Newsletter #610

A slightly belated issue due to the Bank Holiday, but somewhat fitting that it be the first anniversary of that tremendous day at Wembley.

This issue contains Peter’s news summary, a couple of belated Blackburn views, opinion on our “new” away kit, plenty of response to last issue’s family dilemma and a Why Blue?

Less than two weeks to Euro 2000, and a word of congratulations to Gillingham and even Ipswich for putting those play-off demons to rest.

Next game: To be announced


Veteran Pair Set to Stay

Joe Royle has received a double contract boost as the Blues prepare for life back in the Premiership. For two of the City players who could have left Maine Road on Bosman free transfers will be staying at the club. Royle had offered veteran pair Ian Bishop and Tommy Wright new one-year deals and it had been unclear whether either man would be happy to stay for an additional season. But Monday’s Manchester Evening News reports that Wright is set to sign his new deal on Tuesday, while Bishop has sent the City manager confirmation via a third party that he’s also prepared to put pen to paper. The news means that the Blues will not have to move for a deputy to Nicky Weaver this close-season, while the club now has plenty of competition for places in midfield.

City to Battle Bantams for Hignett?

Barnsley are set to lose key player Craig Hignett after falling at the final play-off hurdle on Monday. And the rumour is that Joe Royle may make a move for his long-term target – but could face competition from Bradford for the Warrington-born star. The Tykes face financial problems as they lose their Premiership ‘parachute’ payment next year and look set to cash in on their top scorer and top earner. It’s thought a fee of £2 million could be enough to secure the player’s services, but Royle may well be interested even though City have plenty of options in midfield with the likes of Bishop and Cooke staying at the club. Hignett’s ability to play in the centre or on the right of the engine room and also up front could make him a valuable recruit if the City boss can persuade him to opt for a move to Maine Road rather than Valley Parade.

Ipswich Win Rules Out Double Swoop

Manchester City were said to be planning a double raid on promotion rivals Ipswich Town if the Suffolk outfit stayed in Division One. But hopes of landing Matt Holland and David Johnson receded after George Burley’s men secured promotion through the play-offs. Ipswich beat Barnsley 4-2 at Wembley to earn promotion to the top flight at their fourth play-off attempt in the last four years, meaning that midfielder Holland and striker Johnson are now likely to be beyond Joe Royle’s reach. Alternative midfield targets mentioned have included Barnsley’s Craig Hignett and Derby’s Seth Johnson, while with the Blues looking set to miss out on Eidur Gudjohnsen in attack, Joe Royle will be weighing up other potential forward signings.

International Call-Ups for Maine Road Quartet

Most of Manchester City’s stars have been putting their feet up during the three weeks since the Blues won promotion. But three Maine Road men are still in action as their countries call on their services. Nicky Weaver played in England under-21s’ 2-0 defeat in the first game of the European Championships in Slovakia on Saturday and will again feature on Monday evening against Turkey. Mark Kennedy is set to play for Ireland against Scotland on Tuesday before heading off with Mick McCarthy’s men for a three-game tour of the USA. Meanwhile, Danny Tiatto and Chris Killen will represent Australia and New Zealand respectively in the Oceania Cup in Tahiti in June, while the Aussie will also take part in three friendlies against Paraguay between June 9 and 15.

Yet More Kanchelskis Speculation

Andrei Kanchelskis was linked with Manchester City even before the Blues won promotion at the start of May. And the Rangers’ winger is still being touted as a potential signing by Joe Royle. Saturday’s Daily Mirror claimed that the man whom Joe Royle both bought and sold for Everton could be the target of a £4 million bid by the City boss – although the fee mentioned seems far beyond the level the club would be prepared to pay for the 31-year-old Russian international. However, there are claims that the ex-Manchester United man is considering his future at Ibrox and may announce whether he wants to stay or go this week.

