Newsletter #501

A true ‘typical City’ start to our end-of-season coronary care course. A comical mix-up let in Wigan to score after 20 seconds, and this, between our player of the year and his runner up! Fortunately, this is not the brittle line-up of recent years, so it was no surprise when we scored an equaliser, nor perhaps that it was Dickov who spectacularly volleyed home. GMR was awash with Wigan fans (and their manager) berating the referee, especially for his decision not to award Wigan a penalty for a very similar handball to the Bristol Rovers game. However, listening to the game as a whole, the GMR pundits – including a Wigan reporter – didn’t see fit to complain about the standard of refereeing. Fingers crossed for Wednesday night.

This issue has a match report and a couple of matchviews, news of the forthcoming kit, a view of the other play-off teams, opinion and a Why Blue.

This one reaches 2,510.

Next game, Wigan Athletic at home, play-off semi-final second leg, Wednesday 19th May 1999


WIGAN ATHLETIC vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 15th May 1999

Attendance – 9,217 at Maine Road – 6,700 at Wigan (plus guests!)

Team: Weaver, Crooks, Edghill, Vaughan, Wiekens, Brown, Horlock, Jeff Whitley, Cooke, Goater, Dickov.
Subs: Allsopp (for Cooke), Taylor (for Goater), Pollock (not used).

If they awarded a cup for cock ups…!

We started off smiling. The cameras had just shown a few (the papers said ‘dozens’) Blues jump the fences at the back of the City end and disappear into the crowd on the terrace. Smiles soon disappeared.

1-0 down after 19 seconds. They kick off, ball goes out for a throw. Vaughan back to Wiekens who waits and waits and then just runs away to leave it for Weaver. Unfortunately, Barlow was just in front of Wiekens and just managed to overcome his surprise at seeing Gerard leg it past him and stepped forward to slot it into the empty net.

According to the teletext, Weaver has accepted responsibility for not clearing it sooner but, to my mind it was Wiekens’ fault for not either belting it or getting away sooner. He just allowed Barlow to close him down and gave Weaver no chance.

After that, we had much more possession and created more chances. Brown went on a (now) typical surging run and his left foot shot hit the bar, Goater flicked one past the ‘keeper but just wide and forced a good save with a cross shot.

Wigan still had the odd chance and they tended to be good ones. I felt our marking at the back was poor all day.

We were still on top in the second half. Vaughan sliced a shot wide with his right foot, Crooks shot straight at the ‘keeper and then Dickov met Brown’s cross to the near post with a low volley into the bottom corner. Taylor then shot from close range and should have done better. Wonder if he heard the groan at Maine Road – 20 miles away – when his arrival on the pitch was announced? Vaughan headed wide and Wigan missed another couple of good chances (the last after Wiekens was again caught at the back).

Wigan looked tired in the 2nd half. They’ll also be without one more player due to suspension and possibly one or two with injuries. Haworth limped off in the first half and, I’m not sure, tried to get at Vaughan as the teams went off at half time so perhaps he was fouled?

The day was surprisingly well organised, so presumably City subbed it out. The screening went without a hitch, camera shots were good, replays shown quickly and a link provided with Piccadilly provided a commentary. We even had a half time draw! Just to add to the excitement of the day, and the feeling that we were there in spirit, if not in body, there was a small attempt at a pitch invasion when we scored. Some stewards, sitting in their match day positions, stopped the fans running on.

Behind the stands, the areas around each telly were busy. It was like a series of mini pubs. Our group of 7 really enjoyed the day out, all clapped and cheered with the rest of the crowd and joined in with the various chants of Blue Moon etc. Now the waiting begins.

Preston drew 1-1 with Gillingham at home and that’s all we need to know about results on Sunday 16th May.

Roll on Wednesday.

John Marsland (c/o


Not being one to ever do anything on time I thought I’d thank everyone involved in MCIVTA in the 501st issue. Ashley was asking if I was still out there, and I am, although a few thousand miles further “out there” than when I first subscribed to MCIVTA. Whilst a student at Sheffield, MCIVTA was then the only way of keeping up with City short of driving over to Glossop to get an Evening News. However, now I’m over in the US and popping over to Glossop is no longer an option (I thought I’d better hide after scoring a goal for the Rags team against McVitee FC. Paul was obviously braver than me!), MCIVTA has proved to be a godsend. So thanks to all those involved in keeping MCIVTA going.

