Newsletter #1161

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Goals from Mills (yes, Danny) and Vassell in our Sunday AM special gave us a 2-0 win and all 3 points from a diabolical Everton. We could have kicked off at 12pm, as the first half was nothing to write home about and both teams and fans seemed to still be in the land of nod. We have a match report tonight, many thanks to Rich, and views from William, David and Ernie. If you haven’t yet seen Mills’ goal then look out for it – it really is a contender for goal for the month. Rumour has it that he was actually trying to pass the ball to Vassell but he miscued.

We have some excellent opinion on the squad, débuts, loyalty points, kick-off times and memories of Helen Turner. John Kelsey has kindly provided book reviews for the Fowler and Royle tomes that have recently been released, and finally statto heaven in the form of the Anorak Prediction League and Peter’s season on season comparisons.

Next game: West Ham United, home, 4pm Sunday 16 October 2005 (TV)

MATCH REPORT ‘LIVE’: MCFC 2 EFC 0

This game made the record books before a ball was kicked for being the earliest every Premiership kick-off (11:15); does anyone know why it had to be 11:15, was there a reason?

On the bad side I had to get up early to get to the ground but on the good side the traffic wasn’t too bad. Prior to kick-off today, City introduced Helen Turner’s family out to the centre circle as part of the commemoration of the passing of one of our most famous and best loved supporters. For me it was ironic at a time when a lot of fans have all questioned whether the soul and excitement has left live football that one of the icons of my childhood support of watching City at Maine Road had passed away. Whilst watching Helen’s daughter (I presume) ring the bell, an amusing thought entered my mind; instead of piped chanting though the speaker system wouldn’t a fitting tribute be Helen’s bell being broadcast instead (not all the time, maybe once a twice over the course of the season)? Seriously I hope the club find some way to provide a suitable tribute to Helen.

The first half was a complete non-event, quite possibly the worst 45 minutes I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure if it was the early kick-off or two teams whose confidence has been battered of late but there was zero movement and the every other pass was misplaced, the whole half was instantly forgettable.

The second half the quality improved and City raised their game but didn’t create any real clear cut chances, Musampa and Sibby both being presented with good chances but failing to test the ‘keeper. As the game seemed that it might be heading for a 0-0 stalemate, Pearce substituted Musampa for Croft and swapped Sibby to the left; Croft’s introduction added a dimension to our game; he was direct and was providing movement, which unnerved Everton and provided space for Ireland and Barton to exploit. Croft’s persistence won a ball in midfield and he laid it off to Danny Mills; Mills ran a few yards in and what resulted was a drive that arrowed into the top corner. The stadium seemed to pause for two seconds as if everyone looked around and asked “whether we had just seen Danny Mills hit a 25-yard pile driver into the top corner?” and then we realised that we had and fervent celebrations ensued.

City started pressing and Croft, Ireland and Barton started to dominate midfield; Vassell somehow looked a different player; he looked purposeful and alert whereas before he seemed disinterested. Everton’s only real shot on target came from a break on the left; Kilbane’s drive was parried very well by James and the ball kindly fell to Jordan who was caught in possession when trying to run the ball out of the box (Pearce on GMR afterwards said he’d be having words with Jordan for (and I quote) “dribbling the ball in MY box!” however Barton cleared up the mess, making a timely tackle in the area and clearing the lines.

In the final minutes Everton came close to scoring, having a shot cleared off the line by Distin after City were caught napping; as Everton searched for an equaliser Barton received the ball on a rare (for him) excursion forward, he weighted a sublime pass between two Everton centre-halves into Vassell’s path, who shot past the oncoming Martyn to wrap up the game and the points.

Ratings:
James (5/10) – Everton didn’t have a shot until the last five minutes, which James parried very well. Other than that he had little or nothing to do but scored low as his kicking was truly atrocious.
Jordan (6/10) – Generally solid but Everton rarely threatened.
Dunne (7/10) – Commanding in the air, calm on the ground; seemed to want to drive forward and make things happen when the side started to run out of ideas.
Distin (7/10) – Utter class (ok it was against out of form strikers) but Distin put in a faultless performance; would have been MOTM had it not been for Mills’ wonder goal.
Mills (7/10) – Continued his recent good form with a solid display. Didn’t give the ball away too often and that goal!
Musampa (3/10) – Very poor form continues, didn’t get involved and when he did he was pushed off the ball too easily. One good chance to score but he blazed wide instead. No movement at all.
Sibierski (4/10) – Marginally better than Musampa only because he did some simple things competently but he was completely ineffective. Opting to cut a ball back across the ball when the goal was at his mercy showed his lack of confidence.
Barton (7/10) – Measured performance from Joey Barton; curbed his instinct to continually drive forward to hold for Ireland. His pass for the Vassell goal was sublime.
Ireland (7/10) – Seemed a bit lost in the first half, but had more and more influence as the game wore on – he looks a great prospect, he’s deceptively quick, has great vision and can mix it when he needs to… looks to have an exciting future.
Cole (5/10) – Worked hard but seemed jaded from his recent injury.
Vassell (5/10) – Took his goal well, very odd performance, looked out of sorts until the Mills goal, as soon as we were in front he started to look up for it.
Subs:
Croft (7/10) – One of the things that changed the game, when Crofty came on his movement caused space to open, he was direct when he got the ball which perked up the crowd and gave us the momentum to win. Please keep him in over Sibby/Musampa.
Sun N/A – too late to have an impact.

