Newsletter #592

A very sparse issue tonight I’m afraid. There’s Peter’s news and a little bit of discussion, but not much more – the calm before the storm?

Does anyone fancy telling their story in the form of a ‘Why Blue’? If so, please send them directly to me.

Next game: Swindon Town away, Saturday 1st April 2000


Barnsley Move Ahead Again

Manchester City moved back to third position in Division One with Saturday’s 2-1 win over West Brom. But the Blues returned to fourth place 48 hours later after Barnsley won their Monday night fixture. The Tykes managed an easy 3-0 home win in their Oakwell clash with Grimsby to move once again above Joe Royle’s side. The Yorkshire outfit are now behind second-placed Ipswich on goal difference. Both clubs are two points ahead of the Blues having played a game more.

Cooke Decision Next Week

The first month of Terry Cooke’s loan spell at Wigan ends at the weekend, and the Latics are keen to keep the winger at the JJB Stadium. But although the Division Two promotion chasers would reportedly be prepared to buy the player, if he does stay, for now he’ll only do so on a temporary basis. Cooke has already stated his reluctance to make a permanent move to a club in the Second Division, and is likely to want to wait until Wigan’s promotion fate is clear before he makes a decision. However, with City lacking right-sided balance in recent weeks, there could even be a possibility that Joe Royle will take the ex-Manchester United junior back to Maine Road for the Blues’ promotion run-in. But if Royle is prepared to allow the player to remain with Wigan, it surely signals that Cooke’s days with City are numbered. The City boss, however, is giving nothing away. “It will all be resolved after the weekend,” he told the official club website at “I will consider whether to let him stay or not after Saturday, but you just can’t speak too far ahead in football.”

Russell in Scots Switch

Wednesday’s Manchester Evening News is reporting that Craig Russell is to move to St. Johnstone on loan. The striker will apparently stay at the Perth-based club for the rest of the season. The ex-Sunderland striker was reported to have rejected the move last week, but it now appears that he’s had a change of heart. It will be Russell’s third loan transfer of the season, after previous spells with Darlington and Oxford. The transfer-listed front man will link up with former Blue Alan Kernaghan at McDiarmid Park.

Would City Have Let Fenton Go?

Manchester City sent young defender Nick Fenton on loan to Bournemouth ahead of last week’s transfer deadline. But it’s been claimed that the Blues first agreed to sell the player to Notts County. Magpies chairman Derek Pavis stated that the two clubs had agreed a fee for the 20-year-old, who had an impressive loan spell at Meadow Lane earlier in the season. However, according to Pavis, the Second Division outfit were unable to come to an agreement with the player’s agent over terms. Fenton made 15 league appearances for the Blues in 1998-99 but his only senior action this term was as a substitute in the League Cup at Southampton.

Royle Denies Interest in Trinidadian

Many experts are assuming there’ll be plenty of transfer activity at Maine Road in the summer whether the Blues’ promotion bid is successful or not. But Joe Royle has denied interest in one rumoured target. Speculation in the week saw the club linked with Trinidadian international Marvin Andrews, a tall defender who plays for Scottish First Division side Raith. But the Blues’ boss moved quickly to deny the story – although the official City website at does say that Royle is “aware of the player”. Meanwhile, there’s no news as yet of Hibs following up their reported interest in City youngster Shaun Holmes ahead of tomorrow’s Scottish transfer deadline.

Reserves Stay on Course for Title

A Chris Shuker goal earned Manchester City reserves a 1-1 draw at home to Port Vale last night. And the point kept the Blues on course for the Pontin’s League title. With City going into the game four points ahead of the Potteries outfit at the top of the table, the result leaves the Maine Road second string within touching distance of the prize. The Blues fielded an inexperienced side including two trialists. Striker Mark McGregor of Forest Green Rovers returned after impressing in another trial earlier in the season, but sustained an injury and had to be substituted at the break. Meanwhile Altrincham’s Kevin Ellison played the ninety minutes on the left flank. The Robins have already turned down a bid of £130,000 from Preston for the free-scoring winger.

Royle Hopes Turn-Around has Started

A run of seven games without a win saw Manchester City drop from favourites to claim the second automatic promotion spot to one of several sides involved in a battle royal for the prize. But after seeing his side return to winning ways on Saturday, Joe Royle believes his side’s form will improve. The tension is sure to be almost unbearable as the finishing post nears, and the City boss detected nervousness among the crowd at Saturday’s encounter with West Brom. But Royle hopes that the last-gasp victory over the Baggies will signal a change in fortunes for his side. “Perhaps now that has broken the spell,” he told the club’s official site at “Bearing in mind the other results, we now know how important it was.”

