Newsletter #605

Another large helping of memories and magical moments.

Personally, I actually missed the magic moments and didn’t get to see the game (long story) – is there anyone in the North Derbyshire area (Whaley Bridge, New Mills, Chapel, Disley – or who works for AstraZeneca) who can lend me a video of the entire BSkyB coverage? I can collect and return it to you if you drop me a line (

P.S. The reason why Jamie Pollock was not present at Monday’s bash was that he was playing in John McGinlay’s testimonial – thanks to Mike Barnett for providing this piece of information.

Next game: To be announced


Transfer Speculation Already Frenzied

Manchester City only won promotion to the Premiership on Sunday. But the Blues are already being linked with a host of players as manager Joe Royle looks to strengthen his squad for the challenge ahead. City were quickly linked with a £2.5 million move for Everton’s Don Hutchison, whose contact talks at Goodison Park have reached an impasse and who is said to be interesting a number of clubs including Sunderland and Leicester. The newspapers have also thrown up several possible targets. Ipswich’s David Johnson and Bolton’s Eidur Gudjohnsen have been mentioned as prospective new strikers, while the Suffolk club’s midfielder Matt Holland and the Fulham pair of midfielder Lee Clark and defender Chris Coleman have also been linked.

Royle – Big Names Want to Join

Manchester City have already been the focus of transfer speculation despite only winning promotion at the weekend. And Joe Royle says he’s been inundated with approaches from players’ agents, some acting for star names, as the Blues look ahead to life in the Premiership. Royle has admitted that he’ll strengthen the City squad, while at the same time giving a fair chance to the players who won promotion. And the City boss has a good idea of the type of new recruit he’ll be looking for ahead of the big kick-off. “I want experience at this level, or the potential to play at the level we are at now,” he told the official club website at “I want powerful players in the squad.”

Royle Plays Down Transfer Talk

Joe Royle has already insisted that there’ll be no wholesale changes at Maine Road this summer. And the Blues’ boss expects to have a hard job to spend the cash at his disposal. Despite speculation linking the Blues with several players, Royle is refusing to name targets. And the City manager says that even though there should be plenty of cash available to him for transfers, he won’t be in a desperate hurry to spend it. “I have already told the chairman as much,” said the Blues’ boss. “I have spoken to the board on a preliminary basis and I told them that they will find money easier to find than I will to spend it.”

Stars Urge Royle to Keep Spirit Alive

Many pundits claim that Manchester City need to make radical changes to have a chance of Premiership survival. But Andy Morrison and Paul Dickov think that the team’s great spirit is the key to a successful campaign. Joe Royle has already said that the players who took the Blues to the Premiership will be given a fair opportunity to show what they can do at that level. And such a policy would be popular with Morrison and Dickov. The City skipper feels that the dressing-room camaraderie should be maintained at all costs, and the ex-Arsenal front man agrees, telling the Manchester Evening News, “You only had to look around the dressing room on Sunday to see what kind of togetherness we have at the club.”

Kanchelskis Interest Set to Cool?

Manchester City have been linked with Andrei Kanchelskis as the search for Premier Leage reinforcements begins. But the Rangers’ winger now says he knows nothing of City’s interest – and would be happy to stay at Ibrox. Initial reports had indicated that the Russian international would be available on a Bosman free transfer in the summer. But the player in fact is still under contract – and the Glasgow club will reportedly ask a fee of up to £4 million for the ex-Manchester United player. A hefty asking price, coupled with wage demands of over £1 million per year, could well seem excessive to the Blues for a 31-year-old, and it seems that the player would in any case not object to staying in Scotland. “I would be happy to stay with Rangers for the remaining two years of my contract,” he told the Daily Express.

Bernstein Weighs Up Financial Options

Manchester City’s promotion to the Premiership will see the Blues receive massively increased income from TV and sponsorship. And as a result, prospective investors are said to be queueing at David Bernstein’s door. City are rated an attractive prospect to investors because of the club’s large fan base and the forthcoming move to the new 48,000-seater stadium at Eastlands. Bernstein has admitted receiving an approach already from a major institution and a Soccernet report on Tuesday has indicated that other suitors may be in the wings. However, the article also claims that the club may be considering a Stock Market flotation – a move which has long been predicted should City return to the top flight. Either way, it seems that the City chairman isn’t short of options as he seeks to bring in additional funds.

Royle Gives Himself Four More Years

Joe Royle is set to be offered a new four-year contract by Manchester City this summer. But when that deal expires, the Blues’ boss intends to retire from football. Royle is now 51 years old – and says he’s always had the intention to leave his high-pressure line of work when he can. “A manager’s pensionable age is 55 and I would go out with a decent pension,” the City manager told the Daily Star. “There is more and more pressure in this job and more and more people in life generally are retiring early – if they can.”

Bernstein Wants Royle to Delay Retirement

Joe Royle has said he envisages retiring from football in four years’ time. But if David Bernstein has his way, the City boss will be at Maine Road long after that date. But Bernstein feels that the ex-Oldham and Everton boss has done an “amazing job” and would like him to stay longer. “It will be a measure of our success that Joe is with us for many years to come,” the City chairman told the Manchester Evening News. “Forget about retirement.”

Maine Road Return was Just Right for Royle

Joe Royle has revealed he was on the point of leaving football management forever after he left Everton. But following the success of the last two years, the City manager is now glad he agreed to take the reins at Maine Road. After leaving Goodison Park by mutual consent in March 1997, Royle spent eleven months fulfilling media and after-dinner speaking engagements and scouting for then-England boss Glenn Hoddle. The former Oldham manager was happy enough to turn down fourteen management positions before being tempted by the challenge the Blues offered him, a decision he certainly doesn’t regret. “I am glad I came back, glad it was with City, glad that I have got another chance to take my team to Anfield, Old Trafford, and yes – Goodison too,” he told the Daily Mail.

Sky Pundit Backs City to Survive

Sky Sports pundit Andy Gray will have plenty of opportunity to run the rule over Manchester City next season after the Blues’ promotion to the Premiership. And the former Scotland star believes there’s every chance the Blues will consolidate their top-flight status next term. Writing for the Internet daily Football 365, Gray says that City will be a welcome asset to the top flight. And he feels that the Blues have the potential to score goals at the highest level, a factor he believes could be crucial in ensuring survival. The ex-Everton striker also feels the managerial acumen of his predecessor in the Goodison Park number nine jersey could be crucial. “Joe proved he was no fool while he was at Everton,” wrote the Scot. “All the promoted sides struggle to a greater or lesser extent in their first Premiership season, but there is a lot for the Maine Road management and fans to be optimistic about.”

Mills Heading Back to Bradford

Lee Mills arrived at Manchester City two months ago bidding to earn a permanent move to Maine Road. But things haven’t worked out as the striker would have wished. Mills came on loan from Bradford with a view to a £1 million permanent switch, but the player suffered a rib injury after making his début in the defeat at Barnsley. And the 29-year-old subsequently made only two further substitute appearances, edged out by Paul Dickov’s return to form and Robert Taylor’s recovery from injury. The ex-Wolves and Port Vale player will now bid to reignite his Valley Parade career and there’s talk he may even feature for the Bantams in their relegation crunch at home to Liverpool on Sunday.

Bishop Wants to Stay

Ian Bishop is out of contract this summer. But the Manchester City midfielder is keen to try his luck in the Premiership with the Blues. Bishop was in talks with the club over a new deal during the season, but negotiations were shelved until after the outcome of City’s promotion battle was known. And now the 34-year-old is keen to resume talks. “When I came back from West Ham [in March 1998] and signed a 2-year deal, I thought it was a great way to finish,” admitted the Liverpool-born star. “But it would be too soon. I want to go on and I’d like to think the boss will look after me.”

