Newsletter #1124

It’s all go down at City, Don brings us a round up of the departures tonight, which sees Asa Hartford exit after many years’ loyal association with the Club – thanks Asa for your tremendous work with the reserves. Also off are McManaman (quiet at the back there), possibly Macken, and Ashley Lewis from the boardoom.

We also have a personal view, thanks to Dave Lyons, of the Heysel disaster 20 years on, season reviews and continuing debate on a plethora of issues.

Finally, many congratulations to Liverpool for their fantastic victory last night, and good luck to Preston & Lincoln (no bias from me!) in the play-offs this weekend.

Next game: TBA


General News

Broken Hart: GMR broke the news this morning that there were big changes afoot in Stuart Pearce’s backroom staff. First came the announcement that “Reserve team coach Asa Hartford has left Manchester City”. John Wardle explained why. “Asa has been with us for many years and has done a good job. He will always be very welcome at City, he has been a great servant but the manager felt he wanted to bring in a new face. The club has got to move onwards and forwards, and that sometimes means a change in personnel.” So farewell Asa, a former legend as a player in the 70’s and 80’s, who had a short spell as manager during the 1996-97 season (who didn’t?). Hartford has been replaced by former Southampton manager Steve Wigley, a team-mate of Psycho at Nottingham Forest. SP said: “Steve is an excellent addition to my team. Not only does he have experience as a Premiership manager, but he has experience at all levels of football. He is enthusiastic, a real team player, and everything I’m looking for in a coach. He will be a great link in particular between the Academy and the first team.” Wigley, born in Ashton-under-Lyne, enthused: “I am simply delighted to be joining Stuart Pearce and Manchester City. City is most definitely a club on the up. As a local boy, it’s made my decision even easier, and I can’t wait to Stuart and his team, and experience all that Manchester City has to offer.”

Beep Off… to Toulon: BWP has been called up to the England Under-20 squad for the Toulon Tournament in France next month. He will hope to be involved in matches against Tunisia on 2 June, Portugal on 4 June and South Korea two days later. Coach Peter Taylor commented: “The most important thing is that the players enjoy the tournament and learn from the experience that they will pick up from playing against different types of teams. I hope the players go out there and play well and learn so that next season, when many will be with the Under-21s, they are more developed players and can apply the knowledge they have gained.”

Season Summary: SP has been summarizing the exploits of last season. “I think overall and looking back I would say I am very disappointed with our Cup exploits,” he observed. “The finish in the Premiership I would say was reasonable. We might have been one kick away from a very good finishing position but that is the nature of football. I think it gives us a fair base to build on next year and from that point of view I am now in as manager and am getting things the way I want them and will continue to do that over the summer.” Pearce has also been impressed by the reaction of his players. “A lot of players came to me at the end of the season and said that they didn’t want it to end,” he remarked. “That is a good thing and to be honest I don’t think I wanted it to end either. Most of the players reacted in a very good manner to being left out of the side or being in the starting eleven. They all, I believe, enjoyed the last nine games and obviously results had a lot to do with that. We had a nice camaraderie building up in the dressing room amongst the squad, which is a good thing – it is a solid base for the future.”

Boardroom Departure: On Wednesday City announced that Director Ashley Lewis had left the Club Board. “I would like to thank Ashley for all the help and support he has given both myself and all the rest of the board over the years,” said Chairman John Wardle. “I know he will continue to support the club in every way. There are no immediate plans to replace him.” Ashley Lewis said: “I have been privileged to serve the club during some exciting years and have witnessed significant progress on all fronts in the past few seasons and will now concentrate my efforts in the business sector.” He had been at the club for 11 years.

Transfer News and Gossip

Ask Arthur: SP has issued a statement of intent regarding his rebuilding of the squad this summer. And he is ready to listen to consult others before plunging into the transfer market. “In my own mind, I know where we need to strengthen and what players I believe we have access to,” the boss asserts. “But there are good people around me who I will go and seek advice from right across the board. If I am uncertain, I’m the first person to pick up the phone and ask someone what they think. Whether it is the chairman or anyone around the club, the coaching staff; Arthur Cox is only a phone call away. I’m quite open-minded in that respect.”

Macken at the Palace Gates? The big rumour on Monday was that Crystal Palace had made a £500,000 bid for Jon Macken. I suppose Jonny wouldn’t be too surprised to hear that he might not figure in SP’s long-term plans, especially after Psycho decided to use David James as an extra striker against Middlesbrough while Macken sat on the bench. Prior to the arrival of Nicholas Anelka, Macken was City’s biggest purchase, when he made a £5.5 million move from Preston North End in 2002. He scored once in the Barclaycard Premiership last season, and started only one game under Mr. Pearce.

