Newsletter #588

Four issues have come and gone in the blink of an eye. It’s been great fun, and it’s shown just what a fantastic job Ashley, Paul and Peter do. Amazing work, thanks guys.

I guess all eyes are on the game on Saturday with City needing to take all points to bring us back into the top two. I’ll be listening with all the ICQ guys as always. Sean.

NOTE: Ashley is back next issue, so all submissions should go to him at

Next game: Charlton at home, Sunday 19th March 2000


Search Goes On After Calderwood Joins Forest

Manchester City’s well-publicised search for a central defender is continuing today. As expected, the latest target, Aston Villa’s Colin Calderwood, opted to join Nottingham Forest. The former Spurs man admitted that the prospect of a longer deal at the City Ground had swung the decision in favour of the Midlands club as he completed a £70,000 move. There’s speculation that Joe Royle may now move for Blackburn’s Craig Short, a man for whom he paid £2.4 million while manager of Everton in 1995. However, new Rovers boss Graeme Souness may be reluctant to sanction any major sales before he’s had the chance to size up the playing staff he’s inherited at Ewood Park.

Skipper to Save Transfer Swoop?

Andy Morrison is back in full training after missing over four months of the season. And if the City skipper does return to action soon, he could save Joe Royle a foray into the transfer market. The Blues have desperately missed Morrison’s leadership qualities in recent weeks. And with statistics showing that City’s defence is far stronger with the captain present, his return would be a massive boost to the club’s promotion hopes. “Morrison is improving and it is a matter of weighing up his possible return against bringing someone in before the deadline,” explained Royle, who also said that he is “not terribly close” to landing an alternative target after losing out on Colin Calderwood.

Gareth Taylor Moves on Loan

Gareth Taylor has moved to QPR on loan. The transfer-listed striker will be making his second temporary move of the season having also had a spell at Port Vale. Taylor has been forced out of the first-team picture by the arrivals of Lee Peacock, Robert Taylor and new loan signing Lee Mills. Ironically, Gerry Francis has admitted he’d have liked to take Mills to Loftus Road, and the Rangers boss was apparently despairing of landing a new front man until the Taylor deal came off. “I honestly can’t say there’s anything on the horizon at the moment that’s either affordable or gettable,” he’d said at the weekend. “We run into the same old problems of no signing fees and the wage structure.”

City Linked With Belgian Defender

City and promotion rivals Ipswich are both being linked with Anderlecht defender Glen de Boeck. The 28-year-old currently plays for Anderlecht but is reportedly keen to move. City have been linked with a host of defenders in recent weeks as manager Joe Royle bids to recapture the air of defensive solidity his team had earlier in the season. However, it’s unclear whether de Boeck would be available immediately or whether any move would have to wait until the end of the season. And even if he could be signed before next week’s transfer deadline, it must be asked whether he’d be prepared to leave his country’s biggest club to come to the Nationwide League rather than the Premiership.

Royle: We Don’t Just Want Defenders

Manchester City were seeking to strengthen their rearguard earlier this week, bidding unsuccessfully for Colin Calderwood. But Joe Royle has now said his next acquisition will not necessarily be a defender. Like most managers, the City boss is a believer in keeping an eye out for any player capable of improving the team. And he cites Lee Mills as an example of an opportunist quality signing in an area which may not have been regarded as a priority. “We never stop looking, we are interested in all positions,” he told the official club website at “And don’t rule us out signing a player for another position before the deadline because if the players I want are available, we will take them.”

Royle Confident Despite Pressure

Joe Royle admits that Manchester City are under pressure as the end of the season nears. But the Blues’ boss is insisting that his side still has an excellent chance of automatic promotion. Although the club has dropped to fourth place in the table recently, a game in hand on Ipswich and Barnsley still means that City’s destiny is in their own hands. And despite intense pressure from the fans and media, Royle is backing his team to go on and claim the prize. “There is pressure at big clubs always,” he admitted. “The bigger the club, the bigger the pressure and that’s the arena we are in. But we have a great chance of going up by right.”

Aussies Call On Tiatto Again

Danny Tiatto has had to juggle club and country commitments this season after establishing himself as a regular in the Australian side. And the City man will be on his travels again later this month. Tiatto returned to Australia in November to play for the Socceroos against Brazil, and then featured in a tournament in Chile and a match in Hungary in February. And his globetrotting will continue, after selection for the squad for a friendly in Czech Republic on March 29. However, the ex-Stoke player won’t miss any matches as a result of the call-up – Tiatto will be available to face West Brom on 25 March and will be back for the trip to Swindon on 1 April.

