Newsletter #548

City stayed top of the league last night with a fairly uninspiring performance against an impressive Ipswich side, winning 1-0. This statement isn’t strictly true, as there was one fairly inspired performance from a City player; in fact it was actually awe inspiring, and it came from Nicky Weaver. Weaver made – by my reckoning – three great saves, one of which was just plain great, whilst the other two were simply incredible. At the end of the match, Weaver walked round to a standing ovation, and if I’m not very much mistaken, even the Ipswich fans were generously applauding a man who had robbed them blind.

The other major news is that City have signed a striker, and to the best of my knowledge, not one of the 30 or so we’ve been linked to by the press! The man is 23-year-old Lee Peacock who was – until earlier this week – plying his trade with Mansfield Town, and is currently joint top scorer of Division 3. Can anyone out there who has seen him play (apart from his goals against us last year) give us an informed opinion on his talents.

Please note that I’ll be away for 2 weeks, and that Martin Freeman will be taking over as guest editor (see below).

Next game: Port Vale away, Saturday 30th October 1999


I’m away with work over the next two weeks, so Martin Freeman has kindly agreed to take over as guest editor. Please send all articles for inclusion in MCIVTAs 549-552 (Monday 1st to Thursday 11th November) to Martin at:



Horlock SIgns Off With Vital Winner

A second-half goal from Kevin Horlock was enough to give the Blues a 1-0 win over Ipswich in front of 32,799 at Maine Road on Wednesday evening. It was the midfielder’s fifth goal of the season, but his first from open play, and came in his last game before a three-match suspension following his red card at Tranmere. Joe Royle’s side produced one of their less fluent performances and had to rely on some stunning goalkeeping from Nick Weaver to overcome opponents rated by many fans as the best City have faced this term. Even the City manager admitted his team had been fortunate to take all three points and was grateful for Weaver’s stellar display. “Ipswich can feel aggrieved that they lost, but sometimes you do get lucky,” reflected Joe Royle. “I have to be careful what I say about Nicky because he might be after a rise! Seriously though Nicky has been outstanding from day one. He has a great temperament. It’s the ideal temperament. Almost arrogant on the pitch and humble off it. He is a smashing keeper and I think within the next twelve to eighteen months he has got to be pressing the national side.”

Mansfield Striker Completes City Move

After much speculation about the possible acquisition of a striker, a new front man finally arrived at Maine Road this week. The man in question is 23-year-old Scot Lee Peacock, who has arrived from Mansfield Town for a £500,000 fee. “Moving from Mansfield to a club like this leaves me flabbergasted,” said Peacock after the transfer was sealed. “Obviously it is a big step up coming from the lower league. It will take time to adjust to the pace of the game as there is a frightening difference, but hopefully I can pick up where I left off with Mansfield.” Peacock began his career at Carlisle before switching to Field Mill and has been capped by his country at under-21 level. He also scored twice for the Stags in their 2-1 Auto Windscreens Shield win at Maine Road last December. Joe Royle beat off interested parties such as QPR and Bristol City to secure Peacock’s signature and is hoping for big things from his latest recruit. “I remember Lee when he played here against us for Mansfield and scored two goals against us. It wasn’t just the goals but they way he played. I remember him being mobile, strong and keen with good potential,” enthused the City manager. “On the strength of that I have kept our scouts on his trail this season. I have had him watched four or five times and each time the reports have been impressive. He wants to score goals and is a good striker of the ball.” Certainly if Peacock turns out to be half as good a signing as the Blues’ last buy from Mansfield, he’ll be a big success. However, he’s unlikely to figure immediately as he’s still to recover from a slight knee injury.

Striker Deal A Priority Despite Peacock Signing

Joe Royle has been explaining that, despite signing Lee Peacock this week, City are still looking to move for a striker. The Blues were strongly linked with Gillingham’s Rober Taylor last week, and Royle said on Tuesday that the Peacock transfer “doesn’t mean we have shelved the Robert Taylor deal, or that for another player if we want to bring him in. This transfer has been probably on the go for the last couple of weeks and we have still been negotiating for Robert Taylor. So it wouldn’t mean the end of that deal.” Royle’s public admissions of interest in Taylor are slightly uncharacteristic, prompting some to wonder if the Gillingham man is really his priority target or whether this is a ploy by Royle to hide where his interest actually lies. One man who has been mentioned is Icelandic international Rikhadur Dadasson, who may be available next week if his club Viking Stavanger loses to Werder Bremen in the UEFA Cup. Stavanger have already turned down a £500,000 bid from Sheffield United for Dadasson’s services.

Fenton Loan Extended as Whitley Returns

Nick Fenton will be staying at Notts County for another month. The on-loan City defender has contributed to the Magpies’ challenge at the top of Division Two and it’s felt that he’s picking up valuable experience at Meadow Lane. Meanwhile, Jim Whitley has returned from two months at Blackpool, where he was unable to lift the Seasiders from the Second Division relegation zone. The Northern Ireland midfielder is now one of the candidates to replace the suspended Kevin Horlock at Port Vale on Saturday. Joe Royle may also take advantage of the loan system to give Danny Allsopp and Gary Mason an extended taste of first team football in the not-too-distant future. Speaking about Allsopp to the club’s official web site at, the City manager explained the logic behind his temporary transfer policy. “There is an absolute queue of people waiting to take Danny on loan. He will be away with Australia for a couple of weeks and when he comes back in November we will certainly be looking to give him some experience somewhere,” said Royle. “We think very highly of Danny. It is just that the Central League is such a mish mash these days. It is a shame because it used to be a great League. You played on senior grounds and played regular games. Now it seems to have lost its way. The games are somewhat fragmented and you play on non-league grounds. I would like Danny to get league experience somewhere else.”

Doubt Over County Clash?

City’s Maine Road clash with local rivals Stockport County on Saturday, 13 November could yet be postponed. The Blues are expected to have Mark Kennedy and Nicky Weaver on duty for Ireland and England under-21s respectively when the squads were announced next week, and with Danny Tiatto and Danny Allsopp required by Australia for two games with Brazil, City may have the three absentees required to allow them to postpone the match. There is some confusion, however, as to whether the two Australians count towards this quota. The kick off time for the match has already been switched to noon to avoid a clash with the Scotland vs. England Euro 2000 play off later the same afternoon, but it’s thought City would prefer to seek a fresh date if they are able rather than play without two of the club’s most influential players in Kennedy and Weaver.

Under 17’s Lose to Bristol

City’s under-17s lost 1-0 to Bristol City at Platt Lane on Monday. Meanwhile, the reserves were due to face Manchester United in the Manchester Senior Cup on Thursday evening.

Port Vale – Preview

For the second match in succession, the Blues on Saturday take on a team they faced only four weeks ago – but there the similarity ends. In midweek, City were taking part in a top-of-the-table clash with Ipswich, but Saturday sees a visit to the division’s bottom side Port Vale. A healthy contingent of over 5,000 fans will make the relatively short trip to the Potteries, and will be hoping for a happier afternoon than on City’s last visit to Vale Park. That was in March 1998, when a 2-1 win for perennial strugglers Vale went a long way to ensuring their eventual survival at City’s expense. Of course, the Blues exacted a measure of revenge with a home victory by the same score at the beginning of this month, and will be out to consolidate their position at the Division One summit with a similar result this time out.

Peter Brophy (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. IPSWICH TOWN, Wednesday 27th October 1999

It was great going to the match – knowing that as long as we won we would stay top irrespective of other results. Before the match, I had been thinking about how the match might pan out and the likely result. I was certainly confident that we would win but I was uncertain as to how easy or difficult it would be.

We’d made hard work on the first half against Blackburn before getting our act together in the second half and I sort of rated Ipswich on a similar scale. In fact a week or two back I figured that Birmingham, Blackburn and Ipswich would all be tough games and I guess I would have settled for five points from those three games – the prospect of making it nine was a welcome one indeed.

I also figured that as it was a midweek night match and combined with our great form we would get a decent crowd, I guessed at about 28,000. I was wrong on both counts.

As kick off approached it looked like we’d have about 25-26 thousand there then with a minute or two to go the place just filled up, with people still coming in after the kick-off. It ended up a staggering 32,799!

I reckoned that the farmers from Ipswich had added to the delay for fans getting in, tractors, combined harvesters and rickety old charabancs had added to the packed car parking and cluttered up the roads in. Fair play to the country folk, they filled the Gene Kelly and that’s a hell of thing midweek and so far from home.

