Monday, 31 December 2012

Christmas Quiz answers


ANSWERS

Section 1

  1. Kevin Kilbane
  2. Callum Ball
  3. Leon Clarke
  4. Sheffield United
  5. Hearts
  6. Kevin Malaga
  7. Joe Murphy
  8. Scunthorpe United
  9. Billy Daniels
  10. Steve Taylor

Section 2

  1. Cyrus Christie
  2. John Fleck
  3. Stephen Jennings
  4. Roy O’Donovan
  5. Joe Murphy
  6. Adam Barton
  7. Reece Brown
  8. William Edjenguele
  9. Arron Phillips
  10. William Edjenguele


Section 3

  1. Jean-Guy Wallemme
  2. Michael O’Neill
  3. Aarjan De Zeeuw
  4. Adam Virgo
  5. Dimi Konstantopoulos
  6. Jon Stead (Bristol City)
  7. Gary Gardner
  8. Paul Cook
  9. Greg Abbott
  10. Stephen Pressley

Section 4

  1. Carlisle United
  2. Morecambe
  3. AFC Bournemouth
  4. QPR
  5. York City
  6. Burton Albion
  7. Barnet
  8. Fleetwood Town
  9. Exeter City
  10. Southend United

Section 5

  1. Stern John (2006)
  2. Clarrie Bourton
  3. To watch George Hudson make his debut for Northampton after moving from Coventry the previous week.
  4. Lee Hughes
  5. David McGoldrick
  6. Gordon Strachan
  7. Manchester City & Bradford City
  8. Gus Poyet and Les Ferdinand (2002)
  9. Tim Flowers
  10. Richard Gough

Section 6

  1. Florent Laville
  2. Howard Clark
  3. Bobby Graham
  4. Jim McInally
  5. Raddy Avramovic
  6. Tony Sheridan
  7. Alex Evtushok
  8. Kevan Smith
  9. Josh Ruffels
  10. Simon Haworth

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Christmas Quiz 2012


CHRISTMAS QUIZ 2012

 1. THE SEASON SO FAR



1.      Who scored City’s only goal in the League Cup win at Dagenham & Redbridge?
2.      Which City player has scored in all three cup competitions?
3.      Who is the only opposing player to score two goals at the Ricoh?
4.      Which club has attracted the biggest crowd to the Ricoh?
5.      From which club did Stephen Elliott join Coventry in the summer?
6.      Which defender made his debut against Sheffield United in August?
7.      Who is the club’s only ever present in league games?
8.      In November which club won a game in Coventry for the first time?
9.      Which homegrown player made his debut in the League Cup win at Dagenham & Redbridge?
10.  Who is Mark Robins’ number two and first team coach?

 2. WHICH CURRENT COVENTRY CITY PLAYER….

1.      Is the nephew of a former British & European Amateur Boxing Champion?
2.      Was the youngest player to appear in a senior British Cup final in 2008?
3.      Was arrested in 2011 on suspicion of a betting fraud?
4.      Was in City’s Youth team squad in 2002-03?
5.      Appeared on the losing side in the 2000 League Cup final?
6.      Is the son of a former member of the Animals group?
7.      Has an elder brother playing for Sunderland?
8.      Was born the month that Coventry City won the FA Cup?
9.      Is the son of a former Welsh international player?
10.  Has the middle name Emery


 3. WHICH FORMER COVENTRY CITY PLAYER…..

  1. …was coach to the Congo National team until recently?
  2. is manager of the Northern Ireland national team?
  3. …is a forensic detective in Holland?
  4. plays in the back four for Bristol Rovers?
  5. …plays for AEK Athens in Greece?
  6. …was the last ex-City player to score against the Sky Blues?
  7. scored for City on his debut as a loanee from Aston Villa last season?
  8. …is manager of Chesterfield?
  9. …is the longest serving manager in League One (having been in charge for more than 4 years)
  10. …is manager of Falkirk?

4.      WHICH CLUB?

  1. …Won in Coventry for the first time since 1958 this season?
  2. …Play their home games at the Globe Arena?
  3. …Are nicknamed the Cherries?
  4. …Were the first opponents at the Ricoh Arena in 2005?
  5. …Are managed by former City coach Gary Mills?
  6. …Played their home games at Eton Park prior to 2005?
  7. …Other than Brentford are nicknamed the Bees?
  8. …Are managed by Cov Kid Graham Alexander?
  9. …Play their home games at St James Park?
  10. …Are nicknamed the Shrimpers?
 5.            MISCELLANY

  1. Who was the last Coventry City player to appear in the World Cup finals?
  2. Whose record for scoring in successive away games did David McGoldrick break this season?
  3. In 1966 why did several coachloads of City fans go to watch Northampton play Leeds in a First Division match?
  4. Who is the last player to score an away hattrick for the Sky Blues?
  5. Since relegation which City player holds the seasonal league goalscoring record?
  6. Who in 1995 became City’s oldest debutant, aged 38 years & 2 months?
  7. When the Sky Blues were relegated in 2001 which other two teams suffered the drop?
  8. Who scored Spurs’ goals against City in the last FA Cup meeting between the clubs?
  9. Who was Iain Dowie’s number two when he was appointed City boss in 2007?
  10. Who captained Spurs against the Sky Blues in the 1987 FA Cup final?
 
6. PICTURES

All of these players have made first team appearances for the club in the last 40 years.
                                                                  
1.
                                                             
2.
                                                               
3

4.

5.

6.
7.

8.

9.

