Newsletter #910

Well. I won’t swear because children and my dad are reading this, but what a pathetic show that was yesterday. A fumbled goal gave WHU the 3 points they desperately wanted and City couldn’t be bothered chasing. Of the 11 players in the starting line-up only 3 came out with any credit (SWP, Dunne and Barton) and the remaining 8, I am sorry to say Mr Keegan, are down to you. Still I’m sure Brooking won’t be forgetting that there are two teams in Manchester now.

Tonight we have a match report thanks to Sharon, a couple of match views (I think PJ was watching a different game to me!), plenty of opinion on last games, the end of the greasy shirt debate, PoY and a couple of requests. We’ve also a piece from Alex on that hoary old chestnut of the “M” songs.

Finally, the reserves are in action tomorrow night (Tuesday) at Hyde against the Chupa-Chups.

Next game: Liverpool, away, 3pm Saturday 3 May 2003
Countdown: 13 days


Oh dear oh dear. Call this a football game? It wasn’t. Keegan kept faith with the players who’d started the game against Sunderland the week before, with Schmeichel, Jensen, Distin, Sommeil and Dunne at the back, Ali B, Foe, SWP and Barton in midfield, and Anelka and Fowler up front. Sir Shaun of Goat was on the bench along with Belmadi, Macken, Nash and Bischoff.

West Ham had by far the best of the earlier play, such as it was, thanks partly to the antics of Joe Cole. He’s a disgrace – he’s gone from being one of the most overrated young players around to a fully grown petty moaning dirty git who needs his hair cutting. Rob Styles, the worst ref in the Premiership (and there’s an accolade that’s difficult to gain), was watching a different game to the one that was taking place on the pitch in front of us and completely missed several West Ham handballs and bad tackles. He also managed to penalise little Shaun for climbing when he jumped to get a header then later gave a free kick against Ali B when a West Ham player jumped all over him, despite the fact that Ali was just standing his ground. Shocking performance by Styles, as usual.

West Ham were unlucky not to take the lead when Defoe almost lobbed Schmeichel, who’d come running out towards the end of his area – luckily he managed to get a fingertip to the ball to stop it going in. Schmeichel also had to be alert to clear the ball after a West Ham free kick. Although the first ball in was cleared by the City defence, when it was knocked back in to the penalty area dozy Foe was playing three West Ham players onside – doh! Sorry but despite the goals he’s chipped in with at various points of the season I’ve never been convinced by Foe and won’t be sorry to see him go. City’s best chances came after various fumbles from Calamity James – oh how I hope Keegan was taking note and goes and buys Russell Hoult instead! First he parried a shot from Anelka straight at Fowler, who was either unlucky or playing like a donkey depending on your point of view and hit it so weakly that Brevett got back to clear the ball off the line. Then he messed up a clearance after Anelka had run in to the area, but unfortunately it only fell to Fowler again. At least this time we got a corner when his shot was deflected wide but as usual nothing came of that either. Anelka was covering incredible amounts of the pitch but just wasn’t getting the back up from Fowler that he should be able to expect. I thought Fowler was a great buy when we got him but now? I’m not so sure.

Little Shaun was trying his best from midfield but somehow never seems to be able to finish a move off – not helped by the fact that he can run the ball from the edge of his own penalty area but when he gets to the edge of the opponents’ area and looks for someone to lay it off to there’s no-one available. Kev really needs to do some work on this, our movement off the ball is virtually non-existent. He also needs to have a word with Anelka about which chances he should take himself and which he should pass to someone else. With about five minutes to go in the first half Ali B played a lovely ball forward which Anelka ran on to, but despite controlling it perfectly with his first touch he just seemed to dawdle so long before deciding whether to shoot or not that the West Ham defender got back to make a tackle and clear the ball for a corner. Which we did nothing with. Again.

The second half did start more promisingly at least, thanks to little Shaun. He wellied the ball at the goal from about 25-30 yards out but someone managed to get it deflected behind for a corner. Which was wasted. Again. Not long after that Ferdinand (who I’ll admit we hadn’t noticed was on the pitch until then!) clashed with Schmeichel on the edge of the area and was down for a long, long time before finally being stretchered off. Whatever it was it must have been bad as he didn’t move from the moment the collision happened until he was stretchered down the tunnel so I do hope he is OK.

