Saturday, 26 January 2008 Dunne article

FFC columnist Emily Brobyn takes a look at her beloved Manchester City's own Richard Dunne and wonders if he is the most underrated defender within the Premiership?

Maybe it is his somewhat stocky build. Maybe it is his decision to keep his private life absolutely private. Or maybe it is that other team-mates hog the limelight so much that he just shrugs and gets on quietly with his job. But Manchester City and Republic of Ireland defender Richard Dunne must be doing something right- he has won the title of City's Player of the Year an incredible three times in a row and regularly delivers match-winning performances. It's about time Dunne received the praise he so rightly deserves.

Dunne started his career at Irish club Home Farm, an Irish Premier League club that has links with Everton as a sort of feeding ground for young talent, and he was the first player to come over to England through their set-up. On his arrival, in 1994, he went on to become the youngest play to play a first team match at Goodison Park, when Joe Royle started Dunne in an F.A. Cup tie against Swindon at the age of 17.

Dunne enjoyed a successful period at Everton, notching up 81 appearances in four seasons at the club. As a defender he displayed maturity beyond his years, delivering reliable, disciplined performances every week. But he was struggling with his weight and at the time enjoyed the social scene that came with being a footballer. He was fined two weeks wages for missing the first training session of the new Millennium, in 2000, and his relationship with Walter Smith soured as a result of this. Despite this, his transfer to Manchester City came as somewhat of a surprise to Toffee fans.

At the time, rumours were circulating that the reason he was sold by then-Everton manager Smith was that he made a joke on the return from a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Bristol Rovers in the League Cup. Whether this is true or not remains irrelevant. He signed for City in October 2000 for £3 million by the same manager who gave him his first professional contract- Joe Royle.

Dunne's City debut took place at the Dell, the former home of Southampton, in a 2-0 away win. He immediately formed a defensive partnership with Steve Howey and worked hard to establish himself. However he faced constant battles with his weight and his exhuberent lifestyle, and in the 2002/03 season arrived at a training session in a 'dishevelled state'. At the time, manager Kevin Keegan did consider terminating his contract, but instead offered to help him overcome his problems. He was sent home- and returned to the squad a couple of months later following an intensive training schedule.

But it was the 2003/04 season that seemed to be the breakthrough for Dunne. He worked hard to improve his fitness levels and forced his way into the City side. By January he was a regular in the first team and developed an instant rapport with fellow defender Sylvain Distin. City fans were certainly impressed with his efforts- despite the odd blooper Dunne was commanding the back line with consistent displays. He had put the considerable effort in to make himself fit and had put his partying ways behind him- and was being rewarded for his efforts.

Since then, Dunne has proved to be a superb, consistent centre back. His blocking, tackling and movement is phenomenal; he has learned to use his deceptive stocky build to his advantage as opposition strikers remain shocked at the pace he possesses. Since Distin's departure he has forged a new partnership with Micah Richards - and together the two look unstoppable. He scored a thunderbolt left-footed strike against Charlton in February 2006 that endeared him to the fans even more. I have met Dunne a couple of times and what struck me was how shy and modest he remains, despite his success and popularity.

Dunne is a worthy captain and regularly contributes match-winning performances, through crucial tackles and successful man-marking. His never-say-die attitude has made him one of City fan's most popular players in the sky blue shirt. He thrives in the ever-competitive derby games with neighbours Manchester United; acting as a warrior, acquiring numerous 'war wounds' during battle. He has also enjoyed a successful international career, earning 39 caps and scoring 5 goals since his debut in 1998.

So what next for the 28 year-old Republic of Ireland international? Reports are contrasting: some say that Dunne is stalling on his contract, and that former manager Keegan is ready to swoop in to take him to the North East. But others state that Eriksson is ready to offer Dunne £45,000 a week four-year deal, rewarding Dunne's loyalty and performances. Whatever the outcome, it is certain that Eriksson would be foolish to let him go- and would struggle to find a replacement of the same quality. Women in Football article


FFC Emily Brobyn looks at the percieved role of women in the modern game and challenges men everywhere to look beyond the WAG culture and see there are some genuine female fans.

Football has evolved dramatically over the years. It is more of a business than ever and is regarded as the nation's favourite sport. The wages that footballers earn these days provide their 'bling-tastic' lifestyle and programmes like Dream Team and Footballers' Wives only highlight the image and perception that football has never been so glamorous and provocative.

The likes of Victoria Beckham, Coleen McLoughlin and Danielle Lloyd have attracted the female generation to the beautiful game albeit for the wrong reasons. We are in the day and age of easy fame and these young and easily-influenced women who grace glossy magazine covers seem to view footballers as an easy route to notoriety.

Danielle Lloyd's stint on Celebrity Big Brother only seemed to boost her popularity and she has kept in the spotlight since by dating both Marcus Bent and current beau Jermaine Defoe. Is it a mere coincidence that most of her boyfriends are professional footballers who earn thousands of pounds a week? Perhaps, though just sleeping with a footballer these days can result in a lucrative kiss-and-tell deal with a Sunday tabloid.

However, not all WAGs set a bad example. Louise Redknapp, wife of former Liverpool star Jamie, tends to shy away from the publicity and limelight in favour of a quieter life. There are dozens of women who are married to Premier League stars yet they opt to live an anonymous life, even though they still live the glitzy lifestyle.

But it is the WAG wannabes who d[beep] themselves over Premier League stars all for the sake of designer handbags and column inches that make it all the more harder for females who have a genuine passion and knowledge of football to be taken seriously
The recent alledged events at Man United's Christmas party and other alleged scandals have done nothing to improve the reputation of women and football. It is an automatic assumption from the majority of males that if you are a woman watching football, you are merely there to peruse through the 'talent' on show; to ogle the players in shorts, making it all the more harder to be respected and to prove that you are serious about the sport.

Football has always been a sport dominated by men. It grew in popularity in the Industrial Revolution when working-class men began to fill their mundane Saturdays watching at local football matches. During this time it was viewed that a woman's role was in the kitchen and looking after the children.

It has only been in the past couple of decades that the number of females at football has steadily increased. The violence and thuggery in the late 1970's and 1980's and its hooligan culture made football terraces a dangerous place to be.Ironically, it was a woman at the time, Margaret Thatcher, who enforced Acts like the 1989 Football Spectators Act in an attempt to clamp down on the widespread disorder. The Hillsborough disaster and the following Taylor Report made most terraces in England a thing of the past making football a safer place to be and attracting families to visit (whether that be wrong or right).

The role of women in football was on the increase too. Karen Brady became the managing director of Birmingham City and was in fact the first female managing director of a PLC. Although a WAG herself (she is married to Paul Peschisolado), Brady took over the reins at St Andrews in March 1993 at the age of 23 and remains at the helm now. She is the epitome of a modern-day businesswoman, managing her job with raising a family.

Helen Chamberlain is another female who has set a great example of how women can love football just as much as men. Her role on Soccer AM began in 1995 and has since made her a dream wife for the majority of men, as well as a role model for women who are trying to break into the industry. She can discuss the game and is fully knowledgeable of the sport. Helen is a true ladette who men seem to accept as 'one of them'.

After Chamberlain, a flurry of female presenters graced the sporting schedules, most famously Kirsty Gallagher, Clare Tomlinson, Georgie Thompson and of course, Gabby Logan. Logan recently achieved a milestone for women in the field- the first woman to ever front Match of the Day. A small step for man, a giant leap for woman kind, indeed.

Inevitably, with this kind of achievement comes a downside. Jacqui Oatley became the first female commentator to feature on the same show, in the 2006/07 season. Her appearance was greeted with a tirade of abuse and negative feedback from viewers who seemed shocked and appalled to hear a feminine voice talking about off-sides and tackling. Dozens of anti-Oatley groups were set up on the social networking site Facebook and petitions were raised for the BBC in an attempt to get Oatley off the show.

Why? What is wrong with a woman commentating on a football match? Why is it acceptable for Gabby Logan to front the show (albeit occasionally) but not acceptable for Jacqui Oatley to commentate? I am not judging her on her abilities, merely on the fact that she is female and the reaction that has come from her gender.

The Facebook groups are bombarded with comments like 'get back to the kitchen' and 'it is just not right, a woman commentating isn't right', but there is no le[beep]imate reason why Oatley shouldn't feature in the show. She no longer does, but is a regular on BBC Radio Five Live.

Football is a sport that is male-dominated, but in 2008 it is unacceptable that sexism should have any place in sport. I have never heard any complaints from men regarding Georgie Thompson presenting...that wouldn't have anything to do with her looks now, would it?

It remains to be seen whether women will ever be accepted and have their rightful place within the football world and whether men will actually ever open their mind to that possibility. Sven article

FanCast columnist Emily Brobyn looks at the impact Sven Goran-Eriksson has had at her beloved Man City and feels that after the shambles of Stuart Pearce's reign, that City fans have every right to feel optimistic for the future.

It's safe to say that Manchester City have never been the most consistent of teams. For many years they have been the bane of many people's jokes, the yo-yo side who couldn't establish themselves in one particular league for the duration of more than one season and who have had more managers than Jodie Marsh has had men.

