Wednesday, 30 September 2009

JIM'S COLUMN 26.9.09

I helped settle a bet between father and son Sky Blue fans David and Matthew Kite last week. David, who saw his first game in 1946, bet his son Matthew that City played QPR on a plastic pitch in the 1980s. He was right to a point but for some reason he thought they had played at the White City, the old athletics stadium in West London. I think he was getting confused with a game in 1963 when QPR moved from Loftus Road to the athletics stadium for one season, and City won the final game of the season 3-1 in front of a sparse 3,245 crowd with goals from Ronnie Rees, Ken Hale (pen) and John Sillett. The season had been a financial disaster for QPR and they returned to Loftus Road that summer. They had also played at White City for two seasons between 1931-33 and that was a similar failure, although they did attract a record 41,000 crowd there for an FA Cup tie with Leeds in 1932.

QPR had a plastic pitch at Loftus Road from 1981 to 1988 and City played on it five times, winning twice, 2-0 in 1985-86 (Terry Gibson and John Byrne (og)) and 2-1 in 1987-88 (Regis and Houchen), coming from behind with very late goals. I remember the pitch at the latter game; the ‘carpet’ was literally coming apart at the seams. During the 1980s three other league teams had artificial surfaces, Luton Town, Preston and Oldham, and City played six times on Kenilworth Road’s artificial pitches (they had two) between 1985 and 1990, winning twice.

David reminded me that his first game at Highfield Road was against Burnley at Christmas 1946. He stood with two uncles in front of the main stand on the left hand side and recalls the game: ‘There was a bounce up between City’s hard wing-half Jack Snape and Burnley’s Harry Potts. Jack was a little early in the tackle (as he was some times) and Harry was carried off! Jack followed him as he was sent off! I think City won 2 0.’ (your memory is letting you down David, Burnley actually won 3-0 to inflict City’s only home defeat of the season, and they went on to win promotion. David continued ‘Some years later when I started playing in local football for Whoberley prior to joining Coventry Amateurs, I played against Jack when he was landlord of a public house in Longford. I felt totally in awe and well padded!!’

Mike Versey wanted to know why City’s game against Oldham on Saturday 23 January 1993 kicked off at 5pm. The reason was that it was covered live by Sky. It was the first season of the Premier League and the game was that day's live match. The viewers got 20 minutes of scintillating action as City romped into a three goal lead in 19 minutes through Kevin Gallacher (2) and Peter Ndlovu. Then Gallacher limped off and City lost their way and the scoreline remained the same. The attendance was a paltry 10,515.

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