Newsletter #551

The biggest news of the week is BSkyB’s investment in City. There are a few early reactions in this edition, and I hope to see more in following issues.

My own feeling is one of ambivalence. I realise that the nature of football has changed and that we need the money. On the other hand I have a profound unease at the identity of our benefactor. Only faith in the business acumen and City credentials of David Bernstein makes me keep an open mind.

Not a bad result at QPR, given our team’s depletions. I seemed to be sitting a couple of seats away from a bloke who was the spitting image of the Grim Reaper, which was unnerving; wonder who he was at the game to watch?

I’m doing another three editions after this one, so please keep sending contributions to me.

Next game: Charlton Athletic away, Saturday 20th November 1999


Horlock Strike Earns a Point

Kevin Horlock’s sixth goal of the season saw City emerge with a point from Saturday’s trip to QPR after the Blues had been a goal down at the break for the third successive game. Joe Royle made changes at the start of the second period, replacing Shaun Wright-Phillips and Lee Crooks with Lee Peacock and Terry Cooke. And Peacock made an immediate impact on his début, with the ex-Mansfield player’s flick setting up Horlock for the goal. “We had to go for it in the second half and we were playing a 3-3-4 formation at one stage,” said manager Royle. “We had to get a goal to get us in the game and I think the draw was the best result. I think it was fitting that Kevin got the goal because he was far and away the best player on the field today. He’s been terrific all season, though he is one of our unsung heroes.” The only black spot for City was the enforced substitution of star winger Mark Kennedy with a hamstring strain. Even though the injury was a strain rather than a tear, the Irishman is almost certain to miss his country’s Euro 2000 play off games with Turkey but it will be midweek before the Blues can assess the player’s hopes of being fit for the next league outing, the visit to Charlton on November 20. “We’ll have a better idea of how it is by the middle of the week. Mark has had a great season and it’s a shame for the lad. I feel for him,” said Royle.

BSkyB Deal Part of £21 Million Package

After protracted speculation over the last ten months, City have finally announced a deal with an outside investor as part of a package with a maximum total value of around £21 million before expenses. Broadcaster BSkyB will pay £5.5 million for a 9.9% stake in the club and has also signed an agreement to act as City’s worldwide media agent under which the Blues will receive an initial £2 million plus a potential further £3.5 million depending on the team’s performances. BSkyB will pay 99p per share for just under 5,600,000 shares, and the same number of shares will be issued to existing shareholders at a price of 90p per share, raising a further £5.2 million. Finally, shareholders John Wardle and David Makin have agreed to write off £4.8 million worth of debts owed to them by the club. In return, the club will issue to Makin and Wardle shares of equivalent value, again at a price of 90p per share. This will leave the pair with a shareholding of around 26% and Wardle will also become deputy chairman. The terms of the deal will be ratified at an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting which is expected to be held on the morning of Monday, 6 December.

Bernstein – Deal A “Recognition of Potential”

While some fans had misgivings over the identity of the new investor, City chairman David Bernstein felt that the club had found a partner whose global media connections and expertise would be crucial to the Blues’ future plans. And while he also felt it was an endorsement of the massive potential at Maine Road, he hoped that the deal’s financial benefit would play an important rôle in seeing that potential realised. “It is tremendous news,” Bernstein told the official club website at “No-one is taking money out of the club, no one is selling shares and in fact a number of people will be putting money into the club as well as BSkyB. We see it as a further step along the stability route which I have been so keen to emphasize. In fact stability requires financial stability and this should provide us with that. At the same time it will help us provide the manager with additional funds when he needs it for players.”

No Power Shift But Buy-Out Interest Remains

According to the Manchester Evening News, City are “one of the hottest properties in football” and there’s no shortage of rumours about others who could be interested in owning a piece of the action at Maine Road. Top-level sources insist that the existing shareholders wish to remain involved and it’s claimed that they’ll buy up shares in the forthcoming issue to ensure that their holdings are not diluted. However, if any of them reconsiders it appears that there would be little difficulty in finding a buyer for a significant stake in the club. Weekend reports insisted that Glasgow Rangers chairman David Murray, Virgin tycoon Richard Branson and a wealthy Japanese consortium all regard City as an attractive investment possibility and are monitoring the situation.

City Dismiss “Ludicrous” Premiership Ban Claims

Director Chris Bird has denied that City could be barred from promotion to the Premiership as a result of the investment by BSkyB. The satellite TV company already has stakes in Manchester United and Leeds, and this has led Shareholders-United to write to Trade Secretary Stephen Byers claiming that such multiple shareholdings contravene FA and Premier League rules. Bird, however, refuted the claims of the group, which represents Manchester United fans holding shares in the Old Trafford club. “It’s not true,” said the Maine Road board spokesman. “You don’t go into a deal like this after months of negotiations without knowing the full implications of it.” In fact, BSkyB is entitled to hold less than 10% of the shares in more than one club, hence the decision to subscribe for 9.9% of the shares at Maine Road.

Royle Cautious As Bernstein Hails “Great Relationship”

The Blues are remaining coy about the size of the transfer fund now at Joe Royle’s disposal, with some of the windfall earmarked to reduce the club’s debts. However, reports claim that the manager’s budget for players will be £10 million – though Joe Royle is promising not to waste cash in a reckless spending spree. “I am not about to become like a kid in a sweet shop,” he vowed. “I honestly believe that the players we have here are capable of earning us promotion this term and maybe others are now beginning to realise that as well.” Meanwhile, David Bernstein has hailed the City boss’s “fantastic” transfer acumen, claiming that Royle “has never come to the board with a suggestion that he knows we could not afford or act upon.” And Bernstein reassured supporters that the availability of fresh finance would not result in a return to the wasteful ways of old. “I know that he [Royle] will not just rush into the transfer market because money is available,” the chairman told the Manchester Evening News. “He will be operating on a one in, one out basis. We have players on the transfer list and players we need to move on.”

Investment Sparks Rumour Frenzy

Despite the measured approach of Messrs Royle and Bernstein, the City boss confirmed that he’d have no hesitation in bidding for the right man, and the press were quick to start the predictable guessing games. The player still rated by many as the most likely acquisition remains Gillingham striker Robert Taylor. Meanwhile, reports that Maine Road could be the next destination for Stan Collymore intensified after the Aston Villa man was spotted at Loftus Road as City took on QPR. However, Joe Royle could face competition if he does bid for Collymore, with Hearts said on Sunday to have agreed a £900,000 deal with Villa to take Collymore to Edinburgh. Hearts are also supposedly in the race for Icelandic striker Rikardur Dadason but there have been no renewed reports of interest either from City or the Scottish club even though Dadason’s Viking Stavanger were eliminated from the UEFA Cup on Thursday. The Blues have also been linked with a £3 million move for the ex-Manchester United winger Andrei Kanchelskis, now at Rangers, and with Everton midfielder Tony Grant, currently on loan at Tranmere. Another priority, with Richard Jobson in the veteran bracket and Tony Vaughan transfer-listed, could be a central defender.

“Chairmen Meet” as Taylor Link Persists

Local radio reports claim that David Bernstein met his Gillingham counterpart Paul Scally on Saturday morning to discuss a deal for the 28-year-old. And there were claims that Taylor’s extravagant salutes to the Gills’ travelling support after Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Notts County had a certain valedictory air, though some reports claim that he may not be Maine Road-bound, with Charlton Athletic also said to be keen on the striker. It’s thought that the Kent club will attempt to drive up the price for their prize asset following Friday’s news of City’s BSkyB windfall, but Joe Royle would only say on Monday that, “We haven’t spoken to Gillingham again yet. That is not to say that we definitely will but we are watching the situation and I don’t think he will be moving anywhere without them informing us first.” Meanwhile, Gillingham manager Peter Taylor denied his star striker was on the point of leaving, saying, “He’s a quality player and a tremendous finisher so it’s no surprise to me he has a lot of clubs trailing him. We are desperate to hang onto him so he can help us fulfil our own ambitions. As far as I know, he’ll be playing in the cup replay against Cheltenham.” If Taylor does take the field for the Gills in the FA Cup on Tuesday, he’ll be ineligible to play in the competition for a new club later in the season. His presence in that game would also surely signal an intention on the part of the Gills to resist cashing in on their top scorer.

