Arthur Lightening was a larger than life Coventry City goalkeeper between 1959-1962 who was a hero to many young City fans in that era. A couple of weeks ago I had an email from a lady called Elna Hosier asking for some information about Arthur’s whereabouts. Sadly I had to tell her that Arthur died over 10 years ago in his native South Africa.
Elna said that Arthur used to spend time at her house during summer vacations in the 1950s and I am trying to ascertain where Elna was living at the time. It may have been South Africa or possibly Coventry but I have asked Elna to elaborate a bit.
Arthur joined Coventry in 1959 from Nottingham Forest where he had been the regular goalkeeper for the reserve team. He played 160 games for City before joining Middlesborough early in the 1962-63 season when the Teeside club, a division higher than the Sky Blues at the time, paid a substantial fee for him.
With a surname of Lightening, Arthur was a dream for football headline writers and they had a field day after his debut for ‘Boro, a 6-1 defeat at Newcastle. “Lightening thunder struck," was the headline in the Daily Mirror the following morning.
Lightening made just 14 more Football League appearances for Boro, interrupted by a Quarter Sessions appearance for receiving stolen beer, wine and spirits at his room in the Royal Hotel, Redcar.
Though found guilty, he was given an absolute discharge after the judge described him as "honest, truthful and manly."
Lightening, the court heard, earned £25 a week with an extra fiver for first team appearance money.
In May 1963, he was given permission by the club to attend his brother’s wedding in South Africa, sailed off and never returned. "I though it strange that he only booked a single ticket," the travel agent told the Northern Echo's investigating reporter.
Arthur lived for many years in the Glenwood area of Durban and was closely involved with local side Stella F.C. Bob Weeks, famous for tracking down former City players communicated with Arthur up until his death and discovered that Arthur lost a number of toes on his left foot as a result of a boating accident. He did tell Bob that he always looked for City’s results and had fond memories of his time at Highfield Road.
Planning for next weekend’s 40th anniversary reunion of the Coventry City team that qualified for and played in European competition is well advanced. Around 12-13 former players are expected to attend the Barnsley home game for an event organised by the Former Players Association. Amongst those expected to attend are Willie Carr, Bill Glazier, Ernie Hannigan, Mick Coop, Chris Cattlin, Jeff Blockley, Ian Gibson, Dennis Mortimer, Ernie Machin, Trevor Gould and Ian Goodwin. Neil Martin sadly can’t be with us, he has just had a hip operation and not fit to travel down from Scotland. Nor can new FPA member Brian Joicey. Brian, who would have loved to meet his old colleagues as well as see two of his former teams play (he played for Barnsley after leaving City), cannot get time off work. John O’Rourke and Ernie Hunt are also possibles to attend. Whilst the former players will be entertained in the corporate areas at the game there will be an opportunity for fans to mingle with their former heroes after the game at the G-Casino and all are welcome to attend. A good day is in store!