Newsletter #697

As McVittee approaches it’s seven hundredth edition, City have but seven games to save their Premiership necks. The signs aren’t good and I can’t help but feel the fact that Boro failed to capitalise on our failure is simply Fate toying with us, keeping the mathematical hope alive in order to make the pain go on longer. Then again I could be wrong and we could be looking at another last minute escape. What do you think? This issue has a match reports and opinion (brace yourselves!); updates on SAFE and Atkinson for England; a reply to Ernie Whalley’s thought provoking analysis of Joe’s record; a Why Blue with a difference and details of an evening with Neil Young at the Reddish CSA.

Perhaps most important of all in this issue, if I may be parochial for a while, is the news that Pete Brophy is looking to hand over the news editor rôle. I can assure you all that this is merely coincident with last weekend’s fiasco, and the editorial team have known about Pete’s intentions for some time. I’ve known Pete in the virtual sense for a number of years though only relatively recently met him in the flesh, and I know he’s put a heck of a lot of effort into juggling his paying daytime job and his commitments to McVittee, so I’d like to publicly thank him on behalf of the team. He’ll be a hard act to follow, and whilst it may not pay directly, the rôle’s a labour of love and who knows may even be useful on the right person’s CV.

After further discussion with Ashley, I’ll be editing McVittee up to and including 23rd April so inputs to me this month please. I reckon it’s his attempt to offload the ‘relegation special’ to me. Come on City, prove us all wrong!

Stay Blue, Geoff Donkin.

Next game: Everton away Sunday 8th April 2001


Having provided news items for MCIVTA for the last two and a half years, I have now decided to hang up my keyboard. Owing to the pressure of work in a new job and to a range of other personal commitments, I can no longer spare the time to submit twice-weekly summaries as I have done in the past. I will, however, carry on until the end of the current season, a more natural point at which to step down.

The MCIVTA team has discussed the situation, and we feel that a news section is an important part of the newsletter. We therefore invite anyone interested in assuming the news-reporting rôle to make themselves known. We would be looking for an initial commitment of only three months in the hope that this will allow a new volunteer better to assess whether the task is one he or she wishes to undertake in the longer term.

The rôle is demanding and should not be undertaken lightly. I have therefore prepared a summary of the skills required and the extent of the time commitment involved. We would ask that all potential volunteers first read this summary before confirming their interest.

If you think you may be willing to devote a few hours each week to providing news summaries for MCIVTA, please e-mail me on the address below and in the first instance I will forward the job description.

Peter Brophy (


Part I – Aston Villa at Home: Result and Reaction

Tenth Home Defeat for City: Manchester City’s survival hopes took another drastic knock on Saturday. The Blues suffered their tenth home league defeat of the campaign, going down 3-1 to Aston Villa at Maine Road. On this occasion, City were given an excellent start, with Shaun Goater scoring on 12 minutes after being set up by Jeff Whitley. But the Blues could only hold the lead for two minutes before Paul Merson equalised. Villa then went in front just before the break thanks to a catastrophic blunder from Nicky Weaver. Rather than clear a back-pass first time, the City goalkeeper elected to try to round the onrushing Dion Dublin. Unfortunately, Weaver failed to take the ball with him and left the ex-Manchester United man with the simplest of tasks to score. Lee Hendrie’s strike on 65 minutes killed the game for Villa, and there was further disappointment for City with the dismissal of Danny Tiatto nine minutes from time. The Australian had already been booked when he kicked the ball into the crowd in frustration at conceding a corner, and referee Rob Styles, who was fussy throughout, produced a second yellow card.

Royle – Merson’s Class Made the Difference: Joe Royle pinpointed Aston Villa’s Paul Merson as the biggest threat to his Manchester City team ahead of Saturday’s match between the two clubs. And the Blues’ boss was left to reflect after the game that his players had failed to shackle the ex-England star. Merson was the game’s best performer and capped his fine display by scoring Villa’s leveller shortly after they’d fallen behind. And the one-time Arsenal man impressed to such an extent that he was applauded from the field by the home fans when he was substituted in the second half. But the 32-year-old’s impact was no surprise to Royle. “The last thing I said to the players before they ran out was if you stop Merson you stop Villa,” reflected the City manager. “Merson at times in the first half was outstanding and we never got near him. I suppose top players don’t need telling twice but we were naïve at times.”

Weaver Admits Mistake but Receives Boss’s Backing: Nicky Weaver made a disastrous error as Manchester City went down to Aston Villa on Saturday. But Joe Royle refused to criticise his goalkeeper after the match. Weaver’s blunder just before the break stopped the Blues from going in level at half-time. And the England under-21 man confessed that he’d “wanted the ground to swallow [him] up” when Dion Dublin capitalised on the mistake to give Villa the lead. But Royle was in philosophical mood. “It’s just an aberration, and I’m not going to hang him out to dry,” said the Blues’ boss. “In his defence he has been magnificent for us over the past two seasons.” And visiting manager John Gregory also had words of comfort for the 22-year-old. “Weaver… will make mistakes from time to time but also will win matches,” insisted the Villa boss.

Gregory Reflects on Half-Time Confusion: John Gregory saw his Aston Villa side capitalise on a half-time lead to win at Manchester City on Saturday. But the Villa boss admitted after the game that he thought the score was all-square at the break. Gregory had headed for the dressing rooms early to prepare a rousing lecture for his side on the need to press for a winner in the second period. But just after the ex-Wycombe manager had left the dug-out, Dion Dublin gave the visitors the lead. And that meant the Villa players were slightly bemused by their boss’s pep-talk. “I was already in the dressing-room [when the goal went in],” Gregory recalled. “I kept banging on about how important it was to try to go 2-1 up, and the lads were all staring back at me blankly. One of them finally pointed out that we were already 2-1 in front, so that shut me up.”

Part II – Transfer News and Rumours

City Set for Summer Exodus?: Manchester City are set to trim the squad dramatically this summer. The Manchester Evening News reports that, whether or not the Blues stay in the Premiership, as many as ten players could leave Maine Road. City look certain to release a number of players who will be out of contract at the end of the campaign. Jim Whitley and Gareth Taylor, who are both currently away on loan, seem certain not to be offered new deals, while young goalkeepers Steve Hodgson and Richard McKinney will also be shown the door. Joe Royle will then try to off-load transfer-listed trio Richard Edghill, Terry Cooke and Paulo Wanchope, while Andy Morrison is set to leave, with the former skipper clearly not featuring in the manager’s long-term plans. Meanwhile, there are doubts over the future of on-loan duo Andrei Kanchelskis and Egil Ostenstad. It’s hoped that the clear-out will pave the way for promising youngsters like Chris Killen, Chris Shuker, Leon Mike, Terry Dunfield and Rhys Day to press their claims at senior level.