Royle Plays Down Striker Sale Talk

Given the chairman’s reminder of the need to keep squad size at a manageable level, any new acquisitions look sure to herald a corresponding number of departures. However, speculation has been much quieter on the outgoing front, with only Gareth Taylor and Michael Brown touted as candidates for the exit door. Taylor is being linked with Sheffield Wednesday and Hearts, and sources claim that the Scottish club’s assistant manager saw the Welsh striker score twice against Portsmouth last Wednesday. However it’s said rather surprisingly that the Blues would be seeking a fee of £750,000 for a player who cost £400,000 from Sheffield United just under a year ago. Nevertheless, Royle played down speculation that even if he acquires new forwards, the players making way for them will come from the ranks of the strikers already at the club. “You cannot have too many strikers on your books,” he explained. “It is always handy to have alternatives and allow for injury, suspension and loss of form.” Meanwhile, transfer-listed midfielder Brown is supposedly attracting the interest of Huddersfield, Wigan and, improbably, Third Division strugglers Carlisle.

Allsopp Makes Scoring Start to County Loan

City striker Danny Allsopp has followed the path trodden by defender Nick Fenton and joined Notts County on loan. The young Australian is highly rated by manager Joe Royle but the City boss wants him to benefit from first-team experience. And Allsopp made an immediate impact to his loan spell at Meadow Lane, scoring in the first minute of his début against Gillingham on Saturday, though City target Robert Taylor later equalised for the Gills to ensure the game finished all square. Meanwhile, Chris Greenacre also enjoyed a successful start to his loan at Mansfield, scoring twice for the Stags as they beat Lincoln 5-2.

Number’s Up for Shelia

Reports have indicated that defender Murtaz Shelia is back in Georgia even though there’s been no official announcement of the termination of the player’s contract. However, it’s a certainty that Shelia will never play for City again and a clue as to his status might be found in the appearance of Lee Peacock in the number 24 shirt on Saturday – this is the squad number originally allocated in the summer to Shelia. Meanwhile, there are persistent rumours that Shelia’s compatriot Kakhabar Tskhadadze will never return to full match fitness after his serious knee injury. It’s feared that the former Georgian national captain will be forced to hang up his boots for good.

New Boy Peacock Impresses Royle

Ex-Mansfield striker Peacock replaced Shaun Wright-Phillips at half time in the Loftus Road clash with Queen’s Park Rangers. And the Scot, who ironically turned down QPR to sign for the Blues, made a favourable initial impression on his manager despite a dearth of games following a recent injury. “Lee was nowhere near match fit,” said Royle, “but I was pleased with his contribution and the promise he showed. He looks a strong lad and I was pleased with him.” Meanwhile, the 23-year-old noticed the step up in class from the Division Three level he’s been used to. “The players you play with and against are all so much brighter in the First Division. They all get the ball quicker and lay it off quicker so you are having to work harder to get the ball back,” the new boy told the official City website at

Boss Bans Weaver’s Cartwheel Celebrations

City manager Joe Royle has banned Nicky Weaver’s unorthodox way of celebrating a victory. Royle didn’t notice the England under-21 international’s gymnastics to mark the home win over Ipswich but the City manager did spot the repeat performance following the victory at Vale Park three days later. And the result is an order from the boss to his young goalkeeper to cut out the acrobatic antics. “Nick’s enthusiasm knows no bounds,” explained Royle, “and we don’t want to take that out of his game but by the same token we don’t want him injuring his wrists by doing cartwheels.”

Wembley Book Published on Friday

The book ‘City ’til I Die’, centred round the Wembley play-off final, is published on Friday, 12 November. I’m told by David Chidlow, who’s been closely involved in the project, that this latest City-related tome contains 132 pages of quotes and interviews with City fans as well as long serving members of the club such as the kit girls, Dennis Tueart, Richard Edghill and others. Almost every quote has a spread to itself with the fan’s name on the page alongside his or her words. The end product is described as “a bit of a visual feast, with quotes illustrated with everything from the game’s teamsheet to an original ‘Roy of the Rovers’ style of illustration of Paul Dickov’s equalising goal.” The book will be available within the next couple of weeks from major bookstores, the MCFC Superstore and from Sportspages in both Manchester and London.

Academy Update

Thanks are due to Academy Director Jim Cassell, who has allowed MCIVTA to reproduce information taken from his notes from the City programme. Most of the information below is taken from the match magazine for last week’s match against Portsmouth.

The City under-19s lost for the first time in nine games on Saturday, going down 3-1 at home to Blackburn Rovers. However, consolation for the Blues came in the form of a 2-0 win for the under-17s against the same opposition.

The draw for the FA Youth Cup will be made this month – details of the venue and opponents will follow.

The recent schools’ half term gave City a chance to invite youngsters to Maine Road for trials. Age groups ranging from 7 to 14 years of age were represented and several of the boys present have been invited back to allow the club to monitor their progress further. Recruitment Officer Barry Poynton and his staff have been working hard to identify young players of the requisite abilities, and their efforts appear to be paying dividends.

A team of City trialists under the supervision of Paul Power recently beat a touring Chinese team 8-2 and also won against Derby County. Power was reportedly impressed with several of the group, who came from all round the country.

Peter Brophy (


QUEENS PARK RANGERS vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 6th November 1999

As always in the upper tier at Loftus Road the match view was poor with most of the action in the goalmouth below us invisible. How can they get away with charging full price for these seats? No theatre or cinema would try it.

Anyway, as it was reported to be a sell-out even for home supporters we allowed plenty of time to drive to the ground but found the roads round Shepherds Bush almost deserted. This gave us a good half hour to read assorted fanzines and the programme, which offered the strange news that Ladbrokes had given Stan Bowles a free ten pound bet for charity. Very charitable to exploit a weak man’s addictions like that – are charities also sponsoring Tony Adams to drink twenty pints and drive home or Paul Merson to fill his nose with talcum powder? The City mascot proved to be Stan’s granddaughter, which for some reason made me feel very very old.

As feared, City were without Morrison and Wiekens as well as Goater and Dickov so began with Edghill in central defence, Crooks at right back and Wright-Phillips alongside Taylor at the front. Not surprisingly the defence had a nervy first quarter of an hour which saw Granville booked for a tackle on a QPR player (who fell theatrically several seconds after the challenge). Gradually the City midfield took control and all QPR could manage on target was a weak header straight at Weaver. Wright-Phillips was getting busy, chasing around and winning a surprising amount in the air (he must be a nightmare for tall defenders if he’s in front of them and the ball is at his head-height – they can’t lean over him to get there first without doing a hand-stand). At one stage he raced into the area with the ball glued to his feet, vanished from view in a cluster of defenders and re-emerged what seemed like several minutes later still with the ball but now with his back to goal.

City’s best chance came when Horlock set Kennedy (who was being tightly marked) free on the corner of the area. Kennedy cut inside, feinted to square the ball and then shot right-footed inside the near post. Harper was nearly fooled but got down hurriedly to his right to block it. With City looking comfortable if not threatening, QPR suddenly scored out of nowhere. City half cleared the ball, a hopeful, long shot was charged down by Edghill and it bounced not only into the path of Kiwomya but sitting up and begging to be sidefooted gently into the top corner, which is what he did. Just before half time it looked like two when Crooks, Edghill and Weaver all left a loose ball for each other and Kiwomya stole in and chipped it over Nicky. As the ball vanished from sight beneath us it looked worryingly on target, but apparently it hit the outside of the post.

