Newsletter #56

We have match reports for the last two games from Martin, the latter being something of a surprise considering the straightjacket in which BH found himself. There’s also the first half of a nice two-part ‘Why Blue’ from Ian Thompson, the next part to follow in the next issue. On the news front we have a rumour of a possible right back as well as another twist in the débâcle which the club call ticket-selling! There’s no midweek match this week so if any of you want to do a ‘Why Blue’ or initiate discussion then now’s a good time.

Next game Norwich City away, Saturday 4th March 1995


MANCHESTER CITY vs IPSWICH, Wednesday 22nd February 1995

Thankfully this was the game that went right for City and they managed to get their first win since early December. The first half won’t be remembered as a classic as both teams seemed to nullify each other. The only highlights came with a couple of Forrest saves, whilst at the other end TC was mainly a spectator. City did have the ball in the net once but Flipper’s goal was ruled out for offside. The other notable events in the first half were when Ipswich had first Slater and then Vaughan carried off (both with damaged knee ligaments) and City had to replace Flipper with Quinn.

The second half started in a much different light and within the first few minutes the supporters were treated to more excitement than the previous 45 minutes put together. City must have had a roasting from Horton because they came out a much more determined team.

The first chance fell to Rösler who somehow managed to head over after Quinn had controlled a cross before knocking the ball back into the centre. Minutes later Rösler did the hard work and crossed to the back post; this time Summerbee’s diving header was superbly tipped over by Forrest. From the resulting corner, Kernaghan’s bullet header was blocked by Forrest and Curle got under the ball and headed over from three yards out. Just as it seemed like City must score, Ipswich managed to re-awaken the old fears. Yallop crossed and Paz headed against the post.

Rösler seemed to win a penalty when he appeared to be brought down by Forrest on the edge of the box. The ref waved play on, which incensed many fans but to be honest, Rösler appeared to make a meal of the foul. I can understand why the penalty wasn’t given but if the ref thought Rösler had dived, why didn’t he book him? With the penalty refusal, would this turn into one of those games where City dominated only to throw it away? Thankfully City continued to hold the upper hand and got the breakthrough in the 68th minute. Rösler flicked on a through ball, which Quinn chased. He took the ball wide and as Forrest came to close him down he still managed to push the ball home from an acute angle.

City still chased the game and went further ahead thanks to Rösler’s 16th goal of the season. Summerbee played a crossfield ball to Beagrie, wide on the left. He cut in (as usual) and unleashed a shot which Forrest could only parry, the rebound falling to Rösler who prodded the ball home. So City had gone 2-0 up in the space of 3 minutes, surely they wouldn’t allow this game to slip through their grasp? Ipswich didn’t lie down and came back into the game. Another header by Paz skimmed the post and Yallop had a free kick saved by Coton. They had threatened briefly but never came back any stronger. City were still pushing and had several chances to go further ahead. Rösler had a good chance but instead of passing to Gaudino who was in a better position, he elected to shoot, and missed. City continued to show signs of some of the old spirit and eventually won the game 2-0, which was a major relief after the previous 10 match run.

Maybe a better team than Ipswich would have beaten City but a win’s a win at this stage of the season. The team played pretty well in the second half but why does it take a kick-up the a*se from Horton at half-time to get them fired up?

Another disappointing point was the number of times Beagrie lost the ball or didn’t get a good cross in; he seems to have gone back into the habit of trying to beat a defender too many times. The good points (besides the three picked up) were Phelan’s and Quinn’s contribution to the game. Are they playing like this because they’re in a shop window?

Martin Ford


MANCHESTER CITY vs LEEDS UNITED, Saturday 25th February 1995

This must rank as one of City’s best performances of the season. The patched up team (consisting of no less than 6 outfield defenders) took the game to Leeds and could so easily have won, if they had taken a fraction of the chances created. My initial reaction to seeing the line-up was one of disappointment; it looked like City were going to try to defend and settle for the point in a home game. It looked like Quinn was going to be a lone striker and he’d have to do all the work. City started with three centre-halves, which allowed the full-backs (Phelan and Ian B) to push up more and support the midfield. The midfield had Buzzer on the right, Dino and Simpson in the middle and Andy Hill seemed to have a floating rôle.

