Newsletter #446

Settle back for yet another great mixture of news, comment and opinions, ticket information etc. The debate about the Roman Numerals on watch faces rumbles on… and we’ve also got an absolutely magnificent “Why Blue” from 6 year old Amy McCarthy (well done Amy)! Some of the opinion articles will definitely stir your emotions – if you strongly agree or disagree, write in and let us know.

There are some match reports from City vs. Colchester included too. I’m quite pleased with the win for more than the usual reasons – just finished reading “Left Foot In The Grave” by Gary Nelson all about a year managing Torquay, backstage details of life at the bottom of the league etc. I know it starts to feel uncomfortably close for City fans, but it’s a bloody good book, and I ended up feeling quite sorry for Torquay and how their season turned out. Anyway it is basically all about the 1996-97 season, so I was interested to find out how they got on in the next season, i.e. 1997-98, and it turned out the got beaten in the final of the 3rd Division playoffs at Wembley by… Colchester.

Some interesting transfer action, even if it is only loan deals. Also interesting to hear some of the speculation about possible incoming targets – Hignett? Mark Hughes? van Hooijdonk? (I made the last one up!). I read somewhere that Julian Dicks is unsettled at West Ham… surely the ideal player for us, no other club can match us when it comes to signing Dicks!?

Anyway, 2231 of you will be reading this (thanks Paul for the latest total) so here we go:

See y’all next time, Steve CTAGB (Covering Till Ashley Gets Back)
Next game, Oldham away, Saturday 7th November 1998


Blues receive Bradbury cash

City have received an initial fee of one million pounds from the sale of Lee Bradbury to Crystal Palace, so now we not only buy on the cheap but sell on the never, never. I heard a rumour that the £3.5 million was not the price paid to Portsmouth, but that was the add on price when Lethal Lee made his England début. The price was quoted at £1.6 million but the down payment is less than that as part of the complicated financial clauses built into the deal (do we ever do anything simple?). Bradbury was still owed money as part of his move from Portsmouth over a year ago and Palace have taken over some of those commitments, leaving City around £1 million clear. The transfer of Ged Brannan to Motherwell fetched £378,000 and money is needed from both deals to offset crippling debts. It leaves Joe Royle with less in the kitty than he would have liked for future bargaining. “There is a certain financial balance that needs to be redressed. There will be some of the money from those deals available to spend but I would say a lesser portion and not a major portion. That is a reality and not a complaint,” said the City boss. Chairman David Bernstein commented: “There is money available and we have far more flexibility after the sale of Lee Bradbury. I must stress that the board has not forced Joe Royle to do anything. It was the manager’s decision to sell Bradbury and it was primarily a footballing decision.” So it looks unlikely that Branch and Morrison will be the only loan deals done by JR, unless Ajax want to let Kinky go for peanuts and that depends on if he will play for nowt after he issued a “Come and Get Me!” to English clubs.

Transfer Latest

Craig Hignett is top of JR’s shopping list; the Aberdeen midfielder is reportedly the subject of a renewed bid from City at over £1/4 Million. JR was remaining tight-lipped though, saying “I don’t want to start naming possible targets because it just gets people’s hopes up. I would like to make at least one more permanent signing. It’s a fine balance all the time. The players we bring in have got to be better than what we’ve got and they’ve got to be prepared to come to the Second Division. There is no problem selling Manchester City to anybody and they have to be available. Andy Morrison and Michael Branch satisfy that criteria and there is certainly one more player who would meet those.” And depending on where you point your web browser Greek winger George Donis is coming on trial (according to the Hans Christian Anderson of news media Teamtalk) or no he ain`t says JR according to The City Webpage.

Michael Branch, Everton`s onloan pocket dynamo has all of a sudden been attracting attention of other clubs; 1st division Crewe have had a £33,000 approach knocked back by Everton who value the little gem at a laughable £1.5 million. Why the sudden interest? Nothing to do with Everton trying to panic City into signing the lad before someone else nips in?

