Newsletter #315

First of all, thanks to Sarah for taking over MCIVTA for 2 weeks and keeping everyone in touch. I was down in Cornwall, a footie wilderness if ever there was one, and it was strange to be almost totally without City news, especially as my host had failed to renew his subscription to Sky Sports 3!

City’s run of form has continued with a 4-0 win last Saturday – not bad considering some of our less than impressive pre-season performances in previous years. City are apparently pursuing Tommy Johnson of Celtic and lately of Aston Villa and Derby, Lee Bradbury also remains in the frame, but the Aussie winger has said his farewells.

We have a match report on the Kilmarnock game and some match summaries. There’s also quite a bit of news, as well as opinion, blue humour and an excellent Why Blue.

If anyone has seen either Wiekens or Vaughan in action over the last few games, and cares to make an assessment of their impact on the team, I’m sure everyone on MCIVTA will be grateful. Please send any articles to me.


This one reaches 1,533.

Next game, Falkirk away, Monday 28th July 1997.


FALKIRK vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Monday 28th July 1997

Falkirk 0 (1) Manchester City 1 (1)
???           Dickov

Dickov scored from a pass by Kinkladze to give City a half-time lead. Falkirk equalised through one of their substitutes, from a penalty given for a foul by Wiekens.

City: Wright (Margetson), Brannan, Vaughan, Symons, Beesley, Horlock, Wiekens, Kinkladze, Summerbee, Rösler, Dickov (Greenacre)


KILMARNOCK vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 26th July 1997

The programme told us about the ‘Rags’ visiting Kilmarnock in 1953… “(Kilmarnock) were given a lesson that evening by the illustrious ‘Rags’ and eventually lost 3-0.” Change ‘Rags’ to City and the score to 4-0 and you have a summary of this game.

Before the match City fans outvoiced Kilmarnock, which is strange when you think that this was Kilmarnock’s first home game since they won the Scottish Cup and that Kilmarnock is not exactly easily accessible from Manchester.

City’s domination continued from the kick-off and went on throughout the game. It’s hard to judge how good City are from this performance since they were never pushed and did just what was needed without having to exert themselves too much. At times I was reminded of that Leeds vs. Southampton match when Leeds just passed the ball around almost indefinitely.

This was the first time I’d watched City since a cup replay against Reading a few years back and so I was interested to see how the players lauded and pilloried in these columns performed in the flesh. Brightwell looked in total control whilst he was on the pitch and with Kinkadze and Summerbee looked a class apart from the rest. You couldn’t really criticise any of the City players on this performance. Kinkladze’s close control was magic to watch although his final pass was often square or backwards and most of the defence splitting passes were marginally off line and intercepted. If I watched City regularly I’d certainly want to keep him for entertainment but whether he will win matches in Division 1 I’m not sure.

Whilst City completely controlled play, the damage was done by Uwe Rösler’s hustling. A Brightwell cross was headed back across the area and Rösler turned and shot home for the first; Rösler harassed the goalkeeper and defender and found himself free with an open goal for the second; a through ball (Kinkladze?) had Rösler running on goal from the left and a square ball gave Kit Symons an easy goal; Rösler hit the underside of the bar and then stabbed the ball towards an open goal only to find a defender clearing off the line; finally Symons went up with the goalkeeper from a corner and found himself with the ball at his feet and an open goal for number four.

By midway through the second half the game was dead and the scoreboard kept me amused by stating the obvious and trying unsuccessfully to incite the Kilmarnock crowd into cheering. Good fun in a light-hearted manner.

This was my wife’s first football match and she enjoyed both the game and rather more the chanting and singing of the City fans. A good afternoon in SW Scotland rounded off with a visit to her uncle, a Kilmarnock fan, to tell him the good news. My Arsenal fan son also suggested that when we visit Manchester we might try and make it coincide with City home games – so there’s progress!