From the start City took the game to Leeds and created the better chances. Unfortunately for City they fell to the wrong players. The Leeds goal seemed to be under a constant bombardment but City just couldn’t get an opening goal. Phelan had a hat-trick of chances to open the scoring. His first chance was a header from no more than 6 yards out that went straight at Lukic. His second chance was a shot, blocked by Lukic (again). The third was the best worked chance; he played a one-two with Quinn(?) on the edge of the box, took the return ball and somehow managed to put his shot over the bar when it looked like he’d easily score.

During the onslaught, Gaudino showed just how good a player he was. City had a corner headed out; as all the players ran out, Dino controlled the ball and flicked it over the advancing defence, ran onto the flick and pushed his volley just wide (It reminded me of the classic Frank Worthington goal for Bolton versus Ipswich, the only difference was that Dino missed 🙁 ).

Leeds just didn’t seem able to get to grips with the game and even when they broke out City snuffed out the threat with ease. So, the teams went in all square. The first half performance was just the tonic that City needed; they had played well and managed to keep Leeds quiet.

The second half was much the same as the first, with City controlling the game and keeping Leeds quiet. In fact if anything Leeds were even less of a threat in the second half then they had been in the first. Once again City created chances that were missed. This time Quinn seemed to be the main culprit. He headed a chance over the bar, one of the first times he’d managed to get free in the box. He also had a volley blocked.

City’s best chance of the game came when Curle went on a run. He ran through on goal and as Lukic came out, he shot. Lukic got a touch but it still looked like the ball was going in; just as we prepared to celebrate the ball hit the inside of the post and rebounded straight into Lukic’s hands. With that miss it looked like being one of those days were City just wouldn’t score. Fortunately Leeds were ineffective up front, so much so that Yeboah was replaced by Deane to try and put some life into the Leeds attack. This still had no effect on City. The final chance of the game fell to Quinn but once again the ball ended up in the crowd behind the goals, as Quinn lifted the ball over the bar.

So City have to look back on this match as 2 points lost, rather than one point gained. City played really well, even with what I regarded as a defensive line-up. It was just unlucky that all the best chances fell to our defenders. I’m sure that if Rösler or Walsh had been playing City would have easily won. I just hope that the team can continue the good work laid down in this match and carry it forward into the difficult games ahead (but knowing how predictably unpredictable City are, I’m sure they’ll make hard work of the games).

Final Score 0-0

Martin Ford


MANCHESTER CITY vs LEEDS UNITED, Saturday 25th February 1995

Taken from The Independent 27/2/95; written by Dave Hadfield; no permission. [My comments in square brackets]

City 0 Leeds 0

How Manchester City made so many chances on Saturday is rather more of a mystery than how they managed to miss them. That the bizarre line-up Brian Horton was forced to field created so many opportunities says a good deal about a Leeds performance that made a mockery of their European pretensions.

Howard Wilkinson was being too kind to his team when he praised their resilience. The only explanation for their escape from Maine Road with a point that moved them up into a flattering sixth place in the Premiership was luck.

Up to, but not including the penalty area, City’s odd formation, featuring Andy Hill in a freeish rôle in front of three centre-backs, five across midfield and Niall Quinn largely left alone, like an abandoned lighthouse[!], up front, functioned surprisingly well. The problem of how Quinn can combine with Paul Walsh and Uwe Rösler is solved when neither of them are [sic] available. City reverted to simply aiming for the lighthouse and hoping to avoid the rocks around it. It was inevitable that a number of Quinn’s nudges and flicks would go into the spaces where a striking partner would have been. A Rösler or a Walsh at a fraction of their usual sharpness [ahem!] would have buried Leeds without trace, making a nonsense of Wilkinson’s claim that there was some merit in their draw.

