Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas Quiz answers

Quiz 2011

Sect 1
  1. Brighton’s American Express Community Stadium
  2. Lukas Jutkiewicz
  3. Roy O’Donovan
  4. Carl Baker
  5. Matt Mills
  6. Josh Ruffels
  7. Leicester City 21,102
  8. Andy Gray (Barnsley)
  9. Northampton Town
  10. Blackpool

Sect 2
  1. Ronnie Farmer
  2. Scott Dann
  3. Michael O’Neill
  4. Patrick Suffo (Cameroon)
  5. Colin Cameron
  6. Robbie Keane
  7. Andrew Whing
  8. Darren Huckerby
  9. Dion Dublin
  10. Adam Virgo

Sect 3
  1. Billy Frith
  2. Brentford and Fulham
  3. Roy Dwight (Gravesend)
  4. Peterborough
  5. He got married
  6. Alan Dicks
  7. Millwall
  8. George Hudson
  9. 8-1
  10. The game was televised on CCTV at Highfield Road and the shirts were chosen to distinguish the teams in the black and white transmission

Sect 4
  1. 1883
  2. 1919
  3. 1910
  4. 1981
  5. 2005
  6. 1983
  7. 1997
  8. 1995
  9. 1983
  10. 2006

Sect 5
  1. Micky Adams
  2. Martin O’Neill
  3. Frankie Bunn
  4. Bobby Gould
  5. John Sillett
  6. Micky Adams
  7. Steve Kean (unless he is sacked this week!)
  8. Terry Butcher
  9. Aidy Boothroyd
  10. Roland Nilsson

Christmas Quiz 2011

Merry Christmas to all my readers. Hope you enjoy the annual quiz



1.      Which stadium did the Sky Blues visit for the first time earlier this season?
2.      Richard Keogh has played every minute of every league game for the Sky Blues this season, but which other player has also done so?
3.      Who scored City’s goal in the League Cup defeat at Bury?
4.      Two City players have received red cards this season. Gael Bigirimana  is one, who is the other?
5.      Which former City loanee appeared for Reading at the Ricoh Arena?
6.      Which City player made his club debut as a sub at Selhurst Park this season?
7.      Which club has attracted the biggest crowd to the Ricoh Arena this season?
8.      Two opposing players have scored twice in the same game against the Sky Blues. Darius Henderson (Millwall) is one, who is the other?
9.      From which club did Chris Dunn join Coventry in the summer?
10.  Which club failed to win at City again this season and haven’t done so since 1937?


  1. …coached City’s Youth team to the FA Youth Cup final in 1970?
  2. was laid low with a ruptured testicle last week?
  3. …managed Shamrock Rovers to the Europa Cup group stages this season?
  4. won a gold medal for Football at the 2000 Olympic Games?
  5. … is the manager of Scottish club Cowdenbeath?
  6. …helped LA Galaxy win the MLS Cup recently?
  7. is currently playing at full-back for Oxford United?
  8. …had his biography ‘Through Adversity to Great Heights’ published this year?
  9. …is a musician who accompanied Ocean Colour Scene at a concert at the University of East Anglia earlier this year?
  10. …spent last season at Yeovil and is now vice-captain at Bristol Rovers?


  1. Who did JH succeed as manager of Coventry City?
  2. Which two London clubs did JH play for?
  3. Who, in January 1962, was JH’s first signing for the club?
  4. From which club did JH sign Terry Bly in the summer of 1962?
  5. What personal event in JH’s life occurred in January 1962?
  6. Who was JH’s assistant manager for most of his time at City?
  7. Which club did City beat on the final day of the 1966-67 season to clinch the Second Division championship?
  8. In 1963 which City player scored a hat-trick on his debut against Halifax Town?
  9. In 1964-65 City were beaten in the quarter finals of the League Cup by First Division Leicester City. What was the score?
  10. Why did City wear red striped shirts in their away game at Cardiff in 1965?


  1. ..were Singers FC formed?
  2. ..did City join the Football League?
  3. ..did City have a record crowd of 19,000 for an FA Cup quarter final against Everton?
  4. ..did Highfield Road become an all-seater stadium?
  5. ..did Highfield Road close and the club moved to the Ricoh?
  6. ..did Jimmy Hill leave as chairman?
  7. ..did Dion Dublin score a hat-trick against Chelsea?
  8. ..did Ron Atkinson take over from Phil Neal as manager?
  9. ..did Danny Thomas become City’s second England international?
  10. ..did Dennis Wise sign for the Sky Blues?

5.            MANAGERS & Coaches

1.      Which former Coventry City manager is currently managing Port Vale?
2.      Which current Premiership manager almost joined City as a player in a part exchange with Mick Ferguson in 1979?
3.      Which former Coventry City coach was recently sacked as assistant manager at Rochdale?
4.      Which City manager allegedly resigned in the toilets at Loftus Road?
5.      Which former Coventry City manager had a brother Peter who played for England?
6.      Which Coventry City boss manager as a player, was the first ever Premiership player sent off in 1992?
7.      Who is the former City coach currently a first-team manager in the Premiership?
8.      Which former Coventry City manager was recently inducted into the Scottish Football Museum’s Hall of Fame?
9.      Which former Coventry City manager was recently appointed manager of Northampton Town?
10.  Which former Coventry City manager is currently manager of FC Copenhagen?

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Jim's Column 17.12.11

                                                 Billy McDonald pictured (far right) in 1937

Last week’s column with my observations about relegation and the small number of points acquired to date by the Sky Blues depressed a number of readers. So this week I will try and be a bit more up beat and frivolous.

In my absence from Saturday lunchtime sessions in the Whitefriars Inn my friends are getting very frivolous. Last week they got to discussing the number of City’s great players’ names started with HU. There’s Willie Humphries, Ernie Hunt, Darren Huckerby, not to mention arguably the two greatest ever, George Hudson and Tommy Hutch. My chums set about coming up with a team of HU’s and asked for my assistance.

The conclusion was that we could put out a great forward line but defence would be tricky. Then Dave Long pointed out that Stephen Hughes had once played most of a game in goal after Ian Bennett got a red card and therefore in the absence of a ‘real’ goalie starting HU, Hughesy got the vote! The casual midfielder wouldn’t have got into the side in his normal position anyway.