Dave Lewis (


LIVINGSTON vs. CITY, Tuesday 22nd July

City cruised to a 4-0 win over Scottish Second Division side Livingston in the first game of the Scottish tour, Uwe Rösler grabbing a first-half hat-trick whilst Gio Kinkladze played his first 90 minutes of the pre-season. Paul Dickov, playing in his home town, opened the scoring in the first minute, bringing down a cross from Ian Brightwell and rifling the ball home with his right foot. City played well and it was a six-man move that led to the second goal on the half hour mark. Vaughan found Kinkladze, who passed to Horlock, who crossed for Rösler, who knocked the ball on to Brannan, who knocked the ball back to Brightwell, who crossed perfectly for Rösler to loop a header over the ‘keeper. The third goal was a powerful Rösler header from a Kinkladze corner and the fourth, just before half-time, came from a chip over the ‘keeper by the German following good work by Wiekens and Dickov.

A crowd of 1,989 saw a game of one-way traffic, the only let-down being a worrying injury to Kit Symons who hobbled off after 65 minutes. Although Symons had his foot X-Rayed after the game, it turned out to be no more than a bruised foot. Alan Hill thought it was a classy display, all good well-worked goals from a team playing good football. “It was a good work out, the team tired a little in the second half. However, we are looking for fitness first and sharpness second. The sharpness will be there in time for the Portsmouth game. At the moment we are concentrating on fitness to get us through the winter months.”

City: Wright, Brightwell, Vaughan, Wiekens, Symons (Crooks), Beesley, Brannan, Horlock, Dickov, Kinkladze, Rösler.

STIRLING ALBION vs. CITY, Thursday 24th July

City had their work cut out in a high-paced outing against First Division Stirling. The Blues did, however, keep a clean sheet for the third successive pre-season friendly and didn’t make any changes during the match which was seen as an exercise in fitness by Frank Clark. There were several team changes from the Livingston game, most notably Uwe Rösler being a late omission with a back strain (Clough taking his place), giant 19-year-old David Morley replacing Kit Symons in the centre of defence and Nicky Summerbee playing despite reports that he was to be rested with a chest infection. “I suddenly felt so much better and my breathing was back to normal so I decided to give it a go,” said Summerbee.

Man of the match was arguably the youngster Morley, who partnered Ian Brightwell at the back. He showed no signs of nerves at all, according to most reports. City’s main failing was in finishing, despite a stream of crosses coming in from Summerbee on the right wing, though Clough did hit the bar at one point. After the game, Frank Clark said: “We’re getting sharper with every match and the fitness of the players is starting to improve with such a long and important season ahead.”

City: Margetson, Edghill, Morley, Brightwell, Vaughan, Summerbee, Crooks, Horlock, Heaney, Dickov, Clough.

Jim Whitley (older brother of Jeff) was also added to the squad for this game.

KILMARNOCK vs. CITY, Saturday 26th July

Gio Kinkladze returned to the side as City hammered the Scottish Cup holders in their first home game since lifting the trophy. Several senior players returned to the side but it was Kilmarnock who had the better of the opening exchanges and they certainly had more of the early possession, David Bagan’s shot eventually being scrambled clear by Tommy Wright. City got their act together after around half an hour, with Kinkladze creating a number of openings. Then a Summerbee cross reached Rösler but his header was too close to the ‘keeper. Five minutes later Rösler was put through by Vaughan but mis-kicked; he made up for it soon afterwards by knocking in a spectacular volley. Just two minutes before half time a defensive blunder let Rösler in for his second.

The German striker didn’t add to his tally in the second half but did provide a good cross after being set free by Summerbee, which Symons met with a powerful header high into the net for City’s third goal. Rösler also hit the bar and was instrumental in the fourth goal in the 77th minute; his challenge on the Killies’ goalkeeper fell to Symons who gleefully knocked the ball home. Symons took painkilling tablets to get him through the game and is unlikely to play at Falkirk after aggravating his foot injury. The closing stages were enjoyed by the 2,000 or so Blues as City played keep-ball and many of the home fans left early. Star of the show was Gio Kinkladze, though Nicky Summerbee also had a fine game. “I thought that the scoreline flattered us a bit,” said Frank Clark. “The two goals we scored before half time knocked the stuffing out of Kilmarnock.”

