Newsletter #813

Tonight sees a view of the City memorabilia weekend, opinions on signings, pre-seasons and a lament to ITV Sport with a dash of Blue Humour for good measure.

Next game: to be announced


Once again, on a Sunday, we were heading for Maine Road – but this time to get a behind the scenes look and to relive once again, the most fantastic season. We arrived early (10.30am – gates opened at 10am) and went to book our place on the ‘behind scenes’ tour. The top floor of the Kippax – (familiar to us from Junior Blues meetings) saw Ian Cheeseman doing the familiar warm up routine. There was a video showing highlights and glass cases stuffed full of memorabilia. We were lucky enough to see Shaun Wright Phillips who duly signed autographs and posed for photos for the boys.

We were advised to do the tour sooner rather than waiting, so set off for our look at what goes on behind closed doors. We got a chance to sit in the directors’ box and in the manager’s seat (not often used by KK as he is averse to smoking and prefers the dug out). We went through the directors’ lounge and saw the honour lists on the wall; we viewed the trophy cabinet and sat at the table where KK gave a press conference last week. Then it was down the staircase to the dressing rooms (well the home one anyway). We saw the referee’s room, complete with the team sheet for the Norwich match (yes we did start with 11 players!). The boys ran out through the tunnel and sat in the dug out (later on, watching our end of season video, it was great saying – ‘we’ve been in that room!’).

The boys had a kick about behind the Kippax – how nice not to be reprimanded, but to feel that ‘this was our club’ and we could just ‘chill out’ and enjoy ourselves for the afternoon. The mood was definitely relaxed, while we were just enjoying (once again) the season where we’d won something (how different from that image from the season before last when, with their beloved team recently relegated from The Premiership, those two lads dejectedly kicked a football behind the same, but then empty, stand).

The funfair kept the boys happy, while we bathed contentedly in the afternoon sunshine (and the glory). By this time, the queues for the tour were into the hour to wait category and those for the picture with the trophy must have been about the same. We saw Paul Dickov and his family – including his new son; when he retires City should offer Dicky a rôle as ambassador for the club! A final visit to the Superstore for the end of season video and our trip was complete. A great idea and a great day out.

Sarah Longshaw (


Does anyone know if we actually signed Justice Christopher, from Royal Antwerp, who The King compared to Patrick Viera? I was under the impression that he had signed, but after seeing the Nigerian squad named today, he is still down as an Antwerp player.

James Roberts (


While agreeing with almost everything that the Keegan regime has done, I am disappointed that City have turned down a request from Macclesfield Town for a pre-season friendly.

Given the financial débâcle that is impacting the lower division clubs I believe it is the responsibility of Premiership clubs to aid their lower league brethren. Yes, City need to prepare for the upcoming season but one game isn’t too much to ask especially with the quality in the squad. Indeed I would see it as a chance to experiment, for example, with the two new central defender signings.

Wallace Poulter (


In years to come, long after digital TV has been resurrected, taken for granted and replaced by something as yet inconceivably better (?), I, and countless few others apparently, will look back with immense fondness on the life of this short lived venture.

As a Mancunian brought up in the Platt Lane End, but long since removed beyond the Pennines, the opportunity to watch City has reduced to a handful of home games a season. Our demise from the Premiership at the end of the 2000/01 season looked likely to spell the end of any live televised matches for the foreseeable future, not that Murdochland seemed to be interested in us much anyway, unless we were playing Malaysia United. Then news of a new channel, featuring the Nationwide League, began to filter through. As August approached, it became clear that this channel was going to offer considerable hope, and its launch on the first day of the season, was to feature the clash between Keegan and Vialli, City and Watford, one of the first in a long list of examples of the pulling power of a big name manager which has clearly been to our great benefit thus far.

I signed up, setting up my direct debit of £6.99 a month, unaware of the value for money I was about to receive. This first game was dramatically hyped, way beyond its real worth, but City turned it on, won 3-0, with even Stuart Pearce reading the script and slamming home a free kick in the dying minutes. From this point on, I was in love with the ITV Sport Channel, because it was in love with Manchester City. I know its love was purely superficial, but it knew its best hope was City, who unbelievably, but magnificently, went on to play the best football seen at Maine Road since, I would argue, 1977-78. And the ITV Sport Channel couldn’t get enough of it. I haven’t had this conversation with, for example, a subscribing Barnsley fan, but do they feel that they saw enough of their team, other than on ‘Football First’, the Saturday night equivalent of MotD or ‘The Premiership’ for Division One?

I suspect that to know I would always get to see the goals, plus occasional extended highlights, would have been enough for me to subscribe anyway, and was largely what I was expecting, but to see so many live City games, which we kept winning, and winning in such style, was sheer bliss. I would wager that there have never been so many live City games in one season shown before, and would suggest that we won more live televised games last season than we have in all previous seasons combined since live televised football came to pass (can anyone prove or disprove this theory?).

