Newsletter #536

City and Southampton fought out (or should that be ‘strolled out’) a 0-0 draw on Wednesday night. Both sides had good chances to score, Southampton denied mainly by the woodwork and an astonishing save by Weaver; City by a couple of excellent saves from Jones. Morrison limped off after only 18 minutes and the ineffective Taylor was bizarrely substituted 2 minutes before half time. Edghill gave a very good performance in central defence, whilst Goater was again impressive up front, though he did miss a golden opportunity at the back post. Whitley harried to great effect in a midfield where we were frequently outpassed/outclassed. Southampton seemed to have that extra fraction of a second on the ball, probably due to better ball control. City could still win this (we really should have won it in the last 10 minutes), but I really do question whether either team is particularly interested in progressing to the next round. Other news has Tony Vaughan on loan to Cardiff, and a rumoured mutual termination of the Mighty Murt’s contract.

This issue contains a review of Joe Mercer’s autobiography, which was written in 1964. We’re quite keen to get similar reviews for books and videos concerning City. There are already many on the WWW site, but there are many more for which we have no review at all. Anyone out there fancy doing a review or two? Please drop me an email if you’re interested. Lastly, there’s a pretty unusual Why Blue in this issue – keep them coming.

Next game: Walsall away, Saturday 18th September 1999


Royle Pleased by First Leg Draw

Joe Royle professed himself satisfied with Wednesday’s goalless draw at home to Southampton in the first leg of City’s second round League Cup tie. Royle feels that the current Saints side is good enough to avoid emulating their predecessors’ perennial relegation struggles, and was pleased with the way his players competed against David Jones’ men. “The way we played against Southampton pleased me. We didn’t look out of place on the same pitch as a Premier League team,” explained the City boss. “They have improved so much, I can’t see them having any relegation problems this season.” Royle picked out two of his team for particular praise. Of Richard Edghill, who played most of the game as a centre back after an injury to Andy Morrison, Royle said, “I am always pleased with Richard Edghill and I can never understand some of the criticism of him here. He is just a terrific defender.” The manager doesn’t view Danny Allsopp as quite such a finished article, but felt that the young Australian’s contribution after replacing the injured Gareth Taylor bodes well for the future. “Danny is a great sub at the moment,” said Royle. “He still doesn’t know the game, he’s a big happy lad and when he actually finds out about the game then with his attributes he will be very dangerous.”

Sky Screening Means Second Leg Switch

Even though Southampton will regard themselves as favourites to progress after Wednesday’s stalemate, Sky TV seem to think the tie is open enough to be an attractive draw – they’ve selected City’s second-leg visit to The Dell for live television coverage. In a move sure to enrage fans unable to cancel time off work and pre-booked travel arrangements at five days’ notice, the match has been brought forward 24 hours to Tuesday, 21 September.

Losses Cut Despite Revenue Drop

City have announced a loss of £3.73 million, a major improvement on last year’s £6.8 million deficit despite a reduced turnover after the club’s revenue from television money dropped by £1.8 million compared to the previous year. Thursday’s Manchester Evening News cited the figures as evidence of an off-field turnaround at Maine Road and quoted David Bernstein as saying that the position will improve further. “The club’s income will increase [following promotion] and we should see a gradual strengthening of our financial position,” he said. He also repeated the promise that Joe Royle’s requests for transfer cash would be listened to sympathetically, explaining, “The manager does have money, he does not have a fixed amount. If Joe come with a request I am confident we will be able to give him what he wants.” Incidentally, I’m informed that this year’s AGM will be on Friday, 8th October at a venue still to be confirmed. This is the day before the Portsmouth home match is scehduled, but there is a good chance this game will be postponed due to internationals.

Consumer Committee Set to be Created

I understand that the club plans to create a Consumers’ Panel, which will be expressly concerned with ticket issues. The panel is likely to consist of representatives from both the OSC and the CSA as well as representatives from different geographical areas (North and South).

Vaughan Makes Cardiff Loan Move

Centre half Tony Vaughan has moved to Cardiff on a month’s loan. Vaughan was a regular last season, but has made only one substitute appearance this term after falling behind Richard Jobson in the queue for a place in the City rearguard. It’s understood that there’s no chance of the move becoming permanent, with Cardiff unable to offer a fee which might make Royle consider doing business and the player unwilling to consider a return to Division Two. The City manager explained that Vaughan is “a little stale” thanks to regular reserve team football, and it’s hoped the player’s spell in Wales will help him to recover his sharpness.

Shelia Bows Out as Exodous Continues

If unconfirmed reports prove to be accurate, another centre half joined Vaughan in leaving Maine Road this week. Georgian international Murtaz Shelia is said to have agreed to a contract termination package and returned to his native country to seek a new club. And if Shelia has gone, he’s unlikely to be the last. Chairman David Bernstein has said that even though there are fifteen fewer players on the books than when Joe Royle arrived at the club, the Maine Road clear-out is not yet complete. “I would like to see the number of players come down closer to 30 [from the current 39],” said Bernstein, before reflecting on the improved balance of the squad. “We have got a better mix, with the departure of some of the older and more expensive players and the introduction of young players who command lower wages,” he continued.