Fenton in Bournemouth Talks

Several of Manchester City’s fringe players are set to leave the club this summer. And the first could be Nick Fenton, who ended the season on loan to the Cherries and is reportedly in talks with Bournemouth over a permanent move to Dean Court. Fenton, who has featured only twice in the City senior team since December 1998, started eight league games for Mel Machin’s side having played 13 league matches during a temporary stint at Notts County earlier in the campaign. Indeed, reports indicated that the Magpies were keen to sign the player permanently before the transfer deadline and that, with Joe Royle agreeing to the deal, it was only Fenton’s wage demands which prevented the move. It had been rumoured that County may try to resurrect the transfer in the summer – but it now appears ex-City boss Machin may beat them to the punch.

Goater Wins Fans’ Award

Shaun Goater is Manchester City’s ‘Player of the Year’. The Bermudian striker edged out Nicky Weaver for the accolade and was presented with his trophy on Monday evening. Goater’s 29 goals played a massive part in the Blues’ promotion this season as the front man defied the critics who doubted his ability to make an impression at Division One level. And the ex-Bristol City star is now hoping to show he can produce the goods in the Premiership. Weaver was runner-up in the poll for the second successive year, while Shaun Wright-Phillips took the Young Player of the Year trophy and Chris Shuker was voted ‘Most Promising Player’.

Skipper Working Towards Next Season

Manchester City’s promotion-winning stars are beginning a well-earned break after a momentous season. But for Andy Morrison, the battle to regain his fitness goes on. Morrison played only twelve league games all season, the last of them at Port Vale in October. And until the deadline-week swoop for Spencer Prior, it appeared that the skipper’s absence could cost the Blues dear. But the big defender returned in the City reserves before the end of the season and he’s now due to continue his fitness drive with a two-week stay at the National Centre for Excellence at Lilleshall. “I will be stronger and fitter than ever for the start of next season,” he told the Manchester Evening News.

Wigan Boss Slams Cooke

Terry Cooke has returned to Maine Road after his loan spell at Wigan. And the winger’s displays during his loan spell left Latics manager John Benson unimpressed. Cooke played ten games for Wigan, scoring once, as the Latics missed out on the automatic promotion spot which had looked there for the taking. And Benson, who had hoped that the ex-Manchester United man would emulate his impact at Maine Road twelve months previously, was disappointed in the player’s form. “Terry’s under-achieved,” reflected the one-time Maine Road boss. “He took City to promotion last year but he’s not set the world alight for us.”

Stepney Believes Weaver Will Thrive

Alex Stepney was the man repsonsible for spotting Nicky Weaver for Manchester City. And the Blues’ goalkeeping coach believes his young charge will thrive in the Premiership next season. Weaver caught Stepney’s attention when playing against City reserves for Mansfield. And since moving to Maine Road, the young goalkeeper has enjoyed a meteoric rise, featuring in a promotion-winning side in each of his first two full seasons. The England under-21 man’s mentor believes the progress will continue, saying of the 21-year-old, “He’ll have the chance to prove himself in the Premiership and become a regular England goalkeeper.”

Goater Achieves His Dream

Shaun Goater came to the UK from Bermuda in 1988 determined to make his mark on English football’s top flight. And this summer, the 30-year-old will finally get his chance. Goater spent two years as a junior at Manchester United but never made the grade. But after spending most of his career in the lower reaches of the English game, he’s now set to spearhead the City attack in the Premiership. “When I was a youngster in Bermuda, I used to admire the big-name teams, like Manchester United and Liverpool,” he told Bermuda’s Royal Gazette newspaper, “and now I’m looking forward to playing against them and all their world-class players. It will be great.”

Taylor Looking to Prove Royle Right

Robert Taylor’s initial six months at Maine Road were disrupted by illness and injury. But the 29-year-old believes that if he enjoys an uninterrupted pre-season build-up, he can show the critics why Joe Royle signed him. Taylor finished with five goals for the Blues in fourteen starts and a further two substitute appearances. But the Norwich-born front man believes that fitness worries robbed him of the chance to show his true worth. “I can’t wait for next season now,” he said. “I want to get a full pre-season under my belt, get fit and then I can enjoy it.” Meanwhile, the ex-Gillingham player is hoping his former team-mates complete a perfect end to the season for him by going on to win promotion through the play-offs.

City to Play Pre-Season Derby

City’s return to the Premiership means a resumption of Manchester derby hostilities. And in a dress rehearsal for the real thing, the Blues will play Manchester United before the season starts. City have agreed to visit Old Trafford to play in Denis Irwin’s tesimonial on Wednesday 16 August – four days after playing at Everton in another testimonial, on that occasion for Joe Parkinson. Like the former Everton star, Irwin is also one of Joe Royle’s old boys. The City boss signed the Irishman for Oldham on a free transfer from Leeds and made a handsome profit when the player moved to Old Trafford in 1990.

More Pre-Season Games Announced

Manchester City confirmed on Tuesday that they’d play testimonials at Everton and Manchester United in the week before the season begins. And according to the club’s official website, the Blues have now announced four more pre-season games. City are due to kick off the Premiership season on Saturday, 19 August – exactly a week after the visit to Goodison and three days after playing at Old Trafford. The players, however, will be back in pre-season training from 13 July and will play their first friendlies on a tour of Ireland. A visit to Linfield on Saturday, 22 July will be followed by a match at Drogheda two days later. There will also be two local friendlies, with trips to Burnley and Oldham on Wednesday, 2 August and Tuesday, 8 August respectively.

City Decide Against Parade

City have elected not to tour Manchester in an open-topped bus to celebrate promotion. The Blues had been discussing the possibility with the City Council this week. Joe Royle had indicated before promotion was won that he’d prefer not to hold a parade should the club return to the Premiership, but after Sunday’s win at Ewood Park the position appeared to change. However, director Chris Bird told the official City website at, “While we all agree that the club’s back to back promotion has been a remarkable achievement, we don’t feel that it merits a parade through the City.” Instead, the Blues will make a £25,000 donation to charity. This sum represents the cost of organising and holding a parade.

Season Ticket Waiting List Grows

Manchester City have reached their self-imposed season-ticket ceiling of 23,000. Meanwhile the waiting list for prospective new applicants has reached 4,000 and is growing fast. The Blues had already sold over 16,000 season tickets before promotion was clinched, and the remainder have been snapped up quickly since Premiership football was guaranteed. Maine Road should now see its highest-ever number of season-ticket holders, with the previous record sold before the start of a season standing at 22,000 in 1977-78.

Peter Brophy (


I work at Ginger TV (I am a Producer on ‘The Priory’, Zoe Ball’s C4 show) and a colleague has just called from TFI Friday. Chris wants to do some stuff about Man City (all good natured banter I’m sure), and they are trying to get a few of the players down there tomorrow. They are also looking for genuine City fans to be in the bar. Any City fans who can be in Hammersmith tomorrow should call Jim Godfrey on 020 7663 2051.

Brad Hallam (


If you took any photos in and around Ewood Park last Sunday, the CITY magazine would like to see them along with any amusing anecdotes. If you want to be a part of the CITY magazine’s souvenir promotion special, please send any items to:

Mike Barnett, Editor
CITY magazine
164 Deansgate
M60 2RD

Please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope if you want your pictures returning. Stories and anecdotes can be e-mailed to

Mike Barnett (


MCFC and Fans’ Committee, Monday 17 April 2000 at 12:30pm

Present: Chris Bird, Bernard Halford and Peter Fletcher for MCFC.
Graham Brine, Les Saul, Dave Wallace, Ian Barton and Richard Jones for Fans’ Committee.