So the 2007/08 season so far must have come as somewhat of a pleasant surprise for the long-suffering City faithful. The best start to a season ever in the blue half of Manchester has took everybody by surprise; Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer have described them on Match of the Day as the 'surprise package' and rightly so. The likes of Ipswich, Bolton, Wigan and Reading have all enjoyed seasons of being the Premier League's surprise package and as a result went on to enjoy varied success in Europe.

It could have been a very different story for City though. After a decent start to the 2006/07 season, their form plummeted after New Year and City found themselves lurking dangerously close to the bottom, with relegation form. Goals were more than hard to come by, attendances were down and confidence was at an all-time low. It seemed that Stuart 'Psycho' Pearce had run out of ideas, and both the fans and players had lost confidence in the manager. So why then did he decide to take on the England under 21 manager's job role, as well as his position at Eastlands?
Pearce had originally joined City as a player-coach in the Keegan era in 2001. He retired in 2003 and stayed on at City, but his big managerial break came in March 2005 when Keegan was sacked after a poor run of form. Pearce was definitely the fan's favourite: although he was inexperienced, his 'hard man' reputation left fans with no doubt of his motivational potential in the dressing room.

In his first months in charge, Pearce enjoyed an enviable run of form, stringing together a nine match unbeaten run and narrowly missing out on UEFA Cup football by literally the kick of a ball (Robbie Fowler's penalty miss). But eventually being passionate and having limited experience can only take a team so far. City's 2005/06 season ended in them scraping a lowly 17th finish, add to that City's lack of financial support (for Pearce to spend £6 million on Georgio Samaras is unacceptable. I watched him at the training ground once and in an hour's striking session he didn't score once), it really was no wonder that the Blues nose dived in the Premier League.

What Pearce did do well was encourage City's academy players to take the step up into first team football and integrate them well with more established players. The likes of Micah Richards, Ishmael Miller and Stephen Ireland all emerged through Pearce, and he was also preparing midfielder Michael Johnson to join them.

At the end of the 2006/07 season City finished 14th in the Premier League. It was yet another nail-biting close to the season, with City playing unorganised, scrappy football and Pearce playing long-ball with two of the most out of form strikers in the league, Samaras and Vassell. The general opinion amongst fans was that Pearce had to go- he had completely run out of ideas. City had scored no goals at home in the league in 2007, and 10 home goals in the entire season was the worst record ever. It came as no surprise when Pearce was sacked- it was to be the dawn of a new era.

Rumours had been circulating for some time regarding a potential take-over at Eastlands. So when it was confirmed that Thaksin Shinawatra had injected a rumoured £80 million into the club, the hype turned to who Pearce's replacement would be. Psycho's successor couldn't have been more different.

The appointment of Sven-Goran Eriksson was a real coup for City: many people were surprised to see him return to English management so quickly after the national team debacle. Also, many people let his performance in that job, plus the media's perception of the Swede, cloud his credentials. Sven's glittering domestic record spoke for itself; Lazio, Benfica, Roma and Sampdoria all had trophies in their cabinets thanks to Sven. It was quite a change from Psycho and his maiden voyage.

Like I said, Sven was poles apart from Pearce. Pearce was the Lionheart: brimming with passion and pride, tenacious and eccentric and haphazard in his tactics (who remembers him playing David James up front- stroke of genius or just plain bonkers?). Sven on the other hand is the Iceman: he can read the game, has superb tactical awareness that allows his teams to play fluid, attractive football. His persona demands respect and his name, along with Shinawatra's millions enables him to attract top class talent.

Another clear difference in the change of management is their private lives. Pearce is very much a family man whose time away from work is spent safely behind closed doors. Sven' in stark contrast is played out very much in the media spotlight. His exploits have earned him a 'ladies' man' reputation with his every move being publicised, whether it be with females or meeting up with 'fake sheikhs'.

But both have enjoyed their success in quite contrasting ways. Pearce made himself a household name through being a highly successful club and country defender, spending considerable time at Forest and West Ham. His time in management has been minimal so far therefore he must learn the trade and gain in experiences so far. However, Sven's playing career was cut short by a knee injury at the age of 27, from which he decided to go into club management and has never looked back since.

Sven has got City playing football again; he has included the younger players (Richards, Ireland, Johnson) in amongst the new (Elano, Geovanni, Corluka) and established (Dunne, Hamann) players to create a unit that is defensively strong and somewhat creative and ingenuous. He will be the first to admit that he needs to bolster the Blue's striking options, but the result has been one-touch, sublime football rarely seen at City. Gone are the days where it takes a player in a blue shirt 20 yards to control a ball- well, they hope anyway.

It seems that fortunes and times are changing in the blue half of Manchester- could all those years of hurt set to finally be rewarded? City are sitting pretty in the top half of the league at the moment and fans have even seen Sven get a little 'Psycho' every now and again on the touch line. It remains to be seen if the Iceman's touch can make City hot favourites for a ticket to Europe this season but get your passports out, just in case. Joey Barton article


New FanCast columnist Emily Brobyn looks back at Joey Barton's Man City career and wonders whether the controversial midfielder can rediscover his form at Newcastle and banish his demons, once and for all.

When you hear the name Joey Barton
, what is the first thing that you think of? Controversy? Bully? Arrogance? Or perhaps you are one of the minorities that considers Barton to be a misunderstood, reformed character. That he has merely been portrayed by the media as a pantomime villain. Either way, Barton's reputation most definitely precedes him.

Hailing from the notorious Huyton district outside Liverpool, Barton
spent his youth playing football with his friends before turning out for local non-league teams. He persisted with his dream and his determination paid off when Everton, the team that he supported as a child, signed him to their academy. However his stay at Goodison Park was short-lived and he was released, only for Manchester City to snap him up.

Back in 2002 City was crying out for a passi
onate, stubborn midfielder who wouldn't shy away from tackling and could control the engine room with grit and flair. The fancy frolics of ageing Benarbia and Berkovic had a limited shelf life and new talent had to be lined up to consolidate then-manager Keegan's Premier League status. For Barton it was a case of right place, right time. He was about to be rocketed from lurking in the shadows to centre stage, making his debut at the Reebok Stadium and scoring his first goal at White Hart Lane.

Not that his new-found Premier League status had affected him.When I met Barton at a pre-season 2003/04 player's dinner he emerged with the rest of the first team in a t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms- as a pose to the rest who had made the effort in their finest designer smart casual. He was the epitome of ‘chav chic' and looked like a fish out of water all night- the Huyton youth who had struck gold. He was typically blunt in his approach to the situation (‘I didn't know what to expect tonight- no [beep] told me about the dress code') and obviously had a lot to learn about how to behave off the pitch.

I put this down to sheer naivety. He blatantly didn't want to be at the event, but he could have conducted himself in a more professional manner instead of sitting slouched playing with his phone for the majority of the night, instead of mingling and adhering to his job status as Premier League footballer and role model.
The following two seasons, 2003/04 and 2004/05, were full of education and progress for Barton
. He began to show true potential and this, coupled with his grit, determination and midfield endeavours only fuelled his popularity with the City faithful.

However, passion and commitment can be misread and reckless tackles do get punished when the man in black brandishes one or two cards. Inevitably in a player is on the receiving end of more than a few yellow cards he becomes labelled as a ‘bad boy', typecast with a reputation for unsavoury behaviour. An example of this was when Barton received his first red card at Spurs in the historic F.A. Cup 4th round. His mouthing off didn't help the situation though.
The controversy didn't stop on the pitch. The off-the-pitch lunacy that happened at City's 2004 Christmas party involving Barton, a lit cigar and academy player Jamie Tandy's eye not only cost Barton a record £120,000 fine but added a further dent to his reputation. Then, along came Thailand...

The specific events of that night will stay between Barton, Dunne, the teenage fan who was allegedly the catalyst in the bedlam that occurred and any other eyewitness who happened to see the moments of madness. But City stood by him (they didn't really have a choice after the departure of Shaun Wright-Phillips) and Barton faced his alcohol-infused aggression demons at Tony Adams' ‘Sporting Chance' clinic.

Barton's best years of football to date came in the 2005/06 and 2006/07 seasons at City. He grew in stature and dominated City's midfield with commanding tackles, ambitious crosses and accurate through balls. His reputation remained tainted and the yellow cards continued to flow, but the goals were flying in. Thirteen goals in two seasons was an impressive tally from the midfielder.

It was only a matter of time before managers noticed Barton's talent and started sniffing around, particularly after his England debut. City was lurking dangerously close to the relegation zone and Barton's ego had outgrown the club- he wanted out. Not before he unleashed his most horrific attack yet.

Barton's training ground attack on Ousmane Dabo left the Frenchman unconscious and looking like the elephant man, resulting in Barton's arrest. It was the final straw, the very last insult that he could throw at City. Allardyce signed Barton for £5.5 million, ending his time at the club who had stuck by him despite his previous misdemeanours.

Since his move, Barton has been injured for a number of months therefore decided to exercise his mouth as a pose to his legs. He has been slating his time
at City to any journalist that will listen, which I find completely disrespectful. How dare he be portrayed as a reformed character that has been dealt a rough hand? He doesn't deserve pity from anybody- Barton needs to grow up fast and start to take responsibility for his actions. The judge in his trial should make an example of him. I used to believe that he was just misunderstood and that it was wrong for his reputation to precede him- now I think he deserves everything that he gets. Only time will tell whether he can rediscover his form and banish his demons for good.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

**EXCLUSIVE** 'One Moment In Time'- The Boys Are Back In Town (Jan 2008)


‘One Moment In Time’ is a nostalgic look back at events and occasions in City’s past that will no doubt resurrect many impassioned memories for most City fans. Written from my personal point of view, I am hoping that reliving these moments, whether they were good or bad, will prove to be an enjoyable read for all. This month…Keegan’s back in business at Newcastle so what better way to acknowledge his return by looking back at his time at City, namely our record-breaking promotion to the Premier League with him.


