Newsletter #372

What can I say that isn’t said in a variety of ways herein? Why is it City have still to score a goal in my time as Editor? I read an article recently about Everton’s predicament this season, in which Howard Kendall reckons they needed to hit the bottom of the Premiership before people at the club would accept they had a problem – perhaps the same is true for us? At this rate, we’ll be testing the theory before much longer.

This issue has reports, opinion; more news of the travels and activities of Blues around the world, a concise “Why Blue” and finally, just to cheer everyone up in our hour of need, there’s an interview with Johnny Crossan – a bit of nostalgia to remind us that we were good once.

I’ll be continuing to compile MCIVTA for Thursday’s issue (Ashley’s rush job just won’t lie down and die) so continue to send stuff to me up to Thursday evening. Issue 373 might be a bit later than usual but it should be mailed Friday evening at the latest.

Read ’em and try not to weep!

Next game, Ipswich, Wednesday 18th February 1998


Nationwide Div. 1
14th February 1998
Team: Wright, Brightwell, Edghill, Tskhadadze, Symons, van Blerk, Crooks, Whitley (Jim), Russell, Rösler, Bradbury.
Subs: Conlon, Beesley
Unused: Whitley (Jeff).
Att: 28,000 plus

A no win situation for City really. Playing a very poor team who nevertheless knew how to battle and were the personification of commitment. City have shown us (once in a blue moon) that we can get it together on the skill/tactics front this season. They have also shown us more recently that we also have battling qualities. We have, however, never seen these attributes together and unfortunately today we saw neither.

Given the importance of this match it was a major surprise that we capitulated in quite the manner we did. Symons had a token header tipped over during our 2 minutes of sustained pressure in the first half and Tskhadadze had a similar effort saved in the second half. That, I’m afraid, was about it. Rösler and Bradbury were never in it. Rösler did his best to make runs but was either never found with the pass or was closed down quickly when he did receive it. Russell, playing behind the front two looked lively but unsure of his rôle. Crooks was the chosen playmaker but as a newcomer couldn’t really be expected to gel immediately. Whitley worked hard but just wasn’t involved enough.

I think the reason I’m going on about individuals here is our main problem. We play like a bunch of (not very good) individuals. There is no pattern, no width, no spirit, no confidence, no everything really. If Gio (missing because Georgia insisted on playing him with an injury in midweek) sometimes looks like making things happen for us, it’s because he has enough individual ability to win a game on his own.

Bury’s goal was a pantomime. Patterson’s corner should have been cleared by Symons, but instead was headed straight back to the Bury man. His second attempt was met by Butler on the far post who squared it back across goal. Unfortunately Beesley couldn’t get out of the way and knocked it into his own net.

Shortly after the goal a Kippax City fan ran onto the pitch and ceremoniously tore up the tickets from his season ticket and scattered them onto the pitch before being escorted off to tumultuous cheers from the crowd. Actually, although the guy was acting on behalf of a large contingent of the crowd, I didn’t really approve as you could see the effect it had on the players. Surely waiting until the match was beyond reach would have been a better time to vent his frustration?

It could be argued that the match was beyond us at 3.00pm but if you’ve taken the trouble to turn up, you may as well support the team.

Final score: City 0 Bury 1.

On the way home the so-called experts were saying that this performance was the straw that broke the camel’s back and that something has to be done. The line in the sand had been crossed. Personally, I think the line in the sand was crossed when we lost to Huddersfield back in November. At least then we would have had time to rescue our season. Now with 15 games left it’s getting a bit tight if you assume a new man would take half a dozen games to assess the squad. By then it could be too late.

So what do we do? A guy called Makin claiming to hold 10 per cent of the shares said that he had been cold shouldered by FHL and that Franny’s insistence on controlling everything with his overpowering ego was like a shadow over the club. He also claimed to know of a significant 3rd party who was waiting in the wings to take over. All this may be speculation but given FHL’s record to date the only chance we have of saving our once great club is for FHL to stand up, be magnanimous, admit that he has failed, sell up and give someone else a chance.

I saw a fight between two City fans in front of me in the North Stand arguing about who was shouting the right things. I saw City fans throwing their scarves away as they left the ground. I felt sorry for Frank Clark when the chants of ‘Clark Out’ left him looking like an isolated figure standing on the touchline. Finally, I decided that I would not come back to Maine Road until something is done. It’s the only way I can think of to force Lee out. It’s not loyal, but my loyalty to City is more important than my loyalty to FHL, and I think I’m being more loyal to MCFC by staying away.

Ken Foster (


The starting line up was depleted, we were missing Dickov (who is always offside, and IMHO does not deserve first team footy), Wiekens, Kinkladze and Shelia. However, at left back we had ‘The King of the Air’, Kakhaber Tskhadadze making his début. The majority of the first half seemed to be played down the right wing, with Edghill continually hoofing the ball into the centre of the pitch only to have it cleared easily by the Bury defence. Within 10 minutes you could tell this was going to be one of those games where we battle away, but look clueless. Van Blerk appeared to be playing a left midfield position(?) and showed a distinct lack of pace here. Nevertheless, a lovely through ball from Kakhaber, to van Blerk 20 minutes in, the ball placed diagonally into the box to the feet of Bradbury(?), pushed towards the right hand post… and cleared off the line by a Bury defender. It was definitely going to be one of those games. The rest of the first half seemed to just wash over me. Kakhaber looks like a truly great player, and the King of the Air is definitely a fitting title, as I didn’t see him miss one header. The only problem is that if the referee is not suitably positioned, as happened a couple of times on Saturday, they may think Kakhaber’s having a ride, and award a free kick.

The second half began, and soon there was a substitution of Cap’n Bob for Beesley. Kit Symons took over the captaincy, and you immediately knew his game would deteriorate from here on. Sure enough, 10 minutes in, Bury win a corner, overhit it straight to Symons, who hoofs it back to the guy who took the corner: ‘That was crap mate, fancy another go?’ This time the ball was lifted into the six yard box, and I’m sure was knocked over the line by our own Beesley… don’t quote me on that as I was in Rusholme having a curry rather than watching Granada goals at home. There followed a frantic ten minutes of trying to claw back but Bury defended well and we simply looked clueless. The usual chants followed, which I don’t entirely agree with, and some chap in the Kippax expressed his frustration graphically by running onto the pitch, ripping up his season ticket and scattering it to the wind. I really felt sorry for Kakhaber. His first game in the shirt, he plays really well, but he’s greeted by chants of ‘We’re s**t, and we’re sick of it.’ This was probably the worst game I’ve seen this season. Roll on Wednesday night… it can’t get much worse… can it!

A Innes (


Saturday arrived and it seemed I’d forgotten that the words ‘entertainment’ and ‘MCFC’ are mutually exclusive; in fact, I’d forgotten that the club simply has to be contravening the Trades Descriptions Act every time it sells a ticket. Lending the day a sense of unreality was a bright, lucid winter sun which along with the fact that it seemed an age since the last home game, lulled me into feeling optimistic. As Churchill famously said, “you can fool some of the people all of the time…” – I’m apparently one of them!

Things took a downturn in early afternoon as the skies greyed over and we watched Bury run out in that kit of theirs which has a quintessential ‘lower league’ feel to it. There were enforced changes to the City line up, with Shelia, Brown and Dickov banned and Gio injured. I had thought that FC might have tried Russell up front in place of the woeful Rösler and indeed, as they ran out, I spotted both Russell and van Blerk, but confusingly, Rösler as well! Apparently our new striker-cum-left wing-back was now a striker-cum-left wing-back-cum-midfielder!

City controlled the first half for large periods and despite looking fairly ordinary going forward, could have scored 3 times. The first chance was an almighty scramble in the box in which the very average-looking Bury defence somehow managed to keep the ball out; the second was a good save from a Symons header and the last was a pretty awful miss from Bradbury when given a free header around 4 yards out. Bury tackled hard and harried City throughout, and at half time, the general consensus of opinion was that it would turn out 0-0.