Eyein’ Ryan: So who will replace the departing journeymen at the COMS? Sky Sports brought news this week of City joining the hunt for Argentine star Andres D’Alessandro. The midfielder currently plies his trade with Bundesliga side Wolfsburg, and it’s believed SP checked out the player last weekend at Wolfsburg’s game with Arminia Bielefeld. A season-long loan could tempt D’Alessandro to join City, although the 24-year-old is thought to be interesting a number of Premiership clubs. Meanwhile, Tranmere’s highly-rated young full-back Ryan Taylor is said to have been targeted by City. The 20-year-old right-back is already a seasoned campaigner at Prenton Park and has enjoyed another impressive season for the club who were knocked out of the League One play-offs this week. SP is keen, it is alleged, on a £600,000 deal for Taylor who has also attracted attention from Everton.

The Camera Never Lies: The Sunday press pack have decided that City are again after Laurent Robert, the troublesome Newcastle winger who makes a habit of falling out with his managers. At least nothing else fell out on the last day of the season, as Robert stripped down to his “Bill Grundies” and threw his kit to the St. James’ Park faithful. He announced that he had played his last game for the Geordies. Robert would cost any prospective employer £2 million, which, if memory serves, is approximately two million more than Psycho has to spend this summer. The rumours concerning Wolves’ striker Henri Camara are still floating in the ether this week. With his loan spell at Southampton at an end, Wolves sound keen to be rid of the striker. Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey told the News of the World: “I would expect him to be sold but we won’t sell cheaply just because he wants to go. It will unfold over the next month.”

Ex-Blues’ News

Greenacre Potters Off: Striker Chris Greenacre, 27, has been released by Stoke after making 75 league appearances in three seasons since joining from Mansfield. It was Keith Curle who took Greenacre from City’s reserves to Field Mill and he shot the Stags to promotion with 28 goals in season 2001/02. His move to the Potteries proved to be an unsuccessful one, as injuries limited chances to shine at the Britannia Stadium. Current Mansfield boss Carlton Palmer is considering a move for the former Stag. “Obviously Chris Greenacre is on the list of available strikers and he has scored goals at this level,” said Palmer. “So he is one will will be looking at this summer for sure. I have one or two strikers I am interested in and Chris is one of them. We will leave it at that for now” (thanks Ian Burgess).

First Love Never Dies: How sweet. Nicolas Anelka has revealed how one day he’d like to return to England to play again for his favourite club, namely – Liverpool! “When I was there, I wanted to stay,” Nico said. “But it could not be settled. Last winter, when I was at Manchester City, there was contact with Liverpool. If I could have gone, I would have not said ‘no’. But I have to accept it. I am not taking the decision for reinforcements there. The Liverpool fans would like me to come back. It is a club I really loved. I would like to go back one day.”

Squad News

Traffic Cop Shown the Exit Sign: The average age of City’s first team squad continues to plummet – hot on the heels of Paul Bosvelt leaving the club comes news that Steve McManaman will not be offered a new deal when his current contract runs out in June. “I had a quick chat with Steve as the season ended and he is basically going away on holiday for a break from football,” SP confirmed this week. “He will decide then where his future lies from there really. But it is not here. I am not sure where he will go. That’s decision for Steve and we are very respectful of that and what he has done over his career. If he decides to join another club, that is fine. But our financial situation meant we couldn’t keep him.” Macca made just five starts in the season just ended, having had trouble from a chronic Achilles tendon injury. Reports suggest he may consider a career in the media, and there he was, resplendent in a pink shirt and tie in the ITV studio for the European Cup Final last night – although Greater Manchester Police’s traffic division have sent him their job vacancies…

Keep Banging Away: Meanwhile, at the younger end of the squad, SP confirmed last week that he had persuaded two of his starlets to commit to the Blues. Nineteen year-old Lee Croft has signed up for a further year with City, while Stephen Jordan has agreed a two year deal. “Lee signed his contract after the game on Sunday, which is a big lift for us,” confirmed the Gaffer, before adding that: “Stevie Jordan has agreed in principle to stay at the football club. I told them from day one when the club were negotiating with them that to stay at a club of this size is a fantastic thing. I would certainly have signed a contract a lot quicker than they did! But I understand how professional football is nowadays and that things have to be right. They are working here at a good football club with a manager that will give them the opportunity to shine,” he continued. “I think that in some ways I have demonstrated to them that they have a lot of hard work to do and I have told them that. But if they keep banging away and they get into the side and do well, they will stay there; it is as simple as that.”