Granville Returns in Reserve Friendly

On-loan Danny Granville made his return to action in a behind-closed-doors reserve friendly on Tuesday. The Blues arranged the match against the Sheffield Wednesday second string to replace a postponed Pontin’s League fixture against Tranmere and Granville played for over 70 minutes of a 3-2 win. It’s thought unlikely that the full back will start at Walsall on Saturday, but he may be on the bench.

Gallagher Tribute Delights Lee

Oasis front man and City celebrity fan Liam Gallagher this week became a father and used the occasion to emphasise his Blue credentials. Son Lennon has been given the middle name Francis, apparently in deference to former City player and chairman Francis Lee – who professed himself “chuffed” with the news. Meanwhile, young Lennon, who was only born on Monday evening, has already been enrolled as a Junior Blue.

Hodkinson Book Launch Put Back

As many will already know, last season Mark Hodkinson produced a weekly piece in The Times each Saturday on life at Maine Road during what hopefully will be City’s only season at Division Two level. The articles he produced will form the basis of a book to be entitled ‘Blue Moon – Down Among The Dead Men With Manchester City’, which will now be published at the end of October following problems at the printers with the initial print run. The author’s own summary of the work is as follows: “The book is a collection of the articles that appeared on a weekly basis in The Times last season, plus an additional 30,000+ words. There are interviews with Joe Royle, Willie Donachie, Colin Bell, Stuart Hall, Bernard Manning, Nicky Weaver, Sidney Rose, Tom Ritchie (editor of fanzine ‘City Til I Cry’), Dennis Tueart and others.” As what looks set to be the definitive document of a year which was in turn traumatic and dramatic, it’s to be awaited with interest, and will be reviewed in MCIVTA nearer the time.

Walsall – Preview

City start a sequence of six away games in the next eight fixtures with a trip to Walsall on Saturday. Manager Joe Royle goes into the demanding spell in confident mood, with his side unbeaten on their travels since an FA Cup defeat against Premiership opposition over eight months ago. Saturday’s opponents, of course, actually finished above City in last season’s Division Two, and the Saddlers’ promotion was widely recognised as being a magnificent achievement on the part of manager Ray Graydon. However, his side hasn’t fared as well as the Blues at the higher level, and they’re currently in 17th place with six points and only one win from seven games. Even so, their creditable display in the 3-2 League Cup defeat by Sunderland in midweek shows that Walsall are capable of raising their game, so nothing can be taken for granted. However, it would be a major disappointment for the Blues’ proud away record to come to an end at the Bescot Stadium.

Peter Brophy (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. SOUTHAMPTON, Worthington Cup 2nd Round 1st Leg, Wednesday 15th September 1999

You could view this game in a number of ways. How did we compare with a so-called ‘surviving’ Premiership team? What are our chances of getting through to Round 3? How was it on a ‘pure’ match basis? Although I appreciate that this is getting way, way ahead of ourselves, you cannot view this performance without considering what learning points it may have for us should we be prom… (sorry, nearly said the ‘P’ word then!), should we erm, meet them and other teams from their division on a more regular basis. Undoubtedly, should we find ourselves playing regularly with the ‘big boys’ in the not too far distant future, Southampton at home is a game you would think we would need to win. Having said that, we rarely defeated them at home during our last tenure in the top flight, not exactly a bogey team but certainly not a ‘home banker’.

The 2-legged system usually favours the team from a higher division and if the ‘junior’ team wish to progress a home win is usually essential. However, over the past 10 months, our away record has been better than our home form. We have yet to concede a goal away from home this season. Another 0-0 would result in penalties, an area which which we are now experienced and comfortable. So who knows? The match itself was an entertaining affair without scaling the heights in terms of drama or excitement. City, fielding the same team as against Palace with the exception of Gareth Taylor in for the injured Dickov, started brightly without creating any clear cut chances. Saint’s nippy Latvian striker Pahars hit the bar with a lobbed shot, which Weaver did not get anywhere near. Edghill started well with his first 3 (yes I counted them) passes going to a blue shirt. After Morrison was withdrawn after about 18 minutes, Edgy moved inside with Lee Crooks coming on at right back. Richard Edghill has taken a lot of criticism for quite some time from all quarters and certainly where his passing and distribution are concerned, with some justification. However, I must say that this evening he was terrific. His tackling and reading of the game were good, his pace came in useful on more than one occasion and even his passing was pretty reasonable;- until he tried an ‘Andy Morrison laser guided 60-yard left wing pass T.M.)’! Edghill is frustrating because he is a decent quality ‘pure’ defender. Trouble is that’s not enough nowadays, certainly when playing at full back. The modern game demands that full backs contribute to the attacking options of a team and it is important that they can pass, cross and offer support to the wide player in front of them. How much more would we get from Terry Cooke if he had a right footed Tiatto or Granville with him? Anyway full marks to Edghill in a (in my opinion) man of the match performance.

