Newsletter #1389

A game of two halves on Saturday as we fought back well in the second half to overcome the deficit and finish up winners of a 6 goal thriller at CoMS, which left us edged back up into fourth place. We have match reports tonight thanks to Dave, Phil and Paul and a couple of match views/experiences.

We also have plenty of well thought out opinion on the February derby and Munich memorial propositions.

Next Game: Tuesday 18 December 2007, 7.45pm, Tottenham Hotspur (home)


Managed to get ‘oop north’ for the match on Saturday.

There was some disappointment expressed by the fans at the bar before the game that Elano hadn’t passed muster, but this was tempered by the fact that SGE was going with two up front, and a couple of excellent meat and potato pies (sorry EU commissioners I still can’t say potato and meat pies).

This seemed to pay dividends as early as the 6th minute when Vassell chased down a poor flick on by Bianchi to see Gardner make a bit of a hash of dealing with it (not quite as bad as Bramble’s cock-up the other week but with a similar result). Vassell latched on to the mistake and bore down on goal only to hit a powder puff shot straight at Jaaskelainen who obligingly fumbled it straight back to Vassell. Vassell, to his credit, didn’t panic and waited for Michael Johnson to arrive in the box before pulling it back to him. Johnson once again showed a maturity that belies his tender years to spot Bianchi unmarked in the centre of the goal and instead of shooting himself squared the ball across the face of the goal. The ball didn’t arrive at Bianchi’s feet perfectly and it is to his credit that he showed a perhaps surprising amount of confidence in quickly adjusting his body and feet to tap first time into the goal, rather than faff about getting it under control and maybe squandering the chance.

What a great start against a side who, despite their league position, are always difficult to beat and after all beat the league champions the other week. We waited to see if we could build on this start. The answer was soon obvious. I wouldn’t say we deliberately sat back but we did allow Bolton to push us back and a delightful through ball to Anelka saw him shoot past Isaksson on the angle only for his shot to thankfully hit the post and cross the face of the goal to safety. Unfortunately this let off didn’t seem to spur us on and Bolton’s domination paid off in about the 30th minute when the ball was played into the box for everyone’s favourite player Diouf to pounce and hit it first time past Isaksson. 1 -1. Maybe now we’d wake up? Nope. Ten minutes later we were behind when Corluka was caught napping and allowed Gardner to make some amends for his earlier error to cross low into the box where Nolan picked up the loose ball and toe poked right footed past Isaksson. Thankfully half time arrived without any more damage and a chance for SGE to earn his corn and sort things out.

He did this by making a half time substitution, taking off the fairly ineffective Gelson Fernandez (not sure why we need two holding midfielders) and bringing on Kelvin Etuhu on the wide right. We had the perfect start when with practically our first attack the ball was fed to Etuhu who got behind his defender to cross. This was cut out but the ball found its way back to him. It was another youngster’s turn not to panic and he held up the ball in the area looking for someone, eventually finding Didi Hamann on the edge of the box. He sidestepped a defender and curled in a shot, which a Bolton defender deflected with his head past Jaaskelainen. Having seen the replays I think Hamann was a bit hard done by not to be credited with the goal, which did look goal bound, although the ‘keeper may have had it covered.

City seemed to be better balanced now and took the game more to Bolton. But it was the away side who would have the next two good opportunities. A long clearance by the ‘keeper evaded everyone to bounce up onto the head of an unmarked Diouf who sent his attempt wide of Isakssons far post. Then, from a cross to the far post, Anelka got the benefit of a kind bounce off Richard Dunne’s head and turned and shot only to see the alert Isaksson brilliantly tip the ball over the bar.

City nearly went ahead soon after when Vassell muscled his defender off the ball in the area and turned it into the path of Michael Johnson who hit it first time across the face of goal only to see it hit the post and bounce away to safety with Jaaskelainen well beaten.

City finally made the breakthrough in the 76th minute with Petrov running into a lot of space down the left when the Bolton right back Hunt had apparently gone walkabout. It looked like the covering defender had managed to close Petrov down and was forcing him too wide but Petrov superbly managed to roll the ball across the face of the goal where Vassell, under pressure from a defender and the goalkeeper brilliantly, in my humble opinion, back heeled the ball into the far corner and in off the upright. It didn’t go unnoticed either that had the ball come back out that man Bianchi was showing typical striker instincts to be on hand for any rebounds.

