Newsletter #1449

More on 1983, recommended tomes, TV viewing, and the Faroes jaunt tonight.

Next Game: Hamburg SV, away, 3.30pm Saturday 26 July (friendly)


May 1983: Luton Town and Raddy Antic: one of the darkest days in our history and one that I’ll never forget. Seventeen unbroken years of top flight football, which had included the glory days of Bell, Lee, Summerbee et al, ended that day. We had to draw to stay up and Luton had to win that day to avoid the dreaded drop. Any of us who support City know how painful it was. Events beyond my control meant that I had to settle for the agony of Radio commentary, and my first experience of the ultimate pain of relegation. It’s a day that will always remind me never to get complacent until City have enough points to stave off relegation.

I recently acquired a copy of Match of the Day 60s, 70s and 80s, and relived what I saw back in 1983. Graham Baker fails to make a short pass after winning two tackles. I see Paul Power, in particular, straining every sinew but being unable to stop Luton’s Brian Stein from crossing. I see Alex Williams punching that cross out and Antic’s shot scuttling through a horde of bodies and into our net. Yes, David Pleat skipped across our pitch in the joy of staying up but in the post match interview, which is on the DVD, he is compassionate without being patronising about our relegation, which was much to his credit. That didn’t register in 1983, because most of us probably felt too numb after that crushing experience.

I didn’t care for Luton too much after 1983 even if they were only doing what they had to do to preserve their own status. I hated their ban on away fans in the mid to late 1980s, a classic case of knee-jerk Thatcherite reaction to rioting Millwall fans from their Chairman at the time, who was a Tory MP with a particularly nauseating admiration for Mrs Thatcher.

Wind forward 25 years and now Luton Town are very likely to start the next season with a 30 point penalty in the bottom division of the football league, The Fourth Division to some of us. They will have to show promotion form to have a chance of staying in the Football League. That looks unlikely as things stand, as who will want to play for a team that has no real prospect of doing anything other than possibly surviving relegation from the football league this season?

Whilst I didn’t have much sympathy when they were relegated from the top flight in the early 90s, any antipathy I have held towards them has faded over time. In fact, for what it’s worth, I have nothing but sympathy for their plight. Football clubs should pay their creditors in full, but it’s always the fans who suffer the most.

Maybe I’m being a softy. Maybe I’m being ‘mad as a Hatter’ even for feeling that way about a club that caused us so much pain. Maybe it’s because one of my dear friends is a Hatter and I have even attended two or three games with him when the Blues haven’t been playing. As a result I’ve met and drunk with Luton fans, and it’s a standing joke between Will and I that the record time for one of them mentioning the words ‘Raddy’ and ‘Antic’ is 0.7416 seconds after I have been introduced as a Manchester City supporter. The banter has always been friendly and I have spent time finding out how their experience was that day. One common theme is that there’s been very little gloating about our relegation: they were just relieved to stay up and wanted to get home from Moss Side in one piece! So, I don’t feel bitter about 1983. Just scarred by it, I suppose, in a footballing sense anyway.

Luton did what they had to do that day. Sadly, we didn’t.

I can’t think of many more mean spirited things in Football than wishing them to go out of business. Singing Hillsborough/Munich/Shankly songs perhaps? I wish Luton Town all the very best in their struggle this season.

Phil Banerjee <philban65(at)>


I almost fully back John Nisbet’s comments. Lest we forget, if Pleat’s antics were not sufficient are reason to wish Luton ill, Luton also backed the plans of those “tory nazis” in their attempt to criminalise all us football fans because we were seen a working class scum and dared attend football matches armed with big bananas.

The demise of Luton and their Thatcher loving fans would give me great warmth!

The one point I would disagree with John is that I would much rather see City win everything going whilst Salford come second. What better way to lord it over them?

P.S. Anybody watch The Great Escape yesterday? Not getting El Gordo, now that is a great escape!

Mark Jones <Mark.Jones(at)>


I was on holiday in Iceland last week – and came across the attached article in “Grapevine”, a local English language paper (aimed at tourists in the main). It’s a tad out of date now but would still make the average MCIVTA reader smile/exclaim…

“England’s Blues to Lose in the Faroe Islands Thus Summer? We Wish.”

Manchester City, the new Chelsea of English Premiership football (slightly dodgy overseas owner – check. Money wasted on dodgy players with names that sound like a pasta sauce – check. Blue kit – check) will, this summer, be getting on a plane to somewhere a majority of their players will never have heard of – the Faroe Islands – to contest a UEFA Cup spot with the mighty EB/Streymur.

So, just how much of a monumental mismatch is this two legged tie between a team that won the whole competition on 1970 and one that has never finished top of its own domestic league competition? The Grapevine investigated and came up some interesting comparisons.

