Newsletter #489

First of all, apologies for getting this out to you, due to a bit of sabotage (someone trying to steal our servers and hardware at work) presumably from someone of a ‘Red’ background I haven’t been able to send anything out until today. I’ll personally make it up to you all one day I hope!

In reality a win against on-form Wigan and an away draw at 2nd place Preston meant a good Easter weekend of results, so why do I feel so empty? Probably because the team will have to continue the excellent recent form as well as relying on some major banana skins landing in the way of those above us for that elusive 2nd place. Sorry to be the eternal pessimist, but even that play-off spot has still got to be worked on before any of us sleep easily, although (touch wood) we have an easier run to the end of the season than most teams. Four of our remaining 6 matches are at home and the only promotion contenders we have to face are Gillingham. So although we can all keep those fingers crossed for second place, maybe a party at Wembley in May will be just the ticket instead.

We’ve got reports from both the weekend games as well as plenty of opinion as usual. Still no ‘Why Blue’ stories this issue. Any takers wishing to share? I really don’t want to tell my story as it will probably horrify too many of you…

Next game, Lincoln City at home, Saturday 10th April 1999


You won’t need me to tell you of the results on Friday night, with both Preston and Bournemouth getting beat, three points against Wigan would do wonders for our promotion push.

I must say that I don*t know a great deal about Wigan, I think it used to be part of Greater Manchester although I don’t know if it still is.

Despite its proximity I have to admit to knowing very little about it other than that George Orwel featured it in his famous novel in the 1930’s and that at some time it prospered partly on the back of its coal reserves. I tend to think of Wigan as the sort of place one would recommend a tourist to go to but would never dream of going yourself unless you wanted a superb pie. I’m told that they have a real knack for making a decent pie.

Saturday really was a glorious day in Manchester, blazing sunshine requiring shirt sleeve order. We were resplendent in our tasteful away shirts as we set off to the Academy.

On parking up at the ground I realised almost straight away that this was probably one of the most exciting days in Wigan’s history. You must remember that a good crowd for Wigan would be about 4,000 or so and it was a delightful scene that met us as we strode across the Kippax Street car park. It seemed that whole extended families had made the great journey to the Metropolis. Some sat cross-legged in the car park, their ruddy and veined faces baked further by the afternoon sun. Many of them had brought hampers and were taking huge chunks out of sandwiches made with rough-hewn bread. Other Wigan fans, perhaps the more adventurous, were already making final preparations to enter the portals of this most hallowed ground. Children spun tops, rolled hoops in the car park and played shove ha’penny as their fathers tightened braces, adjusted caps and posed for souvenir photographs that they would pass to future generations. Other men just trembled with excitement, whilst the womenfolk made certain that their bustles and petticoats looked half decent.

Leaving this cheery scene to avoid further questions from my son who had asked “why do they all have those brown baggy trousers dad?”, and “is Wigan abroad?” (I think this was because it was difficult to tell what they were saying), we entered the arena and took our seats. The first thing that I noticed was that the grass had been cut differently, I think it would be described as concentric circles, it looked nice anyway.

As kick-off approached the crowd swelled (attendance ended up at 31,058) and then it seemed that we were to start a new form of psychological war against the visitors.

The music was very, very loud and we were waiting for the now traditional Ronaldo’s Revenge to play as the boys ran out. But no. Instead, the music stopped and in the loudest and most crowd lifting voice we heard the master of ceremonies shouted “and now the moment you’ve been waiting for, welcome Wigan and Manchester City.” Now to try to give you a feel for this – picture the scene – 31,000 in the ground, glorious sunshine and booming cheering, clapping and stamping as we wait expectantly for the teams to come out. It seems a lifetime, but in reality I bet it’s not more than 30-45 seconds as the teams are held back and then when they do come out the crowd erupts, Blue Moon is blasted over the PA system and it’s Blue heaven. I’m not joking when I tell you this is the loudest and most sustained welcome the team has had this season. It must have shook the Wigan players.

Just before I get onto the game itself I ought to comment on the rather stylish turn out of the Wigan players. Each player wore a very attractive kit, in a beautiful Lincoln green; each of the upper garments had two attractive white stripes set into the main body. Shorts were also in a matching green whilst each of the players had the whole outfit set off by a pair of matching knee length green hose with very stylish white hoops around the top.

Finally with regards to appearance, I think some of players may made have had a bald pate as I heard the away fans shouting “Wig on, Wig on”.

The game itself got off to a cracking start, Cooke put the ball through via Dickov to Brown who looked certain to score but whipped the ball in against the upright. I had really thought it was going in and this within about the first 90 seconds or so.

Soon after it was Cooke again who crossed in only to see a Wigan player put the ball behind for a corner from which we failed to really do anything. Edghill was captain for the day with Morrison suspended, but for my money it was Tony Vaughan who played like a captain and he went on to have a really decent game. There was a claim for a penalty early on but I didn’t think it was, in reality I think Dickov had actually stumbled over the Wigan ‘keeper, in any case the appeals were half hearted which seemed to indicate the truth of the claim. Around about the 15-minute mark Crooks blasted in a fantastic long-range shot, it must have been about 30 yards out and the ‘keeper pulled off a great save to deny the City effort. Wigan did nothing for much of the game, in fact it was about 15-20 minutes in before they even threatened Weaver who was well turned out in bright green hose, but the Wigan player fired over and should really have done better.

Dickov, who had started the game and had been his usual lively self, could only last 20 minutes and was substituted due to injury with Allsopp taking his place. Close to the 30 minute mark I was convinced that Wigan would take the lead; Weaver had been left stranded and the ball looked certain to be fired home into the empty and inviting net, but as ever old faithful himself – Wiekens – stepped in and took the ball clean away from the attacker’s feet.