Mills Sees Promise in Goater Link

Lee Mills already knows how it feels to win promotion to the Premiership. And the striker believes that his combination with Shaun Goater holds the key to ensuring that his Maine Road loan spell culminates in another taste of Division One glory. Mills fired 23 goals last term to take Bradford to the top flight, and he’ll be bidding to get off the mark quickly for the Blues when Charlton visit on Sunday. And he’s confident that he and new strike partner Shaun Goater can fire the goals to make City’s dreams a reality. “Shaun is the senior striker and it is important that he carries on what he has been doing so successfully,” he told reporter Chris Bailey. “I will just adapt my game to fit alongside him. Time will tell but hopefully it will be a great partnership.”

Stockport Game Set for Big-Screen Treatment

City’s forthcoming visit to Stockport will be shown live on a giant screen at Maine Road. The derby clash, in which the Blues are looking to avenge December’s Maine Road defeat by County, takes place next Tuesday, 21 March. The decision ensures a repeat of last May’s showing of the away leg of City’s Division Two play-off against Wigan. On that occasion, over 9,000 fans congregated in the Kippax – more fans than attended Springfield Park for the game itself. This feat won’t be repeated against Stockport, with Edgeley Park sold out, but after receiving a ticket allocation of only 2,000 the Blues will be hoping for another respectable turnout.

Reserves Draw at Stoke

City reserves drew 0-0 at Stoke on Monday in a Pontin’s League Premier Division fixture. The point gained against the section’s bottom club keeps the Blues’ second string top of the table. Craig Russell featured in the City line-up after returning from his loan spell at Oxford, and together with Tommy Wright and Tony Grant lent experience to an otherwise young side. The Blues have lost only once in their last fifteen Pontin’s League fixtures, in contrast to miserable form in the Manchester Senior Cup, where City failed to win any of their six fixtures.

Defeat for Under-17s

City’s under-17 side travelled to Coventry on Tuesday afternoon for an Academy clash. And the visit to the Midlands ended in disappointment with a 2-0 defeat. The Maine Road under-17s have in recent weeks been in fine form, losing only one of their eight previous games before yesterday. However, they came unstuck against a club whose Academy Director is former City coach Richard Money. The Academy league season is now coming to a close, with only two further fixtures before the start of the Academy Cup competition.

Taylor Fitness Hopes Fade

Robert Taylor had hoped to challenge new loan signing Lee Mills for a place in the City attack on Sunday. But the ex-Gillingham man now looks unlikely to be available for the game. Taylor, along with fellow injury victim Lee Crooks, has been at Lilleshall for intensive rehabilitation work this week and it was originally thought the striker could return against league leaders Charlton. However, the 29-year-old’s calf injury has responded more slowly than expected to the treatment and Tuesday’s trip to Stockport is now regarded as a more realistic return date. Crooks, meanwhile, may have to consult a specialist over his troublesome groin injury after failing to last the week at the national sports clinic.

Sunday Line-Up Still Uncertain

City’s line-up for Sunday’s clash against Charlton is still uncertain. Joe Royle may make changes from the start after being forced into half-time reshuffles in City’s last two games. Robert Taylor may have little chance of being fit to challenge Lee Mills for a striking berth but Ian Bishop, Kevin Horlock and Tony Grant will all be hoping for a recall in midfield. Gerard Wiekens or Richard Jobson could stand down if a new defender arrives before the end of the week, although the prospect is looking increasingly unlikely.

Peter Brophy (


Don’t call me Bob – Interview by Mike Barnett with Robert Taylor

Robert was obviously not the only one, along with Carl Asaba, who thought, after he’d scored Gillingham’s second goal, that they were up and in the First Division – so did most of us the away end… come on admit it, you did, didn’t you?! Thought so! Robert’s been somewhat unlucky since he joined us what with all the personal happenings on around him plus trying to get fit and trying to live up to his reputation as a prolific goalscorer. He’s done the business before with Norwich, Exeter, Orient (I must have seen him play for the ‘O’s ’cause I used to live round the corner from the ground and went there if I wasn’t watching City), Brentford and of course Gillingham, although it would appear there is now some bad blood between him and the club. I feel once he can get an extended run in the side (poor lad’s a bit injury prone at the moment) he and “the Goat” can forge a meaningful scoring partnership. Mind you, if Lee Mills does the “biz” then he might have to shift him as well! Having watched Robert’s partnership with the Goat at Forest from behind the goal, I finally appreciated the amount of work the man puts in for both Shaun and the rest of the team. I admit to being a bit dubious at first since, as I sit in the Kippax, you don’t get to see the same build up as you do from behind the goal, but that match changed my opinion of him and I feel he’ll be OK. Just don’t call him Bob!