The same couldn’t be said of poor old Gareth Taylor (although I’ve heard that he was carrying a back injury, which may go some way to mitigating this performance); tonight he was truly awful. He was slow in thought and in deed, couldn’t hold the ball up, hardly won any headers and frankly was a liability. Back to the ‘super-sub’ rôle for Mr Taylor methinks! Taylor was replaced by the enthusiastic Allsopp 3 minutes before half time. The middle period of the game was controlled if not dominated by Southampton, and in total they had 4 outstanding chances to score. One chance when Weaver made an amazing double save from the impressive Kachloul. We didn’t look out of our depth or outclassed, but Southampton certainly had more pace and the ball seemed to ‘stick’ to their front players for longer than it did to ours. Our fitness levels though were obviously better than theirs as we finished the game by far the stronger and had 3 very good chances ourselves, with Jones making great saves to deny Goater and Kennedy. In truth, if Southampton had scored a couple of their chances earlier on, the game and the tie could have been out of our reach. But they didn’t and I would certainly not write off our chances in the return leg. In the longer term, this game probably didn’t tell us anything we don’t already know. We need more pace and more clinical finishing if we are to compete at the top level. Although again on this performance, wholesale changes may not be necessary.

Phil Hartley (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. SOUTHAMPTON, Worthington Cup 2nd Round 1st Leg, Wednesday 15th September 1999

Night-time football, the last time I went to a night-time game was the play-offs against Wigan, so this game had a lot to live up to. I had an unusual seat in the upper tier of the Kippax, it was in like many respects like watching subbuteo. A game at night always has a strange feel to it, well for one it’s dark, but on top of that you also have other factors, such as, you finish work, have no time for a few pints, you know you’re at work the next day, so no time to do much after the game, breaks up the whole routine.

So to the game, City started off with a familiar line up: Weaver, Edghill, Tiatto, Morrison, Jobson, Horlock, Jeff Whitley, Kennedy, Taylor, Goater, Cooke. No surprises there. City started off well, Morrison was dealing with everything that was thrown at him, Kennedy was causing all sorts of problems down the left and Cooke was doing similar things on the right. City were looking good, they had most of the possession and looked better on the ball. Then about 15 to 20 minutes into the game Morrison went off (either he was injured or Joe Royle was blind drunk). Edghill then moved to the centre of defence (you could actually hear the groan from the crowd). Lee Crooks came on at right back (Jamie may have had his magic torch, but we’ve got Lee Crooks and his ‘Magic slipping boots’). Why does Crooks slip over so much?

Anyway, Southampton were now finding it much easier to cut through our defence, the positional sense of some of our players leaves a lot to be desired (from the top of the Kippax you can actually see the formations that the teams are taking up, good for a one off, but I wouldn’t like to do it every week). Terry Cooke was sending in a good couple of crosses and I feel our forwards could have done better; just before Taylor was substituted he missed a chance he should have done better with, he had a shot in a fairly crowded penalty area but it just went wide of the mark (he knows he should have done better, you could tell by his body language). Taylor was then subbed; this means he was either injured or he was given a massive snub in the face. Half time came; me and my Jimmy sat there discussing how bad the first half had been. We’d been bad, but they had been rotten.

The second half got under way and straight away Southampton were unlucky not to score, Nicky Weaver did a brilliant double save to keep the scores level. He was in fantastic form, a shame that can’t be said for the rest of the team. I thought that Tiatto was dreadful, Jimmy said next to me that if he had a gun, he’d gladly do time; he made Edghill look like a star in the centre of defence. His passing was woeful, and at one point he stopped, stood on the ball, and fell over. Oh dear. Mind you, later on in the pub, people thought he played OK (the beauty of football I suppose or maybe too much beer).

City started to look better after that, Goater had a chance set up for him on the edge of the box (which he hit embarrassingly wide). Allsopp had a fantastic run from his own half to the edge of the box before laying it off to Kennedy. Southampton had done their homework; every time that Kennedy got the ball, he had two men on him (I feel Granville would have helped him out a lot more than Tiatto). For me Kennedy looked Premiership quality tonight, you could see they were scared when he had the ball and he sends in crosses that some forwards only dream about (can you imagine Andy Gray in his prime with Cooke and Kennedy, scary). Goater had a chance near the end. I feel overall we could have won, but at least we didn’t lose. Think about this: if we go up to the Premiership this season, which 11 players would you play? Then ask yourself which of those 11 are really Premiership quality. This for me was the worst game so far this season, but it could be a whole lot worse.

Walter Smith (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. SOUTHAMPTON, Worthington Cup 2nd Round 1st Leg, Wednesday 15th September 1999

A little pre-match research led me to establish that our Worthington Cup opponents were originally called Southampton St Mary’s. There’s not much else to say about the home of our opponents. Although you may be interested to know that during the second world war a bomb landed on the pitch meaning that the Saints had to share Fratton Park – the current home of that greatest of managers, Alan Ball. When I discovered this I couldn’t help but think that life at the Academy could have been so different had he been on the pitch at that particular time. In fact Alan Ball (a clever anagram of ‘my mate’s called Franny and I’ve absolutely no managerial talent’) used to play for the Saints.

I think the last time they were at Wembley was in that memorable trophy, the Zenith Data Systems Cup. Finally, onto the last of the interesting facts, did you know that Keegan, Shearer and Tim Flowers all used to play for Southampton?