Cooke and Lee Peacock replaced Crooks and Wright-Phillips at half time and soon QPR were pinned back in their own half. Kennedy was spending some time on the right with Cooke but when he came back to the left he began to send in his usual supply of telling crosses. Being level with the touchline we could appreciate just how good the man is. He only needs half an inch of space and even from the corner flag he still delivers in a perfect trajectory. Peacock met one such cross at the near post and we were up celebrating the equaliser before the sight of our new striker holding his head in anguish suggested the ball had gone just wide. But Peacock it was who met a long ball from Jobson and flicked it into the path of Horlock. Kevin coolly took his time before placing it past Harper. Again the ball vanished from view; but with Nicky charging to the half-way line with his arms up we were fairly sure we could carry on jumping up and down this time.

For the next ten minutes we looked like going on to win it. Cooke and Kennedy were stretching the defence on both flanks, Whitley and Horlock were everywhere and Bishop was playing telling passes into the gaps. Horlock sent two screaming shots narrowly wide; a cross from Cooke was missed by Peacock at the near post (the defender headed him instead of the ball) and by Taylor at the far post (his attempted overhead hitting the defender instead of the ball) which led to four minutes of injury time.

Gradually though, QPR started to threaten on the break; and with only three at the back we began to look vulnerable. Nicky came for a cross and didn’t make it; the free header went over. Kennedy pulled up clutching the back of his leg and was replaced by Tiatto. Jobson raced (well, comparatively) over to challenge Gallen, missed him and his cross was met by an unmarked QPR player six yards out. He volleyed wide. Weaver was punching everything instead of catching even when unchallenged; and by the end we were glad to hear the final whistle.

So the sequence of victories was broken, but I’d happily have settled for a point beforehand with key players missing. A lot of the press reports I’ve read have been sniffy about the quality of football shown by the Division’s form sides but I thought it was a good if not great game which showed City’s new-found resilience and spirit. Horlock in particular was a revelation; he’s often seemed anonymous when I’ve seen him before but today he was all over the pitch and effective in everything he was doing. Ten minutes from the end he raced back about sixty yards to make a goal-saving tackle in the box – the words Colin and Bell nearly sprang to mind.


Weaver – 6 Not the sort of game to see him at his best as he had virtually no shots to save. A lack of height in the defenders in front of him made every cross a nightmare.
Crooks – 6 Some OK defending but distribution of the ball continues to be poor.
Jobson – 7 Had to take command in the middle (especially in the air) and remained unflappable. Scoring goals seems to have gone to his head – had at least three (hopelessly misdirected) long range efforts.
Edghill – 8 Considering he was out of position, this was a very solid performance. Unlucky with the goal.
Granville – 6 Backs off too much for my liking and looks better going forward than defending. Being booked so early may have made him cautious about flying in though.
Whitley – 8 Great display of non-stop effort. If there was a prize for most improved player…
Bishop – 7 Got stuck in as well as his usual perceptive passing. But the years are beginning to tell – I suspect Mason will be in before the end of the season.
Horlock – 10 Probably only 9 for the first twenty minutes, but after that he really was that good.
Kennedy – 8 Didn’t get much room in the first half but was always our most dangerous player. Hope the hamstring is not as bad as Granville’s.
Wright-Phillips – 7 A great prospect. Often a poor first touch, but he’s still learning. And absolutely fearless – long may it continue.
Taylor – 6.5 Not a bad first half, when he was leading the line and winning a fair amount in the air. Seemed to shrink into obscurity when Peacock came on.
Cooke – 7 Didn’t find much space but kept the defence busy and put in some threatening early crosses which our forwards still don’t seem to expect.
Peacock – 7 Came close to scoring and set up the equaliser. Also spent a lot of time falling over and complaining – was he told that he was replacing Dickov?
Tiatto – not on long enough to give marks to.

Oh, and Stanley’s bet was Kiwomya to score first and the match to be a draw – the one time in his life he gets a double and it’s not his money. I bet he’s well chuffed.

Piers Pennington (


QUEENS PARK RANGERS vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 6th November 1999

A welcome opportunity for a short journey to see the Blues took me to West London for the QPR game. I’m not going to go into a blow by blow account, as I’m sure this will be covered by regular contributors far better than I could. After cramming into the tiny space allocated to each seat (are they all like that or is it just for the visitors?), it wasn’t too long before City ran out in the new and resplendent red and black striped kit, evoking memories of the great seventies sides I used to watch in my youth. Anyone know if/when the kit will be available?

Anyway, onto the game itself. City started brightly but seemed to get on the wrong end of some dodgy refereeing decisions. After the first few minutes however, the QPR passing game started to open up cracks in the Blues’ defence, still sadly missing Wiekens and Morrison. Several times there seemed to be a QPR forward with time and space to have a crack at goal but a combination of poor finishing and last ditch blocks mostly kept them out. I say mostly, as near the end of the first half a rebound from an Edghill block fell conveniently to Kiwomya, who made no mistake. Just after that he should have had another, but this time his lob shaved the outside of Weaver’s right post. City had fashioned a couple of chances, Shaun Phillips was buzzing about all over, chasing and harrying (one particular moment when he tried to leapfrog a QPR defender springs to mind), and Kennedy looked sharp as ever. Our best chance of the first half fell to Jobson from a Kennedy cross, but the big man’s weakish shot was easily smothered by the keeper. Bish looked to be in control, although the one or two wayward passes he made would have disappointed him. HT 1-0.

Second half, Phillips and Crooks didn’t come out, but Cooke and Peacock did. Once again JR’s half time shuffle seemed to do the trick, as we had our best spell of the match, creating several chances and pressing well for a good portion of the half. In the end, around the hour mark, Horlock made the breakthrough following a neat ball from Peacock. The goal spurred us on to better things for a while, Horlock again going close with a couple of long range shots, the second just missing the angle of post and bar. Kennedy was getting the better of the QPR right back on most occasions, but then succumbed to a hamstring tweak chasing a ball down the channel. Tiatto came on, but we seemed to lose impetus and QPR came back into it for a nerve-wracking final fifteen minutes. Truth be told, they should have scored near the end when one of their forwards (Rowland?) instead opted to side-foot wide with the goal at his mercy. Final score 1-1, both teams’ recent unbeaten runs preserved.

The only other point I’d like to make, is that just behind me I appeared to have one of the die-hard boo-boys. Through his alcohol ridden eyes, every time Crooks didn’t make a slide rule pass up the line, or Bish opted to go sideways instead of forward, this was deemed worthy of a tirade of abuse at our players. For Weaver’s sake, we were 6 points clear at the top of the table! If every one of our players made no mistakes in a game we’d be top of the Prem, but as the saying goes, to err is human. I can’t understand why this kind of ‘supporter’ turns up. When will he ever be happy? Anyway, he shut up fast after a particularly foul-mouthed attack on a generously proportioned QPR fan near us had attracted the attention of the police/stewards. I seriously doubt if the man has the intelligence to access this superb publication, but if the occupant of Upper Tier J6 C57 is reading, next time try watching without so much booze – you never know, you might enjoy the game.

Nigel Edney (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. PORTSMOUTH, Wednesday 3rd November 1999

As I drove to the ground I munched my way through a delightful bar of Turkish delight – mainly on the basis that like the bar of chocolate the game was full of eastern promise. The eastern being the part of Manchester we will eventually move to, the promise relating to the felling of the anti Christ himself; the flat capped and flat headed little runt Alan Ball. The self same guy who had left us prostrate after his cancerous spell at our fine club – enough then of the compliments.

As we neared the stadium we chatted about the abuse that the simple football genius might receive – in fact it caused my son to say to me ‘I wish I was your age dad so that I could join in the abuse.’

