Newsletter #546

A less than inspired performance on Tuesday – excepting the marvellous Mr Weaver – actually saw City claim all 3 points! This may seem illogical, but at the moment, the result of the game seems to be inversely proportional to the team’s performance! We have three match report, included a blow-by-blow account from a Berlin pub! Oh, and we’re now top of the league as all the other top teams lost.

We are still being linked with strikers; the latest is the Icelander Dadason (again) and also Robert Taylor of Gillingham. I must say that £1.5 million seems awfully steep for a Nationwide bustler, especially considering what we landed Kennedy for (and what we look likely to have to pay for Granville). The plus point is that City are allegedly offering the services of Gareth Taylor in return.

We’ve also got the answer to the origin of the ‘Invisible Man’ song, an appeal for players for McVitee FC, and a Why Blue.

Roll on Saturday.

Next game: Blackburn Rovers at home, Saturday 23rd October 1999


Weaver the Hero as City Go Top

City returned to the top of Division One on Tuesday evening thanks to a win at Birmingham and defeats for Charlton and Fulham. Richard Jobson’s 47th minute header from a Mark Kennedy cross was enough to secure the points for the Blues at St Andrews, but young goalkeeper Nicky Weaver was the main reason City kept a clean sheet. A string of fine first-half saves ensured Joe Royle’s team went in level at the break, and the manager was unimpressed with his side’s display in the opening 45 minutes. “I thought the two centre halves and our goalkeeper were outstanding throughout. In many ways it was a great sign for me tonight because I don’t think we’ve played well and we’ve ended up with three points,” he conceded. “It was probably our least effective performance of the season over 90 minutes so it makes up for one or two things that have happened to us recently. When we do play well we’ll get after someone one day.” That Jobson should return City to the summit by scoring at St Andrew’s was particularly ironic. Eighteen months previously, a horrendous foul by Dele Adebola at Maine Road in the last league meeting between the sides had ensured that the veteran defender didn’t play again at senior level until this season. Neutral opinion insisted Adebola’s challenge merited a red card but he stayed on the pitch to score an injury time winner without which City wouldn’t have been relegated. Let’s hope this is symptomatic of a continued change in fortunes.

Granville “To Sign Next Week” After Fee Agreed

City have agreed a fee with Leeds United for the transfer of on-loan full back Danny Granville, and the ex-Chelsea man is expected to put pen to paper early next week after his agent returns from holiday. The fee is said to be a maximum of £1 million depending on appearance and performance clauses. City manager Joe Royle was delighted to come to an agreement with his Elland Road counterpart David O’Leary and claimed, “I knew Danny had real quality from the first time I saw him in training. Making the deal permanent was all a matter of time. We have been talking to Leeds over the past few days and are delighted to have reached an agreement for an outstanding player.” Meanwhile, Granville is also more than pleased with the turn of events. “I have loved it here since the moment I came on loan. The lads have made me feel really welcome. City are a massive club in every sense of the word and the fans have been fantastic,” he enthused. “I always hoped that the clubs would get together and agree a deal – I feel it is right for me here. I feel like a supporter; I look at the club and I want them to win. It was like that when I was out injured. I love the way the manager and Willie Donachie encourage players to go forward and express themselves. That fits my game perfectly.”

Dadason Linked Again as Taylor Swap Mooted

City have once again been linked with Iceland international striker Rikhadur Dadason. The player has scored 16 goals in 20 games this season for Viking Stavanger, and the Norwegian club is said to be prepared to cash in should they be eliminated from the UEFA Cup by Werder Bremen in the next fortnight. Hearts manager Jim Jeffries is also interested in the player, and the Scottish Premier League side is said to be ready to pay £1 million for the man who scored an own goal when Royle watched him playing for his country in France ten days ago. The City manager may join his Hearts counterpart in taking another look at Dadason in action against Bremen on Thursday as reports claim the two clubs are gearing up for a battle to sign the player. Another striker link which is refusing to lie down surrounds Robert Taylor. The latest tabloid reports claim that Joe Royle is attempting to clinch a £1.5 million deal for the Gillingham striker and is prepared to allow the £600,000-rated Gareth Taylor to move to Kent as part of the deal. One man who now looks unlikely to be coming to Maine Road is Stan Collymore. The latest news is that the troubled Aston Villa man looks set for a loan spell at rivals Birmingham City.

Reserves Win at Wolves

City reserves won 2-0 at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday evening, with the goals coming from Shaun Wright-Phillips and Alan Reilly. The game had been trailed as a comeback for defender Gerard Wiekens, though radio bulletins mentioned only that Terry Cooke completed the ninety minutes.