After the Sheffield United game, City really did play fantasy football. Keegan’s style of attacking flair and charismatic football was finally on show, and the points were flying in. With Berkovic and Benarbia at the heart of midfield, and Huckerby and new signing Jon Macken upfront, City were notching up cricket scores all over the country. Victories against Norwich, Millwall, Preston, Coventry, Birmingham, Bradford and Nottingham left City in the top spot and the majority of Division One in awe of Keegan’s blues’ constantly mesmerising displays every Saturday.

Every single City fan was captivated by the cavalier style of play at Maine Road, and I personally loved watching us tear the opposition’s defence apart. It was the best I had ever seen City play in my living memory. I constantly wore my City shirt with pride. We were a dead cert not only to be promoted, but to be champions. At last, it was the blue half that was the pride of Manchester.
To clinch promotion back to the Premiership, City needed to beat Barnsley at Maine Road. It was a bright, warm Spring day and a packed Maine Road gathered to watch City annihilate the Tykes 5-1. A Huckerby hat-trick and a brace from Macken sent us up a division and back to where we belonged. All we needed now was to beat Portsmouth at home and we would be confirmed as champions.
This was something new to me. Yes we had won the play-offs and had been promoted twice through Joe Royle, but this was potentially winning the league. City were fully capable of performing in the Premiership if this season’s displays were anything to go by, and at last I was supporting a winning team, a team I could be proud of.

The promotion party was well underway at the Portsmouth game. Simon, Spenny and I went in Simon’s car, with flags and scarves galore, boasting and bragging to anybody who would listen and any passer-by that we supported the best. The best. It’s funny that, Manchester City and the best in the same sentence.

Yet again we sat in the Gods, but there was an ecstatic atmosphere in every seat in every stand. Each and every blue waving their flags and chanting Keegan’s name- Keegan the messiah who so famously made public his five-year plan for the club, and phase one was complete.

The game kicked off and every pass by every player was met by huge applause from the home crowd. Each player had done City proud, in particular Shaun Goater, who had been knocking the goals in for fun, and the midfield trio of Berkovic, Benarbia and Wright-Phillips. Our team was brimming with confidence and creativity, and by five o’clock, a 3-1 score-line had put the icing on the cake. It had been yet another sensational performance, with the goals coming from Goater, Macken and Howey. Stuart Pearce missed a penalty in his last league appearance before retirement, and Schmeichel also bowed out of the game to retire.

We all stayed to watch every player come onto the pitch to receive their Championship-winning medals, and to lift the trophy aloft with the roar of the overjoyed crowd meeting the silverware. Balloons were released into the sky, and I stood back with tears welling in my eyes. We were the champions, and it felt so good.

The journey home was chaotic. Simon had a huge City flag out of the sunroof with Queen’s ‘We Are the Champions’ on repeat. Spenny and I lent out of the windows shouting and screaming at pedestrians and motorists, waving yet more flags and chanting ‘City! City!’ The sun was beaming down, and at one point Spenny clambered up to the sunroof and stuck his head and body through it to continue our celebrations.

Unfortunately there wasn’t room for both him and the flag, and the flagpole which supported the huge flag that was adorned with Keegan’s face promptly snapped. It was like being in a slapstick comedy sequence, with passers-by bemused at the sight of Keegan’s triumphant head stuck on this huge flag flying past them, with Spenny’s human head manically yelling alongside it.

Our celebrations carried on way into the night, and it was a time for reflection on a season filled with success and progress. All early doubts had been firmly dispelled and Keegan had more than delivered. City’s football towards the end was bragging, almost cocky- but full of ingenuity. It was exciting to watch and somewhat unpredictable- who would have thought the sublime Hillsborough 6-2 victory would be followed by defeat at home to Wimbledon? But phase two was yet to come- could Keegan cut it and repeat this success on the biggest stage in English league football- the Premier League?

Emily Brobyn xx

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

**EXCLUSIVE** 'One Moment In Time'- Field of Dreams (Jan 2008)


‘One Moment In Time’ is a nostalgic look back at events and occasions in City’s past that will no doubt resurrect many impassioned memories for most City fans. Written from my personal point of view, I am hoping that reliving these moments, whether they were good or bad, will prove to be an enjoyable read for all. This month…my role as a mascot against Oxford United.


“No way. Honestly? No, you’re winding me up!”

This was my reaction when my dad told me that I was going to be a mascot for City. Now, you might think that a mascot is somebody who prances around pitch-side in a ridiculous character costume, as an animal, or in City’s case a Blue alien (!). But a mascot is actually a child who leads their team out at the beginning of the game. They have a bit of a kick about with their team captain, pose for a photograph with the captains and officials and that is basically it. Five minutes of fame.

Of course, it wasn’t about the ‘fame’. It was about the dream. The ultimate that 99.9% of football fans can only dream about; leading your team out in front of a capacity crowd, walking onto the hallow turf and hearing the fans roar, playing football with your heroes. What a buzz! Okay, so I was 15 at the time, and I was a girl, but there was no chance anything was going to stop me. I was going to enjoy and savour this moment.

The date was set- 7th March 1998. Yes the opposition was Oxford United and City were in freefall to Division Two, but the crowd would still be 25,000. I began to prepare. I started learning a few basic football skills with Simon. He taught me how to control and kick a ball straight. It sounds pathetic, but I really needed to master the basics. I wanted everything to be as perfect as possible. We spent about 15 minutes every day in the week leading up to the match doing this, and by the end I felt supremely confident of knocking it about with the best of them. I couldn’t sleep the night before, I just lay awake imagining the experience. Then it arrived. The dream was becoming a reality.

I had butterflies all the way to Maine Road. My mum and dad had hired an executive box in the Platt Lane end for the occasion, and invited my famous Uncle Bob and my aunty Shirley, their son Spencer, my best friend Kerry and Simon. When we arrived at Maine Road, we were taken inside the Main Stand, to the reception area. I sat there nervously and, as I looked up, I saw a tall, broad man in a beige overcoat. A very familiar man. A MAN-ager in fact. It was Joe Royle. I nearly fainted. I shook his hand and had a photograph taken with him. The fun had begun.

We were taken around the ground on a tour, which included being taken pitch-side and into the dressing rooms. Players had begun to filter in, and I spotted Ged Brannan, Gerard Wiekens, Peter Beardsley (who was on loan to City at the time) and Paul Dickov. It was all very overwhelming and surreal.

We went to our box and I got told to get my kit on and be ready to go pitch-side for 2:30pm. The knock on the door arrived and there I was: full home kit, complete with socks and platform blue trainers (the Spice Girls were huge at the time). Although it was hardly a high-profile fixture I was still overjoyed and so proud that I was leading my team out. I was escorted with my dad into the tunnel, where I eagerly awaited the players emerging from the changing room while dad videoed every second of my Maine moment.

I could hear Royle shouting and, after a collective ‘COME ON!’, my heroes were in front of me. Wow. My jaw dropped. There was Dickov, Bradbury, Beardsley, Rosler. Next to me. Even though City was doing really badly at the time, I was in complete awe of every player. Uwe Rosler had been a City hero to both Simon and I, and I couldn’t believe that I was stood next to my favourite player, watching him prepare both physically and mentally for the game.

We waited for the officials and ball-boys and it was upon me- the walk up the tunnel. I could hear the announcer on the pitch: “Maine Road, will be please welcome the two teams, Oxford United and Manchester City!” And there it was. I could freeze frame the moment. The roar. The crowd. The pitch. My dad stood with a video camera. I legged it! I had a kick about with our captain at the time, Kit Symons, and I stood applauding the crowd. For a split second it took my breath away. It was over far too quickly. The obligatory photo was snapped and I ran back off the pitch.

City lost the game 2-0, but on that day the result really didn’t matter to me. I had played on the immortal pitch, had lived the dream. It was a moment that I vowed to cherish and never forget.

Emily Brobyn xx

My Column (3rd ed, Jan 2008)

Emz And The City
‘Without a Dream in My Heart, Without a Love of My Own’


Hello and welcome fellow Blues to my first column of 2008. Happy New Year! I hope that everybody ate, drank and had a very merry festive time. Thankfully Sven didn’t turn into the grinch and City enjoyed a healthy Christmas period, notching up six points out of four difficult games. The points (at the time of writing) have kept us in fourth place and, if nothing else, have guaranteed us safety.

Joking aside, Sven and the boys have been a phenomenon. Nobody could have imagined we would be occupying the Champions League places come the New Year. The 2007/08 season has been a complete revelation so far, and we are only half-way through. Much has been made of Sven’s signing and I am certain that there will be more to come now that the transfer window is well and truly open.

So, I am very happy with the six point tally. After the disappointment of the cup defeat (which I will cover later on), I thought that we did well to come away from Villa Park with a point despite it previously being a happy hunting ground for us. In the Blackburn game I felt that we had done well, with Bulgarian Petrov in spellbinding form delivering crosses that were proving to be almost impossible to defend against. But I was never convinced that we had killed the game off and it took a controversial decision to put Rovers level. We were unlucky.