In the second half, both teams made valiant efforts to fulfil our prediction but their toil was in vain, thanks to the timely intervention of (ex) Captain Calamity – Kit Symons. A Bury corner was dealt with well by the City defence and the ball fell to Symons, who had ample time to clear; instead he sliced the ball wildly and it looped across the pitch, landing perfectly at the feet of the Bury player who had just taken the corner. Suddenly, having all been moving out, the City defence had to about turn and run back as the ball was delivered in; predictably, a Bury player got on the end of it and the unfortunate Beesley (on for Cap’n Bob) could only divert it into our net.

With half an hour to go, City tried in vain to get an equaliser, but in truth were utterly clueless; there was no urgency, passion or commitment, with only Beesley looking animated, shouting and cursing at various other players – and he’s on the bloody transfer list! FC finished the game off by making another witless substitution, taking off one of our best midfielders (Whitley) and replacing him with Conlon – cue utter dismay and disapproval!

Match ratings:

Wright (7): One good save and the usual kicking!
Edghill (4): Edgy might be a half-decent left back but is a very poor wing back. He has little idea when going forward and crossing is a lottery; it really must be galling for strikers to make run after run whilst Edgy is ballsing around trying to trick a defender – usually unsuccessfully.
Bob (5): Defended well, but again looks totally out of his depth going forward with the ball.
Symons (4): He made several penetrating runs forward which unnerved the Bury defence, but the goal was yet again a direct result of another unforced Symons error. My personal reckoning is that we have now conceded around 8 goals which can unequivocally be attributed to Symons’ schoolboy play; I’m not taking plain poor defending into account in this, otherwise the total would be higher!
Tskhadadze (6): A few mix-ups undoubtedly caused by the language but looks to be settling in.
Van Blerk (7): Tried hard to get forward and did put a few good crosses in.
Crooks (4): Has poise and technical ability but is far, far too defensive.
Whitley (7): Caught in possession a few times but was the only player to give us attacking options in midfield.
Russell (3): Might as well not have played.
Rösler (3): Totally ineffectual, especially when running at defenders – definitely not his game.
Bradbury (3): No threat whatsoever.

Beesley (7): On for Bob, unlucky with the goal but surprisingly, looked like he cared!
Conlon (7): Only on for the last couple of minutes but he looked far more dangerous than any of the others, especially in challenges.

The crowd became very agitated during the second half with loud chants of “Clark out”, “Lee out”, “What the ***k is going on”, “We’re shit and we’re sick of it” and various others, all in the same vein. An incident which will undoubtedly enter the City folklore occurred midway through the second half when a guy in the Kippax lower tier ran onto the pitch and tore up his season ticket; he was escorted off to mass applause! There was loud booing at the end and apparently, nearly 2,000 protested after the game. According to GMR, most dispersed, but there were still over 100 conducting a sit-down demonstration over an hour later.

However, the most notable event of the day occurred in Cheadle Hulme at 5.30pm – well actually, I was in Cheadle Hulme at that time, and the event occurred on GMR. Steve had nipped into the off-licence for some Prozac substitute (Boddies and wine) whilst I waited outside, despondently listening to GMR. Finding myself increasingly irritated by the pontifications off Wilf the Red, the programme was illuminated by someone who actually knew what he was talking about – David Makin. Now David Makin is a the co-owner of JD Sports and 10% shareholder in the club; what was he ringing up for, did he want to tell us all to keep the faith and stick with Frannie? Nope! What came next was real (and undoubtedly still is) headline stuff, he was obviously pretty choked up and first of all apologised for speaking out on public radio when he’s a shareholder. He then went on to say that the club was in a terrible position and that the man responsible was – Francis Lee! He then went on to describe how FHL rode roughshod over all at the club and had created an appalling atmosphere in which it was very difficult to work. Furthermore, he was privileged to know that there were people waiting to come in and take over. He said that Frannie should swallow his pride and walk; however, he reckoned he’d be waiting for the best deal (read into that what you will) but that he shouldn’t wait too long as the price will drop dramatically when we hit the 2nd Division!

So, right from the horse’s mouth – and alluded to by various people over the last 6 months in MCIVTA – there is something very, very wrong inside the club. This could be an interesting week.



Utter S***e

Fans 10
Manager 0
Players 0
Chairman 0

I have never been so down as I was on Saturday. City normally offer a ray of hope that all is not lost but on Saturday there was nothing. It was just obvious that we are going to get relegated to Division 2. We have spent a lot of money on absolute garbage, players who cannot do the basics of football (i.e. pass, trap and shoot). When fans are on the pitch ripping up their season tickets something is not right, when a major shareholder is on the radio saying he has not attended matches for the last 6 months because of the chairman then things are in a bad way.

Frank Clark’s judgement, tactical awareness and motivational skills are not just unsure but are simply not present, he just has not got a clue when it comes to buying players, picking a team, setting the tactics and getting the players to follow the instructions. His team selection is always confusing, players seem to play one or two games then disappear despite doing well, others seem to do nothing or consistently play badly and are an automatic choice. His decisions to let players go out on loan to our relegation rivals are plain stupid, Scully is doing a great job for Stoke at the moment, why is he not doing it for us?

The players themselves have no pride or commitment. Many of them cannot even trap a ball and are incapable of making a simple pass. Ian Brightwell, our captain and leader, is meant to be a great athlete and a good player. He looks slow, short of stamina and nearly every touch send the ball out of play or to the opposition. He is an example of us keeping players that are simply not good enough, the fact that he cannot pass the ball to his own team but is in his 12th year at the club is a shocking example of mismanagement.

Other players are also to blame for the current situation:

  • Richard Edghill – cannot cross the ball.
  • Eddie McGoldrick – slow and here for the money.
  • Uwe Rösler – see above.
  • Gerry Creaney – is this man a footballer?

the list goes on and on.

I think City fans should brace themselves for a stint in Division 2 and a great deal of heartache, this is going to get worse before it gets better.

Glyn Owen (


Manchester City ‘Football’ Club vs. Bury Football Club
Saturday 14th February 1998

The day of the Watershed.

So there we were watching another ‘Lancashire’ derby at the Academy of Apathy, this time it’s not a big Lancs club but the minnows of Bury. Would this game be the springboard away from relegation or another support sapping defeat? As you may have already seen it was the latter.

Frank Clark’s Clowns XI lined up as:

Bob Kit Kakhaber (or however you spell it)
Ricky     Craig
  van Blerk
  Lee JimW
 Uwe Badbuy

Subs: Hair Bear, JeffW, Barree

Or did Russell and Berk swap their positions around?

Right the report, I can’t be bothered. Oh, City were dreadful (not the worst I’ve seen but certainly getting there), just insert the usual shortcomings (no pride, passion, commitment, etc.) and there the match is summed up. Bury were a poor team but at least they were a team, they played for each other. Patterson and Johnrose were the best players on the pitch, they wanted to win everything in midfield and usually did. It wasn’t as if some of the City ‘players’ were poor, the whole team (with possibly a couple of exceptions) were dreadful. When are the management team and the players going to realise what’s going on? The goal itself if it wasn’t so serious would have been classed as comical/farcical. Patterson took a poor corner, Kit sliced it away straight back to him, the second cross was perfect to the back post, Butler headed it back across goal, only for Beesley to head/chest/shoulder the ball home!

I honestly think this game could be the one that finally made us (the fans) lose their patience. The lad who ran on the pitch and tore his season ticket book up was warmly applauded, it took courage to do that but at least he’s publicly shown what he thinks of the team and club. There was a concerted effort from the fans to let everyone know what they thought of the situation, taunts and abuse centred on Lee and Clark. Long before the final whistle thousands had left the stands in disgust. The final whistle was met with a chorus of derision and the players skulked off, except Russell who at least acknowledged the fans, then Bury were politely applauded off. Fans tried getting on the pitch and from paper reports Rösler was confronted by someone as he left the pitch. I wonder if a defeat by the hands of Ipswich will bring things to a head and cause even more demonstrations? I’m going along and basically I’m going to have a good laugh.