10.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Jim's column 22.12.12


Coventry City's current away form is nothing short of staggering. After winning only one league game (and losing 16) on the road in the whole of last season, the Sky Blues have notched five this season and have won the last four on the bounce. That feat equals the club record set in 1963 and equalled in 1992 (under Bobby Gould) and again in 2004 (under Eric Black). City travel to Stevenage on Boxing Day looking to set an all-time club record of five.

In 1963 the run of four was the final game of the 1962-63, a 3-1 away win at the White City where QPR were playing that season, and the first three trips of the 1963-64 season, Notts County (3-0), Walsall (3-0) and Luton (3-1). The run came to an end at Hull (1-2) but City went on to win the Third Division championship that season.


In 1992 City won their first four away games in the newly created Premier League. A midweek win at Spurs (2-0) was followed by a (2-1) win at Wimbledon which took them to the top of the league. The next two wins came at Oldham (2-1) and Sheffield Wednesday (1-0). The run came to an end at Forest (1-1).


In 2004 Eric Black had taken over from Gary McAllister at Christmas and his recrafted side won four consecutive away games at Walsall (6-1), Nottingham Forest (1-0), Wimbledon (3-0) and Cardiff (1-0). The run came to an end at West Brom (0-3).

I mentioned the goals for tally last week and another four at Doncaster made it 37 for the season and seventeen in the last four league games - something they haven't done since 1952. Sixty years ago this month City had a great run up to Christmas winning three home games, Brighton (3-1), Crystal Palace (4-2) and Torquay (7-2) and Swindon away (3-2) for a tally of 17 goals. The best ever run of four games came in December 1933: on Christmas Day City won 4-1 at home to Cardiff and drew the return the following day 3-3 before winning 7-3 at Gillingham and defeating Crystal Palace 5-1 at home. 19 goals in four games and star scorer Clarrie Bourton was out injured! His deputy ‘Rasher’ Bacon netted 12 of the goals including a club record five at Gillingham.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Sky Blue Song. On this day in 1962 the song, words by Jimmy Hill and John Camkin, to the Eton Boating song tune, was launched at the Colchester home game. Unfortunately fog enveloped the pitch and the game had to be abandoned at half-time with the Sky Blues leading 2-0. The song took off immediately and was sung with great gusto during the 3-0 victory over the league leaders Peterborough four days later. The song has been an ever present ever since and has been sung on most league grounds around the country not to mention Wembley, Trakia Plovdiv and Bayern Munich. The words have changed subtley over the years to reflect the division the club was in. it started off as Proud Posh or Cobblers, Oysters or anyone but for the most part of its life it has been 'Tottenham or Chelsea, United or anyone'. At today's game it is hoped that the CCFPA's Billy Bell will lead a rendition of the famous song by some of the players from the 1960s.

The tragic news of Peter Ndlovu's car crash last weekend shocked every City fan and the death of his brother Adam and a friend also in the car has stunned his family. The Former Players Association (CCFPA) have set up an appeal fund to raise money for some of his family members in Coventry to fly out to Zimbabwe to be with Peter at this sad time. The CCFPA have kicked off the fund by donating £500 and all fans are encouraged to make a donation to help the family. Details of how to donate can be found at www.ccfpa.co.uk and the proceeds of today's Christmas Memorabilia Stall will be going towards the fund. It is hoped that there will be bucket collections at the game today and in the G-Casino.

A Merry Christmas to all the readers and lets hope the City’s good form continues into 2013 and us long suffering fans finally get something to celebrate.



Monday, 17 December 2012

Jim's column 15.12.2012


The goals are pouring in for the Sky Blues. Last Saturday’s 5-1 victory over Walsall made it 18 goals in the last six league games and 33 for the season, a total only bettered by Tranmere & Bournemouth in the division. The Sky Blues only need another eight goals to equal the total for the whole of last season and have already scored more goals away from home (18) than in the whole of last season (13). McGoldrick’s golden spell continues – he has scored 13 league and 2 cup goals. He has already scored more league goals than City’s top scorer in nine of the last ten seasons. In that period only Gary McSheffrey in 2005-06, with 15, has bettered McGoldrick’s haul this season. The Forest loanee is pushing some of City’s leading seasonal league goalscorers over the last 40 years:

Ian Wallace (21) in 1977-78
Dion Dublin (18) in 1997-98
Micky Quinn (17) in 1992-93
Terry Gibson (17) in 1983-84
Gary McSheffrey (15) in 2005-06
Ian Wallace (15) in 1978-79

The victory over the Saddlers was the biggest win at home since January 2006 when, on Dennis Wise’s debut, Derby were defeated 6-1. It was also the first time City have come from behind to win a home league game since January 2009 when goals from Guillaume Beuzelin and Michael Mifsud gave City a 2-1 win over Blackpool. It’s been a long time coming!

Walsall skipper Andy Butler received his marching orders ten minutes from time and became the first red card in a City game this season. City haven’t had any players sent off yet and the club’s disciplinary record has been marginally better this season – they had received two red cards by this stage last season – a factor which will hopefully avoid suspensions as the season progresses. And is it my imagination but there seems to be less injuries than in recent campaigns, although we still await the appearance this season of David Bell.

