Newsletter #63

Yet another crunch game today made crucial by last night’s two results. It seems to me that I’ve said games were crucial innumerable times and innumerable times we’ve screwed up. Relegation is making that imperceptible slide from a possibility to a probability!

We have quite a bit of stuff including an interesting ‘Why Blue’ from Eric Lancake (perhaps our oldest subscriber) and additionally a nice ramble through Jeremy Poynton’s experiences of watching other teams due to the distance to Maine Road.

Next game Everton away, Wednesday 15th March 1995.


BH has still not decided (or rather isn’t revealing) his line-up for the game. He has however promised that City will be going for a win. He may be planning a surprise formation, but will not reveal the line-up until just before kick-off. He has already stated that Quinn will play, but who else isn’t revealed. So here’s the squad:

Coton (from) Ian B, Curle, Vonk, Kernaghan, Phelan, Gaudino, Summerbee, Simpson, Beagrie, Walsh, Foster, Quinn, Rösler, Dibble

Let’s hope City can get all three points and push us up and Everton further down.

Martin Ford (


Saw Panorama last night, on Nick Leeson & the collapse of Barings Bank. Apparently Mr Leeson is a Blue; so that’s where all the money went ….

Dennis Wise has been sentenced to 3 months in prison, subject to appeal for assaulting a taxi driver. He’s out on bail at the moment – what does this portend for Eric? Bet he’d enjoy 3 months in Strangeways ๐Ÿ™‚

Jeremy Poynton ( or
Also from:
Paul Howarth (
Phil Knight (
Anthony Johnson (
Roger Sharp (


Bruce Grobbelaar, Hans Segers and John Fashanu’s girlfriend(!) have all been arrested today in conjunction with the investigation into match-rigging. More arrests are to follow – who next???

The Mole

The current joke on RSS, and a good one it is too, is that they have all been accused of ‘letting John Fashanu score’!!! [Ashley]


The match at Villa Park, originally scheduled for 8th April, has been rearranged and will now be played on Wednesday 5th April. This is presumably because of the Man. Utd versus Crystal Palace or Wolves FA Cup semi-final that will be played at Villa Park on the 9th April.

The Mole


City won their FA Youth Cup Q/F Replay against Sunderland 3-1 last night after extra time. The semi final opposition will be Bristol City or Spurs according to local radio.

The Mole
Also from:
Roger Haigh (
Roger Sharp (


The latest news I have on the City vs. Liverpool kick off time débâcle is that relatives of the Hillsborough victims have approached City supporters’ clubs to try and enlist their help in getting City to rearrange the kick off time to 11.30.

I work at Liverpool University and one of the recent recruits to my department is Rogan Taylor. For those of you who don’t remember, Rogan was the President of the Football Supporters’ Association at the time of the Hillsborough tragedy. You may recall that his calm and articulate voice was just about the only one talking any sense amongst the rubbish emanating from the FA, police, government ministers and the press (in particular The Sun) at that time. Rogan has just finished a book on the tragedy and is in close contact with the relatives of the victims. As a Liverpool fan he was also there himself. Anyhow he tells me that he has spoken to Dave Wallace in an attempt to move the City board on this matter. I don’t know what the response has been there though.

Living in Liverpool and knowing Rogan I think I am in a good position to learn just how strongly the Liverpool people feel about this. I don’t think it is simply a case of the local press getting hold of a good story. Rogan tells me that the families particularly feel that players like Ian Rush and John Barnes – who were at Hillsborough – should be with them at Anfield to mark the sixth anniversary.

Hopefully City’s board will do something about this situation – i.e. at least a ceremony at Maine Road.

I will endeavour to keep abreast of developments at this end.

Sean O’Connell (


I’ve been asked about these before so I went to the Soccer Shop on Claremont Road, which usually stocks all of the “unofficial” T-Shirts. The proprietor told me that the Cantona shirts were no longer available as they had been banned! I don’t know who organised this ban and why they did it, but they’ve done a good job because I haven’t seen one of these shirts since (this was several weeks ago).