Kiki Update: This week’s signals on the future of Kiki Musampa suggest that City are hoping to make the loan deal for the Dutchman into a permanent one. Gaffer Psycho said that “We are talking with Kiki. He is an Atletico player, so we need to know firstly if Kiki wants to stay and then can anything be done with Atletico. We are speaking with him, his agent and Atletico and we hope to resolve something. I think he did well in the games he was here. He has done himself no harm. He has just met up with the Dutch squad, possibly on the back of what he has done with us. If it is financially workable then possibly yes I would like him to stay here. I think he enjoyed being here and what we do at this football club. That’s a good thing. I think he did a reasonable job for us but I would expect him to get better if he stayed here next season. It’s got to be resolved between us and the club really.” The player doesn’t sound averse to a City stay either. “I know that Stuart wants me to stay but we have got to talk about it and see what’s going to happen,” said Musampa. “I enjoy being here and part of me really wants to stay in England. I am feeling good about myself and I think it would be bad if I had to go away again. You must understand that this is a completely new thing for me. It is a new type of football, new food, new social hours, new everything. I had to get used to everything on and off the pitch. I am getting used to everything about England. It took a while to switch my mind but now I am used to everything. This is a club on the up and if they want me to stay, then I don’t think it will be a problem. We didn’t make it into Europe after the last game of the season but we have got a good spirit, we are a club on the up.”

Wolves Not Taking the Mik: A spot of Danish Blue news for you, folks. Following Wolves’ decision not to sign Mikkel Bischoff, SP assured the youngster that he would be given a chance to prove himself in the new season. Although Pearce later gave a different view. “Mikkel has been away, a fee had been agreed with Wolves but they didn’t want to take that up,” said the manager. “He is our player and he will come back in pre-season to fight for a place. I have said to Mik that it doesn’t matter if he has been away on loan. If he comes back in pre-season and plays well enough, then he will be good enough to get back into our side. It’s as simple as that.” But Bischoff might yet be on his way. “Of course I would consider a swap deal,” admitted Pearce. “That’s the nature of football these days. A swap deal would be a consideration but that’s the same with any player and not just Mikkel Bischoff.” Fellow countryman Kevin Stuhr-Ellegaard is definitely on his way out. “Kevin has been released,” Pearce confirmed. “When I have had opportunities and people have rung me about goalkeepers, I have told Kevin that I will do anything that I possible can to forward him to certain clubs. We hope he gets fixed up. Probably circumstance held him up. Nick Weaver got himself back fit and Geert De Vlieger came in. David James’ form has been excellent, so it limited his opportunities. But I still think he is a goalkeeper with a bright future. I just felt with the amount of goalkeepers we have here, we couldn’t keep him. Obviously I have got one eye on the player and their opportunities and one eye on the financial aspects for the club.”

Don Barrie <news(at)>


An Angel on the Crossbar

Approaching the 20th anniversary of the Heysel stadium disaster, I felt compelled to put pen to paper, especially after having seen the excellent Belgian co-production ‘Requiem’. The programme brought it all flooding back and prompted me to submit my own peculiar slant.

Domestic City

I’d spent many years in England following the ‘Blues’, travelling the length and breadth of the country spreading the gospel of Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison. At ‘home’ we got into all sorts of mischief, like throwing abuse, inedible pies and raw eggs, bought especially for the purpose, at visiting supporters. Match days were seldom poor in those far off days, but if ‘Joe’s Boys’ had an off day, then at least we were going to have our fun. Occasionally we had the inevitable physical confrontation with the opposition and had a ‘rumble’ before the cops showed up or one side or the other decided it was a bit too one-sided and quickly split.

On the Kippax and Scoreboard terracing it could get a bit ‘hairy’ in those pre-segregation times. One such confrontation was the goalless derby at Maine Road in the Cup-winning season following our ’68 Championship triumph. It was with immense pride that I was pulled out of a gaggle of filth by the Manchester Constabulary. It had been the Rags’ turn to charge at our lot and despite advance assurances that we weren’t going to run I found myself alone. A little worse for wear, with a cut lip and a red badge of courage, I was steered past my mates by a constable to the front of the old Kippax, over the wall and rou, which was, partially, functioning as a temporary first aid station for less fortunate rumblers of both persuasions.

Imagine my surprise at meeting Glyn Pardoe and Tony Coleman, who were busy with their loosening-up exercises and pre-match kickabout. They seemed astonished that despite my obvious war wounds my greatest wish was to shake their hands and wish them success. They accepted my outstretched hand gracefully and not without amusement. A policeman offered me a choice of exit from the ground to get my lip stitched up at the infirmary or back through the tunnel and return to the Kippax. So, the match it was; once back among the Northenden lot I was definitely that day’s celebrity.

Highlights of the football calendar were the away trips on Mad Mark’s football excursions, mainly to the ‘Smoke’ where for a mere one pound we had a bus return trip to London taking up the best part of our weekend. These trips had their moments but somewhere along the way, the mischief became a little more sinister and caused me to make a severe re-assessment. We had a trip to Stamford Bridge and prior to the kick-off the latest count of stab victims wearing sky-blue scarves was continually doing the rounds. Somebody else had suffered a Stanley blade attack on the tube. I curtailed my travelling after having my physical mobility impaired when my left knee ligaments were shattered during an after match bit of nonsense in the centre of Nottingham.

