Newsletter #667

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So we’ve successfully got past the accursed issue 666 but the Blues didn’t do a very good job of dealing with the anti-Christ that is Marcus Stewart – note Andy Noise’s suggestion for the training ground in his truncated match report! With the quarter ‘final conflict’ on hold as a result of the sort of downpour that would have had Noah counting his livestock and consulting his friendly neighbourhood marine architect, we go into Saturday’s game against Villa in good spirits. Pete’s news summary grows ever more comprehensive, and in addition this issue has a number of opportunities to get your hands on tickets for Villa Park (assuming they’ve not already gone by the time you read this), a video review, the latest developments in the SAFE campaign, and an opportunity to get into e-journalism, and not forgetting a sprinkling of little bits and pieces that make McVittee what you’ve come to know and love.

Next game: Aston Villa away, Saturday 16th December 2000


Part I: Worthington Cup News and Reaction

Worthington Cup Clash Abandoned: Manchester City and Ipswich will have to meet again to decide which of the sides will progress to the Worthington Cup semi-finals. Tuesday’s quarter-final against Ipswich should have been decided on the night – but was abandoned after only 23 minutes with the score at 1-1. A heavy downpour just prior to kick-off meant that the game started in dubious conditions, and once the match was under way, rain continued to fall. Referee Graham Poll initially took the teams from the field for fifteen minutes to allow ground staff to work on the pitch, but their efforts were to no avail and the official had no choice but to call a halt to proceedings. Marcus Stewart had given the visitors a fourth-minute lead, but Paul Dickov’s strike on 21 minutes levelled for the Blues in the last meaningful action of the evening.

Bosses Back Referee’s Decision: The Maine Road crowd may have voiced frustration at the decision to abandon Manchester City’s League Cup tie against Ipswich on Tuesday. But rival managers George Burley and Joe Royle both backed referee Graham Poll’s decision to call the game off. Poll said that the safety of the players was his primary concern, and that with players sliding uncontrollably across the sodden surface this was compromised. And the two bosses agreed that there was no way the game could have continued. “It tells you something when their lads were asking for it to be called off at 1-0 up,” said Royle. “At the end of the day he [the referee] called it off with the players’ safety in mind and you can’t argue with that.” Burley agreed, claiming, “It had to be called off because it was dangerous.”

New Quarter-Final Date Set: Manchester City will now play their Worthington Cup quarter-final against Ipswich on Tuesday, 19 December. And fans who have retained ticket stubs from Tuesday’s abandoned game will be admitted to Maine Road for free, with other supporters able to gain admission at reduced prices. The winners of the tie will face Birmingham in a two-legged semi-final in the New Year after Trevor Francis’s side beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 in their quarter-final tie. Ironically, the Midlanders are already due to visit Maine Road on January 6 for an FA Cup third round tie. Meanwhile, the postponed Worthington Cup tie between Crystal Palace and Sunderland will also be played next Tuesday. The Blues then visit the Wearsiders in the league the following Saturday.

Ticket Gesture to Cost City £60,000: Manchester City will admit for free fans with tickets from Tuesday’s abandoned game against Ipswich when the sides meet to decide their Worthington Cup quarter final next week. And the gesture could mean the Blues lose up to £60,000 when the game is re-staged. The Premier League charter obliges clubs to charge no more than half of normal ticket prices to supporters who attended the first game. But City have obtained Premier League approval for their free admission policy, with director Chris Bird explaining, “We feel it is important that we repay the loyalty of the fans.” Those who were not present at last Tuesday’s match will have to pay admission prices of £10 for adults and £5 for concessions. Given policing and other costs, the club will end up significantly out of pocket – but feel a gesture to its loyal supporters is important. “We still have to turn the lights on, run the many services around the ground and meet many costs,” director Chris Bird told the club’s official website at “But we feel it is important that we repay the loyalty of the fans.”

Royle Praises United’s Neighbourly Gesture: Manchester City pulled out all the stops in the vain attempt to ensure last night’s Worthington Cup tie against Ipswich went ahead. And Joe Royle acknowledged that the Blues were given help from an unlikely source. With an afternoon downpour expected, City were keen to cover the pitch to ensure minimum exposure to the elements. As it turned out, the deluge arrived just before kick off, when all covering had been removed, but Royle was grateful for Manchester United’s assistance in the attempts to make sure the game was played. “I’d like to thank our neighbours,” said the City boss. “They sent over their chief groundsman this afternoon and some covers. It was a nice gesture and much appreciated.”