No true full backs’ names started HU but back in 1991 Lee Hurst made his debut as a full back in an FA Cup debacle at Southampton’s Dell (Not an omen, I hope), so he could play at number 3. Ernie Hunt played a number of times in midfield so could get the number 4 shirt and 'Sailor' Hunter was a centre-half from the 1920s and gets the 5 shirt. Jailbird Lee Hughes wouldn’t get a game up front so he could play at right back and the left-footed Michael Hughes (one of Dowie’s useless Palace refugees) could play at 6. The team therefore lines up in an old 2-3-5 formation, as follows:-

Stephen Hughes

Right Back                                                                   Left Back
Lee Hughes                                                                  Lee Hurst

Right Half                                 Centre Half                              Left Half
Ernie Hunt                                Billy Hunter                          Michael Hughes

Outside Right           Inside Right            Centre Forward   Inside Left            Outside Left
Willie Humphries  Darren Huckerby  George Hudson   Steve Hunt  Tom Hutchison.

The attack would be so potent that we probably wouldn't need much of a defence anyway.

David Kite is a long-suffering City fan whose dedication goes back to the 1940s. He contacted me recently to tell me about the Red Lion pub, which is located on Corley Moor. He tells me that in the donkey box (I don’t know what that is) on the Left Hand side of the entrance are two picture frames, which contain Churchman cigarette cards of eight famous football players from the 1930s. Two players are of particular interest to him and he asked me for more information.

One is a certain W. McDonald of Coventry City, whom he believes was a Scottish international before the war and the other is the great England centre forward Tommy Lawton, who played for Burnley, Everton, Chelsea and was subsequently transferred in 1947 to Notts County in the old Third Division South whilst still an England player for an English record transfer fee of £20,000. David wondered if the great Lawton ever appeared at Highfield Road.

Let me deal with Billy McDonald first. Hailing from Coatbridge in Scotland he was an inside forward who joined City in the summer of 1936 from Tranmere Rovers and stayed three seasons. In 1936 City had just won promotion from Division Three and manager Harry Storer saw the Scot as the ideal replacement for Jock Lauderdale who was showing signs of his age. Billy made 96 appearances at inside forward and scored 23 goals and was a member of the team that was unbeaten in the first fifteen games of the 1937-38 season. That team looked set for promotion to Division One but ran out of steam after Christmas and finished fourth. Billy had previously played for Airdrie and Manchester United. He left City for Plymouth in 1939 just before the war started but retired from playing about 12 months later. He died in Scotland in 1979, aged 71. Sadly, David, he never played for Scotland. The picture shows Bill on the right with his City colleagues at the pre-season photo shoot (l to r): Walter Metcalf, Bill Morgan and Clarrie Bourton.

Lawton was a big star before, during and after the Second World War. He made his First Division debut for Burnley, aged 16 and was soon on his way to Everton for £6,500, a massive fee for a teenager. A prolific scorer, especially with his head, he won his first England cap two weeks after his 19th birthday in 1938 and scored in each of his first six internationals. His 34 goals in the 1938-39 season helped Everton to win the League Championship. After the war he joined Chelsea but failed to settle in London. David is right in saying that he moved from Chelsea to Third Division Notts County and in six seasons at Notts he scored over 100 goals and helped County to promotion to Division Two in 1950. In total he scored 235 goals in 383 league games and 22 goals in 23 full England internationals. I believe he played once at Highfield Road for Notts County, in 1951-52, and scored in a 2-0 away win.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Jim's column 10.12.11

                  City team at Coventry station leaving for Denmark 1946. Alf Setchell is kneeling on the right.

Coventry City’s poor run of form continued at Fratton Park on Saturday with the division’s financial basket-case gaining a much needed three points with a 2-1 victory. If, as many believe, Pompey are docked ten points because their parent company have gone into administration (and Southampton set the precedent for this three years ago), then they will become basement bedfellows with the Sky Blues. Unfortunately the way things are going we will need two more clubs to go into administration in order to avoid the drop.

The defeat sent City to the foot of the table, somewhere they haven’t been since 1996. On 7 December 1996 City lost 1-2 at home to Tottenham and propped up the whole Premier League. Ten days later Darren Huckerby inspired a famous win over Newcastle and a further three successive wins lifted City into mid-table. A spring slump however saw the Sky Blues sucked back into the relegation dog-fight and it needed wins at Anfield and at Tottenham (famously on the last day) to avoid the drop.

This season the statistics are not good for the Sky Blues. In the last eleven seasons only four clubs in this division have had 13 points or less from the first twenty games, and all have been relegated. The unfortunate four were:

Stockport            2001-02        12 points
Brighton            2002-03        12 points
Rotherham            2004-05        8 points
Southend            2006-07        12 points

In an effort to be positive I should point out that City’s worst 20-game start to a season during the same period (before this season) was in 2005-06 when, despite the move to the Ricoh Arena, only 18 points were in the bag at this stage. Then Micky Adams’ inspired signings of Don Hutchison and Dennis Wise lifted the season from the disastrous to the ecstatic with a final placing of eighth. Me thinks Andy Thorn needs to find a new Dennis Wise!

2011 has been a miserable year to be a City fan with before today only six league wins recorded. This is heading to be a new all-time low unless two wins are gained before the New Year. The current record low is eight in 2003 when City managed just one win in 24 games between January 1 and September 13. Gary McAllister’s team managed to win a further seven games out of the remaining 22 that year to reach the heady total of eight victories. That 2002-03 side was undoubtedly the worst City team I had ever seen and would have been relegated if the season had gone on two more games. Anyone who thinks the current team is the worst ever couldn’t have been around in 2003!

My brief obituary of Alf Setchell last week prompted his sons John and Alan to contact me to correct some of my facts and add some more of their own. Alf, who sadly passed away two weeks ago, was born on 29 October 1924, therefore was 87. He had made his debut as an eighteen year old in 1942 in a 1-0 home win over Walsall but his wartime service in the Royal Navy robbed him of what might have been a very successful football career. In addition to his 18 war-time appearances for City he also appeared as a guest in the war for Southport and Morton and possibly Rangers whilst on active service in the Navy.

After the war he was on City’s books until 1947 and a regular for the reserves in 1946-47 before joining Kidderminster Harriers, then a Southern League club. According to John, Kidderminster offered him more money than Coventry! 

I was incorrect in saying that he played for Lockheed Leamington but he did appear briefly for Hereford United, another Southern League side, before becoming part of a strong Bedworth Town team that won the Birmingham Combination in 1948-49 and 1949-50. The Bedworth team included several former City players including Stan Kelley (player-manager), Jack Evans and Norman Smith, with ex-City man Bob Ward as trainer. One of Alf’s playing colleagues at Bedworth in 1953-54 was Jim Brockbank (from Earlsdon) who also contacted me this week to express his condolences and remind me that ‘Shad’ Richards, the goalkeeper in that team, also passed away recently.

