Newsletter #563

Back to winning ways, but unfortunately not very convincingly. ‘Twas fortunate for us that Swindon looked like they were fielding their under-16 side, and they played accordingly. If this game had taken place earlier in the season then we really could have seen a record score. What we did see was Bob Taylor getting off the mark, and a timely reminder of how complacent we’ve become about our goalkeeping wunderkind. Although Wright really didn’t have a save to make, his kicking was as dreadful as I can remember seeing, and at one point, I did wonder whether the wayward Swindon shooting was a clever tactic to make Tommy take more goal kicks. The game was over as a context early in the second half, and the Blues just contented themselves passing the ball around without ever looking dangerous. The crowd soon became tired of this and decided to entertain themselves with some memorable taunting of the Kippax by the North Stand, and vice versa. My favourite has to be (from the Kippax), “You’re only sat in the cheap seats, sat in the cheap seats…”.

We have three match reports, some well-reasoned opinion on BSkyB, an excellent Beckham joke, and a lovely Why Blue.

This one reaches 3,008.

Next game: WBA away, Sunday 26th December 1999


City Stop Losing League Run

City kept up the pressure on leaders Huddersfield by beating Division One’s bottom club Swindon Town 3-0 at Maine Road on Saturday. Jamie Pollock scored the Blues’ opener after 29 minutes before second half goals from Robert Taylor and Shaun Goater gave the scoreline a comfortable look. Although never really hitting top gear, the City display was easily good enough to see off the struggling Wiltshire outfit. Apart from one long-range effort which struck an upright, the Robins hardly troubled the Blues’ stand-in ‘keeper Tommy Wright. At the other end, Swindon goalkeeper Frank Talia contributed to his side’s downfall, and was arguably at fault for each of the Blues’ first two goals. First, he failed to hold Mark Kennedy’s shot allowing Pollock to grab his second of the season, and for the crucial second City goal, the hapless ex-Maine Road trailist allowed Taylor’s shot to squirm under his body. The Blues are still in second place, a point behind Huddersfield, after the Yorkshire side beat Grimsby 3-1.

Taylor Off Mark to Ease the Pressure

Manager Joe Royle was delighted after Robert Taylor opened his City goalscoring account against Swindon on Saturday. Taylor scored a crucial second goal for the Blues two minutes into the second half, effectively ending the game as a contest. And the City boss was unconcerned that the recent signing’s strike owed much to an error by Swindon goalkeeper Frank Talia. “It was not the greatest goal that’s ever been scored but I don’t suppose that will worry Robert,” he said. “He will score more goals and could have had four or five in the three games he’s played so far. The key to him is his fitness and there’s a lot more to come on that front from him but his link play has been outstanding so far.” Meanwhile, the player himself told the club’s official website at that he pays no attention to press comment so was oblivious to newspaper stories about his failure to find the net since his big money move. “I don’t read the paper and I don’t listen to nobody,” he said. “I concentrate on my own game, people are entitled to their own opinions, but I am just here to do well for Manchester City Football Club.”

Transfer Speculation Round-Up

Recent transfer speculation has seen the Blues linked with moves to bring in three different players, even though only reserve full-back Alan Reilly has left Maine Road since Joe Royle asserted the need to trim the Maine Road senior squad. Two of the links are old stories which have resurfaced after doing the rounds earlier in the season. First Grimsby forward Jack Lester and then Everton midfielder Tony Grant became the focus of speculation before on Sunday, a new name was mentioned. Some of the weekend’s papers claimed that City are running the rule over Mark McGregor, a striker with non-league Forest Green Rovers.

Royle Admits Grant Interest

At least one of the three recent stories seems to have a grain of truth, with Joe Royle on Saturday admitting an interest in Tony Grant. However, although some reports stated that a deal to bring the 25-year-old midfielder to Maine Road may be imminent, the City manager’s comments contained nothing to support this claim. Expressing his irritation that the news had leaked out, Royle conceded he’d had a “dialogue” with Goodison counterpart Walter Smith, “but nothing more than that.” The skilful Liverpool-born midfielder has been linked with the Blues on several occasions since last summer having reportedly impressed the City boss during Royle’s spell in charge at Everton. Grant has played in 61 league games for the Toffees, scoring twice, and has also had loan spells at Swindon and this season at Tranmere.

Brown in Blades Loan Switch

Michael Brown has joined Sheffield United on a month’s loan. The out-of-favour City midfielder ended his temporary spell at Portsmouth earlier in the week before the expiry of his one-month arrangement. Brown figured for the Blades as they beat Blackburn in a televised clash on Sunday. There’s no word yet as to whether the cash-strapped Yorkshire club have any intention of making a bid for the player should he impress at Bramall Lane. However, United have indicated a willingness to sell top scorer Martin Smith for £1.2 million. If Blades’ boss Neil Warnock finds a buyer, the deal could give him the funds to buy Brown. The Hartlepool-born midfielder starred for his new temporary employers on Sunday, but he didn’t leave such a good impression at his previous port of call. “Brown didn’t want to play in our reserve team but said he would play against Port Vale this weekend,” raged Pompey caretaker boss Bob McNab. “I am not interested in people like that, we don’t want a prima donna telling us what he wants to do.”

Russell Earns Tannadice Trial

Unwanted City striker Craig Russell is on trial at Dundee United. Russell, whose loan to Darlington didn’t become a permanent deal for financial reasons, is bidding to replace recently-sold Scotland international Billy Dodds on Tayside. Joe Royle recently confirmed that the former Sunderland man will be allowed to leave Maine Road on a free transfer.