Stockport Kick-Off Switch Confirmed

City’s official web site at reports that the home match against Stockport County on Saturday, 13 November will now kick off at 12.00 p.m. The switch is to avoid a clash with the televised Scotland vs. England game at Glasgow’s Hampden Park. The Euro 2000 qualifying play-off kicks off at 2.00 p.m.

Blackburn Preview

The Blues take on Blackburn Rovers at Maine Road on Saturday in the game which will be the centrpiece for Tribal Gathering 3, the weekend of events which will see fans from around the world converge on Maine Road for a weekend of City-related events. The good news is that City are unbeaten in Tribal Gathering fixtures and have yet to concede a goal, though the 0-0 draw against Gillingham last year was regarded as a disappointing result. In the summer, when the Blackburn fixture was selected for this year’s Gathering, it was expected that Rovers would be striding towards an immediate Premiership return whereas the more sceptical among the faithful may not have expected to see City in the promotion frame. In fact, with the Blues top and Brian Kidd’s men in mid-table, the rôles are reversed. It should be an enjoyable weekend in any event, but the festivities would undoubtedly be crowned with a win over the pre-season promotion favourites. Success for Joe Royle’s team against the side managed by his former Maine Road striking partner would also increase the pressure on the Rovers boss – a section of the Ewood Park crowd has turned on the ex-Manchester United coach during recent faltering home performances against Grimsby and Crystal Palace.

Peter Brophy (


BIRMINGHAM CITY vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Tuesday 19th October 1999

An early season 6-pointer. Birmingham’s form this season and their final placing in recent campaigns suggests they will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season. So the result of this match could make all the difference at the end of the season. Oh Dear, Oh Dear, Oh Dear – what had Sky done to us! I approached the match trying to blot out the results of the Wolves, Southampton and Ipswich games hoping that the players would do the same.

Exiled in Leamington Spa, this was one of the easy ones to get to for me. Met girlfriend Lisa in The Clock on the A45 for a couple of pints of the black stuff and an interesting Caribbean chilli con carne (a bit heavy on the coconut and light on the hot stuff for my liking). The journey to the ground was so smooth and the parking unusually easy that we arrived a full 25 minutes before kick-off. This gave me a chance to watch the players go through their warm-up, Moonchester’s dance steps and the Birmingham City 4-year old cheerleaders nearly die of hypothermia. The ground has changed quite a bit since my first visit here in season 77-78. Only one stand from that era remains, The Main Stand. I actually sat in the Main Stand over 20 years ago because my mates who had been the previous season had been battered in the un-segregated terracing and refused to go back in there. Things have improved over the years but I am still wary as Birmingham have more than their fair share of nutters.

The teams came out, City in all white doing a good impersonation of Leeds United. Was this an omen? Leeds are after all top of their division! Birmingham’s strip was an abomination. The team was the same that started against Tranmere with the un-concussed (no such word but you know what I mean) Edghill in for Crooks. Birmingham allegedly had 8 players out, the most noticeable Lazaridis, Furlong and Ndlovu. Lazaridis has apparently been doing for them what Kennedy has for us. So, this was as good a time as any to play them. The weather was cold but dry and should have been conducive to good football.

City just didn’t seem up for this game. We probably had 2 efforts in the first half – a deflected Bishop 30-yarder and a Morrison header from a corner which ended up going well wide. We were sporadically putting some neat passing together without going anywhere but the main problem was when the opposition had the ball. City just let them run with the ball unchallenged. It wasn’t that Birmingham were doing anything special. Morrison seemed the only one to care and on a number of occasions had to make last-ditch tackles after the midfield had invited the Brummies to the edge of the box. Weaver had made one good save early on and with 5 minutes to half time I remember thinking that we had got away relatively unscathed given our lack of combativeness and passion. During the next 5 minutes, even though it didn’t seem possible, City actually moved down a couple of gears. Luckily, Weaver went into overdrive. In the space of a few minutes he made three great saves and saw a free header clip the top of the bar. Half-time and nil-nil, unbelievable.

City had to do better in the second half and they were kicking towards us. Right at the start of the half City got a corner. Birmingham cleared and I was just about to remark that we would never score no matter how good Kennedy’s crosses were when we only had three men in the box and they had about eight – when the ball came back to Kennedy who put in a peach of a cross for Jobson to rise at the far post. Jobson’s header was heading straight towards me and seemed to be in slow motion. At first I thought the ‘keeper was going to get it, then I thought it would hit the bar, but it arced nicely between the two – yeessss! I then realised that it was probably going to be total panic for nearly a whole half and that the silly duffers had scored too early. However, for about 15 minutes after we scored we actually started to pass the ball around and Birmingham were not getting many touches – exactly what you want when one nil up away from home. This didn’t last for long, the players soon realising that this wasn’t the City way and reverting to type.

