Newsletter #319

The season finally arrives and the news is that City are most definitely still the team we’ve all come to love! There are 4 match reports and a match view – thanks to all who responded to my appeal, keep it up! Several of these reports remark on the suitability of Vaughan for the left back rôle, commenting that he seems happier and more accomplished in central defence; well, Clark has today signed Van Blerk who is most definitely a real left back – thanks to Andrew Inman in MCIVTA 318 for letting us know about this before the English press!

Additionally we have more from Platt Lane, news of the ISC, the latest on Steve Kay’s signed shirt, 2 Why Blues and the results.

Next game, Blackpool away, Coca Cola Cup Round 1, Tuesday 12th August 1997


MANCHESTER CITY vs. PORTSMOUTH, Saturday 8th August 1997

Attendance: 30,474

Heading down the motorway, Oasis playing, and with the temperatures steadily rising into the eighties. What better way to start the season? On arrival in Manchester there were plenty of the new Kappa kits to be seen around town, and on arrival at the ground there was almost nothing but Kappa kits to be seen. My nerves, already having been jangling for a week, were steadily fraying further and further. Before the game the Gallaghers came out on to the pitch and drew adulation from the crowd. Then to a huge cheer out came the two teams, Portsmouth in a lovely new yellow number and City in their new kits, and it is a vast improvement on the old pale Umbro kit.

City lined up with a flat back four, and without Nicky Summerbee, who was on the bench with David Morley and Paul Dickov. The team lined up as follows:

Brightwell       Symons         Beesley         Vaughan
          Brannan                     Horlock
                 Rösler        Bradbury

First we had to wait as the teams changed ends, and then amidst a great roar the season began as Portsmouth kicked off. Little pattern had emerged in the early moments when a huge hoof over the City defence caused trouble. Svensson had misjudged the path of the ball, leaving Symons on his own underneath it. Unfortunately, the height of the ball gave Svensson time to readjust meaning that he was moving when he attacked the ball, whereas Kit was static. The ball came loose and fortunately for Portsmouth fell to their new signing Aloisi, who thumped the ball home past Margetson.

Early season optimism was dampened but there was still enough there to encourage the crowd to get behind City. Gradually they got back into the game more and more. Portsmouth though nearly silenced the crowd for good when Brightwell and Symons left the ball to each other allowing Aloisi to run through unchallenged. His shot though was not great, not getting enough height on the ball as Margetson came out to challenge and Martyn pushed it just round the post.

City’s best move of the half, and probably of the match, led to their equaliser, neat passing and one-twos between Brannan and Kinkladze, then Brannan and Rösler allowed the midfielder to get clear on the left side of the Portsmouth defence and slide in a low cross to the near post which Rösler thumped past Alan Knight in the Pompey goal.

However, this move was untypical of City’s first half performance. Both Brannan and Horlock, especially the latter were uninfluential in midfield, leaving Wiekens to do much of the work on his own in the middle of the park. Both full backs failed to provide adequate cover, both in defence and attack, and the overall result was that the team would pass the ball along the back line a couple of times and then punt the ball forward for one of the strikers to chase. The midfield was largely uninvolved in any positive action, and gave the front two little chance to prdouce any meaningful action. Indeed Prtsmouth also managed to hit the crossbar in a first-half where they would probably have been unhappy to come in level.

The second half saw the introduction of Summerbee for Beesley, and the team moving to a back three:

    Brightwell           Symons            Vaughan
Summerbee       Brannan          Wiekens        Horlock
                 Rösler        Bradbury

This immediately improved matters, both Brightwell and Vaughan looking happier than as full backs, both Brannan and Horlock contributing more, and with some genuine width from Summerbee. However, the packed Portsmouth defence still proved difficult to break down and it was unsurprising that the goal came from a set piece rather than from open play. Summerbee floated in a free kick from the right which was headed across goal to where Wiekens was on hand to prod the ball home, and to be extremely excited about it. City generally bossed the game for a good while and generally looked more likely to score, Horlock crossing right across the face of the goal without anyone getting a touch and Vaughan carrying the ball the length of the park and whistling a shot past the post.

Gradually though the temperature told on both sides (around the 100 mark apparently) and both sides ran out of steam, especially Horlock who was dead on his feet as left wing-back. It was unsurprising that there was a goal as it was pretty much pot-luck, with both teams too tired to really have control of the game. Portsmouth had a penalty appeal turned down as Hall raced into the area (I wouldn’t say it was definitely a penalty but I’ve certainly seen them given), and then a spell of pressure paid off as Paul Hall thumped home shortly after hitting the post.

At the start of play I would have been happy with a draw but not really with the way that it happened, City showing both enough to suggest that they could do a lot better, but showing enough frailty at the back to suggest that they could do a lot worse.

Of the new players Wiekens looked the best on the day, working hard in midfield, particularly in the first half when he was on his own. Vaughan didn’t look great as a left back as is probably suggested by Frank Clark’s post match comments that he was going to try to sign Van Blerk (the Australian left-back) but looked comfortable enough at centre back to suggest that he could have a future there. Bradbury didn’t really have enough to do for us to see what he is like, so judgement shall be suspended until he is tested more. Man of the match was probably Wiekens for us, although Uwe looked sharp up front and worked very hard with only scraps from midfield, also taking his goal very well.

