game was over and it was only a matter of how many we would win by now. Not long after this the electronic scoreboard shifted from the banal adverts to flash the latest score from a number of other key games to huge cheers. Weaver looked round, not sure what was happening, but the news that indicated how Preston, Stoke, Fulham and Wigan were doing was good and the dream of an automatic place was being revived in real time as the Academy came alive to the massed chorus of Blue Moon. Horlock completed the rout around about the hour when he fired a net busting shot. My pre-match forecast had been for a 5-1. Ever the optimist (and what Blue isn’t?) we didn’t go nap but we did end up with the 4 goal margin.

Scores were flashed up again before the end of the game and you can imagine the approval that greeted the unbelievable news that the Silkmen were leading Preston 3-2.

Dickov deservedly got the man of the match award, Brown had a good game as did Morrison and Weaver. I think we missed Wiekens and I’ll be glad when he’s fit again. Cooke had a quieter game than normal but what he did was good, it was just the shape of the game that didn’t bring him in as much.

The week has ended really well; we are now in fourth place, only two points behind second place, although we have played more games. Realistically we need luck to get that place. If we can win our remaining games it might just happen. Wednesday night is a huge game for us. If results go well for us on Tuesday who knows where we might end up?

To finish on a very positive and upbeat note, there is a heck of a lot of unrest with the Rags. There is great discontent with the season ticket increase, the requirement to pay all season ticket money early and up front, the mixed views of the failed BSkyB bid (Rag fans can’t forget that this is the third time that Edwards has tried to sell off his shares). There has also been a lot said on local radio about the complete lack of atmosphere at Old Trafford; of course when you add to that the comprehensiveness with which Juventus outplayed and outclassed them during the week it makes a mockery of statements like them being the best team in Europe.

All being well, Arsenal will have done the business by the time you read this and Chelsea will be continuing to progress in the league. Best team in Europe and no trophy since 1996/97 season?

Blue Moon rising?

Tony Burns (


MCFC 4 – Lincoln City 0

Some victories are particularly sweet for the element of revenge that’s involved, and after the amount of humiliation we’ve suffered at the hands of Lincoln in recent years it was especially nice to get our own back. It was a shame then that the game wasn’t as exciting as the scoreline would have you believe – I’m afraid this really was boring! The lack of atmosphere for most of the game reminded me of the Macclesfield home game a couple of months ago, as the performance on the pitch then didn’t inspire the crowd to much either.

Anyway, as Edghill, Pollock and Wiekens had failed their fitness tests, Danny Fatto was back for his first start since the Reading home game earlier in the season. Could he finish this game without being sent off, we wondered? Dickov was preferred to Taylor again, so the line up was Weaver, Crooks, Fatto, Vaughan, Morrison, Horlock, Brown, Bishop, Dickov, Goater and Cooke. Subs were Taylor, Robins and Jeff Whitley. The programme said that the Lincoln no 7 was our old David Phillips but as I missed the team announcement (and can’t see far enough to make out faces) I’ve no idea if it was or not. None of the other Lincoln players were worth mentioning, and nor was the turn out by their fans although they were quite animated – they were probably expecting to beat us again too.

The first twenty minutes were dull. In fact, they were worse than dull, they were deathly dull. If I sat closer to the pitch I would have been trying to watch the grass grow. Nothing happened. We didn’t even have any amusing announcements on the tannoy. I think a couple of planes went overhead, but that didn’t do much to break up the monotony of the football. The blokes behind stopped watching the game and started looking for scantily clad females in the crowd instead. Oh no, hang on, that happens every week, sorry. The wind was really strong and gusty so anything kicked in the air from the North Stand towards Platt Lane seemed to boomerang in mid-air and fall back towards the North Stand – it’s a good job Nick Weaver can kick the ball hard or he’d have been having to save his own goal kicks. Our defence had nothing to do other than watch Lincoln fluff a couple of corners, the midfield couldn’t be bothered doing anything (apart from Bishop who kept trying to play the ball to the rest of his team, none of whom could be bothered running for it) and the star striking force that is Goater and Dickov looked as bored with the proceedings as the crowd.

