Newsletter #692

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Again little in the way of news. However, we do have two match reports from Tuesday’s entertaining thrashing of Sheffield Wednesday by the reserves. Before the pedantic amongst you point out that we actually thrashed Sheffield Wednesday reserves, I’d like to say in my defence that their first team would have probably received the same treatment!

We also have the latest issue of SAFE; news of the great response to the ‘Shirts for Zambia’ appeal; lots on chicken balti pies; and opinion on season ticket prices.

Next game: Bradford away, Saturday 17th March 2001

NEWS SUMMARY

Part I – Transfer News and Rumours

No Loan Move for Morrison: Andy Morrison could still leave Manchester City before next week’s transfer deadline. But the Blues will only release the big defender if another club meets Joe Royle’s £150,000 valuation. Morrison could have moved to Bristol City last month but rejected the terms offered by the Robins. However, several other clubs have now shown an interest in the 30-year-old, though Royle is insistent that those hoping to land the former Maine Road skipper on a loan deal will be disappointed. Stoke, Sheffield United and Barnsley have all recently been linked with the player, and more potential suitors could yet emerge before deadline day.

Leon Mike Back from Halifax: Leon Mike has returned to Manchester City. The youngster had been on loan at Halifax, but enjoyed little success with the Shaymen. Mike spent a month with Halifax but started only two matches, appearing from the bench on a further five occasions. The 19-year-old failed to find the net for Paul Bracewell’s side, as he had in an earlier loan spell this term with Second Division Oxford, for whom he managed one start and two substitute appearances. The Yorkshire outfit have now slipped to the bottom of the Third Division table, but even so have not extended the deal for the former England youth star.

Young ‘Keeper Linked with Pirates: Richard McKinney is out of contract at the end of the season and will not be offered a new deal by Manchester City. But the young goalkeeper could be on the move out of Maine Road even before the end of the current campaign. Bristol Rovers are on the trail of the 21-year-old, who signed for the Blues from Balleymena United in August 1999. And boss Garry Thompson has invited the player to train with the West Country club with a view to a possible free transfer switch. Meanwhile, Tommy Wright could be heading back to City. The ex-Northern Ireland goalkeeper has been on loan at Bolton but the Trotters are understood to be looking for a replacement after being disappointed by the veteran’s form.

Burnley Want to Keep Taylor: Manchester City last month sent Gareth Taylor on loan to Burnely. And the Clarets are keen to keep hold of the 28-year-old for at least a further four weeks. Taylor opened his Burnley account in Tuesday evening’s 1-0 win at Watford. And manager Stan Ternent was impressed by the ex-Sheffield United man’s overall play, so is keen not to see the striker return to Maine Road. “I’ll be looking to extend Gareth’s loan,” confirmed Ternent. “I would like him to stay for a month or perhaps to the end of the season. Gareth led the line very well [against Watford] and got a just reward with his goal.”

Part II – Miscellaneous News and Views

Arsenal Easter Clash Rearranged: Manchester City’s Easter Monday clash at home to Arsenal has been rearranged. The Gunners’ UEFA Champions’ League progress means that the match has now been brought forward five days. Arsenal this week sealed their qualification for the quarter-finals of the competition, and the second leg of their last-eight tie is due to take place on either Tuesday, 17 or Wednesday, 18 April. With an original date of Monday, 16 April scheduled for the Londoners’ visit to Maine Road, a new date had to be found for the game against Joe Royle’s men. The match will now be played on Wednesday, 11 April with a 7.45 p.m. kick-off – between the Blues’ visits to Everton the previous Sunday and Leicester the following Saturday.

Quartet Receive International Call-Ups: Four Manchester City players have been called up for international duty. Richard Dunne, Jeff Whitley, Paul Dickov and Rhys Day will all be in representative action later in the month. Dunne is in Mick McCarthy’s Republic of Ireland squad for away World Cup qualifying ties against Cyprus and Andorra, while Whitley will be in both the full and under-21 Northern Ireland parties for double-headers at each level against the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. It’s thought that the Zambian-born star will captain the under-21s on the day before each full international and then take his place on the bench for Sammy McIlroy’s senior side 24 hours later. Meanwhile, Dickov’s recent lack of match action has not prevented Craig Brown from selecting the 28-year-old for Scotland’s matches against San Marino and Belgium. Finally, Day will play for the Welsh under-21 side against Armenia and Ukraine.

Wanchope Hopes Still Play a Part: Paulo Wanchope could yet play a part in Manchester City’s battle to beat the drop. The Costa Rican is keen to return to senior action, having now played two reserve games as he battles back from a knee injury. Wanchope looked to be on his way out of Maine Road after being transfer-listed over six weeks ago. But the 25-year-old’s cartilage operation means that he’s unlikely to have proved his fitness to the satisfaction of potential buyers ahead of the March transfer deadline, leaving Joe Royle to reflect that the Blues’ leading scorer will be considered for first-team selection while he remains at the club. The player himself now says that he’s keen to win back his place in Royle’s starting line-up. “I intend to be patient and work hard,” he told the official club website at http://www.mcfc.co.uk/. “What lies ahead is a great challenge and I believe it will be good to be involved.”

