Newsletter #636

For once MCIVTA is serving me as well as it does the legions of Blues who cannot get to games on grounds of cost, distance, infirmity or inclination… let me explain:

On the 5th of August, my right knee unexpectedly flew apart and deposited me on my backside; quite why it waited till the first day of my holidays, and on a very inaccessible beach (Rinsey in Cornwall) to do this, I don’t know. Perhaps I was a major-league sinner in a previous incarnation? Anyway, as I lay there contemplating the injustice of it all, as well as the impending free helicopter ride, the operation and pain, the ruined vacation, and the enforced absence from work, it also occurred to me that I’d have to miss our return to the Premiership. This, on top of already having missed the Blackburn game when the knee was broken the first time around – God I must have been bad! So, here I am, leg in plaster, hearing about the game via match reports sent into MCIVTA! It makes me appreciate just how valuable they are to those who cannot attend – please keep them coming. Incidentally, my immobility did give me a chance to read the excellent ‘Blue Moon Rising’; this book managed to put my misery – at having two knee operations – into perspective, with Paul Lake recounting the 18 serious surgical interventions he’d undergone in his quest to play again. I feel suitably humbled!

I’m already planning my comeback for the Middlesbrough game, so if any of you lads in Kippax AAU, Row 39, Seats 17, 18, 19 read MCIVTA, then be prepared for musical seats so that I can stretch my leg out in the aisle!

This issue has Peter’s news, a couple of match reports on the Coventry defeat and belated reports on the Sunderland game. It also marks the return of Tony Burns to a match reporter’s chair (or whatever us computer types sit on). By far the biggest topic in this issue is the slagging off of Richard Edghill during Saturday’s game. It may perhaps surprise you to learn (or maybe not) that the majority of those giving an opinion in this issue have written in to express their disgust at Edghill’s treatment.

Lastly, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Dave Butler for doing an excellent job in editing MCIVTA during my three-week absence.

This one reaches 3,419.

Next game: Tuesday 5th September 2000, Leeds away


City Suffer First Home Defeat

Manchester City suffered their first home defeat of the new campaign on Saturday. The Blues lost 2-1 to Coventry at Maine Road in a game which represented a personal disaster for Richard Edghill. The City skipper gave the visitors the lead with a 23rd-minute own goal and then was beaten by Craig Bellamy before the Welsh striker fired home at the near post in first-half injury time. Too upset to continue, Edghill was substituted at the break but the Blues could only manage a 78th-minute Kevin Horlock goal by way of a reply. City are now in sixteenth place in the Premeir League, with three points from their three games – but the prospects of improving that position in the next couple of weeks look remote, with the forthcoming fixtures being daunting away trips to Leeds and then Liverpool.

Edghill Taken Off “For His Own Good”

Richard Edghill endured a nightmare first half during City’s defeat by Coventry and was substituted at the break. And according to Joe Royle, the crowd’s reaction to the City skipper made it impossible for him to continue. Royle insisted after the game that Edghill has the quality to be a Premier League player and has the determination to recover quickly from his latest set-back. And the Blues’ boss was disappointed with the fans’ reaction to the Oldham-born defender’s errors. “He will be the first to hold up his hands and say he didn’t have a great half,” admitted the City manager. “Unfortunately the crowd’s reaction made it impossible for him to come out for the second half. The fans will have their say but at every club I’ve been at there is always one player that the crowd love to pick on. Unfortunately here it is Edgy but the lads know he’s a terrific player and he will bounce back.”

Edghill Vows To Fight Back

Richard Edghill was substituted at half time on Saturday after enduring a personal nightmare in the opening 45 minutes of the match against Coventry, and enduring vociferous criticism from sections of the Maine Road crowd. But the City skipper has vowed to silence his critics. Edghill has the backing of his team-mates, with Nicky Weaver claiming that the 25-year-old is probably “the best defender at the club”. And the former England under-21 man is determined to fight his way through the difficult times. “Richard has told us he just wants to get his head down and get back to work,” director Chris Bird told the Manchester Evening News. “We all know what a strong character Richard is and he is determined to try his best and prove the doubters wrong.”