After about 25 minutes though things started looking up. Goater lost his boot and had to play carrying it for a couple of minutes before he got chance to put it back on – he jumps better without his boots on, maybe that’s what Joe should try for the rest of the season! “Oi Shaun mate, you don’t get enough height when you jump as your boots don’t want to leave the floor, gerremoff and play in your stockings!” City won a free kick on the left hand side about 20 yards out and Cooke fired a shot in on goal which went just over the bar. He had another shot palmed away by the ‘keeper, then the ‘keeper made another good save to stop Dickov scoring. We had a couple of moments where four of our players lined up 3 yards out and kicked the ball at the goal in turn, but we’ve seen plenty of those recently and we know we’ll not score from any of them. It was almost a surprise when the first goal came in. Horlock turned a couple of defenders just in the area, the ball came out to Tony Vaughan on the left hand side (what on earth was he doing up there?) and he put a perfect cross onto Dickov’s head for him to score. Yep, that did read “Dickov’s head” – shows you how good the cross was if it managed to pick up Dickov’s diddy little head! I don’t think he could believe it either!

Just before half time he scored again. I guess the ball came over from Cooke but I can’t remember – Dickov picked it up on the left hand side of goal about three inches out, juggled it about from foot to foot for about three weeks, then smacked it into the net past the despairing (and pretty useless) ‘keeper. Blimey, we thought, Dickov’s on a hat trick! They were cheered off at half time (how times change) and it was up to the bar to watch the Grand National. The fed-up looking sections of the crowd in the second half were those who’d got a little bit over confident and backed Blue Charm to win – calm down now lads, don’t get carried away.

Dickov’s third was for me the best of the three. He ran into the area and collected the ball, then shot low past the ‘keeper into the net, did a somersault then lay flat on his back with his arms in the air – I thought he’d hurt himself celebrating for a moment. We were completely dominant by this time, the Lincoln team with the exception of their no. 10 had packed up and gone home. There was plenty of encouragement for their fans to shut up and do the same – “taxi for Lincoln!” amongst other rather less polite chants… Horlock scored the fourth with a cracking volley from just inside the area just after an hour, and the other scores then started to come through – Wigan, Walsall, Preston, Stoke all losing? What’s going on?!

Robins came on for Dickov (who stood by the touchline keeping an eye on “his” ball for the rest of the game) but didn’t do much. He gave the ball away with his first two touches and amidst all the groans the bloke in front turned round and said “he’s doing better than he did against Preston” – don’t think young Mark is impressing too many people at the moment. Goater should have scored at least another two – he headed over, then wide, then when all he had to do was make contact with the ball to see it go in the net he carefully shielded it all the way back to their ‘keeper. Very generous Shaun, try scoring next time. He still got a standing ovation when he went off for Taylor though, we were feeling magnanimous by then – and why not? The last ten minutes were notable mainly because we weren’t under any pressure – I think Weaver had to catch one shot but it was going straight at him so it can’t have been that hard. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to watch all the game without hiding behind my own hands for at least the end of the second half, if not longer. Whitley came on for the last few minutes but the game was dead by then anyway. No one left at the final whistle as we were all waiting for the other scores to come through, but it was all true – we really are only two points behind Walsall! We really can go second on Wednesday! Oh why did I write that? It’s bound to go wrong now…

Anyway, some quick comments on the team’s performance. Vaughan and Morrison were solid, literally in Morrison’s case – I especially liked the moment when one of the Lincoln forwards was trying to back into him and Morrison just stood there looking at him. Crooks had possibly his poorest game for a while as he did lose the ball a couple of times, but he didn’t really have much to do. Bishop’s passing was as good as ever. Brown’s running was as good as ever, he’s still trying to beat that Kinkladze goal against Southampton. I thought Cooke faded in and out of the game but he was unlucky not to score with his free kick, and he isn’t exactly playing with the most gifted attacking line up in the league. Fatto, oops should stop calling him that, Tiatto was woeful first half but much better in the second half when he remembered he was playing in defence, not midfield, and got back into position more. If we could combine his running forward and passing with Edghill’s defending (yes Richard is a better defender believe it or not) we’d have the makings of a footballer. As it is, he was worth his place on the pitch just for the way he was tackling the midfield – a good bit of gutbarging is always entertaining to watch. He also didn’t get booked. Amazing. Dickov will never score another hat trick (go on Paul, prove me wrong!) and the way Goater’s going he’ll never score another goal. We won this without ever really breaking into a sweat, so boring it may have been but three points and four goals so easily gained are never to be refused.

I have to mention big-hair Steve and Brian who I met in the Osborne here, as they didn’t believe me that I would, and thanks again to the lovely Leanne and to Noel (who may be a good bloke but doesn’t count as lovely) for giving me a lift back to Bury.

Finally, this will probably be my last report for this season as I’m getting married on Saturday. I was supposed to be back for the York game but sadly my flight back from Bali’s been cancelled (oh dear) so it’ll be touch and go whether I make it. If you’re going to a game in the next couple of weeks give them a huge shout from me and I’ll see you all at Wembley!

