After City’s defeat at the New Den last week manager Aidy Boothroyd described City as ‘soft’ and any fan knows that soft sides do not get results at Millwall. The defeat means it is 55 years since City’s last victory in Docklands – 15 league and cup games. Most City fans know what Aidy means and have watched too many ‘soft’ capitulations by the Sky Blues over recent seasons. If City want to be serious promotion contenders they will have to toughen up and grind out results at places like Millwall. The last Coventry City team to win promotion, Jimmy Hill’s 1967 team, were past masters at picking up points when playing poorly. Mind you the 1967 team failed to win at Millwall, losing an early season game 1-0.
Last week I commented on the small crowd at the Ricoh Arena for the home game with Derby County – the smallest crowd to watch a City home game since 2005 – and last Saturday I noted the dip in attendances across the Championship as a whole.
Of the 12 games played last weekend only two were watched by a crowd higher than last season’s average crowd. At Millwall just over 11,000 watched City’s defeat compared to last season’s average of 10,834 and at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium a similar crowd watched the Yorkshire derby with Hull City. All other 10 games were watched by smaller than last season’s average crowds including Sheffield United 19,000 (last season’s average 25,000), Derby 25,000 (29,000) and Leicester 19,000 (24,000). Whilst all three of the clubs above have had mediocre starts to the season I know that they all have less season ticket holders than last campaign. In addition the gates at Ipswich, Forest, Scunthorpe and Swansea confirm the downward trend in this league.
So Coventry City are not the only club affected by falling attendances and I suspect it is a result of the economic situation the country finds itself in combined with England’s poor showing in this summer’s World Cup.
Dean Nelson sent me a picture of an old programme (see image) recently asking if I could provide more information about it. In February/March 1989 the Bermuda Football Association invited the Sky Blues and Middlesbrough to their island for a series of friendly games. City were lying in fourth place in the old First Division when they left the cold English winter for a warm break in the sun, one place behind Millwall where they had lost 1-0 the previous Saturday. The opening game saw City facing Boulevard Community Club, a team of Rastafarian amateurs who were one of Bermuda’s top club sides. Goals from Gary Bannister, Dean Emerson, Cyrille Regis and Dave Bennett gave City a 4-0 victory. City ended their brief sojourn on the sunny Atlantic island with a 2-1 victory over ‘Boro with goals from Regis and a late winner from substitute Howard Clark. City’s players described the rock hard pitch at the PHC Stadium where all the games were played, as ‘disgraceful’. Manager John Sillett was a little more diplomatic, calling it ‘a little bumpy’.