Initially I was a little confused to see the Ipswich away strip – I thought they had had to borrow their outfits from the stewards – sort of bright orange shirts with Greene King written on them (whatever that means) with blue shorts with orange and white stripes on them. The orange combining tastefully with the upper torso covering.

Mr John Kirby officiated and according to the programme notes he is the Football League’s longest serving referee (13 years). Additionally, I was fascinated to note that he’s a self-employed auditor from Sheffield. Mr Martin Atkinson (red flag) and Mr Paul Pawson (yellow flag) acted as assistant referees (I think they used to be called linesmen) and Mr C Dunn acted as fourth official.

The game kicked off on time and we were immediately launching a spirited attack towards the Platt Lane goal – but other than these first few minutes the first half was an uncomfortable one for us as our forwards lost their way and the Ipswich offside trap proved to be too strong. The game had strong overtones of the Blackburn match as we just couldn’t find our way through. In fact, I think we were fortunate to go in at the end of the first 45 at 0-0. The seagull (who I shall now refer to as Jonathon – as in Jonathon Livingstone seagull) had swung madly throughout the first half; I don’t know if this was because of the wind or the fact he was perturbed by the odd folk in the Gene Kelly. In any case I was relieved to see Jonathon settle down a little during the interval.

Dickov as ever was all over the place, chasing everything; Kennedy who had been well marked in the first 45 showed more agility throughout the second half and began to weave his now familiar brand of magic. Dickov, not wanting to be outdone by magic boots Kennedy, received a superb pass from Edghill, lifted it over the Ipswich defender before sending in a magnificent cross to Horlock who slammed the ball into the net. That was about the hour, and although I didn’t think we would lose, I was not at all certain that we would hang on. Ipswich came back at us and for those of you who were not there if I tell you that Weaver produced a series of world-class saves you just would not believe how world class they were. The man is a goal keeping sensation. This man will become the England number one. There is little that is so certain. His opposite number Richard Wright pulled off a great save from Taylor (who had replaced Dickov) but whilst his was one stunning save – Weaver’s were just one after the other. This was a tight finish – Weaver saved two or three impossible attempts on goal, one on the line that the Ipswich players thought had crossed but it hadn’t.

Without King Nick we would have lost – the deference that man gets from the crowd is astonishing (and thoroughly well deserved). Imagine 30,000 people bowing to the man and shouting Weaver, Weaver, Weaver. In fact such was his astonishing performance that he received an amazing ovation at the end and as ever he responded well to it – running to each part of the ground to offer his own humble thanks to his followers.

I thought Edghill was excellent, Morrison as ever was superb and although mentioning individuals, it has to be said that even when we’re not looking sharp and having to play far too deep the team function as a team and it will be that sheer spirit that will do wonders for us this season. Although Ipswich are higher up the table I actually rated Blackburn as a better team. Johnson the Ipswich hotshot added little to the game although he did go off injured – there was certainly nothing from him (on that performance) to suggest that he is worth the estimated £6m. Although I’m sure he is a great player, he just didn’t get the opportunity to show it tonight.

I met up with my brother after the game at a spot near the Kippax car park that we now (as a family) have christened Rotherham corner (because of the piles of dog and horse crap everywhere and the shanty town appearance of the corrugated iron makeshift walls). Despite our win and retention of top spot, the night had not been without its disappointment. Walking back to the car we discussed the game and also the source of our disappointment, the Rags had won in Croatia – still it might get better on Saturday as we both realised that we love Aston Villa and think they are a great team. To try to bring some luck to the weekend fixture we have decided that until about 4:50 on Saturday he shall be called John and I shall be called Gregory. We firmly believe that this sort of positive mindset can make a difference.

So what does this mean to the stats then – well it did nothing for our strike rate in fact this has now dropped to 1.4 per game; this is not too much of a problem whilst we drive down our goals against which is impressive at 0.5 per game. Overall performance charts suggest that we have an 80% chance of winning at Port Vale on Saturday and that if trends are maintained we will win 1-0. Of course we need to factor in some other variables such as Port Vale at the bottom, the arrival or our new striker Peacock who may well gee up our front line and these factors are difficult to build in for predictions. What I do know though is that we are still at the top and putting clear water between ourselves and fourth place and looking good for a high finish. In fact if current trends are maintained we will finish up in first place on 95 points. Heaven knows what it will be like once we really hit form.

To check out all performance indicators visit my website at <>

Gregory a.k.a. Tony Burns (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. IPSWICH TOWN, Wednesday 27th October 1999

Wow!… Or maybe that should be W.O.W. – Weaver Out (of this) World (yeah I know, but it’s the best I can do!). Alex Stepney and Frank Clark have to be given credit for the signing of Nick Weaver. At the time, £100,000 for a Third Division ‘keeper who, I believe had conceded more goals in the reserves that season than any other ‘keeper, seemed a hell of a lot of money. We’ve been treated to some excellent ‘keepers down the years; Swift, Trautmann, Corrigan (eventually), Coton (isn’t it weird he’s with the Rags and Stepney’s with us?), Immel (only joking!). Nicky Weaver already deserves his place amongst such elevated company. If the performance against Birmingham was sublime, then I do not have any words to describe the 2 saves he made near the end of this match – you need to see them for yourself.

Anyway, on to the match as a whole… City were top on 26 points, ahead of Charlton on goal difference, following their comeback from 2-0 down at home to Tranmere the previous evening. Ipswich were 4th, but a win would put them ahead of the Blues on goal difference. This was always going to be a difficult match as Ipswich are a consistently good side. Surprisingly, their record at Maine Road is almost as bad as our record at Portman Road; they’ve only won 4 games, but crucially they won their last visit here in 97/98. The first half was scrappy, with the Ipswich defence doing a passable impersonation of the Arsenal back four of years gone by – four arms raised, appealing for (and usually getting) an offside decision. I must say that their right back, Fabian Wilnis (I think), played Kennedy better than any other defender this season. For most of the first half, he was like Kennedy’s shadow. George Burley had obviously done his homework and was determined to shackle our most potent attacking option.

Chances were at a premium. Dickov had a reasonable shot saved by Wright and David Johnson sent a shot from a rebound off Weaver inches wide. That was in fact Johnson’s last contribution as he had previously been injured in a collision with Weaver (that’s two strikers from our rivals that Weaver has seen off recently!). At the end of the half Nicky made a couple of good brave saves to deny Ipswich. Without a doubt, on points, the first half belonged to Ipswich. Recently we seem to have become a ‘second half’ side, so although this fact gave me confidence that we could do the business in the second half, it is a slightly worrying trend. One of these days we may find ourselves 2 or 3 goals down at half time with not enough time to drag ourselves back into the game. Indeed, we did start the second half in better form. Kennedy started beating his marker more regularly. The Ipswich offside trap wasn’t working as effectively. On 58 minutes, Edghill (more in a minute) found Dickov wide on the right with an accurate (!) long pass. Dickov then displayed lovely skill, chipping the ball over his own and the defender’s head before crossing for Horlock to score from 8 yards (Kev must have read my last match report urging him and others to get into the box more. Yes it’s all down to my coaching skills!). It really was a gorgeous goal.

A little word about Richard Edghill. If it hadn’t have been for Weaver’s pyrotechnics in goal, Edgy would have been my man of the match tonight. You know, I think JR might be right. OK he will never be a Bishop or a Kennedy in the passing or crossing stakes, but tonight he put in a super defensive display. He covered Ipswich’s many midfield runners from deep, he patrolled at times both flanks, he won headers, tackles, interceptions and as mentioned above, had time to play a part in our goal. Well done Edgy! Dickov was soon injured and replaced by Gareth Taylor who almost scored with a 25-yard shot with virtually his first touch. He did OK tonight, held the ball up reasonably well, linked with the midfield, helped out in defence. Likewise, Goater only really had one decent chance, but he looked sharper than he did on Saturday.