City: Wright, Brightwell (Crooks), Symons, Beesley, Vaughan, Summerbee (Heaney), Kinkladze, Wiekens, Brannan, Horlock, Rösler
Attendance: 7,109

Paul Howarth (


City fans have been urged to stay away from the game at Falkirk’s Brockville Ground on Monday evening after safety officers closed two major terraces and reduced the capacity of the stadium from 11,953 down to 3,683. This leaves just 356 places for City fans. Council, police and fire officers are concerned that crowd congestion could cause major problems but it is too late to make the game all-ticket. “The safety of spectators is of paramount importance,” said a spokesman for the Sports Grounds Advisory Committee, who were responsible for the decision to cut the stadium’s capacity.

Frank Clark has pleaded with City fans not to go to Falkirk to see City complete their Scottish tour. Around 2,000 Blues were at Kilmarnock on Saturday. “I don’t want any trouble off the pitch so it’s better our fans make their way home,” said Clark.

The Mole


A new batch of City’s new kit has finally arrived in the shops, nearly four weeks after the first batch sold out (of adult sizes) within hours of going on sale. Sales were far higher than Kappa’s expectations: “We have been overwhelmed by the demand for the new kit. We have ensured that production has been increased and all suppliers should have received fresh stock,” said a spokesman for the Italian company.

Paul Howarth (


In an interview in last Wednesday’s MEN, City’s new fitness coach Peter Edwards described some of the changes he would be making to the club’s training regime. Born in London, Edwards is a Black Belt Second Dan in Karate and played for QPR juniors as a schoolboy. He didn’t make the grade as a player but went on to study extensively the training methods used in Italy. “Virtually every club in Italy had a coach who they described as their Football Preparator. He didn’t try to improve the skills of the players, his job was to improve their fitness and to ensure that everything they did, everything they drank, everything they ate would prepare them properly for their next match.”

Edwards was given a chance to implement what he had learned when George Graham gave him a coaching job at Arsenal. “Arsenal were generally regarded that year as the fittest team in the Division,” said Edwards.

He first got to know Frank Clark at Orient and has since worked for him at Forest and now at City. In fact, he says he turned down offers from three Premiership clubs to come to Manchester City. “I got the impression that what the Premiership clubs wanted was someone to take a training session and then make the tea. That’s not my style. I know that my work is a vital part of a player’s overall fitness and I believe Frank Clark feels the same way. I have to stress, I am not a football coach. At Maine Road, that side is left to the first team coach Richard Money and he is brilliant. He is the nearest I have seen to an Italian coach outside Italy.”

“I cannot guarantee that Manchester City will have the most skilful players in the First Division this season. What I can guarantee is that they will be the fittest. When other teams are flagging in the last 15 minutes, City will still be going strong.”

“It is what you eat and drink three days before a match which is important. The diet has to be right and so has the fluid intake. Whatever some players might think, alcohol and professional football don’t mix. You won’t see any City player getting onto the coach after the match with a pack of lager under his arm. It might be a tradition amongst English players to sink a few beers after a match but it is a tradition which will not be practised at Maine Road as long as I am here. All right, players might think my regime’s a bit severe but if the players here at Maine Road are running teams into the ground in nine months time and heading back into the Premiership, they will think it’s a small price to pay.”

Paul Howarth (


Steve Coppell is the bookies’ favourite as manager most likely to be sacked next season.

Peter Beagrie starred for Bradford City as they beat Blackpool 5-1 in a pre-season friendly but has since picked up an injury.

Gerry Creaney won’t be joining Hibernian after failing to impress sufficiently on a ten-day trial. He still has a year of his City contract left but is available on a free transfer.