Up next at fortress Eastlands were Liverpool and I was amazed at what a great game of football it actually was. They passed and moved like they were at Anfield but I thought that we coped well with their pressure and that Richards and Dunne were sublime at the back. Although Corluka isn’t a playmaker, he coped well in his midfield role and gave us an extra option. But I did feel that the game proved one thing that all City fans and Sven are aware of- that we are crying out for a striker. A predatory poacher who can get onto the end of Petrov’s lethal crosses and combine well with Elano’s creativity.

An away day in the North East at St James Park proved to be very fruitful with us coming away with all three points, the first time since the first game at Upton Park this season. It was great to see Elano back on the score-sheet, even if he hasn’t played the same since his injury, and good to see Fernandes score after just 50 seconds of being on the pitch. We played some good football at a club where the pressure really is on them- to be honest I expected Allardyce to pull off a result but I was very happy to see us go for the result and end the 90 minutes in 4th place.


I was horrified to see us crash out of the Carling Cup at the hands of Spurs. We had done well to reach the quarter-final stage and it really was an excellent chance of reaching the semis and, potentially, the final. But all aspirations went up in smoke in 90 minutes. Fair play to Spurs and Ramos, they continued to dominate possession despite being a man down and took their chances well. Malbranque, Berbatov and Robinson all excelled while we ran about chasing shadows.

City had no passion, no desire, no will to win. Sven had been quoted in several newspapers as wanting to sit in the dug-out at Wembley, as he had never had the chance during his reign as England manager. His players never looked remotely like achieving his goal: Elano wasn’t match-fit, Garrido was shocking and even Dunney had a couple of runs forward that resulted in City being left wide open at the back. It was just frustrating to see City reach that kind of position and seemingly throw it away so easily. So many people call the Carling Cup the ‘Mickey Mouse Cup’ but I think it should be treated with a lot more respect. It is still silverware and a day out at Wembley. It should still be just as competitive as the F.A. Cup.

So now our Cup hopes turn to that very Cup, the F.A. Cup, and we currently have to wait for a replay at Eastlands to West Ham. If we defeat the Hammers, we then face a trip to Bramhall Lane, home of plucky Sheffield United. A seemingly ideal fourth round tie but a potential banana skin nonetheless and our only chance at silverware this season.


I was contemplating not even mentioning the name Joey Barton in this column, a boycott of all things Barton-related in an attempt to limit the amount of ‘publicity’ his latest stunt receives. But I feel that it is right to address it. How can Barton, a well-known professional footballer, even contemplate having a night out in Liverpool during the festive period without having to deal with abuse from drunken footballers who support his former team, Everton, or his former team’s rivals, Liverpool?

Barton claims to have suffered drink-related problems in the past, so why put himself in a situation where he would be surrounded by drink, in a public place no less, in a city where he has so much history? Surely the best option would have been to either go back to Newcastle or to enjoy a low-key night in at one of his Liverpudlian friend’s houses. That way, he wouldn’t have ended up spending New Year’s Eve in prison facing yet another assault charge. What was he even doing in McDonalds? I am sure the dietician at St James Park will have something to say about it- along with the chairman Mike Ashley and Big Sam. Is this not enough evidence to put Barton away- he is a menace to society and should spend time behind bars.


The other day I went to the new Citystore in the Arndale Centre in Manchester and finally bought the purple away shirt. While I was there I noticed the shirt printing machine there so I thought that I would get a name on the back of my new shirt. But then I thought…who? Who should I get? I think it was the first time in my City life when I actually had to stand there and think about who is the best player and most worthy of gracing my shirt.In the past we have had players who stand out because of their class (Anelka, Goater, Wanchope, Kinkladze, Benarbia) and players who the fans love (Quinn, Rosler, Dunne, Weaver, Goater, Morrison), but I was really stumped. My gut reaction was to get Elano, but in the end I decided on Corluka- consistent and a great player. But it was nice to reflect and realise that City have a team of players who are worthy enough of gracing any fans’ shirts. Long may it continue.

THEY THINK IT’S ALL OVER...Things to look forward to...another possible Cup run if we manage to beat West Ham and the Blades away…the transfer window resulting in new signings galore…U****d away…Arsenal at home…Elano returning to form…Samaras waving goodbye to City…Plus...Can I just say a big thank you to everybody who has joined the King of the Kippax Facebook group again. We now have over 200 members and that number is constantly growing. Thank you!!

Keep the Blue faith,

Emily Brobyn xx

'One Moment In Time'- Taming of the Lions (Jan 2008)


‘One Moment In Time’ is a nostalgic look back at events and occasions in City’s past that will no doubt resurrect many impassioned memories for most City fans. Written from my personal point of view, I am hoping that reliving these moments, whether they were good or bad, will prove to be an enjoyable read for all. This month…City’s infamous encounter with Millwall in 1999.


When City dropped down to the then-Second Division, it wasn't just the standard of football that had deteriorated. Pitch and referee standards were abysmal and the Blues encountered the nasty side of football- at the hands of Millwall. Yes, this memory isn't glorious or celebratory, but it will always stick with me for being one of the most hideous days ever at Maine Road. Let me set the scene...

December 28th 1998. Stoke City at Maine Road. It was the first time the two teams had met since that gloomy May relegation day. Both were challenging for promotion- and both were desperate for the three points. But Gareth Taylor and Paul Dickov's goals meant that the City from Manchester took victory, a result that lifted us to seventh in the league.

I remember walking out after the final whistle and seeing a barrier of riot police, armed with Alsatians and shields, separating the two sets of fans (between the Kippax and 'Gene Kelly' stand). It was the first time I had really seen the so-called ugly side of football before and I was dumbstruck but not scared, and if seeing that was a shock, things were about to get much worse- and not on the pitch.

It's never easy being a female football fan. By the time I was 16 I had educated myself about the rules and general knowledge of the beautiful game, and I didn't find it hard as I was learning first-hand about it every week. But something I was oblivious to was perhaps the most common activity to co-inside with football- hooliganism.

Although I wasn't scared at the Stoke match, I had been told about a team whose fans weren't into following their team for the football, it was purely for the violence. Millwall, a team from South-East London, were a club renowned for their violent and active hooligan element. At the time they were, and most people still think are, the most feared club off the pitch. Their firm in the 1980's, 'The Treatment', were rumoured to stand on the terraces wearing surgical headgear and allegedly used surgical equipment on rival fans. This was the team playing City next at Maine Road.

On the day, February 6th 1999, I was nervous. So was my brother Simon. The majority of the Manchester Metropolitan police force would turn out to meet the travelling 'fans' and, as we approached Maine Road, the helicopters circled overhead. It was like gladiators approaching the amphitheatre. A raging storm was brewing.

At the time I was naive and oblivious to the whole 'schedule' surrounding hooligans. Before their arrival at Maine Road, a large Millwall firm had turned up unexpectedly at Stockport and caused chaos there. Hundreds had made their way from Piccadilly station and, much like a savage, destructive tornado, vandalised and traumatised everything in their path.

As the game kicked off, it looked almost like an every-day match at City. No sign of trouble, despite the extra police presence. But you could feel the atmosphere. It wasn't an average 'come on, let's get behind the lads' atmosphere. It was a nervy, apprehensive, tense atmosphere. Everybody knew it was only a matter of time before the bubbling volcano erupted.

Simon and I were sat in Kippax Lower C, which was relatively far from the Millwall contingency, but with the chants getting more and more hostile I could literally smell the fear from the majority of fans. Then- showtime. Paul Dickov scored. That was the signal, almost a coded message to detonate the seething Millwall fans' vengeance. Things were about to get ugly.

At first it was more and more sinister chants. But then came the missiles. The air in the North Stand became a sea of objects: coins, bottles, programmes- anything that could be thrown and was nearby was launched between the rival fans. Seats were quickly ripped up and hurled. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. This was carnage. I was amazed, not at all scared, it was strangely a buzz just being in the stadium. If there had been no players on the pitch I doubt anybody would have noticed- all eyes were on the North Stand.

On the pitch, City was winning 3-0. Every goal infuriated Millwall further. By this time, the Millwall fans that were sat in the 'Gene Kelly' stand had now begun to climb over the metal fencing into the North Stand. The reality of the situation was dawning on me. Riot police began to pour in to attempt to calm the situation, but by this time it was too late. The helicopters returned as the thugs who had been arrested were led out of the ground. Announcements were being made constantly over the crackly P.A. system in a vain attempt to restore order, and as the final whistle sounded the rioting continued.

We were made to walk the entire way around the back of Maine Road, down all the narrow alleyways, in order to avoid any contact with stray Millwall fans. The majority had been locked inside Maine Road and City officials didn't want to take any chances. Despite a City win, the day had been completely overshadowed by events off the field. The real victory had been for the yobs.

Two words summed Millwall up that day- animals and scum. I recently read in a book how their fans regard City fans as being 'Liam Gallagher wannabes, a bunch of mindless muppets who all live in Stockport'. Since that day, I have fully educated myself on hooligans and their culture. Although what happened that day was clearly wrong, it really did intrigue me. It wasn't long before I encountered a much closer event with hooliganism, but that's another story...