Lee Jones emailed with a couple of questions. The first was regarding the famous 2-2 draw with Bristol City that saw both sides avoiding relegation at the end of the 1976-77 season. He had noticed that this game (along with the Everton v Sunderland game) were both played on a Thursday night, and wondered if there was any particular reason why these two games were held back, as none of the teams were involved in any cup competitions, and the rest of the First division programme had already been completed. Lee, the original game had been postponed a couple of times (on 1st January and 1st March) because of the weather - it was one of the worst winters for many years. Many clubs had fixture backlogs and although the final day of the season had been scheduled for the previous Saturday there were 12 outstanding games after that date. In those days there was no requirement for clubs to play their final games on the same day. There was however only one outstanding issue and that was who would be relegated with Stoke City and Tottenham. Bristol, who had been favourites to go down a week earlier had given themselves a fighting chance by beating champions Liverpool 2-1 on the Monday night. Sunderland, who had been 16th of 22 clubs following the last Saturday’s results, were suddenly into play and had to travel to Goodison Park. The draw at Highfield Road meant that Sunderland were relegated and bitter Sunderland fans have never forgiven Coventry or their chairman Jimmy Hill who they accused of deliberately delaying the kick-off of the game to give City some advantage. The games that night were not the final games of the Division One season – there were two games the following Monday night.

Lee’s second query is regarding a programme for the last day escape against Everton, played at Highfield Road on Sunday 26th May 1985. He wondered if there was ever actually a programme printed for this game, as after much searching he has only been able to trace ones for the date that the game was originally due to be played - 9th February, 1985. Lee, there was a four-page insert, with updated stats and team line ups, printed and sold with the original programme on the Sunday morning.
 
Two updates to last week’s column. First, Geoff Moore pointed out that City haven’t scored every penalty in shoot-outs this season. Richard Wood actually missed the 10th penalty in the Burton shoot-out before Joe Murphy saved Burton’s 10th and scored City’s 11th to win the tie.

Secondly. Keith Ballantyne remembers the Bristol Rovers cup-tie in 1963 and recalls Rovers playing in red and white striped shirts (not blue and white stripes).

The Former Players Association Christmas stall was a great success last Saturday and £300 was raised for the Association. The stall will be repeated next Saturday at the Preston game in the foyer of the G-Casino. On sale to raise funds for the FPA will be books, shirts, signed images of Keith Houchen’s Wembley goal (only £10) and various other memorabilia ideal for Christmas presents for Sky Blue fans. Thanks to everyone who generously bought items.


Sunday, 9 December 2012

Jim's column 8.12.2012


The Sky Blues took another step on the road to a Wembley final by defeating Sheffield United in the Northern Quarter Final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. A tense game ended 1-1 and the Sky Blues made it two penalty shoot out wins this season, winning 4-1 with all City’s takers successful. That makes it fourteen penalties in shootouts and no misses following the 10-9 victory over Burton Albion in round one.

It was only the third penalty shoot out involving the Sky Blues since the dramatic FA Cup defeat by penalties at Bramall Lane in 1998 – when City had looked strong bets to reach the semi final. The first was at Peterborough in a League Cup tie in 2001.

The result on Tuesday meant that the Sky Blues have now scored in 19 consecutive League & Cup games, the best run by a City side since the 1966-67 Second Division promotion season. That season Jimmy Hill’s side set the club record by scoring in 29 consecutive games between a 0-1 defeat at Millwall in early September 1966 and a 0-0 draw at Northampton in March 1967. The current run is the third best of all time – the second best was way back in 1927.

Arthur Warner had an interesting question last week.  He reminded me that the last time City played in the Second round of the FA Cup was season 1963-64, when they met Bristol Rovers at Highfield Road. City lost 2-1, but went on to win the Third Division that season. Arthur was at the game, and seemed to recall that City played in their change strip of all red and Bristol played in their famous blue and white quarters. He seemed to remember that in those days, if there was a clash of colours, the home side had to change. Arthur, you are half right. The FA rules at that time stated that if there was a colour clash both sides had to change unless the two teams reached an agreement. As a result there were lots of instances of both teams changing including several finals – 1956 Birmingham v Manchester City, 1957 Aston Villa v Manchester United and 1968 West Brom v Everton. City played at Everton in 1966 and both sides wore their change kit as they also did in cup ties against Leicester City and Huddersfield in the 1950s. The last instance of City appearing in their change kit in an FA Cup tie at home was in 1977 when Millwall visited for a Third Round tie and were beaten by a sole Bobby McDonald goal. Two years later West Brom visited Highfield Road in the third round and the Baggies changed into their away kit because of a clash. I can only assume that West Brom were happy to change because the rules still stated that both teams should change. The FA did amend the rules at some stage in recent years and now the rule is the same as league games – the away team has to change. As for the Bristol game in 1963 City definitely played in their Sky Blue kit and Bristol, who had temporarily abandoned their famous blue quartered shirts in the early 1960s, played in blue and white striped shirts which the referee obviously didn’t consider there was a clash of colours.

Arthur went on to tell me that his first City game was in April 1952, aged six, when he watched City lose 0-2 at home to Sheffield Wednesday – a result that virtually sealed City’s relegation to Division Three. And his Dad’s favourite player was….Clarrie Bourton.

If you are looking for a good football book to give as a Christmas present (assuming you have all of mine!) then I would recommend Chris Arnot’s Fields of Dreams. Chris is a locally-based freelance writer and has written an evocative story of 25 famous football grounds that are no longer with us. From Ayresome Park to the Vetch Field and from Highbury to Highfield Road, Chris combines expressive descriptions of the old grounds with fans memories of great moments at their old grounds. The photographs are excellent with pictures of a bygone era mixed with images of the final games at many grounds. This is a must for anybody interested in the history of the game and grounds and is published by Step Beach Press and costs £19.95.

Talking of Christmas gifts, today the Former Players Association are running a Christmas stall in the foyer of the G-Casino. On sale to raise funds for the FPA are books, shirts, signed images of Keith Houchen’s Wembley goal (only £10) and various other memorabilia ideal for Christmas presents for Sky Blue fans. If it is successful the stall will be repeated at the Preston home game in a fortnight.