  • Although the match will probably be held at oneof the bigger grounds in the Faroese capital ofTorshavn (EB’s home ground just about caters for1,000 fans), this will still be like the averagePremiership player’s back garden in comparison tothe City of Manchester Stadium, capacity47,700. The entire Faroese population could fit in this grand arena.
  • Manchester City have spent over 4.7 million ISKon players since their takeover by ex-ThaiPrime Minister Thaskin Shinawatra, a manestimated to be worth 130 billion ISK. His total wealthis equal to about one third of the entire annualFaroese GDP (Gross Domestic Product)
  • The Faroese national football team is ranked193rd in the world and most people think their fullname is Faroe Islands NIL, apart from when theyplayed Scotland. In contrast England aresomehow ranked in the top ten national teams inthe world of football despite their team beingmostly populated by players who can’t stay out oftabloid newspapers and assorted otherphilanders, womanisers and thugs. See most oftheir defensive unit for examples of all three.
  • Anyone who has ever been to the Faroe Islandswill testify that it’s one of the most beautifulplaces on earth, in comparison to Manchester – acity that has the nickname Gunchester due to itshigh crime rate and prevalence of housing estatesand districts where you really wouldn’t go afterdark without a bodyguard. No wonder their playersare some of the most aggressive in Englishfootball (several current and ex-team membershave criminal records), whilst the Faroe Islands arepopulated by some of the most peaceful, friendlyand contented souls you’re likely to meet outsidea hippy commune.

Roland Hojsted, EB’s Chair, when asked about the tie, simply said: “what can they expect? They can expect to lose.” We’re not holding out breath Roland, but if your boys pull off one of the all-time great giant killings in the world of sport, then we’ll be the first to congratulate them.

Feed them some of that dried pilot whale, washed down with a few pots of aqquvit and a really old, chewy puffin steak for dinner the night before and your chances will increase greatly. Good luck on July the 17th.

Gareth Hardman <Gareth.Hardman(at)>


Neil Young & Ken Barnes’ book offer

Following the request for details regarding the book on Neil Young ‘Catch A Falling Star’, here is my review.

A quite interesting read, very good account of early life in Manchester schoolboys and City’s youth team etc. and obviously fantastic account of the late 60’s / early 70’s success.

Gets quite emotional when his brother dies and after that the book keeps bringing up the testimonial or lack of and depending on your viewpoint as to whether he should/should not have a testimonial it could be seen as a bit bitter.

Also well worth a read is Ken Barnes’ ‘The Simple Game’, written by BBC Radio Manchester’s Jimmy Wagg.

Again, a great insight into a football world that no longer exists. Barnes recalls combining National Service whilst playing semi-pro football and then his battle once signed by City to actually get a game in the first team, followed by his rôle in the ‘Revie Plan’ that won the 1956 Cup Final.

The story goes through to his eventual exit from the club and managing Wrexham and Witton Albion before returning to Maine Road and becoming Chief Scout. One great story is recalled about Swales coming to Barnes’ office to complain he is spending too much money on milk for the cups of tea for all of the schoolboy/youth teams parents – Barnes’ reply about questioning Swales’ expenditure on alcohol in the bar entertaining guests sent Swales packing! Barnes was sacked twice by City in ‘cost cutting exercises’ and one can only sympathise with him on both occasions and his sadness at this end is certainly recorded.

As it happens, I work very part time with the publishers of both books and have had a chat with the manager and he has agreed that MCIVTA readers can buy both books for £7 each (both are hardbacks, Neil Young RRP £17.95 and Ken Barnes RRP £16.95) + P&P to whereever you live.

For further details please email Ashley on <enquiries(at)>

[We have a signed copy of Ken Barnes’ ‘This Simple Game’ to be won – watch this space for a competition soon! – Ed]

Phill Gatenby <Safestanding(at)>


My brother, a mate, and I are off to Hamburg to cheer the Blues this weekend. It’d be great to meet up with any Blues making the trip in the bars for some serious drinking and whatever else we can get up to. Legal of course! Email me with details if you’re going.

Plus can we sign a left back and a mega hard midfielder and maybe another attacking right sided midfielder please?

Also, anyone on MCIVTA on Facebook? There’s a City section on there and we need to boost our numbers I’ve decided!

Graham Keller <gkmcfc(at)>


On Thursday 24th July 6pm at URBIS I’ll be giving a talk on the history of Manchester Central FC, the team set up by a disgruntled former City director to rival the Blues.

The talk follows on from the stories in my book on Central and the rôle United and City played in its demise.

Tickets are available from URBIS (you can pay on the night). I know there’s a small charge (£2) but they also have a small free exhibition on with items connected with Central. The evening also includes Jules Spencer from FC United talking about their own development. There are a lot of parallels.

Copies of my book “Manchester A Football History” will also be available for purchase from Urbis on the night and I’d be very happy to sign copies etc.

Gary James <info(at)>


Does anyone have a link to one of those great fixtures calendars which I can import? I use a Mac so the iCal files are what I’d need for importing.

Got my season ticket through on Saturday which has put me right in the mood (even if the game on Thursday didn’t ha!).

Joel Perry <j.perry(at)>


Graham you asked about footie viewing in the US. I’ll just tell you what I have, and what happened last year.

