Newsletter #645

After a classic cup tie at the Priestfield Stadium, City progressed to the next round of the Worthington Cup, which in the eyes of George Weah and Mr Royle, is a mere five games away from Europe! The match was closely fought, the Blues making heavy weather of things with a testimonial-like display in the first half, whilst the Gills looked like their lives depended on it. Still, ‘New’ City are a different animal to the ‘old’ and consequently they found the strength to win, despite the staggering number of back four combinations on the night – four in total! The mounting injury list, particularly the number of hamstrung defenders, leaves Joe Royle with a potential headache for Saturday’s visit of Newcastle; however, perhaps many will arise from the treatment couch – Fergie-esque – in time for the weekend.

We have a BSkyB match report, as well as belated views on both the Spurs game and the Worthington Cup first leg game at Maine Road. There’s more discussion on the rules, a chance to have a chinwag with Uwe Rösler, and the thumbs down for both the new kit and GMR’s recently released audio cassette.

Don’t forget, if you’re going to Saturday’s game, please consider doing us a match report.

Next game: Newcastle United at home, Saturday 30th September 2000


City Through After Extra Time

Manchester City are through to the third round of the Worthington Cup. But Gillingham made the Blues fight hard in Tuesday’s second round second leg match, and the 4-2 victory was only sealed in extra time. City produced a dismal first-half display and were punished when a 26th-minute Andy Thomson strike put the home side ahead. But Joe Royle’s half-time team talk produced immediate dividends when two George Weah goals in five minutes early in the second period turned the game on its head. However, Thomson levelled for the Gills with nine minutes remaining, meaning that the Kent outfit needed to score again in extra time to avoid losing the tie on away goals. But City took advantage of the spaces created as Andy Hessenthaler’s men pushed forward, with Paul Dickov and Mark Kennedy ensuring a two-goal winning margin.

First-Half Display Angers Royle

Manchester City were second best in the opening forty-five minutes of Tuesday’s Worthington Cup tie at Gillingham and deservedly trailed at the break. And it took a half-time dressing down from Joe Royle to spark the team into life. The Blues emerged a different team, and led within eight minutes of the restart. And though the Gills forced extra time, City eased through with two further goals. Royle reflected that his players showed character to force the win, but admitted there’d been some harsh words in the dressing room at half-time. “We had a few words at the interval,” he conceded. “We were not at the races. We were uncommitted in the first half and didn’t seem to know what we wanted to do about it.”

Hessenthaler – We Could Have Won

Manchester City ended Gillingham’s Worthington Cup hopes on Tuesday. But Gills’ boss Andy Hessenthaler was proud of his team, and felt that the tie could easily have gone the other way. Hessenthaler was pleased with his side’s first-half display, but blamed his players for ‘sloppy’ defending as the Blues hit back after the break. But even so, the 35-year-old claimed that the result didn’t do justice to Gillingham’s performance. “The scoreline really doesn’t reflect the match,” he claimed. “At 2-2 we had to get a goal and if Thomson’s effort had gone in when their ‘keeper made a good save then who knows? But we’ve more than matched them over the two legs – now it’s on to the next game against Sheffield Wednesday.”

Weah Hopes Brace Will Seal Start Starting Place

George Weah has been left on the bench for Manchester City’s last three away league games. But the ex-Milan star is hoping that his two-goal show at Gillingham this week will persuade Joe Royle to alter his selection policy. Weah produced a fine display, capped by the two goals which gave City a 53rd-minute lead after the Gills had started the second half 1-0 up. The 33-year-old has been frustrated at his recent omissions from the starting line-up, and his performance at Priestfield gave an eloquent statement of his case. “I have to persuade Mr Royle that I am worth a place in the side from the start,” said the Liberian. “All I want is to do the best for Manchester City and I was very pleased to get two goals.”

City Facing Injury Crisis

Manchester City went into Tuesday’s game at Gillingham without the injured Spencer Prior, Steve Howey and Paulo Wanchope. And the match at Priestfield added to Joe Royle’s concerns. Howey tore a hamstring at Spurs on Saturday and Wanchope picked up a knee injury in the same game, while Prior suffered a hamstring injury in training. And it appeared that Royle could face a selection crisis for Saturday’s visit of Newcastle after Gerard Wiekens and Alfie Haaland were both substituted at Gillingham with hamstring problems, while Weaver picked up a groin strain. However, latest news on Thursday was that, Steve Howey, despite making optimistic noises about the possibility of an earlier-than-expected return against his former club, is the only player certain to be missing against the Geordies. Wiekens, Weaver and Wanchope are all expected to play, with Prior and Haaland also having a chance of being fit for the game.

