Newsletter #392

I guess the most newsworthy item in this issue is the imminent return of the Georgian Maestro; apparently it looks likely that he will be picked for the last two games! Although much has been written for and against Gio in recent issues, I have to say that failing to make use of his creative potential in our current predicament beggars belief. Whatever his contribution over a season, we desperately need someone to open up a defence…

This issue has news of an Internet practice match (please support Dave Barker’s efforts), the annual Internet Player of the Year Award run by Svenn, a return to expression of opinion – one from way, way south – and a classic Why Blue. Also, thanks go to Howard McCarthy for typing a humorous anti-bandwagon Rag article from the Evening Herald in Ireland.

Next game, Queens Park Rangers at home, Saturday 25th April 1998


Firstly, apologies for a lack of input from me for the last few issues. Bloody Easter! I’ve been running around like a headless chicken ever since (does this make me a prime candidate for a central midfield rôle I wonder?) trying to make up for lost time at work. I’ve had to dispense with the daily summary format again in favour of a briefer style, but things will be back to normal for Monday! Hopefully…

Anyway, as our date with destiny approaches, the first thing I should say is that the QPR game is now officially a sell out, so, as they say, if your name’s not down you’re not getting in! Hope you all got tickets early for that one.

Not only is it the most important game in the club’s long history, it should also be made doubly intriguing by the long overdue return of Gio, as the penny finally seems to have dropped with Royle that he’s been being a bit of a dick about the whole situation. All week the pressure has been building and JR at last seems to have buckled. In an extraordinary turn of events even Kevin Horlock has spoken out and called for the mercurial Georgian’s return to first team football: “Georgi has proved time and time again that he’s got City in his blood. He could have left and got a fortune elsewhere last year but he stayed here. He loves the club and doesn’t want to see it go down. I’m sure he’ll do his utmost to keep us in the First Division.” Kinkladze, who has been disgracefully forced to train with the reserves in recent weeks, has apparently been back with the first-team squad this week. “He’s a very talented player and if he’s in the team, he helps us. Nothing has been said for definite yet, but he has been back training with us,” added Horlock. “If the manager does decide to play him, he will obviously be a problem for QPR. Gio has looked sharp this week.”

It looks as though Royle will recall Kinkladze against QPR on Saturday and at Stoke in the last game of the season on May 3. But Royle weakly insisted: “I’ve never ruled Gio out of the equation and he’s in the reckoning for Saturday. Other people have been saying he has played his last game for us, but not me. I’ve always maintained he’s a great talent, but I want to see it channelled in the right direction.”

Dave Wallace, editor of King of the Kippax obviously came over all funny because he started talking sense for once, “The question is, has he (Kinkladze) brought about our downfall or have we brought about his? Whatever the answer, the general feeling is that this situation has been handled badly. Maybe Joe Royle had ideas about Georgi when he arrived. But, when he wants to be, Georgi is the best player City have got. There have been times this season when he has been a waste of space. But in the current situation with two games left, we have to risk that. There are other players in the team who are also a waste of space, you have a choice of playing one of them and knowing they can’t change a game or play Georgi knowing that he can win a match with one piece of blinding skill. Under these circumstances maybe the club should have done more to keep him involved, it’s that vital now. Georgi hasn’t played for the club since Francis Lee stopped being chairman. We all know that Lee was something of a mentor to the lad, and that scenario is very worrying. Georgi should be given one last swan-song now. We don’t want to remember him for his last game – a terrible display at Port Vale last month – we want to remember him as the great little player he is, and the only way he’s going to do that now is by playing in these last two games.”

Before anyone starts bleating on about “look how badly we’ve done with him!” it should be pointed out that in JR’s 13 “Dogs of War” games in charge we’ve taken 14 points; in FC’s last 13 (with Gio in the side mostly) we got 12! Hardly a complete turnaround, and hopefully a statistic that will get the fact that one player cannot be held responsible for an entire team’s predicament through the breeze block thick skulls of some of the detractors who seemed all too keen to swallow Royle’s brand of media management hook, line and sinker! Sorry, went off on a bit of a rant there!