We had plenty of chances: Goater, Bishop and Edghill all had decent chances that we really ought to have got something from in the first 45.

The City fans were in good voice and the second half started much as the first with the Blues making all the running. About eight minutes into the second 45, Pollock lifted a ball over the oncoming man in green towards the advancing Cooke; the ‘keeper came quickly for it, but realising the perilous risk of handling it outside the area, dropped the ball. Cooke, with lighting reactions, seized the moment and from a fairly acute angle fired the ball into the net. The Wigan fans must have choked on their pies but this was nothing more than we deserved and I thought we might go on for a few more. Unfortunately Cooke was subbed around the 70th minute and we began to look a different team. With our wide play gone we could only go down the middle and at times the game had shades of early season City.

The game shifted now as Wigan made all the running, making for a nervous last 20 minutes. Our back four didn’t look quite as tight as recently but Weaver did what he had to when he had to do it and we held on for another three points.

If we can beat Preston on Monday the roof is going to come off the Academy when the boys step out next Saturday, because another home win and a few other results going our way and we can forget Wembley and start to risk the dream of an automatic place. It’s not impossible. This was not a vintage performance but who the heck cares when there is so much at stake? As for Wigan I’m not sure their games in hand are going to be worth a great deal to them, they did little to worry us for most of the 90 minutes.

But credit where it’s due, they did have a delightful kit and their supporters will long remember the day that they came to Maine Road, saw the big city, breathed the fresh air, and saw a team with a mascot (Bluemoon).

I’ll bet that makes them think, as far as I recall they are the only team at the academy this season without one. I’ll bet they’re working on it already and I bet it’s pie shaped.

Tony Burns (


It was a lovely sunny day at Maine Road for the 31,058 who turned up to watch yet another feast of football, served up by the division’s two form teams (Fulham? Who are they?). Or rather, to watch yet another scrappy performance in which City did just enough to get the three points. With Andy “Tank” Morrison and Gareth “Twonk” Taylor both suspended, it was a return to centre half duty for Tony “not-ever-at-left-back-again-Joe-please” Vaughan, and a start up front for Paul “I’m-going-to-have-a-tantrum-if-I-don’t-get-a-game-soon-so-there” Dickov. The full City line up was therefore Weaver, Edghill (captain for the day bless his little cotton socks), Vaughan, Wiekens, Crooks, Pollock, Brown, Bishop, Dickov, Goater and Cooke. Subs were Robins, Allsopp and Horlock. According to the programme, Wigan had Eric Nixon in goal – oh how disappointed we were when someone else’s name was read out instead! They had the diddy David Lee on the right wing and Graeme Jones, who scored loads of goals for them last year, up front, but luckily for us their two highest goalscorers both sat out the game. Luckily for them Danny Allsopp would play most of the match for us, but more of that later.

City started very brightly. At this point you can take the first 20 minutes of any of the match reports I’ve ever done and read them, as it’s always the same – City start well, miss an early chance, restrict the other side to long range shots which our ‘keeper gathers well (unless the ‘keeper’s Eike Immel in which case we go 1-0 down), then concede possession in midfield to the opposing side and end up letting them back into the game. We should have been ahead within 5 minutes when Cooke played the ball in the opposite direction to that which everyone (including most of the City players) was expecting. Brown made a lovely run into the area and had a good shot which bounced away off the post. Goater missed a sitter, again from a ball from Cooke into the area, and we really should have been 3-0 up at the end of the first 15 minutes. Wigan’s main contribution to the match at this time seemed to be fouling Wiekens and Goater at every opportunity, especially Wiekens – how he ended the game with his head still on his shoulders I don’t know. Bishop in midfield was having a stormer, spraying passes all over the park and showing he may be a little (!) short of pace these days but he still thinks a good game. Ah, the old clichés are the best…

Inevitably though Wigan came back into it. We had a very scary moment when Weaver came charging out from his goal to clear the ball and missed, but luckily Wiekens had been tracking back and came across to clear the ball. Edghill should have scored when a cross found him in acres of space in the box, all he had to do was control the ball and then smack it in the net. Sadly though he decided to try to head it instead – probably that rush of blood to the head caused by finding himself that far forward – and the ‘keeper had an easy save to make. The quietest people on the park were probably Dickov and Brown, who was strangely anonymous for long spells of the game. I can only assume Dickov must have been carrying an injury as he was substituted about half way through the first half, for Kevin Horlock. Eh? What was that? Since when does Horlock have blond hair and play up front? And when did he put all that weight on? 15 minutes later the announcer realised he’d make a mistake and announced that Allsopp had come on – personally I think Horlock would have been more use up front as Allsopp was appalling, but there you go. Goater was running around and making a real nuisance of himself everywhere apart from in the penalty area. Crooks had a rasping shot just tipped over the bar by the ‘keeper, who was having a really good game – told you it was a shame Eric Nixon wasn’t playing! The last few minutes of the half were the best spell for Wigan as they forced a few corners, one of which in particular they nearly scored from as Weaver elected to punch rather than catch and it fell to one of their players in the area who could only blaze it over the bar. This is probably the only area of Weaver’s game that is lacking at the moment, as there were a couple of other times when he punched the ball away when he had time to catch it. Still, as he’s the only ‘keeper we’ve had in recent years who hasn’t made me cringe and stop watching whenever the ball’s in our half I’ll let him off! The most nervy moment came after Wiekens had been fouled yet again and was off the pitch having treatment, as a City attack broke down and Wigan tried to hit us on the break. This time Vaughan came across and was more than equal to the task of clearing the ball.

