Newsletter #170

Well, this is a mammoth issue, may well be the biggest ever. I’ll make this intro short, suffice it to say that we have a couple of match reports, loads of opinion and a Why Blue. I just got a phone call from Flixton Red saying that he has completed his view of the proceedings; it’ll be in next Monday’s issue providing that it’s not too unpalatable for us!

If you are going to try to come along to the ‘MCIVTA Meet’ then please mail Malcolm and let him know whether the Rags or Wednesday game would be better and if you intend to attend:

Replies to Malcolm Plaiter at: (

Next game, Newcastle United at home, 24th February 1996


MANCHESTER UNITED vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Sunday 18th February 1996

Met with some mates at the Station pub in Urmston and after 6 pints we set off with absolute confidence to the ground.

Arriving at 3.15 there seemed to be a muted atmosphere outside the stadium. It was probably due to the fact that United fans weren’t use to having so many away supporters there. Inside, the ground was totally different with City fans in full voice and obviously determined to make an afternoon of it. I finally got to my seat after paying a visit 3 times. Why can’t football fans sing golden oldie songs? The Blues went into a rendition of Wonder something by Oasis and I felt really left out because I didn’t know the words.

The players came onto the field and you could almost feel the tension in both sets of players. The minute’s silence may have helped to calm everyone down as the crowd made their tribute to Bob Paisley. The reporter from the Telegraph said he was glad City lost because of the supporters’ behaviour during the one minute’s silence for Paisley. All that happened was that 2 or 3 idiots shouted insults out and of course when everyone else is silent, the sound is magnified. Other fans told them to shut up and the silence was interrupted. It must be said that on Wednesday there was a minute silence observed impeccably by Coventry and City. Any of you with kids will realise how difficult it is to keep a 2 year old quiet for 1 minute. What makes you think some of these morons can do it?

Can’t recollect too much of the early stages as I was too busy singing. Suddenly, Rösler broke through the middle, one on one with Schmeichel. He could score here, He’s chipped it, the ball travels in slow motion towards the goal and to the elation of the City fans into the back of the net. Now the celebrations started, we danced, we sang (I hummed a bit), and City came forward more and more.

After half an hour United slowly started to come into the game although the only times City looked in trouble were on corners. A second corner came over from Giggs and sailed over the top of everyone. A small cheer came up from a small section of the Stretford end and everyone thought the Ref had given a throw to the Reds. Then a roar, and City fans stood in confusion until we realised it was a penalty. Enough will be said on this, I can only add that if City had got it against anybody other than United I would have been embarassed. That was the beginning of the end as the Blues’ heads went down and United in the second half dominated the game.

Lomas was my City man of the match as he never gave up. Curle looked injured, but must have had a good game as Cole hardly touched the ball (or was it because Cole is crap?). Watching United live showed what a superb player Cantona was. Poor Kit Symons would be marking him around the penalty area and all Cantona would do was move into midfield where the City centre back was too afraid to follow. It was never a matter of City giving him room, but Cantona creating it himself. The final whistle came and we drifted off into an unsegregated mixture of Blues and Reds. As we walked ‘en masse’ down Warwick Road, I thought here comes trouble, especially as some City fans had been smashing up chairs inside the ground. To my surprise everything was quiet. We turned left at the lights whilst the majority of the City fans went straight on. The Rag supporters seeing 4 City fans together built up some courage and started to take the mickey out of us. We kept our gobs shut until 1 Jerk Head asked “aren’t we ashamed supporting a team who had not won anything for 20 years?’ My mate turned round and said ‘That’s the difference between you and us. Even if it is another 20 years, we’ll stil be there, shouting the lads on.’

Kevin Duckworth (


MANCHESTER UNITED vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Sunday 18th February 1996

“1-0 to the Manchester…”

Well it’s now Thursday afternoon as I write this and I’ve just about calmed down. I got home from the match with a mixture of emotions, disappointment at losing yet another derby, relief that we hadn’t been thrashed, satisfaction that we’d managed a goal this time, disgust at the behaviour of some of our so-called supporters, pride at the behaviour of the rest and wonder at that penalty decision. I’ve since watched the whole of the game on video again, so what I have to say here draws on both the experience of being part of a passionate set of fans at the game itself and a more detached view with less adrenaline running through my veins.

Most of the Blues I spoke to before the game didn’t expect us to get much from it but were looking forward to a good atmosphere. We got a lift when the team was announced as Keith Curle was passed fit to play – a tremendous relief given that he was given little chance of playing on Friday. With Flitcroft suspended, Clough took a more defensive rôle, harrying the United midfield along with Brown and Lomas. Kinkladze was left to provide the creativity for Quinn and Rösler, which he did superbly for the first half hour. After the experimental formations used against Coventry, the back four returned to normal, Immel’s protection coming from Summerbee, Frontzeck, Curle and Symons.

The atmosphere didn’t really start to build inside the stadium until about 25 minutes before kick-off. Ten minutes later “Wonderwall” came over the P.A. Needless to say, most of the Blues joined in loudly (shame on those who didn’t know the second verse) if not quite in time with the original version. It was a couple of minutes before they realised their mistake, cut the song off and replaced it with some nondescript United song but we were now warmed up! Despite a lack of competition this season, the Reds were up for a battle of vocal domination. They outsang us in patches during the game and completely in the last quarter of an hour when they were leading but overall I felt we were on top for the majority of the game, a feeling which was confirmed when I later watched and listened to the video.