Duo Bid for Christmas Recovery

City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver and winger Mark Kennedy are both hoping to have recovered fully from ‘flu in time for the Blues’ Boxing Day visit to West Bromwich Albion. The illness forced Weaver to miss his first match of the season against Swindon on Saturday, while the suffering Kennedy was substituted early in the second half. Meanwhile, City could be playing the West Midlands side at the best time, as Albion are currently in something of a traumatic period. Chairman Tony Hale resigned on Friday, while manager Brian Little is understood to be considering his position after the club failed to consult him over the £2.5 million sale to Sunderland of Irish international Kevin Kilbane.

Horlock to Serve Christmas Ban

Kevin Horlock will be missing from the City line-up for the Boxing Day trip to West Bromwich Albion. The Northern Ireland international picked up his fifth booking of the season at Chester last week and will serve an automatic one-match ban as the Blues visit The Hawthorns. Horlock, who faced his former club Swindon in Saturday’s Maine Road encounter, has missed only one league match all season – at Port Vale at the end of October. On that occasion, it was another suspension which caused the midfielder’s absence following his dismissal at Tranmere a fortnight earlier. Horlock is the Blues’ second top scorer this season, having notched six league goals to add to his League Cup penalty against Burnley.

City Await Tskhadadze Verdict

The Blues are waiting for a specialist to deliver a verdict on how long Kakhabar Tskhadadze’s injured knee will keep the Georgian sidelined. However, it seems certain that the broken kneecap sustained by the player this week will dash any hopes he may have had of returning this season. “We’ll have to see what the specialist says,” reflected manager Joe Royle, “but we all feel deeply sorry for the lad. He’s had nothing but bad luck over recent times and it was horrible to see him in such agony like that.” Before suffering his serious cruciate ligament injury in August 1998 Tskhadadze had won the City boss over after initially being transfer-listed shortly after Royle arrived at Maine Road. However, the injury traumas which have ruined his last two seasons intervened just when the player looked like building himself a successful career at the club.

Bishop’s Surprise Career Move

City’s Ian Bishop featured on local TV news programme Granada Tonight last Thursday after producing a children’s book based around a fictitious football team named Forest Rangers. And the midfielder’s effort could be the first title in a series of ten. Bishop says he had the idea for the sideline when reading stories to his own youngsters – and he uses a football theme to provide added appeal for both parents and their children. “I thought writing about football would make it interesting for the parents as well as the kids,” said the ex-West Ham player. “It’s fun writing and it gives me something to do away from football.” It appears from the 34-year-old’s comments that he’s likely to pursue writing rather than football management as a career when his playing days end. “It also gives me the chance to be a manager of a team, probably the only chance I’ll ever get to do that,” he commented.

Late News – Liverpool Echo Reports “Official” City Grant Bid

The Liverpool Daily Post and Echo website has reported this Monday evening that the Blues have made an “official” bid for Everton’s Tony Grant and “are ready to pursue a deal worth £500,000, based on appearances”.

Peter Brophy (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. SWINDON TOWN, Saturday 18th December 1999

The last trip of the century to Maine Road for a part of the newly established Beverley and District CSA (30% of us anyway, I suspect our season ticket holders were there under their own steam) didn’t start too well, with traffic delays on the way out of East Yorkshire meaning the pre-match shopping binge in the club shop had to be delayed until after the game. An indifferent pie and chips from the ‘under new ownership’ City Chippy (apparently the sausages are a better bet), no time for a beer, and off to the North Stand for a change, via a Chips’n’Gravy seller (issue 9’s a very amusing read). This was a special occasion for Chris, a not-so-closet Raglet that Mark and Annette rather puzzlingly produced 11 years ago. Mark had made the ultimate sacrifice and taken his son to the Swamp earlier this season for his birthday, and the deal was that Chris should some along to the Academy (minus anything remotely red in colour) and be part of a crowd with real atmosphere. There’s still time for him to be lured away from the dark side of the Force and maybe he’ll be one of those ‘I’ve seen the light’ Why Blues in years to come. We got into position, well placed behind the goal to hopefully witness a return to something like the form prior to our recent bad run. The ground looked to be pretty full – attendance 31,751 in the end – and as I’d anticipated from watching from other parts of the ground in previous visits, the North Stand was a very noisy and boisterous place to spend the afternoon.

We set off looking like we meant business and Super Bob Taylor went close in the first minute, followed shortly afterwards by Bish, losing his man and looping a shot onto the bar with the vertically-challenged (and mentally judging by the length of time he took to fasten his laces at one point) Swindon ‘keeper beaten. However, it was to be almost half an hour before we finally got the breakthrough. A Kennedy corner was knocked back out to him, and he fired it back into the crowded box and slimline Jamie just beat Kevin Horlock to score from about 24 inches, and boy did he look like he enjoyed it from the salute he gave the North Stand. It was the only bright spot in a rather lacklustre first half. Swindon had been playing it around reasonably well themselves, and forced Tommy Wright Wright Wright into a save (or did it miss him and hit the post?) but looked there for the taking at the back. So the Blues went off at half time to a rather muted reception from the crowd. Young Chris had to be forcibly muffled when the half time score in the U****d game was flashed up.