1. Pre-Season Friendlies
Current position is that a trip to Ireland is provisionally planned inadvance of next season with 3 / 4 games proposed. In addition a potential 3Team Tournament in mid June 2000 in Bermuda involving MCFC, Sunderland andthe Bermuda International Team is also possible. Plans are currently onhold as the remaining league matches are currently far more important.
2. Season Ticket Prices
Pricing system for next season has been positively received and the Clubhave now introduced a £20.00 discount for all students in full timeeducation under 18 years of age on 1 August, providing that they provideappropriate NUS Cards for authorisation. A review of this policy will beconsidered in future years at the time of season ticket renewals. BernardHalford commented that 16,000 renewals have now been received for 2000 /2001 and that all season ticket holders must act now and renew their ticketsby 31 May 2000 or else these will be released to people on the waitinglist. It should be noted that there are currently in excess of 2,500applicants on the waiting list.
3. Queues at North Stand Turnstiles
Previous concerns have been responded to with positive actions and therehave been no serious problems recently. The positive action to make bestuse of the available seating to maximise revenue, with the co-operationof visiting clubs, is good business and is to be applauded.
4. Future Fixtures
A “no mans” area of 15 seats will be in place in the North Stand forthe Birmingham match on Friday 28 April 2000, which is an increase from thenormal 6 seats, to help alleviate any potential problems for this “highrisk” game. An increased police presence will be noticeable on theevening, similar to the recent Leeds United fixture and the Birmingham fanswill be asked to stay behind after the match to help avoid any potentialconfrontation. An additional allocation of tickets, now in excess of 5,000,has recently been received from Blackburn for the match on Sunday 7 May2000.
5. Tracking System
Although the submission of ticket stubs is still continuing it is envisagedthat the “Tracking System” will be fully operational early next season. Thesystem is now operating effectively and once further trials are concluded,in liaison with the fans’ committee, this will be the method adopted forfuture ticket allocation. However, Bernard Halford again advised that allticket stubs for this season should be kept over the summer for use duringthe early part of next season.
6. Play Off Matches
A new system of ticket distribution for the potential play-off matcheshas recently been introduced and all season ticket holders should now havereceived appropriate details through the post. The Club have introducedthis process to help avoid the potential difficulties which occurred at theend of last season during these fixtures. Lessons learnt are being fullyreviewed with the operational team who have been assigned to ensure thatthe planning of this year’s potential distribution of tickets for thesefixtures helps to accommodate the fans’ needs.
7. New Stadium
Construction of the stadium has now commenced and it is currently envisagedthat 3 stands, rather than the initial plan for 2 stands, will bebuilt as part of the first phase in advance of the Commonwealth Games.Chris Bird is planning a “presentation / roadshow” of events in late Autumnto various Supporters’ Clubs to update the fans on the progress of thisproject with the fans’ committee continuing to be involved in the liaisonprocess.
8. Open Day 2000
Chris Bird is hoping to appoint an Exhibition Company to organise thisevent which is likely to be held in September 2000 on a Friday, Saturdayand Sunday during an International Weekend. Further details will beavailable in the future.
9. Barnsley Away Fixture
A number of personal complaints were received by MCFC and Peter Fletcherforwarded these to the Complaints Department at South Yorkshire Police foraction.
10. Parking for Disabled Fans
An additional allocation of 18 extra parking spaces for “orange badgeholders” has now been provided at Maine Road – total number is now 23with the individuals having been selected with the help of Mark Todd whorepresents these disabled supporters.
11. Ticket Office (HFC Loans)
Several fans have had difficulties with the procedures for applying forthese season ticket loans, paperwork has not been effectively processed anddifficulties have developed. This issue is in hand and Nathan Gould withinthe Ticket Office will assist with these applications to ensure aneffective service is provided to the fans.
12. Superstore
Special “T Shirts” with a “Feed the Goat” motif will be available in theSuperstore on Thursday 20 April 2000 at the same time as the sale of theRed and Black leisure shirts. The potential sale of Bermuda Internationalfootball shirts is being considered but there could be difficulties withlicensing procedures.
13. Stockport County Away Fixture
A few complaints were received from fans concerned about police horses thatwere charging the fans at the Railway End of the ground prior to gainingentry to the stadium when this was not necessary. Peter Fletcher agreed tolook into this matter and report back on his findings to the next meeting.In addition the City fans that were in the Corporate Hospitality area ofthe Cheadle End were very badly treated with them being subjected to cointhrowing and spitting – location of these seats is not ideal but StockportCounty have no other facilities available at the ground.
14. Position of Photographers in front of the Kippax Stand
No formal complaints have been received by Peter Fletcher concerning theposition of photographers in front of the Kippax Stand; if this is aproblem then Peter should be contacted to help resolve any difficulties.
15. Award for “Stewarding” at Maine Road
MCFC have received an award for the efficient stewarding at Maine Road, oneof only 8 country-wide awards. This will be presented to the clubin advance of the Tranmere fixture on Saturday 22 April 2000.
16. Date of Next Meeting
This will be organised in advance of next season and a date will bedetermined in due course.

Les Saul (


Cue the familiar music and the burning fuse; the tape recorder kicks in “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go to Cotton Town and sit amongst the locals for 90 minutes without them finding out you’re a Blue”. A tough task but I reckoned I was up to it! East Yorkshire’s A-Team set off with the sun in the sky and butterflies in our guts. Me, Clive and Tom were cautious in our discussion of the likely course of events, nobody tempting fate by discussion of the Premiership, next season or the like. Then we picked up Dominic and the mood changed. I know lawyers have to be adept at arguing some of the least plausible of client arguments, but our very own “commando on tea-break from SAS” (yes, the person Tony O’Leary described in MCIVTA 602 is one of ours) was confident that his one pound bet at 100/1 for City to win 5-1 was as good as in the bank. As for his case for our winning the treble by 2003, well William Hill’s were having to work out the odds on that one for him.

We saw one or two Blue cars along the way, but it was only as we left the M65 and entered Blackburn on the A666 (a devil of a road?) that the scale of the invasion became apparent. We parked up half a mile from the ground; the first pub was still closed; we’d made better time than we’d anticipated. However, a little further down the hill and the Bear Hotel was open and doing a roaring trade. Now I’m no expert in hotel management, but it didn’t take Lord Forte or even Basil Fawlty to figure that if you’re the first watering hole that thousands of thirsty Blues are going to come across that can open before 12 noon on a Sunday that you want to get a few extra staff on duty. Well so much for theory; the reality was that the bar staff did their best to keep the gallons coming and oiling the throats of the growing throng out in the beer garden.

We were ideally placed to watch the procession of people, cars and coaches heading towards the stadium. Who were the guys in the sombreros and ponchos? Where did all those stretched limousines come from? Who was the lucky bar-steward with the blonde companion with (I’m told though I didn’t see first hand so to speak) a City badge on the seat of her very snug white jeans? Why did the motorbike cop feel the need to stand up on his bike as he rode by? ‘Blues are here, Blues are there, Blues are every f*****g where’ was never truer than today. We could have been stood outside the Parkside given the number of Rovers fans in evidence.

One o’clock approached and once “SAS Blue” (nattily dressed in City cap and cut-down combats today as the weather was so nice) had been convinced that he had more chance of winning that 100/1 bet than he did of getting another beer, we headed into town via the inevitable burger stand. “The copper is a Blue, the copper is a Blue” sang the human tide as a lone police motorbike rider sat with a Blue balloon on his tank. We were then treated to the surreal sight of a ‘bus full of Munichs’ as a coach full of Raglets got bogged down in traffic. Several Raglets injudiciously decided to flaunt their Sharp shirts for the benefit of the crowd – bet the coach driver loved the little darlings.