Sunday, 2 December 2012

Dave Sexton 6.4.1930- 25.11.2012



Dave Sexton, who passed away last Sunday aged 82, will be remembered as one of the outstanding manager-coaches of his generation. Prior to coming to Coventry City as manager in 1981 he had built a first-class reputation as one of the country’s top managers with Chelsea, QPR and Manchester United. In his two-year stay at the club he helped the development of a golden generation of City players and left the club a fine legacy.

Born in Islington, North London, the son of Archie Sexton, a middleweight boxer of the 1930s, his playing career started at Newmarket Town and progressed via Chelmsford City, Luton Town, West Ham, Leyton Orient and Brighton to Crystal Palace where a knee injury ended his playing career. He was a good lower division player whose only honour was a Third Division championship medal with Brighton in 1958.

His best period as a player was probably at Upton Park where he was a member of a group who immersed themselves in football coaching and tactics. The group, fathered by Ron Greenwood, included Noel Cantwell, John Bond, Malcolm Allison and Frank O’Farrell, would spend hours analyzing the game at a cafĂ© opposite the Boleyn Ground. All were destined to become top managers.

In 1965 after a coaching job under Tommy Docherty  at Chelsea he landed his first manager’s job, at Leyton Orient but lasted less than a year. Successful coaching at Fulham and Arsenal (where he was promoted to assistant manager under Bertie Mee) enhanced his reputation in the capital and when Chelsea sacked Docherty in October 1967 he was handed the Stamford Bridge job.  

He inherited a strong but under-performing squad but with some shrewd signings (David Webb for £25,000 and Ian Hutchinson for £5,000) he built one of Chelsea’s finest teams. He won plaudits for his mixture of neat passing and attacking flair (with players like Peter Osgood, Charlie Cooke and Alan Hudson) backed up with steely ball-winners (like Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris and Webb). For a time Chelsea were the most attractive side in the country. In 1970 Chelsea finished third in the league and won an epic, engrossing and ill-tempered FA Cup final against Leeds United, after a replay which was watched by 28 million people on television. In February of that year they gave a dazzling display at Highfield Road, beating one of the best City teams of all-time, 3-0. A year later Sexton led the team to victory in the European Cup Winners' Cup final against Real Madrid, once more after a replay.

After losing the 1972 League Cup final to Stoke City, Chelsea went into decline, hampered by the cost of their ill-conceived ground developments and wranglings between Sexton and some players. He was sacked by Chelsea in 1974 but within weeks he was appointed manager at Queens Park Rangers. Espousing his football philosophy he developed a side that was unlucky not to win the League Championship in 1976 – they were pipped by a point by Liverpool on the final day.   He got the best out of talented players such as Gerry Francis, Don Masson and Stan Bowles with an exciting attacking brand of football. Dave was a keen fan of Dutch total-football and would often fly to Holland at his own expense to watch games and learn.

In 1977 he resigned from QPR and was on the verge of rejoining Arsenal as coach when Manchester United persuaded him to replace Docherty again. He lacked the charisma required for the Old Trafford job and despite an FA Cup final appearance in 1979 and League runners-up the following year he failed to end United’s long wait for the championship and was castigated for some questionable signings including Gary Birtles.

In 1981 he was sacked by United, despite the Reds winning their last seven games of the season. Jimmy Hill persuaded him to come to Coventry to take over from Gordon Milne who moved upstairs.

His first game in charge for the Sky Blues was against United and he tactically out-thought his successor, Ron Atkinson, to give City a 2-1 win. During his time at Highfield Road City’s style became more cultured but it rarely set the world alight, although in Sexton’s defence he was never given the freedom to spend like other City managers. His first season in charge went well until Christmas then City picked up just three points in twelve games including a 5-1 home defeat to Notts County. However, just as things were at their blackest, and fans wondered where the next league win was going to come from, City mounted a tremendous revival. Buoyed by Sexton’s inspired signing of his former QPR lieutenant Gerry Francis, the young team went on a run of thirteen games with only one defeat, including a never-to-be-forgotten 5-5 draw at the Dell, and a 6-1 win over Sunderland, that took them well clear of relegation. Players such as Steve Whitton, Mark Hateley, Danny Thomas, Steve Jacobs and Gary Gillespie blossomed under Dave’s mentoring. Garry Thompson describes Dave as being ahead of his time: ‘He had a massive influence on the team and individuals. He made me a much better player by concentrating on the smallest parts of my game as well as encouraging me to watch the best players in my position – he had us watching videos of the best players in the world in the early 80s. After I left City it was like going back into the dark ages.’

In his second season with gates falling under 10,000 he had to survive with a squad of 14-15 players. After Thompson was sold over his head in February 1983 the team’s form fell away disastrously and 13 games without a win took them to the brink of relegation. They survived by the skin of their teeth but Sexton was sacrificed for the return of Bobby Gould much to the disgust of his young players.

Whilst at Coventry he also managed the England Under-21 side to victory in the 1982 European Championship and continued in that role for several years, winning the trophy again in 1984, as well as being assistant manager of the England team under Bobby Robson. His depth of knowledge and the respect he was held in within the English game was such that he was utilized by a succession of England managers including Terry Venables, Glen Hoddle, Kevin Keegan and he was still heavily involved with Sven Goran Ericsson’s scouting network into his 70s. He played a leading role in the setting up of the FA’s School of Excellence but never managed at club level after leaving Coventry. Away from football he was a fascinating character, relishing other aspects of life, taking an Open University degree in philosophy during his fifties, appreciating modern poetry and art, and being receptive to new ideas. His love of sport even extended to American Football and I am told that he studied the sport's tactics and plays. He continued to live in Kenilworth where, in 2008, a building was named in his honour. Sadly in latter years dementia took its toll.

