Newsletter #1137

Continued opinion on Bernstein, a hatful of requests and another great Why Blue.

SWP still with us, although Arsenal have now said they are tracking the situation, so Shaun – small fish big pond, or lynchpin at City?

Next game: West Bromwich Albion, home, 3pm Saturday 13 August 2005


Richard Williams’ article raised some points about Bernie’s reign at City that I think need a response.

His praise for DB’s rôle in the negotiations for Eastlands, and the securitised debt deal was faint indeed. At times, back in the 90’s, many a doubt was cast as to whether the Commonwealth Games would even go ahead, and any heavy handed negotiating on our part would have endangered the whole project amidst worries of funding shortfalls as per the Sheffield Student Games disaster.

Similarly, to have set up a funding package to enable the stadium to be fitted out properly on fairly blue-chip terms with a top rate lender was pretty damn good financial management considering we were a club yoyo’ing about below the top league and existing only via loans from major shareholders. How many times did DB trudge home on a wet Saturday night thinking of City playing football in a three sided athletics bowl?

However, my main point is the way in which many people misunderstand the rôle of ‘chairman’. It is the shareholders who determine what duties the chairman assumes (over and above sitting in the chair at board meetings), and when the major shareholder wants to run the shop, you end up with the Swales/Ken Bates model of figurehead chairman. But that was never DB.

FHL (a chairman in that mode) bought DB in as Financial Director (no football knowledge required), and it was only when Franny ceded control to Wardle and Makin (the JD’s) that DB was made chairman, mainly as a neutral to smooth things between the various warring factions at a time when a drop to the third tier was at hand.

No one else wanted the fire-fighting rôle, and the rules by which DB worked with JR was fairly simple. Buy and sell who you want Joe, but there ain’t no money (and to prove the point ‘star’ striker Bradbury was flogged to a bankrupt Crystal Palace to avoid add-on appearance payments, and Joe was granted just about enough of the supposed £1.25 million proceeds to add Gareth Taylor as a replacement).

Back in the Premiership, with a much brighter future, most fires extinguished, the largest shareholders (and main creditors) took a larger say in the running of the club, as was their right. They appointed their own Director of Football (D Tueart), and their own new manager, and DB’s football side involvement was reduced.

The board set out a budget for the manager to spend; the director of football, the managers, scouts and coaches decide which players to buy, and then back to the board they go to work out contracts and financing deals.

If KK and DT said Vuoso was the next Pele, there is no way DB, JW or any other non-football director should have intervened provided the costs of the player were within the agreed budget. Of course, there was a rôle involved on the negotiating front that was still within the chairman’s remit, yet when DB took one look at the thick file labeled ‘Fowler-Medical’, and decided to act, upsetting the manager, his days left on the City board became numbered. He who pays the piper calls the tune, the JD’s did the paying, and they valued the judgment of their manager ahead of their chairman.

The money wasted on the likes of Negouai, Vuoso, Sommeil, Macken and the rest should be blamed not on the man who signed the cheques (be he DB or JW), but on the manager and football director who decided that they were good players on whom to splash large chunks of cash.

On one point I agree with Richard: there is no chance of DB returning to City, short of new owners buying out the existing movers and shakers at the club. More is the pity in my opinion. Since his departure, the word debt has become more and more associated with the club, and I can think of no one better qualified to regain a handle on things than Bernie.

Martin Beckett <martinjb(at)>


With reference to Jonathan’s article and our appropriately named Sleep(y) being on the bench. I don’t know about everyone else, but I would definitely trust some French bloke stood in the queue at an art gallery in Florence. I mean, what the hell is SP doing? All those games in the back line for his club and his country. Those countless UEFA coaching awards. For heaven’s sake, according to this French chap in the queue, SP cannot tell his Lippi from his Caravaggio!

I think SP should start to consult with strangers in queues; he’s clutching at straws at the moment. Come on SP, start visiting attractions with very long queues and start acquiring some real football knowledge!

Funnily enough, I was waiting to be served at my local the other night and I was chatting with this gent who could not believe the current fiscal policy in Sweden. Although he was a plumber with no financial experience, he couldn’t believe they have delivered an average budget surplus of 1.6% of GDP in recent years.