With Bolton now forced to push forward, City had a couple of good chances on the break to make it safe with substitute Mpenza particularly guilty of squandering a great opportunity.

City finally clinched it when the impressive Kelvin Etuhu took delivery of a lovely pass across the area from another sub, Garrido, again on the break. He seemed to take an age to stop the ball and pick his spot, but who could blame him, before slotting it past the onrushing Jaaskelainen for his first senior goal. Etuhu promptly ran to the crowd and dived in amongst them, quickly followed by most of his team mates. Something for which he picked up a yellow card to go with his goal. I bet it didn’t stop his celebrations on Saturday night though.

Summary: Once again we were put through the mill by City not taking their late chances to finish it off sooner.

Isaksson, despite a couple of good stops, I’m still not convinced that Hart isn’t the better ‘keeper, as young as he is.
Dunney was massive at the back again.
Michael Johnson just gets better and better.
Petrov continues to infuriate at times but keeps delivering the goods.
Bianchi looked a good front man able to hold the ball and didn’t often fail to find a team mate having done so. Oh and he can score goals (I’d love to be a fly on the wall to find out what’s been going on there with SGE failing to utilise him)!
Vassell once again worked his bloody socks off and picked up the man of the match award. His goal seemed to confirm that he only scores when he hasn’t got time to think about it too hard.

The team spirit and camaraderie shone through in the way we battled back and in the goal celebrations with everyone getting involved.

Bearing in mind we were missing Elano and Ireland we look to have more strength in depth. If we can get Bojinov fit and bring in a true goal getter in the January window we can certainly continue our run in the upper half of the upper half of the Premier League.

One other thing I remember was that following an injury to a Bolton player, City knocked the ball into touch for him to receive treatment. At the restart the ball was thrown to Diouf to knock the ball to Isaksson. Being the wonderful sporting gentleman that he is he deliberately knocked the ball into the corner, a kick Johnny Wilkinson would have been proud of, to give City a throw-in almost at the corner flag. He then urged all his team-mates to push forward to apply pressure. Whilst the crowd bayed their disapproval his team-mates, to their credit, ignored him and allowed City to take an uncontested throw-in. Any normal person would rightly be embarrassed when they thought about it afterwards. I get the impression embarrassment is something Diouf doesn’t suffer from.

Some tough games coming up. Let’s hope we can continue to show the kind of spirit we did in the second half of this game.

Dave Kilroy <dave.kilroy(at)>


There’s a school of thought, largely born from his England days, that Sven Goran Eriksson cannot change things successfully when all isn’t going well during a match. Well, in this match he went some way to making a nonsense of that theory and his team came from behind to make it nine home wins out of nine in the League this season. Bolton were deservedly in front at half time, having played some excellent football, dispelling the myth that Gary Megson sends his teams out to long ball it all afternoon. Bolton had won the last three encounters at Eastlands, and last year’s City team would have lost from an unpromising position. Sven deserves huge credit for changing things round in this tough game to win it deservedly. Indeed, City merited the win, having started off with a flourish, taking the lead, losing their way in the first period, before rallying strongly in the second half with a thrilling finale.

With Ireland suspended, Vassell took his place to offer pace and his trademark work ethic down the right. With Elano not passing a fitness test on Friday, Johnson played in the Brazilian magician’s more advanced rôle, with Gelson Fernandes partnering Dietmar Hamman behind him. With Christmas nearing, the 40,000 crowd was lower than in recent games, and it was not aided by a poor turn out from Bolton. ‘Worst support we’ve ever seen’ was a fitting jibe from the Kippax and South Stands. Oh hang on a minute, maybe that’s a bit harsh as the arduous journey from Bolton to Manchester is surely enough to put any diehard fan off!

City started off playing with intelligence and vigour, taking the game to Bolton, with Bianchi lively up front and Vassell worrying Bolton with his pace, and it wasn’t very long before this proved decisive. Vassell advanced down the right and shot only for Jaaskaleinen to parry it; the ex-Villa man neatly played the rebound to Johnson in the inside left position, and Urmston’s Finest squared it to Bianchi who swept home from close range. It was nice to be in front at Eastlands against Bolton for once!