Final score: 2-2

Sam Al-Hamdani (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. PORTSMOUTH, Saturday 8th August 1997

Weather: ‘Oven World’
Att: 30,434
Ref: David Laws (Whitley Bay)
Team: Margetson, Brightwell, Symons, Beesley (Summerbee), Vaughan, Wiekens, Brannan, Kinkladze, Horlock, Rösler (Dickov), Bradbury.

I must apologise for this review in advance as I tongue-in-cheekedly asked for a MCIVTA without any whingeing!

‘It’s just like watching Brazil’ – chanted by the North Stand after 20 minutes of the second half.

Arrived at Maine Road to be greeted by the sight of 5 Fire Engines outside the main entrance and turnstiles still closed at 2.15 p.m. This was presumably a false alarm or minor fire as I could see no evidence of smoke or a large scale evacuation. Once inside I decided to chance an encounter with Stadia Catering for a drink. Nothing too adventurous, it was a very warm day so any sort of drink would have gone down nicely. Seeing a large queue at the booze bar, I plumped for the snacks and beverage stall. ‘Any drinks?’ I enquired. ‘Just Coke’ came the reply. As I was about to hand over my £1.10p I noticed that the ‘coke’ was in fact being poured from a warm plastic 2 litre bottle. ‘Erm.. are those not sachets of Lucozade sport behind you?’ I ventured. ‘Oh yes £1.20p for those.’ I decided to go for the energy drink and wondered what would happen when the coke ran out.

Am I labouring the point a bit? It’s just that with FHL harping on every 5 minutes about how well the club is structured off the pitch, it may do him the world of good to pose as a supporter one day and see how bad it really is.

The Match:

The first incident of note happened when Wiekens clattered into someone on the edge of our box. The kick was flicked just wide by a Pompey striker. City’s formation was giving me a headache. Back 4 was OK, but in front of that you had Wiekens in a central midfield rôle with Horlock on his left and Brannan on his right – Kinkladze playing just behind the front 2. Horlock is our combatant midfielder. Wiekens and Brannan lack pace and so a gap was appearing between the defence and midfield on City’s right hand side. The ball was being played into this space and their strikers were coming onto it and then turning our defence. The Pompey goal came from such a situation and it was clear that things had to change.

It was fairly end to end stuff for the first 25. Bradbury looked sharp and effective in the mould of an Alan Shearer and Vaughan looked very composed and keen to get involved from left back. Our best chances came from: 1. A neat take on the chest by Bradbury who laid the ball off to Kinkladze running wide; Gio’s low cross just managed to evade everyone. 2. Kinky returns the compliment for Bradbury to get a powerful shot in on the turn, saved by the ‘keeper. 3. The goal – Wiekens controls the ball nicely just outside the box. Feeds Brannan who plays a nice one two with Gio. Brannan crosses for Uwe to tap home. 4. Free kick on the edge of the box for a foul by Hillier(?) (yellow) on Bradbury – Gio whips in a curler which grazes the outside of the post but Pompey’s keeper Alan Knight injures his leg trying to reach it.

After the latter incident Knight could hardly stand up and was signalling to the bench for about 10 minutes that he wanted to come off. They left him on and I felt sure we would win whilst they had a one-legged ‘keeper. I don’t know if it was the heat but both sides ran out of steam and the first half fizzled out with the only other notable incident being Beesley’s injury after he tried to clear a hospital pass from the midfield.

Buzzer came on for the start of the second half (for the injured Beesley) and immediately the team looked to have more balance. We reverted to 3 across the back; Vaughan, Symons and Brightwell, with Horlock and Summerbee playing as wing backs. FC had obviously asked for more passion as even Gio was tackling back for the first 10 minutes. City’s second came when Summerbee floated a free kick over, Horlock headed it back across goal and Wiekens slotted it home. City were playing excellent stuff for the first 15 minutes of the second half but once we scored we seemed happy to play keep ball (cue chant mentioned at head of report).

Although 2-1 is a preferable scoreline to drawing or losing, I felt the game was there for the taking. A one-legged goalkeeper who was not even being tested was beginning to make my already warm blood boil over. Vaughan and Symons made a couple of good long distance runs and Vaughan’s resulted in a shot just wide. Uwe was tiring and FC decided to give Dickov a run. Bradbury who was working very hard, visibly tired after 25 minutes of each half. Kinkladze was anonymous. The game began to drift and Pompey seized the chance to get back into the game with Fitzroy Simpson and Matthias Svensson impressing. After one shot was cleared off the line we got in a right mess trying to get the ball hoofed away and Vaughan was taken to the by-line and beaten (for the first time), the ball was squared, Pompey scored, end of story.