As the game progressed, Ipswich pressed us more and more. JR used three subs- the aforementioned Taylor, Crooks for Bish and Tiatto for Kennedy. So at the final whistle we were playing with 4 full backs! To be fair I think both Bishop and Kennedy were tiring, but the obvious nature of the ‘we hold what we have’ substitutions invited Ipswich to attack. And attack they did in a frantic last 10 minutes. Weaver kept us in it with several good saves, but the two mentioned at the top of this piece were truly breathtaking. Firstly he got down and smothered a virtual point blank powerful shot at the near post. Getting there was impressive enough, but holding onto it was brilliant. Secondly, after the ball came back off the bar, he somehow clawed out the ball from behind his back from another point blank header. As I said before, you really need to see it yourself! So sweet revenge for our defeat at their place last month. We actually played better at Portman Road but we lost. However, on this occasion we scored a fabulous goal and our goalkeeper was in a truly ‘World Class’ mood. If I was an Ipswich fan, I would not believe how we did not at the very least go home with a point. But I’m not an Ipswich fan so, ho ho we’re now 6 points ahead of you! Again our never-say-die attitude, tonight epitomised by Weaver, got us another 3 points. I’m not being greedy, but I would still like to see us comfortably stuff a few teams. All these 1-0’s are making us a bit like the Arsenal of old! Port Vale you are next!

Phil Hartley (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. IPSWICH TOWN, Wednesday 27th October 1999

Just made this game by the skin of my teeth, the traffic going to the ground was horrendous, got to the game just for kick-off, no time for a swift one, so yet another sober match report. Yellow hat at the ready, I sat down expecting a decent game, with two teams fighting for promotion. I wasn’t that impressed with either performance. For the first half we were dominated. Their right back Wilnis, had Kennedy in his pocket, which is an unusual thing to happen at Maine Road these days.

This game was more one-sided than the game at Birmingham, and believe it or not this was a better performance by Weaver than the Birmingham night. Unbelievable is the only way to describe it. He stole the headlines in the papers (and rightly so). My theory about witch doctors and the occult and Joe Royle selling his soul, seemed perfectly plausible tonight against Ipswich (the FA investigation is still under way); they deserved to win make no mistake about it. If Weaver was playing for them and we had Wright in goal for us, we would have lost, I have no doubt about it. Our midfield never got into it, Whitley spent the whole game chasing shadows, Bishop watched a lot of the game pass him by, he was never given much time on the ball but his passing is the best I’ve seen in this division (but not tonight). Horlock scored the goal but his performance wasn’t great either. With the midfield struggling and our forwards not having the ability to hold the ball up, the defence had to perform heroics again. I feel that Weaver, Edghill, Morrison, Jobson and Granville are a superb unit, they’ve all played their part in keeping the opposition at bay but with them under so much pressure it is hard for them.

I thought that Johnson looked dangerous for them (as did Scowcroft). I’d like to see Scowcroft at Maine Road, he really is useful with his head and with Kennedy’s crossing he’d bag a hatful. Johnson was taken out in the first half by Weaver and never looked the same after (nice one Nicky). As he was awaiting attention, the City fans taunted him with ‘Ing-er-land, Ing-er-land, Ing-er-land’. Which considering his international allegiance, was very funny. In fact Johnson missed a sitter after Weaver saved a long range effort; City fans could do well to remember that, next time one of ours misses an easy chance. Mind you our forwards have not scored in over a month, which is a little worrying; we top this division with forwards that didn’t shine in Division 2, never mind Division 1. I can’t remember the last time I saw Dickov have a decent game. In the first half and most of the second we didn’t look like scoring, it was one way traffic towards Weaver’s goal but we are still top of the league, so we must be doing something right (or Joe is doing favours for the man in red).

Right, back to the game, the goal came from Weaver bowling the ball out to Edghill, Edghill hit a hopeful ball up to Dickov, who to his credit turned the ball and defender with a beautiful flick, ran on to his own flick and crossed the ball for Horlock to volley in from the far post. We didn’t deserve it but at times like that ‘Hey who cares?’ The Ipswich fans from that point onwards were so quiet that the North Stand started taunting the Kippax, then the Kippax taunting the North stand; with the Ipswich fans in the middle this must of been highly confusing. With about 20 minutes to go the subs starting coming on for City, Crooks came on for Bishop, so it was obvious that Joe was settling for the one goal. With Bishop going off, so did City’s imagination. Taylor replaced Dickov and within minutes he hit a sweet shot, bringing out a Weaver-type save out of Wright (yes Taylor shot, and it was goal bound), mind you he didn’t do anything else. Tiatto then came on for an under par Kennedy (apparently he’d been bitten by an insect, and was lucky to be in the starting line up, I’ll have to take a couple of days off work with that excuse, do you think it’ll work? No, neither do I). Tiatto was his usual blood and thunder self, but he doesn’t impress me. Weaver made a couple of superhuman saves near the end which had to be seen to be believed. I for one thank God he’s with us because he’s going to go all the way, let’s just hope it’s with us, superstar. I think this was his best game, but then again there are so many to choose from.

On another point, Terry Cooke was warming up on the sidelines and now I know who ate all the pies; for every pound that Pollock loses, Cooke must be putting one on, he needs to sort himself out, he built up a sweat just jogging down the side of the pitch. Athlete, mmmm think again Terry.

After the game, I couldn’t believe, I got on Talk Radio, to sing the praises of Weaver and also to take a dig at the dark side (Man United); nice way to top the evening off for me.

Walter Smith (


Well what a bizarre game that was! Somebody commented in the last McVittee about Big Joe’s Midas touch at present. Well tonight was a great example. Poor Ipswich – they deserved at least a point, and probably (if I try to be impartial) all three. But heh, a win is a win! It almost seems at the moment that we are playing this new version of the game of football, where we sometimes play well, and sometimes play indifferently, but there’s this new rule where at the end we always get the three points. It’s great!

I’m sure lots of subscribers will go on and on about Nicky Weaver’s saves tonight, especially the two at the Platt Lane end in the last ten minutes but I can tell you if you weren’t there, they really beggared belief. The first one, down at the foot of his right hand post, was miraculous for a man of his size. I sit in the Main Stand, but I’d like to know from Platt Lane fans whether they thought the ball crossed the line. As the attack unfolded my emotions were as follows: ‘AAARGH Ipswich are going to score’; ‘AAAAAAAAARGH THEY HAVE SCORED!’ – then ‘HAS IT CROSSED THE LINE?!’ and even ‘HAS THE REF RULED IT OUT?!’… and then ‘MY GOD NICKY ACTUALLY SAVED IT!’ Yep, it became apparent that Weaver had actually saved it, point blank and hit at full power. No-one round me could believe it. It just seemed impossible: he stopped a certain goal.

And then whilst it seemed that everybody was still raving about that save, he produced another. I kid you not, it may have been even better, just because of the speed at which it all happened. To be honest, it was one of those incidents where you wish live games had a sort of replay facility in the sky – because the ball seemed to be pinging about in the City penalty area for ages before Weaver got involved and nobody (even immediately afterwards) could seem to remember who’d shot what at who. God knows how he saved it. This was all (I think) in injury time, and of course all our nerves were frayed to death as we sensed they were going to snatch a goal. Suddenly, point blank, the shot came in, and Nicky just reacted – I think he turned it on to the bar – but it all happened in a blink of an eye and it was over. You can’t train a goalie to do that, it was just stunning. I almost don’t want to go on about Nicky any more in case some damn Rag gets wind of him, and they try to lure him over to their place.

A Blue in David Mellor’s phone-in as I was travelling back over the Snake Pass said he wouldn’t swap him for all 3 of their reject goalies, and I agree. Just how good is Nicky? We’ve got a great goalkeeping tradition at City, but he’s right up there with the best of them. And he’s so damn arrogant! For those who weren’t there, Nicky did a bow – complete with cartwheels – to each stand round the ground before leaving the pitch. I’ve never seen anything like it, a real star in the making, maybe he should be England’s No.1 already. As for the rest – well, what to say? Goater was terrible but to be fair, he received little quality service. Dickov worked hard, and made the goal with a brilliant turn, lob over his man, and cross. Super Kev notched what I think was his fifth of the season (not bad as we’re only in October, shame about Saturday’s miss). Kennedy had an in-and-out game, but his twenty minute spell in the second half was awesome, and coincided with our best period of the match. And the attendance! 32,700+ and not a sound from the Ipswich fans, I guess, in the words of the song, they really didn’t know what it was like to see a crowd.