Dickov Looks for Spring Repeat: Twice in consecutive years, Paul Dickov’s fine form towards the end of the season has helped Manchester City to promotion. And now the Scot is hoping to boost Joe Royle by playing a part in the Blues’ Premiership survival campaign. Royle last year nicknamed the 28-year-old ‘Crocus’ when his spring resurgence helped City reach the top flight – twelve months after his best scoring run for the club was crowned with a crucial goal in the club’s Division Two play-off success. Now Dickov, who following a two-month lay-off is set to be in the Blues’ squad at Bradford on Saturday, believes he can make history repeat itself once more. “My target is to play as many games as I can,” he told the Manchester Evening News, “and take my goal tally to double figures for the season.”

Weah Set to Quit Marseille: George Weah stayed for only two months at Manchester City after joining the Blues in the close season. But the 34-year-old hasn’t enjoyed much success after quitting City for Marseille, and the ex-Milan star is set to leave the French giants at the end of the season. Weah departed Maine Road after rowing with Joe Royle, who refused to hand the Liberian an automatic starting place. And new coach Javier Clemente has adopted a similar policy at the Stade Velodrome, meaning that the striker prefers to move elsewhere rather than extend his current Marseille deal when it expires this summer. “I have a contract here until the end of June and I intend to honour that in a gentlemanly way,” said the former World Player of the Year, “but there is no chance of me changing my mind about leaving.”

Part III – Youth and Reserve Team News

Toppmöller on Mark as City Ease Past Wednesday: Manchester City reserves continued their good run of form at home to Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday. And loan man Dino Toppmöller was on the mark as the Blues eased to a 4-1 win. A penalty conceded by Carlo Nash ensured that City went behind early on against opponents whom they’d routed 7-1 earlier in the campaign. But strikes from Toppmöller, Mark Kennedy, Chris Killen and Shaun Wright-Phillips saw the Blues come out comfortably on top once more against the Owls. Kennedy and Paulo Wanchope both boosted their returns to fitness by playing the whole game, while Kevin Horlock lasted more than an hour and reported no ill-effects following his lay-off with a broken ankle.

Part IV – Bradford Away: Team News and Preview

City Look for Vital Win: Manchester City go into Saturday’s match at Bradford knowing that a win is vital following a disappointing home defeat in the previous game. But the Blues will take heart from the fact that they have often looked more convincing away from Maine Road this term. City take on opponents who, themselves twelve points off safety, appear to be resigned to First Division football next season. But a failure to push the hapless Bantams closer to the precipice will see the Blues in even graver danger of being one of the two other teams to take the drop. Ironically, Bradford are the only Premiership team to have picked up fewer points at home this season than Joe Royle’s men, so given his side’s better away form the City boss will be looking at the trip to Valley Parade as an excellent opportunity to notch a precious win.

Charvet to Return – Ostenstad to Start?: Manchester City will have to make at least one team change for Saturday’s visit to Bradford. But Joe Royle may opt to shuffle his pack more radically as the Blues look for three crucial points. The enforced change results from Alfie Haaland’s suspension, with Laurent Charvet set to feature at right-back after figuring as a substitute in each of the last two games. However, Royle is also thought to be weighing up the claims of Jeff Whitley for a start in midfield ahead of Gerard Wiekens and of Egil Ostenstad for a full début in attack in place of either Shaun Goater or Darren Huckerby. Paul Dickov is likely to be on the bench, but Mark Kennedy, Paulo Wanchope and Kevin Horlock are likely to be given more time fully to recover from their recent injuries before they are reintroduced into the senior squad.

Howey Takes the Armband at Bradford: Manchester City will be without Alfie Haaland at Bradford, so Joe Royle has had to decide on a new captain for the trip to Valley Parade. And the Blues’ boss has revealed that Steve Howey will skipper the Blues in the vital relegation clash. Howey took the armband when Haaland was substituted at Newcastle a fortnight ago. And after helping City to a vital win that day, the ex-England man will be hoping that history repeats itself. But most of all, according to Royle, the reliable defender regards the captaincy as a great honour. “Steve said he was delighted and proud to be leading the team out on Saturday,” commented the City manager. “He has proved one of our most consistent players this season and deserves the honour.”

Peter Brophy (peterbrophy@mancity.net)

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE’ I

MCFC RESERVES vs. SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY RESERVES, Tuesday 13th March 2001

Hey! What do you know? It’s Tuesday, it’s reserve night action and it isn’t pegging it down with rain. No it isn’t raining but there is a wind driving across the ground that is so cold it brings the smell of fresh moose with it. The pitch looks like tundra as well, dry and flat with the grass clipped really short, whoever managed to cut it should come have a go at my garden. A quick check on the directors’ box reveals the presence of both big Joe and Dennis Tueart with a certain Mr Neil Warnock… well that’s a rumour started then!

The teams run out the customary one minute before the off. The Sheffield goalkeeper boots the ball wildly into the air. It arcs high and swings violently on the wind dropping on the edge of the goal area. The ball then rolls slowly to a halt right on the line. I don’t like omens and this doesn’t seem to be a good one. Wait and see as they say. I have often felt sorry for Everton being called ‘The Toffees’ but with ‘Chupa-Chups’ on their shirts, the wag who yelled “Hey it’s “The Lollipop Men” wasn’t far from the mark. With Steve Harkness and Owen Morrison being their only players with first team experience, they looked so young they couldn’t blunt a razor between them.