A cold night in Yorkshire – City’s F.A. Youth Cup match reviewed vs. Bradford

It would appear that Bradford were lucky to get none in this 6-0 drubbing by a rampant young Blues side, the scorers being Rhys Day, Chris Killen (3), Leon Mike & Shaun Phillips – a great performance by all accounts, shame they weren’t able keep it up against Derby.

Two Years In – an in-depth interview with Joe Royle

I know this isn’t quite how Ashley would want me to do this but it’s the only way! To briefly cover some of Joe’s points: he felt that it would have been disappointing if we didn’t finish top six this season; he felt the club’s disciplinary record has improved due, somewhat, to now playing in larger grounds where the crowd isn’t as close to the pitch as in Division 2; he feels squad rotation is now going to be part of all clubs; he feels only promotion will justify the decisions he’s made this season; re Michael Brown and Terry Cooke, he laughs off any ideas of conflict, saying that he has to make the best decisions for the team, not one individual player; he says team spirit is good, citing Robert & Gareth Taylor with their arms round each others’ shoulders sharing a laugh even though RT’s arrival could mean the end of GT’s City career; he called Tony Grant’s signing an indulgence, we didn’t really need him but he’s one for the future; he watches MotD both as a fan and to learn from it; getting to the Premiership motivates him, staying there too and he concludes by saying that we’ve beaten the three relegated teams and the three involved in last season’s play-off’s plus Derby, Wimbledon and Southampton where we played well but were unsuccessful, Leeds where we all learned a lot but to quote Joe “there’s no great gap, believe me. Honestly, there’s nothing to fear but fear itself.” I would echo that last sentence, we’re all getting jittery having lost to QPR and Barnsley (yes I am rather late in my review, sorry!) and you can feel the tension getting to both fans and players. It’s understandable after what we’ve been through in the last few years, and we’ve been helped by the fact that all the teams in positions 2 to 6 in the Division have all had the wheels start to come off over the past month or so. To use a F1 analogy, we just need Chief Mechanic Royle to get ’em back on tightly again aided by his pit crew! Let’s just keep the faith and hope that we can make it to the Premiership. Get behind the boys (whether you like certain players or not and yes I do include myself here although I refuse to go to the lengths that some fans do at matches) and give them all the encouragement and support they need because during these next couple of months, boy are they going to need it!

Saint Bernard

Bernard Halford, our Company Secretary, Ticket Office Supremo and genuinely nice bloke could almost qualify as a member of the 92 club (or should it be renamed after the amount of clubs changing grounds etc!) – he’s done more than me anyway and I’ve managed over 80! He “cut his teeth” at Oldham, even having to ask the players to pinch the soap from away grounds (which reminds me Bernard, are we ever going to get soap in the ladies’ loos in the Kippax? Or will I have to resort to bringing my own?!) as money was so tight. Ken Bates (yes, the Chelsea bloke) took over, restructured the club and Bernard became their Secretary at 24, moving to City in January 1973. It was interesting to read in this article what a transfer actually entails and the amount of work that goes into a transfer – not a 9 to 5 job as most of us do, but a 24/7 job made easier by working for the club you love. Technology has also helped make transfers run more smoothly. Bernard admits that the Wembley ticket fiasco caused a great deal of grief but that lessons have been learned just in case we need it again this time! Please God no!

It’s Julia Speaking – an interview with Joe’s personal assistant

I thought my job was tough with the phone ringing non-stop, problem solving, being a “mother hen” to the 124 clubs I have to deal with until I read what Julia has to do – at least I can escape at 5pm and get home to have a large drink if necessary or a nice long, de-stressing walk but Julia’s job doesn’t stop at 5pm; it can go on much later and she works matchdays as well! Julia mentions the downside as seeing the way players are talked about and how they can be abused. I can vouch for that as I sat next to Julia at the Stockport game (at Edgley Park) the season we took the drop to Division 2, when we were 3-0 down very quickly and fans were shouting “you’re not fit to wear the shirt”. I was silently as upset and disgusted with them as Julia but she jumped up from her seat and had a go at those fans, getting only abuse back from some of them. She did move to another seat further away from them at half time but you could tell how upset she was – her actions did help to stir other fans to shouting the abusers down. As with the team work on the pitch Julia says there is now more teamwork behind the scenes which she feels was brought about by Mr Bernstein which makes her hectic job that much easier.

