Manchester City Centenary Supporters’ Association-
Merseyside Branch January 2008 www.mancitymerseyside.com Next Meeting: Tuesday 15th January, 2008
Happy New Year to you all. I hope the Great Bird of Good Fortune has already let drop its blessings on your head, and continues to do so. We enter a possibly seminal year for the Blues - with us nicely placed in the league, the opening of the transfer window (and possible unfreezing of Shinawatra‟s assets after the Thai election!) – it‟s set for us to kick on. We have the chance to establish the foundations for regular European contention. Or continue to tread water amongst the also-rans. Hopefully we can do the former without jeopardising the Club‟s community footing, its responsibility to the fans, or its generally good reputation within the world of football. We‟ve obviously done one piece of business before the official window, with the one-year loan signing of Mexican international forward Nery Castillo, from Shaktar Donetsk. I don‟t know a great deal about him, but that‟s been true of several of Eriksson‟s acquisitions, and they‟ve not done too badly, so we‟ll see. The Ukrainians splashed out £12 or £13 million for him, so the odds are against him being a bit of a duck egg… The pictures I‟ve seen, he‟s fearsomely tattooed, so I‟m guessing he‟s not a big girl‟s blouse. The * vagaries of international clearance mean his first availability will be/is/was the FA Cup tie against West Ham. What might be termed our residential woes continue – the last Branch meeting, for which attendance was pretty much restricted to the hardcore, took place at the Stork in the Horseshoe, rather than a specific room, as promised. Unfortunately the landlady was not present, so we were unable to agree on a course of action for future dates etc, or whether a th change of venue is needed. Consequently, for the January meeting, on the 15 , we‟ll revert to the arrangements that have suited us well until just recently. And see what comes out of that. In anticipation of this being high on the agenda, though, please give some thought as to other suitable locations you may have stumbled across in the past, and also which weekdays best suit. Hope to see as many of you as possible, therefore, 7.30 for 8pm at the Stork in Birkenhead. Steve Mount has provided a couple of photographs from the Christmas bash, and I‟ve posted these on our Branch website. If any others are floating around, then please feel free to send them in, and I‟ll do likewise. Swing by www.mancitymerseyside.com for a shufti. On the basis that it may be of some tangential interest to Members, (and not at all that it‟s a cheap way of filling out the newsletter!), I enclose the minutes of the last CSA meeting. It‟s a matter of some guilt – though not much; let‟s not overplay it! – that it‟s been many years since we‟ve represented ourselves at one of these meetings. Maybe a collective Branch New Year resolution to get to one of them in 2008? Anyway, away we go:
depending on when you read this!
MANCHESTER CITY CENTENARY SUPPORTERS ASSOCIATION COMMITTEE MEETING SATURDAY 15th DECEMBER 2007 THE TOWNLEY 11.00am
PRESENT: Alex Channon, Howard Burr, Dave Peers, Tony Griffiths Reddish & Sierra Leone, Paul Stevenson M40, Gary Brough S.Yorkshire, plus other representatives from S.Yorkshire, Reddish, Swinton, Prestwich & Whitefield and Portadown. APOLOGIES: Anthony Horton, Phil Holme, Bredbury, A34, East Midlands MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING: The minutes were distributed and accepted as a true and accurate record. CHAIRS REPORT: Alex welcomed all present. Thanks were expressed to our Phuket branch for their generous support of the Sierra Leone branch which has enabled the CSA to purchase two of last season‟s kits at a discounted price for our friends in Sierra Leone. Phil Holme is currently visiting Phuket and will be able to pass on our personal thanks to the Phuket branch. George Cuddy of our Red White and Sky Blue Branch in the USA is also working hard to get a shipment of equipment to Sierra Leone. Armani from Sierra Leone is due to arrive in Manchester on Saturday 22/12/07 and is being accommodated by Tony Griffiths and family. The Reddish and Portadown branches are sponsoring Armani to home and away games during his stay in Manchester for the festive season. Any other offers of support/sponsorship of the Sierra Leone branch are invited and welcome. It was mentioned that our friends in Italy have an intended offer of financial support to our Disabled Supporters Branch. Thanks are extended to Renato and friends for this offer. Alex expressed his appreciation that branches are able and willing to support other branches at times. He added that the CSA has limited financial means and would find it difficult if not impossible to support individual branches financially. Alex added that there have been several enquiries for setting up new branches but most of these had been from overseas.