For Man City the roll call was a little more impressive. In goal cutting an imposing figure, Mr Carlos Nash. Defending Messrs. Edghill, Morrison, Day and Horlock in an unusual left back rôle. Midfield we have SWP, Whitley (Jeff), Dino Toppmöller and back from injury Mark Kennedy. The front pair, Chris Killen and, looking like he’d never been away, Paulo Wanchope. So the teams kick off. Straight away there is pressure from City. Wanchope’s first effort is a long ball out left to Kennedy who looks quick and sharp but would have needed to have been related to a cheetah to have got to it. Then it’s back over the other side of the pitch with SWP showing why little legs moving twice as fast as everyone else’s have made him one of the quickest players around. Chasing the ball down he gets a leg around it a foot or so inside the back line to haul it back across the face of goal but alas there was no-one with the presence of mind to be in position to receive. Over to the left again and Super Kev gets his first touch and plays it straight to a lollipop lady. So before you know it fifteen minutes have gone and initial impressions are that the team look less composed than the outfit that battered The Boro to a 0-0 draw a couple of weeks ago.

Wanchope doesn’t seem interested in chasing for anything and to be honest looks his usual languid self. This was typified by a ball put through the middle to him on about 8 minutes which he simply watched go refusing point-blank to chase down even though he was one on one with the ‘keeper – a ball in all honesty I could have got. Sheffield look ragged and disorganised but surprisingly for a pack that appear so young have a fair bit of weight in their back line and midfield. The first corner of the game came on the 14th minute but amounted to nothing. A minute later and Rhys Day rises to a Kennedy cross to head inches wide only to repeat the trick with a swinging cross from Horlock 30 seconds later. Go back to defending Rhys!

Then for me one of the pieces of commitment of the evening as the league’s officially smallest player, SWP, climbs above one of Wednesday’s biggest defenders to only just miss heading the ball goalwards. Carlos Nash has been at Maine Road for a couple of months now and has obviously been training from the Nicky Weaver book of goal-keeping because right on 20 minutes he rashly takes down Owen Morrison in the penalty box to give away a spot-kick. Owen almost makes a hash of it when the resulting kick hits the underside of the crossbar and bounces back just over the line. Unfortunately Nash is rolling around on the floor so it’s the first goal of the night to ‘The Lollipops’. I did mention that omen right at the start; could this be the first sign of it doing its evil work? Happily no as four minute further on and SWP runs onto a perfectly weighted through ball and, bringing it all the way to the back line, hooks it back in to Paulo who takes an age to control the ball and set up his shot. This gives the startled Sheffield ‘keeper a chance to dive down onto the resulting tame shot and palm it away only for Chris Killen to hammer past a flat footed defender. 1-1 and City go to their task with renewed vigour.

Straight away Toppmöller rises to head a Kennedy cross just inches wide. 33 minutes and City have a free kick for Haslam climbing all over Jeff Whitley in a sad display of professional incompetence, strangely no yellow card even though the infringement was from behind and as cynical as you get. From the kick, the ball is moved around by the Blues and eventually ends up at the feet of the ever reliable SWP making the now familiar run up the right. He scoops the ball in finding Chris Killen alone in front and unmarked. CK chooses to take the ball on his stronger right foot even though it is perfect for him to side-foot with the left and his volley misses a totally open goal. Moments later Carlos gets a chance to redeem himself by saving a shot from Harkness after Horlock makes a complete hash of defending a ball played in behind him.

The last five minutes of the first half and City really pile on the pressure. All that is except Wanchope who as usual fails to give that last 5% of effort when finding himself onside with just the ‘keeper to beat then failing to capitalise by sidefooting harmlessly straight to the man in green. No worries, bring on SWP and Kennedy who exchange a quick couple of ‘one-twos’ to completely bemuse the defence and for Shaun to rake a wide, low shot in right under the diving ‘keeper. 2-1 and we are in stoppage time (one minute) when Mark Kennedy fires in number three with a shot right through the defence.

Whistle goes and it’s time to troop off and do some mingling. The second half starts all too quickly. We are behind the other goal now and are joined by Ashley, his lad, my brother in law and Heidi… The first few minutes of the half are strangely devoid of incident until on 51 minutes Paulo, presumably the subject of someone’s vitriol at half time makes a decent job of planting a ball toward the bottom right corner of the net only to see the ‘keeper dive and finger-tip the ball 4″ past the post. Kennedy takes the corner which is cleared and it’s Kennedy making a high speed run back down the pitch who clears the ball at the other end. Back up to the Wednesday end and a Kennedy cross sends Toppmöller sliding across the penalty area with another reaction save from the ‘keeper denying him goal four. One for the ladies this as Dino gets up and shows a taut set of buttocks where his shorts have been dragged up his backside… Every guy’s eyes down our end watered profusely or was it just the wind? Dino is again involved a couple of minutes later when Harkness tries to remove Wanchope from the game… permanently. Kennedy swings the ball around a two man wall for Toppmöller to head down straight to the ‘keeper’s hands.