The evening had its lighter moments. Their much vaunted centre-forward Johnson made a hash of everything before leaving the pitch, apparently injured. So much for Craig Brown’s comments on the radio on the way to the ground that Johnson may have a chance of playing in the England-Scotland play-off ‘if he scores a hat-trick against Man City tonight’. One particular Johnson cock-up led to rousing chants of ‘Eng-er-land Eng-er-land Eng-er-land’ from the North Stand, it just wasn’t his night but I didn’t feel a bit sorry for him, the idea of him playing for Scotland is plain stupid. So we’re still top, and we’re all still smiling. We rode our luck tonight, but I suppose putting it in context, wewere a bit unlucky at their place, losing to a wicked deflection after giving as good as we got. One last thought – whatever happened to Terry Cooke? We lacked creativity tonight, and no amount of singing about him not being a Rag any more seemed to persuade Joe to bring him on. Why not?

CTID, Nigel Timperley – Sheffield Blue (


What a difference a year makes! Exactly a year ago me and my wife suffered a Manchester downpour of tropical proportions and then (drenched to the skin) had to suffer a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the mighty erm Reading. It was horrible. With Tiatto getting sent off early in the first half and then City capitulating after a really soft goal. Little could I guess that we’d be travelling to the Madjedski stadium and pasting them later that season (what kind of an arrogant pranker names a stadium after himself?). Anyhow despite the troughs and trenches created by rugby, City played them off the park with incredible free kicks from a certain Cooke and a finally Goater converted one of his several chances.

But the wheel of fate had turned completely when we arrived late to see City despatch Blackburn. We made the real mistake of travelling up from London Village on the first Saturday of half term (don’t get caught out by this!) and ended up spending five and a half hours on the motorway.

So I missed Blackburn’s early domination and a near miss by a Blue. “It sounds like the sea,” said my other half as the barmy army rued a near miss as we ran down an alleyway (Moss Side dogs must be the size of cattle judging by what we had to dodge!). Getting into our seats we only had five minutes to wait for City’s opener. It was created by Granville seeing the space on the left. He played Kennedy in and there was only one player to get that ball. But it was the work of Goater and Dickov that created Edghill’s goal. Dickov back tracked taking his marker out of the six yard box and, as the ball went in, Goater faked to shoot. Edghill ended his run almost in the net. Wish I’d seen Edgy’s run, it must have been something. The fitness of this City team is a marvel to behold.

Blackburn looked dangerous on the ball and there is class rippling through the team (though cr*p defending against the brilliant Kennedy) but they took the wrong decision when in front of goal. As Ipswich’s David ‘Jock’ Johnson will confirm, sending a screamer into the top corner isn’t necessarily going to beat Weaver. They also didn’t have the bottle of Whitley and Horlock who harried and snapped at the heels of the Blackburn midfield. In Whitley we have the most exciting 20 year old in the country. Very few in midfield actually win the ball in the middle of the field and Whitley seems to do it for fun. Even when he takes a tumble taking the opposing player down with his tackle, he’s first up and looking for a pass. This lad is Premiership class, shame he’s chosen Northern Ireland, not England.

Second half, Dickov made a superb fake and was on goal. Hack! Penalty! The Blackburn player should have been sent off under modern rules because it was a definite goal scoring opportunity. Filan did well to save off Horlock, though I don’t think he’ll miss many this season. But those who knock Dickov, should not; we win so many balls simply because Dickov runs at the ‘keeper as he kicks (bound to get a Paul Walsh someday!), not to mention his tackling and holding the ball up. However, with new strikers coming, it can only improve his game but I hope he stays No. 1 choice.

City moved up a gear and Blackburn started to wane. Frandsen made nice runs across the front of our back four, but didn’t really threaten like he did in first half (though I missed most of it, thank God). It was the Irishman who was taking the crowd’s breath away. For a left winger he is a big fella, and fast too. Watching him kick the ball behind Kenna (?) for a one-on-one sprint was supremely arrogant and a joy to watch. I don’t think there is a level of humiliation that Kennedy wouldn’t put defenders through: the class moment was juggling the ball on the by-line before whipping in a cross for Dickov to score! Well he should have scored. Only a gimp costume and root vegetables would have Kennedy’s right back feeling worse about himself.

Blackburn’s goalie was earning his corn with saves from Morrison (bet it stung) and Whitley on the line, although he couldn’t do much about a shot from Horlock/Bish (?) that slammed off the post. Though I wish Weaver wouldn’t juggle the ball in his penalty area in front of a striker; even the greatest mess up. But Edgy did a Gazza Euro ’96 on the right hand side to foil a Blackburn attack. A Kennedy corner, late run from the Ratter and it was curtains for Blackburn. 10 minutes comfort zone was brilliant. Premiership, Shmemership. Bring on the Rags!

The ref. was the best for ages. There is nothing to say, ’cause he was pretty spot on.

Ben McDermott, CTID (


Some games are especially sweet when we win them regardless of the effect it has on our position in the league – Millwall and Stoke at home last year fall into those categories as it’s nice to shut their horrendous fans up. I’ve found Blackburn fans particularly nauseating in recent years, especially the ones who hadn’t set foot in Ewood Park until about 6 years ago yet count themselves die-hard fans – that type gets everywhere doesn’t it? Just like a really bad smell. Anyway, with Blackburn struggling in the league and us being where we are thanks to skill and merit and the fact that Birmingham are even worse up front than we are, I thought this would be a fine time to record yet another win over those giants of, er, Blackburn. Doesn’t quite sound right does it?

Wiekens didn’t make the team as he still isn’t match fit, so we lined up with Weaver, Edghill, Granville, Jobson, Morrison, Horlock, Bishop, Whitley, Kennedy, Dickov and Goater. Subs were Cooke, as usual, Taylor, Crooks and a couple of others. For Blackburn, former City boy Ashley Ward (who’d been talking a fine game in the press the day before) started along with wunderkind Matt Jensen, the man who turned down Liverpool and Man United to stay with Blackburn. Hmm. They also had recent steal from Bolton Per Frandsen, who must be currently the ugliest man in the football league (and that’s even counting Iain Dowie). Frandsen is extremely dangerous from free kicks and showed it straight away as Blackburn won a free kick to the left of the City penalty area. Luckily wor Nick was on fine form and the defence had no problems collecting it and clearing it.

The first half was a bit dull to be honest. Blackburn were well on top for most of the half and their annoying fans were making far too much noise. One of them had brought a drum in and was banging it in a rhythm that had about as much musical talent as my singing (and that’s bad). Frandsen hit the bar with Weaver beaten and young Nick was kept very busy during the half collecting the odd ball that Morrison didn’t clear. Our midfield struggled to get into the game and weren’t nearly as commanding as they’ve been in recent games. I was surprised that Blackburn were as far down the division as they were, as they were looking an extremely good, skilful team. Weaver was trying desperately to impress any watching England scouts, making even the most routine of saves look good. There was one shot (I think from Jansen) in particular which he saved by leaping theatrically into the air to his left – I’m sure he could just have stuck his hand out and caught it. For City, the main threat as always was caused by Kennedy’s runs down the left – he put some extremely good crosses over only for there to be no-one in the area to collect them. Kennedy’s helped out a great deal by the fact that G-G-G-Granville knows what he’s doing going forwards – the way Granville steps inside to collect the short pass from Kennedy then plays it back into acres of space is a joy to watch. Mind you, so’s the way Kennedy routinely skips past two (or more!) defenders as if they aren’t there.

I was just complaining that we were far too left-sided and needed to work the ball around the rest of the pitch more when something happened that I’m still not sure I believe. I’d had a couple of pints before the game admittedly, but it’s not made me hallucinate before. I definitely saw Kennedy cutting in from the left and crossing the ball into the area, but was that really Richard Edghill running in at the far post to score? Nah, it can’t have been. It must have been someone who looked like him. Maybe it was the waiter in the Indian restaurant later on who’d come on to give Edgy a rest. I’ve got the video clip now and I’ll quite happily admit it looks like Edgy, but… it’ll be a while before I believe that one, sorry.

After that Blackburn crumbled. Brian Kidd’s half time team talk must have been as inspirational as one of Alan Ball’s, as they were abysmal in the second half. We had a penalty early on when Dickov was brought down in the area, not much debate about it but I’m still confused why the ref didn’t book their defender. Anyway, Horlock stepped up to take it ready to put us 2-0 up… and the ‘keeper saved it. This is the first penalty I’ve actually watched (apart from Wembley) since Kinkladze’s at Bury so I’ll take full blame for the miss. Next time I’ll go back to burying my head in my hands.

