Sunday, 30 January 2011

JIM'S COLUMN 29.1.11

Birmingham City are the Sky Blues opponents in the fourth round of the FA Cup today and the clubs will meet for only the third time in the competition. The last time the teams met was in 1980-81 when City beat the Blues 3-2 at Highfield Road and 29,500 saw two goals from Gerry Daly and one from Andy Blair see City through to a fifth round meeting with Spurs. The first meeting was even further back, in 1934-35 when the teams met at St Andrews in a Third round game with First Division Blues winning 5-1 over Third Division Coventry. City boss Harry Storer dropped a bombshell in the run up to the game by axing centre-half and captain Tommy Davison and goalkeeper Hubert Pearson for a breach of club discipline. In their places he selected youngsters George Mason and Bill Morgan and although they both played well they couldn’t stop a rampant Blues. Despite a third minute penalty from Leslie Jones Blues had equalised through Freddie Harris by half-time and ran City ragged after the break with Harris completing a hat-trick, Dave Mangnall (a penalty) and Bill Guest scoring.who won with. That day a crowd of over 40,000 was present (including around 10,000 from Coventry) which with the reduced capacity now at St Andrews cannot be bettered today. There is a brief Pathe News clip of the game at:

Michael Doyle left Coventry City this week to be reunited with his former City boss Micky Adams. Since signing from Celtic in the summer of 2003 ‘Doyler’ has been a great servant to the club and his final game at Loftus Road last Sunday was his 297th first team appearance. Since making his debut against Peterborough in a League Cup tie at Highfield Road in 2003 his record is as follows:-

Starts Subs Goals
League 256 9 20
FA Cup 19 0 1
League Cup 11 2 1

Total 286 11 22

His total puts him 17th in the all-time City appearance table ahead of such luminaries as Cyrille Regis, Brian Hill, Alf Wood and Ronnie Rees. In that time he has played under seven different managers(excluding caretaker managers): Gary McAllister (who signed him), Eric Black, Peter Reid, Micky Adams, Iain Dowie, Chris Coleman and Adie Boothroyd. During his time at the club he has played alongside around 140 different players and only Isaac Osbourne has been at the club longer. If he hadn’t spent last season on loan at Leeds he may have been pushing 350 appearances.

‘Doyler’ was not every one’s cup of tea. Some say he lost his bite 2-3 years ago when the referees got him down as a marked man but he always gave 100% and his athleticism was legendary. I remember someone quoting the statistics of how far he had run during City’s win at Old Trafford four years ago and although I can’t recall the distance it was a phenomenal statistic and far more than any other player on the park. He scored some good goals, showing that when he did push forward and get in the box he was a clinical finisher. His best goal was undoubtedly the winner at home to Preston in 2006-07, a thunderous drive five minutes from time. I also remember the freak goal he scored in a League Cup game with Sheffield Wednesday in 2004 when the goalkeeper was distracted by Stern John and Doyle’s curling free-kick from out near the touchline crept in. He is still under 30 and a new challenge at Bramall Lane may kick-start his career.

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