Vaughan Wishes City Well

Tony Vaughan finally left Manchester City last week after almost three years at Maine Road. But the former Ipswich defender admits he’ll be keeping an eye on the Blues’ results and hopes to see the club reach the Premiership this summer. Vaughan has signed for Nottingham Forest, and, despite his new team’s lowly current position, says that the Midlands outfit has massive potential. But Frank Clark’s one-time £1.35 million signing has told the Manchester Evening News he’d rather have stayed at Maine Road and was “shattered” to be told he was surplus to requirements. However, Vaughan doesn’t bear City any malice, and told MEN reporter Chris Bailey, “Despite all that’s happened I hope City go on and win promotion. The lads there have worked hard for it and they deserve it.”

Royle Defends Unfit Taylor

Robert Taylor hasn’t had the hoped-for impact at Maine Road after his move from Gillingham in November. But Joe Royle is adamant that the £1.5 million signing will come good eventually. Taylor has struggled to find his form since the transfer thanks in no small part to a series of minor illnesses and niggling injuries. And Royle believes that supporters shouldn’t therefore be too quick to judge the 29-year-old striker. “Robert is obviously not fit,” the City boss told the Manchester Evening News. “He is stumbling from the treatment table to the pitch and it is hard for the lad.” Taylor is doubtful for Saturday’s trip to Swindon after suffering a recurrence of his calf strain in last weekend’s win over West Brom.

Mixed Feelings for Dickov Over Sub Rôle

Paul Dickov came off the bench to set up Shaun Goater’s vital winner for the Blues against West Brom on Saturday. And the Scot admits he’s reluctant to push his claims as a “super sub” – but hopes that his performances in the rôle can spur the team to success. Dickov has notched only one league goal in seventeen starts and ten substitute appearances this season. And the lack of goals has counted against him in his fight for a regular place – he’s started only three league games since the end of October. But manager Joe Royle values the 27-year-old’s high-energy cameo contributions, which can unsettle tiring defenders when the Blues are chasing the game. “I got a bit of a tag of a super sub last season,” Dickov admitted to the Manchester Evening News, “and while I would rather be playing from the start, if this season ends up as good as last season and with the same result, I will be more than happy.”

News of Northern Ireland Blues

Four Manchester City players were in the Northern Ireland full and under-21 squads which played friendlies in Malta on Tuesday. And three of the Blues featured as Sammy McIlroy’s men won each game. Kevin Horlock made a 77th minute appearance as a substitute for ex-City man Michael Hughes as the full side won 3-0, the scoring having been completed before the break. And Jeff Whitley and Shaun Holmes both played the ninety minutes as their side notched a 2-1 victory courtesy of a last-minute goal. Young ‘keeper Richard McKinney was an unused substitute for the same game.

Six Thousand Blues Expected at Swindon

Manchester City have been backed by some massive away followings in the last few months. And the trend will continue at Swindon on Saturday, with the home club expecting the travelling support to number 6,000. The invasion of City fans will give the cash-strapped Wiltshire club a vital financial boost, with the crowd set easily to better the Robins’ season’s best of 10,279 – a mark set for Portsmouth’s Boxing Day visit. The Blues will, however, be hoping to improve on a poor recent sequence away from home. Since the turn of the year, City have won only once in seven away games and need to do better this time out against a side who are virtual relegation certainties.

Grimsby Also to Cash In on Blue Army’s Visit

Since the turn of the year, Manchester City have attracted big crowds at every ground they’ve travelled to. And the trend is set to continue in the next two away matches. The Blues have drawn their hosts’ biggest gate of the season in all but one away match in the year 2000, and even in the exception at Crystal Palace attracted a gate around 50% bigger than the Londoners’ average. The visit to Swindon on Saturday will attract a season’s-best gate while the match at Grimsby on 15 April is also set to be played before a sell-out crowd, with the 1,600 City tickets being snapped up in next to no time.