Jim Whitley Stays at Northampton: Jim Whitley has extended his loan spell at Northampton. The Manchester City midfielder will stay with the Second Division outfit until the end of the season. Whitley has impressed in his first month at Sixfields, during which he’s played in four league games. So the are delighted to retain the 25-year-old’s services for longer. “I am pleased Jim is staying here for the rest of the season,” confirmed manager Kevin Wilson. “He is one of those players who has a number of strings to his bow. He can play in defence or in midfield and when you have a small squad it’s important you have players who can do that.”

Royle – Macc Can’t Keep Shuker: Chris Shuker has already made a big impression at Macclesfield Town despite only beginning his loan spell ten days ago. But Joe Royle says the Silkmen have no prospect of landing the winger on a permanent basis. Having featured as a substitute against Blackpool the previous week, Shuker made his first full appearance in senior soccer in the Third Division match against Carlisle at the weekend, though the outcome was a disappointing 1-0 defeat for the Cheshire outfit. The Blues are now hoping that the experience gained by the 18-year-old will help him to make the breakthrough at Maine Road next season. “Chris has gone to Macclesfield to gain experience, it’s as simple as that,” reiterated Royle. “The Third Division is a level up from our reserves and if he comes back having done well, then he will have gained confidence and valuable experience.”

Part III – Miscellaneous News and Views

Rocky Loses Fight Against Cancer: David Rocastle has died of cancer at the age of just 33. The former Manchester City player was diagnosed as having non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in February and subsequently underwent major chemotherapy, but sadly he passed away on Saturday. Rocastle made his name with Arsenal, where he won two League Championship medals and played in a League Cup-winning side during George Graham’s spell in charge. After leaving Highbury in 1992, he moved on to Leeds, before joining City in a swap deal that took David White to Elland Road. The Londoner’s spell at Maine Road was brief – he arrived in December 1993 but was sold to Chelsea the following summer having featured in just 21 league games for the Blues, in which he scored twice. However, many City fans were disappointed with the decision of then-boss Brian Horton to allow the midfielder to leave the club. The talented England international had made a favourable impression, and is particularly remembered for one of the finest pieces of individual skill produced by a City player in many years when he set up Carl Griffiths to score against Ipswich in February 1994. The Blues will honour Rocastle on April 11, when his first club Arsenal visit Maine Road for a Premiership fixture.

Bernstein – Up or Down, Royle Will Stay: Manchester City’s battle against relegation seems increasingly likely to end in failure. But David Bernstein insists that Joe Royle will be in charge of the Blues next term – whatever happens in the next seven games. Bernstein admitted that relegation would be a serious setback for the club, and estimated the probable financial cost of dropping back to the Nationwide League at £15 million. But the City chairman believes that if the Blues do go down, Royle is the best man to plot an instant top-flight return. “Joe Royle will be in charge of this club at the start of next season, irrespective of which division we are in,” confirmed Bernstein. “The fans know how far we have come under Joe. They know that we were in a real pickle three years ago after being relegated to the Second Division.”

Chairman Plays Down Talk of Power Struggle: Manchester City have played down reports that a mystery buyer is attempting to secure a major stake in the club. A Sunday tabloid had claimed that the unnamed businessman was particularly keen to acquire block of shares formerly held by the late Stephen Boler. It was said that the prospective purchaser is attempting to acquire 28% of the club’s shares from a variety of sources, and that Boler’s sons, to whom the shares passed following their father’s death in 1998, could be willing to sell should the Blues be relegated in the next few weeks. But David Bernstein says the newspaper story is the first he’s heard of any such machinations. “As always I am only too happy to listen to any sensible would be investor,” commented the city chairman, “but there has been no approach to me. The report is a mystery to me.”

Royle Still Not Ready to Concede Defeat: Manchester City suffered yet another blow to their hopes of Premiership survival when Aston Villa won 3-1 at Maine Road on Saturday. But Joe Royle is still hoping to inspire the Blues to a dramatic recovery. City are now four points adrift of Middlesbrough, who appear the only club the Blues have a realistic prospect of catching following a good run from Derby and a win for Everton at West Ham on Saturday. But Royle says that the staff and players will keep fighting until their fate is mathematically certain. “We haven’t given up,” he insisted. “I know that people will write us off, particularly after another home defeat but I won’t surrender and neither will the players.”

Tiatto Set to Miss Derby Clash: Danny Tiatto suffered the disappointment of being sent off for the second time this season as Manchester City lost to Aston Villa on Saturday. And the Australian will now miss the trip to Manchester United on 21st April. Tiatto was dismissed having received two yellow cards from referee Rob Styles. And the sanction for such an indiscretion is an automatic one-match ban, which the combative midfielder will serve at Leicester on April 14th. But for a second red card of the campaign, an additional one-match suspension is imposed, and with the Easter Monday game against Arsenal having been brought forward, Tiatto must now sit out the Old Trafford clash the following Saturday.

City Appoint New Groundsman: Manchester City have been without a head groundsman since David Shaw left the club earlier this season. But the Blues have finally filled the vacancy. Shaw departed for Millwall, but has now been replaced by Roy Rigby, who will arrive from Blackburn to take responsibility for the pitch at Maine Road – and then at Eastlands when City move there in two years’ time. Rigby’s immediate task will be to repair the Maine Road surface in time for next season; as at many other grounds, City’s pitch has suffered from the unusually problematical weather conditions over the winter.

Peter Brophy


So, once again, we started a match knowing that if we couldn’t win this one, then we couldn’t realistically expect to stay up. Up until now, we’ve lost every one. Surely, after the disappointments against Southampton and Bradford, after a week of relaxation and teambuilding in the sunshine, we could get it right this time?

We lined up 4-4-2 with backs to the North Stand: Weaver, a few yards from the Villa fans; Granville, Dunne, Prior, Charvet; Tiatto, Whitley, Haaland, Kanchelskis; Goater, Ostenstad. The forward line on the bench was at least as impressive as that on the field: Dickov, Huckerby, Kennedy, Wiekens, Nash. Not that Joe expected us to be chasing the game or anything.