Nash pulls off another great stop four minutes later at the second attempt following a lightning fast reaction save that saw the ball palmed down and running free across the goalmouth. Both teams applauded his effort, which was echoed in the somewhat larger crowd than of late of 624 souls. Another quiet period ends with Toppmöller bagging his first for City on 66 minutes, 4-1. The resulting stoppage is used to make City’s first substitution. Off goes Killen who since his goal has been out of the action and on comes Leon Mike in a like for like swap. A minute after the restart and Paulo is again denied by the ‘keeper diving to push the ball just wide in a mirror image of the earlier attempt. This must have raised Paulo’s spirits as he treated us to some of his now famous tricky footwork but predictably got a little too tricky and lost possession. City get their first taste of the referee’s ire on 75 minutes when Leon Mike is booked for a late challenge on Tony Crane the Sheffield 6.

77 minutes Nash makes another save to a shot coming in from wide right at midriff height. Three minutes later and SWP forces an early save from the ‘keeper after beating off several Sheffield players and hauling the ball back across the goal from a couple of feet inside the corner post. That was really Little Shaun’s last action of the game as with five to go he and Super Kev are subbed for Chris Suker and Steven Jordan again in a like for like swap. The last real action of the game came in the four minutes of extra time played when ‘Shooks’ is brought down right on the edge of the six yard box. A free kick is given and Kennedy plays a hard swinging ball around the three man wall for the ‘keeper to dive and push wide for a corner. The corner comes to nothing and the whistle blows for full time.

Final score 4-1 to the ‘Super Blues’. A thoroughly entertaining game with plenty of goals played in cold conditions. On the down side City didn’t look as composed as they have done recently and Wanchope still needs to remember that he is part of a team and is expected to put in some effort now and again. That said he is freshly back from injury and may need some more match practice before he is ready for the fray, if in fact Joe decides that he has served his sentence for his petulance of two months ago. Somehow on tonight’s display he is far from ready to be allowed back into the first team and personally if this was a display of Paulo Wanchope’s commitment the longer that return is delayed the better. Of the other returnees, Kennedy looks hot! He is quick, committed and ready to start this Saturday even if he can’t manage 90 minutes, which he did tonight with ease; he should at least be given the opportunity to play a part in laying the ground work against Bradford. Horlock, off the pace and tiring badly toward the end. I got a chance to have a quick word with him as the players left and he admitted to being stiff and tired. However Kev is a trier and he’ll come good. Toppmöller at 20 has a long time in football. On tonight’s display he isn’t frightened of pushing forward and his workrate seemed reasonable. He also seems to have an uncanny knack of being in front of goal at the right time. His first half was a bit quiet but in the second he seemed to be in most of the action. Maybe one we should hang on to.

Man of the Match, difficult as always to give any one player the title but it was a toss between Kennedy and SWP. The coin came down with Little Shaun’s head on it so SWP it was. His commitment, work rate and pure skill put some of his bigger colleagues to shame. Oh that Paulo showed half of Shaun’s work rate, he’d be a world beater. Finally Ben and I went around to the dressing room after the game to get Ben’s shirt signed. He has Number 34, Mark Kennedy on the back of it. People have observed in the past that Paulo isn’t the most friendly of people, and before anyone has a pop at me saying I hate the guy, I don’t. However, his performance when he came out of the dressing room second to last was disgusting. A group of half a dozen frozen little kids had waited around for nearly half an hour for the players. Every single one of the other players greeted them with a smile and a friendly comment or two, SWP even ending up backed into a corner chatting with three ten-year olds. Paulo on the other hand strode imperiously through the group, including my little lad and only stooped to scribble on a couple of pieces of paper in the most off-hand fashion imaginable. His scrawl is available for scrutiny in Ben’s book for anyone to see how much effort he put in. Ben got his shirt signed. As I gently turned him around for Mark to see the back of his shirt Mark suddenly cried “Hey wee top-man” and seemed genuinely impressed that Ben had chosen him to be his champion. Fair play to you Mark you made the lad’s night. One very last comment… Heidi I got to see Andy Morrison and guess what? Yep he was eating a pie!

Dave Cash (Vanda_David@vcash.fsnet.co.uk)

MATCH REPORT – ‘LIVE’ II

MCFC RESERVES vs. SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY RESERVES, Tuesday 13th March 2001

A glorious early spring day in Manchester was marred by TWGC(TM) overseas contingent I bumped into on the way home asking for directions. I kindly sent them on their way from Piccadilly to the tram via M&S (they probably thought it was the Superstore). The traditional grey clouds gathered over Denton and Hyde as evening approached. A chilly evening ensued, but unbelievably for the first time this season it stayed dry.

Slightly late, I was hurrying across the car park trying to answer my phone when I bumped into Alfie. Or his doppelganger. Not too sure, there can’t be many people look like that, but it would figure given his absence from the first team this weekend? Cooke was also around, no doubt catching up with his previous and current team mates whilst recovering from his severely gashed leg. As usual numerous scouts were in attendance including some of the names mentioned in Geoff’s news (Blades being one). Met up with Mr Birch and his youngster for their first visit to Ewen Fields.

City lined up: Nash, Edghill, Morrison, Day, Horlock, Whitley, Kennedy, SWP, Killen, Wanchope and Toppmöller. We thumped Wednesday earlier in the season 5-1 and were looking forward to a similar result. I had to laugh when I remembered their sponsors: Chupa Chups lollies (prefer the Vimto variety myself).

