Newsletter #504

Another lengthy edition! Firstly, let me state that while I have included most of the ‘analysis’ regarding the ticket sales hoping they reach the appropriate ears, please do not let the generally negative comments detract from the important events on Sunday. In fact, the balance is redressed with one plaudit for the Club’s operation.

A trip to nearby Camberley this morning (that’s in the sarf of England!), surprisingly revealed lots of happy youngsters (do them for truancy I say!), wearing Rags apparel and making sure that everyone knew who they were aligned to. The special Rag section echoes my feelings on the subject. There’s a Why Blue? (keep them coming), and a nice MU humour piece.

Finally, it’s been an honour to be the Guest Editor of this august publication. I can now appreciate what a great job Ashley does for us all.

Remember! Future contributions revert to Ashley for MCIVTA 505.

Next, and last game of the season: Gillingham at Wembley, Final of Division 2 Play-Offs, 30th May 1999 K.O. 3-00pm


Short and Sweet Request!

Are there any avenues left for obtaining tickets for Sunday?! It would be much appreciated… I am after 2 if possible.

Mark Schweiger (


There is a slight possibility that I will have a extra ticket for the England-Sweden game on Sat. 5th June. Last game to be played at Wembley before they tear it down. If any True Blue City fan is interested they can mail me at the address below.

Ron Smith (


Part I – Play-Off Final

All tickets sold: The Blues have now sold their entire allocation of tickets for Sunday’s play-off final against Gillingham at Wembley. Earlier in the week, the club was awarded an extra 800 tickets to take the total allocation to around 40,000. However, these along with all other tickets which weren’t snapped up by season ticket holders and members by the end of Tuesday were sold over the telephone on Wednesday. This means there should be a capacity crowd for the final, with Gillingham having disposed of their allocation by Sunday lunchtime. Of course, most of us expect City to have comfortably in excess of 40,000 fans in the stadium, since the Gills’ rather haphazard methods of ticket distribution were a godsend for touts.

Police called to Maine Road: Wednesday’s policy of telephone sales caused uproar among more than fifty fans who’d queued overnight at the ground only to find the ticket office closed in the morning. Some of those waiting had come from considerable distances and were understandably aggrieved – so much so that police were called to Maine Road to calm the situation. Indeed, there’s been much criticism of the club’s handling of ticket distribution in the last week – as this edition of MCIVTA will no doubt reflect.

Team news: Tony Vaughan, who postponed his wedding by a fortnight thanks to the play-offs, looks set to miss out on the Wembley date, a place on the bench being the best he can hope for. Vaughan’s starting berth is expected to go to captain Andy Morrison, who is now over the knee injury which sidelined him for the two semi-final clashes against Wigan. Meanwhile, Joe will also have a selection dilemma in midfield, with Ian Bishop likely to be fit after straining his hamstring against York three weeks ago. It looks like Bishop, Jamie Pollock and Jeff Whitley are competing for one place in the starting line-up and one place on the bench. Joe reckons he already knows what his line-up will be on Sunday but he’s playing his proverbial cards close to his chest. The official word is that the Blues have a seventeen-man squad – the fourteen on duty against Wigan plus Bishop, Morrison and standby ‘keeper Tommy Wright.

City in away kit: With Gillingham wearing their home blue and black striped shirts on Sunday, it’s been confirmed that City will be in their away citrus and navy kit. This may be an omen, since the away kit has been something of a lucky one for the Blues this season. In fourteen games in which it’s been worn, only one (away to Wycombe in November) has ended in defeat. And of course, City have a good record over the years in big games where we’ve worn away colours – for instance, the FA Cup finals of 1934, 1956 and 1969, the semi-finals in 1969 and 1981, and the League and European Cup Winners’ Cup finals in 1970 spring to mind.

Blues ready for shoot-out: One of the most nerve-wracking possible scenarios for Sunday is the spectre of a penalty shoot out should the two sides be level at the end of extra time. This is a prospect for which City are said to have been preparing themselves. Under the supervision of goalkeeping coach Alex Stepney, Nicky Weaver has apparently been practising saving penalties, while the holding of one or two recent training sessions behind closed doors has aroused suspicions that the outfield players have also been honing their spot kick skills. Thursday’s Manchester Evening News, meanwhile, reported that Richard Edghill (a player who has never scored for City’s first team) will be one of City’s five nominated penalty takers should the nerve-shredding prospect become a reality. The others likely to be stepping forward are reckoned to be Terry Cooke, Kevin Horlock, Gerard Wiekens and Paul Dickov.

Part II – Other News

Whitley taken off list: City midfielder Jeff Whitley has been taken off the transfer list after impressing manager Joe Royle in recent weeks. According to Royle, the Northern Ireland international has been a “different player” since returning in March from a successful loan spell at Wrexham, where he scored two goals in six games playing on the right-hand side of midfield. Royle obviously hopes that the player will fulfil the promise he showed immediately after breaking into the first team as a 17-year-old at the start of the 1996-97 season. Then, he did well enough to attract a reported £1.2 million bid for his services from a Premiership club – ironically, the club in question was Everton, then managed by Joe Royle.

Robins to be released: Striker Mark Robins has failed to earn himself a permanent contract at the club. The former Manchester United junior was City’s only signing on the eve of the transfer deadline two months ago when he arrived for free from Greek club Panionios. The Blues took over his contract, which had two months to run. The player’s chances of making an impression at Maine Road were effectively ended by an injury he received after making only two substitute appearances with the senior side. Joe Royle feels Robins is a “quality player” who’s bound to attract plenty of interest and explains that City’s reticence to join the queue of potential suitors owes to the large number of strikers already on the club’s books.

Pollock set for talks: Jamie Pollock is another player whose City future is uncertain. He began the season as captain and was generally regarded as a player crucial to the Blues’ hopes of promotion. His campaign went sour after a spate of yellow and red cards, and he’s ending it wondering if he’ll even make the bench for the play-off final. While the player isn’t rocking the boat in the build-up to the big game, he’s said to want reassurances over his future at Maine Road. Joe Royle and Willie Donachie have both said in recent weeks that Pollock is as talented enough to be playing at Premier League level. However, following his disciplinary problems and in view of the large number of midfielders already at the club, they may be prepared to allow him to move on at the right price.

Transfer rumours: If (fingers crossed) City are successful on Sunday afternoon, we can expect transfer speculation to intensify. However, even at this stage we’re being linked with a fair number of players. The latest is former Oldham left-back Carl Serrant, who’s out of favour at Newcastle and spent the closing part of the season on loan to Bury. Another intriguing name being mentioned is former favourite Niall Quinn, who may be available if Peter Reid strengthens the Sunderland strike force for their top-flight return and leaves he Irish international in the cold. Meanwhile, Reid is said to be keen on taking Gerard Wiekens to the north east and is said to be ready to bid over £2 million for the Dutchman.

