Newsletter #839

A rather rude awakening to our new Premiership campaign as Leeds beat us 3-0. Quite a few areas to sort out for KK, but it’s early days and we have excellent ‘live’ match reports from Tom and Sharon and a fair few TV comments.

There’s also plenty of opinion on the hooligan debate, what it is to be Blue, Bert, travel et al.

Editing Request

Do you fancy having a go at editing next Monday’s (26 August) MCIVTA as I shall be taking a short break. Please email me directly, full instructions are provided!

Thank you.

Next game: Newcastle United, home, 12.15 Saturday 24 August 2002 (TV game)


A hot, sunny day saw us kick off the new season and one that’s likely to be the most eagerly anticipated in a long time. I hadn’t managed to get a ticket in the City end and so me and a mate were forced to brave it in with the locals. To get my ticket, we had to be at the ground at 1pm and I was surprised at how many people were milling around outside – both Leeds and City fans. I never get to Maine Road with more than 15 minutes to spare so I’m not sure if this is what it’s like there too!

Stupidly, I nearly blew my cover before I’d even entered the ground – to get the new issue of BTH (will be saddened to see that go at the end of the season), I had to get past a wall of coppers that surrounded the away fan turnstiles. On trying to get back past the police guard and make my way around to the Leeds end, one of them stopped me and asked to see my ticket. I wasn’t thinking like an undercover Blue and after looking worried for a second, had to hastily explain that the ‘zine was for my dad who is a City fan (true!) while I am a Leeds fan and would like to make my way to the other end of the ground. She accepted this and I quickly departed. Pretty daft all round really as I then had to cram BTH into my pocket so that it wouldn’t be spotted.

I’d been panicking beforehand that I’d be surrounded by a bunch of nutters, but fortunately we were up near the executive boxes and everyone around was pretty quiet. My only moment of concern was when a Leeds fan I work with spotted me on the way to my seat and said that he’d look for me when City score. He’d have a job finding me, I thought, as I would be keeping very quiet indeed! We were in the upper tier of the North East stand, pretty much level with the goal line. Nice one, should get a great view of Anelka blasting one home!

We were surprised to see KK go for Horlock and Foe in midfield, expecting to see us play 4-4-2. Instead, we lined up with more of a 3-5-1-1:

   Sun       Howey     Distin
SWP Horlock Benarbia Foe Jensen

Having been treated to the free-scoring delights of last season, I was convinced that we would win on Saturday without any problem. And until the 45th minute, I still believed that would be the case. We started like we’d finished last season – passing from the back, overlapping runs from SWP and Distin, quick passing from Ali and Eyal. Leeds were giving the ball away a lot and it seemed a matter of time before we scored. Foe had a couple of early shots, one of which nearly fell to Ali on the rebound but Robinson recovered in time. Berkovic saw a volley well saved, Ali had another shot blocked that looked to be flying into the net and everything looked good!

Nash hadn’t been troubled until the first goal arrived after a quarter of an hour – a cross deflected off Horlock and looked to be going straight to Nash. However, he didn’t seem to react quickly enough and Barmby beat him to it, finishing well. I sat stony-faced in silence for a couple of seconds as everyone erupted around me, then realised that I looked out of place and leapt up with the hollowest cheer and clenched fist manoeuvre I’ve ever done. It doesn’t matter, we’ll just get two. We continued to look more dangerous going forward and the Leeds fans around me were very quiet indeed and getting a bit restless with their tendency to give the ball away so much. From nothing, Jihai (are we calling him Jihai Sun or Sun Jihai now?) had a great shot from 25 yards which cracked off the post with Robinson beaten. If they weren’t already, I think the Leeds fans must have been suspicious of my half-leap off my seat! Leeds should have made it 2-0 when Nash flapped at a corner and Smith shot wide. One bizarre corner routine from us saw the ball go right back to near the halfway line and everyone thought that we’d wasted it. However, from nowhere, Berkovic was suddenly played through on the edge of the box but nothing came from it.

Approaching half time, a weird chest-high backpass then gave Robinson trouble and fell at Anelka’s feet; he really should have scored. Instead, he tried to control it and then score and let Matteo get back and tackle him. Anelka hadn’t impressed so far – although he looked good on the ball and was holding it up well, every shot he had bobbled along the floor and went harmlessly wide. Nash still hadn’t had to make a real save and we looked comfortable. There was one moment when someone (can’t remember who) broke away but Howey got back and made a great tackle in the area to avert the danger. But just before half-time – disaster. The ball was played over the top, our defence stood still and allowed Viduka to run away unchallenged, wait for Nash to come out and then knock it into the far corner. Big celebrations, game over. We were stunned.