Outside of football, Alf worked at Dunlop Aviation Division for a number of years before being elected to the position of Secretary of the Unicorn Social Club, Holbrook Lane, in 1972. He held this position until his retirement in 1993. He was therefore well known not only in the Holbrooks area but also in the wider Warwickshire branch of the Club and Institute Union organisation.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Jim's column 3.12.11

                         CCFC photographed in Denmark on tour in 1946. Setchell is far right in the front row.

City’s trip to the South Coast and the first visit to the new Amex Stadium ended in defeat and disappointment for the 1900 City fans (the biggest away league following for almost two years) who made the long trip. One bright spot was the debut of Gary Gardner who scored after just eight minutes of his debut in a City shirt. According to my records he is only the fourth loanee to score on his first outing for the club. The three others are Lee Mills (2001-02 v Crystal Palace – almost ten years ago to the day), Johnnie Jackson (2002-03 v West Brom) and Micky Quinn (1992-93 v Manchester City). Quinn scored twice on his debut in a 2-3 loss and like Mills had his loan turned into a permanent transfer within weeks. Gardner’s goal however will go down as the fastest by a City loanee. Gary was also the first City debutant scorer for over four years – the last being Julian Gray on the opening day at Barnsley in 2007.

Cov kids Billy Gray and Alf Setchell were both on Coventry City’s books in the period immediately after the Second World War. This week I had news of both of them but very sad news in the case of Alf. Two weeks ago he was badly burned in a fire at his home in Holbrooks Lane and has subsequently died of his injuries.

Recent knowledge of Alf is vague but I do know that he was secretary for a local football team and must have been in his mid-80s – having appeared for City during the World War Two.

He was one of numerous good local players who filled in during the war for City when many of the first team squad were on active service in the hostilities. He made 12 appearances on the left wing in the 1942-43 season playing alongside several City legends including George Mason, Alf Wood, Billy Frith and George Lowrie. City had a strong team - only three of his twelve games were lost - and Setchell managed one goal in a 2-0 win at Filbert Street. Another three appearances were made in 1943-44, with one goal in a 4-1 win at Notts County. He then disappeared off the scene for almost two years before popping up in April 1946 and making three further appearances near the end of the transitional regional league season.

In May 1946 City travelled to Denmark for some friendly matches and Alf was in the 17-man squad who travelled across a war-ravaged Europe and scored a goal against crack Danish side Aarhus. (see picture).  He must have been confident of being in the first team squad when the first post-war season kicked off in August 1946 but he never played for the first team again. I believe he may have played for Lockheed Leamington at some stage after the war but I do know he lived in Coventry for the rest of his life.

Alan Clowes gave me the latest news on Billy Gray. Billy, who celebrates his 80th birthday today, moved to Northumberland with his wife, Dot, a few years ago, to be closer to his family, but misses Coventry. He was a couple of years younger than Setchell and was one of an amazing crop of talented youngsters who played for Modern Machines FC which was in effect City’s youth team in the late 1940s. The team were virtually unbeatable in the Coventry leagues and saved the club thousands of pounds in the transfer market and Billy was a contemporary of players like Lol Harvey, Reg Matthews, Peter Hill, Frank Austin and Gordon Nutt. Billy played at wing-half where there was stiff competition for a first team place with Don Dorman, Harry Barratt, Harvey and others vying for a place. Billy got his chance in October 1951 playing at right half in a 1-1 home draw with Birmingham City. City’s form that autumn was not dissimilar to this season and the result, City’s fourth home game without a win, left them 21st in the Second Division table. At the end of the season City were relegated.

Billy did enough to keep his place for a visit to Leicester the following week but the 1-3 defeat at Filbert Street marked the end of Gray’s first team career. He appeared many times for the reserves in a six-year career at the club but in 1954 he transferred to Kettering Town before reverting to local football with Morris Motors a year later.
Hopefully I can persuade Billy to sign up to the Former Players Association and get him to the Ricoh for a game soon.

Former City player Paul Furlong was spotted playing for St Albans City at Leamington’s New Windmill last weekend. The Londoner who played for City under Terry Butcher and Don Howe in the 1991-92 season, is now 43-years old.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Jim's column 26.11.11

Two tough home games in a week saw City end their dismal run of home defeats with a hard-won point against Cardiff City following defeat to the Hammers on Saturday. The point enabled the team to avoid an unwanted record as four home defeats in a row would have been the worst run since the move to the Ricoh in 2005. You have to go back to the last winter at Highfield Road to find a worse run; in the period December 2004 to February 2005 City suffered five successive home defeats, as first Peter Reid, then his replacement Micky Adams failed to win a game. Cardiff meanwhile continue to be a thorn in City’s side. The Bluebirds have not lost at the Ricoh since April 2006 and have won three and drawn three of the games since. Former City Academy youngster Peter Whittingham continued his excellent goalscoring record against the Sky Blues with his fifth goal in five seasons.

Saturday’s gate of 20,524 was the second highest of the season (behind the 21,102 who watched the opening day derby with Leicester) and included a massive following from East London, numbering 6,254. Italian-based City fan Federico Farcomeni alerted me to the fact that the BBC incorrectly described West Ham’s large support as the biggest away following since the Ricoh Arena opened in 2005. I’m not sure where they got their information from but the cockney hordes numbered less than last season’s Leeds fans (6,274) and West Brom’s fans in 2007 (6,331). The Hammers' following did top Leicester's on the opening day (6,201).

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the arrival of Jimmy Hill as manager of Coventry City. On the 25th November the club were knocked out of the FA Cup by lowly Southern League side Kings Lynn and on 28 November manager Billy Frith and his backroom staff were sacked and Hill appointed as manager. The Kings Lynn defeat is always talked of as the game which changed the club’s history but in actual fact Frith’s fate had been sealed earlier, possibly as far back as September 1961 when City were dumped out of the League Cup by Workington. Either way a home league defeat to Crystal Palace a week before the Kings Lynn game was the final straw for chairman Derrick Robins and it was at a lunch at the chairman’s Leamington home days later that Hill was offered the job. Hill asked for time to consider the offer and took up an offer to attend the Kings Lynn game. In his autobiography JH describes events:

‘For a number of reasons it was thought prudent to keep my intended visit to Highfield Road a secret. A ticket for the far stand arrived in the post, not the stand in which the director’s box was situated. I sneaked into my seat, tucked my collar up around my ears and pulled a trilby hat well down over my forehead in the hopes that few people would notice me… not easy with a nationally known chin and here and there came acknowledgements, and stifled gasps of surprise that I should be at Highfield Road, the reason not easy for them to detect.’