Home Tie First if City Reach Semis: Manchester City will face Birmingham if they emerge victorious from the Worthington Cup quarter final against Ipswich. And in that event, Maine Road will host the first match in a two-legged affair. The Blues already welcome Birmingham for an FA Cup tie on Saturday, 6 January. And with the first leg of the League Cup semi-final due to be played the following Tuesday or Wednesday, Trevor Francis could be bringing his side north twice in the space of three or four days. The second game is scheduled for Tuesday, 23 or Wednesday, 24 January, and if City do progress in the competition, it will be a busy month for Joe Royle’s men. Including the abortive first attempt to play the Ipswich match, the Blues would face seven midweek fixtures between last weekend and the start of February – or eight if the FA Cup third round tie goes to a replay.

Part II: Transfer News and Rumours

City Deny Weaver Italian Link: A report in Thursday’s Daily Mail claimed that two Italian giants are interested in Nicky Weaver. But Manchester City have moved quickly to deny that there’s any prospect of the England under-21 goalkeeper leaving the club. Weaver last season signed a new four-year deal at Maine Road, and is a firm crowd favourite after displays which were crucial to City’s two successive promotions. But with the club’s share price having slumped, it was claimed that a £10 million bid from either Fiorentina or Napoli could persuade the Blues to sell to raise more transfer cash. However, the rejection of the story has been emphatic, and the former Mansfield junior should be staying with City for a long time to come.

City “Tried to Land Hartson on Loan”: Manchester City are one of several clubs to have been linked with John Hartson in recent weeks. And a report has claimed that the Blues even tried to land the Wimbledon striker on loan. The Dons have admitted they’d be prepared to sell Hartson as part of a post-relegation belt-tightening exercise. But given fitness concerns surrounding the player, it appears that potential suitors would prefer any permanent deal to be preceded by a loan spell. Charlton, Newcastle and City are all said to have been keen on such an arrangement, but the South Londoners are refusing to sanction a temporary move.

City “Fail in Latapy Bid”: Manchester City have been linked with over twenty strikers since the departure of George Weah two months ago. But one news source claims that signing a new midfielder was uppermost in Joe Royle’s mind in the last few days. Royle is said to have made an attempt to sign Russell Latapy from Scottish Premier League side Hibs. The 31-year-old’s goals have been an important factor in the Edinburgh club’s excellent start to the campaign and internet site Teamtalk claims that the City boss moved for the Trinidadian this week. However, Easter Road boss Alex McLeish has rejected the approach for the player, who has 18 months remaining on his current contract.

Huckerby the Latest to be Linked: Darren Huckerby’s agent is reported to have circulated Premiership clubs with notice of his client’s wish for a transfer. And Manchester City have immediately been linked with the Leeds striker. Huckerby has started just three games this season at Elland Road and is said to be desperate for first-team football. And with Leeds rumoured to be eyeing Newcastle’s Kieran Dyer, boss David O’Leary could be keen to recoup funds by releasing one of his fringe players. The ex-Coventry man, who cost £4 million when he moved to Yorkshire last season, could be available for £2.5 million now, and reports claim that Celtic and Charlton may join the Blues in the chase for his signature.

Terriers Eyeing Jobson Move?: Richard Jobson is free to leave Manchester City. And it’s rumoured that Huddersfield Town are keen to sign the veteran centre-back. Jobson was awarded a new one-year contract by the Blues last summer, but has seen his hopes of a first-team place disappear as several new defenders have arrived at the club. The 37-year-old has already rejected a loan move to QPR, favouring a permanent switch – and media sources claim that Huddersfield could offer him just such an opportunity.

Bardon – Life at City was a Drag: Manchester City elected not to pursue interest in Cedric Bardon after the Frenchman’s trial at Maine Road last week. But the Rennes’ striker says he wasn’t too keen on a switch to Maine Road in any case. Joe Royle admitted that Bardon showed himself to have talent during his stint with the Blues, but said that the player is “not quite what are looking for at the moment.” However, the 24-year-old, who had a trial at Sunderland last summer, preferred life with the Black Cats and is hoping that boss Peter Reid may renew his interest. “I would be very happy to go to Sunderland,” he said, “as I think Manchester City seems to be a bit of a drag.”

“Limited Interest” in Out of Favour Stars: The likes of Gareth Taylor and Danny Granville have been linked with moves away from Maine Road this week. But Joe Royle says that, with the exception of Gary Mason’s likely move to Dunfermline, no outgoing transfer deal is imminent. The Blues have made several players available, with Taylor, Jim Whitley, Lee Crooks, Terry Cooke and Richard Jobson all on the transfer list. But Royle believes that the current moribund state of the transfer market is damaging the out-of-favour contingent’s chances of finding new employers. “[Mason’s] move apart, it is limited interest in any of our players who are available,” reported the City manager. “But it is limited interest everywhere in football at the moment.”