Paul Howarth (


Why do so many people want us to play Rangers in a Centenary game? I don’t think the fact that their arch-rivals happen to have very close ties with United is a very good reason.

Face it, Rangers have one of the most bigoted sets of fans there is and the buying policy pursued for so long by their board/management can hardly be held up as a shining example of enlightened tolerance. Things may have changed a bit within the club recently, but the nasty aftertaste lingers on.

If you ask me, these are good reasons for having as little to with Rangers as possible and if we are to play anyone, why not Gornik Zabrze or however you spell it, if they’re still around?

Incidentally, I don’t think Franny has any intention of putting any more money into City. From what I can see, the masterplan is to spend a little whilst generating a bit of cash from sharper commercial activities, repair the worst of the damage and then try and float the club or rather Manchester City Holdings PLC as I believe the new holding company is called.

Chris Williams (


I’ve been meaning to contribute more to MCIVTA but work has been hell lately and you lot seem to be getting along fine without me. ๐Ÿ˜‰ What is worse is that I’ve had no time to go to games and may not even make it to Maine Road this season. Part (definitely not all) of the reason is this stupid membership card scheme. Also, if space is limited, I’d rather born’n’bred Blues get the seats; though there hasn’t been much chance of a sell-out lately!!

The big question… will we stay up? I don’t know. Our position is different from last season where we spent most of it hovering in or around the drop zone before a final last-day escape. This season, we had lofty ambitions of a UEFA Cup place, maybe even a Wembley final and those hopes have crumbled away since December. If Horton can pull another couple of players out of the bag, like Walsh and Beagrie, we should have a good chance because the teams below us really aren’t that good. Sorry to say, neither are we. ๐Ÿ™

Eleven games to go. I reckon that three wins and three or four draws, at least, would see us safe. Five wins and we would be laughing but where are they going to come from? We’re looking at another last-day scenario, methinks, with City scraping a point and some other team losing in injury time to keep us up. Yep, that close.

My $0.02 on the Liverpool “controversy”. I agree with the idea of a ceremony at Maine Road simultaneous to the one at Anfield. It’s now quite a few years since the disaster and, not wanting to ever forget what happened at Hillsborough or the reasons behind it, life must go on with due respect to those who died. This is probably the first time the rememberance date has fallen on a Saturday but you have to ask in, say, 2020 will matches still be being re-arranged? Also, if feeling is that strong, why not just move the game to a Sunday? Morning kick-offs are crap!

Onto lighter matters. Some good news is that my friend is getting married to his long-time girlfriend in the summer. So what? you may ask. Well, the happy couple are planning to hold the ceremony on the penalty spot at Maine Road and Colin Barlow’s given the OK. I phoned Dave up and he said all the (male) guests would have to wear sky blue tutus and there could be no hairy legs. I’m not sure if he’s serious or not!!

James Nash (


Firstly recent form – well I do despair. If you look back at the results since our win in the League Cup at Newcastle you have to say that they are atrocious! Most teams, when out of the Cups and in a mid table position, say that the season is over – but not City! They have to keep us on the edge of our seats and slide down the table to the relegation zone! I don’t for a moment think that we will go down – there are far worse teams than us, but we have a challenging run in to the end of the season and need some good performances to stay up.

I think the reason for a lack of consistent winning form has been enforced team changes due to injury which shows up the lack of squad depth – or maybe it’s just down to Niall drinking 15 (or was it 30) pints every night:-).

As for Fergie retiring at the top – well a lot can happen in 2 seasons and he may bow out gracefully in the second division!!!!!! Or is that just wishful thinking!!!!

More seriously though, on the Liverpool Hillsborough commemoration; I blame Liverpool first for not asking the right question in the first place. City have agreed to accommodate once and I personally think that they should move the kick off to 11.00am. Whatever they do, it should be organised quickly and they should stick to it. I also fervently hope that those stupid Munich chanting morons don’t give the rest of the decent fans a bad name by spoiling any silences that should be observed.

Centenary match vs. Rangers is a good idea and no we don’t want Trevor Francis!