I think the major plusses of today’s game had to be this was another game that was heading for a draw until Pearce changed things around and gave us the edge to win. Although it was Mills’ goal that ultimately won this game, it was the substitution that created space and confidence for Mills to get forward. The display of Ireland and Croft also gives me great hope for the future; both of them played with immense confidence and showed passes and vision that we have been crying out for. Both their displays looked as if they had been in the senior team for months. Everton weren’t a patch on the performance that they put in last season. They seemed devoid of ideas going forward and looked very shaky and unorganised at the back; based on this evidence it’s going to be a very long, hard season for them.

Rich Fenton <rich(at)fentor.com>

MATCH VIEW I: MCFC 2 EFC 0

A grey Manchester morning, an absurd kick-off time and Everton – the bottom club – had played what should have been an exhausting European match on Thursday night. So naturally Mark Lawrenson had us down to lose this 1-2, and for the Everton revival to kick in.

But Everton are awful, and the turgid Neville seems to have made them worse. We had no Reyna, no Sinclair, no Thatcher and naturally no Fowler. Sibierski started on the right, and young Ireland in place of Reyna in midfield. Jordan in place of Thatcher at left back. Cole and Vassell up front. First half we are attacking the South end where the Everton supporters are bunched, and almost immediately Sibierski wins the ball to the right of the their box but seems so surprised to find himself in this novel situation that he immediately gives it back. The whole of the first half continued in this manner with Cahill having the only shot on target, and their midfield smothering everything. Everyone, the players and supporters appeared to be dozing through to mid-day and half time, the atmosphere was grim and the piped sound effects made it worse.

Second half continued in much the same manner but James decided to mis-kick every back pass with a sort of slice, presumably to add some drama to the spectacle. The biggest cheer went for a tackle on Neville (who was naturally booed throughout) by Barton, which unfortunately resulted in a booking. However, as the match wore on, the sun started to shine, Everton started to tire, and our passing and movement did start to improve. Musampa hit the side netting and was immediately replaced by Croft, with Sibierski moving to the left, and Croft to the right. Moyes replaced McFadden with Ferguson, and Bent with Beattie which implied a more attacking approach from them, but then Mills, who had not impressed so far, hit a fantastic 25 yard howitzer shot from the right, which gave Martyn no chance at all. Finally we had a football match, Everton had to chase the game and the football started to flow, with Croft sprinting down the right and Vassell through the middle. Sun replaced Cole at 90 minutes and Vassell scored in injury time from a neat Barton pass. Overall a more than fair result, and Stephen Ireland looks promising.

William Hardman <ha(at)prontoserve.co.uk>

MATCH VIEW II: MCFC 2 EFC 0

Well for 70 minutes this was the kind of game that teams should be deducted points for serving up. Then out of the blue a Danny Mills goal from 25 yards. An unstoppable shot right in the top corner – how? Well, however it happened, it will be a contender for shot of the season. From then on the game opened up a bit and City created more chances and overall deserved to win.

A word for the maligned Sun Jihai, only on for two minutes, he showed what is good about him. He came square to help out Croft (?) who was under pressure, took the ball, saw Barton forward with space and played the pass between two Everton defenders to allow Barton to run onto. Barton was then able to play a delightfully weighted pass for Vassell to slip it into the net.

David Lewis <dfl(at)microscopist.freeserve.co.uk>

MATCH VIEW III: MCFC 2 EFC 0

Lots of credit to Stuart Pearce for starting young Stephen Ireland and bringing on Lee Croft in the game versus Everton. I would like to see both start in the next game versus West Ham. It was as if Croft coming on with his energy lifted the team.

Danny Mills candidate for goal of the month? What a screamer.

I heard that some City supporters showed up at the City of Manchester Stadium in their pyjamas because of the early 11:15am kick off, which shows again that City fans have a great sense of humour. Hope that the PJs were blue.

Well done City, now take a little break.

Ernie Barrow <britcityblue(at)aol.com>

OPINION: ANORAK’S PREDICTION LEAGUE

There are numerous ways of predicting how we’ll do this season, but for the rest of the season as a treat to all MCIVTA readers, I’ll use the following two methods:

The first (p1) replaces last season’s score with this season’s score (with the relegated clubs replaced by the equivalent promoted clubs).

The second (p2) is a rolling average that averages how we’ve done so far over the rest of the season.

So far it’s looking good with City looking at a 5th (p1) or 4th (p2) placed finish.

Key:

....[] = Points from game.
.....p = Current Points.
change = Points Change On Last Season (NC= No Change).
....p1 = Predicted Points (method 1).
...grp = Games Remaining/Games Played.
....p2 = Predicted Points (method 2).
....lp = Predicted League Position (method1/method2).