SECRETARY’S REPORT: Howard reported that the CSA page in the match day programme is now in full use and urged that branches continue to send details and contributions to the CSA page. Details of Armani‟s visit and photos of the CSA officers would be put in a programme over the Christmas period. Howard proposed that the name of Committee meeting appeared too formal and maybe off putting to some. It was agreed by the majority present that future meetings be advertised as a CSA Meeting and all are welcome. It is worth reminding all branches and members that all branches and individual members are cordially invited to attend these meetings at The Townley. Subject to confirmation the S.Yorkshire branch will take over the running of the CSA website from the start of next season. Our thanks to Gary Brough for making this offer. The Blackley branch which is one of our founder members and greatest supporters of the CSA are now welcomed into the 21st century. They now have an email address which we hope they will take full advantage of. TREASURERS REPORT: Dave reported that the current CSA balance at the time of this meeting stands at £1,483-18. Several branches had been in touch recently to say membership subscriptions would be forwarded immediately. The chair thanked Dave and Howard for sending reminders to all regarding subscriptions. It was proposed from the floor that the cut off date be brought forwarded from the 31st December each year but all present agreed the present cut off date is the most practical. TICKET OFFICERS REPORT: Anthony in his absence had forwarded his report. He reported that there had been a slight increase for tickets through the CSA and this was probably due to the success of the team on the pitch. Anthony added that any future success in a cup competition would lead to closer scrutinising of tickets supplied to the CSA. The branches that use the ticket facility provided by Anthony are reminded that subscriptions MUST be paid by the end of the year. These branches have been in touch with our treasurer so this should not be an issue. MEMBERSHIP REPORT: At the time of this meeting Phil Holme was on his way to sunnier climes. He had however been good enough to send a brief report. He advised that some branches had sent in details of memberships but many had not. It was felt that some branches may feel reluctant to send in details of individual memberships. If this is the case branches can simply tell Phil how many members they have. The CSA is frequently asked ' how many members have you got'. For both internal and external reasons we don't like to give misleading figures. If you have not already done so would you please send Phil details of your memberships or simply the number of members you have.
DERBY DAY: It was noted very early in the season by our Reddish branch that the date of the next derby game at OT was very close to the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster. This would no doubt be celebrated in some way by the home team and efforts should be made by the CSA and the club to avoid any possible embarrassment to MCFC by a minority of our supporters. The club was immediately contacted with our concerns. The club have been in regular contact with the CSA through the chair with the many proposals on which we can all (MCFC supporters) deal with this issue. All of the CSA proposals have been put to club and all are being considered. The chair expressed a wish that after this season this issue can be put to bed and that future derby games do not clash with anniversaries of this disaster. AOB The chair requested that two positions could be filled by members of the CSA and would also involved greater involvement by you, members of the CSA. The CSA would like to see a nominated person taking responsibility for publicity and we have somebody in mind for this role but that does not preclude others from wishing to take on this role. If there is a scribe out there please offer your services for taking on the role of minutes secretary at our meetings. DATE OF NEXT MEETING: The date of the next meeting has been arranged for Saturday 1st March 1100am at The Townley prior to the home game against Wigan. Finally, on behalf of all the officers of the CSA may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year Minutes taken by Alex Channon
You may have noticed that we did indeed use the CSA programme page a couple of times in the last month. I‟d like to repeat this as often as possible, at the risk of overload, so if you or yours have birthdays, anniversaries, whatever coming up, please let me know, and I‟ll fashion an insert around them. So, we say goodbye to 2007. The year that City got a new owner, a new manager, and new hope. While the United Kingdom got a new Premier, England failed to qualify for Euro 2008, and Kylie hit Doctor Who. Possibly not a vintage year. More of a table wine. But anyway, the top ten City-related moments: 1. City stroll to a victory over Everton at Eastlands on New Year‟s Day. Then fail to register a single league goal in eight subsequent home games. The total tally of ten home league goals is the smallest in league history, in any division. They finish the season costing the fans an average of £46.75 per goal in the league ; City are therefore runaway winners of something in 2006-07! 2. Beany the Wonder Horse. Cruelly robbed in the Player of the Year poll. 3. Pearce is sacked. All the inevitability of death and taxes. Difficult to dislike the bloke on a personal level, but the news was like the lifting of a weight. City fans do not demand success. Vague competence will do. And a modicum of entertainment. 4. Claudio Ranieri will be installed as boss “within days”. 5. Dennis Tueart arranges a clandestine meeting with Graeme Souness to plot the Scot‟s accession. Somewhere, in a parallel universe, this happened!
