Newsletter #608

Joe Royle is heading off on a 2-week vacation, so ordinarily one might expect any transfer activity to die down. However, transfer speculation has if anything gathered pace, with the Blues being linked with any number of players (see Peter’s News).

This issue has Mark Geoghegan’s assessment of MCIVTA reporters’ player of the year, diligently assembled from all the ratings in last season’s match reports; news of a prospective update to ‘Manchester – The Greatest City’; some City memories from the ’50s; Phil Hartley’s patented prediction algorithm (get your bets on for next year); opinion, and a nice Why Blue.

Next game: To be announced.


Evening News Lists Three Main Targets

Joe Royle will enter the transfer market this summer as he bids to reinforce his City squad for the challenge ahead. And the Manchester Evening News has claimed that the Blues’ boss has three main targets in mind. While Royle has so far been linked with a host of prospective recruits since the Blues won at Blackburn to clinch promotion, the local paper claims that the men at the head of his list are Alf-Inge Haaland, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Matt Holland. Leeds star Haaland could be available after the Elland Road outfit signed French midfielder Olivier Dacourt, while failure for Ipswich in the play-offs could see Bury-born Holland willing to return to the north west. Meanwhile, Bolton will be forced to sell Gudjohnsen after seeing their own play-off hopes crumble this week – although the Blues are reported to be unwilling to meet the Trotters’ £5 million valuation.

Boss Lining Up Insurance?

With Joe Royle on holiday, there will be no transfer activity at Maine Road for a fortnight. But the Manchester Evening News claims that the Blues’ boss already has a settled idea of the men he’d like to add to his squad. The local paper has already claimed that Royle’s three main targets are Alf-Inge Haaland of Leeds, Bolton’s Eidur Gudjohnsen and Matt Holland of Ipswich. But if the Haaland proves out of reach, it’s claimed that Rosenborg defender Bjorn Otto Bragstad could interest the City manager, while with Ipswich insisting Holland will stay even if the Suffolk club lose next week’s play-off final, it’s said that the Blues’ attention may turn to Leicester’s Neil Lennon. Meanwhile, Blackburn’s Ashley Ward and Darren Huckerby of Leeds have been named as alternative striking targets.

Boss In Bosman Hint

There’s been much speculation over how much Manchester City will spend in the transfer market this summer. But one potential new recruit could cost the Blues nothing. Joe Royle has spoken on more than one occasion about the need for the club to be aware of players available on Bosman free transfers. And on the eve of his departure for a two-week holiday, Royle has admitted that he does have a move for an out-of-contract star in mind – although he refused to be drwan on specifics. “There is one ‘Bosman’ who we are considering at the moment,” the City boss admitted to the club’s official website at “As for European or English, you are testing my geography on that score!”

Is Babb Royle’s Bosman Target?

Joe Royle admitted late last week that he has a target in mind who will be available on a Bosman free transfer. And one of the weekend’s newspapers has offered the first guess at the mystery man’s identity. Phil Babb is the man who was linked with the Blues, with the out-of-favour Liverpool defender set to leave Anfield this summer as his contract expires. Part of the reasoning appears to be that Royle had appeared unsure whether to classify the player in question as English or European – and the Irish international is London-born. If the ex-Coventry star is the man the City boss has in mind, the Blues could face fierce competition – Babb is said to be wanted by his former club, in addition to West Ham, Derby and Charlton.

Play-offs the Key to Transfer Policy?

Manchester City are looking to strengthen their squad ahead of next season’s Premiership challenge. And the identity of some of the Blues’ targets could be shaped by the outcome of the First Division play-offs. City have been linked with stars from each of the four clubs who started out in the semi-finals – but the club which eventually joins the Blues in the top flight is likely to be able to hold onto its stars. After their aggregate defeats in the last two days, Bolton and Birmingham may be receptive to bids for Eidur Gudjohnsen and Gary Rowett respectively if reports of City interest prove accurate. Meanwhile, three more rumoured targets will feature in the final when David Johnson and Matt Holland play for Ipswich and Craig Hignett lines up for Barnsley.

Sunday Tabloids Provide More Links

Manchester City’s summer recruitment policy has been the subject of much speculation in the last fortnight. And if Sunday’s tabloids are anything to go by, the guessing game shows no sign of slowing down. According to The Mail on Sunday, Royle is keen on the Leeds pair of utility man Alf-Inge Haaland and striker Darren Huckerby, together with Norwegian defender Bjorn Otto Bragstad of Rosenborg. The paper also claims that ex-City striker Ashley Ward, supposedly surplus to requirements at Blackburn, could also be a target. The Sunday Mirror speculates that Royle is contemplating what would surely be a doomed approach for Leicester’s Neil Lennon, another one-time City junior, while the Sunday People says the City boss could join Charlton in the race for £2.5 million-rated Bolton defender Mark Fish. Finally, the News of the World reports that Bolton have joined City in the chase for Frenchman Alex Di Rocco – even though Royle says he’s never heard of the Sedan striker.

Kanchelskis Deal Scuppered By Fee Demand?

Andrei Kancheslkis was one of the first players to be linked with Manchester City as the club contemplated life in the Premiership. But Rangers’ reported asking price for the Russian international appears to be putting paid to prospects of a deal. It was originally reported that the Ukrainian-born star was available on a Bosman free transfer, but in fact he has two years remaining of his deal at Ibrox. The Glasgow outfit have indicated that the player could be available at the right price, but rumours place boss Dick Advocaat’s valuation at anything between £3 million and £5 million. And it’s thought that City would regard even the lower of these figures as excessive for a 31-year-old.

More Fenton Move Talk

Nick Fenton is the subject of rumours linking him with a move away from Maine Road. But Joe Royle isn’t in a hurry to part company with the 20-year-old defender. Fenton played only once in the City first team last term, and had spells on loan at first Notts County and then Bournemouth. Both clubs would be keen to take the ex-England Youth player on permanently, and he’s also interested other Second Division outfits. And while Royle says that he’ll listen to offers, he isn’t desperate to sell. “I am in no hurry to see him out of the place,” the City boss told the club’s official website at “Having said that, if an acceptable offer comes in for him it will be considered.”

Royle Hoping Veterans Will Stay

Joe Royle went on holiday at the end of last week not knowing whether Ian Bishop and Tommy Wright will accept the new contracts offered to them. But the City boss is hoping the veteran pair will opt to stay at Maine Road. Each player has been offered a one-year deal, and Royle sees both men as having important rôles to play next term. Northern Ireland international Wright is credited by the City boss as having assisted in the startling development of Nicky Weaver, while Bishop has, in Royle’s eyes, “been terrific ever since he joined us from West Ham a couple of years ago.”

Royle Heads for Sunshine Break

Had recent events unfolded differently at Blackburn twelve days ago, Joe Royle could have been plotting City’s play-off destiny this weekend. But instead the Blues’ boss is heading off on a well-earned holiday in the sun. Royle is heading off to Magaluf after guiding the club back into the Premiership – leaving erstwhile automatic promotion rivals Barnsley and Ipswich battling to join the Blues in the top flight. And the City boss will have plenty of pleasant recent memories to reflect on as he soaks up the sun. “I am just desperate to get away and lie on a beach to smile and reflect on two fantastic years,” he told the club’s official website at “I will think of the incredible scenes at Blackburn and at Wembley and the fact that maybe someone is looking after us again at Manchester City.”

Bermuda Set to Recognise Goater?

Shaun Goater’s 29 goals last season helped the Bermudian win the City ‘Player of the Year’ award. And now the striker’s achievements are set to be recognised in his home country. Saturday’s Manchester Evening News Pink reports that there are moves afoot in Bermuda to name a road after the former Bristol City player. And the paper also quotes the Blues’ top scorer’s mother as saying she’s delighted her son moved to Maine Road. “I told him when I was up there that this [City] is the best team I had ever seen him play with,” she explained.

