Newsletter #252

Once again, apologies for stating the wrong day for the next match, it is of course Saturday. Apologies also if a news article you sent hasn’t appeared, I had multiple copies of several news items!

This issue is so full that I’m having to send it at 7.30pm as it might have gone into 4 parts; the fact that I made a hash of it last week after the pub quiz has nothing to do with it!

There’s loads of opinion, news, rumour, a report on the AGM, articles from the Platt Lane Correspondent, the Prestwich and Whitefield meeting, a review of the CITY Magazine and finally, a brilliantly evocative Why Blue.

An additional snippet on the AGM was a GMR interview with Lee:

Interviewer: Who is the manager?
Lee (after silence): Phil Neal
Interviewer: Is he the permanent manager?
Lee (after longer silence): He’s the manager for the foreseeable future!

It wouldn’t surprise me if Neal walked out tomorrow, and who would blame him?

Next game, Bradford City at home, Saturday 7th December 1996



Being up in Shropshire for the weekend visiting family, I managed to persuade two of my brother-in-laws to pop over to Molineux. One is a United supporter while the other is a City sympathiser (it was only his second ever live game). Being away from work (and therefore MCIVTAless) for almost a fortnight I was sadly out of touch and even had the kick-off time wrong. Luckily it was later than I thought and we arrived in good time and sat in the upper tier of the John Ireland stand just above the City support as I couldn’t get them to join the City fans. It was interesting to see that I wasn’t the only City fan in with the Wolves lot and it makes me wonder how much the increase of the `home’ support for City’s away games is due to City fans.

There have been some good match reports posted already so I won’t dwell on the details.

Dibble     Played well until he panics, poor distribution         6
Crooks     Pretty solid at back not much support for Summerbee    6
Brightwell Not good enough for left-back                          5
Lomas      Full of energy (when they have the ball)               6
Symons     Solid but one major slip                               6
Wassall    Doesn't mark tight enough or react in time             5
Summerbee  Couldn't beat his man but kept trying                  6
Whitley    OK but didn't create enough                            5
Dickov     Very quiet                                             4
Kinkladze  Seemed disillusioned in the middle period              7
Rösler     Kept trying, doesn't look like scoring                 6
Clough     Did as well as Dickov (sounded good in the programme!) 4

These are probably marks out of 100.

The ref was obviously used to rugby, at least 4 hand-balls were ignored, luckily none in the box.

Wolves’ main tactic was to hoof the ball up to the front two and look for the knock-ons; we coped well with this in the first-half but don’t have the concentration at the back to keep it up for 90 minutes. Wolves played better once they were two up but they are nothing special. The frustrating thing is that even our team out there could beat them IF they put their minds to it.

How on earth did we score three against WBA? We never looked like scoring; even Rösler’s header and the couple of shots following Gio runs had no belief behind them. We had a gaping hole on the left wing which Wolves didn’t use as much as they should have. I hope that Heaney makes good use of it.

We are so slow in our build up (either that or it’s an aimless boot up front to our `big men’) so we always have 9 men to beat, there is no quick thinking from midfield or the forwards and they get no space. One memorable move in the first half saw Gio in the centre circle move forward and look up to see that all the sky blue shirts had run away to a marker; he had to hold it up and beat another man before Brightwell finally got into the space towards the corner flag. Gio slotted it through only for Brightwell to scuff the cross. After that I think Gio couldn’t be too bothered until we were two down and he decided to have some dribbling practice.

Am I being harsh, or is Lomas always running around head-less making great tackles because he doesn’t mark tight enough in the first place? Wolves always seemed to have two players to pass to.

The third goal was a good strike but the way Brightwell backed off it made me think that Phelan was back with us.

Depressing isn’t it, but believe it or not I had a really good time, mainly because my expectations were so low. Let’s face it, we were on telly, we had won our last match but we still haven’t gone two games without defeat this season (a longer run than last year I’ll guess) so against my pre-match prediction of 4-0 we did OK. But the main enjoyment came from actually seeing City play live again after so long. Checking afterwards I was shocked (OK and ashamed too) that it was 9 years since I’d last watched them live (I always plan to see them at least once a season and I was convinced that married life wouldn’t have that effect on me:-)).

OK so we are 3 points off the bottom and 9 points off a play-off place. If we carry on as we are: we go down. But we have the players to stay up if they think about what they are doing. I’ll go along with the suggestion of getting a psychiatrist to work on the team. Maybe the new money (although it seems nowhere near enough) and a couple of new players (not Kitson please) will give a boost because it isn’t too late yet in this season even for a top two slot! Forever an optimist.

Henry White (


This has been kicking around for days but GMR reported yesterday evening (Monday 2nd December) that Stephen Boler is expected to inject in the region of about £5 million. This according to teletext and Ceefax would give Mr Boler control of the club, although it is expected that Franny will stay as Chairman.

There is as yet no word on the speculated cash injection of approx £12 million but the Daily Express quotes Franny as saying that he would hopefully be able to make an announcement on Tuesday (today).

Here’s to the AGM!

Steve Lomas has been picked for the Northern Ireland international against Albania and should play – providing that Albania are re-admitted to the World football field.

Phil Neal has also confirmed that he is interested in the Pompey defender Andy Awford.

I suppose that after Thursday all will be much clearer.

Tony Farrar, Salford Blue (


Reported on the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast News this morning (3/12/96):

“…Franny Lee, Chairman of Manchester City Football Club, is reported to be handing back power to former chairman Peter Swales…”

I’ve heard of City coming back from the dead, but this?!?!

Jamie ‘Student-Bloke’ (who works on the Chris Evans show), a big Blue City fan, was reportedly heard to comment…

“We’ve got a dead guy for a chairman… we’re definitely going down now!”

Tair M Bashir (


You’re probably being innundated with this, but Bloomberg and several other news wires report that Franny Lee is to step down, and that none other than Stephen Boler is to take charge and invest up to £15 million in the Club. There is a lot of guess work going on at present but one thing looks certain. Lee is in trouble, and Boler is on the up. Interesting times indeed.

Roger – The Blue Kiwi (


It now appears that Stephen Boler is the mystery “third man” in the consortium involving J.D.Sports’ creators John Wardle and David Makin and that the deal is likely to be worth around £10 million, with most of this available for players. Boler doesn’t have the time to take an active interest in running the club and it is probable that Wardle will represent the consortium on the board of directors. It also looks certain that Francis Lee will retain the position of chairman despite being one of the minority shareholders. Boler is to invest £5 million and the others £5 million between them (although some reports say that this money has already been invested this week).

In an interview with the Manchester Evening News, Boler stated his position quite clearly: “Basically, all I am is a fan who wants to use his money to help Manchester City. There isn’t the remotest possibility of my becoming chairman either now or in the future. I am far too busy to be able to play an active role which Manchester City need from their chairman if they are to regain their place in the pecking order of English soccer. Take my word for it, with this money in place and available to improve the playing squad, you will see a dramatic improvement very quickly in the fortunes of Manchester City.”

