Newsletter #547

City stayed top on Saturday – increasing the gap to the next-placed team to three points – by virtue of a splendid second-half performance against Blackburn. City won 2-0 thanks to goals from Edghill (yes, Edghill!) and Jeff Whitley. Off the field, press speculation continues but has now switched from strikers to a rumoured buy-out (denied by Chris Bird) by France’s Canal Plus. Can any subscribers in France comment on this one from the other end as it were?

This issue has three match reports, an interesting piece on past City shirts, opinion, and a rather special Why Blue, especially if you’re Catholic and grew up surrounded by United fans.

For those who know Clive Tysoe, please note that he won’t be online for the next three weeks or so, until he gets settled and connected up in that rainswept, depressing hole they call The Bahamas!

Lastly, thanks to the Norwegian Blues who met a work colleague of mine on the plane from Norway on Friday (he’s a Red – oh dear!) and handed him a copy of their supporters’ club magazine. You’ll be pleased to hear that he didn’t burn it, but passed it on to me as requested!

Next game: Ipswich Town at home, Wednesday 27th October 1999


Another Win Keeps Royle Happy

City’s 2-0 win at home to Blackburn on Saturday kept the Blues top of the Division One table, and Joe Royle’s team made ground on all their rivals at the top of the table with only Ipswich among the leading pack also managing to take maximum points. A first-ever league goal for Richard Edghill put City in front after Blackburn had the better of the opening 39 minutes, and Jeff Whitley made the game safe on 84 minutes after Kevin Horlock’s failure to do so from the penalty spot early in the second half. Manager Royle was happy with the victory, reflecting that, “It was a terrific win for us. We may have been lucky to still be in it at the break but even after we missed that penalty we just kept going forward.” Royle did, however, have some words of comfort for his ex-playing colleague, under-fire Rovers manager Brian Kidd. “I still believe Rovers are the sort of side who can come with a late and long run of successes,” claimed the City chief. Kidd, meanwhile, felt the Blues showed a greater will to win than his own players, and marked his former club down as promotion possibles. “Saying we are struggling to acclimatise to this division is nonsense. Most of my players have played in the First Division before, so they know what to expect this season,” said Kidd. “We dominated the first half and shouldn’t have been behind at the break. But they were more determined, their attitude was better and they wanted it more than us. Seeing little Jeff Whitley scoring with a header late on typifies the difference. If City keep showing that sort of spirit there’s no reason why they can’t go up.”

French Takeover Rumour Denied

City have denied Sunday newspaper reports that the club could be the target of a takeover bid from French television giant Canal Plus. Director Chris Bird denied any contact with the TV company and said that in any case City are looking for investors who will work with the existing board and shareholders rather than buy them out. “The people who are involved in this club now are in it for the long term,” he explained. “There have been no talks with anyone involved with Canal Plus. We are having talks with numerous people about possible partnership agreements.” He responded to speculation that the 23.77% of the club’s shares held by Mark Boler are available for purchase by saying, “Our shareholders and that includes the Boler family, are fully committed to what the current board are doing.” Meanwhile, an unsourced Internet rumour on Monday claimed that one of the possible “partners” could by BSkyB. There has been no official comment as yet.

Taylor Move Put on Hold

Joe Royle has admitted that he has been in talks with Gillingham about the possibility of bringing striker Robert Taylor to Maine Road. However, any move for the former Brentford man has been put on hold after the player was injured playing for the Gills against his former club at Griffin Park last week. He could be out for up to three weeks, leaving Joe Royle to decide whether to wait until Taylor regains fitness and pursuing his efforts on that front or to switch to another of his “targets [City] have enquired about which haven’t leaked out.” The latest rumours are that any deal is unlikely to see Gareth Taylor moving on to Priestfield, though opinion is divided over whether this is down to Joe Royle or Gillingham manager Peter Taylor. However, some sources are claiming that the Kent club could be interested in an exchange deal were City prepared to release Paul Dickov, the man whose last-gasp Wembley equaliser robbed the Kent club of promotion last May.

Joe Keeps Winning Habit

The City manager seems to have something of a Midas touch at the moment. Already being feted for taking his side from mid-table mediocrity in Division Two to the summit of Division One, he even won £1,000 in Oldham Athletic’s cash prize draw last week. Royle has continued to pay his subscriptions to the Latics’ prize fund despite leaving the Boundary Park hotseat five years ago.

Academy Results

City’s under-19s drew 0-0 at home to Everton on Saturday, with defender Rhys Day and midfielder Terry Dunfield catching the eye. I hope to bring you the under 17s result in the next bulletin.