It was only ever going to be a case of whether we could increase the lead, not whether Blackburn could equalise. Matt Jansen was invisible in the second half, in fact I couldn’t even tell you whether he stayed on the pitch. Ashley Ward is so lacking in pace that he couldn’t even beat Richard Jobson to the ball. Our midfield returned to the dominance that we’re growing accustomed to (now that’s dangerous) with Whitley in particular being superb. He’s the only one in midfield that tracks back and wins the ball back, and I’d love to see some sort of stats on how often he wins the ball when he challenges for it. Edgy was having a good game defensively again – there was one moment when he kicked the ball backwards over his (and the Blackburn attacker’s head) then turned, trapped the ball and passed it to another City player all in one smooth moment. Unless it really was that waiter from the Indian that is.

There were only about 10 minutes left when City finally got the reward they deserved. A corner from the left from you-know-who was met by a lovely header into the net from Whitley. There’s a lovely picture in one of the Sunday papers of Paul Dickov’s face when Whitley headed the ball – he looks about as surprised as we were that Jeff finally got a shot on target and wasn’t called offside!

Bishop was replaced by Crooks then Goater by Taylor with minutes to go – nice to see that Goater got an even louder standing ovation off the pitch than Bishop. Shaun may not be the best in the world but he’s the best we’ve got and he tries so hard I always feel really sorry for him when things he tries don’t come off. Unlike Taylor. I’m sure he’s a lovely bloke and all that but he’s got as much mobility and footballing talent as a fridge.

The game reminded me of the performance against Stoke last year, when we dominated the second half to such an extent that it was almost embarrassing. People may say we’re a bit lucky to be three points clear as we didn’t deserve to beat Birmingham, but then neither did we deserve to lose to Norwich or Ipswich so there. The pessimist (and City supporter) in me does wonder how much longer we’ll be able to keep it up but while it’s happening I’m certainly going to enjoy myself. Roll on the Ipswich carrot crunchers and here’s to gaining early revenge!

Sharon Hargreaves (


Trains, Coaches, Queues and Campa Vans

My determination to see City vs. Blackburn was almost thwarted as, having booked the match tickets, we had to organise the transport up north. In a struggle to climb out of the pit (London) and up the hill towards Mancland, our will to live would be repetitively tested.

Travelling up from London is always difficult given that Branson’s Steam Rocket, Friday night excursions to the north, are always booked 6 months in advance. This only left one plausible alternative. National Express. Friday traffic, OK, is always bad, given that the government have privatised the motorway network and sold the franchise to N.C.P. National Car Parks, but when your driver decides to take a 100 mile diversion to drop of his mate off in Nuneaton, it’s going to take all night. So after a 6 1/2 hours round the world tour we were close to breaking point.

However, as the morning rose over ‘Manchester The Greatest City’ our hearts were full with anticipation of the thrashing we would inevitably give poor old Blackburn. Having eagerly purchased the new home kit a week previous I was sure that its christening at the Academy would be a happy day.

The pre-match build up began by us all getting kitted up and getting over to Moss Side to find that our thirst demanded relieving with the odd one or two cool Belgian lagers, only to find that the manager of the Parkside PH had totally forgotten that we were at home this weekend and had half his bar staff on holiday. Ah well more queuing. It only makes you more appreciative when you finally get serviced I suppose.

After a short walk to the ground to find our seat we were treated to a full house all in chorus. Stuck between the Kippax and the away supporters in the temporary stands UU, we had the opportunity to witness City continue their endeavour at the sharp end of the 1st Division. A couple of excellent saves by Weaver kept Blackburn at bay for the first half together with a goal from Edgill and a second half goal by Whitley, which did the business and the points were ours. Midway through the second half Weaver thumped the ball up field to see the Blackburn goal ‘keeper casually walk to collect, only to see the ball bounce over his head for goal. Unfortunately my viewing angle wasn’t perfect and the ball flew off for a goal kick. From then every time Nicky had the ball the guy behind kept on shouting out shoot. Surely this would have been the best goal every at Maine Road? If Beckham can do it from the half way line I’m positive Nicky Weaver can do it from his goal line.

The second half banter between the Kippax and the away fans was up to its usual high standard of put downs and insults which set the stage for a chorus of Blue Moon. It’s always good to be able to sing along as we are usually in the home end at away matches due to lack of away tickets and you can obviously expect the reception we’d get.

All in all an excellent day at the ‘Academy of Footballing Excellence’ even though the return journey to the pit took 5 1/2 hours, with a lift from a mate in his VW Campa; I was content with another week at the top of the 1st Division even though I spent the majority of the weekend on the M6 & M1.

Can I just say are we up for winning the F.A. Cup this year, being as the last time the Rags won the European Cup City won the FA the same year after?

CTIDFLILDTTLOELF (doesn’t he play fro Chelsea? – City till I die from Living In London due to the lack of excellent localfootball), See ya at Wembley in May in the F.A. Cup final – Rick Slater – The self-exiled Manc (


There will be other reports about this event in these pages, I suspect, but I doubt if anyone else is able to give you a sober report. Got there just after 7.30 (clever kid forgot his ticket, but the doorman had been chatting to me about the event at the previous match, so he waved me in, with a free keyring. Not long after getting in, the guest speakers turned up: Gary Owen, Paul Hince (of the Manchester Evening News), Ken Barnes, Mike Barnett (editor of the official City Magazine) and John Bond and special guest (not speaker) Moonchester. The speakers settled and the compere Debs (MCFCBIRD), asked the questions. Right from the off John Bond was a grumpy so and so, fair enough one or two people at the back talked amongst themselves and people ordered drinks at the bar, but he started off with word to the effect of ‘If you can’t be bothered to listen, sod you all’. He did, however, lighten up a little. The first few questions were very heavy, about the downfall. John Bond told a few interesting stories, about how he had a lot of time for Peter Swales and how Swales helped the club, but those around him knifed the Club, the chairman, the manager, the players and the fans in the back. He said that he believed the club was now heading in the right direction, with a decent chairman and manager. He said he regretted coming to City after 3 weeks of arriving, he got no bonus extra money for getting to the Wembley ’81 Cup final. He seemed to be quite bitter about his time at the club but spoke honestly and in depth for quite some time. He said at the end of the night that he’d had a good time and thanked the organizers. Well if that’s him having a good time, I’d hate to see him miserable.

Next to him was Gary Owen who was an absolute star, he was light with his banter and very, very funny, recalling stories about his playing days. Mentioning his one and only run in with Mr Vincent Jones, he lightened the whole mood, and had the audience in the palm of his hand.

Paul Hince from the Manchester Evening News was a very good public speaker, his best story was about Alan Ball; he told how after City had drew with Liverpool to send the Blues crashing down to Division 1, Alan Ball phoned Paul Hince up and asked him to meet him at the training ground on Monday morning. This was Paul’s day off, but duty calls. So 9 O’clock Monday morning, Paul turns up, pencil and paper in hand, and started to interview Alan Ball. Alan stated that he was glad that City had been relegated so it gave him a free reign to clear the drains and start afresh. Alan gave him a list of players he wanted to show the door to; Paul Hince then went and printed the list and interview that day. Hours later Alan Ball’s wife phones Paul at the Evening News and shouts down the phone ‘Why is he trying to bury her husband?’ Paul says he refuses to discuss it with her, and he wants to speak to Alan. Alan comes on the phones and asks the question, ‘Why are you trying to bury me?’ Paul says ‘but Alan you gave me the interview’. ‘No I didn’t.’ ‘But Alan I spoke to you this morning at the training ground.’ ‘Er, no you didn’t.’ ‘But Alan, you phoned me to come and see you.’ ‘Er, no I didn’t.’ ‘Well Alan one of us losing his f**king marbles then.’ Then he slammed the phone down. Interesting story, very strange indeed.

Mike Barnett was really a fan on the panel, and said the stuff you’d expect from a fan.

Ken Barnes didn’t say a word, he’d put a few away, and chose to remain silent.

After the speakers, out came the food, more drink both well received, there was not a crumb left after we’d snapped up all the food, so it must have been good. Next there was a sing-song, with loads of City renditions with the microphone; the best I felt was the Head of the Levenshulme branch singing Mustang Sally and Sailing to ‘City super City from Maine Road…’, Moonchester attempted to get a bit with a young female, hard done when you’re an alien. Everyone was in full voice and the beer flowed, a brilliant time was had by all, I for one can’t wait for TG4. One last highlight had to be the brief appearance of a streaker who did a quick lap of the pub and disappeared (come on girls the cold weather is coming in, it does thing to a man).