David Wetherall had a decent tussle with Quinn and John Lukic was there when needed, particularly when he got enough of a fingertip on Curle’s shot to deflect it on to a post. For the rest, anonymity was the order of the day, even in the case of the vaunted Tony Yeboah, who was outshone by his former Eintracht Frankfurt team-mate, Maurizio Gaudino. [You try typing that sentence!] Despite an infuriating casualness that spoils some of his best work, Gaudino showed flashes of real creativity. When he got past Lukic, however, he missed his kick completely. For all that, he remains one of the brighter propsects as City go into the second year of the Francis Lee era. Lee came in on such a tide of popular enthusiasm that it seems churlish to observe that the side is doing rather worse under his chairmanship than under that of Peter Swales, but someone is going to notice soon. [ouch]

[In team-list, City are quoted as having a 3-1-5-1 formation!]

Typed in by: James Nash


Hearts’ right back Stephen Frail is apparently a target for the Blues. Horton and Moss went to see him play against Rangers and are going to put in a bid of around 500K. I’ve never heard of him, does anyone know anything?

Stephen Gaughan


The away match at Everton has been rescheduled for Wednesday 15th March due to Everton’s continuing FA Cup commitments. Tickets go on sale to regular season ticket holders on Wednesday 1st March, priced at twelve and fourteen pounds. Application form HH is required. I believe we are in the Bullens Rd stand (to the right of the old away end) as the new Park End stand is reserved for home fans.

Membership cards will now be required for all remaining home matches this season, including those games for which it had previously been announced that they would not be required.

Paul Howarth


Neil Adshead asked in MCIVTA 55 if any other Blues had followed England abroad. Well I was in Germany for the European Championships in June 1988 and I have to say that my experiences mirror those of Neil. I was travelling with a friend from University (a Bolton fan) and we decided to take in the Championships as part of our holiday that year. We had Inter-Rail passes which effectively provided free rail travel on the public railway networks throughout Europe for a month. England’s three games were to be played in Stuttgart, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt so we decided to camp at a place called Trier, near the border with Luxembourg, which was fairly central between the three cities. As we were well away from each of the cities, travelling in for each match on the day, we had quite a detached view of things, not mingling with most of the other fans.

The first game was on Sunday 12th June against the Republic of Ireland in Stuttgart. There were a lot of fans already on the train when we boarded, both English and Irish, though mainly Irish. Surprisingly, I felt there was little tension between the fans and this continued before, during and after the match as far as I know. I believe that a “supporters’ camp” had been set up in Stuttgart where fans could camp together during the championships. This was apparently a great success, though I never saw it personally. As for the match, Ireland won 1-0 with a goal by Ray Houghton.

The second game was Wednesday 15th June against The Netherlands in Düsseldorf. The Dutch had lost their first game 1-0 to the USSR so neither side could afford to lose this one. When we arrived in Düsseldorf the atmosphere was completely different from the first game; the station was crawling with police and dogs and there was, as they say, “a bit of an atmosphere”. There had been no supporters’ camp in Düsseldorf so many of the English fans had spent the night on the station floor. I was told that at around midnight the previous night, a large group of German youths had descended on the station looking for a fight with the English. They had apparently got what they wanted. The fans were herded onto trams to go to the stadium; when we arrived it was clear that there were about 4 times as many Dutch fans there as there were English; it was a sea of orange. As we tried to enter the small section allocated to England fans we were told that it was already full. Many England fans had obtained tickets from touts and/or other Football Associations but had been allowed into the England pen anyway. We, having tickets from the English FA for the correct part of the ground, were told that we’d have to go in with the Dutch! We were having none of it. After complaining vociferously to the stewards and police, some of us but by no means all of us were allowed into the England pen which was by now very full. There was a good atmosphere during the game, the Dutch fans picking up many of the English songs and singing them back at us. England played quite well, as they had in the first game but the Netherlands were too good for us and ran out 3-1 winners. After the game there was quite a bit of aggro and a number of cars were damaged too, though I didn’t hang about to find out how bad it was.

England were by now as good as out of the competition but we had tickets for the last group match and both semi-finals and were determined to enjoy the rest of the competition. England’s last match was against the USSR in Frankfurt on Saturday 18th June. As you might have expected in those days when the Berlin wall was still up, fans from the Soviet Union were conspicuous by their absence. Nevertheless, there was still a hefty police presence which helped to ensure that the match passed peacefully. England were woeful and the USSR cut through the English defence like a hot knife through butter, eventually winning the game 3-1. The fans began to get on the team’s back, singing “we couldn’t score in a brothel” and generally having a good time taking the mickey out of our own team. I got the impression that the people at this game were much more like “real football fans” than the fans at the other two games, even though there had been no problems inside the stadia.