Weah Impact Delights Royle

George Weah has yet to open his goalscoring account for Manchester City. But Joe Royle still believes the signing of the one-time World Player of the Year will prove a masterstroke. According to the Blues’ boss, Weah has made a big impact in the dressing room, readily offering encouragement and advice to his team-mates. And the 33-year-old’s skills have certainly impressed his team-mates. “He does some amazing things, even in training,” said Royle. “I saw the players applauding him this morning after he had back-heeled a goal from fifteen yards.” The City manager also explained the story behind Weah’s seemingly inexaustible supply of different couloured boots. The Liberian owns a boot manufacturing company, and is likely to be seen in silver, gold and red pairs in addition to the blue, yellow and white he’s worn so far.

Royle Backs His Record Buy

Some critics have been claiming that Paulo Wanchope will prove another Manchester City transfer flop. But Joe Royle believes the Costa Rican will make his detractors eat their words. Royle paid out a club-record £3.65 million for the ex-Derby front man this summer. And the 24-year-old made an immediate impact with a hat-trick on his home début for the Blues against Sunderland. But even that feat hasn’t stopped the likes of local radio pundit Tommy Docherty from questioning whether Wanchope will deliver the goods on a consistent basis – talk which angers the City manager. “I don’t know why he took so much flak from fans at West Ham but I don’t think he is going to get that here,” said Royle. “There have been people up here – including a certain Scottish gentleman on radio – who have questioned his ability in public but to score a hat-trick at this level takes some doing and not that many strikers will achieve that feat in an entire season.”

Wanchope Ready for Demanding Schedule

Paulo Wanchope is set for a busy season. City’s record buy is likely to be on international duty for Costa Rica on a regular basis – and could be called up on as many as fourteen occasions. Wanchope will be in action against Barbados next Sunday, and will also be required by his country in October and November for matches against the USA and Guatemala respectively. And Joe Royle believes that the frequent absences are the only barrier to the 24-year-old achieving great things at Maine Road. “Our problem is going to be keeping him on the island,” the City boss reflected. “He seems to be playing for Costa Rica every other week!”

Wiekens in Talks Over New Deal

Gerard Wiekens has been at Manchester City for three years and will be out of contract next summer. But the Blues are set to offer their Dutch star a new deal. Wiekens has proved a rare successful buy by former manager Frank Clark, having cost only £500,000 from Veendam in the summer of 1997. And clubs in Holland have been monitoring the player’s situation in the hope of luring him back to his native land on a Bosman free transfer at the end of this season. However, the Dutch press is reporting that City want the 27-year-old midfielder to commit to a further spell at Maine Road – and with Wiekens keen to raise his profile in Holland by playing in the Premiership, contract negotiations are expected to lead to a favourable outcome.

Ulises Impresses In Practice Match

Red tape means that Manchester City cannot field trialist Ulises de la Cruz in a competitive match at either senior or reserve level. But the Blues arranged a behind-closed-doors friendly last week to take a look at the 26-year-old in match action. A City side comprising mainly junior players took on the Cameroon Olympic squad at Platt Lane on Thursday afternoon. And Joe Royle was keeping a close eye on the Ecuadorian, who can play on the right side of midfield, or as a right-wing back, or full-back. “We cannot play Ulises in competitive games at the moment but we have seen in him in a friendly,” Royle explained to the Manchester Evening News. “What we have seen up to now is fine. He is talented and quick and has great distribution but we’d like to see him in a game before we do anything.” It’s expected that the Blues will arrange another private friendly match to take a final look at de la Cruz before committing to a permanent deal.

Morrison Set for Loan Spell?

Andy Morrison continued his comeback this week, playing for City reserves at Everton. But the Manchester Evening News claims the big defender could be sent on loan in a bid to step up his match fitness. With Joe Royle pursuing defensive reinforcements throughout the summer, Morrison has been linked with a move away from Maine Road. The City boss has insisted that his club skipper still has a place in the senior squad, meaning that suitors are likely to meet with disappointment if they want to sign the 29-year-old on a permanent basis. But Bolton, Burnley, Sheffield United and Wolves are all interested in a temporary deal and Morrison will make a decision after playing in Tuesday’s home reserve game against Newcastle at Hyde.