Margetson (7) – had little to do, but did what was required.
Brightwell (6) – distribution atrocious.
Symons (6) – solid but looks exposed when subjected to pace.
Beesley (7) – ditto above.
Vaughan (8) – looks like being a real find, likes getting forward, loads of skill and very composed.
Wiekens (7) – Needs time to adjust to our pace, needs to learn how to tackle but is very skilful and a good passer of the ball.
Brannan (6) – had hand in goal and has skill. Lacks pace. Don’t think we can afford to play Brannan, Wiekens and Gio in the same midfield.
Horlock (8) – another great performance, battled for the whole 90.
Kinkladze (5) – very disappointing. Is his heart in it?
Bradbury (8) – will be a world beater when fully fit.
Rösler (7) – linked up well with Bradbury, had a poor 2nd half.

Summerbee (6) – looked uninterested, failed to beat his man.
Dickov – not enough time to rate.

Ken Foster (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. PORTSMOUTH, Saturday 8th August 1997

On a boiling hot day in Manchester, frayed tempers were the only thing to break the sleepy Main Stand atmosphere until the Gallagher brothers took to the field and behaved in predictable fashion. A pompous Pompey fan on 606 claimed Liam should have been nicked for inciting a riot (is anybody – apart from that caller – really daft enough to respond to his baiting these days?) but City could have done with his fire in the first half. The wake-up call was a smart Aloisi finish from a typical Treasure Island cock-up involving Bob and Kit (I think – it might have been Beesley) after which, surprisingly, the defence looked pretty solid to me until the last desperate 15 minutes. Gio, who spent most of the afternoon lurking in the shade along the touchline, played in Brannan with a simple one-two for a cross which Uwe stroked across the line. 1-1 and time to crush what looked like a very average Nationwide One team.

Gio delivered a free kick with no visible backlift which brushed the side-netting and caused a startled Knight to injure himself diving to his right. He didn’t take any more goal kicks, was obviously struggling a bit, so why so few long-range shots? Just as bad: leaving the ball for a colleague only to see it taken away (Wiekens and Bob the main culprits). Because of this, Svensson had a one-on-one (foiled by an alertish Margetson), and Portsmouth even managed to hit the bar before the break. FC obviously had a bit of encouragement to deliver at half time. Beesley, who’d been struggling with an injury for at least 20 minutes, was replaced by Summerbee, who went to right full back with Bob moving inside.

City ran most of the second half, with Wiekens in particular growing in confidence and dominating the midfield with short passes. He got his just reward when Summerbee’s cross was nodded back for him to tap in off the post. Time to prove our superiority – instead, owing to fatigue and/or ineptitude we eased up and allowed the Australians back into the game. When Fitzroy The Jinx was subbed I thought we’d get away with it, but the inevitable happened. The ref turned down a penalty appeal after a bit of a dive, then the linesman took our side when a deflection was cleared off (or from behind? Haven’t seen the TV yet) the line, but straight away a failed clearance allowed McLoughlin to cross for Hall to slam in from six yards (is there a Row Z in the new Kippax? Time to practice finding it!).

So, a game we should have won, but didn’t – timely reminder which will focus minds for the next 45 games, or a pattern set for the season? You shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from the first game but a win at Sunderland would be good evidence that the former is the case. But to do that Gio needs to be more involved, because most disappointing throughout was our strategy: long balls from defence for Bradbury or Uwe to chase. Sterile enough if they’d been on target, but Symons and Brightwell looked like they were auditioning for Twickenham most of the time. Vaughan, however, came forward intelligently and finished a Nicky Reid-style run with a powerful shot which went wide – seemed to discourage him, because he had an even better chance later on but just ran the ball into a crowd of defenders. As for the others, Margetson was safe; Beesley was OK until his injury; Brannan looked useful, Horlock anonymous; Bradbury didn’t seem that fit (but it was very hot). Uwe tried hard but was knackered by the time he came off – maybe he should have worn a hat (serious hair loss in progress).

Anybody travelling up from Glos or nearby to the Charlton game and want to share the drive?

Ken Foster – thanks for the t-shirt, just arrived!

Martyn Hansen (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. PORTSMOUTH, Saturday 8th August 1997

Citizens 2 (Rösler, Wiekens), Portsmouth 2 (Aloisi, Hall)

So there we all were again. My release from the mental hospital had been secured in time and armed with my season ticket I was allowed back into the community that is Maine Road. Expectation was running high and Central and South Manchester was awash with ‘laser blue’ as pubs spilled out onto the streets in the blazing sunshine. I got to the ground at 2:15 and armed with half a rainforest in program, City mag, King of the Kippax, half time draw … I took up my seat in the Platt Lane Stand (all ties with Umbro have now been well and truly severed). In fact it seems as if we’ve gone ‘Kappa Krazy’ (I’d like to trademark this phrase please). Large Kappa logos adorned the back of the North Stand, above the Main Stand entrances and all the way up the girders at the sides of the Kippax (or should that now be renamed the Kappax?) was a continual procession of pairs of small people sat on their arses not talking to each other (quite suitable for City actually). The same pair also adorned one side of the obligatory City Store carrier bag and appeared on the shirts of approximately half of the 30,474 crowd.

