Sunday, 18 September 2011

Jim's column 17.9.11

Finally the fans saw a goal for the Sky Blues at the Ricoh Arena. After 413 goalless minutes Lukas Jutkiewicz's 58th minute penalty broke the season’s home duck and was the first home goal since Marlon King's 5th minute effort on Good Friday against Scunthorpe United. In between there had been three goalless home games, two 0-0 draws and the opening day defeat to Leicester (0-1).

413 minutes is a record for the Sky Blues at the Ricoh, topping the previous worst of 361 minutes which occurred over the last four home games of 2006-07 and ended in the first home game of 2007-08, a 1-1 draw with Hull City.

The longest run without a home goal was set in the calamitous first season in the Football League in 1919-20. Then the Bantams, as City were known, failed to score in six successive home games. Goal-times are not available for that season but it will have been at least 540 minutes without a goal, and possibly as many as 600. Gordon Strachan's relegation team of 2001 went pretty close to that unwanted record, failing to score at home in 536 minutes between John Hartson's Easter Monday goal against Sunderland and an own goal by Stuart Pearce of Manchester CIty in mid-September. The run included two goal-less Premiership games (Liverpool and Bradford City) and the first three home games in the lower division (Wolves, Forest and Grimsby) after which the hapless Strachan was sacked.

Tim James emailed to say he found my piece on the lowest City home crowds a couple of weeks ago interesting but wondered if City had had lower crowds than the 12,292 for last season’s Doncaster game at Highfield Road. City’s lowest ever football league crowds at Highfield Road were as follows:

Crystal Palace
Div 3 South
Div 2
Newport County
Div 3 South

Div 2
Hartlepools U
Div 3 North

Div 3 South

Div 3 North

Div 3 South

New Brighton
Div 3 North

Crystal Palace
Div 3 South

*midweek afternoon game

Three of the four lowest were for midweek games played in the afternoon in the era before floodlights, whilst the three small crowds in the 1950s were, if memory is correct, midweek 5.30 kick-offs (so that the game could be completed before dusk).The 4,744 versus Hartlepools United in 1925-26 stands as the lowest Saturday home league crowd. The lowest Saturday crowd of the modern era (i.e. post 1967) was 7,478 against Watford on a miserably wet day in January 1986.

After City left the Premiership in 2001 there were nine league crowds lower than the 12,292 for last season’s Doncaster game:

10,872             Wimbledon      2003-04
11,557             Crewe              2003-04
11,796             Wimbledon      2002-03
11,797             Cardiff              2003-04
11,862             Bradford C      2003-04
11,966             Gillingham        2004-05
12,148             Wigan              2004-05
12,157             Preston            2004-05
12,226             Watford          2003-04

Not surprisingly Wimbledon feature twice – their away followings, which were never large, had dwindled to a handful – and, if memory serves me correctly, Cardiff fans were banned from the 2003-04 game.

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