Ipswich Home – Previuew

City have a quick chance for revenge over the side who a month ago ended the Blues’ six-match unbeaten league run. Ipswich Town beat City 2-1 that day, though most reports felt there was little between the sides. Wednesday’s game could be another close one, with Ipswich only three points adrift of City but with a game in hand. The Blues will be keen to steal a march on one of the teams likely to be in promotion contention come the end of the season, but to do so will have to nullify the threat of Joe Royle’s summer transfer target David Johnson. The Jamaican-born striker has a good record against City and has an added reason to try to impress – he’s committed his international allegiance to Scotland and will want to impress national coach Craig Brown before the Euro 2000 qualifying play-off against England next month. If the ex-Manchester United junior fails to impress, it will go a long way towards helping the Blues to maintain the current run of good form.

Peter Brophy (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. BLACKBURN ROVERS, Saturday 23rd October 1999

I think we were looking forward to this game more than many recent games, if only because we had the certainty of knowing that if we were to win we would stay top, irrespective of results anywhere else.

Wednesday night had been magnificent of course – not only had we won against the odds at Birmingham, all the other results had gone our way. Olympique Marseilles of course provided the icing on the cake as they beat the Rags and ensured that the record for an unbeaten run in Europe stayed with Ajax – well done Marseilles.

Some pre-match research had led me to the Blackburn web site and whilst I was pleased to see that Brian Kidd had kind words about City, I was a little surprised to see him saying:

“the task ahead of them is not as mountainous as observers are making out.”

Clearly it was. This game was reported as a sell out a good few days before Saturday and the reported attendance showed that the crowd was the biggest at Maine Road for some time: 33,027. I’ve got to say that full credit must be paid to the Blackburn contingent and the noise that they made for most of the game, but more about that later.

The weather was pretty nice as we made our way down to the home of Manchester’s finest (only) football team. Pre-match nerves were settled with a couple of decent pints of Guinness purchased at The Gardeners and supped outside in the delightful autumnal afternoon sunshine, and the company of my brother.

Taking care to avoid what I now call the Rotherham effect (piles of dog and horse crap) all over, we reached the Academy at about 14:45, enough time to complete pre-match preparations (bladder emptying) and then making our way to our seats and still a little time to check out the details of the match officials. Alan Butler (Sutton in Ashfield) was the key official, supported by Mr Hall (red flag) and Mr Morrison (yellow flag). The fourth official (without flag) was Mr Bennet (Note: you’ll remember that I call it the Rotherham effect after my visit there the other week when I had never seen so much crap in the streets of that Yorkshire backwater).

Just before the teams came out I looked up at the seagull and noted that he was in fact barely moving – I wasn’t sure what to make of that and I’m sure it left the Blackburn fans baffled as they tried to figure out how a seagull could remain stationery for so long. In any case he made for a beautiful sight suspended against a backdrop of bright blue skies broken only by the gentle rolling by of the cumulous clouds high above England’s greatest city.

I hitched my belt-less pants up as the announcer went through the names in a rather exaggerated and theatrical voice, as the players warmed up on the lush pitch – cut in delightful concentric circles radiating out from the centre spot.

There were two things that puzzled me next they were: a) why on earth did the Blackburn players go into some sort of group huddle immediately before the kick off? and b) why on earth were they wearing a kit the likes of which I had last seen on one of my subbuteo teams back in the early 70’s?

This kit was crap – from where I was I would say that it was pretty poor combination of man-made fibres and natural cotton – perhaps as much as 80% man made – you know that sort of rayon/crimpolene type stuff. The colours were dull, a yellow bodice with blue trunks; I guess they were just wearing old kits that had seen better days.

Onto the game (this is supposed to be a match report). Make no mistake if you want an honest appraisal of the first 45 minutes then I have to tell you I would just give it to Blackburn even though we went in 1-0 up.

Blackburn looked to be a bit livelier in midfield and the danger signals were evident early on as Blackburn pushed forward. Per Frandsen headed onto the bar to give us a scare and then later brought a good save from the magnificent Weaver as he dived bravely at his feet to block another attack on the City goal.

Blackburn missed a handful of good opportunities in the first half and although they had gained plenty of corners it was England’s future ‘keeper who kept us alive. Mr Magic Boots himself – Kennedy – was the creator of our first goal: as the interval approached a tremendous ball from the in-form Granville sent Kennedy skating towards the dead ball line, a fierce low cross in to the box allowed Edghill to slide and smash the ball in from close range to put us 1-0 up.

The second half once again allowed Kennedy to dazzle and bring us to our feet. Dickov, who probably puts in more running than the rest of the team, was bundled down early in the second half only to see Horlock’s penalty well saved by the ‘keeper.

If the first half had seen Blackburn have the best of the play, the second half was ours. Control and domination of the game eventually saw Whitley make the points safe as he headed in from an excellent Mark Kennedy corner. This was a good second half performance; against what has to be said was a half-decent Blackburn team.

It was uplifting to hear Blue Moon echoing around the ground but most uplifting and exhilarating was the sound of city fans chanting “City City top of the league” – what unbridled joy!