Emily Brobyn xx

My Column (2nd ed, Nov 2007)

Emz And The City
‘Without a Dream in My Heart, Without a Love of My Own’


Where did it all go wrong? After gaining another three points at home against Birmingham the wheels well and truly came off at Stamford Bridge and as my title suggests we were more than punished for our defensive disaster. Our 6-0 drubbing was Sven’s worst managerial defeat- we were truly awful. After preaching about team spirit and unity, the hammering was completely out of character for City. Our midfield just didn’t operate concisely, which resulted in our defence having to put up with a 90-minute onslaught.

Delirious Stretford Reds gloated about how our bubble had finally burst and I struggled to think about how we could bounce back from such a demoralising defeat quickly. Progression in the League Cup is how. Getting through to the quarter-finals was crucial and I think that Spurs at home is a great tie. What a Christmas present that would be, although the outcome of the game at White Hart Lane on 8th December will potentially influence the Cup game enormously.


So I see that Joey Barton has been in the press again slating City to all and sundry. I read his feature article in FourFourTwo with complete disgust- how dare he be portrayed as a reformed character that has been dealt a rough hand. To a certain extent he is right with regards to City not sacking him because they needed the transfer money, but he speaks about his career at City with such disregard and with a complete lack of respect. The full- page photograph of Barton depicts him as a malicious brute and rightly so.

In the past I have been nothing but fair to Barton- I wrote a big article on him last season more or less praising him despite the endless controversy he is always embroiled in. But now it stops. I do consider him to be over-hyped and why the hell does he deserve pity from anybody? He has brought his reputation on himself- blaming alcohol for his demons and his aggression and it is no excuse. Grow up Barton- it is about time that you took responsibility for your actions. It really wasn’t a surprise to see him squaring up to former City player Dickson Etuhu after his high tackle on him in the TyneWear derby recently. Once a thug, always a thug. The judge in his trial should make an example of him and the F.A. should throw the book at him. Footballers are supposed to be role models, what kind of example is he setting to young boys who are easily influenced by players and their antics? I used to believe that he was just misunderstood and that it was wrong for his reputation to precede him- now I think he deserves everything that he gets. Good riddance.


This month saw the belated arrival of the annual City adopt-a-player dinner at the City of Manchester Stadium. It had originally been scheduled in for late August but it had to be cancelled due to international call-ups. To be honest I was glad that it was moved although the date, Tuesday 23rd October, was the same day that I returned from my holiday in Antigua so I was horrifically tired and jet-lagged.

I went there with my mum, Simon, Liz, a couple of my parents’ employees and the wonderful editors of this fanzine, Dave and Sue. Although I have been to quite a few players’ dinners before, I was extremely nervous. We had a bucks fizz reception and engaged in nervy conversation as all thoughts turned to the evening ahead. I hadn’t been sure whether Sven would attend but there he was on the table plan- along with the entire first team (only Stephen Ireland was absent).

We took to our seats and I noticed a new addition to the evening- a camera crew and a huge cinema screen at the front of the room. This wasn’t usual City conduct at all- the blues had upped the standards in more ways than one. The compere for the evening struck up lively on a booming microphone and the room fell into a hushed silence as all the guests awaited the arrival of the team.

Sure enough, one by one, our heroes joined us. The first to enter to a rapturous standing ovation was Sven and his assistant Bakke. Sven looked completely overwhelmed at the endless applause that greeted him as he bashfully waved around at the audience. He was much smaller than I imagined and was quite gaunt.Sven was promptly followed by the players, who were greeted with the same reception- a reception that was completely justified given the start to the season. Vedran Corluka came to our table and sat next to me, while Darius Vassell sat next to Sue. The compere then turned our attention to the screen to watch highlights of the season so far. The lights were dimmed and the goals were greeted with whooping and applause between both the players and the public. Johnson’s goals won high appraise, to which he blushed and modestly bowed his head.

Predictably, Elano’s sensational goals once again wowed the crowd, but what surprised me was watching Sven’s reactions. The Swede sat quietly with Bakke, Wardle and representatives from the Manchester Evening News smiling and admiring his handiwork. He looked like a proud father on sport’s day: basking in the success and the club’s incredible start. Interestingly, one of the only player’s goals to be met with a somewhat mute response was Bianchi.

The feature was then followed by an interview with Sven and Bakke, with Sven shyly talking about the fantastic results and wonderful team spirit, then everybody settled down for the meal. I had obviously never met Vedran before, but after chatting to him about his move from Croatia and how he was settling down in Manchester, we didn’t shut up. He talked about how Elano is the team’s prankster, how he was surprised at just how good Richards really is and how Sven is quite a relaxed but fair manager. I couldn’t possibly write down every topic of conversation because we spoke for so long but he is relishing the chance to mark Rooney out of the crucial Euro 2008 qualifier (not any more now that he is injured!). He is worried about how the English fans will react to him after the game if Croatia win though. I found him utterly charming and a complete gentleman.

I did the usual rounds and met the vast majority of the team. Elano, Geovanni, a very shy Michael Johnson, Micah Richards…I found each and every player to be really friendly and genuine. Sven seemed completely baffled at the amount of attention he was getting- his face was quite a picture!

The one thing I noticed from the evening is how it was completely different from any other meal I had attended. There were fewer people there but more players, making it more intimate. The evening seemed more organised yet more relaxed and the general mood (obviously due to our form) was so very positive and cheerful. All in all, a great evening was had by all and it was truly a pleasure to be in the company of both the staff at City and Dave and Sue!

THEY THINK IT’S ALL OVER…Things to look forward to…Corluka vs. England…the trip to the JJB Stadium (surely we are due to turn over the Latics by now)…overcoming our recent Cup quarter-final curse…the January transfer window edging closer.Plus…We currently have over 100 members in the King of the Kippax Facebook group. Many thanks to everybody who has joined and keep spreading the word!

Keep the blue faith,

Emily Brobyn xx

'One Moment In Time'- Winning The Lottery (Nov 2007)


‘One Moment In Time’ is a nostalgic look back at events and occasions in City’s past that will no doubt resurrect many impassioned memories for most City fans. Written from my personal point of view, I am hoping that reliving these moments, whether they were good or bad, will prove to be an enjoyable read for all. This month...the historic Wembley Play Off Final in 1999.


Que sera sera, whatever will be will be, because City was off to Wembley! It was the ultimate away day, a trip out to the capital to follow your team and possibly come away with the most valuable souvenir- promotion. First Division status. Oh, and a shiny silver trophy to decorate your team’s cabinet with. It was the 1998/99 Second Division Play-Off Final- Manchester City versus Gillingham.

The hype was incredible. Everybody wanted to be there. This meant very high demand for tickets. City had been allocated 38,000 of them- and I was determined to be at the Twin Towers on that day.

Seeing as the ticket phone line was firmly jammed, my dad and I decided to pay a visit to Maine Road’s ticket office. Big mistake. Last estimate at the queuing time had been approximately six hours, and neither I nor my dad had that kind of time to waste. Simon decided to get on the telephone, and to wait in the queue until he got through. It worked. After four hours, we had success. Simon finally got through- and managed to secure four seats at Wembley.

It was official- Simon, dad, and I would be at Wembley. I was ecstatic. Every football fan knows that getting to watch your team play at Wembley stadium was an honour in itself. It was a big deal, and despite this particular match not being an actual cup final, it certainly felt like one. It was Gillingham’s cup final all right- they were the underdogs with City out as firm promotion favourites. The stage was set for the Match of the Day.

It seemed to take forever, but finally Sunday May 30th was upon us- judgement day. We left the house all kitted up about 9:30am. Simon was driving us in his trusty sky blue fiesta and I even cried in the back I was that excited. All along the way we were seeing more and more fellow blues; tooting their horns, waving their flags and shaking their scarves.

We stopped off at Watford Gap service station. There were huge queues to get in and out and chants of ‘you can shove your fucking treble up your arse’ rang out in reference to the Stretford Red’s ‘historic’ season. It was unorganised chaos, and in the midst of the bedlam we saw Lloyd and Adam Sherratt, our City mates who were both hardcore blues. We chatted to them for a bit then fought our way through the hordes of people. Make no mistake, I wished for a gap at Watford Gap that day!

On arrival in London, we parked at Stanmore tube station and caught the underground to Wembley Park station. By this time I was physically shaking with all the excitement. Wembley Way was just how you would imagine it- a souvenir seller’s paradise. Scarves, foam hands, jester hats, silly wigs, horns- everything emblazoned with City’s colours and the words ‘Wembley 1999’- everything was really expensive. This was the capital city after all, but even I thought that £10 for a hotdog was taking the piss.

The rain had now turned to drizzle as we headed towards the turnstiles. I looked up at the Twin Towers in amazement. I had made it to football heaven, and was hoping my team’s dream would come true too. Suddenly, a huge cheer went up and I realised why. It was the City team coach, pulling inside Wembley. The players all waved and I saw Dickov give us the thumbs up. The irony of seeing him would take on a whole new relevance later on in the day.

We found our seats and waited for the action to begin. I couldn’t believe it- I was sat in one of the most famous sporting venues in the world- and it was half filled with a sea of laser blue. ‘Blue Moon’ was echoing around Wembley. Blue Moon. City’s anthem! It was one of those moments, you know, where you wish you could freeze frame and play back. It was so, so special.