The first semi-final was in Hamburg on Tuesday 21st June, between the hosts, West Germany and The Netherlands, traditional local rivals. The stadium was a fair way out of town and we arrived early to find loads of Dutch fans surrounding the place. They were in good humour, singing many of the songs they had picked up from the English the previous week. They didn’t seem to have quite grasped one of them though, singing “we only sing when we’re winning”. There were a number of factions there and they were having a go (verbally) at each other too. One memorable chant was “Marco Van Basten is a homosexual” to the tune of Yellow Submarine. When we got into the stadium it became clear that virtually all of the England fans must have sold their tickets to German and Dutch fans since the section we were in (supposedly for England fans) was packed with fans of the two sides. Germany scored first but The Netherlands scored two late goals to progress to the final. I thought there might be some trouble with the mix of fans but there was none.

It was back to Stuttgart the following day for the second semi-final between Italy and the USSR. Unlike the previous day, selling tickets was difficult since there were hardly any Soviet fans around. As a result of this there were a few hundred England “fans” at the game. In line with British national characteristics, they decided to support the underdogs, the Soviet Union. After all, nobody else was going to. The adjoining pen was full of Italians, so this didn’t go down too well. This was only 3 years after the Heysel Stadium disaster and there was certainly no love lost between the two sets of fans. Neither were very happy about being next to each other and there was a barrage of abuse and the occasional missile between them. Although both sides were at fault, the English were definitely the worst and I was sickened by the attitude of many of them. The USSR were 2-0 up and not looking to be in any danger so with five minutes to go we decided it would be wise to leave. To this day, this match is the only one I’ve ever left before it finished, so concerned was I for my own safety.

This one match left such an impression on me of what England “fans” abroad are like (and also the poor relations with the Italians) that I decided not to go to Italy for the World Cup in 1990. It would have been the footballing highlight of my life; the football was excellent (far better IMHO than USA’94, apart from Argentina) and it all passed quite peacefully in the end. There was of course the famous Rimini Incident where, after an alleged riot in a pub, over two hundred English were arrested and deported. These included a man on holiday with his wife who had just gone out from his hotel for some cigarettes and wasn’t in any way connected with the football. The number of fans deported exactly matched the seating capacity of the plane they were sent home in; the plane had been chartered several days before on the orders of the then Miniature for Sport (sic), Colin Moynihan. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

The authorities in England know who the troublemakers are and should be empowered to stop them travelling abroad. They already prevent them from going to matches by making them report to police stations on Saturday afternoons. I feel that England is the best place for Euro’96 and I’m going to give it another try. I’ve already paid for tickets for 13 games (9 group games, two quarter-finals, a semi and the final) though I won’t actually get the tickets from the FA until May next year. We know that English fans can mix peacefully with our European counterparts (just ask any Newcastle fan who was in Bilbao last year – you don’t hear about events like that in the media), so let’s hope that spirit of friendship is the dominant feature next year. I sincerely hope so.

Paul Howarth


In reply to a query mentioned in MCIVTA 55, Richard Edghill has broken his toe. I was speaking to his brother last week and apparently he did it whilst doing weights in his bedroom. I doubt he’ll be available for selection probably for the rest of the season.

Brian Worrall


I guess being born into a blue family has something to do with it. Most of my family, particularly my grandfather, father and uncles were all blue to the core (my old man went to the win over Gornik Zabzre in ’70). Also, having a brother who is a City fanatic probably helped, as we all mostly went to matches together. Having said this, I like to think that if they were all Rags I’d still would have seen that being a Blue is infinitely more desirable then anything those media-made Reds have to offer. The old man bought me and our kid a new City strip every Christmas, even in those good old days when you could buy a kit in the knowledge that it would not be out of date the next season (or the current season if you’re a Rag). I don’t envy the parents of junior Rags; in fact I feel sorry for them and it is nothing short of scandalous the way those marketing-hyped Stretfordians have ripped off their own fans (at least City only do it every other season with each strip) in the knowledge that they’ll be bought in (sad) vast quantities. Anyway, to get back to my point, my decision to truly follow City was made in 1976, courtesy of Dennis Tueart’s overhead kick against the Toon at Wembley and Bobby Stokes’ left foot drive for the Saints later that season, also at Wembley.