Of course the snag with being behind the goal is that my vision’s not up to picking out the finer details when the action is at the other end as we hoped it would be in the second half. As a result, I can’t really comment on Super Bob’s first goal for us, other than to say it was a shot from some distance that squirmed under Talia and into the net within 2 minutes of the restart. Bob will score better goals for us but they all count and it was just what we needed to settle things down. A few minutes later and it was all over at 3-0, as Shaun Goater shrugged off a couple of challenges to beat the ‘keeper with relative ease; he went off more or less straight away with an ankle injury (Peacock substituted). There wasn’t much else to report on the pitch, although the early leavers will have missed the lovely move from Bish in injury time, as he turned his marker and swept a 30 yard pass out to the wing (but to no avail). The North Stand amused its collective self with a bit of taunting of the Kippax – ‘you’re not famous anymore’ being amongst the cleaner ones – who reciprocated though less audibly. Both stands then encourage the Platt Lane who responded after a delay, but when the Main Stand had their turn, they maintained the look of a meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in those old Soviet TV pictures we used to see, with perhaps a few restrained waves to break the seated rows. It was all good natured, though given the number of kids I saw around us in the North Stand I think the language is a bit over the top. Tone it down folks!

Overall assessment, Tommy W had little to do but keep warm and wave to the crowd occasionally; his kicking still gives me the shivers. Danny G has doubtless had better games, but he seemed a bit out of sorts today, and Edgy was a bit wayward too. Ged W and Jobbo dealt with most things comfortably though occasionally looked a little flat footed. Mark K was out of sorts and substituted just after half time (Joe Royle said afterwards he’d been borderline to start and had gone straight to bed after the game as he looked white) by Danny Tiatto who stirred things up down the left, whipped in a few good crosses and can generally be pleased with his contribution. Super Kev and Bish didn’t really shine for me today, but slimline Jamie ran and chased like a man possessed (was lucky not to get booked for one late challenge that fortunately didn’t connect). Aside from his goal, Shaun had an OK game, doing his fair share of running. Super Bob is never going to be the fastest member of the team, but with a bit of work on his fitness (as JR hinted on GMR after the game) he’ll get better; he got into some good positions, set up Edgy(?) I think with a neat back heel in the first half, and generally let the defence know he was there. I’d agree (based on what I’ve read) with JR when he said afterwards that we’d not played any better than in the last few games yet won today. We’ve now got 45 points – almost safe from relegation(!) – and stopped the rot. The other results could have gone better for us but at lease Charlton only got a point at QPR. We’ll come good again but there’s still along way to go. What a difference 12 months makes – we lost 2-1 at York on the same weekend last year. Oh, and by the way, young Chris said he’d enjoyed it – maybe there’s hope for him yet.

May all your Christmases be Blue.

CTID, Geoff Donkin (Geoff@Donkin.Freeserve.Co.UK)


MANCHESTER CITY vs. SWINDON TOWN, Saturday 18th December 1999

On a bitterly cold Christmas shopping day, just under 32,000 of us saw us get our results back on track. Results yes, performance no. The seagull was back, dangling precariously from the Kippax roof. Real relevance here; I’ll tell you later if you don’t already know. Weaver was out with ‘flu, so we welcomed back Tommy Wright in goal for the first time in ages. I must admit I’d forgotten how bad his kicking was – he reminded me quite soon! Seriously, it makes you realise just how good Weaver is. Wright, although an experienced international is very much from the old school of keeping; rooted to his line, hates kicking, doesn’t dominate his area. I wish Tommy all the best but I hope I don’t see him on the pitch again other than the warm up! Robert Taylor replaced Peacock, who dropped to the bench together with a recalled Cooke, otherwise it was the same team who started against Chester.

Within the first 30 seconds it was clear that Swindon are bottom of the table on merit. From their kick-off, Taylor robbed the full back and sent a shot wide. From the resultant goal kick, Frank Talia (had a trial with us a couple of years ago!) kicked the ball to us. Taylor again had a shot, this time on target, but deflected for a corner. Soon after, Bish jinked through the defence and chipped onto the bar when really he should have scored. Despite this seeming domination, we certainly did not dominate. Passes were going astray, tackles weren’t being made and the team looked suprisingly nervous. The exceptions to this were Pollock, playing on the right, and Goater. Pollock did his best to drive everyone forward and didn’t mind getting stuck in. Likewise, Goater’s commitment was encapsulated in one move where Swindon were making pretty passes in our half, with not one of our midfielders or defenders going near the ball. Shaun chased the ball around several players, eventually winning the ball in Swindon’s half. Good man!

Our first goal came on the half hour, Kennedy (bedecked in gloves, and obviously not well) made his only contribution to the game when his shot was parried by the unfortunate Talia into the path of Pollock, who scored from, ooh at least 3 feet! Still we didn’t exert our authority and soon after, Swindon hit the post with Wright well beaten. Soon after half time SBT got his first goal for the club. A one-two with Goater and Bob unleashed a well hit shot. Even so, Talia had it covered but somehow allowed the ball to squirm under his body for one of SBT’s less spectacular efforts. It was good to see the other players celebrate Bob’s first goal. As for Talia, read Taibi, although not quite as bad! A very impressive Tiatto replaced the flu-ridden Kennedy and instantly our left side looked far more effective. Still we didn’t dominate, and although Swindon were falling over the ball, slicing clearances and performing any number of comedy capers, they still flashed 2 or 3 crosses across the face of our goal and had a one on one with Wright, although as expected by that time, their player shot hopelessly over the bar. Goater got the third, again following good link-up play with Taylor, Talia saving the initial effort but this time probably unluckily (from his viewpoint) the rebound went straight to Shaun who stroked the ball in from 18 yards.