City were regularly in Europe at this time but I never managed to get any foreign trips in!


During the ‘close-season’ and summer of ’73 I left Manchester and England, ostensibly to work the season in Spain. This proved to be my definite emigration because somewhere during my travels I arrived in Holland and have been there ever since. Always preaching the sky-blue gospel whenever and wherever the chance creates itself.

Being in Holland, however, enabled me to watch the Blues during their sorties to this side of the puddle. There was one notable (UEFA?) cup run that enabled me to see them, first hand, in Enschede – Holland, Luik (Liege) – Belgium and Mönchengladbach (Germany). In fact, the only away game I missed during the run was the game at AC Milan. In the meantime, I’d seen the Blues at all sorts of unlikely venues in the Netherlands during their pre-season friendly/warm-up games. Ever heard of places like PEC Zwolle, Vitesse Arnhem, NAC Breda, F.C. Lokeren in Hulst?

A strange phenomenom, for me, occurred in Germany when I bumped into a strange sort of City supporters. In some weird way they were unlike the old familiar sort, back in Manchester. They proved to be mercenaries for a night. They’d be squaddies from the Rhine Army, who’d buy a crisp new scarf for any British team and armed with a ticket for the match would support the visiting team for a few hours.

During the interceding years I’ve lent my vocal support to most visiting English teams whether during European competitive games or friendlies. European games have always generated the right, keen atmosphere but friendlies invariably turned out to be bloodless affairs. I’ve been all square behind Ipswich, Spurs, Liverpool, Villa and Everton during their final rounds in the Rotterdam and Amsterdam arenas. The only exception I’ve ever made, and I wouldn’t have it otherwise, was backing Johan Cruijff’s Barcelona against the Rags in the European Cup II final at Feyenoord. I regret, bitterly, that I witnessed Taggart’s successful launching pad.

Most Dutch people regard my attitude towards our old Manchester neighbour as rather eccentric. They cannot understand my lack of sympathy for a team bearing the name of the town in which I was born, and I have to go to great pains to convince them that when the day dawns when Chewing Gum Alex leads his likeable, loveable team out of the tunnel for the final of the Universal Planetary Cup in the Lunar Arena, I’ll be rooting all the way for the Martians. Having said that, most Dutch have a dormant, intense dislike for Ajax or Feyenoord, which only surfaces whenever, during and just after the two meet. For the rest of the time, however, whenever facing foreign opposition, they close ranks and even their old traditional enemy is to be supported, as Dutch representatives.

My motive in mentioning all this, is foremost in establishing my credentials. I’m a City supporter who’s been around a bit, served his apprenticeship on the terraces home and away, but have never been found wanting in lending my vocal support to visiting English club teams (with the notable aforementioned exception).

Prelude to a Disaster

In the years preceding the events at the Heysel, English and indeed Liverpool supporters may have felt hard done by at the hands of the Italians. During the European Championship Finals, in Italy, English supporters had been stoned from bridges overlooking their camping-sites, while the police looked on. Liverpool supporters had been knocked around Rome when they turned up for their final tie against Borussia Mönchengladbach. There might, in all probability, have been a sense of having debts to settle.

When it was decided to put the tickets on open sale for the 1985 Final tie, in Brussels, one of my Belgian friends (a keen Anderlecht fan) elected to send his wife to the stadium to get the maximum 5 tickets per person. If she was successful then he elected to send her through again for a second handful. The importance of the game to the masses of immigrant Italian workers throughout the Benelux, the German Ruhr and Northern France was apparently lost on the police and football authorities in Belgium. This lad’s wife phoned him up at work to tell him she’d succeeded in getting the initial series of tickets but if he really wanted more then he should come to the stadium. She’d suffered all sorts of abuse and hassle during her queuing ordeal, at the hands of the Italians, and there was no way she’d go through it again without him! By the time he’d arrived at the stadium, all hell had broke loose. The remaining tickets had since been sold out and irate ticket-less supporters were to be seen mugging successful supporters, their own clan, coming out of the gates a little further along the stadium. She’d mentioned knives and iron bars were the tools being waved about.

As many as ninety percent of Vak (block) Z, on the evening of the final, still a month hence, would be occupied by Italians, including the charming individuals I’ve just mentioned. Vak-Z was immediately adjacent to the block containing the bulk of the Liverpudlians. The furore of the ticket sales calmed down and we moved gradually towards the day of the final itself.

My Angel on the Crossbar

Around early afternoon on the day of the final, I collected my long-time fellow import and Hammers’ supporter, Tony, and off we headed to Brussels, to the sales office of a well known British chemical concern. We arrived in plenty of time, planning to go to the Anderlecht supporters’ house when they wound up work, have a few snacks and a bevy, then head off in a relaxed fashion to the stadium, around the corner, relatively speaking, from his home. For the couple of hours we’d spent at the office, just loafing around and getting into the banter I hadn’t missed my car keys. Imagine my panic when I discovered my loss only when departing the office, approaching the car and putting my hand in my pocket. I don’t recall going first back into the office and having another look, but there they were, stuck in the ignition and I’d contrived to slam the door shut.