Note: P2 = p + (p*grp)

2004-5 Season: Season Points: 52 Goal Difference: +8 League Position: 8

August 2005

West Bromwich Albion (H) 0-0 [1] 0-0 [1] p=01 change=NC p1=52 grp=37/1 p2=38 lp=8/17
Birmingham City      (A) 0-1 [0] 2-1 [3] p=04 change=+3 p1=55 grp=36/2 p2=76 lp=7/2
Sunderland           (A) 2-1 [3] 2-1 [3] p=07 change=NC p1=55 grp=35/3 p2=89 lp=7/2
Portsmouth           (H) 2-0 [3] 2-1 [3] p=10 change=NC p1=55 grp=34/4 p2=95 lp=7/1(=)

September 2005

Manchester United    (A) 0-0 [1] 1-1 [1] p=11 change=NC p1=55 grp=33/5 p2=84 lp=7/2
Bolton Wanderers     (H) 0-1 [0] 0-1 [0] p=11 change=NC p1=55 grp=32/6 p2=70 lp=7/4
Newcastle United     (A) 3-4 [0] 0-1 [0] p=11 change=NC p1=55 grp=31/7 p2=60 lp=7/5

October 2005

Everton              (H) 0-1 [0] 2-0 [3] p=14 change=+3 p1=58 grp=30/8 p2=67 lp=5/4
West Ham United      (H) 2-1 [3] *** Southampton (H) ***
Arsenal              (A) 1-1 [1]
Aston Villa          (H) 2-0 [3]

November 2005

Fulham               (A) 1-1 [1]
Blackburn Rovers     (H) 1-1 [1]
Liverpool            (H) 1-0 [3]

December 2005

Charlton Athletic    (A) 2-2 [1]
West Bromwich Albion (A) 0-2 [0]
Birmingham City      (H) 3-0 [3]
Wigan Athletic       (A) 3-2 [3] *** Norwich City (A) ***
Chelsea              (H) 1-0 [3]
Middlesbrough        (A) 3-2 [3]

January 2006

Tottenham Hotspur    (H) 0-1 [0]
Manchester United    (H) 0-2 [0]
Bolton Wanderers     (A) 1-0 [3]

February 2006

Newcastle United     (H) 1-1 [1]
Everton              (A) 1-2 [0]
Charlton Athletic    (H) 4-0 [3]
Liverpool            (A) 1-2 [0]

March 2006

Sunderland           (H) 3-1 [3] *** Crystal Palace (H) ***
Portsmouth           (A) 3-1 [3]
Wigan Athletic       (H) 1-1 [1] *** Norwich City (H) ***
Chelsea              (A) 0-0 [0]

April 2006

Middlesbrough        (H) 1-1 [1]
Tottenham Hotspur    (A) 1-2 [0]
West Ham United      (A) 0-0 [1] *** Southampton (A) ***
Arsenal              (H) 0-1 [0]
Aston Villa          (A) 2-1 [3]
Fulham               (H) 1-1 [1]

May 2006

Blackburn Rovers      (A) 0-0 [1]

Last season’s relegated teams are replaced with:

18..Crystal Palace = Sunderland
19....Norwich City = Wigan Athletic
20.....Southampton = West Ham

Blue Anorak <RichardJohnM(at)hotmail.com>

OPINION: HOW GOOD ARE WE ANYWAY?

We’ve got off to a good start to the season but just how good is it really?

We are all familiar with the traditional ‘time-basis’ Table format but as it includes for teams having played a different number of games, it does tend to distort a team’s real position. If (as I think they do on the continent) the Table is shown based upon ’rounds’, this is how it would look – still slightly distorted as Liverpool have played a game less. You will see that I’ve also included City’s ‘points’ and ‘position’ for the first 10 games of the 3 previous seasons for comparison.

Points

City  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  38
05/06 1   4   7  10  11  11   -   -   -   -   ?
04/05 -   -   1   4   4   7   7   8  11  11  52
03/04 3   4   7   7  10  11  12  12  15  15  41
02/03 -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -  51

Position

City  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  38
05/06 -   -   5   4   4   6   -   -   -   -   ?
04/05 -   -  18  10  13  11  13  12  11  13   8
03/04 -   -   5   7   5   8   6   6   6   7  16
02/03 -   -  14  14  10  11  12  15  16  17   9

So in answer to the question, we have had a very decent start but only similar to season 2003/04 when we started well but then went on that infamous Team Building jolly down in East Anglia (Anelka refusing to go on the shooting trip, Fowler’s photo in the papers boozing and snogging in a nightclub) and we dropped like a stone thereafter (only 5 points in games 11 to 20 and dropped to 15th) to just avoid relation, finishing 16th above Everton.

So we’ve started well, but let’s hope we can build on it and beat last season’s 8th place finish.

P.S. I’ll try to update it after the 10th, 15th, 20th, etc. game.