Thank you to the Wheatsheaf and all the organisers, a brill time was had by all, it is strange to put faces to names, they are sometimes completely not what you expect, for example I don’t look anything like the Everton manager. Great to see so many names and faces.

Walter Smith (


Am pleased to report my theory still works. Have decided in honour of our above mentioned ‘keeper to change my name for the day.

BTW does the fact that Allsopp has been called up to Australian team for the weekend of the Stockport match now mean we are in with a chance of postponing the game (Weaver & Kennedy being the others “on duty” that weekend)?

Heidi Pickup (


An alcohol-related session is being held on Saturday 6th November at the AGINCOURT HOTEL, on the corner of Harris Street and Broadway, a couple of minutes walk West of Central Station. Supping starts around 7.30ish.

Any Blues in Sydney are welcome, give me a call on (02) 9727 3754 for any more details – are any more needed? – City and beer, a great combination.

Cheers, Bill Chapman (


I’ve just moved to Sydney and I’d love to met up with a few Blues and maybe see a couple of matches on TV!

Niall Fitzpatrick (


The UK Cup, played between supporters’ clubs in Melbourne, is to be held on Sunday November 7th at Waverley City’s soccer ground, Melways. page 60 J8. It starts around 10 am. If you are going to be in Melbourne and want to play or watch please meet at 9.30 or contact me. In the Melbourne TV guide this week the critic was writing about the new format of our one hour Premier League round-up programme. He wrote “the format has changed this season, with varying results. Better is the removal of the colourful character segment from the agenda, when rather than watch a joyous extra seven minutes of Southampton thumping 5 past Manchester United at The Dell, we’d be forced to hear about Alfie Woodbine who’s manned the turnstiles at West Ham for nigh on forty years, bless his bobble hat. Worse is the removal of the feature game. Sure, most weeks, unless you were one of those objectionable Manchester United people, you got to see just the goals from your desired match. But now all the games have been reduced to a pop video of highlight” (the main game was nearly always United). Even the Aussies are sick of that overhyped bunch of whingers!

CTIFTDAAFBM (City ’til I’m forced to do an acronym for Borussia Mönchengladbach), Paul Keelagher (


Below is a copy of the TG3 quiz – Birdy won the quiz on the night.

The prize for MCIVTA readers is a pink mint imperial autographed by Richard Edghill during his evening shift at the Sangam Curry House, to be presented at TG4, unless I get really hungry.

The questions below have been compiled with no real care by MoK and Chippy, and their judgement of the answers submitted is immaterial.

Please note that the anagrams are a bit too raucous for those of tender years!

Three points for each question unless specified otherwise.

  1. Suggest four original names for the stands in the City of Manchester Stadium (each name marked out of 5 points).
  2. What is the unofficial name of the temporary stand between the Kippax and the North stand?
  3. Which City player appears in Trivial Pursuit (and why)?
  4. In the 1997-8 season, which squad member had the worst breath?
  5. In the now sadly-defunct Blue View Storybook, Justin Fashanu returned tothe club in high-heels and a basque as a referee. What was the name of hispet poodle?
  6. What was the name of Doug Bennett’s other message board (which hedesperately tried to conceal in order to protect his other, secret life),before it closed down after being unceremoniously raided by a BlueViewposse?
  7. Paul Howarth’s scintillating match reports were famous for hisincorporation of fascinating match-facts, including the number of ***** inthe ****** ******. Fill in the missing words.
  8. At the start of the 1984-5 season, how many strands of hair did Peter Swales comb over his famous pate?
  9. What did Francis Lee do in his afternoons off during his time at Bolton Wanderers?
  10. What does Mike Summerbee sell and Ian Bishop lift?
  11. What is Trevor Morley’s favourite O’Jays song?
  12. Which player used to run up for corners accompanied by the theme tune to The Vikings?
  13. Which player’s exposed meat-and-two-veg led to the rushed withdrawal of the official team photograph a few seasons ago?
  14. What was the name of the City fan in the ancient comedy The Dustbinmen?
  15. What did the Club Superstore run out of on the morning of the launch of the Kappa home kit?
  16. How did Martin “Buster” Phillips earn his nickname?
  17. Which City player scored a long-range own goal for his country in the seventies?
  18. Can you unscramble the following City-related phrases? (2 pts each)
    1. I LUBRICATE MY ASS CAVE (what a new player might say on his first day)
    2. FBI BAN ANAL SEALANT (used to be very popular in the Kippax)
    3. FIT HONEY-FLAPS (we’ve been here before)
    4. GRAPHIC RARE PENIS FILM (what Ian Bishop would love to be seen in)
    5. NUN’S PALE PROTUBERANT CLITORIS (what Bob Young’s been working very hard on (apart from TG3))



Re: the current topic on old shirts, I have for quite some considerable years been bringing old shirts to Indonesia to give to the locals who I have befriended through work or playing football. More recently on my trips back to Manchester I have been collecting old City shirts from car boot sales which are mostly in excellent condition and giving those to the locals. They take great pride in their City shirt, especially as it is genuine, not the cheap copies they sell over here.

So hopefully anyone travelling through Sumatra should not be surprised to see the occasional City shirt amongst the popular Rags.

If you are traveling here be sure to contact me and I will provide the cold beers.

John Taylor (


Retro Special out on Saturday

Just to let you know, Bert 28 is out on Saturday and includes: A Song For Every Occasion (a look at songs and chants from the City repertoire), Match Of The Century (City vs. Gornik), The Joe Mercer Way (Gary James weighs up the great man’s achievements), Meeting The Legend (the search for Bert Trautmann), A Decade Of AGMs (the last ten years of shareholders’ meetings) and An Old Bugger Writes (more City memories).

See website at: for more details.

Noel Bayley


On Saturday 23rd October my brother Noel and I took our seats in Maine Road for the first time in 21 years for me, and 23 years for Noel. He had worked in Irlam steelworks for many years before his return to Dublin in 1976 while I came to Manchester to study in 1977/78. We had never been to Maine Road together and planned this trip as soon as the fixture list for 1999/2000 was published. We reckoned this would be the best match of the first half of the season. We had expected that City would be about the middle of the table while Blackburn would be leading. Needless to say we were overjoyed that our predictions were proved to be exactly wrong!

The first thing that impressed us was that the atmosphere in and around the ground was pretty well the same as it had been all those years ago – friendly, good-humoured, witty, sporting and competitive. We had a pint or two at the Sherwood before the game and the behavior of the fans was exemplary. We noticed a number of fans from France and Scandinavia and guessed they were part of the Tribal Gathering, or maybe they had just done their own thing. Either way, we were not the only supporters who had flown in for the match. In the ground itself (we were in the uncovered stand) we were delighted to see families seated all around us. Apart from one foul-mouthed chant early in the game the absence of obscene or racist language was what we expected – after all this is City!

As for the match itself, it was all we had hoped for – full of goalmouth incident at both ends with the outcome uncertain until the final whistle. My portable clapometer gave the following ratings for cheers/applause/sheer delight/total derision, in ascending order of volume:-

  • Salford Slappers’ half-time result
  • Trafford Trollops’ full-time result
  • First goal
  • Winning goal

Of course, we discussed the possibility of a return to the Premiership, and to be even thinking about such things so early in the season is a treat in itself. However, with outstanding players like Weaver and Kennedy (who created virtually all City’s chances, including both goals), I feel that although there is a very long way to go we must have a realistic chance of going up again this year. There was a very fine full-page interview with Joe Royle in the Independent on last Wednesday in which he dismisses the view that City should consolidate in the First Division before a return to the Premiership. I believe he is correct, even though the team will need to be strengthened in order to achieve success in the Premiership. Players like Morrison, Edghill, Horlock, Whitley and Bishop can hold their own while rebuilding continues. The future looks bright indeed.

All in all it was a wonderful trip – a great match played in the true City spirit and in the unique Maine Road atmosphere, a win, three more points, everyone else marked time with draws and the Cheshire Chumps got hammered! One final point, and it is (to me) an amazing coincidence. In a recent “Why Blue” I explained how the red and black striped strip of the seventies predestined that I would be a City supporter. In last Saturday’s match Programme was a picture of Mike Summmerbee (the last of the great City wingers, though in time Kennedy may give him a good run for his money) – and Joe Royle. Summerbee was wearing the brilliant red and black strip. The first time I saw City play, 23 years ago he wore the same strip. On my return after an absence of 21 years, there he is again, in the same strip. It is an omen of some sort. I am convinced that if we return to that strip – as I advocated in my “Why Blue” – then success must follow. Although I will always be a Blue, we have got to get black to the Red and Black!