Villa were up and at us from the start – a change from the usual visiting policy of sitting back for 15 minutes to suck the enthusiasm out of us – but the game soon settled down to a balanced nondescriptitude. Our part of the Main Stand was enlivened by two Norwegians, each wearing three scarves and an enormous grin, who seemed to have learned the chants off gramophone records played at maximum volume. “CWUM OWEN SEE TEE!” they bawled, drawing amused looks from regulars more used to a chapel-of-rest gravitas.

11 minutes in, and rather unexpectedly, the Norwegians got their reward. Nicky threw out to Tiatto on the left, who put a lovely ball down the wing to Whitley. He rode a lunging tackle and cut inside: seeing Ostenstad and Goater queuing up in the box, picked out the Goat perfectly, who side-footed in. A minute later, Villa did exactly the same to us, a cross from the left side-footed in by Merson. 1-1.

Charvet was, as usual, not having a good game. On the half-hour, he cleared to Merson, whose shot flashed across the face of goal as we all missed a beat. Tiatto was, as usual, having an excellent game, at one point drawing seven black-shirted Villa defenders around him like flies around… like Rags around Sven-Goran. But overall it wasn’t good. “There’s no fluid motion!” wailed a local regular as another stilted attack broke down. Unfair, I thought: the whole performance is a long, thin streak of fluid motion.

Worst offender though was the referee, who was doing his level best to ruin what could have been a perfectly mediocre game. Who is this wazzock, I thought after he had successively booked Haaland for winning the ball, given a free-kick for nothing and then given a corner the wrong way. Mr R. Styles, apparently. Well, if I ever want mine tiled, I’ll know where to go, because he’s naff all use as a referee. He was very willing to give free-kicks and yellows for offences such as Winning An Aerial Challenge by use of the Head, and Being in the Vicinity of an Opponent who Slips on a Swamp-Like Surface, but – as we were to find later – was comparatively relaxed towards Using the Elbow to Concuss an Opponent and Dribbling Out of the Penalty Area by Bouncing the Ball in the Manner of Michael Jordan.

We draw towards half-time. Tiatto put in a superb shot from 35 yards, magnificently tipped away from the top corner by a flying David James. John Gregory disappeared down the tunnel to put the kettle on and compose his scowl. Prior put an innocent pass back to Weaver under no pressure whatsoever. Dublin chased it. Weaver tried to dribble round him. Unfortunately he used that move you do to impress your son’s mates, where you backheel the ball one way, turn your body the other way, and fall over. Dublin walked past him, stopped to sign a couple of autographs, and pushed it into the net in an embarrassed sort of way. “There’s only one Nicky Weaver!” sang the delighted Villians. The only way to respond was to get one back immediately, so Ostenstad went up the other end and fired it at James with the power and momentum of a well-struck shuttlecock. “Weaver for England!” yelled the Villians, delighted at their own wit.

Half-time, and it could be worse. “West Ham 1, Everton 1” was read out. A minute passes. “Sorry, West Ham 0, Everton 1”. Kennedy came on for Granville. For a moment, the old magic was back: he combined beautifully with Tiatto, putting in a threatening cross that drew a magnificent clearance over the bar from Southgate. And then the magic was gone, as the languid Kennedy corner floated slowly over to the nearest Villa defender and it all came flooding back. He must be good value in the dressing room, because his approach to teamwork on the field makes Weah, Wanchope, Brown and Cooke look good. It’s particularly galling to see Tiatto, our most exciting and threatening player on the left or any other side, pushed to defence to make room for this one-trick prima donna. Sorry Mark, you’ve got loads of fans, but I’m not one.

At least the restructuring was giving Tiatto a chance to show his defensive skills, beating Merson magically. The pressure was mostly from us and mostly unconvincing. Kanchelskis put in a great cross, which required Kennedy only to make contact with his right foot. No can do. Maybe he should practise hopping everywhere on his right leg so that the left foot is permanently available for ball-kicking duties. Joe decided that Kanchelskis was at fault and took him off for Huckerby. Or maybe he needs to be saved for the critical Everton game.

A shout for handball in the box was ignored. Another cross came in. Another handball ignored. Dublin elbowed Prior in the head. Also ignored. As Prior wondered where he was, Lee Hendrie skipped past him, one on one with Weaver, and made it 3-1.

We turned up the pressure still further, and Villa defended even better. Even the referee was out-performing himself, failing to give us the advantage when we were clean through, giving free kicks against both sides entirely at random, handing out enough yellow cards to tile… a bathroom. Even the Norwegians were having a good go at him, apparently believing him to be called Mr R. Schlock.

Villa cut our defence apart again, and should have made it four as Weaver was stuck in no-man’s-land. Merson was taken off, to a round of deserved applause. We went up the other end and had two further handballs ignored. “THE REFEREE’S A WONKA!” yelled the Nords. Tiatto was booked for a two-footed challenge so inept that it failed to make contact with the man, still less the ball. Back up the other end, he shielded the ball to allow it to run out for a goal kick. The linesman and I both thought he’d touched it, and a corner was given. Tiatto kicked the ball hard towards the corner flag.

Now, let’s think about this. It’s an offence, according to the rules, to delay the taking of a dead-ball kick. Therefore, kicking the ball away has become an offence, because someone has to go and fetch it (Mr Styles had previously demonstrated his interpretation of this when Dublin reacted to an offside by kicking the ball into the crowd: he ignored it). However, kicking the ball towards the corner flag over-violently should actually speed up the taking of the kick, surely? Or at least be overlooked if the player is already on a yellow? Being Angry, like Being In an Offside Position, is not per se an offence. Except for Mr Styles. Off went Danny, to a standing ovation. To Kennedy’s credit, he got himself a yellow card for arguing about it.

Ten minutes left, and we desperately need some attacking bite to put Villa back under pressure. Surely this is the time for Dickov – spring in the air and all that? Good, Joe’s bringing off Ostenstad. Smart move, he hasn’t done much (if we must have a slow, inept, blond Norwegian in the attack, then let’s put “utility man” Haaland up there and get someone with a bit of pace and creativity in midfield). And he’s bringing on… Wiekens. Genius. Let’s defend the goal difference so that we can stay ahead of Coventry. And go down knowing proudly that we were third bottom, not second bottom.