Peter Carlisle <Carlisle(at)loxinfo.co.th>

OPINION: RANDOM THOUGHTS I

Pleased to see the first outing of our long-term midfield: Barton, Ireland, Croft. The first two having said already they would love to stay at the club for the rest of their careers. Got a word with JB after the game – hanging round with some scary characters waiting for autographs, as I was waiting for a lift. Joey hadn’t trained all week and was expecting not to play until ‘Claudio did something to his back five minutes before kick-off’. Also spoke briefly with our new playmaker. He was not confident of getting a start in the next game (West Ham), very quietly spoken, but what a fantastic full home début. Early days and great to see the kids being eased in, and out when necessary, to build for a bright future.

Left-sider with pace and aggression is needed. Quincy is still my front runner for the job, even though he has signed a five year deal for Arsenal at the start of the season. Sibbo had a better game in that position yesterday, but nowhere near the standard required.

Defence looked solid, apart from Jamo leaving his slippers on – kicking was unusually bad.

Keane would be a good buy in January too. Interesting that Shaun did not make the bench in Chelsea’s team. Do you think we should have put a clause in the sale of SWP to say if you’re not going to play him we’ll have him back? Sign for December 28th ‘Welcome home Shaun, you should have stayed!’. The obvious, and opposite view of our jaundiced press, would have been for Shaun to stay for at least another 12 months. Regular berth at City, guaranteed trip to Germany and £10 million on top of any asking price we took. Hope he gets a touch of the Owen scenario, after leaving for trophies on the insistence of dad and Mitchell, where his former team takes the silverware. Why does being in the Chelsea squad but not playing guarantee a starting place for England against the splendid shows he made week in week out in our firsts? Strange one that. Let’s hope we don’t seek to cash in on any of or other stars for the future, we should have kept him, it’s supposed to be about football first, forget the money side.

Think the team mentality is paying dividends. January transfer window will help us with our title push as squad is too thin. Why shouldn’t we aim high? Kids looking promising and have filled in brilliantly. Need augmenting with more professionals of Cole’s quality, rather than Sun and Sibbo.

Whatever you do, stay Blue!

Dave Clinton <daveclinton(at)kisit.co.uk>

OPINION: RANDOM THOUGHTS II

I have been a seasoncard holder (ticket in old money) for the past two seasons at COMS. I, like thousands of Blues, like to travel the length of the country to cheer on the Blues, but is it me or is the points allocation system City have got totally and utterly ridiculous? I have spent many conversations on the phone to the ‘City Ticket Office’ trying to get them to understand the problems we have in trying to get a ticket for away games. In my case I have 1300 points, this as you all will be aware is no way near the required amount and I have the slim chance of getting a ticket when tickets go on open sale to one and all, seeing that most tickets will go due to the small allocation clubs receive these days to those people who have the magical number of points (2900-2500).

So if I want to go away I have to ask my mates if they will get me a ticket on their seasoncard; this is not the correct solution but it’s the only way I can see my beloved City. The trouble in this instance is that I’m not getting any bl**dy points, they are!

So what do I do, I ring the ticket office and see if there’s been a change in the system at all, the answer I get is ‘if you haven’t got the points then you can’t get a ticket’ erm hello if I don’t go to the game I don’t get any bl**dy points, you do the math. Catch 22 or what. So again I ask the ticket operator to explain the system. Here goes, I think:

You get 30 points for a ‘Cat A ‘ Home game
you get 20 points for a ‘Cat B ‘ Home game
you get 10 points for a ‘Cat C ‘ Home game
plus you get 100 points every time you re-new your season card (wow, steady on)

Also every time you attend a FA Cup/Coca Cola Cup game you get points depending on the opponents and the day it’s on. For example Doncaster away 30 points.

I had to ask how on earth have people reach 2,900 points; apparently this is taken over the last 4-5 seasons and the magical number is reached by attending every game, home, cups away, pre-season friendlies etc. Apparently there are quite a few people with this amount and the ticket office are going to raise the points again! So I asked how come one of my mates has had a season ticket(card) for 15 years, attend all but a few games and only has 2,130 points; it doesn’t work out of course I got the response ‘send us an e-mail and we’ll look at it’. Typical City, can’t see or realise there’s a problem.

On the subject of legends, isn’t it about time we honoured our legends by having their statues around the COMS, like Liverpool, Leeds, Preston and the scum have. I do like the mural of Joe Mercer but I believe that it would be more respectful if we had a statue of the great man. He/Allison did put us on the football map. Also what about a statue of Colin Bell outside the main stand, or one of Bert?

[Loyalty points are a sore subject Kieran, those who haven’t got the maximum will never progress given that a good number of those who currently have the points (numerous card holders and supporters clubs) buy tickets and sell them on without attending the games, just to keep their points up – Ed]

Kieran Street <kieranpstreet(at)yahoo.co.uk>

OPINION: IRELAND DÉBUT

Wasn’t it great, but let’s not get carried away just yet.

Yes, it’s what we all wanted to see and we couldn’t have asked for more from the young Irishman. And, I believe, there’s lot’s more to come not only from Stephen Ireland, but from the Academy in general. There’s at least another 10 players with potential to come through yet. And who knows what’s behind them.