Just before the game kicked off there was a minute’s “silence” for former Liverpool manager Bob Paisley who died last week. There has been a lot written in the press and indeed in this esteemed publication about this, so I’ll just point out that only a few people were disrespectful and the vast majority of the 42,000 crowd were silent throughout.

The game started at a frenetic pace with neither side holding back at all in challenges. In the very first minute Brown went in strongly against Cantona who reacted by aiming a kick at Brown’s shin. Referee Wilkie noted the incident but let play go on; Cantona behaved himself for the rest of the game. The same could not be said of Roy Keane. In the 3rd minute he clattered Gio to the ground from behind and got a well-deserved yellow card for his trouble. The game was flowing from end to end with both sides showing good, accurate passing in midfield.

The next major incident came io the 9th minute; Butt made a two-footed challenge to take the ball off Brown and out of play. Such was the force of the challenge that Brown lost his balance and stumbled forward, treading on Butt’s side. It looked to me like a good, strong challenge by Butt and an accidental contact by Brown on Butt. Neither of the young players showed any reaction to the contrary but it inflamed the crowd and Roy Keane raced across the pitch to remonstrate with Brown. Quinn then charged in to push Keane away and have strong words with him and before you knew it, virtually everybody was involved. Yellow cards were flashed in a few players’ faces (neither Brown nor Butt got one though!) and the game continued.

Within seconds, an Immel clearance reached Kinkladze who was about 10 yards into the United half. Spotting Uwe making a run forward, he brought the ball down, turned and played the ball right into the German striker’s path. With the square United defence left flat-footed, it was now one-on-one with Schmeichel. Uwe chipped the ball over the Dane, who hadn’t stood up long enough and could only make a slight deflection to the ball’s path with his outstretched hand. It seemed to take ages but the ball dropped into the net. A quick glance at referee and linesman showed that the goal hadn’t been disallowed so it was celebration time! Since it’s been a few years since our last goal against the Rags, the celebrations were particularly enthusiastic. “Uwe, Uwe Rösler” rang out around the ground, which eventually mutated into the much rarer “1-0 to the Manchester.” 😉

Whilst it was surprising (to me anyway) that we’d taken the lead, it was even more surprising that we continued to have the better of the game. Lomas, Brown and Clough were mopping up most of the United attacks, and with Kinkladze getting about all over the place, Rösler and Quinn in particular enjoyed a lot of space up front. On several occasions City got behind the United defence; the lead could have been doubled but for a good save by Schmeichel from a Rösler shot at the near post.

After about half an hour United finally started to look threatening. Giggs was in good form and looked to be the most likely source of inspiration for the Reds. A couple of long-range shots flew wide but there was nothing to trouble Immel (who even looked confident on crosses) until the 38th minute when he had to dive low to his right to push a Keane header wide of the post. Then it happened. Giggs’ corner flew over everybody (as they tend to do) so the players all turned round in anticipation of the cross coming back in from the opposite side. The referee blew his whistle and there was a big groan from the fans behind the goal, complaining that they hadn’t seen a foul. This soon changed to cheering though as they realised that he’d awarded a penalty. We couldn’t see what had happened from the other end of the ground so we just assumed that there’d been some pushing or maybe a handball. Only after examining the video did it become clear what the offence was – Frontzeck had an arm around Cantona’s neck as the ball passed about 10 feet over their heads, the sort of challenge you see week in, week out. The sort of thing we’ve seen Pallister doing to Quinn for several years, but not, come to think of it, in this match. I think the writer in the Independent summed it up nicely: “it was like arresting somebody for dropping litter during a riot.” Anyway, Cantona made no mistake from the spot and United were back on level terms.

The decision clearly knocked City out of their stride but it was soon half time, which offered an opportunity for Alan Ball to get the players’ heads up again. Frontzeck trooped off looking shell-shocked. He wasn’t having the best of games, looking uncomfortable against the in-form Giggs and struggling with his distribution, but after the dubious sending-off last week and now this penalty decision, he could be forgiven for thinking there was some sort of conspiracy against him.

The second half was played mainly at our end of the field. City were unable to hold the ball for any length of time, the usual reason that moves forward broke down being that the ball would be passed wide to one of the full backs, particularly Frontzeck, who would then pass back to a defender and as we all know, Keith Curle’s distribution isn’t as good as we’d like it to be. However, despite United’s dominance of possession, they created very few chances. Keane and Sharpe had some decent shots saved by Immel but I’d have expected him to save them. In fact the only clear-cut chance they created in the whole game was a header by Giggs at the far post from a Pallister flick at a corner. He couldn’t keep it down and it flew over the bar, much to the amusement of the fans behind the goal.

The winning goal, when it came, was much harder to score. Giggs was involved again, holding up the ball whilst Neville overlapped him. Summerbee was quite right not to dive in with a challenge on Giggs in that position but nobody picked up Neville’s run, so when the ball reached him he was free to pull the ball back into the penalty area, where Sharpe was the first to reach it. Sharpe had to hit it first time and he did so, a shot too powerful for Immel to stop, though he made a very good attempt.

The goal just about silenced the City fans, who (unusually) made little effort to out-sing the Rags for the remainder of the match. Creaney came on for Quinn but it made little difference really. City did get forward more but there was only one half-chance to get an equaliser, just before the end when Frontzeck’s low cross was hooked over the bar by Brown. Keane narrowly avoided a sending-off 5 minutes from time when the referee decided to apply some “common sense” after the irritating Irishman aimed a kick at Curle’s legs with no attempt to play the ball. Pity he hadn’t done the same five or six minutes before the end of the first half.