BTW rather than a mal à la tête, I do think Anelka is a douleur dans le cul (pain in the bum – ed!).

Mike Bards <bardsm(at)>


My brother was at the Oasis gig at CoMS the other day; support was provided by the rather excellent (IMHO) Super Furry Animals. One of the Super Furry’s was seen sporting a City top and managed to mix the quite spectacular “Man Don’t Give a F***” with “Boys in Blue”. I am only sorry I wasn’t there to hear it – anyone have a bootleg recording?

James Walsh <jimbo.walsh(at)>


Anyone who still pines for “the good old days” should download Google Earth and go to Manchester with the satellite pictures. There you will find an intact Maine road and a COMS still under constuction. You can practice bombing runs on the Swamp, great fun.

Ian Nixon <britnix(at)>


A bit more info for any Blues coming to Bangkok for the games in July. The games are at the national stadium, also called Rajamangala or Hua Mark sports complex; don’t get confused with the old national stadium and the sky train station (BTS) “National Stadium”, which is in the centre of town. Rajamangala stadium is in the east of the city (thannon Ramkhamhaeng) and could take up to an hour or more, depending on traffic, to get there in a taxi from the centre. I wouldn’t worry too much about getting tickets as the ground holds 65,000 and it wasn’t anywhere near full for the Liverpool game 2 years ago (they seem to be the best supported team in Thailand).

If there are other Blues in Bangkok or people coming over for the matches, does anyone fancy meeting up for a beer before the game? How about the “Dubliner”, on Sukhumvit road between soi 20 and 22 (sky train station Phrom Pong) as it is on the way out to the stadium. I don’t think there are too many good places for a drink near the ground.

Steven Humphreys <stevenhumphreys(at)>


Does anyone know if any satellite channels are showing any games from the Thailand tour?

Richard Ellor <r.ellor(at)>

Does anyone know if the City games are to be televised on any station? I remember one year this tournament was on Sky (smart a**e Jenas ballooned a penalty in the final). Sky seem to be only showing Arsenal’s pre-season tournament.

Mark Bowden <mark.Bowden(at)>


I have a friend who I’ve met through McV who intends holidaying in England during August and taking in a couple of games. He is also extremely keen to attend a supporters’ meeting. If anybody living in the Manchester area is a member of a supporters’ branch and has a meeting planned for August, please let me know so I can drag him along.

Alex Channon – Chair, MCFC Centenary Supporters’ Association <channons(at)>


After reading and enjoying so many Why Blue contributions in MCIVTA over the years I decided to make my own small contribution during the annual slow period. Born in a typical terraced 2 up 2 down 300 yards from Bernard Manning’s Embassy club, I can’t remember seeing or knowing anybody of the Red persuasion in the 60s or 70s in Harpurhey. I do have vivid memories though of dozens of kids playing games of footie, kick can, and rally-o in the streets and back alleys, or making aeroplanes from lollipop sticks and sticky black tarmac on hot summer days while enjoying a frozen jumbly wumbly from the corner shop (7-11s were not a part of the urban landscape for a few more years yet). Another vivid memory would be watching more than a few City games with my dad and older brother on Sundays, the streets being deserted of kids as they were all the doing the same thing and starting a lifelong love affair with a club that would provide them with a rollercoaster ride for the rest of their lives.

At some point in the mid 70s, my parents made the decision to move the family out to the leafy suburb of Chadderton in between Middleton and Oldham. Their decision to move from their home for the last dozen years and the community surrounding it was assisted in no small part by the all knowing council, in order to be replaced by brand new council houses that were guaranteed to look like s***e in less than a decade. In Chadderton our impromptu games of footie were played on stunningly beautiful and numerous grass fields with real goals and marked fields. There were not too many grass fields in central Manchester and these made a huge impression on me and our kid at the time. We also came across other new and even stranger sights, and I’m not just talking about kids trying to play footie in standard Oldham Council issued clogs and flat caps along with the dark blue Latics shirts but an odder and even more comical breed wearing red shirts and pretending they were people called Bestie and Booby Charlton.