I managed to go to the match on Saturday during a short visit home so here’s some of my brief ramblings. Having heaped praise on Wiekens and Weaver and knowing City’s inherent ability to self-destruct I suppose we should have expected something like Wigan’s goal. I have to say that I completely missed it as I was too preoccupied with what can only be described as a miniature “stand invasion” with some fans kicking down what was left of Springfield Park and jumping into the stand. The shock of the goal completely killed any noise from our fans for the rest of the half with most of us standing in disbelief wondering if the old City was about to reappear.

The rest of the first half did little to dampen this feeling, apart from Brown’s shot against the woodwork, with a number of chances created by City wasted. Although we had the majority of the possession, Wigan made a number of breaks and at times made the defence look a little dodgy, although both Vaughan and Wiekens put in some superb tackles and interceptions. It seemed that the defence was lacking the organisation usually provided by Morrison. Cooke also made some decent runs at times although after a while he seemed to be bringing the ball into the centre of the pitch rather than crossing it. So 1-0 down at half time.

The second half started much the same with City having the majority of the possession and a number of chances. From where I was standing it was hard to say who was involved except there were lots of ooohs and aaaahs from our end as the City end gradually became more animated. Weaver also pulled off a great save after Wigan broke through the defence and then Wigan were denied what looked to me like a perfectly reasonable appeal for a penalty after Wiekens handled the ball in the area. Shame! The equaliser came from Dickov who got on the end of Brown’s cross and that was that. I’m sorry the match report is so short but not a lot really happened. On the whole a fair score I think. City had by far the most possession, but with a lack of fire power up front we were really no better than Wigan. My man of the match has to be Brown who since the last time I saw him has improved no end. Horlock and Cooke were both fairly quiet, but I’m not sure whether this was due to the ineffectiveness of Goater (and I’m being very polite when I say that but I can’t slate him after only seeing him in one game). On the whole City had a poor game but the old City would have crumbled after that first goal. If we can improve the performance on Wednesday to something near to the way we’ve been playing recently, I honestly think we can comfortably finish them off.

And finally I’d like to thank all those friendly Wigan fans who saw fit to throw the remains of their beloved ground at the City fans.

Adam Houghton (


By Colin Surrey

It’s 2:55pm on Saturday afternoon and a new chapter is about to begin in Manchester City’s long history.

First (and most importantly) they are about to play in their first ever play-off match. Much has been written about the merits of this post-season nail-biting session, and I for one am not in favour. However, a day out a Wembley is a day out at Wembley. Should we be fortunate enough to make it through Wednesday’s 2nd leg victorious I have no doubt I’ll be dressed up in some costume or other prior to dancing down Wembley Way with the rest of the Blue population of Manchester.

Second (and the reason for this article) they are beaming the game back live to Maine Road for what can only be described as ‘communal TV watching’. The big screen was somewhat disappointing in being not so big as most people would have expected. Covering the dug out area on the opposite side of pitch to the Kippax it was often hard to tell who was on the ball and since no drinks are allowed on the terrace, a pub style atmosphere was also strangely lacking. The announcer did his best to inject some atmosphere into the stand pre-match with some degree of success and an air of confidence that comes from a reasonable winning streak was evident. I also liked the fact you could buy the Wigan programme (without doubt the most copies ever sold!). However, the City backroom staff had forgotten about City’s unenviable talent of shooting themselves and their fans in the foot.

The fatal slip, Player of the Year Wiekens naturally, and 30 seconds into the game a stunned silence had descended on the near 9,000+ crowd. The surreal feeling of a stadium three sides empty and being able to listen to every word of Brian Clarke and Gary Owen’s commentary in crystal clarity is hard to describe and was all the more bizarre for being bigger than the actual attendance at Springfield Park by 3,000. City settled at last, but despite their seeming dominance of much of the possession and chances it was well into the second half before the watching crowd truly found its voice again.

The half wore on, chances came and went, the noise level rose until joy! A goal! The third full stadium erupted in song. Everything was strangely different, first relief, then passion again, as if the Blues could hear us down the television link if we could just make enough noise. It wasn’t to be, the win sadly was beyond our reach, but a precious away goal is in the bag and I’ll be back for the rematch, all the happier for being part of a normal crowd.

Would I go to another televised screening? Please God I won’t have to. Bigger away allocations in Division 1 would see off the need in most cases. Should we remain in Division 2? Maybe I’ll be in the away ticket queue a lot earlier from now on though, that I can tell you.