6. Sam Allardyce is favourite for the hot seat at St. James‟ Park, but is allegedly dithering in the hope that the Ray Ranson buy-out installs him at Eastlands. 7. The takeover lasts foreeeeeeeevvvvvvvveeeeeeeeerrrr. Whilst that at Newcastle goes through smoothly. Ominous? 8. Tony Cascarino in The Times predicts relegation. Sven doesn‟t know anything about English football, and nobody has heard of any of his signings. He guarantees that they will flop. 9. New boss Eriksson‟s hastily-assembled team of kids and unknown foreigners gels immediately in a two-goal victory at the Boleyn Ground. A lumbering Cockney “Irishman” ^ falls very silent . 10. Typical City? The Blues crash out of another Carling Cup quarter-final amidst sky-high levels of anticipation and expectation. It was reported prior to the Tottenham Cup Tie that Eriksson was on the cusp of deciding which of his goalkeepers would remain first choice for the rest of the campaign. Plumping for Joe Hart, this is expected to presage the departure of Andreas Izaaksson, particularly as nd Kaspar Schmeichel will be returning from his loan at Cardiff on January 2 . Sven is at the moment ambivalent about the status of other current loanees – pondering the recall of Ched Evans from Norwich despite the Canaries‟ desire to keep the Welsh Under-21 striker for the rest of the season. No word on Paul Dickov at, remind me, Crystal Palace? Admit it, you‟d forgotten he existed. Equally, silence reigns over Danny Mills, recently sent off for Charlton Athletic. Foul & abusive language. Uncharacteristic, I‟m sure you‟ll agree. More worryingly, Inter Milan are reported to have an interest in Brazilian midfielder Elano. Sven, though, is of the opinion his close relationship with the Italian club‟s manager Roberto Mancini would have given him advanced warning, if that were the case. So much for goods outward. What about post-Christmas presents? Nerys Hughes we‟ve already discussed, and the manager is still hoping for a couple more. In the light of Valeri Bojinov‟s (assumed) imminent return, one might imagine that‟s it for the forward line, but I‟d be happy with a ball-winning midfielder, if Izaaksson departs, a third goalkeeper is needed. I cannot seeing that being Jens Lehmann, though, despite the paper talk. Why would a player * so notoriously grouchy at playing second fiddle swap one bench for another? Makes no sense. Which isn‟t to say it won’t happen! Now, I‟ll level with you all here. I‟m not being deliberately obtuse, and dismissive of anything that may have happened over Christmas and New Year – it‟s just I‟ve started composing this particular epistle on a slow (very slow) Christmas Eve. So apologies if anything I‟ve said has been overtaken by events. We could have lost every seasonal game 9-0. And snapped up Dean Windass for £8 million. Anything‟s possible in the crazy world of Manchester City. If you‟re especially keen to be bang up-to-date, and on the money, then follow the snake over to page 6, and onwards, where you have my personal guarantee that every word has been penned in 2008. Apart from the credits!
except he continued to have a pop at every slight setback for the next couple of months, until November when he muttered something about „humble pie‟! Next off the Christmas card list was Mark Lawrenson… * grouchy about everything, if we‟re honest.