Fairness to Wiekens, he did get a shot in, which was deflected wide. Another handball shout was ignored. Huckerby put in a lovely turn and shot just wide. The whistle went.

I won’t give points – I’m too bitter and cross – but here’s my views on the squad we should use to get us out of this – with one eye on getting us back up next year:

Weaver: keep him. All goalkeepers make mistakes. Good ones learn. He’s good and he’s learning. He’ll learn nothing from sitting on the bench watching Carlo Nash. Sorry, Carlo, being reserve goalkeeper means exactly that.

Charvet: bring back Edghill. They have identical strengths and flaws, but Edghill would play barefoot on broken glass for City. We’ve all learned that he’s not singlehandedly to blame for all our woes.

Granville: he’s doing well. Keep him.

Central defence: any two from Howey, Dunne, Mozza, Prior in that order. Howey captain unless Mozza’s playing. Stop this nonsense about selling our most motivational player.

Midfield: Whitley and SWP. Where is SWP these days? How can he just have vanished after the performances against, for example, Chelsea?

Up front: Tiatto on the left, Kanchelskis on the right. In the middle Huckerby and Goater – no, Wanchope – no Goater – actually I don’t care provided they don’t both play at once. Speed scares defences: I’d like to see SWP, Tiatto, Kanchelskis and Huckerby all running at people at once.

On the plastic chairs: Dickov, who is a welcome sight in the 70th minute of any game; Horlock, for when one of the midfield boys is having a bad day; Wanchope for Goater or vice-versa; Wiekens, a genuine utility player; Nash.

Watching on Sky: Charvet: no better than Edgy but likely to earn us more in the transfer market; Kennedy, see above; Haaland, until we work out what’s happened to him since October; Ostenstad, a shorter Gareth Taylor; Richie, good player but we’re only allowed eleven at once; Grant, ditto.

And, sorry Joe, I haven’t a clue where Terry Cooke fits either.

Dorien James (


How low can you go? I think I found out this afternoon just how bad it can get supporting City. Sat in the Gene Kelly at 1-1 and the most ridiculous screw up between Prior and Weaver sees us 2-1 down. That was low! However, not anywhere near as low though as I felt when shortly after the Villa fans started singing “There’s Only One Nicky Weaver” and “Weaver for England” and hardly a voice in the house answered them. Today was the nadir of the season, the depth of despair, the dark before the dark; it can’t get any worse than this… or can it?

Dave Cash (


Well, went to the Villa game full of hope that things might start to get better; it lasted until Charvet touched the ball for the first time and made a complete hash of it. If he is the best right back we have then God help us. He is ‘bobbins’ and makes Sunday pub football teams look good (no offence meant!) – bring back Edghill.

I know the team have come a long way very quickly but it seems some of them cannot grasp the basics like moving off the ball, especially when attempting to launch an attack – Villa’s players were moving all the time, which allowed Merson to dictate the game.

Mathematically we can stay up but how many points are we going to take off Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea? After all the plusses these past two seasons it’s a shame some of the ‘quality’ players we’ve bought seem to have very little talent and certainly no guts for getting stuck in – players get win bonuses, so how about they give some back when we lose and they don’t perform.

Dave Barrow (


This week in City’s history: 2nd – 7th April

2 April: Denis Tueart scored his first goal for City, 3-0 winners over Aston Villa in 1974. So did Peter Beagrie in the 1-1 draw at home to Everton in the Premiership in 1994. Today also saw Jimmy Meadows’ only international appearance for England, who beat Scotland 7-2 at Wembley in 1955. A month later Meadows was at Wembley again, and there his career ended when he was badly injured in the Cup Final against Newcastle.

3 April: Quinn, Holden, and Vonk scored against Ipswich (3-1) in 1993. Ogden and Oakes hit the net (2-1) at home to Plymouth in 1965.

4th April: after failing to score throughout March of 1992, City beat league-leaders Leeds 4-0 at Maine Road; they finished the season in fifth place.

5th April: David Wagstaffe, City’s left-winger in the early sixties, was born in Manchester in 1943.

6th April: Mikhail Kavelashvili scored on his début vs. United at Maine Road. City went 2-1 down but Uwe Rösler came off the bench and scored, cutting in from the left and shooting hard past Schmeichel in front of the North Stand, and then making the point to Alan Ball that this was what he could do. Ryan Giggs hit an all too spectacular winner and it ended 2-3.

7th April: Jack Dyson scored at Newcastle but City lost 1-3 in 1956. A Keith Curle penalty got City a draw in the 1992 derby at Old Trafford. Back in 1894 a fellow named Spittle made his début for City, playing at inside-right in the 1-2 defeat at home to Crewe. He scored the goal but Spittle never played for City again (Ed, you want to say that was because of his dribbling, don’t you?).

The poor chap shared his fate with another inside-right called Smelt, who also scored on his début on November 5 1927; he too never got another sniff of the first team. Sorry.

Ken Corfield (


If you register at, you will have nothing else to do after 10 April other than to enjoy your new email service. Only 149 fans have registered so far out of the 4,000 addresses in circulation. No email addresses will be transferred. Sign up soon or your current username will not be available.

Bob Young (


Branch meeting on 3rd April at Morley Cricket Club. Our guest will be Bernard Halford. Start time 8pm.

Further details from Simon Clegg – 01484 658258


The next meeting of the Reddish Branch of the Centenary Supporters’ Association will be on Tuesday 10th April, at The Ash Hotel, Manchester Road, Stockport starting at 8.00pm when our confirmed guest is City’s “Forgotten Hero”, Neil Young.

Admission is just £1 for CSA members (juniors U16 free) and £2 for non-members and for that you get a free raffle and a hot pot supper. As usual all Blues are welcome.

Howard Burr (


It’s 32 years since Manchester City last won the league title. There are a complete new generation of fans sitting where once their predecessors stood. New names have come and gone; Kinkladze, Power, Quinn and Curle, but one thing remains the same: ask any City fan to name the clubs’ great names and inevitably amongst the answers will be “Bell, Lee and Summerbee”.