“Francis has my total support. I am still merely one of the club’s shareholders. I will not be sitting on Francis Lee’s shoulder telling him what to do. He has had a very difficult three years since he took control at Maine Road and it is obvious that he needs help to restore the club to its rightful place in English soccer. Whatever people might say to the contrary, I can tell you that Francis has put a great deal of his personal money into Manchester City over the last three years – and we are talking of millions, not thousands. But he has been stretched to the limit because of circumstances beyond his control. Because of the Taylor Report, much of the money he made available had to be used to redevelop the ground. It was also a major blow to the club’s prospects when they lost their manager Steve Coppell after such a short spell at Maine Road.”

“I have been a City fan for many years and like everyone else I have been very distressed at the way the club has progressed over the last 12 months. But if I didn’t genuinely believe that City have a great future, I would not have invested Stlg.5 million of my own money into the club. The club has wonderful support and I can promise those fans that the vast majority of the cash which is being injected will be used to bring quality players to Maine Road.”

Paul Howarth (


Reported on Granada TV Teletext service…

Crisis club Manchester City are to issue 13.5 million new ordinary shares in a bid to raise around £11 million for the club to regain its Premiership status. Chairman Francis Lee and key executives, along with legal advisors, spent a 12-hour meeting behind closed doors thrashing out the details. Lee will continue as chairman despite speculation that he was about to resign from the position.

John Wardle Associates has underwritten the new rights issue at Manchester City to the tune of £10 million. It will also be backed to the tune of £5 million by Cheshire businessman Stephen Boler, who was earlier linked to a majority stake in City. Current chairman Franny Lee said: “The club now has financial clout to attract new players to give it the springboard to return to the Premier League.”

Jack Millington (


Details of the investment deal made by Stephen Boler, John Wardle and associates have now been announced. 13,500,000 new shares will be issued, underwritten to the tune of £10,000,000 by the investors. The deal will leave Boler owning 25% of the club and Wardle’s men owning 20% between them. Wardle will become a member of City’s PLC board. The deal should help to placate shareholders at Thursday’s Annual General Meeting.

Sky TV reported that Francis Lee had resigned as chairman on health grounds but Lee has vehemently denied this, saying “I wish somebody had thought to tell me I had resigned as it would have saved me a day’s work! It’s all very involved and takes some sorting out. I got home for a meal last night after working on things from 8am to hear that I was supposed to have resigned.” He went on to say that he was looking forward to kicking off a new start for City.

City’s reserves came back from a goal down at half time to win 3-1 at Stockport on Wednesday night. Goals from Michael Brown, Ray Kelly and Mikhail Kavelashvili (the pick of the bunch) gave the Blues a deserved victory. Also impressing was Buster Phillips.

The Mole


Well it scans, and there’s hardly anyone else to cheer at the moment. The AGM was not an inspiring occasion and the mood was one of collective depression. The patient has gone from seriously to critically ill. The nearest thing to good news was the rescue package announced in the press on Tuesday. This concerns a rights issue of 13.5 million new shares of 10p each at 80p/share to raise £10.8 million. This issue is underwritten by Stephen Boler (£5 million) and John Wardle plus friends (£5 million).The official statement says this will provide “both financial stability and the wherewithal to attract new players… (and) will facilitate the rapid development of the squad, which, together with the strengthening of management should quickly improve the playing performance.” Note that the last bit – with obvious implications – is attributed in the official statement to Mr. Boler and not FHL.

The rights issue was elaborated upon by director David Bernstein. He pointed to huge debts (though not the reported £26 million). Basically, the interest bearing financial deficit was £12m at 31/5/96. This excludes convertible loan stock and led to interest charges of £1.3 million. Previous borrowing had gone largely to ground development. The club is now “under-capitalised” i.e. skint with a capital value of £16 million. The board wanted to raise finance while protecting shareholder values. Of the stuff reported in the press, the alleged Arab consortia were “hype” and some parties were simply trying to buy into the club at a low point; the board wanted to avoid a takeover on poor terms with dilution of shareholding. The rescue plan is meant to inject cash while keeping shareholders’ value intact. There are 5 main points:

  1. All existing shareholders can continue to invest,
  2. There will be a cash injection of £10 million,
  3. Company reserves will rise by £15 million,
  4. There will be a bonus issue of share contingent on promotion to the Premiership, and
  5. The underwriters are good, decent Blues (and Lee and Boler are best mates after all).

The rest of the business was mundane. Phil Neal was absent as “questions would put him in an embarrassing position” and this wouldn’t be fair(!?). As usual Lee wanted to block questions on players’ wages, “personalities” and transfer fees and also, it turned out, management. On the finances someone pointed out that the presentation of both the accounts and the special resolutions (which allow the board to issue further shares) were not at all clear, definitely a fair comment. Apparently the board had to set up a mechanism to create “convertible loan stock” but this isn’t going to be necessary due to the rights issue. You might like to know that shares of 80p were worth 120p until recently but are now worth 115p and falling. Also, the rights issue takes time: shareholders have to be informed and there has to be an Extraordinary General Meeting, probably on 14th January. so the whole processs takes approximately 2 months. So we might be limping along the bottom of Division 1 while all this is happening. Lee did suggest that money is currently available for transfers and more would be available in January for use “when a manager comes along.” I take that as a Freudian slip which Lee later tried to retract, none too convincingly.

So who are the main investors in all this. Partly us – we’re being “invited” to buy more shares – and to a large extent Boler and Wardle (of J.D. Sports). The Guardian on Tuesday was clearer than FHL on this: the dominant shareholder is to be Boler.

Obviously, the AGM is an opportunity to voice general problems about club and team and several items raised in MCIVTA surfaced here. The large increase in administrative expenses is apparently due to “cost of sales” as the merchandising and catering operations expand. So it’s not all down to Georgian translators. The increase in playing staff from 68 to 84 reflects a big increase in YTS lads and an increase in number of scouts (rather worrying that, I feel, whoever recommended Frontzeck and Wassall should be shot). Colin Barlow took some stick for a 14.5% pay increase. Apparently all staff got 10% last year (I’m not too thrilled about this either; shouldn’t you be rewarded for success?).

“Was Alan Ball a disaster?” still won’t get any admission or apology from Lee. We were told “this was a board appointment” and “it didn’t work out.” Lee did a lot of hiding behind collective responsibility and argued that managers made “football decisions.” At this stage everything was restrained and polite until Lee managed to mention and provoke one Elliott Rashman which sparked a response along the lines of how crap the board is. This got others involved. Apart from Lee, the lack of commitment from Greenalls, who own 12%, was singled out. Their director-representative couldn’t even get to the meeting on time.

On the manager, Lee didn’t want to say anything to spark off the tabloids. But by not backing Neal, he invites speculation. The signals do seem to be that Neal is on his way out soon. Personally I hope so: there’s been no improvement in the team since he arrived and the performances against Oxford and Tranmere were the pits. Most managers inherit poor sides after a manager is sacked. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to see who would come. Joe Kinnear was mentioned to me as a possibility but wouldn’t he be better off at Wimbledon?

