Newsletter #538

City lost 4-3 in extra time to Southampton on Tuesday. It was an impressive performance – 3-3 at full time – and a game that we would probably have won had we not been without both Morrison and Wiekens. The main carryover from this game is an injury to Edghill, perpetrated by that old Kippax favourite Mark Hughes, who was sent off for his pains (and Edgy’s). ‘Edgy’ was concussed after having his cranium tested to destruction by Hughes’ elbow, not quite all the way to destruction, but far enough for Edgy to be detained in hospital overnight. Dickov and Horlock also picked up injuries, but both are said to be likely to be available for Sunday’s much more important game! We have two match reports in this issue.

Today is the 10-year anniversary of the famous 5-1 crushing of the Rags, a result which came perilously close to costing Ferguson his job. David Butler has done great work in interviewing Paul Lake and has written up a long and very interesting piece for MCIVTA.

There’s plenty of opinion – mostly concerning the appearance of Rangers fans at Maine Road – as well as numerous requests and a Why Blue.

Next game: Ipswich away, Sunday 26th September 1999


Fifth Straight Win Secures Top Spot

City’s 1-0 win at Walsall on Saturday, the Blues’ fifth in succession in the league, took Joe Royle’s side to the First Division summit after morning leaders Ipswich lost at home to Birmingham. Shaun Goater’s 34th minute goal was sufficient to earn all three points in a game the Blues dominated, though the Blues’ failure to capitalise on chances created was almost costly when Darren Wrack hit the bar direct from a corner. Even so, the newspapers unanimously agreed it was a well-deserved triumph for City and many of them chose to focus on the change in mood at Maine Road. Joe Royle, however, refused to get carried away. “Getting where we are now is the easy bit – staying there is hardest,” he said. “Walsall are a tight and competitive side and they made it difficult for us – but I have to say we should have won it by four or five. My only concern is we are not taking all of our chances.”

Saints Edge Through in Seven-Goal Thriller

City bowed out of the Worthington Cup in dramatic fashion at The Dell on Tuesday, losing 4-3 in extra time to Southampton. After Paul Dickov had given the Blues an early lead, the home team replied with a Jason Dodd penalty and two Matthew Oakley goals to lead 3-1 before the hour mark. City fought back impressively, and Shaun Goater strikes on 75 and 82 minutes took the game into extra time. The drama continued with the last-minute dismissal of the Saints’ former Manchester United man Mark Hughes, who was dismissed for a second bookable offence when his stray arm caught Richard Edghill. With this momentum, City were favourites going into the extra period, but it wasn’t to be. Dean Richards scored only two minutes in and Southampton held on to claim a third round place.

Edghill Faces Lay-Off After Hospital Stay

The impact of his clash with Mark Hughes left Edghill concussed, and after vomiting on the pitch while receiving treatment, the stand-in City skipper spent the night in a local hospital. “I didn’t see the clash at the time but I’ve watched it since on the television and I don’t think there will be anyone who can question it,” said the City manager Joe Royle. However, while considering Hughes guilty of dangerous play, Royle did feel that the damage was unintentional on the part of a player he’s long admired. “I don’t think Sparky meant to hurt Richard,” said the City boss. “It was just one of his typical challenges. I’m a big fan of Mark’s. I think the world of him. I’ve tried often enough to sign him in the past. He is such a lovely man off the pitch. But on the park he is a great competitor.” Edghill now faces the prospect of being sidelined for the weekend visit to Ipswich. Commented Royle, “Richard is now out of hospital. He’s got a severe headache and we will wait and see how he is.”

City Odds Coming Down

Despite sounding a note of caution after his side hit the top of the table, Joe Royle did say in the wake of Saturday’s win that the number of teams he views as realistic contenders for promotion has reduced from twelve at the season’s outset to six now – and his own side is among the leading half-dozen in his eyes. Manchester bookmakers Dones, owned by staunch Red Fred Done, have slashed the City’s odds. They now quote City at 7/1 to win the Division One title (from 14/1 six weeks ago) and at 5/2 to win promotion by any route. One punter who placed his bet before the odds were shortened was a certain Alex Ferguson. “Alex is familiar with the betting ring, certainly knows his odds and is not without a certain amount of fortune!” said Joe Royle on hearing that his Old Trafford counterpart had bet on the Blues. “It is a compliment to what we are doing here that he thinks we are one of teams who will challenge for a Premiership place.”

Bernstein Denies Greenalls Share Rumours

David Bernstein has played down reports that Greenalls could be looking to sell their 8% stake in the club. “I know all the substantial shareholders personally and can safely say they are all supportive with what we are trying to achieve here and are keen that the progress we’ve clearly made in the last year or so continues,” said the City chairman. “With the success we’re enjoying in the First Division I would imagine that everybody would be keen to hold onto their shares. City’s board has never been more united than it is at present.”

Chairman’s Statement: “A Much Better Year”

The text of David Bernstein’s chairman’s statement in City’s annual report and accounts has been published by Newstrack, and, “with considerable satisfaction and not a little relief”, the chairman is able to report on improved fortunes. In an upbeat message, he talks of progress on and off the pitch. He congratulates Joe Royle and Willie Donachie for their rôle in the on-field revival, and cites the developing Maine Road Youth Academy as a factor which should stimulate success in the long-term. He stresses the end to the oft-discussed recriminations and infighting behind the scenes, feeling that the club now has a young and focused board, and sees this year’s financial results as heralding a likely future improvement now that, by winning promotion, the club has guaranteed itself a significant hike in income. other points of note are that the move to Eastlands is referred to as “a key moment in the club’s history [which] presents us with a unique opportunity”, while the board is still seeking “new finance from sources that will complement our development plans”. Bernstein ends with a promise “to move forward without repeating the errors of the past”, and if he and his management team continue to progress as they have since last Christmas, he’ll have no complaints from anyone.

Council Set for Stake in Club?

One matter on which the chairman hasn’t commented is the revival of the runour that Manchester City Council could be set to receive a 5% stake in the Blues. Its claimed the council will take the shares in an arrangement connected with the club’s pending move to the City of Manchester Stadium. A spokesman for the council is quoted as saying, “It is an arrangement that ensures that Manchester City does not obtain a disproportionate benefit as a result of moving to the new stadium.”

Riedle “To Stay at Anfield”

Weekend reports linked City strongly with Liverpool striker Karlheinz Riedle but the hot press tip in the first half of the week was that Fulham were favourites to sign the German international. It was claimed that Riedle is unhappy at being well down the pecking order at Anfield, and his agent was said to have approached Joe Royle last week. This week, reports claimed that Fulham had agreed to pay Liverpool £400,000 for the player and had offered Riedle a two-year contract, while a source at Maine Road suggested that Riedle could be interested in joining City and had held preliminary talks at Maine Road. However, on Thursday it appeared as if the player would be staying put. Some reports claimed that Riedle had turned down Fulham, a story contradicted by another source, which quoted Anfield manager Gerard Houllier as saying, “Karlheinz is a Liverpool player, and it was never my intention to let him go. He is not for sale and he is not for loan.” Either way, it seems he’s unlikely to be Manchester bound.

Whitley Loan Extended but Wright Returns

Jim Whitley’s loan spell with Blackpool, which was due to end this week, has been extended for a further month. However, the Northern Ireland international has no thoughts of a permanent switch to Bloomfield Road. “I certainly don’t want to leave City and I’d like to be at Maine Road forever,” said Whitley. “I know it us up to me to prove that I am good enough and hopefully this [loan move] will be a stepping stone to better things.” Meanwhile, Tommy Wright whose month’s loan at Newcastle was due to expire after the Magpies play Leeds this weekend, has returned to Maine Road. Injured goalkeepers Shay Given and Steve Harper are regaining fitness, meaning the Geordies no longer have any call for Wright’s services. While no permanent move is on the agenda for Whitley or Wright, a third loan player, Craig Russell, will be allowed to leave for Darlington should the north east club make a bid for his services.

Brown Loan Bid Rejected

Huddersfield Town have made a move to take City midfielder Michael Brown on loan. Terriers’ manager Steve Bruce attempted to sign Brown last autumn when in charge at Sheffield United, and has moved again now that Brown has been the man to suffer following Jeff Whitley’s re-emergence. However, City have rejected the former Manchester United defender’s approach.