Edghill Sent Back By Birmingham: It was reported earlier this week that Birmingham City were unlikely to extend Richard Edghill’s loan spell at St Andrew’s. And the former Manchester City skipper has duly returned to Maine Road. Edghill had been hoping to seal a permanent £750,000 switch to the Midlands club after falling out of favour at Maine Road. But after featuring in wins for his temporary employers over Burnley and Huddersfield, the full-back had a disastrous time in a 3-0 home defeat against Wimbledon last Saturday and was substituted at the interval. The 25-year-old’s hopes of forcing himself into Joe Royle’s plans also look bleak; he hasn’t featured for City since his unfortunate contribution against Coventry in August.

Mason Hopes Move Will Revive Career: Gary Mason finally signed for Dunfermline this week. And his new manager believes the midfielder can prosper at East End Park after enduring a frustrating two years at Manchester City. Mason has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Scottish Premier League outfit. And while Pars’ boss Jimmy Calderwood admits he sees the Edinburgh-born player as one for the future, the former Birmingham defender is in no doubt that, in time, the 21-year-old will make a big impact with his new club. “He’s a good player,” said Calderwood. “He’s got two good feet and a good engine and he’s a Scot, which helps as well.”

Jim Makes Swindon Loan Move: Jim Whitley has not started a competitive match for the Manchester City senior side since January 1999. And now local radio station BBC GMR is reporting that the midfielder has joined Swindon on loan. Whitley was transfer-listed earlier in the campaign and spent two months on loan at Norwich – supposedly with a view to a permanent £250,000 move. But the Canaries opted not to sign the Northern Ireland man, and he returned to Maine Road after featuring in eight league matches during his time in East Anglia. Now the midfielder again finds himself on his travels, but there’s no word as yet on whether his latest temporary employers are signing him with a view to a permanent deal.

Part III: Miscellaneous News and Views

Report Claims Concern over Share Price Fall: Manchester City’s share price currently stands at 42.5 pence – less than half of the value at the time of a new share issue just over a year ago. And a report on Thursday is claiming the fall is causing behind-the-scenes concern at Maine Road. City are not alone in experiencing a fall in their share price. There is much less enthusiasm among investors for football stocks in general than was the case a few years ago. And the current uncertainty over the transfer system has also had a marked effect on the sector. Nevertheless, the Daily Mail claims that “many who bought into the club have become increasingly concerned about the value of their holdings”, and that there could be repercussions for the club’s transfer policy. It should probably be borne in mind that this report was the same one touting Nicky Weaver for an imminent big-money move to Serie A.

City to Invest in Pitch-Protection System: After seeing Tuesday’s match against Ipswich abandoned, Manchester City are to invest in a bid to avoid further home games falling victim to the weather. And the Blues are currently examining a range of pitch-protection options. It’s hoped that a hot air system, with sheets covering the pitch allowing the rain to drip off, will be in place soon. “If we are happy with a system, then hopefully it will be in place early in the New Year,” director Chris Bird told the Manchester Evening News. “Ipswich told us after Tuesday’s game was called off that their hot air system, with the air blown under the covers, works well.” The Blues will probably spend in the region of £70,000 on the measures and intend to purchase equipment which can be moved to the club’s new stadium at Eastlands in due course.

Megson Pleased With Grant Début: There was disappointment for Gary Megson last Saturday as his West Brom side went down 3-1 at home to Fulham. But the Baggies’ manager had one consolation in the form of a substitute cameo from on-loan Manchester City player Tony Grant. Ex-Everton man Grant is on loan at The Hawthorns and came on in the second half against Jean Tigana’s runaway First Division leaders. And Megson was pleased with the midfielder’s contribution. “I thought he did very well as regards his passing,” said the Albion manager. “We know that he can pass and he put in a good tackle on the edge of our box that probably saved us conceding another goal. So he can be pleased with the half hour that he put in.”

Weah – City Was the Wrong Club: George Weah says he made a mistake in joining Manchester City. But the ex-Milan star admits he does miss a couple of the friends he made during his short time at Maine Road. Interviewed at the World Player of the Year ceremony in Rome this week, Weah said he picked the wrong club and the wrong manager when making his free transfer move in the summer. And the 34-year-old, who’s now with Marseille, says he was right to move on. “I have no regrets,” he confirmed, “except that I will miss the good friends I made at Manchester City, Shaun Wright and Shaun Goater.”

