Tuesday, 18 January 2011

JIM'S COLUMN 15.1.11

The Sky Blues were fortunate that Crystal Palace did not start playing until the hour mark last week and they were able to end the Palace bogey and end the South Londoners’ excellent run of four wins and a draw at the Ricoh Arena. A hard won victory saw City through to the Fourth Round of the FA Cup and avenged that defeat from 1908. The gate of 8,162 was I admit higher than I expected but like many attendances around the country was pitifully low.

Another promising youngster Conor Thomas made his debut last Saturday as a substitute. Good judges tell me that great things are expected from young Thomas, certainly better than other recent ‘bright young things’ like Adam Walker and Ashley Cain, who sadly disappeared without trace. Thomas was 17 years and 71 days which makes him the ninth youngest City debutant – the youngest being Jonson Clarke-Harris who was 16 years and 20 days when he came on at Morecambe earlier this season. He is however the youngest City player to play in the FA Cup. I believe the previous youngest was Dennis Mortimer who was three months short of his 18th birthday when he played against Liverpool in January 1970. He is also the 850th first team player for the club since they joined the Football League in 1919.

It is sad to report the death of former wartime Coventry City player and local footballer and cricketer Jack Kendall. Jack passed away on 7 January aged 89 years. Born in Lentons Lane, Aldermans Green in 1921 Jack had outstanding ability at football and cricket and played cricket for Coventry Boys and football for Longford St Thomas as a teenager. When war broke out he was working as an engineer at Brico in the city and was excused a call up to the services because his job was vital to the war effort.

He was never strictly on City’s books and was playing football for Morris Engines in 1944 when manager Harry Storer called him up to play as a guest for City, covering for a regular who was away on service duty (many of the city’s top amateur players played for the club in this period). In 1944-45 season he made 10 appearances, at left half. His daughter Helen Ewing sent me the photograph which I have never seen before. It is possible that it may have been taken before one of those games and bearing in mind the quartered shirts it was probably an away game. Then again it might have been taken in Memorial Park. Jack is second from the right on the front row, to the right of Tommy Crawley and Charlie Elliott, George Mason, Billy Frith and Harry Boileau are on the back row. If readers can identify the occasion and any other people in the photograph please let me know.

Jack made one appearance in 1945-46 season and also appeared as a guest for Leicester City earlier in the war. He was involved in local football and cricket for many years after the war, captaining and coaching the very successful Morris cricket team throughout the 1960s and coaching cricket at colleges until the age of 69. Friends put Morris’ success down to Jack’s ability and man-management skills. He was an amateur on Warwickshire C.C.’s books for a number of years playing mainly as a wicket-keeper for the Second XI and in 1948 played 4-5 first XI games. Jack was courageous behind the stumps, standing up for some very fast bowlers. His friend Alan Blackwell once asked the famous old England wicket-keeper Godfrey Evans whether he knew Jack and Evans’ reply was: ‘he was one of the best wicket-keepers I ever saw’.

He loved football and was always asking how the City had got on. He was involved in coaching Rugby Town under the famous Eric Houghton in the 1960s and continued working for Brico as tool-room foreman up until his retirement in the 1980s.

His funeral will take place at Canley Crematorium on 24 January at 10.45 and all his old friends are welcome.

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