Colin Surrey – Wookie (


Part I – Dickov Strike Leaves City Favourites

Joe Satisfied: Joe Royle professed himself satisfied with the 1-1 draw in Saturday’s first leg play-off semi-final at Wigan. After the disastrous start to the game which saw City fall behind in less than 20 seconds, the Blues clawed their way back into the match and finally managed to notch an equaliser thanks to Paul Dickov’s sixth goal in seven games. Royle was pleased with the way his team fought back from the early setback. “We showed our character,” he observed. “After the start we had conceding a goal so early on I was happy in the end to settle for a draw.”

Chairman Shocked by Suicide Start: Joe Royle took City’s disastrous start at Wigan in his stride, remaining confident the Blues would bounce back – apparently in contrast to David Bernstein. Royle reported that the stunned City chairman “turned white” after Stuart Barlow’s shock opener and needed a mint from his manager to ease his nerves! “I had to calm him [Bernstein] down,” revealed Joe, “but I said not to worry because we would score, and that’s how it turned out.”

Weaver Admits Error: Nicky Weaver has taken the blame for the defensive mix-up which left City playing catch-up from the outset at Springfield Park. Player of the Year Gerard Wiekens was originally fingered as the culprit after he left the ball to run through to his ‘keeper despite the close attendance of Wigan’s Stuart Barlow. It turns out, though, that the Dutchman was acting in response to Weaver’s call. “I shouted for Gerard to leave it and did not come out. It was my fault and it could have gone all pear-shaped,” confessed the City goalkeeper, who was probably even more relieved than the rest of us at Dickov’s strike. Despite Weaver’s comments, Wiekens was still prepared to accept his share of the criticism, conceding, “I shouldn’t have turned away like I did.”

Wigan Disappointed: Wigan manager Ray Mathias expressed his disappointment that his team didn’t secure a lead to take to Maine Road. “We couldn’t have wished for a better start and we got behind them in the first half,” he commented. “I thought if the quality of our play had been a little better we could have gone even further ahead.” He did have praise for City’s resilience, conceding, “all credit to City though, they came back after conceding that early goal. They worked hard and made it difficult for us.”

Mathias Slams Ref: Mathias hasn’t been a happy man after any of his side’s three meetings with the Blues so far this season (let’s hope this extends to the fourth encounter on Wednesday). However, while after the previous games, he was simply bemoaning his team’s luck, this time the target was referee Alan Wiley. Mathias felt that the Sheffield official favoured City all afternoon, but was particularly angered by a 72nd-minute incident where Wiley ruled that Gerard Wiekens’ action in handling the ball had been unintentional. “It was a blatant penalty, I was very upset about it and had words with the referee about a few things,” raged the Wigan boss. “There were two teams out there and only one was getting the decisions.”

Joe’s View on Penalty Claim: To be fair, it’s easier for the manager whose team benefits from a refereeing decision to adopt a more relaxed stance and Joe’s account of the incident certainly has a more measured ring. “Wiekens admitted that the ball slammed into him but he couldn’t do much about it,” said Royle. “It’s one of those decisions you sometimes get, sometimes don’t. We’ve had worse ones given against us this season.”

Screening Draws Big Crowd: In what may be an unprecedented feat, City drew 9,217 fans to watch Saturday’s match on a big screen at Maine Road – almost 2,500 more than saw the game live at Springfield Park! The turn out should mean that City will be in profit on the venture – the club reportedly paid out £30,000 in expenses, with fans paying £6 (adults) and £3 (children) for a ticket. A radio report from Maine Road on Saturday referred to a “carnival” atmosphere before the start, though stunned silence reigned when Wigan scored their early goal. Interestingly, the Blue View accounts of the match from those at Springfield Park seemed to be on the whole more critical than the reports of those who’d been at Maine Road. I’m not quite sure what to read into this – but it would certainly please BSkyB that fans who paid to watch a screening were more satisfied with what they saw than fans who witnessed events in the flesh.

Part II – Home Leg Preview

Team News: Aside from Ian Bishop, who’s already been discounted, the major City injury doubt for Wednesday is Andy Morrison. The City captain missed the first leg with the same knee problem which had kept him out against York the previous week and the big defender is rated as having only a fifty-fifty chance of playing in the second leg. Bearing in mind Joe’s comment that his captain has “not done that much training in the last few days but is an important figure for us,” presumably the player will feature if fit. Wigan, meanwhile, will be without the suspended midfield pair Paul Rogers (who was also banned for the first leg) and Michael O’Neill. In addition, Simon Haworth, substituted on Saturday with a hamstring problem, and fellow striker Andy Liddell are both doubtful.

