Newsletter #508

Things are beginning to quieten down as far as our famous day out is concerned, and although plenty of rumours re potential signings are beginning to do the rounds, the general news remains fairly quiet as well.

This issue has an excellent analysis of the season’s match reports (from MCIVTA), with ratings for best and most consistent performances; unnervingly, the results appear to back up many people’s own impressions, including mine! Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised as after all, MCIVTA is usually about people’s own personal impressions.

Lastly, Mark Hodkinson, who has written this season’s series of City articles in ‘The Times’, rang me a few days ago to ask about using some of the reports from Wembley that have appeared in MCIVTA. He wants to use these in a book he is writing, based on his recent articles. I realise that most of you will probably have no objection to these appearing in what, in all probability, will be an excellent book on the Blues, but just in case you do, please write to Mark at the address given in this issue.

Next game: Burnley away, Saturday 17th July 1999


This is two summaries rolled into one as (ironically, in view of the introduction to MCIVTA 507) I mis-typed the address and it was never received. For personal reasons, it’s being finalised on Thursday morning, whereas most of my summaries are completed on the evening they appear. Apologies if any news breaking on Thursday is missing.

Gills’ Replay Demand Rejected

I saw the story on Blue View last Friday and assumed it was a spoof. I only realised it was true when I saw it on Teletext on Saturday. Having become aware of the reports that last Sunday’s referee Mark Halsey enjoyed after-match banter with City fans staying in the same hotel, Gillingham chairman Paul Scally has demanded that the game be replayed. “I’ve spoken with the League and if these claims are true then the result should be scrapped,” he raged. “It was totally unprofessional behaviour and an unwise display from a person that should have fair play uppermost in his mind.”

Perhaps on reflection Halsey may have been unwise to have identified himself with jubilation at the result. However, the fact he enjoyed a drink and a laugh with a few fans staying at the same hotel after the game could have been evidence of bias only to the most pathetically deluded. Fortunately the League saw sense and avoided making what would have been one of the most ludicrous decisions in its 111-year history. A spokesman commented, “We have concluded that nothing untoward occurred.”

Cash Windfall in “Four to Six Weeks”

Ever since his appointment as City chairman, David Bernstein has been attempting to secure the club’s financial position by agreeing a deal with a new investor. While earlier talks with a number of interested parties broke down, promotion back to Division One is, not surprisingly, widely reckoned to have made City a more attractive investment prospect. Probably not coincidentally, Bernstein this week revealed that he’s in talks with a “major institution” who “have very deep pockets”. This news hasn’t, however, prevented the share price dropping 5p to 90p since promotion was assured.

Explaining that the investment will come from outside, the chairman appeared to rule out any prospect of a takeover, saying that anyone becoming involved in the club will have to be “people who can work with us and continue the continuity and stability we have started”. This followed comments from Mark Boler, son of the deceased major shareholder, who denied that he was about to sell the block of shares held by his late father. It’s long been assumed that these shares would be part of any investment deal concluded by the club. Speculation that a sale could be imminent was fuelled recently when the executors of Stephen Boler’s estate sold his African game reserve and most of his shares in the Limelight home improvements group. However, Boler junior has now said there are “no plans” to sell the 23.44% of City shares which form part of his father’s estate.

Given that an investor with “deep pockets” is unlikely to pump in cash without some kind of board representation, Mark Boler’s apparent u-turn means either that one of the other significant shareholders is ready to sell or that new shares will be issued to the investor. Bernstein’s emphasis on continuity and cooperation implies the latter. The big advantage of this type of deal is that the money the investor spends on acquiring shares would go directly into club coffers rather than the pockets of a selling shareholder. One rumour which has surfaced this week is that City’s new sponsor may be Boddington’s, which would no doubt enhance the saleability of the new shirt design. However, the kind of figures which were being mentioned go way beyond what a company would be paying for a mere shirt sponsorship. I don’t know how much truth there is in this, but as Boddington’s is a brand brewed by Whitbread PLC, a major quoted company in the leisure sector, a case could probably be made that the label “major institution” is justified.

Timing for the proposed cash injection is being driven by the desire to boost Joe Royle’s transfer kitty in time for the new campaign. “I would like to have something in place so the manager has got time to put it into his plans for the new season,” explained the chairman. “The next four to six weeks would be great if we could do it.” Meanwhile, on the sponsorship front, the chairman noted this week that, “Already we have three discussions going on all with reputable and very good companies. I would hope to wrap something up before very long.” It’s possible this may not be done in time for the sponsor’s name to be included on the front of the new shirts due to be on sale in July. Should this be the case, the club will offer a printing service to allow fans to have the sponsor’s name or logo added at a later date.