I’d let the time elapse, unconsciously, and there’d been ample time to do something and at the allotted time of departure I was missing my keys. My condition was acute, my panic complete. I was breaking out in feverish sweats alternating rapidly with cold chills. The police arrived, and a regular ‘Jack the lad’ Brussels copper sold me on the idea that he could break into the most exclusive Mercedes within a couple of minutes, and I was nearly distraught when fifteen minutes later he sloped off after quietly giving up. We managed to get a Ford mechanic, also to no avail. My simple little XR3I had busted the collective balls of the local police and Ford. This was only the second and last time this has ever happened to me in over 35 years of driving.

Ford was going to keep trying to reclaim my keys. Along with a Frenchman, a Dutchman and the Belgian, we English were to proceed with alternative transport to the right side of town for our, now, quick bite and hasty walk round to the stadium. I’d meet a non-football going member of the staff after the game, at the Grand Place, and collect my retrieved car keys, hopefully. Before stepping into the stadium, we agreed that to stand too near the front would be folly. We’d be staring at the entire game through a fence. We agreed to stand half-way up the stand because if we stood near the back then we’d be miles away from the field with its surrounding running track.

What the… ?

We arrived at the stadium to complete pandemonium. Something had obviously just happened and as we approached the nearest entrance a tall lad with fuzzy hair was carrying a teenage girl out towards us. Not to be deterred, we headed for the first turnstiles admitting us to Vak-Z. The turnstile that we used was totally incapable of checking our progress. The construction of the thing had been waist high, not the floor to ceiling jobs that we now know! The entire steel apparatus had been flattened, we later found out, by the weight of human pressure desperate to get out!

Entering the rear of the open air stand we witnessed a scene reminiscent of a disaster movie. The scene was one of a mad flight of people. We trod carefully to our agreed spot halfway down the terracing, picking our way between cardigans, jackets, scarves, flags, shoes, all seemingly discarded in haste. To me, this was the aftermath of an earthquake as I expected it to be. Not too far to our right and towards a gap between the two stands, a small army of helpers were already clustered in groups around those poor unfortunate souls whom we now know could not avoid the flow of people a short while before.

Our small group spent the entire evening, bemused, watching the unfolding operation to stabilise the stadium, secure the situation, remove all the victims and enable the game to be played.

We can’t have been more than fifty yards from where those unfortunate people were lying and we were unaware, the whole evening, that many had died. There had been a steady procession of people being carried away on temporary barriers, flat out, being used as stretchers. Many people were being carried away in tarpaulins, but in afterthought, wait a minute, a sheet of tarp is surely not all that suitable for a victim with one or more broken limbs?

We remained within that heavy atmosphere for the wait, police were being mobilised from all over Belgium. We stood the whole evening until the game was played, and I for one, never thought that Liverpool had a cat in hell’s chance. Certainly not when Juve were gifted a penalty that never was! The decision was a travesty, but when you see a replay nowadays, the Liverpool players didn’t raise a murmur. Their heart was not in it!

At the final whistle we got out quick! Not that there was any urgency. There was more a feeling of, not so much a party having gone flat, more like never really having got started! It wasn’t our party and we were off. Juventus were going berserk and it was their party.

Once outside the stadium we had to traverse the massive forecourt of the Heysel, with its green verges. Our general direction would take us diagonally along the end occupied by the travelling bulk of Juventus support from their homeland. The first part was to cross a dense picket line of police facing the end from which the departing Liverpool supporters might appear. It was at this moment that the Frenchman in our midst picked up the message from a police radio that the evening had produced mortal victims. No mention of numbers but the sight of all that was going on around us was testimony that we ought to quicken our step. The vast expanse of forecourt had been turned into one huge refugee camp by the Red Cross, the forces and civil services. Tents as far as you could see, pallets of blankets head high, medical staff scurrying to and fro. We passed through the opposite police picket facing the Italian end and faded into the night, away from that ominous, oppressive place.

Back to reality, or is it?

We reached the centre of Brussels and sought the bar/café at the corner of the Grand Place where we’d arranged to meet the non-football goers. The Grand Place is a bubbly place 24/7 and then 365 days per year, it had barely passed midnight and it looked as if the plague was rampant. Over the whole square nothing moved and the buildings were all blacked out. One of our friends came running out of the café and not so much ushered as pushed us quickly indoors. The doors were immediately heavily bolted behind us. Brussels had the feel of a city under siege. The game had become very much a side issue and the people who’d been indoors witnessing the scenes of carnage the whole evening were still being bombarded with those pictures, on the T.V. screens, as we were, for the first time while stood with them. It was with astonishment that we recognised the sections of terracing where we’d stood, the entire evening, until shortly before our appearance at the pub.