Jobson Stays – For Now

It was reported earlier this week that Richard Jobson could be leaving Maine Road before the weekend. But the defender will be staying with the Blues – at least as long as the club has several members of the first-choice back four carrying injuries. Steve Howey picked up a hamstring injury at Spurs on Saturday, and Spencer Prior and Alfie Haaland are also now the subject of fitness worries. And both Joe Royle and Jobson himself have played down the prospects of a move. The ex-Oldham player says he hasn’t had any talks with Stockport, who are said to be keen to sign him, and in any case he’s in no rush to leave Maine Road. Whether the position changes once the injured trio return to fitness remains to be seen.

Horlock Signs New Deal

Manchester City have offered new contracts to both Kevin Horlock and Gerard Wiekens, whose existing engagements were due to expire at the end of the season. But while Wiekens is still thinking over the offer, Horlock has signed a new deal. The ex-Swindon man was the first permanent signing made for the Blues by Frank Clark, who spent £1.5 million to bring the player to Maine Road in January 1997. And Joe Royle decided last week that the Northern Ireland man’s displays in City’s early Premiership games warranted the attempt to extend his stay with the club. By agreeing to the fresh terms, Horlock has committed to staying with the Blues until the summer of 2004, and during that period he’ll be looking to add significantly to his current tally of 32 league goals in 127 games for the club.

Goater Gradually Building Up Fitness

Shaun Goater returned to match action in City’s reserve game against Leeds last week. And the Bermudian has stepped up his drive for fitness in training this week. Goater should soon be ready to challenge Paulo Wanchope, George Weah and Paul Dickov for a place in the City attack. But the 30-year-old’s bid to regain match fitness hasn’t been helped by the lack of a reserve-team fixture this week. It’s been reported that Joe Royle is keen to arrange a behind-closed-doors friendly to help the players’s fitness drive but there’s no news as yet of any such game being due to take place.

More Called Up But Kennedy Snubbed

Following call-ups earlier in the week for Rhys Day and Danny Tiatto, more City players have been selected for international duty in the first week of October. But Mark Kennedy is not among them after being sent home in disgrace by Irish boss Mick McCarthy last month. It’s believed that Kennedy will not be selected again until after he has been tried on charges arising from a drunken prank with team-mate Phil Babb before the Ireland squad headed out to their World Cup qualifier in Holland. There have been no such problems for other Maine Road stars, with Kevin Horlock and Jeff Whitley in the Northern Ireland party for games against Denmark and Iceland. Unusually, Whitley is also in Sammy McIlroy’s under-21 squad along with City reserve Shaun Holmes. Meanwhile, Paulo Wanchope will play for Costa Rica, while Nicky Weaver is a certainty for England under-21 selection and Paul Ritchie and Paul Dickov are both hoping for places in the Scotland squad.

Morrison Coming Back After Weekend

Manchester City have had injury worries over several defenders this week. But Joe Royle will soon be boosted by the return of a centre back who was a key figure until his injury almost a year ago. Andy Morrison has been on loan at Blackpool for the last month but will play his final game for the Seasiders against Kidderminster on Friday. The Lancashire outfit, who are struggling in Division Three, have decided they can’t afford to keep the City man for another month, so he’ll return to Maine Road to continue his bid for match sharpness with a view to challenging for a place in the senior side.

Peter Brophy (


GILLINGHAM vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Worthington Cup 2nd Round, 2nd leg

Tuesday 26th September 2000

Sky must have been delighted to have picked what turned out to be a classic cup tie with, according to the stats, 46 goal attempts, 6 goals, and a severe scare for the “giants”.

Prior joined Howey on the injured list before the start which gave Jobson his first game of the season alongside Haaland in central defence with Crooks and Ritchie the full-backs. Tiatto was again preferred to Kennedy, with Weah coming in for the injured Wanchope.

City barely got a kick in the first fifteen minutes, and when they did it was only to return the ball immediately with some woeful passing. But as soon as somebody managed to find Weah, he set up chances first for Whitley (with a classy backheel), who shot just wide, and then for Tiatto, who rounded the ‘keeper at speed but gave himself too tight an angle to get the shot on target. Just as we seemed to be back in it, of course, we gave a goal away. Haaland allowed a long ball to bounce, Ritchie came across to cover but headed it feebly to Hessenthaler. The Gills’ manager found Thomson who turned inside Haaland with embarassing ease before slipping the ball between Nicky and the near post. Neat goal, very iffy defending.