I have Direct TV. Direct TV offers Setanta (channel 615) for $14.99 per month. If you subscribe to Setanta you also get Setanta Extra (channel 670) thrown in, which may or may not have games on at the same time as 615. Direct also offer Fox Soccer Channel (just moved to channel 619) as part of a bundled sports package for $12 per month. This bundled sports package appears on my bill as “Sports Monthly”. You cannot unbundle the sports package and pay for Fox Soccer Channel alone hoping to save a few dollars. You either get such delights as the Mid Atlantic Sports Net along with Fox, or you get nothing. The only channel I watch along with Fox that comes in the bundle is Gol-TV (channel 614), which is very good, especially if you want to watch La Liga and keep in touch with South American football: Fox does Argentina BTW.

To subscribe to Setanta and/or Fox you must subscribe to an underlying package (obviously), and it is Direct TV’s “Choice Monthly” package to which you add Setanta and the sports package that contains Fox Soccer Channel. You cannot add Setanta or Fox to a basic package. I tried that and argued the toss but they weren’t having any of it.

What did I get for my money last season? I got every single City game except for four. Only four games in all competitions were not available. I think that’s pretty good. If you do decide to look into this, take the schedules promised by Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta with a pinch of the proverbial. I don’t mean because the start times of games might change, what I mean is, if this season is like last season, City will be on at sometime, live or tape delay regardless of any official schedule.

It took me about a month to figure out last season that just because the on-line schedule doesn’t say any given City game will be shown (live or delayed) doesn’t mean it won’t be on, in fact, as I said, only four games were not shown last season.

The best thing to do is on Friday night, pull up the guide using your remote and start scrolling through the next three/four days on both Fox and Setanta and see what games are really on. If you do not see City scheduled live or on tape delay, don’t panic, keep trying over the next couple of days as programming can change at the drop of a hat. The best example of this was last season, sometime before Christmas (alas, I can’t recall the game, must have been memorable) when City were not scheduled either live or delayed for the whole week; however, that Saturday dinner time, just before I popped out, almost as I was on my way out of the door, I thought I’d look again and lo! City were being shown at 4pm (I remember the time, but not the game!) despite the fact I’d checked the TV guide the night before and all Saturday morning. The programming changed Tommy Cooper style, “just like that”.

If you decide to split the difference and just go with Fox or Setanta you’re going to get frustrated. Better to get them both.

Setanta is also good for Rugby (both codes, both hemispheres and lots of it), Aussie Rules (the whole season, fantastic), Gaelic Football, Hurling. Between Fox, Setanta and Gol-TV you get the Prem, SPL, Eredivisie, La Liga, La Championat, Bundesliga, Serie A, Clausura and Apertura (Argentina), Brazil, Colombia, MLS, and so on. You’ll be awash with Rugby and footie… the wife will kill you. You also get Sky Sports and Setanta News (most of the time live a few times a day) and various talk shows (the ones on Setanta aren’t bad). Highlight shows too from around the world. Footie from the Championship (which I always watch) as well as some games from League One and Two throughout the year. Setanta even had some non-league stuff on as well last year, which was great.

No cricket though. You can get it, but it’s PPV and a non-starter for me at any rate.

You can watch City for free on the Internet, but the drawbacks are obvious. The quality is atrocious, you might not get a stream, and you must watch it live and probably sat at a desk. I just watched City win 0-2 against a pub team on the Internet and if I had second thoughts about Fox and Setanta that put them to bed.

Having said all that I’ll just give you what it cost me:

Signing up for Direct TV when we moved house last August was free, as was installation (no surprise there). There were no fees associated with getting the service. I could cancel Direct without any penalty after 12 months, period. They would like you to give them 30 days notice if you change your underlying package, or any additional packages, but that’s a bunch of rubbish as you can do it on-line or over the phone and it takes effect within minutes, you really do only pay for what you watch, not what you “ordered”. As a new customer you will probably get some deal for the first 12 months. This is what it cost me for the first 12 months (about to expire, so my credits will go west), and tbh, I’m not 100% sure what the bill is about to jump to… I suppose I’ll find out very soon (guess about $90) This is my bill from April that I pulled out:

Choice Monthly (minimum package to add Fox and Setanta) = $52.99
Sports Monthly = $12.00
Setanta Monthly = $14.99 (best value in town)
Leased Receiver = $4.99
Leased Receiver = $4.99
Primary Leased Receiver = $4.99

Cash Back for 10 months = $10.00 credit
New Customer Offer = $10.00 credit
Price Guarantee Offer = $3.00 credit
Primary Leased Receiver = $4.99 credit.

Total Bill = $94.95
Minus = $27.99
You owe = $66.96
NC rip off tax = .68 sales + $5.60 video services tax (go figure) = $6.28
Grand Total = $73.24.

Was it worth it for one year? $18 per week? $2.50 a day? Absolutely! I’m going to renew even if the price is about to jump. People in the UK slag Setanta off, I know, but if you are stuck in the States you’ll love it. All I watch is Setanta, Fox, Gol and Turner Classic Movies (no commercials on TCM). The other thing about Setanta here is there are very, very, very few commercials.

Good luck.

(I do not work for Fox, Setanta, Gol-TV, Direct-TV or any of their advertisers blah, blah, blah).

Jack Buckley <Jack10000days(at)>

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Newsletter #1449