I was nervous though because this game had all the hallmarks of a Manchester City banana skin about it – the ridiculed washed-out flat-head manager returning along with the old soldier Bradbury as sure as anything to do the very thing he so seldom did when he had a blue shirt on… score.

The Portsmouth fans had been allocated the Gene Kelly stand and it seemed that on arrival they had started to make preparations for the cold of a Manchester night as old ships’ boilers were dragged out of charabancs and the silly unemployed sailors danced hornpipes on the vast expanse of the Kippax street car park. In addition to this were examples of traditional Portsmouth crafts – videos and books about the Mary Rose (and later I believe she made a guest appearance) and books and pamphlets about the only worthwhile victory they have ever seen; HMS Victory.

I listened as children shouted to fathers, brothers shouted to brothers each seemingly with the same name Jack Tar, except for one rather colourful type, save for his tweed flat cap, who seemed to respond best to the effete name of Jolly Jack Tar.

But weirdest of all was the replacement of the normally acrid stench found at Rotherham corner by the rather more distasteful stench of seamen, as Gene Kelly was gradually filled (I guess the mariners get special leave to watch the football).

Moving onto the main event, another magnificent mid-week crowd of 31,660 packed the stand – only to watch in amazement as the pathetically nicknamed Pompey took to the field – can you believe it, the buggers were dressed in Brazilian kits.

Oh dear oh dear. I suppose they were smart kits, but for a bunch of no hopers from a part of the country whose only decent claim to adding value to the UK is that it’s a good place for passing though en route to France it just didn’t make sense.

Master of ceremonies Andy Hall looked smashing in his smart black outfit; Andy is actually a refrigeration air conditioning sales engineer and has refereed an FA vase semi final. Not necessarily the right qualifications to referee a game of football, but he did have a smart outfit, a watch, a whistle and a notebook. More importantly of course he had Mr Haxby (from New Brighton) on the red flag and Mr Wood (from Birkenhead) on the yellow flag who both had complementary black outfits.

I don’t really want to dwell on the game – others will write better and more focused reports than I will – but just a few thoughts. Another weird first half as we looked at sixes and sevens and dare I say it all at sea, within seven minutes that waste of space Bradbury (who I always liked and always defended in previous match reports) went and scored the first goal. A bizarre cock up between Bishop and King Nick but fair play to reject he took it well. Recent performances by the Blues have helped me stay relaxed when this sort of thing happens, always sure that we will be back into it. But to be honest I was little concerned when we went in 0-1 down at half time, although my trousers slipping down as I made my way back from the latrines at half time gave me some reassurance.

The second half was more like it as we got level, fell behind again and then finished 4-2 up. Taylor looked pretty good after his goal, Pollock and Cooke who had both come on as substitutes looked less than match fit but both did well (Pollock scored the fourth of course). Kennedy just ripped them apart down the wing. Whitley played well and made some important tackles, Bishop looked a little below par, Wiekens off injured again and Jobson reliable. We certainly missed the commanding presence of Andy Morrison and I do feel we need him back for the QPR game if we are to get anything down there.

In terms of our players I must make special mention of Shaun Wright Phillips. I know that there must be thousands of 17 year olds who have promised much and then failed to deliver. But last night the young man showed touches of sheer brilliance that made me dream of the samba beat echoing around the academy and the prospects of silverware bucking the Maine Road shelves – this little young boy (and that’s all he is) – reminded me in fleeting moments of the young stocky Maradona that terrorised international defences and won trophies single handed. This boy seems a real find, frightening pace, deft ball control and an astonishing awareness of what’s going on around him. Let’s hope he delivers in the way that he promises.

Well that’s about it for now, it’s always difficult to find time to write these reports mid-week. Credit to the Pompey fans; I have never experienced seamen making that much noise – although I guess the excitement of the big crowd had encouraged them. They did shout for their team and had a sort of out of tune band that kept at it for most of the game. That can’t be easy when you’re so far from home so well done to them. Fair play to Portsmouth as well, actually they looked half decent at times, and did look pacey on the break. As for Alan Ball – I think he’s never been the same since he went down on Mary Rose.

Tony Burns (


PORT VALE vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 30th October 1999

Well, another three points, although this one had the usual story-line: namely a terrible first half followed, I suppose, by a half-time dressing down and a much improved second half.

I didn’t hear the team fully owing to congestion outside the ground, and the result that we got into our seats 10 minutes after kick-off. The team seemed to be a very strange one: Weaver in goal, Crooks, Edghill, Morrison, Jobson and Granville making up the back line, Jeff Whitley and Pollock in the middle, with Kennedy and Cooke down the wings, and the lone striker being Taylor(!).

Really there’s not much to say about the first half. It was pretty poor quality, probably due largely to the weather. There were lots of overhit passes, crosses going astray and the ball swirling in the air, and quite a few players slipping around also. For City’s part, they seemed to lack ideas and any sort of coherent pattern – this may be a demonstration of the worth of Ian Bishop – and there were some very disappointing performances about. Terry Cooke, in particular, looked very much out of sorts, also Jeff Whitley, Lee Crooks and Andy Morrison seemed to be somewhat below par.

As a result the Vale goalkeeper had virtually nothing to do for the first half, with Weaver on one or two occasions having to prove his worth. Typical City – they manage to avoid conceding goals against much better opposition, Bolton, Birmingham and Ipswich, but then managed to allow one of the Port Vale attackers get the wrong side of our defence – even our wonder-keeper couldn’t keep his shot out. So at half time, things were looking grim – a goal down, away to the bottom team, with us having to rely on the likes of Gareth Taylor to get us out of the mess.

Obviously JR must have had similar thoughts because the second half started with a double substitution – Ian Bishop coming on for Lee Crooks, and the long awaited league début of Shaun Wright-Phillips, him coming on for Terry Cooke. Straight away the difference was clear. At last City had some shape, and were showing urgency. It also got the City fans going – and the players reponded by starting a sustained assault on the Port Vale goal. Still, however, clear cut goal chances were not happening. Kennedy tried his luck a couple of times, both times being fairly well wide. So did Whitley, with the same kind of result. Wright-Phillips though was a sight to behold on the right wing… he must have been gazing his marker square in the belly-button, but his speed seemed to have him fairly rattled. Likewise, the pairing of Granville and Kennedy were starting to work better on the left, although Kennedy seemed to consistently be battling against three opposition defenders, he was still getting past them on a number of occasions. Likewise Granville was starting to show signs of being more settled into the side.

It was one of these occasions that led to our equaliser. Granville got the ball in from the left, Wright-Phillips seemed to get to the ball, next thing the ball was in the net. We in the crowd were convinced that it was his goal and a sustained chorus of “Shauny Wright Wright Wright” started up. It seems that a defender was mainly responsible for the ball ending up in the net, and so it has been marked down as an own goal. Shame.

Also about this time, a clearly unfit Morrison came off, and Gerard Wiekens came on, and the difference was immediate. Wiekens is a super player, he has real class, and from here on the game was City’s. The winner came from another new boy – Danny Granville heading in a cross from the left, his first goal in a City shirt – hopefully not the last.

Right at the death, Port Vale got a free kick which thankfully didn’t come to much, and we were left to celebrate another three points, along with us opening up a 6-point gap at the top of the table.

Overall comments:

The team selection was quite odd – I would have preferred to see Michael Brown to Jamie Pollock. I believe that we are now in a position where we have to consider who is going to take on the play-maker rôle from Ian Bishop. From what I have seen of the players we have, Brown would seem to be the man for the rôle.

Shaun Wright-Phillips seemed to have a lot of very positive attributes – he was very quick, and showed some nice touches when passing. I doubt he’s ready for a full 90 minutes, but I believe that he should be on the bench in preference to Danny Allsopp.