This, however, wasn’t the prelude to City building a healthy lead, as Vassell’s header lacked power from Petrov’s cross, and he headed wide from Ball’s cross after neat work by Petrov and Johnson. Bolton came back strongly, combining the muscle of Davies and Nolan with the guile, clever movement and interplay of the classy Anelka, pantomime villain Diouf, and the promising loanee from Liverpool, Guthrie. Anelka hit a post after being played in by Guthrie and Isaksson had to make a smart save as Bolton pushed City back.

City then missed an opportunity and at that time, it seemed like the game turned on it. Vassell doesn’t look confident when given a sight of goal, and he tamely hit a shot that was more like a back pass to a grateful Jaaskaleinen. Bolton went straight down the other end and Davies played a defence splitting pass from the right, which Diouf finished smoothly. It should have been disallowed, as Anelka was clearly standing in an offside position in the goalkeeper’s line of vision when the ball was played.

For the rest of the first half, City then seemed to melt in the face of a decent Bolton side who will surely climb the table, and we fell behind when Corluka badly misjudged a bouncing ball on our right touchline. Gardner capitalised, crossing to Nolan who was given acres of room to convert past Isaksson. It was a poor goal to concede with the midfield failing to track the Bolton captain’s run and the defence failing to close his shot down. It looked like Bolton were going to do it again and they deserved their lead at the break.

Whatever Sven said in the dressing room, City were a team transformed and scored three goals in a thrilling second half. He’d had enough of Bolton’s pantomime baddie, El Hadj Boo-f and his partners in crime (and so had we), so it was enter stage right for City’s very own Prince Charming in Kelvin Etuhu, with Vassell moving up alongside Bianchi in a 4-4-2. City needed to make an impact quickly and it wasn’t long before we were level with young Etuhu immediately playing a significant rôle. The young right winger’s shot was saved after a good driving run and pass by Corluka, Johnson cleverly back heeled the ball to him and he picked out Hamann, whose shot took a wicked deflection past Jaaskaleinen into the net. The goal was celebrated with a huge sigh of relief in the stands and on the pitch, where Hamann was mobbed.

The game could have gone either way at 2-2 with City using Etuhu’s and Vassell’s pace to good effect and Bianchi working hard to link up play, while Bolton were not for sitting back and they caused plenty of problems against a City defence that looked less solid than it has done at home this season. Diouf headed past a post after Dunne misjudged a long ball under pressure from Davies, and Isaksson made a smart save from the dangerous Anelka’s close range effort. Diouf still found time to annoy the crowd: never mind him being a pantomime villain, he was as relentless and more bad than the worst Bollywood baddie with his poor sportsmanship, kicking the ball into the far corner after City had played the ball out after another Nolan injury, and then urging his team mates forward to squeeze City at the resulting throw in. Bad to the bone, he was booed at every turn! His team mates had a shred of decency and ignored him, allowing City to clear it.

Johnson hit post after great work by Hamman, Bianchi and Etuhu who won the ball out on the right. The game ebbed and flowed at an enthralling tempo. Doesn’t the fear of defeat give a pulsating adrenalin rush? Petrov, who wasn’t having the best of games, made the decisive contribution to the game, running at pace down the left past Hunt who forced him slightly wide. Undeterred, Petrov squeezed his cross in and Vassell bundled the ball the ball inside the right hand post.

Bolton then resorted to type and launched a series of long, high balls, but all of these were repelled by a towering Dunne and Richards who both got stronger as the game progressed. Garrido came on for Petrov and made a telling impact in an impressive cameo. Etuhu’s shot from Mpenza’s cross was saved, but the youngster was not to be denied his first senior goal in City colours. Mpenza cleverly played in Garrido who unselfishly played in the youngster who gleefully slotted home and dived into the crowd with his team mates who were clearly happy for him. Showing what a well brought up young man he is, after the celebrations died down he remembered Garrido’s contribution and ran straight to him to thank him. It should have been more as Mpenza’s shot was saved at point blank range after Garrido unselfishly again played him in.

This City performance was a decent one even if it didn’t reach the heights of Newcastle or Middlesbrough wins, and no one complains about nine wins out of nine at home. Not only is credit due to Sven’s astuteness and the players for their strength of character, but Jim Cassell and his team of coaches and scouts can take a bow when you consider that Johnson, Richards, Ireland, Etuhu, Onouha and Logan have done very well in first team action this season.

