Newsletter #540

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A dominating performance by City – at least in the first half – was undone by a rare Weaver error and an even more dominating display by the match officials. City had the ball in the net twice, and twice it was ruled offside; one was an extremely harsh ‘interfering with play’ decision, whilst the other involved what must have been a totally debilitating attack of myopia (for the poor linesman) – I won’t say it was sudden, as it appeared to last most of the evening. To add insult to injury, Bishop was upended for just about as clear a penalty as you could wish to see, only for the ref to wave play on and then book Bish! Norwich 1, City 0!

We have 4 great match reports from this game (well it was pretty eventful!), Peter’s news, an offer of a job (not paid!), and two Why Blues.

Next game: Port Vale at home, Saturday, 2nd October 1999

NEWS SUMMARY

Royle Blames Officials for Norwich Defeat

City suffered a third successive defeat in the space of a week at Norwich on Tuesday, courtesy of a 37th minute Iwan Roberts goal. However, this column should be beginning with news of a win to put the Blues back on track after the previous two losses. Television evidence proved conclusively that City actually scored two valid goals (watch them at http://www.canaries.co.uk/ for the evidence) in the encounter against the home side’s one, but a referee’s assistant was responsible for incorrect offside calls which ruled out both Jeff Whitley’s 22nd minute effort and Shaun Goater’s strike shortly after the Canaries went in front. These two decisions and the referee’s failure to award City a penalty when Ian Bishop appeared to be tripped in the area led Joe Royle to reflect grimly that, “While we handled the 11 in yellow admirably we never came to terms with the three in black.”

However, the City boss also admitted that his own side ran out of steam in the second half, and he once again lamented a familiar failing – the lack of attacking thrust. “We got a bit frustrated after the two disallowed goals in the first-half but for all our domination their goalkeeper did not make too many saves,” he admitted. “Norwich defended well and but we did not have enough punch up front. We had enough danger in the penalty area but never got on the end of the crosses.” Norwich boss Bruce Rioch, meanwhile, conceded that his team had benefitted from some good fortune but felt his players worked hard for their win. “You just feel Lady Luck has smiled on you when it has not on other occasions. I was just pleased when the referee blew the whistle,” he said. “My lads have done fantastically well and played their socks off tonight. Manchester City, to be fair, threw a lot forward and had a lot of ammunition in the box, and everyone’s worked extremely hard to keep them out.”

New Pompey Date Set

As expected, City’s home game with Portsmouth, originally scheduled for Saturday, 9 October, has been postponed. The match will now take place on Wednesday, 3 November with a 7.45 p.m. kick-off. Pompey’s trip north is keenly awaited, of course, because it will see the first return to Maine Road of ex-City manager Alan Ball since the former World Cup winner left the club a little over three years ago.

International Clan Swells to Six

Six City players have been called up for international squads this week, with the numbers swelled by the selections of Leon Mike for the England under-18 squad and Danny Tiatto for the Australian national side. The young England side faces UEFA Championship qualifying games next week against Spain, Cyprus and San Marino, while Tiatto will feature in the Aussies’ two November clashes with Brazil. Next week, Mark Kennedy will be in the Republic of Ireland party travelling to Macedonia while Tommy Wright and Jeff Whitley are in the Northern Ireland squad for the match in Finland. The sextet is completed by Nicky Weaver, who’s in the England under-21 party for the game against Denmark at Bradford on Friday, 8 October. In addition, Jim Whitley, currently on loan at Blackpool, is also in the full Northern Ireland squad while but for his suspension, Kevin Horlock would have been a certainty to travel to Helsinki with Lawrie McMenemy’s team.

Two Signings Before Christmas?

A report in Tuesday’s Manchester Evening News claims that the Blues will make two new signings in the next three months. One is almost certain to be on-loan full-back Danny Granville, who despite missing most of the season so far, has impressed Joe Royle during his time at the club. The second target will probably be a striker, though Royle has denied interest in Grimsby’s Jack Lester and Gillingham’s Carl Asaba, both recently linked with the Blues. The City boss is prepared to bide his time to secure the right deals, saying, “Ideally I would like to bring in a couple of players but there is no great urgency and I will not be buying just for buying’s sake.” Meanwhile, rumoured City loan target Karlheinz Riedle has left Liverpool to join Fulham in a £250,000 deal while another man linked with the Blues, Sheffield United’s Marcelo, is thinking over a £800,000 switch to Watford.