Paulo Wanchope is Better than Keane: Paulo Wanchope is the 23rd-best player on the planet. The Costa Rican’s official ranking was confirmed at FIFA’s World Player of the Year ceremony in Rome this week. Votes for the award were cast by more than 150 national team coaches, who each nominated three choices. Wanchope was the number one selection of his own international boss, whose nomination was allowed to stand even though he wasn’t supposed to vote for his own players. And as a result, the 24-year-old made it onto the shortlist – where he was the fifth-placed Premiership star, ahead of big names including Manchester United and Ireland captain Roy Keane and Arsenal pair Nwankwo Kanu and Dennis Bergkamp.

Part IV: Reserve and Youth News

reserves Draw at Bradford; Youth Tie Off: Manchester City’s inexperienced reserve side was in action at Bradford on Monday. But the youth team’s midweek fixture fell foul of the weather. With several regulars needed for the first-team squad for the League Cup tie against Ipswich on Tuesday, the City reserves fielded a weaker than usual side but emerged with a creditable 1-1 draw thanks to a Dixon Etuhu goal. However, the youngsters were not in midweek action after their FA Youth Cup third round replay at Fulham, scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Part V: Aston Villa Away – News and Preview

City Look to Continue Villa Park Success: Manchester City travel to Aston Villa on Saturday looking to build on last weekend’s resounding success over Everton. And the Blues can take comfort from an excellent recent record at Villa Park. City have lost only two of their last eleven away games against the Midlands club. And the five successes over the same period have included some fine displays, most notably a 5-1 rout in April 1991. The Blues have won by the less emphatic margin of 1-0 on each of their last two visits to Villa Park, the most recent barely six weeks ago in the Worthington Cup, and Joe Royle would surely be happy with a repeat performance this time.

Goater in Battle for Fitness: Manchester City are waiting on the fitness of Shaun Goater ahead of Saturday’s trip to Aston Villa. And it’s touch and go whether the 30-year-old will be available for the clash against the Midlanders. Goater, of course, picked up a groin strain against Everton at the weekend and missed out on Tuesday’s abandoned game against Ipswich and is rated as having only a 50-50 chance of being available for the visit to Villa Park. And Dickov, who deputised for the Bermudian against the East Anglians, sustained a calf injury during the 21 minutes before the match was called off. However, the Scot is likely to be passed fit to play and may well therefore partner Paulo Wanchope in the City attack.

Villa Fans to Protest at City Match: Aston Villa fans are disappointed with their club’s lack of spending in the transfer market. And the Villa Park faithful will vent their feelings when Manchester City visit on Saturday. The Blues make the trip to a ground where they’ve already won once this term, a late Kevin Horlock penalty separating the sides in a League Cup tie six weeks ago. And this time they’ll find the home supporters handing out leaflets and parading banners criticising chairman Doug Ellis for his unwillingness to release cash for team-building. Joe Royle will be hoping that his side can add to the general discontent.

Post Script

eBLUEPRINT: The original City fanzine is now online at with a top City news service, fans’ forum, online poll and new features set to be added over the coming weeks. Anyone wishing to contribute, advertise supporters’ meetings or make general comments should contact Frank Newton by e-mail at

Peter Brophy (


Does anyone want a ticket (or two) for the Villa match? If so, get in touch with Simon Hattenstone on 0207 239 9918, or 07968 162 076 or John Brice on 0958 225 981 (there’s nothing wrong with them, honest!).

I have a spare ticket for the Villa match, 16/12, City end. Seats are North Stand Lower R, Row B, Seat 102 – Restricted View (uncovered), willing to sell for £15.

Michael Henderson (, Tel. No. 0121 604 0277)

2 tickets for Villa away (City end) for sale – £20 each. Family commitment forces reluctant sale! Can be collected in Manchester or West Yorkshire. Contact Andy on 07768 661755 (mobile) or e-mail at the address below.

Andy Carver (


I can honestly say that not once, until I reached my seat on Tuesday night, had I even contemplated the game being called off. As I’d trekked my two hours to Maine Road, it had hardly rained at all. Ok, it rained a bit as I walked to the Whitworth, but as we discussed that night’s game, a cursory mention was made of poor Sunderland fans, who’d just found out they’d had a long, wasted journey. But no one considered that our game would not finish that night. OK, it began to rain between the pub and the ground and yes, as we approached the back of the Kippax, those sort of monsoon-like walls of rain began to drive across. By the time I’d run into the Kippax, however, it has to be said, I was f*cking wet. At this point my only concern was the team news. How many Shauns, if any, were playing? Sitting high in the Upper Kippax, I was at least dry. Dry, but worried. As ant-like creatures scurried away forking the pitch and some guy with a garden roller covered in a J Cloth, tried to remove surface water, I remembered a previous Ipswich game. The one when we all thought that Ellerey had blown for half time a couple of minutes early and wondered why Tony Coton was upset at this. Oh, God. Then I remembered that night in the snow when Mark Robins dug the ball out of a puddle and gave Leicester a 1-0 win. Which scenario would it be?