Transfer Talk

Not surprisingly, transfer rumours are flying round in abundance. Joe Royle has been out of the country fulfilling commentary duties for Channel 5’s coverage of Saturday’s Italy vs. Wales match and England’s game in Sofia on Wednesday. On his return, he’ll discuss potential targets with chairman David Bernstein and director Dennis Tueart. If press speculation is to be believed, then in addition to one or two players already mentioned in previous summaries, these are some of the names which may be featuring in those discussions:

Preston centre-back Michael Jackson, who’s valued at £1 million – though given that this is one of our strongest areas in the squad both numerically and in terms of quality, the reports might seems a little unlikely;

Stoke’s Icelandic defender Larus Sigurdsson – though again, as he’s a man who predominantly plays at centre-back, I have my doubts about the reliability of this rumour;

Everton midfielder Tony Grant, available on a free transfer – Grant is also wanted by Swindon, the club where he spent a successful loan spell a couple of years ago;

Sunderland midfielder John Mullin, also available on a free – the player is reportedly interesting Burnley and Ipswich, but City have played down reports that he’s about to sign for the Blues;

Sunderland left winger Martin Smith, another man moving without a fee thanks to Bosman – a rumour more credible given that Joe made no secret of his desire last season to sign a left winger to complement Terry Cooke on the other. Frank Clark attempted a couple of years ago to sign the ex-England under-21 player but at the time Peter Reid was unwilling to sell. Now Smith is out of contract and having lost his first-team place wants to move on. However, the Blues will face competition from Fulham, Ipswich, West Brom and Notts County for the player’s services;

Sheffield Wednesday defender Earl Barrett, again available on a free – no doubt linked with a move to Maine Road (where he started his career) because he played for Joe at both Oldham and Everton;

Newcastle left-back Carl Serrant – a former England under-21 player whose £500,000 move from Oldham to Newcastle didn’t work out. Serrant spent the closing months of the season on loan at Bury and will be allowed to leave St. James’ Park for a cut-price fee. This one has a ring of truth for me;

Uwe Rösler, who’s reportedly leaving Kaiserslautern on a free a year after joining them from City – if, as he’s said, Joe intends to play with two wingers next year, the return of Rösler would excite any fan who remembers the way he thrived off the service provided by Summerbee and Beagrie in his 1994-95 annus mirabilis. However, the latest news is that the German striker seems poised to sign for Tennis Borrussia Berlin, where he’ll be playing in front of around 5,000 fans in the Bundesliga second division. The club, however, is backed by a big insurance company so presumably can offer tempting personal terms;

Ade Akinbiyi, the striker bought by Bristol City to replace the legendary Shaun Goater – Akinbiyi has been linked with clubs from Burnley to Watford in recent weeks but has said he wants to stay at Ashton Gate;

Mike Sheron, the former City striker now at Barnsley – it’s thought that Sheron may be surplus to requirements at Oakwell under new manager Dave Bassett and Joe tried to sign the player on loan before he left QPR for South Yorkshire;

Cambridge United striker Trevor Benjamin – the 20-year-old target man is rated at £300,000 and has also been linked with Wimbledon and Brentford; and

Carl Asaba, who scored for Gillingham against City in the play off final – however, even though he notched 23 goals last season, I’d have thought the rumoured asking price of £1.4 million will see the Blues set their sights elsewhere.

Club to Probe Ticket Chaos

David Bernstein has asked new Chief Operating Officer Chris Bird to launch an “urgent inquiry” into the club’s handling of ticket sales for last week’s Wembley trip. Bernstein admitted that the club “should have done better” with its arrangements and has asked Bird to look into the affair. The newly appointed director explained that his brief is to “to find out what went wrong and whether it could have been avoided. I have been charged with preparing a report which I will present to the chairman as soon as possible.” Before finalising his conclusions, Bird will have in-depth discussions with ticket office and administrative staff. The chairman will then report further in his regular newsletter to supporters’ clubs.

Season Ticket Bonanza

The club has already sold almost 16,000 season tickets for the new campaign – a record since Maine Road went all-seater in 1994. With eight weeks to go before the big kick-off, the total is set to grow substantially, and could pose problems for fans who want to pick and choose their games. Of the capacity of around 33,000, away fans will have up to 3,000 places. This means there could be as few as 10,000 places for non-season ticket holders for next term’s league fixtures. The high-water mark for season ticket sales was 22,000 in 1977-78. However, in those days Maine Road held over 52,000. The club is looking at short-term measures to increase capacity in advance of the proposed relocation to Eastlands in 2003.

Numbers Up for Nationwide Clubs

It’s slightly surprising that they’ve taken six years, but Nationwide League chairmen are expected this week to ratify proposals already agreed by the clubs’ commercial managers to adopt squad numbers from the start of next season. It’s reckoned this will be a money-spinner, with fans paying for replica shirts bearing the number of their favourite player. The clubs are also expected to move into line with the Premiership by allowing teams to nominate five substitutes. It’s hoped this will give young players a better chance of sampling senior action.

Fixture News

The fixtures for next season won’t be published for a couple of weeks – I don’t yet have the exact date. However, a rumour has appeared on Blue View that the first match (on 7 August) will see the Blues visit Charlton Athletic. This is unconfirmed but is said to have been leaked by a “league official”.