Kennedy Upset by Paper’s Slur

Birmingham’s John McCarthy broke his leg at Maine Road three weeks ago after a tackle by City’s Mark Kennedy. But the Irishman was upset to find himself the subject of criticism for the challenge. One newspaper report in particular took Kennedy to task over the incident, but Joe Royle has defended the ex-Wimbledon player. “Kennedy hasn’t got a malicious bone in his body,” said the City boss, “and if he’s committed one bad tackle this season then I’ve certainly not spotted it.” Kennedy has written a letter of apology to the Birmingham player after the incident.

Whitley – We’re Staying Up

Manchester City face a tough challenge next season in the Premier League. But according to Jeff Whitley, it’s a test Joe Royle’s men will pass with flying colours. Whitley is convinced that the Blues will have the last laugh over the critics who claim that the step up in standard will be too much for the team. The young midfielder says that the detractors have been wrong before and will be wrong again on this occasion. “Now those same people are predicting that our first season back in the Premiership will be one long battle for survival,” he told the Manchester Evening News. “Good. We are quite happy to be written off before a ball has even been kicked. We seem to have made a habit of making our critics eat their words.”

Killen Stars for Kiwi Olympic Side

Chris Killen enjoyed an excellent season at Maine Road, making the breakthrough from the Blues’ youth sides. And now the New Zealander has been starring on the international stage. Killen was City’s top scorer in the Pontin’s League last term and earned himself a new two-year contract. And he’s also made an impact for the New Zealand under-23 Olympic side. Although the Kiwis lost 3-2 in Auckland against South Africa on Friday, the Wellington-born youngster produced an impressive display and had a hand in one of his side’s goals.

City Trio Still in Action

Most of Manchester City’s stars have gone away for their summer break. But three of the Blues’ squad are still in action for their countries. Nicky Weaver has joined up with the England under-21 squad for the European Championship finals in Slovakia. And the City man is expected to be Howard Wilkinson’s number one goalkeeper for the tournament. Meanwhile, Mark Kennedy starred for an Ireland side in Steve Staunton’s testimonial against Liverpool at the weekend and will be in Mick McCarthy’s party for the forthcoming game against Scotland and tour to the USA. Finally, Chris Killen will play for New Zealand’s under-23 side in South Africa on Saturday as they try to claw back their first leg deficit in the Olympic qualifying tie.

Royle Hails Fitness Guru

Manchester City’s fitness has improved beyond all recognition since Joe Royle took over at Maine Road. But the Blues’ boss says that the credit is due to fitness coach Ed Baranowski. City are not the only club where Baranowski has demonstrated his expertise – he worked with Blackburn’s title-winning side under Kenny Dalglish and he’s also currently working with Champions’ League qualifiers Leeds United. “Since Eddie got involved with us, we have improved considerably,” admitted Royle. “His conditioning and nutritional programmes have certainly played a key part in our promotion success.”

Season Ticket Sell-Out on the Cards

Manchester City have sold in excess of 20,000 season tickets as the deadline approaches for existing holders to renew. And that means that the club’s season ticket ceiling is certain to be reached. The Blues have decided to sell only 23,000 or so season tickets next term to allow room at each match for some fans who can’t afford to go to every game or whose work commitments preclude regular attendance. And with well over 4,000 fans on a waiting list for any tickets which aren’t renewed before the May 31 deadline, the club is expecting to have no problems reaching the maximum figure. Over £5 million has been banked already, with the cash likely to boost Joe Royle’s summer transfer fund.

Williams to Run Goalkeeping School

Manchester City’s Football in the Community Scheme has been widely acclaimed. And its latest initiative will see the Scheme’s co-ordinator Alex Williams put his playing skills into practice. The one-time City and England under-21 ‘keeper is organising a goalkeeping course. The cost is £15, and the course will run from 10 am to 1 pm on Wednesday, 31 May to Friday, 2 June at Whalley Range High School. The club is also running a general football course at Platt Lane from Tuesday to Friday of the same week at a cost of £35. Anyone interested can contact the club on 0161 226 1782.

City Film Hits Cannes

Manchester City feature in the soon-to-be released film ‘There’s Only One Jimmy Grimble’. And the film’s stars have been in Cannes for the famous festival. Lewis McKenzie stars alongside Robert Carlyle and Ray Winstone in the story of a youngster who dreams of playing for the Blues. And Wythenshawe 16-year-old McKenzie and Winstone have been promoting the film in the French resort. Some industry watchers are tipping the effort to be as successful worldwide as ‘The Full Monty’ – but the premiere is set to be held in Manchester, no doubt with City players in attendance.

Peter Brophy (


An Unlikely Scenario in More Ways Than One

Having only been over for the Easter weekend to be godfather to the daughter of my mate Chris (Oasis@one), it hadn’t been my intention to come back again this season since I would not be able to get back for the Birmingham game because of work commitments (that Friday night on a plane to the West Coast of the US, I did spend far too long on the phone to the lads in the Platt Lane). This was why, having seen us beat Tranmere with a very dominating display, I made the effort to get down to Portsmouth on Easter Monday. Hopefully this would see us get to within one win of what was seemingly the unattainable less than twelve short months ago (thanks to Debs and Alex for sorting out the Pompey ticket and Bradders for the lift there and back).

However, having most disappointingly let it slip at Fratton, we all knew it was highly likely that it was going to come down to the wire. After all this is City! So stupid here invests a few more hundred dollars (it is only money after all isn’t it?) and books a flight from New York to sunny Manchester for another weekend of beer and City. Despite knowing that tickets were going to be like the proverbial rocking horse sh*t, I was confident that my sources would see me right. I was promised that all was in order right up until I left the office on Friday afternoon with three tickets lined up for me, Chris and Hoppy. If these fell through, I was told, an alternative source was waiting in the wings. All set then methinks.

An uneventful overnight flight from New York to Manchester was followed by a few pints in the Gardener’s in Offerton with Hoppy on Saturday lunch as we pondered the ticket situation. The ‘what ifs’ were flying thick and fast at the pub that night but we decided that we would go anyway.

And so off to Blackburn on Sunday morning after Hoppy phoned me to tell me he, Kev and Stu were waiting outside my mum’s house for me as I slept blissfully on (jet lag you know – don’t let anyone ever tell you that sleep is overrated). All the roads were a sea of blue but I don’t think that prepared us for when we arrived. We parked up near The Golden Cup which was besieged with Blues awaiting the official ‘opening of the doors’. Here we met up with Chris who had come over from Leeds on the train. The car park in front was teeming and great shouts of acknowledgement went up every time a car or bus showing City scarves went past (very slowly by this stage in view of the amount of traffic coming in).

However, the atmosphere did nothing to calm our nerves that we weren’t going to get into Ewood since the three of us still had no tickets. I am hopeful that one day the ‘guilty party’ will have the nuts to actually stand up and tell us what happened since it’s really not good form to let mates down so badly. We therefore decided to walk to the ground and take our chances with the touts, who were in fact mostly regular folk who had seen the opportunity to make a quick few bob knowing there would be plenty of others like us who had turned up ticketless. Can’t blame them for that I suppose but thanks very much to Rovers for letting it happen. Wouldn’t it have been more sensible to give us a more realistic allocation to start with and avoid the non segregation problems which a lot of the real Rovers fans have been so p*ssed off about? We asked a couple of people outside who only had odd tickets left at anywhere between £100 and £200. At this point all three of us agreed that having come together we would find a pub and watch it rather than split up although we were prepared to shell out if we could find three seats together.

I guess I must have been really desperate now because, in some sort of daze, I walked into the main reception and threw out a couple of names of people who I knew were well in at Maine Road. “Which lounge are they in?” asked the nice lady at the desk. “I dunno, whatever the top one is.” I responded. “Well I am afraid we can’t really page anyone in the lounges anyway”, said the lady as Graeme Souness played with a small child next to me.

Now one of those things happened which might make you think that some things are just meant to be. I cannot tell you through this medium exactly what happened for fear of reprisals/recriminations/prosecution – you name it – but, in short, the nice people of Blackburn Rovers Football Club kindly gave us three complimentary tickets for the match. The actual story will cost you a pint any time any of us meet up (TG4 sounds like a good time). I know that this sounds implausible to say the least but I swear that it is true.