And wasn’t it a refreshing interview with him afterwards, with his feet firmly on the ground and not dreaming. And we could understand what he said unlike when Willo Flood made his début last season. Don’t worry, I’m not knocking Flood. I sincerely hope that he does well at Coventry and comes back to us ready and able to make a sustained assault on a first team place. He’s got the ability, just not the interview technique.

And Millsey. Where did that come from? SP Said that they definitely do not encourage that sort of thing in training. Ignore him Millsy. If you can come up with a screamer like that once every two months, keep shooting. It’s been coming for the last ten years!

John Nisbet – People’s republic of Hyde <nisbet1957(at)btinternet.com>

OPINION: EVERTON KICK-OFF TIME I

It’s widely recognised that there’s a general malaise in the Premiership with attendances down, poor atmospheres etc. and the FA Premier League know that there’s a problem (I enjoyed reading Steve Kay’s article in the last edition and think he’s spot on with the factors that have caused this). Given the time of the Everton match, it’s clearly brought into focus one issue in particular: kick-off times.

The Premier League’s website sets out their aims and objectives. One of these is to:

“increase interest in our competitions, promote accessibility to live games and ensure that media exposure is used to optimum effect”

So: why the 11.15am kick-off time on Sunday? Or do they just mean that promoting accessibility to live matches for an armchair audience watching on TV on a Sunday morning is the optimum? Even more worrying, is it really to do with the Chinese TV audience, given that City and Everton each have a Chinese player?

I’m writing this before the match. It will be the earliest ever Premiership kick-off time, and as a season ticket holder I won’t be going, or watching it on TV. The Everton match usually attracts one of the higher attendances, but won’t be approaching capacity for this one. This could also be the new scheduled slot identified for the armchair fan, yet again with no regard for those who actually attend matches.

We all know about the power of Sky, and their interests are clearly business-oriented, but what is the Premier League doing to strike a balance between accommodating the wishes of TV companies and ensuring that Premiership football as a spectator sport with full houses and good atmospheres isn’t dying on its feet? It certainly doesn’t seem to be a good balance at the moment.

If anyone does feel strongly about this, e-mail the Premier League at <contactus(at)premierleague.com> or write to them at F.A. Premier League, 11 Connaught Place, London W2 2ET, asking why the Everton match was scheduled for this time and whether they think that 11.15 kick-offs on Sunday morning encourage people to attend matches. Their reply should make interesting reading. Given that the Premier League is owned by the 20 member clubs, it would also be good to know which individual clubs are “supporting the supporters” – what is MCFC’s stance on this? Surely not just playing canned chants?

If the Premier League genuinely does want to get more people attending games, and if enough people let them know it’s a major issue, maybe they just might sit up and take notice for the good of the game.

Gary Dickson <dickson_gary(at)hotmail.com>

OPINION: EVERTON KICK-OFF TIME II

11:15 on Sunday is just the last straw. When I buy a season ticket I think I have a right to expect that the games are going to be played when the fixture list says they will be played. If they are subsequently changed I should then have an option on whether I can get to the match – and if not, get my money back.

Sunday afternoon, Monday, Tuesday, how about Thursday at 7:45am, to hit prime time in Australia? What next?

Michael Cavanagh (Revd) – which explains where I’ll be for the Everton match <mcavanagh(at)btconnect.com>

OPINION: HELEN TURNER I

If I may, I’d like throw in my ten penneth regarding Helen Turner, the ‘Lady with the Bell’.

When I first started going regularly as a boy of 11 in 1968, City had just won the League and my mum had been fooled into believing that I was going all the way down to Manchester with an adult when in actual fact, I was going with a mate from school.

I was in the Platt Lane end and could hear this bl**dy bell ringing but I couldn’t make out where it was coming from. I think that at that time, Helen sat in the Main Stand. Memories start to fade eventually.

But as the years wore on and the old Scoreboard was demolished for our brand new state of the art (stop laughing at the back there) North Stand, with its fantastic new electronic scoreboard, the like of which had never been dreamt of at Maine Road, Helen took her place on seat 1, row one of the block immediately behind the goals. I, at one time, had a season ticket on the back row of that block just in front of the middle wall and would watch the first half from there if there were playing towards the Platt Lane end, and then sit behind Helen for the second half, if they were playing towards the North stand (well, with that damned bell ringing, there were always empty seats around her).

Naturally, before I got to know her, I would rib her about the bell and there would be lots of banter.

Further into the seventies and I started to travel far and wide spending my hard earned cash on my beloved City. Invariably, on away coaches, Helen would be on seat 1, row 1, of coach 1 and woe betide anyone who got a bit rowdy. She’d get up and work her way back to find out the culprit, and threats of violence were made. Not to Helen, by Helen! She always made sure that the driver didn’t have to put up with any nonsense. Oh, and she always came round pestering you near the end of the return journey for a collection for the driver and if you pretended to be asleep so that you didn’t have to contribute, she’d shake you until you ‘Woke up’ and put something in the cap.