It was announced that the kick-off would be delayed for five minutes as more forking was required. The legendary Graham Poll had been out kicking a ball around and I definitely feared the worst. But no, 7.50 and the game started, and probably should have stopped there and then. Surface water formed pretty little curtains whenever anybody ran. Had George Weah been playing you wouldn’t have been able to tell the colour of his boots. Ipswich played their normal passing game, and we gave away free kicks. From one of these Stewart headed in unmarked. Not a defender in sight. I immediately thought, f*ck it ref. Let’s go home. It was last month all over again. Fifteen minutes later, a Wanchope flick found SWP on the right wing. His cross was met first time by Dickov 1-1. Any thoughts of wanting the game called off were immediately banished but the players were immediately removed and a fifteen minute period of contemplation was announced. With the score at 1-1, Poll was let off the hook. OK, the rain had eased a lot, but the pitch was cutting up badly and the surface water was still, er, surface water. Poll was roundly booed, even more so when the announcement came to call the game off.

As we all filed away from the ground, the rain had virtually stopped. By the time I got to my car, it had completely. In hindsight, the game should not have started. The phone in on GMR was unanimous about this. OK, this was amplified by concern as to whether we would we have to pay again? For the 900 who paid on the door, the answer is presumably, yes. A soggy anorak will not be accepted in lieu of a ticket stub. Great stuff hindsight, though. I feel sure that had the game been postponed at 7.30, opinion would have been reversed. Ref postpones the game and within the hour, the rain stops. Having seen a TV prog on Poll, I found the guy to be a complete tosser, but I felt he was in a no-win situation on Tuesday. S’pose he’ll get some stick next Tuesday and give them all the free kicks again. For all those interested, we were kicking towards the North Stand. They adjusted better than us, although I’m not sure that proves much. Apart from an over hit back pass, Prior looked as comfortable as any of our players. Chris Killen was named as a sub for the first time and Chris Suker would have been too, if SWP had failed a late fitness test.

Training ground conversations we would hope to hear this week: “Right Paolo. You pretend to be Marcus Stewart. Sulky Kev, swing in some left footed crosses towards Paolo, er Marcus. And you Spencer, Steve, Alfie, Danny, Gerard, Laurent, Richard, try and mark him.”

Andy Noise (


Walking along the promenade in Bray on Sunday morning I felt bloody great, less than twenty four hours earlier I had been to Maine Road and witnessed another brilliant performance from the mighty Blues. As Joe Royle rightly said, sooner or later we would give someone a hiding and personally I was glad it was the Toffees. I had a good feeling about this game, well before the kick off I found myself in the Parkside and the pints were going down a treat. A typical Manchester day with light rain falling, I got to my seat in the main stand nice and early to have a look at my heroes warming up. Incidentally, isn’t it great to see the team out on the pitch before kick off again?

The City starting line up was a little different than that which took to the field at Chelsea the previous week, with Richard Dunne in for Spencer Prior, so it was Weaver, Tiatto, Dunne, Howey, Charvet, Horlock, Whitley, Haaland, Wright Philips, Goater and Wanchope. I was delighted for Shaun Goater when he scored his first Premiership goal just before half time following earlier goals from Wanchope and Howey. Unfortunately for Shaun he went off injured after scoring, hopefully nothing too serious. Paul Dickov replaced him and scored City’s fourth with the fifth goal given as an o.g. from a Charvet cross. Wiekens had came on for Haaland at Half time with Kennedy replacing the ever improving Wright Philips later. Mark Kennedy was tame enough when he came on, he seems to have gone off the boil a bit in recent times; I would love to see him back to his best because we all know how good he is so come on Mark, get your finger out. I thought Dunne had a great game and looked really confident in his preferred berth. In fact it was an overall good team performance, so hopefully this will get our season back on track. I actually for the first time in Manchester got talking to people who actually admitted they supported the Rags on this trip, none of them however ever go to the Swamp, so I reckon that speaks volumes.

Brilliant chorus from the Kippax late on: Liverpool, Liverpool, Liverpool, really cleared the Gene Kelly stand out.