The rest is history. We sat in the middle of the Blackburn end but there were Blues everywhere. At half time over a couple of pints (no trouble at all getting served, City please note) we were reassuring ourselves that we had been a great second half team all season. When it came down to it, we were going so nuts in the second half that I don’t remember Dicky’s goal going in. We were there on the pitch at the end with all the other ecstatic revellers and Hoppy brought a nice piece of turf home with him (“Hey Dad, that blorke’s got sum of Rovers’ grass !”). We walked back to the car right up the middle of the main road hugging anyone who came near us and drove straight to Maine Road to join in the hundreds celebrating there. Unfortunately we carried on celebrating until the early hours of Tuesday morning (Hoppy doesn’t even remember me encouraging the naked Stockport County fan to jump off the roof of the pub on Sunday night) and I still had a hangover on the Wednesday when I got back to work but hey, City are back, City are back, hello, hello… (repeat to fade).

It still hasn’t sunk in properly even now despite the fact that we must have avoided the play-offs as I’ve been following the exploits of Barnsley and Ipswich with interest. Furthermore a bunch of New York Blues had a tremendous celebration last Saturday night (or Saturday night/Sunday morning to be more accurate) but that’s another story. This included Jennifer, the lady interviewed on Sky, who had also travelled without a ticket but who unfortunately didn’t get into the game to answer Jeremy Poynton’s question in Issue 604.

Michael Warren a.k.a. Redding Blue/RB on BlueView (


This was carried in MCIVTA several issues ago, but has rather been subsumed by recent events. I’ve placed it in again as it really deserves as much exposure as possible.


I am writing to tell you about a City supporters’ survey I have put together on the web. The survey comprises 35 questions that focus more on the fans than the team. For instance, I thought it would be interesting to know whether most City fans really are from Manchester and whether we all hate United. The results of the survey are updated in real time and can be viewed online by following the ‘Results’ link.

The survey is split into the following sections:

You – Your sex, age, where you are from, where you live now, etc.
Game Attendance – Are you a season ticket holder, how many games have you been to, etc.
Atmosphere – Are we more vocal at home or away, do you join in the singing, do you take out your frustrations on the team, etc.
Management – How do you rate the job Joe and DB are doing.
Best and Worst – Who do you rate as our best and worst (I decided to limit the ‘Worst’ to ‘Worst manager ever’ to avoid negativity!).
Colours – Simply, what do you think of our home and away strips, etc.

Please use the survey and tell your non-MCIVTA friends about it too. The more respondents we can get, the more meaningful the results. Check the survey regularly to see how things unfold.

Please feel free to contact me with any comments or suggestions for questions. This is my first crack at this. If it is popular, I will conduct another survey in the new season.

Just for the record, I am a City supporter. I am not connected to the club in any other way, nor am I going to profit from this exercise. This survey has been put together out of my obsession with City. Obviously, the data is available on the public domain to anyone who has an Internet connection, other than that, I will not be passing the database containing the results to any third party.

Stuart Wilson (


Following City’s promotion, my publishers, Polar, have asked me to update Manchester – The Greatest City to include the last 3 remarkable seasons. The original version came out in December 1997; became the best selling book in Sportspages (despite City’s relegation struggle); sold out within a year and was reprinted during the summer of 1999. The current plan is to add a great deal about the last 3 seasons (including detailed profiles of Weaver & Goater); completely re-word the section on Frank Clark (I was a complete idiot when I wrote it – if you’ve read it you’ll understand!); update detail such as the profiles of Ian Bishop, Georgi Kinkladze, Willie Donachie; and generally improve certain parts of the text. The original cost £24.95 and had 464 pages. Further details will follow, but it is anticipated the book will be on general sale by December.

Gary James (


As I did last year, I figured I’d calculate the player of the year based on the ratings of contributors to MCIVTA. It follows below…

Last season I surveyed the ratings from reports in MCIVTA to find out who averaged the highest marks over the course of the season. I have done the same again this year. The MCIVTA Writers’ Player of the Year for 1999/2000 is… Nicky Weaver! Here are the results (last year’s positions in brackets):

1   N Weaver       7.5 (2)
2   J Pollock      7.4 (12)
3   D Tiatto       7.1 (17)
4   G Wiekins      6.9 (1)
5=  S Goater       6.8 (14)
5=  A Morrison     6.8 (2)
5=  R Jobson       6.8 (-)
5=  Jeff Whitley   6.8 (21)
9   M Kennedy      6.7 (6)
10  R Edghill      6.6 (14)
11  K Horlock      6.5 (14)
12  R Taylor       6.3 (-)
13  I Bishop       6.1 (10)
14  D Granville    6.0 (-)
15  L Crooks       5.9 (8)
16  P Dickov       5.7 (9)

Last year the MCIVTA writers were in excellent agreement with the Internet Player of the Year voters. This year the agreement is not so impressive. The Internet Player of the Year is the Goat, followed by, in order, Weaver, Kennedy, Jobson, Tiatto and Dickov. The disadvantage of a simple player of the year vote is that it elevates players who did well at the end of the season (Dickov), while relegating Andy Morrison to nowhere, because people forgot his performances before injury. This survey overcomes that difficulty, but also fails in some respects because (in my humble opinion) it fails to recognise the talents of players who did not spend the entire 90 minutes grafting away (e.g. Goater and Kennedy). My player of the year would be the Goat. I rated him a Premiership player when we were in the Second Division. He seems impossible to defend against, and not only because of his positional sense (a yard offside).

There are some surprises in the list. Alan Green and Jimmy Armfield would not have been able to understand why Ian Bishop is at 13, since they seem to spend half their commentaries suggesting that he is the only player that City have who seems to know what to do with the ball. Nicky Weaver definitely benefited from many matches when he had little to do but was awarded 7 for doing nothing wrong behind a solid defence. Still, he’s the best in the business, so you can’t complain. Our only entry in the Nationwide First Division Team of the Year, Mark Kennedy, could only manage ninth. As a winger, he suffered from matches when he was given no service and so was often awarded 5 or 6 points for doing nothing.

As one would hope after a promotion, the average mark given this year was better than that last year in the Second Division. It is also interesting to note that many of those who did not impress amongst the rubbish in the Second Division were vastly improved in the First Division. Jamie Pollock in second place (up from 12th) and Jeff Whitley at fifth, up a massive 16 places! Well done (not that he’ll make it in the Premiership, in my view)! It just goes to show that past results are no guide to future performance…

Last year I pointed out that Wiekens and Crooks were our most consistent players, according to the reporters. This year it is Andy Morrison. Our least consistent is Paul Dickov, who was only slightly more inconsistent than Bob Taylor. I cannot say much more on consistency as the statistics are not good enough.

Each rating is based on a minimum of six reports. Otherwise, Spencer Prior, with an average of 7.7 from four reports would have been the MCIVTA Writers’ Player of The Year (Tony Grant with 7.5 from four reports would also have done well). This year suffered from a relative dearth of ratings, which is a shame. I only had 23 rated match reports to deal with. So if you write a report, then please rate the players!

You can find last year’s Player of the Year table in MCIVTA 508.

Mark Geoghegan (


Well, we are still buzzing over here in Melbourne, Australia. At last we can once again rate a mention on the sports news and even see ourselves on the Premiership highlights show. Yes, we are back with the big boys. The Victorian branch organised a get together for the Blackburn game at the Keepers Arms in North Melbourne at 7pm on Sunday night; the game kicked off at 10.30pm our time. Many of us had spent the last week hassling the cable tv people to show the game, but to no avail. So it was decided that those who wanted to, would listen to it on the Internet at my house. There were about 30 of us showed up at the pub. Which is a pretty good turn out as many had work the following morning and public transport is almost non-existent on a Sunday night. Not to mention that the game wasn’t even on!