A really good piece of writing from Mike McDonagh – he sounds decent enough to be a City fan! If only all fans were the same the game would be a lot better.

Then the piece de resistance. I really enjoy reading Martin Ford’s comments and David Whitwell (keep up the good work!), but the Olympus Sport’s story really made me laugh out loud – which caused a bit of a stir in a very quiet traditional Japanese office! I’m sure that we would all like to become a major piece of her life – does she have an Internet address?!!!!

Well, time to sign off – wishing the boys all the best vs. Everton. A win would set us up for the remainder of the season and I will be glued to the World Service tomorrow morning for the results and may even treat the whole family to a chorus of Blue Moon in the shower! Not to be recommended!

Philip Gregory, Kobe, Japan (

WHY BLUE and red?

A good question! One that I have never considered before. In all other respects I consider myself quite normal! I suppose three reasons really, the first being the geography of Manchester.

I was born in 1946 and lived near Belle Vue, Gorton, not far from where the 53 bus route winds its way through the suburbs of the city. My father introduced me to football via reserve games in about 1953 or 54, and since Maine Road came before OT on the 53 bus route, I suppose it was natural to go there. My father was, and still is, a City fan, in fact one of the 84,569 who watched City beat Stoke 1-0 in the 1934 FA Cup 6th round, so I suppose parental influence must be my second reason for being a Blue.

The arrival of 1955 and I was still not considered old enough to see first team games. But what a great year! City were in the FA Cup Final and I was taken into Manchester where the team were in Lewis’s Store signing autographs on specially printed books. I still have that book, now very tattered, but containing the autographs of Don Revie, Bobby Johnstone, Ken Barnes, Roy Paul, Joe Hayes, Jimmy Meadows, Dave Ewing, Paddy Fagan and the great Bert Trautmann.

How I hated Newcastle United, watching on our 9 inch B/W television as they beat City 3-1. Poor City, playing most of the match with only 10 men, Jimmy Meadows carried off, and no substitutions in those days. How sweet is revenge I thought as I watched Tuearts’ overhead kick give City the League Cup in 1976. Then came 1956! even better than 55, the absolute pinnacle, City won the Cup. Although unable to go to Wembley, I was glued to the television and I was outside Belle Vue when the team returned with the trophy and drove through the streets of Manchester. To me the Blues were the most successful team in the city. So at that moment, stood outside Belle Vue, I became a Blue. The only time I ever supported the Rags was during the FA Cup final of 1958, but then, so did everybody who lived anywhere other than Bolton.

I soon found out just how unpredictable City can be when they were relegated in the 1962-63 season and until Mercer/Allison took command, looked like remaining there for a long time. The great years 1967-71 followed with what I think was City’s best ever team. Even that team however was so frustrating and unpredictable. I remember watching City draw 0-0 with Leicester (who had come to force the replay) in the FA Cup at Maine Road, and being unable to attend the replay, listened to it on the radio.

At 8.55 City were coasting to victory 3-0 when, after considerable pressure from a friend, we went out for a drink. As we entered the pub I heard a voice say ‘Hard Luck about City isn’t it?’ – They had lost 4-3.

City’s unpredictability works also in the opposite way and watching a League Cup match against Wolves in 1971, things went from bad to worse as the game progressed. Nine O’Clock and the score was City 1 Wolves 3. We were just considering leaving when, during an electric final ten minutes, goals from Colin Bell, Franny Lee and Wyn Davies pipped Wolves by the odd goal.

Yes, being a Blue gives you a strange attitude towards football, as I said to my two nephews (both Reds?) as we watched the derby at Maine Road last season and they were disgusted as the teams left the field at half time with City leading 2-0, ‘Remember, you can never trust City to do the expected!’.

Oh yes, The Red! Hyde United of the Northern Premier League, because they sell the best pies I have ever tasted, and who this season actually made it to the first round of the FA Cup and were leading Darlington 1-0 before finally being beaten 2-1. Perhaps I may visit Wembley this year after all because they are still in the FA Trophy, having so far survived three away ties against the ‘stronger’, top- class opposition of Stalybridge, Telford and Runcorn.