Steel City Beckoning Kinky?

Former City favourite Georgi Kinkladze could be heading for a return to England if Sheffield United follow up with a rumoured move to take the Georgian international on loan, possibly with a view to a permanent £2.5 million transfer. Kinkladze, of course, is out of favour at Ajax and was transfer listed in the spring. However, with top clubs apparently unwilling to take a chance on the player, Blades’ manager Adrian Heath sees a chance to add a crowd-pulling star to his squad in a bid to halt the decline in Brammall Lane gates. “We have spoken to Ajax about the possibility of taking him on loan,” said Heath. “It would be very expensive deal but we are hoping that he would excite the crowd.” And, with the Blades supposedly prepared to match his £20,000 weekly Ajax salary, Kinkladze would apparently be receptive to the idea of a move to South Yorkshire. “I have got to get away [from Ajax],” he said. “I have been given permission to talk to other clubs and the sooner I leave the better. I would love to go back to England and if there is no interest in the Premiership, then Sheffield United is fine for me.” However, one report suggests that a major sticking point is Kinkladze’s weight, which has ballooned to over 13 stone during his reserve team exile. It’s said that he’ll have to shed over two stone in short order if he wants to make a return to England a reality. Another problem could be a reported reluctance on the part of Ajax to consider loaning the player – the Amsterdam club would prefer a permanent deal.

Drugs Test Farce Angers Royle

City manager Joe Royle was left fuming on Monday after FA drugs testing officials prevented Terry Cooke from travelling to Southampton with his team mates. Nicky Weaver and Nick Fenton, along with Cooke, were picked out for random dope tests. However, the former Manchester United winger was unable to provide a urine sample, so was made to remain in Manchester until he had done so. Cooke eventually flew down to the south coast on Tuesday morning, but manager Joe Royle was none too impressed with the whole affair. “I can’t believe the stupidity of it,” he raged. “We will be lodging a protest with the FA.”

Mixed Results for Academy Teams

The City under-19 team beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 on Saturday to earn their third consecutive win. Their under-17 counterparts were unable to match their elders’ success, however, suffering a 2-0 defeat away to the same opponents.

New Book Remembers Cup Heroics

There seems to be something of a boom in City-related publishing at the moment, but the latest offering is more nostalgic than one or two of the others due out in the near future. “Manchester City – Cup Kings 1956”, a new illustrated hardback book is published in the next ten days, priced £20.00, by Over the Moon Publications. One of the heroes of that team, the legendary Bert Trautmann, will be signing copies of the book at Sportspages Bookshop, Barton Square, St.Ann’s Square, Manchester on Saturday, October 9th from 11.30 to 12.30. Anyone wishing to reserve a signed copy should call 0161 832 8530 to do so. It’s thought that the plan is for Bert to then proceed to the City Superstore for another signing and then to the game against Portsmouth. However, should the Portsmouth game be postponed (it’s at risk from international call-ups) the schedule may change. Fans should check with Sportspages prior to making a special trip down to town on the day.

Ipswich Away – Preview

Sunday sees City make the trip to Portman Road to face the Ipswich side from whom they claimed top spot eight days previously. Visits to the Suffolk side have invariably proved fruitless for City in recent years, with only Brain Horton’s 1994-95 side making the long trip back to Manchester with maximum points. And while, after his side’s fine start to the season, Joe Royle will be confident of following in Horton’s footsteps, it’s another stern test before the cameras for the Blues. While City have Division One’s best defensive record, the scoring honours go to Ipswich, with Joe Royle’s rumoured summer target David Johnson in devastating form. All the pre-match portents point to another cracker for the Sky cameras, but despite the entertainment provided by Tuesday’s goal-fest, a return to this season’s favoured 1-0 win blueprint would be more than welcome.

Peter Brophy (


SOUTHAMPTON vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Tuesday 21st September 1999

I went down from Reading for this thanks to a Southampton friend who had got a ticket for me. We were in the Southampton end (diagonally opposite the Blue corner), and my hopes were high given our newly found top-of-the-table status.

City started brightly. We were the better team during the first ten minutes. Bishop cut out a loose ball from Sparky, played a good pass up to Dickov who controlled well and hit a good shot, well stopped by Jones. Shortly after Kennedy put in a good cross and Dickov had so much space he was lonely. 1-0 after 8 minutes. He certainly looked lively to start with and deserved his goal.

Chants of “1-0 in your cup final” from the other end of the ground drowned “When the Saints go marching in”, and things were looking up. Maybe a cup upset was on the cards.

It didn’t last long. Southampton started to get a few attacks and were awarded a penalty on 15 minutes. Weaver went the right way, but it was right in the corner. After this it swung against us for a while. Faced with a one-on-one, Weaver made a good reflex save and the follow up was cleared off the line. Shortly after this, another 6-yard box frenzy resulted in lots of Southampton cheering at our end as everyone assumed the ball had gone in, although we really couldn’t tell from that far away. Anyway it got cleared and no goal was given, but Sparky was upset enough to get booked for dissent.

The City attacks were still coming, with Bishop looking OK in the middle and almost always looking for Kennedy down the left. Goater held the ball up well a few times but never really had a look at goal. Dickov was working hard, but got little change from Dean Richards who was almost twice his size and looked like a quality defender (but got completely lost when he tried to take the ball past the half way line). Then a shot from just outside the area from Oakley caught the City defence by surprise and we were 2-1 down.

After half time we were still on the back foot for a while. We had a fair amount of possession, but never threatened the goal. We also looked a bit shaky at the back, and I really wasn’t surprised when Oakley sneaked in again for Southampton’s third.

Coming into the last twenty minutes and we picked up the pace. Southampton sat back to defend their lead. 9 out of 10 Premiership teams could defend a two goal lead against non-Premiership opposition, but Southampton are not 9 out of 10 Premiership teams. City streamed forward with almost all the pressure coming from Tiatto linking well with Kennedy down the left, or Bishop in the middle. We forced a couple of good saves from Jones: one from a long range effort which he saw late and did well to parry, and another when Goater was clean through and really should have finished better.

Eventually the pressure paid off. A loose, bouncing, ball on the edge of the area was fired in. I didn’t see who by, but he did well to keep it low and on target. Jones again saved well, but Goater was on hand to follow in and give us a lifeline. All the while I could hear the Blues singing in the opposite corner, prompting my Southampton friend to say (of the City fans) “My God, don’t they ever stop singing?”

Shortly after this another goal-mouth scramble and Goater picked up his second and extra time loomed. But the Saints had other ideas. After being asleep for twenty minutes they decided to finish strongly. Boa Morte and Le Tissier came on, one of whom was up for it and looked dangerous, and one of whom was Matt Le Tissier. He really is a fat waster – at 3 all in a cup tie he didn’t look the slightest bit interested and did nothing for the rest of the game.

A couple of major incidents marked the final minutes. First we got caught in possession trying to play the ball out from the back, and Weaver was called on to produce a fine save. Then Mark Hughes was judged to have fouled Edghill. After consulting the linesman, the ref was told that Hughes had used his elbow and so out came the card. This was Sparky’s second, and so off he went. He certainly was not happy. Having seen a replay this morning I reckon that there was no intent in the foul, but tough! If you lead with your elbow, you can expect to get into trouble. Especially if you’ve already been booked. Almost straight away, Southampton scored and the fans went mad, but the same linesman was there with his flag for offside. I breathed a sigh of relief, and 10,000 Southampton fans vented their anger on that one man.

Then the whistle went and we were into extra time. I saw Edghill stretchered off, but couldn’t tell what was wrong. Presumably he was concussed from Mark Hughes’s elbow? He’d finished full time OK, but maybe had a delayed reaction. Almost immediately Southampton scored. With 29 minutes to go I was still quietly confident that the game was far from over.

Allsopp came on for Dickov (who took a slight knock I think), and then Cooke for Tiatto. To start with Cooke got very little of the ball, despite putting in a decent cross with almost his first touch. Bishop seemed much more keen to play down the left to Kennedy than to give Cooke a go. Have the team lost confidence in him? If so then he went quite a way to restoring it. He was certainly our best player for the final 15 minutes. With a mixture of crosses and runs at the defence he looked quite a handful. Once he slipped between two defenders on the edge of the area, but could only fire just wide. If only he’d been a yard slower then he might have been brought down.

