Sunday, 21 August 2011
JIM'S COLUMN 20.8.2011
It was a day of double celebration in the McSheffrey household last Saturday. Gary celebrated his 29th birthday by appearing for his home town club at the ground of his former club, Birmingham City. The other celebration was Gary's 200th appearance in a Coventry shirt in all competitions. Gary made his debut as a substitute at Villa Park in February 1999 aged 16 years 198 days and was the youngest ever City player at the time as well as the youngest Premiership player. Subsequently he has lost both records, the former to Ben Mackey and later Jonson Clarke-Harris, and the latter to Aaron Lennon. He is the 45th Coventry player to reach the 200 game milestone and the first since Michael Doyle.
Talking of young debutants, several readers have been asking where the current crop of youngsters stand in the chart of youngest ever City players. Despite Gael Bigirimana, Josh Ruffels and Conor Thomas being only 17-years old, Thomas is the only one to make the top ten youngest. All three were born in October 1993 and are therefore 18 in October. When Thomas debuted as a substitute against Crystal Palace in the FA Cup last season he was 17 years and 71 days placing him 9th in the all-time chart (62 days older than Dietmar Bruck) but the youngest to play an FA Cup tie. By all accounts none of the lads let the side down at Selhurst Park and we have to hope that they all have big futures ahead of them, preferably with the Sky Blues.
Similarly several readers were wondering if the team that finished the game on Tuesday evening was the youngest City team ever. My friend Geoff Moore tracks this record very closely and assures me that City have fielded younger teams. The average age of Tuesday nights final XI was 22.8 years. That is some way off the age of the side that played at Manchester City in November 1980 which was 21 years and 58 Days. The team that day by the way was: Les Sealey: Steve Jacobs, Harry Roberts, Andy Blair, Paul Dyson, Gary Gillespie, Peter Bodak, Garry Thompson, Mark Hateley, Danny Thomas, Steve Hunt. City lost 0-3. In 2003 Gary McAllister put out several City teams with an average age of under 22.
City's depressing start to the season continued at Selhurst Park losing to two late goals and you have to go back a long way to find the last time the team lost their first three league games. It has happened on only three previous occasions: 1968-69, 1949-50 and 1919-20. The good news is that in none of those seasons were the team relegated. In 1919-20, the club's first season in the Football League, the team lost their first nine games before staging a miraculous recovery to finish 20th out of 22, albeit with the help of some bribery. In 1949-50, Harry Storer's team rallied to finish 12th. In 1968-69 City were hampered by playing their first two games away from home because the new stand at Highfield Road wasn't ready but won their fourth game (4-2 against West Brom) and despite a long struggling season did enough to stay in Division One.
Fortunately for me I have been spared the sight of the Sky Blues this season. Owing to family health problems I am extending a stay in France and may not see my beloved Sky Blues for some time. The internet and in particular internet radio enables me to keep track of news and games but Tuesday night’s game left me with nails bitten to the quick and I forced to drain my sorrows with copious amounts of red wine!