Horlock could have equalised immediately as the ball stood up invitingly for his left foot but he snatched at the shot and screwed it high and wide. Ritchie gave way to Kennedy before half time with Tiatto dropping into defence.

Mr Royle was very angry at half time, remarked George Weah in the post-match interview, and it showed. Kennedy took over the game for the start of the second half, clearly relishing the chance to run at sub-Premiership defenders once again. From one of the many corners he won Weah, unmarked at the near post, thumped home a header for the equaliser. A few minutes later Kennedy again left defenders trailing as he forced his way to the byline and fired the ball low across the goalmouth for Weah to stretch a leg beyond the covering defender and roll it home. Gillingham looked shell-shocked for a while, but all City fans at the ground, at home or in the pub knew we needed at least one more goal. Kennedy nearly did the job himself with a powerful left foot shot which just missed the far post. Horlock again put the ball over the bar from close range. Meanwhile Haaland became the latest central defender to limp out of the action, Bishop replacing him with Wiekens dropping back. Unfortunately the rest of the City team began to drop back as well and the pressure was back on. Weaver made a great save from a free kick, which is usually the cue for the opposition to score from the corner. In fact the corner was a poor one but Crooks headed the ball straight back to whoever took it; the second cross was better, Butters headed it down into the goalmouth and Thomson’s miscued shot wrongfooted everybody and landed in the net.

Seven minutes to go. Dickov nearly restored City’s lead with a left foot shot through a defender’s legs, Bartram just getting the ends of his fingers to it in time. Then in the final seconds of normal time King had a free shot from fifteen yards but sliced it wide. The strange Worthington Cup rules meant City were ahead on away goals but would have to wait until the end of extra time for this advantage to count. Wiekens became the latest defender to suffer injury and Granville, summoned from Manchester earlier in the day, found himself in the unfamiliar rôle of central defender.

City had obviously decided to protect their advantage and hope for something on the break; and astonishingly, given their patched together defence, it worked. Weaver was forced into one superb save from Thomson where he dropped so quickly on the ball that it bounced ten feet back up in the air; Nicky injured himself leaping back to his feet to claw it away. With under ten minutes to survive, Weah found Bishop, who threw himself in front of the defender to help the ball on to the unmarked Dickov. One touch to control it, one to tuck it under the advancing Bartram and huge relief. In the final minute Kennedy advanced down the middle, but the defender did the right thing by forcing him onto his right foot. Mark had a go anyway and Bartram, surprised to see a half-decent shot from such a source, helped the ball into the net instead of saving it.

Lucky? Well maybe, but bearing in mind we finished with none of our first choice back four on the field and were missing our leading scorers from this season and last it was, in the end, a brave and impressive performance. Not many City teams over the last twenty years would have won in such circumstances; and even if it was big on effort (at least after half time) and spasmodic on skill that’s more than we’ve been able to rely on for a long time.


Weaver – 9. Great performance again and looks back to his best.
Crooks – 5. You thought Edghill’s passing was bad? Caught hopelessly out of position on occasions as well.
Haaland – 6. Central defence doesn’t look his best position.
Jobson – 7.5. Looked bemused and off the pace in the first half, but grew in confidence and authority as the game went on.
Ritchie – 5. Gave away the first goal and looked sick to be taken off. Hopefully he’ll bounce back – bound to be picked at the moment anyway given our defence crisis.
Whitley – 7. Ideal type of game for him – non-stop scrapping.
Wiekens – 6. Never looked properly fit – ill at ease when back in central defence.
Horlock – 6. Has come in for a lot of criticism on Blueview but wasn’t that bad. Often releases the ball quickly and accurately which goes unnoticed and plenty of good tackles as well. But he should be able to dictate a game like this in the way Hessenthaler did for Gillingham.
Tiatto – 5.5. Not Danny’s finest hour – frequently caught in possession in dangerous situations.
Dickov – 7. Better understanding with Weah than he has with Wanchope. Took his goal well and for once looked like scoring a few.
Weah – 9. His class shone through – and he lasted two hours. Skys’s man of the match and rightly so.

Kennedy – 8. Can still hack it against Division 1 defences. Let’s hope this gives him the confidence to do the business at the top level.
Bishop – 6. Great bit of work to set up Dickov’s goal but his passing not up to his usual standard.
Granville – 6. Had to play out of position in extra time and coped OK.

Piers Pennington (


As if it needed confirming, Tottenham fans really are whingers, aren’t they? Sixth in the table, England players, excellent stadium, first class manager, a very recent pot, ten points from twelve at home this season – a tad unlucky not to have been 12 – and what do they do? Boo their team off the pitch after a 0-0 draw.