There is one name missing though from that familiar line up; a man who played with the more famous trio for City during the greatest period in our post-war history and without whom none of the achievements of the late sixties and early seventies would have been possible. That man was Neil Young. A strapping 6’1″ left winger who could drop a ball onto the back post from thirty yards with unerring accuracy. A guy whose left foot could scream a ball past many a goalie and into the net before the poor bloke had a chance to even see it coming.

Young’s career at Maine Road speaks for itself. He joined the first team in 1961, although he had already been an apprentice there for two years prior to that. He played in a whopping 409 games and scored 107 goals in all competitions over 11 seasons. Compare those figures incidentally with the much more famous Mike Summerbee’s 67 from 441 appearances. What goals they were that Nelly scored though! He put two into the net and had another disallowed in the away match against Newcastle that gave City the league title in 1968.

He scored the only goal in the 1969 FA Cup final over Leicester when he beat none other than Peter Shilton to give City the cup. He also scored one of the goals in the 1970 European Cup Winners’ Cup against Gornik Zabrese with Lee (One Pen) putting in the other from a penalty (what else).

Young was the leading goalscorer in the 1965/66 season when City took the old Division 2 championship to return top flight football to Maine Road and again in the Championship season. In anyone’s book a truly magnificent record!

After eleven seasons at Maine Road, Neil was promised a testimonial match as part of a loan deal with Preston North End. What a tribute that would have been for a guy who gave so much to his club; sadly it never happened. The loan became a permanent transfer, the management at City changed and Young quietly slipped through the net and his testimonial was forgotten.

In later years the club have made some token gestures toward Neil but he remains a man who has been cheated out of the testimonial match he so deserved.

One of the saddest aspects to this whole affair is that the fans, many of who still love and remember Neil, were never given the opportunity to honour him in the way that they surely deserved to.

So we come right down to today. City are in the middle of a revival. Two consecutive promotions in two seasons, a top class manager with a team of top class players. In the boardroom there are fresh faces and an atmosphere at the ground of hope and resurgence that has been missing for too long.

The parallel with the glory days of the late 60s is obvious. We are right at the start of what could be yet another golden era for Manchester City.

This season sees the 30th anniversary of the ECWC, the 40th anniversary of Neil joining City and next year the 30th anniversary of his departure.

How fitting would it be then to put right one of the blackest marks against our club and give Neil Young the testimonial match he was promised all those years ago.

A committee of fans has been formed to approach the club on this issue. The members are drawn from several quarters and include Paul Hince of the M.E.N./Pink and Gary James of “Manchester: the Greatest City” fame.

We all feel strongly that the time has come to give us, the fans, the chance to honour Neil. Whether people saw him play or not, the most successful time in our club’s history owes an enormous amount to the efforts of Neil.

Many of his team-mates were given benefit matches and it is only right in this period of regeneration that Neil finally gets his. Please can we ask everyone who reads this article to write to the club, or our ourselves, asking them to grant our request and pledge to support a match when one is arranged.

We’re sure there are many fans out there who would love the opportunity to contribute and we are also sure it would give Neil great delight to know that he is still held with affection in the hearts of all true Blue fans.

Dave Cash & Heidi Pickup


The very last SAFE newsletter – but don’t worry, it is not the end of the campaign! We are developing a new website, created by professional web designers who will be updating the site daily. This will enable us to get up to date info out quickly and effectively (and you won’t receive info with 49 other e-mail addresses attached to it either!). Please click onto and subscribe. It wont cost you anything to subscribe and you will then receive updates as you have been already.

As stated, the site is still being developed, but what is there gives you plenty of options to get involved. Currently there is an early day motion being signed by MP’s. You can find out if your MP has signed the motion and if not, please write to your MP asking them to support the motion or to give a reason if they are not going to support it and let us know of any replies you receive. Can I thank Dave Scally for his hard work in developing the original safe standing web site. Thanks Dave!

You can still contact me on this e-mail address should you wish to do so. Finally, for those of you who watched Weekend Watchdog last week and wondered what happened to the campaign, it was pulled at the last minute to deal with the foot and mouth crisis. It should be on tonight’s show at 7pm… Keep the pressure up. We are winning! Subscribe today.

Phill Gatenby (


Atkinson For England – a tale of mistaken identity, the England national team, and plumbing! A quick note to let you know the final details for the launch of my new book “Atkinson For England” (co-written with Mark Brown). The launch will be taking place at Waterstones (Deansgate branch) on Thursday 5th April at 7pm. Tickets are on sale (from the Leisure desk at Waterstones) priced £3. This is redeemable against the book (which costs £5.99). Any problems ask for Ross (Leisure desk). Mark & I intend reading a few sections from the book and having a general question & answer session about the story/idea etc. Waterstones are providing a few sandwiches and wine (but you know how these things never seem to last!), and we hope it should be a good night. The book itself will not be available until that night, but within a week of the launch should be available via UK booksellers. Amazon and Waterstones are already advertising it on their websites. If you experience problems getting hold of a copy the ISBN is 1 901 746 17 8.

Gary James (


Lucky old uncle Joe?

While I have had a number of contributions to MCIVTA before, this is the first time I have seen fit to write in and take issue with another contributor’s views. Not every one likes Joe Royle but I think Ernie Whalley did not give JR a fair crack of the whip in his article in MCIVTA 696. Not that I am challenging Ernie’s right to express his views – what would the point of MCIVTA be if we all had the same views?!

Cards on the table first, I think Joe has done a great job for us – and he took on a job, which let’s face it, all the top or even semi-decent managers were running a mile from – but like all of us he has faults – to name but a few – he can make some strange decisions (particularly some of his substitutions this season – as evidenced on Saturday – why bring on Huckerby for Kanchelskis when we were chasing the game?; surely better to take off a defender/midfielder; ditto Wiekens for Ostentad); we all know his stubborn streak (which can lead to the alienation of some players – Terry Cooke, Michael Brown and Paulo Wanchope – it will be interesting to see if Joe sticks to his public words and plays him if we pay him – I have my doubts – but in my view Paulo, warts and all (and he has a few), probably represents our best chance of scoring regularly in the next 7 games – if he sticks to his public words and wants to help the cause); he can also seem too loyal to some players; and he has problems picking a captain – Morrison apart (Edgy was never captain material; ditto Haaland – OK to start with but he has been pretty much anonymous for the best part of this season – what’s wrong with Steve Howey?).