The boardroom in-fighting was also brought to the surface, when Makin phoned GMR and basically said that he wanted Lee out. It looks like it’s going to be a long hard season’s run in.

Finally, the jokes on us, are the club taking the p***? Have you seen the price of the season tickets? The deadline for ‘bargains’ is March 31, the prices are as follows:

Main Stand BC     £300 Juniors/OAPs £215
Main Stand others £280    "     "   £200
Main Stand G           Oaps only    £100
Kippax Upper      £270 Juniors/OAPs £185
Kippax Lower      £220    "     "   £150
Platt Lane        £235    "     "   £180
Family            £160    "     "   £105
North Stand       £210    "     "   £150
Jnr Blues Adult   £185    "     "   £120

I’ve got a season ticket in the Upper Kippax, last year I bought it for £250 and that was after March 31. I’m sure that the price to March 31 for the upper tier was £220 (but I’ll stand corrected), so that’s a increase of 50 quid. How can the club justify such a hike? 270 quid to watch Second Division football, what a bargain! It looks like I’ll be moving to the North Stand next year, at least there’s an atmosphere and it’s cheaper!

Fed up, Martin Ford (


Saturday’s performance was not the worst I’ve seen, but I feel it is a turning point. After the match I heard the Bury manager say they only need 7 or 8 wins to ensure safety… they have the same points as us… I cannot see us scoring 8 goals in the remainder of the season let alone securing 8 wins.

I firmly believe that without an immediate change of Manager we are doomed!

Frank Clark is incapable of motivating the players. I heard a caller on GMR on Saturday who said that Clark’s plan was to buy a striker à la Collymore to get him out of trouble as he did at Forest; he has bought Bradbury… an ex-boxer. What did he used to box? Children? This plan has not worked and there is no plan B.

This is so apparent week after week, we are subjected to poor performances and poor excuses. It has been apparent to all bar Frank Clark and possibly Stevie Wonder that Uwe is a spent force and has been for nearly 3 years. It is apparent that we do not have a goalkeeper; neither Wright nor Margetson are up to scratch and yet nothing happens.

Frank Clark knows the writing is on the wall, he knows it’s only a question of time before the chop so like the band on the Titanic he plays on, he gets his money week in, week out… and when the chop comes he can look back on his career and convince himself that he achieved at Forest and black out the City experience.

Everyone calls for Clark’s head but who appointed Clark? Who appointed Ball? Who appointed Coppell? Who? You know.

I was on GMR after the came and Jimmy W**k said “but he is Blue through and through”… so are F****** Smurfs Jimmy!

Bring back Sammy Mac

Ian Ferguson (


Manchester City vs. Bury

Absolutely no fight

Absolutely no commitment

Absolutely no skill

Absolutely s***e

Absolutely certain we are going down



This is going to be a short match view because nothing exciting happened in this absolutely dire match. Both teams couldn’t pass or construct a decent attack but a special mention must go to Bradbury who was only able to find the Bury midfielders if he actually managed to touch the ball. Two appalling teams but the difference was Bury were prepared to battle. They chased after the ball, always pressurising and, because that’s the crap division we’re in, it’s the best tactic. City had no desire to win. Their attacking plan seemed to be hoof it down the left touchline to no-one or take everyone on not daring to shoot until they’ve actually beaten the last defender, which they couldn’t do.

City’s problem is that they’re spineless. This is both in attitude and formation. At least before we used to score before looking really s**t, now we’ve progressed to starting the match like this and still managing to get worse. No guts for the fight ahead is what it looks like to me. And as for the spine of the team, even if Wright-Shelia-Brown looks alright, who the hell is good enough to play up front and what about the rest of the team? Must be pretty bad otherwise surely we’d be doing better?

I could say like everyone else that Wiekens, Shelia and now Tskhadadze look like good defenders and Morley’s shown promise. Brown and Kinkladze are good midfielders and both the Whitleys look promising but all our strikers are b*****ks and that’s why we’re going to go down again. And how many promising players have failed to mature into the finished article, at least until they’ve left the Academy?

Team ratings are quite easy:

Van Blerk, Brightwell, Symons, Crooks, Russell, Bradbury and Rösler were all s***e and fairly anonymous. In fairness Kit started well but he just got worse. Wright would probably be in this group but he didn’t have anything to do.
Edghill – pretty good in comparison but he’s so clearly an attack minded full back.
Tskhadadze – won loads in the air and quite constructive on the ground. Again looks a good player but we’re only allowed three non-EC in the team so no more Georgians unfortunately.
Jim Whitley – best City player and why he was taken off I’ve no idea. Don’t give me all this ‘he was tired and we felt he needed a rest’ b*****ks. Constructive, tackled well, wasn’t afraid to shoot. If he gives the ball away a few times it’s still not as often as the rest of the team did.
Conlon – our only sub. and let’s face it, when he comes on you don’t think ‘wow we’ve really got an extra attacking dimension now’ do you? At least for your sakes I hope not.

So that’s it, looking at the fixtures I would have thought 14 points from the next 7 games was perfectly achievable, but I reckon we could be hard pushed to better 5. Doom, gloom and yet more doom and not a corner or even a slight bend in sight.

Thomas Bodey (


Monday 16th February

Apologies for abandoning the usual format of daily reports, but I’ll be honest with you, I found it too depressing to write all this over the weekend. I’ll do my best to take things in chronological order, and I’ll try to keep it cheerful! But it’s pretty much all bad so brace yourselves!

It started on Friday when it began to emerge that Gio hadn’t actually recovered as well as was at first thought. Indeed FC was so incensed by the whole situation that the club have lodged an official complaint against the Georgians for forcing Kinkladze to play even though he wasn’t fit! Gio apparently even had to borrow a pair of boots because he hadn’t bothered to take his own, knowing full well he wouldn’t be able to play! This outrageous behaviour of course led to City’s most creative, well, let’s be honest, only creative player missing the vital derby against Bury. And we all know the depressing significance that that could actually have! Speaking before the Bury game (so no one can accuse him of abusing hindsight) FC said, “We will be sending a letter to them. I am very upset about it. His ankle was so swollen on Saturday night that we didn’t even want Kinkladze to travel. But from a goodwill point of view we agreed. They were helpful in allowing us to play him at Norwich when they could have been dogmatic and insisted he flew out three days earlier for a soccer tournament. You can’t stop Football Associations taking players these days even if injured. But I expected him to turn up and see their medical people for treatment. They forced him though, to play even when he clearly wasn’t fit. Kinkladze wasn’t very happy about it. It’s not as if the match mattered that much. We couldn’t stop him travelling to Malta but the decision is then up to the Georgian medical men, and I would have hoped they would have shown some common sense. Kinkladze didn’t even take his boots to Malta because he didn’t think he’d be able to play after he was stretchered off at Norwich; he just stood in the centre circle for 90 minutes and hardly got involved.”

Fulham boss Ray Wilkins has denied that he’s set to sign Eddie McGoldrick despite reports to the contrary. Wilkins said, “I have seen the stories and looked at them with interest but there is no truth in them. I suspect it’s something put about by Eddie’s agent; he would obviously like to come back to London and wants people to know. I haven’t made an approach for him, or even spoken to Manchester City. There is nothing in it.” I did warn you it was all bad news! Millwall are also rumoured to be interested but there’s probably no truth in that either!

We’ve rejected a bid from Stoke for left winger Tony Scully apparently, suggesting that perhaps wingers aren’t all treated like lepers at Maine Road after all. The Republic of Ireland under-21 international has been on loan at the Britannia Stadium since the end of January but he’ll return to Maine Road when the deal expires in two weeks’ time. Scully is on a pay as you play deal at City with his old club getting paid on the number of appearances he makes for the Blues. So far, he’s started just one game, plus eight as substitute, so you can rest assured we won’t exactly be desperate to stick him in the team unless we absolutely have to!