The striker problem continues – again goals scored today not being by our recognised striker(s). Taylor is still pretty poor up front, and without an effective strike partner, Goater struggles. On the other hand, it will be worth seeing what Lee Peacock can do, as well as whether we go for Robert Taylor, before a final judgement can be made.

I am really disappointed in the current form of Terry Cooke. He’s clearly a capable player, who, last season did much to help the promotion push. This season he’s out of confidence, and doesn’t seem to have much going for him.

On the other hand, we now have the winning habit, and can now win consistently without hitting top form. This is a very positive factor, and has put us at the top, and now with room to spare. Keep it up!

Euan Bayliss (


PORT VALE vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 30th October 1999

A day of mixed fortunes, all working out in the end, thankfully. Got to Burslem in good time, aided by the excellent directions for a different route than usual, given in the last programme. Easy parking just beyond the ground and outside the excellent ‘Park’ Pub.

A good mixture of fans, big screen TV, and I missed the first (and second) of several heavy downpours. As I approached my seat in the ground, I got that feeling that I’ve really only had twice before. “Uh, oh, it looks like a dodgy seat”. My seat at Vale Park was one of the worst in our end. I was sat at that ‘sweet spot’ (sic) where the crossbar of the goal at our end, obscures a sizeable chunk of the other goal and the pitch. I’m usually pretty lucky with seats. I once had a very similar vantage point at Oldham a few years ago but the worst ever seat I’ve had a ticket for was at the Crystal Palace Coca Cola Cup game a few years ago (we lost 4-0) where my full priced seat was absolutely smack bang behind a post, which if you did not move would have resulted in seeing less than 10% of the pitch. Luckily there were plenty of spare seats on that occasion. Perhaps other subscribers have stories about ‘dodgy seats’?

The other ‘problem’ was that sat next to me was a very friendly, nice old gentleman, with whom I had a decent conversation before kick off and at half time about tactics etc. However, during the game he insisted on giving me a running commentary and opinion on virtually every kick! I don’t mind the odd comment / mini-discussion on salient points during the game, but for goodness sake…!

Anyway, when the teams ran out, again I felt down. Surely JR wasn’t going to play the unsuccessful and boring 4-5-1 formation that he experimented with at Burnley away? Yes he was. And where was Bishop? The first half was a truly wretched, wretched performance. Scapegoats were easy, but the real problem was the formation. One of the pleasing aspects about our play this season so far has been the almost seamless change from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2 to 4-3-3 at various points during a match. Not exactly Cruyff’s (the real one) ‘Total Football’ of the 70’s, but certainly showing the versatility of the team. However, this abomination of a system is just plain crap. The packed central midfield area including Crooks, Whitley and the returning Pollock just got in each other’s way. It seemed that no-one knew who was the ‘holding’ player, who should support the attack, who should tackle or who should be providing the passes. The result was that no one did anything of any worth. Kennedy was all over the place, either in a ‘free’ rôle, or more likely just trying to get a touch of the ball. Similarly, poor Terry Cooke had about 3 touches, 2 of them being fired at him on the touchline, being unable to control them and resulting in a Vale throw. Gareth Taylor did exceptionally well in getting one shot in (going wide as usual). Despite what you may have heard, although being a little more purposeful, Port Vale weren’t much better. They probably couldn’t believe what they were seeing!

Rougier had a shot impressively turned away by Weaver and that man Martin Foyle yet again scored against us, Edghill going AWOL and Morrison not reacting quickly enough. I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one, but I said to my new friend at half time that JR had to change the shape and should bring on Bish and Wright-Phillips for Crookes and probably Cooke. Even so, I was still suprised that JR did exactly that before the start of the first half. I’ve got to give Joe much respect for that decision. Many managers would have stuck with it for the first 15 minutes or so, by which time it may have been too late to change the result. Joe effectively admitted his mistake and put it right at the first opportunity. Good man!

The change was immediately apparent from the kick-off. The players looked more comfortable, knowing where they should be and what they should do. Bishop was pulling the strings in midfield, ably assisted by Pollock. Kennedy and Granville were beginning to exert their authority on the left and Gareth Taylor looked far happier having the wee man up front with him. This is the third occasion that I’ve seen Wright-Phillips, each time for a little longer and each time looking a lot better. He was terrific. Electric pace, good touch and skill and certainly not afraid to throw his weight around, what little there is! It was comical seeing him ‘backing into’ Vale’s 6’6″ central defender (name escapes me).

Wiekens replaced the injured Morrison early in the second half. It looked like he’d never been away. Although Jobbo has done superbly, it would be great to see the Morrison / Wiekens partnership working again. It’s such a long time since they played together. Although Vale could have taken a 2-0 lead, with Pollock clearing off the line, it was virtually one way traffic. The first goal, when it came was indeed an own goal from Granville’s teasing centre, but Shauney deserved a lot of credit for getting in amongst the flying boots and making the goal happen. As was always likely to be the case, once we equalised, Vale didn’t want to know. Kennedy had a powerful shot well saved, but from the resultant corner, Granville planted a downward header into the back of the net. Vale had a free kick saved by Weaver near the end, but there was never any danger of not gaining another 3 points.

As well as the footballing performance, it was clear that the players were really enjoying themselves in the second half, none more so than Mark Kennedy. Every corner he took, he was giggling away like a 3 year old having their toes tickled! At the final whistle, he revelled in getting us to cheer every time he implored us to do so (and we did just like sheep. Good fun though!). Our team spirit was again evident, with the players hugging and backslapping each other as they made their way off the field. So six points clear and I still haven’t spoken to a Blue (including myself – not that I talk to myself, but you know what I mean!) who has publicly proclaimed that we’ll go up this season. I’m still not prepared to think such thoughts yet, but it’s getting harder!

Phil Hartley (


I just wanted to write in to report an unsavoury incident which occurred after the QPR game last Saturday. I went along to the match with a couple of mates and my girlfriend, Anna, who has been showing signs of developing a soft spot for City, despite prior allegiances of her own which I won’t go into. We all enjoyed the afternoon with the traditional pre-match beers, excellent atmosphere and an acceptable outcome and performance by City (despite our ‘severely restricted’ vantage point). However, while queuing for the toilets after the match, an unpleasant enough experience at the best of times, Anna found herself being groped ‘downstairs’ by a passing City fan. She told the sleazy scumbag where to go, but then to add insult to injury, the women behind her told her that because she was at a football match she just had to accept that these things!

From reading many of the intelligent and erudite contributions to MCIVTA over the years it seems to me that most of you reading this will be on a higher evolutionary scale than the slack-jawed neandrathal that carried out the act on Saturday. If not, or if you have any friends inclined towards this kind of behaviour, I would like to stress that it is not acceptable at a football match, or anywhere else (except certain night clubs perhaps). Anna was equally dismayed by the rather pitiful attitude of the woman in the queue. It sounds like she’s been hanging around with too many a**eholes. Women should be able to attend football matches without fear of physical harrassment or abuse, so keep your sweaty hands to yourself!

On a lighter note, I like the new song about Posh Spice and Terry Cooke. Does that make me a sexist?

Pat Moore (


Last Saturday at Q.P.R. I was in the fortunate position of having 3 complimentary tickets (via a mate who worked for Q.P.R.). I ended up with a spare as one mate of mine had flu. I hung around outside the City end trying to spot someone who looked halfway sane (pretty difficult after what we’ve all been through over the years) and who did not have a ticket. We came across a guy from Rochdale and his two friends who only had 2 tickets between them so I was able to help them out (good Samaritan or what?). This fella was a really nice guy and obviously knew City well but I have forgotten his name. In fact I can’t remember asking. I reckon he owes me a pint. If he or his mates read this I am usually in the Gardners before home games (Guinness is great by the way).