Meanwhile, the Blues have announced a programme of five pre-season friendlies, all away from home. The dates are as follows: July 17 – Burnley; July 21 – Halifax; July 24 – Bristol City; July 28 – Everton; July 31 – Stockport. It’s also hoped to arrange a game at Oldham, but the date hasn’t yet been finalised.

Division One Odds

In early betting, City are quoted by the Tote webpage at 16-1 for next season’s Division One title. Brian Kidd’s Blackburn Rovers are white-hot favourites at 13-8, well clear of nearest rivals Bolton and Fulham, who are each rated at 9-1. The Blues are tenth, ahead of one or two big names like Wolves and Sheffield United but also behind Birmingham, Huddersfield, Ipswich and Forest (all 12-1) and Charlton and Norwich (each 14-1). Outsiders at 66-1 are Port Vale, Swindon, Tranmere and Walsall.

Peter Brophy (


Supporters are reminded that the closing date for applications for the Season Ticket Loan Scheme and the Home Cup-tie Direct Debit Scheme is 30th June 1999.

Ticket Office – Manchester City


Throughout this season I have been contributing an article each week on City for The Times newspaper under the series, ‘Blue Moon’. All these pieces are to be included in a book published by Mainstream Press in September, with an additional 40,000 words. I thought it would make a great closing chapter to compile all the Wembley testimonies by fans. I have down-loaded these from the last two mcivta’s. I have had to edit them somewhat, but only to shorten them, certainly not to dilute the sentiments. I’m assuming this will be OK, but if any City fans out there would rather their memories did not appear in the book, could they please e-mail me and let me know. Thanks to all the City fans who helped me during the season. It’s been great fun, but now it’s back to Rochdale FC, my first love.

Best Wishes, Mark Hodkinson (


It is that time of the year. The time of the year when players are assessed by their peers, by the press, by the fans. Well, truth to tell, it is not. That time passed a couple of months ago. The PFA and other awards are given before the season is over. Why can’t they wait until the end? It’s not just the major awards. You keep out everything that has been thrown at you for 89 minutes, collect your Sky bottle of champagne and spend the next five minutes watching the ball fly into the back of the net. It’s not over until the referee blows his whistle and the same applies to surveys (of course, I left at 0-2, but then I was in the Gillingham end).

A problem with fans’ awards is that they tend to reward what’s been recently achieved. The best way to recognise brilliance over the course of a season is to collate the data over the same time and not just at the end. Who remembers Nick Fenton’s contributions now?

Over the past few months I have noted the marks given to the City players by the correspondents in match reports in MCIVTA. By calculating the average mark I am able to announce that the player of the year for the 1998-1999 season, rated by MCIVTA match reporters is Gerard Wiekens! Congratulations to him. This seems to be uniformly accepted of course. He is, after all, the Player of the Year. Well, here are the results. For comparison, the Internet Player of the Year results are shown in brackets.

 1   G Wiekens     7.5 (1)
 2=  A Morrison    7.3 (2)
 2=  N Weaver      7.3 (3)
 4   N Fenton      7.2
 5=  T Cooke       7.0 (5)
 5=  L Bradbury    7.0
 7   M Brown       6.7 (4)
 8   L Crooks      6.6
 9   P Dickov      6.5 (6)
 10  I Bishop      6.4
 11  G Mason       6.3
 12  J Pollock     6.2
 13  A Vaughan     6.1
 14= R Edghill     5.8
 14= K Horlock     5.8 (8)
 14= S Goater      5.8 (7)
 17  D Tiatto      5.5
 18= D Allsopp     5.4
 18= Jim Whitley   5.4
 20  G Taylor      5.3 (9)
 21  Jeff Whitley  4.7

My own personal player of the year would be Nick Weaver. The save I saw at the end of the first half at the Racecourse Ground was simply impossible. Mind you, I only got to see five matches (it is difficult to get home from Maine Road in the evening when you have to change trains in London, Brussels, Cologne and Nuremberg). It is interesting that Lee Bradbury finished equal with Terry Cooke, the man who replaced him. Given that Terry Cooke was less expensive and is younger, this has to be good business. Nobody rated the Wembley match but that would not have made much difference. Paul Dickov would have probably made it to joint eighth but that’s pretty much it.

The somewhat mathematical approach that I have taken enables me to estimate a player’s consistency. Statistically, the consistency is known as the standard deviation and is the typical discrepancy in each match rating. A player who got 3, 4, 3 and 3 is consistent. Crap, but consistent. One who gets 8, 9, 2 and 5 is not. By my calculations the most consistent players we have are Gerard Wiekens and Lee Crooks, each with a standard deviation (consistency rating) of 1.2 (lower numbers are better). The most inconsistent players are the Whitleys (Jeff with 2.1 and Jim with 1.9) and Richard Edghill, also with 1.9. I doubt that many people will disagree with that assessment.