Anelka then finally should have put us ahead as he took the ball into the penalty area completely on his own. For some reason, beknown only to himself, he decided to try to take the ball round James instead of smacking it past him. James for once did the right thing and dived in front of Anelka, pushing the ball out for what was to be yet another wasted corner. I don’t remember Fowler touching the ball in the second half so it wasn’t too much of a surprise when he was taken off for Macken, with Belmadi coming on for Ali B.

We got even worse after the substitutions and I doubt anyone was too surprised when West Ham went ahead. I couldn’t see too much of what happened and didn’t feel like staying up for the 45 seconds of coverage that I’m sure we got on the Premiership highlights on Sunday night so I haven’t seen it since either, but it just looked like an almighty scramble in the area that ended with someone toe poking the ball home from about 50 centimetres. Super smashing great. Lord Goat came on for Jensen, who hadn’t had one of his better games, but couldn’t do anything to help turn the game around. Of the subs only Belmadi had much chance to make any difference, but his first effort blazed over the bar into Platt Lane (copyright Jeff Whitley) and his second was a free kick that he blasted wide, the same as every other free kick he’s taken for us so far. Practice yer shooting Mr Jammy, please. Six minutes time added on? Why bother? No-one on the pitch looked bothered, at least not those in a City shirt. It would be nice to think that winning a game mattered to the players on the pitch at least a fraction of the amount that it mattered to those in the stand, but obviously not.

We stopped at services on the M62 on the way home and were told that we’d just missed Keegan, who’d just called in on his way back (I guess) to his house near Newcastle. We leapt back into the car to try and catch him up as Dave wanted to ask for a refund but no luck. We’ll get you next time Kev.

On reflection, the worst thing about the game was that for a lot of the people there it would have been their last visit to Maine Road, and they had to sit and suffer through that. It isn’t good enough for them to claim they’ll raise their game for the last match because that’s the only one that matters, it isn’t. The players should be ashamed of themselves – and I had to apologise to my Bolton-supporting husband when I got home. How galling.

Sharon Hargreaves (


TV commentary seemed to be tuned into the the West Ham fanzone.

On this basis we will be relegated next season even if we buy the best ‘keeper available and strengthen midfield, unless, either Fowler and Anelka find some sort of partnership, or KK loses his infatuation with Fowler.

For seventy minutes the game was there for the taking and any half decent strikers would have sewn the game up for us. In slight mitigation for Anelka he looked good until he saw the goalposts. Fowler did little in the first half and disappeared long before he was substituted in the second – it’s now twelve games and if he isn’t match fit then an extra week training next season isn’t going to do it.

The rest were OK or better but football is about scoring goals and if those given that task aren’t finishing the job then all the build up play is a waste of time. Benarbia again opened the defence with ease but once he had gone the threat to West Ham largely disappeared, with only SWeeP looking likely to trouble them. Barton again provided a ball winning presence in midfield that has been lacking for much of the season and the back four, whilst not exactly rock solid would have been good enough had the front two performed.

Well, hope springs eternal to any City fan but a rethink is needed before next season, or perhaps a fully fit Wanchope?

Sad to see Ferdinand injured – hope it’s not as bad as it looked.

David Lewis (


Watched the game yesterday on the TV. It was one of the most entertaining games I’ve seen in a long while, with chances galore at either end. Very disappointing result, especially as City had so many opportunities to take the lead and the West Ham goal came from such sloppy City play. Some impressive performances from some of the City side, and we definitely didn’t deserve to lose, but neither did West Ham, and I suppose their need for three points was more pressing than ours – even though looking at the league table after Sunday’s games really showed how City could (should?) be 8th rather than in the bottom half, and at the end of the season the difference in prize money could be substantial.

Instead of reviewing the game – partially because that would take too long because there were so many incidents – I’ll give an overview of individual performances.