Andy Dibble has been linked with various clubs after being released by Rangers at the end of last season. He’s had a trial at Middlesbrough and has also attracted interest from Blackburn and Stockport County. “The City fans were terrific with me even though I had my ups and downs. It’s a shame the club’s fortunes have gone down in recent years but I believe they’re now on their way back under Frank Clark,” said the 32-year-old ‘keeper.

Jeff Whitley, George Doherty and Shaun Holmes have missed out on the club’s pre-season tour of Scotland as they have been in Belfast training with the Northern Irish Under-19 sqad.

Paul Howarth (


Australian trialist Danny Tiatto has been discarded by City despite a quite impressive performance in the game at Macclesfield. However, it was not good enough to convince Frank Clark that he was worth retaining on a more permanent basis. Tiatto has now returned to his Italian club side Salernitana, and is due to have several more trials with various clubs over the next few weeks.

Paul Howarth (


City have been strongly linked with two more strikers this week, Portsmouth’s Lee Bradbury and Celtic’s Tommy Johnson.

City have confirmed that a £1.5 million bid has been made for Bradbury but that must be regarded as very much an opening gambit as Leeds have already been told to come back with another £1 million after having a £2 million bid for the player turned down last week. Portsmouth’s neighbours Southampton are also thought to be interested in Bradbury.

22-year-old Bradbury bought his way out of the army and had a spell on loan with Exeter City after joining Portsmouth from Isle of Wight side Cowes. He scored against City last season, on his way to becoming Pompey’s leading scorer. The south coast club are short of money and are not allowed to make any signings at the moment until they pay some signing-on fees to their players, due at the start of July. The club are currently in Scotland, which could give City an opportunity to discuss the possible move before others clubs get a chance.

Frank Clark has also made a “serious enquiry” about Tommy Johnson, who cost Celtic £2.4 million when he moved there from Aston Villa last season. Johnson scored in Celtic’s 3-0 UEFA Cup win over Inter Cable-Tel last week. “We have had no response yet but Johnson is one of many strikers we have asked about,” said Frank Clark.

The Mole


Frank Clark has been talking about his bid to sign Celtic’s £2.7 million rated striker Tommy Johnson after having the 26-year-old watched in the Bhoys’ game against Parma at the weekend. Johnson’s future at Parkhead is thought to be in doubt despite only joining the club four months ago, due to the recent appointment of Wim Jansen as the new manager.

Frank Clark said: “I have made an enquiry to Celtic about Tommy Johnson because he is a player I have always admired and would like to sign. Celtic have told me that they will get back to me and I am encouraged by the fact that I have not been fobbed off. Unfortunately, I can’t wait that long. I’d like to have a new striker in by the end of the week and if it’s not Tommy, then I’ll have to look at other possibilities.”

One of those possibilities is Portsmouth’s Lee Bradbury; City are reported to have increased their bid for him to £2 million and Leeds have denied having any further interest in the player.

Paul Howarth (


Just been onto the Teamtalk site to get the results of the Scots friendlies and it listed the travellers for the tour. Then, a short sentence “Michael Brown has been omitted from the party.”!

Nothing else! Anyone know the story?

Chris Murphy (


As a postscript to Paul Howarth’s report on the Blackpool friendly, the local Blackpool paper (the Gazette) reckoned that FC rested Gio due to the presence in the Blackpool squad of one Gary Brabin. A noted exponent of the headless chicken with a scythe technique, Brabin was brought on after 65 minutes and even the biased local paper said he was lucky not to get sent off straight away. As I missed the game due to working late shift, I was wondering if anyone who went to the game can elaborate. Also, how did Wiekens and Vaughan play?

Ken Foster (


It’s true about these Kappa shirts. I was in a club the other night, right in the heart of the flesh pot of London – Soho, and what did I see? A group of serious ravesters getting down in the new Kappa shirt! I haven’t even got one yet!

If we’ve got a “Blue” landlord in Gt Yarmouth, does anyone know of any Blue pubs in the big chokey? I’m getting p****d off with getting abused by Cockney Rags?