The Internet has been a great tool in weeding out City supporters who have lived side by side for years and have never bumped into each other before. Amazingly there was even a City fan in the pub by accident, he was recently arrived from the UK (Gatley) and was just out for a beer. He was gobsmacked to see 30 other City fans drop in! So we all got extremely merry and sang all the old songs. At 10pm a fleet of taxis took about 18 of us to my house. I had decked out the front room in City memorabilia. We had a truck load of beer. It had all the makings of a great night… as long as City didn’t stuff up! They wouldn’t do that to us would they? At 10.25 we logged on after a bit of tinkering we got the volume loud enough. The game started and there was tension all around the room, especially when we lost coverage a number of times; this turned out not to be Planet’s fault as you would expect, but one of our young Einsteins ringing for a pizza(!) and dropping out the telephone line. After we had beaten him to a pulp it was back to the game.

Well you all know what happened. I must say there was great confusion over Christian Dailly scoring as we thought we were losing for a split second. But it all worked out right in the end. Cue much singing, alcohol and grown men cuddling.

Part 2 – The great Danny Tiatto:

It was decided to have a proper celebration for our promotion. We managed to get a video of the Blackburn game taped (thanks Lawrence); somebody suggested how fantastic it would be if we could get one or both of the 2 Melbourne City players to make an appearance. So feelers were put out. Tim Berry managed to track down Danny Tiatto’s agent who happens to be his brother Frank. He said that Danny would be happy to come. Fantastic! We didn’t manage to get hold of Danny Allsopp although some of us later thought of ways we could have done it. Typical. We found out later he is getting married this Saturday anyway so he may have had his stag night on the night we met up. Well about 20 of us made it to the ‘Keepers Arms’ pub. We had them put the Blackburn game on all 3 screens but not before we had all been treated to Jack Hulse’s CD of City songs. Starting with the classic “City… Manchester City, we are the boy’s who are playing to win” – you know the one – and including some truly terrible Karaoke songs from Franny Lee! Anyway at 7.30, true to their word, Frank and Danny Tiatto turned up along with a couple of their mates. Lots of handshakes and congratulations, requests for tickets for the derby next year, was he available to fill in for Seaford pub team tomorrow etc. Danny was fantastic, answering everyone’s questions with good humour. He posed for photos, signed autographs and looked slightly embarrassed as we cheered every time he touched the ball in the game being shown on the TV screen. We even ‘treated?’ him to a rendition of a medley of City songs. With the grand finale being a version of “we’ll drink a drink a drink to Danny the King” although I must admit “he’s the greatest left sided wing back” doesn’t have the same ring as the original about Colin Bell. We even sang “Happy Birthday” to him when his brother Frank let it slip that it was on the Sunday. After about 4 hours of this we started to go our separate ways. Danny was great, he stayed the whole night and genuinely seemed to enjoy himself. He really is a lovely down to earth bloke. He is a credit to City and Australia. Let’s hope he continues to play well for both. As for all the gossip and inside information, he told me everything(!) but as usual I got so drunk I can’t remember any of it! So if you have any gossip let me know… Thanks again to all those who helped make this one of the best nights ever for the Victorian supporters’ club.

Paul Keelagher (


Does anybody know if the reserves have been promoted into the F.A. Premier reserve league? The Birmingham game programme makes no mention of promotion, only that we had won the league. Is it dependant on whether you win promotion to the Premiership itself at the same time that you win the Pontin’s League? If anybody in the know knows the criteria for moving up the reserve leagues (or down as the case maybe), please let us all know.

Tony Arundale (


It’s hard to remember back to the 50’s but I’ll try.

Standing at the open end in all weathers cheering on the remnants of the cup side, the ageing Ken Barnes, Bert Trautmann etc., seeing the latest additions to the side, Hayes, Colbridge and the like; what a sad bunch they were in the main. A ray of hope from Huddersfield, Denis Law, he shone like a beacon against the mediocrity of the rest of the team. His goal against Leeds in his début was a magnificent effort, I swear he was facing our goal, caught it on his head and swivelling, powered it into the back of the net. I’m sure that had he stayed more than the year, a side could have been fashioned around him and we would not have the deep despair week in, week out that we endured at that time.

The game against Burnley was an epic, the ground full of City, Burnley & Wolves supporters. The loudspeaker at half time employing people to move forward, fans up the floodlights, any vantage point was taken. We lost 2-1 and Burnley took the title.

By 1964 I’d had enough, into the Army I went and missed the relegation and subsequent glory days, only returning occasionally to see our chinese centre forward Lee One Pen, the only bonus being in Germany at the time was the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup was shown live, joy indeed.

Onto the Far East with my family and hearing games by shortwave but most of the time only finding the scores a week or so later, none of the current technology in those days. At this time I started to sow the Blue seed into my youngest son, Kelvin, my eldest had turned Red (his best friend followed Liverpool like his dad). At least I’d saved one for the cause.

I saw games when I was able to on my return, but the enthusiasm of the 50’s & early 60’s had evaporated and I became a lapsed Blue in attendance but never in heart.

In the 90’s Kelvin suddenly got interested in going to games and naturally I tagged along; watching the descent into near oblivion was hard to take. How many times I said to him that watching City had not improved in 40 years and I don’t know why I bothered! But hope springs eternal, the play-off final watching on TV, Kelvin telephoning from Wembley, near heart attack when Dickov scored. The penalties and another call from K (how I envied him at that moment).

This year has been tremendous. I thought like many, mid table this year, the push next year. My house resounded so much during the Blackburn game that my wife had hands over ears getting stereo screaming and shouting (teach her to sit between K and me).

Comparisons between then and now are hard to make. Each team had its gifted players creating their own excitement. Each side seem to have its own self destruct mechanism. This current side seems proud to wear the blue shirt which in this day and age of many mercenaries is good to see. Only time will tell if this current crop can match the sheer genius of the Championship side of the late 60’s and early 70’s. We have in Royle someone approaching the skills of the great Joe Mercer, long my he continue to lead.

Rodney Stephens – Moonraker Blue (


I have lived in Hampshire all my life (39 years) and have supported City since I was 8 years old, having seen them beat Leicester 1-0 in the 1969 FA cup final. The alternative was to support Southampton! I have experienced the rollercoaster of ups and downs (mainly downs) that City fans have endured over the years, and have supported them whenever I can in the south.

Most recently I saw them at Portsmouth on Easter Monday. My Portsmouth supporting brother-in-law managed to get me and my 11-year-old son Tom 2 tickets, but in with the Portsmouth fans. Never mind I thought, we will just keep a low profile. Tom is an Arsenal fan, a result of peer pressure over parental control. The only upside is he hates United nearly as much as I do. I did try to tempt him a couple of years ago when City played Reading Town at the old Elm Park ground on a cold, wet and windy midweek game, which we lost 2-0 under that old Rag Coppell. So a young convert lost. Anyway, back to Fratton Park, and I offered to drive down, after all he had got the tickets. So after a 40-mile trip from Andover, we arrive in Portsmouth with thousands of City fans about, and a great atmosphere. We get inside, and I am wearing the 69 cup final away shirt under a jacket. Tom cheers the first two goals and we get evil glares from the ugliest, smelliest, fattest bloke, with piercings in every orifice, and POMPEY tattooed on his neck. I put my arm round Tom, and adjust my jacket to hide any trace of the City shirt. His hatred receeds when Bradbury scores the penalty just before half time. He then goes off for his 20 meat pies and bovril. Anyway the final whistle 2-2, and we get back to the car.

I want to savour the City fans’ atmosphere, but brother-in-law wants to get home. We are driving past Winchester and the car breaks down. Bank holiday about 6 pm, not a member of AA, or RAC. So we push the car into Tesco car park and phone the wife, half an hour away. I get the car back to a garage in Andover on the Tuesday and it’s a broken cam belt! The whole head has to come off, about £600 worth of bits and bobs and labour etc. But the happy ending is we are in the Premiership!

Steve Payne CTID (


Vowel and consonant
Aspire to
New challenge?

Whilst I admire Steve’s decision to retire at the top, having delivered his team of journeymen vowels and consonants back to the Premier, I wonder if he will miss the challenge of the new season? And even more so the challenges of Europe in the future?

I understand Steve’s concerns. How are we going to entice and best position consonants like Polish L’s with a diagonal line through them, French C’s with an upside down question mark and vowels with funny slanting lines over them? Maybe we should look more to Holland where we could cope with the substitution of “y” with “ij”.