Sunday Tabloids Claim City Eyeing Johnson

Joe Royle made his last major signing from Derby County when he brought Spencer Prior to Maine Road. And reports on Sunday claimed that the Blues could be set to return to Pride Park for his first buy of the summer. Royle is said to be eyeing a £5 million move for Prior’s former team-mate, midfielder Seth Johnson. The England under-21 man is currently in Slovakia on representative duty but one report even says a deal could be struck on his return. The 21-year-old moved to the Midlands last summer from Crewe for £3 million and has impressed in the Premiership.

City Set to Miss Out on Gudjohnsen?

Bolton striker Eidur Gudjohnsen was said by many newspapers to be the striker topping Joe Royle’s summer wanted list. But if the latest rumours are to be believed, the City boss may now have to switch his sights elsewhere. The Icelandic striker has been linked with a host of Premiership clubs during the last few months, and some reports claimed that Royle would have to battle with Arsenal, Chelsea and Aston Villa for the 21-year-old’s signature. But with City reportedly well short of Bolton’s valuation, it’s now being claimed in many quarters that the Stamford Bridge outfit will clinch the signing. Blackburn’s Ashley Ward and Leeds’ Darren Huckerby have been mentioned as possible alternatives for the Blues.

Stars Set for Extra Training

Fitness has been a crucial factor in Manchester City’s success over the last eighteen months. But the players who have fallen short of the standards of the rest of the squad will be forced to put in extra work over the summer. Joe Royle admitted that he’s unhappy with the fitness levels of five of his men, and the quintet will be made aware that improvements are expected before the start of next term. The City boss refused to identify the players in question, but one will certainly be Robert Taylor, whose impact was curtailed by fitness worries after his arrival from Gillingham. Another is winger Terry Cooke, who needs to make an impact to revive his Maine Road career after being transfer listed and sent on loan to Wigan at the end of last season.

Limited Ground Capacity Costs City

Manchester City will play to packed houses on their return to the Premiership next season. But the Blues know that demand for tickets will far outweigh supply at Maine Road. The Blues believe they could fill even the 48,000 capacity at the new Eastlands Stadium – and director Chris Bird estimates that by having to wait 3 years to make the move, the club could forfeit as much as £13.5 million in gate receipts. “It is extremely frustrating but there is simply nothing we can do about it but to grit out teeth and wait until we move into the new stadium,” Bird told the Manchester Evening News. “The response from our supporters since we gained promotion back into the Premiership has been nothing short of phenomenal.”

Reports of 2,000 New Seats Premature

Manchester City are looking at ways of adding to the capacity of Maine Road next year. But reports that 2,000 seats will be added in the stadium appear to be inaccurate. The Blues have called in specialist consultants with a view to maximising the space available – but any new seats are likely to number hundreds rather than thousands. “There is an area where the scoreboard is situated and another above the gates in the space between the family stand and the main stand,” said director Chris Bird. “But even if we use those areas it will only increase our capacity by 500 per match.”

More Defender Links for Premier Challenge

Manchester City are being linked with a host of prospective signings ahead of next season’s Premiership season. And a defender is thought to be high on Joe Royle’s list of priorities. Fulham’s Chris Coleman is one man whom the Blues are said to have been watching, but the Welshman says he’d be happy to play on at Craven Cottage. Sheffield Wednesday’s out-of-contract skipper is another to have been linked, while there are claims that long-term target Alf-Inge Haaland of Leeds may be asked to fill a rôle in the back if he signs rather than filling the midfield rôle he’s assumed for much of his career.

Driver Delighted With City Signing

Manchester City are used to being sponsored rather than sponsors. But the Blues have agreed to endorse driver John Top-Gear in the British Touring Car championships. Wilmslow-based Top-Gear, who changed his name from Batchelor by deed poll, drives a Ford Fiesta and will have the City crest on his car in the championships. And he’s delighted to have landed the deal. “I have spoken to a lot of football clubs recently and I was impressed that City are still run by human beings – some clubs seem to be run by accountants,” he told the Manchester Evening News.