Royle Defends System of Play

According to the critics – and many fans – Manchester City have a weakness down the right-hand side of the team. But Joe Royle has defended the tactics used by the Blues. City have Mark Kennedy as an outlet down the left, but have no comparable source on the other side of the pitch. However, Royle believes the blueprint can be successful – and points to a previous example of a trophy-winning team constructed according to a similar model. “All I am saying is that the formation we like to play has served us well,” the Blues’ boss told the Manchester Evening News. “If it is lopsided then Arsenal played a similar system with one winger and three midfielders and won the double so God knows how good they would have been if they had had balance!”

“City Are Back” Print Available

Manchester City fans can commemorate the club’s recent second successive promotion with a a special limited edition print entitled ‘City Are Back’. And former City star Gary Owen is the man behind the idea. In addition to being a popular local radio pundit, Owen is now an art dealer and is selling the prints of the work by artist David Hort Player through his company Walk of Fame. The print retails at £145, although a framed version is available at £195. Anyone interested in buying one should contact Walk of Fame on 0161-643 5335.

Peter Brophy (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. COVENTRY CITY, Saturday 26th August 2000

Whilst the midweek game against Sunderland had proved to be great entertainment and a great victory, in all honesty, it had allowed us to get carried away with our Premiership prospects. What it hadn’t done though was prepare for such a contrast in games and such a disappointing result against a Coventry team that at best could be described as mediocre.

Prior to the match our usual rigorous pre-match preparation had taken place with our traditional last-minute preparation taking place, as ever, in The Gardeners. Despite my family’s knowledge of the importance of tradition and ritual I have to admit to being somewhat concerned when my daughter decided that she would not wear one of her replica City shirts. It seems we paid a heavy price for that.

Pre-match research on our opponents had led me to establish that for only £12-99 you can purchase a five piece melamine dinner set from the club shop. I’d looked at this online and tried to use it as some sort of indicator as to the match and possibly the final score. I gave up this approach after a couple of hours of study of the dinner set, as I couldn’t read anything into it, it just looked crap.

It was of course another big crowd at Manchester’s home of football, 34,140 were there. There seemed to be a decent turn out of Coventry fans, although not as many as for the Sunderland game, nor were they as noisy. Before a few words about the football, we should I think consider the ‘rig out’ that the Coventry City players wore. It’s best summed up with the words “not very nice”. The overall impression is one in which the designer had to make the best of a shortfall of supply of material and in doing so has dark blue material forming the mainstay of the kit with lighter blue side panels. The side panel theme is carried on into the lower garment finished with matching hose, worn just below the knee. Incidentally replica hose is available from the club shop at price £7:99 (adult sizes 7-11 inclusive).

It seems that the remarkable George Weah knows a thing or two about fashion. Against Sunderland his feet were shod in a delightful yellow leather boot whilst for this game he wore silver, but despite the elegance of his boots and the elegance of his play, the overall performance of the team was to be a disappointment. As ever I’ll not write too much about the football, partly because others do that and partly because there’s not too much to write about.

In the early part of the game we certainly had most of the ball but stumbled as we got closer to goal. Coventry, attacking the Platt Lane end, took a long time to force Weaver into action and when they did around the 15-minute mark, Weaver was there to re-direct the ball. Edghill, who was having a poor game, put the ball past Weaver round about the 25-minute mark and in so doing gave ammunition to the so called ‘boo boys’. He doesn’t deserve it.

There are a couple of blokes (The Bores) who sit close to where we sit (they are brothers and attend with their children each week). To listen to one of them you would think he had played at the highest level. Normally even when we’re winning the moaning is normally started within the first minute or two; sometimes it’s within 30 seconds. One brother is much worse than the other, and would be a soft target to rip apart with his pathetic whinging and jibes but I can’t be bothered, I just wish the moaning was saved for after the game. You pay your money and you take your choice of course, but like most things in life, there’s a time and a place for everything.