Darius Vassell won the sponsors’ man of the match award and is a great guy to have in the squad. Hamann was accomplished in central midfield and oozed class. To sum up, it may not have been the most fluent performance by City, but even without the wonderful skills of Elano and Ireland, we have creativity, pace and skill in abundance in this squad. It looks like we will be signing Mexican striker Nery Castillo on loan from Shakhtar Donetsk and that may mean that we have the money to buy Anelka who was very intelligent and a danger as ever. What we need more than anything else, though, is a little more strength from a midfield all rounder to prevent us from being bullied in certain matches, especially away from home. It’s great that we are always looking to improve – it’s not a bad time to be a City fan is it?

Some ratings:
Isaksson: Must become more vocally assertive: his lack of call caused confusion on a couple of occasions. Otherwise assured handling and one very good save from Anelka: 7
Corluka: Horribly misjudged a high bouncing ball for Bolton’s second but otherwise good in defence and going forward: 6
Dunne: the skipper and Richards struggled with Bolton’s fluid movement for an hour but finished very strongly. One particular challenge to thwart Anelka showed his class: 6
Richards: Learning and his reading of the game is getting better: 6
Ball: Good interception to deny Anelka earlier on. Didn’t let anyone down on his return to the starting line-up: 6
Vassell: Worked hard as ever and that endeavour merited his goal after misses that should have been converted. A good squad player with a great attitude. 7
Hamann: Always there to intercept, win tackles and distribute accurately with calm authority. Has an uncanny knack for turning into hapless opponents and winning free kicks: 8
Gelson Fernandes: Energetic and willing but didn’t really impose himself on this game 6
Johnson: Made the first goal, played a lovely ball for Petrov. Had creative moments in the playmaker’s rôle including the opener, but looked more effective when switched to a deeper rôle: 7
Petrov: Disappointing delivery at times on this occasion, but defended more than of late, and his one moment of pure quality played in Vassell to give us a decisive lead: 6
Bianchi: Held the ball up well, worked skilfully and tirelessly and deserved his goal to make a strong case for a run in the team: 7
Etuhu (for Fernandes): Came on and terrified the Bolton left back, creating a goal for Hamann, and taking his chance well when the opportunity to score came, 7
Mpenza (for Bianchi): Hit the ‘keeper with a late chance but worked hard and combined well with team mates for the short time he was on the pitch: 6
Garrido (for Petrov): Looked very good in midfield and stiffened the left hand side. An assist for Etuhu’s goal as well as presenting a chance for Mpenza, the Basque is a definite option in midfield for Sven if Petrov doesn’t improve his defensive work: 8

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)>


You may remember a couple of weeks ago, I sent in a request for some help with access cards and tickets for this game (thanks to Roger and Chris for the replies and good advice). This was to be a family treat for Xmas with my wife and youngest son coming to watch City at CoMS for the first time and my eldest son coming for the second time (his first match was that dreadful game a couple of years back when we lost 1-0 to Middlesborough and Pearce suggested the players refund everyone’s tickets).

Anyway, the access cards had all arrived but then I got a letter in the post addressed to me, saying don’t use your access card but use the enclosed paper ticket instead. At the time, I was worried that something would go wrong and, you guessed it, another ticket office cock-up duly unfolded! We turned up at the ground with my paper ticket plus the three other access cards. First through the turnstile, my missus, her card doesn’t work. The guy on the turnstile points us to a man with a handheld device who checked the access card and we were told “Not paid for”. So, having shelled out 80-odd quid for the tickets, you can imagine my response. Anyway, he checked the other two access cards and my paper ticket and they were all OK. Of course, I’d left my access card at home because it wasn’t needed was it? Actually, I had it in my wallet just in case and he scanned it in and were told it was OK. So we now had four functioning cards/tickets and eventually got in the ground. I reckon that the letter to me with the paper ticket should have gone to my wife. Lucky I took along the (not working) access card as well.

So, if you get any of this nonsense from the ticket office, please make sure you a) take every card/letter/ticket/receipt you might have otherwise you might not get in, and b) turn up early to allow time for all the shenanigans!

On to the game. This was one of those potential banana skins. Bolton are resurgent under Megson, plus Anelka always scores against his old clubs. I was at the corresponding fixture last year when he bagged two. I wanted to put a bet on him scoring so at least I’d have a few extra bob in pocket but the missus wasn’t having it.

City lined up 4-3-3: Isaksson, Corluka, Dunne, Richards, Ball; Johnson; Hamann; Fernandes; Vassell, Bianchi, Petrov. This showed an attacking intent, but you kind of wondered whether the game might be won and lost in midfield – it all rather depended on Bolton, if they packed the midfield it might be difficult to get the ball through to the three at the front.