Prior Salutes “Fantastic” Welcome

Spencer Prior has only been a Manchester City player for a week. But the pre-deadline buy from Derby has already begun to feel at home in his new surroundings. Prior has had a hectic week, and played only his second game in three months when the Blues faced West Brom last Saturday. But the former Norwich and Leicester player believes that the reception he received from the home support helped settle him down. “The welcome I received was fantastic, it is always nice when a crowd warm to you,” he told the Manchester Evening News. “The atmosphere inside Maine Road was incredible, I thought the Derby supporters were excellent but City’s are something else.”

Calf Strain Delays Morrison Return

Andy Morrison recently returned to full training after his long injury absence. But a minor calf strain has hampered the City skipper’s bid to return before the end of the season. Morrison has been sorely missed by the Blues and, although Spencer Prior’s arrival has strengthened the defence, a comeback for the Scot would be a massive boost. And the good news is that the big defender reports no difficulties with the injured knee which has forced his absence for more than five months so far. It’s unclear when the Blues’ captain will be ready for a return to match action but the reserves now don’t have a scheduled fixture until 11 April’s match against Wolves.

Grant – Next Four Games are Crucial

Tony Grant believes his team’s promotion fate could effectively be decided before Easter. The City midfielder feels that a big points haul in his side’s next four games would put the Blues in pole position for a Premiership return. After tomorrow’s visit to bottom-placed Swindon, City have two home games in the space of three days – first against Bolton three days after the Trotters are in FA Cup semi-final action and then against Crewe. A visit to Grimsby rounds off the spell, and Grant says, “I think the next four games will be decisive. If we don’t do well in those games, then maybe we don’t deserve to go up.” The local derby against Bolton is City’s game in hand over rivals Ipswich, Barnsley, Birmingham and Huddersfield.

Royle Waits on International Contingent

Ahead of Saturday’s trip to Swindon, Joe Royle is waiting anxiously for the return of his four first-teamers who were in midweek international action. Kevin Horlock and Jeff Whitley were both with the Northern Ireland party in Malta, although Whitley only played at under-21 level while Horlock was a suibstitute for the full side. Last night, Nicky Weaver was an unused substitute as England under-21s beat Yugoslavia 3-0 while Danny Tiatto was with the Australian squad in Czech Republic. All four are in the squad for Saturday’s trip to Swindon.

Royle Set to Make More Changes

Manchester City haven’t had a settled side in recent weeks. And Joe Royle is set to make more changes as the Blues visit basement club Swindon in a must-win game on Saturday. Midfield has been the area under the microscope as the City boss has tried to find the right engine-room balance. And Tony Grant did his cause a power of good with his substitute appearance against West Brom on Saturday. “Tony is a great talent and I’ve been waiting for a chance to give him a run again,” enthused Royle, giving a clear hint that the ex-Everton man could start at the County Ground. The Blues are set to abandon the experiment of playing Mark Kennedy on the right, while Kevin Horlock may also come into contention to face his former club.

Wiekens and Mills Give Royle a Strong Hand

Joe Royle received a boost ahead of the Blues’ visit to Swindon on Saturday. Both Gerard Wiekens and Lee Mills are fit and in contention for places at the County Ground. Wiekens’ illness last week made Royle’s decision for him over who should be omitted for new boy Spencer Prior. And the Dutchman will have to settle for a place on the bench on Saturday unless Royle surprisingly opts to drop Richard Jobson. Meanwhile, Mills may get the nod ahead of Paul Dickov up front as Robert Taylor is once again absent through injury. Former Swindon man Kevin Horlock will be hoping for a recall in midfield, as will Tony Grant, who once had a loan spell with the Wiltshire outfit.

Peter Brophy (


If you though Steve’s acronyms were sad, wait until you get a load of this. I can’t believe that I’ve done it…

For the remaining games for us, Ipswich and Barnsley I’ve compared the results from the first round of fixtures. If a team won away, they are expected to win at home. If a team drew away they are expected to win at home. If a team lost or drew at home, they are expected to lose away. Finally if at team won at home but only by a single goal, they are expected to only draw away.

This meticulous scientific approach gives us the following results:


Swindon    3pts
Bolton     3pts
Crewe      3pts
Grimsby    1pt
Tranmere   3pts
Portmouth  3pts
Birmingham 3pts
Blackburn  3pts

Total 22pts; final total 91pts


WBA       3pts
Port Vale 3pts
Stockport 1pt
QPR       0pts
Palace    3pts
Charlton  3pts
Walsall   3pts

Total 16pts; final total 87pts


Walsall   1pt
WBA       3pts
Port Vale 3pts
Wolves    0pts
Norwich   3pts
Swindon   1pt
Crewe     3pts

Total 14pts; final total 85pts

So there you go. Irrefutable scientific proof that we’re going up.