At this point I had to go it alone on my mission impossible. Our CSA branch had got 3 of the 6 tickets we’d applied for and I was fourth priority; my fallback plan was a ticket courtesy of a mate from work who is a Rovers season ticket holder in the literally named “Blackburn End”. I was sworn to be on best behaviour as I would be in the Family Section. I’d decided laser blue was a bit risky, but compromised on the stealth supporter outfit of red t-shirt and black jeans. I though I stood out a mile amongst the blue and white of the Rovers’ fans but apparently not. At the start of the game, the home supporters seemed more concerned about renewing hostilities with their neighbours in Preston and especially Burnley, the favoured chant being a repeated “Bring on the b*****ds”, but as Rovers set about us they got behind their team. I guess the support seemed all the more vociferous because I was sat silent apart from the churning noises in my guts. I didn’t have to try to hard to remain incognito as City gave me precious little reason to leap out of my seat at the wrong time. Watching the first half again on video it didn’t seem quite as bad as it did live, but I guess that’s the benefit of knowing the outcome, but after they hit the bar twice I got the feeling it as going to be our day, but it was still hardly a surprise when they took the lead, Jansen finishing well past a somewhat flat-footed Weaver. Half time, and I met up with my Rovers mate who was amazed at the way his lads were playing. “I’m amazed, we’ve not played like this all season” (great, so they wait for us to show up to do it) “I’m really enjoying this but I guess you’re not too happy” (understatement of the season I thought). I had to admit we were lucky to be in it still, and at least Ipswich weren’t winning.

However, the second half wasn’t too old before they were and didn’t the Rovers’ fans let us know it! I think that was the lowest point for me, having to sit there with nobody’s shoulder to cry on, everyone else around me having a whale of a time, my Blue brethren a mere 100 yards or so away. The suddenly, a teasing Horlock cross and the Goat pops up for a snack and we’re on level terms. The Blackburn end was deadly silent; I saw a flash of white on the Goat’s face as he beamed from ear to ear, then I had two lessons in the laws of physics. Firstly, I managed to multiply the effect of gravity on my body and keep myself seated, screaming inwardly instead. Then there was proof that light does travel faster than sound as first I saw the Darwen End go into a Blue frenzy followed a short while afterwards by the sonic boom of thousands of relieved Blue voices. I thought the fact that I was taking photos of the away supporters might have given me away, but the Rovers’ fans were too absorbed in their own misfortunes to take notice.

Soon afterwards a well placed Edgy cross 🙂 was nodded goalwards by Christian Dailly. I think I single-handedly sucked that ball into the net and we were in front. The Rovers’ fans were well p****d off by now and their team began to fall apart. Kennedy appears from nowhere and it’s 3-1 – surely we can’t not go up now? Part of me was waiting for something to go wrong, and as I watched the scenes around the edge of the pitch, with Blues milling around and some spilling onto the pitch I feared the referee might stop the game. For Crissakes get off the pitch until the game’s over; don’t blow it when we’re in such a good position. Then Dicky manages to shrug off two dispirited Rovers’ defenders to slide the ball past Kelly. 4-1 with less than ten to play, I think I can relax now. Suddenly, I remember SAS Blue’s 100/1 shot and I feel like shouting “stop messing about, Dom’s got a hundred quid riding on another goal” but think better of it looking at the Rovers’ fans. In a display of touching optimism, the stadium announcer reminds us that the teams will come back onto the pitch after a short break if we stay off the pitch… as if! The clock ticked round towards 3.20 and then the referee is calling for the ball from Weaver, and the teams are running like hell for the tunnel, pursued by the teeming hordes. One newspaper likened the charge down the hill of those Blues outside the ground to a scene from the film Zulu – City had been in their own kind of Rourke’s Drift and come out alive and triumphant.

As an old school friend, who’d watched for moral support in a Glaswegian pub, said “a quite bizarre game”. He went on to suggest how it could have been stage managed by Sky and a certain Australian media mogul. “Right, Joe, just to make it interesting for the TV, the script is: you let the opposition’s overpriced underachievers hit the woodwork four times, and take the lead, then you wait till Ipswich go in front, and then you score four goals, right?” “Umm, are you sure about this, Rupe?”

With hindsight, I have to admit I hesitated about whether or not to get the ticket in the home end, not fancying the idea of keeping quiet all game (mission achieved by the way – I never spoke to anyone during the game) but of course now I’m glad I went. It was one of those memorable City occasions, of which you want to be able to say “I was there”. This time I was; what a day!

Geoff Donkin (


What a fantastic day on Sunday! I know everyone has their own story of where they saw the game so I thought I’d share mine with you.

I was lucky enough to get two tickets in the Jack Walker Stand at face value (19 quid) so my mate John and I drove down in the morning feeling particularly nervous and not 100% optimistic. After all, I have never seen City win away in the league – I’ve never even seen us draw so I was momentarily debating the wisdowm of actually be going… but I couldn’t bear not to, so off we went.

We got there and fought our way through the hundreds of City fans everywhere: outside pubs, sitting in the sunshine, queuing outside the offy, singing in the road, etc, and decided to go for a nerve-calming pint or two in the ground.

Well, what an electric atmosphere in the Jack Walker Stand bar. Just like the Kippax… when it’s closed. There were plenty of Blackburn shirts knocking around but it was about as exciting as walking round the Arndale Centre. Still, we got served quickly enough which was a novelty and we had a look round to eye up the competition. I noticed quite a few groups of people not wearing Blackburn shirts who were looking round at the rest of us, then I noticed an absolute classic. Two guys walked in: one had a bare chest and was carrying a rolled up carrier bag. The other was wearing an inside-out City away shirt in a pathetic attempt to disguise his allegience! I started talking to them and the guy with no top rummaged in his bag, pulled out a City shirt and put it on. Absolutely fantastic! Then everyone crawled out of the woodwork and came over talking to us and it became clear that there were hundreds of City fans in there. The Blackburn fans looked a bit bemused at the chanting and singing which quickly followed but let us get on with it.

Before the game I had been worried we might have been kicked out for supporting City and had been prepared to sit down and try to keep my trap shut (I said try). When Kennedy’s shot/cross went agonisingly wide of goal, we jumped up and put our hands on our heads in dismay… and so did about 100 other people near us. Our cover was blown but it didn’t matter a bit because there was absolutely no trouble at all. The home (by “home” I mean Blackburn) fans got up and shouted a bit after they scored but it fizzled out in the second half. When Dailly’s o.g. went in they were all muttering “Bluddy typical” and were moaning about the defence, but we were all dancing around like lunatics and couldn’t believe our luck. I almost felt a bit sorry for the Blackburn lot around us – they had taken our presence with good grace and most of them stayed until the end and shook our hands and wished us good luck next season.

I was just so glad it was us winning instead of playing really well for the first half then getting thrashed and scoring own goals in the second. How things change, eh?!

Stayed behind after the match to witness the scenes of absolute delirious mayhem on the pitch. Left around the time the tannoy was warning City fans in the Jack Walker Stand to stop jumping around on the canopy over the tunnel in case it collapsed! I don’t think anyone would have noticed if it had.

Back in town and a trip to Albert Square was in order to meet my brother who hadn’t been at the match. Fought my way through millions of bladdered City fans, kicked my way through hundreds of empty bottles and cans and witnessed fat blokes in the fountain, a paralytic guy dancing dangerously on the Albert Memorial statue who ended up mooning to the rest of us and then, worryingly, flashing something a bit more sinister (believe me, it was not a pretty sight!). The cops kept a quiet presence and let everyone get on with it. Via Vita was rammed full of singing and dancing Blues and as I was queuing for a beer they closed the bar! I think we’d drunk it dry.

Totally wiped out by the events of the whole day. Strangely, didn’t feel as elated as I did after Wembley last year, but still unable to wipe the daft grin off my face even now (Wednesday).

This is our time to enjoy our moment in the sun. Let’s worry about the season ahead when it comes but for now, each and every one of us, revel in this time to be a Blue and show the rest of the country we are back!

(By the way, anyone else already fed up of dickheads saying: will you still be smiling this time next year when you’re relegated again? So we’re relegated before we’ve even kicked a ball, eh? That’s a new one on me.)

Huge congratulations to Joe and all the boys who have done a fantastic job over the last two years. See you all in the Premiership! Ha ha ha!