Peter Brophy (


The following is the text of a letter I’m posting this morning to David Bernstein (it’s 0540 on 25 May and I couldn’t sleep!)

Thank You For Your Loyal Support

Distribution of tickets for Wembley play-offs

Dear Sir

Myself and my three friends are regular supporters at Maine Road. None of us are season ticket holders as we know that due to work commitments we will miss at least three or four matches during the season. This coupled with the fact that we like to attend The Centenary Suite (Blackpool, Stoke & York this year) make a season ticket obviously uneconomical.

We do not have a problem with tickets during the season, one of my friends works nights and is able to purchase them the week before or I will call one afternoon. Failing this, as we are all members of The Official Supporters’ Club (Hyde), there is always the possibility of tickets from that source.

I have missed three matches this season, the others two.

I am also a MCFC Supporters’ Club member which would allow me to apply for a ticket today but would not help the other three who were due to apply Wednesday (truth be known, I am in Scotland this weekend due to a long standing commitment).

My friends have booked and paid for the coach from the OSC in readiness for Sunday but what do we discover has happened to our allocation? Of the 39,000 tickets there will be a few thousand left for members on Tuesday to fight over (literally, as this weekend’s scenes outside the ticket office have proved) but we can “forget open sale Wednesday” which according to Blue View was the statement from several of the ticket windows on Monday.

I have followed the progress of the ticket sales through supporters’ own experiences on the BV medium over the weekend and note that on Saturday / Sunday, contrary to the press releases stating “one season ticket, one Wembley ticket” that season ticket holders could purchase two tickets. Most in the queue did not realise this but anyway only wanted one each. This allowed several individuals with one season ticket, the assistance of others in the queue and a substantial amount of stubs, multiple tickets.

This letter is not intended at having a go at any ST holders but at the fact that the club allowed it to happen at all.

The rules are simple, One season ticket = One Wembley ticket = 16,000 tickets.

This leaves 23,000. Take away the club’s requirements for complimentaries and hospitality packages, say 5,000 plus another 2,000 for the Junior Blues leaves us with a further 16,000 for the average supporter.

A quick look at this year’s attendances, show that there are about 12,000 of us ‘average supporters’ so by following the above and using the membership cards / ticket stub scheme for open sale, most will get a ticket.

However, thanks to the way they have been distributed the ‘average supporter’ will not be at Wembley this Sunday.

Somehow I feel the phrase “Thank You For Your Loyal Support” when heard on a cold, wet January evening will leave me feeling rather ‘bitter’.

Yours Faithfully

David F Ball, and also on behalf of; Nigel Boden, Jarred Collinge and Steve Beddows all CTWD (


I, like many other s/t holder had to queue for more than 12 hours (12 hours and 5 minutes in my case) to eventually get my Wembley tickets for this Sunday’s big match and I would like to share my experience with the readers of MCIVTA. Far from being satisfied with the ticket office’s handling of the situation, I will not go on with the already perennial complaints, letting others with more (previous) experiences with the office to air their views.

What I would like to share instead is the general friendly and humorous attitude of the City fans that helped ease my pain of waiting in line for 12 hours.

Despite being a Singaporean, I was never frowned at or regarded as an outsider by the other Mancunians who queued with me for the tickets. In fact, they were very friendly and shared many jokes with me throughout the wait. Among them was Marktheblue of Blue View. Some even offered hot drinks, food and coat as I obviously came un-prepared, all of which undoubtedly eased my shivering, and aching knees and back. It must have been the longest introduction I ever had to anyone in my life and thankfully it was a pleasant one indeed.

By the way, I came equipped only with some lecture notes for my Time Series and Econometrics exams I had on Monday and Tuesday. How silly I was to expect a shorter queue.

When we were under the North Stand, there was a different kind of comic relief. Many funny one liners were scribbled along the white walls of the interior of the North Stand. Among the good ones were:

“Mummy, mummy, is dad dead?”
“No son, he went for a ticket.”

“You have been queueing for __ hours. Thank you for your loyal support.”


When we eventually got out of the North Stand and into the zig-zag queue towards the sales windows, someone shouted “God, what day is it?” and another said, “Is the Kosovo war over?”

Finally, after I got my tickets, the couple queueing behind me offered a lift home. What a great day to end the miserable day, the extent of which was eased by the kind and friendly fellow City fans.

Nizam M Idris (msrahnms@stud,


The woman and her nephew who were first in the queue for Wembley tickets on Friday night / Saturday morning. I was next in the queue and offered to put their sleeping bags, chairs, blankets etc. in the boot of my car whilst we were queueing through the North Stand. Overcome with joy at actually getting the tickets I drove off immediatey forgetting that I had this additional luggage in my car.

Therefore if anyone does know the identity and whereabouts of these persons in question could they mail me so I can ensure the safe return of their belongings. From what I can remember they sit in the upper tier of the Kippax at the front.


Nigel Learmont (


Given the amount of problems City fans have experienced in getting Wembley tickets mainly because of the following factors:

  • the League’s dismal allocation and their pathetic defence of it
  • City’s apparent reluctance to fight our corner on our behalf
  • the ticket office surpassing its own p**s poor standards
  • Bernard Halford blaming everybody else but himself for the lack of a coherent selling policy
  • the greed of Gillingham FC’s chairman, Paul Scally
  • the crass disregard for City Supporters’ Club members, particularly those overseas
  • providing fans with misleading or even contradicting information

I think it would be a good idea if everyone who has experienced these or other problems should sent them all to a central point. This could possibly be a person, an address, an e-mail address or even a web site and from there this mountain of misery could then be presented to the club with the polite request that Messrs. Halford and Thomas resign their posts.

Alternatively, fans could simply address their problems to the club, but this would almost certainly result in everybody receiving a standard reply.

Has anyone got any thoughts on this?

Noel Bayley

P.S. sent to a number of important City people, as well as MCIVTA



I think someone should be cataloguing the whole affair and then, when (if) serious trouble does flare up at Wembley due to lack of segregation, decisions can be made as to where blame can be apportioned.

I have just sent another email to Chris Hull containing further “snippets” from our Message Board and the message boards of Gillingham and Millwall, outlining the potential for trouble – not that an intelligent man like him would need telling about such things. I mean, let’s face it, this man certainly has his hand on the football pulse!

Debra Brown


First let me say that I queued for an hour on Sunday in a queue that moved about 10 cm, then left for home, tried dial-a-seat and was put in a queue 12th, 11th… until first then blank. About one hour on the phone for nothing. On Monday as a season ticket holder, I got one £18 ticket for Wembley after queuing for three hours.