Paul Fegan (

It was great to hear this rousing tune played at the end of the storming win against Everton. Is it the first time it’s been played this season or have I usually been too depressed to notice at the end of our home games? I hope the Club keep it up – it reminds me of some great victories, and it can only help the team’s revival in form.

Peter Birbeck (

Did anybody else try and listen to the Everton game on the net? If so did they enjoy listening to the Charlton vs. Ferguson match. Of all the times to be deprived of listening to the lads in action it had to be when they were celebrating what could be a changing point in the club’s history (or just another up before a down). The new site is (in my opinion) too flash and seems to have lost its plain and practical usage. What was before a good site to navigate and get news from is now like a demonstration of web building gadgets.

One small question I would like to ask is, whatever happened to one of my all time greats Tony Coleman? A player who was just as big a part in the club’s history as the more famous others? Anyway I would like to wish you all at MCIVTA and your readers a Happy Christmas and may we all be looking forward to many a derby game for the future.

Colin Hudson (


The Maine Road to glory
1887-2000 The story so far

Title:        The Maine Road to glory
              1887-2000 The story so far.
Publisher:    Pearson Television International Ltd.
Producer:     Carl Morris.
Editor:       Don Jones.
Running time: 114 minutes approx.
Price:        £14.99

I received the tape from RDA Communications, which is handling the promotion work on “The Maine Road to Glory”, a video they claim to be the definitive and official Manchester City video. It was a slim package and the video has a sky-blue clear non-historic cover with the eagle-crest spread all over the front. On the back you see several pictures including one of Bert Trautmann holding his neck after the 1956 final and Paul Dickov celebrating the famous Wembley-resurrection in May 1999. The tape is a collection of classic footy coverage and interviews with former City players like Roy Clarke, Roy Little, Joe Corrigan, Mick Summerbee, Dennis Tueart, Paul Power, David White and Paul Lake. Managers like Malcom Allison, Tony Book, John Bond, Brian Horton and Joe Royle. And fans like Gary James (author of the Joe Mercer Biography), Frank Monkhouse, Frank Smeeton, Noel Gallagher (member of the pop-band Oasis) and Jimmy Wagg. Also David Bernstein, the present Chairman, gets his chance to cast the light on the fight-back from 2nd Division misery to the Premiership limelight.

This video is claimed to be the definitive and official history of Manchester City. So how exactly do you fit 114 years of football history into 114 minutes of video-tape? The short and perhaps only true answer is “you don’t”. This video is a compilation of incidents that has been important in shaping of the club we all love and know as Manchester City F.C.

It starts with West Gorton St. Marks and Ardwick FC, but after a short interlude with Billy Meredith, Frank Swift, Don Revie and Bert Trautmann and the Cup-campaigns of 1904, 33, 34 and 55, 56 and the League Championship in 1937, we were soon settled for the Mercer/Allison partnership and the team of 1968. By now we were only 30 minutes into the tape and 80 years were gone in a wind. During this time a few bizarre City records were relived. Did you for instance know that City in 1927 became the club that scored more goals (89) than any other relegated club in history? In 1938 they also managed to become the only club ever to be relegated with a positive goal difference (80-77). City had won the Championship in 1936-37 and the following year became the only reigning champions ever to be relegated. This and more bizarre City-records of the past you can read about on the Typical City page on our web-site.

Mick Summerbee reflected on the Mercer/Allison partnership and his introduction to City when they won the Division 2 Championship quite easily. A couple of years later it was the big league that mattered, and City had to fight for it in their last game of the season, depending on United to not win at home against Sunderland. Of course we all know what happened at St. James’ Park when City became Champions in 1968.

It still amazes me how well the team of 68-71 played. The team was more or less complete with Colin Bell providing the motor, Lee, Summerbee and Young being the goal-scorers and Book, Pardoe and Oakes the defensive line. My own memory is still in black and white but I firmly believe that the balance in that team has not been seen in another City team ever since. Sadly this was not duly covered in this tape, but you got the general feeling, partly because the influence of Colin Bell was well documented.

You could have expected a bit more controversial coverage of some of the interesting periods of the City history. There were interviews with Allison, Book, Bond and Horton, all of them involved in much disputed and controversial happenings at the club. None of this was even touched in this film. Still, Bond gives his view of the Centenary FA-Cup final (1981) against Spurs which was interesting enough.

The last decade and more precisely the take-over by Francis Lee is not covered at all, which is a shame. We were fast-forwarding towards the years with Joe Royle, and even Peter Swales was left out of the picture. Finally the days with Dickov is again in the limelight. You can’t help to think that when the Manchester City Complete record book is written in 2087, Paul Dickov’s name will be in the hall of fame alongside Billy Meredith, Fred Tilson, Dennis Tueart and Joe Royle. His goals against Gillingham and Blackburn makes sure he deserves it too!