On one trip to Ipswich (in those days for some reason, Fingland’s used to set off at Midnight on Friday for the Saturday game, and we’d arrive in Ipswich, and Norwich at about 6am), someone had too much beer before boarding the coach and couldn’t hold it so began peeing on the floor and there was a bit of a fuss kicked up. Helen arose in the dark to find out what was going on and as she made her way to the back of the coach, became aware of something running by her feet. Helen, at times may have come across as being a few pence short of a shilling in the mannerisms that she had but, believe me, there were no slates loose there, far from it. She immediately realised what it was and went berserk. “Who’s done that?” she thundered and went round giving everyone a hard time. No-one owned up to it but everyone got the blame (no, this is not a confession; I did struggle between service stations at times but not even I would stoop this low).

I was a member of the social club back then and used to bring an old chap who was a bingo agent to the match and we used to have a pint in the social club before home matches. Helen was always in there going round selling tickets for the autographed football (in 20 years of buying those bl**dy tickets, I never won one of those damned footballs nor do I know anyone who did!) and then she would come round collecting for the children’s hospital. Even in the seventies, we thought of her as an old lady. But where did she get all that energy for charities from?

I was, by this time on first name and talking terms with her and used to talk to her at away matches even if I’d travelled by car or train and in some cases, like at Norwich once, I was walking past the players’ entrance when a City player would come out and give Helen some complimentary tickets. As I was walking past, she shouted, John, there’s a ticket here if you want one. Fantastic. This happened on more than one occasion.

Towards the end of the seventies, travelling to Merseyside games became rather dangerous. The thugs were waiting on the start of the East Lancs Road near Everton’s ground and bricked the coaches as they passed. This became so bad that Finglands and other coach companies refused to do away games to Liverpool and Everton for a few years. When this happened, I offered to take Helen to the Merseyside games if I was going and it became a regular occurrence. Helen would always sit in the front, of course. She never took the bell to away games, not while I was taking her anyway, because someone once tried to snatch it off her and, apparently, she had belted him over the head with it. Wish I’d been there to see that!

Hope you’re not bored with all this. Anyway, back to the plot.

On December 26th, 1981, I took Helen to Anfield and we parked, possibly foolishly, in a side street, adjacent to the Main Stand. It was the day that City won 3-1 and I remember Tommy Caton, God rest his soul, scoring one of them. I think Asa Hartford got one and possibly Trevor Francis, the other. I stand to be corrected.

Anyway, as you can imagine, the scousers were hopping mad. They didn’t like Manchester supporters to begin with and although relationships with Liverpool fans are a bit better these days (they spend all their hate on United) there was an unpleasant atmosphere leaving the ground.

Everyone in football knew Helen from whatever team they came from. So how was I supposed to get Helen, some friends, and myself safely back to my car. It was only two streets away but a lot can happen in such a short distance.

We managed to get Helen to put her hood up but her hair was so bushy, it still stood out like a sore thumb. So we thought, b****cks, let’s just do it.

We set off walking and to our amazement, no-one seemed to notice us trying to be inconspicuous, walking away from Anfield with one of football’s most famous supporters.

We got back to the car safely. When we drove away, we got stuck in traffic. But Helen, for once sat in the back as we though it might hide her identity, but there were scousers everywhere roaming round looking for trouble. Helen’s famous hair still stood out so again, we asked her to put her hood up.

How I am alive to warble on about this, I don’t know. Only one situation was scarier than that, which was an FA Cup tie away to Nottm. Forest in about 1973, one of the first ever Sunday games because of the three day week (lost 1-4 incidentally).

There are many more memories, not just from me, but all that knew Helen. These are just a few of the more memorable ones.

Helen, although coming originally from Yorkshire (yes, she was a Tyke), always loved City and her charity work. Rarely had a bad word to say about anyone, and thought more of helping others rather than herself.

Rest in peace Helen Turner. We’ll all miss you.

John Nisbet – People’s Republic of Hyde <nisbet1957(at)btinternet.com>

OPINION: HELEN TURNER II

I have a sort-of Helen story. In the late 60’s/early 70’s I think, my friend’s mum and her best mate decided to emulate Helen. They “found” a heavy-duty brass bell (rumour has it was from Plant Hill school) and took it to Mecca (Maine Road). On the approach to the game in the crowd approaching the turnstiles whilst ringing heartily it suddenly stopped. The ancient piece of rope holding the meaty brass clapper gave way. They never did find it… (ouch).

As ever CTID, Andrew Johnson <fastandyj(at)yahoo.com>

OPINION: PIPED CHANTS

I frequently attend the Points of Blue meetings and many meetings of CSA and some OSC branches. The atmosphere at the new ground is often a point of discussion with many suggestions on how to improve it put forward. Nowhere along the line can I recall any supporter ever proposing the club pipes canned applause, chants etc. Quite frankly the club have made us the laughing stock with other supporters up and down the country with this daft, embarrassing idea. I’m posting this email well before the breakfast game against Everton. I’m hoping I will have enjoyed my Sunday dinner thinking and talking about the football rather than some imposed nonsense subjected upon us by some forward thinking buffoon.