Rob Simmons (


Fed up with watching crap football in an even more crappy atmosphere at Maine Road? Do you think the fans and team could do with livening up? Well help could be at hand! Read on…

Some friends of mine are talking about going to the Port Vale match on Boxing Day and trying to inject a bit of fun by doing a Manchester version of the Dutch-style band! First of all they’ve got to find out what (if any) instruments can be taken into the ground (there was talk of a bass drum!) but if they get the go ahead then Bob’s yer uncle! If anyone is interested in joining in and making some Goddam noise for a change, then can you e-mail me as soon as possible as they are meeting up this weekend to see how many seats they need to book – they’re going to try to book a few rows together if possible. Even if you’re a season ticket holder and therefore won’t be able to sit with the noisy lot and you fancy it, let me know anyway so I know if there’s going to be any support anywhere else round the ground. By the way, don’t worry if you can’t actually play an instrument, no one else can either (it would be nice if someone could actually play!).

Just imagine the fun, City’s penalty area is under a bit of pressure and a huge cacophony starts up from the Kippax (or wherever!) to throw the cat among the pigeons! Should be a laugh, let’s make our own entertainment as we can’t rely on the team for that – well, not the right sort of entertainment anyway.

Hope to hear from some of you!

Christine Haynes (


The pre-xmas mini-tournament is now going ahead. The matches are scheduled for Sunday 15th December, starting at 13:30 (1:30pm). and finishing at 16:30 (4:30pm). However, there has been a slight change in plan, City, Rags and the Owls are still going to play but it looks like the Leeds team are going to pull out (or should I say didn’t reply in time); their place is almost certainly going to be taken by the Arsenal team (who it seems are going to travel up in their own min-bus, or so I’ve heard!).

The idea was to play in a knock-out tournament rather than a round robin, so here’s the plan:

  • 2 1/2 hour semis.
  • 1/2 hour rest.
  • 3/4 hour 3rd/4th place play-off.
  • 3/4 hour final.

Well that’s the plan, what does everyone think?

Have we got any referees out there, or is anyone willing to run the line? Let me know if you want to play, or even referee a game.

Martin Ford (


Some brief good news for a change; this week Peter Beagrie has started training with some light running and said that he was feeling pretty fit – he even vaulted over a railing!

Next week I will bring a report on the Annual General Meeting 🙂

Via Neale Hayward-Shott (


The latest meeting of the West Yorkshire Branch of the CSA on 3rd December was in aid of the Paul Lake Testimonial and was attended by Paul himself along with Richard Edghill (who now seems unlikely to play again until next year). During a very enjoyable question and answer session, Paul displayed all the passion and dedication for the Blues we have always associated with him and which is so sadly lacking in the present team. No opposition has been confirmed for his testimonial match yet but Rangers and Newcastle have been approached. At the end of the meeting, there was a Paul Lake quiz which was won, not surprisingly, by Paul!

Another matter which will interest City fans is next Monday’s World In Action programme which contains allegations about a certain ex-manager of ours.

Gareth Jones (


The following article was taken from the Times Sports Supplement of Monday November 25th; given the current news and rumours re Mr Boler, it is remarkably prescient.

City slump gives food for thought

Supporters of clubs who have failed to live up to expectations so far this season – such as Nottingham Forest and Bradford City – can always take heart that they do not support Manchester City. There are stories that a gypsy curse was placed on Maine Road, probably around the time that Malcolm Allison signed Rodney Marsh in the early seventies, and since then, under the chairmanship of first the late Peter Swales and now Francis Lee, City have been perennial underachievers. However, their present plight with a managerless team sliding towards the Nationwide League second division, must rank as the darkest of many dark hours.

The talk in the wine bars of Manchester is that Lee is “cheesed off” and wants to sell out. Apparently, a stream of suitors has been knocking on his door willing to purchase his 15% stake in the club and put in fresh finance. Names in the frame have ranged from the Conrad Group, which failed in the bidding for Leeds United, and is now buying Sheffield United, to Prince Al-Waleed, a saviour of lost causes ranging from Eurodisney to Canary Wharf, to a group of Manchester businessmen that includes Mike McDonald, the present Sheffield United chairman. None of these would-be deals has come to anything.

Manchester City shares are traded on the Ofex market and their performance has been at odds with that of the team. The present price of 120p a share gives a market value of somewhere in the region of £20 million for the club. However, such is the feeling about City that it is reckoned that a bid of around £10 million could be successful.

In addition, there is the issue of how much investment would be needed to out City back on an even keel. Maine Road, to the south of Manchester’s city centre, is dominated by the £11 million Kippax Stand, completed in 1995, and, despite City’s troubles, a loyal following of more than 20,000 fans regularly attend less than glamorous league fixtures against the likes of Grimsby Town and Southend United. The playing squad clearly needs attention, but the sale of Georgi Kinkladze, the skilled Georgian international player, could raise £5 million or more which could be used to buy two or three British battlers to pull City out of the mire. One theory: a good management team could therefore turn the ship around for an investment of only a few million pounds – although, to be on the safe side, it would be preferable to have £10 million to play with. What would you get for the money? City is a big club, perhaps not as big as its neighbour, Manchester United, perhaps not as big as Liverpool, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, but if Chelsea is worth £150 million and Newcastle United (which was in the same fix as City only four years ago) can think of floating with a value of more than £100 million, then a Manchester City restored to the Carling Premiership must be worth at least £50 million pounds. City also has a good raft of celebrity supporters, including the Gallagher brothers, Liam and Noel, of Oasis fame, Bernard Manning the comedian (ah, so that’s what he is – JP), Bob Willis, the former England fast bowler, and Howard Davies, the deputy governor of the Bank of England.

If the club is to be taken over, the most obvious candidate to do so is Stephen Boler, the kitchens tycoon, who recently cashed in a 35% stake in his Limelight Group for more than £60 million. He once owned 28% of City, but cut that to 15% when Lee took charge. Boler likes to be in the background and has never taken a seat on the board, but, having got out of one Limelight, is this the time for him to step into another?

Jeremy Poynton (


As most other entertainment industries have award ceremonies (basically a chance to pat themselves on the back, whereas we pat ourselves on the head) I thought I’d present the Blues with some alternative awards.

Best lead player: Gio Kinkladze
Best supporting player: Us for sticking with them
Queens award for industry: No winners in Manchester
The lifetime achievement award: Once more the fans reign supreme
The flattering to deceive award: Rösler (ably supported by his backside)
The clearly not as good as their dad award: Joint winners Nicky and Nigel
The ‘Oh no, not again’ award: Andy Dibble
The silly rat award: Gio for not leaving a sinking ship

and finally

The Captain Smith (captain of the Titanic) memorial trophy: Francis Lee for allowing Alan Ball to sink the team without trace.

Well it’s the closest we’ll ever get to winning something.

Martin Ford (


I went to the Prestwich and Whitefield Supporters’ Club last night and thought I would write my usual notes about the evening.

I was quite impressed with the turn-out actually: Kit Symons, Eddie McGoldrick, Paul Dickov and Neil McNab braved the disgruntled Blues.

The atmosphere wasn’t very nice at first because people wanted to ask all sorts of questions (namely: just what the **** is going on? Why aren’t you trying? Why do we keep losing?); common decency prevented most people from getting personal, but you could sense the despair and frustration. The players looked quite uncomfortable too and they basically said look, we don’t go out to lose, we try to win but it’s just not been happening lately. Eddie McGoldrick refused to slag off Andy Dibble which was a rare and encouraging show of team spirit.