I was sat in the home end on Saturday – for the first and probably not the last time this season – and a fair few were chanting “Graham out” – and this was before half-time. I understand that a lot of them cannot accept GG’s Arsenal past. Imagine what would happen if Big Fat Ron – or heavens forfend, Taggart – somehow ended up in the City hot seat. All the same, the atmosphere reminded me very much of Maine Road in the Peter Reid/Sam Ellis era. Which should worry Spurs.

The City away support, on the other hand, were in top form again. I’m only sorry I couldn’t join in. “Shall we sing a song for you?” indeed Tottenham fans. The odd shout of “Nottingham” or “Juice, Juice, Juice” (that’s what it sounded like anyway) does not count as singing.

Quick word for the ref who was dodgy but at least he was consistently dodgy to both sides and the game ended up with 22 players on the pitch.

The first half was very dire stuff, so much so that quite a few seats in front of us remained empty after half-time. We ourselves dawdled on the way back from the bar to read a poster exlaining the regulations for expulsion at a football game. My City-supporting friend observed that you can be chucked out for causing “confusion” to another fan. We decided to ask someone where the capital city of Outer Mongolia is.

Look, do I have to talk about the football? Or can I mention Ian Bishop starring in the TV listings section of ‘The Fiver’, the Grauniad’s daily caustic e-take on ver Premiership? It’s amazing what one drunken e-mail can spark off.

Another thing, I thought those in-ground big screen monitors weren’t allowed to show live action or replays. I remember from telly that the one at Arsenal always used to have the team sheets during open play and then show replays at half and full times. When did the rules change? It was quite useful when play disappeared out of view but I felt very guilty watching it for some strange reason.

Is Gareth Taylor the new Nigel Clough? Time to take one of those offers Gareth or you may depart with much ill feeling like Nigella did. Maybe Worksop need a new manager?

Errr, horible weather we’re having?

Oh go on then, if you insist, back to the football. The second half was a lot better from a footballing point of view. Both sides had chances to win the game and it was almost exciting, Wanchope’s chip looked to be going in from where I sat but it wasn’t to be and the draw was definitely the right result.

City didn’t play that well, in fact we played better against Coventry in my opinion. It was just one of those uninspiring games. Weaver pulled off a couple of good saves but most of them were from outside the box and that’s what he’s paid to do. He also spilled one which could easily have fallen to a Spurs attacker.

The defence was definitely the high point. We looked organised and efficient and coped well with almost everything Spurs threw at us, which was quite a lot. Extra impressive was coping with Howey going off injured early and Crooks – suprisingly OK – being off for a while for treatment.

Midfield – and I include Dickov – gave away the ball far too much. Paulo alone up front was not getting much change from the ref and didn’t look that interested until Weah came on.

Overall, an average performance but a good result considering Spurs played quite well and it was a match to take some confidence from, clean sheet and all that. I couldn’t really pick a City man of the match, The whole defensive unit deserved it.

8 points from 7 games should just be enough to stay up in this league but we have to start winning some more home games. Four or preferably six points from the next 2 games would be a big boost and help our mid-table ambitions no end. Some of the other relegation favourites have been picking up unexpected points as well and I fear it will be an unusually large points target to stay up this year, just like the last time we were relegated from ver Prem. That said, I am still confident we will be safe, and before the last game of the season as well.

James Nash (


This is the third time I’ve seen City play Gillingham. The first was a soul-less, 2nd Division 0-0 draw at Maine Road where the match report might have read “City played a high (diagonal) ball into the Gillingham area, the tall defenders cleared the ball back into City’s half; City moved the ball forward to just inside the Gillingham half and played a high ball into the Gillingham area…” (repeat ad nauseum). In fact the crowd were more entertaining than the game (according to my wife). So it’s good to report that City (and Gillingham) have progressed since then.

For the first half City showed the more class but this was more than compensated for by Gillingham’s enthusiasm. Highlight of the half was a bit of George Weah ‘showboating’ to create an opportunity that Jeff Whitley hit just over the bar. Gillingham scored with a well taken chance by Thompson. Paul Ritchie gave the ball away to Hessenthaler just outside our area, he gives the ball to Thompson who runs easily round Haaland to slot the ball past Nicky Weaver before Gerard Wiekens can get back to recover. Thank goodness Richard Edghill wasn’t there to be blamed. Paul Ritchie was replaced by Mark Kennedy before half time.