Eric Lancake (


So what do you do when you are far away and in a strange town? Well, my belief is that (within the bounds of reason) you should take up with a local club. Being banished from home at an early age to enjoy/suffer (delete as applicable) the delights/rigours of private education, I never had the pleasure of following City at first hand. At prep school in Wales, the only live sport we ever got to see were one day games at Colwyn Bay cricket ground, usually a West Indies team versus the Cavaliers (oldies out there may remember them – an invitation team of current and past great cricketers). In fact these were usually tremendous games, with the likes of Sobers, Kanhai, Wes Hall, Ted Dexter and Godfrey Evans taking part. Football however was restricted to the daily papers.

I went to public school in Cambridge; in those days, the mid 60’s, Cambridge City were the boss team, but neither they nor United were in the league. Here, live sporting action was nevertheless pretty good – University cricket at Fenners, a beautiful ground, with the odd furtive foray to the beer tent. My prime memory of Fenners was yelling at (Fat) Freddy Trueman and getting a V sign for my troubles. The odd visit to Grange Road also happened, to see the University rugby team, which in those days had the great Irish fly half Mike Gibson in the team. But live football … no way; by the time I got to the 6th form, the school had eventually got a TV for occasional 6th form use, and we were allowed to watch Match of the Day … my prime memory of this is dancing round the TV room to the strains of the “Ballet on ice”, and being allowed to watch the great Celtic vs. Inter Milan European Cup final (For this reason I have always felt at odds with the City / Rangers pairing; is it a reaction to United / Celtic, or is there more to it?).

We did get some football in, even thought it wasn’t actually played at the school (Rugby in the autumn and Hockey (yechhh) in the spring). It was a Methodist school, so had many boarders from the North, particularly Lancashire, so there were many football crazy kids there, and every summer evening was taken up with mass games until the sun was more or less down. The one fixture we did have each year was against “The Leysian Mission”, a charitable foundation in the East End set up in Victorian Times to help the poor and salve the consciences of the wealthy school governors. Year after year they would win by double figures, until one year the “team” went into heavy dirty training; that year the school won, and so pissed off were the Mission that the United / Arsenal brawl couldn’t have held a candle to that match. The fixture was dropped after that!

Come University, Oxford United beckoned; well, at least until I had been to the Manor! I soon found that the lure of S & D & R&R took over from going to see crap teams at crap grounds, especially as Headington Road, which led to the Manor which was the scene of a fortnightly recreation of the battle scene in Apocalypse Now after each home game, in the heady days of full scale hooliganism. Despite this, and my brother-in-law being a born and bred OU fan, I did get to see the odd game there – City with Law & Rodney Marsh winning 5-2 in an FA Cup game, and I also have a vivid memory of the great Forest team winning 4-0 in another FA Cup game there, with Viv Anderson (before he sullied himself) picking the ball up in his own box and scoring for Forest. That was pretty much it for the terraces in that period of my life, and the advent of 3 kids in quick succession contributed to this as well.

I did however come across a few other regular terrace warriors whilst at University, notably a couple of Gooners; we had some good days at Highbury, and would also make the odd foray back to the heartland, picking up Arsenal at Maine Road, and an interesting afternoon spent on the Kop, with my Gooner friends keeping quiet … I also recall a League Cup quarter final some time in the early to mid 70s between Arsenal & City which we lost 1-0, courtesy of the dreaded Big Mac. I think he scored with his sideboards. The game I remember best at Highbury was a European Cup Quarter or Semi final against Ajax in their pomp – Cruyff, Neeskens et al. Ajax came out before the game to warm up, and even then you could tell Arsenal didn’t have a cat in hell’s chance.

In 1983 we moved to Bristol. Now with four children, aged 3 months to 8 years, the terraces were still pretty much a dim and distant memory. I think at that point Bristol City had just been reformed after nosediving into the then 4th division, and going bankrupt, and Rovers were either in the 3rd or fourth division. Come ’86, and the World Cup finals, two of our boys were getting interested in God’s game, and getting involved in kick abouts with other kids on the street.