City started brightly and one of the first moves of the game saw Vassell played through on the right. He raced into the penalty area and fired a right-footed shot at goal, just before being bundled over by the defender. The ‘keeper saved it but it rebounded out to Vass who then quickly got up to pass to the left to Johnson who then slipped it to Bianchi unmarked on the six yard line to fire it in with his shin. Only seven minutes and we’re ahead.

It didn’t last though. Bolton started to pick themselves up. Campo, Davis and Nolan were beginning to control the midfield and Anelka and Diouf looked dangerous up front. Johnson seemed out of sorts and Fernandes was well out of his depth. On 31 minutes after some neat passing involving Anelka and Davies, Diouf found himself unmarked in the area and fired home for 1-1. City couldn’t get control and Bolton were playing some good football with lots of movement in midfield. Just before half-time, Gardner got past Corluka on the left wing and cut the ball back to Anelka on the edge of the area. The ball then fell to Nolan who slotted it in for a deserved 2-1 lead. This was one of those times when you can’t wait for half-time to come. Had we had another 15 minutes, I’m sure City would have been further behind, but as it was we went into the break one goal down.

This is the point at which managers can earn their crust. A rousing team-talk or a new formation can change a game. Sven went for the latter, bringing off Fernandes (who had looked like the proverbial rabbit in headlights) for Etuhu and going back to 4-4-2 with Bianchi and Vass as the two front men. What a difference this made. Three minutes after the start Etuhu forced the pace down the right and the ball fell to Hamann just outside the area. With the ball at his left foot, he switched to his right and sent a delicious curler that found its way into the top corner via a Michalik deflection. 2-2, game on!

You could imagine Bolton shutting up shop and going for a draw but you could see that Megson was urging them on for the win. Johnson was rejuvenated and hit the post, but City’s star for me was Vassell. In the first half he was the only City player that seemed awake but in the second he ran for very ball and led some good interplay with Bianchi. Petrov (in short sleeves and gloves!) too was giving every ounce of effort (I know he doesn’t go in for those 50-50 balls as much as he should but you can’t question his energy and pace). On 77 minutes he broke down the left and squared to Vass who sneaked it past the ‘keeper. The ball rolled agonisingly towards the far side of the goal and bounced in off the post. 3-2 and a well-deserved goal for my MotM.

Both sides were still not done. City bought on Garrido for Petrov and Mpenza for Bianchi and Bolton brought on Stelios and McCann. As Bolton pressed for the equaliser, Garrido, Vass and Mpenza twice broke away and had chances to finish the game but managed to miss what looked like easy goals. Bolton too, had chances to score with Anelka looking threatening. In recent years, City would have fallen back to hold on to the lead and with Bolton’s players you can easily imagine the game ending 3-3 (or worse). But City are a different proposition these days and continued to counter attack. In the final minute, Etuhu found himself one-on-one with the ‘keeper, took his time and slotted home for 4-2.

Another City comeback, a rousing second half, wife and kids happy. Keep it up Sven!

Paul Muschamp <paulmuschamp(at)>


After a fast start with a goal by Bianchi, City trudged off the field at half time being 1-2 down against the rivals Trotters of Bolton.

But the genius Sven Eriksson made the necessary changes at half time to see City with a different attitude.

It was nice to see Didi get a goal, followed by Vassell who has not stopped trying to get that elusive goal. It came by a nice flick, then young Etuhu got his first goal in the Premier League, and he took it so calmly and with precision, and is forgiven for his jumping into the City supporters to celebrate; he was surrounded by both players and fans to help him celebrate in the final minute of the game.

This was not a classic game but an exciting game, and a game in which City showed they have the character to come back when down.

A very good start to the Christmas season fixtures.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


It’s taken some time but I finally plucked up courage to take my 3 youngest to a match.

Grandad (a veteran Blue and famously the ex-postman at Maine Road) was happy to come with and help corral the herd, so all was nicely set.

We live near Middlesbrough so we took Mam and baby sister with us as well, but left them with Nana in Flixton for the day!

Now I really don’t care about what the whole day cost, as that’s not important to me to be honest and I would probably cry if I added it all up so I’m likely in denial – so I won’t comment on that.