I was soon joined by familiar faces around me and the excitement started to grow as the match was hyped by the pre-match announcer. This hype was somewhat muted as the PA system was still as crap as last year, half of the time it didn’t work on the Platt Lane side of the ground at all and when it did it was far too loud (these two mysteriously combined to create an uncanny impression of Frank Carson). We were welcomed to “one of the best stadiums in Britain” and when the team was announced we were introduced in an incredibly fawning manner to “our hero, Georgi Kinkladze.” It’s a good job Kinky’s English isn’t that good or he might have ended up slinking off the pitch and back to the dressing room in embarrassment. O.K., he’s a great player and we’re all glad he stayed, but he is still only 1 of 11 players on the pitch and it can’t be good for either team morale or for Kinky’s relationship with the other players to be continually singled out over official channels. They should leave him alone and let him get on with it (just for the record there were at least a couple of players who outperformed Kinky on the day).

As the kick off approached our feeling ‘like kids on Christmas Eve’ grew as it was announced that “we will be joined on the pitch 5 minutes before kick off by some very special guests.” ‘Who can it be?’, ‘We’ve just signed Juninho and Ronaldo’, ‘Terry and June and Ronald McDonald more like’, ‘Franny and Clarky have resigned and we’ve reinstated Ball and dug Swales up.’ But then we slowly realised who it was going to be, and sure enough at 2:55 with a loud blast of Frank Carson singing Wonderwall out trotted the ‘Boys form Burnage’ that are Oasis. Noel was content to stroll around in the centre circle, wave at the crowd and have his picture taken by about 20 photographers all wearing Kappa jerkins. Liam meanwhile ran around like a chimp on a week’s supply of amphetamines and made ‘provocative gestures’ at the large travelling Pompey support. The ‘other one’ was also there but he looked a bit lost as no-one took his photo or cheered his every move. The 3 of them, later joined by Curly from Corrie and the injured(?) Eddie McGoldrick took up their match residence of one of the boxes just behind me. This resulted in the match being regularly punctuated by teenage girls in the Platt Lane end standing up on their seats, turning around and shouting “give us a wave Liam”, “I love you Liam” etc.

So, to the match. We lined up like this:

Brightwell    Symons    Beesley    Vaughan
  Brannan          Wiekens        Horlock
             Rösler     Bradbury

Subs: Summerbee (for the injured Beesley at half time), Dickov (on near the end for Rösler) and Morley (I may be being thick, but who the hell is he?).

This meant we had an orthodox flat back four, a flat 3 in midfield and Kinkladze given a free reign just in front of midfield. As for the Portsmouth team, God only knows how they lined up, as only 2 of the 11 players announced corresponded to the program (although it did include former Northern Irish international Alan McLoughlin, former City boy Fitz Simpson, Arsenal lad David Hillier and former U.S President Jimmy Carter on the bench).

So, to the match. I think that 2-2 was a fair result. We had a team with 3 new players in it as well as 2 newish players in Beesley and Brannan and Portsmouth are a good workmanlike team. We dominated large periods of it and were clearly the better team overall but were let down by several lapses of concentration and as well as the 2 goals they hit the woodwork twice and forced Margetson into a spectacular save that looked like a certain score.

For the first 10 minutes we were abysmal, with no movement at all and not managing to string any passes together. Within 5 minutes we were deservedly 1 nil down and it was a case of new season, new players, new kit … same old s**t. After this we started to gain some composure; of the players, the new boys Vaughan, Wiekens and Bradbury not surprisingly took some time to adjust but all looked promising. Bradbury looks fast, strong and has a good awareness of where the goal is but only gave us one or two glimpses of what he might be capable of. Vaughan looks excellent, fairly composed at the back, a liking for going forward and beating players and good distribution. I suspect Wiekens may turn out to be English football’s buy of the season (well buy of last season actually). For £500,000 and a 6 month wait we have acquired a player of enormous skill, wonderful vision, superb passing ability and who is also hard and agressive. It took him some time to adjust (he has probably never played football of this intensity) but during the second half he seemed to push a little further forward and started to control the game from central midfield.

Of the others, Beesley and Horlock played very well in the first half. Beesley was commanding in the centre of defence and looked awesome at times, he took command of most situations, distributed the ball well and committed several crunching tackles. He has impressed me whenever I have seen him play and looks to be the type of player we have been missing in central defence for years. However he must stay injury free, a feat which wasn’t helped when he had to be substituted at half time after being hurt in some incident which I didn’t see. Horlock was at last playing in his best position on the left of midfield and I suspect will link up very well with Vaughan (although it will take a few matches). Margetson had a great game, at last we have a reserve ‘keeper with some first team experience who the team have confidence in, and with the addition of Nicky Weaver we are looking strong in this department. Symons and Brightwell defended fairly well but yet again their distribution was poor (especially compared to Vaughan and Beesley). I feel to succeed at this level it is vitally important for all 10 players to be both adventurous in bringing the ball forward and be confident passers. This enables flexibility within the setup, a good build up and creates attacking opportunities out of defensive positions. Good defender though Brightwell is, I would prefer to see Scott Hiley at right back and for Symons to really work on improving his passing and running with the ball.