Half time then, still 0-0 and we were feeling quite optimistic. Cooke had been having a good game, and although Bishop had faded (probably getting tired, poor old thing) we still looked like the better team. As Allsopp had done nothing in the 20 or so minutes that he’d been on we were also quite looking forward to seeing Bobbins, oops sorry Robins, coming on for him in the second half. We won the half time penalty shoot out too, even though that mean Moonchester saved a penalty from one little lass who couldn’t see over the ball. Nasty alien!

The second half started pretty much the same as the first had finished, with City slightly on top, but it always looked as if it was going to take a bad mistake for us to score. And so it happened. The Wigan ‘keeper came charging out of his goal to collect a cross from Pollock, realised he was going to carry the ball out of his area and dropped it for his centre half to collect. However, said centre half had been taken out completely by Danny Allsopp and was rolling around on the floor at the time – this was Allsopp’s only contribution of any merit in the entire game! Cooke reacted quicker than anyone else (except the Wigan manager) and coolly hit the ball into the back of the net. It took me so long to realise the ref wasn’t going to disallow it that I forgot to celebrate!

After this I really thought City were going to run riot, and if we had centre forwards of the quality of the two that Wigan were missing we could have scored 10. Wigan’s midfield completely disappeared for 10 minutes. Brown had another good run from the centre circle but just couldn’t find a way past the final defender. Pollock and Cooke played some good balls forward which unluckily always seemed to find Allsopp – or rather didn’t find Allsopp but rather where Allsopp should have been if he wasn’t such a lazy git. Every time he did get the ball he gave it away or miscontrolled it so it went for a throw in. I was hoping he’d come on and make Taylor and Goater fear for their places in the team, but oh no. The City back four were playing well again – I’m sure Edghill will still get slated by some people but I thought his defending on Saturday was excellent. It’s just a shame he can’t cross / shoot / kick goalwards… Crooks had another good game and linked up well again with Cooke, and Wiekens, when he wasn’t being kicked or elbowed or shoved was his usual steady self. He’ll have been black and blue on Sunday – the trainer had to come on again in the second half when he’d been taken out by yet another bad challenge. My man of the match though was Vaughan, and yes that is Tony Vaughan not Frankie Vaughan. I asked an Ipswich fan last week where Vaughan had played for them, and he said that he’d played both centre half and left back but was always awful at left back. No, really?! There was one moment when he lost his temper, when a Wigan midfielder wouldn’t give him the ball to take a throw in and they had a bit of a shoving match. Edghill came sprinting over to separate them and the ref, who had obviously decided that he couldn’t be bothered writing anyone’s names in his book today, had stern words with both of them and let the game continue. Oh Tony you naughty boy.

Horlock came on for Pollock and we did lose a lot of bite in midfield. It was all set up nicely for the usual nail-biting last 10 minutes as Wigan forced corner after corner, but somehow their shots either went just wide or were just cleared. Phew. The final whistle blew and it was off to the Parkside and for a curry that I never quite managed to get…

Final thoughts though – if we had a winger on the left too it would be wonderful. Edghill would have less pressure on him to get fowards and could concentrate on defending and give us all a break. The defence looks solid – Crooks in particular has improved no end this season and it was a shame his shot in the first half didn’t go in as he would have more than deserved to have scored. Oh yes, we also need some strikers. I’ve no idea why Joe didn’t bring Robins on – if he’s not fit he shouldn’t have been on the bench, so why not swap him for Allsopp? He couldn’t have done any worse. Thinking about it, why not bring the bench on itself? It would have been about as mobile. I may seem as if I’m being a bit harsh here but Allsopp really didn’t look as he was capable of scoring, or even making life difficult for the opposing defence – apart from knocking that one over when we scored of course, sorry Danny! Still, the rest of the team played well and it was a good and (just about) deserved three points. If only we hadn’t lost to Oldham…

Sharon Bennett


With results going our way the night before, this was an important game for City to get 3 points. City started this game with passion and skill, and within a couple of minutes Michael Brown had hit the post, when he should have done better. I personally thought he’d scored at first, and jumped around a bit, only to be brought crashing back down to Earth. The crowd got behind the team and turned up the volume accordingly; I do love football in the sunshine, it always adds that bit of feel good factor to the game.

On with the game. Dickov was running his socks off and making their defenders aware of his presence, he was also doing some good work in holding the ball up for other City players to get involved. He was however, taken off with what looks like a hamstring problem? On came Allsopp (announcement was Horlock, which would’ve been a better move I feel). For me he is not up to the job, his running off the ball isn’t thought through, he runs around like a headless chicken (why not bring on Robins? Allsopp was dreadful, he has as much imagination up front as a Billie record). Wigan started to lose their sense of stage fright during the later stages of the first half and began to attack, with Barlow looking quite useful, but not looking like scoring. I thought to myself this game had 0-0 stamped all over it, both defences were coming out on top. For me Bishop was having a brilliant first half, his passing both long and short can at times be a joy to watch. If we go up he’ll be a useful player to have about.

Edghill should have done better with an effort set up for him by some forceful play by Pollock. Pollock had a good game I thought, he appears to be getting his fitness back (well, fit for Pollock anyway). City started well and finished the first half looking good value, the crowd was certainly getting behind the boys in blue.

The second half started and City got a goal in the 52nd minute thanks to a bit of naff goalkeeping from Wigan. Their ‘keeper came racing off his line to collect the ball but his momentum took him outside the area, so he dropped the ball, and Cooke reacted quicker than a Tory MP in massage parlor raid and diverted the ball into the back of the unguarded net. ‘One nil in your Cup Final’ (except this really isn’t Wigan’s cup final as they are playing Millwall at Wembley, but who cares when you’re winning?). Straight afterwards Brown made a ‘Kinky’ run at their goal, but the shot was lame; if only he had a decent pair of shooting boots.