Browned Off

An interview held with Browny after he’d been transferred to Sheffield United (then the little so ‘n so scores against us! Huh!). I always felt that Browny had to prove himself to every manager he had to serve under and may not have been given a fair crack. He was headstrong in the fact that he got himself booked frequently – I remember being at QPR when he was sent off on his début – but he was never afraid to put himself about. I’ve heard countless stories about his attitude off the park but you can’t believe everything you hear can you? It’s what he does on the pitch that matters. I wish him luck at Sheffield United even though we could have done without him scoring!

Carol Darvill (


Travelling Man – Danny Tiatto

Mike Barnett opens his article on Danny by saying that the last time that DT appeared on the front cover was August 1998 when he didn’t feature in the first team – he now does feature in the team and gets his features on the front! Personally I’m a fan of DT and now that he has got his act together on the disciplinary front and is linking well with Mark Kennedy, I think we’re seeing the real player. I agree with his sentiments that he was a bit of a liability last season but, like Jamie Pollock, he sat down, though things through and came back from Oz last summer a more determined player. The boy gets about as well playing for Australia… back home and also Chile and he’s scheduled in Prague at the end of the month for another tournament! I get knackered negotiating the M60 from Bramhall to Sale every day! And they call the M25 a car park?! I liked his comments about living only ten minutes away from training – not been caught out in bad traffic yet then eh Dan?! Hopefully he can keep his run of good form going so that we can be successful at the end of the season. I didn’t realise until reading the MEN on Monday evening after the Barnsley game that he’d done his own DIY on a dislocated shoulder caused by accidentally clashing with Edgy (get out of his way next time Richard!).

County-ed Out

Mike Barnett gives an in depth review of the Youth Team’s match at the Baseball Ground vs. Derby County in the FA Youth Cup on 2 February, which they lost 1-0 and which sparked off Joe’s now famous comments about women officiating in football. My best mate and I qualified as Class 3 referees in the late 70s, probably making us among the first female refs in this country – both of us have now retired gracefully I hasten to add – but I have to disagree in some ways with Joe. My own personal opinion is that as long as the woman has got a strong character (I hadn’t when I qualified and I did suffer somewhat to the extent I ended up solely running the line as I couldn’t cope – being older and wiser, maybe now I might be more successful) and has earned her place on merit then good for her. It would be a shame if Wendy Toms had been given the linesman position in the Worthington Cup Final purely as a publicity stunt, but she got there on her markings so she obviously deserved it but I digress… City had quite a few chances to score during the first half but were unsuccessful, Chris Killen was booked for kicking the ball away, then in the second half Stephen Hodgson was yellow carded when he berated the female ref’s assistant for her decision in not giving an apparently clear offside. By this indiscretion he gave away an indirect free kick which wasn’t cleared properly and young Adam Isik scored from 20 yards out and City were out. Hopefully the players will learn from the experience as Jim Cassell says in his post match interview. We’ve got a good young team there and they can only get better and better.

Charlie Says

This was a lovely interview by Chris Bailey with 96 year old Charlie Hayes who can fairly claim to be City’s oldest fan. He was presented to the crowd before City’s match with Norwich. Charlie saw Maine Road built and, hopefully he has good health enough to reach 100, he can see Eastlands being built and City move there in 2003/4. Charlie recounts memories of watching Maine Road rise from nothing and also of his favourite players through the years, mentioning Tommy Browell, Max Woosnam, Billy “Spud” Murphy, Jim Goodchild, Eric Brook, Peter Doherty, Colin Bell and Mike Summerbee being his two post war favourites.

Dinner for 750 – the MCFC Official Supporters’ Club 50th Anniversary

As someone who attended this function in my capacity as both Membership Secretary and EC Rep for the London Branch along with Andy Cleaver our Secretary and Julian Cooke our Chairman, yes it was about five months later than scheduled as Mike Barnett points out, but what the heck, I must say it was an excellent evening. The Guest of Honour was the legendary Bert Trautmann, Mrs Nora Mercer also graced the top table with Roy & Kath Clarke, David Bernstein, Alan Galley (the OSC Chairman) and the MC was the ex-referee Neil Midgley who did a fantastic job and took the mickey out of poor Roy all evening! I know concern was expressed afterwards both at the lack of first team players who attended and also those guests who were scheduled to come and who didn’t show at the last minute – our own guest didn’t appear unfortunately but we had Earl Barrett on the same table who was more than happy to chat with us – top bloke! But we tried not to let the disappointment mar a good evening. I have to say it was a great honour to meet Bert Trautmann and shake his hand – the poor man must have suffered somewhat afterwards! Two supporters were made life members, one of them being my old mate Julie Gatley from the Prestwich branch (yes folks there is another Prestwich branch you know!) who was squeaking away with surprise when her name was called out! For once in her life she was speechless! Didn’t last long though! Mind you I had the same feeling when I was presented with my life membership at the Presidents’ Dinner last year – it’s an honour to be recognised for the work you do for your branch. John McDermott, the young Match Magazine Fan of the Year was present along with the young man whose tearful face after relegation at Stoke haunted us for months afterwards. Can I also say a huge thanks and a special well done to Christine Wardle the OSC Social Secretary plus all the rest of the Exec. Committee for all their hard work in making the evening a success. I can’t comment on the disco as I had to hot foot it as my “taxi”, in the shape of my hubby Colin, was waiting outside!