It’s difficult to describe the last half hour. It was all down the other end from the City fans so those watching on Sky will have a better idea of how close Birmingham came to scoring. The City penalty area resembled a pinball table with white flippers propelling the ball outwards only for it to be pinged straight back in by those damn blue flippers with the funny white stripes. City did have one good chance in the second half. Edghill was dithering on the edge of the City box and looked like giving the ball away. Instead he fired a long ball upfield towards the right corner flag and Dickov gave chase. Dickov beat the defender to the ball, stopped the ball almost on the line and turned quicker than the Birmingham player who slightly impeded him. He was just about to throw himself to the ground whilst complaining to the linesman when he realised he had the ball and Whitley was in acres of space. The pass was good and all Whitley had to do was shoot past the ‘keeper into the net. He spent too long teeing up his shot (probably understandable after his recent attempts at getting into the England/Ireland/Zambian world cup rugby teams as a kicker) and a defender got back, taking the pace off the ball and the ‘keeper saved comfortably.

The final whistle went and immediately chants of “we are top of the league” went up. Surely both Charlton and Fulham couldn’t have lost? Could results really have gone our way and were we to go top after playing so badly? Walking down the steps of the stand the result from Marseille was announced – I never felt more like singin’ the blues and… you know how it goes.

The real reason for this turn of events – my lucky yellow anorak. Strictly speaking it’s not really an anorak – more of a waterproof, windproof and at the moment loss-proof jacket. It was bought a few days before the Port Vale game and due to the seat position – front row of lower Kippax – was worn to good effect, both on and off the pitch. Its second outing was on Tuesday night. Need I say more? So, if towards the end of the season we have a crucial match on a gloriously sunny day and you see someone looking like they are going on an Everest expedition wearing a yellow anorak – you know why!

John Wilson (


BIRMINGHAM CITY vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Tuesday 19th October 1999

Went with the Bolton blues to Birmingham, mad rush from work to get the coach for this one, but just managed it, thus the report. After Tranmere I’ve decided to go sober to games for a while, I remember very little of Tranmere, thus no match report. So I was the sober one on the Bolton bus, top bunch of lads. Got to the ground well on time, and noticed that I was sat on row one right behind the goal, so spent the match telling Weaver how good he was and Bennet of Birmingham how bad he was. Right from the off we were under pressure, Morrison deflected a cross into the bottom corner of the goal, only for Weaver to get down and palm it around the post; little did we know then that would be the first bit of brilliance by the young goalkeeper, this was the best display of goalkeeping that I’ve ever seen from Weaver, even better than the Bolton game earlier this season, he truly is a diamond in our team. Teams in this division are looking more at us and seeing that we do rely heavily on Kennedy; I feel that we should now introduce Cooke on the left and give teams major problems. Birmingham marked Kennedy very tightly, which meant he wasn’t as brilliant as usual, but he did supply that killer cross. Granville I felt played well, but stayed back a bit in the second half (mind you if Morrison told me to stay back, I wouldn’t argue).

Birmingham in that first half battered our goal and even hit the crossbar (as we also did with a long range effort). After a while in that second half it was becoming obvious that it could just well be our night, they threw everything at us and it was still level. How many times has that happened to us? Their forward Adebola was just a big fairy, Morrison growled at him, then put him in his pocket.

The second half got underway and before you knew it City had gone one nil up, so that was top, because the crowd didn’t seem to appreciate the fact that City fans were there. City were far better in the second half (they couldn’t be much worse). They took the game to Birmingham a bit more, Birmingham had to attack, which left more space at the back (I would have brought Cooke on to exploit this space). Weaver had less to do in the second half, but still this was far too much. A few points I haven’t mentioned: our forwards because they don’t even deserve that, they were abysmal. The Midland police were their usual friendly self, threatening an OAP sat near me with ejection, along with anyone else who pointed out that he’d done nothing. Why sit the Brummies above the City fans so anything can come down on top? I’m the bloke behind the goal with the mad yellow hat on, just seen the goal on telly. Had a brilliant escort from the ground, felt like royalty, straight out of Birmingham (the way I like it, if the truth be known). Go to other grounds nick all the points, and get out of there fast.

Oh and we are top of the league!

Walter Smith (


BIRMINGHAM CITY vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Tuesday 19th October 1999

7.45pm CET. Berlin. I