Interesting times ahead, and I feel sure that though Steve may not be on the bench he will still be advising from the stands.

I can’t believe I’m writing this when I should be worrying about the play-offs… hold on… oh yeah… hee hee hee hee.

David Kilroy (


As at Sunday Evening 21st May 2000, the predictions players’ table looks like this:

  • Gary King neither gains nor drops any points and holds his position at Number 1 with 31 points.
  • Andrew Gibbens neither gains nor drops points and holds his position at Number 2 with 30 points.
  • Chris Jones neither gains nor drops points but still holds on to the Number 3 spot with 25 points.
  • Duncan Madden-Ross neither gains or drops points, so remains at Number 4 with 24 points.
  • Scott Thompson also neither gains or drops points but moves to Number 5 with 19 points.
  • Kevin McMeeking drops 4 points and drops to the bottom of the table with 16 points.

Kevin dropped four points because he had question marks (?) in one of each of his FA Cup and Worthington cup boxes which were in fact scoring him 2 points each. This technical error in the formula has now been rectified. Sorry Kev! Only the three play off positions left now, 15 points up for grabs, so next Monday will see the final finishing positions.

Paul Gallagher, Secretary, Essex & Suffolk CSA (


Apart from supporting City in at least 30 matches, I will:

  1. Not try to second guess JR’s team selections which I am not meant to understand.
  2. Not read any tripe by City/United/media pundits who would have mebelieve that Premier football is played only by Gods and Olympianathletes.
  3. Explain patiently that replacing seven or eight of the current City sidewould lead to the loss of teamwork and spirit, which is our greatest asset.
  4. Give accurate directions to Old Trafford instead of Tescos when asked bythe supporters of MUFC, even though I know many of them would rather goshopping.
  5. Soak up OT’s famed atmosphere of peace and calm by not shouting,singing, talking or raucously opening a crisp packet during our scheduledleague game at the Temple of Tranquility.
  6. Not sneer at small league or non-league clubs which are the salt of the earth.
  7. Encourage supporters to attend matches following the team of their choice, whether it be local or not.
  8. Encourage City to let in young supporters at discounted prices.
  9. Continue my opposition to Sky TV and all it stands for.
  10. Try to get used to silly kick-off times and days.
  11. Cheer both Niall Quinn and Nicky Summerbee when they visit MR.
  12. Denounce, with at least a raised eyebrow, all those City fans who:
    • parade working class roots when writing on message boards through University provided-internet services;
    • instantly recommend wholesale team changes when we inevitably lose some Premier games;
    • jeer the team when they are playing badly because “I paid to get in”;
    • single out particular City players for heckling;
    • insist that you have to be born/reside/have a family home/visit agranny/buy chips/walk the dog within gunshot sound of Claremont Road to be aCity supporter.

These things I do solemnly promise as a season ticket holder, shareholder, school car-park permit holder, away stub ticket owner and holder of the coveted smashed-car-window-by-esteemed-Moss-Side-citizenry-on-Platt-Lane award 1995.

Peter Llewellyn (


Sorry to one and all for these being somewhat late and somewhat shorter than usual, but due to being snowed under at work and that small matter of promotion to the Premiership, I am a little behind (although those of you who know me will refute that last statement!). If I have not covered an article which you feel I should have done or if I haven’t covered an article in enough depth, apologies again! So I’ll shut up apologising and get on with it!


The Future’s In Safe Hands – Mike Barnett interviews Nick Weaver

Mike starts the interview mentioning Nick’s new house in the Manchester suburbs and his new Merc convertible (nice car actually, it whizzed past me a couple of weeks ago – still has his personal plate on it). The interview was held after the disaster vs. QPR where Nick was, unfortunately, guilty of giving two goals away – forward planning failed him on this occasion! I found it refreshing that he seems to have his priorities mapped out, City and promotion first, England call up later, always being willing to learn from both Alex Stepney and Tommy Wright. Hopefully now we are back in the Premiership, his call up will come sooner rather than later, but then I digress… Nick cannot get over how far he’s come in the past two years but then again can any of us? I just hope that he does well in the Premiership, I think he’s got great potential and will definitely be the England goalie one day – as he says time is on his side and if he keeps as level headed as he is now, well the world’s his oyster.

Mills is a Boon – interview with loan signing Lee Mills

I wondered why Lee didn’t smile much and found out from the interview that Chris Perry had done some unauthorised dental work for him! Lee came from playing for Stocksbridge, whilst holding down a job in the rates office of Barnsley Borough Council. He was watched by Walsall, then had a trial for their reserves in which he scored all three goals in their 3-3 draw with Wrexham reserves but Wolves snapped him up although he had to give a month’s notice from his “proper” job before he became a full time professional. He then had a five month spell at Derby, then Port Vale where he scored the goal vs. Huddersfield which helped send us down to Div 2. Bradford came in for him and he had a successful time but his “fall out” with Paul Jewell seems to have scuppered any further progress with the Bantams. He then joined us on loan and made the Goat’s goal vs. Barnsley but then injured his ribs in a challenge with Neil Shipperley and we didn’t see much of him after that. At the time of the article Lee hoped he could stay with City but, correct me if I’m wrong, in the meantime he has returned to Bradford to see if he can win back a place with the now safe fellow Premiership club.

Prior Arrangement

This article mainly covers Spencer Prior’s signing and why he joined us. In my view the man’s great! Solid, dependable, authoritative and can score a few as well as we found out towards the end of the season.

City’s Girl Saturday

This is an article on Sara Billington who is both David Bernstein & Chris Bird’s PA, a job I always fancied myself but never seemed to see any adverts in the MEN – I’m sure there are many other City supporting secretaries and admins who feel the same! Sara works 6 days a week, often a 12 hour day in the offices that were the original souvenir shop. Sara also works for Bernard Halford and several other directors so she’s certainly got her hands full! Working in a stressful job myself, I think I would have baulked at only having 8 days holiday in ten months or gone round the twist. Sara becomes meeter and greeter on match days, although she may have to cope with other emergencies as well. Sara obviously gets great job satisfaction… how many of us can honestly say we do too?

Morning Star

This was Chris Bailey’s interview with John Stapleton. It is a little known fact that John was asked by the late Peter Swales to help launch the Junior Blues and he takes great pride in seeing how it’s grown to become one of the top junior organisations in the Football League and to become one of City’s prized assets. John describes how he became a Blue and various memories – current favourites are Weaver, Bishop & Morrison. “Nationwide” adopted the Blues for a year in 1977 and John presented the programme live from the pitch.


MkOne – The Driving Force Behind the Blues

My first thought here was “flash car – paying the boy too much!”; then of course you hear on the radio that the boy’s moved in above Posh & Becks! Jealous? Me?! Nah… as Mike Barnett says in his introduction, Mark is laid back, so laid back he’s almost horizontal. I think some fans construe this as being lazy (well some near me in the Kippax do anyway!). The interview took place at the Four Seasons Hotel. Mark’s had a truly exceptional season although I thought there were a couple of games where he could have done much better and has also been fairly successful at international level although he admits he didn’t do himself or City any favours by playing on with niggling injuries. At the time of the article Mark saw little point in talking about the P-word although he felt the club had had a decent season and felt that, if we weren’t successful, then the team had done their very best. The rest as we now know is history!

City’s Right Honourable Gentleman

This article consisted of the edited highlights of Mr Bernstein’s speech to a VIP audience at the Houses of Parliament.

Holmes From Home

This was a great article about Andy Holmes, who emigrated to the States five years ago and how he manages to keep up with the Blues from across the pond along with the trials and tribulations of trying to “listen” to City games whether via a phone call to his parents who hold the receiver to either GMR or Piccadilly radio, or via the Internet on his laptop. His parents cover for him at his pub called Churchill’s when he and his wife Tracey either go on holiday or come over to Manchester to see City. The pub sounds ideal for any of you who like speciality beers!