I disagree with most of the criticism particularly about City’s ticket office staff and the club secretary. The cost of improving City’s ticketing arrangements is unknown but to cope with 38,000 individuals (it is much easier to sell tickets in eights like Gillingham) would need a much improved site / computer facility at a time when we don’t have much money and are trying to reduce debt and improve the first team. For most of this season and for much of next (First or Second Division) the problem will be how to allocate the few tickets available, not the selling of 38,000. There has to be a priority order and it is logical to serve the needs of season ticket holders first, then members, then those who have attended games on a week by week basis. This is what City did. The only departure was to allow season ticket holders on Saturday and Sunday to have an extra ticket per application form. Bearing in mind that they are trying to shift 38,000 tickets in just over a week, they needed to be as fair as possible while getting rid of them before the game. And they need to consider the working conditions of the ticket office staff.

Much has been made of Gillingham’s allocation. I believe the 34,000 allocation was made before the semi-final result was known. The tickets were already printed with the names of all semi-finalists on them. An allocation of 34,000 would have been high but not unreasonable for Preston in my guess is that’s what they based it on. The alternative, which has not been suggested, would be to make more proportional allocations after the semi-final result and put the final back into June but that begs another question: Why should a big club like City get all the advantages in a final?

Gillingham are a small club who have had tough financial times in the not too distant past. Unlike many of those who write here, I support the smaller clubs and am glad that they rather than the likes of those with regular, big attendances get an occasional chance to make some money.

None of this addresses the issues of security which is likely to be compromised by the touts in the expected absence of pro-active policing. Touting is actually illegal and active policing near Wembley would certainly reduce some of the problem. If we made security the biggest issue citing Heysel etc., then City would have had at least 60,000 tickets, Gillingham the remainder which would give Gillingham less support and much less money. It should not surprise City fans to find that neither the League nor Gillingham would support disproportionate allocations. Giving more to those that already have a great deal sounds like a typical Premiership philosophy to me.

There is not an easy solution to the problems of the ticketing arrangements until we have more money. The fans who currently would have us with a super ticket distribution system will also want City to go into the transfer market for a striker / left winger / left full back etc. I know which I would prefer.

What we could have done was to make the queuing shorter by having faster access for those with cash and completed forms for instance, or allowing only three minutes per transaction (the queues moved slowly for a number of reasons one of which was that City fans themselves argued with the ticket staff and were unprepared for a quick buy using cards/cheques etc.). They could also have linked the season ticket database to another club/ticket agency with ticket selling facilities thus temporarily creating more outlets. City could have asked another large, efficient football club for help. I bet the queues would have been much shorter.

Although security is likely to be a major issue for Wembley which they should address, the only other solution would be to give to the relatively rich (City) at the expense of the relatively poor clubs (like Gillingham). Call me a left wing pinko communist if you like but that sucks and Manchester City did their best in the circumstances.

Possible Futures

Swipe cards instead of season tickets – allowing partial season tickets (cf Mondex type ideas).

Unmanned outlets as in Virgin Cinemas – put your charge card in and printed tickets come out.

Shared databases through a co-operative intranet of football clubs/agencies allowing London Blues for example to buy tickets and/or travel at Ticket master or Chelsea/West Ham or whoever.

Play-off ticket included in the price of the season ticket and automatically distributed by post, saving overtime costs.

This technology is here now even if the money isn’t.

Peter Llewellyn (


No doubt you will have hundreds of articles along the lines of the following!

I am seriously concerned about the mindset of officialdom at Maine Road. Rather than seeing fans as customers with an incredibly high brand loyalty, they seem to think that true loyalty can only be proven by suffering in ignorance outside the ground. Or else they had taken lessons in how best to ensure that a riot is created.

On Wednesday three of us took a day out and travelled the 80 miles from Kendal to join 400 others at 8.30 in a queue at Maine Road for tickets which were supposed to go on sale at 9a.m. By 9.30 the ticket office still had not opened and people were starting to get cross. A few people in orange coats behind the safety of the locked compound of the City shop were saying that there was no point in queuing as no tickets were being sold today other than by telephone. They were asked, not unreasonably, that some one in authority told the people in the queue but apparently no-one on the staff had arrived at the ground. One orange coat said that there were signs up saying no tickets would be sold. When told that there were not, he said that there were last night and accused one of the queuers of pulling down the signs. Realising the stupidity of his comment he retracted it. Clearly they expected trouble as they were not going to open the shop for fear of a riot!

Noticing someone at the main entrance I went and asked him what was going on. He repeated, again from behind the security of locked gates, that no tickets were being sold other than by telephone and that he had put a notice up last night. I told him there was no notice there now and suggested that someone should tell the crowd. He refused saying it was nothing to do with him, there was only cleaning staff on the premises.

Bearing in mind that people had been told to go to Maine Road on Wednesday, why did the rules change, again?

If the rules had to change, did no-one anticipate the problem that people would be arriving in good faith? Did they not realise that letting people queue without information only makes things worse? Or did no-one have the courage to face the consequence of their actions?

Without tickets and unable even to buy a shirt we drove home whilst repeatedly trying to get through the Virgin Box Office (as we had been doing since 8.30 a.m.). Needless to say without any success.

When I got home I checked the official Web Site (which we had been told to consult regularly) and discovered that it said that no tickets would be sold at Maine Road. Checking the “properties” section showed that it had been created earlier that morning. However when I had checked the web site at 6 a.m. that morning before setting off it was still saying that tickets would be on sale at Maine Road. On the other hand it did say that things might change when they knew who they were playing! Looks like they did not find out until the post arrived on Wednesday!

What a shambles! On this evidence City will be in the Second Division still next year and deserving gates of the size of Gillingham so they don’t have this problem. I just hope that Joe and the boys prove this wrong but if they do, City really must sort out the administration and start treating fans like their most important customers.


My misery at not getting a ticket for Sunday was compounded this afternoon. I decided to make a few phone calls to London ticket agencies to see if they had anything. Three places were asking 150 quid a ticket, and that presumably in the Gillingham end, what with the allocation and everything. I had a chat with one of the blokes and he said ‘It’s the one they’re all looking for.’ Which I took to mean he was going to make a killing. He also said he had to get his tickets on the black market and then make his mark-up. It’s so bloody depressing. Come on you Blues. Make us happy on Sunday.

All the best to everyone,

Daniel Marcus (


For all those of you who got tickets – congratulations – enjoy your day out.

I nor my family got a ticket, even though we used the wonders of mobile phone technology to try and get some tickets on Wednesday: The ‘dial-until-answered’ setting is a great gismo – alas it doesn’t work. From 9.00am till approximately 4:15pm my phone alone rang the Piccadilly Box Office once every 30 seconds which, according to the phone’s call log, was 859 times with: 693 network busy replies; 165 engaged tones and one connected call – alas too late by about 20 minutes. According to the nice lady at the other end of the line, the last ticket was sold just before 4pm.