Anyway the Coventry lead was against the run of play, and within the next few minutes we were close to being in front with headers just going over and a sensational save from the Coventry ‘keeper to deny a great effort by Weah. In the course of the game we were also denied by the woodwork a couple of times. It was beginning to feel like one of those games when just before half time Bellamy for Coventry was one on one with Edghill and beat him in the 18-yard box before nut-megging Weaver.

I can’t be bothered writing more about this game, other than that Dickov looked great when he replaced Kennedy, and overall I think the win flattered Coventry and in truth a draw would have been a fair result. The City offensive and bombardment in the last 10-15 minutes just wasn’t enough to get the points.

Of some concern is the fact that we’ve conceded eight in three games, and that against two not particularly strong teams and one team who haven’t yet got back to last season’s form.

No doubt Joe will work on this – the next few games will be tough; Leeds and Liverpool will provide a real test as will Middlesbrough at the Academy in a few weeks’ time. Despite the disappointing result, we’re only three games in, I’m confident of survival and no matter what I think we all know it could be worse – we could for example be watching Sheffield Wednesday or having to go to Rotherham to watch our football!

Finally the officials; they wore matching outfits – Mr D’Urso took centre stage while stage left (yellow) was taken by Mr Beale and stage right (red) by Mr Bryan. Mr Messias played a supporting rôle. Mr Strachan was excitable. Onwards and upwards.

Tony Burns (


There are many amongst the MCVITA crowd who can write a much better report than I about the match against Coventry so I shan’t try to compete. I know that Richard Edghill will receive some pretty vitriolic abuse for a shambolic performance which I will not dispute. However it’s only 3 games into the season and we have to take time to look at our team objectively.

Coventry came and worked harder than us, plain and simple. They seemed to want it more. Craig Bellamy showed the pace that made them pay £6.5 million for him, exposing our defensive weakness in this area. Reg had a shocker; the scariest moment for him, even more than the own goal was his attempted pass back to Weaver when he should have buried a clearance high into the Main Stand. We got away with it that time. It appeared that Prior was assigned the man marking job on Cedric Roussel but got caught the wrong side of him too many times. This led to the biggest problem being that the Coventry midfield broke forward with aplomb.

On the good side in a terrible performance was the understanding between Paulo and George. 1CHOP looks to be a City hero in the making; from my position in the Kippax I couldn’t see why his goal was disallowed but I feel that there is promise there.

So what do we do? We’ve let in 8 goals in three matches, that’s too many. If we carry on like that we will be relegated and the blame doesn’t lie solely with Reg. There is a hole (just one?) in our midfield that lets teams outnumber us. We will come good if only because of the faith I have in Joe and Willie. In absence of a new right back signing, as Reg is on poor form I feel that Alfie will have to bite the bullet and move to an unfavoured position for him. This doesn’t address the problem we have on the right side of midfield, namely we don’t have one!

Tony Tramp came on and showed like he did in his brief outings last season. Absolutely nothing. I can see Jeff Whitley being brought back in at the earliest opportunity. What to do in the centre? Gerard has the defensive ability and can pass the ball a bit. No pace though. And pace is what we need. There are no easy answers and it’s a new league but squad wise I feel we have the ability but seem to lack the pace.

The one good point in the game was the introduction of Dickov, guts guts guts. He ran for everything, tried everything and late in the second half produced a peach of a ball from the left wing. More of that please. As a fan I obviously feel the right to play manager and so here is my favoured team when fitness allows:

???? Wiekens/Horlock (new signing?)
Ritchie (is he any good?)/Jobson

I believe in City and the longer that Howey and Prior play together the better. If we sort out the right side we will be fine. If we leave it as it is we will struggle. Joe won’t let it happen. Look for more signings in the near future and I bet it will be a midfielder.

On another point, booing Reg for playing crap doesn’t help. We’ve been to the place where booing our team has got us. I don’t want to go there again. One nil down and the booing stopped the players passing to Reg when he was the player in the space. Each player has to trust those around him. We don’t need us to start questioning (berating) on field options. We are City, we are in this together. Don’t forget, 2 seasons ago we were a crap Second Division side, we need to acclimatise to the big one. When we do, we’ll come good. Have faith, Joe’s the man.