Royle Confident: The City manager is confident that his players are “in good shape” to complete the job at Maine Road on Wednesday, enthusing, “The away goal from Paul Dickov could be crucial but I’m more interested in us going on and winning the second leg now… I believe we can go on to reach Wembley.” However, Royle was careful not to be complacent, adding, “We won’t take them [Wigan] for granted. We respect them and know what they can do.”

Wigan Defiant: Ray Mathias has warned City that the tie has not yet been decided. “We… can play better [than on Saturday],” he claimed. “City might think the tie is over. I can assure them it is not.” The Wigan manager feels that City’s “huge” support will put pressure on the Blues, and he’s vowed not to make things easy for Joe Royle’s men, promising, “We’ll go there well organised and make sure they can’t play their game.” Meanwhile Latics chairman David Whelan was in defiant mood, stating that he still believes his club will be in Division One next season.

Fitness Advantage?: One factor the City manager obviously hopes will be decisive is his team’s fitness level. This was an area which Joe immediately highlighted as requiring attention as soon as he arrived at Maine Road, and he seems to have been as good as his word – before the first leg of the semi-final he claimed there isn’t a fitter team than City in this season’s Second Division, while more than one report of Saturday’s match said that the Blues had a noticeable edge in stamina in the closing stages. In contrast, and maybe not surprisingly after their fixture pile-up at the end of the season, the Wigan side by the admission of their own manager “looked a bit tired”. Perhaps with an eye on out-psyching his opposite number, Joe echoed the general impression, saying after the game, “I thought our fitness shone like a beacon and hopefully after a long, hard season Wigan will look at us and think how fit we were.”

Royle Hopes For Crowd Lift: Whereas Ray Mathias is hoping that the expectation of the Maine Road fans may be a hindrance for the Blues, Joe believes that the City team will react positively to the backing of a full house on Wednesday. He feels that his players’ familiarity with packed crowds should be a boost, noting that, “We are used to full houses and the atmosphere should help us.” I’ll just editorialise for a minute here. There’s a cliché that at some grounds, the partisan home crowds can be worth a goal start. Statements become clichés because people keep repeating them, which usually happens because they happen to be true. I’m not trying to reopen what was a long-running debate from earlier in the season, but I really hope that on Wednesday night, every City fan present offers strong vocal encouragement – no matter how the team’s playing. In fact, if they’re performing badly or things aren’t going our way, crowd backing is needed even more.

Mathias Under Pressure?: If weekend newspaper reports are to be believed, Ray Mathias’ job may hang on Wednesday night’s result. Mathias, who was manager at Springfield Park in the late 1980s, was a surprise choice when recruited from a backroom post at Tranmere to succeed John Deehan last summer. However, chairman David Whelan is reportedly unhappy at Mathias’ refusal to rotate his squad in the closing games of the campaign and is said to feel that with the transfer budget available to Wigan, promotion this season was a more than reasonable expectation. This seems rather harsh to me, but maybe the Wigan manager’s outburst at the referee indicates the pressure he’s under. If so, this is another factor which could work to our advantage. A manager feeling the strain on a personal level is surely more likely to have problems shielding his players from the tension surrounding the game.

Crooks Omen: Someone posted on BV the other day a fact of which I wasn’t previously aware, but I think it’s probably worth passing on. Lee Crooks has missed only three matches since the turn of the year – Wimbledon away, Oldham at home and Wycombe at home. Those, as you’ll all know, are the only three games (out of 24 played in total) City have lost in 1999. Let’s hope that he stays injury-free and maintains his remarkable record. The statistic may come as a surprise to one particular mate of mine (you know who you are!) who is not exactly Crooks’ biggest fan.

Part III – Other News

New Kit Latest: It seems that the club are confident the new kit, due out this summer, will be a success. Despite one or two fans expressing reservations over the designs supplied by Le Coq to Coventry and Charlton, it seems that the club are confident the strip which will be on sale in July will be a success. Apparently, the club has had an input in the design process, which may mean a relatively plain style. Should (fingers tightly crossed) we have a trip to Wembley at the end of the month, the club and Le Coq would no doubt be keen to use the occasion to give the new kit its first outing. Such a move would not be unprecedented but there could be contractual complications, and we’d want at all costs to avoid the type of shambles seen in the 1987 final. On that occasion, the Spurs players were given the choice of two kits, which resulted in half the players wearing the new kit and the other half the old kit!