There followed a largely uninspiring display, City had most of the possession, the highlight was to come early in the second half. As is the wont of the first team, we let Wednesday break forward and Nash – who had obviously been reading the Weaver book of ‘keeping tips – came diving out for a rash challenge – Mr Bannister awarded them a penalty. Typical, against the run of play, 22 minutes gone, they score and it was 0-1. Anyway, somehow we fluffed about three attempts on goal, two from neat corners by Kennedy. Then Morrison passed to SWP who played the ball in to Wanchope: scramble, one, two, three attempts, ‘keeper couldn’t hold it and the ball drifted over the line credited to Killen. Not seen the lad play for a while, but good to see he is still living up to early promise and suddenly grown into his strip. Shortly afterwards we got another from a combined Kennedy/SWP act with SWP sending a good 15-yarder in, good goal, well taken, well deserved. Then came a third from Kennedy. Ah, this is more like it.

Second half and a few subs made: Mike on for Killen, Shuker on for SWP, Jordan on for Horlock – not sure of the timings, as I wasn’t looking at my watch or noting. Again we piled on the pressure and our German midfield triallist sprang into life – a tall, rangy I guess, lad who looks rather laid back but can certainly dash about. Dino slid in for a neat attempt on goal, only to be thwarted when it went marginally wide, but we ending up with a flash of more flesh from him than he or we expected. Schöner Po Dino! Shortly afterwards he was rewarded with a shot on target from another Kennedy/SWP combination, 4-1. Paulo then had a few ‘attempts’ on goal but nothing doing. Thankfully the whistle blew before hypothermia set in and it was off home. The Owls were dreadful, I almost felt sorry for them. Kennedy had a storming game, I’d like to see him back in the first team shortly, this game should have persuaded WD & JR; SWP was biting at the ankles of the Wednesday defence as usual, get him back on the bench; Paulo seemed uninterested or unfit but maybe wasn’t getting the service he requires, needs plenty more intensive training and possibly back end of the month?; Horlock was not back to form post his broken bones; Morrison’s commanding presence from the back so much so that the other defenders merely played pass the ball with him rather than serving midfield. Expect Dickov (it’s spring and he usually pops up again now) and Egil to feature on Saturday as neither were there last night.

So we are still extending that unbeaten run and I’m quietly confident about the Senior Cup Challenge too (see later). Final note of credit to the groundsmen at Ewen Fields, the pitch looked immaculate despite the recent downfalls and number of games played.

Heidi Pickup (heidi@mancity.net)

MINI DERBY – TICKET NEWS

Manchester City reserves play TWGC(TM) reserves in the MSCC (Manchester Senior Challenge Cup) at Ewen Fields, Hyde on Tuesday 27 March. The reserves have been doing rather well in the competition this year. We beat a side including ‘wunderkind’ Luke Chadwick last year 2-1, which shut them up for a few days.

This game is all ticket, tickets cost a princely £4 for adults and are available from the usual outlets (local stores, Hyde United).

Heidi Pickup (heidi@mancity.net)

CITY SHIRTS TO ZAMBIA – A BIG THANK YOU

A big thanks to all McVittee readers everywhere. A fantastic response to the campaign which collected 1,514 shirts, 489 shorts, 186 pairs boots/trainers, 319 socks plus assorted shin pads, hats, gloves and even a set of nets!

British Airways have been top, even accomodating the increase from 250kg to 750kg for shipment. They have offered to fly two of us over to pick up the kit. Obviously great news for me.

The club have been excellent all the way along and are arranging a presentation on the pitch before the Villa match. We also received sponsorship to pay for some of the big City bags to send the kit over in – which will be used as school kit bags. Thanks to Family Assurance Friendly Society.

The best thing will be when we get the kit back here and distribute them to some of the lucky 4,500 new Man City fans in our community schools. Who knows from there? There are some cracking footballers here.

A massive thanks to everyone who took the trouble to drop kit off. It’s all well appreciated and guaranteed a good home.

Thank you for all the plugs. At the risk of sounding like an award ceremony, cheers to Doug and Bob at Blueview and Mancity.net.

Looking forward to celebrating with a big win at Bradford and then in person at Villa.

Whatever you do, stay Blue!

Dave Clinton
Zambia Open Community Schools
PO Box 50429
Lusaka
Zambia

For more info on ZOCS, please check out http://www.ZambiaBlues.com/ZOCS/

Dave Clinton (dclinton@zamnet.zm)

THE BIG 40

Wrote last year about the Big 40 coming up and my present to myself is a City Tattoo… just to show the rebel in me (in the words of that classic song Echo Beach “my job is very boring – I’m an office clerk”). Some kind readers sent me on some really cool stuff – especially the new emblem.

However, am thinking of a CTID or a CITY as in the Maximus (Gladiator) style – top of the arm. Wondering if any latest ideas on a City Tattoo before I make a final choice. Remember… this is not just for Christmas!

Also, does anyone know if we are changing the home shirt next year?

Respect to you all… keep the faith!

Basil Sheerin (basil@iol.ie)

SMS

If any of you gents are interested in the SMS from Blueview, they are now extending the service from the trial – you just need to email Doug and Nicola Bennett with your mobile number (though apparently Vodafone has problems – surprise surprise). The service is improving all the time, and it’s a great excuse for absenting oneself from a boring meeting when the message comes through.

Secondly if any of you are planning on skiving off the Villa game and your ticket is available, I have a taker. Serious absentees only.