For me, Man of the Match was undoubtedly Ged Brannan. After a few poor displays last season he then had one or two good games, but here he was a revelation. He worked tirelessly up and down the flanks, linked up well with the midfield, defended when he had to and liked to attack. He was confident on the ball and created several good attacking opportunities. Nicky Summerbee (who was back to his lazy ways – an attitude problem due to starting on the bench?) should start taking notes if he wants to keep his place in the side. Kinkladze was yet again heavily marked, but still played reasonably well, in particular a free kick from 30 yards out which never went more than about a yard off the floor but bent around the outside of the defensive wall and was dangerously close to going in. If Wiekens, Brannan, Horlock and Vaughan all play well then they will either be left with plenty of room to work with or the opposition will have to loosen the reigns on Kinky, either of which is good news for us going forward. Uwe treated us to a typical performance of looking crap, getting regularly beaten in the air, continually falling on his arse, rolling his eyes at the referee and then popping up to score a really well taken opportunist goal.

So at times we looked great, but too many passes went astray (particularly in the final third of the pitch) and there were too many lapses of concentration. But, after a few games we should be better, this is a newish team and will take a while to settle down. It is encouraging that we now have considerable strength in depth, the starting line up was a good team and didn’t include Summerbee, Dickov, McGoldrick, Wright, Crooks, Whitley, Ingram etc.

This was a fair start to a long campaign but I definitely feel we have what it takes to get promoted and we are in a much, much better position than this time last season.

A few other points:

  1. Why can’t we have squad numbering in the First Division? The allegedPompey line up given in the programme was a joke and with the procession ofnobodies that makes up the opposition in Division One it’s hardly possibleto identify who’s who (‘He’s got black hair it must be Sammy Igoe’, ‘Ohlook that’s Russell Perrett he was on telly last night’ – it’s not going tohappen is it?). Last season it wasn’t uncommon when arriving late to takeuntil half time to work out exactly which 11 were playing for City (playerslike Ingram, Greenacre, Brannan are not as easily recognisable as JeffWhitley or Paul Beesley). This was especially true on Saturday when it looked like Rösler,Horlock, Brannan and Bradbury had all taken part in a sponsored “number 1all over please barber” haircut for charity.
  2. Our new ‘eagle’ badge definitely looks like the Barclays Bank logo froma distance.
  3. How long will the bloke next to me come to matches in his shorts?
  4. Does Liam Gallagher have air conditioning inside his anorak to enablehim to wear it tightly done up in 25 degree heat?
  5. Why was Wiekens (pronounced Vee-kunz) announced as Gerard Wye-kensbefore the match?
  6. Good riddance to Umbro who for the Charity Shield managed to miss outthe ‘H’ from Beckham’s name on his shirt (it should be spelt Wankher).

P.S. I would like to hear from anybody who is interested in ‘car pooling’ or who would like lifts to away matches from the South Manchester area. This would enable shared costs, allow more drinking and be a lot more fun.

Stay Blue, Ben Brookes (


The sky was blue… the new kit was blue and as usual the crowd leaving at 4.45 had the blues.

The afternoon had started with such incredible optimism… I know each season begins with a feeling of hope but this season it was at a high not experienced for many a year, the sea of Kappa kits en route to Maine Road was incredible, a sellout crowd, several home débuts but Margetson in goal surely a cause for concern; no matter what anybody says, he is too small to be a goalkeeper – at corners we are incredibly vulnerable.

Pre kick-off Liam and Noel were introduced and ran across the pitch to the Umbro stand; the crowd went wild, the teams came out, the Blues looked magnificent and I turned to my neighbour and said we’re going up. At 3.05 we were one nil down; I turned to my neighbour and he said here we go again!

Their goal looked like an error by Symons compounded by Margetson’s refusal to leave his line.

I couldn’t get a programme but City’s new boys looked okay, Lee Bradbury looked strong tough and hard, even Uwe had slimmed down, sported a new shorter haircut and his cauliflower arsed antics of the past looked well forgotten.

In midfield Gio was fairly quiet, Horlock looked mean and Wiekens looked strong. However, we looked vulnerable at the back; Symons who was captain looked totally out of his depth and he came in for considerable criticism from the crowd.

Uwe equalised and went running to the tunnel; unlike the Ball days he didn’t mouth an expletive, he looked delighted we played some nice football.

Half time, Buzzer comes on resplendant in new brightly striped boots and although he brought much needed width, at times he looks as lethargic as an OAP on Ovaltine with a mogadon chaser.

A bright run from Wiekens and the Blues take the lead; only to be expected really, as we’d started the 2nd half brightly and Pompey’s goalkeeper was limping quite badly. We began to play the ball round, we began to play football, we did not capitalise upon this period and the passes began to go awry; Symons’ passing and judgement was questionable. Portsmouth attack, a goalmouth scramble where our vertically challenged ‘keeper does not feature, the ball is cleared off the line, another attack and they equalise. I can honestly say that Marty did not appear to make any effort to defend the goal.

They could have won, we could have won, on balance a fair result … if you’re a neutral.

How I missed the roller coaster during the Summer months!