Dave Sexton was an unassuming and highly intelligent man, always placing the greatest emphasis on technique and progressive football rather than the long ball and a big boot. He never sacrificed those principles. 

His funeral takes place on Monday 10 December at 11 a.m. at Kenilworth.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Jim's column 24.11.2012


What a week for the Sky Blues, two away wins, eight goals and a four-place leap up the League One table not to mention a field day for stattos like me. The Hartlepool game was full of great statistics but the plaudits of the week must go to David McGoldrick for scoring in six consecutive away games and breaking the great Clarrie Bourton’s record set in 1931-32 season. Bourton was in his pomp in 1931-32, his first season at Coventry following his move from Blackburn Rovers.  Between 19 September 1931 and 28 November he netted 20 goals in 11 consecutive games including five away games in which he netted six goals. His total goal haul for the season was 50 (49 League, 1 FA Cup) and he finished as the Football League's leading scorer.
McGoldrick is on fire right now and although he only managed a penalty at the Victoria Ground on Saturday, he scored an excellent third goal at Colchester to take Clarrie’s record. He has now scored eight goals in his last 6 away games and 14 league and cup goals in total. He has already scored more goals in a season than any Coventry player in the last four seasons – the last player to score more in a campaign was Gary McSheffrey who scored 17 in 2005-06.
One record McGoldrick is very unlikely to take from Bourton is scoring in consecutive HOME games. Between 17 March 1934 and 3 November Clarrie scored in every home game (12 in total). What a phenomenal record. The post-war record of consecutive home goals is held by Ted Roberts with eight, with Eddie Brown, Ray Straw and Bobby Gould six and George Hudson and Gary McSheffrey five.

The 5-0 win at Hartlepool was the first time City have scored more than three goals in a league game since 2008. They had last scored four in October 2008 against Southampton at the Ricoh (4-1) and last scored five in April 2008 at Colchester (5-1). Although it wasn't a record away win (that was the 7-0 at Aberdare Athletic in 1926-27) it was amazingly the first time in the club's history that they have won an away league game 5-0, that includes the pre-Football League era in the Southern & Birmingham Leagues. They did win an FA cup tie 5-0 at Kettering in 1909. 

Tuesday night's win made it three away wins in a row - the first time City have achieved that since 2003-04 when, under Eric Black, the team won four in a row at Walsall, Nottingham Forest, Wimbledon and Cardiff. What a period that was under Black and it was a travesty that he was unceremoniously booted out by Mike McGinnity and replaced by the disastrous Peter Reid. That run equalled the club's all-time record set in 1963-64 and equalled in 1992-93 during the Bobby Gould era.

Despite good followings from Coventry, the crowds at the two away games were very poor with 4,404 at Hartlepool and 3,229 at Colchester's Weston Homes Stadium. The latter was the lowest league crowd to watch the Sky Blues this season and the lowest since Only 2,xxx watched City play Wimbledon at Selhurst Park in 2002-03. In fact it was the fourth lowest postwar crowd to watch a City league game:-


2,077 v Wimbledon (away) 2002-03
2,275 v Southport (away) 1958-59
2,607 v Halifax (away) 1961-62
3,229 v Colchester (away) 2012-13 

Following on from last week’s column here are City’s League Cup defeats to clubs of a lesser status since the competition began in 1960, especially requested by Keith Ballantyne. It includes two legged ties in which City lost one leg but progressed on aggregate:-
1961-62 v Workington (a) 0-3 (Div 4)                                                  
1966-67 v Brighton (h) 1-3 after 1-1 draw (Div 3)
1968-69 v Swindon T.(a) 0-3 after 2-2 draw (Div 3)
1971-72 v Burnley (h) 0-1 (Div 2)                                                        
1975-76 v Mansfield (a) 0-2 (Div 3)                                                  
1978-79 v Chester (a) 1-2 (Div 3)                                                        
1980-81 v West Ham 3-4 (2 legs) (Div 2)                                        
1982-83 v Burnley (h) 1-2 (Div 3)                                                        
1984-85 v Walsall 2-4 (2 legs)(Div 3)                         
1989-90 v Grimsby (a)1-3 (Div 4) City won 4-3 on agg.             
1990-91 v Sheff.Wed (h) 0-1 (Div 2)���                               
1991-92 v Rochdale (a) 0-1 (Div 4) City won 4-1 on agg.                
1992-93 v Scarborough (a) 0-3(Div 3) City lost 2-3 on agg.
1993-94 v Wycombe W.(a) 2-4 (Div 3) City won 5-4 on agg.        
1995-96 v Wolves (a) 1-2 (Div 1)                                                                                                           
1996-97 v Gillingham (h) 0-1 after 2-2 draw (Div 2)                                                                                                  
1998-99 v Luton (a) 0-2 (Div 2)                                                                                                           
1999-00 v Tranmere 4-6 on agg (Div 1)                                                                                                
2006-07 v Hereford (a) 1-3 (League 2)
2009-10 v Hartlepool (h) 0-1 aet (League 2)
2010-11 v Morecambe (a) 0-2 (League 2)
2011-12 v Bury (a) 1-3 (League 2)

The list is a shocking indictment of City’s League Cup record. The last few seasons have been bad but the 1990s were dreadful, especially when you consider the Sky Blues were a top-flight club for the whole decade but lost to lower league sides in nine out of 11 seasons.                                               


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Jim's column 17.11.2012


Keith Ballantyne emailed to ask me to list all the instances of City losing to lower league opposition in Cup matches since the 1961-62 defeat to Kings Lynn.
I will start this week by listing the FA Cup games, and cover the League Cup ties next week.