For the first ten minutes of the second half City (or more precisely Kennedy, Weah and Whitley) took Gillingham apart. A Kennedy corner headed in at the near post by Weah gave us the equaliser and then a great Whitley pass down the wing to Kennedy who took it to the by-line and delivered a low cross that Weah slid in Goater fashion (I’m looking forward to seeing how Goater fits in when he gets to play with Weah and/or Wanchope – I think it could cause defences lots of problems). So 2-1 up and we’ll do what we do worst, defend. Ian Bishop came on for Haaland and that produced our third attempt at a back four (Tiatto, Wiekens, Jobson, Crooks). Inevitably Gillingham equalised to take the tie into extra time – a free kick given for handball (a few minutes after we had been denied a penalty for a similar handball) was well saved by Weaver only for the resulting corner to drop to Thompson who mishit it into the net. So extra time it was and Wiekens was replaced by Granville to give us our fourth back line of the night, and we still chose to defend waiting for the away goals rule to give us the tie. Gillingham failed to capitalise on the chance (helped by some great goalkeeping from Weaver) and mid-way through the second period of extra time we caught them on the break as Weah and Bishop combined to put Dickov through to slot the ball into the net past his mate Bartram. Then at the end Kennedy scored, with his right foot, to produce a rather flattering scoreline.

Good points:

  • George Weah’s class.
  • Nicky Weaver back on form (if he’d played this well at the start of the season would Richard Edghill still be playing?).
  • Jeff Whitley – I couldn’t see why he played so much last season as he seemed to perpetually pass to the other side but this season I’ve been converted.
  • Mark Kennedy looks as though he might finally deliver in the Premiership.

Not so good points:

  • We didn’t finish the match off when we had the opportunity – given the injuries to Howie and Prior it seemed a mistake to tryto sit out a one goal lead when Kennedy, Weah and Dickov looked capable of putting the game beyond Gillingham’s reachearly in the second half.

All’s well that ends well.

David Lewis (


I realise that this report is very late and won’t be read until the tie is over but was moved to write by the impassioned plea from our editor.

A crowd of 17,000 was treated to a game of football fit to grace any Third Division ground. Actually that’s not fair. Gillingham looked a bit better than that. I rate their player manager, Hessenthaler, and Asaba always did look better than the Wolves reserve we paid £1.5m for, and he did on this night too.

Gillingham missed two absolute sitters. One was cleared off the line by Kennedy. The other, by someone eating a curry on Wilmslow Road.

This is not a game anyone will remember for very long but several thoughts did occur to me that night. The most obvious, how unlucky Richard Edghill is to have been dropped because of the home crowd. Last Wednesday Prior was incredibly terrible. He gave the ball away endlessly; was frequently out of position; was slow; in short he couldn’t handle the Second Division attack he was faced with; he had a shocker. The crowd, however, didn’t barrack him. He was left to get on with his poor game. Edghill would have been lynched. Apparently in his next game, Prior played ok. Well, well.

The crowd’s chants of “2-0 and you f****d it up, 2-0 and you f****d it up” was the most fun we had in the first half. Weah made a good chance for himself but, as I seem to think he does, he tried to finish spectacularly when a goal would have sufficed. I can’t remember anything else about the first half.

Puzzlingly, when Gillingham had a corner, and they had many more than us, we had all our team back in the penalty area. When we had a corner they left several men ‘up’. In the second half, Gillingham were the better side until they scored. Their goal came from a poorly defended corner (no surprise there then). They thoroughly deserved to be ahead.

“Ah, but hang on”, thought our lads, “if we try to play we might just beat this lot”. And so, having gone one down, we started to play a bit. In the end, having spurned a couple of good chances, Weah equalised. I think he felt kind of obliged to get the round thing in the net in a regular way because there was only eight minutes left and the wondergoal just wouldn’t come.

Good on City for letting kids in for £1 for this match. Shame we couldn’t turn it on for these kids, our future. I guess a lot of them can’t get to the league games (’cause of the huge cost and small availability of tickets) but why’d they want to if the stuff on offer that night is anything to go by? Jeez!

Apologies for my downbeat, downright cynicism but Wazzzzzzaaaaaaa having a Bud. Watching the game.

Oh yeah. I like giving points:

Weaver 7
Crooks 5 – a donkey
Haaland 7 – best buy
Prior 3 – come in Richard Edghill
Bishop 6 – more like ‘Pawn’ tonight
Kennedy 5
Whitley 7 – still improving
Wanchope 6 – more skilful but much too greedy
Weah 6 – past it? eek!
Wright-Phillips 6 nah!
Granville 5 – on for Crooks
Dickov 8 – if nothing else, bearing in mind this was Gillingham we were playing, how could he not have been on from the start?
Can’t remember if it was Jobson, Horlock or Wiekens who made up the original 11, but 6 points for whoever it was.