Jobson’s Resurgence Surprises Royle

Richard Jobson notched more appearances last season than any other City outfield player. And no-one was more surprised by the veteran’s comeback than Joe Royle. The Blues’ boss admitted that last August, he didn’t see Jobson as having much of a future at Maine Road – and the ex-Oldham defender only got a first-team chance as a purely stop-gap measure. “He had been out of action for a year with an ankle injury and I honestly thought that he was finished,” Royle told the Manchester Evening News. “I watched him in pre-season training lagging behind the rest and I can remember turning to my assistant Willie Donachie and saying, ‘I think we are going to have to have Jobbo put down.'” Now, the City manager says Jobson can expect to play a part as the club tackles the Premiership next term.

Peter Brophy (


“You’re taking the p!ss aren’t you John?” I said to my boss in Washington DC. “Is there a problem with you flying out on the 7th Ged?” “No John, my team gets promoted to the Premiership four or five times a year.” “Really” came the reply. The problem is that not only do Americans not understand sarcasm or irony but they don’t understand the importance of football. Consequently my shuttle flight to Heathrow touched down at 1:15 and I rushed from Terminal One to Terminal Four to get to the Lounge to watch the match before my flight at 3:30. On arrival in the lounge I was presented with the ultimate nightmare; a bl**dy Grand Prix was in progress!

I got a drink, sat down and twiddled my thumbs, got up, got another drink, walked the length of the lounge several times, cracked and phoned my nephew: “Are you watching it Stuart?” He has a weak disposition; he cried for three days when we lost the first leg against Shalke 04 in 1970, which doesn’t do your street cred much good when you’re ten. “Of course I am.” “Well phone me if there’s any goals.” Ten minutes later I couldn’t stand it, I phoned him again. “Hello”, “Commentate”; within six minutes Blackburn scored and I hung up in disgust and desolation.

The second half was getting better as two phone calls in succession had all the people in the lounge staring at this nutter punching the air when he answered his phone. The flight was called and I boarded a shuttle bus to cross the tarmac to the waiting BA Jumbo. The phone rang again just as we pulled up by the plane. “Kennedy’s made it 3-1 Ged”, “Stuart, we are definitely going up” “How can you say that Ged?”, “Because, nephew of mine, I am about to board a Jumbo Jet called ‘The City of Manchester'”.

One final jump up from my seat as Dickov’s goal was phoned through knocked the man sat next to me’s drink all over him but I was on cloud nine by then and we hadn’t left the runway!

Ged Wilson (


Manchester City’s victory at Blackburn was celebrated by a group of Toronto area Man City supporters who met at the house of Peter Hallsworth in suburban Mississauga to watch a televison replay of the big game. What was particularly great about the Sunday afternoon gathering was that the 12 supporters all came from different eras of watching City play. There were a couple of veterans who remembered the era of Bert Trautmann, Don Revie and Joe Hayes, a few late sixties early seventies supporters who basked in the glory years and a couple of twenty-something neophytes who hadn’t seen City win b****r all.

Yet we all met together, downed a few Boddington’s, jeered as Blackburn hammered the ball off the sundry woodwork (Weaver would have had that – was a common refrain) and we cheered lustily as Goater tied the score, Christian Dailly became our favorite charity and Kennedy and Dichov put the game away.

A group of people from different walks of life, different ages but with a common love, for Manchester City. We all agreed that there are better fortunes ahead and that once again we can take pride in cheering for the Blues against the best in Britain.

Next season can’t come soon enough.

Up the Blues! Keith Sharp – Toronto (


Two years ago Josh Langton wrote an article about Willie Donachie’s League Cup Final shirt in BTH. It seems his dad’s mate had ended up with it and had persuaded him to lend it to Josh as Willie was his idol (still is, I think). Naturally, photos were taken front and back with that tell tale No. 3. A few months later Josh and I interviewed Willie at Platt Lane. I produced some old black and white photos of his playing days and Josh his photos of the Holy Grail. Willie looked at them, thought for a while and said: “I’ve got one of those at home, but I always wondered why it didn’t have a number on the back!”