Deep breath! Right, it’s not funny anymore is it? I honestly thought when that fan ran onto the pitch after Beesley’s wonderful first touch (for those who don’t know, one irate supporter got onto the playing surface and ripped up his season ticket to deafening applause!) that it was Jeremy Beadle or Noel Edmonds coming on to tell us that we’d been framed/Gotcha’d or something! But sadly no. We lost. To Bury. And unsurprisingly there was loud booing and a massive demonstration outside the main entrance for over an hour after the game. The protest was largely peaceful, although I did see some stone throwing, a car get trashed and some kid get stood on by a police horse (look, that’s peaceful for Moss Side okay?) but it was mostly singing anti-board and Clark songs.

As I got back into my car I was amazed to hear a passionate rant from none other than David Makin (of JD Sports fame), a man who owns over 10% of the shares himself, and with his partner almost 20%. “I’ve had enough and I’ll be doing my best over the next few weeks to remove the chairman,” blasted Makin who is now represented on the City board by Dennis Tueart. “I don’t know whether he is being bloody minded or stubborn or proud but if I was him I think I’d put a moustache on and a cap and a hat and hide because I’d be so embarrassed by what I’d done at Maine Road. There are people ready behind the scenes waiting to come in. It can happen and I think it should happen. I’m privileged to know that information and I want to go on record and say that the chairman, if he has any pride, should be walking away. He’ll be hanging around for the cash to get the best deal but that deal is going to be a damn sight worse if we are in the Second Division. I’ve seen enough. I know the fans are hurt. I go in the Kippax and have been near to tears and the first thing I’d do when Francis has gone is invite the fan who ran on to the pitch against Bury to rip up his season ticket into the directors’ box because he sums up how the fans feel. I think there’s a massive chemistry problem within the club. Francis Lee overrides everybody and tries to be dominant and if you haven’t got a happy workplace then there’s problems and I don’t think City is a happy workplace. I think Frank Clark’s tactics leave a lot to be desired but the main problem is upstairs and Francis should do us all a favour and keep his promise to go.” He also revealed that he hadn’t been to Maine Road for over six weeks after a bust up with Franny. Makes the appointment of Dennis Tueart to the board more logical wouldn’t you think? But it also makes you wonder what happened to make a businessman who effectively owned a fifth of a massive company such as City feel as though he couldn’t stand to go near the place again?

There’s a rumour that, if City are relegated they’ll be humiliatingly dumped by new kit manufacturers Kappa! The club have a five year deal with the Italian sportswear company but it’s thought that the Italians are much too proud of their reputation to have their only English representation languishing in the Second Division.

Finally, I hear tonight that Thursday night’s board meeting could be a momentous one in the history of MCFC. Speculation is rife that vice president Raymond Dunn and David Makin are currently finalising a boardroom coup that will end FHL’s reign at Maine Road with immediate effect. The pair will then invite financial backers to help them rebuild the club and provide money for new players, and that a big name manager (not Joe Royle!) has been targeted to replace Frank Clark! Ruud Gullit anyone?

Whatever happens, Friday’s MCIVTA News will be a lively one and I promise I’ll steel myself to do a better job with that than I have this one! You know how it is though, sometimes it all just gets on top of you and you don’t even want to think about it! Keep the faith and get down to Maine Road on Wednesday if you possibly can and do your bit for the cause! Every voice is desperately needed!

Steve McNally (


The MCIVTA T-shirts have been a reasonable success. I have paid the suppliers in full and have now sold 115 of the 200 T-Shirts we ordered. All the original outgoings less the postage will have been covered when I have sold another 15 shirts. The only problems encountered really have been the higher cost of sending to overseas subscribers although some people have been kind enough to give me a little extra (thanks Phil Lines in the Cayman Islands), and the fact that payment for the shirts is necessary before they have been sold. Maybe if we do this again we would need to have a longer period for advance orders. We have another 200 or so subscribers now so if anyone would like a shirt they can e-mail me for ordering details. The cost is £7.25 plus postage.

Ken Foster (


The proposed game against Huddersfield Town on March 1st has now been cancelled due to a lack of a team on MCVITee’s behalf. So anyone who was interested in playing, I can only offer my apologies, hopefully next time!

There are plans to play County on the morning of the League match (April 4) so here’s prior warning, anyone fancy this game?

Also, would anyone like to play another of the teams in the IFA League, this time it’s an international – AEK Athens?

Martin Ford (


Noel Bayley – Editor of Bert Trautmann’s Helmet

Bury, I ask you! I live round the corner from Gigg Lane; I can see the lights and hear the roar of the crowd from our house. Alright so I made the second bit up, but how do you think I feel? Before the game there in September I told the kids in the local chippy that I’d stand them all a fish and chip supper if Bury won. I mean to say, it was a safe bet, wasn’t it? Luckily, Dave Morley got me off the hook (no pun intended) to the tune of about four pound odd. Unluckily for Morley he hasn’t started a game since. Not surprising really as he’s still only one goal behind Clueless Clark’s star buy, Lee Bradbury and we couldn’t have a rookie defender upstaging the new Steve Daley now, could we?

And so to Saturday. I won’t bore you with the gory details and anyway, with the help of several cell-loosening pints down The Parkside, I’ve managed to forget both of them, although the one-man-season-ticket-tearing-demo spoke volumes. This was both a catalytic and climactic action and one that generated bigger ripples than anything the so-called ‘Free The Manchester 30,000’ have come up with. In years to come it may well be remembered as a defining moment in the history of Manchester City Football Club. I hope so.

The Bury game – or at least Paul Beesley’s o.g. – might also have proffered an unlikely defining moment in the life and times of N.E. Bayley Esq. After all, it’s going to be a good six months before I can set foot in the local chippy and so you can expect to see a stick-thin fanzine editor flogging his wares outside the North Stand before very long. It was bad enough before having Bury fans sniggering behind their hands and making cracks like: “Here he is, the City fan!” before collapsing on the floor in a heap, but now?

Mind you, I snook in there the other night, incognito-like. I’m not having a shave until City win again, you see. By that time I fully expect to have been approached by ZZ Top’s management and handed a lucrative showbiz career.

Noel Bayley (


It may seem that this piece has been motivated by Saturday’s disastrous result. It hasn’t. I’d have liked to have managed to write it in time for inclusion in MCIVTA 371, but unfortunately work commitments meant I didn’t have time. However, I can’t let Claudio Avrili’s piece in MCIVTA 370 pass without comment.

Six weeks ago, I wrote a long piece calling for Frank Clark’s sacking and more recently, I criticised his tactics at great length, so my views are no secret. Claudio, on the other hand, paints a very rosy picture of the job FC is currently doing. I wouldn’t want to argue that Frank has a poor managerial track record and nor would I claim that there’s nothing positive about his management of City. However, while Claudio makes a number of very valid points, I really feel that he ignores very obvious shortcomings in the way Frank has gone about his job in the last eight months.

My concern over our plight is, and has always been, motivated by the prospect of relegation. This spectre is becoming increasingly real with every game we fail to win – any team in the bottom three of its division having played over two thirds of its fixtures is in serious danger of going down. We are averaging less than a point per game and we’ve scored seventeen goals in our last 23 fixtures. Against the teams in the bottom half of the table, we’ve won two out of seventeen matches, picked up a pathetic twelve points, and scored an even more dismal eleven goals.

These statistics make clear that we are, even by the standards of Nationwide League Division One, a very poor side. While my opportunities to watch City in action are limited by the fact that I now live 2,000 miles from the UK, I have seen nine matches this season in their entirety (most of them thanks to TV coverage). This is enough to form an opinion as to the quality both of our team and of the clubs we’re competing against. Among the games I’ve witnessed have been fixtures against Crewe, Huddersfield, Tranmere and Bury. My impression has not been that these teams are footballing mean machines who would scare the life out of Brazil’s 1970 World Cup winners. They were all hard working and well organised, but I felt they were all desperately mediocre in terms of quality. However, Bury are level on points with us and have just beaten us on our own ground; the other three are all ahead of us in the league (in fact, Crewe are now ten points ahead). In the games in question, we didn’t look superior to any of these opponents. We are not in a false position and, in my view, Frank Clark has done much to bring about this state of affairs.