Sharon Bennett


This article is a summary of my recent trips to games… 3 wins in a row has inspired me to contriubte to MCIVTA again.

I have been to City’s last three Saturday games and we have won them all. This has never happened before. I’m a London Blue born and bred who can normally only make it to Southern away games and, to put it politely, City don’t have the best of records in London. Hence my appalling record at live games over the years.

Three Saturdays ago saw an early rise in North London to make it to Reading in time for opening time. Others may disagree but I think it’s been masochistic torture to watch City sober in the ’90s. The local publicans must have been ecstatic as the unseasonably hot weather boosted the City contigent’s notorious booze guzzling levels even further. The pub we stopped in ran out of pint pots by half 12.

Sufficiently lubricated, our party moved onto the Chairman’s Ego Stadium on an efficient yet knackered old bus. The 1 p.m. kick-off was delayed by half an hour because of limited road access causing congestion. OK, this gave us time to further challenge our sobriety in the bar but it’s a poor show by all concerned.

The game itself was extremely dull until City scored. Reading probably had the edge before Cooke fired home the first of his two clever free-kicks. Meanwhile, the stewards were strictly enforcing the “no smoking” rule when inside the stadium proper. This, I couldn’t understand. Is the concrete going to catch fire?

Second half was all City and we should have scored at least 6. The usual culprit was mostly to blame although he did take our second goal very well indeed. I agree with the view that says Goater will only score when given instinctive chances and panics when he has time to think before shooting. Should we go up, we will need a better conversion rate from him or his replacement.

Was I the only Blue with his heart in his mouth as Reading humped the ball upfield 3 minutes into injury time and 3-1 down? I’m certain I heard a sharp intake of breath from all our fans as the thought of letting another 2 late goals in crossed all our minds. But no, nothing could spoil my first win of the season, not even the walk back into Reading town centre.

Time for a quick confession here – I had not been to a home league game since the fateful 2-2 against Liverpool. I saw the FA Cup win against Watford but I must have been so traumatised by relegation that I was afraid to go near Maine Road in case any more league catastrophes occurred.

Another relegation later and fast running out of excuses, I finally made it up to Manchester last week to see us squeeze past the green-shirts of Wigan by the single goal. The football on show wasn’t up to much but the atmosphere was superb; reports of its total death at Maine Road were obviously premature. I was in the Main Stand and, even there, some of us were yelling our lungs out.

Although it’s a 60 quid plus experience, I resolved to return the following week, not least to repeat the beautiful experience of drinkable bitter. You cannot get a decent pint in any of the pubs near me. I have sometimes considered complaining to the Trading Standards people because the pumps aren’t labelled with the words “washing-up liquid” instead of “beer”.

Talking about money, here’s a Top Tip for London based Blues: join the London Branch of the Supporters’ Club. You save more than your annual membership fee in just one journey if you travel up by train with the LSC. The only drawback is that you travel with Virgin trains, strangely named as they are unlikely to take you the whole way (apologies to whoever I nicked that joke from!).

One week later, half an hour into the Lincoln game and I was thinking: “Oh hell, I don’t want to be here. City are outplaying a relegation-threatened side but not creating chances. I bet they’re going to turn us over 1-0. When will I learn?” About the only source of amusement was the vicious wind circling around at pitch level, with the match ball being blown every which way.

However, this wind factor was responsible for helping fashion our first goal. The ball was heading out for a goal kick but another freak blast of wind made it turn back on itself and bounce in play. A City player got to the ball by the byeline, crossed and Dickov placed a perfect looping header over their ‘keeper. The goal was in equal parts unusual, unexpected, and unmerited.

With this stroke of good fortune, City got their act together and Lincoln’s fate was sealed. Dickov got his first ever senior hat-trick and Horlock scored the kind of goal which once prompted Alan Partridge to shout “Sh*t! Did you see that?” We won 4-0 at a canter but, surprise surprise, should have bagged a few more. Bishop was having an absolute blinder, let’s hope he can keep this form up until the end of the season; he would have been man of the match if it wasn’t for Dickov’s heroics.

Even better, my shiny new Walkman kept feeding me information of golden goals against our promotion rivals which my immediate neighbours wouldn’t believe until these scores were flashed up on the scoreboards in the ground. It was a very happy journey back to Euston, obssessively over-analysing the league table in The Pink.