Uncertainty over Boler shares

The fate of Stephen Boler’s stake in Manchester City remains uncertain despite assurances that his family will not consider selling his shares. Boler’s death from a heart attack last Thursday plunged City’s financial affairs into doubt and led to a swift claim that his 24 per cent shareholding will not be auctioned off. Business colleague Ashley Lewis, who represented Boler on the Maine Road board, said the trustees of the estate had “no plans to change anything… It is a difficult time for the family and obviously a longer-term view will have to be formed but it is too early to comment,” said Lewis guardedly. However, once the will has been revealed and Boler’s funeral has taken place then his family, who are likely to inherit his fortune, will take stock of the situation. City fan Mike McDonald, the chairman of Sheffield United, has stated his interest in buying the shares if they became available although his interest would not be welcomed inside Maine Road.

A minute’s silence was not observed before City’s game with Colchester on Saturday at the request of Stephen Boler’s family.

We’re On The Telly!

BScumB have picked the City vs. Halifax FA cup tie to be shown live; the revenge mission has been moved to Friday 13th, with a KO at 7.45. So we could be the first victims of a giant killing act. That’s good news though for us far away Blues who get the chance to see how far we have progressd since our last TV outing (Notts. County 7-1). It will also get us in the mood for TG2 the following weekend.

Those who we have loved

While Lee Bradbury was making his début as a late substitute for Crystal Palace in their 2-0 defeat at Grimsby at the weekend, his former strike partner Uwe Rösler was hitting the winner for Kaiserslautern in their 3-2 win against Hansa Rostock after they’d trailed 2-0. Other former Blues on the mark at the weekend were Niall Quinn (Sunderland), Ashley Ward (Barnsley), Mike Sheron (QPR), Peter Beagrie (Bradford) and Carl Griffiths (Leyton Orient). Meanwhile, Georgi Kinkladze this week issued a “come and get me” plea to English clubs after revealing he was very unhappy at Ajax. Gio, who left Maine Road last season said: “I am not ruling out a possible return to England as I still have a lot of friends there.” City technically have first refusal on any return to this country but the chances of seeing him in the blue of City in the near future are nil at best. Ajax have yet to see the very best of Kinky who has been asked to improve his all-round game including tracking back on the left of midfield to do a little defending! He has said that he is not particularly happy at the moment although he is continuing to concentrate on making it work at Ajax with the hope that perhaps a Premiership club will show an interest in the near future.

City, City Top of the League

Things almost look far too rosy at Maine Road following a fairly impressive performance at the weekend with a couple of new faces in the senior side and the reserves preparing for the Pontin’s League title clash with Coventry this week. The table topping Division One game takes place at Highfield Road on Tuesday with a 7:00pm kick off. City are top (repeat: City are top) with 18 points from their eight games so far this season, having won 6 and lost 2 matches, whilst Coventry are currently in third spot in the table having played the same number of matches as City and but have two points less. Now that it`s been made public knowledge, watch the performances dip and the lads struggle to stay in Division 1.

Yellow Peril Is Threat To Blues
By Richard Burgess (with thanks to Alan Shannon for the clip)

Manchester City’s back-line are walking on thin ice as a defensive crisis looms at Maine Road.

Richard Edghill and Tony Vaughan are both just one yellow card away from suspension, while Richard Jobson and Kakhaber Tskhadadze are still out with long-term injuries. To add to Joe Royle’s worries, Dutchman Gerard Wiekens has not trained all week with a foot injury and Georgian Murtaz Shelia is being rested to build up his match fitness. The loan signing of Huddersfield centre-half Andy Morrison has eased some of City’s woes.

“Andy is just the sort of strong character that we will need over the next few weeks,” said Royle. “He played for Blackburn when they won the Championship and certainly knows his way around the Second Division. I don’t want to start talking him up too soon, but he might answer a few of our problems this season. We have been forced to rush Murtaz Shelia back into our side when it is patently obvious that he isn’t fit. I think he needs some time to get back to his best so we will try to give him a rest. With Richard Edghill and Tony Vaughan in danger of being suspended, there is a potential problem in defence and we will need to tread carefully.”

Veteran centre-half Richard Jobson will have the cast removed from his injured ankle next week. The 35-year-old has not played a first-team game for more than six months and Royle has no doubt that his side has missed the former Oldham man’s experience. “We could certainly have done with Richard in our side over the past few weeks,” added the City manager. “His absence has been a big blow for us and was totally unexpected. To be honest, if I had known about the injuries to Richard and Kakhaber, then I would have been more reluctant to let Kit Symons leave over the summer.”