Oh well moving on, we were delighted with the Rags’ performance in the Champions and Runners Up and Runners Up to the Runners Up league, last night. That’s the tournament that used to be for the league Champions. A dull 0-0 draw. It provided me with the motivation to log onto the Croatia Zagreb web site and download their logo to set as my default wallpaper. If you can’t find it and want me to send it to you mail me direct and I’ll forward it on.

We were in a bit of a rush to get to the ground tonight as my young son was playing football for the local under 12’s team. Rushing to the ground was made even more perilous as I tripped a couple of times as my trousers fell around my ankles. Despite this difficult but comedic situation, it’s one I have to live with, the good luck charm of not wearing a belt has seen us rise to the second place and I’m fearful of resorting to my belt. I did think about trying some braces but I didn’t have time to get to the dentist and in any case I couldn’t figure out how they connect from your teeth to your trousers.

The Southampton players and fans were immediately at home as the seagull soared majestically from the Kippax, bringing an almost high unemployment/dock like feel to stadium that helped to make our visitors feel at home.

I also thought it would have been neat to have played the music from Titanic as the players came out, given that’s where it sailed from before it went down, but had to settle for the usual right here right now music.

All credit though to those from Southampton who made the trip, there must have been about 500 to 600 or so and that’s not bad for a midweek match, when they could have stayed at home fashioning metal for some nautical refit or planning the details of how they might all go down to the docks to watch the QE2 arrive.

The first thing I noticed tonight was the enchanting colours that the match officials were sporting, rather attractive green jerseys that made for quite a pleasant change from the usual black and authoritarian outfits that the officials normally choose. For those of you that may be interested the match was officiated by Mr Lynch with support from Mr Brand and Mr Meads (red and yellow flags respectively).

The Saints, who will have some time to wait before they go marching in, were well turned out and looked lovely. What a smashing outfit they wore. It consisted of black shorts, with red trim and bold red and white stripes on the upper torso material, honest, it’s a neat kit.

I was particularly pleased to see the away fans for the first time this season being allocated to the Gene Kelly stand; let’s keep them there. I had heard that for sanitation reasons it’s easier to let them have part of the North Stand – but heck why not give them the Gene Kelly and a couple of buckets and tannoy information at periodic intervals reminding them to slop out.

Onto the match, without doubt I saw this game as some sort of measure of how we would look against a mid-table Premiership team, and to be honest we came through really well. The first 30 minutes were ours, although a magnificent stop on 17 minutes from a Southampton striker left the in form Weaver diving to clutch air as the ball arched towards goal as sure as a well set cruise missile. Fortunately for us instead of seeing the net bulge we watched with relief as the well struck shot turned into a scud and crashed against the upright to be cleared to safety.

The last 15 minutes of the first 45 though I thought were pretty even. Just before that scare Morrison pulled up, looking like he had trouble with his left leg, a quick substitution saw Crooks come on for the injured skipper and to his credit do a half-decent job of holding the fort. Mark Hughes was a disappointment, although I think for the first time in his career he has a decent hairdo, probably something to do with his age (about 460 in sheep years I think). I seem to recall him in former times having the nickname of War-horse, the nickname Carthorse would seem a better bet, now that he has substituted speed and skill for old fashioned crude pushing and late challenges.

Whitley was the business tonight, and for me the Man of the Match. He was irrepressible, creating openings and saving the Blues on a number of occasions.

Goater just goes from strength to strength, there had been times last season when he looked like a player that you might see tagging along in the sort of attack you might launch if playing Fifa 99 (although of course last year it would have been Fifa – The Road to the World Cup). You know the thing I mean he just moves forward without ever being starred up. Now though he’s becoming an important player, often combining well with Kennedy, frequently in the right place and tonight unlucky not to grab a couple. Mark my words that guy is going to be critical for us this year.

In fact were it not for magnificent work from the Saints’ ‘keeper (Paul Jones) he would have been on the scoresheet. With less than 10 minutes to go Goater headed a ball with “Goal” written all over it, only to be denied by Jones who had failed to read the script. Jones also saved magnificently from magic boots himself – Kennedy who really was superb tonight.

Other good displays – Weaver produced a stunning double save, reminiscent of Montgomery in the Sunderland – Leeds FA Cup final, Jobson steady and incisive, Bishop adding a touch of class and Edghill having for me his best game of the season.

I was disappointed (again) to see too much of our play on the left, we need to work at making more and better use of Cookie on the right.

All in all then a decent result, I think it’s going to be tight at the Dell. As I’ve already said we had the best of the first 45, on balance I think we had the best of the second 45 and I think The Saints will be pretty pleased to have gone away with a 0-0 score. Looking ahead I think we can take heart, we looked as good in all positions at all times as our Premiership opponents. I hope we win next week, a bit of a cup run will be good, but we all know that maintaining our promotion challenge is the critical objective for this season.