I don’t want to press my luck so it’s time to hang up the travelling boots – and lucky underwear – and give the wallet a rest for a bit. My next planned game is the last day fixture against York, unless anyone on here has a spare ticket for Gillingham which they’d be prepared to swap for their weight in beer for. I want to balance out my relegation experience with a promtion one and I believe we will still be within reach of automatic promotion come the York game. And I hope to see all you other ticketless London Blues in Terry O’Neill’s on the 1st of May for the Bristol Rovers game.

The pressing issue of the day is our absolute need to buy Terry Cooke. I freely admit that he is not the finished article and that he does not perform consistently – witness Preston – but even when he’s having a quiet game, he gives us the option of width, something which was sorely lacking for the first half of the season. Opposing teams have to allow for him which frees up more space for open play in the middle and when he is on form, he’s a fearsome prospect for opponents.

If the problem in buying him is guaranteeing him First Division football next season, we should be telling him he is one of the key figures in getting us promoted. Secondly, assuming league rules allow, we should include various clauses in his contract to let him go back to United, say, at the start of 2000. Desperate times require desperate measures such as buying up ex-United players on dodgy terms.

If the problem is money, we ought to be able to borrow a few hundred pounds based on the cash Palace owe us for Bradbury. Incidentally, I bumped into David Bernstein at Piccadilly after the game on Saturday and cheekily offered him the spare change in my pocket to help fund the transfer. He turned down my offer unless it was intended to pay for his Burger King Whopper!

Meanwhile, has anyone else noticed how our lovely flouro away shirts start smelling a bit iffy straight from the wash? Or maybe my wardrobe needs fumigating!

And finally, good luck to Roger the Kiwi Blue who’s running the London Marathon in aid of a children’s charity (cheque’s in the post). I hope you’re not feeding yourself up on too many GM crops in preparation!

James Nash (


Man City played host to Lincoln for their 9th game of the season. Lincoln turned up with only 10 men so we gave them one of our good young lads who I spent the entire half trying to mark and tackle – won’t do that again (the bugger nutmegged me as well).

Due to a late start, the game was 35 minutes each way. City started swiftly and went 1-0 up within 5 minutes, great shot from 25 yards from our other youngster Michael (will never lend him away!). I can’t remember the order, but Michael scored again, Lee scored 2, Spenner curled one in with his left foot about 25 yards out and Paddy got another. All in the first half!

So half-time and the score is 6-0 to the Blues and we could have been on to a goal fest.

However, we actually decided to give them our goalkeeper and our top midfield player Spenner (he’ll be happy I said that) and we took their ‘keeper onto our team (although I made him full-back and Martin Ford donned the ‘keeper’s jersey for the second time this season). We started the second-half like the first and scored again through Paul (on his début). However, due to the changes Lincoln became much better and we lost our structure, which was my fault for not getting it organised better. This allowed Lincoln to gain confidence and attack a lot swifter. They soon started to bang in the goals. I really enjoyed the one where the player from Lincoln who joined our team took the ball at his right-back position and decided to dribble around his players towards our goal mouth, to be dispossessed and allowed Lincoln to slot away an easy goal – it definitely looked like a training ground routine to me…

Lee Hanson got our final goal and the match finished 8-4 to Man City.

Our next game is against Gillingham. We now have 3 games left and if we win all 3 we will win the league. It’s in our own hands but the last games are going to be very hard as they are against 2 teams in the top 3.

Look at to see the current league and results.

Dave Barker, McVitee FC (


Promotion Hopes Boosted

City’s 4-0 home win over Lincoln at Maine Road on Saturday coupled with a spectacularly fortuitous set of other results for the Blues has had a major impact on promotion ambitions. By all accounts, the Imps were swept aside without too many problems, enabling the Blues to take full advantage of defeats for eight of the division’s top eleven sides. The only winners at the top end of the table other than City were Fulham, who haven’t featured in our calculations for months anyway, and Gillingham, whose win over Bournemouth at least meant three dropped points for another of our promotion rivals. The result leaves City in fourth place, two points behind Walsall (who have two games in hand), and one behind Preston, who have one match more to play than we do.

To deal with first things first, things are looking very good now in terms of play-off qualification. Wigan’s defeat at Craven Cottage and Stoke’s capitulation at home to Bristol Rovers leaves both sides trailing the Blues by eleven points. Wigan have three games in hand and Stoke two, but realistically City will have to self-destruct to miss out. If we were to win three of our last five games (and with three home fixtures against teams in mid-table or lower, it would be disappointing to fail), Stoke would need to win every remaining game (a very tall order for a team averaging less than a point per match since before Christmas) and Wigan would have to win seven of their eight (a tough task when those games plus the AWS final are crammed into three and a half weeks). The likes of Millwall, Chesterfield and Reading are still further behind and with each losing on Saturday, none looks now to have even a remote prospect of a top six place.