There is some small print, which you should skip if you haven’t got a maths or statistics A level. I excluded anyone with five or less reports as this was deemed statistically meaningless, the standard error on the average rising to above 0.8. Craig Russell, with five reports, could have finished in the top spot, or he could have finished in 19th. It is therefore senseless to rank him if the uncertainties are taken into account. For the same reason Andy Morrison and Nick Weaver are joint second despite Morrison’s average being 7.33 and Weaver’s 7.27. Since assessments of players’ performances often varied significantly in different reports of the same match I decided to give equal weight to each report rather than to each match. I gave the same weighting to substitutes as to those who played for the entire match as failing to do so would be rather arbitrary. If not then do I include the rating of the player taken off? The only equitable way was to include all ratings. Finally, the calculations were made using the 34 scored match reports of competitive City matches in MCIVTA during the 1998-99 season using Excel 98 on a Laser Blue Macintosh G3. In all cases but for one the performances were marked out of 10. In one match, however, I had to convert a school report to marks on ten (thanks Neil Quinn, go to the bottom of the class). The workbook is available with the full details.

That just leaves me to say that I am…

CTID, Mark Geoghegan (


McVittee FC have finally arranged the date and venue for their league decider with QPR – it will be held in Birmingham on the 19th June, kick-off 1pm. It will be an excellent match and I am trying to rally as much support as possible to watch and support us. The directions are:

Get onto the M42 (from M6 or M40), come off at the A45 (I think it’s J6) and head to Birmingham. About 1 mile to a set of traffic lights, turn left, Damson Lane. After about 100 yards, turn left, onto Old Damson Lane. After about 100 yards, on your right, is the entrance to the Birmingham Civil Services.

B’ham International Railway Stations is near, if you’re using a taxi, ask for Birmingham Civil Service on Old Damson Lane.

Any problems, call me on 0374 675 776. The Plan is 11am Villa vs. Arsenal, 1pm QPR vs. Man City.

Hopefully will see you there on the day!

Dave – Manager, McVittee FC (


The completely unofficial supporters’ club of Florida & Caribbean Blues will come to total disorder in their upcoming Post Play-Off Final celebration at the Tudor Inn in Fort Lauderdale on June 19th at 7:00pm. Events will include beer drinking, viewing a tape of the Great Game, more beer drinking and as a special bonus, viewing of what has been described to me as a Kinky tape (not sure if we’ll get away with this one). Santo Domingo Blue, Florida Blue and Mister Ed will regale us with stories of their adventures inside Wembley Stadium, SFloridaPhil with his adventures outside. As a finale, and despite popular request, Florida Blue will no doubt once again entertain us with his own unique interpretation of the complete repertoire of Oasis songs.

Any Blues passing through on vacation are welcome to join us (bring yer own earplugs).

P.S. Any McVittee reader who can get in touch with Barry (?) in Dunedin, FLA, please let ’em know. We’ve lost their contact numbers.

Paul Duncan (


Thank you to everyone that has contributed to MCIVTA with news of what went on at Wembley. I have read every one of them, often with tears welling in my eyes at the sheer joy. At the time, I was on holiday in Cornwall – booked 12 months before. I could not get it on TV, but I heard it on radio – sort of. Anyone that has been to the Cornwall coast knows how undulating it is. At the top of the cliffs, radio reception is great. At the bottom of the valley, there is no reception. At the top of the valley, it was 0-0 with 15 minutes to play. Down in the valley – no reception. At the top of the next valley we were 2-0 down. By the next valley it was full time. I was in a foul mood. I would not watch TV or buy a paper. The following day was my birthday. That evening, it was only a chance remark from someone across the room that indicated that we won on the day. Of course I didn’t believe it and it was not until someone showed me a paper with the match report that I would accept it. I must have read the report about thirty times. As soon as I returned, I went straight to the computer and downloaded the McVittee e-mails. What would I do without you guys? While I have re-lived the match a number of times from your brilliant reports, does anyone have a video of the match that I could see?

CTID, John Howes (


Further guidance. The FA (in FA competitions) advises referees to toss a coin in the presence of the captains, but ground conditions, police advice, etc. can determine it. The League say that at Wembley the authorities prefer the tunnel end, so that’s the end the ref chooses. So who chose which team got the tunnel end?

Steve Parish (


Well, some of you may have wondered why I stopped posting to MCIVTA. Well over the last few years I would post as often as we changed managers! My posting would be along the lines “support this manager/player/chairman (sorry chairperson), get behind the team, stop having a go at X.” Then as times got worse I’d write in “this player/manager/formation/game is/was crap.” I soon found that if I praised a player in one game he’d turn in to a donkey in the next; unfortunately if I had a go at a player he wouldn’t always turn in a wonderful performance the next game! The same happened with managers, no sooner would I give him a glowing testimonial then he’d up and leave! Before you ask, no it didn’t work with Alan Ball.

So I gave up! Yes I’d had enough this season. The lowest position in our history I thought why bother! I also thought that I maybe was a Johna so I kept my head down. The start of the season was very much up and down, I thought once or twice about writing in, but more new and on the whole funnier contributors had taken on the mantle. At the end of the season, I kept telling myself. At the end of the season I’ll do my masterpiece. Well what an end to the season for one and all!

