Sunday, 11 October 2009

JIM'S COLUMN 10.10.09

What a great result at Watford last week. The Sky Blues came from behind to win at Vicarage Road, their first victory there since Micky Adams’ team won there in 2004-05. Admittedly the Hornets had a weakened side following a flu bug and were seriously put to the sword by Cardiff four days later but it was still good to see us win at a bogey ground. Before this season Watford had done the double over City in four of the last seven seasons they have met including the last two seasons. An interesting point to note is that like many of the sides in the Championship this season, Watford have very few players who cost a fee and a lot of homegrown youngsters either on the bench or in the squad. Reality is biting hard this season in the championship and I believe that the three teams relegated from the Premiership will have to shoot themselves in the foot not to go straight back up.

City don’t often come from behind to win a game (only once in the whole of last season at home to Blackpool) and the Watford victory was the first time on the road since the 5-1 win at Colchester in April 2008 when relegation to League One loomed at half-time with City a goal down at Layer Road.

Colin Heys duly celebrated the 40th anniversary of his first Coventry City game last weekend. He posed a few questions for me including the following:

In 1969-70 what sort of season did City have? : Considering they had avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth in the previous two seasons Noel Cantwell performed miracles to take City to sixth place and qualify for the Fairs Cup. The success was built on a solid defence and an incredible away record – they won 10 away games, only bettered by champions Everton.

During the 40 years I have been watching them, how many league games, FA Cup games and League Cup games have Coventry won, drawn and lost? :

League : Played: 1672 won: 531 drawn: 466 lost: 675

FA Cup: Played: 110 won: 47 drawn: 24 lost: 39

League Cup: Played: 128 won: 67 drawn: 17 lost: 44

In addition to watching Coventry City in almost 1700 games he has also seen over 300 non-Coventry games including a World Cup final (1990), a European Championships final (1988), a European Cup final (1991), a European Cup Winners Cup final (1995), a UEFA Cup final (1984), a League Cup final (1983) and of course an FA Cup final in 1987. He has seen all the greats of the era including Maradona, Platini, Cruyff and Zidane. His all-time favourite City player is Tommy Hutchison.

Ian Evans of Willenhall sent me a very interesting photograph taken at Highfield Road in 1921. It is of Dick, Kerr’s Ladies Football Team who that year played St Helens Ladies on the ground.

Dick, Kerr, were a firm of tram makers from Preston and their ladies team made headlines after the First World War with their exciting brand of football. The undefeated ladies champions of England hired League grounds and staged matches for charitable causes. The biggest ever crowd recorded for a women's game in England took place at Goodison Park on Boxing Day 1920 when 53,000 people watched Dick, Kerr's Ladies beat their closest rivals, St Helen's Ladies, 4-0.

On 26 February the same teams played at Highfield Road in aid of the Mayor’s Fund for the Relief of Distress, a local charity for the benefit of poor families. Advance publicity stirred the interest, and a crowd approaching 25,000 was reported in attendance. If that figure is accurate it would have constituted a new ground record, but in 1929 when discussing record crowds at the stadium the gate was confirmed as 22,920, 600 short of the record. The team from Preston were again too strong and ran out 8-1 winners.

In October 1921 the Football Association banned women from playing on Football League grounds. The main reason given was that: ‘Complaints have been made as to football being played by women, the council feel impelled to express their strong opinion that the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged’. Though ladies football continued to take place there was a considerable decrease in interest. The FA ban lasted until 1971.

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