Well, then …. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! In the time it‟s taken to turn the page, City have played two successive home fixtures. My, how time does fly! The Blues enter 2008 with their unbeaten league home record intact, albeit the momentum of eight successive home wins having stalled. So, what to make of the Blackburn and Liverpool draws? First observation – last year, we‟d probably have lost both of „em. Blackburn are a tough, unremitting outfit, the likes of which we perenially find difficult, and we‟ve had very little change out of Liverpool, even when we‟ve deserved to. So, that‟s all to the good. Home to Rovers, City should have been out of sight at half-time. Petrov was on fire, and goodness knows how Bianchi missed his cutback early on. The Bulgarian had the beating of full-back Kizhanishvili, a fact recognised by Blackburn boss Mark Hughes, who hauled him off at half-time. Darius Vassell, and a Ryan Nelsen own goal stemmed from succesful conversions of inch-perfect deliveries from the Bulgar. City were totally dominant, but Blackburn clawed themselves back into contention from a free kick needlessly conceded by Micah Richards. This stupidly played into the opposition‟s hands – set pieces and robust defending are their stock-in-trade – no fancy fannying about in midfield for Sparky. This brutalism, allied to a cynical haul of fouls and shirt-tugging, blithely and routinely ignored by „referee‟ Howard Webb, disrupted any rhythm City tried to orchestrate, and a second equaliser always seemed likely. What no one could conceive was just how contentious it proved to be. Granted, City fell asleep at the taking of the corner, and the marking was poor, but the raising of the linesman‟s flag signalled a chalking off of Roque Santa Cruz‟ stooping header. But no, a rethink, and Dunn‟s standing by the goalkeeper, whilst manifestly jumping for the cross, was judged not to be „active‟. Balls! And a craven response to the Rovers‟ players haranguing of the assistant after the initial disallowing. A team cast in their manager‟s image. A horrible bunch of shits. Ah well, 2-2, the 100% record was gone, and in a curious fashion, with the increasing concern over the maintenance of this proud achievement gone, it felt strangely liberating. Eventually. So, to the Scousers; the team with whom we‟d been alternating fourth spot in the table over the last few weeks. It was our chance to reclaim this spot for the New Year. The intimations derived from Eriksson‟s team selection seemed ominous – Vassell the lone frontman. In the absence of the lumbering Hyppia, it didn‟t seem as if his undoubted asset – pace – would be especially helpful. The maintenance of Onouha at full-back, leaving Corluka in midfield was also curious. Sure, we‟ve had to reshuffle in the absence of Michael Johnson, but my call would have been not to disrupt the back four, and stick Michael Ball in there. But what do I know? My first reaction, though, and one I‟m (obviously!) sticking to, was that here was a team set up to play for a draw. Give Eriksson credit – what he sets out to do, he usually achieves. A Richard Dunne free header might have given the Blues an early advantage, but City chances were at a premium all the game. For all their possession, though, Liverpool scarcely seriously tested Joe Hart, and while the last quarter of an hour saw City pinned back, at no stage did it feel like the opposition were likely to score. Richards and Dunne were immense, and the latter played the undeniably classy Fernando Torres as well as anybody this season. In midfield “Charlie” Corluka ran himself into the ground for the cause, and while the anonymity of Ireland and Elano was a concern, a hard-earned point was definitely merited. Steven Gerrard was not quite the withdrawn figure he appears against the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United, but neither did he ever really hurt City. Perhaps he really is the flat track bully derided by his critics. Perhaps City now are almost a big team?!! Good to see the papers unanimous in their praise for Dunne‟s contribution in particular. Whatever the circumstances, the big man seems a rock of constancy, and this was very much needed in a team that overall, looked a little jaded. Perhaps even the simple fact of playing 24 hours later than their opponents became important, such is the margin between success and failure in a competitive Premiership. The boy Dunne good, indeed.