Alex Channon <channons(at)cwctv.net>

REQUEST: WATERING HOLES

I will be travelling up from dim (some say) and distant Dorset for the City vs. West Ham game on Sun 16th. This will be the first time I have managed to get a ticket for a home game at Eastlands, so obviously don’t know the ‘ropes’ too well. I visited the stadium for an England game and had a drink before in ‘The Mitchells Arms’. I imagine on match days it is heaving. My question is: where should a visitor go for a drink? Is the Mitchells The place, or is there other options? Are there pubs, a foreign sounding (ooh-ahh) yokel, should avoid?

Thanks for any advice. Colin Bell Stand here I come.

Stu Wells <stu(at)colehillblue.fsnet.co.uk>

REQUEST: FOWLER’S QUESTION TIME

Robbie Fowler is signing his eponymous autobiography at Waterstones Deansgate at 6pm this Thursday (6th). Well worth reading – see separate review.

Get down there, buy his book, ask him when he’s going to be fit again etc.

John Kelsey <damp_Labrador(at)yahoo.co.uk>

BOOK REVIEWS

A Right Royle Fowl Up by John Kelsey. Literary Editor, tenacityTM

Two books arrived at tenacityTM towers this week; both with a City theme and both from Scousers. Fowler My Autobiography, and Joe Royle The Autobiography. The titles of both books portentously contradict the common held belief that fun lovin’ Scousers can’t reign in their sparkling wit. Gone are the days when John Toshack published his autobiography and called it: ‘Gosh! It’s Tosh!’ These days it’s all large, serious tomes that don’t look out of place alongside your real literary classics by the likes of Sven Hassel, Wilbur Smith and co.

I’ll take each book as it comes. So it’s Robbie’s first.

The sombre black and white cover portrait tells you immediately that this book wants to be taken seriously. So that’s what I did. It’s ghosted by his long time mate from The Mirror, Dave Maddock, and to be fair it’s a pretty decent stab at the old rags to riches football biog. It manages to avoid all the standard football clichés and is an honest, well-written account of Robbie’s life and career to date. It’s also chock full of good one-liners.

Writing about the FA wanting to sack Hoddle, he says, ‘… when they found an excuse to ditch him, they moved faster than David Beckham does to join in the celebration when an England striker scores a goal…’ He says of his relationship with Nico, ‘when I first got to Manchester City, I found myself alongside Nicolas Anelka… and he passed about as often as a Mastermind champion…’ There’s also some good stuff about Sven. His account of his time at City to date is also as honest as you can expect from a player still on the club’s books.

Loads to read, and a far better book than I imagined it was going to be. Well worth buying and if you shop around it’s usually available for around £10. So you could buy yourself five copies instead of buying a Chelsea ticket – or something.

Meanwhile, the Joe Royle book, whilst probably having more MCFC content, is almost impossible to read. It’s cliché hell. Every page is littered with them. It’s written in collaboration with an old journo mate of his; Bill Thornton who I imagine is responsible for most of them.

Even if you manage to struggle through to page 65, The opening para to Chapter 10 is guaranteed to break your spirit. To prepare you for it, here’s a brief extract.

‘Anyone can say what they like about the pros and cons, rights and wrongs of playing football on an artificial surface. I admit that I shared the misgivings of many others about Oldham’s ground-breaking decision to lay 8,415m of fibrillated polypropylene to create a new surface in the summer of 1986. But I can also state, quite categorically, that we were fantastic on plastic.’

Yes. This is from Royle’s autobiography, not from a multi-national chemical company annual report.

It doesn’t get much better. There are Mickey Mouse playing surfaces, loads of ‘the lads’ were ‘characters’, sports’ surgeons are always ’eminent’. Pivotal centre halves always ‘steady the ship’ and are the ‘rock of the team’. When a player gets a kick he has a ‘date with the doctor’s stitching needle.’

There’s obviously plenty of tales from his days at City – as player and manager. Anything that went wrong was invariably the fault of the fans, who don’t understand the game like Genial Joe does. When he signed Andy Morrison, who (obviously) was to put it politely ‘a character’ … Royle says he took a bit of a gamble – although I prefer to describe it as backing my own judgement… on this player who’d had a chequered career. There was no drinking culture at Maine Road, The fans’ expectations were too high, blah blah blah.

All credit to the lad though: he doesn’t put the boot in when discussing the court case. However, he seems to have a problem with Dennis Tueart – although he wouldn’t be the first or the last. I’d like to think he deliberately spells his name Denis with one ‘n’ just to irritate the ‘King of all Geordies’ – but I suppose it just a lazy mistake.

All in all, at the end of the day, it’s tougher to read this book than it was to watch Royle’s ‘Dog’s of War’ Latics team. And I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. One for completists only.

Fowler My Autobiography
Pub: Macmillan
ISBN: 1 4050 5132 9
RRP: 18.99 GBP
(Waterstone’s currently have it for sale with 7 GBP off.