Final bit on Gio, there have been conflicting stories about the transfer to Ajax with some papers saying the move will be completed next week and others saying it looks as though it’s fallen through again! We’ll just have to wait and see, there is however apparently no truth in the rumour that Arsenal are lining up a deal…

Other news briefly. Jeff Whitley and Brian McGlinchey both helped the Northern Ireland Under 21’s to a 2-1 victory in Switzerland, Michael Brown has been ordered to cool it by Joe Royle from now on and Alan Bailey scored a goal at the Riverside for City reserves in a 1-1. Think that’s it… Oh yeah, tickets for the Jamaica friendly on May 6th are now on sale from Maine Road…

Apologies once again for the somewhat brief nature of this summary and the lack of any news at all from the last few issues, but things should be back on track for Monday! Fingers crossed for Saturday then…

Steve McNally (


The first football practice is taking place in Fog Lane Park at 7pm on the 30th April. To get directions, look at the McVitee football team web-site developed and maintained by Colin Surrey at:

Even if you haven’t sent me an email to say you’re coming, simply turn up on the night if you fancy a game.

Dave Barker (


A couple of weeks ago, I posted a question concerning the first “four foreigners” to play at the same time in the team.

Well, can I thank all those who either included items in MCITVA, or mailed me directly with the answers. There were a few suggestions, but the vast majority came up with Rösler, Immel, Kinkladze and Ekelund, including some pretty in-depth information on the games concerned and the results. Thanks for taking the time.

Armed with this information, I wrote to Mike Amos, who is the chap who compiles the pages for the Northern Echo, putting him right, and also explaining what MCIVTA is, and how it works. I know the chap quite well, as he is also Chairman of the League in which my “other” team, Durham City, play. He is also, a damn good egg, and a credit to both his profession and the non-league game, and I knew that he wouldn’t mind being corrected.

And so the correction appeared in this morning’s paper and said thus:

“We suggested a fortnight back, that not only were Manchester City the first team to play the full complement of four foreigners, 1995-6, but that the quartet were Immel, Rösler, Kinkladze and Kavelashvili. It sounded wrong to Martin Haworth in Morpeth, who put a question on City’s Internet newsletter – run, for some reason from Zürich. Much of it, says Martin, is more depressing than a Leonard Cohen songsheet. The e-mails exploded. The fourth wasn’t Kavelashvili but Ronnie Ekelund, on loan from Barcelona. Though his stay was short, Ekelund may have felt at home at Maine Road. He was, says Martin, clueless.”

First off, I don’t find MCIVTA, depressing (although the subject matter is!), and I think it’s the first ever reference to MCITVA in a North East newspaper!

I got home from the newsagent’s and heard a loud crash in the porch as the (snail) mail was delivered. Amongst the bills was a parcel from Mike, thanking me for correcting him. But he’d also sent me a copy of Colin Shindler’s book “Manchester United Ruined My Life”.

What a top bloke!

Thanks again to all who helped.

Martin Haworth (


Vote for the annual Internet City player of the year. As usual you have the opportunity to vote for three players, where your number one gets 3 points, number two gets 2 points, and your number three gets 1 point. For instance:

  1. Georgiou Kinkladze (3 points)
  2. Paul Dickov (2 points)
  3. Jamie Pollock (1 point)

Remember to also vote for the young player of the year!

  1. Michael Brown (3 points)
  2. David Morley (2 points)
  3. Jeff Whitley (1 point)

More alternatives and information can be found on the Supporters’ Homepage Put your votes down in an email and send it to The poll ends on May 4th 1998.

Svenn Hanssen (


I came across this article in the Irish Newspaper “The Evening Herald” and I thought everyone might like to read it and understand that not everyone here is a glory hunting Rag!

Frank Coughlan, Telling it like it really is!

Smug fans red-faced as Ferguson’s frumps get the title wobbles

Don`t ya just love it? For so long they`ve lorded it. They`ve strutted. They`ve blown their own trumpet. Now – with God being the sort of decent bloke he is – it looks like the wheels have come off their wagon. Yes indeed Manchester United are likely to win zilch this year. That`s it, Zilch with a big “Z”. Hallelujah. Praise the Lord.


Don`t get me wrong, I`m not an ABU per se, in fact I have a great deal of respect for the real United fan. The sort that might whisper Denis Law`s name with due reverence, or who could recall – in faultless detail – that night at Wembley when they conquered Benfica.