Olive Branch: Michael can supply fire power for City
By Richard Burgess (supplied by Steve McClean)

Michael Branch wants to be the young spark to ignite Manchester City’s season. The 20-year-old Scouser will burst onto the Maine Road stage tomorrow against Colchester with a goal mandate from manager Joe Royle. Jet-heeled Branch, who has signed on a month’s loan with Huddersfield’s Andy Morrison, believes he can supply the firepower which City so desperately need.

“There is more to my game than just scoring, but I know how important that will be,” said the former England Under-21 international. “I have not hit too many goals at first-team level and now I have a chance to put that right. City are a very big club, but they have a young squad and so hopefully I can fit in well. Mind you, it will feel strange pulling on a City shirt rather than an Everton one. I have been at Goodison Park for the last 10 years and supported the club as a boy. It would certainly be a wrench to leave there, but I will just wait and see how things go over this month.”

Branch won his Everton début at the age of 17 but was forced onto sidelines for more than 18 months after breaking his ankle. “It has taken a while, but I feel fully fit again now and raring to go,” he added. “I have actually only played one reserve game so far this season and managed to score twice. I would settle for that again tomorrow.” He will go straight into Royle’s starting line-up alongside former Blackburn defender Morrison.

The burly centre-half, who has fallen out of favour at Huddersfield, becomes one of City’s most senior players at the age of 27. “I am not used to being the veteran of the team – it doesn’t seem long since I was regarded as a youngster,” he said. “But I am a good talker and like to get people going around me. It’s never easy to impose your character upon everyone else when you come straight into a club. Still, I am delighted to be here at City and it is a totally clean break for me. Things have not been going well at Huddersfield recently and this is an exciting new challenge.” Meanwhile, City could make another bid for Aberdeen midfielder Craig Hignett next week after their initial offer of £250,000 was rejected.

One to Go

Manager Joe Royle admits he has another player in his sights following the arrival of a striker and defender at Maine Road. Joe Royle will move for another player though it looks unlikely that the deal will be completed by Saturday. The target is widely believed to be former Middlesbrough midfielder Craig Hignett who is currently with Aberdeen. Though Joe admitted there are complications that are prolonging the proposed deal.

Meanwhile, the two new boys in Blue, Andy Morrison and Michael Branch, will go into the squad for Saturday’s match against Colchester. The two trained with their new colleagues at the Platt Lane complex and while both have agreed a month’s loan, Joe is looking longer term. Experience was the key to bringing in Andy Morisson.

“Andy Morrison is an experienced centre half. With Tony Vaughan and Richard Edghill only a booking away from a holiday, and with Gerard Wiekens struggling with a foot injury, added to the fact that Murtaz Sheila is not sharp enough, I felt it was an opportune moment to bring Andy in. He’s strong, a good talker and he’s here for a month with a view to a permanent deal.”

Greater communication in the back four is something that Joe will be looking for. Though he says it hasn’t been a massive problem, he believes the defence has been caught short in that area. The former Blackburn defender’s experience, believes Joe, will also be good for Nicky Fenton. “Young Nick has done tremendously well and we must remember he’s missed a team out. He’s come straight out of third team football into first team football. His reserve games can be counted on one hand and though we are delighted with him we must be careful we can’t overplay him. If Michael Owen, who’s a full international, is ready for a rest then certainly we have to look at young Fenton at some stage.”

Up front it’s youth and pace that is the hallmark of the other new arrival Michael Branch. Joe gave him his début at Everton three years ago when he was 17, though since then he has had a broken ankle and a torn hamstring. “He has had a terrible two years with injury but our reports are that he is getting fitter and stronger. He’s come here on a month’s loan, but I would like to sell Manchester City to Michael and hopefully do a deal with Everton because I feel he could be a massive influence in the future for us. He’s one I have had on my list and it was a matter of the time being right. I had to sell Manchester City to Michael who I admit is very one paced… electrifying!”