So, yet another derby defeat but there are a number of things we can look back on with pride. This was undoubtedly the best defensive display we’ve put up against the Rags for several years; even in the game earlier this season Cole missed several sitters but this time there were very few chances for any of their players. Credit for this goes in the main to Curle and Symons, both of whom played very well, and also to Lomas, Brown and Clough who worked very hard in front of them. Gio was excellent in the first half hour but Keane and particularly Butt played well and managed to subdue him after that. Immel couldn’t be faulted with either of the goals, Rösler took his well and Quinn showed with passion what the game meant to him.

I think the team emerged with credit from this game and we must now forget about it and look ahead to our remaining league games, which of course are far more important even if it didn’t feel like it on Sunday.

Paul Howarth (


According to GMR this morning (20/2/96) Keith Curle will miss the games against Blackburn and Arsenal due to suspension. The booking that he picked up on Sunday against Stretford has pushed him over the penalty points threshold that means he must miss two games (apparently).

Salford Blue – Tony Farrar (


As a result of their bookings on Sunday, Keith Curle and Michael Brown will now miss the Blackburn game and the rearranged Arsenal match on Tuesday 5th March.

Howard Kendall has now dropped his interest in Niall Quinn and has targeted former Bolton and Celtic striker Andy Walker.

The Mole


City have signed full back Scott Hiley on loan from Birmingham City until the end of the season. He’s been on trial with City earlier this season but a transfer fell through when the two clubs couldn’t agree terms. He’s likely to cover for Michael Frontzeck who I think is suspended for the Newcastle game.

The Mole


GMR reports today (22nd February) that City may be ready to bid for the Welsh striker from Arsenal (is it Hartson? God I’m sure I’m losing my marbles). Anyway the lad who was signed from Luton. The fee is reported to be in the range of £2 million.

Tony Farrar (


Along with most City fans, I’ve never heard of Scott Hiley who is joining us on loan until the end of the season. I posted a request on RSS asking for info on the player. One Exeter fan, who clearly rates him, was kind enough to give a detailed reply. It would seem that as he played for Birmingham so few times before his injury that a Birmingham fan would probably be unable to fairly assess his ability to play at a higher level. We will just have to wait and see, however I can’t help but feel that the player is simply being used a as a stop-gap until Edghill and/or Foster are fit again next season.

Exeter Fan’s reply as follows:

Scott Hiley – where do I start?

As background, I’m a rabid Exeter City fan whose supporting career goes back to 1986, when I started at Uni in Devon’s finest City. Subsequently moving to London in 1989, I was the founding Chairman of the Exeter Exiles (a supporters’ club for exiled City fans) and am co-editor of ‘There’s A Good Time Coming’, the ECFC fanzine.

During 87-88, yet another youngster emerged from the ranks of Mike Blackstone’s youth policy (which also brought on Martin ‘Buster’ Phillips, with whom you should now be pretty familiar). Scott Hiley was from Plymouth, but the Green Slime were not operating much of a youth policy when he was 14-15, so he signed for Exeter.

Scotty played sporadically at first, often in a midfield/wing rôle, in which he showed only limited potential. However, when Terry Cooper took over in 1988, Scott moved to right back, where he blossomed to become one of the cornerstones of the side that won the 4th division championship by 9 clear points in 89-90.

Cooper then buggered off to Birmingham a year later and gradually poached several of our better players for fairly pathetic sums. He got Hiley for £125k, a disgracefully low fee for a player who, at that stage, looked a dead cert to play at the highest level. He was one of the players I regularly bored friends with, going on about how he would play for England in due course.

In virtually his last game for City, whilst Bally was manager, he had the most stupendous game against Reading. Pushed up to an attacking midfield rôle because of injuries, he seized the game by the scruff of the neck, scoring a hat-trick as we triumphed 4-1 at Elm Park (not something we make a habit of doing!)

As he had been our Player of the Year for 91-92, I was gutted when a knee injury forced Scott onto the sidelines so early in his Birmingham career (us lower division types get very possessive about our former starlets) and by the time he was fully fit, Cooper had been replaced by Fry. He quickly brought in Gary Poole from Southend, so Scott’s opportunities in the past couple of seasons were limited to a handful of games.

I can safely say that Scotty is one of the best players I have seen in my 10 years watching Exeter (and yes that is a compliment, against some fair competition, despite what fans of bigger clubs may think) and I would be delighted if he were to get a fair crack of the whip at Man City.

Andrew Dye (

If Buster’s progress in his outings thus far is any guide, I can’t wait!

Colin Gorman (


I was so angered by the referee on Sunday I that I have written the following to David Mellor at 606 – I wonder if he’ll mention it on Saturday?

David, I felt I had to comment on Sunday’s refereeing fiasco. Being a Manchester City fan you may feel that I’m being biased but hopefully you will read all of my mail and then see that I’m not. As stated I’m a Manchester City fan and have never smelt the sweet scent of success, but have followed my team through thin and more thin but never given up hope. Anyway, back to Sunday and I will firstly admit that over the 90 minutes’ play seen Man Utd deserved to win, However, would the second half had been the same if the diabolical penalty decision had not been given just on the stroke of half time – the answer is no one knows; what can be said though is that decision affected the game and when the FA are trying to promote football in England as being of the highest standard then all I can say is that the rest of the world must be laughing if we have referees controlling the game as on Sunday. My main point is that it wasn’t just that a penalty was given, it was given for nothing and this is what changed the game around. City were holding their own and although being put under pressure by United they were still 1 up and knew that therefore they had hope. However, when a penalty is awarded in the way that it was on Sunday the team conceding it not only has the misfortune of having their hard work in obtaining a lead wiped out but also loses confidence instantly – I mean the expression ‘How can you play against 12 men’ springs to mind. If the penalty was truly a penalty then at least the conceding team still retains some confidence to go out and respond, but, and this applies to the kid in the school junior team up the the Premier League, nothing is the same after a bad decision is made which wipes out any previous hard work.