The rain was pouring down as the players took to the hallow turf. Fireworks fizzed and Fatboy Slim’s ‘Right Here Right Now’ blasted over the crackly P.A. system. A Cockney announcer read out the team sheets as the cauldron of atmosphere bubbled more with each name he said. Handshakes were exchanged and it was down to the real business. In 90 minutes we would see whether City could take a huge step on the road to recovery, or be doomed to an imprisonment of Division Two exile.

The match itself was dire. Neither goalkeeper was really tested and, although it was tense, both teams didn’t really look like scoring, Or so I thought.

By the time 80 minutes had passed by, both City and Gills fans could feel the 0-0 stalemate resulting in extra time, possibly even the dreaded penalty shootout. The penalty shootout is even more of a lottery than the play-off final itself. The entire future of a football club can come down to a single kick of a football. It doesn’t seem fair, but it’s the only way of separating the winner from the loser after extra time.

However all those thoughts soon changed. A ball by Paul Smith set up Carl Asaba who then shot the ball low past Nicky Weaver. We saw the net bulge and heard the roar. 1-0 Gills. 1-0 with nine minutes to go. An equaliser wasn’t entirely impossible, but the way City had played nobody would have held their breath for a laser blue goal.

Then the unimaginable. On 88 minutes, Robert Taylor scored past Weaver after being set up by their first goal scorer Carl Asaba. 2-0 Gills. “That’s it, that’s game over!” ex-City manager Brian Horton cried.

It was the lowest of the low, and it most definitely felt like game over. With little over two minutes of normal time to go, and a two goal deficit to overcome, there was no way back. As soon as I heard the noise from the Gill’s fans, I burst into tears. I cried for the shame, the heartache, the misery and the suffering City had put us through. This was my club’s way of rewarding us for our patience- and they couldn’t even do that right.

Now I’ll be truthful- my gut instinct and reaction was to stand up and walk out. I had never given up on City before, but ask any fellow blue how they felt at that moment and they would no doubt answer you the same- gutted. In actual fact I ran out. I was sobbing my heart out (aww!). I was so ashamed of my club, embarrassed to be a blue. All around me was emotion. I am not over-reacting when I say it was similar to that of a funeral. The demise and death of Manchester City F.C. Grown men were crying, dragging their children away from the scene of the crime.

By this time everybody had joined me on the concourse and I actually did walk outside…but then I remembered that I had left my jacket at my seat! So we bolted back inside, much to the complaints of the stewards. Then a cheer. No, an almighty roar. “Horlock has pulled one back!” I overheard a fan say. Nothing more than a petty consolation I thought. My dad had battled his way back to my seat for my coat. My heart was pounding. Just when I thought City was dead and buried, the resurrection happened.

The noise was that of an earthquake. Screams, shouts, cheers, wails, yells. What was going on?! I sprinted to the stairs. Unfortunately, every other person had the same idea and I spent the next five minutes battling to breathe, caught up in a crush of delirious blues. A skinhead, heavily tattooed man was overcome with emotion and his tears of torment turned to tears of joy when he relayed the events. Paul Dickov had scored for City with the last kick of the game. It was unbelievable. It wasn’t sinking in. We hadn’t won, but we certainly hadn’t lost.

‘Blue Moon’ was blasted out as the teams re-grouped for extra time. Everybody was looking around in disbelief. No words will ever describe how I felt. It made me feel guilty for giving up hope and deserting my beloved blues. I had betrayed them. City had been rewarded another chance. Would they take advantage of it or collapse?

Extra time was mostly uneventful, which meant that penalties were now becoming a reality. The Gill’s fans were still in a state of shock, horrified that they didn’t win the match outright. Both teams would have to do it the hard way- sudden death.

I felt sick, I mean physically sick. You could feel the tensions amongst City fans. Apprehension. Talk turned to who would take our penalties and who the hero or villain might be. City had been awarded the kicking end, so with the City fans behind the net, the referee had just given the blues a huge advantage.

I was that nervous that I couldn‘t watch. I sat down amongst the bedlam, closed my eyes and covered my ears. The nerves were tearing me apart, my whole body was shaking. I couldn’t imagine how the players felt. First up to the penalty spot was Kevin Horlock. If it wasn’t for him, City would have stayed in the Second Division. His goal sparked the City comeback- and he duly converted his spot kick into the bottom right corner. 1-0 City.

Up stepped Nicky Weaver between the posts. He orchestrated the crowd to reach a crescendo of boos, a complete wall of sound to deter Gillingham’s first penalty taker, Paul Smith. It worked- Weaver saved it with his legs. Simon grabbed me and started screaming. Still 1-0, advantage City.

Next in line was Paul Dickov. His equaliser was one of the most important goals ever scored in a City shirt. We all crossed our fingers and toes that he would convert. But Gillingham’s goalkeeper was Dickov’s best mate- Vince Bartram. They had been best man at each other’s weddings, and perhaps this played a part as Dickov’s effort hit the right post, rolled across the line to the left post and bounced out. A collective groan echoed out. Still 1-0 City.

Gillingham’s second taker, Adrian Pennock, stepped forward. We all booed and hissed as much as we could and Pennock blasted the ball well wide of the target. 1-0. City needed to convert again.

Up stepped Terry Cooke. Signed in the latter stages of the season from our Stretford neighbours, Cooke had been an influential figure in our promotion campaign. His penalty was immaculate, hitting the inside of the side netting. 2-0 City. I didn’t want to celebrate. My head was still in my hands. Yet I felt the need to take a peek and at least watch one penalty.

I shouldn’t have looked. John Hodge’s penalty for Gillingham was well placed into the top right corner. The Kent side were still in the game- 2-1 City.

I sat back down as Richard Edghill placed the ball on the spot. Gasps around the laser blue contingency arose- Edghill had never scored for City and he was our longest-serving player at the time. But on this day anything was possible. His shot clipped the underside of the crossbar and went in. Oh. My. God. I was crying my eyes out. The victory was finally upon us. If Gillingham missed their next penalty, City would be promoted.

Gillingham defender Guy Butters approached the spot. I didn’t watch. Simon was shaking me, shouting things I couldn’t hear. To say that the boos were deafening would be an understatement. For a split second- silence. That must have been when he took his run up. Silence. Then screams. Screams of sheer ecstasy. Amazement. I stood up.

“Weaver saved it!!” Simon yelled at me. I completely lost it. I clambered onto my seat and proceeded to bounce up and down screaming and bawling my eyes out. I must have looked well and truly insane. I watched my heroes celebrating on the pitch while I danced to Status Quo’s ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’ and M People’s ‘Movin’ On Up’.

City collected their trophy and as Andy Morrison held it aloft we all cheered. The celebrations continued- all of the City players bowed down to us and we returned the favour. One by one, our heroes disappeared down the tunnel. The dream had come true. I sung ‘Blue Moon’ with my hands aloft, my eyes still stinging from crying and still stood on my chair. City was back on track.

The majority of fans stood around in disbelief, emotionally drained. So many feelings: despair, horror, shame, hope, shock, amazement, joy, anxiety, ecstasy. Every blue had been through it all that day- and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. That’s just typical City. Wembley 1999 stood as a prime example of what it’s really like to be a blue, you have to put up with the shit before you can experience the good.

We exited Wembley and made our way back to the tube station. Once on the tube, I reflected on the day. I was stood up, holding on to a pole, as the train was full. I didn’t really know where I was, I was like a zombie. Fellow City fans that surrounded me were mostly silent, trying to believe how our team came back from the dead. Then a huge ear-piercing screech. I went flying down the train. Everybody did! Somebody had pulled the emergency cord and the tube came to an immediate halt. We all looked around and laughed. Typical blues, making us laugh and making us cry.

Nicky Weaver and Paul Dickov were made out as the heroes of that day, but for me the whole team were heroes. Their never-say-die attitude and endless spirit made me forever proud to be a blue. If Dickov’s goal hadn’t have gone in, where would City be now? I shudder to think.

If somebody asked me what I had learned from that day, my answer would be simple. After that game, I have always stayed at a match until the referee has blown his whistle. The full 90 minutes plus injury time. City had definitely taught me to expect the unexpected- it was game on, not game over.

Emily Brobyn xx

My Column (1st ed, Oct 2007)

Emz And The City
‘Without a Dream in My Heart, Without a Love of My Own’


Well, well, well...what a start to the 2007/08 season for City. Under the new guidance of Sven, nobody knew what to expect and nobody could have dreamed who turned out to be the early pace setters in the Premier League. An unexpected away day win at Upton Park had the critics raving over the new-look City side, and the derby-day victory over our raggy neighbours sent all of us Blues into dreamland- and City to the top of the league.

The defeats that followed at the Emirates and Ewood Park have merely been a blip and our performances against West Ham, Newcastle and Middlesbrough were outstanding. It’s been a real joy to see City playing such fluid, attractive and intelligent football as a pose to the sloppy ‘hoof’ tactics seen in past seasons. Last season I became completely fed up with supposed professional footballers taking 15-20 yards to control a ball. This season there has been a huge improvement and the result is quicker attacks and exciting football.


It has been much discussed that the arrival of Sven was met with a very mixed reception. I will be the first to hold my hands up and admit that I wasn’t overly keen n his appointment. Nobody can argue with his domestic success rate, and I really don’t think that he did that badly with the national job.