The game was competitive but fair, the officials did a decent job and so did we against a team from the top flight who have made their best start in recent years. We’re on a roll and I can’t wait to get back to the Academy after our unusually long stretch of away games. Make no mistake if we can get a decent haul from games at Walsall, Ipswich and Norwich the Samba beat will be waiting for what must surely be a full house for the visit of that most illustrious of teams – Port Vale. The one to really look forward to of course is the return of the anti-christ Alan Ball in the following match. I sincerely hope that he gets the reception that he deserves.

Tony Burns (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. CRYSTAL PALACE, Saturday 11th September 1999

Realistically it was probably too much to hope that we could dance again to the Samba beat as we had done against Nottingham Forest the other week.

On that occasion we had made our opponents look as wooden as the forest from which they hail. Still, who cares, the weather was fine and so was the result. As ever I’ll not dwell too much on the actual football but I must say that it was enjoyable despite Palace looking as though their relegation preparations are already quite well advanced.

I suppose it’s difficult being a Palace fan; the last time they had anything to shout about was back in the early 19th Century when the great hall was built in London. Cor blimey me old mate even we don’t have to look that far back for success!

It’s there though that any similarities to that fine fabrication exist – at least the original was thought innovative in its time, which is more than can be said for the Palace team that we saw on Saturday. Of course another striking and more obvious difference was that thousands flocked to the original Palace where as only a few hardy souls from the smoke made it to our academy to watch their team.

Another superb crowd of over 31,000 cheered the team on to the turf, even the seagull hanging off the Kippax seemed to smile as only seagulls can at the sight of the wretched Steve Coppell taking his position in the dug out. Funny I thought that, our very own seagull was able to soar above the inappropriately nicknamed eagles.

The Londoners in the North Stand were few in numbers. It seemed that when they get their replica kits they must wash them and wash them and wash them, they really are that dull. Despite the rather inspirational styling of the kits – red and blue stripes topping out mainly red shorts, the colours just looked so bland and faded. The pictures in the programmes fresh from the printers seemed to show the kit as glowing vibrant colours – oh how the camera lies.

Red hose, turned down below the knee completed the rig out. I knew we would win you know – partly because I was careful to leave my belt off and let my trousers slip around my knees (much to the amusement of my children and explained in the Sheffield match report). Also, I’d worked out over a few beers on Friday night that by carefully rearranging the letters of Crystal Palace you could actually spell ‘Bag of Sh*te’. Finding this out gave me loads of confidence for the match.

We did play well, the result though proving to be better than the actual game. Kennedy had his magic boots on and Cooke, although quieter, showed himself to be a vital asset to the team – some of his touches are breathtaking. Goater improves with every match – and I’m really pleased for him. Jobson is simply superb and Morrison had another fine match, although some of his passes over to Kennedy became a little predictable at times. Ian Bishop really does bring another dimension to the game; his is a class act. Meanwhile ex City boys Coppell and Bradbury have also brought another dimension to Palace – totally f***ing flat. I hesitated before being critical of Bradbury because I really liked him when he was at Maine Road – but that’s football so tough s**t Lee.

Oh well that’s it, onwards and upwards for us, and Crystal Palace just like my trousers are going down – but that’s nothing more than Mr Coppell deserves.

Tony Burns (


TITLE		The Great Ones
AUTHOR		Joe Mercer
PUBLISHER	The Sportsmans Book Club.
ADDRESS		Readers Union Ltd.,
               	Aldine House,
		10-13 Bedford St.,
		London WC2
DATE		1966 (Originally 1964; Oldbourne Book Co Ltd)
ISBN NUMBER	Not applicable (out of print)
PRICE		£2.00 (secondhand in 1999)

This is another one of those 1950s/60s footballing autobiographies published by the the Sportsmans Book Club, clearly for a public which seems to have been a good deal less partisan than we are nowadays. I spotted this one in the window of a charity shop in Marazion in Cornwall, and on entering, discovered a whole pile of football books from this book club, evidently once owned by someone with a passion for football in general, not just one particular club. The original owner had paid 7/6d (37.5p), so £2 seemed like a bargain.

The book is quite lengthy compared with many of its contempories – 140 pages with 9 black and white plates. My copy still has the original blue and white dust jacket, which is extremely functional by today’s standards.

The title is quite misleading as you almost expect to get Joe Mercer’s views on the great players he played with and against. However, this is first and foremost an autobiography; the ‘great ones’ are there, but spread throughout the text, and tacked on in a small chapter at the end. The format is as you’d expect for an autobiography from this era; it starts off with his feelings on the pitch when he sustained the injury which ended his career, then quickly turns to his childhood and works right through his career chronologically. Although the more recent biography (by Gary James) paints a much fuller picture of Joe’s life, and has the obvious advantage of covering his whole life (his latter years were somewhat eventful apparently!), this book is still well worth reading, as it contains many opinions directly from the horse’s mouth. It also gives us an insight into the issues that concerned football players and fans at that time, many of which have been long forgotten. I remember being amused by Don Revie’s assertion (in his autobiography) that the use of substitutes would lead to all sorts of underhanded tactics, i.e. people coming off who were not injured(!), a position which seems ludicrous today. Yet that book and this reveal that Newcastle twice won the FA Cup in the 50’s when the opposition were reduced to 10 men – by injury – for the best part of those games, once against Arsenal and once against City!