A recurring theme in Claudio’s piece is that FC should be excused from blame for our plight because he does not have the resources to compete for top quality in the transfer market and that, in any case, players of this pedigree would not want to play in the Nationwide League. This would be a valid reason for not being able to compete with Manchester United, Juventus or Barcelona but to say that we need to buy Baggio or the new George Weah to compete with Stockport or Crewe is simply beyond my comprehension. Maybe I’ve missed out on news of a couple of sensational pieces of transfer business which have seen Ronaldo go to ply his trade at Gresty Road and Alan Shearer move to Edgeley Park.

Since arriving at Maine Road, FC has spent over £7 million net on new players, most of it since the end of last season. I am emphatically of the opinion that seven million pounds should constitute a sufficient transfer budget to create a team capable of avoiding relegation to the third tier of English football. Of the teams I’ve mentioned in this piece, Tranmere, Bury, Crewe and Stockport have all made hefty profits on transfers – in other words, the difference in expenditure between us and them over the last year is approaching ten million pounds. I wouldn’t argue for a moment that all of FC’s fourteen signings have proved to be duds by any means, and from my limited viewings, Horlock, Wiekens and Shelia in particular have looked impressive. However, to my mind, it’s virtually impossible to avoid the conclusion that Frank has wasted a large part of the transfer budget available to him.

As evidence of this, consider the following:

  • Lee Bradbury cost three million pounds, and has scored twice infifteen appearances. Claudio writes that as there were no “finishedarticle” strikers available, we “had to make an investment purchase.”Maybe there weren’t players of the quality we’d have liked, but therewere undoubtedly strikers available with proven track records atDivision One level. For example, Charlton signed Clive Mendonca foraround one fifth of what we paid for Bradbury.
  • Tony Vaughan was signed from Ipswich specifically to fill theleft back position. He’s played five games there and both he and Frankhave said that his true position is centre back. With respect, I reallythink Frank should have realised this before completing the signing.
  • We signed Craig Russell in a swap deal valued at a millionpounds. He’s a striker. He’s played most of his games as a wing back.If Frank wanted a wing back, shouldn’t he have bought one?

These three players cost in excess of five million pounds between them. That fact makes a mockery of claims that Frank has been acting prudently in the transfer market.

I don’t propose to dwell on tactical issues, since I’ve already aired my views in detail. Suffice it to say that I remain totally unconvinced that the 3-5-2 formation is appropriate. We need to win games (to stay up, we probably need to double our tally of victories) and to do so, it stands to reason that we need to score goals. It’s worth repeating that we’ve managed 17 in the last 23 fixtures. There is no attacking option other than Kinkladze. We have no proper wing backs. The strikers we have would be much more likely to thrive on service from wide positions. Claudio says urbanely that “FC thinks the best formation is 3-5-2 … [and] I’ll take his word for it.” I don’t think we have to take Frank’s word for it because there is an objective measure of a football team’s performance – results. Less than a point a game over the season and the goal ratio we’ve managed over the last four and a half months say that Frank is wrong. Of course, following his winger purge (managing to transfer, loan out or transfer list every decent crosser of the ball in the club), his options for change are much less than they might have been.

Yet another area where I’d find fault with FC is his general team selection policy. Decisions simply seem to be taken on a very haphazard basis. Certain players have enjoyed long, uninterrupted runs in the team despite reportedly performing poorly on a regular basis. On the other hand, Morley, Brown and Jim Whitley were all dropped despite playing well. In October and November, Heaney, Greenacre, Conlon and Ray Kelly all led the attack only to be dropped after one or two games. We then recalled Gerry Creaney from Burnley only to substitute him after 45 minutes and consign him to the reserves. None of this inspires very much confidence in FC’s ability in this area.

As I said, I do think Claudio makes a number of extremely valid points, and I don’t intend this piece to be taken as personal criticism. I appreciate that he cares about the club deeply and that his opinions reflect this. I know that FC had an excellent three years at Forest, that he turned us round last year, that he’s made a number of astute changes at the club which are likely to pay dividends in future and that there are persuasive arguments in favour of managerial stability. I also agree that, during games, fans should get behind the team, and I’ve always tried to do so when I attend matches. There are times (such as now) when it’s perfectly proper to voice discontent, but there are appropriate media for this – we need the team to play better, and barracking them certainly won’t help.

The current situation at Maine Road is so bad that I really think we’re entitled to ask some pretty searching questions. We’re staring relegation in the face, and unless we can turn things round quickly, we will go down. I genuinely believe that, with the transfer expenditure we’ve made, we shouldn’t be in the position we’re now in. In my view, major factors which have contributed to our disastrous season have been poor transfer dealings, inept team selection and unsuitable tactics. A manager of a football club is responsible for all of these areas and it’s fair that he should take the criticism when his decisions help to cause things to go so badly wrong.

Peter Brophy (


It would appear that some fans still seem to think that we are a Premiership club in waiting. All we have to do is change the manager, put someone in like George Graham or Ruud Gullit and things will come right very quickly. The reality is that problems are much, much deeper than just having a the wrong man as manager (we have the best one available anyway).

I just want in this piece to answer Charles’s points bit by bit. It’s not meant as a personal attack. I don’t know Charles and I hope Charles wouldn’t take it as personal. His views though are expressed by a wide section of fans and I want to try and nail some misassumptions once and for all.

I feel very bemused by Claudio Avrili’s comments in MCIVTA 370. Facts do not lie, we are 4th from bottom of the 1st Division with relegation to the 2nd Division a real possibility. This is not the result of a good management team. If, Claudio, you’ve watched all the games at Maine Road this season, you’ll know that FC’s tactics are not working.

How many good First Division, even Premiership players do we actually have? And how many of those – Horlock, Wiekens, Shelia, Mr Scrabble, Bradbury and Russell – have been brought in over the last 12 months by the “management team”?

We play far too defensively and give too much respect to the away side. I cite the Sunderland and Forest games as evidence of this.

In other words, we play like a side that is near the bottom of the table – nervous, with very little confidence. There’s very little the management team can do to allay that when you are a struggling First Division side – and face facts, we are. Both of those games you mention were also against much better sides than ours.

We need width to exploit the wide Maine Road pitch. We also need to start playing individuals in their favoured positions.

1. We have only highly unproven talent in the wings. The rest (including the ones we sold) were either old or not good enough in the longer term.
2. We’ve had to play players out of position because there is so little quality. You either ship what quality you can across the team, or you let yourself get caught time and again in positions where players are either inexperienced or crap. A mate of mine took a look at the main City formation before the recent Georgian signings and simply said “take Kinkladze out and that’s not much of a side.” He’s right and everyone knows it’s right, including FC.

Frank has played an attacking midfielder (Horlock) and a striker (Russell) in the left wing-back position.

Horlock has been one of our best players from left midfield – perhaps not a natural winger but he’s done very well. Russell has had to play on the left when Horlock has filled the gap presumably because FC thinks (a) as a quick, skilful midfielder/attacker he could do a job on the wing, and (b) he’s a decent player who could do better than anyone else. Yes, even van Blerk.

Okay, I accept the bit about proven quality not wanting to join City, but that is a rather poor excuse.

It’s not an excuse. If they don’t want to come, you won’t force them to come. Besides to get us out of our current position this season, we don’t need more untried youngsters. We need experience and given the financial position the club has been in since the yo-yo years began in 83/84, it’s patently clear we can’t afford it in all one season.

We have to face the fact that FC does not know a good player when he sees one, and he is not even sure how to pick his best 11. His past record speaks for itself.

Compare the players who have left or who are on loan or who are on the way out to the players coming in, and tell me on balance that we are getting worse players in. There are players like Brannan and Vaughan who are the exception, but given the abuse they’ve had, they’ll need time away from the spotlight to get their confidence back again. What about all the others that I’ve mentioned earlier on – are they really worse than the Kernaghans, the Cloughs, the Frontzecks of this world?

I get the impression through this and other posts, that certain fans still think we are regarded as a sleeping giant just waiting to burst to the surface of the Premiership. We are regarded as a club that has no money, no short-term future and no other image than a laughing stock. It is going to take a full season before we have a full side that’s capable of taking on the First Division.