Adrian Gribbin – “The Bluest Banana In The World” (


I just had one of the biggest “highs”. I was on a bus in Tel-Aviv, going to a sports centre. I’m at the bus stop, and I see it’s absolutely packed. I squeeze on and hold on to the rail for dear life. Towards the rear of the bus I see a light-blue shirt. I’m not sure why, but, I examine the shirt more closely, and what do you know, it’s a City shirt with #7 on the back (I forget the name). As you can imagine, after 7 years outside the UK, I was amazed to see a City shirt instead of the satanic red things most people wear. Anyway I just thought I’d tell you what happened, because it just made my day.

Are there any subscribers to MCIVTA in Israel?

Ben Harry Bloom (


A message via “McVittee!” to Clive Tysoe, aka “Gio’s Bootlicker”. Myself and Tony “the tattoed donkey”, aka “sinking ship”, will be pleased to attend this prestigious beer monster fest. I did try to e-mail you, Clive, but I got a message saying it didn’t recognise your e-mail address!

Hope to see other “McVittee!”-ers at the Bradford match.

Stay “laser” Blue! Stay True!

Helen Murtagh (


I think we should give Sarah a pat on the back for her great work keeping MCIVTA on track. There seems to be an optimistic attitude among MCIVTAers. But from past experience, I know what a let down City can be. Call me stupid, or call me a City fan, I think we’ll get back up. FC seems to know what he’s doing.

Benjamin Harry Bloom (


Recently, I sent an e-mail request in for a new City Catalogue, but did not expect to see anything for weeks. Lo and behold, the requested item hit my doormat within 3 days. Now my wife, from Manchester but not a Rag I hasten to add, had been making all sorts of rash promises about both home and away kit as long as she could order it in time for my birthday (I am sworn on a sacred oath each year not to buy my own City kit due to the strategic date of my birthday). Well, it looks like I shall be the pride of Hemel Hempstead strutting my stuff in my new City kit real soon…

Just hope the order is fulfilled as quickly as the request for the catalogue.

(Once had the p**s ripped out of me by fellow Blues by screaming “Referee you’re aving a laaarf”, whilst watching City vs. Watford in the Cup last season – and some fun loving City boys then proceeded to use the Cocknee’esque quote all match – and each time asking if I was “awright at the back”!)

Forever Blue – Kinky shine like the star you are this season!

Nick Charles (CHARLEND@BP.COM)


I’ve just arrived back in The States from a vacation in my beloved home town. I had many things to do in the ten days that I was at home.

Very close to the top of the list was to get me a shiny new replica home kit; no problem I thought. Last Monday I made my way to the Blue Temple amid the Moss but when I asked the nice lady in the shop as to the whereabouts of my potential treasure she informed me that there weren’t any City shirts in the country until Thursday (“or maybe Friday”). Typical City, couldn’t organise a drink up in a brewery. There I was, forty quid in my sweaty palm and no-one to give it to.

The next two days were spent in Hull to see the wife’s family. Lo and behold in the window of a sports shop in the city centre was a Kappa shirt all hung up looking rather resplendant in laser blue. In I strode looking like the cat that got the cream only to find that the only adult size available was small. Now I’m no Arnie, so I knew that a medium was a minimum requirement.

Last Friday I was back in Manchester so off I trot back to The Academy to get my grubby little fingers on the medium that I so deserve. Not a £$%^&* chance! The woman in the shop informed me that they had not been delivered yet. “Try again about 4 o’clock,” she told me.

“What about the Arndale?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said “they should be there about the same time.”

So that afternoon I went into every sports shop in town to try to get a shirt; in the end I gave up asking “is small all you have in City shirts?” and here I am Sunday evening shirtless, and not a happy bunny about the whole situation.

Anyway, now that I have that off my chest I have a real big favour to ask of any kind hearted City fan who can get hold of the City home games on video (I’m presuming that they still sell videos of home games at the City shop). Now I know that it is an expensive deal for someone to do this but I would pay up front for the price of the tape and postage/packaging and a little on top for the inconvenience of it all. Please e-mail me at if you would do this for me.