As the season progressed, other aspects of the channels’ coverage started to kick in. Did anyone else happen to flick through the remote on a Sunday evening to find that ‘as live’ coverage of City’s game from Maine Road that afternoon was on at 10.20pm, or happen to accidentally catch the episode of ‘Heroes and Villains’ focusing on the Wembley Play Off Final vs. Gillingham (did anyone video this, by the way?). And the progress of all those tragically familiar anoraks on ‘Did I Not Know That’, the winners of which, alas, we may never now know, given that its interminable league structure made the Champions’ League appear reasonable, so its conclusion may be forever suspended given ITV Digital’s demise.

As the season started to build to a climax, and City seemed to get better and better, news of ITV Sport’s potential fate started to filter down. There weren’t enough partisan fans out there paying enough £6.99’s to see Darlington’s highlights on Sunday mornings to cover the £180 million committed to the Football League by ITV Digital. So in a last ditch effort, they went for quality, and threw their lot in with City, showing them at every opportunity, to try to attract all the purists out there, who simply want to watch good football (no, I haven’t met one either). Even the BBC joined in, following us on our brief but entertaining FA Cup run, when we saw off the Tractor Boys in considerable style, before the wonderful soap style drama of wor Kev’s return to Newcastle, and our 10 men nearly saw them off too.

In the meantime, ITV Sport televised live our victories over Burnley, Watford (again), Norwich (as live – one of the 10.20 Sunday night treats), Preston, Coventry, Birmingham, Bradford, Wolves, Barnsley and Gillingham. All hugely entertaining, with personal highlights being SWP’s 2nd goal vs. Coventry and Huckerby’s hat trick goal vs. Barnsley. Ali B was the absolute hero of the ITV Sports Channel panel, who we came to know and love as the months went by. The steely eyed yet cheekily dry Matt Smith holding it all together, aided by Graham (‘you don’t see that every week, Matt’) Taylor, Robbie (‘great technique’) Earle, and Tony (‘you can’t get away with that at this level’) Dorigo. They all grew to love City, adored Kevin’s post match interviews, and somehow managed to present a brave face in the season’s closing weeks, when they must have known that the game was up, in more ways than one.

It was not the decision to switch the live coverage of the final game of the season from Maine Road to The Hawthorns which led me to decide not to offer the channel the extra £100 million it was short of to keep going. I could understand that. We were 10 points clear, and already Champions, and there was a tremendous battle for second place, which we now know was won remarkably by West Brom, whose celebrity fans (Frank Skinner, Adrian Childs) made them slightly more attractive than Wolves to the neutral (I can’t help thinking that Stuart Pearce would never have missed that penalty if we had been the live game though – is it just me who feels this just took the edge off the season – God, what do I want!).

No, I decided not to lend them the money because a) I haven’t got it and b) we’re in the Premiership next season, and just like everyone else who doesn’t support Leicester, Derby or Ipswich, I won’t put myself out to watch their matches next season, even if Robbie Savage turns out to be a better player than Ali B (in your dreams, son).

For a few days after the last game, I forgot about ITV Sport. I caught the re-run of the play off match between Millwall and Birmingham after the pub, and then when I was completely catatonic one evening last week, I flicked across to watch Kilmarnock, Luton and Bolton fans do battle with Simon (‘well done the teams’) O’Brien, to be faced with the message ‘The ITV Sports Channel has ceased broadcasting’ flashed across the screen. I never got the chance to say goodbye. To say thank you for showing so many City games, during their best season for a quarter of a century. It was great to see Matt Smith front the coverage of the play-off final between Birmingham and Norwich on ITV1 on Sunday, but somehow the sparkle had gone from his eye. Was it because he knew that the Nationwide League had gone from ITV for ever? Was it because he would never be ‘big’ enough to front another game with City in now they were back in the Premiership? We’ll never know. But for one brief season the ITV Sport Channel shone, radiating the glow from the football played by Manchester City. Thank you ITV Sport Channel. I will never forget you, and as the great Matt Smith would say, collar open, eyes focused on the camera, lips pursed; ‘bye-bye’.

John Roughton (


Anyone daft enough on MCIVTA to have sent their cheque for the first instalment for the 2003/4 season ticket without a covering letter to say what their patron number is? Some have just sent cheques in the post, leaving the ticket office to run through all the surnames to try and find out who it’s from!

Steve Parish (


Re John Maclaren’s point, I totally agree and admit that I am a miserable old fart too. All those terrible celebration songs they play are nearly as bad as watching ‘An Audience with whoever’ on ITV! Let the fans speak, as he says!