I agree that Alan Ball is partly responsible for our current problems, but who appointed him? Frannie Lee’s poor wage structure is also to blame for our lack of quality players. When we got relegated we should have kept our Premier League players or replaced them with other Premier League players (see Forest and Boro), but we didn’t. Frannie said Quinn, Coton etc… were too expensive. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys!

Easy to say, but if we don’t have the money, then what do we do? Put Boris Yeltsin in charge and get him to pay the players’ wages? We have no money to pay for the big flashy foreign signings, or indeed the English signings. The club has had to reduce the number of players on the first-team squad – 50 is way too many so you sell what you can. Sadly, not many clubs fell for it and didn’t want anybody.

The long-term is bright. The financial position is getting better. It’s a strong possibility that we may be in the Second Division for the first time ever next year, but the playing side are also making steady improvements. When we have relative back-room stability compared to having 5 managers a season, why change things? Think of the long-term.

Chris Egerton (


I can’t disagree with those that say FC doesn’t seem to be able to motivate, can’t pick a sensible team, buys badly etc., it’s just that we have played sack the manger so often that no one would take City seriously if it was done again. I don’t want to hear about why or when FC should go – I do want to hear all the realistic suggestions of who would come to Maine Road and take his place. At the moment I think we may have to stick with FC even if we go down and I hope we don’t.

Incidentally I have been watching lower division football as well as City this season and the following teams were worse than City: Doncaster, Grimsby, Scunthorpe but these on the day were better than City: Leyton Orient, Gillingham, Peterborough and from the non-league Kidsgrove (by a long way). By better I mean: trapped the ball within a 5 metre radius, passed to people on their own side, played football on the ground and occasionally hoofed it and generally looked as though they knew each other.

Lower division football even non league is not always hugely different from some of the stuff we have been seeing and if City can’t do well in Division 1 I don’t give them a huge chance of succeeding in Division 2 either.

I will however be watching them next season whatever happens.

Peter Llewellyn (


Our latest home loss to Bury leaves me in no doubt:

  1. City are s**t.
  2. On current form we will drop.
  3. Kinkladze (loyal though he is) will leave City at or before the end of the season.
  4. At the end of the season, Frank Clark will do the honourable thing and fall on his sword.

Somebody please tell me that I’m wrong.

George Larcos (


Consider these three signings to bolster the Blues:

  1. West ham’s ex-England full back and tough guy Julian Dicks.
  2. Former Boro striker with a good record in this division, Uwe Fuchs.
  3. Elegant German midfielder with World Cup experience Steffan Kuntz.

They may not make a great impact on the pitch but the radio commentary would be more interesting!

Auf wiedersehen, AL (?E-Mail Address?)


In yesterday’s (Feb 14) edition of the ‘Groninger Dagblad’, the paper here in the north east of Holland, there was some news on Wiekens’ injury. Like many Veendam supporters, including me, the paper still follows how Wiekens is doing at City. In December he had some of his old mates from Veendam coming over in Manchester!

He’s suffering from injured left ankle. He’s had the same injury 2 years and sidelined him for 6 matches. He thinks the Ipswich game will be too soon for him but expects to be fit after that. He has trained very hard last Friday and felt very good about it.

When asked about City’s position, he said everyone understand the situation and how worried the supporters are. However FC’s place is still not at stake though Wiekens believes that may change after yesterday’s game…

Veendam/City forever, Henk Timmer (


I’ve been trying to keep up with City results, but they are somewhat hard to come by here in the States. I try to get an occasional copy of the London Times to find the match results, and I tend to find that City have been on the end of some crap scores and like many others, I feel that if City don’t get their s*** together, they are most definitely headed south.

FC has done a decent job, but the players don’t seem to be helping him all that much. I would hope they stay in Division 1 this year and come out with a strong club next year and work toward promotion to the Premiership. By the way, the US national team defeated the Brazilian national team in the CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer tournament by a score of 1-0 in a semi-final match. I don’t think any other national teams will take the US national team very lightly anymore.

Paul Vary (


On your piece about the Argie youth internationals, a friend in Buenos Aires sent me a cutting from the BA Herald, which reported the teenagers’ visit to City. The sports editor added a note to the effect that none of them had in fact played for Argentina, and were unknown to him!

Howard Davies (


I’d like to ask two questions:

  1. About two weeks ago there was a table on the list concerning theamount of games played in the top flight by numerous clubs. I’d liketo know if there are any books available in which there are more ofthose statistics (Like who won the 1932 Cup final or how many timeshas Bury been promoted to the First Division).
  2. This May me and some friends are hoping to visit a match inEngland; I’d just like to know if I can just go to the stadium a daybefore the match and buy the tickets or do I have to have some kindof club card or something?



I’ve lived in Gibraltar for the last 9 years (having lived in Sale Moor, Timperley, Ashton-on-Mersey and Sedgeley Park before that) and only managed to get back to see City on family-visiting trips. The last was Xmas when my son (who’s mad City) and myself saw the Forest game. I’ve got to go to Swindon next week and am supposed to be flying back to Gib on 20/2/98. I’ll delay it if there’s a chance of a ticket. I’ll try Swindon FC when I get to UK but in the meantime any ideas?

Another question. My lad is 10 years old. I, like all fathers I suppose, convinced him when he was 2 or 3 that there was only one team (or in my opinion club) in the world worth supporting. Well being out here we see loads of footie on Sky and Spanish TV (live on Saturday featuring that other League) so he’s only seen City on the box apart from the Forest match at Xmas and a match against Leeds a few years back (0-0 surprise surprise). So no wins for him yet on TV or live. However, he still sits with me and listens to the radio on Five Live, which we get, has all the latest gear, and has more posters, scarves and stuff in his room than you would think possible. Worse than that is that as this is Gibraltar every bugger and his dog supports the rags (no capital r they don’t deserve it) except for me, my son, a bloke called Mossy from Sale, a Gibbo builder and a guy in the forces. My question is:-

Do I continue to tell him that things will get better (like I’ve been doing for years) or do I suggest he gets himself a second team (like the Arse) who’d at least give him a win now and again?

Believe me it’s worse being away than going to the games. I know that when you’re at the match if City are crap at least you’ll get a laugh from the fans taking the mick out of everything. I know because I used to go to most away games as well as all at home before I left. I remember the fancy dress at Brighton, the Milk Cup penalty shoot-out at Stoke, Wembley 81 (both Sat and Thurs), Blackpool anytime etc. My son ain’t got any of that and I’m gutted for him more than for myself. His only defence is “when did you last see your team or where do they play?” (for the rags).

Christ I’ve depressed meself now.

I would say however that since I’ve been in Gib I’ve made about 6 trips back and while I’ve been there City have played around 15 games. We’ve only ever lost one, Forest), won around 12 and drawn the rest. So helping me out with a ticket may get us 3 points.

Ken Robinson (


I’m going back to Manchester in March, and will be going back to NZ through Indonesia. I’ll be arriving in Jakarta on the 14th April, and departing Bali on the 3rd of May. If there are any Blues who would be interested in getting together, I’d appreciate it.

Herne Bay Blue, Mike Mulvaney (


Some of us have met (mostly on Saturday 7th February) and some haven’t but one thing weve all got in common is we are Blues in Japan so who’s up for starting a Manchester City Supporters’ Club Japan Branch (or something like that!)?

Of course you might be wondering why should we? And that’s a good question. Here are some reasons I’ve come up with.