It was MCIVTA 506 that finally stirred me into action, all that emotion all that happiness. Well I had to write and tell you who was responsible for it all. Not as you may have thought the team, the management and not the chairman, but my own dear mother. You see she died just before the York game in December. She had been told she had cancer only a few months before. A lifelong Blue, she was the one responsible for turning me into a Blue (see my Why Blue on my web page or on the MCIVTA Why Blue page). Now you may be feeling a bit uneasy, what has this to do with City winning one best games ever to grace Wembley? Well hang onto your hat and I’ll tell you. Not long after her I went with my wonderful girlfriend Helen (known on Blue View as Murtaz or Blue Rinse), to a very wet and cold Wrexham. Now my good old ma said that the only thing wrong with City was that they needed a kick up the backside and if she ever got the chance she would do it. She never got that chance when she was alive, but I know she did when she died. Think back to the way we played in that game. The team looked like a different team, the saves that the God that is Weaver made that day. There was one where he seemed to hang in the air for an age that was my mum holding him up there! Game after game the team came out looking like they had had a kick up the backside, time and time again they dug deep, made saves they would never had made before, scored goals that would never have gone in before. She was everywhere, on the goal line, on the far post knocking it down for Goater.

Then came Wembley. For all those who were not there, for all those who left early, don’t feel bad. I was there, I did not leave, but I did not see one of our goals. When we were two-nil down, I buried my head into my hands, held my crucifix and prayed. I prayed to God, I prayed to my mother, I prayed so hard that my hands had the imprint of my cross. I did not see any of the goals until later that night (thanks Paul a.k.a. ChinnorBLU for taping it). My mum came through again! She must have sneaked on the pitch and turned off the ref’s watch (so that’s where the 5 minutes came from). So as you see, this season’s turnaround was all down to a 59-year-old Blue. The letters from people telling how they had gone to the game with their father/mothers/brothers/sister all touched me, because I was there with the two people I love more than anyone, my girlfriend and my mum. What more can a Blue boy want! And by the way don’t worry, I keep my promise I’ll only write during the close season; while we are on that note can anyone tell me how I’m going to get through 9 weeks of no footie!

Tony “the tattooed donkey” Hulme, North Stand Row 13 Block N Seat 10 (


Another first-time contributor to MCIVTA, and moved to it by friends and relatives who persuaded me to go to the home match vs. Stoke, where after switching to 4-4-2 (and Edgy to left back – where he belongs), we overturned a 1-0 scoreline to win 2-1. “I don’t know what all the fuss is about” I boldly ventured. One season ticket later, 2 defeats in 26 (of which I have seen one when lucky sweatshirt was in the wash), and Wembley bound with friends and relatives – brother, cousin, and 6-year-old nephew who became star of the show in the Rat & Parrot in West Hampstead prior to the game – those who were there will remember “Ollie P.”… and what a weekend…

Saturday night, beers safely consumed, Chinese restaurant in Soho, listening to “Oh Terry Cooke,…” and everybody slowly building up to it. To Sunday morning, and half hearted attempts at eating a cooked breakfast, finding that the butterflys had invaded the stomach and restricted consumption… idea! Flush out the nerves with a lunchtime strong lager or three in said pub. I can’t speak for other pubs in the area, but the atmosphere before the game could be called apprehensive confidence, and afterwards, well hysteria, joy, unadulterated passion escaped with the incessant songs. To the ground, and wondering up Wembley Way wondering where the Gillingham fans were, marvelling at the sea of blue en route, passing through the turnstiles to embark the longest emotional rollercoaster ride I have ever been on. Too many match reports, but these things stick vividly in my mind: the eruption of noise at Dickov’s goal, the applause given to Edghill as he strode forward to take a penalty (the only City player to receive such a clap), the noise (absolutely deafening) as Gillingham players approached for penalties, the rendition of Blue Moon at the end. To the pub afterwards, more singing and dancing around restaurants and bars in West Hampstead, a conga in Trafalgar Square at 3a.m., and back to the hotel for the first editions where we all read the Telegraph disbelievingly, convinced that what we had witnessed was a dream. Best achievement of the weekend has to be the confirmation that my nephew will be the fourth generation of Blues in the family. Still reeling from the shock of it all, bring on Blackburn, Stockport and all… I know I am, I’m sure I am, I’m City till I die.

Ian Pilkington (


It’s after 12.30 am and I’ve been catching up on the last two issues of MCIVTA. I just had to briefly share my experiences of Wembley. I’ve already had an article published in the paper I report for – the Newtownabbey Times in Northern Ireland (anyone who wants a copy of it can e-mail me).

Everything’s already been said that can be said. All I can add is that I will never ever forget that moment when we equalised. If I live to be 90, I’m sure I’ll be shouting “Paul Dickov” at the wall in my nursing home.

Being a journalist, I was able to get a ticket by basically begging the press office at Nationwide Building Society. Yes, I do feel a bit guilty that many City fans couldn’t be there. But I’ve been a supporter for nearly 30 years and, coming from Northern Ireland, my chances of getting a ticket through the normal channels were pretty slim.

I’m not going to review the match, not least because I don’t know how to describe what it felt like when the equaliser went in or when we finally won it.