Pollock Battles to Regain Favour

Out-of-favour City midfielder Jamie Pollock has been on an intensive two-month fitness programme in a bid to return to favour at Maine Road. The former Middlesbrough and Bolton player lost first the City captaincy and then his place in Joe Royle’s team last season, and he’s only featured once in a match-day squad this term – when he started the low-key second leg cup-tie at Burnely. Pollock’s response has been to shed a stone in weight, and he now weighs the same as when he made his Middlesbrough début as a teenager eight years ago. “Jamie’s going down the right road and the door is always open,” said City manager Joe Royle.

Port Vale – Preview

Following the unhappy travels of the last week, City have no room for a slip-up on Saturday when Port Vale are the Maine Road visitors. The Blues will be looking to sign off with a win before the two week break enforced by the programme of international fixtures, and they’ll be in opposition to the second of three ex-City managers facing their former club in short order. Brian Horton, however, is likely to receive a better reception than Messrs Coppell and Ball as he stuck to his task at Maine Road with dignity under trying circumstances and the Blues weren’t relegated while he was in charge.

Horton replaced the long-serving John Rudge at Vale Park towards the end of last season in time to guide the Potteries club away from their perennial flirtation with relegation and this season they’re nestling in their accustomed place just above the drop zone. Home defeats by Port Vale in each of our last two First Division campaigns amply demonstrated the measure of City’s decline and a return to form against them on Saturday would be a welcome indicator that, disappointing results in the last few days notwithstanding, our worst days are firmly behind us.

Peter Brophy (brophy_peter@hotmail.com)

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE’ I

NORWICH CITY vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Tuesday 28th September 1999

From the East Anglian Correspondent – again!

Bugg*ry, bugg*ry, boll*cks.

I spent the match as a cuckoo in the Canaries’ “nest” and got some interesting insights on what they thought of City (without them knowing that I was a Blue). Friendly anoraks provided me with useful information at half-time after seeing the goal in the bar (more of that later). The best quote was “classy side but they need too much time on the ball – not sharp enough” in broad Naarich of course. This summed it up. City were hassled and hussled off the ball by the Canaries who even the fans thought were in for a stuffing.

Watching the warm up I thought City only needed to aim at the goal to score – Marshall looking completely inept.

City started with Weaver, Crooks, Morrison, Jobson, Granville, Horlock, Bishop, Whitley, Kennedy, Dickov and Goater.

Norwich went for it from the start, Weaver making a fine diving stop after about thirty seconds. After that City had a good run for quarter of an hour. Morrison was imperious. City then scored. A fine cross from Kennedy and headed in by the unmarked Whitley on the far post. Much celebrating from the crowd at the other end. I was four rows up behind the goal level with the left edge of the 6-yard box at the other end so I can’t say why it was disallowed. Presumably someone from the away section can let you all know. None of us in our end knew why.

Norwich always looked dangerous coming in from wide and crossing in but the goal was ridiculous. A cross in from a free kick or corner that Weaver foolishly decided to punch. He was not under pressure and catching it would have been easier. The ball was then played back into the box onto Iwan Robert’s head. Weaver sort of ducked/shut his eyes (Roberts is kind of scary) and it lobbed over him into the goal. The Norwich bloke next to me scuttled off to the bar at half-time and told me when he came back that the replay showed that Roberts was miles offside. They didn’t show replays of the two City goals that were disallowed. The second of these came a little while after the Norwich goal and occurred after a shot, from Horlock (I think), hit the post and Goater smacked it in off the rebound – offside again? I couldn’t tell.