As before, the automatic promotion dream, of course, is reliant on others slipping up. The difference now is that it looks as if maybe, just maybe, the process may have started. Walsall apparently looked jittery when struggling last midweek to overcome their mid-table visitors from Wrexham despite the Welsh side playing almost the entire game with ten men. The Saddlers then lost at Colchester on Saturday. Preston’s only point out of the last nine was in the Easter Monday draw with ourselves, and on Saturday they fell to lowly Macclesfield despite having taken the lead. Of course, if Walsall win five out of their last seven or Preston five of their last six, there’s nothing we can do. Furthermore, we’ve absolutely no margin for error with our own results. On the other hand, if we can put those two teams in the position where they have to win five of their remaining games, there appears real grounds for optimism that they’ll be found wanting. Joe Royle enthused, “Let’s win these [five remaining] games and see where it takes us. That would take us to 87 points and if we do that I’d be delighted. All the results worked brilliantly for us on Saturday.”

On paper, Walsall and Preston each have a fairly demanding run-in, too. In addition to each side’s three fixtures against teams in the top seven (including a match where they play each other), they both have to face some of the relegation contenders. And as Royle noted, “Teams are finding it hard against sides struggling and that is going to help us.” Let’s hope he’s right – apart from when we face Wycombe and York! With Gillingham, Walsall and Preston due still to face Fulham, Kevin Keegan’s side will also play a major rôle in shaping the Blues’ destiny. Hopefully, they’ll live up to their manager’s vow that his players are going all out to top the 102 point mark and go down in history with a record points total. If it goes down to the wire, we’ll be relying on them for favours – in the vital final week of the season, Fulham follow a midweek visit to Walsall by welcoming Preston to Craven Cottage.

While we’re not in control of our destiny, we need to take the bit between our teeth. Even if we’re denied by Walsall or Preston, at the least we need to finish strongly to ensure that we clinch a place in the top four, thereby securing a home game in the second leg of the play-off semi-final. This would also ensure we’d approach the play-off matches as the form team. We’ve a chance to take a big step in that direction in midweek, too. Tuesday’s matches between Bournemouth and Walsall, Fulham and Gillingham and Wigan and Preston will ensure that at least three of the division’s top seven will drop points. In these circumstances, we really have to take three points from our own home game against mid-table opposition.

Dickov Stakes His Claim

In addition to being a vital result for the Blues, Saturday’s win over Lincoln marked a personal triumph for Paul Dickov. In addition to notching the first hat-trick of his professional career, the former Arsenal striker appears to have booked his place in the City attack for the rest of the season. Dickov was left out for the trip to Colchester only three weeks ago when Gareth Taylor was preferred for a starting rôle, and the signing of Mark Robins until the end of the season didn’t appear to bode well for the Scot either. Now, he’s in pole position to partner Shaun Goater for the remainder of the campaign, and with criticism levelled at the City strike force for its lack of goals in recent months, if this heralds a rich vein of form for Dickov, it will certainly be a timely boost. The player himself feels his difficulty in establishing a regular place has been an inspiration. “The competition has given me an extra spur to do well because you know players are snapping away at your heels to take your place,” he commented.

Stars Escape Bans

Saturday was an important day for the Blues to run into a referee who wasn’t inclined to brandish cards with the abandon of many who’ve officiated in our matches this season. Walsall official Mark Warren elected not to show a single card of either hue in the match, meaning that the three players in the City line-up who were one yellow card away from another ban can rest easy. Players who reach the total of five or eight bookings after April 10 won’t have to serve a suspension, which as far as City are concerned means a reprieve for Kevin Horlock, Michael Brown, Shaun Goater, Gerard Wiekens and Jamie Pollock (the latter two avoiding the risk of a further suspension by the simple expedient of missing the Lincoln game through injury). Andy Morrison, however, won’t find similar leniency should he reach the landmark of fourteen bookings.

Cash Injection Set For Summer

Following last week’s 5p rise in the share price, the Manchester Evening News on Saturday carried an update on chairman David Bernstein’s attempts to attract investment into the club. According to the paper, talks are ongoing, and the fact that the transfer deadline has passed has removed some of the pressure from the negotiations, since it removes an element of desperation to allow Royle a chance to spend this season. Using a word he’s employed before, the chairman says he’s “hopeful” of a deal, likely to include the purchase of a significant block of shares, being struck. “We are continuing to have discussions and they are going well,” he affirmed.