Time to take them to a game I thought! By this time, Rovers had decided to go belly-up; having already sold Eastville (soon to be demolished to make room for offices), and leased it back from the council, they could no longer afford the rent, and went to ground share at Twerton Park, known to City fans as “Trumpton”, with Bath City, out in the suburbs of Bath. City were therefore the obvious choice. From what I recall we started going either at the end of Terry Cooper’s reign, or the start of Joe Jordan’s.

For me, the real attraction was being back at a game, standing on the terraces, and enjoying the truly bizarre cross-section of society that standing terraces had. City and Rovers were now in the old 3rd division; what astonished me was the depth of the rivalry between the two clubs – with a regular attendance between them of 15 thousand at the most, the rivalry was, and still is intense – and this in a smallish city.

Attendance became more frequent, and under Jordan City were playing some good football. Two wingers – real wingers – each game, plus the mighty Bobby Taylor (now sadly, with the Baggies) who, like Alan Shearer could have come straight off an old cigarette card. 88/89 saw a League Cup semi-final epic against Forest, Forest winning in extra time at the Gate in a pitch straight out of the trenches, City having hit their post in more or less the last minute of the game. For one reason or another I missed this game, but we taped it, and my abiding memory of it is Jordan, by now pardoned for his Ragdom, (and he did sell Ralph Milne to the Rags!) aged c. 36, dragging himself up out of the mud in the centre circle after a tackle and taking about a minute to get to his feet.

89/90 was even better; Bob Bob Super Bob went goal crazy, hat tricks here and there, and outrageous goals every other game. City had a fine Cup run; beating Ozzy Ardiles’ (2nd div) Swindon in the 3rd round, and then beating Chelsea 3-1 in the 4th; Chelsea had all the open end in a packed ground, and as ever, distinguished themselves in their restraint and sporting behaviour once it was clear they were going to lose. It was too good to last though – we got Cambridge United (under John Beck I suspect) in the next round; drew with them twice, and lost 5-1 (pre penalty shoot-out days) in the second replay.

The rest of the season was a battle for the 3rd division championship, between City and Rovers, then still under Gerry Francis (then in contention with AF for the annual Whingeing Football Manager of the year). City had it in the bag until a month or so before the end of the season, but Super Bob pulled a hamstring, and we had to settle for second.

Since then, apart from the first season back in the (then) 2nd division, it’s been an annual relegation battle with a large roll call of managers. Jordan went to Hearts, and his assistant Jimmy Lumsden took over; a nice man in the best sense of the word, but not a manager. He sold Taylor to Albion, and after that never had the backing of the crowd, despite buying the mercurial, delightful and totally idle Jackie Dziekanowski from Celtic. Jackie was superb, a rare artist in that division, and capable of turning a game in an instant. He was also capable of losing a game in an instant, having the ability to lose the ball in midfield if he got bored.

Lumsden went, and after a short interregnum where the team was run by 3 of the players, Dennis Smith was wheeled in. Here is a man who the crowd could take to; he wears his heart on his sleeve, being quite happy to invade the pitch at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately, not a great manager! His gift to City was the purchase of Andy Cole from some guy called George Graham (remember him), for 1/2 million. Graham apparently thought Kevin Campbell the better footballer – do you ever wonder how these people get their jobs? With Cole & Jackie, the sky was the limit. Cole was even then pretty much a goal a game man. Unfortunately, Smith had also bought the two worst defenders in the history of football, Brian Mitchell and Denis (? he was so shit I’ve even forgotten his first name) Thompson. Well, not exactly – at some point under one of these managers we did also have … yes, you’ve got it, the great, the one and only, Gus Caesar, on a free from Arsenal. They were better than him. But then, so am I.

With these two in the back four, 5 goal defeats at home became a regular occurrence. It couldn’t last, and with the annual relegation battle on its way, Smith was sent packing. Maybe it was post-Smith we had the three players in charge; whatever, Russell Osman, who was also helping to make City’s back four the worst in the division (Pace Martin Scott, now with Sunderland) got the job. Day one, he sold Cole to Newcastle. The board, ever with an eye to the main chance, and despite having to return one third of the sale price to the George Graham pension fund, neglected to put a sell-on clause in the terms of sale.