Someone asked Paul Dickov if he resents being substituted and he said of course, he just wants to play all the time but he has to accept what the manager’s decision is. Someone also asked him if he gets annoyed that he always seems to get pushed and pulled about by defenders all the time. He said not at all, it means that he’s doing his job if they have to hassle him.

Being the roving reporter, I asked the players if the team get on with each other off the pitch because on the pitch it doesn’t look as they know what they’re supposed to be doing half the time. I also asked if they discussed what went wrong in the dressing room as they all sneak off the pitch (with the exception of Eddie) with their heads down. Kit answered this by saying that they do discuss the match afterwards and they do all get on with each other but they’re not all out drinking together all the time. He said that most teams don’t and he didn’t think they had a problem in this area.

The trouble with evenings like this is that you want to ask loads of questions which no one is really in a position to answer. For example, someone asked Neil McNab: What, in your opinion, is the best thing and the worst thing Francis Lee has done at the club? There was a big pause and lots of face pulling and smiling and he answered: no comment. So we can’t get any juicy gossip. Understandable, really, but bloody frustrating as well, They all came out with diplomatic but unrevealing answers. We had heard a rumour that evening that Lee had resigned as Chairman but no one would say anything about that, prompting most of us there to assume that he had actually resigned!

Inevitably, there were questions about Kinkladze. Kit said that if you’d have told him this time last year that we would end up 4th from bottom in the 1st Division, he would have said Kinkladze would be gone by now. However, he said, Gio has a real affection for the club and he loves Manchester and he’s happy here. He also said he chats with the players but he’s really shy and if he’s with someone he doesn’t know he clams up and pretends he speaks no English (and Eddie said his favourite words are “Shaggy shaggy!!” to much amusement from the rest of the players! Naughty boy).

Neil McNab came across as being an intelligent, sincere guy. He said he would consider it a great honour to manage Manchester City and had some excellent ideas and opinions (he feels Kinkladze is being played out of position and he’s a natural talent and he should be allowed more freedom of movement on the pitch). He also hit the nail on the head and said the team needs some heart: if one of our players gets fouled, he wants 4 of our players round the bastard that did it (quote) to let them know it shouldn’t happen again. He thinks the players should be looking out for each other more, not just Kinkladze, but everyone who gets fouled should be supported by the rest of our team.

Someone else told Kit that he was their player of the season last season as he was consistent, but this season his form seems to have dropped a bit. Kit said yes, it has, but … “I think I’ve been more consistent this season: consistently crap!” He looked a bit surprised when everyone laughed their heads off and gave him a round of applause (for his honesty, I presume). He also said he didn’t know what the guy who came on the pitch on Sunday said to Nigel Clough but it doesn’t do anything for players’ morale and confidence when things like that happen.

I also asked if the players thought the team was fit enough to compete as some of them look knackered after 5 minutes. Kit again said they’d been doing running training earlier in the day and everyone was OK and he didn’t think fitness was a problem. Hmm. Not sure I totally agree with that myself.

By the end of the night, everyone was getting p****d and opening up more and it all got a bit more light-hearted. You may be interested to know that Eddie and Paul were drinking bottles of Bud (I lost count of the number they had! And all free! No wonder they turned up), Kit was being good and drinking pints of Coke (unless he had vodka in it) and Neil McNab was drinking pints of lager and gin and tonic! They could all pack it away too!

Anyway, at the end of the night this DJ put on “Wonderwall” (yawn) because apparently Kit and Eddie came down to a family funday meeting a few months ago and sang this on the karaoke. They were persuaded to sing it again and it wasn’t as tuneless as you may expect although a few people were squirming with embarrassment.

So it was another good night. Everyone came across as being committed to the club and convinced they can pull themselves out of the position we’re in (Eddie and Paul seemed particularly committed to the club and grateful for the chance they’ve been given), so much so that they’ve almost convinced me to go on Saturday. Not sure yet, the jury’s still out on that one, but it was a great night out anyway.

Christine Haynes (


Typical week for the Blues: scraping a win, losing heavily on TV.

Star Trek, Wed 27/11: hardly ever watch it, so hadn’t noticed before how some of the crew wear shirts similar to this season’s away monstrosity. Spookily, the Admiral insisted on leading “the away team” on a dangerous mission which I think led to his death (I missed the end). Omen for Sunday came true, of course.

The Sunday Show, Sun 1/12: illustrating a byelaw prohibiting the keeping of pigs indoors, Donna McPhail woke a pig from its slumbers beneath a City duvet (left over from the Oasis spoof, I guess).

After the Wolves fiasco, BBC Teletext claimed that Margetson was injured in a clash with Symons. Just like ITV, no mention of Roberts’ kamikaze challenge…

High point of the week was winning a bet on the West Brom result with a Baggies fan: free breakfast at Nora’s, London Road, Cheltenham. Worst bit was learning that a neighbourhood kid had given up supporting City to follow Newcastle, just like his brother – but do City deserve any new fans? The Junior Blues used to be really good but it’s taken several phone calls to get my son James back on the mailing list for issue 3 of the new JB mag (relaunched after a long silence) which, in my opinion, is inferior to the old one anyway (to be fair to the guy who runs the JBs, he did send a load of free City stuff with it, which was nice). James is only 4, and still struggling with the concept that City are a football team, so the quality of the mag is of zero concern to him, but what about older, more discerning fans? Like it or not, the club’s future revenue depends on good marketing and, unlike what City do on the pitch, this is an area where FHL should be exerting loads of influence. Any JBs or parents out there with a view on this?

Martyn Hansen (


To have nearly 1,200 subscribers is one hell of an achievement and a tribute to the devotion and loyalty of City’s supporters. But do you have any estimates of the readership of McVittee? The reason for my question is that I subscribe on behalf of a colleague at work who is a life-long City supporter. I forward each mailing through the Internet into our corporate email system and he then forwards on to two other exiles. So, in this case one subscriber equals four readers – there must be other examples out there.

I have to confess to having been a Charlton Athletic supporter (someone’s got to do it) since the early 1960’s and my subscription to McVittee has been as a favour for a colleague. However, I have to say that I’m massively impressed with your supporters’ good humour under extremely trying conditions, and, like many other subscribers to the list, I’m sure that things will come right in the end.

My only claim to a connection with City is that, in my capacity at that time as the toilet tissue buyer for a national supermarket retailer, I met Francis Lee in 1987 on a visit to his factory at Bolton. I was a little in awe at meeting someone who, after all, had been one of the most significant players of his day and who I’d never imagined that I’d ever meet. I guess that all of us have just one question that we’d like to ask if we were to meet someone like Franny, and I’d had one lined up for ages. So, over dinner, and in spite of not wanting to burden him with talk about football when there was own label development to discuss, I went for the big one. “Did you ever make it up with Norman Hunter?” Suffice it to say that this received a most forceful reply in the negative. This cheered me up immensely as it’s good to see real passion like that years after the incident, which shows it isn’t all a sham and that, in many ways, people like Franny are more like the average punter than we’d think. Maybe that’s the key to the man; he cares, and people know he does. You’re a lucky bunch – hang on to him like mad!