Tony O’Leary (


Wow, what a weekend, did I dream it or was it real? After a few hours kip to recover from the 12-hour journey we headed off to Manchester for the start of the TG3 weekend. Arriving at the Platt Lane complex, we met Sikpupi and his little princess Georgia, what a babe! We made our way up to where the play-off video was being shown on the big screen, seeing all the old faces got the excitement going. Met Bob and MCFC Bird, and all the other Blues who I`d met many times before, also met some people in the flesh for the first time: Ariana2, Colin and his Scots mate and Benny Blue, who greeted me like a long lost brother – the amount of time that we spend talking on the Internet my missus reckons could have paid for a trip to Israel.

We sat and watched the play-off final, and you’d swear it was happening live, when Gills scored the second and it showed the Gills’ fans singing and dancing, someone started chanting “We’re gonna score in a minute!”… sure you know the rest… when the tape got up to the Dickov goal I swear you could have heard the roar in Gillingham. Then onto penalties, celebrations, fanastic idea to kick off TG3 this way.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, we were visited by Mark Kennedy and arrangements were made to go to the night do in the Wheatsheaf. When we arrived we were given a TG3 quiz questionaire, a freebie keyring (lovely touch) and in we went, The function room was decorated like the bedroom we all never had, a nice touch was the TG3 Posters and signs saying “Levy Blues Welcome The TGers”; getting a chair was impossible ’cause the blo*dy Scandanavians had them all taken (only kidding Espen). The night started with a question and answer session attended by Gary Owen (very funny), John Bond (who was very frank when talking about “the useless bast*rds who ruined the club for 20 years”), Ken Barnes (who told me later that he was disappointed that all the questions asked never got as far as him), Paul Hince from MUEN and a guy from the City magazine and Man of the Match Moonchester! The Q&A session was compered by MCFCBIRD and she did a great job… the question of the night was when MLI asked Moonchester if he ever had sex in the costume; you will never see on A question of Sport “What happened next…”; then when the pandomomium died down, next question was for John Bond “John… have you ever had sex in the Moonchester Suit?”

After photos and autographs, next item on the Agenda was the karaoke; now put a load of City fans in a bar, provide music and beer, then get one of them up to sing and you’re in for a great night. Highlights include the old Levvy Blue pretending to scrape his knuckles on the floor and singing “We are Millwall, we are Millwall, no one likes us COS WE’RE SH*T!”… JT doing a dyslexic “YMCA”… a very loud rendition of Bloo Moon going on about 10 minutes after the record finished. Grateful thanks to all the Levy Blues, MCFCBIRD and a special mention to the jock Karaoke DJ who took some stick over the forthcoming play-off matches.

My brother Kevin won second prize in the raffle, two tickets for the players’ lounge. I ask you, does it get any better than that? A mention also for young Scall who raised some charity money by a sponsored standing out in the rain, while selling City mags and programmes (I`ve nearly read them all). Woke up in the Wilmslow on Saturday morning, and had to put my OSC hat on, Tony, Sandra, Derek and David had travelled over on the red eye from Galway and had arrived at 7am. We headed off to get our match tickets and attend a get together of overseas Blues in St. Crispin’s organised by the OSC. There we met Mike Summerbee and Chris Bird and there on the table was the play-off trophy… pictures taken, a brief Q&A session took place, one of the questions centred around the club’s ticketing policy; Chris Bird guarenteed that City would never go all season ticket so that out of town Blues would have the opportunity to get into Maine Road.

On the way out I met another City legend, Helen Turner. I can report that although now in a wheelchair she is still a City fanatic, has a fantastic memory and still has her bell. She told me a story about how some scouser in Stanley Park tried to nick her scarf but she gave him a battering with her bell. This was turning into some weekend; from there we went down to The Parkside to join up with the TGers, I shocked a lot of people by drinking orange but I was driving that night. We headed to the game and took up our seats about 2pm and watched some of the pre-match entertainment, the usual naff stuff. The members of the Westminster Branch were dragged away from their liquid lunch to appear on the pitch, then out from other tunnel emerges the bold Mr Young and some of his TG gang. Bob you were ace mate, pity you had to have your pic taken with Moonie… who didn’t look any the worse for his night out in Levenshulme. Then to the tune of “Blooooo Mooon” the two teams entered the pitch; the atmosphere was fantastic from our seats up in the Maine Stand. As you all know we won the match 2-0; Bishop, Jobson and Weaver were outstanding. Doesn’t Nicky milk the adoration and what if that shot from him went in? Kennedy to me was a class act but he should stop moaning at the ref when he doesn’t get a foul. Head and shoulders above all these heroes was Andy Morrison who surely must be our bargain buy ever, he never lost a heading duel, Ashley Ward bounced off him on one occasion and Captain Courage just laughed, he was last off the pitch and gave a hearty clenched fist salute to the fans… and to make the day complete the scoreboard read Spurs 3 Rags 1. One bum note though, the bouncer would not let us in the players lounge because we were wearing jeans. We went to the main desk to see Geoff Durbin from the commercial office who apologised on behalf of the club and said he would arrange it for our next trip. While waiting for Mr.Durbin we also met Nicky Weaver and David Bernstein. I don’t know if he`s a great actor or what but I think with this man in charge of our club we are in great hands; when he found out we were from the Galway Branch of the OSC he welcomed us warmly and said that the club really appreciated our support and that he knew we had kept with the club through thick and thin; somehow I can’t imagine the bent butcher’s boy at the Swamp doing that. Then one of the highlights of the weekend, I met and spoke to the King himself, Colin Bell; as ever he was the perfect gent, not at all perturbed by a man of nearly 40 slobbering over him and slurring his words, Thanks your majesty.

Sunday and the TG3 Fives, just thank God it was inside the Dome. The record shows that the Scandanavians won, MCIVTA were again runners up, my team “the rest of the world” finished a creditable third place (well at times they played with only 4 men ’cause I was on the pitch) although I did keep up my goal a tournament strike rate when I volleyed a shot past the helpless ‘keeper of the Scandanavians (Espen) from about 40 yards (yeah alright I kicked it, it was deflected and it rolled in). The highlight was to be allowed to play against the City old boys Paul Power, Peter Barnes and Alex Williams etc. Thanks to Bob and Wookie for organising this event, a tale which will be retold for many generations of McCarthy Blues to come. The player of the tournament was without doubt Benny Blue who kept goal. I heard that Fergie was on the phone with a contract offer, but Benny told him to Fluff Off! You had to see this guy to appreciate his brilliance, four times on the trot he defied one team, and saved from Peter Barnes, Paul Power and Beckford in their match vs. the old boys. Benny Blue you are a superstar.

Hoawrd McCarthy (


Well I have to make mention of two contrasting “Why Blues” in the last MCIVTA. One full of anecdotes and warmth, and the other primarily about Manchester United! As a ManU fan I’m always pleased to see us get a mention on this wonderful McVittee site but at what cost to you Blues out there? It’s great to see City doing so well this season and I hope it continues. Good luck.

Leo Fewtrell (


Are we coming… really?

Like some of the rest of you, I get Football 365 and the City ‘homeground’ is currently rather busy. Favourite topic is “Should City fans be optimistic about promotion” et al and there are good arguments, for and against, which I thought I’d drag into here.

Question is; can we afford ourselves a little optimism here?

The recent crop of results suggest that we can. The season has kicked off far better than we could have hoped but how many of us sit there, staring at the Division 1 table and thinking “ahh, but remember Stoke last year.” It is not in our nature to be cocky, complacent or, well, successful. Ergo we smile when we win, but are constantly looking over our shoulders at the chasm that we seem to be escaping from (see, I even write ‘*Seem to be* escaping from’).

Phil kept saying to me “2nd place is where we want to be, right on the shoulders of the leaders”. I nodded and thought “aye, there is logic in that”. That there is much more logic in being 9 points clear at the top, escaped me momentarily, but our “upbringing” suggests we should always settle for less, doesn’t it?

I think we stand a much better chance of survival once we’re in the Premier League, than knocking at the door. The money-game says similar things. Originally I thought that a ‘consolidation year’ in Division 1, with a respectable finish, would see us through to a return to the Premier League in a year or so. Now I think otherwise. We not only should we get promoted this year but win the league too.

We can. Can’t we?