If Man Utd had beaten us 5-0 as they did last season I would have said as I did then, ‘they were class on the day.’ However, I cannot say that about Sunday. Instead I can only look back and think what might have been; we may have won, we may have lost, all I know is that bad refereeing affected the result on Sunday and that cannot be good for football. It’s about time the FA realise that there may be 11 men on each team, but the man in black/green can also affect the scoreline – good referees make good games, bad referees shouldn’t be referees.

Russell Jenkins (


Noel Gallagher was interviewed by MTV at the Brits and said he was about to take a place on the board at Man City.

Was he pissed or did I miss something?

Andrew Conway (


‘His penalty award that helped Manchester United beat Manchester City was as ludicrous a decision as you are likely to see’, (Nigel Clarke, Daily Mirror).

‘In the context of a match like this, it was like prosecuting somebody for littering during a riot’, (Glenn Moore, Independent).

‘Heart-rendingly cruel’, (David Miller, Times).

‘A disgrace’, (Alan Hansen, BBC TV).

Coventry Spending Big

The Mirror reports that Coventry have spent £13.5m in the last year, with this week’s signings of Eion Jess (£2m) from Aberdeen and Liam Daish (£1.5m) from Birmingham. Their debts ‘must now be in the region of £18m’. The price of survival in the Premiership?

Footnote: Did most of you see that great photo that appeared in large format in many of the papers on Monday morning (taken by Darren Walsh from an agency)? It showed the City players protesting the penalty with big Niall in the centre – a really great image.

Peter Kewley (


You’ve probably heard this one already, I read it from the Carling discussion page (City’s), a definite for mcivta readers…

It was nice of Mr Wilkie to referee last Sunday’s match so soon after serving on the O.J. Simpson jury!

This week’s live Premier games on International satellite are B’burn versus Liverpool on Saturday 24th, and Bolton versus The Rags on Sunday 25th..

Our kid just wrote to me telling me Noel Gallagher said “was it ***k a penalty” after the Brit awards; he apparently went on to say “if the ref is watching tell him Oasis have a contract out on him” … any other Oasis quotes about last Sunday?

Paul Whittaker (


I’ve been looking at the remaining fixtures of the bottom few clubs and have come to the conclusion that all is not lost. I will even go as far as to make a prediction. Here it is:

14   Man City                    38 to 40 points
15   Southampton                 36 to 39 points
16   Sheffield Wed               35 to 38 points
17   Wimbledon                   31 to 32 points
18   Coventry City               28 to 30 points
19   Q.P.R.                      24 to 27 points
20   Bolton Wanderers            16 to 19 points

Who knows?

Stephen Bolton (


Well, I’ve had a couple of days to ponder the derby “game” of Sunday and, although I was pretty angry at the time, I’ve now calmed down a bit and come to this considered opinion…

Cheating Red Scum!

James Nash (


Yes, I was very disappointed and very angry by the result. It was such a shame that the game was ultimately decided by a quirky decision. The record books will show the result as a 2-1 victory to the Rags; what they won’t show is that City have a moral victory. I believe that all honest, decent, right thinking people (and this includes thousands of United fans) will see that we were harshly punished by a very dubious penalty decision. So let’s hold our heads up high and smile, the country believes in us. Let’s show that we’re not as bad as some fans and accept the defeat in great dignity. We know what happened and can’t change a thing, so let’s make that result inspire us and get on with the league campaign.

p.s. OK, OK, If you’d asked me on Sunday night about the game you wouldn’t have got the same feelings, but I’ve mellowed, we can’t change a thing so why bother trying, there’s no point arguing!

Martin Ford (


I for one do not wish to vindicate the reports of poor behaviour at last week’s derby match. By all accounts it sounded appalling. But aren’t derby matches always like this? And it is not just the fans either, the media hypes the game up massively! The radio and papers promoted a big derby match. By the way, I didn’t think much of John Motson’s or David Pleat’s biased television commentary. And it is not just the media either, it is the players too! Players are prepared especially for the big game and are psychologically and physically trying even harder – not mentioning any names here!

The Munich disaster is modern history compared with some of the things fans use to fuel their venom. England fans never mention the war when playing Germany. Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland clashes never reference a particular battle early in the 17th century. Unfortunately it seems that any form of competition brings out these prejudices, stereotypes and history! I am not a psychologist but suddenly mild mannered janitors suddenly perform their toilet humour. I agree with Paul Howarth that the idiots do it to hurt the other side, and in turn the idiots on the opposing side try to go one better. Who gets the last laugh? Probably the victors! Thus, the need for people to vandalise.

I don’t know how to cure the situation. Perhaps a shared Manchester stadium will prevent most of the vandalism but this will not treat the root cause. The root cause I would suggest is in the dark side of the minds of these people.

Enough of all this woe. I would like to suggest that contrary to what was suggested by Paul, generally City fans have a favourable reputation for being laid back and not as fearsome as most. I have a (Arsenal supporter) friend who watches various clubs in the North West who has been to a couple of City matches this season. This is definitely his perception. Unfortunately this may in some eyes make last weekend’s outburst look even worse.