The second half:

City started brightly. Then lost it again after about ten minutes – tired or fed up with the ref?. The next controversy was Bishop being upended in the penalty area from behind. Me and the Norwich bloke thought it was a penalty but the ref booked Bishop for diving or complaining I’m not sure which. There were then several incidents down our end that I could see. Goater was given offside when the ball was crossed from six inches inside the goalline by Kennedy. Correct me if I am wrong but I thought you could not be offside if the ball was passed back to you from nearer the goal. The linesman obviously hadn’t grasped this particular rule. He was level with the defender anyway! Sean was getting a bit cross by this stage – can’t think why. Then the linesman gave City the ball twice when it was blatantly City players who had headed the ball off the pitch. Unfortunately we made nothing of these offerings. Dickov went off, Taylor came on. Bishop went off, Cooke came on. This did nothing but give Norwich more time to attack City. Taylor went off (he’d only been on two minutes) after being head butted by Fleming . Fleming got up and carried on. Goater got head butted in the first half and that drew blood from both the Norwich player and Goater. Perhaps Norwich have adapted to the elbow rule by “nutting” people instead. Perhaps they have special training sessions running into goal posts or something else hard and inanimate – Marshall?

Anyway City didn’t deserve to win but did not deserve to lose by the goal they did lose by. Man of the match was Shaun Carey (no relation) but the Norwich fans were most impressed with the three men in black. The Norwich fans were joking about which of them had slipped which official fivers before the game – I jest not.

Weaver pulled off some excellent saves – one diving to his left in the second half was a stunner – but he knows it was his mistake that caused the goal. Morrison was easily City’s man of the match. The rest only managed anything in short spurts and looked knackered. Granville did well on his first whole game back. Cooke was still disappointing when he came on.

Norwich were not a good team and we should have beaten them.

One day I will see City win again.

Pete Carey (PDCA@wpo.nerc.ac.uk)

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE’ II

NORWICH CITY vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Tuesday 28th September 1999

East Anglia is a Foreign Country – They Do Things Differently There

As a group of exiled Blues travelling East from Nottingham, we were lucky that we didn’t have to do the journey to and from the North West. Even so, it felt like we’d crossed to the continent by the time we got there, a feeling enhanced by the endless straight roads bordered by a flat featureless landscape and then, at last, civilisation, we’ve arrived in Norwich and it’s really good to see concrete again. All we need now is a good chippy and we’re sound – forget it! Not even a bad chippy – you’d think wouldn’t you, that one the country’s food capitals, could manage to locate a chip shop near to 15,000 hungry people!

Anyway, we’re on time and we’re in – the stand is a ‘shed’ with a roof that’s a perfect sound board for the Maine Road choir – the Norwich fans can’t believe what they’re hearing, they’ve got one eye on the match and the other on the Blues’ fans running through the repetoire, which, on the night, included “Sing when you’re farming, you only sing when you’re farming”.

On the pitch, the lads are sticking it to the Canaries big style and we know that the cruel ending to the Ipswich game is going to be avenged right here, right now – there’s a real party atmosphere, we’re having a good laugh with the linesman, who is tall, skinny, bald and black and bears an uncanny resemblance to a striker of our acquaintance. The faithful have struck up with “Two Shaun Goaters, there’s only two Shaun Goaters” – little did we know what was to follow – the disallowed Whitley goal stuns us and the only explanation I’ve seen of the decision came in The Times report on the game which said that ‘Horlock had strayed offside’.

Of the second ‘goal’ , reporter Bill Edgar, whose article is headlined “Roberts leads Smash and Grab Raid for Norwich”, says simply that ‘…it was disallowed for offside’ and you can sense that he was as perplexed as the rest of us, Norwich fans included – after the match we heard several saying ‘We were lucky to get away with that one!’ – one canaries fan I spoke to said that the linesman should have been wearing a yellow shirt and agreed with us that Christmas had come early for them.

By now the City fans have had quite a bit to say to the linesman and all the ones down at the front have reached into their back pockets and are waving pound notes at him in an effort to top whatever it is that Norwich have paid him make a complete fool of himself. Morrison and Bishop have had an ‘audience’ with the ref in an attempt to try and gain some understanding of what’s gone on, Kennedy pulls them away just before their questions spill over into something more. We’re just glad he hasn’t booked ’em, no, he’s saving that for later when Bishop is chopped down in the Norwich area and just to make his ‘no penalty’ decision stick, he decides to book Bish for ‘diving’!