Schmeichel – 8 – Good performance, dealt well with almost all chances West Ham created, was brave in the challenge (ask Les Ferdinand!) and commanding as ever. Unlucky for the goal, as he almost saved it before the rebound broke to Kanoute.

Dunne – 7 – Played well and wasn’t found out playing in an unfamiliar full back rôle. Impressed me going forward, but not surprisingly this led to problems tracking back with his lack of pace. Put in some good challenges in a steady performance – much better positional sense than Sun anyway…

Jensen -7- Another decent game, probably not as effective attacking as he should have been and Glen Johnson (West Ham right back) was given man of the match, but I didn’t think Jensen struggled at any stage of the game.

Distin – 7- Slightly quieter than usual, but still a decent performance. Seems to be settling into a good partnership with Sommeil, but has definitely been restricted in his old bursts into opposition territory, which is a shame.

Sommeil – 8 – The most impressive of the defenders, on a day when West Ham had many chances but never really looked like getting a goal (but did!). Strong in the air and in the tackle, and some neat distribution also. A class act.

Barton – 9- My man of the match, he really looks like the defensive midfielder the team has been missing all season. His tackling was superb, never pulled out of a 40-60 ball (although a bit worried by the over zealous elbow swung towards Joe Cole) and his passing was simple but 100% effective. Brilliant.

Foe – 6 – As usual, totally invisible for most of the game, but did manage a couple of good tackles. I was at the Charlton game in December where he proved he has Premiership quality, but I don’t think I’ve seen him come anywhere near that level again, I for one would be happy to see a youngster get the opportunity ahead of him. His goal tally this season must be the freak occurence of the decade…

Wright-Phillips – 9- Excellent performance on the left side of midfield. Tracked back well and timed his tackles superbly. Had several chances, which he created himself mainly with clever footwork cutting in from the left. May have had a penalty in the first half if he had fallen under a clumsy challenge, but stayed up. Probably needs to practice keeping his shots down, as most sailed over the bar. But a very impressive turn again.

Benarbia – 8 – Good game, seems to be coming to form as we approach summer! Some nice flicks and good link up play.

Fowler – 6 – Definitely not as sharp as he should be, but showed some nice movement and bravery in the first half – especially when Brevett sat on his head as he cleared off the line. Seemed tired in the second half, when he contributed very little of note.

Anelka – 8 – Worked very hard, and made a couple of openings for himself, but the goal his play deserved just wasn’t there and as he drifted wide there seemed to be few options in the central area. Can’t wait to see a fully fit Fowler and Anelka together!


Belmadi – 6 – (replaced Bernabia with about 20 minutes left) didn’t contribute much and was dozing during the build up to the goal. Struck a free kick well late on, but I would imagine Keegan’s leaning towards not signing him. I do think he hasn’t had a good spell in the first team to prove himself.

Macken – 5 – (replaced Fowler) really off the pace when he came on, must have only got about 2 touches whilst he was on, and Kanoute seemed to ghost past him far too easily before tapping in. Very disappointing.

Goater – Came on for the last couple of minutes. Not enough time to make much impact, although did miscontrol a couple of times in the attacking third.

As I said, it was a very entertaining game that City were very unfortunate to lose. Schmeichel will be a massive loss when he retires. But the emergence of Joey Barton and continuing brilliance of Sweep are real positive signs, as was the better defensive performance and all round attacking play.

Another strong midfielder (right sided), a quality replacement goalkeeper (please not David James! Nigel Martyn would be good) and an experienced full back (Steve Finnan’s a potentially world class right back) and we should be set for a European challenge next season!

Paul Carey (


I do not usually contribute to MCIVTA, but I really feel it is important to in this instance. Shaun Goater has epitomised what City are about during his stay here. He has never, as far as I can remember, let us down and he has continually been a fantastic ambassador for us on and off the pitch. His scoring record speaks for itself and I would imagine that this season there are three in particular that will not be forgotten by many of us here. With the celebrity ego culture so prevalent amongst footballers these days, his attitude off the pitch, especially his work with kids in Bermuda, has been magnificent as well. That kind of work will make more of a difference than any number of stupid Pepsi adverts ever could. So here’s a player that shows complete loyalty to the club and the fans, scores over a hundred goals for MCFC but still keeps his feet on the ground and his ego and greed in check yet is left out in the cold by KK.