All in all it was a nice compilation of historic events. It’s not a reference for in-depth studies of one particular part of the City history, but you get the general impression, and the idea of where to search for more information. The most positive thing about the movie must be the interviews with previous players. My biggest disappointment was perhaps the lack of controversy in the coverage. But hey what do you expect from an “official story”?

Svenn Hanssen (


Issue 9 – December 2000

After the hectic November which saw the campaign reach out to national newspapers, radio and TV, have we had to take time to take a rest?

Well, for those of you who missed the BBC programme ‘Watchdog’, here is a brief update. They started the feature by interviewing fans from both Manchester clubs before the November ‘derby’ game. This was followed with interviews with the chief executive from Charlton Athletic stating their desire to build a new stand with a safe standing area included in the plans, linking it with current developments in Germany. A former Government consultant on crowd safety agreed that it was within new technology to create safe standing areas and the final comment supporting the campaign came from the former Liverpool and England player John Barnes. Barnes, of course, was playing for Liverpool on the day of the Hillsborough disaster, yet still felt that the issue was worth investigating eleven years on. To counteract the subject (and after the Government, Football Licensing Authority and the Premier League all refused to appear) the Chairman of the Football Safety Officers’ Association (and safety officer for Everton) appeared and didn’t really offer any argument. When Ann Robinson asked him about the German stadiums, he replied ‘thankfully I am not responsible for them’. Again, when asked if Everton were to consider standing areas, he stated he ‘would urge them not to’.

The best breakthrough from the programme was a telephone call from The Sports Minister’s office, asking if we could travel to London to meet Kate Hoey MP. To coincide with this meeting on 7th December, I wrote to The Premier League and the FLA, requesting a meeting with them on the same day if possible. The replies were quite interesting to say the least.

The FLA stated that they couldn’t see the point in a meeting as they are only there to implement Government policy (therefore surely taking themselves out of any discussion on the debate!) and adding that ‘women, children and the elderly prefer to sit down’. Which was strange, as I don’t recall at anytime saying we would force any of those groups to stand up. The Premier League could not see us that day either, but commented that they would be happy to talk to us at any time to discuss why ‘the return to terracing is not an issue at this stage or at any other stage for that matter’. The sheer arrogance of the reply reeked throughout, with the opening paragraph of accusing myself of ‘throwing quotes from a newspaper back at me without checking their validity first’.

Thankfully, a warm welcome from Kate Hoey greeted the four of us who made the journey down to London. The meeting went much better than we had anticipated and it was decided that for the time being (and in the best interests of the campaign), details from the meeting were to be kept confidential.

The day before the meeting (6th Dec), The Evening Standard in London, printed an article by Mick Dennis in his ‘Standard Sport’ column attacking the campaign. This was one of the most ill informed pieces of ‘journalism’ written for many a year – producing not one constructive argument against standing areas. On Germany, Dennis wrote, ‘… but German blokes still have mullet haircuts. That doesn’t mean they are a good idea here’. He describes all the bad things about terraces (fighting your way to your spot, standing behind a fat bloke, scraping to regain your spot after being pushed down further by those behind you etc.) and then claims that this is what we want to see return! There was the usual misinformed comments about Hillsborough and the marvellous suggestion that no one chooses to stand up at the theatre or cinema. What about ‘The Last Night of the Proms’ or the Globe Theatre? I have sent in a strong reply to both the letters page and Dennis himself, asking if he would like to contact me, I would be more than willing to educate him on the aims of the campaign!

A lot has been said about the increasing possibility that Fulham will be permitted to appear in the Premier League and would still be able to use their terracing areas. We feel very uncomfortable with this, as we feel that these old, traditional terraces are certainly not what we are looking to see implemented into stadiums throughout the country. Indeed, from my own visit to Craven Cottage last season, there are grave concerns that this could actually harm the campaign should there be any trouble – and with journalists like Dennis around, we can be guaranteed that the slightest incident will be covered heavily. Home and away supporters shared the terrace and although the turnstiles were separate, once inside, you were free to mix. The FA Cup draw has now bought this issue to the nation’s attention earlier than expected with Fulham being drawn at home to Manchester United in the 3rd round. We can only repeat what we have stated all along. We want brand new, purpose built, safe standing areas for those supporters wishing to stand, with opposing standing supporters kept apart in opposite sides of the stadium. Members of IMUSA will be present at the game and will feed back any information for the next newsletter.