What I can say is that City fans deserved the victory. The supporters I met at Wembley were among the nicest people I have ever come across. I know it sounds strange, but I feel we earned that day and that it somehow made the last few years worthwhile.

This is what football is all about. There is no comparison with what Rags’ fans went through with the Bayern match. They only needed one goal to get back into it and they also had the small matter of a domestic double as consolation.

We were dead and buried and we had absolutely nothing to fall back on – and we still came back. You have to experience real lows to reach the heights we did at Wembley.

No one but City fans will ever know what it felt like.

David Gordon (


Back from Oz and read all the back copies of MCIVTA celebrating the wonderful win. Congrats to City and the best of good luck next year in the First Division; hope it’s only a minor transition en route to the Premier. It really was good reading the correspondence from the fans and feeling the joy and exhilaration experienced by one and all, not to mention the normal “Blue Drama”, without which it appears nothing can be accomplished at Maine Road! I can’t let this issue pass without a pat on the back for the much maligned Noel Bayley. I think he deserves some credit for his generous and unstinting praise of Manchester United’s achievements this season. Who says a leopard can’t change his spots?!

Leo Fewtrell – Wythenshawe Exile (


I was one of those City fans who watched the wonder of Wembley from the Gillingham end. I took two of my children along as insurance – when all three of us have attended City games together, home or away, we have never seen them lose (if JR would like to make a financial contribution we could be ever present next season, work permitting).

Apart from the obvious disadvantages of not being able to muster much of a chorus for Blue Moon, it was not as bad as I thought it would be. Most of the Gillingham fans had never been to a match before so the atmosphere was fairly light-hearted among the grannies. Very young kids with colouring books on their laps and French exchange students based in Kent. I actually knew more of the Gills’ players than most of the people around me and the very limited slection of Gillingham songs further illustrated the point that most people – certainly in section 136 – were simply there to enjoy a day out.

There was also a major plus for me in having a superb view of half of Wembley in uproar at the end of the penalty shoot-out – laser blue flags and scarves waving and an unforgettable chorus of Blue Moon echoing round the ground. The genuine Gillingham fans around me didn’t seem to appreciate it, but it was a real tear-jerking sight. Many thanks to the players for spotting us at the wrong end of the ground and coming up there to show off the trophy on tha lap of honour.

Bad Points

Wembley is still crap. Would you believe it, the stewards tried to get the City fans out of the ground before the lap of honour and even ejected one middle-aged City fan and his wife after he asked to be allowed to move nearer to the half-way line to get a better view of City receiving the trophy.

The match programme was garbage for £3.50. Why was The Globe opposite Baker Street closed after the game? (Many thanks to the Blue from Miles Platting who directed us to the William Wallace pub for a much-needed drink or two to steady the nerves).

Steve Nolan – Sawtry Blues (


In reply to the questions asked in MCIVTA 506 and 507: The reason the Opera Singer at Wembley was booed so much is that he is a big Man Utd fan – I’m sure the commentators on Sky TV mentioned that. He also sang at one of Utd’s last games – not sure/don’t care which one.

Rob Kerr (
Andrea Hanlon (


Boos and Opera Singers

The Opera Singer (Russell Watson?) was on Radio 5 Live before the FA Cup Final, telling the tale of how Martin Edwards heard him and arranged for his recent performances at ManUre’s matches and the play-offs. Anyway he made a big thing about being a Red hence the reception, which was good humoured in my opinion.

Belated notes on the game

Tickets; I’ve been buying a season ticket for 20 years in the sure knowledge that my job, which takes me off around the world, will deny me the opportunity of seeing every game at home. Whilst this is obviously an economic disaster, it is done with the seasonal expectation that we will be at Wembley for a great day out, and when that happens I want to be guaranteed a ticket (or two). I have in the past gone a whole season without being able to attend, but still keep the ticket going. I do understand the frustration of those who couldn’t get a ticket, was surprised and delighted to get two, and astounded when dad said I could have his two as he would watch it on the box, but I felt I was just cashing in on an insurance policy.

The Match; As an old campaigner with 3 minutes left, I left. Years of experience taught me to ignore the consolation goal which was scored as I was on my way out of the door. Successive disappointments failed to convince me to return to the ground when I knew we had equalised. I draw consolation from knowing that I was the jinx and City triumphed because of my absence, so you can all thank me.

The After Match

I bumped into my brother-in-law (runs the Old House at Home in Fallowfield, Braemar Road, now after having to give up the City Social Club when they decided to sell shirts etc. from it) at Watford Gap service station – I had to go into the boot to put my team colours on and dress up the back window with scarves etc. after the result, and my daughter needed a pee. He’d borrowed my sister’s new car and could not get the radio to work, so was depressingly unaware that we had not lost, and only a phone call back to the pub convinced him.

The Future

Did anyone hear the fan on six-o-six who phoned in the previous week, said “Division One next year, Premiership title in 2001, and total world domination after that”?

When is the fixture list out? I have an overseas visit for 2 to 3 weeks and need to schedule appropriately!