Longer ago – about twelve years ago – I was thumbing it to West Brom from London but decided to overshoot the nightmare that is Birmingham’s motorway system and head for Hilton Park where I reasoned I’d have more chance of getting a lift straight to The Hawthorns. The plan worked a treat and before long a car with a City scarf hanging out of the window pulled up to take me to the ground. Only when I was in the car did I realise the scarf was actually Ged Keegan’s League Cup Final shirt! Honestly, some people have got no idea.

So that’s the two full backs’ shirts accounted for, what about the others?

Noel Bayley (


New Zealand born Man City reserve player, Chris Killen, has been named in the 20 strong squad for the (senior) New Zealand squad (All Whites) taking part in the Oceania Football Confederations Nations Cup, to be played between 19-28 June (inclusive) in Papeete, Tahiti. NZ are in group 2, and their games are:

19 June 8.30pm New Zealand v the winner of the Polynesian Cup tournament
21 June 8.30pm New Zealand v Solomon Islands
25 June 6.30pm Group 2 winner v Group 1 runner up
28 June Final 8pm

Ralph Sheppard (


Well, Summer’s here. Or rather the close season. And isn’t it pretty bloody terminally boring?

Apart from

  1. Gardening essential if only on a Day of The Triffids “get it before it gets you” basis.
  2. Drinking essential, I mean (apart from the fact that my job involves a certain amount of libation – quite a lot, actually).
  3. Eating (see above), and
  4. Keeping an eye on the fortunes of Lancashire CCC from afar and hoping it pees rain on Surrey and Leics.

Life is pretty naff, chiefly ’cause there’s no weekly dose of ecstasy and (overdose) of agony a.k.a. “following City”.

But wait a minute: don’t I have Championship Manager 99/2000 lurking in the cavernous depths of the old PC? Of course I have. And didn’t my alter ego, ashen-faced tight-lipped chain-smoking supremo Ron Knee (a 70’s Private Eye creation, not mine alas) not only drag City into the PL (via the play-offs in 2001), why he goes and wins the UEFA Cup in 2006 and becomes 21st best manager of all time. Even better than Alan Ball! A quick e-mail to EIDOS/Sports Interactive elicits the fact that I am the only living CM player who remembers cardboard milk bottle tops and The Revie Plan. So, entering my second childhood for the 55th time I start to ponder “What if?”

The outcome of all this capo di tutti fantasia is that I decide to play CM99/2000, managing City, starting in June 1999. So what’s new? I’ve done this loads of times before. Well, what’s new is I’m handicapping myself with a set of rules and restrictions. I’m working with Joe’s squad, Joe’s backroom staff and modelling myself on him.

Despite Roy Bailey’s 8/20 rating for physiotherapy, I can’t change him for that nice girl from Hendon with the 18 rating who has players off the treatment couch and back on the pitch faster than Mr.Allcock can flash a yellow card. Likewise Vaughan, Russell, Cooke etc. must go and I’ve got to try to acquire Prior, Fat Bob etc. No buying previously tried and tested exotica (Jose Luis Marti, Andrea Zanoncello, Jonas Forsberg, Tiko), no acquiring 20/20 rated coaches from the dole queue. Or skilful Bozzers for bobbins. Or looking up the fansites for bargain-priced future stars. Must keep Nicky and Goat, though they seem woefully inconsistent in CM guise. Can’t play two wingers.

But I am allowed to buy any players either Joe’s considered or we’ve been seriously linked with: The Goat and Gudjonsson, yum! I’ll try to keep away from Kanchelskis – won’t be hard!

I’ll keep McVittie posted, as the season progresses (you shouldn’t get too bored, I’ll probably be sacked after Rushden & Diamonds do us at Maine Road in the League Cup!).