On a recent visit to the Ambleside in the Lake District, I stumbled across a gallery called the Homes of Football, which has some fantastic photographs of football stadia and crowds around the UK.

You can view the images at, although they are not as impressive online. My personal favourite is called Goalkeeper’s View of the Ground, which shows the City end at the Blackburn Rovers promotion party 2000 taken with a wide angle lens and showing the whole stand going crazy at the end. Be warned they cost serious money – although if you are the guy with the crutches in the air in the middle of the picture it is an excellent investment.

Nick Burgess (


I recently spotted the following article on the City website and have translated it into English. In view of the farcical corporate trip to Rotherham I thought I had to!

MCFC “Official” Corporate Away Trip

We are very pleased to announce details of our exclusive “Official” Corporate Away Trip we are hosting to Hamburg on 3-4 August 2002. The package price is £450.00 + VAT and includes:

  • Private 90 seater jet with exclusive use for our Corporate Trip (World War 2 renovated Spitfire)
  • Separate check in area at Manchester Airport with Red Carpet treatment (Meet us in the grit box outside Crumpsall station)
  • Return flight to Hamburg (If we remember to book the flight back)
  • Luxury coach transfers to/from Airport to the Hotel (We will provide you with a bus timetable)
  • Overnight accommodation in the 4 star Renaissance Hamburg Hotel,adjacent to the exclusive shopping mall Hanse-Viertel including abuffet breakfast (Overnight accommodation on the floor of a ratinfested flat above a bakery, including a doughnut for breakfast)
  • Lunch at the Hotel after checking in (if there are any sandwiches left after the Hamburg Rugby Team have eaten them)
  • Luxury coach transfer to/from the AOL Stadium (bus again, we’reafraid. You may be able to get a lift off the rugby lads though, wereckon they might be going the same direction)
  • Match seat at the AOL Arena, seating next to the Directors’ Box withuse of a lounge (You will have a seat somewhere, but we don’t knowwhere, serving tea/coffee prior to kick off, half & full time

To reserve your place, please contact the Sales Department on 0161 232 3017; please note all places are strictly limited. We look forward to welcoming you on our first “Official” Tour (we will ensure that it’s as successful as our Rotherham trip; don’t forget to bring your flying goggles and chocks for the Spitfire launch).

Richard Ellor (


As we were in Division 1, Opta stats aren’t visible for last season from the Opta stats (or MCFC) website.

Am I correct in this opionion or does anyone out there know where I can get them or something similar?

CTID, Anorak – Richard Mottershead (



After acquiring Peter Schmeichel and links to Stefan Effenberg and Gabriel Batistuta, Kevin Keegan decides that the only way to take on the Premiership is to go with experience. Short in stature he may be, but Keegan wants true giants of World football and nothing will stop him in his quest. Age is no barrier, money no problem as he attempts to build up the greatest attacking force ever seen in British football.

As a generous gesture he gives away his entire first team to newly promoted West Brom in order to give them a semblance of hope as they take on the big boys. Keegan has no use for small time players and not even free-scoring Shaun Goater is safe from the chop.


Keegan delves into the transfer market snapping up Frank Leboeuf from Marseille for £1 million. The man recently voted ‘Most arrogant and overrated player in France’ grumbles about the team, the weather, the fans, the manager, the chairman – then signs for £60,000 a week. Keegan also snaps up Aldair and Nestor Sensini to allow Leboeuf a more attacking rôle at the back. The back three totals 105 years but assures plenty of goals. In addition to this, Gheorghe Hagi, David Ginola and Effenberg are brought in to boost the midfield, all for nothing. After a drugs scandal in Japan, Claudio Cannigia is chased out of Glasgow by a Govan drugs Mafia and Kev offers him sanctuary.


With the season only a week away, Kev realises that his striking options are somewhat limited. He quickly snaps up Batistuta, Roberto Baggio, Romario, Eric Cantona, Peter Beardsley, a recently sacked Gianluca Vialli and promptly registers himself as a player “just in case”. Kev also captures his old mate Paul Gascoigne “just for the hell of it”. The squad is now taking shape and Mighty Mouse announces that he expects 100 goals before Christmas or “heads will roll”. A wage bill totalling £1 million per week means that success is a must.

The season starts off in fine style with a 7-3 victory over Charlton. Leboeuf helps himself to four 30-yarders and then asks to be substituted as the crowd have “had more than enough for their money”. Two successive 6-4 wins over Newcastle and Blackburn take City to the top of the table and they head to Old Trafford with visions of titles and Europe.


In the Manchester derby City secure a 6-0 lead before half-time thanks to a Schmeichel hat-trick so Keegan decides to rest some players. He takes off Aldair, Leboeuf and Schmeichel and replaces them with Cantona, Beardsley and himself. When asked the reason behind playing no goalkeeper during a half time chat with Sky Sports, Keegan replies, “Oh, ****!”. His addiction for attacking has finally got the better of him and with the 4 ft 3 inch Keegan forced to play himself in goal the team loses its focus and their huge lead! United run out 10-6 victors and the first seeds of doubt are sown in the minds of the City faithful.