Now I’ve been offered loads of tickets in the Gillingham end from touts and from my firm’s Brighton office, but I’m not going to take any of them up. The Football League’s warning posted about City fans not being allowed into the Gillingham end and being ejected if found not to be Gillingham fans is the end of that one. I just couldn’t keep quiet if City scored. Still I guess 5,000+ City fans will take this gamble. I say this because of the number of tickets in the Gillingham end that I’ve been offered – loads of these offers are bound to be taken up. Which leads me nicely to my rant about ticket allocations:

To the Football League: The allocation of tickets is a f*****g disgrace. How can it be right that we only got 5,000 more tickets than Gillingham – that’s nearly six times higher than their average attendance. 25,000 would have been fair (for we would have got 50,000) or maybe even 30,000 (that’s 45,000 to us), but 35,000 – grossly unfair. Why throw out the rule the FA use for FA Cup Finals – I guess that’s because we’re City. I bet the moron who made the decision is a Rag.

To Manchester City: Your ticket allocation system is a complete and utter shambles. Mr. Halford should be sacked for gross incompetence: Little or no information was made available by phone or Internet, no query lines were open for problems like “I’ve got two children, that’s three bodies, but I can only buy two tickets” or “we’ve got 5 tickets but would like to sit together”. Make no mistake if you want a guaranteed Wembley ticket you have to be a season ticket holder. Don’t get me wrong, a season ticket holder should get one guaranteed ticket but why two, when someone like me with 23 stubs gets none? Even then, if you’re a season ticket holder you get treated like cattle queuing for 12+ hours with no food or drink and insufficient toilet facilities, then, to make matters worse when you’ve got your tickets, gangs of youths descend on you and attempt to rob you of your prize!

The current system guarantees that the touts get stacks of tickets and make a killing. Good for me ‘coz they might still get me get a ticket for Sunday, but bad for all those who stick by the rules and get shafted for their pains.

So it’s time to fight back. As the club are obviously so incompetent and ignorant of our needs it’s time to tell them what we want. What I want from you is a list of your ideas on how you think tickets for big games, cup-ties and away games could be allocated in a fairer manner – post them to MCIVTA so we can get a good discussion going.

I’ll keep a track of the ideas and try to knock them into some sort of specification that can be presented to the club.

Enjoy Sunday, even if we lose.

Richard Mottershead (


I am not a season ticket holder but this season I have attended 34 matches despite being unavailable through university commitments for six weeks of the season. Usually I attend matches with friends who each attend varying numbers of matches so I choose not to buy a season ticket as this would prevent me from watching matches with them; instead we buy tickets on a block booking basis. Not everyone has the financial means to purchase a season ticket (or the desire) and a whole range of other factors means the purchase of a season ticket is inappropriate for many fans.

So once again City’s ticket office is under fire following the débâcle experienced by fans queueing for our wholly unsatisfactory allocation of Wembley tickets. The current system rewards season ticket holders by giving them priority over members and non-season ticket holders. Though this system is widely used by other clubs, I for one do not believe this is the most equitable system. My argument here is not with city season ticket holders who attend most home games. Rather, I know several season ticket holders who attend only big games and ‘sell on’ their tickets for the less glamorous games. Others pass their tickets around their family and friends. Invariably, these are the people who demand priority over other fans (and usually get the tickets) for tickets for major matches such as a play-off final. Is this a fair system? I think not. I have witnessed people exchanging membership cards and ticket stubs to enable them to jump the queue for tickets. Is this a fair system? I think not!

Surely, the time has come for MCFC (and other clubs) to seriously consider the installation of a swipe card system. Every time a supporter attends a game her/his card registers this. The card could easily be used to satisfy other criteria. For example, the card could be produced at the ticket office at the time of purchasing tickets so the most loyal fans would receive priority for big match tickets (i.e. fans attending 23 home matches plus cup ties get first priority). As long as the card is not seen by clubs as a vehicle predominantly for marketing purposes then it might provide an equitable alternative to the current system which has caused such resentment amongst City fans.

Perhaps the club may argue that a system of this kind is too expensive, but the necessary hardware could be transferred to the new stadium in 2003. Even if the club decided to wait until the move, the cost of setting-up the system could be comfortably be absorbed in the costs incurred at the time of the move.

Food for thought or am I looking at this problem through blue tinted spectacles?

Martin Lever (


I thought I’d share my experiences of trying to get a ticket for the play-off final. I know that ticket office nightmare stories are ten a penny, but I’m hoping this will be a cathartic process.

I live in Bath, so I took Wednesday off work to travel to Manchester. I’d checked the website and it still said tickets were on open sale from 9 am at the ticket office and also some were available from the Piccadilly Box Office. When I got to Maine Road at 5:30 am there was a queue of about 200-300 and no signs anywhere that tickets had been sold out. By 9 am there were maybe 1,500 people, but no movement at the ticket office. I was frantically phoning the Piccadilly line but it was permanently engaged.

There was still no movement at 9:30, although the website was still claiming tickets would be on sale. At 9:45 a tannoy announcement said that all tickets were being sold by phone and none was available at the ticket office.

I was not best pleased and tried to find someone to explain what had happened. After a lot of persistence I spoke to the safety officer, whose name I’ve forgotten. He explained:

  • that upward of 2,000 tickets were available after the ticket office closed on Tuesday
  • that the decision to abandon sales at the ticket office was taken Tuesday evening dueto disturbances at previous days’ sales on police advice
  • that announcements had been made on Piccadilly Radio

A steward told me that a sign had been put up, but was torn down by some eight year old boys. She criticised the fans who had turned up for trying to make up their own rules.

I find this explanation unacceptable.

It was too late to change the rules on Tuesday evening. Even if that decision was reasonable, a notice at Maine Road that was robust enough to withstand the attentions of an eight year old should have been put up. Even if that was impossible, stewards should have gone down to Maine Road early Wednesday morning to apologise and explain the situation.

The City staff acted as if they could barely tolerate the fans who were all potential troublemakers bent on disrupting their cosy world. From other stories I’ve read and heard, it seems as if the ticket office has made no special effort at all to distribute the poor allocation we received. I would have expected them to put more staff on, open longer hours and have a clear and well explained distribution policy.

Who is responsible? What can we do about it?

Martin Freeman (


I don’t where to begin with regard to what has been happening at Maine Road over the last week or so. The elation of last Wednesday’s victory over Wigan to gain a place in the play-off final at Wembley has, in a few short days, turned to despair for hundreds (possibly thousands) of City fans.