CTID, Dave ? (


First of all apologies for the slightly late arrival of this match report, but such are the commitments of work coupled with the sheer mind-numbing delirium of such a magnificent performance that it is only now a couple of days later that I am able to sensibly formulate a few words on the great night I was privileged to witness at Manchester’s home of football.

I’d been in Wakefield on Wednesday and although not too far from Manchester (about 45 miles) I was a little nervous about the time as I got up to leave the meeting I was in at about 16:15, however a quick sprint to the car, a series of fortunate turns as I navigated out of Wakefield, a blast down the M1, a succession of lucky/guessed turnings and then home over the Woodhead pass, saw me back at home at 17:30.

Just enough time to stuff a cheese and tomato butty down my neck, get changed and then off down to The Gardeners to pick up the pre-match rituals of the last few seasons. You will know of course the importance of these and it was with real delight that I ensured my trouser belt was not there as I enjoyed the rather pleasant sensation of feeling my pants drop around my ankles as I shuffled along to the Gardeners (you will of course appreciate that this sensation of pant dropping is pleasant only for its associations with victory and not anything improper).

We met up with my brother in The Gardeners and enjoyed a couple of decent pints of Guinness and as my brother is often in the company of foreign language students (he works with them) we have a habit of referring to this sort of pre-match ritual as simply ‘an English tea party’.

In all honesty, despite the enormity of the game in front of us and its significance on marking our return to the Premiership, the atmosphere was quiet in the pub and on the way to the Centre of Soccer Excellence. I wasn’t sure really why that was but I was certainly excited and the old feeling of expectancy and sheer hope that is almost unique to that first game of the season was building up as we took out our season tickets and prepared to enter the portals of the promised land.

The fans from Sunderland (a small suburb of Newcastle apparently) had been allocated seats in the North Stand and in the Gene Kelly, they were certainly a smartly turned out and noisy group of fans, many of them just happy to enjoy the break from knocking out Nissans I guess.

The pre-match build up was just great, such was my excitement that I can’t even recall it all, but there was a succession of a pretty good music being blasted out of the PA system at such volume that even our resident plastic seagull (Jonathon) was dancing high above the Kippax; to us it was a delight to watch our own plastic good luck charm bob rhythmically up and down, side to side, to the Nissan workers it seemed as though they thought it to be a meal, the contents perhaps of some exotic Wearside game pie perhaps?

And then if all that wasn’t enough, a huge shirt was unfurled and passed across the Kippax, this was just fantastic, and if any Reds were watching they must have been gutted at the difference in atmosphere and noise from their own Theatre of Books or rather The Library as I understand we should now call it.

But all this was nothing to the increase in noise and the shattering volumes reached as the teams came out – this was spine-tingling stuff.

It seemed strange at first looking at out new players but any strangeness was gone within minutes when Mr Wanchope combined in a magnificent sweeping move with Mr Weah to make the net in front of the Sunderland fans billow towards then as goal number one hit home around the three minute mark. Boom – the un-original but welcome cries of “City are back” were chanted at some volume as the visitors who were clearly rocked by the ferocity of the attack reeled under a continued onslaught from the Blues.

I was staggered at the way we were taking this game to them, pre-match I’d have settled for a draw but already it was a question of when’s the next goal coming. We didn’t have long to wait as Haaland whipped one in from close range around about the 22-minute mark. It seemed obvious to me that Peter Reid would lambast his players at half time and they would come out looking slightly different. That was indeed the case, and as in previous match reports over the last couple of seasons I won’t overdo the football bit, others make a much better job than me, but suffice it to say we were rocked when Quinn and Phillips levelled the score in a three-minute spell just after the hour. Both goals were pretty good, but Phillips’ was a real cracker and taken so quickly that you could see why he hit so many times last season.

This sudden change in fortunes seemed to cause the travelling supporters some memory retention problems as they burst into song to ask at some volume “who are you. who are you, who are you?” An odd request really given that there were more than 34,000 fans in the ground plus of course other officials and to have provided an answer would have been a logistical nightmare.

Anyway this soon stopped as Mr Wanchope completed a memorable night with a couple more goals to make the final score 4-2.