I won’t attempt to summarise Joe’s life here, but will confine myself to mentioning some of the more interesting anecdotes and trivia that are thrown in along the way. For instance, Joe describes his early footballing days and his introduction to Everton, where he played alongside the great ‘Dixie’ Dean. It never occurred to me before to question why he was called ‘Dixie’. Apparently he had a mop of black hair and a dark complexion and got his nickname at school – he also hated it; everyone in the club called him Billie, as his name was actually William Ralph Dean. We also get a look at the tactics of the day, and the developments in the game; for instance, the change in offside rule from 3 players between attacker and goal to 2 (still applies nowadays). Before the change, the only real way of attacking was dribbling and speed, so teams were full of these types of players. After the change, the offside trap became much more difficult and reliance on dribblers was much reduced; this period saw the advent of the more typical big English centre forward.

Joe also asserts that the ‘double’ was much more difficult to achieve before the advent of floodlights, as any team which got through to the latter stages of the FA Cup suffered severe fixture congestion (sound familiar?). The target of this statement was Spurs who did the ‘double’ in the early 60’s. Interestingly, and digressing to the Swamp, Ferguson was recently criticised for his rather anodyne autobiography (by Colin Shindler I think) and especially for omitting any mention of selling his son, and the associated heartache that it surely must have caused him. Here in contrast, Joe talks about the anguish he had to go through at Aston Villa when he had to tell his son – who was an apprentice – that he was not going to make it.

It’s quite interesting to contrast this book with the much more detailed and excellently written biography from Gary James. Joe’s book was written in a period when you didn’t really criticise authority figures, even when they had treated people in the most appallingly shabby manner. Joe contents himself with stating that there had been disagreements, but deliberately omits to tell us exactly what they were about, and just how relationships had degenerated to such a point that the two individuals felt that there was no other alternative than a parting of the ways. Gary’s book provides a much fuller background to these events, and of course, as Gary is the biographer rather than the subject, he is free to give his own opinion on these matters, where Joe – even in his twilight years – was probably still reticent about doing so in print.

Lastly, the book finishes off with Joe talking about how he still feels that he can prove he is a good manager, given the chance; he’s just waiting for a phone call to bring him back into the game! Anyone know who might have taken him up on it?



The top weekly newspaper in South Africa is the Mail & Guardian which is actually a sister newspaper of the Guardian in Manchester, and the journalism, as in the British one, is generally of a very high standard. However, they recently appointed a football correspondent based in London to do a weekly column on British football. Right from the outset he irritated the sh*t out of me and some of my mates, so I decided to write a letter which the M&G published, and it elicited a personal e-mailed apology from the editor and from the journalist himself. The correspondence follows:

Letter of complaint:

Recently you introduced your readers to a new English football column by (I quote) ‘respected sports correspondent Gavin Evans’.

Could you please point out to him that Manchester has two football teams. He repeatedly refers to Manchester United as Manchester – only my dear Aunt Doris ever calls them that – but I suspect she thinks football is played with a racquet and she certainly doesn’t consider herself an expert on the game. To make matters worse Mr Evans also keeps referring to Sheffield Wednesday as Sheffield. Never heard of United?

C. Davis
An irate Manchester City supporter
Cape Town

Writer’s apology:

Sure, Chris, and when I wrote it I wondered whether there might be a pedantic reaction, but then I thought, what the hell, there’s only one Manchester and one Sheffield in the Premier League, which is the subject of the column, so not much room for confusion, and a fine way to reduce my word count by two. But I’ll watch my Wednesdays in future, promise – and I’m sure if I was a City man I’d be equally irate, so I grovel accordingly. And by the way, I admire you for supporting Manchester City – in more ways than one. Best wishes, Gavin Evans

And from the editor…

My apologies.
I’ve mentioned it to Gavin.

I was contemplating supplying you with Mr Evans e-mail address, but I’m happy to report that in his subsequent columns he has kept his word and now refers to our most hated team by their full name.

Chris Davis (


Judging by reports, here’s what we’ve got to do in the 2nd leg –

S omehow
O pen
U p
T he
H uddle
A cross
M idfield -
P remiership
T eams
O ften
N egative.

Steve Maclean (


I recently paid my first visit to Maine Road for fifteen years and was bowled over by the atmosphere – the sea of laser and even sky blue, the fantastic singing and some pretty good football, especially down the wings. From where I was in the Platt Lane end, there seemed to be hardly any slagging off of our own players (although Keith Curle received a warm welcome every time he touched the ball, and he touched it rather a lot!). Since returning home, I’ve been looking up the origins of the song “Blue Moon” and have decided to pass them on to MCIVTA, hoping they will interest at least a few of you lusty singers. I apologise if this information has been published already.

Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart wrote a tune for the blonde bombshell Jean Harlow, who was to sing it in a film called “Hollywood Party” in 1934. As Miss Harlow only had a range of about three notes, they had to keep the song simple (perhaps why it’s sung so well at Maine Road?), and came up with something called “Prayer”. The lyric went: “Oh,Lord, if you’re not busy up there … Be nice and make me a star.” At least eight directors were used on the film – City supporters are used to that sort of turnover, so perhaps that’s why they chose the song? Anyway, Harlow dropped out of the movie, and the song wasn’t used at all.