Anyway, sometimes things just aren’t meant to be, and 10:30 came and we were out of the cup. However, a few sloppy defensive moments aside, we looked like we were competing on a fairly even basis with Southampton who looked better to me than in previous years. We showed quite a lot of spark to come back from 3-1 and overall were not disgraced.

Here’s hoping for better in the FA Cup.

Chris Jones (


SOUTHAMPTON vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Tuesday 21st September 1999

A night of sheer drama at the Dell – broadcast to the nation on Sky – saw just about everything you could want at a football match. What a fantastic night and what a fantastic excuse for me to ramble on at length about it and City in general!

The bare facts are that Southampton knocked City out of the Worthington Cup by the odd goal in seven in extra time but City players and fans can hold their heads up high after this defeat. The draw was the fair result after 90 minutes and, if anything, the final result was hard on City.

Our group of three southern-based Blues descended on Southampton from Watford, giving us a rather easier journey than Manchester-based fans. Luckily, we had been able to reschedule time off work from the Wednesday to the Tuesday after the game was switched late last week to accommodate Sky’s cameras. There must have been some fans that had bought tickets prior to this and were not so lucky. Indeed, our own party should have been four members and not three.

In my opinion, this maltreatment of fans is yet more evidence of television’s, and money’s, continued domination of the game. What we saw on Tuesday night however was a refreshing return to the blood and thunder history of British Cup football. Skill, passion and commitment abounded and only one player exceeded the mark: more of him later.

An early arrival on the south coast meant we had time for a few jars and a curry before the game. I dropped my self-imposed ban on Boddies (MCIVTA’s passim), selling my soul to a pound a pint offer. The locals inside The Bedford were friendly enough but their appearance didn’t do much to dispel the theory that there is only one family tree in Southampton. Meanwhile, the curry was superb. When we play Saints in the Premiership next season, I can heartily recommend the curry house 4 doors down from The Bedford on Bedford Road; it’s called “The Prince of Delhi” if I recall correctly.

Through the back streets and into the ground, no bodysearch for a change, and there was just time to grab a coffee and then exchange some money with Dave Wallace in the toilets. No Noel, don’t get any libellous ideas, I was only buying KotK.

Talking of toilets, The Dell is a complete hole. This was my first visit there and the phrase ‘sardines in a tin can’ does the seating in the away end no justice. There were supposed to be some facilities but I couldn’t find them and I’m surprised that only one matchball was lost to the outside sea breezes. It is the original Subutteo stadium.

From the kick-off, it was a frantic game with both sides mixing up precision passing with ferocious tackling. City could have scored in the first minute and after a flurry of chances it was no surprise that we edged in front, Dickov heading in a Kennedy cross unmarked.

We were showing obvious signs of the confidence generated by our great start to the season until the ref awarded Southampton a penalty. Edghill and Crooks (I think) combined to give the ball away in the box and Edghill tackled one of Saint’s foreigners who had latched onto the ball. I doubt it would have been given at the other end; all the 50-50 decisions were going the home side’s way. To make things worse, Weaver almost got a hand to the well-taken penalty.

After that, the game changed around and Saints began to dominate. Horlock arguably handballed on the line and our net was leading a charmed life. Having survived that, we then let in an unlucky second goal. Oakley fired through a crowd of players from outside the box and the ball shot under Weaver’s body into the net. Nicky was badly unsighted and I don’t think the defence were too much to blame, it was just one of those goals. As half time approached, City managed to get back some control over the game and we were relieved to hear the whistle.

After the break, we started up another one of those long “Joe Royle’s Blue and White Army” chants which even Saint’s third goal could not dampen. The defence was clearly guilty of backing off Oakley and he could pretty much pick his spot in the corner of the net past Weaver. Southampton had control of the game and should really have killed us off but they chose to ease off the pedal, maybe with their next Premiership game in mind.

In the stands, I was plotting the route back to Watford after Goater fluffed a glorious chance to pull one back. A lucky bounce meant he was clean through but he shot straight at Jones and that was our chance of getting back into the game gone. Or so I thought.

City now roared back, laying siege to the opposition goal. Bishop was inspirational and Goater finally woke up, making a real menace of himself. We were in total control and it was mesmerising stuff. Goater’s two strikes, which levelled the score at 3-3, were just reward for the pressure. Even then, we had more than enough chances to finish them off before the end of normal time but one incident shortly beforehand seemed to unsettle the team.

A certain M. Hughes esquire, late of the Swamp parish, elbowed Edghill in the face and was sent off for his second bookable offence. Having seen the replay, it should definitely have been a red card by itself, deliberate or not. Richard was concussed and was vomiting on the pitch and had to be held over in hospital overnight. The only happy note that I can find from this disgusting incident is that we will probably never see this talentless thug lined up against a City team.

When that ****-faced Rag ****** (scratch off asterisks to reveal the swearwords of your choice) gets out of jail, the FA should not throw the book at him, they should take the book and hit him repeatedly around the head with it until he is bludgeoned into unconsciousness. Then he should be paraded around Manchester City Centre in chains before being put in the stocks and pelted with heavy blunt objects. Followed by a crash course in learning how to fly by being pushed out of an aeroplane naked and blindfolded without a parachute.

That’s if the FA is feeling lenient, of course.

Two minutes into extra time and Southampton scrambled a deflected goal, which proved to be the winner. Even though they were a man down, they looked comfortable holding the lead and City didn’t recover until the second period of extra time, possibly affected by what had happened to Edghill.

The game changed pattern again when Terry Cooke came on. He looked mean and hungry and he was ripping their defence to shreds at every opportunity. His crossing led to several excellent chances, which went a-begging. Terry decided that he’d have to put the ball away himself and nearly scored the goal of the season, dribbling into the box and curling a shot just wide of the upright. It was reminiscent of Kinky in his prime and City were rampant. It was a joy to watch.

However the equaliser, which would have won the tie for City on the away goals rule, simply would not come and the ref blew just seconds after the extra 30 minutes were up. The City faithful gave the boys a rousing ovation and reserved the loudest applause for Bishop as he came over, looking completely knackered, and thanked us for our support. Each player could be proud of their performance but Bishop was my pick for man of the match.

OK, so we let in twice as many goals in one game as we have in the other 9 combined and we looked out for the count on two occasions but, for my money, this was just the sort of game City needed. Our makeshift defence played quite well against quality opposition and, most importantly, we never gave up. The general feeling from Saints supporters outside the ground was “bad luck, lads, good luck for the rest of the season” and I think all us City fans walked away from the Dell proud of the performance. The drive home was a happy one.

There was also the small matter of everyone watching on television seeing us put in such a gutsy performance. Hopefully the Tranmeres and Port Vales of this world might be a little more unnerved by us now. They are the teams we have failed against in the past and whom we need to beat home and away this season if we are to sustain our promotion challenge.

My one criticism of Joe Royle on the night was that he should have put Cooke on much earlier. As soon as scumbag was sent off, I thought it was imperative that we have both wingers on to exploit the extra space. Apparently there had been some FA drug-testing incident involving Terry earlier on in the day, which had unsettled him. I can fully understand Joe’s decision now and I certainly can’t extract the urine out of him for it.

Last time I wrote to MCIVTA, after the Fulham game, I predicted mid-table mediocrity for us. Well, I take it all back. I’m now in agreement with Joe’s pre-season pronouncement that we should be unhappy with anything less than a play-off place. We’re yet to play the big 3 (Ipswich, Charlton and Birmingham in my opinion) but Joe was right and I was wrong.

We do still need a quality finisher, mind you. And let’s not even go near the subject of how we would cope in the top league just yet. There’s plenty of time for that discussion after Christmas.

So, a top night all round with only one minor blemish (the result) and one very ugly blemish. Bring on the Ipswich; I’ll happy sell this defeat for three points there. Will it be third time lucky to break the Sky hoodoo this season?

James Nash (


On 11 September, the ISC team met with Steve Sayer, City’s Marketing Executive. We all consider that the meeting was productive and all of us were delighted at the club’s positive attitude.

There is a willingness on the part of the club to give the ISC official recognition and to discuss issues of mutual benefit with us. Our survey indicated that the availability of match tickets is the primary concern at present, and this issue was discussed at our meeting.