With 20 minutes to go, any thoughts of another 6-0 were banished (even though they were there for the taking), as it was obvious that the players probably had their minds on their Christmas do in Dublin. What followed, as you may have already heard, was another ‘City Moment’, with the fans again proving that we’re quite capable of making our own entertainment. The North Stand and the Kippax (my home) goaded each other with songs such as “you’ll never take the Kippax”, “Where were you when we were sh!t”, “Where are you when we play Leeds” and (slightly below the belt) “You’re just a stand full of M*****’s!” and many more ribticklers! Of course, so as not to be left out, the Main Stand and Platt Lane were also ‘invited’ to join in. Swindon fans must have been very confused, so we gave them a “You should have gone Christmas shopping…” so they didn’t feel left out! Seriously, this was without doubt the highlight of the match!

So, reluctantly, back to the football. Swindon were the poorest side I can remember seeing at Maine Road, since we were so bad! If we had been playing as we had earlier in the season, a record scoreline could well have been achieved. But we are not playing like we we were a few weeks ago and, if we had been playing a ‘form’ team, we might have been on the end of a fourth league defeat. Our fixture list looks like it might be quite beneficial to us at the moment, with Grimsby, West Brom and Crewe all currently struggling. I’m hopeful that like today, we have enough in our locker to get us through these 3 matches unscathed. A (probably) glorious defeat against Leeds, might get us firing on all cylinders again, in time for the returns against Fulham, Sheff Utd, Huddersfield et al. The seagull was not there during the games against Huddersfield and Stockport, it returned today. If you ever see that it’s missing before the game starts, tell the nearest steward to delay kick-off until it’s found!

Phil Hartley (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. SWINDON TOWN, Saturday 18th December 1999

Ah, almost what I’d asked for for Christmas, I’m happy now – thanks Father Joe, if you can’t manage 6 goals as I’d asked for then I’ll be more than happy with 3. The big team news was Weaver being replaced by Tommy Wright as Nick hadn’t recovered from flu – Kennedy was also doubtful but apparently asked to play so Joe let him. We knew already that he was in the team as we’d peered through the grimy barred windows of the school behind the Kippax to have a nosey at them all warming up beforehand and Kennedy was in there messing about with Kevin Horlock, as usual (by the way my mum reckons Bob Taylor’s got lovely legs). Pollock continued in midfield with Goater and Super Bob (or should that be Big Fat Bob?) up front. The full team was therefore Wright, Edghill, Granville, Wiekens, Jobson, Bishop, Pollock, Horlock, Kennedy, Goater and Taylor. Peacock, McKinney, Cooke, Tiatto and Whitley were the subs. Swindon had no-one I’d ever heard of apart from some ropey defender who used to play for Wimbledon, and Ty Gooden who apparently scores goals. Oh yeah? Don’t know how.

Swindon started off as if they were still stuck on the M6 waiting to get to the ground. City were all over them in the first few minutes without ever seeming to get out of first gear themselves (or reverse in some cases). Taylor had two good chances to break his duck in the first minute as his sheer physical size and strength caused problems for the Swindon team, and Bishop hit the bar after rounding about 6 Swindon players and the ‘keeper. Pollock was chasing about well and winning things in midfield, which sadly he had to do far too often as the rest of the midfield kept giving the ball away. Kennedy wasn’t really in the game as no-one was passing to him – must have felt sorry for him for being ill – but it was from him that the first goal finally came. A corner from the left in front of the North Stand was pushed back out to him and he put a low, rasping drive into the box. Apparently the ‘keeper parried it (there were too many bodies in the way for me to see!) but it only came out as far as Pollock who calmly slotted it home, then went berserk in front of the North Stand. He deserved a goal – if for nothing else then for not clobbering the bloke who’d sliced through his legs in front of the Kippax. The old (fat) Jamie Pollock would have hit him back and been sent off, then we’d probably have gone on to lose. Ah, the good old days when we were rubbish, how I miss them.

We should have scored several more before half time but didn’t – mainly because we kept giving the ball away. Wright was a bit iffy in net – he got a huge cheer when one of his kicks reached the half way line and it was from a ball that should have been cleared well before that Swindon hit the post. Phew. I think we’ve been a bit spoilt having Weaver in goal recently as we’ve forgotten what it’s like to have a ‘keeper who can’t actually play football. You just know when the ball is kicked back to Weaver by a defender that even though someone’s running in on him he’ll clear the ball into safety (unless we’re playing Stockport that is) – Wright just didn’t fill me with the same confidence. Still he kept a clean sheet so I won’t be too harsh on him – I was just glad we were playing Swindon and not anyone good…

But I digress. Just after half time we went 2 up with one of those great goals that they’ll be showing on Auntie’s Sporting Bloomers in future years. A lovely ball through the defence from Goater found Bob Taylor who’d run into acres of space then let fly with one of the weakest shots of the day. Moonchester kicks the ball considerably harder and that’s with his size 30 foam filled boots. Anyway the ‘keeper bent down, saved the shot then seemed to trip over his own shoelaces and the ball rolled agonisingly into the net. Agonisingly for him that is, it gave us one of the biggest laughs of the day. Kennedy was subbed for Tiatto who showed some Gio-like touches down the left wing – who taught him how to play football? As someone in front pointed out it was just like having Gio back as the other ten on the pitch stood and watched… ah well. Just before the hour we scored our third – Taylor this time set Goater up and after having his first shot half saved / cleared he had another go and scored. Good persistence from the Goat here, following up his first shot, but then the man is simply awesome at the moment. He hurt himself in the process though so was subbed a few minutes later for Peacock, and had a standing ovation as he left the field. Nice.

That was about it for the game really. Swindon (apart from hitting the post in the first half) never threatened and it was an easy win for City. We didn’t look that good but then we didn’t need to – this was one of the most one-sided games I’ve seen for a long time. I don’t think many people watched much of the last 15 minutes as the banter that was going on between the North Stand and the Kippax was far more enjoyable. As was watching the group of lads to my left merrily singing Christmas carols for the last 5 minutes. The Swindon fans tucked away in the Gene Kelly must have wondered what on earth was going on.

