Monday, 15 March 2010

JIM'S COLUMN 13.3.10

Another away victory last Saturday at London Road, Peterborough, strengthened City’s case for a play-off place and with some of their rivals stuttering the odds are falling on a miracle happening. City fans are quite rightly getting excited about the prospect of the team’s first foray into the play-offs but there is still a long way to go, with probably around 23 points from 11 games required. History tells us that as the race for a top six place reaches a climax the form of the leading protagonists will inevitably improve. City’s remaining home games look relatively easy but how often have we looked at fixtures and marked them down as a banker only to see our team blow an opportunity. As well, the recent home records against Cardiff, Preston and Watford are far from impressive. My advice to City fans is enjoy the ride – it’s so rare for us to be in contention for some glory and if the club’s recent history is anything to go by it might be some time before we get the chance again.

Today’s home game with struggling Plymouth Argyle gives the Sky Blues the chance to achieve their best run of league wins for eight years. Victory would mean a fourth success in a row and the best since December 2002 when under the managership of Gary McAllister the team beat Stoke (a), Wolves (a), Derby (h) and Reading (h). The mini-run took City to sixth place in the Championship and earned Gary the manager of the month award. Unfortunately the wheels fell off and the Sky Blues recorded just one victory in the remaining 21 games and missed relegation by a whisker. It is 12 years since a City team won five in a row – Gordon Strachan’s impressive side in 1997-98.

Mick Sanders enjoyed the short obituary to Birmingham goalkeeping legend Gil Merrick a couple of weeks ago. The article reminded him of one of his earliest City memories - George Mason's testimonial match in April 1953. He recalls it was between Coventry City and a Midlands All Star XI. City’s forward line was strengthened by two guests, Derby’s former England man Jack Stamps and Cardiff’s former City player Ken Chisholm. Merrick played in goal for a team that included the famous flying Wolves wingers Johnny Hancocks and Jimmy Mullen. The game, watched by a crowd of 11,143 was a thrilling exhibition match and ended in an 8-5 win for the All Stars for whom Arthur Rowley scored three goals, Hancocks 2, Peter Murphy, Ronnie Allen and a Martin McDonnell own goal. City’s scorers were Stamps (3), Barry Thomas and Eric Johnson. As Mick points out in his email, it was an opportunity to see some of the top players of the day including some of the mighty Wolves team and the great Gil Merrick in goal.

The acceptances are flying in for this year’s Legends Day and it is expected that around 50 former Coventry City players will be attending the event at the Sheffield Wednesday home game at the end of the month. The Former Players Association are organising the event and acceptances have been received this week from such luminaries as Neil Martin, Alan Green, John Williams and Wilf Smith.

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