For me it is the fact that with Sven comes an enormous media circus. I really don’t care if he loves Italian food or leaves outrageous tips at the Lowry hotel. It doesn’t interest me if he’s romancing Nancy or some random Mancunian lookalike. I want to know about his tactics, his signings and his formations. I want him to be making back page headlines and for all the right reasons.

Of course, the media are looking to create headlines and cause scandal and are as intrusive as ever- the media circus has most definitely been in force at Eastlands. So far the press have been sceptical but mainly positive about Sven, but how long will this last for? And if the wheels do start to come off the Sven wagon, you can guarantee the media vultures will be sharpening their claws for a feeding frenzy.

So far so good though from the Swede: he has been a complete breath of fresh air. His signings (who I will speak about later) have proved to be a phenomenon. I’m pleased that the new arrivals have been slotted in nicely with our old faces (Dunne, Hamann) and that Sven’s playing our youth (Richards, Schmeichel, Johnson, Ireland) with such confidence and flair. The defence looks reliable and sturdy and the midfield creative and competent. The only area of concern (mainly due to injuries to Bojinov and Bianchi) is the strike force. Perhaps the rumoured £140 million January transfer kitty will help with this...


Where do I start? I previously described Sven’s signings as a ‘phenomenon’, and rightly so. Not many City fans knew what to expect from Sven’s foreign legion but their performances at Upton Park justified their contracts. For me Elano has been unbelievable and the best signing in the Premier League. He is astutely skilful and can create something out of nothing. His free kick against Newcastle was sublime, and more of the same against Boro has whet most football fans appetite for more. Many have compared him to a better Benarbia or Kinkladze- with Blumer Elano it is literally just like watching Brazil!

Elano is definitely my pick of the new signings but for me a relatively old face have impressed me a lot too- Micah Richards. If that w****r Neville manages to get back in the England squad I will single-handedly spearhead a campaign to oust Steve McLaren. Richards has been consistency personified for every game he has featured in; he has pace, he is a good tackler, has great vision and maturity. He can play anywhere in defence and has great positioning. A superb prospect for now and for years to come- any Premier League team would be lucky to have him and don’t we know it. Rumours are rife about Fergie sniffing around- say no more.

Michael Johnson has been somewhat of a revelation too. I watched him in training in February and wasn’t quite sure who he was to be honest! But he has emerged to be just the type of player that we needed; very reminiscent of a young Steven Gerrard, and that back heel against Boro to set up Elano was genius. He has scored two superb goals so far, surely he will prove to be a future England star.


For once in my very Blue life, City are the early birds setting the pace in the Premier League. Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer on Match of the Day described us as ‘the surprise package’. Previously it has been the likes of Bolton, Wigan, Reading and Ipswich and I have always looked at those teams with envy, wondering if City will ever be the surprise package. The team to shock the Premier League’s ‘Core Four’. Well that moment has finally arrived.

Yes I did get ‘Pride of Manchester’ on the back of my shirt after the derby day victory and yes I am gloating at fans of teams who are on the losing end of us, but this doesn’t mean that I am getting carried away. Being Blue we know that success tends to be short-lived so we have to enjoy it while we can. The best start to a top-flight season for 37 years is definitely worth shouting about, but I’m certainly not getting my passport out just yet- there is a long way to go. This time 10 years ago City ended the season being relegated to the then Second Division and no fan will ever forget how bad an experience that was. Lets just enjoy it while we can eh?


The 1-0 derby victory left every City fan jumping for joy and celebrating being top of the league, and most Stretford Reds licking their over-hyped wounds. I posted a good little anecdote on social networking site Facebook that I had read on a friend’s page about City fans being from Manchester. It was posted in jest and for a bit of a laugh straight after the derby success, but one individual didn’t take it that way at all. Evidently, with his red ego still bruised, and having touched a raw nerve, a certain individual I used to go to school with called Martin embarked on a headless rant with me. I have decided to include the exact transcript so you can so for yourself just how enraged he was:

"To all you rags... Ever wondered why, even with all the trophies, glory, showbiz weddings, superstar "glamour" players and planet-sized, graceless ego's that surround the "entity" that is Manchester United, you still can't kill off local support for a former skint club that has won nothing for 31 years, shoots itself in the foot at every opportunity, sells it's best players and yet is somehow still one of the best-supported teams in England? I'd say that says more about your club than ours. supporting City is typically Mancunian, backing the underdog in the face of adversity, knowing that one day soon, "our time will come again..." supporting United is heroism in a can, the refuge of the characterless, the humorless, the bland - the Footballing epitome of "blending in"...though I guess you'll just never understand that's what separates us from you, and long may it remain so... city fans never have to justify why they are Blue. Unlike our Red Brothers. Thanks for reminding me why I am and always will be Manchester City...

"HIM: The mere fact that you needed to post that suggests that you are more concerned with our club than your own as is the case with the majority of City fans. You feel the need to put us all down as glory hunting Southerners who call ourselves 'Man U'. This is not the case as I'm sure you already know more ST's at OT are from Manchester than is the case at COM. You have a ST at City as I do at Utd. You watch City home and away as I do United. Some of us are real fans too. We have a tradition and history that you can only dream off we've faced adversity when one of our greatest teams was killed (which you bastards like to sing about) and we bounced right back to the top. We are still and always will be the greatest football club in Manchester, England and the world.
ME: Hmmm.....bitter, perhaps? I think so. Fair enough, I take your point but the VAST, and I mean VAST amount of glory rags that I know alone misrepresent your club in a big way. And also, the atmosphere at old trafford is sickening. Your fans just EXPECT success, and when you couldn't manage a goal against Reading your fans reacted with utter shock and horror. Reading played well that day, they had a plan and stuck to it. But for your fans it just wasn't good enough. Even when you win the league you always just want more. City fans are pinching themselves at the moment and I fully expect to still finish in the bottom half this year, that’s the difference. We don’t expect fuck all. And you really are not the greatest club in Manchester, as yesterday proved. Get over it.
HIM: We are the pride of this City and for a long time you have been the embarrassment. Point A - The atmosphere at COM apart from derby day is shite and that comes from your own fans not my point of view. Agree OT apart from European nights is garbage atmosphere.Point B - Bitter about what? I never mentioned injuries, suspensions etc I have chosen to say you won, fair play but let's not get carried away.Point C - Drawing at home to Reading isn't good enough if you want to win the league and neither is losing to City. The team was still clapped off not booed in anyway.Point D - Yesterday proved you won 1-0 with I think 2 shots on target it hardly proves you are Manchester's greatest club does it? I think 9 Premierships might do though.
ME: Right, I posted this on here as a JOKE. Not to be taken seriously by anybody, as a hearty little laugh because I am in a very good mood. NOT because we beat you lot, but because city are playing very well, have a good manager and have made some astute signings. 3 wins in 3 is a blinding start, so what is wrong with any blue (not only me) having a laugh and making the most of enjoying the situation that we are finding ourselves in. Only a rag fan could attempt to take the above in any serious manner because you lot have had the worst start to a campaign in 15 years. Take it as a joke mate, I don’t need bullet points thrown back at me. Being a city fan I need a sense of humour- seems like you could do with one too.
HIM: You should enjoy your success then rather than our apparent demise. You never mentioned your own team in the original post just had a cheap shot at us. Maybe if you celebrated this like a normal victory we wouldn't look on at you as our poor relatives. Everyone knows our big games are Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool you lot now come a distant 4th. Anyway you enjoy it you never know when that bubble will burst. By the way what did you think of Eriksson when he arrived I seem to recall it wasn't full support?
ME: I didn’t mention us cos it wasn’t me who wrote the above, it was one of my cousin's mate who sent it to me and I found it quite apt so I posted it. I will find out his name and credit him on the above. I thought Eriksson might not be the right choice at city because I was sure the whole media circus would overshadow the club and to an extent it has, but I’ve never once faulted his domestic record, because you can’t. That speaks for itself and I knew with the Shinawatra takeover the money would be there for him to spend. If you 'recall' that, then you should recall that I am a true fan and take great pride in supporting my team no matter what division we are in. Yes I like to take a pop at you guys, but it’s the same no matter what team we play, and god knows I’ve had to take some stick over the years too. So what’s wrong in enjoying it while I can? I remember when our rivals were Macclesfield- and I was there singing the blues then, I am an eternal optimist!
HIM: Fair play to you I remember those days back at school where you took some almighty stick. I always thought Sven was a decent boss who was treated disgracefully as England coach. That was the only plus point yesterday and as much as I like Sir Alex he made some stupid arrogant comments on Friday that you shouldn't do before a derby. All I'm saying is don't get carried away enjoy it while it lasts. As I was yesterday I'll be there Sunday and will be whoever we play no matter how bad. For evidence of this i'm a bloody Widnes fan too!
ME: Well that’s fair play to you and I will always admire a true fan, no matter what colour shirt they wear, and everybody who knows me knows that. Yes Fergie came out with some shite comments but that normally backfires when managers do that anyway. I’ve always said on Facebook that I’m expecting City to land on a banana skin when things are too good to be true, and we normally do, I’m not sure if that will happen at the Emirates but we shall see! Oh I don’t follow rugby, it’s the wrong shaped ball lol. I should do though for my sport journalism, but its football, cricket and formula one for me. City will always come first though

He did see the error of his ways afterwards, but I found the entire argument hilarious. FourFourTwo magazine have a fantastic derby feature in their latest issue that really made me think of that argument and it’s definitely worth a read.