New Sponsor Rumour: Since the split with Brother became public knowledge, all kinds of companies have been linked with becoming the Blues’ new shirt sponsor and another possible seems to have entered the frame. The latest name mentioned is Eidos, who make games for Sony Playstations. The Eidos chairman is lifelong City fan Ian Livingstone, of Fighting Fantasy book fame. Multi-millionaire Livingstone was briefly linked with a possible Maine Road takeover a year ago. He denied the story, but did say he’d met with members of the City board regarding other matters – presumably not, at that stage, sponsorship but possibly ventures which could tie in with a shirt deal. I’m told that at present there’s a sticking point over money. City are looking for an increase on the current brother deal, and this is more than Eidos would be prepared to pay.

All Quiet on Cash and Transfer Fronts: Not surprisingly given the importance of the two fixtures against Wigan, there’s been virtually nothing in the way of transfer speculation and rumours surrounding prospective investment deals in the last few days. Since much will no doubt depend on which division City are in come August, we can probably expect very little on either topic until our play off fate is decided. Let’s hope we know nothing before the start of June!

Reports of Stadium Deal: The club has stayed silent on reports that they’re now ready to sign contract documentation with Manchester City Council to seal our move to the Commonwealth Games stadium at Eastlands. The bare bones of the deal have been known for some time, but it’s being claimed that all the minor issues which can often prove so troublesome have now also been resolved. It’s said that construction work is planned to start in October.

Weaver Denied Record: All along, it’s been assumed that Nicky Weaver was chasing a record tally of 21 clean sheets achieved by Alex Williams in 1984-85. On this basis, we all thought he’d broken the record with his 22nd shut-out of the campaign in the 4-0 win against York on 8 May. It now transpires that he’s merely equalled the previous best. Teamtalk claims the club historian overlooked the fact that Joe Corrigan had kept 22 clean sheets in the 1976-77 season. Corrigan played in all 42 games as City finished second to Liverpool in the old First Division, while Weaver, who missed the 1-1 draw with Chesterfield in September, needed 45 matches to equal his predecessor’s tally.

Academy Boys in Tuesday Final: City’s under-17 side will face Blackburn in the Academy Cup final at Ewood Park on Tuesday evening, with a 7.30pm kick-off. Originally it had been hoped to stage the game at Maine Road but these plans have been thwarted by Wednesday’s play-off fixture against Wigan. While it would undoubtedly be satisfying to see the City youngsters bring back the trophy, they’ve had a terrific season even if they lose the final. They’re currently unbeaten in 24 games and they’ve won the praise of some good judges including Spurs’ Director of Football David Pleat. At last, it looks as if we might have a group of youth players to give us hope that we can be a competitive force once again in terms of finding and developing young talent.

Rob Gretton Obituary: It came as a sad start to what will hopefully turn into a momentous week to learn of the death of Rob Gretton at the tragically early age of 46. Rob, who suffered a sudden heart attack on Friday, was a luminary of the Manchester music scene, most notably as manager of Joy Division and New Order. He was also an ardent Blue who even hitch-hiked to Bilbao to see City in the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1969-70. Condolences go to his family and friends at this difficult time.

Peter Brophy (


Manchester City vs. Wigan Athletic, Wednesday 19th May

Tickets will go on sale to supporters with 1 home match ticket stub from 9.00am on Saturday 15th May. Full details are available from our website.

Ticket Office – MCFC


As a Preston-based City supporter, I had a football-filled weekend. I went along to the ‘big screen’ event at Maine Road on Saturday with nerves jangling a little more than usual in the knowledge that I was going to the other semi at Deepdale, courtesy of my Preston-supporting wife and brother-in-law on the following day. The prospect of seeing City slip up and then watching Preston celebrate the following day was not one to savour. I still get horrible flashbacks to that awful Monday night in October when Preston beat us 1-0. There was a very lonely corner of the Kippax that evening at around 9.30 where I considered the benefits of not returning home at all. Still, that’s all behind us now.

The screening was a good idea. Great therapy for those of us who wear out carpets listening to radio coverage if there is no possibility of away tickets. Having said that, there was nothing theraputic about Wigan’s opening goal. If I had not witnessed Martyn Margetson’s totally inexplicable blunder in the last home game of last season, I would say that this was the most incompetent goal I have ever seen City concede. Like so may others at Maine Road, I had only just taken my seat and I failed to comprehend what had happened for a few seconds. One or two people began quickly stifled cheers, so perplexed were they at what they saw. I can only think that Weaver called for the ball and then declined to come off his line, believing that Wiekens would still clear. I don’t want to think about it any more.