I guess it all started with the formal announcement of the ticket allocation. The Football League, in their wisdom, saw fit to allocate 34,500 tickets to Gillingham, a club whose average attendance this season was 6,900! Now that announcement in itself was shocking, but not as shocking as the announcement that City were only getting 37,000 tickets! Now, we know, and just about anybody who knows anything about football knows, that Manchester City have one of the largest followings of fans (both home and, when we can get the tickets, away), with an average attendance at Maine Road of 29,000+. So, what was the reasoning behind this allocation then? The question has been asked of the Football League, but the answers so far have been unsatisfactory, to City fans anyway. Another question has been asked of Bernard Halford: why did he not insist on a larger allocation of tickets? We certainly would have had a watertight case. But no answer has been forthcoming.

The Football League reckons there’s “a lot of interest in the Kent area”. Wrong! If there was “a lot of interest in the Kent area”, then the Gills would have a much bigger average home gate. Incidentally, for those of you who don’t know, the Gills biggest attendance this season was just over 10,000 and that was at the game against, you’ve guessed it, Manchester City!

It doesn’t take an idiot to work out that the “lot of interest” lay within the tout fraternity. They have had a field day already, selling tickets over the phone – purporting to be ticket agencies – selling tickets for £80 and £100 (“plus VAT” – did anyone ask for a VAT receipt, I wonder) for the “City end” (Yeah, right!). Something tells me these tickets will turn out to be in the Gillingham end but by the time they’ll have been received by City fans, it will be too late to do anything about it and the “ticket agency” will have disappeared into thin air. Some touts have even made appearances at Maine Road selling tickets to people in the queue! You can bet they will be out in massive numbers on the day itself.

On the day tickets went on sale at Priestfield, you could get eight Wembley tickets for one season ticket! Also, there was some other ridiculous policies in place with regard to getting tickets, along the line of the production of a couple of match programmes or ticket stubs from home games. I think if you could prove you lived in Medway, you could also get a ticket or two. Further, if you had a heart and at least one lung, you could get a ticket! That’s how they were able to shift their allocation in less than two days.

The story at Maine Road, however, was completely different and the stipulations for ticket allocation changed on an almost hourly basis! It started off at one Wembley ticket per season ticket – season ticket holders being able to apply for their play-off final tickets on the Saturday and Sunday. Within hours, it appeared you could get two Wembley tickets for your one season ticket and it continued like this until Monday morning, when they changed it back to one ticket per season ticket. Membership and Junior Blue cardholders were supposed to be able to apply for their play-off tickets on Monday and then people with a couple of home stubs could get theirs on Tuesday. Also on Monday and Tuesday, tickets were supposed to be available from Piccadilly Box Office, however, they decided to start selling them over the previous weekend and then not sell any on Monday and Tuesday. Are you still with me?

At the time of writing (the Wednesday prior to the “big day”) the ticket office at Maine Road is not opening but people can phone their orders through now. Oh yeah, and Piccadilly Box Office and Key 103 are taking phone orders today too! What the hell is this all about?! Do the words “brewery”, “organise”, “piss-up” and “couldn’t,” mean anything to anyone at Maine Road?

Horror stories are flying round the Internet like wildfire. People have booked flights and accommodation from many far-flung destinations for the game. These same people have had friends and/or relatives attempting to purchase tickets for the game for them and are now finding out this late in the day that they (the friends and/or relative) have been unsuccessful. I think the worst tale I have heard so far is that of the Scandinavian Supporters’ Club. They booked ninety-eight (98) tickets through the club and then proceeded to book flights and accommodation, only to discover that they had been allocated seven (7)! How outrageous is that? In fact, that prompts me to tell of another cock-up at the club.

The Executive Committee of the Official Supporters’ Clubs (“OSC”) and the Centenary Supporters’ Association (“CSA”) told the assorted Chairmen and Secretaries of these clubs at a recent meeting to put in advanced orders for tickets for their members and they (the applications) would be dealt with, without the need for attendance at the ticket office (hence the Scandinavian Supporters’ Club’s application) and, once again, these plans have gone awry, with several of the OSC’s and CSA’s not getting what they asked for. Now, where the blame lies for this particular cock-up, I do not know, but I hope that heads will roll.

Whilst all this has been going on at Maine Road, there have been “rumblings” at Priestfield too, where it appears several hundred of their season ticket holders have not got tickets for Wembley, as they were unable to attend at the ticket office on the Friday and Saturday to purchase the same. Not as bad as our situation, but an unhappy one all the same.

Another fact that has surfaced is the number of Millwall fans who have, allegedly, got their hands on ticket. You only have to visit their message board on the net to see that there is evidence that these reports are true.

In the interim, the FA and Wembley Plc (or Limited, or whatever they are) have announced that any fans attempting to gain entrance into the game in their opposing team’s end will not be allowed in or, if identified once already in, will be ejected from the game. Extra stewarding and policing will be implemented to deal with this.

Given that it is a patently obvious fact that massive numbers of tickets have found their way into the hands of touts and the further obvious fact that these will be bought on the day by City and Gillingham fans alike, the potential for trouble on the terraces is overwhelming. In what is already an emotionally charged event, the presence of extra police and stewards checking for errant fans is a recipe for disaster. It is my experience (and I have lots of it – almost 23 years) that any extra stewards brought in for games such as these are of the “rent a meat-head” variety. Basically, they tend to be nightclub bouncers or out of work security guards that spend their day down at the gym “pumping iron” looking for a quick buck and one or two heads to break. And it takes only the smallest of incidents for them to go “steaming in” and eject you.

Personally, I suspect that the trouble will not be that of a “fighting between opposing fans” variety. I strongly suspect that trouble will arise when stewards and/or police attempt to throw out people who have paid good (or bad, depending on how you view it) money for a ticket outside the ground from scummy tout. You can just picture it, can’t you…

A City fan in the Gillingham end is being ejected, when other City fans in the same end decide to interject and rescue this poor soul. Fighting breaks out amongst the ejectors and the City fans. City fans in the City end spot the fracas and start protesting to police and stewards around them, some using “colourful” language and they too start to be ejected. Once again, their fellow fans decide to interject and further fighting breaks out. Carnage! This scenario can be reversed for the Gillingham fans too, because touts have no morals and they will sell tickets in the City end to Gillingham fans.

A widely posted suggestion on the net is that anyone being offered a ticket for more than face value should smack the offerer and liberate the tickets and give them away to deserving fans. It has also been suggested that you should shout up to fellow Blues that you have identified a tout, in the event that you need assistance in your liberation of the tickets. Not usually being one to condone violence, this sounds like a good idea to me!

I pray to God that there is no serious trouble at Wembley. If there is, then I think the first port of call, so far as any investigation into such trouble, should be the Football League. It was their pathetic decision to allocate the tickets in this way, thereby forcing many genuine City (and Gillingham) fans to buy tickets wherever they could.