My mind has frequently strayed back to those terrible events, now nearly twenty years ago and I’m amazed at the permutations of what ifs and possible traumatic effects our little group might have suffered! Had I not mislaid my keys, arrived at our planned time, then I am convinced that we would have been positioned slap dab in the middle of the fleeing stampede. We had, after all, decided to position ourselves, for the game, in the dead geographical centre of Vak-Z. I’ve flattered myself ever since that tragedy, that with my experience of terrace skirmishes through the years, that with a body-swerve here and a collection of well chosen words there, the scousers would have swept by pursuing their recognisable enemy. My self assuredness begins to crack when I realise that ‘What if I’d had no chance and the human wave had swept me along with all the other individuals who’d been unable to help themselves during those terrible moments?’

What of my companions for the evening? Had they had the presence of mind, not to do anything daft? Not having had any experience of terrace craft, as practised by our mobs, had they been capable of holding their wits and not legging it with the Italians, who were justly afraid? Unless things have changed through the years, terrace warfare, as I recall was, basically, 1) gather here in sufficient strength, 2) rush in the direction of the opposition over there, throw a few punches and then 3) await the counter attack. If it doesn’t come then a perfect afternoon was had by all. All the people who perished were unaware of this script. All they were aware of was a huge bunch of scousers coming at them and their only answer was to run and run and keep going, those that could!

None of the victims died directly at the hands of the Liverpudlians. Death was indiscriminate. Among the dead were French, Belgians and an Irishman. In the aftermath of the ‘Heysel’ there had been rumours of National Front involvement. Having spent all those hours in Vak-Z, on that far off evening, I would have accepted that notion readily! I’ve been to all the venues during my City following career and been only too aware of the need to tread carefully around the Swamp, Highbury, Elland Road and last but not by a long chalk least, Anfield, but it’s never deterred me from going to those places. At the Heysel, however, I recall seeing more than a few neanderthals, the like of which I’d never seen at Anfield or anywhere else, wearing Liverpool colours.


While goalie Ed. De Goey served Feyenoord, the Rotterdammers always felt that on at least one occasion, in every game, Ed would be stranded and his guardian angel would swoop and retrieve the situation for him. His angel would be perched on the crossbar during the entire game awaiting Ed’s moment of need.

My ‘angel’ influenced my movements, that day in 1985, as never before, or since, or there again, who knows?

Greetings Blues.

Dave Lyons – Blue Moon over Holland too <DJ.Lyons(at)>


Not having done as many match reports as possible, I thought I would bore you with a few end-of-season meanderings.

Firstly, the last game of the season. What an atmosphere! What a great day! And how emotional the injury-time ups and downs. I am so glad Robbie Fowler has not been slagged off for the penalty save. All the way back to York Radio 5 referred to it as a miss, much to the disgust of my wide-awake wife, whose favourite player, even before his City days, is RF. Look at it this way… had we drawn or lost at villa the last game would have been a somewhat dull anti-climax, and who honestly thought we would win at Villa? Or, put it this way… how many last-game-of-the-season relegation battles have we seen, and how much better to be battling it out for 7th! I still harp back to the 1-0 defeat at home to Bolton as being a key result.

Now we have the prospect of possibly getting into Europe if Liverpool win the European Cup. My foreign side is, has been for years, Milan; nice dilemma.

The end of the season has, as has been writ large in these pages, highly satisfying. The whole set up seems buoyant and enthusiastic, with fitness and work-rate being great. We have the makings of a great side. It is not so long ago since the 1-2 reverse at York, and now we are 8th in the Premiership with essentially a young side brim full of potential and a great, young coach. Now we need stability. Everton and Bolton are no better than City. Boro may be with a full side… Liverpool I think will be strong next year, so too the Geordies, so we must target 6th place.

In terms of personnel one would assume the manager will look to offload à la Macca a couple of highly-paid 30 somethings and 4-legged strikers. We desperately need a decent striker to partner Robbie Fowler; how about Wanchope! He has had a row at Malaga. Or Kevin Phillips? Then BWP can be number 3 in line and get half an hour every week – look at how difficult it can be for clubs with four highly paid strikers to score goals. Especially in ‘Showpiece Cup Finals’. Three forwards is enough.

I like the goalkeeping options. Perhaps a good left back may be an idea, though Thatcher and Jordan are both fine. Mills is not a bad player, despite enthusiastic suggestions to the contrary within this publication. He is woefully short of confidence and not long ago was in the England team (mind you, so was Trevor Sinclair!). Distin, I totally reverse my decision on. Happy to see him go to Newcastle at Xmas, now I rate him (again) highly. Next to him is one of the best central defenders in European football. My wife forces me to watch huge amounts of European footie on Sky and Eurosport and aside from the usual glut of Italian stars there is not much better.