Can’t Cooke Won’t Cooke

The regular stand-by of padding out the MCIVTA news summary with speculation on Terry Cooke’s future is nearing the end of its useful life, with a decision one way or the other due in less than a week – Saturday’s visit to Gillingham is the player’s last match during his loan spell at City, with any subsequent appearances possible only if he signs on a permanent basis. However, despite Joe Royle’s promise that he’ll do what he can to make this prospect a reality, the suspicion has to be that if this was going to happen, it would have done so already. The rumour is that the player will return to Old Trafford next week to see out the remainder of his United contract, and will then take stock of his situation in the summer when he’s a free agent. It’s thought that City would be his preferred option at that stage only in the event that the Blues secure promotion to Division One. If that’s true, the Luton game on Wednesday evening will be the player’s farewell to Maine Road – at least for now.

Luton Preview

The last time Luton travelled to Maine Road, it was for a top-flight fixture and they encountered a City side bidding for a place in Europe. Their 4-0 defeat, including a bizarre David White effort almost from the half-way line, appeared to keep the Blues on course for continental travels the following season and hammered another nail in the Hatters’ relegation coffin. In those days, third place was needed for a UEFA Cup berth, so the eventual fifth spot achieved by Peter Reid’s team wasn’t enough. The season ended in disappointment for Luton, too, as they were duly relegated, and in 1996 they took another drop. City, of course, had matched this feat by last summer, but while we now have genuine hopes of beginning the climb back to the top in the next few weeks, things look grim for our opponents. Hopefully, we’ll find them distracted, since it’s hardly plain sailing at Kenilworth Road just now. After planning permission for a new stadium was refused and following an arson attack on his home, chairman David Kohler decided he’d had enough, and the club went into administration. Financial problems have seen a couple of the better players, Graham Alexander and Shaun Evers, depart for Preston and Reading respectively, while after looking play-off possibles in the early part of the season, Lennie Lawrence’s side have slipped to become the epitome of the phrase “mid-table mediocrity”. I’m sure no Blue who witnessed the corresponding fixture in May 1983 would ever want us to show Luton Town sympathy at least on the pitch, but in any case, our situation means we simply have to be ruthless. Anything less than three points on Wednesday will be a big disappointment.

Peter Brophy (


Will the boys in laser blue force me to eat my words of 3 weeks ago that: “Automatic promotion cannot be achieved”? – I do hope so, but I still think we won’t make it. In fact it’s still touch and go whether we reach the play-offs at all – especially if Joe can’t keep Terry Cooke: Quite simply, without his width, our attack simply does not score enough goals.

The form guide indicates that we will finish 3rd (with Preston’s form starting to wobble badly). However, there is some optimism for us finishing second, as:

Preston have a dreadful end of season run-in as they have to play: Wigan(A), Blackpool(H), Walsall(H), Millwall(A), Notts County(H) and Fulham(A). That’s 4 matches against teams in the top 10 plus a local derby! If we keep our current form and Preston fail to win 2 of their remaining games then we will probably overtake them.

Walsall’s end of season run-in is not that much better with every game counting towards promotion or relegation. They have to play: Bournemouth(A), Macclesfield(H), Preston(A), Lincoln(A), Oldham(H), Stoke (A) and (to be arranged…) Fulham(H). That’s 4 games against teams in the top 10 and 3 against relegation candidates. If we keep our current form and Walsall fail to win 3 of their remaining games then we will probably overtake them (remember our ‘goals scored’ total is better than Walsall’s – so we only have to get level!).

I’m beginning to think that automatic promotion is possible… but then again if Cooke goes…

As to Wednesday night’s game against Luton I’m afraid I have a bad feeling about it… (but then again…)