But according to Ernie, Joe seems like some amiable uncle figure who knows nothing about football and simply got lucky and was in the right place at the right time; well in my view you need to be a decent team to get 2 successive promotions; no one can be simply that lucky for the 97 matches it took to get those promotions. But on Ernie’s view, JR was just lucky and got a few breaks over the past 2 seasons – the successive promotions were nothing to do with JR’s ability as a manager, yet now when the team is not doing so well… it’s not that we are unlucky or not getting our fair share of the breaks, it’s all JR’s fault!; come on Ernie, no matter if you don’t like JR or think he’s not up to it but you should at least give him his dues for what he has done for us.

“In the ensuing celebrations everyone (me included) forgot that we really should have been out of that Division by Easter given our pedigree, support and resources” says Ernie; well sorry Ernie but surely this is nonsense – if we have learnt anything over the past few years surely it’s that you can’t say we automatically deserve anything because of our past success/tradition (because that’s all the pedigree we had at the time), support (doesn’t count for much if the team is not up to standard – on this basis you would be arguing we shouldn’t be going down this year and should be challenging for Europe) or resources (we were pretty much broke at the time and it’s only the good work since of the board, allied to the success of the team in getting 2 successive promotions (with Joe as the amiable lucky uncle figure!) that has put us in a more healthy financial state – that’s before the effects of this season’s buying.

“The Wembley win effectively bailed Joe out.” How can it be said to have “bailed Joe out”?; in simple terms, wasn’t Joe’s job to get the team (a) out of Division 2 a.s.a.p. and (b) up to the Premiership in time; what has Joe done? – well (a) and (b) to start with – even if (b) may have to be done again. I had visions of a 5 year plan when we went down to Division 2, by the end of which we would have been back in the Premiership; don’t think many City fans thought it would happen in 2 years; I suspect we all had a doubt that 2 years was too soon and sadly it looks like it is.

Wasn’t it sacking mangers at a whim that got us where we were in the first place?; the only bit of stability we have had in the past 5 or 6 years has been the last 2 and a bit and that’s brought 2 promotions – it may also bring 2 relegations (but you can’t really say Joe had much chance with the first one – the rot was already set in when he came). In my view, stay up or go down, we should stick with Joe. Despite what Ernie might believe we won’t have an automatic right to get promoted next season if we do go down but I think the team is stronger than any we have had over the past few years; it needs strengthening and we all know where – up front and midfield but hopefully we will be able to do a Sunderland or a Charlton and not a Bolton or Barnsley.

On Ernie’s assessment of the team, it is interesting to note that, while I may not agree with all of it, both the unqualified “yes’s” were players Joe bought and 3 of the 4 probables were players Joe bought/got on loan and the other (Weaver) was one who was languishing in our A team until Joe gave him his chance; 2 of the 5 possibles were players Joe bought, Wright-Phillips a player who Joe gave the first chance to and (presumably Ernie meant) Jeff Whitley a player who has improved under Joe; the outside bet was also a player Joe bought! So I guess JR was just lucky with these players! Let’s not forget that without the new players added this season, we were still pretty much effectively a Second Division side.

Tom Farrington (


It’s not over yet, but we don’t look good, and it’s going to take a miracle by the look of things to survive. First of all I would like to go to the defence of Ernie Whalley, I think he is a True Blue who just likes to be an honest critic; we might not always agree but he does touch on a lot of truth. The season is not over yet. I, like all City fans still hope we can stay in the Premier League. What have been the mistakes made this season (so far)? I think it was a big mistake to buy Wanchope. Why you may ask? With the World Cup qualifiers going on, City had to know he would want to play for his beloved country Costa Rica. Paulo Wanchope would be missing for important games; this I think was part of his off form type of play for City; he was not treated correctly for this. If Joe Royle has any blame on this, I would say lack of motivation, lack of team spirit.

How many times during the season have we had the same team play? There have been genuine reasons for not having the same team such as injury, suspensions for yellow and red cards. But when the players have been available it has been constantly changed; that is not good for team spirit! I know what I am talking about when I say team spirit; I am blowing my own trumpet but I was the Manager / Coach of a team (on a much, much lower level). I won for Great Britain the coveted Atlantic Cup (made by Tiffanys of New York, and insured for five thousand dollars). We had to play 8 games – we won all 8 games, with 46 goals for and only one against. I have a scrapbook with all the newspapers’ reports. The greatest thing we had was team spirit. I would like to add I went back and won it a 2nd time to prove it was no fluke.

So I think I know where I am coming from when I talk about team spirit; the club even took the players to Spain to try to get the team spirit together again; I think it lacks somewhere and confidence is low – it needs to be lifted and the team needs to be motivated. If Ernie Whalley and I sat next to each other at Maine Road we both would be shouting for our beloved City. I, unlike Ernie Whalley, still think Joe Royle should stay as manager. If we escape relegation he will become a saviour, if we go down he will be the best to bring us back up, but lessons have to learned from this season whatever the outcome. Start next season with a “team”, don’t wait too long to get other players, it has been to my mind a very unsettled team this season.

Always a Blue – come on you Blues it’s not over yet! Ernie Barrow (


It’s been really disappointing to see City struggle so badly after last year’s decent performances. However, it hasn’t come as a surprise to me as JR refused to buy the one position that we really needed – a creative midfielder. For most of the season we’ve muddled through with 6 or 7 career defenders (Haaland, Wiekens, Dunne, Howey, Charvet/Edghill/whoever, Tiatto, Granville) in the first team, and this lack of balance in the side was never going to be successful in the Premiership. There was no right sided midfielder until Kanchelskis arrived, and he won’t be here long anyway… And the defensive midfielders being trotted out every week were never going to have the guile to break down most of the other well organised sides in the division. And even Whitley and Horlock aren’t the kind of linkmen needed between forwards and midfielder. There’s plenty of teams in the Premiership who aren’t that much better staffed than City but they are better organised and balanced (e.g. Charlton, Derby, even Ipswich). It really surprised me that we were never even linked with a decent attacking midfielder.

I’ve resigned myself to relegation since the Spurs game – it’s less stressful that way, especially as City haven’t rallied at all. But I hope that for next season JR (there’s no point sacking him, as there’s no better replacement out there for Division 1) pulls the finger out, buys a decent midfielder (along the lines of Jason Koumas although he’d never sign for City), and Huckerby and the Goat should have us promoted Fulham-style by March.