Christine Haynes (


I’m sorry to add to the burden of MCIVTA 605 but I felt duty bound to apologise to anyone who happened to be visiting Linton Park Zoo, Cambridgeshire on Sunday afternoon. Keeping a longstanding commitment to visit my best friend and his young family for the weekend, and in the full knowledge that if we needed anything out of the last game, I should steer well clear (never recovered from 2-2 vs. Liverpool – it was all my fault), my mobile phone was destined to beep at me whenever a goal was scored at Ewood Park. I was happy enough as we passed the snow leopard and tiger, the white owl and the vulture, that a good forty minutes must have past without incident – but then, as we approached the zebras, it went off. Pressing the relevant buttons, my despair was audible to almost all species present. The next half hour was interminable. Never have lions and wallabies (at least I think they were wallabies) been so irrelevant. It was time to go. I ventured to the gents before departing, and in mid-flow, as it were, my phone beeped at me again. It was either 2-0 to Blackburn or 1-1. I pressed the buttons, as if playing russian roulette. I ran out of the gents with my arms aloft, and with the sort of expression on my face which is rarely generated by a visit to a public convenience (George Michael may know better).

Then bizarrely for City, we got an own goal (later, I discovered, as a result of a pinpoint long ball from Edgy onto Dailly’s head!), and 2 more for good measure from Kennedy, and appropriately, from Dicky, without whom we wouldn’t have been anywhere near in the first place. By this time I was heading north up the A14/A1, when the final whistle went. ‘We’ve done it Katy’ I told my daughter, age 6, in the back seat. ‘Have City won the world cup?’ she asked, still struggling to cope with the nuances of automatic promotion vs. the play offs. I decided to tell her the truth. ‘Yes, we’ve won the world cup’.

It’s four days later now, and I still think it’s the truth. Two thoughts at the end of an amazing era. Firstly, had we not been relegated from the Premiership against Liverpool four years ago, and had achieved something like Coventry City status in the meantime, I wonder whether I would really have swapped that for the rollercoaster ride we’ve had since (easy to say now it’s over I know, but it really has been an experience, hasn’t it?)? The road to Damascus or what? Secondly, Paul Dickov. I’m not sure he will feature much for City in the Premiership, and that may be true of a number of the current squad, but he, amongst all of this generation of City players, must not be forgotten for the enormously symbolic part he has played in bringing us back from the dead. If the new stadium needs some part of it naming after a City legend, let’s give it a modern legend’s name – and let’s not be afraid of calling it what it is. It’s not a stand, it’s not an end, it’s a roar – it’s where the Kippax will relocate to – The Paul Dickov Roar, in fortress Eastlands. And when anyone asks, in years to come, why it has such an unusual name, well, won’t we enjoy telling them the story of Wembley ’99 all over again?

City til long after I’m dead, John Roughton (


Answering Dominic’s request for the tallest Blue, I just about beat ‘Tall Simon’, being six foot eight. This does pose the question, why the hell is anyone interested in this?

Leon Black (


Funny how, the minute you’re no longer in desparate need of hope-inspiring words, you finally hear them no matter where you are. I went out to get some CD’s at lunchtime today, just some stuff I’d intended to buy for a while, and I was attracted for some reason to one of the sets of headphones hanging from the display unit, you know, the headphones for customers to listen to whatever it is that’s getting the hard sell that week.

I was in a relatively chirpy mood so that could explain why I picked “Smile” by The Jayhawks. “I’ll have a listen to that”, I thought (just so I don’t have to listen to the plastic clatter of me flipping CD’s backwards and forwards). On go the “cans”. Finger on the “skip forward” button, not expecting to hear anything of note as I know nothing about the band.

I listened to the whole first song… and skipped through the rest. The first song (the lyrics alone had sealed the deal although the melody is nice, and fitting, if you know what I mean).

Smile – The Jayhawks (from the album “Smile” – released 2000)

Wake up
Put your shoes on
Take a breath of the northern air
And rub those eyes
Genuflect beneath the starry skies

Before you climb the mountain
First the foothills must appear
Step high and light
Take up your staff and shining armour

(Chin up, chin up)
You don’t really have a problem
(Chin up, chin up)
In your hour of despair

And smile when you’re down and out
(Find something inside you)

Smile when you’re down and out
(Find something inside you)

The stars on the horizon
Stretch as far as the eye can see
They represent
The souls of those like you and me

And smile when you’re down and out
(Find something inside you)
Smile when you’re down and out
(Find something inside you)

(Chin up, chin up)
You don’t really have a problem
(Chin up, chin up)
In your hour of despair

Does anyone else see what I’m talking about? We needed this a little while ago… around Chrimbo ’98 to be more precise.

I wasn’t getting MCIVTA when the lad Simon threw a written fit and announced his intended abandonment of City and, to be (naïvely?) honest I have to admit I was shocked to read it when it was re-printed recently… the very thought… I had never actually seen someone declaring this kind of determination to seriously dump their chosen football club. Maybe if someone had sung him this before he hit the “send” button / went to bed that night he’d not have said what he said. Pity that.

Anyone else got any lyrics which make them think of City? Obscure or commercial stuff (apart from the well known adaptations on Oasis songs etc.)

(Lyrics reproduced without bothering to ask anyone at Sony Entertainment Inc. / Columbia Records / The Jayhawks… never mind though eh?)

There, that was painless enough, wasn’t it? I do have my moments for pondering too.

CTID, Cathal Whelehan – wheelie on BlueView (


I am sure that in years to come City fans will regularly gather around their pints and ask “Where were you when City got promoted back to the Premier League?” Well in my case I have the somewhat peculiar answer of “Milan” to that question. A combination of relatively bizarre events had led me and a group of my, mainly City supporting friends, to be sitting high in the stands of the San Siro Stadium, rather than Ewood Park or the infamous ‘grassy knoll’ behind it, when the glorious news of our promotion came through.

Several months earlier I had been deciding where to spend the weekend of my stag do and the choice of watching a game in Milan seemed a pretty excellent one. I mean City were unlikely to go up on the last day of the season (automatic promotion – yeah right!), which meant that I could escape to Italy for a sublime booze-up, catch a game, and still make it back to Old Blighty for the terror of the play-offs.

Needless to say that City conspired, as they ever do, to inflict the maximum amount of stress upon all us loyal Blues (and me in particular) by ensuring that I would be several hundred miles away on the weekend that would decide our fate. Those Blues alongside me had also let it be known well in advance the repercussions of my decision to go to Milan ‘that weekend’ should we now not go up.

So imagine if you will the quizzical looks from the passing Inter Milan fans as they sat around us in the San Siro. Most seemed unable to determine just what strip these 5 slightly drunken football fans were wearing, and why throughout the game they sat crouched with mobile phones clutched to their ears. Even more confusion was caused when half way through the first half of the Inter – Fiorentina game we sat with our head in our hands cursing the news from Ewood Park and Portman Road.

And then amazingly, both games changed in an instant. Batistuta and Chiesa ripped through the heart of the Inter defence to bang in a couple of goals in quick succession… but more importantly back in Blackburn, The Goat, Kennedy, and Dickov were doing the same to a tiring Rovers’ defence. So while the Inter fans screamed abuse at their team these five strange fellows sang “Feed The Goat” and “Super Mark Kennedy” with smiles as wide as the San Siro.

The rest, as they say, is history and with a quick bottle of champagne at Milan Airport to celebrate our promotion we departed Italy. Oh, by the way final score: Inter 0 – Fiorentina 4.

Ciao, Roger – The Blue Kiwi (


Where were you when City got promoted in the year 2000?

