Sunday, 22 November 2009

JIM'S COLUMN 21.11.09

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the dearth of ex-City players playing in the top flight of English football but this week Nick Cook alerted me to one playing in the French top flight who captained his country to the World Cup finals this week. In 2003 French-born Algerian Yazid Mansouri impressed City’s manager Gary McAllister during a trial and signed on a year-long loan from French club Le Havre. His lack of experience of the English game was exposed at first but he worked hard and won a place in central-midfield alongside Moroccan Youssef Safri. Just as he began to look a reasonable player his decision to feature for Algeria in the African Nations Cup in the New Year upset the club and his loan contract was terminated. He now plays for Lorient in France’s Ligue 1 and has been a big factor in the small town club’s survival against the odds in the top division in the last three seasons. On Wednesday Algeria clinched their place in South Africa with a famous 1-0 win over arch rivals Egypt in a play-off game in Sudan.

Martin Ross wanted to know the team line ups and match details of the away game at Stoke in 1985 when City were left to get nine points from three games to overhaul Norwich and avoid relegation. A flu epidemic at Easter had caused City to postpone several games and they had to rearrange three games after the official end of the season. The first of the three games was played on the eve of the FA Cup final, at Stoke’s Victoria Ground. The teams lined up as follows:-
City: Ogrizovic: Butterworth, Pearce, Hibbitt, Kilcline, Peake, Bennett, McGrath, Regis, Gibson, Adams. sub Gynn (for Hibbitt)

Stoke: Fox: Bould, Hemming, Maskery, Dyson, Berry, Heath, McIlroy, Painter, Saunders, Beeston sub Chamberlain (M) (for Saunders)

Stoke were already relegated having won only three games and gained a record low 17 points. As a result the crowd was a pitiful 6,930, with almost half of that number following the Sky Blues. The game was of a very low standard and riddled with mistakes and a goal from either side looked unlikely until Cyrille Regis’ header hit George Berry’s arm after 66 minutes. Stuart Pearce smashed the spot-kick home to send City’s fans delirious but six minutes from time the referee evened things up by awarding the home side a penalty after Regis was adjudged to have fouled Paul Dyson. Up stepped Ian Painter to strike his penalty on to the underside of the bar and away to safety. City’s 1-0 victory was the first of the three crucial results that ensured safety. The team went on to beat Luton 1-0 and Everton, the newly crowned champions 4-1.

Alex Auchterlonie from Bristol wanted some information for a City-supporting work colleague who retired last week, presumably for a speech. His specific question was: who was City’s leading scorer in the 1969-70 season? The answer is Neil Martin who, during that momentous season that saw the Sky Blues finish sixth in the old First Division and qualify for European football, scored 14 league goals and 1 in the FA Cup, John O’Rourke was second with 11 goals and Ernie Hunt third with nine. In the 12 league games that Martin scored City never lost.

Someone from Galower Builders sent me an email asking the question: which Coventry City players played for England in the 1970s? The answer is none. Only four Coventry City players have represented England at full level whilst playing for the club.

Reg Matthews (5 caps in 1956), Danny Thomas (2 caps in 1983), Cyrille Regis (1 cap in 1988) and Dion Dublin (3 caps in 1998).

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