Wiekens took a rather nasty bang as Wigan started to attack, he was clearly giving his all for the cause. Wigan made a double substitution to spark things up. They threw caution to the wind and began to attack. Round about the this time I started to regret the XX number of pints and a dodgy curry I’d had in Rusholme the night before, the nerves were just hanging on, the referee was adding time on, my bowels were doing an impression of a washing machine and Wigan for the first time were starting to look a serious threat and (I enjoy this? Too bloody right). The referee eventually blew for time, the chants of Blue Moon were echoing around the ground and thing were looking up. ‘We’re going up, we’re going up, City’s going up’. I then ran out of the ground and bought my first ever season ticket, such was the tide of euphoria I was on (oh and having the MasterCard with me, buy now worry about it later, that’s my motto).

To sum up, Wigan didn’t look much, and if they are one of the better teams in this division, then maybe we are going up.

Walter Smith (


I caught the train to Preston; upon getting out of Preston railway station, I didn’t have a clue where the ground was but I thought I’d have a wander around Preston. I thought omens must have been good when I stumbled across a nightclub called ‘Blue Moon’, it’s from there I decided to get a taxi; the driver said that there had a been a bit of trouble so I decided to keep quiet. I got into the game with about two minutes to spare, got settled and the game kicked off. B**l*cks 1-0 down. Preston’s No. 11 had crossed the ball after a bit of trickery and Basham had enough room to do an impression of Michael Flattley and choose his spot to nod it past Weaver. City to all their credit started to play realy well, but for me didn’t look like scoring. Their No. 11 was being given loads of room, wide on the left and he was using it, giving Crooks a torrid time. He had pace, a bag full of tricks and a good cross (would’ve done nicely for us).

Brown was lucky with the goal, he shot from the edge of the box and it took a big deflection and snuck in. No complaints from me or the other 6,000+ Blues. This sparked an exodus of Blues whom must have celebrated in the Preston end, they were all escorted from the ground.

At half time City’s kids (mascots) won the shoot out competition 2-1, which sparked off big chants from the City fans.

City started the second half with a lot of conviction, they had 4 or 5 chances to get a seond goal. Goater seemed to duck in front of goal when the ball was crossed over (bizzare, maybe a betting syndicate would explain a lot). Brown should have laid the ball off to a free Cooke, instead he choose to shoot lamely from 30 yards.

Robins came on for the ineffective Taylor; he is slow, to be fair to him he leads the line well and his heading ability is good (except for chances on goal). I hope Robins isn’t fully fit because he looked woeful, I seriously believe my mother has more pace than then Mark Robins. His only contribution was to get fouled in the box (no we didn’t get the decision), Robins doesn’t look the answer to our forward line problem.

City had the better of the second half with Horlock having a couple of good chances. His best effort was a lob in injury time which hit the top of the netting (if only). Morrison got booked again, with Pollock. Pollock was taken off and replaced by Bishop. I thought he should have started. His passing is superb and he doesn’t panic and his distribution is excellent, unlike Edghill who’s passing is as poor as any player I can remember for City. I came home and watched MotD and saw Scott Hiley for Southampton at left back (why?). Even Morrison lost his head with Edghill at one point, mind you he lost his head with half of Preston’s crowd (what a star). As the T shirt says ‘Captain Elite’, and who am I to argue?

Overall I thought City deserved to win and should’ve had a penalty. The referee was poor again, his physical demeanour suggested he’s not fit enough to run up and down for 90 minutes. He gave one decision because all the City fans shouted ‘Handball’; he didn’t see it.

Brace yourself for the playoffs, maybe Preston.

Walter Smith (


Promotion Picture

On the face of it, it seems churlish to be dissatisfied at four points from a home clash with a Wigan team in excellent form in the last couple of months and a trip to second-placed Preston. However, to consolidate hopes of a top-two place City really needed to follow up Saturday’s narrow win against the Latics by taking three points at Deepdale to close the gap on our hosts. The failure to do so leaves Preston still four points ahead of the Blues with a game in hand, while Walsall (after Tuesday’s win at home to Wrexham) have a five point advantage and two extra matches – while it’s not all over yet, the ball is certainly in their court.

In fact, it’s highly competitive throughout the top six – Walsall aren’t the only ones to keep on winning. Bournemouth, who moved ahead of us by winning at home to lowly Macclesfield on Tuesday, now have a point more than the Blues, and Gillingham, victors on Monday at Wycombe, are only a point behind. Both have a game in hand. Of the teams outside the top six, only Wigan and Stoke, both eight points behind the Blues, look to have a chance of forcing their way into play-off contention. Wigan have three games in hand on City and Stoke have two. However, with all contenders playing twice between Friday evening and next Wednesday, including five clashes between top-eight teams, the whole picture could change again soon.

Dickov Vows To Fight For Place

Paul Dickov, furious recently at his perennial substitute’s rôle, has underlined his determination to retain his first-team place. After being dropped for the match at Colchester last month, Dickov was restored to the side in place of Gareth Taylor for the following weekend’s visit to Reading, and a good display saw him keep his starting place against Wigan on Saturday. However, the bruised ribs which forced his first-half substitution also kept him out of the side at Deepdale on Monday and, unfortunately for the player, may sideline him for longer. When Dickov originally aired his views to the manager, Joe Royle assured the Scot he’d have chances to stake his claim. However, whether new signing Mark Robins earns a long-term contract or not, his arrival seems to indicate that Royle hasn’t abandoned his self-confessed desire to add to his complement of strikers. With Dickov commenting that, “I have never wanted to leave City but at this stage of my career I need first team football,” it remains to be seen how the situation will play out in the summer.

