Wednesday, 11 May 2011


It is sad to report the death of former Coventry City player Vernon Griffiths who passed away on 27 April in Birmingham. Born in 1936 Vernon’s talent was spotted at an early age and he was on West Brom’s books as an apprentice after leaving school. He was playing for Sheldon Town when City spotted him and signed him in 1954. After two seasons as a regular in the reserves Vernon, a lively wing-half was given his first-team chance in Billy Frith’s first game in charge in September 1957, a 3-1 win at Brentford. A week later, on his home debut, he scored his only goal, the winner against Colchester. He kept his place for twelve games in the dreadful 1957-58 season but after a run of defeats he lost his place to Iain Jamieson. Vernon showed some promise but found the competition from the likes of Iain Jamieson, Brian Nicholas and Ron Farmer too great. After appearing on the right-wing in the opening two games of the 1958-59 season he was back in the reserves. In 1959 he signed for Rugby Town. Lol Harvey remembers Vernon with affection: ‘He was a quick player and loved to attack. We met up at the Legends Day a couple of years ago and had a good chat about those days. I was really surprised to hear he had cancer and I feel very sad.’

Vernon’s funeral takes place at Lodge Hill Cemetery, Selly Oak, Birmingham at 1.30 pm on Tuesday 10 May.

The season ends at Carrow Road today and City fans will share Norwich City’s celebrations at their second successive promotion, the first such feat since Joe Royle’s Manchester City team in 1999 and 2000. All credit to Paul Lambert who has shown that shrewd purchases of good young players from the lower divisions allied to a passing style of football can pay rewards. Former Coventry City defender Elliott Ward has proved to many that he is good enough at this level after being ‘frozen out’ by Chris Coleman and another City reject, Leon Barnett played his part in the Canaries’ success before picking up an injury in February. Few City fans would have predicted success for the Canaries with these two in the centre of defence.

Richard Keogh played every minute of every league game this season. He is the first player to achieve this feat since Gary McAllister in 1996-97 not Brian Borrows in 1990-91. Thanks to Paul O'Connor for reminding me of this.

Monday, 2 May 2011

JIM'S COLUMN 30.4.11

The end of the season is almost upon us and today is the final home game of the season. Thankfully Andy Thorn and Steve Harrison have steered the club away from tricky relegation waters before today as the final two games are, on paper, daunting tasks. My comments in last week’s column generated more than the average feedback with the vast majority of readers agreeing with my view that a long-term management appointment was premature until SISU’s intentions were clearer. I did not believe Thorn would commit to being the manager of a club in such turmoil and can only imagine that he has been given firm re-assurances that the club’s future under SISU is secure and that means either more money being ‘invested’ by SISU or an additional investor. Without one or the other the fans are still led to believe there will be a cashflow issue sometime over the summer. If , as rumours persist, a consortium is being gathered to buy City out then Thorn runs the risk of not being the choice of the new owners.

The other rumour that refuses to go away is that the council will not sell their share in the Ricoh Arena to SISU. If this is true then it is one more reason why SISU should seriously consider any offer to buy their shares in the Football club. Once again the supporters are being kept in the dark about their club and the owners’ intentions.

The promotion and relegation issues affecting the Championship are not totally resolved but it is now certain that City will renew rivalries with Brighton & Hove Albion next season. The south coast side, ably managed by former Chelsea and Spurs’ Gus Poyet, return to our league after a five-year interlude in League One., and next season will be playing in their new stadium on the outskirts of Brighton. Their promotion is timed perfectly and the new 22,500-seater stadium will be significantly fuller than the 8,000 capacity former athletics stadium at Withdean. The last time City played the Seagulls in league football was in early 2006 - a 2-0 home win with Dennis Wise scoring both goals.

As we welcome Brighton, and probably Southampton, who look set to take the second automatic place, we say goodbye to Preston North End. North End’s eleven-year stay in this league comes to an end and leaves Coventry City as the longest-serving club in tier two of the English game. Preston have, for most of that time, punched above their weight and reached the play-offs four times. Two frightening statistics - in the last ten seasons the Sky Blues have never won at Deepdale and have only finished above Preston on one occasion, 2004-05.

Sheffield United’s plight under former City boss Micky Adams also looks doomed. The Blades have been in this league for nine of the last ten seasons (the other season was that controversial one in the Premier League) and like Preston have only once been headed by the Sky Blues in a final table. When you look at these facts you realise how dreadful City’s performance has been in the last ten seasons and how lucky they have been not to be relegated.

I recently had some correspondence with Jim Dobbin, a lifelong City fan who now lives on the Isle of Man. His late father, also Jim, was the tailor to the Sky Blues in the Jimmy Hill era and knew a lot of the players well, especially goalkeepers Arthur Lightening and Bob Wesson. Jim has a pewter tankard given to his father by Lightening after City played a friendly game with then First Division Burnley in may 1962. The game was to commemorate the opening of the rebuilt Cathedral and Jim wanted the details of the game.

Burnley, who the previous week had lost the FA Cup final to Tottenham and finished runners-up to Ipswich in the league, brought a strong team to Highfield Road and outclassed City 4-2. It was the last time that City wore their pre-JH all white kit before switching to the famous Sky Blue strip that summer.

The match details requested by Jim are as follows:

Line-ups: City: Lightening: Sillett, Austin, Farmer, Curtis, Brian Hill, Humphries, Johnny Byrne (West Ham – a guest), Dwight, McCann, Imlach.

Burnley: Blacklaw: Angus, Buxton, Adamson, Cummings, Miller, Price, Bellamy, Pointer, Robson, Harris.

The scorers were: Robson (21 min), Price (37), Pointer (78 & 82), Byrne (87), Humphries (89).

Attendance: 7,416 (probably lower because the terrace admission price was increased from 2/6 to 5/-)