You can imagine in the modern day social networking sites buzzing with this sort of news and Hill’s presence at the game would have been communicated to all and sundry by Saturday evening but it is clear that Frith had no inkling of what was coming.

On the day following the Kings Lynn game Hill telephoned a shocked Robins to tell him he had decided to accept his offer. Robins had assumed that the appalling performance would have dissuaded Hill from taking the job. Hill, who later said he had been courted by several clubs prior to Coventry’s approach, insisted that he had the power to appoint his own coaching staff. Thus began a partnership that would take Coventry City from Third Division strugglers to the First Division in five exciting seasons.

Long suffering South East-based fan George Ling is delighted to read that the club have recognised the Southern Professional Floodlit Cup success in 1960. He watched many of the games in the run to the final and points out that along with promotion from Division 4 in 1959 it was the only high spot pre-JH. He has mislaid his programme for the final against West Ham and wondered who scored the goals. George, Ron Hewitt scored both City’s goals in the 2-1 victory. City’s line up was as follows: Arthur Lightening, Don Bennett, Frank Kletzenbauer, Brian Nicholas, George Curtis, Frank Austin, Johnny Stephens, Ron Hewitt, Ray Straw, Peter Hill, Alan Daley.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Jim's column 19.11.11

After the international break weekend it is back to league action this weekend and the visit of West Ham United today for what is the Hammers’ first ever league visit to the Ricoh Arena. In 2007-08 they won here 2-1 in a League Cup tie, ending what had looked a promising Cup run that season, following City’s memorable victory at Old Trafford in the previous round.

Several people have pointed out to me that the number of Coventry-born players in the Sky Blues’ squad has increased this season and wondered when the club put out a side containing the most Cov kids. Fellow City historian Paul O’Connor tells me that in the club’s league history (that dates back to 1919) the club have only had 44 players who were born in the city – this excludes players born in Bedworth, Nuneaton or other local towns. There have been a number of famous ones including Reg Matthews (the first and only Coventrian to play for England), Bobby and Trevor Gould, Gary McSheffrey, Kirk Stephens and Marcus Hall but there have been few periods when there was a glut of local players. After World War 2 the squad had a number of locals including Ron Cox, Les Latham, Dennis Simpson and Stan Smith but all four never appeared together. Then in early 1950s the club’s youth team, playing under the name of Modern Machines produced quite a few including Matthews, Brinley Thomas, Derek Spencer and Billy Gray, and they combined with many youngsters signed from Harry Storer’s heartland of Derbyshire including Lol Harvey, Frank Austin and Ron Waldock saved the club thousands of pounds in the transfer market.

Now, suddenly, the Sky Blues have half a dozen ‘locals’ and the Southampton game ended with four of them on the pitch together. Substitute Jordan Willis joined Cyrus Christie, Conor Thomas and the ‘old man’, Gary McSheffrey to set what I believe is a club record of four Coventry-born players in the team. If Jordan Clarke’s injury problems clear up quickly and striker Callum Wilson’s progress continues we could see the city of Coventry supplying over half the first team.

Readers of the Coventry City official programme may have noticed an amendment to the Club Honours section on page three of the programme. Bedworth-based City fan Bob Howe contacted me a while ago suggesting that recognition be given to the club’s success in winning the Southern Professional Floodlit Cup in 1960. the competition was played between clubs from the south of England from around 1955 when floodlights became common amongst clubs. It was discontinued in 1960 because of the introduction of the League Cup, meaning that City were the last winners of the competition. In a memorable cup run City, then a Third Division outfit, defeated Southend, First Division Fulham, Southampton and another First Division club, West Ham, 2-1 in the final before a 17,000 Highfield Road crowd. As a result of Bob’s correspondence the club have now included the Cup win in the list of honours.   

Monday, 14 November 2011

Jim's Column 12.11.11

Coventry City’s poor form continued last week with a home defeat to the league leaders Southampton. Even with the club’s diverse recent records this was still a surprise to me as City have a tremendous record against the Saints. Saturday’s match was the 55th league encounter between the two clubs in Coventry and the victory was only Saints’ seventh win in the city, and the first since the opening day of the season in 1999.  Between 1950 and 1987 the Saints travelled to Highfield Road for 26 league encounters and failed to win a single game with City winning eighteen games including heavy defeats in Saints’ two promotion seasons 1959-60 (4-1) and 1965-66 (5-1). The latter being the momentous game when George Hudson scored his memorable goal by flicking the ball over Saints’ centre-half Tony Knapp and racing around the statuesque stopper to volley home.

Now the Saints are setting the pace in the Championship with an interesting blend of experienced players and youth from one of the most productive youth schemes in the country that in recent years has helped fund the club’s revival with sales of starlets like Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Another City youngster made his debut as a substitute last weekend. Jordan Willis is just a couple of months past his 17th birthday but his appearance in a first-team shirt earns him a place in the top ten youngest City debutants which now reads thus:-

1. Jonson Clark-Harris (Aug 2010) 16 years 20 days
2. Ben Mackey (Apr 2003) 16 years 167 days
3. Gary McSheffrey (Apr 1999) 16 years 198 days
4. Brian Hill (Apr 1958) 16 years 273 days
5. Isaac Osbourne (Apr 2003) 16 years 308 days
6. Perry Suckling (Aug 1982) 16 years 320 days
7. George Curtis (Apr 1956) 16 years 351 days
8. Dietmar Bruck (Apr 1961) 17 years 9 days
9. Conor Thomas (Jan 2011) 17 years 71 days
10=. Jordan Willis (Nov 2011) 17 years 73 days
10=. Colin Holder (Apr 1962) 17 years 73 days

Coventry-born Jordan, who is one day younger than Conor Thomas when Conor made his debut as a substitute against Crystal Palace in the FA Cup in January, is the third youngster to join the top 10 in the last fifteen months.

Jim Ridley wrote to me recently and remembers that in the 1970s he watched Northern Ireland play a full international against Portugal at Highfield Road. He cannot remember the details and asked me to refresh his memory and tell him if the great Eusebio played for Portugal.