I can‟t be especially prolix about the Newcastle away game – because I didn‟t witness it at first hand. Perhaps Liam will fill in the gaps at the next meeting. Always assuming he survived New Year in the Bigg Market! The recent trend for City to have to play catch-up was again in evidence. Previous day victories for Everton and Aston Villa had seen the Blues fall from the European places for the first time in ages. A point from this game in hand, though, would be enough to restore them to fifth place. And a win might inch Sam Allardyce closer to the trapdoor. In the event, another resolute defensive performance, allied to a few devastating attacking sallies delivered a superlative 2-0 away victory, with goals in respective halves by Elano and Fernandes (or Gelson, or whatever he calls himself this week). After a few weeks of nondescript performances, Eriksson had been tempted to relegate the Brazilian to the bench, but instead decided to persevere, in the hope the midfielder would play his way through this trough in form. And was amply rewarded by a vastly-improved display, and a crisply-taken opening goal. The second could also be hailed as a managerial miracle, lashed home by the Swiss youngster mere seconds after taking the field. The evening soon became even better when it subsequently emerged that Liverpool had been held at Anfield by lowly Wigan, with a belter of a goal from the deft boot (!) of Titus Bramble. City had, therefore, regained fourth place, and the last Champions League place, prior to the break for FA Cup duties. In the light of recent results, I offer my unreserved apologies. Caught up in a wave of unrealistic expectation and optimism, I‟d proffered the suggestion in Newsletters passim, that City would be safe by Christmas. With that three points at St. James‟ Park, the Blues reached nd 39 (surely enough), but it took until 2 January. I hereby renounce my claim to accede to the throne of Delphi…. So we now take a breather for the third round of the FA Cup, and a return to the Boleyn Ground, home of City‟s only previous league victory in those balmy days of August. In that ridiculous happenstance that often bedevils the fixture list, our next game at home will also see City face West Ham United. Which of these two games is the most important? Hmm, tricky…
Ticket news: Home: West Ham Arsenal Sunday 20 Jan 1600hrs; category B, available now nd Saturday 2 Feb 1245 hrs; category B; Citycard available now; th general sale from 7 Jan Saturday 12 Jan 1500 hrs; Adults £28-£31 available now th Tuesday 29 Jan 1945 hrs; Adults £29. 2,700 loyalty points from 7/1; 2,500 loyalty points from 9/1; any Seasoncard from 11/1; Citycard from 16/1; general from 21/1
Away: Everton Derby County
As is our newly-established custom, a quick waltz now through some important dates in City history, for the month of January. See how many of these you recall: 1 (1934)
8 (1994) 16 (1965)
City‟s record home defeat, 7-2 by West Bromwich Albion. The Blues led 2-0 at half time! In fairness, soon after the interval, City‟s Jackie Bray was stretchered off, leaving the side a man short. A Kare Ingebritsen hat-trick, as City beat Leicester 4-1 in a third round FA Cup tie. The fourth goal was an Alan Kernaghan howitzer. A strange day. 8,015 turn up for a 2-1 League defeat by Swindon Town. City‟s lowest ever League attendance. In later years, around 75,000 people claim to have been there.
17 (1948) 19 (1991)
23 (1926) th 28 (1961)
The highest ever League attendance record is achieved at Maine Road. City do not play. Instead, 83,260 watch Man United v Arsenal. Sheffield United‟s Vinnie Jones is booked after five seconds for a foul on Peter Reid. His second yellow arrives an interminable fifty-five minutes later, for an infringement on the same player. The biggest Manchester derby victory ever, City triumphing 6-1. The infamous abandoned Cup tie, called off with City leading Luton 6-2, all six scored by Denis Law. As we all know, City lost the replayed game 3-1, but the Scot did notch the club‟s goal here, as well. City destroy Reading 7-0 in a third round FA Cup tie at Elm Park. The tannoy announcer acclaims the Blues: “Ladies and Gentlemen, you have just seen one of the greatest teams England has produced in a long time”.
Nobody in yet on the playing front, but City have kept Danny Mills off the payroll for a little while – as his loan spell at Charlton expires, he is to move to basement club Derby, and will stay with the Rams until the end of the season, and the inevitable relegation. He‟s not gone yet, but all expectation is that Andreas Izaksson will leave the club in the transfer window. Ever since Sven has confirmed that Joe Hart has won the battle to be No. 1, it‟s been virtually certain that the Swedish international would seek a challenge elsewhere. Now there is an intimation of interest from Turkish giants Galatasaray. Kasper Schmeichel has returned early from his loan spell at Cardiff, presumably to act as the acknowledged back-up goalkeeper. Scuttlebutt has it that new Birmingham manager Alex McLeish is on the verge of offering around £2 million for Greek striker Georgios Samaras. The soi-disant „uncut diamond‟ has fallen so far down the pecking order he‟s forgotten what a chicken looks like, and while this means accepting a substantial loss on the amount laid out to previous club Hereenveen, one must feel that it‟s a good deal all round.