Team        Pld GS Pts  L6   Final   L6   Ave L6     Final    Pos
                        GS    GS     Pts   Pts        Pts
Fulham       39 66 90 (14)15 83.50 (16)18 14.33 (108.00)111.00=1
Walsall      39 54 74 (10) 9 64.50 (11)13 10.67  (87.50) 89.17=2
Preston NE   40 71 73  (7) 7 78.00 (10) 7 10.56  (85.33) 80.00=5 on GS
City         41 58 72 (14)12 68.00 (15)16 13.00  (85.50) 85.33=3
Gillingham   40 65 71  (8)11 76.00  (7)12 10.56  (74.33) 83.00=4
Bournemouth  40 61 70  (5) 6 67.00 (10)10 10.78  (80.33) 80.00=6
Wigan        38 57 61 (11) 8 67.67 (12) 9 13.29  (78.00) 73.00
Stoke        39 50 61  (9) 9 60.50  (9) 7  5.22  (73.50) 69.17
Millwall     40 47 58  (9) 8 55.00  (9) 9  7.78  (67.00) 67.00
Chesterfield 39 44 58  (8) 7 52.17 (10) 7  9.22  (72.00) 66.17
Reading      41 49 57 (10) 5 53.17 (10) 4 10.60  (68.67) 60.33
Figures in brackets indicate last weeks values
Pld = Played
L6  = Last 6
GS  = Goals Scored
Ave = Average
Pts = Points
Pos = Final Position

And the games that count during the next few weeks are…

Tuesday 13th April
Bournemouth    v  Walsall         KO 7.45 <6 pointer>
Fulham         v  Gillingham      KO 7.45 <6 pointer>
Lincoln City   v  Reading         KO 7.45
Macclesfield   v  Chesterfield    KO 7.45
Wigan          v  Preston         KO 7.45 <6 pointer>
Wednesday 14th April
Man City       v  Luton           KO 7.45
Millwall       v  Colchester      KO 7.45
Stoke          v  Wycombe         KO 7.45
Saturday 17th April
Burnley        v  Bournemouth     KO 3.00
Chesterfield   v  Fulham          KO 3.00
Gillingham     v  Man City        KO 3.00 <6 pointer - WE MUST WIN>
Preston        v  Blackpool       KO 1.00
Reading        v  Northampton     KO 3.00
Walsall        v  Macclesfield    KO 3.00
York           v  Stoke           KO 3.00
Tuesday 20 April
Chesterfield   v  Bristol Rovers  KO 7.45
Northampton    v  Wigan           KO 7.45
Preston        v  Walsall         KO 7.45 <6 pointer>
Wrexham        v  Gillingham      KO 7.30
York           v  Blackpool       KO 7.45
Wednesday 21 April
Fulham         v  Millwall        KO 7.45 <6 pointer>
Saturday 24 April
Bournemouth    v  Chesterfield    KO 3.00
Fulham         v  Wrexham         KO 3.00
Lincoln City   v  Walsall         KO 3.00
Man City       v  Wycombe         KO 3.00
Millwall       v  Preston         KO 3.00
Oldham         v  Gillingham      KO 3.00
Stoke          v  Burnley         KO 3.00
Wigan          v  Reading         KO 3.00 <6 pointer>
Tuesday 27 April
Bristol Rovers v  Millwall        KO 7.45
Colchester     v  Bournemouth     KO 7.45
Luton          v  Chesterfield    KO 7.45
Macclesfield   v  Stoke           KO 7.45
Wigan          v  Lincoln City    KO 7.45

RTRCWMC (Riding the Roller-Coaster with Man City), Richard Mottershead (


Walter Smith (MCIVTA 489)

Re. Your 10 reasons why it’s ace to support Manchester City.

   4.    People know that you are not a home counties spoilt B*st*rd.
   5.    You can take the mick out of people from the home counties,
         for following a team they have absolutely no connection with.

So. What’s all this about then? I can’t believe that I’m (in fact I know I’m not) the only Home Counties born and bred Blue who supports City. So for me and others like me, do we all fit into your categories four and five, Walter? Please clarify the following.

  1. Does merely being from the Home Counties make you a spoilt B*st*rd?
  2. Am I ripe for having the mick taken out of me as I follow a team with whichI have absolutely no connection? In my defence I’ll offer that I’ve supported Cityfor thirty years and I’d love to support my local team if I could, as every homegame for me is like an away game for a Manc. Alas I can’t as I too regard it asace to support Manchester City. See my Why Blue from late last year for moredetails of my sad association with City.

Incidentally, your other eight criteria are pretty sound though. Especially three and nine!

Still, it could be worse. I might come from Wigan and not be able to spin a top (thanks to Tony Burns).

Joe Royle

I know that he should be judged on the silverware that he wins but I feel that it’s time to give the man a bit of praise. He’s now got a better points per game ratio than even the Mighty Joe (Mercer Stadium). OK, so the level of football is worlds apart, but you can only beat who you are playing against!

Actually the article in the current Bert Trautmann’s Helmet sums up Royle’s first year rather well.


In agreement with Steve Maclean about clearing out players. We could (and will) lose another ten and no one would notice. Don’t forget that we’ll need to buy three or four if we go up, plus one or two breaking through from the reserves.