P.S. Stevie Lomas answers his critics!

Robert Watson (


I was sorry to read about the tasteless taunting by a section of City fans at the recent cup tie. I particularly relate with Paul Howarth’s comments in MCIVTA 169. I suspect that what transpired was a result of years of pent up frustration based on U****d’s decades of supremacy in Manchester. I believe that an active competitive rivalry is healthy for the city of Manchester and that officials at both clubs wish that City were more competitive in order to fully exploit the benefits of in-city competition. The sad truth is that our team has been miserably led for decades whereas the other lot have risen from a major catastophe 3 decades plus ago (Munich) to become one of the premier club teams in the world. Wishing it were not so doesn’t change those facts.

The younger supporters of the Rags just expect their team to be at or around the top every year – and their arrogance counteracting our younger fans’ disappointment about the Blues’ continual failures is about as volatile as mixing sodium with water – there can only be one result – fire.

It is terribly sad that this element of City fans chose this particular game (with the coverage around the world that it received) to display their angst. The reputation of British soccer fans is in my opinion well deserved around the world. At the lowest common denominator the worst thug among us who wreaks violence and damage is the poster child for all of us. We must change this impression. This highly visible minority revel in the power they have to drag the British game into disrepute. I wish the police authorities could be more active in rooting out and punishing known thugs. We at MCIVTA and other responsible supporters for the club must actively change this image. I went to the Blackburn game on Boxing Day on my recent trip home to the UK. There I witnessed fans who were lively, vocal, funny and terrifically supportive of the team. They won deserved plaudits from the Blackburn supporters. I was sitting in the home team section of the ground and I heard many appreciative comments from the Rovers fans who could not believe the strength of the support the club received. That’s the kind of behaviour we should encourage. I would like the club to become more active in this issue. Perhaps if the players would also speak out it would help?

I am very concerned about the “Bunker” mentality that I think is developing amongst City supporters. Blaming ref’s for bad calls and taking out frustrations on opposition players doesn’t cut it with me. The truth is that our team doesn’t score goals. We defend quite effectively, but we don’t score goals. In soccer as in the rest of life you make your own luck. We have to quit moaning and alibying for failure and buckle down to the job in hand. The club should set the lead in this. AB’s continual whining is partially responsible for the fans’ behaviour. To my mind the taunts regarding Munich were particularly tasteless. I suspect that the majority of people in the ground Sunday weren’t even alive in 1957. I was and I can tell you that the players lost in that tragedy were a loss to the whole of British soccer – not just to the Rags. If those men had survived I believe that English soccer would have blossomed in the late 50’s and we might have won a World Cup earlier than 1966.

Mike Edwards (Mike9002@MSN.Com)


Great idea. The pubs have been open for four hours, it’s a local derby match, tension is at fever pitch, there are 42,000 people packed into a stadium…

Now tell them all to shut up for a minute. Why not announce it on the PA at Old Trafford, “Any pissed up barmpots out there, this is your moment…”

I’ve never been fond of these silences before matches. True, in some cases there is a real need for a communal moment of grief, such as after Bradford and Hillsborough, but do we really need to stand in sullen silence every time a good old bloke passes away? Football is not about silence, it is about entertainment, joy, noise and general bedlam. Old footballers should be remembered this way. If those 42,000 had been asked to make a noise for a minute, say by singing ‘Abide With Me’, we would have never heard the drunks.

Mike Brierley (


I haven’t written for a long time but after watching the Cup match live on Galaxy (Qld. Sorry about your misfortune Peter) I see nothing has changed. I could not believe a referee could be so biased. I was sure it was a City free kick, not a penalty. I know it’s old news now but I have no way of releasing my frustrations.

But it was great to watch the Blues live for the first time in 10 years. God!! I thought I was going to have another heart attack. Question: does Immel ever come off his line for a corner? It scared me, but he is a good ‘keeper. To all you Mc’ers on the ‘net. Stick with the faith.

Mal Lomax (


A few quick points to respond to Mr. Bara’s err … interesting ideas re. the direction of football.

  1. The ideas he puts forward are probably even more foreign to theEnglish reader than the present system is to him. The game here,everyone knows, is a money game, but it is a crap investment unlessyou are on the board at Liverpool etc. The glory in it is seeingmassive investment rendered useless by a quirk of fate (as nearlyhappened last season when Rösler, Walshie etc. pasted Blackburn’s £38mteam at home, seriously denting their championship chances) and I,for one, would be sorry to see this go.
  2. Where do you draw the line? Coventry have been in the top divisionfor 30 years continuously – more than the scum have – QPR are a”bigger” club than Soton – except for this season, and so on.
  3. Apologies for my recent slander of David Dein – the Bigwigs Ireferred to last week saw sense and turned down the offer for moreEuroplaces. Possibly this is because the top six or seven in theleague at the moment are, er … the top six or seven clubs. This year,no need for them to go for places in Europe based on how “Big” theyare.

And on a cheery note, Arsenal have lost 5 times at home this season and drawn 2 times – maybe we’re in with a chance, especially as their midfield put in a s***e performance against Villa the other day.

Roly Allen (


I have to disagree with Dave Mara’s view that there should be a nucleus of ‘permanent’ clubs in the Premier League. If you take away promotion/relegation or have any kind of favouritism, then in my view you kill the true essence of Football. I have no doubt that Sky/UEFA et al are trying to manoeuvre the game in this direction but have they considered the spiritual cost to the game? Imagine no more chance of sending United down to the Endsleigh with a back heel from one of their ex-gods. Perhaps a more contemporary analogy would be Tony ‘I think some City fans are small minded’ Coton throwing one in his own net. But if it doesn’t matter whether they win or lose then who is going to really care? The day anything like this is introduced, the game dies.