David Hatch (


Around this time last year I wrote in strongly suggesting that City take a look at an Israeli midfielder called Ayal Berkowitz who has been Israel’s outstanding but generally unknown player. This was after repeatedly writing to the Club on this matter.

For those who have no interest in Premier footie anymore I will just say that he has recently come to Southampton and has received Man Of The Match award for every game he has played in, including two goals and three assists against the Rags (maybe City did buy him and put him in a team where he can do something?).

Two weeks ago I would have advised taking a look at another Israeli centre-forward but he has just been signed by Sunderland after proving himself to Reid. I now beg of City to buy Gadi Brummer, Israel’s outstanding defender before the Rags do so (they are hot on his trail).

Best wishes from your Blue and White Blue.

Akiva Goldblum (


I have just calculated that each of our four managers this season have averaged 1.75 wins each, so to get promoted another 14 of them should do the trick!

Paul Kelly (100317.2203@CompuServe.COM)


Remember the good times when City used to win trophies? Well while doing the old Xmas shopping I walked into Beatties model/toy shop and guess what I found? – A Corgi Classic toy motor vehicle that brought a tear to the eye. It was a Finglands single decker bus (circa 20’s/30’s) with large sun-roof (not what they called it then) carrying Manchester City parading the F.A. Cup from the Railway Station to the Town Hall. The scarfs were mauve/purple and sky blue (is this right?). A truly wonderful sight.

One question comes to mind though. Just how long have Finglands been ferrying Manchester City around? Does anyone know?

Richard Mottershead (


Issue 4

For us cool dudes who subscribe to said organ there is the monthly joy of opening that brown envelope only to find that it isn’t the Ann Summers catalogue I ordered but the City Magazine in all its wonder.

There is a theory that to appear on the front leads to ‘the curse’ being placed on the poor unfortunate and the career taking a significant down turn (check out previous covers and you will see what I mean).

So what does the December issue contain:-

  • Diary – Quite interesting this because it doesn’t fall for the “aren’twe wonderful” trap. Fairly honest and some snippets of insider information.
  • Blue Mail – Sad letters from Blues who have had their pics takenwhilst wearing a City shirt or have dressed up their dog.
  • Maine Events – Short articles and space fillers.
  • Beagrie’s Back – Well no he isn’t actually but it is aninteresting article about his fight for fitness, operations and hisChristmas return (Please, Please, Please).
  • Blue Christmas – Usual Christmas Fayre (note Olde Englishspelling), Lomas, Brown and Symons on what they want for Christmas.
  • Senior Citizen – Article about Michael Lally (who?), a 102-year-old Bluewho is as old as the club – great to see a True Blue in the mag.
  • Grin and Bear it – Jason Beckford on what is happening now he can’tplay any more.
  • Georgia on my mind – Blues’ trip to Tbilisi to see Georgia vs. England,well written, witty, interesting
  • The Fourth Man – Phil Neal, Manager of the Month, how he gotlumbered with the job and what he wants to do – he will be leavingsoon – they always do once they have been in the mag.
  • Blue Notes – Gloom and doom on the pitch – match reports.
  • Blues Review – How to get to the grounds we are going to lose at next.

The mag is always a good read, let’s face it we would read anything about City, even old ticket stubs and the rubbish away programmes print.

My next game will be Oldham (visiting my mother) so if you are there I’ll be the one having a heart attack every time someone passes back to Dibble, shouting at Rösler, and wondering what the hell Summerbee and Clough are doing on the pitch.

Keep the faith, Andy Birkin (

Anyone fancy reviewing the November issue?



I have only seen City about 6 times this season and so my opinions on the wonderfully gifted Nigel Clough are probably not as valid as some of the opinions which have been expressed recently, but nevertheless…

When City bought Nigel Clough for a bargain price the only thing I was amazed about was why we hadn’t done it earlier given that such a great player had been left wallowing and wasting in the reserves at Liverpool for so long. Since then I admit that Clough has not been playing well, particularly this season, but there are valid reasons for his apparent bad form. The fans are obviously looking for scapegoats and Clough has come under the closest scrutiny (probably because of all the players on the pitch, Clough, given his extensive experience, should reasonably be expected to lead from the front and arguably hasn’t). The accusations seem to be that he is lazy, he doesn’t get into games and that his passing has, at times, be awry. I could understand the frustration of the Blue who ran on the pitch on Sunday but to boo Clough onto the pitch, and for a blue to follow this up by running onto the pitch to verbally attack him before he has even had a kick of the ball is going a bit far by anyone’s stretch of the imagination.

Clough is well known to be a slow player, not exactly known for his speed or dazzling dribbling skills and who depends upon a team around him who can give him the ball and then run for him – that is the way he plays, and always has played. Kinky is obviously able to shine out amongst a bad midfield because he has the kind of dribbling skills which allow him to by-pass the use of other players – but Clough isn’t. He depends very much on the players around him. And basically City’s midfield is a shambles. A shambles, that is, which is composed of two incredibly talented players (in Kinky and Clough), an excellent trier (in Lomas) whose commitment to the cause can rarely be doubted – even if his passing is, at times, wayward, and a great crosser of the ball (in Summerbee) who is just unforunately being played out of position (he is most effective as a wing-back making overlapping runs for a decent winger and putting crosses in, a bit like McAteer at Liverpool). But nevertheless, the midfield is a shambles which is static and never moves in the way Clough needs it to in order to be effective. How many times do we break away (extremely slowly) from our own area, give the ball to Kinky or Clough and then no one wants it (that is quite obvious because no one will run for them). Kinky can overcome this slight drawback in what is supposed to be a team game because he can just take the lot on himself, but Clough is left to make ordinary passes – ordinary, that is, because a pass is only as good as the space it is played into and the person who has had the intelligence to run onto it. But nobody does run into space or anticipate where Clough may play the ball. Clough is therefore, more often than not, relegated to making simple passes straight to the feet of static players (because he knows that to try anything adventurous would be a complete waste of time) who then haven’t got a clue what to do with it or lose it. In other words, it is often not Clough who plays the receiver into a bad position, but usually the bad positional sense of the receiver of Clough’s passes that play themselves into bad positions by refusing to run, and who consequently lose the ball as a result. Where Clough’s passes have been more adventurous and have gone awry (allegedly), I get the impression that a lot of the time, this is to do with the inability of the other players to read Clough’s intelligent intentions and their consequent failure to be running onto the end of his passes. It is all too easy to accuse Clough of passing erratically in these circumstances but perhaps people should look at other players for explanations as to why Clough appears to be playing badly. I think it is a tragedy that Clough is far too often forced into making simple (and what inevitably turn out to be bad) passes, and that his talent is going to waste because the midfield around him does not allow him to demonstrate the skilful player he is by anticipating him and running for him.

If I were to take Clough out of the midfield, I would play him in the position he occupied at Forest and briefly at Liverpool, floating just behind the centre forward. At the moment, City’s midfield appears to be completely unable to support, in any way whatsoever, the front two. Balls are played up to Rösler and Dickov who are basically left to get on with it by the midfield, many of whom arrive with their support half an hour later, if at all, but nevertheless, usually when it is too late and the front two have been crowded out, and lost the ball to four/five/six opposition defenders. Dickov, for all his effort, is unable to hold the ball up in these situations because he is too lightweight and Rösler is just plain useless at such a task. What we need is someone who has the composure to hold the ball up, at the front (i.e. Clough), who has the ability to make incisive passes when options are made available to him, and a midfield to support in numbers which would give him these options. This is Clough’s best position and his strength. This is where City’s management should be directing their attention and thoughts (if indeed Neal has any thoughts of his own, which I doubt).