It`s not them I`m seeking out and taunting in every corridor and alleyway. No, my prey is the Sky Sports fan. The replica shirt slouch. The belching couch potato. In short, the sort of United fan who knows almost as little about the beautiful game in general. He is the sort of twerp – or twerpette for that matter – who thinks football was invented by satellite TV and is merely a long-running soap opera with the Red Devils in the leading rôle. In the end – like in all the squeakiest soaps – their heroes win out, saving the day and sending the bad guys packing.

They are not difficult to recognise. They generally wear over-priced, synthetic jerseys to cover their lager lard and put ‘Super Reds’ baby grows on their unfortunate babies. You`ll recognise them by their gibberish too. They rattle on about Sheringham playing in the hole; about Cole liking it over the top and Beckham working the inside channels. They`ll talk like that all night. Giving it loads. Just don`t ask them about the real technical stuff like offside or obstruction. To these footballing know nothings, offside is the ref blowing the whistle when United have the ball and obstruction is when someone stands in front of the big screen in the pub.

But now that their team is clutching at straws and a place in the Intertoto cup beckons, these fans have gone missing. Huddled together in dark corners I suspect, working out who to support next season instead. And wondering what if…

What if Cantona hadn`t quit them for dirty movies?
What if Keane hadn`t maimed himself?
What if Bergkamp had stayed in Milan?

It`s a list as long as Ferguson`s face, and – barring a last minute revival – one that is likely to get longer and longer.

Howard McCarthy (


by Noel Bayley (editor of Bert Trautmann’s Helmet)

Colin Shindler Book

Got a review copy of ‘Manchester United Ruined My Life’ a few weeks ago from the publishers. Figures really as they have ruined my life and everyone else’s too… bastards (United that is, not the publishers)! Anyway, I managed to finish it off on the way to Smogsville last Friday and what an entertaining read it was too. I know virtually everyone who’s ever stepped inside a footy ground has done a ‘Fever Pitch’ by now but here at last is one with which we can all identify. Despite the fact that Shindler has been watching the Blues for thirty years or so, pain and suffering decidedly claim the upper hand. As I said, here is a book with which we can all identify (although I have to admit, I did skip a few paragraphs pertaining to cricket). Anyway, publication date is 7 May (if memory serves, I’ve lost the press release!), price is £14.99… oh, and there’ll be a film as well.

Observer Bonus

Unexpected bonus in The Obs. on Sunday with a reprinted Panini sticker album from Mexico 70. Of course, FHL and Colin Bell are in there along with Tommy Wright (no not that one, but another unsung, not to mention unheard of Everton full-back) and some **** (pick an expletive, any expletive) by the name of Alan Ball. Interestingly, every photo features players in England shirts apart from – you’ve guessed it – FHL and CB, who are resplendent in sky blue.

Kinkladze Exclusive Interview!

Bumped into a certain Mr. Kinkladze on Monday at Platt Lane whereupon I decided on an impromptu interview:

Me: Gio, you’re not leaving us, are you?
Gio: I don’t really know.

So there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth.

BTH Summer Special – A Blatant Plug!

This Saturday sees the BTH Summer Special’s first outing, though I’ll be dodging the bricks and stones, slings and arrows during the all-comers’ open warfare event at Stoke come the last day of the season! Still only £1.00, Issue No. 18 features – amongst other things – a look at Francis Lee’s four years at the helm, and Peter Swales’ last recorded interview (courtesy of author Gary James) while one of Bert’s scribes – Mike Billinge – has been to the Stade de France to check out the World Cup Final venue.

Noel Bayley (


Geoff Donkin said: “As I sat down to watch this, it occurred to me that this might be the last time I see City on Sky TV for a long time to come.”

If City do go down then they are certain of at least one televised game. Who could resist the local derby with Macclesfield?

Thomas Rance (Ttrance@AOL.COM)


Dear all,

What can I say other than my thoughts are directed your way during the next two weeks – for these two very important games. My hope is that we can just get the points we need but even if we do I still feel we have real problems. Others have written of their opinions of Royle… I have to agree that he is a little out of date and touch with his views. I am not sure I would want to be in his shoes if we go down and he hasn’t used Gio – that baffles me. It must gee up other teams when they see Gio is not even on the bench. I still worry about a style of English manager that seems to equate technique and skill with a lack of commitment.