Also, I am going to be in Manchester for the weekend of 20 September and would love to meet up with any MCIVTA’ers for a pint before the game. Again e-mail me with the place to go (used to be the Beehive when I was a regular). Let me know!

One last thing. Now I don’t want to tempt fate but I have a massive feeling about this season. I tried to convince myself last year that we would bounce straight back up but I never really believed we would. I don’t know, maybe it’s just pre-season optimism having not lost a game yet in the build up but I can feel it. There is a buzz that I can’t explain, a tangible feeling that was there in 1980-81 when the only question was how many we were going to win by. I’m not saying we are going to win the division but I do think that we will get promoted, probably by the play-offs knowing City.

Stay Blue, Dave Hoffman (


Could the club’s problem be that all the overseas ‘stars’ have problems reading their contracts and are not willing to sign for City? Maybe the implementaion of the following will make things easier for us and we will once again attain the heights that all true Blues know we should…

The European Union commissioners have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty’s Goverment conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phased plan for what will be known as EuroEnglish (Euro for short).

In the first year ‘s’ will be used instead of the soft ‘c’. Sertainly sivil servants will reseive this news with joy. Also the hard ‘c’ will be replaced with ‘k’. Not only will this klear up konfusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter.

There will be grown publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome ‘ph’ will be replaced by ‘f’. This will make words like ‘fotograf’ 20 per sent shorter.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of silent ‘e’s in the languag is disgrasful and they would go.

By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing ‘th’ by ‘z’ and ‘w’ by ‘v’.

During ze fifz year, ze unesary ‘o’ kan be dropd from vords kontaining ‘ou’ and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After zis fifz yer, ve vil have a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrinun vil find it ezi to understan ech ozer. Ze drem vil finali kum tru.

Ron Smith (


Ever since I saw Paul Dickov play his first game for City at Stoke I saw that he was a real battler and he would give his all our club. This is why FC should play him more often, maybe not as a striking partner for Uwe but as a midfield partner for Gio. Gio found it hard last season to win the ball off the big guys, whereas Dickov takes on allcomers and could win the ball and set off Gio on a run with one of his great through balls. Dickov has already proved he can take on anyone; he really showed at the recent Macc. game when he absoloutely overpowered that big Nigerian bloke. I reckon Gio and “Bobbit” can make a great partnership for next season and hopefully we’ll be celebrating come next May.

By the way I’ve found someone who can get the Kappa Georgia shirt and I would be happy to give anyone the address.

Yan (


If anyone has details (e.g. subscription information) for the City fanzine “Are You Blue or Are You Blind”, or even better, a review of it, would they please send the details in.

Paul Howarth (


Has anyone got confirmation that the Sunderland game is on for Saturday 16th August? Citynet still claims it is subject to change although tickets are now on sale.

Any season ticket holder who could obtain 2 tickets on my behalf to avoid the panic stricken attempts in the week leading up to the game please email me.

Adrian Coe (


“I’ll kick your ‘ead in if you don’t support City.”

This was as convincing a reason as any for a seven-year-old to support the Blues. My brother Tony, eight years older than me and already a Kippax boy, was not happy that the black and gold of Derek Dougan et al had secured the League Cup for Wolves at the expense of City. That I should be running around, gloating that my team had won the Cup was obviously too much to bear and so the threat of a good kickin’ loomed large.

Sunday morning came and the six-member Burns family had their fifth and final Blue. Every family has its ‘black sheep’ – we had a Red one! My brief flirtation with Wolves – (hey I thought they had a great badge and cool kit – and arguably the best facial hair in professional football) – was over and it was time to be Blue. A state I’ve been in for over twenty years now… and some state it is.

