Kenny Hibbitt only spent two seasons at Coventry City towards the end of his playing career and was much more closely linked with Wolves where he made over 500 appearances. He has recently published his autobiography in conjuction with Tim Nash, a Wolverhampton-based journalist. Kenny sent me a copy and although there is only one chapter covering the Highfield Road spell the book makes fascinating reading.
He started his career as an apprentice at Bradford Park Avenue but soon caught the eye of numerous scouts and signed for Wolves as a 18-year-old, spending two years in the reserves before becoming a regular in the first team from 1970 until 1984. He played in two winning League Cup finals and won a solitary England under 23 cap in an era when you had to be outstanding to play in the national team.
Wolves and City, of course, were massive local rivals in the late 60s and 70s and players like Kenny, John Richards and Derek Dougan were thorns in City's sides of that era with honours probably even between the Midland rivals in that period. The most memorable clash came in 1973 in the FA Cup sixth round tie at Molineux. City, rejuvenated by the signings of Tommy Hutchison and Colin Stein, were confident of a result but in front of 53,000 Richards and Dougan exposed the frailties of Bobby Parker and won 2-0. Wolves went on to lose unluckily to Don Revie's Leeds in the semi-final, a result that haunts Hibbitt to this day.
Relegation battles under first Bobby Gould and later Don Mackay, dominated his two seasons at Coventry (1984-86) but he writes fondly of this spell of his career. After hanging up his boots he managed Walsall and Cardiff and in the book highlights the issues of managing in the lower divisions, namely, lack of money, covering a multitude of roles and the 24/7 dedication required. There are lots of funny stories and big name characters who crossed his path in a dazzling career. The book, 'Seasons of My Life' wonderfully describes the golden era of playing in the early 1970s and the depressing side of managing in the lower divisions of the 1980s.
Last week I wrote about two City outfield players who went in goal in emergencies, David Speedie and Roy Kirk and promised to mention a few more this week. The last was Stephen Hughes who took over the goalkeeping jersey in a home game with Stoke City in 2005 after the City goalkeeper Ian Bennett was shown a red card in the 41st minute. Hughes repelled all Stoke's efforts to score and the game ended 0-0. Prior to that you have to go back to 1977 when Jim Blyth was injured in a home game with West Ham. Bobby McDonald went in goal for the last half hour but couldn't prevent 'Pop' Robson from scoring a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw. The previous season, at Maine Road, 'keeper Bryan King was dazed in a challenge early in the game but stoically continued until the hour mark by which time City were 3-0 down. John Craven took over in goal and kept Man City's formidable attack out until the final minute when Dennis Tueart made the final score 4-2.
In the 1960s there was only one incidence of an outfield player going in goal – again at Maine Road, in 1965, when Bill Glazier was stretchered off after 41 minutes with a broken leg following a clash with Glyn Pardoe. With City losing 1-0 and things looking bleak Ronnie Rees went in goal. Three minutes later Ken Hale equalised for City and Rees and City's brave defenders kept the home side out to earn a famous 1-1 draw.
If any readers remember any other City outfield players going in goal please let me know.