Heidi Pickup (heidi@dratex.co.uk)

DIVINE INTERVENTION

Whilst reading the John Maddocks tribute by Carol Darvill, it reminded me that City’s great run of recent years coincided with my own mum’s untimely passing 2 years ago. After her death in January 1999, City began a remarkable run of results that resulted in that memorable day at Wembley against Gillingham (I’m convinced she was watching from above), this was followed up by a more than respectable season in Division One, ending with automatic promotion! Since then City have struggled, but I guess that God’s a pretty busy omnipresent being and maybe his focus has wandered somewhat of late. Hopefully, Bernard will by now have had a word in his shell-like and we’ll soon see a remarkable turnaround in form – starting with Bradford this Saturday.

Keep the faith – CTID and beyond.

John Bellairs (John_Bellairs@mancity.net)

CHORLTON BLUES MEETING

The next Chorlton Blues meeting is on Tuesday 20th March at South West Manchester Cricket Club, Ellesmere Road, Chorlton. Events kick off around 7.30 pm. Confirmed guests include 1956 Cup Final hero Roy Little, the man behind ‘Bert Trautman’s Helmet’, Noel Bayley, and Standing Areas For Eastlands (SAFE) spokesman Phill Gattenby. There will be the usual raffle and a buffet will be provided. For futher details please contact 0161 226 0445.

Larry Higgs (larry.higgs@virgin.net)

CHICKEN BALTI PIES

I’ve also seen the chicken balti pies in Morrisons. I get some most weeks and they are a firm favourite with the lads where I work too. However, they aren’t a patch on the original Jamaican curry patty. I’m surprised no one has mentioned them before as a lot of the chippies around the ground do sell them and there is (used to be when I lived around there) a great West Indian food shop on Gt Western Street that does enormous curry patties. A bit drier in consistency than a balti pie, they use gram flour pastry which makes them a little less fatty than the puff pastry on a balti pie, but if you get the genuine article they are hot as hell with real chillies in them and they keep the cold out a treat. I can thoroughly recommend them.

Dave Cash (Vanda_David@vcash.fsnet.co.uk)

CHICKEN BALTI PIES – NO!

How can you do this to us expats? A discussion on how close to the Maine Road experience for people who can get a pie anytime! I have, over our cooker, an advertising poster for Holland’s Pies and Puddings. This was kindly sent to me from Holland’s, 20 years ago. On every trip to the UK that is always my first stop. Pudding ,chips and mushy peas… then the next night Mill Lane Chippy in Reddish for Fish and Chips!

My wife has figured out how to make something very close to a pudding and a meat and potatoe pie and we get mushy peas sent over occasionally but there is nothing like the real thing! We do get sick of barbecued steak all the time here in sunny California.

My memories of Maine Road are of Neil Young heading a ball (a sure sign of victory) while I was eating a pork pie and drinking my hot Oxo. Let’s all dredge up our memories of victories past and cheer the lads on to win the Premiership next year!

Jim Heaviside (JHeavis502@aol.com)

RE – “SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP”

Everyone is entitled to an opinion and I appreciate and respect those of Paul Gallagher (MCIVTA 691). I would like the opportunity to respond however, simply for reasons of clarification.

I am originally from Langley, North Manchester but for the past seven years I have been living down in Chiswick, London W4. I have a working class background but I am now in the fortunate position that I earn a decent salary. I still remember however having to find £30 for my Kippax season ticket back in the early eighties. I’ve kept my season ticket during my stay in the “smoke” and rarely miss a home game, making that 400-mile round trip journey that fellow Southern Blues are accustomed to. I fully appreciate therefore the huge expense, the effort and to be honest, the barmy blind faith of sitting in a car for 8 hours every other week.

The point I was trying to make in MCIVTA 690 was the following. 3 years ago when we were in the depths of Division 2 we were not selling out our full allocation of season tickets (I think we had around 14,000 at the time, still mightily impressive). Unsurprisingly when we reach the “promised” land, there is a clamour for tickets and a waiting list of 5,000 ensues. This is totally understandable and I myself tried to get my 71-year-old dad a season ticket so he could join in the fun. I am not knocking these people, it is indicative of relative success. Supply and demand then kicks in though and the club finds itself in a much stronger position to call the tune. I’m speaking up though for those who have been sitting around me in the Kippax the past few years and are now good friends. Some of these Blues are not that well off and at the Southampton game I heard “whinges” from some of them about how difficult it would be to find £290 before the end of the month. Believe me and I know from personal experience, there are lot of people who go to Maine Road for whom £290 is a lot to find. I don’t want to get all patronising but are you going to tell these “working class” people (I hate this phrase but you know what I mean) to sit down and shut up? Why do you think the club offer direct debit to spread the cost? It doesn’t matter that we’re the cheapest in the country, an 11.5% increase (thanks Heidi) is a lot of money to a lot of people. Never ignore this fact and don’t assume that a £30 or £40 increase can be easily absorbed. Family of 4 = +£100.

I am not grateful that I have a ticket. I’ve invested enough time and money in the club the past 20 years to be able to say that 5 times increase over inflation is taking the p**s whatever division we’re in.

All the best anyway.

P.S. Geoff Donkin, you deserve to be chastised for suggesting that we buy our Balti pies on the cheap. Stop whingeing about a few quid for the good of the team (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

Andrew Dixon (andrew.dixon@quaker.co.uk)

SAFE 18

What an eventful eleven days it has been! I wanted to get this out over the last weekend, but with so much happening and also not having access to a computer, I have finally managed to put this together.