A season ticket for the Kippax was quickly acquired as was membership of the Junior Blues and it wasn’t long before I made that magical walk through the turnstiles, across the concrete, down the tunnel in the Kippax and into the Academy. In front of me was the largest pitch in the League (always quoted in playground arguments) and I was surrounded by strangers who all had one thing in common – a deep, passionate love of City – little did I know then how deep it runs.

‘City, Manchester City, we are the team that are playing to win.
City, Manchester City, the boys in blue never give in,
The boys in blue never give in.’

The speakers crackled overhead as they struggled to blast out City’s song. Soon the roof above us would struggle to contain the incredible roar that would greet the Blues as they ran out on the pitch – this was magic.

“Who’s that?” as I pointed to some guy I’d never seen before. “That’s Colin Bell.” came the reverential reply. “Do I like him?” “No – you love him.” “Oh! Okay! Who’s that big guy?” “That’s Joe – you love him too?”

Looking at my programme, I decided to see who else I was going to love. There was Alan Oakes, Tommy Booth, Glyn Pardoe, Mike Doyle, Dennis Tueart. Over the years I would read and watch Dave Watson, Willie Donachie, Mick Channon, Trevor Francis, Clive Allen, Paul Lake, Ian Bishop, Trevor Morley and Peter Reid. Others I would only read of but never see – people like Gio for example.

“What’s happening? What’s happening?” I cried out, frustrated that all I could see now was the black coat of the guy stood in front of me. “Sit here son!” and I was lifted up on to the cross bar of a crush barrier. Now this was great. I didn’t know where to look – in front of me the action was intense but behind and all around there was a deafening roar. Frightening and exhilarating – I’d never known noise like this.

Then it happened. I didn’t see it. I felt it. A mighty surge forward, cries of anticipation and then the climatic relief as the ball exploded into the waiting bag. We were up. We had scored. What a great feeling.

We love you City, we do,
We love you City, we do,
We love you City, we do,
Ohhhh City we love you.

People hugged and kissed each other, declared their undying love for all things Blue and as the intense feelings of joy subsided cigarettes were lit. When I heard that the only thing better that City was great sex I prayed every night for a good Cup run and the early onset of puberty.

“Well did you have a good day?” my mum said when we got home. “It was brilliant – we’re going to win the league, and the cup and… and… everything. We’re gonna win everything mum.”

Very soon I was travelling to Wembley with my mum and dad on a Finglands coach that picked us up outside the newsagents in Northenden. I couldn’t understand why Tony wouldn’t come with us – it seems he wanted to go with some others though.

Well there we were in Wembley, we were winning, I was happy when suddenly my world fell in – had puberty suddenly struck with all its attendant problems? No, a far more serious problem was in hand, Newcastle had struck, rubbed out Barnes’ goal and suddenly my parents had a major emotional problem to deal with. We were sat opposite the Royal Box and the crowd wasn’t segregated. Seeing an unhappy youngster, a strange creature in Black and White and from another land offered me some sweets which I declined. I knew you shouldn’t accept sweets from strangers and this guy couldn’t even speak English. And anyway I was too worried about my Blues to eat sweets – you see they just had to win the cup because… because… well they were my team.

With his back to goal, as if in slow motion, he launched himself into the air. Spinning backwards he caught the ball – his whole body off the ground – and ‘thump’, the net bulged, he fell to the ground and we’d done it. The cup was ours. We were the champs. Tueart was God and City were simply the greatest team the world had ever seen.

Sunday saw the family up early and into Manchester to welcome the team home. Life was indeed sweet for a nine year old. Supporting City was easy then – it’s always easy to support success. I was yet to realise how loyalty could be tested and at the tender age of nine it was beyond my imagination that I would reach thirty and never experience again the euphoria that goes with a championship victory.

Today I’m fast approaching my thirty-first birthday and sadly that was the best it got. Sure there were other great moments, unforgettable times, priceless memories – but no more trophies.

But no matter how much my loyalty is tested, no matter how bad things get, no matter what – I’m City till I die – it’s not a choice, it’s a way of life.

