After the international break weekend it is back to league action this weekend and the visit of West Ham United today for what is the Hammers’ first ever league visit to the Ricoh Arena. In 2007-08 they won here 2-1 in a League Cup tie, ending what had looked a promising Cup run that season, following City’s memorable victory at Old Trafford in the previous round.
Several people have pointed out to me that the number of Coventry-born players in the Sky Blues’ squad has increased this season and wondered when the club put out a side containing the most Cov kids. Fellow City historian Paul O’Connor tells me that in the club’s league history (that dates back to 1919) the club have only had 44 players who were born in the city – this excludes players born in Bedworth, Nuneaton or other local towns. There have been a number of famous ones including Reg Matthews (the first and only Coventrian to play for England), Bobby and Trevor Gould, Gary McSheffrey, Kirk Stephens and Marcus Hall but there have been few periods when there was a glut of local players. After World War 2 the squad had a number of locals including Ron Cox, Les Latham, Dennis Simpson and Stan Smith but all four never appeared together. Then in early 1950s the club’s youth team, playing under the name of Modern Machines produced quite a few including Matthews, Brinley Thomas, Derek Spencer and Billy Gray, and they combined with many youngsters signed from Harry Storer’s heartland of Derbyshire including Lol Harvey, Frank Austin and Ron Waldock saved the club thousands of pounds in the transfer market.
Now, suddenly, the Sky Blues have half a dozen ‘locals’ and the Southampton game ended with four of them on the pitch together. Substitute Jordan Willis joined Cyrus Christie, Conor Thomas and the ‘old man’, Gary McSheffrey to set what I believe is a club record of four Coventry-born players in the team. If Jordan Clarke’s injury problems clear up quickly and striker Callum Wilson’s progress continues we could see the city of Coventry supplying over half the first team.
Readers of the Coventry City official programme may have noticed an amendment to the Club Honours section on page three of the programme. Bedworth-based City fan Bob Howe contacted me a while ago suggesting that recognition be given to the club’s success in winning the Southern Professional Floodlit Cup in 1960. the competition was played between clubs from the south of England from around 1955 when floodlights became common amongst clubs. It was discontinued in 1960 because of the introduction of the League Cup, meaning that City were the last winners of the competition. In a memorable cup run City, then a Third Division outfit, defeated Southend, First Division Fulham, Southampton and another First Division club, West Ham, 2-1 in the final before a 17,000 Highfield Road crowd. As a result of Bob’s correspondence the club have now included the Cup win in the list of honours.