The second half saw Dunne replace Howey in the centre of the back three – not sure if this was due to an injury or the ease with which Viduka got away for the second goal. Whatever, we started strongly and I was soon thinking that if we got a quick goal, we could still do it. Anelka had a couple more feeble shots and Foe tried another long-range effort. Berkovic hit the bar with a curling shot from a corner. Leeds were looking more menacing on the break though and seemed to be getting past our defence with increasing ease – one chance saw Kewell pass the ball almost along our goal line but nobody was near enough to give it the final touch. Anelka went down for what looked a clear penalty but the ref (Poll) waved it away. Soon after, Benarbia looked for a pen but this one looked more like a dive. Then Leeds had a decent pen appeal turned down as SWP looked to have brought down Smith. Sun went off to be replaced by Huckerby as we desperately tried to get a goal back and Shuker came on for Berkovic who went off injured. Dunne nearly blasted the camera off the roof with a shot from inside the box after another corner, Huckerby fired over when in a good position and Shuker had a decent shot saved. Leeds continued to break quickly and Keane (who had just come on) brilliantly chipped Nash and sealed the win. A couple of minutes later, he had a far easier chance and put it wide. Harte then tested Nash with a free kick. I’d given up trying to hide my allegiance by this point as everyone around was relaxed and happy. Towards the end there were a few chants of “Going down” and “City are back”, which p****d me off but I think they all knew they were a bit lucky.

So 3-0 and our pre-season optimism was pricked somewhat. We deserved to lose in the end but the match was far closer than the scoreline suggests. Player summaries:

Nash: Bizarrely, I can’t remember him having to make many saves but he let 3 in. I thought he was too casual for the 1st goal and flapped at the corner when Smith nearly scored. Never really looked confident.
Sun: I was surprised to see him start but he was very good. Fast, tackled well, got forward quickly and had a great effort hit the post.
Howey: One wonky pass straight out for a throw-in aside, looked pretty calm at the back. Great blocking tackle in the area, possibly at fault for goal no. 2.
Distin: Settled in well, got forward quickly.
SWP: Not one of his livelier games and had no chances to speak of. Pity as Sven was in the crowd.
Jensen: Nothing spectacular. Went AWOL in the 2nd half.
Foe: Seemed everywhere in the 1st half with tackles at the back and several shots when forward. Passing was a bit dubious though and gave it away a couple of times.
Horlock: Quiet game – can’t think of anything he did to be honest!
Benarbia: Always prominent and involved – ordering people around and trying to create. Never quite got the perfect defence-splitting passes going that we saw last year.
Berkovic: Looked very sharp indeed in the 1st half. One shot well saved.
Anelka: Didn’t impress me but perhaps I’m being too picky – but then for £13 million you’re hoping for something special. Everyone knows that he’s a sulky, greedy get so I ought to get used to it. Shooting was poor. I’d rather we’d bought Robbie Keane.
Dunne: Didn’t do much wrong but the whole defence was non-existent for the last 20 minutes or so. One decent shooting opportunity blazed over.
Huckerby: Typical performance – kept trying to run through groups of defenders with no success. One shot over when should have hit the target. Got a good reception from the Leeds fans.
Shuker: Not on long but looked impressive – only about 4ft high but managed to beat Mills to a header at one point. Popped up everywhere as we tried to get a goal back and had a good shot saved.

On another day we’d have got at least a draw from this game and shouldn’t be too downhearted. I’m not sure if the 3 centre backs formation is going to work though as we were torn apart towards the end of the game. Nice to hear the whole ground chanting “There’s only one Alfie Haaland” – let’s hope we take Keane & the Rags for all they’ve got!

Bring on the Toon!

Tom Willis (


City 0 Dirty Leeds 3

Another new season, another glorious sunny day, another c**p performance away from home to see us humiliated by opposition that we shouldn’t have ever have deluded ourselves into thinking we were even fit to lick clean the path their hallowed boots had trodden – same old City, right? Well – no, actually. This may sound strange based on the scoreline from Saturday’s game but I came away from Elland Road feeling very positive about our chances for this season. And very very hot. The last time I was that hot inside a football ground was at Blackburn that fateful day, when I was on the back row under the corrugated plastic roof in temperatures approaching boiling point both on the pitch and in the ground. At least this time I didn’t have to dodge the constant streams of wee from the blokes (sorry lads but sometimes you can be really disgusting) who couldn’t bear to tear themselves away from the action for long enough to relieve themselves in a slightly more sanitary place…

City lined up with Nash in goal, then Jensen, Distin, Howey, Sun Jihai, SWP, Horlock, Eyal, Ali, Foe and Anelka up front on his own. Yep, that’s right – having spent every single one of the pre-season friendlies tinkering around with his front two – that’s two – in a seeming attempt to find the best partner for Anelka to play with, Keggy decided to start the first competitive game of the season with poor ickle Nicky up front on his lonesome. Still, when the game kicked off it really didn’t seem to matter. City had decided to take the game to Leeds right from the start and (more importantly) showed they were more than capable of doing it. I was worried as to how SWP would fare against a team as dirty, oops I mean physically strong as Leeds but he seems to have been injected with kangaroo blood while having that dodgy operation over the summer – watch him leap over Alan Smith’s outstretched and upturned boots! Marvel as he vaults into the air from a 3 cm long blade of grass to avoid having Bakke’s studs raked down his legs! Amaze yourselves as he plays forward an almost inch perfect ball for Anelka who almost times his run to perfection then almost gets some power behind the shot which almost beats the Leeds defence…