Simon Fink (


Following Ashley’s request for match reports in MCIVTA 643, I’ve decided to give my humble opinion of the Gillingham game last week. It’s not a match report as such, more my recollections and thoughts as to what did, or perhaps more importantly didn’t, happen.

In keeping with City’s recent vast improvements in Public Relations and marketing, it was an excellent move by the Club to allow children in for £1.00 if accompanied by a paying adult. With a little gentle persuasion on my part, I successfully negotiated 4 children’s tickets for my one adult ticket and along I went with my 3 kids and my niece for what we all hoped would be a feast of entertaining football with plenty of action and goals.

Bucking the trend of the larger Premiership clubs, City fielded a particularly strong team including Wanchope and Weah in attack. It was clear that City were taking this competition seriously and why not. It’s the easiest route into Europe, a reality not lost on Leicester City in recent years, and with a Wembley final also thrown into the bargain it is, in my opinion, a competition well worth treating with respect.

So many times in past years I have seen City begin cup-ties against supposedly lesser opposition without appearing to be fully ‘fired up’ for the game. This allows the opponents to gradually build up their own confidence and make life far more difficult for us than it should be. Unfortunately, the game against Gillingham followed exactly this pattern. With the exception of the last 15 minutes, the game was played at the pace of a pre-season friendly, with tackles by City players as rare as a Ferguson apology. Gillingham, who had clearly gone into the game with the sole aim of keeping the scoreline respectable and thus ensuring an interesting second leg, began to dictate the pattern of play, particularly towards the end of the first half. Asaba in particular caused problems with his pace up front. After 45 minutes of apathy from the players and boredom from the 4 kids I had in tow, I confidently predicted at half time that Gillingham would score first in the second half and City would then raise their game accordingly. Why do City do this? It’s infuriating! I can excuse poor performances, but I cannot excuse lack of effort. In my opinion, the players let down the whole club on Wednesday with their poor attitude. Thousands of kids, many of whom might have been at their first match, will have gone away wondering what all the fuss is about. More importantly, some may have gone away not particularly wanting to come back! My niece, whose father is a typical Rag and therefore treats his sky dish as his season ticket, had been asking me for ages to take her to a City game. When I finally get the opportunity to take her, all we got was a pathetic performance from a team that gave the impression it had better things to do than try to entertain 17,000 fans. Thanks guys.

Once Gillingham had scored, City visibly stepped up about 25 gears and showed an urgency which had been clearly lacking beforehand. We looked like a side that is literally in a different class to Gillingham, and in the end we created enough chances to have won comfortably. I know that this might sound radical, but why the hell didn’t we show that kind of effort from the start?

Anyway, I’m glad I’ve got that off my chest! Let’s hope we put things right in the second leg tonight with 100% effort, a great performance and an inevitable victory that would follow.

Phil Jones (


If this isn’t a “come and get me” I don’t know what is…

Lee Dixon will retire if he is not offered a new contract by Arsenal at the end of the season. “The club gave me another year last season, but I’m not sure they will this time,” he admitted. “I want to stay and finish my career at Arsenal. If I can’t I will probably retire. I’m a massive Manchester City fan, but I couldn’t see myself playing anywhere else.”

Jonathan Haggart (


The next meeting of the Reddish Branch of the Manchester City Centenary Supporters’ Association will be on Wednesday 11th October at The Ash Hotel, Manchester Road, Stockport starting at 8.00pm. Our confirmed guests are Malcolm Allison and the Piccadilly Radio 1152 Sports Team. For further details e-mail As usual all Blues are more than welcome.

Howard Burr (


Work commitments have meant that so far this season I’ve already missed two home games (including the televised Middlesbrough game). Tonight I’m stuck in Egham/Surrey and I’ll be trawling around the local hostelries in the vain hope that:

  1. the match will be on
  2. it won’t be fully of glory hunting Southern Rags

I know that I could travel to Gillingham to watch the game in the flesh, but it’s less that 1.5 hours to kick-off and I don’t even fancy my chances of getting there before half-time.

Now there’s every possibility that I’ll be stuck in a similar situation on several more occasions this season. And since I regularly read of requests from exiled Blues asking if there is anywhere to share a beer and watch the match in deepest darkest XXXXXXXX (substitute your own favorite/hated remote location) it occurred to me that there’s probably a great demand for information like this on-line. Does anyone know of a web page that attempts to publish info like this? If not, does anyone fancy volunteering to create/maintain a database of pubs/clubs worldwide that may offer the chance for like-minded souls to enjoy the game on TV whilst (optionally) partaking in some liquid refreshment?

