The 50th Anniversary of City’s Fourth Division promotion celebrations went extremely well last week with eleven members of City’s playing staff from 1959 and relatives of five deceased players and the two children of the then manager Billy Frith. Many of the attendees had not seen each other for many years and there was a lot of reminiscing before, during and after the game with all vowing to get together again soon. One extra special guest also attended – Sky Blue Rose. Rose McNulty was famous for providing the recorded telephone messages that kept City fans in touch with news of the club during the Jimmy Hill era. She married City player Dudley Roberts (there on Saturday representing his late father Ted, who was coach of the ’59 team) and it was her first visit to Coventry City for many years. Special thanks go to the G-Casino who provided their facilities before and after the match – comedian Billy Bell has got a great post-match atmosphere going in the casino these days and it was great fun there on Saturday night.
The Former Players Association presented the guests with a specially designed limited edition lapel badge commemorating the 50th anniversary. Only 50 gold-plated versions were produced and a number will be auctioned at future events to raise funds for the Association. There are also 50 silver badges with the same design and these are available at £10 each. Anyone interested in acquiring one should contact me.
Dean Nelson e-mailed me asking for some information on a Youth game at Highfield Road in 1970. He had read that City’s Youth team had beaten Brentford 13-0 and wondered who had scored. I remember watching the game – it was the night before City made their European debut in Plovdiv, Bulgaria and presumably the first team management missed the goal avalanche.
The game was a Southern Junior Floodlit Cup tie and the scorers were Alan Green (5), Colin Randall (3), Trevor Smith (2), Glen Burdett, Jimmy Holmes and Bob Stockley. Green was the undoubted hero with his nap hand of goals and he also hit the woodwork twice and had two efforts cleared off the line. Incidentally the Brentford goalkeeper that night was Paul Priddy who despite the disastrous scoreline went on to play over 100 games in Brentford’s first team and is now goalkeeping coach at Aldershot. City’s youth team were outstanding that season with players such as Bobby Parker, Dennis Mortimer, Alan Dugdale and Mick McGuire. Dennis didn’t play against Brentford, he was in the squad in Plovdiv.
Several eagle-eyed readers spotted not one but two errors in last week’s column. I mentioned that I could find no record of George Curtis starting a game for City in the number 9 shirt. Several people reminded me of the opening game of the 1968-69 season at Hillsborough when with Neil Martin injured and Maurice Setters in top form in the number five shirt, George reluctantly played up front. According the CT match report he looked ‘acutely uncomfortable…and played as if he was doing it because of the exigencies of the situation but really disliking every moment.’ He also missed a gilt-edged chance to make it 1-1 early in the second half and Wednesday ran out 3-0 winners. Steve Coyne pointed out that George also played up front (in the number 8 shirt) in his first start after recovering from a broken leg at Nottingham Forest in City’s first season in the top flight in 1967. It was against Stoke at the Victoria Ground on Easter Tuesday 1968 and he picked up a knock and had to leave the field at half-time in the game which ended 3-3 after City lead 3-1 with 12 minutes left. Steve also reminded me that Maurice Setters, normally a centre-half, played in the number 9 shirt against Newcastle at home in November 1969, but like Curtis at Sheffield made little impression in City’s 1-0 win (Ernie Hunt penalty).
The other error was that Willie Humphries won 11 Northern Ireland caps whilst at Highfield Road, not 10 as I had stated. Willie, who is alive and well and living in his native Northern Ireland, won 14 caps in total, including one with Ards before he joined City and two with Swansea after leaving Coventry.