At the moment Clough is demoralised, and City fans should recognise that they have played a part in this. Perhaps, some would argue, I have overplayed the case for Clough. I am not sure I have, but if I have others must recognise that they have been unfairly and overly critical of potentially one of our best players, and someone who, if we do regain our place in the Premier League, will be integral to our survival/success, if he regains his confidence and sparkle.

Chris Allen (


One of the many disadvantages of living here in Lufbra is Central TV. Their football coverage is the most appallingly biased I’ve ever seen. I tuned in this Sunday afternoon to see Tony Francis (pronounced, for those of us that come from up North and talk proper, Fraaarncis), the world’s most inarticulate presenter, predicting a 3-1 win for Wolves. No particular reason, it wasn’t based on his extensive knowledge of football or anything like that, he’s just a midless t**t that supports his team (which incidentally changes according to the match he’s reporting on) because his autocue tells him to. Let’s face it, we got soundly beaten by a crap team, but Mr. Fraaarncis was on about them like they were Champions League material. But then, when you look at the clubs they let into the Champions League…

Looks like we’ve managed to find a manager even worse than Alan Ball. Phil Neal’s a football genius, not. Can anyone explain the logic of playing no left back and no left winger? It’s a good thing Wolves didn’t exploit the amount of space they were given on the left, otherwise it could have been a rout. Playing a left winger like, for example, Buster Phillips, would have given City a more effective attack. This isn’t going to be a popular opinion, but Frontzeck should have been played at left back instead of Brightwell. OK Frontzeck’s s**t, but so was Brightwell and surely you should select a left-sided player not a right-sided one for the left back position? As for the rest of the defence, Symons shouldn’t be captain, he’s playing much worse since he got the job, but then who’ve we got that could do the job? He’d play a lot better if he didn’t have to cover for Wassall, who’s almost as frightening as Dibble. Crooks looked good at right back, played with confidence and his passing was pretty good. Maybe he should keep the right back place and Brightwell should bugger off somewhere else?

As for the midfield, Gio played fairly well, but I can’t understand why a player of his ability can say he’s happy playing in a s**t team in a s**t division. Lomas: not exactly talented but we need more players with his spirit and commitment. Whitley played well for ninety minutes, can we have ten more like him please? Summerbee looks much better going forward, still too slow tracking back.

Rösler: is he slow or lazy? can’t make up my mind. Didn’t seem to be trying very hard on Sunday. Sell him please! As for Dickov, running around a lot is all very well but isn’t a striker supposed to score goals?

Clough: who? was he on the pitch? I thought we were playing with ten men at the end. I don’t think I saw or heard of him after he went on. Except when Big Fat Bejewelled Ron was mysteriously singing his praises at the end. Tosser!

If the rumours we’ve been hearing are true there could be some money on the way for new players. So: buy Fjørtoft, buy another midfielder, buy a left back and a full back, buy a goalkeeper. Sell: Rösler, Brightwell, Frontzeck, all the other dead wood. Shoot: Dibble. And while he’s at it, maybe some of the rest of the squad (Phillips, Kav, Creaney) should be given a chance.

Don’t think I’ll bother on Saturday, losing to Tranmere was bad enough, I just can’t face the possibility of losing to Bradford.

Julian Griffiths (


On the Nationwide pages at the moment there are claims that Mark Robins would be happy to play for City now that he is out of favour at Leicester. I seem to remember his goals helping Norwich get into Europe a few seasons ago. Ok, so he’s an ex-Rag, but in our position we can’t afford to worry about things like that. Unless he claims excess stress after a few weeks…

Chris Turner (


In reply to Charles Pollitt’s submission in the last MCIVTA I can firmly say that Fjørtoft would not be a good buy for City. An ex-Rag player now at Middlesbrough is the son in law of my boss and I see him fairly regularly.

Joel Adams (


I decided to watch Sunday’s game on TV, and like fellow Blues I felt ill when I realised Dibble was coming on. However, the TV pictures showed a few interesting pictures. As Dibble walked past Summerbee, Buzzer looked incredibly distressed, his eyes following Dibble then looking to the ground. Symons also portrayed a similar reaction. Both my mum and I noticed this, and she (being a Red) thought it was very funny. As I have a sense of humour (‘cos you certainly need one being a Blue) I could see the funny side but it struck me that the players have no confidence in Dibble. This must affect their approach to the game, therefore having a detrimental effect on our performance. Bloody Hell – let’s get a decent ‘keeper – we need all the help we can get.

Liam Hosie (


Having just watched the national humilation on “The West Match”, I thought I’d add to the general air of gloom and despondency by adding in my two-penn’orth. I’ve seen City live at Reading and Swindon, and sadly the Wolves performance just re-inforced my opinions of the players at hand.

Certain players (Clough, Summerbee, Dibble, Rösler) should be told not to darken the doors of the training ground again unless they:

  • See a psychiatrist.
  • Find God.
  • Decide that they really should stop taking the p**s and improve their physical – and mental – effort.

I’m serious about this. I’m sure that the sight of hopeless, listless, gutless players being picked consistently week after week has a very negative effect on the others, especially the younger ones.

Brightwell should be told that if he ever plays half as badly again as he did against Wolves that he too will be added to this list.

Of the players on display, I would say that only Symons, Crooks, Lomas, Whitley, Dickov and Kinkladze looked as if they were in the team on merit. Notice anything about some of these names? Yes, they are ex-youth team players who have some idea of taking pride in City. Sadly, too many of the bought-in players don’t appear to give a s**t about their performances.

It seemed that last season, Mr Lee decided that certain players were getting too much money and hence sanctioned their departure only for them to be replaced with inferior players. Does anyone out there really think that we would not have been better off if we had not kept Quinn, Curle and Walsh (barring injuries of course). It sounds like FHL is stuck in the 4 Yorkshiremen sketch from Monty Python (“Aye. In my day we were paid two shillings a week – and that were only if we won.” “Payment! You were lucky! We had to pay the chairman to let us to play in the team. And we didn’t have any of these fancy football boots, we had to play in concrete cloggs.” “Cloggs! You were lucky….”).

I’m sorry, I know that he may well have found a complete mess behind the scenes but what really gets me is the way that he has consistently either patronised or lied to the fans. We are all grown-ups. If things are really dire, then tell us. We will understand and be supportive if we are treated with respect – not treated like stupid peasants. He really needs a course in PR (and man-management, finance, employee relations, psychology, etc.). It is far better to under-commit and over-deliver rather than v.v.

At this rate, relegation looks optimistic. For those of you out there who are not religious, I suggest you find some form of it and start praying – heavily…

Ah well. So much for not letting it get to me.

P.S. All those parents out there – I’m told that some babies go through a non-crawling stage called “bum shuffling” where they propel themselves around on their backsides. Obviously, Uwe never got past this stage.