On Tuesday 5th December, myself and Monica Brady, Vice Chair of IMUSA were interviewed live on BBC GMR’s evening sport show. We were given well over 30 minutes to discuss the issue in full.

Does the following sound familiar? ‘Mounted police had to take emergency action to prevent people being seriously injured when a crowd swarmed into the corner of a stadium…’ ‘A number of factors contributed to the accident and the police are inadvertently responsible for one of them… there was a ban on alcohol after the game and some spectators believed that the ban also applied before the game and were drinking away from the stadium and arrived later than normal… it was the latecomers who caused the incident although no one was injured, there was concern for the amount of stress people suffered’.

Of course, it sounds exactly like Hillsborough. But this incident (that was very scarcely reported – the above quotes from the Independent on Sunday, 10th December) actually took place on 2nd December 2000, at Twickenham before the England vs. South Africa game. In an all seated stadium. Yes, an all seated stadium, those bastions of supreme safety for all spectators. The silence is deafening from the media and detractors of our campaign.

Finally, the Football Supporters’ Association is about to send a mail shot to all supporters associations and groups. This will include a flyer detailing the campaign with contact details urging them to join us. The campaign has now reached the heart of the Government and the pressure must be kept up to maintain as high a profile as we can get. The next two months will be crucial so keep on writing to your MP, club chairman, fanzine and passing this on to any contacts you have.

Thanks to Tom Ritchie of the Manchester City fanzine ‘City ‘Til I Cry’ for allowing SAFE to squat in his PO Box (see above) and also to Mark (the militant!), Gary and Adam for travelling to London to meet Kate Hoey – especially Mark who drove there and back!

Have a safe Christmas and New Year.

STOP PRESS! Watch out next week for details of another TV programme featuring the campaign. Check your emails for more details!

Phill Gatenby (safestanding@hotmail.com

[Ed – the above edited to correct the accidental misrepresentation of the Premier League’s views]


I noticed the comments in MCIVTA from Ernie Barrow about my book “Manchester: The Greatest City”, and the song ‘Bless ’em All’. The words I used in my book for ‘Bless ’em all’ came from my mother-in-law, Barbara Clarke, who first started watching City during the mid 50s (like me she’s from a family of Blues). She originally gave me the words when I was writing a piece for the City programme on the Kippax Last Stand back in 1994. I included chants/songs from every period and she gave me the words. Apart from her, no one else has actually said to me these are definitely the words, however I’m not one to argue with my mother-in-law, and in any case the words do seem to fit. She also sings it quite well!

On “Manchester: The Greatest City” there are still a few copies left, though not too many. The publishers and I had intended bringing out an updated version around now, however there have been many new City books over the last few months (The Essential History, Blue Moon Rising, and the Images of Sport: MCFC) and also the excellent new City history video, that the publishers would prefer to wait. Hopefully, the updated version will be out next Christmas but that all depends on the publisher.

I am currently working on a footballing novel which, if all goes to plan, will be published in the spring but I’m still in negotiation with a publisher and there are no guarantees.

I’m grateful to Ernie and all the other supporters who have said how much they’ve enjoyed my previous books. Thanks.

Gary James (


Soccernet is putting a call out to all budding journalists to become Soccernet FC’s (Football Correspondents) for each Premiership club. This is a new initiative on Soccernet and we’re hoping to extend the FC’s to the other divisions very soon. If you have any questions of would like to speak to Mike With, Editor of Soccernet, please contact me on 0208 222 1672. The release is also cut and pasted below.

Kind regards, Michele

Michele Singh
Press Officer, Soccernet
Walt Disney Internet Group International
3 Queen Caroline Street

Direct line: +44 (0)208 222 1672
Fax: +44 (0)208 222 1038

Soccernet FC Seeks Manchester City Fan

New community section offers fans’ eye view of the Premiership.

London, 12 December 2000: Soccernet, the world’s leading football Web site, is looking for a passionate Manchester City fan to give the definitive fans’ eye view on Manchester City by writing for Soccernet on a new community section on the site called Soccernet FC.

Soccernet FC (football correspondents) will bring fans the view from the terrace and liase with the Soccernet editorial team to reflect the true voice of the fans. Each Soccernet FC will be responsible for their own editorial content, which can be anything from the glory of promotion to the Premiership to Joe Royle’s tactics. In return the selected writers will become Soccernet reporters with their own by-lines on the site and an email address for further communication between fans.

Mike With, Editor of Soccernet said: “Soccernet FC is by the fans for the fans. It’s a great opportunity for anyone who dreams of writing on football

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