So in football terms what a great night, this really was an enjoyable game. I thought it was pretty strong performance all round, I was pretty pleased with Edghill’s and Tiatto’s performances but there were no bad performances; as for Wear and Wanchope, it’s hard to talk about these two performances other than to say they were simply virtuoso performances.

Perhaps we should now address some of the more important issues of the night.

In terms of overall presentation, Sunderland have set an early high standard. The shirts were the traditional open cotton weave model and produced in red and white vertical stripes. The sponsor Reginald Vardy has had to have his name shortened to Reg Vardy to fit on the front of the shirt, whilst sleeves were finished by neat black cuffs. The squads’ numerical indicators were typically displayed in regulation fashion on the back of the shirt. The stylish top of the outfit was set off by plain and simple black shorts with elasticised waistband with black kneelength hose completing the outfit. I think I should give them an overall fashion rating of 8 out of 10.

The game was officiated by Mr Elleray who I thought had a woeful game and if that’s what 15 years of experience brings, then it should concern us. Mr Lewis took the red flag, whilst Mr M Williams took yellow, Mr Jones acted as fourth official.

Next game Coventry, three points from that will be very welcome as we prepare for the undoubted challenge that away visits to Leeds and Liverpool will bring.

City are back.

Tony Burns (


So the first home game of the season is upon us; if this game is anything to go by, we are in for one hellava season. Ended my short stay in Ireland for the specific purpose of going to this game. On the flight back from Dublin sat next to a top guy called Ray who ended up being a member of the Dublin City branch; hence a great chat about this season’s coming prospects ensured. We both agreed that we would be delighted with a win against Sunderland but we were apprehensive (oh ye of little faith).

On to the game; got to Maine Road and the place was buzzing, the same old faces in the same old seats, everyone looking tanned and refreshed ready for the challenge ahead (I guarantee the faces won’t be looking so healthy when we are getting rained upon in the middle of January but hopefully they will be smiling). We were just over our pre-match beered up beginning of season hugs when we were one nil up. Who was that? Wanchope or Weah (now I get the feeling we will ask that question more than once this year, over a forty-yard distance and a set of beer goggles they do look kinda similar). Those around me assured me it was Wanchope, it was an easy finish but it still had to be done, so 1-0 City, the crowd roaring “City are back, City are back” and it truly felt like we were.

We were first to the ball and causing Sunderland all sorts of problems, their defence and goalkeeper had to work at lot harder than ours. One player who impressed me for them was Varga, he was their defensive rock. City were applying the pressure and Weah with his magic bright yellow boots laid the ball for Haaland to collect his first goal in a City shirt, then came the chant “You’re going down, you’re going down, Sunderland’s going down”. A chant of purest sarcasm, which was not well received by the travelling support. Credit where credit is due, the Sunderland fans filled their allocation, and sang when they were level. I do have a soft spot for Mackems, Reid, Quinn and all. City could have gone on from there to impose their superiority on the game and gone 3-0 up, but we are City from Maine Road and where would the fun in that be? We have to make sure the lovely toilets in the Kippax are put to full use.

Half time came, lager ran out at the bar I was at (some things never change). People around me were stunned we were playing so well, but we were also a little nervous in case the ghost of Maine Road past realised the season had started, and would rise from his slumber to put a spanner in the works.

Both sides looked up for this second half but City were not cutting Sunderland up as much as they had done in the first; at times Tiatto was marking big Quinn, who must be 12 inches bigger. Sunderland found space on the right and fired in a cross which Quinn duly converted. Big Niall looked gutted, he jogged back to the centre circle but there was no punching of the air, no running over to the Sunderland support and celebrating (did his heart ever leave Maine Road?).

Oh dear, Sunderland looked well up for it now, City’s defence obliged and ran around like a freshly cut headless chicken, inviting Sunderland, to come and take a pop. It took all of 3 minutes and a super finish by Phillips was all it took to raise the old Ghost, the reaper was back in town, and City looked there for the taking, players heads were down, they looked beat.