Sunday 4th March saw the Sunday Mirror release their ‘Fans’ Survey’ results. The response to the question “Should safe standing areas be allowed in Premier League grounds?” produced the following percentages: strongly agree 58%, agree 23%, 3% undecided, 12% disagreed and 7% strongly disagreed. Clearly (and totally at odds with surveys claimed to have been carried out by the Premier League) this was a fantastic result which the authorities cannot ignore.

On Monday 5th March, I travelled down to London to record a debate for the Discovery Channel the following day. As I arrived in London, news broke that the Secretary for State, Chris Smith, had released a statement saying that there would not be any change in legislation regarding standing areas. This statement was made before we met with the FLA to discuss with Kate Hoey the findings from both visits to Germany. In fact, the statement was made without Kate Hoey’s knowledge. The statement was featured in the newspapers on Tuesday 6th March – with the Telegraph and Mail in particular leading the claim that “Smith has put an end to the issue” saying (wrongly) that Hoey had backed down on the issue. The statement itself was riddled with misinformation and irrelevancies. Smith claimed “The team of experts (the FLA) concluded that the accommodation arrangements at Hamburg would not be appropriate in UK conditions.” The FLA report actually stated “This system (at Hamburg) could, with certain modifications, comply with the safety standards required in England and Wales.”

Smith then made comments about the cost of converting to standing areas (ignoring totally new developments). The cost however, should not be an issue for the Government. If clubs are willing to pay for it, then clubs should be free to do so. As Smith admitted in his statement “The Government does not think that German stadia are unsafe”.

After the TV recording, I made a quick visit to Hoey’s office and was able to meet with her for a short time, before issuing a press release from a nearby Internet café. The mobile phone was busy all the way home on the train!

Wednesday 7th saw the beginning of the fightback! We had managed to contact our supporters in the media and were set for an all out attack on Thursday – and what a day it was!

All was quiet until the lunch time edition of the Manchester Evening News came out. The front page carried a feature stating that Trafford Borough Council had issued a warning to Manchester United fans to sit down during the forthcoming European game or sections of the ground would be closed down. On page 4, the SAFE campaign was featured, reporting on our trip to Germany and the evidence we gathered. Within 5 minutes, the phone went crazy and this resulted in the following media coverage by either myself or Mark Longdon, from IMUSA: interviews on 4 local radio stations, appearances on local BBC and ITV stations, Radio 5 and national newspapers. I then finished the day appearing at a local Man City supporters’ club meeting!

Friday 8th resulted in the national papers linking the two features together. The Manchester Evening News followed up by interviewing Sir Alex Ferguson who – whilst requesting fans to sit down at the forthcoming game – asked for the subject of safe standing areas to be debated, a call he repeated in Saturday’s edition too. The voice of opposition was very quiet – except one sole voice squeaking from London’s Evening Standard. Take a bow please, the irrelevant Mr David Mellor and his pathetic attempts at rubbishing Kate Hoey and those campaigning to stand!

Sunday was a nice relaxing day before the activities started again Monday 11th. I sent an article for The Guardian to use in a ‘for and against’ feature, to coincide with an online appearance by Chris Smith on Wednesday 13th March. Later I was contacted by a TV producer who is looking to cover the story for a programme to be shown next week (details announced nearer the time!).

Tuesday 12th – after 6 months of asking, I met Chris Bird, Chief Operating Officer at Manchester City for the first time. The meeting was frank and open, resulting in letters being sent to Manchester City Council (who own the Eastlands stadium) and Sport England, requesting a meeting to talk about the stadium development.

Finally, today’s Mirror, Express and Manchester Evening News (front page) highlight the fans’ behaviour at last nights game at Old Trafford, with a picture of a banner produced that proclaimed “Chris Smith Listen: Safe Standing Now.” Tonight, in place of the aforementioned Mr Mellor, Kevin Miles is hosting the midweek 6.06 on Radio 5. Kevin travelled with SAFE to Germany last month, so he is sure to present a slightly different view to that of the Mellephant Man!

So as you can see, the campaign is far from over, despite what Chris Smith thinks he can spin!

All I ask is that you write to Smith, expressing your disgust at his actions and demanding that he actually consults with us and takes part in an open debate on the subject. Please do not write one letter, copying and sending it many times, as this has a negative response on receipt – although a letter from a supporters’ group with many signatures on is welcome. Write to:

Chris Smith, Secretary for State, DCMS, 2-4 Cockspur Street, London, SW1Y 5DH.

The issue is clearly not going to go away. Let’s keep the pressure on.

Phill Gatenby (safestanding@hotmail.com)

OPINION – SEASON TICKET PRICES

Before I start this opinion I want to make it clear I’m not a season ticket holder and there is a very good reason why not. I’m one of that unfortunate band of people who work shifts based on seven-day working and to buy a season ticket would be a waste of money for me, as well as denying someone who could attend every week an opportunity to go to matches.