Meanwhile at the other end, Nash was not having a good day. Leeds had a good chance when Smith left Distin behind and crossed the ball goalwards, only for Nash to drop the cross. Luckily SWP had somersaulted back the entire length of the pitch (OK maybe not) and was able to clear the ball before any of the onrushing Leeds forwards could pop it away for 1-0. Distin was showing he wasn’t afraid to go forwards, but as Sun Jihai has a worrying tendency to do the same maybe they should arrange for someone to stay back and give Howey a hand some time? He isn’t the fastest centre half we’ve ever had and there’s only so much he can do to mark three forwards on his own. Still, it was not a fair reflection when Leeds took the lead with their first real chance of the game. The ref gave a free kick to Leeds because a City player had been standing his ground while being backed in to (obviously a foul in “Mr” Poll’s rule book). The ball fell to Bowyer (I think) who crossed the ball over towards the goal. Nash came to collect and seemed to completely goof it up, allowing Barmby (£2.75 million? What a bargain) to stick his foot out and knock the ball in the net.

As soon as the game restarted City attacked again, and continued attacking for virtually the rest of the half. However, there were two real flaws in City’s plans to push forwards at every opportunity (a Keegan team playing attacking, adventurous football with a propensity to leave the defence with big holes in it? Surely not). The first was that they seemed unable to keep the ball in play for anything more than half a dozen passes at a time – and step forward Steve Howey, who collects today’s “knocking the ball into touch for no reason other than he completely mis-kicked it and made himself look stupid” award. The second was that on the occasions when the ball did make it past the Leeds midfield, Anelka was completely stranded on his own up front with no-one to play off or to play to. It’s all very well trying to pack the midfield and play with a lone striker, but only if someone – anyone! – in that midfield pushes forwards to help said lonely fed up frustrated striker. How he must have longed for the days when he had Bergkamp pushing up behind him…

City’s best chances were coming from shots from distance – Berkovic forced a diving save out of Robinson with a volley from outside the box, then we hit the outside of the post with Robinson – for once! – beaten. Anelka then fluffed his best chance of the game when Robinson’s defence decided to liven the proceedings up a bit but playing the ball back to him when Anelka was rushing in on him. The type of chance that the Goat would have pounced on with glee to even up the scores could only go begging as Anelka couldn’t quite react quickly enough and Matteo (who had a storming game) managed to clear it. Still, it looked as if we could get an equaliser before half time and go into the second half level, as we well deserved to be. Instead however, we went in 2-0 down. Some frankly woeful defending saw Viduka beat the offside “trap” and have a clear run on goal, and it wasn’t too surprising when he slotted the ball past Nash for Leeds’ second. Not deserved at all but Leeds weren’t complaining.

Half time then, and my first chance to sit in the seat that I’d paid £27 for. No wonder Leeds want to move, I’m only 5 foot 4 and there wasn’t enough room for me to sit in comfort. The general consensus was that Keggy had to see what was wrong and put it right from the start of the second half, i.e. change the formation so Anelka wasn’t so isolated up front. Now I’m not Darren Huckerby’s biggest fan but I did think he should start the second half, preferably in place of Sun Jihai who gets pulled out of position far too easily. Keggy didn’t agree. Instead we had the Dunny Monster replacing Howey, who I guess must have been injured, and the rest of the team remaining the same. So it wasn’t too much surprise when the game continued in exactly the same vein. Berkovic hit the top of the cross bar, then at the other end a cross from Kewell made Nash look like a complete fool when it rolled right the way along the goal line – between Nash and the goal, thank goodness it didn’t bang off the back of his leg and take the 1 degree angle it would have needed to be deflected in.

Huckerby finally came on for Sun Jihai with about 30 minutes left, then Shuker came on for Eyal. I didn’t think Eyal had a particularly good game, but Shuker should be pleased with how he played as he looked busy and tried really hard. He did look small though compared to the Leeds midfield. Both Huckerby (it’s great to have you back Darren) and Dunne were then guilty of blasting the ball over instead of hitting the target, Shuker had a shot saved by Robinson, Anelka hit the ball just wide. Are you getting the picture here? City on top, creating loads of chances, failing to take any of them? Then – guess what – Leeds went down the other end and scored. Keane this time, keeping up his record of scoring flair goals against us on the first day of the season as he lobbed the ball over Nash. That was about it really. According to Sunday’s paper City had the most number of shots on target of all the teams who failed to score on Saturday (if you see what I mean) with 18. 18! Most of which were on target, none of which were good enough to score. OK Robinson had a good game, but really – shouldn’t one of those have gone in?