OK, a player only deserves to get a game if he is performing, but the point is that the Goat has done, still does and there is no reason to doubt that he will continue to do so if we were to keep him. Fowler, who deserves no malice (and will get none from me), has taken his place, but in terms of performance Goater has deserved better treatment. I expect that KK has been agonising over this himself, but Shaun has deserved better this season and I am heartbroken to see such an important City player go in these circumstances.

I hope Shaun gets to read this. I hope he gets to feed on new pastures, because he has been a brilliant player for Manchester City. His memory will survive for a long time and his personality will really be missed in the future


[Agreed Matt, Shaun is a superb ambassador for the game and will always be a Blue to us – Ed]

Matt Cavanagh (


Two good wins, then it’s back to the same old City. The passing during the Spurs game was superb but against West Ham a disaster, City did not appear to have the desire to win this one! Did David James’ hair put off our strikers?

We are not a consistent side, far from it, and there are certain players who appear to lack consistency, I am not going to mention names, everyone can see who they are.

It looks like KK still wants to sign Foe; Lyon want £7 million for him (price has gone up from £6 million because of the Euro). For that kind of money there has got to be a player out there who can perform better. I for one hope that City go for a different player, I am not impressed by Foe, sorry.

I still feel that Anelka and Fowler can be a deadly duo, on the grounds we know that they both have scored in the past (maybe not at City) but they both have the talent to do it.

Just two games to go, a tough one at Liverpool who are on form, can we raise our game? If any City player wants to impress here’s their chance!

The final game at Maine Road we sure would like to leave our old home with awin! Play like we did against Spurs we might have a chance otherwise?

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow (


In a sort of way the Sunderland game was my last game. Well in my season ticket seat anyway. As I’ve done on many occasions this season, I’ve moved around the ground so that my better half can sit with me. So that’s what I’m doing for the West Ham game this week. With the knowledge of the clamour for tickets for Southampton, I booked some executive seats for the game back in September – there were only four left after I had bought mine even then!

So it was a very reflective game for me – even though it was only my eighth season there as the Kippax was all standing prior to that – I was a Main stander for five years before that but moved to the Kippax because it was better and cheaper. I will be sorry to see the old girl go; now the days of the end are nearing, it is really bringing some real sadness to my being but in reflection, the excitement of knowing that we a moving to a wonderful new home brings joy to this sadness also. All my life, three years is the longest I’ve lived in a home – they say that moving house is stressful – I’ve moved more times than I’ve had hot dinners and it’s never really affected me – so now I’m moving away from a home that’s been the only stable thing in my life for the past 13 years and so I can see what they mean by being stressful as I’ve really become quite choked up about the whole thing as City is such a big part of my life as many of you will be aware that if there’s a City match on at any level that doesn’t clash with a first team game, I’m there.

So if someone said City to me – the first thing that springs to my mind is Maine Road, but I won’t have that association any more – I’m sure there are thousands of Blues out there that feel exactly the same – so I salute you one and all and like the saying goes – The King is Dead, Long Live the King – I stand up and say Maine Road is Dead, Long Live Eastlands 🙂

CTID, Gavin Cooper – Blueboy (


A few weeks ago I decided I had to see one last game at Maine Road. I decided on either the Sunderland or West Ham game. Fortunately I managed to get a ticket for the Sunderland game. Had I flown 8,000 miles for the West Ham game I might have given up on life completely.

So I made a quick visit to Manchester, arriving Sunday afternoon, getting to the Claremont at 1.00 on Monday to meet an old friend and finding myself reliving many past visits once I had found my seat. There would be no point in asking for a match summary from me – I was too busy just looking around and taking in the atmosphere, one last time. I was sat in the main stand almost directly opposite where I used to stand in the Kippax and my seat was not more than a few feet from where I stood to watch the City-United game in 1963 when that corner was part of the old scoreboard end standing area. But at least it was a win. Two days before I had seen the Spurs game on cable TV and earlier today we had the West Ham game on. So three City games, in one form or another, in 9 days is not bad going.