Andy Gascoigne (


The Why Blue from Phil Lines last week made me even more pleased after a weekend of fantastic results. I too grew up in South Manchester but I enjoyed my primary school St. Vincents as most of the teachers there were Blues. I was football team captain too – and we beat St. Hughes! However, St. Ambrose was cr*p and only played rugby so I agree with him on this point.

I’m now a primary headteacher in Malaysia where I am one in a great many plastic Reds. I enjoy reading MCIVTA each week and as I will be home for Christmas wonder if there are any gatherings of MCIVTA’s from round the world at any of the games?

Dave Griffiths (


“Having put in such a “high energy” performance against Birmingham, I was surprised by how many of the players were smoking!”

I remember the pre-season friendly at Aberdeen in 1965: City fans hanging around for complimentary tickets and Johnny Crossan lighting up, igniting a chorus of “Johnny, Johnny, put out yer cig…” But 34 years on, why aren’t professional footballers contractually bound not to smoke?

Steve Parish (


I feel sorry for Phil Lines for the tough times he had as a child. I have been a City fan since the early 50’s, and if I thought that I had to be a certain religion to follow City, I would have been long gone.

I don’t know Phil Lines’ age, but we are going into a new Millennium let’s hope we go into it without religion separating us. Let us all go to the Church, Chapel or Synagogue to praise our God. But when we go and support our Football Team let it be for City, not a religion.

I do hope Manchester City represents a football team, not a religion.

Ernie Barrow (


After considering recent results, just a thought: wouldn’t it be irritating, next season, City having reached the Premiership at last, if United were to be relegated and deprive us of the chance to hammer them again at Maine Road!

Chris Ryder (


Women and Football

Sandy began a job as a school counsellor and she was eager to help. One day during recess she noticed a boy standing by himself on the side of a playing field while the rest of the kids enjoyed a game of soccer at the other. Sandy approached and asked if he was alright. The boy said he was. A little while later, however, Sandy noticed the boy was in the same spot, still by himself. Approaching again, Sandy said, ‘Would you like me to be your friend?’ The boy hesitated, then said, ‘Okay’, looking at the woman suspiciously. Feeling she was making progress, Sandy then asked, ‘Why are you standing here alone?’

‘Because,’ the little boy said with great exasperation, ‘I’m the fu*king goalie!’

Tony Hulme (


Last week, listening to Virgin Radio, someone had written in asking who had sung “My Favourite Waste of Time”.

Now I remember the song and immediately recognised the artist’s name when the DJ said “Owen Paul”, but was somewhat bemused when he went on to say “the ex-Manchester City footballer from Scotland”. Is this correct? If so, when, and did he ever appear in the first team?

John Caley (


Reading the latest story for “Why Blue” kick started my memory into thinking how I got started on the Blue road; after trying to remember the facts to near hypnotic regression, I have put the pieces together to why I was pointed in the direction of the Maine Road men and to a life of good humour, great memories and hopefully a wonderful future.

In 1968 I was born to a Dubliner father and Yorkshire mother, in Crumpsall Hospital (now North Manchester General I believe) and lived briefly in a restaurant we owned for 4 years, the “Silver Grille” on Ashton Old Road. The restaurant was demolished for development and we moved to a flat in Wythenshawe. I was about 4 years old. This was where I was to meet a couple of lads I believe had a lot to do with my future allegiance. Being from Dublin, my dad had an affinity towards United, and to be honest, my first team apparently were the Reds (before my brain had fully developed of course). My first memory of a match was of all places at Old T. My dad, me and two friends (coincidentally the Whitley brothers) went to a First Division game with Derby County in an old Morris Oxford. I can’t totally remember but I think they lost 1-3 and we, as 9, 8, and 7-year-olds started shouting Derby! Derby! in the old scoreboard end, much to the non-amusement of my dad and about 15,000 other Reds!

Back to the flats, I remember my first “football top”; it was a red tee shirt with white collar. I used to play football using the “No ball games” concrete sign and a coat as posts, along with Gary and Andrew. Gary came from a true Blue family, Andy at the time, like me was a Red! There’s a photo of us at about 9, Andy and me in red, Gaz in Blue! At the time we thought Gaz was the idiot (yes I am squirming as a write this)!

Moving on, I started to get really into football, playing every spare minute! We started playing in a junior Sunday league team, my dad taking us to matches in another Morris Oxford! I still remember him in his beige car coat shouting “Come on Sean” on the sidelines. Dad took ill and died in 1980, I was 11 going on twelve and of course devastated. My mum refused to give in and got involved with friends into the Wythenshawe Junior Blues, my transformation had begun. I remember going to a presentation at Belle Vue where it seems like thousands of kids were chanting City! City! I remember to this day the feeling that I would never look at anything red again and just “knowing” it felt right. That was it, my brain had fully developed.

We started to go to every home game at this time, sitting in the Platt lane end, with Dot, Gary and any other lads that cared to come along! I was a ball boy for a few months, I remember being nominated to take the bag of footballs into the players’ dressing room where I was met by the late, great Kazi Deyna who gave me his autograph which I still have today. During another game (on MOTD) in the depths of winter, the ball came rolling towards me, I took three strides backwards to collect it and went A over T over a snow bank at the side of the pitch, much to the amusement of 10,000 Kippax Blues (I seem to think it was filmed and mentioned on MOTD). My 15 seconds of fame no doubt. We had to do the mid-week reserve games too! My mum would take me by bus and sit with her flask of coffee with brandy (or should that be brandy with coffee!) and shout at the players not to swear in front of her son. Gerry Gow was the worst, she remembers. Oh yes, if you ever see those football funnies on TV, I was the one who ran up all the Kippax steps to get a ball which, as I get to the top, starts to bounce back down the steps and kicks off the wall to land in Tommy Hutchison’s arms, as I try to keep my feet on my descent to the howls of laughter from the crowd of 35!

At somebody’s testimonial game (memorable hey!), I lowered my head to take a drink out of my Tip Top (remember them?!) just as a typical Franny Lee thunderbolt flew at me knocking my bobble hat five rows up the Platt Lane stand! It’s funny how a brush with certain death fully cements your allegiance! Another Blue memory is the relegation Luton game. I was sat on the wall of the Kippax and vividly remember the Bobby MacDonald header that nearly went in to give us an equalizer late on, the rest is history. I remember it was the first time I had seen big people cry, so I joined in. It was the journey home which I also think cemented the love for the club. I remember my mum and Dot standing up on the top floor of the 106 bus, giving the V sign and a tirade of profanities to Luton fans (she’s a Leeds fan, remember!). This was the time that her brain started to fully develop too! The Junior Blues came to be a way of life; we travelled to Arsenal, Forest, playing football, getting beat, watching City getting beat but thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

I remember coming home from South Manchester High school and noticing a big posh car outside our house. I went in and Paul Power was having a cup of tea, sitting in my front room discussing Junior Blues business! I bored everyone senseless at school for the next week I think! Since those formative years it’s been City for me. I have met some wonderful people during this time. You will all know what I say when all the Blues have the same attitude, the sense of humour and a never ending spirit! It is totally uplifting to be part of it!

Since those early years, the feeling has grown stronger. There have been more lows than highs admittedly, notably, the Liverpool game that sent us out of the Prem, the 5-2 Stoke game, the 5-0 to that lot. No doubt there will have been a few 10-year-olds seeing me cry and thinking, if this club means this much to him, it’s the one for me! I will always do my bit in ensuring we increase our fan base! On the other hand, we`ve witnessed the Kinkladze years, that small game at Wembley, we have Weaver, Morrison Wiekens and Kennedy to build on and a real chance of getting back the Premiership where our massive club deserves to be!

I was a season ticket holder until about the age of 22; other commitments stopped this. Over the passed five or so years I have been lucky enough to go to home games thanks to a friend, who’s brother (Andy Turnbull are you reading this?) now lives darn sarf and can only get to a few games when visiting his roots, anyway I get the ticket and enjoy a few beers in the Albert before each game (this is probably a long winded way of thanking Bob, the cynical old git!). My wife is a Red, that won’t change, my mum is now a Blue with Leeds as second team. I will be a father in June next year (after promotion I hope) and I have received my MCFC merchandise catalogue and will be ordering baby grows asap! I will not let my child go through the limbo years like I did. He/she`ll be a Blue from day one!

Thanks for letting me share this with you.

Sean Tisdall (


Contributions: Martin –
News & Rumours: Peter –
Subscriptions: Steve –
Technical Problems: Paul –

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 #548