So, we’re second at Christmas, just 1 point behind the leaders and several points clear of 7th place. Even I now accept that we probably won’t be relegated this year. Who would have seriously thought – hoped – even dreamed at the start of the season that we would be in this position now? Thanks Joe et al and Merry Christmas.

Sharon Hargreaves (


This was a game we couldn’t and wouldn’t lose but after going 1-0 up we began to show our defensive frailties again. With some indecisive passing and weak defending we almost allowed the bottom club to get back into the game. Hurry back Andy. On a positive note, Shaun ran his heart out, Robert bagged his first of many and Danny Tiatto, on as sub for the unwell Mark Kennedy, brought back memories of Gio with his darting runs at the Swindon defence. And he even had time to take the p*** with five of their players. His pace would trouble the Leeds defence if he played up front as cover for Robert (hint, hint).

Jamie worked hard, and he looks a better player now he’s lost weight. Richard Edghill still seems to be suffering with his sore throat’ (I assume that’s why he’s not shouting). 3-0 is a good win and it was good to get back to winning ways. P.S. The banter between the Kippax and the North Stand was first class. It could only happen with the greatest fans in the world.

Merry Xmas, Gary Sullivan (


My mate Rotherham Steve was selling fanzines at Rotherham – Darlington last Saturday when he encountered a Darlo fan. On my behalf, he enquired of Craig Russell, a player who most of us have a bit of sympathy for. According to this guy, Russell was strictly a one trick pony. Having watched him for three months, all he could do was run on to a diagonal throughball from midfield. Definitely not upto the rigours of Division 3. Oh and apparently he was on £6k per week of which we were still paying £4k. All allegedly of course.

Andy Noise (


One of my first thoughts when I heard the score was “Good, another clean sheet for Weaver, that will get his confidence flowing back”. But then I realised Nicky didn’t play. So a minor tribute to Tommy Wright this week, who’s been so patient and professional over the last year or so as Weaver’s rise has eclipsed him.

S  tand-in
W  right
I  nspired
N  iggardly
D  efence
O  ffering
N  othing.    Will Weaver -
T  ake the goalkeeping place back
O  ff
W  right
N  ow?

Steve Maclean (


We got a better than expected turn out for the first meeting on 6th December, with 10 people showing up and hints of other who couldn’t make it that time (notes on the meeting should be en route to attendees before Christmas). Thanks for the support.

We’d arranged to meet again on 10th January, but with the FA Cup match being shown live on TV on the 9th it’s been suggested that we ought to combine the two. So the next meeting will be from 1.30 onwards on Sunday 9th January in the Beaver, 8 North Bar Within Tel. 01482 862160, the meeting business to be dealt with after the match (assuming we’ve recovered from the excitement!). For those of you who know Beverley it’s just off the Saturday Market place (handy for parking as there’s no parking space at the pub itself) but if anyone needs more precise directions please get in touch. New faces very welcome!

Geoff Donkin – Beverley Blue (Geoff@Donkin.Freeserve.Co.UK)


Anyone know how many tickets away fans will get?

Jeremy Poynton (


Kieran Casey’s research on City’s record in front of the cameras was interesting but inconclusive. In order to conclude that we can’t play in front of the cameras, wouldn’t you have to compare the 13/59 rate of filmed success with our overall rate of success for unfilmed games? It may be that our rate of victories since 1984 for unfilmed games is no better than 13 wins for every 59 played. Anyone care to do the research or take a guess?

Jonathan Fink, Silver Spring, Maryland, US (


Just read the article in the most recent MCIVTA (562) concerning the last senior game in the United Kingdom of the century.

Unfortunately the article is incorrect as the ‘Big Two’ – Linfield and Glentoran – from the (Northern Ireland) Irish Premier League will be meeting on the 31st December at The Oval, home of Glentoran, in a cup competition.

This game would therefore be the last senior game in the UK before the new millennium.

Jim Doran (


Local radio down here in Portsmiff land claims Michael Brown’s loan period ended early because he refused to play in a reserve team game on Tuesday night. Don’t blo*dy blame him. It was freezing down here so why should he risk life and limb playing for Pompey reserves against, probably, Much Binding In The Marsh Second XI, when he is the only class player they’ve got. Better to go back to Maine Road and say “Honest boss I’ll buckle down and stop drinking and play real football in a team that is (a) going in the right direction and (b) didn’t take two visits from the ginger capped wonder to realise what a useless manager he is (he won the World Cup you know)”.

The shirt has been firmly locked away for a number of days now, and although I can hear its pitiful wailing from the drawer, I expect a solid and winning performance against Swindon on Saturday. One caveat is that I had a request today from a U.S. colleague, who was in the Dominican Republic with me on business last week and saw the shirt, to buy one and send it to him. Not sure what effect that could have as I agreed and had a mental picture of the shirt as I said it.

Did you see the report on David Beckham? I quote.

“David Beckham escaped a near death experience whilst horse riding yesterday. Everything was fine until the horse started bouncing uncontrollably. He tried, with all his might, to hang on but was thrown off. With his foot caught in the stirrup, and Posh Spice watching powerlessly, he fell head first to the ground. His head continued to bounce on the ground as the horse did not stop or even slow down. Just as he was giving up hope and losing consciousness, the manager of the Woolworth store came out and unplugged it.”

And Finally.

A sincere Merry Christmas And Happy New Year to Ashley and the crew and the subscribers and readers of a brilliant ezine that is definitely a high spot twice a week.