Robins Off Mark but Reserves Crash

As Blue Loon’s account on Blue View noted, in Tuesday night’s mini-derby, watched by a bumper crowd at Hyde, City reserves showed exactly why they’re the reserves with a catastrophic performance at home to, of all teams, Manchester United. The Reds’ second string cruised to a 5-1 win, City swept aside after a goal from the recently-acquired Mark Robins had equalised an early United strike in the first half. However, the chance was apparently impossible to miss, and in general the player reportedly looked well short of full fitness, an assessment echoed by many who saw his run-out as a substitute at Deepdale. If there’s one consolation from the reserves’ dismal scoreline, it’s that often this season their results have seemed inversely proportionate to those of the first team. May it continue on Saturday!

Crowd Trouble Reported

It has been reported than ten people were arrested and one man taken to hospital following a “pitched battle” after City’s derby with Wigan on Saturday. The stories claim that City fans ambushed Wigan outside the Sherwood pub. Now, correct me if I’m wrong here, but isn’t the Sherwood on Wilmslow Road near the junction with Wilbraham Road in Fallowfield (it used to be when I’d slope off for an illicit pint there in my sixth form days, at any rate). So something doesn’t add up, since, if the report I’ve seen is to be believed, the Wigan supporters were being given a police escort back to Piccadilly station, and had been led up Claremont Road. Now, which way would you go at the top of Claremont Road to get into the centre of Manchester? According to the report I saw, the police would obviously take you past Owens Park in the direction of Withington and West Didsbury. I m not saying there wasn’t an incident and nor am I seeking to defend City fans involved – there are starting to be enough of this type of report for it to disturb me greatly. But I do think that stories like this should be checked before they’re run. In this case, either the incident didn’t take place anywhere near where the report claims or the Wigan fans involved were certainly not en route for a train home.

New Sponsor Name on New Kit?

For the first time, there’s been official confirmation of the long-running rumour that City may have a new sponsor’s name on their shirts next season following twelve years with Brother. The current sponsorship deal expires at the end of the current season, and the Japanese company is said to be disappointed with the lack of international exposure it currently receives from an association with City. Though talks about a renewal are ongoing, no extension has been agreed as yet. David Bernstein has admitted that the club is in discussions with other parties, saying, “We are having ongoing dialogue with them [Brother] and with a variety of other companies. Clearly, the club needs to have a sponsor of substance and we will not be rushing into any decision.” However, given that Bernstein felt moved to reflect that, with a new kit manufacturer also on board, a new sponsor could be part of a radical image makeover, the smart money has to be on a new name on the blue shirts next term. The club’s official site at reckons that, whether it’s with Brother or an as yet unidentified third party, the new contract should be signed and sealed by the end of this month.

No Worries Over Bradbury Cash

City secretary Bernard Halford is reportedly unconcerned by the doubts raised over whether the Blues are likely to receive the £700,000 said still to be owed by Crystal Palace for the transfer of Lee Bradbury. The fee is apparently payable in instalments, and Palace are around £100,000 behind the agreed schedule. However, Halford reportedly doesn’t envisage that the Blues will have problems picking up the rest of the cash. Bradbury is currently on loan to Birmingham City, a move which is due to become permanent in the summer, and it’s thought that this is where Palace may find the cash.

Peter Brophy (


This is some info I picked up off the net about Terry Cooke. I hope JR can get this one right.

Cooke in a stew as Ferguson says he wants him back at Old Trafford

Monday, April 5, 1999

Terry Cooke, the Manchester United winger currently on loan at neighbours City, has two weeks to make the biggest decision of his career.

Cooke is wanted by Joe Royle’s promotion-chasing side and has become a hero with the Maine Road faithful since his arrival in January. But United boss Alex Ferguson has said there is a new contract on the table when he gets back to Old Trafford.

Cooke scored City’s 52nd minute winner against Wigan, his fifth in 14 games for the club, and they now have a chance of automatic promotion after a run with just one defeat in 17 games. That is why Pat McGibbon, who played alongside Cooke at Old Trafford for four years before moving to Wigan, believes the winger should stay put.

‘It’s all about first-team football and he will get that at City,’ said McGibbon. ‘Manchester United are a great club with great players but that doesn’t mean too much when you’re playing for the reserves in front of 200 people. Terry has done well at Maine Road and he has the chance to be playing in front of 30,000 every week. It’s a tough choice because United are such a great club. Whatever advice Alex Ferguson gives him will probably be correct and he should take it.’

Patrick Alexander (


In Monday’s Guardian sports column ‘Their kit don’t fit’ no.73, this week’s target is Terry Cooke – I quote – ‘So many things don’t fit here it’s hard to know where to start. With the lemon yellow and black stripes perhaps. Or that Cooke is on loan from M#n U#d to City. Or, most shocking of all, that he’s helping City win matches.’ Accompanying this less than charitable paragraph is a picture of Cooke in the (admittedly baggy) away kit. Let’s hope he is still with us for next season and he gets a kit that fits!

Colin Paxton (


For fourteen years I worked as a freelance reporter for GMR (BBC Radio Manchester as it was in the earlier days) under the name of Graham Baxter. During that time I got to report/commentate on matches involving all of the Manchester area league sides, as well as occasionally presenting the Saturday afternoon programme from the studio.

I have been a Blues fan since my dad took me to Maine Road to see Frank Swift’s last game before retiring. As a teenager onwards I was a Platt Lane regular, watching such greats as Roy Paul, Ken Barnes, Bert Trautman and, later, Bell, Lee, Summerbee, etc. and the brilliantly entertaining Rodney Marsh.

