Newsletter #502

Haven’t really time to write much of an intro tonight, other than to say what a fantastic occasion it was last night. Not only did City come up with the goods, but I fell for the bait set for me by Col Surrey, Paul Howarth and Steve Bolton, hook, line and sinker! I won’t say anything further about this little set-up until after it’s all sunk in, save to mention that it was a moment I’ll not ever forget. I’m off to the US for 5 days now and Col has promised to write up what happened; I’ll be back in 3 issues time and will hopefully write something about it then, when you’ve all heard it from the conspirators’ mouths.

Back to Wenbley though – the controversy over tickets has already begun, with City’s allocation being 34,000 initially, and Gillingham’s a staggering 30,000, with the rest held in reserve to be distributed according to how well – or not – the first lot sell. It all seems incredibly ill-thought through; surely it doesn’t take a nobel laureate to work out that a large number of the Gills’ tickets will be snapped up by touts who’ll merely sell them on at a vast profit to Blues. Just what effect will that have on segregation at Wembley?

Lastly, due to my absence, Graham Jones (not that one – at least I think so!) has kindly agreed to step in for MCIVTA 503 and 504. Please send all articles to Graham.

Next game, Gillingham at Wembley, Final of Division 2 play-offs, 30th May 1999


I’ll be away for Issues 503 (Monday 24th May) and 504 (Thursday 27th May). Graham Jones has kindly agreed to take over, so please send all articles for inclusion in MCIVTA to Graham at:



MANCHESTER CITY vs. WIGAN ATHLETIC, Wednesday 19th May 1999

Well where do I start with this match report? I tried like mad to get a ticket before the game, I posted numerous times on Blue View and got a response from a couple of people. I left one my sister’s mobile phone number, knowing I could ring her for her messages. Top bloke, he called and left a message on the phone. My sister told me to go to the Oasis Suite, to meet Paul (I went but didn’t know what he looked like, and the manager told me the microphone was broke, so I went around a few people asking to no avail).

Went to the Parkside, MCFCBIRD was there, still no ticket joy, went to the ground, £40 was the cheapest I could get it for. No way, I said, but there were 100’s looking for tickets, no chance. The game was well underway, still no joy. City scored; they cheered inside, we cheered outside, still no ticket, so I took it upon myself to ask every individual there if they had a ticket, after about 12 people, this bloke said he did, but there was a catch (oh no, I thought I’m not that way inclined), but the catch was it was in the Wigan end, oh sod it I’ll have it, button up my top and keep my mouth firmly shut). A steal at £5, it was going to be a good night after all.

So I took my seat in the Wigan end, I had the choice of plenty, and began to watch, City were one nil up and dominating. The defence looked sound as of late, and Brown and Whitley were playing well together in the middle of park. Cooke is like a whippet on drugs, firing down the wing, he also possesses a decent cross. Horlock was not playing as well as I have seen him this season. I was just getting into it and the ref blew for half-time.

The Wigan fans were not happy with the goal, or a penalty decision, but true to my word, my mouth remained shut. The Wiganers were not in the mood to do much chatting, but would have loved to have taken out their frustation on a lonely Manc. Second half kicked off and the tension was there for all to feel: ‘oh to be a Wiganer’ was coming from all around me, along with ‘You’re the sh*t of Manchester’ (what does that make them?). Vaughan was getting the crowd going with his no nonsense tackling and ‘C’moning’ to the Kippax, Edghill looked cool under pressure, but as the match drew on Wigan seemed to be attacking more. They brought on 3 subs very quickly, we brought on Taylor (he for me is as useful as a seive in a free brewery), he had one chance and managed to pass it to their goalkeeper. Dickov ran his socks off for 90 minutes, and was a constant thorn in Wigan’s side. Wigan only managed one serious attack right near the end and hit the bar with it (my mouth still firmly shut). The flags were flying all over Maine Road and it looked unbelievable, I could see the police horses visibly upset at the amount of noise being caused. When the final whistle went the place went mad, 1,000’s poured onto the pitch, the Wigan fans were asked to leave, they were a bit upset to say the least (mouth shut, no eye contact, just get out, and let this bottled up emotion shout out, my mate Jimmy got all the hugs and shouts when I met him outside the club shop. On the way home Rusholme was going mental, car horns were going, grown men were hugging and singing. For atmosphere I have never known a game like it. The Blue army looked impressive from where I was sat.