I’m sure that there will be plenty of match reports so I’ll keep comments on this match brief. City showed admirable spirit to rally after this early disaster and would have equalised much earlier had Goater not looked as though his confidence had left him again and Brown not been a little luckier with a great 20-yard drive.

City dominated the game without making too many clear-cut chances. When they did come they were spurned. If Morrison had been available, rather than Vaughan, he would surely have converted one of the two clear-cut chances that fell to the latter.

Wigan looked to have something of a threat on the break. Barlow always looked lively and in Sharpe, they’ve obviously found a better exponent of the wing-back than Danny Tiatto! Terry Cooke had clearly been asked to play deeper. This doesn’t suit him. He is clearly an out-and-out winger and though he struggled on Saturday, I think he will play a significant part on Wednesday, when he’ll have much more room to create.

On the whole, I’m quite optimistic now. the away goal puts us in the driving seat and I can see Wigan conceding a couple of goals, particularly as they tire in the second half. I’d feel confident if I knew that a fit Morrison was captaining the side but even so we should see it through now.

Sunday at Deepdale allowed me to assess our opposition. It has been some time since I have seen Preston. I had caught them a couple of times in the first half of the season and they looked to be the best organised team in our league. A good young manager in David Moyes had turned a team who had been threatened with relegation in the previous season to one capable of promotion.

Their form has declined a bit since then, they lacked the cutting edge they had when we played them at Maine Road and didn’t play with as much pace or width as they had. However, they still have players who could perform a level above where they are and Gregan in midfield and Jackson in central defence are particularly good.

Gillingham on the other hand were exactly as I had witnessed them in our league game at Maine Road. Horrible! They play the sort of spoiling, niggling game that makes Chesterfield look like ‘total footballers’. You know the form by now I’m sure. Only one ball out of defence, long for the big striker Taylor (no relation to ours I hope), who attempts knock-downs for greyhound-like Asaba (their only player of any ability whatsoever). Midfield has no footballing ability at all, the only purpose they have is to knock players off the ball and to kill time by falling over and waiting for treatment.

In short, Preston deserved to win the game. They were the only team playing football. Their headed goal was a tad fortunate but came from sustained pressure. Gillingam’s second half equaliser was even more fortunate. A long, speculative shot from Taylor went under the goalie’s hand when he ought to have done better. This was their only shot of the half.

I hope for the sake of football that we meet Preston at Wembley. City have played better against teams playing football rather than head tennis all season and I think that their recent decline is such to make us confident of overcoming them. Gillingham on the other hand, play the sort of game that City have not been comfortable with for the past 3 seasons. I still think we can beat them at Wembley, we’d have to football them to death. I certainly think that Cooke and Brown could run them ragged on Wembley’s big surface, though they’d pick up some bruises along the way!

Quite apart from this, we were invited by a friend to go after the game into the Preston’s corporate hospitality bar. We accepted as this was the only way we could cheer Arsenal and Tottenham on for the last 45 minutes of the Premier League season. Once there, we were treated to loud southern voices cheering on the Rags. When Cole’s goal went in a huge cheer went up from this small group who looked as though they’d just left a second-hand car sales room.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that the Chairman and the board of Gillingham are closet Rags. After all, they live just close enough to Manchester to qualify!

Here’s to a North West final!

Rob Hulme (


Prompted by the histories and reviews of the years passed, I feel an urge to share with you my view of MCIVTA then and now.

I am not heartbreakingly sorry that Ashley did not ask me to do a review 😉 but I am sorry that he did not find one that could grasp the effect of the downfall, and MCIVTA’s cure against media’s dying interest.

This could only be seen by one that has followed City from the outside of GB, and even if John is in California, I believe MCIVTA must have meant going from 0 to 100 from that day he received it.

In Norway the story is different. In 1994 newspapers followed the club, mostly like how a boyfriend watches his girl’s ugly sister… The critics were far from good. The Rags got most of the pages, but City was there, smaller typos, less space, but still there. We even had a handful of displays on national TV. Life was not that bad.