City Runs In The Blood

Chris Bailey talks to Bob Willis… who became a Blue back in 1954 when taken by his City-supporting dad, Ted. Bob attributes his grey hair to City (so do I!) and not too many late nights out with Beefy Botham! There don’t seem to be many Blues as cricketers although Bob has found a kindred spirit with the Daily Telegraph’s cricket writer Michael Henderson, with whom he goes to City’s London games. Bob says his most thrilling night was City beating Reading 8-0 in an FA Cup replay and driving the Surrey team mad by asking for the score from the 1969 FA Cup Final! Bob is very impressed with the work that Joe Royle has done over the past couple of seasons and he has agreed to host a charity tribute dinner for Joe (with his brother David) on 4 May (covered in the MEN).

The Future’s Bright

Mike Barnett covered the open evening staged in April for the Academy. The Academy teams have done very well this year with 3 players getting Under-18 call ups, 5 getting Under-17 call ups and 5 for the Under-15s.

Carol Darvill (


I got asked for an English translation for my MCIVTA contribution on That Day (from Galilee Blue!). In case anyone else had bother deciphering my jargon, I’ve compiled a… Duncannon Blue Dictionary:

Primitive, vicious Gaelic game – imagine Wimbledon vs. Millwall with weapons.
Clash of the ash
Journalese for above Wexford, God’s own county in Ireland’s sunny South East.
Ace striker who wears Y-fronts over his tracksuit, a sort of naffly dressed, thinner version of SuperBob.
Cheapskate ex-sponsor of world’s best football club.
My nomination for one of world’s top ten pubs. The name commemorates a particularly useless Rag goalkeeper of yesteryear.
Clonakily pud
Gourmet Irish version of Bury’s most famous export (apart from Colin Bell).
Leo of Wellington Bridge
Purveyor of world’s best bacon (ibid) but don’t suppose there’s much call for that piece of knowledge in Israel.
Lucky Dennis Tueart shirt
Umbro made two sets for ’76 league cup final, a long and a short sleeved set. In the end they wore the short ones. JohnHumphries, Umbro chairman and former City director gave me the long-sleevedversion, with No.7 (the famous overhead kicker) on the back.
Silent stadium on the fringes of Manchester belonging to an obscure pub team called Salford Quays FC.
Geezer who wrote an excellent article in The Grauniad on the morning of the Blackburn match.
Great Cockups We Have Known
Long-running saga, hopefully now over.
No, not the home of Pele and Ronaldo – rather a useless, warped little runt who knows slightly less about football than a dead gerbil.
Famous black booze used to accompany Skywatching.
Jolly ploughboy
Farmers’ Union FC from East Anglia. Mind you, they gave The Trotters a blo*dy good reaping and mowing.
Buttons (fly)
Remember them? Penis-inhibiting device on the front of my oh-so-trendy Patagonia jeans made from the finest organic fair trade denim.
World’s best bacon rashers of exquisite taste from Wallace’s SuperValu inWellington Bridge, Wexford
Not to be confused with Christian Dailly who made rather a pig’s arse of things.
One of world’s all-time top three ‘keepers, others are of courseBert Trautmann and Joe Corrigan, shortly to be joined by another…
Spawny penno
Award ceremony instituted by the appropriately named Mr. Allcock. Ball hits hand (nose, knee, auntie, grandma, dead ferret) ofplayer in blue shirt. Said Allcock runs 60 yards to award a gift-wrappedgoal to the opposition.
Effin treble
Minor sequence of football trophies awarded on an annualbasis to club who a) wins most games in 98th minute b) has greatest numberof penalty decisions go in their favour c) who invented the Ryan Giggsduvet (currently held by Salford Quays FC – see above).
Erudite wine-buff Blue/occasional MCIVTA contributor from Oxford.
One of the two publications I’d take to a desert island – theother being the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.
Local rag
Misguided culchie (person who is or from beyond The Pale) whosupports the English football team that gets most mentions in his nativenewspaper – or local rag.
Midfielder whose last good game at Blackburn was when he played for Brian Horton’s City.
Fat Bob
Ace Scottish striker in next World Cup – he might be fit by then!

Need any more help, give us a shout.

Ernie Whalley (


All Perth Blues are invited to have a few celebratory drinks this Saturday Afternoon (27 May) prior to the Glory Match. Hopefully there will be a copy of the Blackburn game on hand to watch (If not then highlights of the 98/99 season will have to do). The session will wind up giving everyone time to catch the train to Subiaco in time for the game against Wollongong Wolves (the club that wear a replica of the home and away strips of that other team). The venue is the home of David Whitehead at: 11 The Lodge, Mullaloo. Please call David on 9307-5118 or 041-718-7355 to confirm your attendance and, if required, to arrange being picked up from the local train station (Edgewater I think). You could let me know on the address below instead.

Geoff Clegg (


Great article on City at:

Not sure but you may have to sign up with Sportlive first. Doesn’t cost anything and has lots of good City articles.

David Kilroy (


…You might remember my ‘scientifically proven’ promotion theory from MCIVTA 592. I’ve just checked the actual results and they weren’t too bad, were they? In fact if Lee Bradbury hadn’t have equalised in our game at Portsmouth and Barnsley hadn’t laid down and died against Crewe in the last game, the total points predictions would have been spot on.

CITY            Prediction      Actual
Swindon         3pts            3pts
Bolton          3pts            3pts
Crewe           3pts            3pts
Grimsby         1pt             1pts
Tranmere        3pts            3pts
Portmth         3pts            1pts
Brum            3pts            3pts
Blckbrn         3pts            3pts
Pred.  total: 22 pts, final total: 91 pts
Actual total: 20 pts, final total: 89 pts
IPSWICH         Prediction      Actual
WBA             3pts            1pts
PVale           3pts            3pts
Stckprt         1pt             3pts
QPR             0pts            0pts
Palace          3pts            3pts
Chrltn          3pts            3pts
Walsall         3pts            3pts
Pred.  total: 16 pts, final total: 87 pts
Actual total: 16 pts, final total: 87 pts
BARNSLEY        Prediction      Actual
Walsall         1pt             3pts
WBA             3pts            1pts
PVale           3pts            1pts
Wolves          0pts            0pts
Norwich         3pts            3pts
Swindon         1pts            3pts
Crewe           3pts            0pts
Pred.  total: 14 pts, final total: 85 pts
Actual total: 11 pts, final total: 82 pts

So on that note, I predict that we will be playing Premiership football next season. Yeeesssss!!!!

Phil Hartley (


Just like to say how refreshing it was at Blackburn to experience some decent policing and stewarding… would be nice if they were congratulated… unlike the rabble, sorry, South Yorks scum from Barnsheepshagley (take note dibble and learn!).

Just hope Ipsboringb@@!@!dswich turn the to*sers over so we can miss out on their hospitals, sorry hospitality in our forthcoming Premiership campaign. Yes lads and lasses, no dream, Premiership campaign! Oh yes and six points off Ipswich too please! And Charlton, and the Scum…!?!? and anyone else. I really think and believe that after the last two seasons we can achieve anything. City truly have the most loyal and fanatical supporters the world has ever seen. We have proved this now without question, as if there was any doubt before. Bye bye alan brazil (wa@!er).

Thanks Nigel for the Blackburn ticket. Even though it was in the Walkersteel stand (I was one of those the dibble were trying to move from the side of the pitch back to the seats) it was fan..tastic, there were literally thousands of City in there! I thought at first that I would have to be quiet but then I spotted two guys with lapel badges proclaiming the faith. I asked where they were sitting: down towards the Blackburn end they said… me too! We decided to stay down near the City end and just occupy any seat that was empty. Slowly our group began to grow – next minute we are singing Blue Moon to the delight of the City fans in the official end! What a day! I’ve just sent all the photos I took to the Manchester Evening News, to hopefully use in a City magazine special feature of memories from Blackburn.

I can’t wait for our first game.