Murdoch has already tried something similar in Rugby League. When he got all the top players to sign new ‘Sky’ contracts there was a clause which said that Sky can arbitrate over transfers, i.e they can stop the best players going to the richest clubs or can allow a player to go to, say, St. Helens but not Wigan to try to even things up. Is this not legal corruption?

As I’m in a moaning mood, I must pass comment on our sizeable minority of mindless idiots mentioned in Paul’s report of the derby. These people ruined our last decent Cup run against Spurs when I was unfortunate enough to be sat in the middle of them at the opening of the Umbro stand. We obviously still have the same problem now and it confirms my suspicion that far from being eradicated, hooliganism is just ‘bubbling under’. I think we feel safer at games now due to the increased policing/stewarding and obviously the seats have been a necessary compromise to put off attempts at troublemaking/congestion etc.

In the seventies I went to a City vs. Bolton game with my best mate who happened to be a Bolton fan complete with scarf. I was mistaken for a Bolton fan and got set upon along with my mate by a bunch of ‘City fans’. I tried to reason with them but was left with no option other than to defend myself. After hasty and rather embarrassing attempts at left hooks, I felt a few thuds and the next thing I knew it was all over. When the blood started running down my cheek I realised I had a problem. My mate informed me that a brick had connected with my skull and I returned to my digs in Fallowfield to assess the damage. The gash was deep but I was too embarrassed to get it stitched because of the difficulty in explaining how it came about. The ‘but aren’t you a City fan’ taunts taunted my subconcious and I decided to keep it secret. Consequently I still have the scar now. It didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for City, although for some reason I did associate these fans with the club even though I had watched the team since I was six and they had probably only joined the ‘nutter bandwagon’.

The club can’t do a lot and there’s not a lot more the police can do but I don’t think the problem is anywhere near as bad as it was. My main fear is for Euro ’96. Any incidents will be blown up by the media, and there was a report (in ’90 minutes’) that indicated that extreme right-wing German fans had been on a scouting trip to Manchester to coordinate their plan of action. They had been trying to recruit locals for help. I think the guy who wrote the article had been approached on Piccadilly station.

I just hope the F.A.’s ‘intelligence’ unit has done its job and there’s no trouble.

Ken Foster (


My daughter asked for a Ribena just as the cross came in. That is why the penalty was given. She was not interering with play (we were watching on telly in London) but it was an unwarranted request. There you are. Those are the rules of the game. Other reasons for which a penalty can be given are :-

  • coughing in the penalty area
  • sweating in a nearside position
  • wearing blue proudly

Especially wearing blue proudly.

Condolences to all Blues worldwide.

Jonathan Setler (


Dearly Beloved,
We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of something very important to us all; good, fair refereeing. I have had my doubts about the state of supposedly ‘top’ referees for a while now, and this is the last straw. The referee in charge of yesterday’s game, one Mr. Alan Wilkie, should be left on Maine Road with a sign on saying “I cheated you all.” It is a disgrace that a decision such as this should cheat all of us out of at least a draw, and dare I say it, a possible victory? We were all over the Rags as soon as the whistle went to start the game. The goal was deserved, and we were on top of the game until the 39th minute, when Mr. Wilkie saw fit to give the Rags their usual penalty. This turned the entire game around in favour of the cheating red scum, and we saw our cup hopes evaporate in the second half.

I think it is about time that the F.A. and all the supposed top referees took a long, hard look at themnselves because they are killing the game, it is as simple as that. Only when there is pressure for new ways of checking decisions from all sides will we see any improvement.

I wonder how much it cost the Rags for that penalty? 10 quid? 20 quid? A refereeing sponsorship deal from Umbro? A free season ticket?

If I ever see Paul Danson, Graham Poll or Alan ‘I love the Rags’ Wilkie on the back of a City programme again, I will not be responsible for my actions.

Even the U***** players are saying that they couldn’t see any offence in today’s Sun. This is a very rare occurrence!

We can’t let it go on like this, fellow City fans, or we are going to find ourselves being sent down to Division 1 on the back of a few bent referees? This is not the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last…

James Barton (


I returned Monday evening from a four day weekend up in the Sierra Mountains, near Donner Pass, and Lake Tahoe… about as far away from Maine Road as it is possible to be. So until I sat down to check email I did not know the score.

When I first read 2-1 I must admit I was not suprised, though I was disappointed. It was only on reading some of the comments that I can understand both the frustration of those at the game and the sadness expressed over what seems to be the actions of certain City fans. As the cartoon character Pogo once said “We have discovered the enemy and he is us.”