I was at a football match on Sunday May 7th that made history. The home side had a myriad of chances but lost. The away side scored four goals for a famous victory, stealing the points with superior finishing, and sending their fans wild half an hour before the final whistle. This was no ordinary match and it is one which will live long in my memory. It might not be the game you are thinking of however…

After luckily beating Blackburn 4-1, City are promoted back to the Premier League. Despite all the odds, we have actually done it. Next season we will have derbies against United, we can start watching Match of the Day with interest and we are guaranteed match reports in all the Sunday papers as well as having our own page on Channel 4 Teletext. Strangely enough, it was realising that last rather insignificant point that it fully struck home to me that City are back in the big time.

Although I did put an each-way £3 bet on us (at 18-1) at the start of the season, it was more in loyalty than in hope. I honestly never believed we would have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting into the play-offs, let alone get automatic promotion. Mid-table mediocrity would have been fine and dandy as far as I was concerned and I told anyone who would listen as much. What we have done this year is beyond brilliant in my opinion.

Wembley last year was different – it was more important to the long-term future of the club. If we had lost last May, it was literally the end of MCFC. If we had not gone up this year, it would have been a set-back but a recoverable one. To paraphrase Michael Caine, we weren’t supposed to blow the blo*dy doors off the division!

Ten wins, ten draws, eighteen defeats, forty points and seventeenth place – that will do me fine next season; anything more will be a bonus. I offer this prediction solely in the hope that it will turn out to be as woefully pessimistic as this season’s!

Already the arguments about who we should buy and sell are re-surfacing but let’s just enjoy the moment, the magical moment, for now. Let us say thank you to all the people who made it happen. A strong, sensible board, an excellent management team and – not least of all – the players who have all come together with our support and achieved the impossible. Thank you to each and every one of you.

I will raise one concern however. I believe that the people facing the biggest challenge next year are not at the club but of the club: us, the fans. We have survived the dark years with the deepest, darkest humour and I hope we can lighten up a bit and start to relax from now on. Have we become addicted to our own reputation?

My fear, augmented by the coverage of that Birmingham pitch invasion, is that we become seen as drama queens like Newcastle fans, who these days start blubbing if they draw nil-nil at Bradford, or worse still Tottenham whingers. We must not start playing up to the media’s hype that we are the “best fans in the country”, even though we patently are the best fans in the country. They will be only too willing to knock us back down again after reluctantly building us up.

Anyway, back to that unforgettable game on Sunday I mentioned at the top of this piece… I saw Inter Milan suffering the biggest home defeat of their history, losing 4-0 to Fiorentina.

Ten of us, mostly City fans, were in Milan for a stag weekend for a fellow City fan: a stag-do carelessly, nay wilfully arranged to coincide with the last day of the season – several hundreds of miles from home, Ewood Park, that grassy knoll outside or any pub with Sky TV.

On the appointed Sunday, garbed in City’s finest livery and with Braveheart-sized hangovers, we approached the San Siro, took our photos – watch out for a very scary picture in a future edition of the City magazine – and marvelled at a proper Theatre of Dreams. Whilst climbing a seemingly endless staircase to get to our seats, everyone spontaneously launched into an ironic chorus of “Subutteo!”.

The San Siro is one amazing stadium, easily the most impressive I have visited. I understand why Italian fans don’t get drunk before a game. If they fall down those steep stairs – we were one row from the back and suffering serious vertigo – they will be lucky to escape with a few broken limbs. When the Inter players came on for a warm-up, they looked so small I thought they were a bunch of kids on for a pre-match six-a-side. The stag man himself got a generous round of applause for making a paper plane land on the pitch first time, a feat equalled by no-one else in the whole ground, despite hundreds of attempts.

We obviously intended to enjoy the Italian experience but there was no way we were going to miss out on updates from home. GSM mobile phones and various people to call them, from within and without Ewood Park, had been organised with military precision. I even considered catching one of the pigeons swooping gracefully from the rafters and sending it off to Lancashire as a message carrier in case new technology failed us. The Italian game was scheduled to kick off 30 minutes behind the English one so we sat chewing nails in the almost-as-bad-as-Wembley bucket seats as no score flashes came through in this half-hour gap.

The hardcore Inter fans unveiled various massive banners throughout the game, encouraging their manager Mr. Lippi to engage in activities unrepeatable here, and I could see why. Although Inter had a superiority in play and chances, there was a infuriating gutlessness about them which worsened when they failed to score. According to our translator, one banner called for “no more champions, we want players with balls!”

Fiorentina ripped Inter to shreds on the counter attack. Two goals from Chiesa – a very, very tasty player – effetively settled the game within the hour. Batistuta got the third but was easily overshadowed by his strike partner. Seedorf was particularly woeful for Inter and didn’t even get substituted. I honestly think the City of today could have scrapped their way to a result against Inter that day! Indeed, their play reminded me of City pre-1999.

Half-time in Milan (0-1) co-incided with the reflected low-point from Blackburn. Two dreaded bad-news phone calls meant that, for what seemed much much longer than ten minutes, City were consigned to the play-offs. Next we learned that Blackburn had hit the bar four times and that City were playing “like s**t”. Grim was not the word.

Then came a magical twenty-minute cavalcade of phone calls.

1-1. Yes! We’re back in it. Come on City.

1-2. Yes! Can we hang on?

1-3. Yes!! Surely now this is it? (At this point the second half had started and I got kicked by an angry Italian whose view I was blocking by standing up and cheering)

1-4. Me? Nervous? Nah, never doubted it for one moment. Honest, guv.

Full time and City are up! “We are not, we’re not really here!” blasted through the earpiece. I longed to be there.

None of us believed it, of course. It was the CIA intercepting our friends’ phone calls and telling us lies; it was static from the ether; it was confusion caused by the excesses of a stag weekend; it was just unreal. Sitting in the Gods at the San Siro does that to you. Supporting City does that to you.

We all had to be careful outside the ground not to celebrate too loudly in case some of the Inter fans got the wrong idea. They weren’t in the best of moods and we even saw a few who had driven down from Holland just to see Seedorf. Doh!

Nothing could stop us from grinning like lunatics for the rest of the day however. At the airport that night we almost missed the plane sipping some celebratory champagne. We saw some Ipswich fans boarding the plane who pointedly ignored us. And when I finally reached home in London, I switched the Teletext on and started to believe. There it was in cyan on black, City were promoted.

Reading every single match report and analysis the next day, I couldn’t stifle a few tears. Listening to Talk Radio and hearing Dennis Tueart and David Bernstein come on and both say “yes, we’re celebrating but we’re not finished with success yet” made my eyes well up once more. They were tears of joy – the best kind and for the second year in a row. Unbelievable.

So, thank you Roger for organising your stag-do for the last weekend of the season – not to mention your wedding for the day of the England-Germany Euro 2000 game – but I suppose it worked out OK in the end. It was definitley less stressful watching Inter and waiting for news than having to suffer Alan Brazil’s nauseatingly biased commentary and 60 minutes of professional suicide by City. Shame about the tattoo and the scar though, eh Rog?

I suppose that, extrapolating the lucky underpants theory to its logical conclusion, the next time City have a crunch game, I will have to head back to the San Siro and repeat this “Italian Job”. Next year’s theme song may yet be “We are the self-preservation society / Staying in the Premier – we are City!”

And, who knows? In a few years’ time we might even be going to the San Siro to watch City in a competitive game. I can hear you mocking me now but is that more of a fanciful story than the events of the past five years?

Onwards and upwards, my friends, onwards and upwards.