Malcolm Plaiter (


City have done an amazing job in the last 6 months and we need to keep going, but if Joe starts to scrap players and upset the balance that there has been then results may go against us. He needs to keep a similar set up of players and a continuity that the players can rely on and work with. For example a team that spent about £3.5M on about 15 players is Reading, they were constantly chopping and changing and look where it got them, mid-table obscurity! So joe needs to bring in the odd good player, but if he starts to scrap 6/7 players then the team’s balance may be upset.

Michael Jarvis (


I think this has gone on long enough. You’ve been quick to put a stop to over-long discussions in the past so how about stopping further ramblings about the play-off final which, after all, ended 8 days 3 hours 47 minutes and 50 seconds ago as I write. 🙂

Joking aside. Firstly. To John Riley – I think you’ll find the opera singer was booed because he is a Rag.

Secondly. Is everyone missing the point about the five minutes? Correct me if I’m wrong. It is the fourth official who decides the length of time to be added on, not the referee. It is, however, up to the referee whether he actually plays all the time proposed (or more). In all the games I’ve watched this season the ref has always played the length of time suggested by the fourth official. So if anybody should be criticised it is he. I think his name was something like Frank Royle from Merseyside.

CTITOHTDR (City Till I Tire Of Hearing The Dickov Roar), David Kilroy (


Now that the euphoria of the Wembley win has died down (or has it?), thought I would put my twopennorth in. Days like those don’t come often where we are still talking about the match weeks from now and still playing it over and over again on video, just in case we missed something the 5th time of watching. Which brings me to my point. Would we still want us to be relegated from the Premier and First just so we could experience a day like May 30th? It really was amazing, the atmosphere of 40,000 singing their hearts out. I was ready for making our way to the exit, but my dad, never one to leave before the end said we’ll wait and thank God we did. I always stop my watch when there is an injury or substitution so I know when the ref will blow up. My watch said time was up and when Cooke hit it over the bar, I was sure the ref was going to blow and was thinking of the trips to places we had been to this season and thought we’ll do it next year. When Dickov scored, I thought the number of times I have called him in the past. I used to think he was just a runner but anywhere near the goal and he would freeze. I think Edghill also endeared himself to the City fans with his performance. Maybe Joe will try him at left back next season.

Regarding the ticket allocation, I think it would have been fairer if City had received 22,000 more tickets than Gillingham as we get that many more fans at Maine Road, so we would have received 50,000 tickets and Gillingham 28,000. I think that’s quite fair. I also queued for 11 hours on the Saturday to be told the £32 and £28 tickets had gone and I am a regular season ticket holder, most unfair I thought. Hope they get it right for next year if we are in the play-offs.

MANCHESTER CITY (Malcolm Allison Never Could Hope Expensive Signings To Excel, Royle Could Inherit Trophyless Years), CTID Steve Welch (


Is there anyone who would be willing to sell a video of the game at Wembley to an Antipodean supporter who has no access to pay TV and who missed the web broadcast of the big match? It would need to be in PAL format and some agreed sum could be arranged. Please contact This would be wonderful for a City fan who has absolutely no access to televised games.

Geoff Hastings, Bathurst, Australia (


Does anyone know if it is possible to receive a copy of the Play-Off final including the fans views and celebrations.

Very, very pleased with the result I am sure the spirit is there to move ahead next season and back out of the wilderness to where our great club belongs and that is in the top 3 as in 1978.

I know Chris in HawkBay, New Zealand would also be interested to hear if a video is available; unfortunately New Zealand Sky channel only felt fit to view 2 minutes of the match and celebrations.

I would also like to know if the real audio link is now working and does not sound like a punter talking in his shed.

Many thanks.

Stephen Burt, Changi, Singapore (


The disappointment of not being able to go to Wembley on that day disappeared after sharing one of the most stressful yet “wouldn’t miss it for the world” kind of afternoons in my mate’s local, the Prince of Wales, in Putney. The few fellow Blues who were in attendance and who later joined us for champagne at the wine bar down the road helped to make it a day I will never forget (if you read this – get in touch!).

Having entered the pub with at least 11 hours’ drinking time to go, and then managing to cram those 11 hours into 4, it was inevitable that by the time my eyes re-focussed on Monday morning, I realised that I had not seen any of the coverage following the final penalty. I even missed eager Weaver’s lap of honour.

Not to worry though, I had set the video back home and would watch it all over again. Not blo*dy likely. Whilst staying in London that weekend my video took it upon itself to record the movie channel… hence my plea.

I know I am not the first to ask, but if anyone could oblige I would be eternally grateful etc.

CTID, Stephen Phillips – Folkestone, Kent (


Does anyone know when the fixture list will be published/details of pre-season games? Also, my thoughts about the transfer market: goalkeeper: not needed, defence: left back needed, Edgy is really a right-back/sh*t, midfield: left winger to do what Terry Cooke used to do for us; striker: Taylor and Goater can both go… Dickov can be 1st reserve: 2 strikers needed!