Since the 1-2 defeat at the hands of Southern League Kings Lynn in November 1961 City have lost to lower league (or non-league) clubs on 13 occasions:

1967-68 v Tranmere Rovers (a) 0-2 after 1-1 draw
1970-71 v Rochdale (a) 1-2
1971-72 v Hull City (h) 0-1
1979-80 v Blackburn Rovers (a) 0-1
1983-84 v Sheff. Wed (a) 2-3
1988-89 v Sutton United (a) 1-2
1989-90 v Northampton T.(a) 0-1
1991-92 v Cambridge U.(a) 0-1 after 1-1 draw
1997-98 v Sheff. United (a) 1-1 (lost on pens) after 1-1 draw
1999-00 v Charlton (h) 2-3
2002-03 v Rochdale (a) 0-2
2003-04 v Colchester (a) 1-3 after 1-1 draw
2006-07 v Bristol City (h) 0-2 after 3-3 draw

Rochdale feature twice on the list and also knocked the City out of the competition in 1920. Thankfully Morecambe won the replay on Tuesday night and will travel to Coventry for the first time in their history.

 Last Saturday’s attendance for the Scunthorpe home game (9,892) was the lowest Saturday home league gate since October 1993 when 9,837 watched City draw 1-1 with Southampton in what was Bobby Gould’s last home match as City’s manager. 


Last month I wrote an obituary to former City player Stan Smith and said I thought he had played for Bedworth after retiring from the professional game. Bedworth historian Alan Robinson kindly filled in some more detail on Stan’s career:

 Further to your article in the October 13th issue of the Telegraph, I can confirm that Stan Smith did play for Bedworth Town - in the 1955-56 season.
I am attaching a team picture taken before the first home match of that season (August 22nd, 1955, against Rugby Town) with Stan standing with his arms folded second right at the back.
Stan was tempted to the Oval by his former Coventry City team-mate Dick Mason who had taken over as the Greenbacks player-manager.
Apart from Stan and Dick, the Bedworth side that season included two other former Sky Blues - Norman Smith and trainer Bob Ward.
Manager Mason had also recruited goalkeeper Ron Floyd straight from Crewe Alexandra and centre-half Ron Dickinson from Shrewsbury Town.

                                         

                                        Bedworth Town 1955-56


The Bedworth team picture shows the following:
Back row (left to right): Geoff Palmer, Dick Mason (player-manager), Ron Floyd, Ron Dickinson, Gerry Belcher, Stan Smith, Bob Ward (trainer).
Front row: Roy Dayers, Peter Spacey, Eddie Fowkes, Norman Smith, Herbert Morrow.
The mascot is Peter Spacey, junior.)

Finally, I hear that former Sky Blue player Philippe Clement has been appointed as Caretaker-Manager at his former club FC Brugge. The Belgian midfielder, now aged 38, was signed from KRC Genk by Gordon Strachan in 1998 but made only 16 appearances (eight as substitute) for the Sky Blues before returning to Belgium the following summer to join Brugge. Over the next 10 years he made almost 300 appearances and won 38 caps for his country. Clement, who retired from playing in 2011, was handed the job following the departure of George Leekens last week. His first game in charge was a 2-2 draw with Newcastle in the Europa League. Last weekend however his team slumped to a 6-1 defeat at Anderlecht and are languishing in ninth place in the Jupiler League.


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Jim's column 10.11.2012


                                       Gerry Baker, spotted at Ricoh this week.

What a treat – two Coventry City wins in a week - could the tide by turning at last. I hope I won’t tempt fate by pointing out that City notched their first trio of successive wins for December 2010 when they defeated Burnley and Middlesbrough at home and Scunthorpe away to reach the heady heights of fifth place in the Championship. They haven’t won four in a row since December 2002!

Sadly the gates at this week’s games were pitifully low. The gate for the Arlesey FA Cup game was 6,594, the lowest for a home FA Cup tie since December 1908 when 6,215 watched City draw 1-1 with Wrexham in a Fifth Qualifying Round tie. Gates were generally poor in the Cup last week and City’s was only bettered by Portsmouth who had 7,560 for the visit of Notts County.

Tuesday night’s gate plumbed new depths for the Sky Blues with only 8,862 present for the visit of Crawley – the lowest home league crowd since March 1992 when 8,454 turned up for the midweek game against Norwich just three days after almost 24,000 had watched the Sky Blues entertain Manchester United. The crowds are drifting down to the lowest in the last 50 years with the smallest since 1962 being the 7,478 who watched the Watford game in January 1986. The Crawley gate means that City’s average this season is just 10,514 and unless it improves it will be the lowest average since 1961-62, the season Jimmy Hill took over as manager.

The FA Cup victory, City’s biggest home win since they moved to the Ricoh in 2005, set up a revenge game for the Sky Blues. The draw paired City with the winners of the Rochdale v Morecambe replay. Both of these clubs have knocked City out of Cup competitions in recent years, Rochdale in the 2003 FA Cup and Morecambe in 2010-11 League Cup, and older fans will remember the even bigger shock in 1971, when City lost at Spotland on a dreary Monday afternoon after the original game had been postponed.