Whilst I’m not the most technically minded – I’d be happy to help maintain this site – although somebody would have to show me what to do!

John Bellairs (


An anagram of Manchester City is SYNTHETIC CREAM. Hopefully we’ll be the real cream by the end of the season. Manchester United are URINE DETACHMENTS. Now there’s a thing!

Lance Thomson (


Finding myself unavoidably in Banbury for the game against Gillingham, I went to great efforts to ensure my hotel had Sky Sports 2. Monday night warming up in front of the TV revealed the famous legend on the screen “Please Insert Card”. Call to reception: “What’s up?”; answer from reception: “Broke down”.

Next morning check out and find another hotel.

The King’s Arms at Chipping Norton. Fair play to the landlord, reasonable rooms, an excellent Errazuriz Chilean red (1997) and the match. I had an uninterrupted view, I was the only one interested; there was a noisy game of killer pool and ladies darts nearby, but no bother at all.

Half time, trip to the loo, settle down for the second half – ! Why the teletext? “Just getting the half times in the other matches”, says one of the not yet killed pool players.

I frown. I ask “can you put it back on Sky now?”, “see the barman” they say. I do. He puts it on. I’ve missed the equaliser.

Jump to the end and into extra time. Back come the pool players to the barman. “Can we get the United score on teletext?”

“**** off” he says, “he’s been watching this all night, and I’m not turning it off now.”

We win, United lose – double whammy, and a big thank you to the landlord for getting the priorities right.

Malcolm Plaiter (


From the Northern Premier League (UniBond) press release:

Hyde United thought they would feel the pinch last week when Manchester City, who play their reserve team matches at Hyde’s Ewen Fields home, announced there would be free admission for last week’s game as they were fielding a trialist from outside the EEC and regulations stipulate that such players cannot perform in front of a paying audience without a work permit. Hyde, who keep all gate money from these games, looked as though they would be out of pocket but City, in a fine gesture, made Hyde a payment based on last season’s average attendance.

Ralph Sheppard (


Just a short note to inform Blues who are in the Hampshire and surrounding areas that Uwe Rösler has accepted an invitation from the A34 (Winchester) Branch of the Centenery Supporters’ Association to come along next Monday (2nd Oct) for a question & answer forum. The meeting will begin at 8pm and if any non-members would like details of the venue, please contact me via email. There is a 50/50 chance that Paul Walsh may also make an appearance but don’t tell Uwe – it’s a surprise!

P.S. alan ball need not enquire.

Steve Holt, Secretary – MCCSA – A34 (Winchester) Branch (


Last weekend I was in Los Angeles visiting my brother. I had the opportunity to watch City play Boro at the Cock’n’Bull pub in Santa Monica. The pub had great atmosphere. It is one of the most authentic British pubs I’ve ever visited in the U.S. Authentic pies! I’m looking forward to seeing them play again in October. Cock’n’Bull Pub: (310) 399 9696.

Chad Cooper – Arizona Blue (


I’m not often wrong but I’m right again.

“Steve Parish took issue with my couch-potato report on the Middlesbrough match over the award of a free-kick to City when Ricard was booked for dissent (I said it should have been a dropped ball). Steve’s view was that the decision was correct, but I’m still not convinced. The laws of the game are quite specific about what a free kick can be given for, and showing dissent is not one of the reasons (though it is of course a bookable offence). Normally if a player shows dissent while the ball is still in play the referee will wait for the next stoppage to caution him.” – Piers Pennington.

Law 12 says a player is cautioned if he shows dissent – implying that the game should be stopped, although as in any other case the ref can play advantage and administer the caution the next time play is stopped. Law 4 (Players’ Equipment) says if play is stopped to administer a caution the game is restarted by an indirect free-kick from the place where the ball was when play was stopped (and though it’s only in the law about a caution for coming back on the field without permission it applies to all other cautionable offences).

I suppose my original beef about ref Stephen Lodge moving the ball forward may have been misplaced, and he was just moving it to where the ball was, not moving it forward for the dissent. Perhaps.