Bert Sproston – Obituary

Gary James wrote a one page obituary on Bert which I feel speaks for itself. RIP Bert.

Turning the airwaves Blue – an article on Radio 5 Live’s Susan Bookbinder

What is it about seeing City for the first time that makes you follow them for life? It happened to me and it happened to Susan who admits to being a third generation Blue, although she feels her career took off after sitting near the Press Box as a child giving her a fascination of what the press were doing. It is true what Bill Shankly said about football being a matter of life and death (sorry I don’t know the correct wording of what he said so I won’t attempt it!) and it was a tragedy that Susan’s grandfather suffered a fatal heart attack at the 1955 Cup Final – Susan jokingly says she thought the same thing might happen at Wembley last year during the penalty shoot-out – I’m sure many of us felt the same ourselves! I’ve got to admit when you hear the 5 Live presenters you don’t think of them having an affiliation to any particular football team but to read that Susan has even read the results in her City shirt brings a whole new aspect to it…. your mind could run riot thinking of Jimmy Armfield in either Blackpool or Leeds shirt and as for Alan Green – living in Macc would he wear a Macc shirt or would it be a rather ‘orrible shade of Red?! Mmmm. Keep up the good work Susan!

Carol Darvill (


I do know that Andy Kerr signed from Partick Thistle for £10,000 during the close season and made his début on 22/8/59, but I believe he was signed prior to the date of your newspaper. On Christmas Eve 1959, he was transferred to Kilmarnock after only 10 appearances. Apart from that I am unaware of any new ‘star’ Scottish players signed during that close season.

Gary James (


I managed to get to see most of the Walsall game. I flew in from San Francisco that morning, picked up a rental car at Heathrow and drove to Maine Road. I arrived a little late and so missed meeting up with Ashley.

Some of my old pals felt that when I would more regularly come home for a visit in the 70s and early 80s I would have a less than positive effect on City. Seems that the same is still true. My first thought at the end of the game was that this was a team that needs at least 7 new players to have any chance of staying in the Premiership. But what is now worrying is whether City have hit a long slide or just a short three week slump. Joe has not come across too well on TV when I have seen him on Sky Sports News over here… please Joe no more nonsense about how the Premier League needs City – I don’t think the Premier League could care less. My main worry at the moment is what will happen if City’s results continue to worsen – we never expected to be doing this well, but now that we are, the thought of not going up is very hard to take.

But that sounds mean natured; what I wanted to say is that it was great to be back at Maine Road after a number of years’ absence. I even ventured into the store – my lord what a change from the old, cramped shop.

So here’s hoping for a return to the form of earlier in the season; all home games won, away games drawn, no goals given up and a return to the Premier as one of the automatic teams. While in Manchester I met up with an old friend from college who has been a season ticket holder at Maine Road for years. He and I agree that as we have lived long enough to see City win the League, FA Cups, European Cup Winners’ Cups etc. we don’t really care if we never see them lift this kind of silverware again… just stay in the Premier League once and for all. Not very ambitious I’ll grant you but first things first.

Keep behind the team – let’s get them to the Premier League and then hope that Joe and everyone else can build a squad that can survive in the top flight.

Best wishes, John Pearson (


I know we’ve been here before but I wanted to reply to Simon Haines’ comments about Edgy and racism. I wasn’t at the QPR game so I can’t comment on that but I was at Barnsley and have been to many other games this season. The reason I get p****d off with Edge (I don’t boo him but I can see why many people do), and I believe this goes for the majority of others, is simply that he makes so many mistakes. For some, it probably is due to the colour of his skin, and if so that’s despicable but the fact is that he does make a disproportionate amount of errors. You’re right that nobody hears shouts against Granville or Bishop – that’s because when they do it’s a rarity and 9 times out of 10 (ish) they make an accurate one. If you were to count a ratio of good:bad passes made by these 3 (hey! maybe I will on Sunday), I’m sure most of us would agree that Edghill would come out most unfavourably. I know he plays with passion – his reaction after scoring at Wembley proved that but that’s not enough: I would play with passion too but I’m crap.

Tom Willis (psc8taw@LEEDS.AC.UK)


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