Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Jim's Column 3.9.2011

After all the bad news and poor start to the season the Sky Blues bounced back with a great 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough. It is only the third point out of 24 that City have gained at Boro’s Riverside stadium since it was opened in 1995. Back then City’s briefly exciting Brazilian (with a Portuguese passport), Isaias, became the first opposition player to score there but City lost 1-2. Since then City have also travelled there twice in Cup competitions and come home empty handed. The result also ended Boros’ excellent run of five victories and credit is due to Andy Thorn and his team for a gutsy display. Tony Mowbray’s team have picked where they left off last season and now have only lost once in 17 games. The former West Brom and Celtic boss is doing an excellent job after Gordon Strachan's disastrous reign at Boro. Like City Boro are now forced to sell their best players to make ends meet in the Championship but thankfully for them they have a fine array of homegrown talent to fall back on.

Michael Mifsud was back in the news again recently, for finally signing a long-term contract for a club. The diminutive Maltese striker who made such a strong impression at Coventry City in 2007-08 when he netted 17 league and cup goals has signed a four-year deal with Maltese club Valetta. Steve Nichols from Canley sent me this picture taken of Mifsud and the following week MM celebrated his good fortune by scoring both goals for his country in their 2-1 win over Central African Republic. I wonder if Michael reflects on his time in England and wishes he had re-signed for City when he had the chance in the summer of 2009 or joined Bristol City or Sheffield United that same year when he had what sounded like attractive offers on the table. Stories at the time suggested either he or his agent (or both of them) jettisoned the move by asking for too much money. Whatever happened Mifsud has spent almost two year in the wilderness but strangely still been selected for the Malta national team for whom he is the captain.

Few Coventry fans will remember Michael O’Neill a left-winger who made six appearances for the club between 1996-1998. His City career was blighted by injury and he never reproduced the form that earned him 33 Northern Ireland full caps. His managerial career has been slowly developing and last week he took his team, Shamrock Rovers to the group stages of the Europa League by virtue of a two-leg win over Partizan Belgrade.

For some years now those City fans who track down former players have tried in vain to find any information about Harry Bull, who played for Coventry City just after the Second world war. During the summer it came to light that Harry had died in Nottingham aged 80 on 4 April 2006. Harry’s story is one that has always touched me. Although born in Birmingham he was the son of a chef who moved to Nottingham where Harry grew up. A Nottingham friend of his, Dennis Daft, was invited to Coventry for a trial and Harry, just out of the Navy, and another friend, Peter Taylor, later to play for City and be Brian Clough’s number two at Derby and Forest, came along for the ride. Dick Hill, the Coventry trainer, saw Harry standing watching the trial match and asked him if he wanted to join in. Harry did well and was signed up by City whilst Dennis got the thumbs down and returned to Nottingham heartbroken. Harry only played one first team game for City at centre forward in the final game of 1948-49 season. He suffered a leg injury which curtailed his career at City and in 1950 he moved to Rugby Town. He worked in the maintenance department at Boots in Nottingham and subsequently became a milkman with Nottingham Dairies until his retirement in 1990.

As I write this it seems likely that the Sky Blues have signed an outfield player, Cody McDonald from Norwich City. Nick Cook emailed me to point out that it had been 343 days since the club last signed an outfield player and surely that was a record. Other than goalkeepers Joe Murphy and Chris Dunn, Marlon King was the last signing, last September. I am sure it must be a record, other than in wartime.

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