MCIVTA came along. The Supporters’ Homepage was generated I believe as a result of Ashley challenging me :=) Paul did a great job. I remember calling my job from Spain, telling them to open an account to Paul on our 8 processor SGI Challenge so that he could update the pages while I was on holiday. It had to wait until I got back however. Today we have a user called mancity on the University web server…

We also had Gio. Media loved him. We did too. Sadly he did not do us any good. The most talented player in the blue shirt, and the one to take us down two divisions for the first time ever.

The newspapers silent. Television stopped showing us even on pay-tv (not exactly true I know but that was how I felt it anyway). It was like when you close a book real hard. “Smack” – and you’re out of the picture.

MCIVTA was still there. By now accompanied by more Internet sites, rumours flourished. The Supporters’ Homepage was somewhat outperformed by all the commercial efforts. Paul did not have much time. Me neither. I did my best to keep it running. MCIVTA still has a home on the Internet…

Looking back I realise that in 1999, 5 years since the start, and with City down two divisions. I’m more up to date with the club than ever. I can listen to broadcasts, talk to fellow supporters, shop gear, speak my point of view all because of the Internet. I don’t read newspapers that often anymore. There are still 500 members of the Scandinavian Branch of the Supporters’ Club. I get more than a handful of requests (emails) on how to become a member every year. They all use the Internet…

MCIVTA is by now a quality bi-weekly “I’fanzine”. with lots of reporters. Its strengths are the supporters, the way it’s organised and the sincere contribution made by the founder – Ashley.

For many people, including me, MCIVTA has been the most important link between the blues and a life in the darklands. Now we’re looking at the top of the table(s) again. MCIVTA has more subscribers around the world than you could ever imagine (turning 500 was great remember…). Lots of people are willing to give a helping hand when needed.

Life is not that bad after all.

Svenn Hanssen (


For those fans in far off places who don’t have City Web Site access, it might be worth pointing out that they could try the BBC Radio 5 Webcast Site ( They will not get any commentary on Wednesday evening (even if City were the dedicated match). This is because of contractual problems limiting the BBC on these events for the Web. However, they should get updated scores/report etc. via the Wednesday evening Sports programme.

Graham Jones (


A little bird tells me that the reason Nicky Butt wears long-sleeved football shirts because he has got a tattoo of a bulldog wearing a Man City shirt strangling a Red Devil.

Is this true?

Ralph Sheppard – Kiwiland (


A plea to all True Blues out there. On Wednesday night let’s enjoy the moment, be positive, support the team throughout, even if things don’t start too well. The team need us, we can make the difference.

It would be wonderful to get through the game without any mention of the other team in Manchester. It’s our night, we deserve it for our staying power through City’s lowest ever position in their history. Despite the constant media criticism, despite the humiliation of being in the 2nd Division, we are still with our beloved Blues and the support is stronger than ever.

So take a bow, be proud to be Blue and let’s not allow Man U to rain on our parade.

Wembley and Division One here we come.

Also, next season let’s hear from more female fans out there.

Elaine Taylor (


I just hope we don’t do our usual in recent years when we play in the play-offs this time, which is to press the self-destruct button! I have a horrible feeling that we won’t even make it to Wembley, people are being a little too optomistic! Wigan are not an easy team to beat, recent form means nothing. I am not trying to put the dampers/kiss of death on us, but are people perhaps expecting a little too much?

I know everyone including myself would have expected a club like us to breeze through this division, but it hasn’t happened so there has to be a view of caution going into these play-offs, somewhere we haven’t been for a very long time (top of any league).

Michael Jarvis (


Thank God for small mercies.

I managed to get a ticket in a lucky dip draw at Maine Road on Friday, watched the game from the away terrace and watched with glee as all those Blues jibbed in over the fence at the back of the terrace. With so many empty spaces in the ground why didn’t we get a better allocation?

Anyway, as for the game itself, there’s not much to say, forgiveness is due to Wiekens and Weaver for the 1st-minute débâcle, I didn’t see the goal because I was talking and just heard a noise.

Dickov’s finish was superb, Brown was excellent, Edghill was too, and lo and behold Gareth Taylor worked really hard when he came on and offered us a few more options.

Back to Maine Road and let’s finish the job.

As for afterwards, walking down the street away from the ground it was always going to go off, these small clubs get big ideas when City turn up. But why were the riot police still stood in the City end trying to intimidate as many of us as possible when it was going off big style 100 yards away?

On asking this question, and asking from a journalist’s point of view, the polite answer from these people of upstanding justice and good behaviour was “F*** off before you get hurt”. As for putting the mounties and all those dibble in front of us after we scored, well that just heightens tension.