Andy Longshaw (


Francis Lee’s Blue and White… erm… second division team.

Wakey wakey sleepy heads!

When will we wake up and realise what a ride FHL has taken us for? It amazes me how we still get dullards here who think he is good for our beloved club. He promised us the earth but in reality he is costing us it. While the football financial money-go-round kicks into overdrive we find ourselves kicking our heels 4th from the bottom of the first division (and I do mean bottom).

Wake up Blues and be counted. This has to stop now.

P.S. if anyone disagrees with my evaluation of our current predicament please write and let me know… either I’m wrong, you’re wrong or more likely we are beyond the point of caring.

John Sutton (


So at last it seems that FHL has finally managed to attract some much needed money into the club. However it is nowhere near the £70 million that had been promised from outside (Middle East) sources. It’s been left to Stephen Boler, John Wardle and David Makin to invest (give) £10 million between them into the club; funny that FHL has had to accept help from one of the figures (Boler) that he personally helped to remove from the boardroom in his coup! I suppose it’s the better the devil you know.

Right, here are some questions, especially to those who know about business and corporate dealings. The reports have suggested that the money has been used to buy £5 million worth of ordinary shares and £5 million of loan stock. Forgive if I’m wrong, but aren’t ordinary shares not even worth the paper they are printed on? They don’t give you any real power, for that I thought you needed voting shares, so why would anyone want to buy them (or is this just one of the way of putting money into the club?)? Next loan stock, does this mean that City now have another creditor that will need to be paid? I would assume that this is equivalent to a interest-free loan?

That’s the money questions dealt with, but how are the club going to spend the invested money? City are currently 4th from the bottom of the 1st Division (worst position City have ever been in), the team lacks confidence and management, the club is losing money at a alarming rate. They claim that the money will be used to strengthen the team; one point: who would be willing to come to Maine Road? Experienced top names would be unwilling to risk coming to a second rate team, unless of course they can be enticed with huge pay deaals, which then brings City back into the vicious circle! All we might expect is players past their prime (Clough) needing a meal ticket, other than that we might have to risk potentially good players (Phillips) and hope that they can raise their game. Not exactly the best propects to get City back into the big time!

Martin Ford (


I would just like to say that this was probably the worst game I have had the misfortune to attend in recent years. To lose is one thing. To not have one single shot on target is entirely another. We are absolute s**t – in fact we are probably not that good. I can slowly feel the life being sucked out of our supporters. Each week we are getting quieter and quieter, all as a result of watching a team not fit to grace, and I mean this, the Endsleigh Third Division.

Please, please get rid of Rösler before I start to despise him to the same level as daddy’s boy Clough. Congratulations to the fan who ran on and said what we were all probably thinking.

Analysed match review :- S***e, s***e and more s***e.

By the way, I was talking to Dave Wallace (ex fan on the board and editor of King of The Kippax) and Ged (one of his columnists) who share my sentiments, so I am glad it is not only me who think we are going to end up playing Brighton soon if we don’t get some more players.

Yours getting more fed up and angry each week, Paul Cooper (PCOOPER@KIMANCH.KIDSONS.CO.UK)


Why Blue seems a strange question to be addressing after fifty years of supporting City but it is a subject worth thinking about. What is it that pulls the affection of a fan to one team and then holds it through the years – years of mediocre performance, ups and downs between First and Second Divisions – highlighted now and then by a cup win or a game where the team played like world beaters?

In my case the origin of Bluedom had a family connection. My grandfather played part-time professional for City when they played as Ardwick in the early 1890’s and joined the Football League. My father took his serious interest in the game between WWI and WWII when City were the unquestioned best side in Manchester. It was natural that when league and cup football started again after WWII he took me to Maine Road early in the 1946 season. City shared Maine Road with United – United being gypsies due to the bombing of Old Trafford – and we went to many games involving both teams, but nothing compared to seeing those blue shirts come out of the tunnel and start warming up. My father had been in the all-time largest English crowd outside Wembley – over 84,000 fans for the City vs. Stoke City cup replay in 1934 – and we were at Maine Road together in the largest crowd ever to watch an English league game, a crowd of 82,370 for United vs. Arsenal in 1948. I was in the crowd at the Charity International – England vs. Scotland played at Maine Road for survivors of the Burnden Park disaster in 1947.

The predominant memory of those early years as a fan can be summed up in two words – Frank Swift. He kept City in the First Division for several seasons just by being the world’s best goalkeeper. Swift could keep any opposition at bay and he did – season after season. The winter of 1947 was one of the bitterest for weather anyone could recall and the shortages of fuel etc. remaining from the war years hadn’t been alleviated. Our school, just across Alexandra Park from Princess Parkway and Maine Road, suffered from the fuel shortages to the point where the lucky pupils were often sent home for half days off when the heat couldn’t be provided. One such half day off coincided with a City vs. Oldham cup tie replay. Two of us had sixpence each for bus fare to get home but instead we walked to the ground, spent the “tanners” on entrance money, and saw City win 1-0 on a pitch covered with 4 inches of snow. The whole field was white, with only the lines marked out in sand. Skill for the players consisted of just staying on their feet long enough to control the ball, pass or shoot. Missed tackles or missed kicks resulted in spectacular slides for 10 yards or more. City scored early in the first half and Swifty kept Oldham out for the rest of the game. No floodlights in those days so, with a 1:30pm kick-off, I was walking home to Chorlton by 3:30. Bitter cold and, in the educational era of short pants – grey socks, freezing around the knees but I never felt warmer. We’d won and it was on to the next round! Best of all, my mother didn’t ask about the bus fare money and with another “tanner” next morning, I could still get the bus and I didn’t have to walk to school or back home for the rest of the week.

The last memory of Frank Swift though is one of deep sadness. After retiring from City, he reported on football for the Evening News and lost his life in the Munich air crash. The whole of Manchester was in shock with the loss of so many United players and other members of the travelling party. A few days after the accident, my fiancee (now wife) and I were on my motorbike going to Nell Lane Hospital where she was a nurse on night duty, 11:00pm start. Going down Barlow Moor Road toward Princess Road at 9:30pm we saw the first of the car headlights turn into Barlow Moor Road from the Parkway. A police outrider flagged us down and explained that this was the cortege of the victims, whose bodies had been returned to Manchester earlier in the evening. We stood in silence watching the long, long line of hearses pass slowly and almost silently. News of the return must have been on the TV or radio earlier. Lights came on in almost every house along the route, people came out and stood at their front gates watching the seemingly endless line pass by. One of the saddest sights I have ever seen, but I did get the chance to say “Goodbye Frank and Thanks.”

Later came the glory years of the Revie Plan – disappointment in the 1955 Cup Final, but triumph in 1956. What a final! Bert Trautmann playing injured, Bobby Johnstone and Joe Hayes scoring. The year before, after losing to Newcastle, Roy Paul promised the fans City would be back next year and he certainly made good on that promise. The testimonial match when Bert Trautmann retired was an emotional experience with the crowd singing “Auld Lang Syne” after the game, standing in front of the main stand. Bert Trautmann was the finest goalkeeper in the world during his playing days and it is one of the great tragedies of the game that he couldn’t appear as an international player, given the way the rules were in those days. It was a privilege to watch Trautmann play and he performed heroics for City backing up the Revie Plan.