A few years later, after listening to my older brother regale me of his adventures at Maine Road, I finally pestered my dad into taking me to games, starting in the 75/76 season. Tony Book had an excellent footballing side that seemed to be the bookies’ favourites to win the league at the start of the next few seasons. Dave Watson, Peter Barnes, Dennis Tueart, Willie Donachie, Asa Hartford, Joe Corrigan and later Brian Kidd being my favourites of the time. We first started going in the Kippax; the noise, the banter and having to fight your way through the crowds were a huge part of the attraction. Later on, my dad would get tickets for the Main Stand through a mate at work who happened to be Ged Keegan’s father. While this would seem a nice benefit to most folks, to myself as an 11 year old it was a bad move for two reasons.

  1. The atmosphere in the Main stand wasdefinitely more gentrified and not as exciting as the Kippax.
  2. My dad would always insist that I had to get ahaircut before the game. Of course it was never aregular trimming but always a short back andsides guaranteed to make sure the girls at schoolwould never give me a second look.

Later on, 6 years in the RAF introduced me to travelling to City away games, usually in or around London, and meeting people who upon hearing I was from Manchester professed how they supported United despite coming from towns such as Derby, Cheltenham, Bognor Regis or the like.

During my stint in the RAF I met a stunning blonde beauty from Chicago and since August of 1989 I’ve lived in the US. My prospective in-laws could not understand why I was getting so many phone calls from friends in the UK leaving messages about City beating the future Manchester Buccaneers by the score of 5-1. In Feb/March of 1993 on a trip back home to visit the family, I brought my wife to Maine Road to experience a game first hand. City were playing Spurs and we conceded 2 goals within 20 minutes; naturally enough my wife was not too reassured by my comments that there was plenty of time to turn it around. It was interesting to see the main target for our resident malcontent boo boys that day was Niall Quinn, until later on of course when we won the game 3-2 thanks in no small part to Quinn’s non-stop efforts on and off the ball.

The last game I was able to attend was the away game at Wolves at the end of the 2001/02 season; whoever won that game would assume first place and be almost certain of automatic promotion to the Premiership. In talking to fans around me it was amazing to meet others who had flown in from Singapore, Thailand, and the Caribbean to see their beloved Blues. It was very reassuring to see I was not alone in my long distance sickness/ affliction and love of the same club that has caused us so little joy in the last 40 years and yet so much pain and sorrow that if we were married to MCFC we would have won an uncontested divorce on the grounds of neglect and mental cruelty long ago.

In keeping in touch with my parents over the years, the flow of conversation with my mam was always non-stop; as soon as the discussion on one topic was concluded, another one would come along and take its place in an instant with hardly any pause or time to catch your breath, just as it does for most offspring around the globe when having a usually one-sided conversation with your mother. With my dad on the other hand, the opposite was true: after the usual questions of how are you, the family and the job doing, which was usually a short response of doing good… how about you and yours, there was then usually very little else to talk about. The one exception in our struggle to find something with which to communicate and connect with one another was of course City.

My dad passed away last July and whenever we talked on the phone or on my rare trips back home, the first topic of conversation was always City. How they were doing, why were they doing so badly or in more recent years why they were doing so well. Regardless of City’s fortunes at the time, we were always able to rely on a common thread for us to communicate along and maintain some level of continuity, despite the separation of several thousand miles.

While I am slowly indoctrinating my daughter, my son was bitten by the City bug several years ago and still remembers flying back to see City win 2-1 vs. WBA at the end of 1999/00 season at the ripe old age of 4 years. Although, on my advice, he has also adopted a second club with more resources than ourselves in order to help balance the sorrow and dashed hopes with some joy and success. Two years ago, assisted by another resident ex-pat from Shepherds Bush, he chose Chelsea as his second team but his first team is still City and we both look forward to our first trip to the CoM Stadium in the future and regardless of what division we will find ourselves in, or the result that day, we’ll still be singing: Blue Moon, I saw you Standing Alone…

John Walsh – Tampa Bay Blue <john_r_walsh(at)>


From the Guardian’s ‘Fiver’:

“Re: uses for a 35mm film canister. Couldn’t Stuart Pearce hide jet-heeled pocket rocket Shaun Wright-Phillips in one until the start of the season?” – Martin Price.


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Newsletter #1137