Either that or we stay up and sack JR. Neither probably!

Paul Carey (


Saturday, April 7th at 7:30pm, Ian Bishop will make his league début for the Miami Fusion in their opening game of the 2001 MLS season, at home to Colorado. A small but devout (and well lubricated) band of local City fans will be there to add to the welcome. If you find yourself in the neighbourhood of Lockhart Stadium, Ft Lauderdale next Saturday night, it would be a cardinal sin to miss this game, so “pope” over and join us in the Tudor Inn before, and after (when if pre-season games are any indication the lad himself can be found) the game, ’cause if you’re depressed over City’s current form, this’ll “curate”.

With apologies to the Blue Vicar, Paul Duncan (

P.S. If you happened to be at the Westwood (Massachusetts) High School Antiques Fair Saturday night wondering who the 2-year-old was, belting out a continuous medley of “Hark now hear the City sing…” and, (apologies to Elmo), “C is for City, that’s good enough for me…”, that’s my lad, Young Jim, Junior Blue #5437 and thankfully too young to understand why dad didn’t feel like joining in.

Ed – Let’s hope nobody bashes the Bishop on this occasion!


In most editions of MCIVTA there is a plea from someone asking ‘where can I watch the City/England game on TV in Prague/Barcelona/Jo’burg/Kuala Lumpar etc.’… It would therefore be great to compile a list of ‘where to watch english footy on TV in cities around the world’ for those City fans who find themselves in the darkest corners of the world when an important match is on TV.

I say this coming back from Barcelona and about to go to Chicago, having missed the England match against Albania.

Does anyone know of a website that contains such info – or does anyone with the inclination and more energy than myself want to initiate such a listing? I for one would be more than happy to contribute many locations in many cities.

Martin Reynolds (

Well? Any volunteers? I recall something similar being suggested for pubs in the UK.



I am going to be in Eilat (Israel) on derby day; does anybody know if there is anywhere in Eilat where I will be able to watch our shock win?

On another subject, why are they called derby matches? I have asked lots of people and nobody can come up with the answer.

Mike Collard (

Somehow my wife has talked me into going to Mallorca in April. The day we are returning is the 21st April. Anyone know any good pubs in Portals Nous who will be showing the game at the Swamp? Any info greatly appreciated.

Bartley Ramsay (


Now that the NSL (Aussie) League is almost over, can someone mention this name to JR as future talent worth giving a trial to? The main one is 18 year old Wayne Shroj (Brisbane Strikers), a midfielder of absolute class who featured for Aussie in the U17 world cup final penalty loss to Brazil in late 1999 and will represent their U20’s in their World Cup in Argentina soon. He is the sort of playmaker/hard tackling/visionary midfielder I think we are lacking and Killen and Tiatto will no doubt know more of him. Every time I’ve seen him (about 10 times now) he has stood out amongst both teams on the field. And I’m a Kiwi so he must be good for me to praise him (bless his Aussie cotton socks!). Could be another Tiatto for us, though more of a playmaker. Ring Brisbane now JR.

Chris Loveridge (


In response to Andrew King’s message regarding the Xanadu nightclub in Rochdale. I have been there on a mate’s birthday p*ss up and whilst it wasn’t the best club in the world (far short), I did cop off with a gorgeous young lady and get into a fight with the locals over cr*p dancing by aforesaid completely smashed mate. Therefore it seems perfect for City. You get glorious moments all too soon scuppered by a bunch of muppets.

No City of Manchester rubbish; Xanadu – it’s gotta be!

David Blyth (

At the risk of getting all literary, didn’t Kubla Khan erect a Pleasure Dome in Xanadu? Now there’s an ironic title for a stadium.



A  nguished
S  upporters
T  ortured -
O  bviously
N  icky
V  ery
I  diotic -
L  ost
L  ead
A  gain!

Steve Maclean (


Glamorgan and England cricket star Matthew Maynard talks to Blue View about cricket, football and supporting Manchester City.

A virtuoso right handed batsman, Matthew Maynard was born in Oldham but raised in Anglesey. His allegiance to Manchester City was born of sibling rivalry with his elder brother who was and is a Manchester United supporter, so when it came to choosing his team young Matthew wisely sided with his father:

“I guess really it was because my older brother was a United supporter and as brothers do we used to argue about everything and also dad used to bring home merchandise and stuff from City so that really got me hooked into it with posters of the team and things like that.”

The adopted Welshman has shown remarkable consistency over a long career. In 1998 he received the highly prestigious Wisden “Cricketer of the Year” award, ten years after picking up the “Young Cricketer of the Year” gong.

His England career could be likened to that of a Dennis Tueart; where obvious natural ability was not reflected in a cabinet full of international caps. Maynard’s sporadic international career started in 1988 and has spanned three decades, his last outing coming in a One Day International in the summer of 2000.

Predictably a fair proportion of County cricketers are MUFC plc glory-hunters but City do have their fans among the ranks of the men in white. Lancashire’s Gary Yates and former England captain Bob Willis are well known City supporters and Maynard knows of others:

“There are some City fans on the circuit. Martin Ball at Gloucester – he’s a big Blue and so is Nick Speak, captain of Durham. I think he gets down to a lot of games.”

Though totally committed to his profession, there have been occasions when cricket has, well, got in the way of more important things. Maynard recalls the Gillingham play-off final and the Blackburn promotion clincher. Both games were played on a May Sunday and he had the misfortune to be playing on both occasions. Despite being marooned on the field of play, he was determined to keep up with the action:

“I have a facility on my mobile where I can set it to buzz rather than ring. I actually took it onto the field with me and I just made sure I didn’t have to dive to my right too much!”

One of Glamorgan’s longest serving and most successful captains, Maynard led the Welshmen to the County Championship in 1997 – a feat his native Lancashire are still striving to emulate. Maynard is well placed to comment on the attributes of a good captain:

“I think he has to be a good listener, he has to be positive, a good communicator and treat all individuals differently. Everyone has their own ways, some people like to go out and socialise of an evening, others people are quiet and you have to treat everyone accordingly. As long as people don’t upset the team rules and it’s important to set parameters within the team as to what is allowable and what is stepping over the mark. As long as you set clear definitions of what people can and can’t do then they are usually pretty good and adhere to them.”

