Tuesday, 8 March 2011


Saturday’s hard won point at Leicester’s Walkers Stadium was very welcome and ended a run of four away league games (five if you include the Blues cup-tie) stretching back to December when they got a point at Reading. This run was some way short of the worst ever run of 11 away defeats when City were in the Third Division North in 1925-26.

The four-game sequence was however the worst run since they lost seven in a row in 2007-08. Then, after beating West Brom at the Hawthorns in early December 2007 (the week before SISU’s takeover) the team lost at Blackpool, Bristol City, Hull, Preston, Burnley, Scunthorpe and Sheffield United before finally getting a 0-0 draw at Southampton on 22 March, by which time Iain Dowie had been replaced by Chris Coleman. During the disastrous league run Dowie did lead the club to an FA Cup win at Blackburn.

Talking of the FA Cup, Tim Wilding wrote to me after the defeat at St Andrews asking about results and gates at past big away FA Cup ties in the Midlands. Since joining the Football League in 1919 City have played the following games:

1934-35 Birmingham (R3) Lost 1-5 40,349
1945-46 Aston Villa (R3) Lost 0-2 40,000
1951-52 Leicester (R3) Drew 1-1 36,116
1964-65 Aston Villa (R3) Lost 0-3 47,656
1971-72 West Brom (R3) Won 2-1 26,472
1972-73 Wolves (R6) Lost 0-2 50,106
1978-79 West Brom (R3 replay) Lost 0-4 36,262
1981-82 West Brom (R6) Lost 0-2 27,825
1983-84 Wolves (R3 replay) Drew 1-1 19,204
1994-95 West Brom (R3 replay) Won 2-1 23,230
1997-98 Aston Villa (R5) Won 1-0 36,979
1998-99 Leicester (R4) Won 3-0 21,207
2010-11 Birmingham (R4) Lost 2-3 16,669

At the time I didn’t realise that the Blues was the first such game for 12 years and the first time City have lost such a game since 1982. By the way in the two ties that were drawn City triumphed in the replays at Highfield Road. The attendance at St Andrews was the lowest ever for such a ‘big’ game and illustrates the slump in FA Cup crowds in recent years. If the game had been played in any period up to the 1980s it would have attracted 40,000, as was seen in 1935. Older fans will remember the enormous City followings at Villa Park in ’65 and Molineux in ’73 and the massive disappointment on both occasions, more especially in ’73 when Gordon Milne’s exciting team failed to turn up and Derek Dougan and John Richards knocked them out to reach the semi-finals.

Elderly City fan Les Raven was present at St Andrews in 1935 and was featured in these pages at the time. He wanted to know the City XI that played that day and here it is:

Bill Morgan: Vic Brown, Charlie Bisby, Billy Frith, George Mason, Harry Boileau, Bob Birtley, Charlie Wilson, Clarrie Bourton, Les Jones, Fred Liddle. Jones scored City’s goal (a penalty after 4 minutes) and it was 1-1 at half-time before Blues ran riot. Les felt the scoreline flattered Birmingham and put the defeat down to a poor display from full-back Bisby.

Today’s special guest of the Former Players Association is Ian Gibson. ‘Gibbo’ was one of the most popular Sky Blues of the 1960s and played over 100 games between 1966 and 1970. Fans will be able to meet him after the game in the G-Casino.

The funeral of former Coventry City defender Eric Dobbs will take place at Canley Crematorium on Monday 14 March at 11.30 am.

Ian Gibson

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