“He’s coming back after a long lay off, he is a shy boy so he’ll need to settle in and find his feet and of course he is leaving his boyhood club so we must remember that what ever he does on his début on Saturday, whether it be fantastic or a quiet début he certainly won’t be judged on that alone. I know enough about Michael Branch to say that if we can get him at Manchester City I will be delighted.”

Joe now has a month to assess his new striker but it’s clear if Michael can settle then Joe will be pursuing a permanent move.

Howard McCarthy (


What’s the tune that plays as the team comes onto the pitch these days? Before moving to Australia, each week I would attend Maine Road and be embarrassed by the lame theme tune that played as our gladiators entered the arena. You’ll all remember it:

“Ba baba ba ba baa Ciiity! Manchester City!
We are the boys who are playing to win,
Ciiity! (naff guitar solo)
The boys in blue never give in!”

Now this might not seem all that bad until you go to places like Elland Road where all the lights go dim and the supersonic speakers blare out the strains of Strauss’s Sunrise (2001: A Space Odyssey) followed by Eye of the Tiger all at 10,000 decibels. Then the following week you return to Maine Road to hear the empty can of beans on the end of a string squeak out “Ba baba ba ba baa Ciiity! etc.”

Now I know that before I left for Aussie shores this was altered to a 50’s version of Blue Moon, but pleeeaase, this still doesn’t sound all that inspiring. So can we start looking for a few suggestions about music that will inspire our boys to feats of superhuman effort. For my own part may I suggest the following:

  • It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Want To Rock n Roll – AC/DC (seen it used at an Aussie Rules Grand Final to great effect)
  • Romeo and Juliet – Prokofiev
  • Let’s Work – C&C Music Factory
  • One Vision – Queen (although I have a horrible feeling that Sky/Rags have already used it)
  • Ride of the Valkyries – Wagner

My wife (a Rag) thought that the following were more appropriate:

  • Theme from the Archers
  • The Birdie Song
  • Down Again – The Superjesus

Clive Dalton, Perth WA (


I’ve been on the MCIVTA list for a couple of years now, unfortunately as a bit of an imposter, but one of my mates is a season ticket holder for City and I just pass on some of the news/rumours.

You asked for an opinion on Andy Morrison from a Huddersfield Town fan so here it is:

We signed Morrison from Blackpool about two seasons ago, for around half a million; the reports in the paper at the time suggested we had bought a bit of a hard man and Andy has certainly lived up to this at his time at Town.

He is about six foot one and built like a brick s***house, his hardman image is enhanced by a close haircut and impressive bulldog style stance. He is Scottish and has in the past had Scotland team scouts looking over him at the Mcalpine, although an international cap has eluded him, probably for reasons we`ll come to in a bit. He has had a few long lay-offs through injury, most noticeably he spent about half of last season out of action and he is too regularly named on the injured list.

On the pitch he is often criticised for being too slow, but appearances can be deceptive; his positioning is excellent and any shortfalls in terms of speed are more than made up for by his strength, bulk and leadership. You city fans may remember being beaten one-nil by Town last season at Maine Road. Morrison was playing in defence that night and played a blinder, putting in some last second crucial tackles and galvanising the team. He is at his best played in the centre of defence and is occasionally employed as a sweeper; long, piercing balls out of defence are his speciality.

The loan to Man City has come as a bit of a shock to Town fans, but looking back on recent weeks it is not difficult to see why he’s left. About two weeks ago Morrison lost the captaincy to Barry Horne, and rumours abounded that Morrison had had a big fall out with Peter Jackson and had not turned up for training/ gone home etc. However, Morrison played in the next couple of games but according to the Huddersfield press he has been told by Jackson that he can no longer be guaranteed a first team place. On top of this, Town have suffered some bad results (0-3 at Swindon and 1-4 at Norwich) recently, the blame for which has fallen mostly on the Town defence. Morrison has also looked out of depth against quality sides like Sunderland and Everton.

Jackson has also been looking at bringing in new defenders, Jesper Matteson from Halmstads (Jacko went to Sweden to look at him) and we have just got Mark Jackson from L**** U***** on loan.