That said there have been a number of times this season when I’ve been asked by mates if I was going to the match on Saturday and I’ve had to admit no I wasn’t. Why? Well simply because despite being a City Card holder I’ve gone down to the ticket office and found that the gate was sold out. Now you can take a view on that last statement in that if I really wanted to attend I would get a ticket come hell or high water, but that would probably mean approaching one of the low life scum known as ticket touts that lurk in the various passage ways up Claremont Road. I refuse to do that and in doing so keep their disgusting illegal trade going. Match tickets are expensive enough already without filling the pockets of someone who could just as easily be selling the world’s last gob-stopper to kids coming out of school. The product to them is immaterial the profit is all.

Would I therefore buy a season ticket if things were different with my employment arrangements? You bet I would and I’d be standing in the queue of five thousand or so that currently waits for the privilege of owning said ticket book. I have friends who would dearly love season tickets, I have friends who would dearly love to be able to purchase odd home tickets whenever they wanted. Alas our club is officially the best supported in the league and as such tickets are like gold dust. Bring on the season ticket holder who has held a ticket since Adam was a small wee thing. No queues and no turning up at the ticket office thirty minutes before opening just to have the chance to get to go to that particular match. So let’s put season ticket prices into perspective. You folk lucky enough to own them already get unpaid entry into all reserve games and you get first choice for cup tie tickets. Your total season ticket price, if you attend every game, would work out considerably less than the equivalent price were you to buy the tickets individually (like I would have to do).

However, not only do you get that discount you also get preferential treatment on all club activities and products as you are viewed as the most loyal of the loyal. £290 per year is not an inflated price to pay. If you support cricket, a season ticket at the real Old Trafford would cost you considerably more as would a debenture to one of any number of rugby union grounds. As last year’s ST prices were frozen, in the last two years, in real terms your tickets have gone up by 5.5% p.a. (simple interest), which is less than my council tax increase! The club doesn’t pay for itself and it is after all a money-making business as well as the object of our undying love. So we are all exploited to some greater or lesser extent. It’s the price you pay for being loyal and if you don’t like it, well the turnstiles are that way my dears.

I agree in view of our current position in the league being asked to stump up more is a bit rich, and might perhaps lead to a bad attack of the vapours, but I can’t help feeling that the protestations over pricing sound a little like the card players on the Titanic complaining about too much ice in their Scotch. You want to talk about exploitation go look at the Rags or the Ar*e or for that matter a few First Division clubs and then come back and tell us all you’re being ripped off. Sorry folks but as Mr Billy Wagglestaff might have said “Methinks they doth protest too much”.

Dave Cash (Vanda_David@vcash.fsnet.co.uk)

OPINION – WEAH, IT’S NOT THE SAME OLD SONG

There is much delight at Maine Road at the news of Weah leaving Marseille – but why is the press room making such a big deal of it? I know it has been quiet of late but this is the main story emanating from the press room – these people are clutching at straws by still insisting we told you so; in fact he is not walking out at Marseille. His six month contract is up, he has no row with the manager, he has still an option on six games but all he is saying is my contract is up and I think I have one more season left in my legs. I love the game and I would like to play at whatever level as I don’t like sitting on the bench. Is there anyone out there who will let me play next season? A truly different situation from his bitter, acrimonious and controversial departure from Maine Road.

John Mcfarlane (kaiser@ntlworld.com)

FOR SALE

1 Warsaw to Manchester air ticket. BA. Departs Warsaw Sunday 15/4/01, Return from Manchester Sunday 22/4/01.

I booked this ages ago so that I could catch the Ar*e game on Easter Monday and the trip to the Swamp the following Saturday. Yesterday Lyon let me down (I hadnn’t even considered the Ar*e’s involvement in the Big Cup) and the Ticket Office told me that as a regular season ticket holder with only 3 tracked away attendances this season that I had no chance of a Swamp ticket. Blo*dy great. Anyone got any suggestions for a blank Easter Monday in Manchester?

I thought my season had turned at Newcastle when I saw us score for the first time this season at the 7th attempt (4 0-1’s and 2 0-0’s previous to that). For a week it all made sense and the pain of the previous 6 games I’d seen was forgotten but the Soton result and now this has brought me crashing back down to earth.

Can we stay up? It’s going to be as tight as I thought it would be at the beginning of the season and I can’t see us getting more than 9 or 10 points from the remaining games so we have to hope that Boro get less than 7. MMMMmmmmm. Having said that I couldn’t see a way back for us at Wembley in the 89th minute at 2-0 down so come on City! I hope that Big Joe isn’t going to be as childish or stubborn with Paolo as he has been with TC as Paolo really is our best hope for a few goals.

Keep the faith, Iain Sellers (iainmcfc@hotmail.com)

REQUEST – LEICESTER TICKETS

If anyone knows of two tickets spare for the game away to Leicester please let me know at the following address below.

Great newsletter lads, keep up the good work!

CTID, keep the faith you Blues! Dave Jones (davejones@mancity.net)

REQUEST – RINGTONES

Does anybody know any City ringtones for a Siemens c35 mobile phone?

Tony Arundale (anthony.arundale@baesystems.com)

WWW MANCHESTER CITY SUPPORTERS’ HOME PAGE:
http://www.uit.no/mancity/


MCIVTA ADDRESSES:
Contributions: Ashley – mcivta@tollbar.u-net.com
News & Rumours: Peter – brophy_peter@hotmail.com
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Technical Problems: Paul – paul@city-fan.org


DISCLAIMER
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, mcivta@tollbar.u-net.com

Newsletter #692

2001/03/15

Editor:


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