David Kilroy (


Adam Brown’s article does raise serious questions. He might be a United fan but there are certain things that should unite fans regardless of the team involved and there is a very worrying silence about what Murdoch might or might not be up to. He has no links with the club and we need not worry City would be sold on if the price was right. Why do we have to pay thirty per cent of media rights to Sky? What particular media rights will be BSkyB be involved in – the major ones are all negotiated collectively by either the FA, the Premier League (in the past and soon, in the future) or the Nationwide League? A media-savvy executive employed by the club directly could do the job themselves at a fraction of the price.

Since the article was published, BSkyB have now bought a five per cent stake in Sunderland for £6.5 million. Similar terms to ours, BSkyB act as “media agent” and take thirty per cent as a cut, but as Adam notes, the terms as reported only restrict BSkyB negotiating rights on deals decided by the Premier League. If the PL went for say, ONDigital or one of the cable companies, there is nothing to stop BSkyB with the help of other shareholders forcing a vote to join a rival league.

I loathe the idea of BSkyB turning into a broadcasting gamekeeper as someone who works in radio. Remember when discussing “media rights” that BSkyB also owns a stake in Talk Radio (boss one Kelvin Mackenzie) – do you want the consistently excellent Five Live cut out of football broadcasting, before talks even begin?

Murdoch does not do things for charity, he does it to maximise profit as ruthlessly as possible. News Corp always exercises more influence than its shareholdings would imply and the fear is that even holding ten per cent stakes or less, with a majority of the Premier League clubs, he would control PL rights and much more forever. And remember he’s nearly halfway there already:

BSkyB: Man Utd, Leeds, Sunderland.

Possibly: Tottenham (Alan Sugar’s been up their ar*e for years).

Unlikely: Newcastle (NTL owned), Arsenal (linked with Carlton), Liverpool (Granada), West Ham (they loathe each other).

Not known: Leicester (boardroom battle – shares might be soon up for grabs), Wimbledon (similar), Chelsea, Everton, Coventry, Southampton, Derby, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough (always in need of money).

Going down anyway: Bradford, Sheff Wed, Watford.

And to come (we hope): City (BSkyB).

Why are no questions being asked before more sign up and queer the pitch for Murdoch?

Chris Egerton (


It was interesting to see the article written by Adam Brown about Sky’s stake in City. I don’t want to sound alarmist, but I hope things work out better than they did in rugby league in Australia over the last few years. Before you switch off, this isn’t about rugby league; it’s about Murdoch and sport.

Five or six years ago the Australian Rugby League (ARL) was chugging along much as it always had done. All of a sudden there were grumblings of discontent amongst some clubs just as pay-TV was about to be introduced. The rights were to be given to pay-TV provider named Optus. Suddenly a significant minority of clubs declared that they were going to form Superleague and split from the ARL. News Ltd threw bucket-loads of cash at these clubs and their players and secretly brokered the formation of the new competition. And, of course, it was to be shown exclusively on Foxtel (the Aussie version of Sky), while the ARL stayed with Optus. The ARL started legal proceedings and, initially, the Federal Court decided that Superleague had broken the Trade Practices Act and described their negotiation tactics as secretive and “warlike”. But people who carry big sticks (i.e. legal depts) don’t often lose in the long run and further decisions saw two competitions running concurrently. The ARL competition had the majority of teams from the traditional league and Superleague padded out their league with made-up teams like the Newcastle Mariners and the Adelaide Rams. They also used games against European Superleague teams to boost their credentials. Audiences found out there is a very wide gap between the Brisbane Broncos and the London Broncos.

The split couldn’t last and the two competitions merged with a few clubs from both leagues folding like the paper tigers that they obviously were. A National Rugby League was formed with pay-TV rights being split and an agreement that the competition would be reduced to 14 teams by 2000. The last two years have seen six ARL clubs merge into three. South Sydney (one of only two clubs left from the formation of the original league in the 1900s) was left to die after a court battle heard by a judge who used to be… a News Ltd. lawyer!

So what does this mean for English football? Well maybe a lot, maybe not much at all. But it does show some possible scenarios. Firstly, Mr Murdoch (as we know already) has truckloads of cash. And just as he is able to influence events swiftly through business and political ties, he can hold out for years if he believes it is in his long term interest. Secondly, he is not known as a particularly sentimental man. I don’t think “tradition” will have much weight in the long run. I realise how important this is to most football fans but there are a lot of plastic “supporters” who will vote with their pay-per-view money. Thirdly, there will probably be a lot of struggling teams willing to jump ship if enough money is on offer. For example, if Wednesday say “no” what’s to stop Shefield United saying “yes”? Many may view a Sky League as desirable, in their own interests, or a worthy innovation. Fourthly, who said it has to be a domestic competition? A few English clubs, a couple of Italian, Spanish, Dutch… who knows? Similar ideas have been floating around for a long time. Fifthly, it is hard to underestimate the importance of football coverage to Sky. I’m sure they’d walk accross hot coals to retain their broadcasting rights.

Finally, this isn’t meant to be a cheap shot at Murdoch, or just “a stab in the dark”. Sport has always been a business and continues to be and all the above options have happened previously, to some extent. And obviously there are benefits to be had in having an extremely wealthy and powerful man onside rather than off. I suppose the proof is in the pudding and all we can only sit back and watch.

