Coventry City’s woes with goalkeepers continued at Watford last Saturday with Everton loanee Iain Turner lasting only 18 minutes before succumbing to injury but allowing promising youngster Michael Quirke to have his day in the limelight. Michael is three weeks short of his nineteenth birthday and he is the youngest goalkeeper to play first team football for the club since Perry Suckling made his debut in 1982 as a sixteen year old.
Quirke became the fourth goalkeeper used by City in three matches this season which I am confident is a record for the club. I have been enquiring with other football statisticians and discovered that in 1968 Nottingham Forest used four different keepers in four consecutive games. City rarely use more than two keepers in a season but in 2001-02 (the first after relegation from the Premiership) they used five keepers. Chris Kirkland played in the opening game at Stockport. Chris was sold to Liverpool days later and Magnus Hedman took over. Then the big Swede was injured and Andy Goram came in on loan, making seven appearances. Goram was however cup-tied and could not play against Chelsea in the League Cup and reserve Gary Montgomery stepped in for his debut, just a day after his 19th birthday. After Christmas Hedman had more injury problems and Tim Flowers came on loan to make it five ‘keepers in one season.
In 2004-05 four different players donned the ‘keeper’s jersey. Scott Shearer, Luke Steele and Ian Bennett all started games and Stephen Hughes pulled on the jersey when loanee Bennett was sent off against Stoke City at Highfield Road.
Paul Walker asked me to settle an argument regarding former England international full-back Mick Mills. Paul believed that Mills’ only involvement was as assistant manager to Terry Butcher in the early 1990s but his friend argued that Mills had joined City as a player and appeared for the first team. Paul is correct Mills, who had managerial experience with Stoke City and Colchester, was appointed by Butcher soon after the former England captain took over as manager in October 1990. A year later however the new regime (including chairman Peter Robins and director Bryan Richardson) forced Butcher to jettison Mills for cost-cutting reasons, and replace him with Don Howe. Weeks later Butcher was relieved of his duties and replaced by Howe in a caretaker role. Mills, a right-back in his playing days, was a key member of Bobby Robson’s outstanding Ipswich team of the 1970s and had many memorable head to head duels with Tommy Hutchison.
Dave Perkins asked me to publish City’s all-time record against Manchester United which is:-
League Pl W D L for agst
Home 37 13 8 16 44 52
Away 37 6 8 23 26 72
Total 74 19 16 39 70 124
In addition there have been nine Cup meetings of which City have won four, drawn one and lost four. City have won their last two Cup meetings at Old Trafford (1987 and 2007).
Derek Paterson, a City fan based in New Zealand, sent me an email recently giving me news of former City goalkeeper Jonathan Gould. Gould, now aged 41, is the assistant coach (and goalkeeping coach) for the New Zealand-based Wellington Phoenix, the only NZ team playing in the A-League (the Australian professional league).
Derek tells me that last season Gould had to sit on the bench as substitute goalkeeper on five occasions because of an injury crisis at the club but fortunately was not called upon. The Phoenix became the first NZ team to reach the A-League play-offs by virtue of finishing fourth in the league season. They failed to reach the play-off finals but hugely improved the image of New Zealand football.
Jonathan, the son of former City player and manager Bobby Gould, played 25 games for the Sky Blues between 1992-96 before a successful career with Celtic and Preston. He also won two international caps for Scotland, despite being born in London.