But think positive Pearson! Four points I hear everyone say – which means a tense build up to the next game. Good luck to all of us.

If we go down can one of the math folks amongst us plot the curve that will show when the readership of this wonderful newsletter passes the actual attendance at the ground… the worse we play the more readers there are – talk about mass therapy.

Is that Portsmouth one place below us? Doesn’t Alan Ball coach them?

I also read that City are pretty certain to move to the new Commonwealth Stadium. Good news as far as I am concerned though I worry about the capacity being only 45,000… still it will be nice to have the best stadium in the Vauxhall League!

What an absolutely terrible time, nothing in the late 50s / early 60s or even 80s compares to this. I wrote last summer that I didn’t just want City to go back to the Premier, I wanted them to storm back in style… it is a good job I don’t bet on my beliefs.

Good Luck, John Pearson (


Two games and a possible six points. QPR and Stoke. Teams that just two seasons ago, if we had come up against them in a cup tie, we would expect to win. What has happened? The possibility of Second Division football and Round 1 of the FA Cup loom. The problem is there will still be 20k plus turning up to watch Wigan and Bournmouth every week.

Everyone in football recognises that City have the best support in the country, but why is the team so crap? This issue has been debated by many of my peers both in these pages and around the ground for many months, even years now, so I won’t go into that right now. What concerns me is the fact that Big Joe has openly said that he can’t criticise his players for the effort they are putting in. B*****ks. My Sunday league outfit plays better, and with more heart than City have all season.

The way I see it there are three major problems with the club, on the playing side…

  1. The team are all a bunch of prima donnas (with the very odd exception),this is exemplified by them picking up their game against ‘big’ clubs likeForest and Swindon (big club?). City are no longer a ‘big’ club. The soonerplayers like Symons, Rösler and Edghill realise that they need to playwell, in every game, and that we shouldn’t be going to Bury just expectingto win, the better it will be for the club.
  2. The 50-odd playing staff. Their wages are too high for doing F*** all.Look at Clough, he’s the biggest pile of s**t I’ve ever seen touch a ball(with the exception of ‘Buster’ Phillips and Brannan) and he’s on 11 granda week for polishing his boots. Get rid of the scum. Put them on frees tolower league clubs (not ones in the same division i.e. Stockport!) and seehow long their careers last. We need to whittle the senior squad down toabout 26 players. The wage bill will be cut in half and there will be moremoney available for a decent ‘keeper.If as it has been reported, some players are unsettled at the club, thenwhy don’t they play out of their skin to attract another club? City are in acatch 22, somewhere between a rock and a hard place.
  3. The Team.City used to have a reputation for having good goalies, from Trautmann,Corrigan, Williams and ????? who? Coton was never given a decent chance,Immel couldn’t kick a ball, Wright is crap and Margetson is OK, but about afoot too small. What the hell is Alex Williams doing? I thought he was incharge of scouting for ‘keepers? What about getting someone like PavelSrnicek or Shaka Hislop who are no longer required at Newcastle. Or evenHans Segers?

Our defence has looked more solid of late, but Wiekens and Vaughan are prone to injury, Jobson is getting on a bit, and the other 6 or 7 defenders we have are useless. They wouldn’t get a game for Oldham. Sorry, but we should keep the above mentioned three at the end of the season and start again. John Foster and David Morley should be brought through and played in post- and pre-season matches.

Midfield is starting to look better but Royle still insists on playing people out of position. The Whitley brothers are good but could get blown over in a light wind, Pollock and Brown are good, hard players but have the skill of my gran, that only leaves Horlock as a playmaker. We need another player like Horlock. Forget Bishop, no wonder West Ham got rid.

The attack still lacks something too. Goater looks a class player but still has to make the transition from second to first (possibly back to second) division football and 6 games was not really long enough. Rösler should go, he tries hard but doesn’t create his own chances, and Bradbury is looking sharper every game, he might start scoring by Christmas. Phillips is crap, Dickov is, well he’s crap as well.