Having done this, he and Jackie fell out. One, Jackie had now a penchant for rumbles in nightclubs, and also didn’t fit into the Osman’s plan for world domination via total(ly boring) football. Jackie was soon packing his bags; he wouldn’t get back to help out the defence. He didn’t see why – “didn’t we already have defenders?” was his (perfectly reasonable) line.

With Jackie gone, that was it for exciting football, City managed to escape relegation, and now it’s this season. Russell decided to keep up the fine record of his predecessors, and within a couple of months it was clear that another end of season relegation battle had already been booked. Russell was sent on his bike, to herald the return of the much missed Joe Jordan. Mind you, little has changed with regard to City’s league position, but they are playing – well, occasionally – good – well, better – football; scoring goals now and again, but frequently conceding more. I suspect next year it will be back to the delights of division 2 – but that’s alright, at least we’ll have the derby games against Rovers to look forward to.

Both City and Rovers are afflicted with that bane of small clubs, a board with ideas wildly above their station. One of the reasons I returned to the terraces was just that – terraces – last season, with vague babblings about being in the Premiership in 5 years, the open end was torn down (boy was it dangerous – what, with at many games maybe 300 City fans in our half, and 2 men and a dog in the away half) and a spanking new stand put in its place. This year, entrance went up from 6.50 to 8.50, and strangely, attendance are well below break even, and the club can’t work out why. With the price hike, and the boring football, and having to sit down, I started off by picking and choosing which games to go to. Now we have a relegation battle on our hands, it’s much more interesting again! Call me a foul weather supporter! Mind you, we should be in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, having been all over Everton in the 4th round, only to lose 1-0, with them having two shots in the whole 90 minutes. Such is life …

Why? I keep asking myself. Why? There’s no answer really; as Steve, a City fan from Stockport who I noticed with the great purple and white striped away shirt two or three seasons back, and got talking to, it’s sad really. But there’s nothing you can do is there? There’s no turning back. I love going to football matches – even if they are crap! One day, kids grown up and some money in my pocket, maybe I’ll get a season ticket at the academy, and I can go there and be disappointed, instead of Ashton Gate. Until then it’s “Come on City, oh shhhittt“.

Jeremy Poynton ( or


Mar 14, 1995   Crystal Palace  - Sheffield W.     2 - 1
               Liverpool       - Coventry         2 - 3

Mar 14, 1995

Pos    TEAM            P  W  D  L  F  A   PTS
 1. Blackburn Rovers  33 22  7  4 68 28   73
 2. Manchester United 32 21  6  5 63 22   69
 3. Newcastle United  32 17  9  6 54 33   60
 4. Liverpool         30 15  9  6 52 26   54
 5. Nottingham Forest 33 15  9  9 50 38   54
 6. Tottenham         30 13  8  9 51 42   47
 7. Leeds United      30 12 10  8 38 29   46
 8. Sheffield Weds.   34 11 10 13 41 43   43
 9. Coventry City     34 10 13 11 37 50   43
10. Wimbledon         32 12  6 14 37 54   42
11. Arsenal           32 10 10 12 36 36   40
12. Chelsea           31 10 10 11 39 43   40
13. Aston Villa       33  9 12 12 46 46   39
14. Norwich City      32  9 12 11 30 36   39
15. QPR               29 10  8 11 45 47   38
16. Manchester City   31  9 10 12 39 47   37
17. Everton           32  8 11 13 33 43   35
18. Crystal Palace    31  8 10 13 23 32   34
19. West Ham United   32  9  6 17 30 43   33
20. Southampton       29  6 14  9 40 46   32
21. Ipswich Town      32  6  5 21 31 72   23
22. Leicester City    32  4  9 19 35 62   21

With thanks to Riku Soininen


Thanks to Eric, James, Jeremy, Phil (x2), Paul, The Mole, Chris, Anthony, Sean, Roger (x2) & Martin.

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.

Ashley Birch,

Newsletter #63