Somewhere in all this, the script has demanded that against the run of play, and all probability, Norwich should score and so they did with a ball punched out by Weaver and headed back for Roberts to loop over Nick with an instinctive backheader. Weaver will blame himself quite rightly, because it was not worthy of a goalie who does the business so well and in a ‘two on one’ at the end, stood up and scared a Canary sh*tless into blazing over the bar. I’m gradually getting over the last eight days which have seen three defeats in a row, I hope it doesn’t take any of the heart out of the team because it really is something to see City dominate in the way that they have this season – one thing is for sure, refereeing can’t get worse than it did last night – I haven’t made my mind up whether or not I’ll go to East Anglia next time the Blues are there, I probably will but I’m definitely not eating turkey again!

Rick Eagles (rick@eagles.org.uk)

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE’ III

NORWICH CITY vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Tuesday 28th September 1999

This was one of those games when you need to see the higlights to check that you weren’t going mad and we really were cheated. Not having been able to do so, I remain firmly convinced that we were on the end of some inexplicably bad decisions.

It all looked so promising to begin with – in fact we nearly scored straight from the kick-off as Kennedy raced down the left and Dickov just failed to convert the low cross at the near post. Marshall in the Norwich goal soon had to plunge amongst the flying boots to retrieve another cross and Whitley headed a good chance wide. Our midfield soon ran into problems as the Norwich side chased and harried them into errors, with Dalglish minor particularly nippy; but every time the ball went wide we looked dangerous.

Norwich came close when Weaver had to get down very fast and very wide to his left, not only blocking the shot but holding on to it; a first-class save which should not be forgotten when cursing his later howler. But after about twenty minutes Kennedy again found room on the left, fed Dickov in the box and his cross to the far post was headed back across goal by Whitley and just inside the right hand post. Jeff came racing across to the City fans to share the celebrations; and it took a long time for everybody to notice that the referee was standing in the goalmouth with his arm raised. We were all side-on to the action at that end of the ground and it hadn’t occurred to anybody that there might have been an offside. It’s been said that Horlock was in an offside position when Whitley headed the ball, but there was no way he was impeding the goalkeeper’s view or preventing him attempting to make the save. In which case he was not offside.

The sense of injustice increased greatly when Norwich went ahead. From a free-kick awarded after what looked like a ball-winning tackle, Weaver tried to punch clear a ball he should have caught comfortably and it was headed back from the edge of the area to a Norwich player in the six-yard box who deflected it past the still off-balance ‘keeper. From the far end of the ground this actually did look offside, and if it wasn’t it should have been. Why are our defenders so slow to push out when the ball is half-cleared both to block the follow-up and to catch the forwards offside?

But we hadn’t seen anything yet. Another cross from the left reached Bishop on the edge of the box. His shot beat Marshall, cannoned back hard off the right-hand post and was adroitly fired home by Goater following up. Again the flag was raised. I thought at first this was close; Goater was all alone on the penalty spot but might well have been onside when Bishop shot. But it seems that the linesman had completely failed to notice a Norwich defender still on or behind the goal-line from trying to cut out the original cross. If he didn’t see him the referee certainly should have; again he was surrounded by furious City players but would not change the decision. Within a couple of minutes we had an action replay as Goater again seized on the rebound after Marshall blocked a shot; this time the ‘keeper somehow turned Goater’s point-black effort over the bar, but the flag was up again right in front of the City fans who were now beside themselves. I’m glad to say the chants were aimed at the linesman’s incompetence rather than the colour of his skin (which was black); and our humour remained intact when the poor man had to put the flag up yet again when Dickov was caught about ten yards off. A huge round of applause went up followed by a chorus of “What’s it like to get one right?” as the half-time whistle went.