David McGoldrick is the man of the moment and became the first City player to score 10 goals before the end of November since Michael Mifsud in 2007. Mifsud reached double figures on 3 November, beating McGoldrick by three days. Mifsud achieved it in only nine starts, McGoldrick has had 14 starts. McGoldrick is something of an enigma. Forest fans don’t speak highly of him – his nickname at the City Ground was McGoaldrought – and he scored only nine goals in 75 appearances (but only 36 starts) in three seasons. Prior to that he scored only 15 goals in 75 games (55 starts) for Southampton but obviously did enough to persuade Forest’s manager Billy Davies to pay £1m for him. He can’t seem to stop scoring for the Sky Blues and it has to be hoped that he can stay at the club beyond his loan period.

The introduction of Arlesey Town’s substitute, player-manager Zema Abbey, prompted the question from John Woodfield and Dean Nelson: when was the last time a player-manager appeared against the Sky Blues?

The answer is, to my knowledge, Gillingham’s Andy Hessenthaler who played several games for the Gills v the Sky Blues between 2001-2004 during his time as player-manager at the Priestfield Stadium. The last appearance was in City’s 5-2 win there in 2004 when Richard Shaw famously scored his only City goal and Hessenthaler got his marching orders. Another is Paul Simpson who played for and managed Rochdale to the aforementioned Cup win in 2003. My memory of the Premiership years is failing me and I have to thank Paul O’Connor for reminding me of several player-managers who played against us in the Premier League including three Chelsea men (Glen Hoddle, Ruud Gullit & Gianluca Vialli), Liverpool’s Kenny Dalglish and Trevor Francis. Francis, I believe, is unique in that he did it twice (for QPR and Sheffield Wednesday) and scored against the Sky Blues in a 2-1 QPR victory in 1988-89.  I do have good memories of the 1960s and remember Bill McGarry (PM of Bournemouth) and Jimmy Scoular (PM of Bradford PA) in the 1962-63 season. There may be more but it’s not as strange as it sounds.

I bumped into former Coventry City player Gerry Baker after Tuesday night’s game. It is always nice to chat to Gerry – a true gentleman – but it was sad to hear that his wife Anne passed away recently after a long illness. Gerry was down from his Motherwell home visiting his family in Coventry and took the opportunity to make a rare visit to the Ricoh. He was full of stories of the Sky Blues early seasons in Division One and reminisced about the late Ernie Machin.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Iain Jamieson (14.10.1928- 19.10.2012)



          Iain Jamieson (with Bobby Gould) celebrating City staying up in May 1984.

Iain Jamieson, who recently died in Scotland aged, 84, juggled careers in football and business, achieving great success in both fields. He is unique in having been a Coventry City player as well as a director and, for one momentous year, chairman of the club. Simultaneously he rose through the ranks of textile company Courtaulds to become one of its managing directors.

The Dumbarton-born son of a Glasgow shipyard electrician, his talents on the pitch were first evident at Dumbarton Academy where he also excelled in the classroom. In 1946 Iain won a place at Aberdeen University to read modern languages and had ambitions of becoming a school-teacher. He was approached by Aberdeen FC and agreed to play as a part-time professional to help fund his studies. He played just one first-team game for the Dons before he received his National Service call-up papers and was whisked off to Dover to do his Army ‘square-bashing’.

It was during his time in the services that he flourished as a footballer, playing in Army teams with stars of the age such as Ivor Allchurch, Bobby Johnstone and Harold Hassall. During that period he witnessed a horrifying incident when two of his fellow players were killed in a lightning strike.

The tragedy, in April 1948, happened during a re-play of the Army Cup Final at the military barracks at Aldershot. Reports at the time described all the players being thrown to the ground by the force and witnesses speculated that the lightning bolt had hit the referee’s whistle.

Having been posted to Uttoxeter his performances for the Army XI attracted the attention of several league clubs and Coventry City’s manager Harry Storer was impressed by the young Jamieson. When Iain’s National Service was completed he decided to take up Storer’s offer of a full-time contract.

Many years later he said: ‘I really liked the atmosphere of the Midlands, especially Coventry which to me was a lively go-ahead industrial area and a good stopping off place when my football career ended’.

As it transpired Iain made the right choice. He quickly settled down in Coventry and soon became established as a firm crowd favourite. His debut was against Leeds United at Highfield Road on 15 January 1949 and Iain, playing at inside-right, scored in a 4-1 victory. Over the next five seasons Iain, whilst a regular for the reserves, was unable to become a first-team regular and played only 37 first team games. After switching position to wing half in 1953 he became a regular in the first team and played alongside some famous City players of that era including Reg Matthews, Roy Kirk, Peter Taylor and Peter Hill and later George Curtis. On a number of occasions he captained the side

One of his playing colleagues of that time, Lol Harvey, remembers Iain well: ‘He was a talented player, good on the ball and very fast. He was a clever man and the banter in the dressing room between him and his good friend Eddy Brown was amusing to us working-class boys. Iain was a great help to me and the younger boys at the club and nothing was ever too much trouble to him.’

Iain was determined however to secure a future beyond football, and he decided to further his academic studies and attended Coventry College whilst pursuing his career on the pitch. In 1955, the same year that he married Harry Storer’s daughter Ann, he joined Courtaulds as a sales executive while still playing for Coventry.

In 1958 his professional football career ended when he left City after 184 appearances and 6 goals, although he went on to spend a spell as player-manager, on a part-time basis, for Southern League side Rugby Town. In his business career he was quickly on the promotion ladder rising swiftly through the ranks to become the general manager of Courtaulds commercial division,

In 1973, following the retirement of Derrick Robins, Iain was invited to join the board at Coventry City and served alongside Joe Mercer and Jimmy Hill. After Hill’s departure in 1983, he was appointed club chairman. It was a difficult time for the club with severe financial problems following the introduction of the all-seater stadium in 1981 and losses from the investments in the NASL at Detroit and Washington and virtually the whole first team squad out of contract. Iain’s first job was to sack Dave Sexton as manager and recruit Cov kid Bobby Gould as his replacement.