Anyway, that’s enough of my ramblings. Sorry it’s so long. Let’s just hope that Sunday comes and goes without incident on the terraces or at least just a tiny, tiny few incidents and that we stuff the Gills and start making our way back up to where we belong.

See you at Wembley – look out for my tiara (silver, with blue stones, of course) and come and say hello and don’t forget to check out my fingernails!

Princess MCFCBIRD – Debra Brown (MCFCBIRD@AOL.COM)


By Noel Bayley – editor of Bert Trautmann’s Scramble For Tickets

The great ticket scramble is at an end… officially at least. No doubt it will start up again in and around Trafalgar Square come Saturday night, not to mention Wembley Way on Sunday. While I think City could have fought their corner better, the ticket office could undoubtedly have handled things better and Gillingham’s chairman Paul Scally didn’t have to be such a greedy b*****d, I still lay the blame firmly at the feet of the Football League and I’ve let them know that.

Earlier this week, League spokesman Chris Hull said: “I’m aware that City could fill Wembley twice over and there is a massive interest from their fans from all over the country, but they have been given one of the largest allocations for a game at Wembley. [Gillingham] are the only League club in Kent and there is a great deal of interest from that area. The Gillingham chairman assures me he can sell 34,000 tickets.”

We’ve all waited for so long to get to Wembley and now that we are there my concern is that, at worst, City fans accessing the Gillingham end are likely to be blamed for crowd disturbances should there be any and at best, they are liable to be thrown out. The League have said that anyone who is in the wrong end will be ejected. Yeah right, but even so it’s a classic case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Tickets that should have come to us have come to us anyway, albeit marked up to the tune of £80-85 and, basically, the League are passing the buck. Anyway, I e-mailed Mr. Hull and let him know what I thought, pointing out that should there be any trouble then I thought he should be held responsible for it, given that he was the public face of the League.

The long and short of it was that the Football League complained to my workplace and I got a rocket for it. Anyway, I managed to get hold of Mr. Hull’s mobile number and gave him a bell. Here is the lowdown:

  • He doesn’t make the decisions, he is merely the spokesman.
  • A committee makes the decisions, but he was unable or unwilling toname names. Apparently, they are all contained in The Football LeagueHandbook although I wasn’t enlightened as to where I could get hold of acopy, despite asking.
  • FL rules state that clubs must be offered up to 50% of Wembley’scapacity regardless of clubs’ respective support. My understanding is thatthis particular rule is set in stone and non-negotiable.
  • This Sunday’s game is not solely about Manchester City.
  • He certainly didn’t like my threat that I would be prepared to compilea dossier of reports of City fans being messed about and ripped off,Gillingham tickets being sold in Manchester and Gillingham’s chairman PaulScally selling tickets, literally, by the coachload etc. which I could thensend to newspapers.

Obviously, no one at the Football League HQ possesses the brains they were born with and when the wheels do come off, it won’t be their fault, it’ll be ours. Hillsborough set a precedent, albeit with the FA and Liverpool fans. Like the FA however, the FL are not accountable to anyone and certainly not to us, even though we indirectly pay their wages. You’ve been warned!

And finally…

Congratulations to the Rags on winning the European Runners-Up Cup. It’s only taken them 31 years to equal what Brian Clough managed in two years, but let’s face it, it’s not been easy for the Rags this season, what with having to play teams who were actually Champions of their respective Leagues. So now that they’ve won it, where next for Fergie’s fantastically magnificous bunch of tw*ts? Well, they’re only one behind Bayern Munich now (who’ve won it three times), two behind Liverpool and Ajax (four), three behind AC Milan (five) and, at their current rate of progress, it’s going to take The World’s Greatest Club just 186 years to catch up with Real Madrid who have been on seven for some time now!

Noel Bayley


If you live in the vicinity of Atlanta, Georgia, take note that I called the BrewHouse Cafe earlier this week regarding this Sunday’s match. I was told that yes, indeed they were carrying the City match this Sunday. Be forewarned, however, that many a mistake has been made by the non footy savvy young Americans (Cue David Bowie?) that usually answer the phones at these places.

I am going to call again tomorrow to get a confirmation from a more senior person, and I suggest that any of you in the Atlanta vicinity who are interested in going to the BrewHouse on Sunday do the same. FYI: The BrewHouse is located in the “Little Five Points” area of Atlanta.

Hunter Sheridan, a.k.a. “Dixie Blue” (


Message to Ticketless Cambridge area Blues. How about taking over the Spread Eagle in Cambridge (assuming they have the telly on)? If there is already something arranged please post me a message.

Lincoln Grounds (


Are there any Blues in the Weymouth area meeting up for the game on Sunday? I am a Midland Blue on holiday without a ticket – well there’s a thing!

Waiting hopefully.

Chris Cotton (


To the ticketless in the Cheltenham area… which pub?

Ian Bilsborough (


With apologies to those who saw this on BV. Written in the wee small hours after the devastating events of Wednesday night. They do not matter any more. All that matters is Sunday! CTID!

His message:

Well chaps, what can you say about that? Apparently City fans were cheering on the Mighty Reds in pubs in Manchester. Hope you were too.

My reply:

I would be amazed if any City fan cheered United on, although I am sure that the MUEN will promote that fallacy. A comment from Blue View – “If United were playing the Martians for control of the earth, I’d support the Martians”. I have never met a City fan who could bring themselves to support United.

My honest view on tonight (and I am an honest man)? I was absolutely gutted. The sycophantic press and TV will fawn even more over “England’s Team”. It’s a sad day for English football as it will increase the support, funding and attractiveness to players of United plc. United will dominate English football for at least the next 10 years. Never again will we see an Ipswich, or a Nottingham Forest or even a Manchester City come close to winning the League. Tonight has marked the death of English League football as we have known it for as far as I can remember. United are in a different class and to be honest the sooner they f@ck off to a European Super League the better.

Yes I am a bitter Blue, but I am an honest bitter Blue!

To finish… In 1968, as is the tradition for “Manchester” teams in finals, United wore the crest of the City on their shirts instead of the club logo. Whilst they have not done this for some years, they have always worn the crest on their blazers. Tonight they did not, choosing instead some kind of special “European Cup 1999” logo – no doubt that is easier to understand in London and Malaysia than some 18th century crest of a proud northern city. It finally shows that United have become the biggest club in the world, bestriding English football like a colossus that has shaken off the shackles of its heritage and its history in a city in northern Europe. You are truly a global club.