We missed a lot of the second half as it consisted almost entirely of City attacking down the left-hand side which was invisible from our seats. The ball would go out of view and we’d wait to see if the cross arrived in the goalmouth or went out for a corner. Taylor came on for Dickov, headed the ball neatly to Kennedy and was hit hard in the head by the defender. With Kennedy in a great attacking position, the referee obviously had to stop the game immediately. Taylor went off again, Allsopp came on and the referee instructed City to pass the dropped ball back to the Norwich ‘keeper. Why? At the very least this should have been a contested drop. Cooke replaced Jobson, but everything continued to go down the left, Morrison in particular seeming to consider this the only option. The usual pattern seems to be: Kennedy in loads of space, a long ball is chipped to him and everybody mutters “Good Ball”. Is it? By the time it reaches him and he’s controlled it with head, chest or thigh (it never lands at his feet) he has two defenders on him and has to pass it back for the whole thing to start again. The good ball is the one that’s hit hard and low inside the defender for Kennedy to run on to at full pace.

We finally realised that we weren’t going to be allowed to score however many times we got the ball in the net when Bishop picked up a loose ball just inside the area. He instantly dragged it sideways from the inrushing defender and was clattered to the floor. From the far end of the ground it looked as obvious a penalty as you could wish to see, but the referee waved play on and when the ball finally went out of play booked Bishop for diving. Again, I haven’t seen a replay; but if it was a dive it showed unsuspected talent. He should give lessons to Dickov.

With City committed to attack Norwich should have made it two in the last minute when two of their forwards were clean through on the unprotected Nicky. He stood his ground and the shot went into the crowd. And then it was over – we hadn’t been at our best, but there’s no way we deserved to lose. Despite the frustration, the fans gave generous applause to the players, who no doubt felt as aggrieved as we did.

Ratings:

Weaver – 7 He’s so good that we sometimes forget how young and inexperienced he is. Let’s hope his confidence doesn’t suffer from the one error. And he did well to break up a fight which could have got Kennedy sent off.
Crooks – 6 I thought he was back to his best against Ipswich, but though he made some telling tackles in this match his distribution and crosses were awful.
Morrison – 7 Good to have him back to give the security in the air again. Passes well for a defender but should consider his options more.
Jobson – 7 Solid, dependable, but our lack of pace in the middle could be a worry.
Granville – 6 Didn’t look match-fit but did OK. Didn’t always offer Kennedy as much support as he needed.
Whitley – 6 Robbed of a fine goal which obviously meant a lot to him. Some disappointing crosses from dangerous positions; and we lost too much possession in midfield.
Horlock – 6 One or two excellent and potentially match-winning penetrating passes; and then he vanishes for a while. He and Jeff have to compete non-stop in the middle, and that didn’t always happen.
Bishop – 7 Excellent distribution again and unlucky not to score. Not given much space or time by his midfield colleagues.
Dickov – 6 The usual scurrying, but didn’t look much of a threat.
Goater – 6 Outrageously denied a goal, but disappointing after his recent performances. Won nothing in the air all night.

None of the subs had a chance to make much of an impression.

Piers Pennington (p.pennington@acu.ac.uk)

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE’ IV

NORWICH CITY vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Tuesday 28th September 1999

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Ook boys, when I said I wanted to see a goal the idea was for you to score it, OK? Preferably without being flagged offside? This was without doubt the worst performance of the season so far. Norwich were there for the taking and while we can blame two (or actually probably more) shockingly bad linesman’s decisions for not being ahead at the interval we have no such excuse in the second half.

But to the game. Or actually, to the pre-match build-up as it was much more entertaining. We all piled on a minibus and set off on the relatively short journey to the Coach and Horses, I mean to Norwich. Spirits were high and the beer was flowing nicely. We waved encouragingly at the fellow City fans we saw on the A11 and cast aspersions on the family trees of the Naarrij followers. After a quick pint in the aforementioned Coach and Horses we trundled down to the game. Upon which I had my first surprise – for the first time in all my visits to Norwich, I actually sat in the seat indicated on the ticket. This may not be such a big thing for those who haven’t visited that particular corner of East Anglia, but the last two times we’ve played there they let more people in the away end than there were seats available, and had to move the segregation area to let us sit down – it’s always been chaos. My main abiding memory of Carrow Road has always been that you feel as if you’re walking through the toilets to get to the away seats as the smell from them permeates everything. Makes a nice change from carrots I suppose.