Maynard doesn’t see a natural leader of men among the ranks of City’s current squad:

“There doesn’t seem anyone in the City team that fills that rôle at the moment. Alfie Haaland is an aggressive player and maybe Joe Royle just thought I’ll give it someone like Alfie who will set the tempo and be aggressive in tackling and hopefully the guys will follow in that mode, so perhaps he has used him as a leader by example more than anything.”

County cricketers are poorly paid compared with the riches on offer to even the average Premiership player, but Maynard is not jealous and believes the modern footballer is entitled to share in football’s success.

“Football has come on leaps and bounds since the Premiership took off with all the TV rights, merchandising and packed crowds – City were even getting thirty odd thousand in the Second Division.”

Maynard acknowledges his sport will never catch up with football in terms of financial rewards, but sees areas where the gulf between cricket and football has narrowed markedly in his fifteen year career:

“There’s a much greater emphasis on fitness now, on diet, re-hydration, carbo-loaded drinks and so on. There is a greater concentration on the sports science side of things and bio-mechanics. In that regard cricket has become a lot more professional, and with that I think the players’ attitudes have become more professional as well.”

“It’s a slightly different type if fitness; in football you have to be legging it around for 90 minutes whereas in cricket it’s a slower game in certain aspects and then every now and again it’s incredibly fast for 20 seconds. Plus you have to be strong and have to keep coming at 5.30 on the last day of a four day game when you may have been in the field for over 200 overs during the course of the game. Your bowlers and fielders have still got to leg it in and be sharp, so it’s a concentration aspect that it vital in cricket as well as the fitness levels.”

One of the most naturally gifted English batsmen of his generation, Maynard has thrilled crowds the world over with his dashing strokeplay and he believes strongly that professional sportsmen have an overriding duty to entertain the public:

“We class ourselves as entertainers, well I do anyway. That’s the way I was brought up to play the game. “

Given his Botham-like philosophy towards his own sport, it comes as no surprise that Georgi Kinkladze ranks high on his list of City legends. But he does lament the dearth of flair players in the current game.

“There are not as many these days. I was fortunate enough to have a good conversation with George Best and Peter Osgood a few years ago and they were saying Gazza at that stage was the most skilful player in British football – it was just before or just after he had gone to Lazio. But they said in their day every side would have had two or three of those kind of players, whereas now it is more down to incredible fitness levels and discipline. Just every now and then you get flair players and I hate to say it but like Ryan Giggs obviously being a Welsh man and following him when he plays for Wales the team just looks so much better.”

In common with most City fans, Maynard rates Bell, Lee and Summerbee amongst his all-time greats and from the current era he has particular admiration for Shaun Goater:

“I like Shaun Goater, he has good ethics – works hard, does his best and is an honest bloke”.

Matthew Maynard made his Glamorgan début as a teenager back in 1985, scoring a century in 87 minutes against Yorkshire. Now in his 35th year, his passion for City and cricket has not diminished and this summer he will once again grace the country’s finest grounds with his exhilarating strokeplay. Mobile phone at the ready… just in case.

Doug Bennett (


Recent results to 01 April 2001 inclusive.

1 April 2001

Charlton Athletic     2 - 0  Leicester City        20,043

31 March 2001

Arsenal               2 - 0  Tottenham Hotspur     38,121
Bradford City         2 - 2  Newcastle United      20,160
Chelsea               2 - 1  Middlesbrough         34,933
Coventry City         2 - 0  Derby County          19,654
Liverpool             2 - 0  Manchester United     44,806
Manchester City       1 - 3  Aston Villa           34,247
Sunderland            0 - 2  Leeds United          48,285
West Ham United       0 - 2  Everton               26,044

League table to 01 April 2001 inclusive.

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  GD Pts
 1 Manchester Utd  31 13  1  1 42  7  8  6  2 26 14 21  7  3 68 21  47  70
 2 Arsenal         31 13  3  0 39  8  3  6  6 10 21 16  9  6 49 29  20  57
 3 Leeds United    31  7  3  5 23 19  7  5  4 23 19 14  8  9 46 38   8  50
 4 Liverpool       29 11  3  1 31  9  3  4  7 19 22 14  7  8 50 31  19  49
 5 Ipswich Town    30  8  4  3 25 13  7  0  8 19 23 15  4 11 44 36   8  49
 6 Sunderland      31  8  6  2 18 10  5  3  7 19 22 13  9  9 37 32   5  48
 7 Chelsea         30 11  3  2 41 18  1  6  7 13 20 12  9  9 54 38  16  45
 8 Charlton Ath.   31 10  4  2 26 11  2  5  8 15 31 12  9 10 41 42  -1  45
 9 Leicester City  30  9  4  2 22 13  4  2  9  9 20 13  6 11 31 33  -2  45
10 Southampton     29  9  2  4 22 15  3  6  5 12 19 12  8  9 34 34   0  44
11 Aston Villa     30  5  6  3 18 14  5  5  6 16 17 10 11  9 34 31   3  41
12 Tottenham H.    31  9  5  1 26 11  1  4 11 10 29 10  9 12 36 40  -4  39
13 Newcastle Utd   30  7  2  5 19 15  4  4  8 17 28 11  6 13 36 43  -7  39
14 West Ham United 31  4  6  6 18 17  4  5  6 17 23  8 11 12 35 40  -5  35
15 Everton         31  4  7  4 20 20  5  1 10 13 24  9  8 14 33 44 -11  35
16 Derby County    31  7  6  2 19 17  1  5 10 12 30  8 11 12 31 47 -16  35
17 Middlesbrough   31  3  6  6 15 18  3  7  6 19 20  6 13 12 34 38  -4  31
18 Manchester City 31  3  3 10 18 25  3  6  6 16 27  6  9 16 34 52 -18  27
19 Coventry City   31  3  6  7 13 21  3  3  9 15 30  6  9 16 28 51 -23  27
20 Bradford City   30  2  6  7 15 26  1  3 11  7 31  3  9 18 22 57 -35  18

With thanks to Football 365


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The views expressed in MCIVTA are entirely those of the subscribersand there is no intention to represent these opinions as being thoseof Manchester City Football Club, nor of any of the companies anduniversities by whom the subscribers are employed. It is not inany way whatsoever connected to the club or any other relatedorganisation and is simply a group of supporters using this mediumas a means of disseminating news and exchanging opinions.

[Valid3.2]Geoff Donkin,

Newsletter #697