As has already been featured in the ISC newsletter, the club is currently preparing to launch the new City Card. However, this is aimed at UK-based fans, and the club is also keen to produce a City Card International, which will be available to ISC members. This will have benefits tailored to the needs of overseas fans. We have already had discussions on the possible nature of these benefits but are not yet in a position to offer details.

It is our hope to offer membership packages which offer a City Card to UK-based ISC members and a City Card International to overseas members. We are also working on a specific package of other benefits. We have arranged to meet with the club again at October’s Tribal Gathering and would anticipate being able to provide more details about our plans after this meeting.

All members of the ISC team have agreed to commit to retaining our current rôles for a two-year period. We feel that we have a fully rounded team with a range of complementary skills which can help to get the ISC off the ground. Our commitment gives an element of stability which is crucial as we seek to establish the venture. We will then review the ISC’s management and administration and will be open to changing personnel or structure to better meet the needs of the ISC membership.

Finally, the ISC team has paid £250 to the club by way of a sponsorship of the Manchester City Youth Academy. We are keen for the ISC to make an active, positive contribution to the development of Manchester City Football Club and consider this sponsorship to be one of the ways in which we can do so.

Thanks for your support.

If you would like to express an interest in the ISC please contact Bob Young at the email below or alternatively subscribe to the ISC mailing list on

The ISC Team (


Ten years ago this Thursday City recorded their highest Maine Road score against United. To mark the event I spoke to City’s number 11, Paul Lake, who was delighted to relive one of his and our greatest days. To save time and space, I have not included any of my questions or prompts, so if it reads a little disjointedly, that’s me and not Paul. I took the liberty of thanking him on behalf of all McVittee readers.

Paul Lake: When I think of that game I obviously have happy memories, because since then there’s been little comparison between us and United. They are such a fantastic force now in the game. I have a lot of happy memories of the one real time when City fans could stand up to United fans and say we are pretty much on even keel after this one.

I would say about half a season later they were poles apart and then it was leagues apart. Now it’s almost a world apart, really.

The one image that I seem to get in my head would be after we’d been on the pitch for 10 minutes and there was an overspill of fans from the North Stand. To be fair, for 10 minutes United were on top. We came back up the tunnel and into the changing rooms and while we were talking I looked around and it struck me, more than anything else, that the local lads – Andy Hinchliffe, David White, Ian Brightwell, Steve Redmond – were so focused with a hidden determination. It’s not that the others were not focused, but I looked at my pals – people I’d been with since I was 10 years old – and there was just that sort of feeling that I feel we influenced the older players because we were so fired up.

On the day you could say that everything fell for City. In the second half United had four good chances and it could have been 6-5, or whatever.

I’ve been a Blue all my life so I was well aware of the rivalry and the anticipation.

We hadn’t started the season that well and United had bought a lot of experienced players of real quality – Gary Pallister, Paul Ince, Danny Wallace – but I think subconsciously it helped us because Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce and Neil Webb were not fit. We had Neil McNab, Clive Allen and Andy Dibble out, so it kind of cancelled out their loss, but the influence Bryan Robson had on a team at that time was vast. He was missed more than anybody else and that spurred us on. Come the day it’s eleven versus eleven and we knew we had that much quality in our team we could beat anybody. But it was a psychological advantage that Robson wasn’t playing and it helped us being the underdogs.

We’d just come up, we were at home and, as ever, everything was expected of United, so we were confident. Although we hadn’t been playing badly, we hadn’t been scoring enough goals and killing teams off and we were always likely to concede. I wasn’t playing that well and we needed to get some consistency for that division.

The build up was different to a normal league game. Living in Haughton Green (Denton) all your pals are City or United fans. You either get thumbs up or to fingers at you. I can recall within the space of six cars going past, two were bibbing their horns and two were calling me a w*nker. All the hype was there and it was added to because it was the first derby in a couple of years.

It enhanced our mood – in the dressing room we were like caged tigers. When we came out after that break we were so fired up, I don’t think there’s any way we were going to lose that game.

The match started 100 miles an hour and that break gave us the chance to take stock, to focus on doing the simple things well, such as talking more and taking the game by the scruff of the neck – because someone had to.

If you remember once we had scored the first we got the second within two minutes, and after that United threw caution to the wind and they were frustrated because we were cancelling them out. We worked hard as a team and it was on one of their attacks that we broke for the third.

The first goal came after I’d just been brought down by Viv Anderson or Russell Beardsmore. Andy Hinchcliffe – who’s got a left peg that could rewire the back of a television – smashed the ball all of seventy yards and David White controlled it with a great touch and knocked it across the park.

As a defender, I think Pallister made the right decision because there was no one covering the near post, so as Dave pulled the ball back he was committed and couldn’t quite reach the ball. It came straight to Dave Oldfield, who turned and smashed it first time. It was a great finish.

There are lots of fans with tapes of the game and they can see, as we hugged ourselves, the sense of determination: Let’s not give this lead away, let’s make it concrete. We had a tendency around then to concede soon after we’d scored and it was something we were determined not to do that day.

I was getting stick from all over and it meant a lot. I’ve experienced so many derbies, and so many times City have been the underdogs, it was good to be on top. Obviously the Colin bell era was different, but in the years leading up to that we were never really on an even keel with them and it was a wonderment if we got a result against them.

It’s ingrained in you – it’s almost as if you have this gene pattern in you that you have this passion to beat United.

After the first, played the ball up and we fed it to straight away to Whitey. He was probably 25 yards out and he’s knocked the ball in towards the edge of the area. United cut it out, but Mal Donaghy was umming and ahrring on the ball and Trevor Morley nipped in. Jim Leighton parried and it came to me towards the edge of the box. Viv Anderson made to block the cross and so I got the half a yard I needed to get a strike in on goal. Leighton parried it straight down but the first person to react was Trevor. The City fans were still bouncing after the first goal, but they were bouncing a bit higher now!

United came back and had a few chances. I remember Gary Pallister hooking the ball over his shoulder. I think it happened too quickly for anyone to say the ball was handled. I believed and still do – although every United fan on the planet will say different – that it hit Andy Hinchcliffe’s chest and it also came off Gary Fleming’s chest as well, or vice versa. I was kind of in line with them, and they were on the line, so although the likes of Mark Hughes were signalling that it crossed the line it didn’t. Black is white in football if it goes against you. It was good decision by the referee Neil Midgeley. Neil was pretty fair to both teams. I don’t know if he is Blue but I get the impression he is deep down. The players all respected him.

Danny Wallace had been well chaperoned by Gary Fleming who had an excellent game – there were so many players who played out of their skins that day it was untrue – and he decided he was getting no joy from Gary on the outside, so he chose to come inside and knock an early ball in, but Reddo cut it out. Steve can play a bit and he jinked past Mike Phelan, and it shows what pace Dave Oldfield had then, that he had that half a yard on Gary Pallister. He got past him and knocked in a great ball. I’m sure Ian Bishop had a nose bleed, because there was no reason why he should have been in the box at that time, but that passion gave us another yard throughout the side. Bish broke his neck to get into the box – where a lot of the time he would sooner sit and spread the ball around, and it would be Bob Brightwell who would get box to box. Bish was very brave to go in with Jim Leighton there and it was a fantastic header. It was almost a release because United were having a lot of attacks down both sides. It was bit scrappy and they had some chances. Paul Ince took a free kick which whistled past the post so that third goal gave us some respite.

By half time they were deflated, their fans were deflated and you could hear were the Blues chanting “City, City, City.” We were almost carried off down the tunnel on this vocal cloud.

Mel Machin was already in the dressing room and was telling us to relax, reflect on what we’d done, maintain the same tempo and workrate for each other, and so on.

But there’s still that element when you’re three goals up that you can get a bit casual. All these things are flying through your mind, as with most fans. But when you’ve played so well for 45 minutes and scored three goals it’s difficult to maintain that tempo.

So in the second half, if you watch the video it was keepball for United for the first five minutes and Mark Hughes’ goal was absolute quality. He was dragging Bryan Gayle all over the shop and had they had a more inspired day they would have used Brian McClair more because they was so much space behind Gayley. He came to almost the half way line and knocked a ball to Russell Beardsmore and hared off towards the box.