That does at least give me cause for optimism though. Yes it was a bad scoreline, but no it wasn’t a bad performance. All we need to do (sounds easy this) is to play like that every week (!) but take the chances when they present themselves. Or even just some of the chances, I’m not greedy. Not all defences will be as well organised as Leeds were – Radebe is an awesome player and Matteo played really well on Saturday, Rio who? – so it will come right. It has to.

Sharon Hargreaves


The first game I have seen for over a year. Disappointing result but I feel no doubt we will do fine this year. Let’s get the goalkeeping in order (Carlo Nash had the “game from hell”). The firepower up front look certain to score plenty of goals for us this season. My pick: In the top 10.

Mark Leahy – Wellington, New Zealand (


I feel that the score line 3-0 was not a true reflection of the game, City deserved something more out of it.

As half time approached I felt going in just 1-0 down is not bad, but no sooner had I said that to myself, our defence was caught flat footed, 2-0. From this point it was going to be an uphill battle but City kept attacking though the goal just did not come.

Maybe Anelka should have had a partner up front with him from the start but who should that partner be? It will be by trial and error to find that magic.

Although we lost, I can see a future with this team. We have a lot to build on and Kevin please never give up your attacking game!

Sad because we lost but pleased with a heartwarming performance.

Come on you Blues! Ernie Barrow (


I watched the whole City game live on Italian television yesterday, and I don’t think anyone should worry. After the first 15 minutes I thought if there was a side that should have been in front, that was City. With me there was a friend who, being a Milan fan, was simply enjoying the game from a neutral point of view. Just think, he was congratulating on me for supporting such a stylish team! Then Leeds scored: I don’t know if Nash has to be blamed. He was definitely late but the ball was never going to get there if the cross hadn’t been deflected. So I think that goal was due to bad luck and not very confident goalkeeping. Clearly Nash lost his confidence after that incident and it looked to me that the whole defence suffered from that. I mean that it’s not easy for a defender to play when you know the goalie behind you is having one of those days. Then the second goal, just on the stroke of half time. Bad luck again I’d say. I know ifs count for nothing, but… the 1st goal given away foolishly, plus a 10-second difference, plus a slightly more precise Sun shot (let alone that incredible chance Anelka had!), and half time would have been Leeds 0-1 City (deserved I think).

In the second half Leeds showed what I think City just need: steadiness and experience. Maybe we won’t finish top 6, but at least yesterday we saw that we are a million times better than 2 seasons ago. It’s fair to be hungry and we have to. But for a change, let’s try to establish ourselves in this division, let’s try to become a permanent Premiership team. Leeds are no better than us. It was City that was like a shy young boy, if you know what I mean.

Now I’d like to make a comment on Sun. I have always thought City had signed him especially to sell strips in China, but now I have to say there’s a lot more. In my opinion the best City player yesterday. Considering his inexperience, he showed an incredible confidence and pace. His performance was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. He must play again.

The only man who I felt let down by is ironically our best, Anelka. I can’t think of a £13 million-rated player missing such easy goals. The point of his expensive signing is to have someone who can score when most players can’t. I just hope he’ll prove me wrong, beginning from next Sunday.

Vanes Marzaroli (


I have just emailed Shaun Curtis ref his article (below) which appeared in the sun today. I have never read such a biased unfair article in all my life. The Leeds vs. Manchester City game wasn’t such a one sided game at all. Did he actually go to the game because it sounds like he heard it from his robin reliant outside the ground on Leeds radio. And as for the brickie Richard Dunne, nice touch, he’ll soon be writing for Michael Barrymore with talent like that.

Leeds 3 – Man City 0 – Shaun Curtis at Elland Road

ONE game gone and suddenly Leeds are Premiership title contenders. Tel’s the greatest, O’Leary was useless, Nick Barmby’s the bargain of the century and Rio was never in the class of Matteo, Radebe and Woodgate anyway.

The after-match radio phone-ins were chock full of Leeds fans predicting cabinets full of silverware, the end of Ferdinand’s new club Manchester United and a new world order. Even before kick-off, chairman Peter Ridsdale was talking about extending Venables’ contract. You’ve got to hand it to Tel, wherever he goes rabid optimism is only a step behind and he’s a master at getting an audience onside.

The manager has got them eating out of his hand – the question is how many encores can he produce?

This was a cracking start but we were talking a home game against a team just promoted from Division One – not exactly the sternest of tests. In fact, the biggest test will come in the boardroom rather than on the field.