The game, a World Cup qualifying game, was played at Highfield Road on 28 March 1973.  The civil unrest in Northern Ireland at the time forced the Irish Football Association to seek alternative venues for their home games and this was the first game played outside the province. The Irish team featured several famous names including Tottenham’s world-class goalkeeper Pat Jennings, former City midfielder Dave Clements, who had left City eighteen months earlier to join Sheffield Wednesday, and Martin O’Neill of Nottingham Forest who would later become a very successful manager with Leicester and Celtic. Sadly George Best had announced his international retirement and did not play. The Portuguese, whilst not the force they had been at the 1966 World Cup, were favourites to qualify from a group that also included Bulgaria and Cyprus, the latter had severely dented Northern Ireland’s chances by beating them in Cyprus a month earlier. Two stars of the 1966 Portugal team were still in the team, Eusebio, the star striker and Simoes, a classy winger in his day. Eusebio scored a penalty equalising O’Neill’s earlier goal and the game, watched by a crowd of 11,273, ended 1-1. Later the Irish played internationals at Fulham’s Craven Cottage, Hillsborough, Anfield and Goodison Park.

On 16 March 1968 two brothers were taken to Highfield Road for the younger one’s birthday treat to watch the Sky Blues play Manchester United for the first time in the First Division. The younger brother Paul Moses was a United fan and emailed me with his memories of the game. They were on the terraces and as the crowd got bigger and bigger (the attendance was 47,111, the second highest in the club’s history) the police allowed children on to the running track. City won a memorable 2-0 victory over the Reds who were three games away from lifting the European Cup but whose supporters blamed the defeat on a long midweek trip to Poland. The result was a crucial one for both clubs as City eventually avoided relegation by just one point whilst United were pipped at the Championship post by their Manchester rivals by two points. A different outcome that day would have relegated City and handed the title to United.

Paul and his brother Peter wanted to know City’s line up from that game. It was as follows:

Glazier: Bruck, Cattlin, Machin, Setters, Clements, Hannigan, Hunt, Martin, Tudor, Carr.  Ernie Hunt and Chris Cattlin made their debuts for the Sky Blues and Ernie Machin and Maurice Setters scored City’s goals.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Jim's column 5.11.11

Millwall has never been a happy hunting ground for Coventry City and Tuesday night proved to be no exception. It is 56 years since City won in Docklands – Boxing Day 1955 to be precise – and 16 subsequent league and cup games have failed to yield a victory. Millwall’s supporters already had a reputation back then and Jesse Carver’s team (it was his penultimate game as manager before a premature return to the Italian Serie A) upset them with a professional display, assisted by a stunning display of goalkeeping from Reg Matthews as he edged nearer to his first England cap. Matthews kept the rampaging Lions out and goals from Alan Moore and Ken McPherson ensured a 2-0 win. After the match Reg was the hero again – jumping off a besieged team coach to confront some gruesome dockers. Even in City’s Second Division 1966-67 promotion season City failed to win in New Cross, losing to a Joe Broadfoot goal.

Coventry City have now completed one third of the season and it is time for a review of their record. The Millwall defeat means they have gained only 12 points from 15 games – a poor record, which if replicated over the season would almost certainly mean relegation with 36 points. It is the worst first third of the season since City were relegated from the Premiership in 2001. In the last ten seasons City have averaged around 21 points from the first 15 games – the best, 31 in 2001-02 (under Roland Nilsson), the worst, 15 in 2004-05 (under Peter Reid). City, of course, are generally good starters and have a tendency to fall apart after Christmas, so here’s hoping previous seasons’ trends are reversed this term.

This start is the worst since the 2000-01 relegation season when they clocked 12 points from 15 games – but then it was more serious as they were almost halfway through the 38-game season. The worst start in modern times was under Ron Atkinson in 1996-97 when they gathered a measly ten points from 15 games. That season they won only one of their first sixteen games and by then Big Ron had already paid the price. Fortunately his replacement Gordon Strachan pulled City out of their nose-dive and kept them up on the final day at White Hart Lane.

Their worst ever start, which hopefully will never been repeated, was that horrible first season in the Football League in 1919 – where so many of the dreadful club records reside. That season they gained a pitiful three points from the first 15 games but still managed to survive the drop but only because they bribed their opponents!

Darius Henderson is in a rich scoring vein at the moment with 8 goals in 11 games and six in his last three. Darius is no stranger to the Sky Blues having netted for Watford against them in 2005-06 and again in 2007-08. He was a key member of the Watford team promoted via the play-offs in the former season and was the strike partner of Marlon King. From being one of the top scorers in the Championship he had a torrid time in the Premiership – failing to net until January 2007 and scoring only three goals all season. He re-discovered his scoring form for the Hornets back in the Championship before a big money move to Sheffield United in 2008. He failed to live up to his ‘star’ rating at Bramall Lane and then suffered a serious leg injury which kept him out of the side for most of last season. By the time he was fit the Blades were as good as relegated and his wages were presumably too high for League One. Millwall took a punt and have been richly rewarded.

Finally, a big thank you to all who supported and helped me two weeks ago at my book launch in Coventry. The management and staff of Waterstones, G-Casino and Coventry City were fabulous. Thanks also to my friends from the Former Players Association, especially Billy Bell and the former players who turned out on the day. Not forgetting Dean Nelson for his excellent 1960s video. It was a great day and I appreciate everybody’s efforts.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Jim's column 22.10.11

City’s run of good home form continued last Saturday with a 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest. Since losing to Leicester City on the opening day of the season the Sky Blues are unbeaten in five home games, with two wins and three draws. The current run is the best the club have had since the winter of 2009-10 when Chris Coleman’s team went unbeaten in seven, including six wins. That run, between December and March helped lift the Sky Blues into the edge of the play-off places but once the run was ended Coleman’s team’s form collapsed and they failed to win any of their last six home games.

In the years since relegation from the Premiership in 2001, numerous City managers have talked about building Fortress Ricoh but none have really achieved it. The best home run since 2001 was under Micky Adams just after the move to the Ricoh. Between November 2005 and April 2006 City went twelve home games unbeaten, with the help of Dennis Wise. One interesting statistic is that since Andy Thorn took over as manager in March only one of 10 home games has been lost.

City’s second win of the season coincided with another goalkeeping substitution by the Sky Blues. The other victory, over Derby, also saw the injured Joe Murphy substituted by Chris Dunn. For Coventry City goalkeeping substitutions are a relatively modern phenomenon. During Steve Ogrizovic’s long reign as City goalkeeper he hardly ever had to be substituted. I remember in the days before goalkeeping substitutes were allowed, in 1996, Oggy was injured at Millwall and David Speedie went in goal. Then after the subs were increased to five in 1996, Oggy was replaced by John Filan at Highbury after a blood-curdling challenge by Ian Wright left Oggy out cold on a stretcher.