Mark Redgrave (


Many readers will no doubt have seen the Daily Mail (UK) article last week where they gave an assessment of the squad quality, but for those who didn’t see it, I thought it was a bit thought-provoking so here is a summary (with the Daily Mail rating out of 10 repeated):

Weaver 10 Young goalkeeper is a showman with nerves of steel and true quality.
Taylor R 5 Expensive (by City standards) purchase from Gillingham who must lose weight and find a more consistent touch.
Kennedy 8 Often too laid back but unquestionably good crosser from left. Set to prove Liverpool and Wimbledon wrong.
Edghill 7 Defender who should look comfortable in sophisticated company but is prone to giving away possession.
Wiekens 5 Dutch defender-cum-midfielder with an excellent first touch and passing ability but lacks pace for top level.
Morrison 4 One of the rocks of last year’s return to Division One but fighting spirit is matched by his cumbersome build.
Prior 7 One of the few Maine Road players with Premier League experience. Tough and strong, will relish a return to the elite.
Horlock 8 Midfielder with a sweet left foot and calm attitude. Another who will relish life in a more rarified atmosphere.
Dickov 6 The little striker can be a real pest because of his pace and belligerent attitude.
Whitley Jeff 6 Tigerish midfielder slowly beginning to blossom. Faces a huge examination of his abilities but might just make it.
Tiatto 8 Australian wing back who has bags of pace and determination plus a typical Aussie winner’s attitude.
Pollock 4 Bought as a midfield enforcer, he can be hot-headed and lose concentration. A bit part rôle at best.
Goater 7 Royle backed the Goat to graze well and he hit 29 First Division goals. Determination might get him through.
Jobson 6 Would be another of the Premier League’s defensive wrinklies, a clean tackler but not commanding in the air.
Bishop 6 Oldie but goldie who passes brilliantly. Utilised sparingly, the midfielder will still be able to turn a few heads.
Grant 4 Cultured, but was found a bit lightweight for the Premier League at Everton. Not a lot will change.
Granville 7 Injuries hampered him after he moved from Leeds but he has intelligence and running power.
Crooks 4 City have always held out great hopes for him but so far he has failed to crack it.
Peacock 3 Bought from Mansfield last October. Bright young goalscorer until he arrived at Maine Road.
Mason 4 Scottish U-21 midfielder who made a bright start but regressed.

That’s it. It might be interesting to revisit this at the end of the season and compare how accurate some of the comments turned out to be. Ok, I can’t resist giving a personal slant on it… personally I tend to agree with most of it, but for me the ones that stand out as a bit odd are:

I would have rated slightly higher:

  • Wiekens (6 instead of 5?)
  • Morrison (5 instead of 4?)

I would have rated slightly lower:

  • Weaver (9 instead of 10 – he’s not perfect!)
  • Edghill (6 instead of 7)
  • Tiatto (6 instead of 8 – he’s not a fave of mine!)

Steve Maclean (


I’m sorry, Bernard, but I felt I had to respond to your comments in the last bulletin.

It’s one thing keeping our feet on the ground but, please? Do we have to begin worrying about next season so soon?

And Terry Cooke, a player who is “a bit out of the ordinary”? I don’t think so. Potentially a good player but Alex Ferguson knew what he was getting rid of when he held us over a barrel, and Joe Royle new what he was getting when he had the fee linked to appearances. Much as I would like to see the lad successful at whatever level, I don’t think Terry’s problems have anything to do with Joe Royle as his very brief spell at Wigan would indicate.

As for Giorgi Kinkladze, there is no bigger fan than I. However, according to Joe Royle at a speaker’s evening held at Radcliffe Borough prior to this season, Gio had become accustomed under the previous regime to missing training due to mysterious, minor injuries and expected to continue the practice under the new. This was reinforced by a complaint that I heard whilst at a sportsman’s dinner just after Joe arrived at Maine Road. It came from a chap who works at Maine Road and who was concerned that Gio was being made to train on match days when he should have been kitted up and ready to play. To me that sounds like the age old punishment reserved for players who either miss or do not apply themselves in training.

Another problem for Kinkladze at that crucial time was not of his making: the tendency of players to knock the ball in to him then get the deck chair out and catch the rays whilst admiring him from a distance. This may have been for any one of a number of reasons but I’m sure that this played its part in the decision to leave him out of the team. After all, with only a few games of a dismal season remaining, Joe Royle had a relegation battle to fight with a team of demoralised individuals and one extremely gifted player. Much as I love to watch him (I still wear my red and black away shirt with Kinkladze across the shoulders), it made sense to me then and does still, that Gio had to be sacrificed. We needed to get 100% from the eleven players on the pitch and this was not going to be achieved while Gio played.

I’m also tired of hearing about Joe’s failure at Everton. Failure? He went from doing a marvellous job at Oldham to a club suffering similar problems to those which afflicted City not so long ago. He consolidated their position, lead them to an FA Cup final victory in 1995, took an “out of the ordinary” but troubled Duncan Ferguson and looked after him so well that not only did he play well, the lad had an Everton badge tattooed on his arm. Then he lined up the transfer of Tori Andre Flo to Everton just in time to be sacked by a meddling, short-sighted board of directors. Maybe Everton weren’t setting the world alight when he was dismissed but have we all forgotten Alex Ferguson’s early years? Though purged of Joe Royle, Everton’s problems continued until, like City, the real problem was exorcised at board level.

To some extent it is true to say that Joe Royle hasn’t proved himself in the Premiership, if you accept that he hasn’t spent a prolonged period there with a fully supportive board who recognise where financial and commercial affairs end and player management begins. Personally, I’ve never been as happy with the management situation at Maine Road since the halcyon days of Joe Mercer.

Why don’t we all do ourselves a favour and call a halt to the worrying, if only for a couple of months? Let’s put our feet up for the summer (let’s face it, Bernard, after years of purgatory we deserve it), enjoy the transfer speculation and wait to see what happens next season. We’ll have plenty of time to worry then.

City ’til I die, Phil Sutton, Chadderton (


From what I can presume only Bishop and Wright’s contracts are up this summer, so no one else will be leaving unless buyers can be found. That said, the likes of Duff, Pavey, Garfield, Parkhouse & Kneen will presumably be released by the Academy.

Hence peripheral figures like Craig Russell, Gareth Taylor etc. will just remain on the list, probably joined by Jim Whitley and Gary Mason. Who else will attract attention from prospective new employers? No one capable of playing in the Premier will be allowed/have to depart, so which squad members will be deemed superfluous? Pollock and Dickov have attracted offers recently and would be ideal targets for the likes of Preston, Burnley (and Wigan?). Allsopp and Fenton will be allowed to go if replacements are signed.

So who might arrive? Every man and his dog, if the papers are to be believed. Knowing Joe, they’ll be the last people to hear about it. I mean who had wind of the arrivals of Prior, Granville, Kennedy, Morrison, Goater, Pollock, or Gareth Taylor before they were actually signed? Only the Robert Taylor deal was done in public. General consensus is that we are short on pace throughout the centre of the team, so a quick centre half and centre forward will be high on the priorities. An experienced playmaker is crucial and if we’ve a few coppers left over, some width on the right hand side and cover for Weaver. So who? I can’t see Joe going for too many Nationwide players, even though the play-off teams are worth picking through. Most of his recent signings have been players with Premiership experience (Prior, Granville, Kennedy, Pollock, Jobson, Bishop, Grant). So avoiding the usual suspects the media keep throwing up, surely Garry McAllister, available on a free from Coventry is a must-buy. Offer him a two-year deal, he’s 36 by the way, and phase him into the coaching staff, like we should do with Jobson. If we’re gambling, try Hignett or Holland, depending who loses next Sunday. If Bish goes, what about Gorre from Huddersfield or Claus Jensen from Bolton? Gorre certainly ran us ragged at the McAlpine.

At centre half, we need someone in the Keith Curle mode. Spen and Andy M should be OK, but not together. I always liked Steve Howey from Newcastle. Phil Babb is available on a Bosman. Still worth a gamble. Worth scouring Euro 2000 for the next Sammy Hyppia, though. Up front Titi Camara would be an excellent choice. He’s surplus to requirements at Anfield. Carl Cort’s got great potential, but will probably be over-priced. Kevin Gallen at QPR is out of contract if we’re really skint! He looked the business a few years ago.

It’s a bit simplistic, but, I’d look for two factors: pace and experience at the top level.