I got my job with Radio Manchester after BBC Radio Four closed down its regional “opt-outs” and my programme, “Sports Spotlight” hit the buffers. Anyway, perhaps three years of reading football and racing results in the time-honoured BBC fashion was more than enough. The studio was in Piccadilly then and sport was just about a two-man affair, with Ian Frame and John Tait. From then on just about every Saturday and Bank Holiday I was involved with sport, mainly soccer or tennis.

Eventually, after the studios moved to Oxford Road, I got to present occasional programmes and also to go out to cover matches. Although I always wanted to cover City, Ian Frame was still the Sports Editor and he too was a City fan and bagged most of their home games for himself. I went off to Oldham, Bolton, Stockport, Wigan, Bury, Rochdale or even Old Trafford (although John Tait often wanted to cover United’s matches).

Away matches were another matter, however. I travelled to the majority of football league grounds in the North and Midlands, plus a few further South. City’s away games were the best because, unlike any of the other teams, the Blues allowed the Radio Manchester reporter to travel on the team coach, along with a guy (usually Brian Clarke) from Radio Piccadilly and The Manchester Evening News’s Peter Gardner. We had lunch with the team, usually sitting at the Manager’s table, and got to know a lot of the players and staff much better than we would have done just by the occasional post-match interview. One thing that always amused me was that the coach driver always went in the dug-out during matches and viewers of televised matches must have often wondered who the little man with the round face was at the Manager’s side.

Highlights I remember were: big Malcolm Allison making his first larger-than-life appearance at a pre-match lunch as the new Manager (for the second time); John Bond lying full length in the gangway in the coach, hiding from the irate fans as we left Everton having literally kicked them off the park; Peter Barnes telling me rather wistfully as we set off for Leeds that this was his girlfriend’s wedding day(!) and; Dennis Tueart guiding the driver to Coventry’s ground (from where he had recently moved to City) and landing us in the driveway up to Coventry cathedral!

Not all the memorable moments concerned City.

Worst times: hanging around waiting for players to get changed after a game to get an interview, nd humping some very heavy gear for miles to and from my car.
Worst moment: commentating at Oldham for all 90 minutes on a mind-numbingly boring midweek game against Leeds and getting a coughing fit halfway through the second half with no-one to hand over to. In the end I had to shove my microphone at the reporter from Radio Leeds and let him carry on commentating into two mikes whilst I recovered.
Nicest moment: being introduced to two blind guests of the club at Oldham, whose first wish was “to meet Graham Baxter”.
Worst interview: Paul McGrath (United) “*.derr*..yeah*. Oi tink!”
Favourite interviewees: Ray Wilkins, Joe Royle, Andy Hinchcliffe, Peter Barnes, and many others.
Favourite Manager: no question, Joe Royle (I’d have voted for him if he’d stood for parliament!).
Best ground to work in (as a reporter): Burnden Park and Maine Road.
Worst ground to work in (as a reporter): Rochdale, (first time I went there for an evening match the only light bulb in the whole of the Press Box packed up soon after the start), Ewood Park, Blackburn (absolutely impossible to get to the players for a post-match interview), The Baseball Ground at Derby (late getting in because I had to park so far away, the only way to get to my seat in the Press Box was to “tightrope walk” ten yards carrying all my gear along the front rail of the box with a 20 ft drop onto the crowd a real possibility).
Daftest situation: losing an interview with Lou Macari because a commissionaire at Old Trafford wouldn’t allow Macari to use the lift to accompany me to the restaurant. Apparantly, players had to use the stairs. I was OK, but not Lou!
Most memorable personalities interviewed: Mick Channon, George Best (sober!), Mickey Thomas (Utd), Big Ron, Frank Worthington (Bolton, etc.), Joe Royle.
Most difficult job: dual reporting: e.g. covering City vs. Birmingham at Maine Road for both Radio Manchester and Radio Birmingham and having to describe every incident from both points of view.
Most surprising job: having to coach Alex Ferguson on how to carry out an interview with the Press. Seems nobody ever interviewed him up at Aberdeen! For several months he was really hesitant, but he seems to have got the hang of it now!

Living out in Spain for the last ten years does have its compensations, but I do still miss the close involvement with City and, indeed, the other teams around Manchester. The last few years have been disappointing, to say the least, but from the little we see of the Blues on the box Joe seems to be doing a good job with very limited resources. Trouble is, even if we do manage to get promotion, where’s the money going to come from for the new players we’ll undoubtedly need in the First Division?

Graham (


At last! I thought it was never going to happen – for the last couple of weeks I’ve been posting opinions to MCIVTA on variety of topics, which I was fully aware might be a tiny bit controversial, and expecting to be taken to task by someone … but it’s never happened. To be honest I was even considering changing my name to “Simon”!

But now that won’t be necessary, because finally, in the last issue, I’ve been tackled. So here just to explain what I was actually on about:

1. Squad Size

I don’t think the current squad is bloated, but I do think there is a significant amount of dead wood still hanging around. The actual term I used in my original comment was “excess baggage”. Basically I agree the squad size has been massively cut back from the previous 50+, which is excellent, but what worries me is that a fair proportion of the “reduction” is actually players who are out on loan. Okay that means we don’t have to pay their wages, but it also means that if we can’t sell them they will eventually come back.

And the strong trend I saw coming up to transfer deadline day was just that – i.e. there wasn’t even a sniff of us being able to sell any of these players. So just to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, here are the ones I was referring to:

Heaney (or has he already gone – can’t remember?)

I also think we could lose Allsopp, Tiatto and both the Whitleys.