I was on the left side with Andy Hinchcliffe – it wasn’t my natural side but I was playing in the derby, so I was happy with that – and Beardsmore was quite a tricky player, low centre of gravity and all that. He checked down Andy’s wing and got a great ball in.

There are not many players who could have scored that goal. It was remarkable athleticism from Mark.

A goal like that does have the effect of making you think, “Oh sh*t.” I remember Mark Hughes scoring a goal like that for Wales against Spain. It was the kind of goal to spark them back into the game so it was important for us that we absorbed any pressure before we could kick on.

We did, but I remember Brian Gayle heading off the line from under the bar and a volley from a corner by Viv Anderson, of all people, which just went past the post. And then Danny Wallace went on a mazy run and shot from the 18-yard box and Paul Cooper saved it, but it went under his body. Only half a yard, thankfully, and he had a “thank f**k for that” expression. He then smashed the ball down the park and somebody flicked it on. I went to close the ball down and Viv Anderson tried to clear it with his wrong foot.

It hit my hand – it wasn’t intentional. I mean, I defy Peter Schmeichel to have a ball hit at him from point blank range and to knock into his path. I got some abuse from Reds who thought I’d cheated, but it wasn’t deliberate. One or two of their players stopped, but that’s the easy way out, a sign of players lacking in confidence. I went through, Pallister came to close me down and Jim Leighton came out. I tried to slip it under his body, because sometimes the ‘keeper can come out and although their elbow is low, their axilla can be arched enough for you to poke it through, as in Eric Cantona’s goal against us at Old Trafford when he nicked it under Simon Tracey’s body. Leighton’s elbow came down and the ball bounced to me again. By this time Pallister and Jim Leighton were on the floor and I had managed to just keep my balance. I could have smashed it in at the near post. It was a tight angle but a greedy striker would have had a go, but I could see in the corner of my eye Mal Donaghy was covering the near post. The obvious thing to do was to square it to whoever and it happened to be Dave Oldfield.

I was right in front of the United end down by the gate and they were spitting and all sorts. I had my arms out and I couldn’t get a smile big enough on my face. To turn to them and say stuff it, you… There’s not been many times in my life when I’ve been able to do something like that and you’ve got to be able to seize the moment. I had my arms outstretched and something like: “4-1 … unlucky!”

I turned away and Andy joined me and hugged me, then Trevor, Dave and Bish. Andy stuck five fingers at the United fans. You know, if you want to incite a riot mate, carry on… That image has stayed in my mind.

From being 10 years old I was involved with City with Andy and Whitey and Reddo and it was as if all Tony book’s and Glyn Pardoe’s hard work was towards that one day in history. We trained eight years together to come through on a big occasion, in a derby game to beat United 5-1. They had such an influence on our careers from a very young age. When you look at the big picture you’ll see that was the accumulation of years and years of hard work. Unfortunately that team was dissipated quite quickly – for whatever reasons – but that was the day Tony and Glyn hard work came to fruition. They have to take a lot of credit.

We’ve all got the video – I think I’ve got two or three, actually – but we can look back in 10 or 20 years, and whatever City or United do, and say we beat United 5-1. They’ve got their championships and all sorts and I’d love to be able to say I had championships. I’ve got a shi*ty knee but I’ve I got a video of me beating United 5-1.

After the fourth goal United had gone. That was game over. Their heads were down and their fans were leaving. Another great sight for us was to look up and see the Platt Lane stand was half empty. I loved that. I was thinking how many Reds have got to go back to London now, and Bristol and Cornwall… It was a nice feeling.

In my opinion the fifth goal was the best goal. It had all the hallmarks of real quality football. It was footballer’s goal. I was on the left side of the park, I’d just made a run and to tell the truth I was breathing out of a different orifice. I was knackered at that point. I was sitting back, because Andy Hinchcliffe flew past me for that goal. He knocked it inside to Ian Bishop who checked in on himself and knocked a great ball down the channel to Dave White. Now Whitey used to get stick for all manner of reasons, but everyone used to forget the number of goals he scored, week in week out. People used to pick all kinds of bones out of his game, but you will not see a better first time cross from anybody, and that would include David Beckham. That cross had that much quality, control and depth and it was whipped so it was difficult to defend. It was different class. Then Andy came from nowhere and met it into the far top corner and we all went crazy. We knew then there was no way on this earth they were going to come back from that, and to score a fifth goal like that was something special. Andy was passionate and he knew how much it meant to City fans to beat United in such a fashion. It meant so much to everybody at the club and all of that emotion came out of him. There were some Reds in the far end of the Kippax and he was doing the five fingers again.

I went off – I’d gone over on my ankle or something – but I was quite pleased really because my best pal Jason Beckford came on for the last 10 minutes. The ovation I got when I went off still stands the hairs up on the back of my neck. It was fantastic feeling.

To be fair the game was over after that fifth goal. There was a little bit of keepball and they might have had one attack. We just passed the ball between us. I think half the lads were singing along to the City fans in their heads. As professionals we didn’t push on because the game was over, we had taken the p*ss and didn’t want to risk injuries.

I went off and went to ice my injury. I was sat in the changing room and the roof was bouncing. You could hear everything, everyone was stamping their feet. You watch the video and it’s almost beyond tears, beyond your wildest dreams that we could go back into the First Division and beat United 5-1.

Obviously they cancelled it out later, which was bit of blow really but back then it meant that much to City fans in the town. For weeks after I had City fans coming up to me and shaking my hand, patting me on the back and in some pubs you wouldn’t buy a drink all night. These were guys that were on £100 a week but they didn’t give a sh*t. They said you’ve given us the best night of our lives so far as City fans. It was so nice to see good people, nice people so happy that we’d beaten our arch rivals. And because we had so many home-grown players it meant so much more.

Back in the dressing room it was second to none. Everyone was singing and jumping up and down. Well, I couldn’t, so I waved my arms, and everyone was kissing each other – no tongues, though! – everyone was taking the p*ss, saying “How much..?”

It was Paul Ince’s first match and we were saying perhaps he should get a West Ham shirt and show it to the United fans and get back there. We couldn’t wait to get into the players’ lounge. The United players couldn’t get away quickly enough.

I had a nightmare that night because I had a bloody birthday do to go to in Blackpool, so I missed out on the celebrations in Manchester. Apparently the City fans just took over Manchester – a sea of blue.

I’d been getting so much stick during the week that on Sunday I walked down to the post office to get all the papers and there wasn’t a Red in sight. There wasn’t a United scarf, a comment, a chirp. It was just so nice to stuff it to the Reds and hold our heads high.

I’m 30 now and I’ve had problems with my knee. I have regrets about different things, the surgery and so on, and perhaps if things could have been done better I would still be part of the City set up now. I’d have been in my prime. You try not be envious or bitter, but now and again it does get the better of you. There are times when I’ll come across a tape and end up watching it for 90 minutes. There are some obscure games in there I was watching one yesterday – we played QPR away and beat them 3-1, Colin Hendry and Mark Ward scored – I’ve got a lot programmes and videos, my England caps as 21-year-old, that kind of thing. I’ve got a lot of fond memories and I think if you ask the lads it’s got to be a highlight, certainly of my career, apart from being made captain.

I’ve kind of lost touch with the other players in that team, although obviously it’s quite fresh in my mind, because I’ve done quite a few interviews about the 5-1. On Thursday there’s luncheon club at Maine Road and David White, Ian Bishop and myself will be there. We tried to get Reddo, David Oldfield and Paul Cooper, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to do it. Andy Hinchcliffe and Ian Brightwell are both training at Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry, but when we get together we have a good chat and reminisce. I don’t know what Paul Cooper or Gary Fleming are doing now. I think Gary had to retire and Jason Beckford works for Football in the Community at City. Gary Megson is the manager at Stoke, Brian Gayle had to retire – I don’t know what he’s doing but he had a lot about him as a person, so I’m sure Gayley will be a success in whatever he does. Trevor Morley will be in or around the game.

If you watch that game so many things went for us and didn’t go United’s way, it was almost fate. That one game had to happen for City fans to give us something to cling on to – by our fingernails, as it seems at present. Everyone’s got a fond memory of that game and we’ve managed to give City fans that memory and no one can take it away.