The first game I can remember attending at the World Footy Academy was against Stoke City the following season, at the impressionable age of 11. The only thing I can remember about the action on the pitch itself was that it was a 0-0 result and that Mike Doyle, our centre half, appeared to be everywhere, making tackle after tackle at the back and seemingly linking up with the midfield for nearly every attack. What created the most impression though was the atmosphere and the attitude of the City fans – I stood towards the back of the right hand side of the Kippax and I could just about see the game, the areas behind the Kippax roof stanchions excepted of course. The attendance was I think, about 39,000, the chanting and cheering seemed incessant and my decision to follow the Blues was thus made firm. My old man still tells me that he took me and our kid to a few games before this, notably in the Bell/Summerbee/Lee/Marsh era, but strangely enough, the Stoke game is the first one I can personally recount. The only league game before the Stoke one I have any memory of was at Gigg Lane, the home of my hometown team Bury FC, for whom I suppose I have a soft spot (nb I did have a flirtation with the auld enemy Rochdale in the 1979-80 season briefly, but the less said about this the better).

Some of the best memories (see later section) of my teenage years were undoubtedly centred around Manchester City FC, and it seems to me impossible not to look back to those couple of seasons I remember most in the late seventies when we were one of the top teams in the country, when teams actually feared to come to Maine Road. We had some great players – Dave Watson, Gary Owen, Joe Corrigan, Dennis Tueart, Willie ‘I score great own goals for Scotland’ Donachie, Asa Hartford, Peter Barnes (anyone remember those nationally retailed Peter Barnes football trainers, the soccer balls on elastic you used to practice close control!), Ged Keegan – ooops! Let’s not get too carried away, even Brian Kidd and Joe Royle, to name but a few. It’s a shame (and I’ll admit it’s often hard not to) that younger City fans’ memories of such players are often obscured by the mediocrity of players such as Stuart Lee, Bobby Shinton, Paul Sugrue, Gordon Davies, Mike Flanagan, David Johnson, Steve ‘the biggest one million pound plus transfer waste of money ever’ Daley who played his best games at Maine Road in the amber Wolves strip, David Cross, etc. No offence intended, they did wear blue shirts, but did we really expect we were going to win anything with these players, who had been good players in lower divisions but who had probably reached their sell-by date a long time before they came to City. However, Gordon Davies did score probably my all-time favourite goal for City against Watford in the cup at Maine Road in, I think, the 85-86 season – a diving header after a good run down the right from Mark Lillis – I think this was the last time a City player had a goal in the Goal of the Month final?).

It would be interesting (or a good laugh) to obtain the definitive list of playing staff since 1975, can anyone provide one? We supporters of MCFC, of whom I count it a privilege to be one, are unique – I can’t think of any other major (or minor, come to think of it) football club whose supporters have had to live for so long in the shadow and success of their so-called ‘illustrious neighbours’ and who have been so loyal for so little in return. I know Everton went quite a few seasons in the doldrums while their neighbours won just about everything in sight, but they too had their turn in the mid and late eighties with league and cup successes. What have we had? Excuse the griping but we have had to be content with being losing Cup-finalists twice (if you count the Full Members’ Cup) and promotion twice (and heaven knows they almost cocked both these up, leaving it too late when we really should have won the titles) in the eighties, and only a couple of reasonable final league placings in the nineties. Yet we’ve always had the nucleus of 20,000 loyal core supporters since those dark days of the early eighties. I can remember attending home games against the likes of Leeds, Newcastle and Everton when the regular chant was ‘you only get 14,000’ and ‘what’s it like to see a crowd’, etc. City fans have been the most loyal and patient in the country, only to be rewarded with, on the whole, mediocre signings, defeat, disappointment and disillusionment. Let’s hope the current regime can do better; we probably can’t do any worse (but don’t forget this is City we are talking about, the team who find it remarkably easy to defeat the teams you expect them not to one Saturday then lose against the really bad teams the next).