Ian Ferguson (


A boisterous and expectant group of 14 Blues gathered on the ICQ Chat page to exchange views and updates on the Blues’ opener against Pompey. Painful memories of last season’s dreadful start (apart from the 1-0 scraped win vs. Ipswich) were tempered by the new arrivals of Wiekens, Vaughan and Bradbury. No sooner had the Blues settled themselves down in front of their PCs than news filtered down that City were 0-1 down. The word “Typical” was prevalent on the screen and it seemed to start the Internet lads in humour mode. It’s amazing how we can always be humorous in the face of adversity! I could hear the PCs groaning as high expectancy was replaced by gritty determination and when Uwe scored with a near-post header from a Gio cross, the screen lit up with celebration. Postings came thick and fast with Blues encouraging our team to score again. Things then went decidedly subdued as we all waited to hear what would happen next. Half time came and went. Tea, coffee, rum(!), etc was imbibed as the Internet buzzed with the news of a “go-ahead” goal (as our American friends would say!). Wiekens had scored on his début and immediately the mood was one of exhileration. “Here We Go!” My optimistic prediction of 3-1 was looking good and I fully expected to hear that Gio had made it come true… However, the dreadful news of the equaliser brought us all back down to earth with a loud bump! The season has just begun and we are unbeaten. Let’s hope that the next few games will see us bag the points. If we are going to challenge for the automatic promotion spot, we have to win games like this one in future. As usual, the chatpage (ICQ) was great fun with “regulars” and newcomers mingling and sharing the humour and chat. If there is anybody who would like information about ICQ for matchdays, please mail me on

Clive Tysoe a.k.a. Gio’s Bootlicker (


City are set to sign Australian international Jason Van Blerk on a free transfer on Monday. Van Blerk, who can play anywhere on the left flank, was set to sign for the Blues last season but ran into work permit problems. However, these have all been sorted out now, personal terms have been agreed and there is just the formality of registration to be done on Monday.

Paul Howarth (


Jason Van Blerk has completed his move to City on a free transfer from Millwall. He was refused a work permit when the Blues tried to sign the talented Aussie international defender last March. One of the reasons was that the club were not offering Van Blerk high enough wages for him to qualify – one of the requirements is that work permit players must be paid in the top five per cent of the club’s wage earners. However, after a five-month battle, he finally won the right to stay in England. He said: “All the red tape was getting me down; yes I actually had my bags packed ready to go home to Australia when the work permit finally came through. All I can say is that it’s a miracle, I can hardly believe it at last.”

Van Blerk now qualifies because his wife – who is still in Australia – has become a naturalised British subject. He said: “My wife did all the hard work, she got the company she works for back home to fax all the details. I had given up hope, I was preparing to go home and forget about trying for my big chance in England.”

Millwall signed the 6ft 1in utility defender from Go Ahead Eagles in Holland in September ’94, but since work permits are not transferable, he wasn’t able to move to City without re-applying.

He is Frank Clark’s ninth signing in eight months; he will not play on Tuesday in the Coca-Cola Cup at Blackpool but could make his début at Sunderland in the League on Friday.

Paul Howarth (


Rumours are circulating that Everton are again interested in signing Uwe Rösler, with the possibility of former England international Nick Barmby moving the other way in some sort of exchange deal. Personally I hope it’s not true, as Uwe seems to have been rejuvenated under Frank Clark and has even shown some pace(!) since the arrival of fitness trainer Peter Edwards. Regarding Barmby, he’s undoubtedly a good player but surely he’d be competing for Gio’s place in the team? Anyway, whoever heard of a club selling their most in-form striker right at the start of a season? Oh yes, we did it last season…

The Mole


After looking forward with eager anticipation to the Maine Road Open Day last Monday, I must admit that the whole afternoon was a big anti-climax. Not being into face painting or bouncy castles, my mate and I ambled round the first and second tiers of the Kippax looking at some of the exhibits. Then we repaired to the seats on the lower tier and waited for something to happen on the pitch.

Fortunately the sun was shining and talk was pleasant about games of old, Sproston, Trautmann, Bell, Lee etc. We sat from 2pm until 3.40pm watching the grass grow and then we decided to go home as nothing was happening. I later found out from somebody else that they had waited until 5pm, and still nothing had happened. The only good thing to say about the afternoon was that it only cost one pound. Perhaps the most amazing sight was the queue for players’ autographs. It must have been 100 yards long with only three players at any time. According to the M.E.N. there was a youth training session on the pitch but I can only imagine that this was done by floodlight after everyone had gone home. Surely even City could have organised things on the pitch. Roll on Saturday and let’s get the real thing under way.

I also noticed the other day that work has now started on the new two million pound astrodome at the Platt Lane Complex. The facility is being funded by lottery grant, City and Manchester Corporation. It will take about six months to complete and will be shared with the local community. The all weather pitch is being re-laid at the same time and will be done by the end of August.

Interestingly I was watching the Youth Team recently and saw them beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2. Neil McNab was there watching his two sons play. Apparently they are back at City after being unhappy at Coventry after their dad was sacked!