Kev’s lads set a new World record with four successive 5-5 draws but the wins have dried up. Leboeuf claims that none of the goals have been his fault. Cantona, fresh from being booed at Old Trafford, is banned for life after ripping a referee’s head clean off. Paolo Di Canio is signed from West Ham to play at wing back claiming he “loves the fans and the manager”.


Further scandal as the City squad are arrested at a vice den on drugs charges. Caniggia leaves the club in tears after not having been invited. Results go from bad to worse and the only good news comes as Lebouef notches his 20th of the season to top the scoring charts. Di Canio says he doesn’t know where his future lies as he only has six years left to run on his contract and the club have not offered him a new one!


Christmas comes and goes with City now rooted to the bottom despite being the league’s top scorers. Keegan claims that their luck is about to change and they just need to tighten things up a bit. He responds by bringing in Roger Milla and Carlos Valderrama.


Docked six points for fielding 12 players, City appeal claiming that they didn’t realise that Ginola was actually playing. Effenberg describes Leboeuf as “the most arrogant man he has ever met” and nominates him for PFA Player of the Year.


With the winter chill still causing problems, Romario demands a transfer as he is “homesick”. He then moves to Newcastle on a free transfer. Results are mixed but the goals are still flowing freely. By mid-February all City players have scored more than the entire Sunderland team. Di Canio demands a transfer after being taken off the pitch at full time.


Defeats of 7-3, 9-4 and 11-7 are compounded as top of the table Liverpool claim their biggest win of the season at Maine Road – 2-0. It’s the first time that City have failed to score all season and Keegan reacts by dropping Batistuta and shelling out £10 million on Ade Akinbiyi.


A 5-4 home defeat against Chelsea marks Ade’s début. Baggio claims that he has never seen such a striker after putting him clear through on five occasions only to see the big lump miss every time. City could have snatched a point late on after Di Canio dribbled around the entire team before refusing to put the ball into an empty net on account that it would have been “too easy”.


Kev ‘Messiah’ Keegan works his miracles and City manage to stay up. They need to win by 12 clear goals in their last game to ensure survival and quickly cruise to a 12-0 lead. After conceding a goal with only 2 minutes remaining a desperate Keegan plays a 1-0-9 formation leaving a disgruntled Leboeuf as the only defender. Despite being in a strop, Leboeuf ambles forward and casually lashes one in from 45 yards to earn himself the European Golden Boot award. Keegan says he has “taken the team as far as he can” and sods off to Spain for a life of golf and paella, and is then promptly replaced by George Graham.

Joe Ramsbottom (

MCIVTA FAQ [v0203.02]

[0] How do I contact MCIVTA?

Articles (Heidi Pickup) :
News/rumour (Don Barrie) :
Subscriptions (Geoff Donkin) :
Technical problems (Paul) :

Comments concerning this FAQ should be sent to David Warburton using the address:

[1] What are MCIVTA’s publishing deadlines?

Deadlines for issues are nominally Monday and Thursday evenings.

[2] MCIVTA Back Issues and Manchester City Supporters’ home page is the unofficial Manchester City Supporters’ home page. Created in 1994, it is the longest running of the Manchester City related web sites. Back issues of MCIVTA are also hosted on the site.

[3] What is the club’s official web site?

The official club web site can be found at

[4] What supporters’ clubs are there?

Manchester City FC recognises three supporters’ clubs: The “Official Supporters Club” (; the “Centenary Supporters’ Association” ( and “The International Supporters’ Club” (

[5] Where can I find out about the fans’ committee?

The Fans’ Committee operates as an interface between supporters and the club. It has its own website, containing info about forthcoming meetings as well as minutes from previous gatherings.

[6] Where can I find information about our new stadium?

The latest information regarding the progress of our new home can be found at

[7] What match day broadcasts are available on the web?

Live match commentaries and archives of games, reports and interviews can be found here: An alternate live commentary service, hosted by Yahoo, is located at: GMR Saturday Sport is also available live online between 1-3pm, and 4.45-6pm at

[8] Are City’s goals available on the net? has available for download, usually within 24-48 hours of a game being played, all the goals from City’s matches.

[9] What’s the music the teams run out to?

The music we ran out to at Maine Road during the 01/02 season was “Nightmare” by Brainbug and is available on the Positiva label.

[10] Acknowledgements

Thanks go to John Arnold for providing the information regarding match day music and to Ian Bell for pointing out the alternate live match commentary service.

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]Heidi Pickup,

Newsletter #813