I haven’t contributed to any discussion for a while; not out of interest. I have read all the mailings with interest and have kept up with any TV appearances by City as best as I can. If I have noticed any themes in what I read it would be these:

  • More and more games become the game for City. Not just League games buteven the game on Sunday. It seems that City are playing for some sort ofsurvival with every game. I have to worry how long this can go on – it isobviously affecting the fans and must be affecting players. How long hasit been since we went into a game without knowing just how important it wasto win it – or perhaps not lose it? It must take a certain skill in coachingto coach around such an atmosphere.
  • From a distance I sense that some players are beginning to settle andshow improvements but that the results are still not coming together. Isthis because even with improvement we just don’t have the quality ofplayers? I admit to some suprise over the purchase of Clough. He seems tobe to a player to complement an already successful team rather than keeptogether a team that is struggling. So the positive start to his Citycareer has once again shown exactly why I do the job I do and othersmanange football teams. From what I have seen we are no nearer a settledstrike force in terms of one that can score regularly enough to get theresults the team now needs.Another aspect of this is how to build for the future when you are buyingplayers primarily to ensure survival. If City go down we must lose aconsiderable number of the first team players, including most of the”foreigners” (however that is now defined by the EU) and then we are back tosquare one. I do feel somewhat sorry for Ball and Lee in thispredicament – what we have not had at Maine Road, until recently I think, foryears, is long term plans – either for the team or the ground. I canunderstand Lee stating that to have long term goals you must be prepared togo down. But I think the price that would be paid could be devastating.
  • On some other football web page there were some stats that indicate thatCity have more players booked than any other Premier team i.e. most numberof different players booked rather than two players booked all the time.This is disturbing if true – either it is the pressure or it is the type ofplayer but whatever it surely means City are continually without playersthey need.
  • On the other hand it has been interesting reading all the info fromthe Training Ground Correspondent and to hear all the varying opinions asto players, approaches and fan support.
  • Perhaps it is easy from this distance to retain some confidence but I dothink City will stay up. It will be close and it will take one or tworesults against the form book. But that leaves us all where we usually findourselves each summer – contemplating what is needed to be a stronger forcenext season.

I suppose it is fair to ask why I should write this after the Cup game rather than after any other game. Basically because I can’t stand United and I hoped, deep down, that we might beat them this time. I went through this in the early sixties when we couldn’t seem to beat them too much at all – then came that glorious evening in March ’68 when City won 3-1 at Old Trafford. It really marked a turning point in the confidence that City needed at that time and I suppose I was hoping for something similar on Sunday.

Keep all the reports, humour, realism and information coming. If you think that all United fans come from London – let me tell you – they also come from California as well – it’s so depressing. Last night I was listening to some music and Cindy came it to say she was watching a TV show in the other room and there was something about Nick Leeson on and did I know he was City fan? I told her we like to keep those things to ourselves. Good lord, we even get rubbished on local TV in California.

John Pearson, Stanford University (mailto:pearsonj@leland.Stanford.EDU)


Distressing, but not surprising to hear of the idiot behaviour by some of our ‘fans’ during the minute’s silence for Bob Paisley. We could hear something on the box, but not clearly. As Paul (I think) pointed out, many of the fans would not even have been alive when the Munich air crash took place – and probably don’t know that the City great Frank Swift died in it, nor that Matt Busby had played for City.

It strikes me – and this is apropos of Ashley’s comment that “some of my best friends are Rags” (loosely interpreted as ‘the cheque’s in the post’ ;->) that whilst we may hate United the club, there is no reason to despise their true fans – and why not just ignore the armchair followers and glory- seekers? My best friend as a kid was a Rag – and, until he moved away from Bristol – a regular mate on the terraces at the open end here was a Rag as well; it was a good mixture – myself, Steve from Stockport, a true Blue who I saw at the open end with a City shirt on; Chris, the Rag, John, my brother-in-law, an Oxford supporter (a Rag in his childhood, until he saw the error of his ways).

I can understand a hatred of the club itself, and all that it seems to stand for in football; well, at least since Fungusface took over. They do seem to think they have a divine right to win everything, they do like to claim that they are ‘The Greatest Football Club in the World(tm)’, although their record, at home and in Europe gives the lie to that (and that, I fear, is as a direct result of the massive wave of sympathy that went out to them after Munich). but … we need to distinguish between their true fans, misguided and deluded though they may be, and the rest of the crap. After all, one day we will win a Derby again (shit, that pig just missed my head then), and we wouldn’t be able to do that if they – as many of us often wish they would – disappeared off the face of the earth.

Off soapbox. I saw most of the 1st half of the game on the box; until a family friend turned up to stay, and thankfully, in hindsight, diverted me from the second half. Struck me that we played superbly until Wilkie decided that enough was enough. Lomas and Brown like tigers, and we had the beating of United. I am sure that if we had gone in one up at half-time, we would have been in with a shout; once that penalty was awarded, I fear there was only one result. I believe that Paddy Crerand himself said it should never have been awarded, and given his atrocious record of blind praise of United, that must say something. Now we have to hope AB can keep what we saw in the first half going for the rest of the season. It’s going to be tough I think.

Perhaps we can beat Newcastle on Saturday, to save our skins, and beat the champions-elect as we seem to be making a habit of doing these days.

Jeremy Poynton (


I read Dave Bara’s opinion regarding reorganizing the league à la U.S Baseball. I’m an avid baseball fan myself (I support the Atlanta Braves) and have an opinion on the topic that I’d like to share. I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte is the base for the Charlotte Knights baseball team. The Knights are one of the farm teams for the Florida Marlins (a Major League Baseball franchise). They are a AAA team which means they are the next lower level from the majors. All the up and coming players in the Marlins organization come through Charlotte on the way to the Big team. I occasionally watch the games and can tell you that it is so dull as to make boredom seem attractive. The competition is meaningless. Who cares if the farm team plays well or not? The Team attracts about 5,000 people to each game but it’s more of a family social affair than a sporting event. It is hard to relate to the team (which is constantly changing because of the needs of the Big League Team) so fan loyalty is minimal. I would hate to see that situation develop in English soccer. I think the recent court decision regarding free agency in Europe is going to put an incredible strain on the lower league clubs but the idea of a semi-permanent place in the Premiership for an elite group of clubs appalls me. The way the competition is structured in England means that there is a real purpose for playing well at all levels. Thank God that a Wimbledon, a Port Vale, a Tranmere can emerge as a result of the structure of the English league. If you made the League secure for a group of teams – why bother playing?