Then something special happened around me, individual blokes were getting out of their seat, shouting, roaring, pleading “Come on City, Come on City”, more people got up and joined the chant, we were now forming a crowd with single purpose, we became brothers and sisters in arms. No way were City going to lose this one, the players sensed this and in true Rocky off the canvas fashion, we went at Sunderland. We tore into them, they were not going to deny us a victory; for the last 20 minutes of this match Sunderland took a beating. Weah and Wanchope were our bit of class that cut through the Sunderland team, Wanchope scored twice and could have had another, there was only going to be one winner and a crowd inspired City grew with confidence and duly took the 3 points on offer. We were over a Blue moon and we have only played one game at home, it can’t get better than this, bring ’em on, all of ’em.

Walter Smith (


For the City Masochists out there, the reserves have their first home game of the season tomorrow night (Tuesday 29 August) at Hyde again Newcastle. Kick-off 7pm. After the (real?) first team’s performance on Saturday, I’m glad to be off to sunnier climes for a week.

Heidi Pickup (


I was having a couple of drinks with some friends to drown our sorrows after the Coventry game. We were in the Bert Trautmann bar in the main stand (somewhat surprisingly it re-opened after the game) when Gordon Strachan walked past, presumably on his way to the press conference. A friend of mine shouted “you rode your luck today Gordon!” – to his credit he didn’t react and just smiled. Actually we were hoping he would go ape!

Big Joe initially ignored us but then stopped for a chat on his way back. Joe was actually very open and honest and when asked if he thought we were in for a “long, hard season” he said “behave, we’re only 3 points off the top!” He outwardly thinks we have nothing to fear after being the “better side against Coventry who have held their own in the Premiership for umpteen years.” He added that Edgy was “inconsolable” and took him off for his own benefit.

Whilst nothing remarkable was discussed it really made our day to have a frank chat with the Maine Man. It made my trip back down South a bit more enjoyable, I’m actually a Manc now living in Kent!

P.S. After missing one game this season so far (Sunderland) you’ll be pleased to know that I won’t be at Leeds or Liverpool. That’s 6 points then…

Craig Bennett (


Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. the first official trip of the Man City Supporters’ Club (Guernsey) flew off to Southampton on our way to Maine Road. At Southampton our party of six collected a rental car and travelled North. For two of us it was to be a special trip as it was to be our first to Maine Road.

We finally arrived in Manchester at about 12:30 and went straight to the ground to get our first sight of the stadium. How many of you can remember back to your first sight of Maine Road and what emotions you felt? I had goose bumps all over. We all walked around the outside of the ground, took pictures and generally took in the atmosphere. We then went and saw Frank Horrocks and got our match-day tickets, six for the Sunderland game and six for the Coventry game. We then set off for Stockport where we were to be based for our stay, the Travelodge by the Bamford Arms, very good digs and a nice little pub.

Left for the match at about 7 p.m. and very shortly realised that we had left it a little late; drove around a bit and couldn’t find anywhere to park. We eventually abandoned the car in a side street and legged it off to the stadium. What a great feeling it was for us all to be milling about with thousands of other City fans, something that obviously doesn’t happen in Guernsey. We got into our seats just as the teams were about to run out onto the pitch. For two of us, our first look at the hallowed turf, we both just stood there, mouths open and took in the amazing scene and the deafening noise. Well of course it didn’t take us long before we had entered into the spirit of things, a few minutes into the game and we already had a goal to celebrate. What a noise from the home fans, it was just fantastic. As you all know how things turned out in the game I won’t bother writing anything about it, just to say it was a fantastic night and as I said to one of the other lads, “I don’t think I’ll come again, how can it get any better than this?” Our first trip and we were in heaven. It was better than sex.

We all trooped off to the St. Crispin’s Social Club for our post-match drink, and what a great crowd of people there. We were all made to feel really welcome and made some new friends, especially Mike who looks after Shaun Wright-Phillips amongst others.