I believe Morrison’s loan move will definitely be with a view to a permanent signing. I think Morrison has been too much of a liability for Town for most of his time here; as well as on the pitch Morrison has attracted quite a bit of press for his off the field activities: He has been involved in one or two court cases/arrests involving `fracas` in nightclubs and pubs; apparently he likes a drink or two. Another recent court case found him charged with having a go at a bus driver. Apparently the bus driver cut him up at a junction. Morrison allegedly got out of his car, went up to the driver and shouted racist abuse at him and threatened to give him a kicking. I’m not absolutely sure of the outcome of the case but Morrison got community service for it.

Anyway, best of luck, Morrison is no worse than most of the City players and will probably be a good buy, providing that he can stay injury free.

Stuart Milner (


Manchester City vs. Halifax Town

This fixture will be played on Friday 13th November, Kick-Off 7.45 PM. This is a category ‘A’ Match. Tickets will go on sale from 9.00 AM on Tuesday 3rd November and full details will be on our website shortly.

Ticket Office, Manchester City (


I’m beginning to think that Joe Royle has begun a “special high intensity training” scheme.

I can only look at the results we are getting and think they ought to have started it a lot earlier. Needless to say the award for achieving the highest level is the abbreviation award, also known as S.H.I.T.

J Heavis (


Sad news about Steve Boler, even though he did not put money into the club, it is always sad when a fellow Blue dies. Pity you can’t have a minute’s silence over the Net.

Stephen Marks (


I think there is emerging two types of City fan.

Fan 1 remembers the days when we were the best team in the country and then when we could be brilliant one week but terrible the week afterwards. He never contemplated relegation. That was for other unfortunate teams. He had only bright prospects with exciting players to watch. He would moan about inconsistency and bad luck and underachievement. Most Fan 1’s have already stopped going to Maine Road, and if not, will have before the end of this season.

Fan 2 is a new fan, who is too young to remember the good days and so can be sated by the terrible drivel on offer at Maine Road these days. Fan 1 used to watch the best and the present fayre is the stuff he would watch condescendingly at Gigg Lane or Edgeley Park on odd weeknights if City weren’t playing. Fan 1 can’t stand it anymore. Fan 2 sees us beat Blackpool and would celebrate being champions of Windscreens.

Good luck to Fan 2. Without him, there wouldn’t be City in a few years time. Fan 1 wishes City would just close down and go away. No more anger. No more heartache. No more bad times. Yes, a period of mourning but then just a happy memory of the good times he had. No more losing to Lincoln and Reading and anyone else with 22 legs and a brain. Fan 1 can discard City now because the team he was brought up on couldn’t ever have lost to Lincoln and Reading and Fulham and anyone-else-who-knows-me and so by this test, they are not his team anymore, just imposters.

Simon Fink (


From Amy McCarthy, Galway, Ireland, aged 6 (nearly 7)

I support City because my dad does, and I don`t like the color red. When my mammy gives me my penguin biscuits for my school lunch, I never take a red one. I don`t like red M&M`s or smarties.

I have been to see City this season and met all the players including my hero Shauny Goater, he is my hero now that Gio has gone. Shauny told me he would score a goal for me against Burnley and he did and me and my dad went mad. I have a city shirt, pyjamas and a huge poster on my wall.

I like it when daddy listens to the matches on the Internet, even though he gets mad when we lose; we will be good again one day.

Amy, with a bit of help from my daddy Howie de Blue (c/o


Well done to Amy for the above article!

Are you the youngest supporter on the MCIVTA circulation? Or the oldest? What is the most remote or furthest flung (or unusual) corner of the globe that MCIVTA is getting to? Should we start a junior section of MCIVTA – e.g. call it the McViteenies or something equally corny? (Have to tidy up our language a bit first though).

Steve, CTAGB (


We made our way to the Academy slightly more optimistically than we had done last week; although the sky was dark and grey it at least looked like we would get to the ground dry. I’m not sure that our optimism spread to the football, memories of the disastrous Reading game were still too fresh.

Earlier as we had made our way through the traffic near Belle Vue, it became apparent that none of us actually knew where Colchester was. Later when I checked on Microsoft AutoRoute I discovered that it is actually in Essex, some 250 miles away. I can’t think of anything or anyone famous from Colchester and it seems from yesterday’s display that manager Steve Wignall has modelled his team in the same instantly forgettable way.