Oh, maybe I should mention the team, it was Weaver, Crooks, Morrison, Jobson, Granville, Horlock, Whitley, Bishop, Kennedy, Goater and Dickov. Norwich had no-one worth mentioning even if Paul Dalglish was playing for them. We started off as the better team. In fact, we were so much the better team it was embarassing. I almost felt sorry for the Norwich fans – as much as it’s possible to feel sorry for them anyway. I may be appearing to be a bit harsh here, but having lived amongst Fen folk for the last few years I can assure you any insults we can throw their way would be taken as compliments (I’ve also just had a Norwich fan at work gloating in my office for the last hour so I’m not feeling particularly charitable!) We were faster, we were stronger, we were playing better football and looked as if we’d romp home easily. Admittedly I couldn’t tell you if Norwich had any of the possession in our half as once the ball went over the half way line I couldn’t see it, but going on relative crowd noise I’d say we had about 110% of the game.

After 15 minutes we sat down. Just thought I’d mention that as I could now see past the half way line. The ball didn’t cross it except when Kennedy passed it back to Morrison to start another attack.

It was no surprise when Whitley scored a cracking header from a cross from (I think) Paul Dickov. I was chuffed to bits for Jeff, he’s been denied a couple of times this year thanks to inspired saves or the post moving to the left by a couple of inches (honest) so for him to score must have felt really good. I was still thinking this and chortling inwardly about the amount of stick I’d give my Norwich-supporting colleague the next day when I suddenly noticed the screams of delight around me had changed to howls of horror, and realised the goal had been disallowed for offside. Er, why? Was it that the linesman had taken exception to the “There’s only two Shaun Goaters” chants from the start of the half? Had he fallen out with his wife? Was he in fact from Norfolk so his wife was his sister and his aunt and his nephew’s second cousin? Had he spasmed from the effects of the dodgy curry he’d eaten in Great Yarmouth that lunchtime? It has to be something like that as it pigging-well wasn’t offside.

We stood up again. Norwich scored. I shan’t say anything about that, in fact I can’t say anything about that as I couldn’t see it. I saw the ball come over from the Norwich right, I think Weaver punched it out and it then came back to Roberts who scored, but as the view was obscured by a post and someone in front of me’s head I wouldn’t like to swear to that. Almost immediately afterwards we equalised. Whitley (again! what a star) shot from outside the area and hit the post. The ball came back to Goater on the penalty spot, who reacted quickly (hurray!) to knock the ball in the net. The ‘keeper and (crucial bit this in case that linesman is reading) the defender on the line had no chance of saving it but guess what? Yep, you’ve won a million, the linesman flagged for offside. Now the offside rule may have changed since I learned it, but I was under the impression that if a defender was closer to the goal line than the striker then he was playing him onside, whether he was in a direct line between the striker and the goal or not. Which means this was a goal. Just after that Kennedy was passed the ball on the left and was flagged offside. On this occasion there were two (count them, one-two) defenders between him and the goal and the linesman flagged for offside. He was so hopelessly out of position for this one, how the heck could he have seen anyway? Words fail me.

Half time, 1-0 to Norwich, I rang my mum and vented some of my spleen down the phone at her. She tried hard to calm me down but failed. I was mad.