Later that year Rodgers and Hart were asked to come up with a song for a film called “Manhattan Melodrama”, starring Clark Gable and Myrna Loy amongst others. The film has a place in the history books as the last movie ever watched by John Dillinger, Public Enemy Number One, who was gunned down outside the cinema by G-men. They used the same song with a different lyric. It was sung by a woman in black-face make-up and was called “The bad in every man”. It made no impression at all. Deservedly, I would say! An MGM producer told Hart that he liked the tune, but thought the lyrics were not commercial. Hart was furious and said “What do mean, commercial? It should be something like ‘Blue Moon’ I suppose.” The MGM man said “Yeah, ‘Blue Moon’.” The song became a great success, but Hart never liked it. An interesting (to me, anway!) footnote is that Richard Rodgers, writing in 1945 with Oscar Hammerstein as lyricist, came up with a song for a musical “Carousel” that has also got footballing connections. The song was called “You’ll never walk alone” and can be heard floating around the Mersey, I believe. When Rodgers was told that up to 50,000 could be heard singing his song at an English football ground, he replied “It makes me go cold to think about it.” Not sure what he meant. Anyway, keep up the good work!

David Buxton (


and a few thoughts on two books…

The regular ‘why blue?’ pieces have described some of the many reasons for first choosing to support City. These range from the inevitable (following blindly in our fathers’ footsteps), through the semi-rational (a fondness for the colour sky blue, perhaps), to the completely random (anyone else remember those ‘lucky strike’ mints marked with the names of clubs?). Picking the best team in the country is seldom mentioned for some reason, though this would seem a perfectly sensible option on the face of it, whatever you might feel about glory-seekers.

It is much more difficult though to explain why you stick by the club of your choice even when it becomes pretty clear from any objective point of view that you’ve made the wrong choice. After all, at clubs like City the players and other staff change so often that it is quite difficult to feel any great sense of loyalty to most of them as individuals.

A couple of books I picked up in Manchester recently made me think about this a bit: Colin Shindler’s ‘Manchester United ruined my life‘ and Terry Christian’s ‘Reds in the hood’ both describe (in very different styles, admittedly) growing up in Manchester, and how the changing fortunes of their teams were central to their youth. Both authors take this a bit far at times, trying too hard to link their club’s fate to their own personal ups and downs. This is an inevitable weakness in the two books, however. You have to ask (as the publishers must have) how many people would buy these blokes’ autobiographies without the football link being pushed.

(I must add here that I got the red book largely because ‘Tez’ Christian was in our class at school in the 70s. I got on with him OK then, though he was a Red – and often seemed to have a bag of chips on his shoulder, but I’ve never seen him since those days, except on TV once or twice. – re. a recent MCIVTA – his Mancunian accent is genuine. Also, memories of United consigned to the old Division 2 in this book are still surprisingly enjoyable…)

Most fans would probably admit that following football is largely a kind of escapism from more mundane matters rather than the central thread of our lives, even though results can affect us very personally – especially in terms of the slagging we can dish out or have to endure from mates. Nevertheless, football clearly meant a lot to Shindler and Christian, and their accounts of matches feel like vivid recollections of profoundly felt experiences rather than the result of research.

Both now live far away from their geographical and social roots. I moved away from Whalley Range myself in 1978, and have since lived in various faraway places – nowadays in Helsinki. Given everything that has happened to City since then, most ‘normal’ people would understand if I had dropped them like a worn-out pair of shoes, but this is of course unthinkable. The Blues were part of my childhood and teenage years, my home and upbringing, especially an interest I shared with my dad till he died in 1993. Dad was born on Kippax St., enjoyed the Swift and Trautmann eras, and first started taking me to Maine Road, fortuitously, in 1966-7. I often find the reminiscences of older fans in MCIVTA strangely moving.

Recent visits to Maine Road have begun to feel like dutiful trips down Memory Lane, especially as the football on show hasn’t exactly been earth-shattering. Continuing to give a damn about City helps me keep in touch with my past and my roots, and is perhaps more important because of the distance. Shindler’s and Christian’s books both struck a chord.

Fran Weaver (


I have set my windows to a nice maroon, blue and white appearance. I have got a Play-off wallpaper, my screensaver is the crest and I have the commentary of Dickov’s goal as my windows start up sound. Does anyone know where I can find a “wav” file of “Blue Moon” to use as a close down sound?

John Wilson (


I will be sunning myself in Spain and earning myself some much needed rest for my ailing back whilst City play a (hopefully) top of the table clash against Ipswich (has anyone else noticed Sky have picked all the games they think we might lose?). To save me walking around (something I find difficult because of aforementioned back) can any Blues who have been to Benal Medena this year remember (hope beyond hope you might have been sober or even remember where you were) where the best bars to watch football were.

IWABTFTIHWCA (It Will Actually Be The First Time I Have Watched City Abroad; well, kind of), David Kilroy (


Being out of the UK and unable to get to many games I too had a few problems getting tickets to an away game. I aired my views on these pages and like Phil Harvey got a reply from Nathan almost immediately. I found he really lived up to his name at customer services and he not only helped to get my tickets but offered any future help. I was extreemly impressed with him and managed to at least see us once last season.