Moving onto the match. It was clear that the groundsmen had worked hard to keep the pitch playable. Evidence of their endeavours was clear from the large amounts of sand laid on the pitch at the Platt Lane end. As ever the boys got a good, if a little undeserved, reception. It was certainly easy to spot the Colchester players in their bright but garish kits of mainly yellow with black sleeves and black stripe on the shorts.

We were slightly relieved that we were kicking towards the North Stand in the first half; on each occasion that we have kicked towards Platt Lane in the first half we have lost!

There were significant changes from the programme team sheet, Edghill was at 2 for Crooks and Vaughan was at 3 for Tiatto. Morrison (new loan player) at 4 for Fenton, Crooks at 6 for Shelia and Allsopp at 7 for Mason and Branch at 10 for Dickov.

Right from the start the away fans shouted for their team by saying come on Colchee. I thought that rather odd really and couldn’t help but think of how daft it sounded when you applied it to other teams you know like come on Manchee, come on Arseee then I realised that it actually sounds OK when applied to Chelsea.

Right from the kick off we were going at them. On about the fifth minute we won a free kick that Horlock blasted in only for the ‘keeper to save and then see the ball bobble loosely under his chest before a second attempt from the ‘keeper brought it safely to his chest. The first 10 minutes or so were alright, we were streaming forwards towards the Colchee goal, although I drew no comfort from this as we had started brightly against Reading last week.

It was good to see the new loan player Morrison making a good early start, and interesting to see Allsopp playing down the right wing (a position that was not to work out too well in all honesty). About 17 minutes in Horlock launched a superb effort towards goal only to see it go high and bend to the left but it had been a fine effort. Our new number 10, on loan (I think from Everton) Branch demonstrated astonishing pace and although it’s not sensible to make a judgement on one game he looks a great prospect, very very fast.

Goater, who was hardly in the game, had a good effort 20 minutes in but was unable to turn quick enough in the box to really find the power to blast the ball in. To be honest as the first half dragged on we were looking pretty poor and it was difficult to see where a goal was going to come from. Wiekens as ever was looking very composed and confident and really is a class player, there was no doubt that City were being very frustrated by the deadlock. At about 35 minutes into the first half there was an almighty clash of heads between the Colchee number 2 and our number 10 (Branch) and both players were down for some time. When the game eventually restarted it ambled its way to half time and in fact the teams were booed off.

I think a measure of my boredom with the game was that I had eaten my magnificent Walkers Cheese & Onion crisps long before half time, not something I normally do. As I went to the gents there was something quite telling about the discarded City programme floating in a sea of urine, I felt this was some sort of symbolic vision that I alone had been selected to see. It soon became apparent that this was not the case, I wasn’t a special emmisonary of the lord gifted with this pungent vision as I witnessed a number of punters releasing their swollen bladders to further discolour the all action picture of Horlock on the front.

As the teams came back on for the second period, Bishop was on for Allsopp and the contrast between the dull first half and the next 15 minutes was incredible. We were a different team. From the kick off we won a corner and at 4.06 Branch demonstrated his pace as he showed a clean pair of heels to the Colchee defenders, then on 4.07 he won a penalty. It was a real relief that Goater was not to take it and although we thought Vaughan would take it Horlock was the man for the job and smashed it into the right hand side, sending the ‘keeper diving to his left. I guess it must have been the relief of tension but the goal celebrations were a little inappropriate, you would have thought we’d sealed promotion. We had barely settled down to enjoy our 1-0 lead when Edghill released a first class ball to Goater who was able to win a corner, from which we went 2-0 up. The celebrations were again quite enthusiastic as the voice from the tannoy announced that Andy the Magician Morrison had scored the goal.

As the electronic scoreboard flashed up the attendance of 24,820, a rousing rendition of Blue Moon was sang.

Our golden period continued with a succession of corners being won, we were putting a lot of pressure on and to be honest were unlucky not to bag another brace of goals. As ever though our nerves were to be played with as Colchester scored a great header to send Weaver sprawling into the net. I think it was the number 7, Dozzell, who scored, it was a fine goal anyway.

Shortly after this Horlock was booked, at which stage the away fans began to question the cleanliness of those of us in the crowd who hail from this area, at least that’