The second half was rubbish. We’d played some really good flowing attacking football in the first half but didn’t do any in the second. It reminded me of how we’d played when Bish had gone off against Ipswich – suddenly all the creativity had gone and it was hit and hope football. We’re not very good at that but we were still better than Norwich and I still can’t believe we didn’t win. Dickov was replaced by Taylor (who is without doubt the most complete footballer I’ve seen in a City shirt for a long time) then Jobson was replaced by Cooke in what, at last, was a real attacking move by Joe. This game was there for the taking, Norwich were absolutely awful but we just couldn’t do it. Cooke was screaming out for the ball on the right but was being completely ignored by the rest of the team, who insisted on playing everything through Kennedy (who by now had two on him every time he got the ball). Taylor only lasted nine minutes as he clashed heads with one of the Norwich boys and had to be stretchered off, so Allsopp came on instead. When Cooke did get the ball he put some really good crosses in, only for there to be no-one waiting for them in the box. We then had the worst refereeing decision of the night – I’m blaming the linesman for the others. Bishop was blatantly upended in the box and the ref didn’t even bother to wave play on, he ignored the appeals and the protests as if there hadn’t even been a tackle let alone a foul. Unbelievable. We were never going to win playing against 14 (the other linesman was just as culpable as the ref for not giving that pen).

We did at least have a comedy moment when two Norwich players contrived to fall over themselves in our area and shoot wide of an empty net, but that was no consolation. I was really mad. Not at the players, I swore violently outside the ground at someone who was criticising them as a (quote unquote) bunch of overpaid *****s, but why should we have to put up with that standard of officials? If Royle now criticises them publicly he gets slapped with a disrepute charge, well having people running the line who don’t understand the rules (or worse, do but are biased) is far more disreputable than a manager saying we wuz robbed. It’ll be a long time before I forgive the carrot-crunching turnip-eaters for this. Maybe it’s time I looked for another place to live…

Sharon Hargreaves (sharon@mancity.net)

FIXTURE ALTERATION

Manchester City vs. Portsmouth

This fixture has been postponed due to international commitments. No new date has been finalised. Tickets for the original fixture will be valid for the rearranged date.

Ticket Office – Manchester City

WHALEY BRIDGE SUPPORTERS’ CLUB

The recently formed Whaley Bridge Supporters’ Club will be meeting next Monday evening (4th October), at 7.45pm in the Joddrell Arms pub. The Joddrell Arms is adjacent to Whaley Bridge Railway Station. So, if you live in Whaley, Chinley, Chapel-en-le-Frith, New Mills, Hayfield, Disley or anywhere nearby, why not come along. All are welcome; for more information contact Chris Ashworth on 01663 733009.

Ashley

SEPARATED AT BIRTH?

Someone recorded the Southampton vs. City match for me but on long play. When it first came on (at double speed) I thought they were interviewing Mark Hughes before the match. It was actually Richard Jobson – have another look, he really does look like a long Mark Hughes (or Hughes is a squashed Jobson).

Steve Parish (steve@bloovee.freeserve.co.uk)

CITY vs. NORWICH

Might be best to forget the football for a minute, for the acronym for this one there was really only 1 possible obvious choice, yes it’s the old favourite, beloved of all commuter husbands everywhere….

N ickers
O ff
R eady
W hen
I
C ome
H ome!

Steve Maclean (Stevemaclean@stm1.freeserve.co.uk)

REGULAR CONTRIBUTOR WANTED

My name is Matthew Bowen, I am the Sports Editor for a new group of web sites that are to be launched on 1st October by the Emap media group. They will be grouped under the banner of ‘yourscreen.com’ covering major areas of the country, and one of these will be run in conjunction with the Emap commercial station in your area, whether it be City FM, Key 103, Viking FM, Hallam FM, etc.

I intend the sports section of the sites to have a high proportion of supporter input and be extremely interactive, with supporters and fans’ groups giving us their opinions and views. This mail is a primary enquiry to see if anybody would be interested in writing a weekly column for us, rounding up all the news from your club and giving the users a fans’ eye view of the club. Obviously I don’t pretend to know everything about every club so to get people like yourselves on board will be a great boost for our sites. Please let me know as soon as possible if you are interested, let me have a contact number for you, and we can arrange to have a chat about the sort of things we’d like from you.