James Nash (


The Oscar Wilde, Oranienburgertor, Berlin

  • The sky over Potsdam is clear blue, an omen if ever I needed a day full ofthem. Less pleasantly, Potsdam is south of Berlin, considerably south ofBerlin, and it is exactly 14.10. I know this because I have been looking atmy watch on and off for the last three days. Cocooned in a bland conferencehotel by the side of a mosquito-infested lake, my remit has been to talkseriously about the business matters pertaining to focussed selling andboosting turnover whilst having a befuddled mind full of Binman Bob’s silkyruns and Blue Moon singing hordes. That’s behind me now, literally, and weare trundling along in that gentle manner that Germans in this part of thecountry seem to have. My taxi driver, an ultra polite octogenarian, has yetto find third gear as we sway through Potsdam’s impressive array ofroadworks. I’m not going to make it. I’m not going to make it. I am notgoing to make it.
  • Hartmut the Taxi is pointing out Sans Souci Palace to me and I tell him inwobbly German to shift it or it could get nasty. He is paddlinginefficiently for third gear, as the lights at the next junction beat himand we grind to a stop once again. I take out a ring binder and get ready tot**t him with it.
  • I’m in a train from Potsdam to Berlin, which I am told will get me therein 30 minutes. It is slow, full of old ladies with varicose veins and tennissocks and it’s stopping blo*dy everywhere. Geistenersee anybody?Schoneweide? No, I didn’t think so. Shift this old heap before I murdersomebody.
  • They’ll be in the tunnel at Ewood now, glaring at each other, limbering upand listening to the deafening roar of the City support. I am in a tunnel aswell, listening to a pair of Mullets discussing bicycle repair tricks. Iconsider removing the old badger’s tennis socks next to me for a murderattempt on one of them, but realise it is inconceivable with the ticketcollector looking at me.
  • I have just realised I haven’t got a ticket. If the ticket collector comesmy way, I’m in for one of those classic Anglo-German encounters: “cool down,man, I’m in a hurry that’s all. City going up, you know. I’ll pay for theblo*dy ticket.” “You must depart from this train at the very next stationand announce yourself to the ticket office at the end of platform 7 wherethey will issue you a ticket for the rest of your journey and supply youwith a book covering the rules of the German Bundebahn. Please leave thisvehicle immediately” F*ck off.
  • I have found a diversion to the ultimately futile but extremely depressingpastime of looking at my watch. I am removing my shirt and tie and replacingthem with the laser blue. People are looking away. Is it the mosquito bitesor my exquisite lines? A large Hattie Jacques-like woman with a bustenhalterthat once launched the SS Bismark is looking at me like I am Sid James. I amSid James.
  • I am running like a wild cat through Friederichstrasse Bahnhof. I am awarethat I am telling people in the blur that ten minutes have gone already. Anold duffer with a shock of electric hair gets too close to me and I send hisnewspaper cartwheeling into the air. No time for an apology, I can hearGermans shouting things like “wurst” and “scheisse” in the background.
  • I am throwing money into the left luggage lockers and running back ontothe concourse. I’m sure to have forgotten something but my mind is whirringand my legs won’t stop.
  • I’m in the underground dancing from one foot to another. People arelooking at me and I’m looking at my watch. Even if we’ve scored, they can’tphone me down here. It dawns on me that once again I have failed to buy aticket; an offence dealt with by public flogging and a free season ticket toMSV Duisburg in this country.
  • I am charging up crumbling steps at Oranienburgertor and am immediatelydazzled by the fierce sunlight. Cathal has told me to look for wasteland(wasteland?! That’s all I need at this stage) and the pub’s next door. He’sright, God love him, it’s just a leap and a trip across the road, which Icover in a leap a trip and a yell as a taxi nearly launches me into the air.
  • I am charging headlong through the pub to where the noise is. I can hearAlan Brazil complaining that City aren’t losing and big crowd noises. Reallybig crowd noises.
  • 20 minutes gone, my new City mates have got me a beer and we’re into theserious business. It takes us the blink of an eye to introduce ourselves andsettle into the game. It’s my pleasure and privilege to be in the company ofthe infamous Speed Poet Cathal Whelehan, Jef, of French/Georgian background,and an enthusiastic crowd of City fans and well wishers. Cathal’s mindbenderof a match report from the Wolves game it was that triggered my memory tothe possibilities of getting stuck into some ale in good company for thisone.
  • Red and black shirts have been going forward well, seems to be theopinion. There are City supporters clinging to each other for a view on thehill overlooking Ewood Park.
  • Blackburn have hit the bar.
  • Blackburn hit the bar again, only full on this time. Since my arrival Cityhave started playing like carnival elephants.
  • I am having a relapse already. I wish I was still on the train, stuck in atunnel somewhere, nestling up to Wilhemina’s dusty tennis socks.
  • A big group of girls come in pinted up and are told to get out of the wayof the screen as quick as they like. Some of them seem quite good-looking,but that’s only from a two-second glance. There are more lovely things to belooking at than eight girls in t-shirts.
  • City are playing very erratically. We are – as the saying goes – all overthe shop. Myself, I am still a picture of calm, not shaking uncontrollablyat all and have given up breathing for lent.
  • I am not enjoying myself very much.
  • Blackburn confirm their superiority and score. I am holding my head in myhands, as it would seem are many thousands on the big screen. Anothernervous shambles at the back mirroring our own performance in the OscarWilde so far. My bowels are threatening to erupt in the mayhem under thepressure of three days conference abuse and the City Last Day of the SeasonSpectacular.
  • It’s half time and we’re stocking up on Caffreys and Bittburger andfinding out who everybody is. McVittee has thrown us together and we ponderour immediate future whilst I fizz gently in the aftermath of my frenziedjourney to get here on time. I have thus far been rewarded by a nervousperformance by my taxi driver, the train driver, the ticket collector, BigWilhemina, the sock sellers of Potsdam (outrageous performance, that) oldman with hair in the station and now eleven players out on the park.
  • A strangely attractive member of the band of girls that came in earlierhas appeared around a post and is asking us in a soft Mancunian accent ifCity are still OK with this situation. I take a shine to her rimless glassesand comfort her with soothing words. Cathal is in no state to provideanswers to her desperate questions and I feel the need to comfort her somehow,but as this is a public place, I return to my Bittburger. She smilesand goes back to tell her mates the good news (i.e. yes one of them’s aFrenchman, the other two are Lithuanians).
  • We’ve set off again and the commentator is saying something about “if Ipswich score now…”
  • Ipswich have scored. Our world is closing in on us. The girl with the niceglasses looks like Fanny Craddock. I can feel imminent death coming on,followed by a need for more beer.
  • Pictures from Ipswich show David Johnson, with exactly the same haircut asthe old guy I attacked in the station at Friederichstrasse, in ecstatic,sun-drenched post-coital huddle with his mates. Yokels are waving ridiculouslittle wooden placards with what looks like “we hate Division One” on them.Can this bunch of idiots really go up instead of us? Yes, is the swift andsad conclusion.
  • I drop my pint. This is really the end. Cathal is now a weak-bladderedLithuanian, as some of the girls crane their necks to look at my puddleunder his seat.
  • Blackburn hit the post for a third time. It’s Ashley Ward. Of course.Playing like Riva-blo*dy-lino. Outrageous good fortune brings it back offthe inside of the post into Weaver’s arms. He is being seriously stretched,as is my capacity to function normally in a public place. The pretty girlaround the post looks like Thora Hird after an afternoon pot-holing.
  • It must be, oooh, what, thirty seconds later and Blackburn have hit thepost again. I am looking around for somewhere to hide. I can feel all theblood draining out of my face. Cathal is threatening to cry. Others aredoubled up trying to breathe.
  • We are admonishing Jef who is now telling us that we will win 2-1. Haveyou ever heard of anything so blo*dy ridiculous? He says he’s from Lens andI was thinking they knew about football there (average crowds higher thanthe town’s population is a bit on the special side, you have to admit) buthe obviously hasn’t got a clue here, the poor Frenchman. I resist tellinghim he’s barmy and give him one of my looks instead.
  • The place has gone nuts! Everybody’s hugging each other and Cathal’s goneoff to try and get onto the pitch through the big screen, which is wobblingmore than we are. Somehow The Goat has steered his shot in, his first cleancontact of the match. It is 1-1 instead of 0-7 and I am thinking of takingup citizenship of Lens. The Hillpeople are going nuts.
  • We are still enjoying the noise, the adulation, the singing and thefinishing off of drinks when Edghill punts it into their box. Dickov’s thereand here comes the ‘keeper. Hang on, there’s Dailly and he’s… that’s… he’s… it’s… that’s… going… that’s going… that”s blo*dygoing… yeeeeaaaaaarghhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
  • I am shaking violently. Jef has been awarded a Popehood and there’s beerall over the floor. Christian Dailly is in the back of the net. And so isthe ball! One Christian Dailly, there’s only one Christian Dailly, oneChristian Dailly. Cathal’s pelvic thrusts into the big screen seem to betargeting anyone he can get near. I don’t know him properly and he isbeginning to worry me, but I have beer and life is flooding back into myveins, so I’ll give him a chance, but if he comes near me…
  • The ball comes over from the right and Kennedy slots it in. We’ve scoredagain. We’ve scored again! We’ve scored again!!!! I am trying to mountCathal. Somebody is on top of me. Jef has a big white robe on and a skullcapbut still sports a little black goatee and glasses. He is waving casuallywith his right hand and people are throwing carnations at him. The girlround the post looks like Juliette Binoche and is completely naked apartfrom a City pin badge attached to her left nipple. I give it a spin and falloff my stool into my own puddle of beer.
  • Kennedy is in Big Joe’s arms, I am in Cathal’s arms, Jef is in Pete’sarms, Rob is in Signor Hughes’s arms, Juliette Binoche is in Roger Moore’sarms and everyone is in love and whispering promotion to each othercoquettishly. We’re going up, we’re going up! We are b****y going up! Again!
  • Dailly and, bless him, Flitcroft have bobbsed up and Dickov’s tearingthrough the middle. They’re closing him down, they’re closing him down, the’keeper’s coming, the tackles coming in… he’s scored, he’s scored!Dickov’s scored! Oh God! Dickov’s scored! Even the Crystal Palacefan is excited now, everyone’s up and we’re hovering, bending, leaping,crouching, waving, shaking, jumping, yelling, screeching and losing it bigtime.
  • Cathal’s wandered off to the screen again and City seem to be celebratingon his shirt.
  • I am incapable of speech that would be recognised as human and have beenreduced to a slathering wreck. The whistle’s gone and everyone is on thepitch. Alan Brazil is expressing his dislike of the scenes and thinks it’sdangerous. The hordes on the hill are descending en masse as if in a scenefrom Zulu. I feel a bit like a warrior myself, but one that has beenwalloped over the head with a big studded shield by a man with horns comingout of his head and a loincloth with a full set of cannonballs in it.
  • I am awake now and seem badly tangled in hotel sheets which could be bestdescribed as “soiled”. My head is spinning and I have a small sparrow stuckunder my tongue. The television is on loud and my City shirt is hanging fromthe central light fitting. There are bits of shredded newspaper everywhere.The door is open. It is ten to three in the morning. In the mirror I seethat my hair looks like Alan Brazil’s. I am emptying the minibar and wavingat the people outside who are watching me. I won’t sleep until Wednesday,but I’ll have plenty of dreams.
  • The manager is saying the police are coming and I’m to get my coat.