The away fans were very quiet for most of the second half – there were times during the first half when I thought they must have members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo with them as they chanted and swayed to the hypnotic banging of a drum – the drum was good but the chants were dull and seemed to be made up of a rather simple line than consisted of no more than “Balmy Army” repeated and repeated and repeated. But fair play they had supported their team well.

The afternoon was topped off in spectacular style as the other results came in; our nearest rivals had all dropped points and good old Spurs had beaten the Rags 3-1 (no doubt the wrong sort of rain for the Trafford Rovers team – Ha).

OK then, so what does all this mean for our form guide. Well it’s still tight but we are maintaining championship form.

We have hit the required average of 2 points per game and current trends indicate this will yield 92 points and first place. Although we have only conceded 7 goals in the league we really need to improve our strike rate which is averaging just 1.4 per game. If you want to know more about performance and forecasts you can check it out on my web site, which is at <http:/>.

Tony Burns (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. BLACKBURN ROVERS, Saturday 23rd October 1999

I think that we have got to face facts: We’re not a bad team! Despite the performances since last Christmas, I still can’t quite let go of my inbuilt protective wariness of shouting our praises from the rooftops. I don’t want to get hurt again! However, the boys keep delivering the goods and more importantly keep fighting, keep winning even if things don’t go according to plan.

For the first 30 minutes today, Blackburn dominated. It looked like they were the home side and we were the visitors, hoping to secure a point. In the first minute, Nick Weaver’s big toe saved a certain goal from the initially impressive Matt Jansen (he faded badly as the game progressed). 10 minutes later Per Frandsen looped a header onto the bar, with Weaver beaten (fouled?). We couldn’t get our passing game going and although Kennedy still delivered a few telling crosses, Blackburn didn’t have any real problems. After the initial period Morrison and Jobson had Ashley Ward and the aforementioned Jansen in their pockets. Morrison won everything in the air and Ward was clearly getting frustrated. Then in the 39th minute the unthinkable happened, Richard Edghill scored! Despite his weaknesses, Edghill has never been afraid to get forward and support the attack. Likewise he’s always been willing to have a shot. I recall on at least 2 occasions last season he went very, very close with long range screamers. It’s therefore suprising that Wembley shootout apart he had not yet opened his account for the Blues. This goal was a tap in from about 18 inches. What was impressive though was his determination to get there and his accurate assessment of it being worth the gamble to get into the 6-yard box to get on the end of Kennedy’s brilliant low cross. Edghill did what I’ve been urging our midfielders to do all season – have a gamble, and not at particularly long odds! If Kennedy gets past the 18 yard line, there is an extremely good chance that he will fire over a cross. More often than not we are lucky if both our strikers are anywhere in the vicinity of the ball. The other players, particularly Horlock (remember when we used to call him ‘the ghost’, as he somehow appeared on the far post to knock in a cross?) must get in those scoring positions more often! Anyway, we were all delighted for Edghill, but more pleased that we broken the ice, in truth against the run of play.

Early in the second half Dickov did well to get on the end of another Kennedy special, but his header didn’t have sufficient power or direction to beat Filan. Minutes later Dickov was hauled down just inside the box by Christian Dailly. Although, as is his style, Dickov made the most of it, it was a penalty and I didn’t see many protests from Blackburn. Surprisingly, Horlock’s spot kick was well saved by Filan. Would this give the impetus back to Rovers? Would we hang our heads and crumble? Not a chance! The second half was all City and at times we ran rings around the men from Ewood. Although clear cut chances were not plentiful, we exerted such pressure that Blackburn faded more and more. The only surprise was that it took until the last 10 minutes to score our second, Whitley directing a superb near post header from Kennedy’s corner. Whitley in fact was probably my man of the match. He’s faded a little in recent games, where since Bishop’s regular inclusion, he’s been playing wider on the right. During the second half, it was noticeable that he moved slightly inside and was back to his best tackling, harrying and yes, passing Rovers to death. He deserved his goal for the work he put into his performance. However, as is usual with City nowadays, this (in the second half) was a terrific team performance. It’s this ‘all for one, one for all’ attitude which is taking us onwards and upwards. It’s this attitude which gets us through periods of poor play, dodgy refereeing decisions and the like. Don’t get me wrong, we also have skill and flair to match our determination (we are not another ‘Dogs of War’ team), but as we know from past experience, skill and flair alone is not enough to be successful.

Finally, I’m pleased to advise that my Lucky Underpant Theory (TM) is still working, and don’t worry they’ll be freshly laundered come Wednesday evening!