The way things are now are think we are going to go from strength to strength. We are still lacking one or two players to be a side that could be stable in the Premiership, but Joe’s done very well despite some bad results on the way and so much stick from the fans. Hopefully if we can stay in the top four or five this year we may even go up, who knows. It would be just like City to scrape up this year knowing the way things have gone in the last few seasons.

Job-wise, I was doing rehabilitation at City for a couple of seasons but I decided to sever links and try and gain some experience on my own two feet rather than having that comforting arm on my shoulder. I thought, I’ve got to get into the real world.

I’m qualified as a sports therapist via the FA and did a full season at Burnley to get that on my CV. I’m also doing a Chartered Physiotherapy degree course at Salford University through the PFA which is four years, part time. I found working at Burnley and doing the course quite hard so I changed tack and am now working at Altrincham in the Conference. I work Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays I’m at Altrincham so it’s difficult finding time to see City. I hope to get to one or two of the midweek games coming up, and I know I’ve got a lot of friends still there.

I always will be a Blue, whether I like it or not. I always listen for their result first and to the comments on the radio. Some of the things fans come out with are unbelievable. It’s frustrating for all of us that we’re a million miles from United but I think that’s why Joe’s using the softly softly approach and not buying players for the sake of it. He’s got a great team spirit there now, he’s got some flair players in Terry Cooke and Mark Kennedy, and as it stands we’re top of the division. Everything is rosy at the moment, but they’re still building for the future.

For the record:

September 23, 1989.

Manchester City 5   Manchester United 1
Oldfield 11, 58;    Hughes  51
Morley 12;
Bishop 36;
Hinchcliffe 62;

City: Cooper, Fleming, Hinchcliffe, Bishop, Gayle, Redmond, White, Morley, Oldfield, Brightwell, Lake.
Subs: J Beckford (for Lake), Megson

United: Leighton, Anderson, Donaghy, Duxbury, Phelan, Pallister, Beardsmore, Ince, McClair, Hughes, Wallace.
Subs: Sharpe (for Beardsmore), Blackmore

David Butler (


S eems
O akley
U pset
T he
H opes
A gainst
M oderate
P remiership
T eam
O n (the)
N ight.

Steve Maclean (


Just as a one-off, I’ve come up with a comment for ‘Southampton’.

S ent
O ff
U gly
T w*t
H ughes -
A ll
M ancunians
P leased -
T rebled
O verall
N oise.

Steve Holt (


Appended this to most recent 4-4-2 column. We’ll see whether it makes the final cut:

* AND FINALLY, a quick nomination for the worst ‘pundit’ on Sky television at the moment. And it is… in-bred West Country bumpkin Mick Channon who, in a breath-taking display of rank ignorance and crass stupidity referred to the stretcher-prone and clearly convulsing Richard Edghill as “a wimp.” To make matters worse, even after the news that the Manchester City full back (recently pole-axed by the sudden onset of the debilitating condition known as ‘Mark Hughes’s Arm’) had been taken to hospital, he failed to apologise for his mistake and simply continued on in the same clueless vein until the credits stated to roll. Get back on your muck-spreader Channon.

MCVITA reader responses welcome to: Bill Borrows (


A mate of mine from Glasgow supports both teams: he explained that his liking for City stems from our participation in pre-season tournaments there in the 60s/70s.

At the City-Everton 6th round replay in ’81, he was the one who shouted out when Bobby Mac was fouled, “Pack it in you dirty English b*****d”. Someone in the Kippax tapped him on the shoulder and said “There’s 30,000 English b*****ds here mate.” Glory Days.

Seem to remember lots of City/Rangers and United/Celtic bobble hats around in the 70s, presumably worn without any real identification with sectarian meaning. The UVF tops sound pretty sick though.

Any City fans looking for a Cheltenham pub for the Ipswich game on Sunday should try The Norwood – there’ll be a few Blues in there.

Martyn Hansen (


The Essex Branch of the CSA are running a coach to the Port Vale match on 2nd October 1999. Pickup point is the Duke of Wellington Pub in Hatfield Peveral (just off A12) at 08:30am.

Need a lift to the game? Want to travel on a coach with other City fans? Drop me a line!

Paul Gallagher a.k.a. Paddy O’Blue (


Continuing on from the succesful start to our regular meetings, we will once again be meeting in The Willow Tree this coming Monday (27th). Come and join us for a drink. Nibbles will be supplied as before. New members are welcome, email me if you want further details.

Andy Stevenson (


Did you know that City are the only team in three divisions to have kept a clean sheet away in the League so far this season? This encompasses Premiership, Division 1 and Division 2. Unfortunately fellow northerners Rochdale from Division 3 have the same dubious qualification.

Let’s savour the moment. I think we are fully justified in being complete BAGS this week.

Heidi Pickup (


I think I would have taken one subscriber’s anti-sectarian views a bit more seriously had his name been something other than Walter ‘Rangers’ Smith!

Aaron McCann (


In a recent McVittee a Blue from Australia was talking about affiliating with a club from Sydney called Northern Spirit. Apart from the stupid name, they are already half owned by the Liberal (Tory) Party and Mark Goldstein from Crystal Palace, his money is locked in apparently :). More importantly though, is the fact that they are a bunch of cheating, hopeless tarts who score less goals than any other of the teams in the top half of the table. And far from adding any class to the league they have brought down the standard of play and sportsmanship. Ian Crook, for God’s sake!

They are only one season old and are less a football club than a marketing plan. They are from a ghetto of over-priveleged Rugby Union playing nobs! No, I don’t like them! I follow Sydney Olympic (“the Blues”) who know how to knock a few passes around. And they’ve been around longer than five minutes.

Andrew Inman (


I’ve read through this email and had serious thoughts of not sending it, but here goes anyway. If this upsets you at any point – and this posting may upset quite a few people – before you break off and email me with scathing remarks, read it thoroughly and understand what I argue.

I’ve been moved to write after reading a posting from a man who suggested that rock promoters should advise on ticket sales at Maine Road. The reason tickets sold out so quickly for the gigs he mentioned was precisely because they were sold exclusively on credit card lines… very democratic! I remember week after week of scathing letters to style mags and music papers from Oasis fans, circa 1996/7, who pointed out that Oasis’ reputation as the “Band of The People” was seriously contradicted by the fact that the only people who got Earl’s Court or Knebworth tickets had credit cards and telephones. Although credit/debit cards are more readily available to a far wider socio-economic spread these days, it’s still unfairly exclusive when it’s made into the only way. We’re getting to the stage where, sometimes, fans who aren’t within reach of the ground have an advantage over the local-based support… even though City prides itself on having massive Mancunian support which, unlike our neighbours, hasn’t been frozen out. Are we starting to take a leaf out of their book? Will we also end up having ticket lotteries that you have to pay just to take part in?

City had a perfectly good system before, just that the ticket office screwed up a key operation, which is not a criticism because the ticket office itself admitted it had got it wrong. Before continuing, for the record (and so no accusations of vested interests come my way) I am a season ticket holder but I vehemently disagree with giving season ticket holders the right to two seats to any high-demand game. Sure, the “one book gets two tickets” system meant that my father went to Wembley despite not having been to a single game for years. This was wrong: you buy one ST and you should get one ticket for a big, high-demand game. However …

Season ticket holders have received – and should continue to receive – a degree of priority because – I’m expecting a load of flak for this – whatever anyone says, it is a far greater sacrifice and much more pressured to be forced, suddenly, to gather 200-300 quid at short notice than to book four or five individual tickets over the course of a season, whatever the ups and downs of getting individual tickets might be. Of course, there are some who go to 10-15 individual games… so why not just bloody save up, then, like the ranks of all us S/T-slaves? If you miss a game, just lend the ticket to a mate like I do, at a token price or gratis… which is your call.

Season ticket holders don’t live in some ivory tower! Every time I have bought a S-T, I’ve virtually gone teetotal, forgone all other luxuries while my social life is put on the back-burner… and still only just scraped in at the post with my cash (cue violin sound). Either for two months beforehand, while every spare penny is saved and for several weeks afterwards, sometimes, because I’ve searched high and low for someone who reluctantly lends me the last 50 quid I need, and expects it back prontissimo!