THEY THINK IT’S ALL OVER...Things to look forward to...going to the City player’s dinner with Dave and Sue... Chelski away (dare we dream, I was gutted to see Mourinho leave)... trying to get another decent interviewee for another radio assignment... possible progression in the Cup against Bolton...Elano...Plus...Can I just say a big thank you to everybody who has joined the King of the Kippax Facebook group. It is another way of spreading the word about the fanzine and keeping in touch with the contributors and readers.

Keep the Blue faith,
Emily Brobyn xx

The Departures article (Sept 2007)


Regrets? They might have a few when they see who’s just sat in City's managerial hotseat...

Although this summer has been a complete and utter washout (thanks for cursing us with your Umbrella song, Rihanna!), I think it’s safe to say that the summer of 2007 has most certainly heralded the dawn of a new era at Manchester City. A new chairman in the form of ‘Dr’ Thaksin Shinawatra, and a new manager, in the controversial form of Sven-Goran Eriksson, has completely transformed the future prospects of the club.

So, it was inevitable that, in the time of uncertainty when Stuart Pearce was sacked, there would be casualties. Not one, not two, but three of City’s longest-serving players have left for pastures new, seeking new challenges. Sylvain Distin, Joey Barton and Nicky Weaver were all popular and regular players for City but all jumped ship before Sven’s arrival; the first two seeking a bigger challenge and the latter having reluctantly left for the sake of his career.

I will reminisce first on Mr Sylvain Distin- a classy French defender who City chased for a good year before being promoted to the Premiership. Distin had experienced a taste of England’s top league during his loan spell at Newcastle, but decided to sign a four-year permanent deal with Keegan’s blues instead.

City signed Distin in May 2002 from Paris St. Germain for a reasonable £4 million to partner Dunney in the heart of the blue’s defence. He was definitely one of Keegan’s best buys and immediately became one of City’s regulars. Only a hamstring pull kept him out of the famous 3-1 derby victory and, after he returned, he eventually earned the right to wear the captain’s armband. His performances were consistent and he looked sharp and focused. The City faithful were definitely impressed- he was voted Player of the Year after his debut season.

His form continued after our move to Eastlands in the 2003/04 season as he led his team-mates into Europe- and beyond. He scored his first goal in the 6-2 massacre of Bolton Wanderers and grabbed a crucial second goal at White Hart Lane- the goal that sparked one of the greatest comebacks in the Cup’s history. Not only was he reliable, he had forged a strong partnership with Dunne.

A partnership that remained ever-solid in the 2004/05 campaign. This was arguably Distin’s best in a City shirt- proven by respectable goal-less draws against Chelski, Arsenal and the Stretford Reds. Despite the appointment of Psycho as manager, Distin kept the captain’s armband and finished the season with one of the best defensive records in the Premiership, narrowly missing out on getting into Europe.

The final two seasons that he spent at City were dogged with transfer rumours and media speculation. He gave up his number five squad number and the captain’s armband at the start of the 2006/07 season and refused to put pen to paper on a new contract until he was positive that the club was ‘moving forward’ and heading towards silverware. His performances remained impressive- he made 43 appearances and scored two goals in what was to prove his final campaign at City.

As you are probably aware through previous articles and my Distin interview, I was one of the Frenchman’s biggest fans. I’d met him several times: he was a true gentleman and a fine professional. We would always have interesting conversations- I could ask him anything and he would always answer with honesty. Although I certainly don’t agree with some of his quotes following his arrival at Fratton Park (“I decided to leave Manchester City because they didn’t try…”, “I don’t know if Manchester City are going down, but they are definitely not going up…”), I do wish him well in his career. I just wonder now after Sven’s arrival if he has any regrets. I’d be willing to put money on it. Au revoir Sylvain, c’est le vie.

I sometimes wonder if the word controversial was invented for our next departure. Joey Barton attracted more front page headlines than back during his roller-coaster time at City- it’s just a pity that his off-the-field persona and behaviour overshadowed his real talent.

Barton joined City’s academy as a teenager after he was released by his boyhood heroes, Everton. He spent years working his way up and training, and his passionate, stubborn midfield presence was exactly what Keegan needed in 2002, following the departures of Benarbia and Berkovic. He was about to be rocketed from lurking in the shadows to centre stage.

His debut for City was postponed from Boro’s Riverside after his shirt was stolen from the dugout (karma?), to Bolton’s Reebok Stadium. As a substitute he left a good impression with both fans and critics alike and he went on to score his first professional and Premiership goal at White Hart Lane.

The following season, 2003/04, was full of progress for Barton. Despite only scoring one goal for City, at Ewood Park, he began to show true potential and this, coupled with his grit, determination and midfield endeavours only fuelled his popularity with the blue army.

Unfortunately passion and commitment can boil over and reckless tackles do get punished. Inevitably nowadays a player becomes typecast with a reputation for unsavoury behaviour after one too many yellow cards. This definitely played a part, along with his mouthing off when Barton received his first red card in the historic 4-3 F.A. Cup triumph at Spurs.

The 2004/05 season saw Barton cement his place as a regular in City’s starting eleven. After an injury setback, he returned and became an inspirational figure for City- a pivotal figure in the team, making 33 appearances and scoring two goals. He remained one of the star players up until his departure from the club, having retracted his transfer request in January 2006 and signing a new deal.

However his incidents off-the-pitch have been well documented. Barton jabbing a lit cigar into academy player Jamie Tandy’s eye at City’s 2004 Christmas party ended in a £120,000 fine. Barton allegedly punching a fan during the 2005/06 pre season tour in Thailand ended in Barton being admitted into Tony Adam’s ‘Sporting Chance’ clinic. The whole transfer debacle in the winter months of 2005 and early 2006 tested fans’ loyalty to him, not to mention our patience. Then the final straw in May this year when he attacked team-mate Ousmane Dabo during training, resulting in his arrest and subsequent assault charge (to which he has today pleaded not guilty…what??).

How many chances can an individual have? It gets to a point where you realise he is taking the piss- nobody knows what provoked his attack on Dabo but it was unsavoury and unnecessary. Barton is supposed to be a professional and should act in a respectful manner. He has disgraced himself at City and in my opinion was very lucky to have the opportunity to redeem himself by Sam Allardyce. I do hope he sorts himself out though as he is a talented player and it would be a shame to see that talent go to waste. I will definitely be keeping my eye on his future progress. You want my advice Mr Barton? Anger management, well, that’s if he manages to avoid jail time.

Every football follower has a hero- somebody whose heroics captures their eye and encourages them to chart their career progress from that special day. Mine was Nicky Weaver. After being touted as the future England goalkeeper, his career has sadly been plagued by injuries, but there’s no doubting the good memories every City fan has of him.

Weaver joined City at the close season 1997 from Mansfield Town to help put a stop to our goalkeeping crisis. He made his debut in the Second Division opener against Blackpool where he kept a clean sheet, a trend that continued consistently throughout the 1998/99 season. His record-breaking 23 clean sheets undoubtedly helped City into the play-off final that season.

We all know what happened next. Weaver saved two of the four penalties that Gillingham took in the Second Division play-off final shoot-out to help City gain promotion. It was a culmination of a season’s worth of achievement for Weaver, giving him cult status at the club.

The Sheffield-born ‘keeper continued to do his job in season 1999/00, notching up 11 clean sheets in 41 appearances, deservedly securing a place in the England under 21 squad. Once again the season reached a dramatic conclusion, this time at Ewood Park where a 4-1 victory promoted City to the Premiership. Weaver was now faced with living his dream- playing for his country and playing with the big boys.

However Weaver struggled to find his form. In the 2000/01 season his performances became erratic and unreliable. To most people it looked like he had been basking in his glory a little too much- and Royle decided to replace him with Carlo Nash. He had gone from hero to zero in the space of nine months.

After being dropped from City’s first team and England, Weaver had a point to prove. In season 2001/02 the Keegan era began and Weaver and Nash shared goalkeeping duties- until Weaver picked up a knee injury at St. Andrews. The injury was a devastating blow for him and ruled him out of the entire 2002/03 Premiership season. He made a brief return to action in August 2003 but sadly suffered a re-occurrence of the injury, sending him to the United States for a graft on his cartilage.

Since his return from injury, Weaver enjoyed a period on-loan at his boyhood favourites Sheffield Wednesday, where he made 14 appearances for the Owls. The 2006/07 season saw Weaver make a very welcome return to first-team action at Stamford Bridge and staying between the posts for 31 appearances during the season. His departure is a sad one for many blues for feel that he was never able to live up to his expectations due to being blighted by injury, but I for one will always be grateful for the memories he provided us with on that amazing Wembley day eight years ago. I would wish him the best of luck with the future Nicky, wherever it may be at.

It remains to be seen what is around the corner next for City. With so many new arrivals coming through the doors at Eastlands, it’s likely that more familiar faces will be departing as Sven rings the changes. It’s just a shame that the three above players left before Sven’s appointment. But then again, we are a club with no ambition apparently…let’s hope a slice, sorry chunk, of humble pie will be served come May time. Let the season begin!

Emily Brobyn xx