Venables remains under pressure to sell, despite the fact Leeds raked in £29.1 million for Ferdinand. That, apparently, was not enough. One of the most saleable assets is £9 million Robbie Keane. The Irish international striker enjoyed a superb World Cup but returned to find himself some way down the Elland Road pecking order. Ell Tel picked three strikers on Saturday and Keane was still on the bench with Mark Viduka, Alan Smith and Harry Kewell ahead of him. When he came on in the 70th minute it took a mere 10 minutes to make his point as he chipped goalkeeper Carlo Nash with a quality piece of skill after Smith had flicked on ‘keeper Paul Robinson’s clearance. Keane turned on the customary acrobatics in celebration before running to the crowd and shaking his finger to indicate he knew who the No. 1 man in town was – even if the manager didn’t.

The fact he missed a sitter four minutes later did not detract from the fact he looked hungry and eager. The fans chanted for him to stay and the bean-counters must have got the message. Venables insists he does not want to sell Keane, who has already turned down Sunderland and is not over-enamoured with joining Spurs either. Tel has six strikers but argued he may need all of them with the transfer window ending on August 31 and only four of them currently fit. He said: “Robbie Fowler is injured, Michael Bridges is not ready and Viduka was struggling the other day, so you can suddenly be stretched. If I can keep them all, I will. It’s not about keeping them happy, it’s about being professional. My first feeling was that if someone came in for one of the six, you’d have to consider it. I had 36 players at Barcelona, we had no transfers during the season and didn’t have a reserves. But they all kept themselves in top condition and when I called on any of them they were ready. Football has changed and if you’re at a good club don’t moan about being out of the team, stay and fight for a place. Keane has to get himself in the team and then make sure he keeps someone out. They’ve all got to do that. Clubs need big squads because of the transfer deadline when they are actually trying to cut back. You used to be able to start with a small squad and add to it, but you cannot now. I want all the players to stay if possible. Will I be allowed to keep them? That’s something we will discuss. Keane doesn’t want to leave and I don’t want to let him go. What comes after that we’ll have to see.”

So what about England ‘keeper Nigel Martyn, now playing second fiddle to young Paul Robinson and being courted by Southampton? Venables explained: “I know nothing about Southampton’s interest but someone knows something, even if it isn’t me. Nigel’s not going anywhere.” Although City played some tricky football and hit the woodwork a couple of times, Leeds were always in control and, as is the way with teams managed by Kevin Keegan, there were plenty of gaps to exploit. They reckon house prices are rocketing because space is at a premium in this country. Well, there’s room to construct a mansion with swimming pool behind City’s defence, especially when Richard Dunne is at the back. Dunne, on as a second half substitute, is built like a brickie with the turning circle of the Titanic and Leeds should have increased their tally. They were ahead on 14 minutes when Lee Bowyer – booed by a small section of Leeds fans – curled in a deflected cross and Barmby nipped in.

Steven Ford (


Mr Keegan on getting us promoted to the Premiership realised the strengths and in particular the weaknesses of his current squad. Like Howard Kendall all those years ago, the first thing he did after getting the promotion was realise that the two first choice goalkeepers he had were not up to the required standard. Kendall dropped the fans’ favourite Andy Dibble in favour of a better all round ‘keeper in Tony Coton. In came Peter Schmeichel, great move to replace the leadership qualities of Stuart Pearce. Unfortunately, with Schmeichel injured and his second choice Weaver out injured, in came Carlo Nash and the experienced Flowers on loan for cover.

Against Leeds at the weekend, it was evident that Mr Keegan was correct in his awareness to replace Weaver and Nash with Schmeichel. Nash was at fault for the first two goals on Saturday, the cross for the first goal took a deflection and it was undoubtedly a great finish from Barmby but if a ‘keeper shouts for the ball, he gets there and takes the player with him if he has to but the first rule is get the ball. He shouted and was too slow off his line to react.

For the second goal, his positional sense was non-existent; he gave Viduka over half of the far corner of the goal to go at and it would have been more difficult to miss a gap like that rather than put it away as he did. Nash and Weaver have a great deal to learn from Schmeichel and/or Flowers and if they don’t then the club will have to bring a youngster through and move the two on.

Mr Keegan spotted a weakness, filled it temporarily and unfortunately fate has worked against us with injuries. I think it is only a matter of time before the manager decides that one or both are either good enough or are to be transfer listed. The third goal against us was a classic example of how not to defend, we were all over the place.

Dunne was beaten in the air by Smith; how can that be, there must be 6 inches difference in height! Dunne, although he had a great season last year, is not good enough for the Premiership. He is too slow and cumbersome, his lack of pace got him sent off at Newcastle in the cup last year as he dragged Bellamy down. Mr Keegan needs to have a settled way of playing and use the players he has. I believe that Distin will come good as Mettomo has and he needs another; Howey and Dunne are simply not good enough for this level.

Keane, who raced on to the ball won by Smith, had all the space in the world. SWP is not a right full back and it showed. He played him onside and was nowhere near him. He is better going forward and should either be in that rôle or an all out full back, at least when we are away from home anyway.