Of course, there’ll be long-distance City fans who will hate me for this, but at the end of the day, it’s like all long-distance relationships … sometimes there are problems beyond the control of the object of your affections. Exceptions? The Norwegian fan club and other official bodies; I have a lot of time for their grievance, but not for other ex-pats, non-Brits and exiled Mancs. I was away from England too and it was impossible to break off the trip. I had a voucher, I’d have had 99.9% certainty of being at Wembley but I left it to friends who took my place. And they were the type of 10-15-games-per-season punters I mentioned. After a certain amount of upset at what I was missing, I accepted that the most important thing was a win for the team. To take this issue so far beyond the game despite the real important issue – MCFC escaping Division 3 – is simply pedantic beyond the call of duty.

The bottom line is that, even if City had been given a 55,000 allocation for Wembley, no matter how it were sold, unlucky applicant number 55,001 onwards would have his/her own sob-story to tell. Grow up!

The real baddies are the League for their distribution, and I don’t just mean Gillingham’s allocation, I mean the fact that they absurdly give a tenth of tickets to such big games to officials who then flog them. It’s explained by the League as a thank-you for their services, a sweetener. In 1997, Newcastle fans proved that tickets bought for hundreds of pounds from touts on the day of the FA cup final were exactly such free tickets given to refs and linesmen (although they were the FA’s gifts in that instance). If the League and FA want to give free tickets to games, why does it have to be for Wembley games for which the emotions of the fans of the two teams involved are going to be running high? A few tickets for a league game of Referee X’s choice (subject to availability) are what should be awarded to these people. If they don’t actually use them… well, knowing what happens to so many of these freebies in reality, that’d be no different to before! The extra x-thousand-or-so tickets this would free up would not solve every problem, but it would help.

A few years ago, every club in the land slavishly gave in to the laws and regulations which resulted in the supply of places at grounds dropping just when demand was about to rise sharply. I’ve never been fully convinced that terraces were inherently dangerous, but they were abolished, and every level of British football lay back and shut up when a collective veto from 80-odd clubs would have been worthwhile, however risky. The consequences of letting the Sky suits and blind, deaf, ignorant and snobbish judiciary and FA execs take control have been felt this week by any poor sod who begged for a day off on Wednesday 22nd so they could go to Southampton. Understand?

A smokescreen was set up, although the establishment prefers the use of the word “information”. Information supplied by one clueless judge and countless fawning TV gimps – made people were led to believe that “in Europe” there were no terraces anywhere at all. Lies. There are loads of foreign grounds which still have terraces! But, like at the top tier of Nou Camp, they have huge, two-foot high steps which only the suicidal would wish to ‘surge’ down, no matter how provocative/exciting the events on the pitch might be. On sunny/dry days, the fans sit down on them anyway! British grounds used to have shallow gradients which allowed for such surges. May I remind people that Justice Taylor visited grounds and complained about the smell of frying onions outside. How utterly relevant.

We could still have terraces, whatever the many safety-nazis may say. Like I have said before in this space, I dislike the idea of official singing sections, far too cutesy-pie altogether. However, there’s a good way to get the most vocal supporters together. If the most passionate fans who invent and start the chants all want to be together (like the old days in the top corner of the Kippax) there’s a simple solution. You strip the seats out, get the architects and safety officers in and dedicate one terrace for which the safe maximum is “x-thousand” people. You then set the maximum capacity at no less than 1,000 persons below that limit. And you make it all-season-ticket, so there’s never any doubt as to how many people are present. The obvious occasional absentees would see to it that such a space would never even get near to its “full” capacity anyway.

Given this, the only thing that could go wrong is to put an incompetent police force in charge of it. But that could never happen, could it?

Love from a full season ticket holder – Marc Starr.

Marc Starr (


Overall an evenly matched contest – City played the better football, Southampton showed more ability to con the officials (Hughes excepted). City in front through a Dickov header and then unlucky to concede two goals; first a 50:50 penalty against Edghill, second fairly clearly offside. Could have been worse, possible penalty against Horlock. Showed great spirit to come back with two goals from Goater. Beaten in extra time after Matt Le Tissier did a ‘Rodney Marsh’ fall.

City looked a much better side than they did last season and probably with the first choice defence they would have won fairly comfortably. Edghill was better than I have seen him before and Goater’s two goals were good opportunist goals. Dickov, Kennedy and Cooke (when he came on) all gave the Southampton defence problems and Bishop controlled the centre of the park for long periods. In the end defeat was probably down to a bit of inexperience in defence and a little bad luck. Still, on this form, we should be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.

Dave Lewis (


I was sat behind the four Rangers fans on Saturday and like Walter Smith was a little confused by it all. They were vociferously supporting City but were wearing Rangers shirts (not an uncommon sight at City games I know) and at the end of the game unfurled a large loyalist (?) flag. Forgive my ignorance on this, I’m not too hot on sectarian politics. Can anyone shed any light on the point of all this? I have a good friend who is a Celtic fan and he has been to at least 20 games with me over the last two years. Luckily he wasn’t at Walsall on Saturday because I know he would have been deeply offended. He has told me about the bitter rift that exists in Glasgow, please let’s not import this into Manchester. It’s ok to hate the Rags but let’s not bring religion and politics into it. I have noticed the odd Rangers shirt at a few recent City games and I remember the old days of singing “Rangers – Celtic” in the Kippax but is this a newer trend? I would like my Celtic mate to keep on supporting City but can we keep the bigotry out of it?



As an avid MCIVTA reader and living in the wilds of Donegal, much appreciate the news and views in keeping me up to date with all that is happening over in Manchester.

Really enjoy Walter Smith’s (Citysmith) match reports and his Bolton report is one of the funniest experiences I’ve read in ages and one that a lot of people can relate to.

However, with his Walsall report one thing struck a chord with me:

“On a completely different note, why was their a group of Rangers fans in the City end singing songs about Secteriasm matters, whilst holding a Rangers flag aloft. I find them very offensive and may buy a Partick Thistle or Celtic top, to wear to away games. I wonder how Kennedy feels seeing this, I know that if I never see them again, I for one won’t miss them. City are nothing to do with bigotry, I for one don’t like seeing UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) tops at games, (Everton pre-season friendly). Am I being out of order for feeling this way?”

I find that it’s completely out of order and unfortunately this is a thing that is becoming more and more common at football matches in large but more so it is becoming more and more evident with City.

My father was over at the play-off final and told me that there was a bunch of these people sitting in front of them and practically ruined the whole atmosphere for him, not to mention making him a little nervous.

Where they are coming from I don’t know, but I do know where I’d like them to go!

The sad part now is that religious bigotry seems to be taking over these days from the racial taunting that was a very sad and disgusting part of football chanting in the past. Take for instance Celtic and Rangers as a prime example – old as the hills, and far too much history involved for it ever to change. But why oh why are these people suddenly coming to City matches to propagate their isolinear thinking?

I believe everyone has the right to free expression in all things especially religion and freedom of speech and yes they may not all come from one certain religious denomination but I’m quite sure that City’s support base is made up of far more than what they propagate – you don’t hear the Asian supporters shouting out, you don’t hear the Muslim supporters shouting out, you don’t hear the Jewish supporters shouting out, you don’t hear the Catholics, Protestants, CofI, CofE, Orthodox, Unorthodox or even the Atheists shouting out their own particular brand of preaching.

It’s a sad realism that if this keeps up that it is going to make things very difficult up in these parts of the woods if City become synonymous with sectarianism. Walter you’re not alone in this thinking that they are out of order but to taunt them back is unfortunately playing their game – which they enjoy.

I think it is a matter for the club itself to be brought up for serious discussion – if the club is to continue with the friendly and family orientated entertainment and hospitality that it has become famous for over here and anywhere else I talk to people about City – surely the club must do something to curb this carry on. How they will achieve it? I don’t know but I am very worried.