I could digress here and go on about how much strengthening this team needs to make any headway next year (they were quite abysmal today) but that is for another time. I’m glad I made the effort to get back. I stopped by Maine Road on the way back to Manchester airport (though I continue to call it Ringway!) and walked around one last time. Thanks for all the memories and now it is on to the new stadium. Though I am keeping my fingers crossed the Southampton game is on TV here.

Best wishes to all, John Pearson – Northern California (


In MCIVTA 908 Peter Kewley in his match report referred to chanting about a town in Bavaria, C. Brammer referred to the best supporters in the world and Chris Murphy commented on the lack of opinion in recent MCIVTAs.

I would like to redress that by offering my opinion on the best supporters in the land and the chanting of “M” songs. Firstly I should say that I care passionately about Manchester City supporters. I have chaired the Swinton Branch of the Centenary Supporters’ Association (CSA) since its formation in 1996 and for the last 12 months I have been chairman of the CSA, an organisation that has a membership of some 3,000 City supporters across the UK and further afield. I wouldn’t hold those positions if I didn’t care about the wide diversity of City fans and their views. Personally I have no idea what makes any team’s supporters the best in the land. Manchester City fans with their loyalty in times of adversity, their humour and terrific vocal support must be amongst the best around.

I don’t get to many away games but when I do I am frequently embarrassed by the behaviour of many. One example of this was the Worthington Cup game at Wigan earlier this season. Some of the scenes inside and outside the ground after the game were frightening and disgraceful, presumably because we got beat by the better team, hardly credentials for the best supporters in the land. Whilst I love going to Maine Road and soaking up the atmosphere there the one thing that makes me squirm is the regular chanting of “M” songs. Whilst no doubt the relevance of such songs is lost on many I am old enough to remember vividly the events around the Munich air disaster in 1958. As an 8 year old shoolboy at the time I remember everybody listening to all the news updates at the time, we were given regular briefings at school assemblies etc. I can only compare the mood of the nation at that time to the time more recently shortly after the death of Princess Diana. The whole nation was gripped by the news of Matt Busby’s (and others) fight for survival. Scenes of the Munich runway and survivors returning home were regularly flashed across the TV screens.

A few years ago whilst working for the City of Salford Youth Service I met a young man whose father was a 1st team player and a survivor of the Munich air disaster. He told me of his dad’s injuries, which had rendered him unable to work since the crash and having to rely on state benefits to support his family. When I hear those “M” chants they evoke memories in me of that young man and the events in February 1958.

I wouldn’t like my comments to be construed as any kind of sentiment for MUFC. Please believe me whilst I can’t hate them I loathe them with a passion. The arrogance of their supporters who seem to think the success of the club is down to them, the plc, the expert opinion of a million armchair supporters all get up my nose. Every time I see the Nike sign I want to paint over it. I don’t care who beats them as long as somebody does. Well done Real Madrid and c’mon Arsenal! Perhaps there are plenty of MCIVTA readers who share my view and will consider airing their opinions about the “M” songs and chants.

I do feel that the majority of City supporters are amongst the best in the land but until we get rid of the yob element who follow us about and “M” songs become a thing of the past then we can never claim to be the best supporters in the land.

[Hear, hear, Alex. I am in full agreement on this, we had a debate a couple of years back in McV but I don’t quite know what we can suggest. Any ideas out there? – Ed]

Alex Channon (


The Morecambe Bay branch went on a visit to the Carrington training facility today and I thought I’d let the readers know what was involved and how it went.

We had to arrive at Maine Road at 10-15 and at 10-30 we departed on a coach to the training ground. When we arrived we were taken around the building which housed the changing rooms, players’ café, laundry and gym.