Joe Royle The Autobiography
Foreword by Alex Ferguson (yes, seriously)
Pub. BBC Books
ISBN: 0 563 48895 6
RRP: 16.99 GBP
out mid October

John Kelsey <damp_Labrador(at)yahoo.co.uk>

RESULTS

2 October 2005

Manchester City       2 - 0  Everton               42,681
Wigan Athletic        2 - 1  Bolton Wanderers      20,553
Arsenal               1 - 0  Birmingham City       37,891
Aston Villa           2 - 3  Middlesbrough         29,719
Liverpool             1 - 4  Chelsea               44,235

1 October 2005

Blackburn Rovers      2 - 0  West Bromwich Albion  20,721
Charlton Athletic     2 - 3  Tottenham Hotspur
Fulham                2 - 3  Manchester United     21,862
Plymouth Argyle       0 - 0  Newcastle United      20,220
Sunderland            1 - 1  West Ham United

League table to 02 October 2005 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Chelsea          8  4  0  0  9  1  4  0  0  9  1  8  0  0  18   2  16  24
 2 Charlton Ath.    7  1  0  2  3  5  4  0  0  9  2  5  0  2  12   7   5  15
 3 Tottenham H.     8  2  1  1  3  2  2  2  0  6  3  4  3  1   9   5   4  15
 4 Manchester Utd   7  1  1  1  3  3  3  1  0  7  2  4  2  1  10   5   5  14
 5 Bolton Wndrs     8  2  1  1  3  1  2  1  1  6  5  4  2  2   9   6   3  14
 6 Manchester City  8  2  1  1  4  2  2  1  1  5  4  4  2  2   9   6   3  14
 7 Arsenal          7  4  0  0  9  1  0  1  2  1  3  4  1  2  10   4   6  13
 8 Wigan Athletic   7  2  1  1  4  3  2  0  1  3  2  4  1  2   7   5   2  13
 9 West Ham United  7  2  1  1  8  3  1  2  0  3  2  3  3  1  11   5   6  12
10 Middlesbrough    8  1  1  2  2  6  2  1  1  7  5  3  2  3   9  11  -2  11
11 Blackburn R.     8  2  1  1  4  4  1  1  2  3  5  3  2  3   7   9  -2  11
12 Newcastle Utd    8  1  2  1  2  3  1  1  2  3  4  2  3  3   5   7  -2   9
13 Liverpool        6  1  1  1  2  4  0  3  0  2  2  1  4  1   4   6  -2   7
14 Birmingham City  8  0  1  3  3  8  1  2  1  4  4  1  3  4   7  12  -5   6
15 Aston Villa      8  1  2  1  6  6  0  1  3  2  8  1  3  4   8  14  -6   6
16 Portsmouth       7  0  2  1  2  4  1  0  3  3  5  1  2  4   5   9  -4   5
17 Sunderland       8  0  2  2  4  7  1  0  3  2  4  1  2  5   6  11  -5   5
18 Fulham           8  1  1  2  4  5  0  1  3  3  8  1  2  5   7  13  -6   5
19 West Brom A.     8  1  0  3  6  8  0  2  2  1  7  1  2  5   7  15  -8   5
20 Everton          7  0  0  3  0  4  1  0  3  1  5  1  0  6   1   9  -8   3

With thanks to Football 365

MCIVTA FAQ [v0506.02]

[1] MCIVTA Addresses

Articles (Heidi Pickup)          : editor@mcivta.city-fan.org
News/rumour (Don Barrie)         : news@mcivta.city-fan.org
Subscriptions (Madeleine Hawkins): subscriptions@mcivta.city-fan.org
Technical problems (Paul)        : paul@city-fan.org
FAQ (David Warburton)            : faq@mcivta.city-fan.org

[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

http://www.uit.no/mancity/ 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 http://www.mcfc.co.uk/

[5] What supporters’ clubs are there?

Manchester City FC recognises three supporters’ clubs: The “Official Supporters Club” (http://www.mcfcosc.com/); the “Centenary Supporters’ Association” (http://www.reddishblues.com/CSAWebsite/CSA.htm) 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 http://www.bbc.co.uk/england/gmr/sport_intro.shtml.

Live match commentaries and archives of games, reports and interviews can be found at http://mcfc.videoloungetv.com/do/preLogin?clubSiteCode=MCFC&CMP=AFC-003.

[8] Where can I find out if City are live on satellite TV?

http://www.satfootball.com/pl.html provides a listing of Premiership games being shown on UK domestic and foreign satellite channels. Useful sites for North American viewers are http://www.foxsportsworld.com/named/FSW/Index/Soccer, http://www.soccertv.com/, and http://www.livesoccertv.com/.

[9] Do we have a Usenet newsgroup?

Yes we do: uk.sport.football.clubs.man-city is our home on usenet. If you are not familiar with usenet, a basic explanation is available here: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/0,289893,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 http://www.uit.no/mancity/players/

[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 http://www.ofex.com/ (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 http://www.mcfcstats.com/.

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

Try Wookie’s Lair: http://www.wookieslair.com/modules.php?name=Web_Links


DISCLAIMER
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, editor@mcivta.city-fan.org

Newsletter #1161

2005/10/03

Editor:


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