Andrew Inman (


Thanks to Kieran Casey’s time and effort to find out we have a bad record in front of the Cameras since 1984. Well let’s get positive, go back even more and you will find City have a better record in front of the cameras. We should be looking to the future, we have a great manager in Joe Royle a great coach in Willie Donachie, a great Chairman in Mr Bernstein and his board of directors. All these people have not been responsiple for all the results since 1984! We have a hard task ahead of us against Leeds United but please do not put a curse on us before we play – be positive, not negative!

How about doing some positive research; I will applaud loudly!

Cheers, and good luck to the team against Leeds, Ernie Barrow (


As 1999 draws to a close, it’s interesting to note that it has probably been the best year we Blues have had since 1976. Certainly, as far as wins against losses is concerned it is probably our best ever. Ok, we haven’t been playing in the top division but still it has been a very enjoyable year to be a Blue.

I should be fairly optimistic about next year. Ummmm.

I just think that Joe has slightly lost the plot. It started after the win against Burnley when, after having warned of complacency all year, he finally admitted that we had had a good start to the season and said there was no reason why it should not continue. Aggggghhhhh!

We then made the second questionable signing of recent weeks (Peacock being the first). My initial impression, admittedly made on the evidence of just one match last year, was that Rob Taylor was a lump. I haven’t seen anything yet to disuade me. He’s a big lump but a lump nonetheless. I’m prepared (but will be very happy to be wrong) to bet that he doesn’t get 6 goals in the rest of this season though he’s the kind of player who might get 4 in a 6-0 win. He reminds me of a player we used to have at Maine Road in the 70’s. Yes, if Goater is a poor man’s Niall Quinn, Taylor is a poor man’s Joe Royle. As I remember Joe himself was a poor man’s John Toshack.

Maybe my pessimism is based on the fact that I don’t think we’d survive with our present team in, what is, a poor top division. This season was supposed to be one of ‘re-building’ and ‘re-arming’. Sometimes I think we’d be better doing that than marching on to battle, ill-prepared and to face almost certain defeat.

OTOH, I agree it’s better to have tried and lost than never to have tried at ll.

Simon Fink (


May I take this opportunity through your website to wish all Manchester City fans the very best of season’s greetings to all. From Virginia, U.S.A. And may we see Premier League Football in the new year!

Come on you Blues! Ernie Barrow, CTID (


Could anybody out there from the Emerald Isle (Ireland) please give me some information on the Dublin branch of the City Supporters’ Club. I have tried the web site and also the e-mail address provided but to no avail. I am a City fan who has just started working and has the money to travel to games but I would prefer to travel with a Supporters’ Club than with a couple of my Rag mates who can’t get tickets for their games. Any details, please mail to the address below.

CTID, Danny Quinn (


Does anybody know of any bars in Bolivia (La Paz) which are likely to have Sky football games on – particularly for the Boxing Day WBA game?

If there are any Bolivian-based Blues or you know anybody out there, please let me know directly and I can pass on details to my roving reporter.

Any Blues in Brazil (Sao Paulo, Rio) please get in touch for end Dec/January games.

Cheers and Happy Christmas to you all, Heidi Pickup (


Are there any Blues in the Far East who will be able to pick-up a live broadcast of the Leeds game? Taiwan has always been a bit p**s-poor in this department and I’d gladly take a weekend trip overseas to watch the match.


Neal Beatty – Taiwan Blue (


Does anybody know who sung the song and what it was called that Sky television played over the highlights the day after the infamous win at Wembley? Somebody has requested it as a late Xmas pressie!

Claire Allison (


The following is from a BBC researcher who is a Leeds lister, it would be appreciated if you could pass this on to your lists as Michael is also interested in what happens on other lists. I have spoken to him and he is an OK bloke.

Regards, Betty Boocock (Euronet List)

I have been a silent lister for some time now and I have been impressed at how much of a community this thing is. As well as supporting Leeds in a city that hates us (Manchester), I also work for the BBC as a TV researcher. I am currently trying get some info together about the relationship between footy and the Internet. This is where you lot come in. I would like to hear from anyone who can tell me about how the Internet has improved access to Leeds as a club and fellow fans. I notice for example that people arrange meets etc. all over the world, and matches as well. Also any anecdotes and stories about would be good.

All replies off list please –

Mike Fox (


I was born and brought up in Manchester until I was twelve, before we moved out of the city. And a question I have been frequently asked since then by the many people I have either worked with, or met on my travels during the last ten years, in particular the recent dark days post Peter Reid’s stewardship up to last Christmas and then the play-offs at Wembley, is Why Blue?

Like all stories of this nature, it starts in childhood, in my case in the mid-sixties when I was five years of age. I can’t remember much about the first game I went to see with my dad and grandad, except that it was at the beginning of February and the weather was terrible, it did not stop raining all day. I think City lost, to be honest I did not see much of the game because it was also very cold and I was wrapped up inside my grandfather’s coat. It was the one and only time the three of us went to see a game together, my grandad died two weeks later just before my sixth birthday.

After that I did not get the chance to see too many games as my dad was on the road a lot of the time, but I always waited with baited breath for the results at 4.45pm on a Saturday afternoon. However, it was not until 1970 that my dad and I started to go to games on a regular basis.

I often used to wonder why grandad and my dad supported City as they both came from The Republic of Ireland, grandad in the late thirties and my dad in the early fifties. It was only recently that I asked my dad about this and the answer was as follows.

Dad came over to Liverpool from Dublin in 1951 and got a job as a lorry driver; he often used to make deliveries to Manchester at the weekends, where he would stay over. So he would go to watch both City and the Rags on alternate weekends. However, he told me that after watching the “scrubbers” as he used to refer to the other bunch, a couple of times, he decided to support the Blues, because and I quote “The fans at City were friendlier and there was a real family atmosphere during the matches and the football was more attractive to watch”.