I’m sure that MCIVTA’ers will be interested to hear about one of the groundsmen at Platt Lane. Paul has recently been hospitalised and has been awaiting a kidney transplant for several months. He is a great guy, a true Blue and always cheerful under the pressure of bad health. While in hospital he has had two toes amputated, so I’m sure that any messages of support from subscribers would cheer him up immensely. Send any messages to me and I will pass them on to Paul.

Platt Lane Correspondent, via Neale Hayward-Shott (


I just wanted to let City fans know the current state of play with the ISC.

This was an idea I had that came from a meeting with Francis Lee and Mike Turner in April. It was thought up after months of being on the Internet and making friends with other City fans from all over the world.

For some Internet Blues it must seem we have been talking about forming the ISC for a long time now and nothing seems to be happening. Well, the situation is that it took a great deal of time and effort to convince City that it would be a worthwhile venture.

About 5/6 weeks ago City asked Steve Sayer to cost it up and Steve has been doing that as well as being the organiser of the Maine Event. He is now on holiday for a week or so.

He said to me that when he gets back to work he will really get into the ISC and hopefully launch the new club in November.

This club promises to be something very exciting. I won’t go into detail until it is finalized but it will have benefits for every Manchester City fan and wherever you are in the world you will feel a stronger bond with the Club if you are a member.

Bob Young (


I have received an offer from City to be an agent for City merchandise in Jersey which I have accepted. As the majority of City fans I come in touch with from my Jersey base are from Europe, Australia and America I thought this will be a good place to do my first sales pitch.

Here is my offer:

If you buy any City merchandise via Bob Young, I will put all the commission I earn into buying season tickets for ISC overseas members. In a nutshell this means if you buy a £40 City top via my email address or my postal address, then the £4 commission I earn goes into a pot to purchase a season ticket from the Club. Once we have the season ticket or season tickets I will consult with the team that helped me in the early stages of the ISC on the best way of using them.

Cheers for now, Bob Young (


I attended the opening of the Stretford and Urmston branch of the Centenary Supporters’ Association last Thursday; the branch was formed in May and now has around 450 members due to the hard work of the committee.

For the opening, Francis Lee had agreed to come along and host a question and answer session; to everyone’s surprise and delight he also brought along Mike Summerbee, Lee Crooks and Gary Mason. Here are some of the questions and answers that may be of some interest to us.

1 – The proposed move to the new stadium

F.Lee said any club must be mad to give up the chance to play in what was going to be one of the best stadiums in Europe, he said it would take too long and cost too much money to change Maine Road and with the restrictions on height etc. and the surrounding houses the most we could hope for would be a 45,000 capacity.The majority of people in the room seemed to agree with him.

2 – Why did Gio stay?

On the day he signed a new contract he was at F.Lee’s house with 3 agents they all wanted a move to another club for him; Mrs Lee took Gio in the kitchen out of the way and she returned a few minutes later and told F. Lee that Gio did not like any of the agents acting for him. F.Lee asked Gio what he wanted and he said he wanted to play for Manchester City, F.Lee then said will we sort it out.

3 – Did Kappa choose us?

Yes, they thought we were the ideal English club with the right support to promote their name.

4 – On any more money for new players

F.Lee said money would be made available for any players Frank Clark feels he needs; he also said that at the end of this season the Bosman ruling would be 3-years-old and as most players are on 3-year contracts they would become available on free transfers and that money could be spent on their wages to encourage them to come to Maine Road.

General discussion then took place about the good old days: Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee that their best match was he championship decider against Newcastle. We then had a break for a buffet and photo opportunities. The evening was rounded off by an auction and raffle hosted by Francis Lee. All proceeds from the event went to the youth development programme.

This was the first event I had attended and I found it most enjoyable, nothing seemed too much trouble for the guests.

Peter Utratny (


Is it just me or is City’s new eagle badge another idea to make Kinky feel at home ? I was just looking through the match programme against Oxford United (13/11/96). On page 7 is an article about the Georgian maestro, complete with his photo wearing the Georgian Kappa shirt. And there, on the left breast is what appears to be a golden spread eagle with the national flag behind. Any comment City or Kappa?

Steve Kay (


Those of you who read my Maine Event report may be interested to hear todays’ (8/8/97) “signed shirt” update. Five of us went down to Platt Lane this morning to see the entire club training (the sea of Kappa training gear was an impressive sight). I went over to speak to Richard Edghill to see how he was going on with getting my Umbro shirt signed. He said he only had a couple more to get and he would give me a call when it’s ready. He did mention that he put the shirt in his bag, and when he got home his mum threw it in the washer! Fortunately I had given him a permanent marker pen, and the autographs were still intact! Watch this space for, hopefully, the final instalment.

Whilst on the subject of watching the training, and getting autographs and photographs taken, I must say how brilliant every player was in spending time with the fans. My daughter Abigail and nephew Chris got all the autographs and no request was declined. This was true before training, after training and as the players left. I also took my best mate’s (he’s a Rag) mother-in-law, who has always been Blue, but hasn’t even been to the ground for years. She was absolutely made up after having her photo taken with a sweaty topless Uwe (well it was a glorious 80 odd degrees), and a sunglassed Gio. I had to laugh though, when Nicky Summerbee came out of the front; all the kids surrounded him for autographs. Half a minute later Gio came out of the side door, and Nicky was left holding a pen, and no audience! Shame. Everybody trained except Tommy Wright and Eddie McGoldrick, who said he hoped to be back in a couple of games.