P.S. Being young, and only recently supporting City, I have got to say that that match was the best feeling – what a day! Yes, I was lucky enough to be there!

CTID, Jon Abel (


Having read about the various experiences of those City fans who attended Wembley for ‘That match’ or of those stranded miles away unable to see it or obtain a ticket, I have decided to write on behalf of the ‘forgotten people’, namely those who do not support City but have had to endure the many seasons’ worth of agony of their respective wives; husbands; partners; significant others… etc. who do support City. In brief, this is my story of the many seasons I have suffered along with City fans and also ‘that match’ at Wembley.

My wife has been a North Stand season ticket holder at Maine Road for the last 18 years, ever since being dragged kicking and screaming to the ground by her father and elder brother at the tender age of 11. Needless to say, the masochistic side of her nature was brought to the fore and she has been going ever since and in the 8 years I have known her (3 years married) I, like so many other neutral persons married to City fans, have suffered the blues alongside them (pardon the pun).

If I cast my mind back to the begining of last season, it was like the begining of so many other seasons for City fans… one of hope and renewed optimism. This season was going to be different. As the words of the song go … ‘We dreamers have our ways of facing rainy days’… and as the season wore on and the slump continued, the same old story (and song) was being retold/sung in our house and doubtless countless other City households throughout the world.

The annual burning of the season ticket, scarf and replica kit was threatened again (although never carried out). After every game I would wait at home dreading her return in fear of saying or doing the wrong thing as, once again, City had lost or drawn a game they should have won. As the season went on it was looking very bleak but a reversal in fortunes began to take place and I am reliably informed a 20+ match run with only one defeat saw City into a well deserved third place, fantastic considering their position at Christmas. This great run in made for a more relaxed atmosphere at home on Saturday evenings too!

And so to the play-off. Unable to get a ticket in the City end away to Wigan she had to plump to stand in the middle of the Wigan fans along with numerous other City fans. Thankfully a 1-1 draw, after going 1-0 down, brought her home with a smile on her face and saved me from a Saturday night of trying not to say anything wrong… roll on the 2nd leg.

Well the result of the 2nd leg and a place in the play-off final cheered up my little Blue soldier and all that was left was to get a ticket: ‘no problem there’ I thought. She’s a season ticket holder and will have a voucher in the season ticket to exchange for a play-off final ticket, one voucher for one ticket just like everybody else. Well I won’t waffle on about what she and the vast majority who queued descibed as a complete and utter cock up by City regarding the allocation of tickets. How can City justify telling certain season ticket holders to queue one day and the others the next and then go and sell all the top-priced tickets on the first day, leaving the vast majority of those queue the next day unable to get the good seats? Anyway, life was not all roses in our house that weekend but a ticket was purchased and plans were made for the Great Adventure. We searched our attic and found the London A to Z, dusted it off and, flicking through the yellow tinged pages, tried to locate Wembley; after all the last time she needed the A to Z to go to Wembley was back in 1986 for the Full Members’ Cup Final.

Sunday 30th May was soon upon us. My little Blue soldier was awake at 5am due to being unable to sleep because of nerves. This day was planned like a military operation. The replica City top was all clean and hanging up, the blue and white City balloons were inflated and so off she went to meet up with her father, brother and a number of other City fans at Sandbach service station on the M6 motorway to get the coach to Wembley. I won’t go into match details as it’s all been said before and is now history. At about 6pm that evening I received a phone call from a very elated, hoarse and drunk sounding wife ringing on a loaned mobile phone. I can’t be sure what she wanted as the line was bad and there was loud singing in the background but even though slightly drunk myself it sounded like a request for a quickie divorce… something to do with wanting to marry Nicky Weaver there and then!

And what of my day? That morning I went to my parents in Liverpool for a cooked breakfast and had to explain why Wendy had gone to Wembley and explain the play-off competition. I was going to stay all day but at 2pm I began to get restless. My folks don’t have Sky TV and my friends were all either out or those who were in didn’t have Sky so I headed back home and went to the pub at the bottom of our road which does have Sky. I arrived a little after kick off and found it full of City fans and what seemed to be one Gillingham fan (well he kept cheering when the Gills went close and when they scored… on second thoughts he could have only been a Man Utd fan!). I didn’t intend to drink alcohol but City drove me to it. I won’t go on about the game as much has been written by those who know more than me but as one City fan told me ‘Only City would go 2 goals down, come back to 2-2 with the last kick of the game and then go to penalties’. Who would be a City fan?

I staggered out of the pub, very sociable and friendly lot those City fans, and ended up walking home humming ‘Blue Moon’. When I got home I got the phone call requesting a divorce and then calls from friends congratulating City. I spent the next several hours sobering up and awaiting the return of my little Blue soldier, and for one of the few times in recent years not dreading her return. I ask you. Who would marry a City fan if they knew beforehand all of the heartache they have to endure over a season and how that may affect you mentally? Well maybe.

Paul Heath (


Contributions: Ashley –
News & Rumours: Peter –
Subscriptions & Club Questions: Steve –
Technical Problems: Paul –

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 #508