Midfield is good in terms of workrate. Seems sometimes we need to focus either on going through the middle or going down flanks and around the sides. Do we get a little confused? SWP is under-used occasionally. Will Musampa stay? Who knows? Not me… very excited about next year.

One more question – why do we not enter the Inter Toto Cup? Too late, I know, but why not? A legitimate path into UEFA (remember Bordeaux in ?2000). Plus warm-ups in the sun and additional revenue.

Have a good summer!

Mike Bains <MikeBains(at)>


Now that the season has ended, and might I add on a refreshing high note under SP, my observations looking back are thus.

Keegan – let us not forget his impact on City; during his time has seen us consolidated in the Premiership. A guy who always had time for the fans, indeed he spent 10 minutes chatting to me after City’s training Oct 2001, which I’ll never forget.

SP – right man, right place, right time – has shown he can gel the team and get the best out of them. Knew he would be prepared to use the new boys because he told me at the above training session I could play next week if they lost at Preston – they did, alas I didn’t.

SWP – words just aren’t worthy of him.

Fowler – the goals aren’t flowing, but look at the opportunities he creates for those around him e.g. Charlton away 2-2 – Macken/Musumpa be very ashamed – needs an Ashton or Crouch to provide for his predatory instincts.

Who should go – Sommeil, Macken, Bischoff, Sibierski.

Who should we look at – Lee Clark (Fulham) free agent, Ashton or Crouch, maybe Camara or Bent (Ipswich).

Man Utd – no trophies is superb news, however must sympathise for a second when I saw a British reporter trying to get a single word out of Glazer on tonight’s news and the smiling g!t/whatever would not utter a single word to the club or their fans – disgraceful and adds to stigma attached to the USA of utter arrogance towards the rest of the world – thankfully not attached to City in any way. [Should fit in well with the Rags’ arrogance towards all things football then! – Ed]

Liverpool – what can you say – shades of City at Spurs in the FA Cup but not as good as not down to 10 men and needed pens – however, will retain a small soft spot for them if we get a UEFA Cup spot because of them.

Bring on 2005-2006 and thanks to you local Poms who support City and give us Kiwis a great insight into City life at the coalface.

P.S. The Lions are going to be slaughtered!

Chris <hawkeye(at)>


I see this evening that we are being linked with Tranmere’s right back Ryan Taylor. I recently was at the Hartlepool vs. Tranmere play-off first leg game and have to say that the only player on either side who stood out was ‘Pool’s striker Adam Boyd. Most of Hartlepool’s good attacks were down their left whether Hartlepool’s left back (wing back really) Matty Robson or Boyd drifting over from the middle. If I recall correctly it was Taylor’s first game back from injury but there was nothing in the performance that said that the lad was playing below his true level.

Hope to be proven wrong…

Wallace Poulter <wpoulter(at)>


Regarding atmosphere at Coms, I emailed the powers to be with the following suggestions: ask fans to bring drums and trumpets to selected games, dish out ticker tape and horns in the top tier, have a couple of dozen giant flags behind the goals, flog/give away flags to the youngsters at certain matches, have someone play decent music leading up to kick off.

While I realise the suggestions wont be everyone’s cup of tea, at least we would make one hell of a racket; needless to say the suggestions went into the file marked ‘bin’.

Far East tour: Thomas Cook got slated when they charged city fans a small fortune on City’s last ill-fated European tour. Well they are at it again and MCFC and TC should be ashamed of themselves. They are organising a 5 night trip for a little under £900 without transfers to the game or match tickets. The going rate with most other tour operators for 7 nights in Bangkok is about £650. We have done our own thing for £600, which includes 9 nights in Pattaya, 10 hours in hotel in Dubai, all transfers to hotel /airport /matches, free drinks on the plane.

Supporting the supporters? I don’t think so.

Finally, wearing the away kit for the last home game when about 30,000 fans had blue ones on, what’s going on?

Don Price <cathdon.price(at)>


With the club said to be around £62 million in the red and SWP valued at £25+ million, who makes the final decision on his future? The manager or the accountant?

Justin Arthur <jarthur(at)>


Re the missing flag from the Boro game: I don’t know where it ended up but I hope it visits a washing machine before its next appearance.

It passed over me and it was covered in all sorts of substances, some of which looked very unpleasant. And there were unpleasant odours eminating from it.

So whoever has it, please return it to its rightful owner but wash it first.

John Nisbet <nisbet1957(at)>


Just like to say that I agree with everything David Bowl said. City fans do tend to have to be negative about one or two players, this year it’s DM and AS.

Why can’t we just get behind our players as they are playing for the team we love.

Anne Parker <annemcfc(at)>


Sad to hear that the Pink is going away. I always thought it was a paper for Manchester, not just t’other team but reported on all the local leagues. It is a sign of the homogenization of our society that only will leave us with national and international papers.