I am sure Mr Keegan knows exactly what he needs to do to shore up the defence and is in the process of doing it. There is no need to panic, after all we lost away to a side that will be top 4 or 5 this year and the scoreline flattered them. I hope though that for the Newcastle game, he gives a début to Flowers and uses his experience at the back and we play 4-4-2 with Mettomo and Distin as the two centre halves.

Mark Wood (


I’m fascinated by Keegan’s thought, that “if [Ali] does what he can in the Premiership – which he is more than capable of doing – they will be raving about him.” It’s the bit about being more than capable of doing what he can that baffles me. I’d have thought that by definition he was perfectly capable of doing what he can, but how can he be more than capable? Does this mean that he’s capable of doing things that he can’t? I can sort of see that if he was Terry Cooke, and could have done what he could but wouldn’t, then you might argue that he was less than capable of doing what he could, but even if Terry had been capable of doing what he could, I can’t see that he could have been more than capable of doing it – or should that be that I’m less than capable of seeing it?

I’d better go and get some fresh air before my head melts.

Dorien James (


A great evening in front of the television was ruined by Peter’s insistence of using the first person in the plural when referring to ManUre in their defeat against the Hungarians (can’t spell it or pronounce it). Whilst Alan Hansen referred to ManUre as “they” I definitely heard Peter say “wait until we get them back at Old Trafford”.

Did anyone else hear this and if so am I being too critical; can we put it down to non-indigenous English (which is better than my Danish)? It will hardly endear him to City fans who may be a little apprehensive about his signature given that he was a stalwart in a very successful ManUre team.

Graham Oliver (


The figures on hooliganism in MCIVTA 838 are presumably a head count and not a proportion of fans attending matches. If that is the case then the City total should be divided by two or more as our support both at home and away was at least twice the average for the division.

However, other than in exceptional cases like Millwall, I don’t really see that the level of hooliganism is necessarily a reflection on the club that those people claim to support.

For instance, the behaviour of some City fans in Hamburg was pretty poor and embarrassing but probably no different to a sample of drunken fans abroad supporting any other English club. It is scant consolation but as far as the club goes I don’t think it could be accused of encouraging or failing to discourage anti-social behaviour unlike the captain and manager of Merchandise United.

John Clancy (


Whilst I wish that not a single City fan ever did anything that would have them arrested, the absolute number of arrests of City fans arrested is irrelevant in compiling a league table of club hooliganism. After all, City attract far more fans, both home and away, than clubs like Stoke and Millwall – so it is hardly surprising that we have are more arrests. A more meaningful way of expressing it would be on the basis of the number of arrests per 1,000 fans attending our games. I don’t know if we would come top or bottom of this table, but until this information is available, it’s no good starting to panic.

Steve Rigby (


Well actually in a few weeks. Let’s get some games played first. After last year’s end of season meltdown (Win98 went boom!), I’ve learnt the benefit of backing up all of my data. One ray of sunshine as we look at City at the foot of the table after a predictable defeat at Leeds is that the Geist Index already has Everton below us.

Memo to Kev. Anelka up front on his lonesome just ain’t going to cut it…

Wallace Poulter (


As I worked my way through the various wines reviewed by our McVittee friends-in-the-know in the past year I often felt ashamed to a certain degree that I could get that much enjoyment out of something that was coloured red. To counterbalance this shame I thought about all the things in life that are so good simply because they’re blue, things which are rarely questioned and more often than not just accepted because somewhere it’s “written” that it is so.

Take, for example, when a baby is on the way and the gender is known in advance. You arm yourself with a paintbrush and coat the walls of a spare room with light blue paint for a little boy and with pink paint for a little girl. You know it’ll lead to idle chatter if you do it the other way round and no-one will be too sure what gifts to buy. I know of no expectant father who wouldn’t physically wretch at the thought that the son he had sired would be lain to sleep in a room deliberately painted a lighter shade of red.

Now I’m not saying that painting a room pink when a baby girl is on the way should be cause for shame to a City loving family, just because the colour is linked with red or that little girls should by that logic become ManYoo fans, no, no, no. We paint their rooms pink because they’re made of sugar and spice and all things nice. And pink is nice… like if you’re a girl.

There’s more than enough evidence walking around Maine Road of a Saturday and reading (and editing) this McVittee right now to prove that bedroom colour schemes don’t dictate later football loyalties, but more that a keen sense of what’s good for the soul plays the leading rôle… I suppose what I’m saying it that girls – regardless of age – will pretty much do whatever they want anyway.