Anyway, sorry if that was boring to read but I needed a bit of a spout. I feel better now. Let’s hope that the QPR game gives us a decent, well-needed win, and that Stoke, Reading and Portsmouth (who should all get beat against the top three!) all lose. Meaning we would only need a point against Stoke. We could get Lomas back for a game and play it in the corners all day!

CTISMITH (City till I shoot myself in the head), Gareth Foster (


With two games to go, both against sides also threatened with relegation, City are practically relegated. We currently use a wing back system which has produced poor performances near enough all season, and we haven’t changed. This though I think is most definitely down to the players we have. Before Joe Royle came the team was a joke with no passion, commitment or confidence and were on a slide right into Division Two. Now Joe Royle is here, we are still faced with relegation but for mainly one different reason which is City cannot attack at all. A simple glance at the formation we’ve played week in, week out reveals the problems. We play three centre halves, none of them brimming with confidence or skill and rarely make a good pass from defence. We have wing backs of which none of them, with maybe the exception of Kevin Horlock, are any good as attacking options, and even then he doesn’t look at all comfortable when defending. We have three central, defensive, ball winning midfielders in Brown, Jim Whitley and Pollock who are good at that and only that. This leaves only two attack-minded players on the field, the front two, and which ever two you choose are of course in no way the best strikers in the world, but with more and better service, surely must stick more in the net. Basically we have a team full of defensive players, playing in a defensive formation rarely providing quality service to not-the-most-talented of strike forces. How can we expect to score goals?

We now have two games to go against sides fighting for their lives, both of whom have beaten us already this season. If we lose on Saturday we could be relegated there and then, with the Stoke game not even coming into play. Can anyone really think that the side we have now will do anything against a QPR side that has already outclassed us this season and now with Vinnie Jones and Neil Ruddock, both of whom are made for this division? No way, unless Gio Kinkladze is in the side. People might say that he’s played for us all season and he hasn’t exactly hit the kind of form that we know he can and also, if he is so good, why didn’t we win when he was in the side before Christmas, playing the same formation? The differences are the players. Before Joe Royle and Jamie Pollock in particular, the players didn’t want to know, didn’t care and didn’t have a clue. Now we do have a side that has the passion and the commitment and the will to stay up if it’s injected with the flair and creativity that only Gio can provide. Royle said that there wasn’t room for Beardsley and Gio in the same side, which made sense, sort of, and so Beardo went back to Bolton but no Gio was played in his place and we’ve suffered big time. Royle’s also said he hasn’t got the head for a relegation dog fight and what did Gio say? That he wanted to stay and help City get out of this mess. To get us out of trouble in those last two games, we need Gio. The team I would pick at the moment is as follows:

                  Symons     Jobson   Edghill
               Jeff W Horlock Pollock   Brown Kinkladze
			Goater         Russell

Not the best of sides in the world, but the best City can provide in my opinion for the run in. We have the fight now to survive in Division One and I believe we have the players also. Forget about next year without Gio and everything else that holds. Winning these last two games is all that matters and the only way I can see this happening is if Gio plays.

Chris Chapman (


Why is everyone defending Steve Vickers? He headbutted Bradbury and therefore had to go. There is nothing in the rules about how hard a headbutt has to be for it to be a sending off offence and Vickers would probably have gone even if Bradbury hadn’t gone down.

Thomas Rance (Ttrance@AOL.COM)


I think there a quite a few City fans who are living in a fantasy world where Gio Kinkladze is some poor, hard done-by little boy who wants nothing more in life than to pull on the famous blue jersey, Roy-of-the-Rovers style, just one more time, and come and save Manchester City from relegation.

That’s not the case.

Kinkladze has lost interest with Man City, he doesn’t want to play his football here anymore. That is quite obvious to anyone who spends any time at all at the Platt Lane training ground, and to those who witnessed the last few games he played in: Swindon and Port Vale away in particular.

It breaks my heart because he is the best player I have ever seen in a City shirt but we just have to accept that he’s not effective in the City team we have at the moment.