Hope to hear from you soon,

Matthew Bowen, Emap Online, Manchester (matthew.bowen@yourscreen.com)

THE CURSE OF LIVE TV

One of your correspondents referred to the ‘curse’ of live TV. Well, here is this season’s record to date (pre-Norwich):

           P   W   D   L   F   A
Live TV    3   0   0   3   4   7
Not TV     9   7   2   0  17   1

Says it all really! Now admittedly, Sky usually choose the most competitive matches to televise, i.e. the ones we are most likely to lose, but I feel sure, thinking back, that our record really is abysmal, Wembley notwithstanding (but remember ’81). I recall seeing a website where someone had documented every single live City match since the year dot and it confirmed the sad tale, but I’ve lost the link. I’d be interested to see the real stats if anyone out there has them available.

John Caley (john@caley.net)

OPINION – EAST ANGLIA, NOT WHAT WE WANTED

I made remarks last week that East Anglia would be a true test of how far we have come, I was thinking 4 points, but nowt! It’s not what City really deserved and I am not about to blame the team, they did have some bad luck, but maybe a check on our status will be in order. I have every confidence Joe Royle with the help of the Board will find the answers in good time. It’s early days yet, but every point is very important, there are too many good teams wanting promotion, the prize is worth millions next season.

CTID, Ernie Barrow (EB2205@aol.com)

REQUEST – SYDNEY BLUES

It’s Sad, But…

…my friend Pammie (or should that be Pommie?!) will be leaving these shores in November to take up residence in Oz, for a year at least. Sad for two reasons – one, she’s a good mate and I’ll miss her terribly (cheque’s in the post) and two – after knowing her for a number of years Tony (TTD) and I have converted her to the Blue faith!! What I need is resident Blues in Sydney (possibly Manley), to e-mail me with addresses of where you Blues hang out, for beers, footie, etc!

CTID, Helen Murtagh (H.Murtagh@mmu.ac.uk)

WHY BLUE? I

In September 96 I went to Salford University to do my MBA. There I met Martin Tyley (Hi Marty!) from Disley, a good lad and a true Blue. We chatted about football every now and then and he started telling me about Manchester City which got me more and more curious to actually see what it’s all about. He suggested that I go with him to Maine Road to see City playing Portsmouth, I think, in the First Division then. I have to say that I was more impressed with the crowd there than the match itself. I went back to Maine Road with Martin a few more times but I still wasn’t really a true City fan. That was until the day we went to get tickets for the Middlesbrough FA Cup home tie when we queued for more than three hours on a rainy day. The queue was perhaps a kilometre long when we arrived at about 10 or 11 in the morning but the tickets were sold out when we were only a couple of metres away from the window. I never got to see that game live and City lost by a goal, but I probably enjoyed being in the queue and seeing for myself all the tremendous loyalty and passion among the fans despite the bad times the club was having.

When I look back now, I know that that was the day I became a City fan. Prior to that, I had never seen City win any titles nor witnessed any good times they had (apart from winning the Second Division play-off final maybe). It was Martin and all those magnificent City fans who turned me into a Blue.

You probably realise how hard it is for me to be the one and only City follower in the whole of Bahrain (please tell me if you know of any other Blues in here so I got get in touch with!) at a time when about 99% of the population believe they support the Trafford team. But like all true Blues, I’m proud of it and I’m City till I die!

Yousif Abdullah (yousif@mancity.net)

WHY BLUE? II

I am about to give my age away when I answer the question Why Blue? It was in the days when not every household had a television. In fact the only member of my family to have one was my Uncle Charlie. Consequently all the family, friends and neighbours descended on his house on cup final day. I was dragged along and told to be quiet and play with my toys. It was City vs. Newcastle and we lost. The following year we were back again for the special occasion. This time City vs. Birmingham. We won and Bert Trautmann broke his neck. In my child’s mind I thought City must be a good side as they always went to Wembley. The following season my father decided I was old enough to be taken to matches and took me to watch the team he had supported all his life, Oldham Athletic. I wasn’t having any of this. I wanted to see my hero, Bert Trautmann. My father, who would do anything for me took me to Maine Road where I still go to this day. I always think that he had a soft spot for City, although they were always his second team as Oldham Athletic will always be my second team.

Terry Baines – Lower Kippax (bainesy@bluemoon17.freeserve.co.uk)

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[Valid3.2]Ashley Birch, mcivta@tollbar.u-net.com

Newsletter #540

1999/09/30

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