The kids were already Junior Blues (or whatever they are called now) and I was a member so it was a case of buying an access card for Grandad and booking the 5 tickets online. All done without a hitch on Thursday night. Very nice.

We had a fair schlep from the parking but even that was a joy as the youngest was gobsmacked by the fact that everyone was “City”, even the bobbies seemed friendly enough.

Burger and chips outside the ground and then straight in entrance B2, Block 101, Row J seats 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.

I was bursting to see their reaction to the stadium once we were in and I wasn’t let down. I could see myself as a kid in them as they said their wows and awesomes, but better was to come. “Look dad the seats flip up and down!”

A bonus for us all were the empty seats just in front, which meant that even Connor, the youngest could sit in his seat and see clearly.

All in all it was a great day for many reasons – including the second half performance and the result.

Ryan 8, Callum 5, and Connor 3 want to go back again and again and again and say Boooo to Boro and Boooo to United, so I think my brainwashing job is now complete with them. Only Megan (16 months) left to enlist.

The boys absolutely loved it, soaking up every aspect of the day. Dad and Grandad were pleased with the result and some of the play but to be honest we weren’t convinced by some of what we saw.

I would, however, suggest that anyone who has a complaint about what the Premier LeagueShipDivision has become should take a kid for a game and see it through their eyes.

“Wow, the seats flip up!”

Andy Morris <andy(at)>


As a student in Durham I can clearly remember gathering round the radio on February 12, 1955 and hearing the familiar strains of the introductory music to Sports Report. I wasn’t too optimistic about City’s chances that day, as they were away to the up and coming Busby Babes. Imagine my surprise and delight when the result was read out: Manchester United 0 Manchester City 5! We’ve never quite managed to equal or better that score, although we’ve certainly spent long enough trying.

Almost three years to the day, that still young United side was torn apart on an icy runway in Munich. I was working in northern Germany that February and everyone seemed to be in a state of shock. Some excellent footballers and equally excellent journalists lost their lives that day. Nat Lofthouse was convinced that Tommy Taylor would have become the best centre-forward England had ever had; Roger Byrne was a very efficient defender and sound captain; Duncan Edwards was simply the best, even at his tender age. I would have no hesitation in putting him in my all-time team of those I’ve seen over a period of more than 60 years. A sort of Roy Keane without the nasty streak. In addition to losing some of England’s best young players, the crash also brought to an end the life of my boyhood hero Frank Swift. I think I’m right in saying that Swift was as popular with away crowds as he was at Maine Road. Easily England’s number one ‘keeper, he believed that entertaining the crowd was part of his job, and the crowd loved him for it. Another favourite of mine killed in the crash was the journalist Don Davies, who wrote in the Manchester Guardian under the pseudonym ‘Old International’. Even when City had played badly I looked forward to reading his match reports, as he appeared to me to have a soft spot for the Blues. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that he had a great influence on a young Stuart Hall.

My wife will tell you that I have a pathological hatred of United, but I would dispute that. Dislike would be more accurate. I got no pleasure whatever from the deaths of the United players, and it was very moving to see a copy of their match programme for the first game after Munich. All eleven spaces were left blank, as they were uncertain who would be able to turn out. The team was announced over the tannoy just before the kick-off, and only two of the previous team were playing. But I must confess that I became a little irritated that the whole nation was willing them on to win something. I didn’t wish them harm, but I certainly didn’t want them to win anything. Quietly I hoped that Bolton would beat them in the Cup Final, and my hopes were realised, although for the second year running at Wembley a United goalkeeper was taken out with the goal being allowed to stand.

The Old Trafford club has been accused of milking the disaster, and there may on occasions have been some truth in those accusations, but surely we can’t begrudge them their wish to commemorate the 50th anniversary of that awful day? I would expect City to do the same, had we been the ones in the plane crash. It sounds as though our club are doing the right thing in offering to wear the black armbands, and I’m sure that the majority of City supporters at the game in February will observe the silence, if that is what is decided. Like Phil Banerjee, however, I doubt if any appeal to decency will carry weight with a certain unpleasant minority of our supporters, and I wonder if any appeal to their better nature will have any influence. Can’t we leave sick chanting to those who follow Liverpool and Leeds, and show that our club is above that sort of thing?