The Mercer / Allison era started shortly before we went to live in the USA in 1967. The Bell, Lee, Summerbee, Heslop, team they put together played beautiful football, wonderful stuff. The last live game I saw at Maine Road was in 1969, when the Blues started on their European Cup Winners’ Cup year. Since then it has been a case of following their fortunes from afar, buying the New York Times on a Sunday just to see the results – a good Sunday when City won, a bad Sunday when they lost.

Two close encounters with the Blues though, internationally. In 1969, I had a business trip to Bilbao in Spain. The week before, City had tied in Bilbao in the European Cup Winners’ Cup and the return match at Maine Road was played on a Wednesday night, while I was on the night sleeper between Madrid and Bilbao. At 6:30 Thursday morning, as the train pulled into the Bilbao Station, newspaper sellers began selling the morning papers and across the back page, bordered in black, the words “Athletico Eliminidad – Manchester City 3 Athletico 0.” The locals were not too thrilled to say the least. My interpreter knew that I came from Manchester and was a City supporter. Things went well until lunch when the talk turned to football and the result the night before. Someone asked the interpreter a question and he laughed – “He wants to know where you are from in England” he said. Before I could get a word in, the interpreter turned back to the locals. “Manchester” he told them. “City” he added with a grin. Snorts and glares ensued, which didn’t subside for the rest of the day, especially from the most senior engineer present, a dyed in the wool Athletico fan. Two years later, I was sitting by the pool in the Lisbon Hilton when, directly in front of me, the senior engineer emerged from the water. I recognized him straight away and greeted him with “Buenos Tardes Senor ——–.” He frowned for a moment and then snarled. He said two words “Manchester City” and stalked off.

The other City-related incident occurred in the USA several weeks after City beat Leicester City 1-0 in the ’69 Cup Final. ABC Television’s “Wide World of Sport” show announced that they were going to show the “highlights” of the English FA Cup Final Saturday evening between 5:00 and 6:30. In those days very few people took an interest in “real” football in the US and highlights usually meant just the goals of any game shown. Since there had only been one goal, chances were that there would be a very short clip shown. We had to take the kids to some event at the major shopping center several miles away from home and I wanted to make sure we were back for the game. However, as things usually are with several young children to organize, we started back home late and I pushed the old Chevvy station wagon harder than it had ever been pushed in its life. 50 yards from our turn-off from the major highway the police car appeared, lights flashing, siren wailing. I pulled over and the cop pulled in behind. He got out of the car, big man, big gun, big paunch and Smoky-the-Bear Hat. “Where the hell’s the fire” he asked, after demanding my license and registration. Visions of missing Neil Young’s goal flashed through my mind and the situation needed resort to desperate measures. Summoning up the most “frightfully far-back” English accent I could, I explained that the soccer team I had followed all my life was about to be on TV, winning the FA Cup, which didn’t mean anything to him. But the sporting instinct is strong in the US of A regardless of which sport. He looked me in the eye and handed the papers back with the comment “Crazy English Bastard! Don’t speed around here again.” We made it home in time to see the highlights and the goal.

Now, thanks to the wonderful world of technology and working in Singapore, I get to see the Premier League Match of The Day live every Saturday, courtesy of Indonesian TV. (I can’t get our local Singapore channel that carries the game) and I saw the Blues several times last season. Now I have to rely on City match scores announced during the game and BBC World Service Radio for the summary of all results, Saturday midnight or 01:00 Sunday morning local time.

Where do we go from here? Hopefully not down to the Third Division (alright Second Division if you believe the modern numbering system). Embarrassing though the present situation is, both on and off the field, we must hang in there for now. Things will turn round primarily because of the quality of support the club receives from the supporters. We may not be promoted this season but I don’t think we will be relegated either. Things will not be improved by the acquisition of just one individual be he manager or player, but by the club playing as a team including the board as well as the players. At the moment, the board don’t appear to be able to manage a p**s up in a brewery, so they had better get their act together very, very soon. Meanwhile, the rest of us must keep supporting the club, which will still be around when the present board and playing staff are history and the present troubles are a bad dream.

One of our sons, who still plays Sunday football in the USA, is a keen City supporter and follows the team’s fortunes via the Internet and, when possible, ESPN. He managed to see a couple of home games at Maine Road at the start of the season while on holiday in the UK. This summer, the wheel turned full circle for the family. For his birthday, we bought our grandson, who lives in Glossop, a lifetime membership in the Junior Blues. His mother is a keen City fan and has taken him to several games this season. When his younger brother is of an age to take an interest, he will get a Junior Blues membership too. Tradition carries on and they will have a future to cheer about – watching City make it back to the Premier League and onwards to triumphs yet to come.

John Parker (


If the shares that City are planning to float are available to the public, does anyone know the best (and easiest) way to go about buying some? I realise that this is probably waiting on agreement at the AGM, but it would seem a sensible thing the board to go for. Maybe Nick Leeson can give me some pointers?

Jon Fielding (


I am a City fan living in Coventry, I rarely attend games, due mainly to the fact that I am a 17 year old student who has little money and no transport. I would like to hear from fellow City fans living in the West Midlands, who would be so kind, if possible to provide a lift to City games, if it was possible, you would be a God-send.

To contact me please write to:
Jon Hammonds,
30 Deansway,
Ash Green,

or telephone:
(01203) 361349 (weekdays after 9.00pm)


Full-time score for Wednesday, December 4 1996


Full-time scores for Tuesday, December 3 1996

READING                 2-0    TRANMERE ROVERS

Up to and including Wednesday, December 4 1996

Team                  Played   Won  Drawn Lost     For Against   Points
Bolton Wanderers        21     11     8     2      43    28        41
Sheffield United        20     10     6     4      37    20        36
Barnsley                20      9     8     3      35    26        35
Crystal Palace          20      9     7     4      44    20        34
Tranmere Rovers         21      9     5     7      31    24        32
Wolverhampton Wanderers 20      9     5     6      29    21        32
Norwich City            19      9     5     5      27    19        32
Birmingham City         21      8     7     6      23    21        31
Swindon Town            21      9     2    10      32    26        29
Oxford United           21      8     5     8      25    19        29
Stoke City              19      7     6     6      25    30        27
Portsmouth              21      7     5     9      25    28        26
Reading                 21      7     5     9      25    32        26
Charlton Athletic       20      8     2    10      21    29        26
Ipswich Town            21      6     7     8      27    32        25
Huddersfield Town       21      6     7     8      23    28        25
Queens Park Rangers     21      6     7     8      23    28        25
Port Vale               21      5    10     6      18    22        25
West Bromwich Albion    20      5     9     6      26    31        24
Southend United         21      5     9     7      23    33        24
MANCHESTER CITY         21      7     2    12      23    33        23
Bradford City           21      5     6    10      19    34        21
Grimsby Town            21      5     5    11      24    41        20
Oldham Athletic         21      4     8     9      23    26        20

Russell Town (
With thanks to Soccernet


Contributions: Ashley –
Subscriptions: Adam –
Club Questions: Stephen –

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 #252