  • There isn’t one
  • Swap videos (and I’ll start the ball rolling – see below)
  • Attend Simply Red concerts in Tokyo and shout obscenities at Mick Hucknall
  • Organise regular trips to Maine Road (er well it would be nice wouldn’t it?)
  • Set up a link with MCFC so we can get tickets lined up for us when any of us make a trip back (this is serious)
  • Advertise in City publications regularly so that Blues coming out to live here have someone to contact
  • Meet other City fans ’cause, why not?
  • Advertise in Japanese publications to find more Blues – there’s got to be more here surely?
  • Get ready for the mother of all parties when we get promoted back into thePremiership at the end of next season (we are not going down) – I wonder ifthere is a bar in Roppongi that might host it (hint! hint!)
  • Go to the next Tribal Gathering in Manchester – it was a lonely trip for melast November (ahh!)
  • Meet up with Blues in Hong Kong (I know a couple)
  • And the rest of Asia
  • Welcome OZBOZ – a mad for it Blue in Australia who is dropping by next September/October
  • Recommend Japanese talent to Frank Clark – I was thinking of a back four ofAkebono, Takanohana, Wakanohana and Musashimaru – no one’s going to get past them!
  • Get ourselves a strange T-shirt with bizarre Japanese English on it – Let s Being Blue – since 1998
  • Find the Japanese trawler man that supports us (straight up – there is a trawler man somewhere in the Pacific that likes the Blues)
  • There’s eleven of us (which is ten more than I knew of six months ago)
  • And well goodness knows there must be other reasons

I’ve got a few City videos and a multi-format video deck that allows me to convert PAL – NTSC. So if you are interested in seeing any of the following then can you send me a blank vid and a couple of hundred yen in postage stamps and I’ll do it for you pronto.

I’ve got;

  • City vs. West Ham (FA Cup January 98)
  • The 5-1 (September 89)
  • Bell, Lee, Summerbee
  • The 1976 League Cup Final
  • Season Highlights 88/89 (the promotion campaign)
  • Season Highlights 89/90
  • Season Highlights 90/91
  • and loads of Shooting Stars with Vic & Bob

Also if any of you have been sent videos but never got around to converting them then I’ll do them too.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Paul Banzai-Burns (a.k.a. Dolphin in a Tutu) (


In response to John Bradley’s sighting of a Blue in Nagano, I saw a couple of City shirts at the 1st Test in the West Indies. Anyone else see that? Sure made me jump around and feel proud to be Blue!

CTID, Benjamin Harry Bloom (


Johnny Crossan has a sports shop in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. He was my very first hero at Maine Road and it was great tracking him down and even more fun was the fact that he agreed to do an interview for The memories I have of him holding up that 2nd Division Championship in 1966 will always be with me. Like all of the ex-City players I have interviewed for the City Internet fans I found him charming, humorous and a great credit to the name of Manchester City Football Club. I phoned him at his shop and we agreed I would phone him again a week later with my questions. I kept my questions mainly to his time at Maine Road when the greatest team in our history was beginning to take shape. Our interview was really more of a chat and I have extracted the main points.

Me: Thanks for agreeing to this interview John.

JC: No problem son.

Me: What did you think of Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison?

JC: I just arrived about a month before they arrived. Joe had this thing about football, which was so simple that it was difficult for some guys to understand. He had a great saying “if you don’t have the basic principles, and use the basic principles then your football becomes difficult.” If you get the ball and pass it forward and play it to one of your players you will eventually create chances and get goals. Malcolm was the opposite.

I’d known some great coaches at previous clubs but Malcolm Allison was the best of them all. Juventus offered him £1,000 a week, at the time that was a fortune, so that bears it out. Malcolm used to say to me: “Cross, all I want you to do is get the ball and go at them. You are brilliant, take them on inside the box, you are good at it.” Malcolm had a great technique in seeing weaknesses in football teams. One great example was when we played Everton, we used to play Mike Summerbee at centre forward. Malcolm had a theory about Ray Wilson. He would get to the halfway line then fire the ball to the far post. So he didn’t bother getting Mike Summerbee to mark Ray Wilson when he came forward. Ray Wilson, it’s unheard of isn’t it letting such a World Class player do what he likes. When Ray Wilson came forward we used to knock the ball in behind him and Mike would move from the centre forward position to the outside right position. He found himself in acres of space and Mike Summerbee going forward was as good a sight as you would see in football.

Me: You didn’t play in any derby games in Manchester?

JC: I was rank unlucky, I was captain of the Club at the time. Malcolm said I was injured but I possibly could have played when we played United at Old Trafford, they beat us 1-0. I was beginning to fall out of favour a bit with Malcolm at the time. I wish I had played against United for City. I played against United on numerous times with Sunderland and Middlesbrough though.

Me: Do you remember the Cup ties vs. Blackpool in 1966?

JC: We had a guy called David Connor, tie-jeer they called him. He stuck to Alan Ball like glue. That is one of the most difficult things a player can do. Joe and Malcolm said to tie-jeer if you don’t give Bally a kick and you don’t get a kick throughout the match you would have played a blinder for Manchester City. And he did that. David had the jinx on Bally. I remember Bally jumping up on the wall at Maine Road and David Connor jumping on the wall next to him. David did a tremendous job on him. He wasn’t the most gifted player but he really got Bally going during them games. I think he had his name taken a couple of times over the two matches. David didn’t do it with anybody else, George Best was too good. An exceptional player. David wasn’t the best player in the world, had nothing much going for him, a direct winger. I always remember his face smiling when Bally used to say “get that b*****d out of my way.”

Me: What do you remember of our first season back in the First Division in 1966?

JC: It was a most cruel baptism, a tremendous amount of matches. I remember West Ham being 4-1 up at half-time in one game and Chelsea beating us 4-1 at Maine Road.

Me: Do you remember that great performance at Elland Road when we lost to Leeds 0-1 in a Cup tie?

That was one of the first goals Big Jack Charlton scored when standing in front of the goalkeeper. I remember when we got to Manchester we used to go to the Grand Hotel for a pint. I remember after the Leeds game Joe gave me £400 saying go and get the lads a drink Cross, they did great. I thought we played really well and should have won that match. Joe used to say them b*****ds at Leeds always give us tough games.

Me: What did you think of that great Leeds United team?

JC: Leeds had a fabulous team at the time. The were the best balanced team there possibly has ever been in English football. At Leeds you had Terry Cooper, Normar Hunter and Eddie Gray out and out left footers. Great team all the way through even though their goalkeeper was dodgy, Sprake. When you have got a great left side in your team you have perfect balance. They were balanced perfectly. If you get young lads and one is right footed and the other is left footed. The Club will take the left footer 20 times more serious because they look more natural. That Leeds team was sensational at times with Bremner driving them forward.

Me: What were the reasons behind you leaving Maine Road?

JC: After training we used to have a cup of tea with Johnny Hart, Dave Ewing and Jimmy Meadows. Anyway, Joe told me to hang on. He said Stan Anderson of Middlesbrough wanted me. Joe said “John you are the only guy we can get money for at the moment” but if you want to stay you can stay. They had just signed Summerbee and Bell. They had bought Colin Bell on HP. I asked them who they were buying and they said Francis Lee. I played with Stan at Sunderland. So Stan wanted me and Joe wanted a few quid so it became reasonably good for me.I will be terribly honest with you, I never wanted to leave Manchester. It’s a great City. I’ve been back numerous occasions. If I had not left it would have easily meant I would have fallen out of grace with Joe and Malcolm so I left. But it became a good move for me financially.

Me: Who was your favourite player?

I played against Greavsie at all levels. Jimmy Greaves was the daddy of them all. He made things look so easy. Billy Bremner and Alan Ball were workers. John White was more natural so was George Eastham.

Me: What do remember of Stan Bowles?

JC: Stan couldn’t get in the team then. The money was phenomenal for Stan. He was a wonderful player. Stan just couldn’t handle it. He loved the horses and the races. I remember Malcolm saying to me “Cross go and get Bowles” and Stan was on the treatment table reading the Sporting Life. He said “I’ll be out in a moment.” He was only a young lad then.

Me: Do you resent the money players are getting these days?

JC: Not at all, we were well paid at Maine Road. In the 1960’s, £70 and £80 a week, there was nothing wrong with that when a plumber was getting £12 or £16 a week. We were on crowd bonuses when we went up to the First Division. That was colossal.

Me: What do remember about Mike Doyle?