Anyway, added to the fact that there’s this implied “code of procedure” for the decoration of a baby’s bedroom, there is also the thing that pretty much every baby kicks out at some stage during the pregnancy but we don’t really know for sure why they do it. We don’t don’t question, we accept. When the baby kicks – pretty much without fail – someone nearby will make a comment about the future footballing prowess of the unseen bundle of joy. Maybe the baby is just dropping off to sleep and kicks out they way we – the walking, talking human race – still kick out today when we nod off on the sofa and deep sleep is reached too quickly. In our case it’s probably some sort of inbuilt warning system that tells us we’ll soon be drooling all over the armrest and we awake with a start just to spare ourselves a nagging or vicious ribbing over the mess we’ve made. Ever notice the way you almost automatically wipe the corners of your mouth when you wake up in such a situation? Again, you don’t question, but comply. Back to that kick though…

Now babies don’t have to worry too much about slobbering, especially not in the womb – they’ll spend ages on the outside doing little else, again it’s what they do, we accept it, it even entertains us – so why kick out? A bit of cramp? Just thought it’d be funny? I don’t so much. Whilst I personally can’t recollect what it looked like in the womb, I’ve still got this inkling feeling that the baby kicks out because it’s sick to the back gums of the colour scheme in the womb.

So… at about the same time that the mummy exclaims “Ooh… the lil’ monkey!”, the daddy tests his chest-puffing out ability to the brink and gathered family and friends are furiously dusting off the “it’ll play midfield for City…” line, with everyone else in the vague vicinity “cooing” and “awwing” and on all fours in front of the sofa pressing their ears against mummy’s tummy in the hope of getting gently boxed on the lugs by an unseen assailant, there’s probably a tiny person in there rolling his eyes towards mummy’s two heavens and hoping with all his might that his next room is blue.

It does kind of make me wonder though, what happened to all those little baby boys who, having been given the best possible start in life – a light blue bedroom – still chose red as their colour. Maybe someone will someday do a study and find these were once babies that never once kicked in the womb. Did they play with Barbie dolls? Did they wish and wish and wish with all their little hearts somewhere there were also stories to be heard about a “Little Boy Red” or did they just skip and prance like Little Red Riding Hood? Apart from its connection with the dark side of football, there’s just something not very comforting about the colour red. Red is go faster stripes. Red is fire engine. Red is brash, noisy, one dimensional things and show offy, angry and arrogant people. Red says “Stop and look at me” to traffic and pedestrians. Red only seems interested in how noticeable it is. It’s the colour of wanton centre of attentionness. It’s blink, flash, everything on a plate and tense nervous headache.

There’s just something righteous about the colour blue. It’s the colour of the things we need to live. The sky that holds the air we breathe, the colour we associate with the water we drink. Blue warns us that the bread we need to survive has gone off so we don’t get ill.

Blue is the colour of the music played by the greats which inspired so many other greats. When red is mentioned in blues music it’s rarely to portray something in the most positive of light. The first time I ever heard Jimi Hendrix’s “Red House” I knew I’d love it from the opening riffs but upon hearing the first lyrics I was distraught to hear of his yearning to get to this red house, “There’s a red house over yonder, that’s where my baby stays…”. Come the end though I was kind of chuffed when it transpired his key wouldn’t actually fit in the door anymore because his “baby” turned out to be a bit of a… well, let’s say she was unfaithful.

Jimi then just simply rejoiced in the fact that at least he still had his guitar (and she had a sister) and you can actually hear him smiling his chops off as he spanks great big chunks of blues out and you can feel yourself going up over the next hill over yonder. Jimi just shrugged his shoulders and found something better to do than make a scene over something not worth making a scene over. Even Oasis sang “.. just take what you need and stop crying your heart out”.

Blue isn’t a lazy colour like red but it does makes soul soothing work of a lazy afternoon lying on our backs in the park, practicing a thousand yard stare through the haze of a bottle of Blue Nun at the blue sky (now try imaging the same calmness from staring at the fire station doors). Blue can in fact be damn hard work; it makes you put in the effort and show the strain. It’s the colour of the targets worth achieving, the goals you would strive for from your earliest years, like when you were sitting in that little seat in the shopping trolley being told by your mother “you can scream til you’re blue in the face, but we’re not getting any more toffees”. You did your utmost to go blue in the face, just to show her it could be done. Blue’s not like a box of chocolates. That’s life.

Blue is the path we have chosen and one we stayed on. For those of us who’ve never seen a City side that looked like having a real sniff of success until now, the wait has been a long one. The wait hasn’t been any shorter or the times any easier for those who were lucky enough to be around for our past successes. We all waited the real way, the patient and the blue way and can hopefully – for once – look forward to a season that won’t fray our nerves like the seasons gone by.

On Saturday it all starts again and even though I expect a season of relative comfort and the administration of the odd trouncing to those 10 teams I hope to see below us come May, there’s still the almightiest of butterfly scraps going on in my stomach right now. Is it the ingrained City way of expecting the worst when the signs should be soothing? Are my expectations set too high? It’s probably just the colour scheme again.

CTID, Cathal Whelehan (


Don’t forget – Mr Keane was probably a little more than agitated that day by the first airing of possibly the greatest football chant ever – “Keano thinks you’re w*nk*rs”. The score was 57,000 vs. 3,000, but you couldn’t tell.