But wait! – Before you rush to condemn me in print, I do realise that if we could get rid of all these players then we’d definitely be a bit light if injuries and suspensions hit etc. The point is that to improve the overall quality of the squad, these are the sort of players we have to get rid of, precisely so that we have some breathing space – and money – to bring in better players. And not to forget we seem to have some promising youngsters coming along.

Oh alright, condemn me in print, I don’t care …

2 Penalties

Well I hope we can snatch 2nd place from Preston so the play-off lottery won’t be needed (though looking at it after all the Easter Monday games it looks like Walsall have a far better chance of taking 2nd spot than we do). Equally I agree that with our form at the moment, there is nobody in the top 6 that we should be afraid of. But … that doesn’t mean we should ignore the possibility of penalties in a play-off. It could very easily happen, and however confident we might be, we’d be mad not to concentrate on penalties in training.

I do not want to be the person who says “I told you so”.

Steve Maclean (


My name is Jack, I’ve supported City since 1951, maybe earlier, 1951 is my first memory. Now the point of my contribution. For two years, until last Christmas, I lived on Stuart Street in Clayton, Manchester. I know all the local councillors and a few people involved in the forthcoming groundwork for the new stadium. Manchester is holding the 2002 Commonwealth games at the designated stadium, and thereafter the stadium will be altered à la Barcelona … digging dowwn to take the spectators closer to the pitch. Fear not. All you hear is crap. And by the way there are some great pubs in and around Clayton … lots of Red fans but it is mostly Blue 🙂

… Just thought I would cool down the crap hysteria… and another thing… it is in walking distance from town…

And another thing Colin Bell was only God… Peter Doherty was even better…

CTWTF (City Til What The ooops), Jack Millington (


There appears to be a bit of doom and gloom creeping into the minds of certain fans, what’s it all about? Well here’s a list that should bring a smile and a feeling of pride to the most bitter of Blues. 10 reasons why it’s ace to support Manchester City.

  1. Watching the talents of Nicky Weaver before Sky have hung a noose of expectation around his neck.
  2. The best home kit in the land for the past two years.
  3. Life is always exciting because, we are never mid-table and dothings the hard way (Stoke, Liverpool and also this year’s promotioncharge, which we all know is going to penalties at Wembley).
  4. People know that you are not a home counties spoilt B*st*rd.
  5. You can take the mick out of people from the home counties, for following a team they have absolutely no connection with.
  6. You always meet someone you know at away games.
  7. You get to see OAPS in puffed up Kappa jackets on a regular basis.
  8. You feel part of a big community / family rather than a corporate member.
  9. City fans have a sense of humor and can laugh at their own team.Unlike another Red group of supporters who throw the toys out of theirpram, if you dare to say anything negative about them, their team oranything good about another Premiership team.
  10. Things are never certain.

Walter Smith (


My mate from work is one of that rare breed i.e. a SCUMU fan, season ticket holder, born bred and lives in Manchester.

Anyway his girlfriend works for a posh estate agent. And he says to me at 5 a side, “‘My Missus sold a house to a City player this week.’

‘Who was it?’ I asked.

‘Some bloke called Gerard Wiekens’ he says.

Now he wouldn’t know Gerard Wiekens if he stood right next to him and I don’t think it was an April fool but Gerard putting down roots sounds like a good thing to me.

Perhaps Gerard wants to be a City player next season!

Fat Bloke


There has been much comment over the last few weeks about P.P.V. Well, I’ll take it along with 40 other Blues who were in Amsterdam’s Blarney Stone for the Colchester game. Cannot wait for the next match and neither can a few other Dutch Blues.

Bob Price (c/o


In Thursday’s Manchester Evening News there’s an article on a new community initiative. Quote: ‘The Blues have teamed up with council chiefs to launch an after-school club to provide extra lessons in arithmetic etc. using football as an inspiration. Players’ weights, heights and form can be monitored with graphs and PIE CHARTS used to boost maths skills.’

The article is illustrated with a picture of Andy Morrison with some mal-nourished school kids!

Tony Coatsworth (


Sorry to be one issue late with the form guide, but with holiday and business commitments, I’m going to have to re-jig the delivery to the Monday issue for the rest of the season.

What a week (and a bit) – We win and dash the hopes of two of our promotion rivals at the same time! As a result, according to this week’s prediction league, we will finish 3rd just a couple of points behind Walsall. So it appears that teams around us have started to slip up. Shame that Walsall haven’t slipped, up… but they might do yet.

All it needs is for us to beat Preston on Monday and we’re just 1 point behind them. Can we do it? (No! – MV). Well I think we will… but because I think we will, then perhaps we won’t… but then again… (I feel this might be a lucky phrase so I’m sticking with it).

Team        Pld GS Pts  L6   Final   L6   Ave L6     Final    Pos
                        GS    GS     Pts   Pts        Pts
Fulham       37 63 84 (14)14 84.00 (16)16 13.88 (108.00)108.00=1
Preston NE   38 68 72  (7) 7 77.33 (10)10 11.00  (85.67) 85.33=4
Walsall      37 53 71 (10)10 68.00 (11)11 10.38  (86.33) 87.50=2
City         39 53 68 (11)14 69.33 (11)15 12.63  (78.50) 85.50=3
Bournemouth  38 59 67  (6) 5 65.67 (11)10 10.88  (82.33) 80.33=5
Gillingham   38 61 65 (12) 8 71.67  (8) 7 10.38  (75.33) 74.33
Stoke        37 48 60  (6) 9 61.50  (6) 9  5.00  (65.00) 73.50
Wigan        36 55 58 (14)11 73.33 (15)12 14.00  (87.50) 78.00=6
Reading      39 49 57 (10)10 60.67 (14)10 12.25  (78.00) 68.67
Chesterfield 37 43 57  (7) 8 55.00  (9)10  9.50  (70.50) 72.00
Millwall     38 45 55  (8) 9 57.00  (9) 9  7.63  (65.50) 67.00
Figures in brackets indicate last week's values
Pld = Played
L6  = Last 6
GS  = Goals Scored
Ave = Average
Pts = Points
Pos = Final Position