Stay Blue, John Bradley (


There’s a young chap at my local club here in Napier NZ, who the coach wants to get a trial for in the UK. He’s 17 and has played for his country already as a striker (and he’s quick). Name’s Marc Foote. How does one check out opportunities in the UK for talented youngsters like Marc? Should the club (Taradale) write to City for instance? A Kiwi already plays for the Academy U-17’s (“Killen”).

City’s only previous link with Napier is Brian Gayle who spent 2 seasons here before making Wimbledon’s first team then going to Maine Road.

Any thoughts, or should he just head to the UK and try knocking on doors?

P.S. Let’s kick Wigan butt on Wednesday!

Chris Loveridge – Hawkeye of the “Bay” (


Has anyone out there got a spare ticket for the home leg next week? According to the ticket office my membership card is not on their database, so I couldn’t get a ticket. I am tearing my hair out in frustration. Please help.

Daniel Yates (


You know how it is. You worship your beloved Blues from afar and work some weekends, hence no season ticket. You struggle to get to as many games each year as you can, and then miss the tie against Wycombe. The play-offs arrive and you can’t get a ticket. I am sure I am but one of many, but can anyone help a desperate Blue in search of a home leg ticket? If it helps I have never seen the Blues lose (and that is the God’s honest truth), and out of 30 or so matches I figure that to be a pretty good omen, so come on and help me out, you know it makes sense.

Martin Farmer (


If anyone’s got any spare tickets for the Wigan game at Maine Road then please E-Mail.

I’ve been to 13 games this season, which considering I work most Saturdays and evenings isn’t too bad going, but I couldn’t get out of working for the Wycombe game and therefore I don’t have the necessary ticket stub. I would be much obliged if anyone can help.

By the way, is it just me or does this seem like an unfair way of distributing the tickets? I went to some dire games in the first half of the season before we started to play well, but may not get to go. Whereas some glory-seeking fans realise we’re in the play-offs, go to the last three home games and get their hands on a ticket. Sorry for moaning so much, I’m just a bit gutted that’s all.

Martin (


Albert Einstein arrives at a party and introduces himself to the first person he sees, asking, “What is your IQ?” to which the man answers “241.”

“That is wonderful,” says Albert, “We will talk about the Grand Unification theory and the mysteries of the universe. We will have much to discuss.”

Next Albert introduces himself to a woman and asks, “What is your IQ?” To which the lady answers “144.”

“That is great!” responds Albert. “We can discuss politics and current affairs. We will have much to discuss.”

Albert then goes to another person and asks, “What is your IQ?” and the man answers, “31.”

Albert responds, “So how did Man U get on this season, huh?”

Ralph Sheppard (


A Fergie kinda joke.

D’you reckon Joe Royle knows that if City win the two-leg semi-final then Wigan won’t get promotion?!


John Reese (


Can’t say why really. Just happened way back in the sixties. All my cousins, uncles aunties etc. were avid Man Utd supporters so why did I turn Blue? If anyone had a claim to be a true Man Utd supporter it was me. Born in Hope Hospital, lived in Eccles, went to school in Salford even went to Old Trafford with some mates to see the likes of Best, Stiles, Charlton etc. But why Blue? Just wanted to be different. See the look on people’s faces when I told them proudly I was a Man City supporter. The resolve and admiration grew the more I was ridiculed. And, believe me, living on that side on Manchester with a largely Irish Catholic family it was tantamount to heresy supporting the Blues. But they were glorious days. Bell was my idol. Goes without saying really. Over the years as my younger sister and brother grew up they too became City supporters. My sister even married an avid Blue so he passed the “so you want to marry our little sister?” test although I’m sure there were other reasons for her marrying him.

I now live in Adelaide (South Australia) and follow them as best I can via MCIVTA, Soccernet, Football365 and whatever else. I’m fiercely patriotic towards Manchester and I hope Man Utd do the treble. Living out here it’s great to see Manchester featured prominently in the news and the treble would certainly do that for us. So, let’s look further than “I hate Man Utd” and be proud of Manchester full stop. Of course, the day City play ManU I’ll be screaming every obscenity under the sun at the Red Scum.

Mike Owen (


2nd Division play-off, semi finals, 1st legs

Wigan Athletic		1-1	Manchester City
Preston North End	1-1	Gillingham

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]Ashley Birch,

Newsletter #501