So later we went to many of the matches in the seventies. In the early days my favourite players were Colin Bell and Francis Lee and like most of the Junior Blues of my generation, I would dearly have loved to play for City. However, it was not to be (still you can dream). Later my favourite players were Joe Royle and Dennis Tueart. I remember writing in to the club programme on a couple of occasions about my favourite players and winning two complimentary tickets each time and we got to meet both Joe and Dennis, dad was made up when we were also given a tour as well.

Into the eighties, things were not quite the same and we went to fewer matches, largely because of work and family commitments, but we never stopped supporting the Blues. Then in ’89 I went to work and live overseas in South Africa, then New Zealand, then Belgium, and I have now been living down South for nearly 3 years. In that time I have only managed to see half a dozen games, although my brother went occasionally with dad. The last match dad and I went to was a game against Everton at Maine Road which we won 1-0 with Niall Quinn scoring the only goal of the game.

Sadly dad had the first of three strokes in August last year and is currently in Hospital and will be for the foreseeable and uncertain future. The last left him unable to do anything for himself. Although unable to talk, he still listens to the radio on a Saturday for the results.

The last couple of years have not been much fun for the family and in parallel for City either. But there is one thing that my dad taught us from an early age, was that you stand by your friends and remember where you come from, no matter where you are and you stand by your team through thick and thin. I have never been through such a range of emotions as I have in the last two years and the fortune or lack of that the Blues have gone through has not helped. I just wanted to share a few moments and to dedicate these words to my dad who will never get the chance to go to Maine Road again and to my mother, also a Blue. Both of whom were always there for me and my brother.

Finally we all have a story about the day of the play-off final at Wembley. Ours is not a long tale, but suffice to say dad and I listened to the game on the radio, talk about traumatic. When City won, it was one of the rare occasions I have seen my dad get emotional, said it all really.

Peter Godkin (


Recent results from 6 December 1999 to 20 December 1999 inclusive.

19 December 1999

Sheffield United      2 - 1  Blackburn Rovers

18 December 1999

Barnsley              3 - 2  Walsall
Bolton Wanderers      0 - 1  Stockport County
Crystal Palace        0 - 0  Fulham
Huddersfield Town     3 - 1  Grimsby Town
Ipswich Town          3 - 1  West Bromwich Albion
Manchester City       3 - 0  Swindon Town
Nottingham Forest     1 - 0  Crewe Alexandra
Portsmouth            0 - 0  Port Vale
Queens Park Rangers   0 - 0  Charlton Athletic

17 December 1999

Tranmere Rovers       1 - 2  Norwich City
Wolverhampton Wndrs   2 - 1  Birmingham City

League table to 19 December 1999 inclusive.

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  GD Pts
 1 Huddersfield T. 23 10  2  0 32 10  4  2  5 10 13 14  4  5 42 23  19  46
 2 Manchester City 23  9  0  3 25  9  5  3  3 10 10 14  3  6 35 19  16  45
 3 Ipswich Town    23  9  1  2 25 12  3  5  3 15 14 12  6  5 40 26  14  42
 4 Charlton Ath.   22  7  2  2 19 10  5  3  3 19 14 12  5  5 38 24  14  41
 5 Barnsley        22  9  1  2 28 12  3  2  5 14 23 12  3  7 42 35   7  39
 6 Stockport C.    23  6  5  0 19 12  4  2  6  9 18 10  7  6 28 30  -2  37
 7 Fulham          23  5  4  2 11  7  3  7  2 13 11  8 11  4 24 18   6  35
 8 QPR             23  5  7  0 19 12  3  2  6 13 16  8  9  6 32 28   4  33
 9 Birmingham City 22  6  3  1 21  9  2  5  5 12 16  8  8  6 33 25   8  32
10 Wolves          22  5  4  2 17 10  3  4  4  8 11  8  8  6 25 21   4  32
11 Bolton Wndrs    23  6  3  3 21 15  2  4  5 11 12  8  7  8 32 27   5  31
12 Norwich City    22  6  1  3 11  8  2  6  4 10 12  8  7  7 21 20   1  31
13 Blackburn R.    22  5  4  2 16  9  2  5  4 11 13  7  9  6 27 22   5  30
14 Tranmere Rovers 23  6  3  3 20 14  2  2  7 12 20  8  5 10 32 34  -2  29
15 West Brom A.    23  2  7  2 12 11  3  4  5 11 16  5 11  7 23 27  -4  26
16 Crystal Palace  23  5  5  2 20 10  1  3  7 10 26  6  8  9 30 36  -6  26
17 Crewe Alex.     23  5  3  3 10  8  2  2  8 13 22  7  5 11 23 30  -7  26
18 Grimsby Town    23  6  3  2 14 12  1  2  9 10 26  7  5 11 24 38 -14  26
19 Nottm Forest    23  5  5  2 17 10  1  2  8  7 17  6  7 10 24 27  -3  25
20 Sheff. United   23  5  3  4 17 14  1  3  7 10 25  6  6 11 27 39 -12  24
21 Port Vale       23  4  2  5 11 12  1  6  5 15 19  5  8 10 26 31  -5  23
22 Portsmouth      23  4  5  3 16 11  1  2  8  9 25  5  7 11 25 36 -11  22
23 Walsall         23  2  4  5  9 14  2  3  7 12 23  4  7 12 21 37 -16  19
24 Swindon Town    23  2  5  4 11 18  1  3  8  5 19  3  8 12 16 37 -21  17

With thanks to Football 365


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

[Valid3.2]Ashley Birch,

Newsletter #563