SYAW (See You At Wembley), Walter Smith (


MANCHESTER CITY vs.WIGAN ATHLETIC, Wednesday 19th May 1999

Fate had conspired in my favour to ensure that a planned trip to Bulgaria was cancelled, leaving me to get to the delightful if slightly bizarre screening at Maine Road on Saturday and then more importantly the uplifting experience of the second leg at Maine Road.

On a night when the result was always going to mean much, much more than the quality of the game, it was with some excitement and trepidation that I left the office at 3.30 to drive home from Sheffield to ready myself for what was to be the white hot heat of Maine Road.

Before leaving the office I decided to quell some of the pathetic baiting from colleagues. I decided that I would let Lady Luck indicate to me just exactly what was to be in store. I dipped my hand into a rather large bag of midget gems, telling colleagues that the sweet in my right hand would be used to represent City, the sweet in my left to represent Wigan.

I went through this rather elaborate process with my eyes closed. On opening them, and my hands, I saw that City were represented by an orange sweet, whilst Wigan had the absolute misfortune of being represented by a little yellow misshapen midget gem. Ha, that was it. Of course I realised immediately that this was indeed a special sign and fortunately I was able to interpret it very quickly for my somewhat cynical colleagues. It’s obvious really, the yellow sweet represented the colour of cowardice. I knew then that this meant the team would surrender. I found it odd that my colleagues thought this approach a little odd and unreliable – how wrong they were.

The journey home was magnificent, I played non-stop the recording of Blue Moon by Supra. No doubt other fans will have tales to tell of their journey on this eventful night not least the party of Wigan fans who had baked a huge potato pie, scooped out the innards and managed to motorise it – whole families sat in rows inside the rough-hewn pastry as they trundled towards Manchester.

For pure innovation this was bettered only by the family that had taken a rather more traditional Wigan approach and somehow drifted down the Mersey to Manchester inside their oversized, upturned and simple looking flat caps.

After donning Robe di Kappa we made our way towards the hallowed ground. The weather was wonderful and shirt-sleeve order was in place. This meant that the wonderful colours of our fabric would overshadow the dull, dreary pie-stained sackcloth (Robe di Millworker – I think) that our opponents would wear.

We had a drink at the crowded Sherbourne, mine a rather satisfying pint of Guinness, before moving slowly and purposefully to the Theatre of Hope.

The Wigan fans had been allocated the Gene Kelly and some of the North Stand. As we arrived we saw a number of quaint charabancs pulling up to disgorge their load; it was at this moment that I realised how useful it is to have on-board latrines.

They looked weary yet excited, tired yet alert, they were certainly an interesting looking lot – from an anthropological perspective. It seemed that each and every one of them man, woman, boy and girl knew this was to be their Wembley, at least I think that’s why they looked a little long in the face.

Many of them clutched their half-time cakes and snouts closely to their chests, other warmed pies in the early evening sun. Some simply wondered at the lack of cobbles; we meanwhile made our way to the entrance to our seats.

There were certainly extra police on duty and I was a little surprised at the number of police horses that were there. Due to the special nature of this game, flags were to be allowed into the ground and I’m not joking that this made for a sensational vista before, during and after the game. Some folk had not quite got the message right and had hauled huge flags on their backs all apparently taken up from the Wigan pavements, to spur their team on.

Moving onto the action, we were in for a treat at about 7.25 when our very own Ashley trod the turf to receive his special award for 500 issues of this esteemed publication.

The atmosphere was building before the players came out and the wave of expectation and hope cracked out into the early evening air to create a stunning, almost visible wall of sound as the boys came out. This was it, 90 minutes to glory or 90 minutes to despair. I’ll tell you what though, if noise, colour, love, hope and emotion ever came together it was now. God knows what the Wigan players thought and indeed their fans, but each and every one of us we knew what we had to do to show the depth of support and loyalty we have to this, the most topsy turvey crisis-ridden club of the last 20 years.

I don’t really want to write about the game, why should I, who cares on a night when all that counted was the result? What I will say is we had a good first 20 minutes, a scrambled goal, a nervous and dodgy second half, a few close scrapes and the relief of a shot that hit the bar. The screaming, shrill, piecing whistles for the referee to call time were energy sapping but the explosion that followed was one to savour. The pre-match proclamations that the team would do a lap of honour were hopelessly na