On another matter:

Looking forward to next season as we all are, I hope that

  1. We don’t start the awful barracking of players. These guys haveplayed their hearts out for us and deserve a chance, as Joe has said.Sure as hell we are going to witness some pretty dismal individualperformances as The Best Defence in Div. One struggles to cope with thefaster pace and more skilful attackers of the Premiership. But theysure as hell won’t improve with the crowd on their backs.
  2. We don’t get all hung up over The Rags like we used to. They havepots of money, a different ethos (thank God) and as far as the rest ofthe league are concerned (£18 million for a crock?) they are as much TheMen From Mars as The Creatures From The Swamp. Best thing the PL coulddo is to give them the trophy at the start of the season, plus theticket to Europe that’s the only thing they want and say “Right, nowp*ss off and play by/with yourselves”. For their fans, Pity andWithering Contempt should be the order of the day, not Jealousy, Envy,or the pent-up frustrated Anger we used to consider our birthright.

Savour the season, enjoy the summer and thanks everyone.

Ernie Whalley (


Interesting to see the note from Jim Curtis regarding the sale, The Chris Muir Collection, but why aren’t the club buying it? Surely the move to the new stadium is an ideal opportunity for us to open a City museum and this sounds like the kind of stuff that should be filling it!

Maybe I’m just jealous because I am stuck in Nepal and won’t be able to get my hands on any of it!

An exiled Blue in Kathmandu, Colin Earley (


I promise to finish my Why Blue and get it on its merry way. However, just had to “put pen to paper” right away in response to some of the City kit articles – especially Stuart Langley’s excellent article about the red and black kit.

I totally agree with Stuart and many other people that the red and black kit should remain as our away kit. Many other teams have stolen this design over the years and it’s about time we made it ours for good. I understand the temptation to come up with a really fancy design every now and again but I just cringe at some of the designs we’ve had over the years. As much as the ‘Fluorescent Final’ will go down as one for the history books, I really wish we had played it in our red and black away kit.

I keep hearing rumours about this green and silver design and just hope that it’s all just a bad joke. To whomever it concerns (probably some design student on a work placement at Le Coq Sportif), please keep our red and black kit the way it is. OK then, I don’t mind if you change a bit of trim here and there, but green and silver… noooooooo!

James Barber (


I indeed have conclusive proof of the magical powers of the red and black strip.

It dawned on me that of the several teams (amateur by the way) I’ve played for, two changed the strip to a red and black striped number with subsequent unprecedented success.

The first was at college for the infamous Spartak History FC who romped to promotion in the college second division, with yours truly scoring from his own half in one particular game; OK the pitches were a bit small. The second was The Ferryboat in the Lincoln Pub Mad Dog Sunday League which against all logic, escaped relegation when, if I was honest, we should have gone down two months before the end of the season.

The magic seems to be that you think that you’re performing Franco Baresi, or indeed Spencer Prior, when in fact you’re playing like Kit Symons on a particularly bad day (wince), but it’s all in the head chaps, that’s the difference.

So there you go, conclusive proof that we must keep this kit, we must use it whenever possible and if you play amateur football get the boss to invest in the magical kit.

Batangas Blue (


Quick update on guests for the Dublin Blues’ 25 Year Dinner Dance. I mentioned in a previous MCIVTA the difficulty in getting star guests. Well, star guests from the football club are Chris Bird and Dennis Tueart. Again no current player, however as Dennis is one of my personal heroes I will forgive the club this time.

The do is on Friday 2nd June in the Royal Dublin Hotel on O’Connell Street for any stray Blues passing or any Dublin Blues who have failed to hear about it. Hope to see you all there.

Bartley Ramsay (


As I’m visiting my brother in Atlanta this week, we thought it might be a good idea to see if any other City fans in the Atlanta area (or beyond) would like to meet up for a post-promotion celebration? It’ll be on Sunday 4th June.

Please drop our kid an email and we can see what we can organise.

Dave Brierley (


I am trying to arrange a get-together for London Blues to watch one or two of the Euro 2000 matches. If you’re interested, please email me, and I’ll sort it if there is enough interest.

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


Re the article from Bob Young at; I would like to buy the video but I don’t have Internet! I manage to get MCIVTA through the email system at work but I’ll never understand how! Can someone let me have the old fashioned ‘phone number or address so I can book my copy before they sell out?