Every time I come back to Manchester I lament another loss of my childhood and our heritage as Mancunians. Next thing you know the Rags will move to New York or Miami. It will still be quicker than driving to Ipswich. We will miss seeing how Droylsden did against The Bridge and if Denton St Lawrence would beat West End.

Does anyone think we could have a light blue paper or should it be the footy echo?

Jim Heaviside <JHeavis502(at)>


I’d just like to add my ten penneth to the debate about the new away shirt.

I’ve just got back from the ComStad having bought the new shirt.

As a football shirt, I have to say that I am none too keen. It’s a very dark colour and too much like the referee’s shirt from a distance.

On the other hand, I think it’s a great leisure shirt. The dark colouring makes it a little less ‘In yer face’ as a football shirt.

One other thing. John Wardle said that the black & red shirts didn’t sell because the colours were nowadays unpopular. I think the problem with the last black & red shirt that I bought for my son, with First Advice on it, was not the colour but the horrible material used. It was like the first replica shirts from the late 60’s that were like rugby shirts. My son won’t wear it because he says it makes him itch.

John Nisbet <nisbet1957(at)>


Good comments from Marc Starr on the ongoing badge debate in MCIVTA 1123

Personally I never had a problem with the old crest; I associate people like Alan Ball, Steve Coppell etc. with failure and not the badge. However, you have to listen to those who say that it represents the worst as well as the best of City and that it’s best we moved on in a visual sense.

The current badge arrived in the 97/98 season when we got our laser blue Kappa kit. Francis Lee wanted a badge over which the club could have commercial rights, unlike the famous old one (which I think most people still associate with City in their mind’s eye), which was sold on to the bloke who ran the club shop, or something. Certainly the new logo did us no favours in its first season, as we fell to our lowest ever level.

For me, the badge, as a hotchpotch of disparate images, has no style and does not do any favours for the wider image of the club. Eagles on a club crest are forever associated with SS Lazio, the Rome club with a renowned fascist following, and a latin motto is all well and good if like Everton you’ve used it through thick and thin. In addition, contrary to some opinions, a star is used in Italy if you have won 10 scudettos, Juventus are the only club to wear two because they are the only ones to win 20+ titles. To put three stars on our crest was a cheeky bit of wishful thinking, as we have not won 30 championships!

However, if you take off the latin scroll, the eagle and the stars, what you’re left with is a nice, modern, clean badge that represents City and Manchester. And a way forward for the image of our club without tacky extras.

Murray Withers <murraywithers(at)>


If Manchester City think they have financial problems, just wait for the meltdown to hit Old Trafford when the Glazers take over United.

Sports fans living in North America know that one of the quickest ways to raise cash is to rename their stadium. I believe almost every pro stadium and hockey rink on the continent has a corporate sponsor.

I am just waiting for the day when they announce that Old Trafford will be renamed “Boddington’s Stadium” or something similar. The rumble you are hearing is Matt Busby turning in his grave!

Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of blokes!

Keith Sharp – Toronto, Canada <keith(at)>


The great comebacks: City versus Gillingham (promotion game), City versus Spurs (FA Cup replay), and AC Milan versus Liverpool (European Champions). Congratulations to Liverpool – you did Great Britain proud!

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)>

MCIVTA FAQ [v0405.02]

[1] MCIVTA Addresses

Articles (Heidi Pickup)          :
News/rumour (Don Barrie)         :
Subscriptions (Madeleine Hawkins):
Technical problems (Paul)        :
FAQ (David Warburton)            :

[2] What are MCIVTA’s publishing deadlines?

Deadlines for issues are nominally 6pm, Monday and Thursday evenings bu email. Unfortunately we cannot accept email attachments.

[3] 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.

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

The official club web site can be found at

[5] 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” (

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

The Fans’ Committee operates as an interface between supporters and the club. The Fans’ Committee has been relaunched as “Points of Blue”. It has appeared on the club website as a minor entry under “Fans Zone”.

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

The GMR pre and post match phone-in is available on the web at

Live match commentaries and archives of games, reports and interviews can be found at

[8] Where can I find out if City are live on satellite TV? provides a listing of Premiership games being shown on UK domestic and foreign satellite channels. Useful sites for North American viewers are,, and

[9] Do we have a Usenet newsgroup?

Yes we do: is our home on usenet. If you are not familiar with usenet, a basic explanation is available here:,289893,sid9_gci213262,00.html

[10] Do any squad members have their own web pages?

There are a number available and direct links can be found at

[11] Can I buy shares in the club?

Yes you can: Shares in Manchester City PLC are traded on OFEX. The latest prices can be on found the OFEX web site (registration required) or in the business section of the Manchester Evening News.

[12] Where can I find match statistics?

Statistics for the current season are available from the club site, but for a more in-depth analysis try

[13] Where can I find a list of City-related websites?

Try Wookie’s Lair:

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 #1124