Since the club’s relegation in 2002 there were only three goalkeeper substitutions in seven seasons. However in the last three seasons and a bit there have been eight goalkeeping substitutions, five of them involving an ‘injury’ to Keiron Westwood and now two to Joe Murphy, the otehr being last season at Watford when loanee Iain Turner was injured and replaced by Michael Quirke. One wonders if goalkeepers are getting soft.

Last week I mentioned that current QPR boss Neil Warnock had managed Scarborough to victory over the Sky Blues in 1992 and Dean Nelson reminded me that Warnock’s involvement with City’s history goes even further back. Warnock  was manager of Burton Albion against Leicester City in an FA Cup match which had to be replayed behind closed doors at Highfield Road in 1985 after crowd trouble in the first match. Back in 1972 Warnock was also in the Hartlepool side beaten in a League Cup tie at Highfield Road.

Talking of Dean - the man who has a wonderful collection of Coventry City video clips - he has prepared an excellent DVD of 1960s highlights which will be shown at the G-Casino today at my Sky Blue Revolution book signing sessions, before and after the match against Burnley. For the book signing I will be joined by 1960s City legends Mick Kearns, Dietmar Bruck and Ronnie Farmer.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Jim's column 15.10.11

                                                      Jean-Guy Wallemme in 1998
Coventry City have had few French players in their team over the years. Goalkeeper Fabien Debec comes to mind and Florent Laville, a dodgy loanee defender from Bolton in the Peter Reid era, come to mind. Laville had a long and successful career with Olympique Lyon, winning two championships, but after joining Bolton in 2003 struggled with fitness and form. City’s first Frenchman, Jean-Guy Wallemme had a similar story – he was a star in France, especially in the northern mining town of Lens, captaining the town’s club to win the French League for the first time the previous season. Sadly he was a major disappointment at City and fans wondered why City signed him. Wallemme has been in the news recently having been appointed national coach of Congo.

Jean-Guy played just six league games for the Sky Blues in 1998 and looked impressive in his early games. But his Waterloo came in a 1-5 home defeat to Newcastle. From a fan’s viewpoint he was no worse than anyone in the City side but probably the fact that Alan Shearer, the man he was marking scored twice, made him one of the scapegoats. Shearer muscled him off to score his first and then later the Frenchman slid in to dispossess Shearer only to see the loose ball whipped upfield for Stephen Glass to score the fourth goal.

Wallemme was axed for the next league game at Charlton and never appeared for the first team again. Less than a week later he told French football magazine L’Equippe that however happy he was playing at Coventry he was concerned for his eight-year old son’s schooling and Bryan Richardson admitted that the Frenchman and his family were having a tough time. It seems that from that point on he was just not part of Gordon Strachan’s plans.

By the end of October it was a matter of when he moved back to France rather than if and with his family back in France his mind was not on football. In December he signed for French club Sochaux with City recouping most of the fee.

Unfortunately Sochaux were relegated that season and Jean Guy was on the move again, to St Etienne, newly promoted to the First Division after a period in the doldrums. By 2001 he was managing the Verts, as St Etienne are known, but they too were relegated in his first season as manager and he returned to Lens, as a player and helped them to runners-up position in the league.

Since retiring from playing he has managed at Rouen, SK Ronse in the Belgian second division, US Royenne, a French amateur side and FC Paris. In 2008 he took over as manager of Lens and won promotion to the French First Division but last season they were relegated again and Jean-Guy was axed in January.

In August he was appointed as national coach to Congo (formerly Zaire). In his first match his team were defeated 1-0 by Sudan in an African nations cup qualifier.

Alan Ward read my piece about late goals two weeks ago and got in touch to tell me that last season City conceded 18 of their 58 league goals (around 30%) in either the last five minutes of the first half or the last five minutes of the second half including added time. Conversely they scored only six goals in the same periods (two of them at Watford in August). This season four of thirteen league goals conceded (around 30%) were in the final five minutes of either half and to date City have yet to net in those crucial periods. Even Bury and last year Morecambe scored late goals in League Cup games against the Sky Blues. On checking City’s record since Andy Thorn took over in March I discovered that City have failed to net any late goals in either half – a shocking statistic.

As CCFC historian I am expected to know all the trivia and facts and figures about Coventry City but as the years go on my memory doesn’t always work as it did when I was younger. A recently published book by Steve Phelps will assist me.
The book 'Coventry City Miscellany', Steve’s fourth book about City, gives Sky Blues fans loads of facts and figures about their favourite club and it also enlightened me to quite a number of interesting things about the club.  For instance I had forgotten that goalkeeper Magnus Hedman missed a penalty in the shoot –out at Peterborough in a League Cup tie on 11 September 2001 (the day New York’s twin towers were blown up).

I also never realised, until Steve’s book reminded me, that City never paraded the FA cup at Highfield Road in 1987. Nor that QPR manager Neil Warnock managed Scarborough when the Sky Blues were humbled in Yorkshire in a League Cup tie in 1992.
 Steve's skill is in pulling the stats and trivia from other sources and presenting them in an easy to read style. He generously acknowledges his sources but his book is more than a cut and paste job . For example he has done a lot of research into City's youth teams of 1987 and 2000 - discovering where the prodigious youngsters ended up

Talking of new books, next Saturday (22nd October)  I will be attending book signings for my latest book, Sky Blue Revolution, along with several legendary players from the Jimmy Hill Era including Mick Kearns, Dietmar Bruck and Ronnie Farmer. From 11 am until noon we will be at Waterstone’s bookshop in the Precinct in Coventry. Then from 1.45 pm until 2.45 we will be at the G-Casino, next to the Ricoh Arena, and after the Burnley game we will be back in the Casino available to sign books from 5.00 pm. If you are unable to get to the signing sessions but would like a signed copy please ring Waterstone’s on (024) 76 334224 to reserve.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Jim's column 8.10.11

Two weeks ago I wrote about a famous City player from the 1920s Hugh ‘Rubberneck’ Richmond and the piece generated a lot of positive feedback from readers. Today I will delve even further back thanks to an old cigarette card sent to me by Bernard Poulten of Baughurst, Hampshire. His father, who played for Tottenham Hotspur in the 1920s collected football memorabilia and when he died in 1970 Bernard found the card with a picture of Alfred Fenwick in his belongings. Bernard wanted any information I could provide on Alfred Fenwick’s career. 