Mark McCarthy (madmcc)


I read Walter Smith’s report of sectarian songs at the City match on the day that a Rangers fan was convicted of the sectarian murder of a Celtic supporter. These people have no place at City matches let alone games in Glasgow. I have seen this kind of thing twice in my years (many) as a City fan. More worryingly this has been in the last two years. At Reading last season there were Rangers shirts in evidence and at Fulham this season the situation was worse. In the pub (the Kings Head, I think on the Fulham Palace Road) there were several rousing choruses of the Rangers classic “No Surrender”. I thought at the time we were lucky enough to have Combat 18 amongst our fan base. Hopefully this was just high spirits. Please City fans – don’t get involved in this kind of thing, for several reasons:

  • Football isn’t political
  • City have no religious affiliation (- we might be C of E but our fans come from all areas of society)
  • We have more to worry about
  • These people are worthless trouble makers
  • Mark Kennedy (whatever his religion / beliefs)
  • Racism and Sectarianism have no place in our club.

Support City and not Rangers. See you in the Premiership. If you’ve got any comments, please e-mail me at the address below.

Tom Ransome (


Why oh why when Goater and Dickov are not on form do we always look to Gareth blo*dy Taylor? We might as well play 4-4-1, he is about as much good as… well something that is pretty lame! The man is totally incompetent, get rid of him… hold on a minute – who’d have him? I bet Sheffield United were laughing all the way to the back with £600,000 lining their pockets. What did Royle see in him? Even in his better days he wasn’t a prolific striker, which is what we need, not a five-goal-a-season man. Every aspect of his game, control, shooting, passing awareness, all are rubbish. Please, please City buy someone worthy of the shirt.

Mike Jarvis (


A brave effort by City at Southampton,and yes the Saints were not all Saints with Mark Hughes showing Southampton’s fear of City with his bad fouls and sending off. A good cup run would have been a nice revenue for the club but the main objective must be promotion, so it might be a blessing in disguise that we can continue to concentrate on the league. A run in the F.A. Cup won’t hurt. Joe Royle and Willie Donachie continue to do a great job with the help of great staff. The real test in my mind will come against the East Anglian sides, Ipswich and Norwich. These games will be a real mark of how far we have come. Good luck, keep it going City.

Ernie Barrow (


Much as I enjoyed most of Mike Channon’s comments and anecdotes during the Southampton game on Tuesday night, I’m sure I’m not the only one who was bluddy angry at his remarks calling Richard Edghill a “wimp” when he had to be stretchered off at the end of the match following Lardarse’s elbow challenge against him. Couldn’t he see that Edgy was in distress on the stretcher? His whole body was “twitching” – you don’t have to be a medical expert to see that something wasn’t quite right.

Mike – in future keep those sort of comments to yourself, they ain’t needed.

Carol Darvill (


Telly, or not?

Should City now ban the telly or not? Are our team camera shy? Is it a coincidence that of the only two live-televised games this season we’ve suffered our only defeats? I don’t know if more matches have been available ‘on the day’ in the U.K. but after Wolves and now Southampton when are City ever going to break this ‘bogey’? Do any of our ‘anoraks’ out there have a breakdown of City’s performances on the box, in recent seasons?

Developing City

Having viewed the Southampton away game I find the contrast in quality of City’s play nothing short of remarkable, in comparison to e.g. our performance at Darlington, the F.A. Cup game in our not too distant past! I am biased, I know, but City deserved to win at the Dell and the home supporters were anxious to hear the final whistle. What a fantastic compliment to our team. A fairly good functioning Premier League team were run ragged at times on their own turf, it augurs well for City’s future. The quality of our passing at times, the combination play and the enthusiasm was positively breathtaking and a far cry from the ‘big hoof’ upfield that we were beginning to get used to not so long ago.

Kippax Exile, Dave Lyons (


My mate has told me that somebody posted a message in MCIVTA a short while ago saying how to set up ‘Blue Moon’ as the ring tone on a Nokia 3210. Would the person concerned email me with these details or alternatively re-post to MCIVTA as my mate has deleted the email message, and I’m sad enough to want Blue Moon as my ring tone too. Lifelong thanks!

Nik (


As a Blue living within a family of Reds (even the only member of my family who is not a Rag is a scouse Red), I feel not only privileged, but the need to get a dig in at all times. We’re having a family get together and I’m compiling a music quiz. As part of this quiz I thought I’d get an old City Cup Song (i.e. Blue is the Colour) and explain that in the 70’s records were often played backwards to reveal hidden messages… can you see where I’m going 🙂 Well I wondered if anyone would be kind enough to record a 1 minute or so slot of one of our songs (not Blue Moon) as an MP3 and send it to me? Oh what fun.

Dave Goodall (


Does anyone know of a site which shows video clips of the goals as they come in? Why can’t the official site do this? Just check out – the official Norwich site which shows both goals scored and conceded for every game within a couple of days of the match being played.

Charles Harford (


If anyone knows of anywhere showing the Ipswich game in Hamburg, can they let me know? If not, I’ve one possibility if anyone’s interested in joining me?

CTID, David Lamb (


I have recently moved to Singapore and see no obvious means of watching Blues on TV, apart from waiting until next season when they will be in EPL as it is called here. Does anyone have any advice?

Andrew Batten (


Are there any Blues in LA who can tell me where to watch the Ipswich game live on Sky (I think it will be on about 5am) – I will be there for a few days work and because of the time difference I will need to watch us win to combat the jet-lag!

CTID, Craig (


Manchester, England: Four buses with Man United fans are coming back from a lost game. They stop at a red light and are just about to start driving again when some of the United fans spot 2 City fans walking on the other side of the street. The fans from the first bus run out to get them, just as the City fans walk into an alley. They run after them into the alley, and after 10 minutes when no-one has returned the fans in the other buses start to wonder… The other fans in the remaining 3 buses gather together and go into the alley to find out what happened. After 5 minutes a small group of United fans crawled out from the alley all beaten badly, and when the bus drivers ask them what had happened they said:

“It was a trap! There were 2 more waiting in the alley!”

Andy (


I’m 23 years old and Blue through and through! Like the majority of City fans I’m actually from Manchester, unlike the supporters of Trafford Rangers! I started supporting City in 1987 and have yet to see them win any major trophy, yet as the song goes… I’m City till I die… But why? Why do Blues choose to support City in a time when the Rags are doing so well? This is what most Rags ask. It would be interesting to see what other Blues think, but here’s my answer.

City fans are known for their loyalty and this puzzles Utd fans, they can’t understand why we support City. What does this tell you? It tells you that they can only comprehend supporting a successful team and if that team were to become less successful (or more accurately when!), they would no longer see a reason for supporting them. I love City for the humour and the passion of the supporters, when they sing their hearts out to try and inspire a team that is losing 2-0 in Division 2 with only a few minutes to go. City fans are the most optimistic fans around; if we win the first game of the season then we’re going to win the league! Yet it usually turns out that we get relegated and 30,000 still turn out to watch their beloved City!

I choose to watch City beacuse it’s actually possible to get a ticket, they’re not all taken by Londoners on a glory hunt, which leads nicely to the comparison between the electric atmoshere at City matches and the boring atmosphere of a United match i.e. glory glory Man Utd being the only song they know! I hate the Utd players because of their prima donna attitude, it’s one rule for them and another for other clubs. Do I sound jealous? Wrong, yes I would love for City to sample the success that Utd have enjoyed but not at the cost of the club. I would rather we won nothing than turn City into a greedy plc, where you can’t get a ticket, the players are from another planet (Beckham’s wedding?) and the supporters have such funny accents? The hype the media pump out about United is laughable, they don’t call the ground Old Trafford, it’s the “Theatre of Dreams”. When Giggs scores a goal it’s not a great goal, it’s the best goal ever scored (Arsenal, FA Cup). I have a brother (14 years old) who is also a season ticket holder at Maine Road, yet he is the only City fan in his class. When his mates knock on for him in their United shirts with their usual “City lost again” remark, I ask them how did United do? “Won of course” is their answer, but not one of them has ever been to OT, not one of them has ever been to the Cliff, but more surpisingly, not one of them shows any dissappoinment at this. Do they really understand the true meaning of football? Have they sung their hearts out to inspire their team? Have they bit their nails on the edge of their seat when their team are losing in injury time? Have they hugged and kissed complete strangers when their team clinch promotion? Have they cried when their team got relegated? Have they watched their team get slaughtered and still go to the next match? They haven’t experienced football!

For me City is a football club where the working class fan can go and enjoy the ups and lots of downs of supporting his local side. For me United are the richest and biggest club in the world with supporters from all around the globe, that is why City is Manchester’s team and I’m City till I die!

S. Carr – Manchester (


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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 #538