David Buxton <dbb26(at)>


Whilst I fully agree with Don Darrie’s editorial and Phil Barrie’s contribution re the next derby game at OT, I think we should all try to get things into some kind of perspective. Yes, Munich was a tragedy that should be respected by all and as Chair of the Centenary Supporters’ Association I’m more than happy to go along with the club’s sincere efforts to avoid any disrespect on the day.

However, I can’t help but feel that as this disaster happened some 50 years ago it is time all moved on, especially the club from the other side of town. Statistics may seem harsh when looking at death totals and a time line but let’s look at those figures and the distance in time and compare the significance.

Hillsborough    1989    95 people perished
Bradford        1985    56 people perished
Heysel          1985    39 people perished
Ibrox           1971    66 people perished
Munich          1958    23 people perished

A quick look at the above table will tell you which was the greatest numerical tragedy and which one should be the most distant memory. All are tragedies but which is remembered most and I often wonder why. The cynic in me says MUFC have exploited this to the full and yet I’ve nothing but sympathy for them for their long distant past suffering.

What does sicken me is the sheer hypocrisy from the other side of town. In recent years, prior to every derby game at OT I get emails from Reds asking me what are we going to do about the Munich chants. I have no hesitation in replying that I and others have done our best but I also always ask what are you doing about a minority of your supporters chanting about the following;

  • Hillsborough songs when you play Liverpool
  • Russian submarines going down
  • Our No 23 MVF
  • Alfie Haaland’s Leg
  • etc.

To date I have never received a reply to one of my emails, which speaks volumes to me. I do sincerely hope that all Blues do respect what will happen at the next derby game but let’s keep it in perspective and move on.

Alex Channon <alexchannon81(at)>


I know the club read this newsletter, so can I plead with them to ensure United arrange a two minute applause rather than a minute’s silence at the match? This is becoming the “modern way” to pay respect, and it would certainly drown out the moronic chanting from some “fans”, who are usually intoxicated as they enter the stadium. This will save embarrassment all around.

Steve Kay <Steve(at)>


A friend of mine sent me this e-mail some time back. Interesting read. Is the book still available I wonder?

Found this description about the autobiography for Frank Swift:

TITLE          Football from the Goalmouth
AUTHOR         Frank Swift (edited by Roy Peskett)
PUBLISHER      Sporting Handbooks Ltd.
ADDRESS        13 Bedford Square,
               London WC1,
ISBN NUMBER    Not applicable (out of print)
PRICE          £4.00 (secondhand)

This is an autobiographical account of Frank Swift’s career up to just before he finished his playing days, in 1948.

The book is hardback (yellow/brown – they really did specialise in the most turgid colours), and is quite lengthy judging by the other sporting books which I’ve read from that era. It is 175 pages with 46 black and white photos; it might once have had a dustjacket but my copy, bought in early ’96, hasn’t got one.

The format of these footballing biographies from the early post-war years tends to be very similar: a foreword from an eminent peer, in this case Arthur Drewry – Chairman of the International Selection Committee of the FA, followed by a series of very short chapters, many of which are almost anecdotal. The foreword is very fulsome which is probably no bad thing as Swifty turns out to be a true man of his time, very reluctant to blow his own trumpet – except where money making is concerned!

The book starts in Blackpool – Frank’s birthplace – and briefly describes his early life, particularly football (his brother was the Bolton goalie and bore a striking resemblance to Frank) and his little earner, which was taking tourists on boat trips. He moved to City early enough in his career to travel and see them play in the 1933 FA Cup Final which City lost to Everton 0-3. Quite bizarrely, he went to London in an Indian (motorcycle) sidecar with a one-eyed driver!

The team lost 4-2 at Derby on his first-team début, Frank claiming that he should have saved two of them, and then 7-2 at home to WBA, but with 10 men. Things improved though as City made it to Wembley once again the following year, and this time Swift was goalkeeper. A total of 399,874 people saw City play up until the final, including a record 84,568 versus Stoke City. City had better luck this time and won 2-1 against Portsmouth. Swift is almost self-deprecating about his performance (once again). He also mentions the reasons why he fainted at the end; apparently the pressure and excitement just got to him!

Here the chronology gets a bit slack as he turns his attention to, amongst other things, the great City team of the early 30’s, and his footballing travels, including a near miss in an RAF Dakota over France in 1944. Matt Busby was also aboard this aircraft and the incident now seems almost portentious, considering that both these individuals were to be involved in the Munich crash, fatally in Frank’s case.