And the games that count during the next week are…

Monday 5th April
Chesterfield v Stoke           KO  3.00
Millwall     v Blackpool       KO  3.00
Preston      v Man City        KO 12.00 <6 pointer>
Reading      v Fulham          KO  3.00 <6 pointer>
Wigan        v Oldham          KO  3.00
Wycombe      v Gillingham      KO  3.00
Tuesday 6th April
Bournemouth  v Macclesfield    KO  7.45
Walsall      v Wrexham         KO  7.45
Friday 9th April
Gillingham   v Bournemouth     KO  7.45 <6 pointer>
Saturday 10th April
Blackpool    v Reading         KO  3.00
Colchester   v Walsall         KO  3.00
Fulham       v Wigan           KO  3.00 <6 pointer>
Macclesfield v Preston         KO  3.00
Man City     v Lincoln City    KO  3.00
Notts County v Chesterfield    KO  3.00
Stoke        v Bristol Rovers  KO  3.00
York         v Millwall        KO  3.00
Tuesday 13th April
Bournemouth  v Walsall         KO  7.45 <6 pointer>
Fulham       v Gillingham      KO  7.45 <6 pointer>
Lincoln City v Reading         KO  7.45
Macclesfield v Chesterfield    KO  7.45
Wigan        v Preston         KO  7.45 <6 pointer>

RTRCWMC (Riding the Roller-Coaster with Man City), Richard Mottershead (


Second Division Results, Friday, April 2 1999

Colchester United         1-0  Preston North End      5,644
Aspinall (78)
Northampton Town          2-1  Bournemouth            6,858
Lee (33)                       Robinson (17)
Corazzin (37)
Oldham Athletic           1-1  Luton Town             4,948
Garnett (61)                   Gray (4)
Saturday, April 3 1999
Blackpool                 0-2  Walsall                5,432
                               Mavrak (8)
                               Eyjolfsson (53)
Manchester City           1-0  Wigan Athletic        31,058
Cooke (52)
Notts County              0-0  Burnley                6,625
Stoke City                2-0  Lincoln City          12,845
Thorne (21, 65)
Wrexham                   1-0  Bristol Rovers         3,087
Owen (16)
York City                 1-2  Chesterfield           3,356
Jordan (86)                    Lenagh (44)
                               Beaumont (60)

Monday, April 5 1999

Bristol Rovers            1-1  Northampton Town       6,580
Penrice (64)                   Corazzin (6)
Burnley                   3-1  Colchester United     10,747
Johnrose (57)                  Gregory, D (27)
Payton (82, 90)
Chesterfield              1-1  Stoke City             5,290
Blatherwick (35)               Oldfield (32)
Lincoln City              0-1  Notts County           5,745
                               Tierney (67)
Millwall                  1-0  Blackpool              6,672
Harris (8)
Preston North End         1-1  Manchester City       20,857
Basham (1)                     Brown (22)
Reading                   0-1  Fulham                18,741
                               Morgan (77)
Wigan Athletic            2-0  Oldham Athletic        4,754
Haworth (27)
Bradshaw (pen 90)
Wycombe Wanderers         0-2  Gillingham             6,688
                               Ashby (68)
                               Asaba (74)

Second Division Table
Up to and including Monday, April 5 1999 (9:58pm)

                              HOME            AWAY
                         P  W  D  L  F  A   W  D  L  F  A   Pts   GS
Fulham                  38 15  2  1 37 10  12  4  4 27 16    87   64
Preston North End       39 11  5  4 43 20  10  5  4 26 17    73   69
Walsall                 37 10  6  3 29 20  11  2  5 24 20    71   53
MANCHESTER CITY         40 10  6  3 27 12   8  9  4 27 17    69   54
Gillingham              39 13  5  2 39 14   5  9  5 24 21    68   63
Bournemouth             38 13  5  1 36 10   6  5  8 23 26    67   59
Wigan Athletic          37 11  3  4 32 12   7  4  8 25 24    61   57
Stoke City              38  9  3  7 26 22  10  1  8 23 23    61   49
Millwall                39  8  7  5 29 21   8  3  8 17 24    58   46
Chesterfield            38 13  3  4 33 16   3  7  8 11 20    58   44
Reading                 40  9  6  6 27 25   6  6  7 22 27    57   49
Wrexham                 37  7  6  6 18 21   5  5  8 20 30    47   38
Luton Town              38  8  4  7 21 22   4  6  9 23 30    46   44
Blackpool               39  5  8  6 19 19   6  5  9 16 26    46   35
Notts County            38  6  4  7 23 22   6  5 10 21 31    45   44
Bristol Rovers          39  7  8  6 30 26   2  7  9 19 21    42   49
Burnley                 39  7  6  8 22 33   3  6  9 22 36    42   44
Colchester United       39  6  7  6 19 25   3  8  9 23 33    42   42
York City               38  4  7  8 23 29   6  2 11 23 38    39   46
Oldham Athletic         39  5  3 10 19 25   5  5 11 19 31    38   38
Wycombe Wanderers       39  7  4 10 27 23   2  6 10 14 28    37   41
Northampton Town        39  3  8  7 15 21   5  5 11 16 26    37   31
Lincoln City            38  8  3  8 24 23   2  3 14 10 39    36   34
Macclesfield Town       37  5  4  9 14 20   3  5 11 16 28    33   30

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]Mark Varley,

Newsletter #489