Alfred (Alf) Randolph Fenwick was born in the mining village of Medomsley, near Consett in County Durham on 26 March 1891. He was the son of a mining engineer and grew up close to the Hamsterley Colliery where his father worked. 

It is known that he played for local team Craghead United before joining Hull City in 1910. In 1914 just as war was about to break out he signed for West Ham. There is no record of his war-time activities but after the war he briefly played for West Ham again before signing for City in December 1919. His steadying influence at left half helped the club pull out of the relegation places after a miserable first season in the Football League.

He made 53 appearances for City over two seasons and scored one goal. After leaving Coventry in 1921 he played for numerous other clubs including Lincoln, Notts County, Newark Town and Shildon Athletic. The last record of him playing was with Bedlington United 1926-27, coincidentally Hugh Richmond finished his playing career with the same club. I have no details of his post-playing life and Alf died in Northumberland in 1975 aged 83. In 1921 Alf recommended his nephew Austen Campbell to Coventry but he was released after one game but later joined Blackburn and became an England international.

If you have any pictures of old City players that you would like to know more about please send them to me via email or via the Coventry Telegraph and I will try and provide some background to the player.
My appeal, on behalf of Dean Nelson, for film footage of Oggy’s goal at Hillsborough in 1986 brought a positive response with two readers, Mike Young and a gentleman from Cheylesmore, offering Dean a copy of the great man’s only goal. Dean will now be able to complete his video of the famous 1986-87 season. Dean reminded me that during that season Coventry City appeared for the first time in a live league game. In January 1987, two weeks before their famous FA Cup victory at Old Trafford, John Sillett’s team played out a 0-0 draw with Arsenal at Highbury. If I remember rightly the London-based ITV commentary team were disappointed that City didn’t roll over and let the Gunners thrash them but recognised that City had, after a few years in the wilderness, developed a team that was hard to beat and could be ‘going places’. Four months later the Sky Blues lifted the FA Cup.

My latest book, Sky Blue Revolution, telling the story behind City’s amazing rise from the depths of Division Three to the First Division between 1961 and 1967 is now in the shops. Two weeks today, on 22 October, the day of the Burnley home game, I will be holding a book signing at Waterstones in Coventry between 11 a.m. and 12 and will be joined by a number of City legends from that era, including Mick Kearns, Ronnie Farmer and Dietmar Bruck. Later in the day, both before and after the game we will be moving to the G-Casino for a signing session and I look forward to meeting some of my readers at one or other of the venues.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Jim's column 1.10.11

Coventry City fans leave their seats at the Ricoh Arena before the final whistle at their peril and risk missing an exciting finale. On Tuesday night against Blackpool, City, once again, had victory snatched from their grasp in injury time with Keith Southern’s header grabbing a point for the Tangerines. This followed the drama last Saturday when Lukas Jutkiewicz missed an injury time penalty that would have sealed three points for the Sky Blues over Reading. These late mishaps come hard on the heels of the two very late goals at Crystal Palace which also cost City a victory. Perhaps it is time Andy Thorn and Steve Harrison coached the team on how to play out the latter stages of a game. Early in his managerial career last season, Thorn was given warnings when injury time goals cost City dearly at Preston and Middlesbrough. Mind you Aidy Boothroyd hadn’t deal with the problem either. His team suffered home defeats from late goals conceded against Cardiff (Jay Bothroyd) and Norwich (Grant Holt) and what looked like a certain victory at Doncaster was thrown away with James Hayter’s 88th minute goal. This season seven points have been lost in the closing minutes, points that would now have City just outside the play-off positions instead of the relegation area.

Jutkiewicz’s penalty miss was the fifth by a Coventry player at the Ricoh Arena, but the first in almost two years, home or away. The other miscreants at the Ricoh have been Michael Doyle, Elliott Ward (possibly the worst City penalty ever v Southampton), Sammy Clingan and Leon Best. Best was the last City player to miss from the spot, in the 1-0 home win over Doncaster on Boxing Day 2009. Between then and Tuesday night City had netted eight spot-kicks. Clinton Morrison (1), Lucas Jutkiewicz (4) and Marlon King (3).

My prediction skills on Coventry City attendances went awry on Tuesday night. Based on recent seasons the midweek September home game is generally one of the lowest of the season and with City’s poor form this season I fully expected there to be under 12,000, possibly as low as 11,000 at the game. The recorded attendance of 12,822 was boosted by a good following from Lancashire (over1,000 travelled with the Seasiders) and some Indian summer weather so it is hard to say whether City’s gates have bottomed out.

City fanatic Dean Nelson has built up a fantastic collection of television film clips of Coventry City but has struggled to find one of the most memorable goals in the club’s history. In October 1986 at Hillsborough, Steve Ogrizovic drop-kicked the ball from his own penalty area, the ball bounced once and cleared Sheffield Wednesday’s ‘keeper Martin Hodge and ended up in the net. If anyone has a video clip of this goal or knows whether it was ever filmed should contact Dean at

Dean has developed film shows for different eras and is planning a 1960s film night at the Transport Museum on 24 November to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Jimmy Hill’s arrival at Coventry City. Next year he is planning a 1987 film night at the Coventry Museum as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of the FA Cup victory.

On the subject of Jimmy Hill don’t forget that my latest book ‘Sky Blue Revolution’ retelling the story of City’s rise from the depths of Division Three to Division One under the bearded wonder, is now for sale at local bookshops, the club shop and the internet. A book signing involving some of the stars from that golden era is being planned for later this month.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Jim's column 24.9.11

Hugh Richmond was one of Coventry City’s star players in the early 1920s and I recently had correspondence from Hugh’s grandson Steve Richmond, who lives in the North East. Steve is researching his grandfather’s life, specifically his football career, and I was able to fill him in on some of the facts of his time at Coventry City. Steve was also able to give me a fair bit of information about Hugh that I didn’t know about.

Hugh Richmond was born in the small town of Galston near Kilmarnock in Ayrshire, Scotland in 1894. He was on Kilmarnock’s books before the First World War but did not play for Killie’s first team. Like most young men he went off to the war, with the Seaforth Highlanders, but was sent back from the front to complete his apprenticeship in the Great Munition Works on the River Clyde.

In 1916 he was recorded as playing for and captaining Scottish Second Division club Arthurlie but soon after the war ended he headed south and signed for Leicester City in March 1919. A tall man, Hugh could play at wing-half or centre-half, and had prodigious heading ability, which resulted in him getting the nickname, ‘Rubberneck’.