“So get a different team.” In a perfect world, we’d go out and buy Overmars and Bergkamp and we’d be top of the league and Kinkladze would stay forever but that’s not going to happen. If Kinkladze is such a great match-winner why have we only won 7 of the 28 games he’s played in this season? Proportionally speaking, we have won just as many without him (4 from 16). If he loves the club so much why is he not prepared to prove to Joe Royle that he should be in the side?

Should a player be able to play for Manchester City on ability alone? No. The commitment has got to be there too. Kinkladze has got to want to play for Manchester City and he clearly doesn’t. Joe Royle has asked him to prove that he is everything the hype says he is. He can’t be arsed to do that – that’s not the type of player I want in my side. No matter how good he is.

Nina Haigh (


I am serving in the R.N. down the Falkland Is., so am probably one of the furthest south City fans in the world at the present; this is the first time I have made a comment in the MCVITA, anyway enough kak about me.

Firstly a big thanks goes out to MCVITA for providing me and the City contingent onboard with a twice weekly e-mail. Our only up-to-date info (except Radio 5 sometimes).

Secondly the City lads onboard are all Manchester lads (funny old thing eh..!) and these are the following comments (possibly a bit critical) that they have put together:

  1. Get Gio back in the team for Christ’s sake, we need somebody on the park with creativity who can make a difference in a game.
  2. If we are going down let’s revert to 4-4-2 and at least create some chances (for the crowd if for nobody else).
  3. Dump the wing-back crap, we haven’t got anyone who knows how to play in that position.
  4. Stop shoving Russell on the left, we bought him as a forward.
  5. Shoot Ged Brannan coz he’s crap and let’s play a formation that actually works for us (4-4-2).
  6. If Jobson is injured get Wiekens in the back four.
  7. During a recent trip to Uruguay me and the lads went to the local stadiumin Montevideo to watch Nationale (Ruben Sosa etc.). Whilst talking to one oftheir supporters and of course mentioning M.C.F.C. his reply was along thelines of “You deserve to go down not playing Kinkladze”, and he wasf”£!ing Uruguayan.

My City team with what we have available:

2		5		 6 		3
7		4		 8 		11
    		9	         10
14. SYMONS (in case the lads need oranges at half time)

CTWGSOWT (City ’til we get stuff off Walkden Town) Johnny Mac/General Booth (339@NAVYNET.GTNET.GOV.UK)


Friday night’s match with the Boro was an absolute disgrace. The wife has given up on me and has come up with the theory “…they always lose when you wear that jersey!” Maybe she is right! Anyway – this new jersey that cost me nearly 40 notes could be out-of-date come end of May and that will really annoy her considering I had to borrow from the childrens’ allowance to buy it in the first place.

Anyway, back to the match. The problem as I see it (from my armchair here in the sunny South West of Ireland) is that no-one wants the ball! Just look at them playing that one-touch football and saying to themselves “Don’t give it to me… I don’t want 30,000 people on my back expecting me to do domething special with it and save the club from relegation, etc. Here – take it back!” and so it goes on for ninety minutes. Others have the motto of staying away from play as long as possible and hope no one notices (Goater/Bradbury!).

That’s it for the moment.

Basil Sheerin (


I have just heard Joe Royle say that 1 or 2 players have found the pressure of the crowd and the size of Maine Road too much to handle; so they now know how we feel going into Saturday’s Match with Q.P.R. needing a win to stay up.

City till I die or hell freezes over, Alan Shannon (


I seem to remember that the three players that have played in a Manchester, a Glasgow and a London derby are… Ray Wilkins, Lou Macari and Andy Dibble.

Here are a couple more teasers as well:

In the 1986 world cup, name the three Man Scum players that captained the England team in the same match?

Who is the only survivor of the Munich air disaster still playing in the Premiership to this day?

There are only two players that have played for Wimbledon that have played for England. Who are they? (clue – Fashanu and Wise did not play for England whilst at Wimbledon!)

Gareth Foster (


In reply to the question about the Glasgow, Manchester and London Derbies, how about Ray Wilkins and Paddy Crerand?

Ben Cavanagh (


Having hoped that the final game of the season would be academic I now find myself needing 2 tickets for the Stoke City game. If anyone who has tickets and cannot bear to watch or just has some spares! I would be very pleased to buy them off you. Many thanks.