JC: A lot of people at Maine Road didn’t fancy him and he ended up with about 9/10 caps in the end. I remember one day we went to Sheffield Wednesday and Bobby Kennedy, the long throw merchant, that’s all he had, got injured. Joe went through a tirade of swear words and said we can’t play that b*****d Doyle. Anyway Mike did play and we got a result and Mike gradually worked his way into the team. In fact this is probably the thing wrong with Manchester City at the moment. Mike would have done anything for Manchester City. He would have drunk all the water in the fountain for Manchester City. If they had told him they were playing him 4 times a day for Manchester City he would have done so. I don’t think there is anybody playing for the jersey like them players. Alan Oakes would sulk when we got a bad result, he was uncontrollable, Glen was the same and Mike Doyle was especially sad. Tony Book had great pride in playing for Manchester City. Extreme pride in playing for Manchester City because they had given him his break. They would have stayed there all day and played for Manchester City. Now where’s the guys that are doing that now?

Now they are getting £6,000 or £7,000 for sitting in the grandstand watching the first team playing on Saturdays. They have no pride at all in the jersey. I do a bit of work for the Club out of sheer loyalty, I loved the place, thought the people were great. I’m going to watch a couple of kids for Manchester City this weekend. An under 16 International, lads called Ramsey and McCafferty in Bangor, County Down.

Me: Would you say racism in the game is different now to what it was in your day?

JC: Stan Horne was confronted with that a few times, but Stan laughed at it. I remember a roughhouse at Forest once. Their coach Tommy Cavanagh, who later went to Manchester United shouted out to Joe Baker Stan was pushing his weight about a bit: “Joe would you kick the f***** golliwog.” Stan started laughing. It wasn’t as relevant as it is now. The majority of players have a lot of respect for each other. These days you have to ask yourself who is racist? Who’s racist and who’s not racist? Look at the other side of the coin. I was never racist. I was friendly with a guy from the Congo for years. You wonder whether some of the black guys are racist? Have you seen some of their actions?

Me: Tell me about your time at Standard Liege?

JC: We won the league and I had a magnificent time there. I had a son born there. 3 seasons at Standard Liege, yes, we won the league and were beaten in the semi-final of the European Cup by Real Madrid. I have lots of friends back there.

Me: Did you know Colin Bell was going to be a great player from the moment he arrived at Maine Road?

JC: No, I give immense credit to Mal and Joe for Colin’s progress. It took him a little time to settle down. He became a wonderful player and hero at Maine Road. I went back there recently with Colin and the fans were after his autograph before any of the current players. An absolutely outstanding player for Manchester City and England. I keep in regular contact with Colin. He deserves every accolade he has ever got. He is an absolute gentleman. I’m still friends with Tony Book and Colin Bell, in fact I will ring him as soon as I go off the phone and tell him I was speaking to Bob Young in Jersey.

Me: What do you think of Francis Lee?

JC: I only played against Francis. He trained with City when he was living in Bolton before I moved to Middlesbrough though. I never had any problems with him. Actually it was him that asked me to go back and do work for Manchester City. I have the utmost respect for him but things have got to happen at Maine Road very soon because it would kill me to see them go any further down.

Me: Tell me about playing for Northern Ireland?

JC: I was 20 in 1959 when I first played for Northern Ireland against England, my first game was at Wembley and we lost. I played 4 times more there. I scored 10 goals in 26 games which is some kind of record. Best average, even now. We never beat England though. It would have been a feather in my cap if we had.

Me: What do you think about the present situation at Manchester City?

JC: It’s difficult to get out of that Division. It’s a shame and an embarrassment and a shambles for a team as big as Manchester City to the 3rd or 4th bottom of that League. I don’t know the answer though. I think they have appointed some bad managers.

Me: What do you think of Frank Clark as a manager?

JC: Money is taking over here. You wonder sometimes who buys the player and how much the manager has to spend, whose influence is behind it all. Bradbury cost an amazing amount of money and you look at the lad Davies down at Southampton and he cost only £700,000.

Kinkladze is an exceptional player, but I reckon City need a couple of players like Heaven forbid, Vinnie Jones to get them out of that Division.

I watched the match last week (West Ham cup tie) and seen Rösler and thought what is he doing on there? There are a few players on the pitch and I wonder what they are doing. Kinkladze is the only name, where’s the guys like Alan Oakes, you knew that every Sunday the papers would give him 8. The most reliable left half in the game. Pardoe was reliable, Mike Doyle was a phenomenon to me.

Me: Do you think Frank Clark’s days are numbered at Maine Road?

JC: I think time is running out, if nothing happens in the next 2 weeks I expect he will be looking at his position.

Johnny Crossan cares very much about the fortunes of Manchester City. He spoke with great passion about his time in Manchester and his disappointment about the present situation was apparent all the way through the interview.

Bob Young (


In 1965 I choose MCFC as my number one club in the English Division 1, by putting a pin in the Div. 1 list while blindfold… despite this poor method, I’ve stuck with them ever since and will continue to do so.

Matt Kelly (

So much for the luck of the Irish, eh?



Full-time scores for Saturday, February 14 1998

Crewe Alexandra       3 - 1 Portsmouth
Little (49)                 Aloisi (81)
Garvey (58)
Lunt (73)
Ipswich Town          5 - 1 Huddersfield Town
Holland (42)                Stewart (37)
Johnson (54, 61)
Mathie (69)
Naylor (89)
Manchester City       0 - 1 Bury
                            Butler (52)
Middlesbrough         1 - 0 Bradford City
Hignett (49)
Port Vale             2 - 2 Norwich City
Mills (34, 85)              Grant (64)
                            Jackson (68)
Stockport County      1 - 0 Stoke City
Grant (82)
West Bromwich Albion  1 - 1 Queens Park Rangers
Hughes (75)                 Dowie (26)

Full-time score for Tuesday, February 10 1998

Tranmere Rovers       3 - 0 Swindon Town
Thompson (35)
Branch (39)
Morrissey (70)

Up to and including Saturday, February 14 1998

                             HOME            AWAY
                      P  W  D  L  F  A   W  D  L  F  A   Pts   GS
Middlesbrough        31 10  3  2 28  9   8  5  3 23 17    62   51
Nottm Forest         30 11  2  2 33 16   7  4  4 15 12    60   48
Sunderland           29  8  4  2 27 12   8  3  4 22 16    55   49
Sheff Utd            30 11  4  0 28 11   3  8  4 18 20    54   46
Charlton             30 10  3  1 29 13   5  4  7 24 25    52   53
West Brom            31  8  3  5 17 14   6  4  5 16 15    49   33
Wolverhampton        30  9  4  2 27 13   5  2  8 13 17    48   40
Stockport            31 10  4  1 31 13   4  1 11 18 29    47   49
Birmingham           30  6  6  3 17  9   5  5  5 20 14    44   37
Bradford             32  8  6  2 20 14   3  5  8 13 19    44   33
Swindon              32  9  3  4 24 16   3  4  9 10 30    43   34
Ipswich              30  6  4  4 20 14   4  8  4 21 18    42   41
Norwich              31  7  5  4 16 18   4  3  8 15 25    41   31
Crewe                31  6  2  8 19 24   6  2  7 21 22    40   40
QPR                  31  7  6  3 19 14   2  4  9 15 32    37   34
Reading              30  6  4  6 22 23   3  5  6  9 22    36   31
Oxford Utd           30  6  4  4 18 14   3  2 11 18 30    33   36
Tranmere             30  6  5  4 21 14   2  4  9 13 24    33   34
Huddersfield         31  5  4  6 17 17   3  5  8 16 29    33   33
Stoke                31  5  4  6 19 25   3  5  8 12 21    33   31
Port Vale            31  5  5  6 20 19   3  2 10 17 30    31   37
Man City             31  4  4  8 20 18   3  5  7 13 17    30   33
Bury                 31  3  8  5 15 19   2  7  6 13 21    30   28
Portsmouth           30  5  3  8 21 27   1  3 10 11 23    24   32

Russell Town (
With thanks to Soccernet


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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.

[Valid3.2]Geoff Donkin,

Newsletter #372