I spent tonight at Davo’s (a Leeds fan) in Surrey. Getting the train back, surrounded by Cockney Reds and arriving in Wimbledon to be met by more champagne swilling Cockney Reds, really brought it home to me why I am a City fan and why I love City so much. It is my heritage. It is my history. It is where I was born. It is where I was brought up. Wherever I am in the world and wherever I live, when someone asks me where I am from, I am proud to say Manchester. To me, especially since I came down to the Smoke, supporting City is more than just supporting the team – it is a mark of my identity, what has made me what I am today. Why else would I endure Lincoln away, Wycombe away and York away? My patriotism is for Manchester and Lancashire alone, not for the cockneys, the scousers, the brummies etc.

Sorry to come over all philosophical, but that’s the mood I’m in.

Now? I really don’t care about United anymore. They are as relevant to City as a southern rugby union team. The only thing that is important is winning on Sunday.

Come on City!

Tim Coffey (


I sit here today (Wed 26 May) in quiet contentment.

I went to Prague just over a year ago. The city itself was full of affluent Germans who cross the borders on the weekend for a bit of fun. Most of the people come from Munich as it is the closest German city. Whilst in the Prague I befriended a group of lads from Munich who were actually funny and great people. We drank… we sang etc.

Towards the end of the trip one of the lads wanted to swap his Bayer Munchen top (with Matthaus on) for my beloved Laser blue. I did it and never looked back.

Which brings me back today. I woke up this morning and decided to dabble in that dark Art that is “Rag Baiting”. There are lots of Rags in London, there are lots of Rags at Sky. Sadly there are even Rags in my office. Enough was enough.

Out came the Bayer top and off I went. I had the combined swagger of Liam Gallagher and and a giant peacock all rolled into one. I strutted like a latter day Eubanks at the tube station to cries of (get behind them) yeah right… only when I am driving a lorry mate. I got the mini-bus at the station to work where I proceeded to goose step across the main forecourt at Sky. I wanted the whole world to know that I hate the Rags and that they make me sick.

B*****ks will I support them. I hope they lose… and lose badly. I will be cheering on Munich tonight in “Finnegans Wake – Ealing” with a passion.

At present my office is a shrine to all things anti-Rag. I have my Bayer top alongside my City top alongside my South Park City scarf. I am lucky in that most people in the company will see this as my office is next a main aisle.

I hope that by tomorrow all the Rags are crying in the gutter. I cannot wait for our weekly Presentation vs. Promos 7-a-side footy tourney. I will wear my Bayer shirt with pride win or lose and rub it in mercilessly to all the Rags at Sky.

CTID, Paul Odusanya (Paul.Odusanya@BskyB.Com)

P.S. Oh Dear!



From my temporary accommodation in deepest Exeter, I have recently made big efforts to get behind City (sorry if I have been deafening you) and the results in 1999 have been good. However, living in Devon offers me the unbridled joy at laughing at all the ‘knowledgeable’ armchair Rags that come out of hibernation occasionally to the pub. I generally ask them questions that any ‘true’ fan ought to be capable of answering and have yet to find any Rag that can correctly answer the following questions:

  1. What was the score the last time U**T*D played City? (I might even accept 3-2 not 2-2!)
  2. What was the name of the train station outside the Swamp before it was renamed Old Trafford?

However, something made me smile with great joy following events at the weekend. Apparently fighting broke out in a pub between rival fans in… Torquay. Yes that veritable hotbed of football, a city almost as far in distance from Manchester (and particuarly Newcastle) as you can get while remaining in England. Since the appeal of the geordies is not great down here (and there is little wonder after Saturday) I can only assume it was those bloody Rags up to mischief again.

However, on Saturday / Sunday we can earn our revenge. I know for a fact that I will be heckling any passing Rags with ‘You’re supposed to be at home’ and other such points from some vantage point in Trafalgar Square (see you in there Coops?). It promises to be a great day out with a carnival type atmosphere. Let’s all enjoy the weekend and get behind the Blues not just Sunday but next season too.

Kev McMeeking (


The following excerpts are all taken from the same book. Who wrote them:

  1. The day Duncan Edwards died, I could scarcely write for tears… It upsets me still.
  2. …in an aeroplane… Whether I look out of the window or bury my headin a book, not once have I been able to experience a take-off withoutthinking about Munich.
  3. I did not fail to make my pilgrimage to stand in front of the MunichMemorial and read again the names etched as deeply on my mind as they areon that stone tablet.
  4. In 1958… when it became clear that United were drawing support from waybeyond the confines of Lancashire, a sense of outraged ownership came overme… in a strange way I felt as if United belonged to me, not theseinterlopers, and I determined to support them in the cup final, in whichthey were due to play Bolton Wanderers.
  5. United were drawn at home to Huddersfield… and went to prepare forit… to the Norbreck Hydro, a grand hotel north of Blackpool. They werejoined there by my father, my brother and myself. Denis Law was as friendlyand extrovert as his exciting play had always suggested. The player whosecompany I most enjoyed was Tony Dunne. When the match was postponed on theFriday lunchtime, Busby stopped by our table and told my brother, in thatsoft Scottish burr, ‘The game’s off, son.’
  6. I was incredibly lucky to be growing up in Manchester in the Sixties. Onone side of the town were the remarkable skills of Best, Law and Charlton;on the other, the glory that was Vic Gomersall and Dave Bacuzzi.
  7. For Manchester United, Munich wasn’t so much a lost cause as a causedelayed. Busby might have won the European Cup in 1958; we shall neverknow. What we do know is that he did win it in the end, and deservedly so.
  8. United were the non-conformists. Best, Law and Charlton obeyed no knownpattern of play. They didn’t need to, because they were so good.
  9. …they were 3-1 down five minutes from the end of the sixth round tie athome to Sunderland… Charlton pulled one back and Best scrambled theequaliser in the last minute. It was a breathlessly exciting game…
  10. Manchester United Ruined My Life.


  1. Zoe Ball
  2. Terry Christian
  3. David Beckham
  4. erm, Colin Shindler.

Kevin Cummins (


Well, as an Aussie ‘Blue’ I got up to watch the Champions’ League Final at 4.30 in the morning, reasonably confident that the right team – i.e. Bayern – would prevail.

I was ecstatic of course for 99% of the match – right up until those last blasted three minutes or so. Quite honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever had such a sick feeling at the end of a game of football (except for City’s draw with Liverpool in that game a few seasons ago).

Seeing the Rags win after being comprehensively outplayed for the entire game was most unfair and I feel sorry for all Bayern fans and players, especially Lothar Mattheus, whose been a wonderful player for so many years. It’s just the sort of tragic ending that we have been all too familiar with as Man City fans!

Anyway on a happier note, as an Aussie ‘Blue’ I envy all of you fans that can get to Wembley. I’m sure we’ll get the right result, as the boys, the fans and the club really deserve it. It’s been great to see everyone behind the team in the second half of the season and all credit must go to Joe Royle for the wonderful job he has done. What a turnaround from the usual situation at this end of the season!