Simon Curtis (


Woke up at 6:10am and after sorting out in my mind what I had been doing the day before, decided it was Sunday, having woken up not really knowing what day it was. Realisation then hit me – it was that Sunday when our fate would be sealed one way or the other. I shot up in bed just like they do in films when they hear a noise in the night and I am now wide awake and worried.

Get up and start wandering about – what time did I tell the lads I would pick them up? It’s only 7 1/2 hours to kick off and Blackburn must be at least 45 minutes travelling time. Should we have agreed on a 7:00am start? Make pot of tea and watch recording of match of the day. God, I hope Wimbledon go down – what a waste of a match if we do get promoted and have to play them. Fast forward through all the chat.

7:15 now. What to do? If anyone drove past the garage on Styal Road at 7:20 and saw some prat cleaning his car with the jet wash, yep – that was me!

8:00 What to do? Went to church – seemed like a good plan – get God on our side.

9:00 to 10:30 lost in a haze trying to keep busy.

10:30 Neil turns up.

10:45, 4 of us in the car and away to Blackburn. Hit the M60 at 10:47 and Billy opens up the first can! Decide to go up A666. City fans all the way including 2 enormous stretch limos with City fans inside – brilliant. Well done whoever you were behind the black glass. Notice that some pubs are open before we reach Darwen. Decide to stop at one after Darwen then get to ground early. Suddenly, we are in Blackburn – I always thought there was a gap between Darwen and Blackburn. Must have been filled in.

So park the car at 11:45 and it’s like happy bedlam. Blues everywhere. Picnics of cans of Boddies going on everywhere, especially on the grass by the side of the road. Have been told by a Blackburn pal that the Fernhurst pub is reserved for away fans. He must have sent this message to 10,000 other Blues – the queue for a pint was about 20 thick! So stood and sang with everyone else without a drink until we saw the players’ coach pass to a great roar. Decided to get to the ground – maybe there’s a bar inside. Yep, and quite passable ale. They had a great machine behind the bar which dispensed 6 pints of lager at a time. If anyone from Maine Road reads this, find out where they can be bought and buy some now.

Others have told the story of the match – one thing I remember was being in the gents at half time and someone round the corner was playing hell with some poor City fan who had dared to pass a comment on the fact that we were not doing too well! “Get behind the lads – if you can’t, get to Old Tr*****d” he shouted. Everyone near me smiled nervously – they could see both points of view. The rest is history. Thanks Joe. Great day. Does anyone know what date the fixtures are published?

Please let the last match of the season be at home. Wouldn’t it be boring if we were not in any danger of going down/missing being in top three/etc., on the last day?

Roll on August 19th.

Heard today that we will be at the Swamp a few days before the season starts for an Irwin testimonial. Do we think that this is a good idea? What effect will it have on them if we hammer them too much with only a few days to recover before the season starts?

Chris Ryder (


Actually, I think the one after the play-off last year was 47 pages on my printer (this one was “only” 32!) – perhaps one of our resident stattos such as Mottershead or the guy who did the chants stats could do a piece… or maybe not?

CTID, Nigel – Horsham Blue (


To all those who shared the pain, shared the ale, shared the black humour, shared the despair, shared the euphoria, drank the ale, stole the ale, hogged the ale, threw the ale up, hugged and cried at Wembley, giggled at Oldham, swore at Lincoln; to all those that ran around dazed, laughed, cajoled, wished us on; to all those that supported us, put up with us, slapped our backs, kept us sane, avoided eye contact, left things unsaid; to all those that sang their hearts out, wrote, sympathised, phoned, reflected; to all those in the Oscar Wilde in Berlin on Sunday; to all those back home, in Amsterdam, in Lisbon; to all those sharing an unbelievable moment at 3.20 last Sunday; to all those who doubted, poked fun, poured scorn, cried foul; to all those who believed, believed some more, hoped, lost sleep, threw up, fell out, jumped in; to all those who waxed lyrical, shouted from the rooftops, bellowed, cried and stood firm; to all those that went home and away; to all those in The Comfy Cushion, The Parkside, The Whitestone, The Broadfield, Terry Neill’s, The Blarney Stone; to all those that propped us up, put an arm around us, bought us a drink, put up with our moods, pretended to listen, spared us a thought; to all those at Ewood Park, The Den, Saltergate, Bootham Crescent; to all those who tackled, blocked, saved, scored, headed, came on, came off, jumped, challenged and played out of their skins; to all those who sang long and hard deep into the night. Can one of you help me off the roof please?

Simon Curtis (


Idly flicking through page 312 on the Ceefax, I came across a released / free transfer list from Portsmouth. Bugger me, they were all ex-City players. Anthony (twin-brother of Nick) Fenton, Scott (Sicknote) Hiley and none other than Britain’s 1st £10 M footballer (