Wednesday, 1 September 2010

JIM'S COLUMN 28.8.10

Last Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Derby County lifted the Sky Blues to fourth place in the Championship after three games. It meant that the team had won its first two home games for the first time since moving to the Ricoh Arena in 2005 - in fact it was the first time since 2002 when Gary McAllister’s team beat Sheffield United and Crystal Palace in their first two home games.

Sadly the attendance was a pitifully low 13,139 - the lowest home league crowd ever at the Ricoh and the lowest since February 2005 when 12,148 were at Highfield Road for a 1-2 defeat to Wigan. No doubt the poor weather and the Sky live television coverage had an impact last week but the prices charged to ‘walk-up’ supporters is undoubtedly a big factor in these economically trying times. Even more worryingly about Saturday’s gate is that it is almost two thousand lower than the previous lowest Saturday home gate, set against Barnsley last January. Perhaps the low crowd will persuade Ray Ranson and his team to review their policy in this area.

Lowest gates at the Ricoh 2005-10

1. 13,139 v Derby Co. (2010-11)*
2. 14,036 v Scunthorpe (2007-08)
3. 14,326 v Sheffield United (2009-10)
4. 14,621 v Burnley (2008-09)
5. 14,992 v Cardiff (2008-09)
6. 15,031 v Barnsley (2009-10)*
7. 15,035 v Barnsley (2008-09)
8. 15,149 v Swansea (2008-09)
9. 15,165 v Reading (2009-10)*
10. 15,190 v Peterborough (2009-10)*
* Saturday home games

Who would bet on a City victory at Millwall this afternoon? It is the Sky Blues’ first visit to the New Den for five years and history and form is against them. City have not won at Millwall (Old or New Den) in 14 league and cup games stretching back to their last win on Boxing Day 1955. Millwall have a tradition for strong home form and hold a Football League record of 59 unbeaten home games between 1964 and 1966. They are currently unbeaten at home in 19 league and cup games, the last defeat being by Wycombe Wanderers last November.

Alan Wainwright asked me about a great goal of the past. He wanted to know at which end of Highfield Road did George Hudson score his memorable goal against Southampton. After checking with my fellow City historian Rod Dean I was able to confirm that ‘The Hud’s’ classic goal was scored at the Covered End (the City end) in September 1965.

George scored many great goals for the club but this was arguably his most memorable goal when, with his back to goal he flicked the ball over Southampton centre-half Tony Knapp's head, turned, then casually headed past a startled keeper. City won the Tuesday evening game 5-1, having lost 1-0 to the Saints at the Dell a week earlier. At the end of that season the Saints pipped the Sky Blues to promotion by one point.

Kevin Ring tells me that former City youngster Craig Faulconbridge is still playing professional football at the age of 32. The Nuneaton-born striker was on City’s books for several years as a teenager and got close to a first team call-up after a couple of substitute appearances in pre-season friendlies in 1996 before a broken leg hampered his progress. Manager Gordon Strachan let him go on loan to Dunfermline in 1998 and he scored a memorable goal for the Pars which effectively wrecked Celtic’s title hopes and handed the league to Rangers. Competition for striking places at Coventry was fierce with Dublin, Huckerby and Whelan in great form and a further loan to Dunfermline and another to Hull City preceded Craig’s release from City in 1999. Craig joined Wrexham and played over 100 games in three years at the Racecourse Ground before another three years at Wycombe Wanderers. After spells at Oxford City and Carshalton he joined Woking last season and helped them reach the Blue Square South play-offs and Kevin tells me that this season he is a fixture in Woking’s first team.

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