There were plenty of photographic opportunities as we made our way around the building and, as we arrived at the gym, there was Steve Howey on the treadmill, Christian Negouai on a cycle machine (yes, he’s alive and well!) and good old Paulo was also there. He seemed happy to see us all and stopped for photographs and autographs even though technically we weren’t to disturb the players in the gym.

It was then out onto the perfectly manicured pitches to watch the players train for about an hour or so. Apparently there are 8 pitches and the squad use 2 different ones each day. The grass is the same as the Maine Road pitch with the same make up of seed, fibres and synthetic substances etc. Luckily enough the weather was perfect, with the ground dry and the players in apparently good spirits. First player we saw outside was Alfie Haaland doing some laps of the training facility. He had a cheery wave and seemed happy (poor fella, must feel like his world’s collapsed around him – I wish him well if he does end up going in the summer). There was a defending masterclass right in front of us featuring Sun Jihai and Chris Shuker with Derek Fazackerly doing the coaching. Kevin Keegan was taking the forwards for a bit of “scoring from crosses” practice, with Brian Murphy and Kevin Ellegaard taking turns in goal.

I read a previous correspondent (was it Heidi herself?) who had gone on the visit and were left waiting around afterwards and then most of the players had gone. It seems that things have slightly changed now as the autograph time was when the players were leaving the training pitch. We were in a group in one particular place when some players left early, a fair distance away from us so we weren’t able to speak to them, and, sadly, Kevin Keegan was a bit busy so rather than walk through and avoid talking to us, leaving the kids disappointed, he subtly went back a fair distance away. It’s well known that KK never refuses to sign autographs so it was widely accepted that he obviously had prior arrangements to attend to.

Of the players we managed to chat to and get the necessary there was Kevin Ellegaard, Niclas Jensen, Chris Shuker, Mikkel Bischoff, Sylvain Distin, Sun Jihai, Nicolas Anelka, Lucien Mettomo, Jon Macken, Robbie Fowler, Shaun Wright Phillips and The Goat. As always, the Goat was the perfect ambassador (is he really being allowed to leave?). The rest of the players though, were quite happy to sign and have photos taken. I did find though, that a little bit of players’ lingo works wonders. A “Bonjour” and “Merci Beaucoup” to Sylvain and Nicolas and a “ni hao” to Sun Jihai, and they’re eating out of your hand. Well, not quite, but you certainly get the impression that it’s appreciated. Especially Sun Jihai, who gave me a quick Chinese (Mandarin, I presume) lesson as I apologised for not knowing any more. He told me that thank you in Chinese (Mandarin) is shie-shie.

With that done and the players back getting changed it was back to the coach to Maine Road. En route back, we were informed by Lorraine that there was a Maine Road ground tour departing at 2pm and we were welcome to join it. So join it we did, and what a nice bonus it was.

All in all a great day, and a big thumbs up to the club for it all. Kids loved it (the big ones and the little ones that is!).

[Glad to hear that things have improved – Ed]

Lance Thomson (


I’m with Heidi on this one – in terms of output per minute played it has to be Shaun Goater – it’s not his fault he hasn’t been given the opportunity that some more illustrious but less productive folk have. Good luck next season and here’s hoping he gets a chance to show what he can do in the Premiership.

David Lewis (


There can only be one contender for this award and it has to be Eyal Berkovic. Every game he has played in, he looks the most accomplished player on the ball and has been the only midfielder who makes things happen. Most of our attacks stem from his great vision and workrate, always wanting the ball and looking threatening when he has it.

Eyal “the genius” Berkovic, MCFC Player of the year.

Glyn Albuquerque (


Forgive me if I’ve not read Don’s news correctly, but regarding the first section about ‘naming the stand’, if my memory serve me correctly the East Stand is where the current Kippax season ticket holders will relocate to. So why has the name ‘Kippax’ been put forward as a potential name for the West Stand! I know the names were chosen by the City supporters, but it would be sacrilege to rename what is in effect the Main Stand as The Kippax. Anyone else feel strongly about this?

My personal choice is the Joe Mercer Stand, to recognise the greatest ever City manager to date. I don’t usually have strong opinions on such subjects, but on reading this it rattled my cage a bit. Are there plans to poll supporters for names of the other stands, if so give us the choice of Kippax for the East Stand.