Phil Hartley (


MANCHESTER CITY vs. BLACKBURN ROVERS, Saturday 23rd October 1999

Top of the league, and you can see that other managers in this division must be looking at City with a bit of worry. This game attracted the biggest crowd to Maine Road in donkeys years (well 5 to be precise), and the main reason for this was that for the first time this season a visiting team seemed to fill their allocation of tickets (well done Blackburn). Rovers had the better of the opening first 20 minutes, but they certainly didn’t dominate as some Sunday papers would have you believe, City’s defence was more than capable of holding this lot, there was however a good save by Weaver, which he made look easy (how glad are you that he plays for City?).

The rest of Rovers’ chances seem to come from long range efforts that had less chance of beating our super number 1 than if Gandi himself took a free kick from the half way line with an orange (not much chance there then).

Duff was causing Edghill a few problems and our full back took him out and earned himself a yellow, funny how after that Duff was a bit quieter, I feel that along with Bishop and Goater, Edghill is our most improved player this season. I should know because I gave him enough grief, but credit where credit is due (watch him now have a ‘mare in his next game). Granville and Kennedy linked well again, I feel that they are the best left side I’ve seen so far in this division. The goal came with good build up on the left (no surprise there then), with a delightful cross from Kennedy headed in by Edghill (yes that bloke who doesn’t score); well you know that it’s your day when that happens (the FA are apparently leading an investigation into witchcraft and dabbling in the occult by 100’s of City fans after this freak incident at Maine Road). Half time came, City fans were certainly the happier of the two sets of supporters.

The second half kicked off and it was obvious that someone had woke Whitley, he was now his normal self, hustling and bustling anything in a Blackburn shirt, nearly straight away Dickov ran on to a ball played through by Horlock only to (dive) be tripped from behind by Dailly, a suspect penalty for City (the FA witchcraft investigation is ongoing). Horlock stepped up in confident mood and missed. City were now in glorious form, tearing Blackburn apart. Kennedy is truly a class act; if there is a better winger in this division, I have not seen him. City went on to strike the post, don’t know who shot, I think it was Bishop. With a few minutes to go Whitley scored what proved to be the winner with a near post header from a corner by Kennedy. Edghill and Whitley score in one match, City win 2-0 and go top of the league (has Joe sold his soul to a dodgy looking bloke with a reddish complexion, 2 little dodgy horns on his head and a big staff with 3 sharp points?). City went home happy, Blackburn fans went home disillusioned, what a difference a year makes.

Sorry to harp on, I got the bus into Manchester after the game (and a top kebab), and is it just me, a load of Scots were on there slagging off Fenians and Henrik Larrson, sick people. If you are in Manchester, bought the new away kit in the Arndale for a ridiculous £28, it makes sense, save yourself a few quid get yourself down to Soccer Shop.

Walter Smith (


For the first time in two years City was shown on Swedish telly last Saturday, and I have to say they really chose the right game. The first half wasn’t very impressive but we still had the lead at half time and I think that it’s a good sign that we can lead despite not playing well; it was the same story against Birmingham. But the 2nd half was a different story. Pure class! Haven’t seen City play this good in ages (mind you I only see a couple of games a season on telly). I can’t remember Blackburn creating a single chance in the 2nd half. We were dominating so much and my fears when we missed the penalty weren’t necessary. I think the whole team had a good performance in this half. Goater though looked a bit off form but he’s been injured so I’ll give him a couple of games to retain his scoring form. Kennedy, what can I say? He’s a bargain for £1.5m or whatever he cost us. The same has to be said about Morrison.

I would also like to reflect the opinions of the Swedish commentators about the game and City in particular, bearing in mind that they could be seen as people that see City with ‘uncoloured’ eyes. Well, they gave the M.O.T.M. award to Kennedy, of course, with Morrison as the defensively M.O.T.M. They were really impressed with them both. At the start they were referring to Morrison as the somewhat corpulent full back but at the end of the game they were very impressed and said that he hadn’t lost a header during all the game. They were also full of praise for Kennedy, only criticising him for some bad crosses in the first half. Some other individual critic was: Jobson described as an excellent reader of the game, Dickov described as an ‘almost’ player, almost international with Scotland and almost ordinary in Arsenal a couple of years ago. Whitley was criticised for some hard tackling at the start. Weaver was described as a possible England international.

They thought City played a more varying attacking play than Blackburn, who only attacked in the middle. The co-commentator was criticising Kidd for not switching tactics when he saw that Morrisson and Jobson took everything in the middle. All in all they thought the win was deserved, but they weren’t sure that City would last at the top spot all season. They thought however that Blackburn would be thereabouts when the season ended (from this display I can’t figure out why they would be there). Last but not least, the crowd and the atmosphere. They were impressed. They said that they couldn’t hear themselves when City was attacking due to the noise from the crowd. Once when ‘Blue Moon’ started the commentator just went: ‘Listen’.

Finally I would like to give my regards to all TG3’ers and say ‘I wish I was there’, but next year nothing can stop me for attending TG4.

CTID, Patrik Sch