Anyway, please forgive this diversion and I’ll get back to ‘Why Blue’. Me and our kid seemed to be the only City fans in our area of Bury (near the old Benson’s toffee factory where the Aldi supermarket now stands). My best mate supported Chelsea of all teams, and all the others were red scouser lovers (this was during their purple patch of late 70’s), some switching to the Rags depending upon who was winning at the time. This is the sort of background that seems to mould and fashion Junior Blues, in the minority perhaps but loyal to the core, and it certainly was so in our case. In the period 78-83, we attended virtually every home game and most away, until I left Bury in September ’83 to go to uni. in South Wales where I’ve lived ever since. Since living in this football wilderness, I suppose I cannot argue with the fact that I’ve become somewhat of a part time Blue, due mainly to work/family/distance commitments/etc, temporarily broken by a couple of visits to the oasis of soccer, the Academy. I’ll have to be honest and say that many a time I’ve thought ‘right, thats it, I’ve had enough, I cannot take the disappointment any more’ but this usually fades the next morning in anticipation of the next game. e.g. suicidal after losing to the Rags again but this fades when I realise we’ve a big Cup game on Sunday.

To summarise, the answer to ‘Why Blue’ is because it’s in the blood and when you attend your first match you’re smitten for life – very few people I know have ever been blue and jumped ship later in life. I think that being a City supporter is an admission of knowing that your team are unlikely to win anything and that you’re unlikely to care because it’s the club and culture that’s hooked you, not the success on the pitch. Having said this, I still do desperately want to see City win trophies and derby matches. I remember glancing through a history of Manchester United from ’74 to ’94 (not mine may I add but a nephew’s) which started off with a description of Manchester football 20 years previously to this, stating that at the time the Rags were living in the shadows of their more successful neighbours Manchester City and painting a picture very much the reverse of the current one. It’s funny I suppose how history repeats itself in circles, and I’m certain our day will once again come – though it’s unlikely to be until the impending 21st century. Anyway, I look forward to the day when I take my 2 young sons (aged 6 and 20 months respectively) to their first game at the Academy, when they follow in the footsteps of their father and his father before him.

Part two goes out next time around with Ian’s memories of games down the years.

Ian Thompson


Feb 25, 1995   Blackburn       - Norwich          0 - 0
               Coventry        - Leicester        4 - 2
               Crystal_Palace  - Arsenal          0 - 3
               Everton         - Manchester_U     1 - 0
               Ipswich         - Southampton      2 - 1
               Manchester_C    - Leeds            0 - 0
               Newcastle       - Aston_Villa      3 - 1
               Sheffield_W     - Liverpool        1 - 2
               Tottenham       - Wimbledon        1 - 2
               West_Ham        - Chelsea          1 - 2
Feb 26, 1995   Queen's_PR      - Nottingham       1 - 1

Total Feb 26, 1995

Blackburn       30    20   6   4    63  -  26    66
Manchester_U    30    19   6   5    53  -  22    63
Newcastle       29    15   9   5    50  -  31    54
Liverpool       28    14   9   5    48  -  23    51
Nottingham      30    13   8   9    42  -  33    47
Leeds           28    11  10   7    35  -  28    43
Tottenham       28    12   7   9    46  -  40    43
Arsenal         30    10  10  10    35  -  32    40
Sheffield_W     30    10   9  11    39  -  40    39
Wimbledon       29    11   6  12    35  -  50    39
Aston_Villa     31     9  11  11    46  -  45    38
Coventry        30     9  10  11    33  -  47    37
Chelsea         28     9   9  10    37  -  39    36
Norwich         29     9   9  11    27  -  33    36
Manchester_C    29     9   9  11    37  -  44    36
Everton         30     8  10  12    30  -  39    34
Queen's_PR      27     8   8  11    40  -  46    32
Southampton     28     6  13   9    40  -  46    31
Crystal_Palace  29     7   9  13    21  -  31    30
West_Ham        29     8   5  16    27  -  39    29
Ipswich         29     6   5  18    31  -  58    23
Leicester       29     4   8  17    31  -  54    20

With thanks to Riku Soininen


Thanks to Ian, Brian, Martin, Stephan, Paul & James.
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.

Ashley Birch

Newsletter #56