P.S. Did you hear the guy on century radio’s football phone-in who was a friend of a relative of a friend of Kinky’s agent and was quite categoric that Gio was coming back to Maine Road for next season? I wonder if Joe knows?

Chris Ryder (


Before I get too excited about all the players that Joe Royle is supposedly going to buy, has anyone got a latest definitive list of the current squad? Are there players who are out of contract this summer who will definitely not be offered new contracts, etc.?

Steve Maclean (


Spotted on Sky Sports’ web page a “goalkeeper of the year” vote with Nicky at the moment out in front. Get online and make sure he wins.

CTID, Gav Feeley (


In MCIVTA 609 Mrs D Mather asked who City played in the first live game on Sky! Well it wasn’t the first live game, it was in fact the first Monday live game and we drew 1-1 with QPR. As for the band, the song was called ‘Alive and Kicking’ and I think (not sure on this!) it was sung by Simple Minds. Hope this helps.

Ian Renard (

Monday 17th August 1992: QPR, Maine Road, Drew 1-1

For details see:

Svenn Hanssen (

In response to Mrs D Mather, some other anorak will be able to answer who the match was against, but the song was ‘Alive and Kicking’ by Simple Minds. Top track!

Stuart Langley – Cockney Blue (

In response to the question over City live on the box, I don’t know who the first live Sunday game was between but do remember what was the first live Monday night game.

We were at home to QPR (interestingly they were wearing the famous black and red stripes). Sky TV made a terrible attempt at creating some sort of party atmosphere. First, came out the cheerleaders who were appreciated by all, but for some reason didn’t want to get too close to the Kippax. Something perhaps to do with all the baying and slavering going on.

After this highlight we were forced to watch a crap band mime to their even worse cover version of a classic song. They were ‘Underworld’, the song was ‘Baker Street’. Thankfully they were soundly booed throughout their set and whistled off at the end. It seems their pretensions at being pop stars got a serious pasting that night as I never heard of them again.

I would tell you more about the match (perhaps someone remembers better than me), all I’ll say is that it was a pretty dire 1-1 draw and sadly I can only remember that Andy Sinton scored their equaliser which became part of Sky’s title sequence for live matches.

David Blyth (

The game was City vs. QPR and I’m pretty sure it was a 1-1 draw. The song was Alive and Kicking by Simple Minds and was accompanied by a firework display at the Platt Lane end of the ground which was being redeveloped at the time.

Rob Kerr (


I’ll tell you Why Blue. I have been a supporter all my life (26 years) and would never support any other team. I’m a Blue through and through. When I was a kid my dad used to take me to Maine Road with my brother, aunty, uncle and cousin and it would be a real family day. Before every match we would go to the chippy round the corner for our usual pie, mushy peas and chips and we would then wrap up warm as you do because it is so damn cold at Maine Road. We would go to nearly every game and were in the Kippax (before the area was seated) and the atmosphere was phenomenal. One big happy family of Blues! What more could you ask for in life?

As I grew up over the years I moved out to Bermuda, thinking that I would find it difficult to keep in touch with the movements of the Blues, only to find out that a Bermudian Player (Shaun Goater) would be playing. Well, last Christmas I was flying back to Bermuda from the UK and turned around only to find the Goat on the plane with me. What a fantastic guy. Of course, I introduced myself and told him that I was made up to meet him. What a down to earth great guy. I think he was a little shocked to find a supporter from his home town. Anyway, this year one of my friends in Bermuda (a Mancunian girl) went home and got together with some friends that work at Maine Road and she got to meet the Goat also. On her return trip she came armed with so many programmes and newsletters that I felt alive again. I am going to be coming home this year with some Bermudian friends to introduce them to the family (Maine Road). Congrats boys on the promotion. I can now watch the games at our local pub (The Robin Hood) on a Saturday morning. Keep it real, keep it true and keep it Blue. One love – Blue!

Victoria Wild – Bermuda (


Contributions: Heidi –
News & Rumours: Peter –
Subscriptions: Steve –
Technical Problems: Paul –

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]Heidi Pickup,

Newsletter #610