Here’s to a great result on Sunday!

P.S. If any Sydney City fans know if the game is being televised and where, could they let me know.

Gavin Wendt (


so the ba(**((>?> done it again in extra time, let’s hope that are some good tunes to give out at Wembley on Sunday, with plenty of Bayern Munich flags flying.

RBDTR (rather be dead than Red), Salty (


I’m a bit worried about the effect last night could have on Sunday. Certainly the City fans will be more downbeat, and I hope the players will not be affected by all the current hysteria. Anything we do on Sunday will be totally dwarfed by the Scum, and probably even laughed at. On the subject of Them – how flukey can anyone be? Totally outplayed for the entire game by a far superior side that twice hits the woodwork, they still win. Moreover, they were outplayed and outclassed by Barcelona, Inter (2nd game, won after cheat ref), and Juve (at OT). To say they are the best team in Europe is absurd. The top 5 finishers in Serie A, the best league in the world, were not even in the Champions’ League. In fact, Arsenal’s 1st team is better then the Scum’s. Only because of injuries and suspensions were they denied by 1 point. Also, when they entered the Champions’ League, they weren’t even Champions! This year, the League really could have gone either way, the FA Cup they only won after a last minute saved penalty, while the Euro Cup was most flukey of all. They could easily have won nothing.

Also, we ‘should be patriotic’ and support United. May I point out that they had only 4 Englishmen in their starting line-up. Anyway, as hard as it may be, us Blues must try and ignore the uncontrollable hype about the Reds, now entering unprecedented levels, and get behind our boys for Sunday. Come on City!

CTID, Mark Braude (


Programme from the game…

I’m a Blue that has only recently heard about ‘mcvitee’ and have my dad to thank for getting me into the True Blue spirit, ever since 1969. I know it sounds like I joined a bandwagon seeing they had just won the FA Cup but I’m still there following the trials and tribulations of the Blues, but having a young family and living from hand to mouth I’ve managed to see City only twice this season, at Darlington on 4/12/99 and at Bootham Crescent on that infamous 2-1 defeat on the 19th. Which I’m glad to see we got over and then only lost a further two games, which is annoying because the points we dropped then would’ve got us up automatically.

Still, to the point, is there anyone out there in MCVITEE land who could get hold of a copy of the programme; I will of course refund the price plus the package and posting, as I’m only going to be able to watch on Sky in my local, hopefully celebrating!

Thanks Graham, you can add this little ditty to your excellent service, it’s the one thing that has stopped me from going mad at the prospect of oblivion in the lower half of the Football League while those b****y Rags just carry on winning everything but not the treble eh! So stroll on Sunday, I know we can do it.

My address:
2, St Johns Road,
Stamford Bridge,
East Riding,
YO41 1PH.

Andy Wright, Blue since birth, well almost (


What actually is the situation as regards to the sponsorship deal? Is there one? I can’t believe that there hasn’t been any offers or news, a club like ours should probably have Panasonic / Sony, not Manchester council Brian Morrison!

A couple of issues ago I wrote an opinion as regards to the play-offs and what we should expect from the team. I said not to expect glory, I still don’t think that we are gonna trash Gillingham but having had a few glimpses of the Wigan game I now think, team being fit and all, that we can do it. Come on City!

Michael Jarvis (


Nicky Weaver and David Beckham were flying together to the World Cup when their plane crashes and they die. They enter the Pearly Gates of Heaven and God takes Beckham on his tour of Heaven first. He shows David a little two bedroom house with an old, faded Man. Utd. banner hanging from the front porch. “This is *your* house, David. Most people don’t get their own house up here.” God says to him. Beckham looks at the house, then turns around and looks at the one sitting at the top of the hill. It’s a huge three-story mansion with white marble columns. Manchester City flags line both sides of the sidewalk and a huge City banner hangs between the marble columns. Beckham turns to God and says: “Thanks for the house, God. I really appreciate it. But let me ask you a question. I won a bunch of Championships while I was down on Earth and I get this little two-bedroom place with a faded banner, and this kid Weaver gets a mansion with new Man City banners and flags flying all over the place. Why is that?! That doesn’t seem fair.” God looks at him seriously for a moment, then with a smile replies: “That’s not Weaver’s house up there – that’s mine.”

CTID, Peter Corkery (


My story ain’t unique but there’s a sting in the tail.

I was born in Nottingham of pure-blooded North Yorkshire stock, so it was always kind of inevitable that I would support Man. United. I avoided this horrible fate due to the sadism of my brother and an accident of fixture.

My father was a fine bloke of strong opinion (I did mention he was from Yorkshire didn’t I?) and a desire that his sons should be inducted into the noble fraternity of sports fans. Unfortunately father’s sport was field hockey! He had no great feeling on the subject of the beautiful game and, frankly, until the age of 6, neither had I. The same could not be said for my elder brother who was quite a fanatic from the moment he could walk. He would practice his ball skills in the back garden and got a good belting more than infrequently for busting windows and for leaving ball-prints on shiny, painted doors and indeed, on my face.

I know now that the intimidation and abuse of younger siblings is an essential component of any well-balanced upbringing but being the younger and more, ahem, sensitive of the brothers, I found this a difficult behavioural point to fully appreciate.

Brother was a Forest fan. Everyone in our village was. The late sixties wasn’t a terrible time for them. My very first memory of this fine, twenty-two legged beast in sky blue was at the very first football match I attended with father and brother during the ‘eventful’ 1967-1968 season. I remember standing by the barrier at pitch-side at the City Ground on the little stool my dad had knocked-up for me in the shed. I wasn’t a boy of much height.

I also remember, at the very point at which brother inevitably kicked the stool away, City putting away the winner. The defining moment, you might say. What else could I do? City it was and City it remains these long years later.

I have this memory firmly fixed in my mind and replay so many times as I sit in the Kippax. Sometime I can’t help but muse on how things might have been had my brother actually offered me a finger of his Kit-Kat instead of a scabby forehead and busted lip. A couple of years ago I retold the story in my brother’s company. He looked slightly puzzled.

“Of course, Andrew, you do realise that that first game we went to see was Forest v. West Ham, don’t you? 3-1 to the Hammers.”

I checked, he was right. The thought struck me as particularly funny during the god-awful 0-0 with Bristol Rovers last December. Apologies to any sitting nearby who thought I must have been enjoying that s**t. It just hit that not only had I been doomed to love City by the actions of a particularly violent brother but I had opted for the wrong club while suffering concussion! How appropriate is that for a Blue?

Andrew Lowrey (


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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]Graham Jones,

Newsletter #504