Can anyone remember seeing Weaver make a save worthy of note during the whole game because I can’t? I thought Peacock made a very promising début. Hopefully when Goater and Dickov are fit again and with Phillips on the fringe (and possibly Bob Taylor) we can offload the other Taylor. He just is not up to the standard required. I thought last Saturday he was bone idle and was quite happy in the first half to let young Phillips run his b****cks off. He just does not have the pace to give us that edge and is too easily muscled off the ball.

I would have much preferred to have seen Pollock come on for the injured Kennedy for that last period. Tiatto looked bl**dy lost and Q.P.R. still attacked down the right even with him and Granville supposedly over that side. Still it was quite a good performance and Joe seemed to be happy with a point afterwards. I think Mullet Head Francis must have been p****d when he said he thought Q.P.R. deserved to win. I hope he had sobered up when he watched the video of the game today. He should also consult another hairdresser as the one he’s got obviously drinks the same brew.

By the way I saw three guys flogging B.T.H., K.O.T.K. and another ‘zine standing next to each other outside the City end. Is that usual? I haven’t seen it before. Perhaps I spend too much time in the Gardners before games?

Dave McNeil (


As the ICQ Blues were gathered for the QPR away match, which was going badly in the first half with the Blues trailing 1-0, help from a (for me) unexpected source seemed to appear.

The second half having started and the score still a somewhat disappointing 0-1, the fellow calling himself MJB brought forward an idea that would put an end to the misery. According to MJB, this again was the idea of a fellow City fan operating under the name of MC1, and was referred to as the “Groenendijk mantra”, and entailed the repeated typing of the surname of the unsung Dutch hero from the Peter Reid days.

So, without further ado, MJB got the ball rolling, typing out Groenendijk with great diligence, and let’s just admit this straight away, it caught on immediately. Within a minute or two, everyone in the relatively crowded chat room were doing it to the best of their ability, and with only a few exceptions everyone seemed to consistently get the spelling right as well. Obviously, there may have been an element of copy and paste, but still, it was a joy to behold.

Benny Blue, bless him, was obviously aware of the problems of spelling this (for most of us) exotic name, and took the initiative in helping us all out with a sequence of “Give us a G”, “Give us an O”, and, you get the idea. This was getting quite a good response as well. However, one dreads to think about what those people entering the chat room at this point must have been thinking at that point…

Now of course, all this went on for a few minutes, but what happened next? The fan carrying the moniker of Rocket, whose commentary seemed to be a minute or two ahead of the rest of us gets the crowd temporarily disengaged from the “Groenendijking” by announcing that the score is now 1-1. The usual hoo-ha then followed, with messages such as “Yess!”, “Beep! Beep!” and “Horlock” flashing about the screen, accompanied by hooting sounds at great volume (due to the low sound level of the commentary feed meaning PC loudspeakers turned to maximum).

However, normality was eventually restored, and we were all back to the Groenendijking. Alas, a second goal was not coming, but maybe one should be careful about overusing a successful ploy, I would suggest that the mantra is only to be evoked when we are a goal down, but to enforce such discipline will probably prove beyond my limited powers. Or maybe we should go for a two pronged attack, in which case the alternative keyword must definitely be “Ingebrigtsen”.

If you don’t see the funny side of this, I suppose you had to be there really.

Espen Heggelund “The Blue Danube” (


Most Memorable Moments (Abridged Version)

Friday afternoon at Platt Lane – Mark Kennedy coming in for a chat with us, and Asa Hartford remembering me from Player of the Year, and him actually saying hello to me! The roar that went up when City equalised – as if it was the first time we’d seen the video.

Friday night at the Wheatsheaf – Moonchester trying to make me have oral sex with him by standing up on my chair with a leg either side of me and gyrating his groin in my face! The irony of the Scandinavian Blues singing Vindaloo and the shout of ‘England’ at the end of it. Benny Blue p*ssed as a fart up on stage singing and dancing. Birdy doing a classy streak (short but sweet) around the room and across the stage. John Bond kissing me as he was leaving. Asking Gary Owen if he knew any short stories! Thanks to Debs (MCFCBIRD) for organising that night – fantastic, especially the Kamikaze Karaoke. If you missed it, you missed out.

Saturday – “Phone for you Bob” (see the piccie on the TG website), and a very civilised buffet both before the game and again at half time. Richard Edghill finally scoring! Going into the players’ lounge after the game with Debs, and getting Andy Morrison to sign his porn star picture in ‘Chips n Gravy’ (if you’ve seen the fanzine you’ll know what I’m on about). Andy showing all the players his piccie, which he seemed very proud of, then showing his incredulous wife the picture, to which she said “It’s not you, is it?!” – me and Debs nearly weed ourselves at that stage! He even asked if we could get him a copy of it and send it to him. Chatting to Danny Granville and Debs telling him that he’ll always be a City fan now, no matter where he went. Singing City songs in the Sangam curry house (well, they weren’t gonna throw 50 of us out, were they?!). The waiter who looked like Edgy (“two Richard Edghills, there’s only two Richard Edghills”).

Sunday – Everybody did really well to make it there, especially Blue Job, who hadn’t been to bed at all! Benny Blue the absolute star, saving several close range kicks, especially memorable was the one he saved from Peter Barnes! Peter Barnes and Alex Williams coming up for a drink with us afterwards – they didn’t have to do that. Peter Barnes even gave Benny Blue a lift home afterwards. Alex Williams kissing me on the lips as I was leaving! Howie de Blue’s brother with the name ‘Iznogud’ and the number ’00’ on the back of his shirt – think about it.

Wednesday – Five hour drive from London back up North for the game – Weaver’s save(s) but especially the one in injury time, how did he keep that out?! Drinking in the pub with Danny Granville afterwards! What a thoroughly nice bloke he is, although he only looks about 12!

TG just seems to get better, and bigger, every year. Stroll on TG4!

Even though I’m on the Committee, I had the fairly easy job of organising the Friday afternoon session, but I’d like to pass a vote of thanks to all the other members (Scall, Chris Woolley, Wookie) for their efforts, Debs and Bob especially put in a hell of a lot of hard work, which sometimes is not appreciated, and the Friday/Saturday were absolutely awesome and something I’ll never forget. As Benny Blue said to me on Wednesday “I’ve had the best week of my life”, and he meant it too!

Alex Bracey (a.k.a. MLI) (


QPR vs. City – We Only Like Games Of One Half (The Second Half)

Q  uite
U  nsurprising, we
E  ventually
E  qualised as
N  ormal in
S  econd
P  eriod.
A  ttacking
R  apidly,
K  evin H
R  an
A  nd
N  icely
G  rabbed
E  qualiser.
(R egular
S  corer!)

Steve Maclean (


On these things I am by nature what Tony Blair would call a force of conservatism (far from Conservative mind), and would love to go back to a terraced Kippax where clubs split gate money 50/50 and there was genuine competition. Real football on an even playing field no matter what size or tradition of the clubs. I believe the neutral will remember – in detail, City vs. Gills long after Rags vs. Bayern has become just another Euro game.

I hate Murdoch with a passion, and wouldn’t take the Sun or Times as my paper of choice if they were the only ones on sale. I have never, and will never have Sky television. But hey, without a ticket, where did I watch the play-off final? Dead right, on a pub TV screen.

But the rose-tinted era is long gone, the Butcher’s Boy and the others, including PJS, were forcing through the changes in our national game over a decade ago. What has happened in the 90’s is just (just?) a rocket powered acceleration of the trend. These days you need big money to compete, and the gulf in money between good 1st Division sides and average Premiership sides is massive, probably not bridgeable without outside capital, even by a club of City’s size.

If we were to go up without a capital injection, much of our TV money next season would have to go to eliminate our debts rather than on squad building. Even accepting Joe’s ability to find true class players at bargain prices, there has to be the possibility that we would yoyo in the manner of Bolton, Forest and Charlton.