Steve Parish (


In respect of recent discussion from Piers Pennington regarding the Middlesbrough match. I was at the game, although I don’t recall the actual Ricard incident too well before we scored (I was too busy muttering to myself as to why we should be hammering them, so this is a general answer for him). There are certain offences (penal offences) for which a direct free kick is awarded, or, in the penalty area, a penalty, these we all know about. Pushing, holding, striking, charging from behind, handling the ball, jumping at an opponent, tripping or attempting to trip etc. If a player commits a non-penal offence e.g. offside, obstruction, dangerous play etc, an indirect free kick is awarded. There is no list of non-penal offences, there is only a list of penal offences. Therefore, in theory, an indirect free kick could be awarded for almost anything at all if the referee sees fit to stop the game immediately. So if the ref has stopped the game and cautioned someone for unsporting behaviour (what used to be ungentlemanly conduct) that is the offence and therefore as it is a non penal offence, the decision is an indirect free kick. Of course the new laws state that the free kick can now be moved forward 10 yards in the case of dissent or failing to retreat the 10 yards. A dropped ball is usually given when the ref has decided that when he stops the game, no side has any particular advantage e.g. the ball is in the air over the centre circle and there is an injury, or the ball is lost under a melee of players.

By the way, on the subject of injuries, if you are confused about why some players have to leave the field after treatment and some don’t, the reason usually is that a player doesn’t have to leave the field if he has been treated for a head injury but he does for other injuries. That’s why they all go down clutching their faces now even if they were tackled from behind! Hope this helps… unless someone out there knows differently!

Lance Thomson (


And so my beloved City will take to the field in another in a long, long line of sh*t kits. Does anybody remember the yellow one at Arsenal in 1989? I was there and started to boo as City took the field. But instead of running to the North Bank end, they came towards us. What a blo*dy cheek! But as these morons drew closer, kicking their balls about, it suddenly dawned on me. These ‘morons’ were City. My City! Oh my God. Please, what have we done to deserve this? Thankfully, the outcry meant that they hastily flogged it off and never wore it again.

What about this new silver one? Well it sounds OK but looks dreadful. It looks like something a non-league team have dreamt up. There will be no silver shirt in this part of Dukinfield I can assure you.

What is it about Football kits these days? We used to get such good ones in the seventies and even some of the ones in the eighties. Away kit should be black and red. That’s what it should be. Any variation, I don’t mind. So long as it’s black and red. I may criticise some of City’s kits but look across town at some of the kits they’ve had. For once I don’t mind coming second to them.

Favourite kit? I have to say I quite like the current blue one, and of course the famous black and red stripes. Worst ever. No contest. It’s not even out yet.

John Nisbet – member of the ROYLE family (


Sometimes you realise why the likes of Joe Royle earn mega-bucks, and the likes of me don’t. It’s his job to know who will be good enough and the likes of me to tell him he’s wrong. Revelation of the season for me has been Jeff Whitley. I really feared for him in the Premiership but… I’ll get me coat.

Danny Tiatto just looks better and better. Even Lee Crooks is looking capable. My one concern, after the Gillingham game last night, is the injuries to the back four (five, three… whatever it is these days). With another completely new defence we looked awful, and bearing in mind this was Gillingham, not Chelsea, Arsenal, the Rags or even Leicester I hope the boys can get fit and remain injury free.

Off to Portugal on Saturday (it’s peeing down here at the moment… again). It hasn’t rained in Portugal for at least the last three weeks – I’ve been following the weather there – what’s the forecast for Sunday (I hear you all ask with concerned voices)? “Rain” is the reply.

I’m City Till I die, I’m City Till I Die… some things never change.

David Kilroy (


I enclose a copy of the letter I have just sent to BBC GMR.

Uncharacteristically, I recently purchased the double cassette of ‘Blue Moon Rising’ to relish the pleasure of reliving the lows and highs of the last few seasons with my sons. Am I alone in feeling such disappointment with the GMR offering of Blue Moon Rising?

Oxford Road

27 September 2000

Dear Sirs,

It is with regret that I return my copy of Blue Moon Rising for credit.

I was really excited to learn that you had used your archives to compile such a potentially thrilling set of tapes but upon hearing the content I am left with the feeling that the editing is so poor that that they become almost unlistenable to after a while!

I feel that:

1. there is little to be gained from hearing a commentator reporting goal after goal without knowing to which match each one relates. In many instances there are just no clues at all and little attention is given the significance of each match result.

2. The cover promises ‘2 full-length Cassettes’; however, the overlap and absolute repetition of the end of Tape 1 at the beginning of Tape 2 is farcical.

I feel you have exploited the enthusiasm of Manchester City fans and delivered a rather third-rate product to a group of people who really deserve more. With all the material and resources at your disposal, with a little more care, surely you could and should have achieved a much higher standard.

Together with a refund of the purchase price, which I feel is quite justified as there was no possibility of a pre-purchase ‘preview’, I would welcome your comments and, perhaps your proposals for either improving what should have been an historic momento or ensuring future products are of a significantly higher standard.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Epstein (


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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 #645