Since 1991 I’ve been living and working in Japan – I’ve been back to the UK twice and taken in just three games. Keeping in touch with what was going on was difficult but a lack of news doesn’t dim the enthusiasm – if anything it heightens it. Now with access to the Internet and the brilliant MCIVTA (thanks to all who work on it and contribute) and ‘Blue View’ (thanks again to all involved) I know what’s going on back ‘home’ and no matter where I am or what I’m doing when it comes to kick-off time – I am, like thousands of Blues all over Manchester, the UK and the World, thinking of one thing only – City, City, City.

Our day will come…

Paul Banzai-Burns – Blue in Japan (


A rather inhibited engineer finally splurged on a luxury cruise to the Caribbean. It was the “craziest” thing he had ever done in his life. Just as he was beginning to enjoy himself, a hurricane roared upon the huge ship, capsizing it like a child’s toy. Somehow the engineer, desperately hanging on to a life belt, managed to wash ashore on a secluded island.

Outside of beautiful scenery, a spring-fed pool, bananas and coconuts, there was little else. He lost all hope and for hours on end, sat under the same palm tree. One day, after several months had passed, a gorgeous woman in a small rowing boat appeared.

“I’m from the other side of the island,” she said. “Were you on the cruise ship, too?”

“Yes, I was,” he answered. “But where did you get that rowing boat?”

“Well, I whittled the oars from gum tree branches, wove the reinforced gunnel from palm branches, and made the keel and stern from a Eucalyptus tree.”

“But, what did you use for tools?” asked the man.

“There was a very unusual strata of alluvial rock exposed on the south side of the island. I discovered that if I fired it to a certain temperature in my kiln, it melted into forgeable ductile iron. Anyhow, that’s how I got the tools. But, enough of that,” she said. “Where have you been living all this time? I don’t see any shelter.”

“To be honest, I’ve just been sleeping on the beach,” he said.

“Would you like to come to my place?” the woman asked. The engineer nodded dumbly.

She rowed them around to her side of the island, and tied up the boat with a handsome strand of hand-woven hemp topped with a neat back splice. They walked up a winding stone walk she had laid and around a palm tree. There stood an exquisite bungalow painted in blue and white. “It’s not much, but I call it home.” Inside, she said, “Sit down please; would you like to have a drink?”

“No, thanks,” said the man. “One more coconut juice and I’ll throw up!”

“It won’t be coconut juice,” the woman replied. “I have a crude still out back, so we can have authentic Pina Coladas.”

Trying to hide his amazement, the man accepted the drink, and they sat down on her couch to talk. After they had exchanged stories, the woman asked, “Tell me, have you always had a beard?”

“No,” the man replied, “I was clean shaven all of my life until I ended up on this island.”

“Well if you’d like to shave, there’s a razor upstairs in the bathroom cabinet.”

The man, no longer questioning anything, went upstairs to the bathroom and shaved with an intricate bone-and-shell device honed razor sharp. Next he showered – not even attempting to fathom a guess as to how she managed to get warm water into the bathroom – and went back downstairs. He couldn’t help but admire the masterfully carved banister as he walked.

“You look great,” said the woman. “I think I’ll go up and slip into something more comfortable.”

As she did, the man continued to sip his Pina Colada. After a short time the woman, smelling faintly of gardenias, returned wearing a revealing gown fashioned out of pounded palm fronds.

“Tell me,” she asked, “we’ve both been out here for a very long time with no companionship. You know what I mean. Have you been lonely… is there anything that you really, really miss? Something that all men and women need? Something that would be really nice to have right now!”

“Yes there is!” the man replied, shucking off his shyness. “There is something I’ve wanted to do for so long. But on this island all alone, it was just… well, it was impossible.”

“Well, it’s not impossible, any more,” the woman said.

The man, practically panting in excitement, said breathlessly: “You mean you actually figured out some way we can get MCIVTA by e-mail here…?”

Ralph Sheppard, Palmerston North (get your atlases out for the lads) New Zealand (


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Ashley Birch,

Newsletter #315