Andy Noise (


I told you so, we’re already in the play-offs. If Walsall or Preston lose their bottle in the last few games then great, whatever, City will not be overtaken by Wigan or Stoke.

So… where do I apply for my Wembley tickets?

Peter Abbott (


Has anybody got any tickets for the Gillingham game this Saturday? If so please Email me or call me on 0115 976 8620. Tickets in the Gillingham end are not a problem!

Stuart Kelly (


Do you have the dates for the play-offs and what are the chances of two guys from Aus getting tickets for those games if we make it?


Second Division Results

Saturday, April 10 1999

Blackpool                 2-0  Reading                3,617
Aldridge (pen 31)
Clarkson (47)
Colchester United         1-0  Walsall                4,082
Greene (45)
Fulham                    2-0  Wigan Athletic        12,140
Albert (56)
Symons (64)
Macclesfield Town         3-2  Preston North End      4,325
Askey (50)                     Basham (35, 66)
Durkan (63)
Wood (65)
Manchester City           4-0  Lincoln City          26,298
Dickov (34, 45, 48)
Horlock (63)
Northampton Town          1-0  Luton Town             6,856
Corazzin (34)
Notts County              2-0  Chesterfield           5,121
Owers (45)
Stallard (90)
Oldham Athletic           1-1  Burnley                8,542
Tipton (37)                    Payton (52)
Stoke City                1-4  Bristol Rovers        17,823
Thorne (41)                    Roberts (53)
                               Foster (81)
                               Cureton (84, 88)
Wrexham                   0-2  Wycombe Wanderers      2,450
                               Carroll (70)
                               McSporran (88)
York City                 2-1  Millwall               2,572
Rowe (85)                      Shaw (71)
Thompson (90)

Second Division Table, up to and including Saturday, April 10 1999 (5:00pm)

                              HOME            AWAY
                         P  W  D  L  F  A   W  D  L  F  A   Pts   GS
Fulham                  39 16  2  1 39 10  12  4  4 27 16    90   66
Walsall                 39 11  6  3 30 20  11  2  6 24 21    74   54
Preston North End       40 11  5  4 43 20  10  5  5 28 20    73   71
MANCHESTER CITY         41 11  6  3 31 12   8  9  4 27 17    72   58
Gillingham              40 14  5  2 41 15   5  9  5 24 21    71   65
Bournemouth             40 14  5  1 37 10   6  5  9 24 28    70   61
Wigan Athletic          38 11  3  4 32 12   7  4  9 25 26    61   57
Stoke City              39  9  3  8 27 26  10  1  8 23 23    61   50
Millwall                40  8  7  5 29 21   8  3  9 18 26    58   47
Chesterfield            39 13  3  4 33 16   3  7  9 11 22    58   44
Reading                 41  9  6  6 27 25   6  6  8 22 29    57   49
Luton Town              40  9  4  7 23 23   4  6 10 23 31    49   46
Blackpool               40  6  8  6 21 19   6  5  9 16 26    49   37
Notts County            39  7  4  7 25 22   6  5 10 21 31    48   46
Wrexham                 39  7  6  7 18 23   5  5  9 20 31    47   38
Bristol Rovers          40  7  8  6 30 26   3  7  9 23 22    45   53
Colchester United       40  7  7  6 20 25   3  8  9 23 33    45   43
Burnley                 40  7  6  8 22 33   3  7  9 23 37    43   45
York City               40  5  7  8 25 30   6  2 12 24 40    42   49
Wycombe Wanderers       40  7  4 10 27 23   3  6 10 16 28    40   43
Northampton Town        40  4  8  7 16 21   5  5 11 16 26    40   32
Oldham Athletic         40  5  4 10 20 26   5  5 11 19 31    39   39
Lincoln City            39  8  3  8 24 23   2  3 15 10 43    36   34
Macclesfield Town       39  6  4  9 17 22   3  5 12 16 29    36   33

With thanks to Soccernet


Contributions: Ashley –
News & Rumours: Peter –
Subscriptions & Club Questions: Steve –
Technical Problems: Paul –

The views expressed in MCIVTA are entirely those of the subscribersand there is no intention to represent these opinions as being thoseof Manchester City Football Club, nor of any of the companies anduniversities by whom the subscribers are employed. It is not inany way whatsoever connected to the club or any other relatedorganisation and is simply a group of supporters using this mediumas a means of disseminating news and exchanging opinions.

[Valid3.2]Mark Varley,

Newsletter #491