How times change? Swift describes the excellent relationship between MCFC and MUFC and claims that Mancunians are for Manchester rather than strictly City or United! Another gem is that United, who started out as Newton Heath played in an old clay pit! We also get some background on the 1931 crisis at Old Trafford where there was a spectator boycott and crowds descended to 4,000! Interestingly, they were saved by Mr JW Gibson, a clothing manufacturer, and it is very probable that this is the origin of the word Rags, though Swift doesn’t specifically say so.

He describes various games in the war years, and his early post-war career as a coach for Larvik in Norway. However, there is now little mention of the Blues as he focuses on his England experiences: he describes many international matches, including the famous Portuguese game where the ball was swapped for a size 4 schoolboy ball after England had scored their first goal – this was the standard size in Portugal. It didn’t however make much difference as England went on to score another 9! The big issue of the day – the minimum/maximum wage – also gets a mention, not forgetting a chapter on goalkeeping basics!

These books are very different to their modern-day counterparts but nonetheless give a valuble picture of an ever-receding age. The book has some lovely anecdotes and this one perfectly illustrates a situation which will probably never happen again: Swift recounts how he was on the bus (public bus!) after a home game, and the guy who was sitting next to him moaned throughout the whole trip about the awful City ‘keeper without actually recognising that he was sat next to him!

[This review was done by Ashley Birch, McV founder member, and can be found with others on our website – Ed]

Andrew Johnson <Fastandyj(at)>


16 December 2007

Liverpool             0 - 1  Manchester United     44,459
Arsenal               1 - 0  Chelsea               60,139

15 December 2007

Birmingham City       1 - 1  Reading               27,300
Derby County          0 - 1  Middlesbrough         32,676
Manchester City       4 - 2  Bolton Wanderers      40,506
Portsmouth            0 - 1  Tottenham Hotspur     20,520
Sunderland            1 - 1  Aston Villa           43,248
West Ham United       0 - 2  Everton               34,430
Wigan Athletic        5 - 3  Blackburn Rovers      16,489
Fulham                0 - 1  Newcastle United      24,959

League table to 16 December 2007 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD  Pts
 1 Arsenal         17  8  1  0 21  6  4  3  1 13  8 12  4  1  34  14  20  40
 2 Manchester Utd  17  8  1  0 20  2  4  2  2 10  6 12  3  2  30   8  22  39
 3 Chelsea         17  5  3  0 14  3  5  1  3 10  7 10  4  3  24  10  14  34
 4 Manchester City 17  9  0  0 17  5  1  3  4  7 14 10  3  4  24  19   5  33
 5 Liverpool       16  3  4  1 16  5  5  2  1 11  5  8  6  2  27  10  17  30
 6 Everton         17  5  1  2 19  7  4  2  3 12  9  9  3  5  31  16  15  30
 7 Portsmouth      17  2  5  1 11  7  6  1  2 17  8  8  6  3  28  15  13  30
 8 Aston Villa     17  5  0  4 13 12  3  4  1 15  8  8  4  5  28  20   8  28
 9 Blackburn R.    17  4  2  3 11 11  3  3  2 12 13  7  5  5  23  24  -1  26
10 Newcastle Utd   17  5  2  2 14 13  2  2  4 10 13  7  4  6  24  26  -2  25
11 West Ham United 16  2  3  3  9  9  4  1  3 11  5  6  4  6  20  14   6  22
12 Tottenham H.    17  3  1  4 19 16  1  5  3 10 13  4  6  7  29  29   0  18
13 Reading         17  5  1  3 12 12  0  2  6 10 22  5  3  9  22  34 -12  18
14 Middlesbrough   17  2  3  3 10 13  2  2  5  6 15  4  5  8  16  28 -12  17
15 Birmingham City 17  2  2  4  8 11  2  1  6 10 16  4  3 10  18  27  -9  15
16 Bolton Wndrs    17  3  3  3 12  9  0  2  6  6 18  3  5  9  18  27  -9  14
17 Sunderland      17  3  3  2  8  8  0  2  7  8 24  3  5  9  16  32 -16  14
18 Fulham          17  2  4  3 14 15  0  3  5  4 13  2  7  8  18  28 -10  13
19 Wigan Athletic  17  3  2  3 11 10  0  1  8  6 23  3  3 11  17  33 -16  12
20 Derby County    17  1  2  5  5 15  0  1  8  1 24  1  3 13   6  39 -33   6

With thanks to Football 365

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