To compete up there and punch our true weight, an injection from somewhere was inevitable. Bernie knows that. Although less now than if we were in the Premiership, the money is probably of most use to us now, a fact that a businessman like Murdoch would know only too well. The message to Joe is loud and clear; ‘we will get promoted this season, and you have nearly two years to ensure we don’t get relegated back at the end of the 2000/1 season.’

So we end up with the great Satan as a minor shareholder. Well he is also in a similar position on two other clubs, and has made his intention clear to go for more clubs. It was either him, or Granada or any other media group slugging it out for control of PPV TV, because football clubs are worth more to them than any other investors.

To imagine his sights are set on any greater holding is to be very naïve. Our appeal to him is that our 10% is a lot cheaper (based on fanbase) than any other club around – for good reasons. He would not jeopardize relations with all the other Premiership clubs he wants holdings in by ‘favouring’ us with a bigger stake. And don’t forget, once back in the Premiership, we become more expensive. If he had wanted a bigger stake, now would have been the time to take it, but it just doesn’t make business sense for him.

I trust Bernie, and if he says, after all the proposals he has waded through over the last couple of years, that this is in the club’s best interest, I go along with it. Granada’s northern credentials mean nothing, if the Sky deal was the better option, then go with it.

But now the deal has been done, and regardless of the investor, is it a good deal? There is no doubting that 10% of City would cost a lot more in the Premiership than it does now, but there again it costs a lot more now than it would have done at 4.40pm on the last Saturday in May.

For so long capitalized at £30 million, we are now valued at almost double that, and with the healthy cut in our outstanding debt, we can look forward to being effectively debt free in not much more than a year, while still being able to spend on players.

A few weeks ago Joe said he wasn’t even thinking about the Premiership yet, but I bet he is now. To survive, and having money to spend, he wants to avoid doing a Liverpool and buying them all at once. To ensure we go up and stay up he needs to start buying now. A forward here and now, a replacement for Bish not much later. Come the summer, he needs to draft in some competition of true quality in a few more areas. We must avoid losing cohesion by bringing in too many new and unfamiliar players at the same time.

And finally, a word for those still skeptical supporters who hate and mistrust Murdoch as much as me. Wardle & Makin hold 25%, and to gain control of the club, Murdoch would need to get over 30% of the club, and more of the club than them. I don’t see them bailing out on the cheap, but even if they were to throw their lot in, Lee has about 10%, small shareholders account for another 25%, making a useful buffer.

For one reason or another I have never got around to buying my handful of shares. I will now (once the price falls back a bit), and I suggest all others with concerns do the same. The next step will be a concerted effort to co-ordinate these small holders into one powerful body of opinion, more so than the existing Small Shareholders Assoc. to ensure the club remains forever independent.

Martin Beckett (


So we hear that BSkyB is thinking of investing £20 million in the club. As much as we all hate anything to do with the dirty Rag that he is, it’s a lot of money which we could certainly do with – although is that dirty money? Because of regulations he can only hold 10% of shares, but surely that will give him some say in the club’s running i.e. T.V. rights (the current contract runs out soon)? Should we make a stand and make it clear to the board that we don’t want to be seen as a bought vote or just take the money and run? Let’s face it, the chance of the rights being lost are slim.

I would just like to see what people think.

Derek Adams (


There we were merrily enjoying our position atop the 1st Division, happily concentrating our thoughts on the football rather than the politics of the club when the Sky deal comes along.

I hope I am not alone in thinking that BSkyB were bottom of our list for sources of new investment. This is the organisation who recently tried to buy the Rags, who pumped the Premiership full of money and subsequently made a list longer than my arm of clubs close to bankrupcy (including ourselves until recently). Which is why I don’t like them.

Apart from the fact that they are controlled by the hated Mr Murdoch. So what does this all mean? Sky wants to control a major English football club to give them even more control over the national game. They didn’t get their first choice, when suddenly one of the biggest clubs in the country is looking likely for a return to the top flight, is well supported, organised at board level and is moving to a tasty new ground in a few short years. A club which managed properly could be amongst the top 5 biggest clubs.

Buying into City makes sense for them. And we were desperate for some investent. After all we’ve been looking for major investment for some time and no-one was biting. Our league position and board stability puts us in an excellent position for encouraging investment so why oh why did we plump for the first to come along?

Indirectly Sky has done a lot to damage our club so I fail to see why we should jump into bed with them now. Are we so arrogant and quick to forget the struggles of lower league football? Everyone used to have a soft spot for City during the bad years; we could now become the most hated club in the country bar one. I don’t believe this is a direction we should be heading in. Manchester will be viewed as a cauldron of evil by the rest of the footballing country, is this what we want? Despite all our problems our club has never dumped on the rest on English football, until now, and it would appear the most loyal fans in the league will be party to this, what can we do?

Gareth Thomas (


Is there anybody out there who can possibly tell me what Joe Royle sees in Gareth Taylor? This man has no passion, no drive, no skill, no pace, can’t shoot and is 99% of the time dire. What in the world made Joe Royle shell out £500,000 for him at the same time we were struggling to find £1 million for Cooke? He fails to grasp even the most basic footballing law; if a winger is running down the line, play the ball in front of, not behind him. I am not usually an opinionated person but I feel that I just had to mention that.

Apart from Taylor the team’s looking good at the moment. Kennedy must have some sort of radar in his boots – are his crosses ever not perfect? I’d like to see Cooke get a chance but he has to earn it.

Anyway, up the Blues. See you in the big time next August. If you see something in Taylor I don’t, let me know.

David Norcross (


Happened to catch the Viking Stavanger vs. Werder Bremen game (2-2 so Werder Bremen win on away goals) on Eurosport on Thursday night. Mr Dadason, the striker linked with us looked pretty good. Tall and fast and good in the air – he terrorised the Bremen defence all night. Should be interesting to see if Joe Royle does go for him.

Richard Mottershead (


I can’t say much about Peacock’s performances. He is quality and puts more in the back of the net (or at least on target) than our current strikers do. Besides we are now in the top goal scorers’ chart with a striker that hasn’t even played for our first team. I can see him playing alongside Shaun Goater and I think they will make a reasonably good partnership. Whether he is Premiership material though is questionable. I expect to see about 35 to 45 goals coming from the two of them.

Ian Ramsbottom (


Somebody, anybody… we must find a chant for Mark Kennedy. I’ve just got back from the Portsmouth match and he’s done it again and the whole ground is aching to salute him and, yes, we cheer and applaud but we need a chant for the lad – he wants to hear his name ringing around the ground like Weaver’s does when he does his stuff. Kennedy earns his applause with the finest wing play we’ve seen in decades, he deserves the accolade of hearing 30.000 sing his name and you can feel the crowd yearning to do it. There’s a song out there somewhere with Mark Kennedy’s name on it, but what is it?

The best I can offer is the following which is sung to the tune of Ken Dodd’s ‘Happiness’

Kennedy Oh Kennedy
The greatest winger you’ll ever see
He plays on the left for Man City
Kennedy Oh Kennedy

Come on you poets and punsters – we’ve got the best ‘crack’ on the terraces of all the teams in all the divisions. Surely we can come up with something and how he deserves it – what a performance – what a player!

Rick Eagles – City ’til I find a word that rhymes with Kennedy [how aboutremedy? Martin] (


Something has changed with my beloved team.

When once they used to give up after falling behind – they now step up a gear, never give up, and rarely lose (even though they do need a good talking to at half time).

When once they were guaranteed to lose against a team near, or at, the bottom of the league (when they were near, or at, the top) – they now win (again, even though they do need a good talking to at half time).

When once the term ‘Manager of the Month’ had a whole new meaning they now have a manager who’s ‘Manager of the Month’.