John Warrington (


I was born near Urmston, Manchester, in 1963, brought up in Partington the son of an avid Blue. It’s all his fault…

My dad started taking me to Maine Road from around 1966, sitting me on his knee in the Platt lane. Mostly in those days I would spend all game running up and down the steps waiting for half time for a Wagonwheel or a drink of Oox from dad’s flask.

Early memories include falling and splitting my head open in the Platt Lane. Then running up to my dad with blood streaming down my face with him then telling me to go and see the St. John’s Ambulance man at the back of the goals. It wasn’t until the guy picked me up and carried me round to the changing rooms for stitches that my dad came down, most upset that he was missing the match. Another included playing in the scoreboard end and picking an old half eaten orange up and throwing it over my head where it scored a direct hit in a woman’s face. She promptly gave me a clip round the head.

Not really a good start for any young City supporter. But who would have changed it with the events over the next few years? Enough has been said about the glory years by others but I was there at Wembley in 69 & 70 and feel very lucky to have witnessed the greatest period in our club’s history.

We hardly missed a home match and my dad got us to the game any way he could as at that time we had no car. He later bought a Honda 70 moped and we would go on that, parking at my Aunt’s on Yew Tree Road with a short walk to the ground. We even went to Stoke around 1972 on it in the rain, City were getting beat 5-0. Franny scored a pen with about 5 minutes to go. I was the only one in the ground that jumped up with my dad quickly dragging me down again. I was always the optimist, after all there was still 5 minutes left… In later years that optimism paid off at the Full Members’ Cup final where not many of us stayed behind to see the best finish to a City game I can remember even though we didn’t win.

We went to Wembley in ’74 against Wolves. I had chickenpox and the journey home on the coach was horrific, itching and also being inconsolable at the defeat. Other memories include beating the Rags 4-0 in the League Cup only for it to be marred by the tragedy of Colin Bell’s injury. ’76, We now had a Reliant Robin (wow) to travel to Wembley in and having a great morning in London with the Geordies and then winning with that goal. Being a Junior Blue at the time I got my picture taken holding the League Cup. Fighting back the tears when the King made his comeback game against Newcastle. Those European nights vs. Juventus, AC Milan, Borussia M. and all the rest.

When my mum was dying in ’79 dad stopped going so he could look after her. From then on I went on my own as I had just left school and started work with loadsamoney. I followed them all over the country even to poxy grounds like Brighton (don’t forget in the early eighties this team was in the top flight). I didn’t miss a game in the cup run in ’81. The semi at Villa Park was the best but the train journey home after the defeat in the second game of the final was the quietest trip I ever made.

Dad would come with me to the odd game but he would go and sit down in the Platt Lane and I would go and stand with my mates in the Kippax. He nearly died one year when he got to the gate of the Platt Lane and was told it was for the away fans only. It was a case of “I’ve been coming in here for bloody years” etc.

In the mid-eighties the team I played for moved into the Altrincham & District Saturday afternoon league and so I started to play more than watch the Blues. I also married and had moved to Warrington. My kids came along in the late eighties and my dad and I started going together again to see City with my son sitting in the North stand.

In ’92 my wife and I migrated to WA. It was OK at first as we could see City on the TV and I would get the Pink sent out to me.

My dad was very ill in late 93 so I got back England to see him before he died. Whilst there I made time to get to the academy, had a chat with Tony Book (nice bloke), went on the pitch and had my picture taken. The last time my dad and I spoke was on the ‘phone and the conversation was all about City. The Lee takeover was in full swing and he was full of hope (if only he knew).

Now unfortunately we don’t see much of City on TV being in the Nationwide. I get up early on Sundays to phone for the results as I can’t wait till 8.30 when it comes on the radio. I still get the Pink sent out to me but can’t wait to get in work and read MCIVTA on a Tuesday and Friday mornings (thanks to you all for your contributions).

Sorry this has been so long but just a note on an ex-player who has been mentioned in recent weeks. I was at my sister’s house in Partington about 7 years ago when the insurance man came. I was gobsmacked to see that it was Ged Keegan. I have heard he still lives in the Sale area and is a decent golfer.

Let’s hope that by the time you read this that we have managed to stay up. God help us if we don’t.

Phil Bird (


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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]Ashley Birch,

Newsletter #392