Well I’m here just like to remind all those exiles out there of our matchday chatroom in talkcity. To join go to: type in MCFC to the roomname then add your nickname and go.

Herbie (


I cannot believe the difference in Edghill last night, he played his little cotton socks off – obviously he is a different player Mon-Fri so goodness knows what he does Friday night before a home game but it must stop.

Heidi Pickup (


Are there any Blues living in the Middlesex area? We will be travelling to Southampton and Ipswich away and will be only two of us. So if anyone wants a lift give me a shout.

Claire Quinn (


I’m going to London next week to see my beloved local team AIK play Arsenal at Wembley the very next night City play Southampton away. While in London I’ll of course look for some City related stuff and in particular I’m looking for these articles:

  • The new home (and if possible, away) jersey.
  • Last year’s away jersey (Wembley classic).
  • A classic jersey (like Toff’s or something) from the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s.

Does anyone know if and where I can find these articles in London?

Cheers and CTID! Patrik Scheele (


A born and bred Mancunian now exiled in Sri Lanka, I will be visiting Sydney between October 1-15 and Melbourne October 15-22. Will be interested to know if there are any get togethers during this period to watch matches etc.

Steven Davies (


My own ‘Why Blue’ is boring:- born and raised in Denton, a traditional Blue stronghold, 3rd generation City fan. First match in late 60’s etc. I therefore had a chat with my son, Dan who is 3 and 7/8ths(!) and I agreed to be a ghost writer for his story so far…

My mum went into St Mary’s hospital in Manchester a few days before I was due to be born in October 1995. Dad had a great time drinking dirty beer and eating take-aways, making the most of being on his own. He also went to see City play Liverpool in the Coca-Cola Cup. Even Gio couldn’t halt the Red Machine chalking up another victory, this time 4-0. Never mind thought dad, we play them in the league on Saturday, we’ll get our revenge then. Trouble is, I decided that I should make my début in this world on that same Saturday (28th October). Mum phoned dad at around 9 a.m. to advise him that he should come to the hospital. Dad tells me that although he was in a bit of a panic, he remembered to bring his Liverpool ticket, just on the off-chance that I popped out in time for him to make his way to Anfield in the early afternoon. You see though, I knew what was going to happen, so I made sure that I delayed my entrance (or should that be exit?) until 3.45 pm, bang on half time. Mum didn’t really appreciate the time it took for me to get out, but a foetus has got to do what a foetus has got to do (as I was at that time). Dad forgot all about the match (honest!) until he was driving home at about 9pm, when he phoned a friend with whom he was supposed to be going to the match. The match had ended 6-0 to Liverpool and dad still has me to thank for allowing him to miss that particular humiliation.

Anyway, immediately after I had been born and had a little cuddle with my mum, the nice midwife gave me to dad. Dad took me over to the window of the room, which was on the 4th floor and showed me Maine Road for the first time, which could be clearly seen, the magnificent new Kippax Stand towering above the other buildings in the area. Obviously I had my photo taken at a very young age with a City scarf and various other City regalia spread around me on my cushion (I mean, who hasn’t!), but I was somewhat disappointed with dad that he didn’t enrol me in the Junior Blues until I was 7 weeks old. Mind you, he made up for it as it was only £25 for life then, instead of the £20 per year or whatever it is now. I learned to clap my hands if I hated United when I was a few months old and dad swears that my first words were “Gio, Gio”, although I know I was only belching. My first matches I attended were when I was 9 months old, the pre-season friendlies at Exeter and Plymouth. This was also my first holiday which coincidentally dad had arranged for us to tour the Isle of Wight and South of England for 10 days when City happened to be down there! I really enjoyed the atmosphere during these matches, although I did get a bit frightened when the crowd cheered when Quinny scored a cracker. Good job Alan Ball sold him soon after! My next match wasn’t until last season when I was one of the 3,007 at the Auto-Windscreens clash with Mansfield. Dad says that I’ll thank him in later years for taking me to this match, as I’ll be able to say that “I was there, at City’s lowest ever point”. Anyway I kept the crowd entertained for 20 minutes with my constant cries of “Come on City” but then I decided that I’d rather read my Mr Men books and eat tons of sweets! Dad was a bit worried about me a few months ago as one of my friends at nursery school is a Rag and I kept coming home asking questions about Manchester United. I was only winding dad up though, but at least it got him to buy me the new City shirt!

My latest game was the pre-season at Stockport which I really did enjoy although for someone of my age it would be better if games finished at half time. I like watching footy on the TV almost every day and dad knows that my indoctrination is complete as I boo every team that wears red and yesterday I even said to dad that I didn’t like the ‘Red Manchester United Flowers’ that were in our garden (honest!). I can’t wait until I can go to all the games and I would love to score a goal past Moonchester as he’s getting a bit cocky nowadays! City for Ever!

Daniel Hartley, with assistance from dad, Phil Hartley (


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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]Ashley Birch,

Newsletter #536