On Thursday we went off to Maine Road to spend some cash in the Superstore. We all had to come out after half an hour or we wouldn’t have had any money left for the rest of the trip. We then went off to the reception area of Maine Road to meet Alex Williams who was going to show us around the ground. Mike Corbett came out from reception and took all our group photos for us, thanks for that Mike. Alex then turned up and, although very pushed for time, took half an hour to quickly show us around. We were lucky enough to be introduced to Chris Bird before we set off on our tour. We had photographs taken at pitch-side by a nice lady staff member who was on her lunch break, again thanks for that. Alex then had to dash off to Platt Lane to look after some kids but told us to take our time looking around and to let ourselves out when we had had enough. What a thoroughly nice bloke he is and a credit to the club. We spent an hour wandering around the ground taking photos and just generally sitting there enjoying be at the home of our club. While we were there we saw an ashes sprinkling ceremony, it was nice for us to sit quietly and watch and think about what the club must have meant to that person. We then left the stadium and went off for a well deserved drink.

On Friday we went to the Platt Lane Complex to eat and hopefully see some first team members. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see any but managed to catch some of the youngsters being put through their paces. We all thought that £6:50 for fish and chips, and a smallish portion at that was a bit steep, no wonder we were the only people other than staff eating there. In the evening we trundled down to meet Tommy Muir at his pub in Cheadle, the George and Dragon. Good bloke, good pub, good night.

Saturday saw us at the ground at midday, not wanting to miss out on any of the build up. None of us thought that the presence of ticket touts in front of the ground was very good, anybody got any thoughts on that one? We then headed off to the Parkside for a drink. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I walked in, as stood in front of the bar was Bob Young from Jersey. I introduced the rest of the guys to Bob and we had a good chat with him before we went. I kept looking around wandering if I would see any Internet Blues, a lot have photos on various Blue web sites. Managed to spot MCFC Bird, easy to recognise with that smile, suppose I should have gone over and said hello, just a shy type of guy I suppose. We then went off to St. Crispin’s to for final pre-match drinks, then back to the ground for the match.

The result was a bit of a let down as none of us thought that we had played that badly and that Coventry were only a mediocre side who we should have beaten. We all know the reason why, but I was pretty disappointed when Edghill was loudly booed the first time he touched the ball after the second goal. Certainly he was very poor but that treatment will not make him play any better. As I said to the rest of the lads afterwards, “He might well be crap, but he’s our crap and that treatment will not help.”

Anyway, we all enjoyed the post-match drink at St. Crispin’s, and an incident there showed us what being City is all about. On the telly was the post-match interviews. Eventually it came to Joe, silence descended on the Social Club so that we could all hear his message. At the end the interviewer asked Joe if he was expecting to be in the relegation battle, replied Joe, “Not at all, after all we’re only three points off the top of the league.” The cheering and clapping from all assembled was in itself a joy to behold. Nice one lads.

We had a good night on the town in the evening and early Sunday morning started our journey back home. We had all had a great time, despite the Coventry result, and hopefully we, or others from our branch shall be over again shortly to take in more of “The Manchester City Story 2000”.

Geoff Collins – Guernsey (


The players warm up in a nearby school, so they are invigorated by the atmosphere when they hit a full house (Willie Donachie picked up this idea in the States).

Andrew Goodman (


I was with my son Ben at the Mackems game watching from HH. Just after half time, with the floodlights on, I decided it was time to put my glasses on. I only have them really for driving at night, officially, but as I approach the big 40, I have found I need them a bit more for distance viewing. So on they go, and my view is far clearer and I can actually make out who is who on the bench. Then things start to go wrong. Firstly Niall scores, followed by a cracker by Phillips (I saw both quite clearly even though they were at the far end!). So I jokingly said to Ben “These glasses are a jinx so they are coming off”. Lo and behold, Super Paulo goes and scores two more, which I could see ok as they were at our end.

The moral of the story being then, without the use of my optical aids, my Blue heroes scored 4. When I had them on we conceded 2. I’d hate to think what would have happened if I had succumbed to my poor vision from the start! At the end Ben wanted to smash the glasses so that I would not be tempted to wear them at a game again, but I needed to be able to see the road on the drive home.

Anyway, what a great game and start to the season (Charlton excepted). I hope Paulo, George and Alf et al keep up this momentum until May. City Till I Die.

Johnno Johnson – Dorking Blue (


Niebieski w Warszawie?

Od 1ego Stycznia bede nad Zoliborzu (obok stadionu Polonii – ten MCFC Warszawy). Moze bedzie jeszcze ludzi niebieski?

And regarding G