Keep the faith, Steve Kay (


A friend got this of the Darlington mailing list –

Q – Which football team gets a mention in the bible?

(I got three answers – of which one is definitely correct!)

Answer on a postcard – will mail my answer next week!

CTID! Richard Fenton (


As a kid dragged up in Stretford, my dad took me to Old Trafford every home match. I would stand in the old Scoreboard End with a lot of old men, unable to see or enjoy the match. In 1968 a mate of mine took me to Maine Road to see City. As a kid of 14, the differance was to change my life. No more boring old men going on about the pre-1958 team (which as a little one I had watched) but a whole new lifestyle of fans who live by the team I now love only second to my kids (all are true Blues). As for my dad, he has disowned me a few times and is now an armchair Red, but I will be at Maine road this Saturday with my kids to see the boys.

City till I die, D J H (


Growing up during the late sixties/early seventies in Sutton, Surrey hardly lent itself to supporting any particular team. Wimbledon, who, geographically, were my closest team, apart from Sutton United, were still knocking around in the nether regions of non-league football, and Crystal Palace were just too far away.

For a while from 5-6, I supported Chelsea but only because everyone else at my school did too. Then, I bought my first pack of football cards (you know the pecursors of Panini which came with bubble gum). The first card in the pack was Francis Lee, and the rest is history. Hooked on misery. The only City triumphs I actually remember were the 70 League Cup triumph (and that is very hazy) and the 76 League Cup win. Since then, has been one long never-ending nightmare. Only the side that Malcolm Allison prematurely dismantled has given me any real pleasure on all my travels.

Having said that, I approach this season with more optimism than in many a year. We really do seem to be building a fine team and judging by pre-season results, a team that seems to be establishing some kind of consistency… it’s still only Division One though.

Paul Connelly (


Full-time score and scorers for Sunday, August 10 1997

SHEFFIELD UNITED        2-0    SUNDERLAND                17,324
Fjørtoft (33)
Borbokis (42)

Full-time scores and scorers for Saturday, August 9 1997

BIRMINGHAM CITY         2-0    STOKE CITY                20,608
Devlin (33)
Ndlovu (87)
BRADFORD CITY           2-1    STOCKPORT COUNTY          14,312
Edhino (23)                    Durkan (69)
Steiner (74)
BURY                    1-1    READING                    5,065
Armstrong (52)                 Swales (13)
MANCHESTER CITY         2-2    PORTSMOUTH                30,474
Rösler (16)                    Aloisi (5)
Wiekens (55)                   Hall (80)
MIDDLESBROUGH           2-1    CHARLTON ATHLETIC         29,414
Festa (80)                     Jones (8)
Ravanelli (90)
                               Keane (34, 64)
OXFORD UNITED           2-0    HUDDERSFIELD TOWN          7,085
Jemson (pen 69)
Aldridge (77)
PORT VALE               0-1    NOTTINGHAM FOREST         12,533
                               Campbell (39)
QUEENS PARK RANGERS     0-0    IPSWICH TOWN              17,614
SWINDON TOWN            2-0    CREWE ALEXANDRA            8,334
Allison (43)
Finney (pen 88)
Kilbane (37)                   Kelly (74)
Hunt (39)

Up to and including Sunday, August 10 1997

Team                  Played   Won Drawn Lost  For  Against   Points
Birmingham City          1      1    0    0      2     0         3
Oxford United            1      1    0    0      2     0         3
Sheffield United         1      1    0    0      2     0         3
Swindon Town             1      1    0    0      2     0         3
Wolverhampton Wanderers  1      1    0    0      2     0         3
Bradford City            1      1    0    0      2     1         3
Middlesbrough            1      1    0    0      2     1         3
West Bromwich Albion     1      1    0    0      2     1         3
Nottingham Forest        1      1    0    0      1     0         3
MANCHESTER CITY          1      0    1    0      2     2         1
Portsmouth               1      0    1    0      2     2         1
Bury                     1      0    1    0      1     1         1
Reading                  1      0    1    0      1     1         1
Ipswich Town             1      0    1    0      0     0         1
Queens Park Rangers      1      0    1    0      0     0         1
Charlton Athletic        1      0    0    1      1     2         0
Stockport County         1      0    0    1      1     2         0
Tranmere Rovers          1      0    0    1      1     2         0
Port Vale                1      0    0    1      0     1         0
Crewe Alexandra          1      0    0    1      0     2         0
Huddersfield Town        1      0    0    1      0     2         0
Norwich City             1      0    0    1      0     2         0
Stoke City               1      0    0    1      0     2         0
Sunderland               1      0    0    1      0     2         0

Russell Town (
With thanks to Soccernet


Contributions: Ashley –
Subscriptions & Club Questions: Steve –
Technical Problems: Paul –

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 #319