Andy Noise (


An Anorak Writes in…

I just wanted to throw in an unmentioned (I believe) perspective on the now infamous City – Blackburn game (wasn’t it great to feel so ‘blue’ on the Monday at work!). I just wanted to say, that for the first time in ages, City, in terms of a pure footballing outfit, really looked the part away at Blackburn: Red & Black traditional strip – no odd colour socks or shorts, fancy piping, fancy colours, flapping collars, weird bird sh*t flecks, strange webbing, garish sponsor’s logo. Just a totally tasteful and coherent image upon which to feast your eyes. Kennedy for one looked so smart, he could have gone straight to a wedding in his kit! Am I right, but is this kit not actually available for sale in the City store? If true, then this is pure madness. We wait over two decades for a decent strip and then they won’t sell it? Totally City. Sorry for being so ‘anorak’ on this but I’ve always liked this kit, and felt that it was City’s ‘lucky’ kit. Plus as fashions change, some things remain the same. Anyone else feel this way? Is it true that the kit actually dates right back to the early days of City, before they were Ardwick (the anorak in me needs to know this too)? Also, hands-up those who want to see the return of the (sky) blue, white and maroon socks from the Bell-Lee-Summerbee era – okay, throw in the sky blue top and white shorts too. Let’s stop messing about.

Finally, there have been a lot of comparisons made in recent weeks between City and United, particularly in commercial terms. With ‘outsiders’ suggesting that we need to ‘catch up’ as quickly as we can. Well in all honestly, I don’t want City to catch up, if it means throwing away what we are, and what we have. This club is not a brand. How about instead, City differentiating themselves from United, by making the Red and Black kit our permanent third strip, that will never change and will always be available? Those who need to follow the ‘fashions’ (à la the rags who change their strip ten times a season) can do so if necessary, but us ‘Trad. Arr.’ people can stick with the colours we know and love?

Finally, can I just say. “Man City: These colours don’t fade.” Heck even I’ve become a fashion/marketing ‘expert’ now.

Regards, Neil Haigh (


I don’t know the answer to that but if they had squad numbers when Barry Fry managed Birmingham they would have needed three digit numbers!

The highest listed for the Scottish Premier League is 52 for Hibernian but the highest first team regular is at 35, the rest are youth team players.

Aberdeen and Rangers both a have first team regular at number 47.

I hate squad numbers. They work fine for events such as a world cup where there is a fixed squad of players. But are unsuitable for a full season of League football with inevitable changes in the squad along the way.

They make it really difficult to grasp a team read out on the radio (often with the goalkeeper apparently at outside left!).

Remember City’s Revie Plan in the 1950s? They fooled the opposition by playing a Don Revie as a ‘deep lying’ centre-forward. In reality he was a midfielder wearing a number 9 shirt. This would never have worked with squad numbers in operation. Les McDowall must be turning in his grave!

John Lowe (


I have got some e-mails from fellow Irish supporters looking to meet up for pre-season games in Ireland and about City/Ireland scarves. Unfortunately when they have mailed me they have not left their e-mail address or phone numbers. Please could Alan Ivanovski, Ronan O’Mahony and Pat Dempsey mail me back and leave an address this time where I can get hold of them. Thanks a lot.

Tony MacManus (


Have any of you electronically talented Stateside Blues managed to get hold of a tape and convert it? Feel like making a few copies for the rest of us video-impaired ex-pats? I’ll willingly pay costs for tape, shipping, and aggravation.

Thanks – Bill Buffam, West Chester, PA (


Blue Moon Ringtone for Ericsson Mobile

Last year in MCIVTA someone sent in the instructions (notes/keys) for programming Ericsson mobile phones to ring ‘Blue Moon’. I have since got such a phone but have not got the article. Does anyone have the information?

Chas Tonner (


Well my story is not very exciting, but I thought seeing as you were running low, I would step into the breach.

While I was a wee nipper at school, I never really followed any kind of sport, and this included football, so hence I never had any leaning to a particular team or colour.

This ethos stayed with me until I was well into my late teens and early twenties.

I had a friend (Neil) who was well into City, and I mean big time; he had the circular badge wallpaper when we were kids, the matching lamp and bed covers. And pride of place on his wall was a framed, signed picture of the then current City squad. He would often tell me about how his uncle would take him down to Maine Road and sit him on the railings of the Kippax stand. But still I had no interest, and I went back to playing on my 48K Spectrum.

Anyway, the years passed, and I continued on my misguided City-less youth.

Years later, Neil called at my house, and he was steaming, he was well miffed. City had drawn against Liverpool and were relegated from the top flight. Interestingly enough the equaliser for Liverpool was scored by no other than our very own Mark Kennedy. Another season passed and City finished mid-table in the First Division.

Neil’s regular ‘City Buddy’ moved to Blackpool and Neil had no one to go to Maine Road with, not that going on his own ever stopped him. But the thought of going down with me in my nice, warm car was too tempting for him, and he asked me to take him down. He even suggested I should buy a ticket and come with him into the Kippax. I expressed concern that I thought it would be very boring, and my interest in football at that time was nil. But I thought, what the hell and I went to watch City play Norwich.

We arrived in Rusholme, home of the splendid Tandoori Kitchen, and got a take-away. We then walked towards the stadium… as we rounded the corner the first thing that struck me was the Kippax Stand. It looked fantastic, the sun (hello stranger…) shining on the pale blue metal work. We mingled into the sea of blue and headed for the turnstiles. Once in the ground, I could already hear the milling of the crowd in the stadium, the PA system playing Oasis and the smell of fresh (!) pies! We were in the middle of the upper tier and proceeded up the stairs. Flight after flight, and still not there… Christ how high is this thing? We went through the swing doors at the top and bought some programmes.

I was slowly taking it all in, the smells, the absolute sea of blue and the atmosphere… it was only 2:45 but the chanting had already started. We then walked up the stairs and out onto the Kippax stand. Now, I don’t want to get all melodramatic, but as I stepped out on the stand and looked around, it really did take my breath away. I found my seat and sat down, looking around at the crowd, a 32,000 strong sea of blue!

2:57 and the PA starts playing “Roll with it” as the teams stream onto the pitch. They take their places accompanied with a deafening chant of “Ci-ty, Ci-ty, Ci-ty”, “Come on City.” Then that strange, eerie silence for about two seconds as the ref blows the whistle, then the real noise begins! I can’t recall much of the on-pitch events; I was too busy watching the crowd and their reactions to every kick and nod of the ball. By the final whistle, I had a sore throat and could hardly speak, but cannot recall shouting anything? Within 90 minutes I had discovered my new ‘home’ and from that moment on, I knew, no matter what happened on the pitch at Maine Road, City had taken its hold and I would never look back. Needless to say, over the next few games I purchased a season ticket for the remaining half a season and even managed to get to a few away games, most notably Tranmere and Bradford, after Joe Royle had taken the reigns.

That’s the strange thing about City, I had never been into football until that afternoon, but ever since then I have done nothing with my life that has not revolved around City.

Now some of you might be saying that if I had gone to another stadium first, I would not be a Blue? Well I can answer this with a resounding “not on your life matey.” You see, I had been to a few football matches before, as my old boss was a Derby fan, and he used to take us Y.T.S. lads down to the Baseball Ground to watch them play (in they days when Maxwell would land outside the ground in his chopper!). At no point over those matches did I get the slightest twinge of feeling ‘at home’.

And that is my point about City. City could be in the Conference but they would still be getting crowds of 30,000. Once you are hooked, that is it… it’s City this and City that.

Being a City supporter is like having a “Get out of Jail” card. I have no doubt in my mind that if ever I was without a home, money or clothing, I could bump into a City fan who would clothe me, feed me, and take me to a few matches to boot! I am only a beginner when it comes to the ups and downs of being a City fan, but after watching the decline and then the rise back from the brink of self destruction, my passion for the club and everything ‘City’ has only grown stronger. There is certainly a tribal spirit about being a City supporter, and I for one would not swap or change any part about my beloved City for all the silverware in Old Trafford!


Andi Frodsham (


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

[Valid3.2]Ashley Birch,

Newsletter #608