LATE NEWS Another clean sheet, at West Ham, where contrary to Match of the Day, the print media broadly supports the idea that City had the upper hand in Saturday‟s goalless draw. No such diversity of opinion regarding the fact that City should have had a first-half penalty when Martin Petrov was felled in the box. Our old mate Rob Styles turned this down flat. I know the memory can cheat, but right now, are refereeing standards at their absolute nadir? We‟ve certainly been shafted in a big way several times in the last few weeks. Don‟ t tell me it‟s just paranoia. Anyway, there‟s now a replay to shoehorn into the schedules, on Wednesday January 16th. th th Seasoncard holders can purchase their own seat on Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 January. th Then, on sale to Citycard holders from Wednesday 9 , and Accesscard/General sale from th Thursday 10 . Seasoncard holders pay £10 in advance, £15 on the day, which is the general price for all other tickets. To finish off, (admit it, you got worried!), we have our monthly reveille from Chairman Tony Ralls, as he welcomes in 2008 for us.
Well, it‟s that time of year – I am called upon to wish you and yours the very best – which I therefore do! May the year bring for you all that you wish, love, happiness, laughter, success and good fortune in abundance. Which is likely what we wish our team! Which of us would have believed, back in July/August, that at the turn of the year we would be in fourth place in the League Table. Incredible, unbelievable, but true – that‟s where we are. It‟s too early in the year – the window – for me to comment on new signings but Mr Sven did tell me, via Sky, as recently as last night, that there would be a BIG signing – and I think he was talking striker – do you fancy a 7‟6” goal-scoring machine? – And I don‟t mean Crouch! Anyway, if we do sign somebody capable of being called BIG, then, „Wow‟, „Look out‟, „Here we come‟.
I still think we need a quality ball-winning, football-playing, mid-field Maestro – but what do I know? I didn‟t think we‟d be in fourth position on 02.01.08, so the answer to my rhetorical is „Not a lot‟; if indeed, „rhetorical‟ deserves a response. Certainly the war chest seems to be overflowing and it may well be that, with additional talent, we shall finish the season as highly-placed as we finished the old year. We are having a little difficulty retaining our privileged meeting room at The Stork, which I gather will not be available to us for the next three months – at least, on the third Tuesday. There will be confirmation elsewhere in this Newsletter of our next meeting on the fifteenth – if any of you have alternative venue ideas, please bring them with you. It‟s just possible that a change of date might be the solution to our staying with The Stork, which, to be fair, has been a very acceptable location and has treated us well. The ball is in your court, dear reader – tell Garry, tell me, what you feel, what you want. The Christmas Dinner was – I think – a great success, despite the last-minute anxieties concerning the price of liquid refreshment, which turned out to be in accord with earlier promises made and, therefore, was most acceptable. I thought the food very enjoyable and the privacy afforded by an almost exclusive-to-us location very comfortable and I would like to think that you would be prepared to repeat the experience nearly twelve months hence. A cheque for £174 was delivered to Claire House and I had hoped to signal their appreciation in this Newsletter – maybe February, eh? If you have any thoughts as to how we might improve our Christmas Dinner, don‟t be shy, come forth, speak out – I‟m seldom upset by constructive thought. I guess most of you will read „King of the Kippax’, and I must record my appreciation of Dave‟s message of condolence to our Lady President and her family – a very appropriate comment, David, thank you. One more point, and we‟re safe, comrades! Wow! I repeat my opening wishes for you and yours for this just-beginning New Year, and add, simply, that much kindness to elderly persons is rewarding.
Contact details: Secretary / Newsletter:
Garry Bradbury, 30 Oceanic Road, Old Swan, Liverpool. L13 1BP 0151 259 7720 / 07526 209702 / Tony Ralls, 7 Flowermead Close, Meols, Wirral. CH47 7BY
0151 632 5068 / 07803 162797 / Anthony.email@example.com
GBTimelord@blueyonder.co.uk / Newsletter@mancitymerseyside.com
Paul Sullivan would like to extend condolences, on behalf of himself and the Merseyside Branch, to the family of John Glynn who died tragically on New Year's Day. John was a good City fan, a steward at The City of Manchester Stadium, and as nice a man as you could wish to meet.