Anthony Ward – Rattled Blue (


I never usually contribute to the living legend that is MCIVTA but felt the need to after the debate about the greasy collar. After meeting Patrick Vieira and quizzing him he informed me that it is ‘Vicks’ or a similar decongestant smeared on his shirt working to widen the air passages and thus increase the intake of oxygen, creating a more efficient player etc. blah blah blah.

Let’s put this one to bed people and hope that my friendly demeanor has tempted Vieira to the City of Manchester stadium to play for the Blues next season… we live in hope.

Rob Kidd (


I am reliably informed by a still playing younger colleague that it is actually a vapour rub. e.g. Vic etc. and that it does actually work and helps breathing. I suppose it’s an extension of the nose clip thing that our very own Robbie Fowler made famous in the 90’s. Hope this clears things up.

David Unsworth (


In answer to the question of the greasy shirts, it is actually Vick’s vapour rub (or some similar product), which helps them to breathe more easily during the game.

David Bowl (


It seems this craze started at Arsenal, Vieira being one of the first. An Arsenal fan told me that it is Vic lotion, the stalwart of many old jokes about rubbing it on your chest when you have a cold. Apparently it helps you breathe better and the Arsenal players thought it might improve their performance, especially the foreign contingent who were not used to playing in the cold!

As the season draws to a close, I’d like to thank everyone at MCIVTA for their usual sterling work and look forward to seeing City in Europe next season.

Rhys Rowlands (


I missed the opening of this, but the ‘theories’ put forward as to why players have that blob of ‘stuff’ on their shirts seem far from the mark. It’s probably a blob of Vick’s or something similar that the players stick on their shirts to help them breathe more easily. It’s probably a replacement for the Robbie-Fowler style nose strips to help them breathe easier through their nose. It’s more plausible that to stop the reflection of the floodlights!

Oh, and thanks for the tip on putting vaseline above your eyebrows, it’ll come in a treat when I’m running!

Dr Scall – National Institute for Blobs of Vics on Football Shirts (


Some people were wondering what the stuff in players’ shirts is. Someone told me it is some menthol stuff, same that is given to people with bad flu to help them breathe. So basically the point of the grease is to help players breathe during the games.

Bob Hund (


I don’t understand the debate about what kind of grease is appearing on player’s shirts, and my did I chuckle at the “reflecting off floodlights” bit.

For Christ’s sake it is Vicks, so as to help you breathe more easily. I thought that would have been pretty obvious! Thierry Henry and other Gooners appeared to be the first to try this out last winter and of course it has caught on across the country.

Helen Hardman (


As an American Blue, I’m guessing that the Cobi incident in Korea probably didn’t have anything to do with Jones personally. US and Mexico are natural rivals in soccer due to their proximity… this was a very chippy game even by the standards of the rivalry, and the Mexicans were undoubtedly cheesed off at the fact that they were about to get bounced from the World Cup by their arch-enemies. As for why they would go after Cobi, my opinion is that they were more familiar with him (he plays for the MLS’ LA. Galaxy, which of course has a sizable Mexican population) and he also has a distinctive look that made it easier for them to zero in on him.

NYCTID, Pete Stein (


2 tickets for Liverpool available. Face – £28 each. Needs to be done by post (or collect in West Yorkshire). Call 07768 661755 or email.

Thanks, Andy Carver (


As you will probably know, the last issue of BTH came out a few weeks ago and is still available.

I have also had some pin badges made (metal with enamel) ostensibly to give to contributors but I as I had to have more made than I needed I have made some available in two colour schemes for £2 each as I realise badge collectors tend to be, er, completists and have to have every badge that’s ever been made to mount on their sky blue polystyrene ceiling tiles when they get home (yes Steve, that’s you!).

And now for something completely different… This week I am relaunching Electric Blue but as I cannot call it that due to a slight legal technicality, it’ll be called Eclectic Bleu and it will have all the old style articles inside, although they will all be brand new and original (A Worthy Journey, Bibby