In the U.S the competition is secondary to the business aspects of the sport. Change the structure in English soccer and it will become a meaningless ritual. I think that the changes in the points system several years ago and the 3 up 3 down system is extremely exciting. I fervently hope we don’t do anything to reduce competitiveness in the league.

By the way the Atlanta Braves won the World Series last Fall. The majority of their playing squad came, not from their Farm Teams but from trades with other Major League Teams. I personally do not support the farm team system. Living in a small town I think it would be neat if there were competitive leagues in US sport and promotion and relegation. Maybe that might make the Team owners care a little more about us poor long suffering fans.

Mike Edwards (


I could possibly be the newest Blue with the deepest roots. My father, John Heaton Parker informs me that his great-great-great grandfather, also with the same name, played for Ardwick FC back in the 1890’s; this is according to his father, another JHP, who seemed an honest fellow.

I was born in Manchester also but the family moved to the States during the glory years of the 60’s, when I was a wee babe. I, and my five siblings, payed scant attention to my father’s Sunday fits. That was, of course, the day he brought home the massive, 20lb edition of the Boston Globe or New York Times, opened up just the sports section, read the weekend football results, and then ooh-ed and aaah-ed in victory or defeat, leaving the rest of the paper for the wind.

Early on, I inherited this devotion to team sports. In the US, it was the Boston/New England teams. For those who know the Red Sox baseball team, their heart-break stories parallel the Blues (someone mentioned Balt/Ind Colts, not even close!)

Eventually I began to play football/soccer as a “new” sport in the US in the 70’s. I knew my father’s team was City and I remembered Alan Ball playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps many years before but I didn’t really have a clue what it meant to be a Blue until this summer.

I helped my sister and her husband with their two kids, while they moved house and changed jobs this past summer. At my nephew, Daniel’s school in Barnsley, the kids were all chanting Rag chants. I was disgraced to see my father’s legacy go for nought. So I made it my personal mission to re-educate my nephew.

The procedure went much quicker after my sister moved to Glossop and began to work in Manchester, striking distance from Maine Road. I was thrilled to hear Alan Ball’s name and was intrigued by the masked man from Georgia, who had been signed over the Summer.

The tickets finally came through the mail and my nephew and I were raring to go to the opener against Spurs. It was a first for my nephew and myself (I always went to Grandma’s house on Barlow Moor Road. during the Summer, and was treated to either five days of cricket or spine-tingling equestrian events on the telly).

The match/atmosphere was tremendous, even though it was a draw. Uwe scored and Quinn almost had a winning header. My nephew was warned for days afterwards not to do football chants in the house (by my sister) because “U-vay, U-vay Ros-se-ler!” actually gets on some people’s nerves, hard to believe.

I am now a die-hard fan thanks to MCIVTA. I can’t always wait for MCIVTA to give me the low-down, so thanks also to Soccernet. My nephew, by the way, is now a junior Blue (he actually has Ekelund’s signature, who?) and my sister is a semi-avid/rabid supporter (on Manchester telly recently, outside Maine Road, trying in vain to get tickets). If there are any Blues visiting the New Jersey/New York area, send us a note via e-mail.

P.S. We need more City fans on the Sportstalk at Choose “soccerchat”

We need to keep the Man Ure, Gunner and ‘Pool supporters in check. I often go by the name “Oasis”, for obvious reasons.

New, True and Blue, Martin Parker (


What’s the difference between a North West Water lorry and Roy Keane’s school teacher? One’s a water tanker, the other’s taught a w**ker.

How many Rags does it take to change a light bulb? As many as you like, they will never see the light.

Stephen Bolton (


Wednesday, February 21 1996

MANCHESTER UNITED       2-0    EVERTON                   42,459
WEST HAM UNITED         2-0    NEWCASTLE UNITED          23,843

Wed 21 Feb

Team                Played   Won Drawn Lost  For  Against   Points
Newcastle United      26     19    3    4     49    22        60
Manchester United     27     16    6    5     49    29        54
Liverpool             26     14    7    5     50    22        49
Aston Villa           25     13    6    6     34    18        45
Tottenham Hotspur     26     11    9    6     33    25        42
Blackburn Rovers      26     12    5    9     40    28        41
Arsenal               26     11    8    7     34    25        41
Everton               27     11    7    9     39    30        40
Nottingham Forest     26     10   10    6     35    35        40
Chelsea               27     10    9    8     31    28        39
West Ham United       27     11    5   11     31    36        38
Leeds United          25     10    5   10     31    37        35
Middlesbrough         27      9    6   12     28    37        33
Sheffield Wednesday   26      7    8   11     36    42        29
Southampton           25      5   10   10     25    36        25
Wimbledon             26      6    6   14     36    52        24
Coventry City         26      5    9   12     33    49        24
Manchester City       26      6    6   14     16    36        24
Queens Park Rangers   27      6    3   18     22    41        21
Bolton Wanderers      27      4    4   19     28    52        16

With thanks to Soccernet



Thanks to James (x2), Kevin, Martin, Tony, Russ, Roly, John, Ken, Mike, Mal, Peter, The Mole, Jonathan, Stephen, Paul (x2),Robert, Mike, Andrew, Colin & Jeremy.

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 #170