At Leicester he was loaned out to Nuneaton Town for a spell in 1920 and in three seasons at Filbert Street he played only 24 first team games for the Foxes but according to Steve he captained the reserves to the Central Alliance League title. He did however appear for Leicester’s first team in a famous Second Division game against Stockport County on the final day of the 1920-21 season. Stockport’s Edgeley Park ground was closed by the Football Association, presumably because of crowd disorder, and the game was switched to Old Trafford where it should have been behind closed doors. 13 spectators allegedly paid to watch the game, a Football League record low, although contemporary reports suggest there were around 2,000 people inside the stadium for the match.

In 1922 he arrived at Highfield Road and was soon a regular in the half-back line but often got switched to centre-forward where his heading prowess came to the fore. He scored twice in the 7-1 home win over Wolves on Christmas Day 1922 and the following season he appeared more often in attack than defence and netted 14 goals in 30 games including a hat-trick against Nelson in November 1923 and another Christmas Day brace, against Sheffield Wednesday.

In 1924-25 he struggled to win a place in the first team and made only 12 appearances, and in May 1925 he signed for Queens Park Rangers but played only 10 games in a frustrating season before heading to the North East to sign for Blyth Spartans in the North Eastern League.

Steve now takes up the story: In 1926 Hugh joined Blyth Spartans as Player Manager, and also Blyth's first professional player. In his first game at Blyth, they played the previous years champions Newcastle United Reserves. Headlines in the 'Sunday Sun' on 29th August 1926 read 'SHOCKS IN NORTH EASTERN LEAGUE' - 'SPARTANS LOWER CHAMPIONS COLOURS'. Hugh scored 2 goals, from centre half, in a 2-1 victory and 'Richmond was undoubtedly the star performer'.

Hugh's duties at the club also included managing the Blyth Wednesday league team,  and under his supervision they finished as Champions of their league in their first season, and runners up in their second season. In 1929 Hugh had to leave Blyth Spartans when financial difficulties meant that the club could not offer him new terms. In three seasons with Blyth he played 111 games and scored 28 goals. He then signed for Spennymoor United prior to the start of the 1929-30 season.

Spennymoor also hit financial difficulties part way through that season, although they finished the league campaign, they could not keep their professional players and Hugh played out his final season as a player with Bedlington United.

That was not the end of Hugh’s football career though. Steve tells me that in December 1937 he found a small piece written by 'Crofter' in the Blyth News/Ashington Post - 'FORMER BLYTH PLAYER' 'Hughie Richmond the ex-Spartans centre half is now acting as trainer for Ashington first team. I am glad to hear that Hughie has made a good impression in his new role, yet it was just the sort of information I could expect, because of having known him as a real enthusiast, with a likeable manner to earn the respect of officials and players met with in his football experience.

Hugh later worked as a fitter/turner in the workshops of Ashington Colliery. Ashington, of course is famous for its footballing sons, Jackie Milburn and Bobby and Jack Charlton. Hugh passed away in Bedlington in 1962.

A great story and a big thank you to Steve Richmond for sharing it with me.

Following last week’s story about Coventry City’s longest drought without a home goal, Mike Young, fellow Former Players Association committee member, was in touch to firm up the record number of minutes without a goal. He tells me that in 1919 City’s drought last 596 minutes. On 4 October Tommy Lowes scored City’s goal in the 1-2 home defeat to Leicester in the 50th minute. There then followed six goalless home games (four of them 0-0) before Billy Walker netted in the 16th minute of the 3-2 Christmas Day victory over Stoke City. City’s recent run that ended in the Derby home game was 413 minutes and we all hope that the 1919 record will never be tested!

If you would like to learn more about the advantages of joining the Association as an Associate Member (£10 per season) please contact the Membership Secretary Mike Young through the website or on 07528016870.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Jim's column 17.9.11

Finally the fans saw a goal for the Sky Blues at the Ricoh Arena. After 413 goalless minutes Lukas Jutkiewicz's 58th minute penalty broke the season’s home duck and was the first home goal since Marlon King's 5th minute effort on Good Friday against Scunthorpe United. In between there had been three goalless home games, two 0-0 draws and the opening day defeat to Leicester (0-1).

413 minutes is a record for the Sky Blues at the Ricoh, topping the previous worst of 361 minutes which occurred over the last four home games of 2006-07 and ended in the first home game of 2007-08, a 1-1 draw with Hull City.

The longest run without a home goal was set in the calamitous first season in the Football League in 1919-20. Then the Bantams, as City were known, failed to score in six successive home games. Goal-times are not available for that season but it will have been at least 540 minutes without a goal, and possibly as many as 600. Gordon Strachan's relegation team of 2001 went pretty close to that unwanted record, failing to score at home in 536 minutes between John Hartson's Easter Monday goal against Sunderland and an own goal by Stuart Pearce of Manchester CIty in mid-September. The run included two goal-less Premiership games (Liverpool and Bradford City) and the first three home games in the lower division (Wolves, Forest and Grimsby) after which the hapless Strachan was sacked.

Tim James emailed to say he found my piece on the lowest City home crowds a couple of weeks ago interesting but wondered if City had had lower crowds than the 12,292 for last season’s Doncaster game at Highfield Road. City’s lowest ever football league crowds at Highfield Road were as follows:

Crystal Palace
Div 3 South
Div 2
Newport County
Div 3 South

Div 2
Hartlepools U
Div 3 North

Div 3 South

Div 3 North

Div 3 South

New Brighton
Div 3 North

Crystal Palace
Div 3 South

*midweek afternoon game

Three of the four lowest were for midweek games played in the afternoon in the era before floodlights, whilst the three small crowds in the 1950s were, if memory is correct, midweek 5.30 kick-offs (so that the game could be completed before dusk).The 4,744 versus Hartlepools United in 1925-26 stands as the lowest Saturday home league crowd. The lowest Saturday crowd of the modern era (i.e. post 1967) was 7,478 against Watford on a miserably wet day in January 1986.

After City left the Premiership in 2001 there were nine league crowds lower than the 12,292 for last season’s Doncaster game:

10,872             Wimbledon      2003-04
11,557             Crewe              2003-04
11,796             Wimbledon      2002-03
11,797             Cardiff              2003-04
11,862             Bradford C      2003-04
11,966             Gillingham        2004-05
12,148             Wigan              2004-05
12,157             Preston            2004-05
12,226             Watford          2003-04

Not surprisingly Wimbledon feature twice – their away followings, which were never large, had dwindled to a handful – and, if memory serves me correctly, Cardiff fans were banned from the 2003-04 game.