Not forgetting the timeless classic “If the Nevilles play for England, so can I” – and the fact that United fortunes are declining whilst City’s are rising.

Diddums Mr Keane, Diddums. We will take both matches this year.

Neil Roberts, Bangkok Blues (


Further to John Ellis’ piece last week, I believe I was at that game at Prestwich Heys. My uncle, former Man City player George Smith was Heys’ manager, Stan Ogden of Coronation Street was in the crowd and he let us little kids have a ball punching his pot belly. I remember Bert Trautman – a giant of a man.

Memories… like the corners of my mind.

Dave Smith – Ottawa, Canada (


In addition to Steve Parish’s notes about Midland Mainline to Sheffield, Midland Mainline have a sale at the moment £5 one way or £10 first class from London to Sheffield, Nottingham etc. Use promotion code SS18. We booked the other way on the 31st for a wedding for £10 return.

On the winter break argument, in principle I can understand why clubs feel the break would be useful, but on a sporting front outside of football, the season is already too long. Football is obviously the national game but the success of football puts pressure on other sports, and the summer is in some fields the showcase for other sports as well.

Cricket is obviously a lot less popular than football in England but it is still popular. However, it has been struggling for years with an earlier season start and later finish in football. Players who like both struggle to play both without upsetting one set of team mates.

Also you find a lot of really excellent players who excel at both, and by not playing in one sport or the other, it actually makes the league standards of both worse. A mid-season break will not help this. Taking Scotland as an example, they started two weeks ago, and Premiership Football in the first week of August would put even more pressure on other sports. No ‘popular’ sport is going to have a 3-4 week niche in January as an alternative.

Marc Taylor (


Forth Valley branch of the OSC have renamed/reformed and are now known as Edinburgh & Lothian. Our first meeting will be in the Craigiebield Hotel Penicuik on the day of the Newcastle game 24th Aug from 11.30. onwards. If you are in the area and would like any further details, please contact me.

Geoff Ross (


The City vs. Newcastle match kicks off at 12:15 on Saturday August 24th.

If you are not going to Maine Road, why not come along to watch on Sky TV at the Duke Of Wellington in Stony Stratford?

Let me know if you would like any more information or directions etc.

Steve Maclean – Secretary, Milton Keynes Branch, Manchester City FC Supporters’ Club (


First issue of BTH’s final season is out this Saturday at Leeds, the Trophy Special, and is priced £1.50 or email me for subs details. Just so as you know!

Noel Bayley (


As previously seen on MCIVTA, I am in the process of writing an officially approved history of Maine Road for publication during 2003, and am keen to read your memories of specific games, incidents, moments or events at the stadium. I’ve already been sent several good mails – thanks to all those who’ve contributed (I’m sorry I’ve not been able to reply to you all personally) – but I do need more. In addition some memories already sent will be included in the City programme during the new season. I am now desperately seeking others for possible inclusion.

Once the season begins you will see the way the programme pages will look and so you’ll see how each game appears. To ensure each of our opponents are covered in memory matches I need stories connected with the following games:

Blackburn (13/1/34 FA Cup Meeting & 6-0 win in Division Two on 17/9/83)
Liverpool (League Cup semi-final 1st leg 1981 or 3-1 victory on 26/12/81)
Chelsea (Kippax Last Stand 1994)
Manchester United (FA Cup victory against the Busby Babes on 29/1/55)
Charlton Athletic (the 2-1 victory over Charlton on 28/4/65)
Bolton (29/3/80 – Tueart had returned and he scored twice in this relegation battle)
Tottenham (Ballet on Ice December 1967)
Aston Villa (8/11/86 – Billy McNeill’s return)
Leeds (4/4/92 – 4-0 but Leeds won title)
Fulham (16/3/68 5-1 victory during championship season; Fulham relegated)
West Brom (Charity Shield match 3/8/68)
Arsenal (10/4/37 – City won 2-0 during championship season)
Birmingham (The abandoned game on 15th February 1958. This was the first match to be played in Manchester after the Munich disaster)
Middlesbrough (1976 League Cup semi-final 21/1/76)
Sunderland (9/4/55 – Revie goal gives City 1-0 victory)
West Ham (24/5/47 – 2nd Division title winner 2-0 victory)
Southampton (18/5/66 – last game of season, both sides promoted).

In addition to these specific matches I’m keen to hear stories connected with any other game at Maine Road featuring these sides. Also, if you’ve attended games at Maine Road featuring these sides against other opponents, eg. FA Cup semi-finals, then I’m interested in those stories as well.

The best stories will be included in the programme during the season, or in the book.

Thanks, Gary James (


Just a quick mail to let you know that has changed! We’ve a new home page and sections with comments, links from charities, customers, and footy celebrities alike.

Just wanted to let you know and thank you again for your support.

Nick Streeter (

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 #839