Looking back where we were only a year ago makes me realise how far we’ve come in such a short time – and this really makes me feel good. Remember November and December prior to Christmas last year? We’d stopped conceding goals but weren’t scoring any either – this culminated in the 0-0 draw against Bristol Rovers (when watching ‘grass grow’ and ‘paint dry’ were more pleasurable activities).

It’s great isn’t it! I just hope that our other trick of going through a bad-patch after the award of the ‘Manager of the Month’ trophy does not come to pass. I guess we’ll find out over the next few games.

Richard Mottershead (


I have to agree with Elaine Clegg on her first point (Another Thing, MCIVTA 550). I have supported City for 30 years (yes I’m that old), since I joined the RAF in 1969. A Mancunian friend of mine in the RAF said “come and see a real team playing football this weekend”, so I did, and was hooked immediately.

I was born in Gosport, Hants (between Portsmouth & Southampton for the geographically challenged) so I was a Pompey fan until I watched City make them look like part of a Sunday pub league (God, City were awsome in those days). But like Elaine, I watch City playing naff football and snatching 3 points and I think that teams should fear us ’cause I have friends who support Bolton, Sheffield, Crystal Palace and Tranmere and they’ve all said things along the same lines: “Sh*t we’re playing your lot this week, do they ever lose?” to which I reply I hope not (I wear my Man City scarf with pride to work). So like Elaine I think fear has a lot to do with winning. Even though a lot of our fans (can I call them that?) think we are crap, we still manage to grasp 3 points, which is the main point of playing. I think JR is doing a marvellous job for us. I, like many City fans, thought he made a mistake getting rid of Gio but the results show diffferent.

Patrick Alexander (


In all my years watching City (I’m 54) I probably invented the ‘Pessimistic Blue’. Watching Bobby Johnstone’s fabulous diving header from the corner of the penalty box in the ’55 cup final, and Don Revie’s finest hour (superceded by Bert Trautmann’s fabulous last half hour) a year later. And the next season (I think; the anoraks will put me right) watching City in the (4th?) round replay against Newcastle toss it away in extra time having the match won to a Jimmy Scouler inspired Newcastle (5-4 I think).

Such highs for a 10/11 year old. Then of course came Ray Sambrook; better than Pele on his day, worse than Nigel Clough usually. I think it was 1959 or thereabouts (tell me anoraks) we score 104 and let in 100! 204 goals in 42 matches; it was helter skelter.

Now for the pessimistic Blue bit. In all my 54 years I have never truly believed it would last (not even after St. James’ Park 1968… and yes I still have some of the turf). Malcom Allison puffing his big cigar and tellng the press we were going to ‘terrify Europe’ (look up the archives, that was the headline) and this was Gentleman Joe’s finest hour.

Mr Alexander quietly pushed to one side by Swales, White and the rest of the scrap metal mafia (’nuff said you older City fans?). Always building you up to let you down.

My name is Jack, born in Hulme in 1945, one mile from Maine Road, a mile and a half from Old Trafford. Dad took me to Old Trafford one week and Maine Road the next. I don’t hate United; if City can’t win it I hope United do it. Sorry I’m old fashioned. I was brought up by a gentleman; he didn’t even tell me he was a Red until I was 11.

Even when when we moved to Wythenshawe he still tried to take me even though he was crippled by the war. He taught me fair play and quote “if you are only going to watch City then only pay half the admission at the gate” (if you don’t know what he meant you will never be a person).

And always the let down. Going to Carlisle in the pouring rain (around September ’66), the start of a great joy-ride, I was on the same train as the players (no Ferraris then lads) and making friends with Dave Connor (anyone know where he is by the way e-mail me). Anyone remember the year before – 1965 – Plymouth away? The pitch covered in snow and the ref saying ‘No Chance’ at 8.00 am and us City fans clearing it by hand, and oh the stick we gave big Malc (he was Plymouth manager then) in his big floppy hat?

Glorious, wonderful days. Me and Smiler getting turned over at a party in London and still getting to The Prater Stadium in ’70.

And always the pessimism. It won’t last; for a few years it did. From the 6th round at Leeds in ’67 when they won by a fluke and City murdered them when Joe stopped playng Tony Book as a sweeper and told the lads to defend in their penalty area.

Almost all the way through the seventies we were a match for the best. And still the pessimism.

No more, Gentlemen, no more. No more pessimism. As this naff bast*rd once had on his crash-helmet, ‘No wucking furries’ The day Mr Bernstein agreed the deal to leave Maine Road for Clayton (it isn’t ‘Eastlands’ by the way, that’s some tw*t’s idea of a cool name). Come to think of it, it’s at the junction of Beswick, Clayton, and Bradford; about 1000 yards from where United first started.

Pessimism is all gone. They build you up let you down yes? Not now. The curse has been exorcised (read between the lines above). We win without a forward line. We have heroes again (You as good as Swiftie Nick? You as good as ‘They shall not pass’ Ewing Mr Morrison? And will you stop dropping those crosses Mark, Becks has nothing to go to Lourdes for!). Soon we will have forwards who score goals. I’m no longer a pessimist. I have the utmost faith in Joe (even though he doesn’t rate Michael Brown) and Mr Bernstein. Roll on the derby next September!

Sorry for rambling.

Jack Millington (


Ticket allocation 2,116? I know this is highly unlikely but has anyone got a couple of spare tickets for the Charlton away game? I’ve spent the entire day at work, trying to get through to the Kent part-timers ticket line only to find that they’d sold out by the time I managed to get through at 16:00.

Sort it out Charlton, put some temporary stands up.

City Till I Die from repetitive strain injuries caused by redialling, Rick Slater (


If anybody is lucky enough to have a spare ticket for the game at Charlton on 20/11/99 I would be more than happy to buy it and I am prepared to pay more than face value if necessary.

I can be contacted on 0171 214 7050 during the day or 01245 491938 in the evenings after 9.00pm.

Andy Howell (


There have been ongoing rumours regarding the sale of tickets for the away fixture at Fulham, and in particular, the number of tickets returned by Manchester City. The numbers being talked about are entirely without foundation, and I would like to take the opportunity to state the facts of the situation.

I have spoken to Sandra Cole, the Ticket Office Manager at Fulham who confirmed “Manchester City were sent the standard away allocation of 500 seats and 2,000 standing tickets, and returned 237 standing tickets unsold”.

Tickets went on sale from Saturday 17th July to Regular Season Ticket holders who had a stub from the Bristol Rovers away game last season. Subsequent to this, tickets were sold to Regular Season Ticket holders with a diminishing number of stubs eventually reaching Regulars with no stubs. Further to this tickets were sold through the season ticket statuses and eventually went on open sale.

Nathan Gould, Customer Liaison Officer, Manchester City Ticket Office (


Bluenews website updated on 7 November.

  • Manchester City vs. Portsmouth match report.
  • Manchester City vs. Portsmouth Programme cover.
  • Latest performance figures following the QPR game.

Access the site at


Someone who I work with has a team poster from the 1977-78 season signed including the likes of our manager Joe Royle, Willie Donachie, Tony Book, Colin Bell etc. If anyone is prepared to make an offer on it, then contact me at

Darren Clark (


Not trying to take any money from the club :>) , but I have created a home made JPEG image which when printed and stuck back to back makes an excellent car pennant.

I anyone wants a copy, they could e-mail me and I would be pleased to send it to them, irrespective of numbers.

I am a fan (perhaps the email adress gives that away) and not after people’s email addresses for any reason.

Anon (


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The views expressed in MCIVTA are entirely those of the subscribersand there is no intention to represent these opinions as being thoseof Manchester City Football Club, nor of any of the companies anduniversities by whom the subscribers are employed. It is not inany way whatsoever connected to the club or any other relatedorganisation and is simply a group of supporters using this mediumas a means of disseminating news and exchanging opinions.

[Valid3.2]Martin Freeman,

Newsletter #551