Phil Hartley (


New Zealand’s under-23 soccer team has been well beaten 4-0 by their Japanese counterparts in a friendly international in Tokyo. Playing in front of 36,467 fans at Tokyo’s National Stadium, the home side scored two goals in each half in an impressive display. Shunsuke Nakamura (18 min), Naohiro Takahara (40, 58), and Hiromi Kojima (63) scored for Japan. New Zealand play South Africa home and away some time over the next month for a place at the Olympics.

Ralph Sheppard (


I understand that last Saturday (25th March) a female City fan, named Sarah, was featured on Radio One’s lunchtime show ‘Women going to Football’. Apparently she was travelling to Maine Road from Plymouth with her father. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear the show but would be grateful if anyone that knows either Sarah or her father would put them in contact with me with a view to sharing transport as the South West Branch of the Official Supporters’ Club (1949) make that same trip every week. This offer is, of course, open to anybody in this part of the world that doesn’t already know of our existance.

Andy Foden – Branch Secretary (


As a season ticket holder and a student at Liverpool University, why is it that MCFC see that student discounts finish at 18, and not 21? MCFC, if they actually looked into the matter would realise that students under the age of 18 are supported by their parents; those at university are not.

Note: Many other clubs (including the less-fortunate Bury FC!) offer a better discount than that offered by MCFC for students.

Emily Hrycan (


I often play online card games at the worryingly addictive MSN gaming zone ( – 99% of the other players are American, and are totally ignorant of City and football (soccer to them) in general. My screen name is mancity_fan, and had to howl with laughter when someone asked me last night “What’s a mancity?”

Chris Dabinett, Manchester (


Anybody expecting a quiet end to the season? If the answer to that question is ‘yes’, then I suspect you are not a Blue; let’s face it, if history is anything to go by, City will take it to the wire.

1968: The Blues travelled to Newcastle on the last day of the season knowing only a win was good enough. Fair do’s though, the lads produced the right result and we were Champions.

It was then pretty quiet until 1983. Probably the saddest day of my life, there we were needing only a draw to stay in the old First Division and we were at home for the last game of the season to Luton. This time the lads messed up big time and I still have nightmares about David bloody Pleat. Sadly we were relegated.

1985: We bounced back at the second attempt, gaining promotion to the First. Did we do it in style, winning the division by a 14 point margin? Of course we didn’t, we waited until the last day of the season and again needed a win to ensure we went up. Mind you we thrashed Charlton 5-1 so it wasn’t too bad.

1987: There we were struggling against relegation and I suppose this one wasn’t quite as close, because on the final day we had to thrash West Ham away and hope Leicester lost. History shows we didn’t do it and down we went.

1989: Again City leave it to the last day of the season, again we are away, this time at Bradford and we need a point. Well didn’t they just make us suffer before getting that all important equaliser?

1996: Who can forget Liverpool at home, the final match and three points were vital; oh well.

1998: Then there was Stoke. OK we did the business but so did everybody else and yet again we were relegated on the final day of the season. I surely don’t need to mention last year, that was definitely the final 5 minutes of the final game of the season only City managed to drag the agony out until penalties. It is therefore a sure-fire bet that nothing will be settled until Blackburn on the 7th May. Mind you, as the above stats. show, whenever we are need a victory to win something we always manage it so I’m not worried in the slightest… alright I’m lying, I’m worried sick. Come on City, just for once wrap it up before Birmingham, my nerves can’t take it any more.

Nigel Pickles (


If anyone needs two tickets for the Swindon game get in touch by phoning me on 077-1836-4305.

Chris Pilkington (


Anybody with a spare Grimsby ticket? If so I’ll buy it. Contact me at:

Duncan Madden-Ross (


I’m a Norwegian City fan, going to be working in the London area next week and would very much like travelling company with London based Blues for the trip to Manchester to see City-Bolton on Wednesday 5th. Are there any coaches set up or will everyone go by train?

Grateful for answers – I’ve never been to Maine Road (or Manchester), so this could be the trip of my life. Mail me privately at the address below. Thanks.

Lars Ivar N