Bobby remembers Iain with great affection: ‘At the time he illegally tapped me up to become City’s manager – something he was very uncomfortable about. I was manager at Bristol Rovers at the time and we had a clandestine meeting in a field near Banbury at which we agreed terms. We only worked together for a year until John Poynton bought the club, but he was incredibly supportive to me.  I had watched him play from the Highfield Road terraces and admired his elegance as a footballer. He understood football, something rare in football boardrooms and he was very kind to me in a stressful year at Coventry. There was never any histrionics from Iain and he was a true gentleman who was a great representative of Coventry City Football Club.’

In his year as chairman he is credited with re-establishing strong links with the fans and the people of Coventry after a period during which many believed that those links had been severely stretched. He left the City board in 1984 and continued his career in the textile industry until retiring in 1989. He ended his working life as managing director of Sperrin Group, sports clothing.

His job had taken him across Europe, to Australia and the United States and travel remained a key interest for him in retirement when he visited family in Canada and Australia. A Rotarian and keen follower of current affairs, his lifetime love of sport was undimmed and also extended to golf which, at one time, he played off a handicap of six.

Married three times, to Ann Storer, Ann Hansen and Jane Shaw, he spent his last few years in Dumfries and Galloway, latterly in Kirkcudbright, where he is remembered as a good humoured and engaging conversationalist.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Jim's column 13.10.2012


                                                        Stan Smith
                   

It is sad to report the death of former Coventry City player Stan Smith who passed away last Saturday at the age of 87.

Born in Coventry on 24 February 1925 Stan attended South Street School and Cheylesmore School and was a talented rugby player as well as excelling at the round ball game. In 1942, aged 17, whilst playing for Nuffield Mechanisation, he was spotted by a Coventry City scout and invited to play a couple of wartime games for the club. With many first team players in the armed forces the club often played promising youngsters from local football and Stan did not disappoint, playing right half in home victories over Walsall & Northampton Town.

Stan’s cousin, Rob Smith, told me about Stan’s wartime experience. Stan joined the Navy in 1943 and trained as a telegraphist or ‘spark’. He was on board the American-built aircraft carrier HMS Nabob on escort duties in the North Atlantic escorting troop and cargo convoys. After further duties in the North Sea supporting coastal attacks on Norway, HMS Nabob was assigned to find and sink the German super battleship Tirpitz (Operation Goodwood). On August 22nd 1944 while returning from a strike on Tirpitz, HMS Nabob was torpedoed by a German U-boat in the Barents Sea and sustained heavy damaged with 21 killed and many injured. In spite of a further attack by the same U-boat she managed to steam into Scapa Flow under her own power, however the ship was judged not worth repairing and was decommissioned.

Stan then joined HMS Hunter and took part in the reoccupation of Malaya and Singapore from the Japanese. In particular she provided air support in the Andaman Sea hunting the cruiser Haguro, one of the last surviving major Japanese warships, which was eventually sunk off Sumatra trying to return to Singapore.  HMS Hunter entered Singapore harbour on September 10th 1945 and Stan fondly told the story that he was the telegraphist who took the message that the Japanese had surrendered and was given the honour of personally informing the captain.
  
On demob from the Navy Stan signed professional forms with City but could not break into the first team owing to the form of right-half Jack Snape. Then on 10 September 1947 he got his first team debut in a 1-3 defeat at West Brom and made 27 first team appearances in Billy Frith’s Second Division side that season, either at right or left-half. During that time he faced some of the top players of the era including Len Shackleton and Jackie Milburn (Newcastle) and Alf Ramsey (Southampton). His cousin Rob tells me that Stan told the story of his meeting with Shackleton, one of the most talented players of the period. ‘Shack’, who had been shadowed everywhere by Smith went up to Stan at the final whistle and said: ‘I’m going to have a bath now, are you going to follow me in there too?’

Stan only made four appearances the following season but was a regular in a strong reserve team until 1950 when he joined Swansea Town. He failed to win a place at Vetch Field and was soon reunited with his old City boss Billy Frith who was manager at Stafford Rangers. In early 1951 however he was back in the Coventry area and signing for Nuneaton Borough. Over the next four years he made around 150 appearances for Borough and he was captain of the side that pulled off a major FA Cup shock in 1953, defeating Third Division Watford 3-0. In the next round they held QPR to a 1-1 draw at Loftus Road but lost the replay 1-2 at Manor Park in front of 13,000 fans. Later that season Stan returned to Highfield Road as ‘Boro’ were guests in a floodlight friendly, losing 0-4. His final game for the ‘Boro’ was in 1955 when he suffered concussion in a game against Brierley Hill. It is believed he may have played for Bedworth Town after this time.

In later years Stan became an FA Coach and had success at Nuneaton, Coventry City (with the B & C teams) and coached on many FA courses. He also qualified as a physiotherapist and ran a practice from his home for many years as well as continuing his involvement with local football.  He leaves a widow Stella. Stan’s funeral is to be held at Canley Crematorium on Monday 22 October at 1.30 pm. Many thanks to Rob Smith and Scott Renshaw for their help in piecing together Stan’s life.

According to Geoff Moore Bournemouth goalkeeper David James became the oldest player to appear at the Ricoh Arena last Saturday. James, who was 42 in August, beats the previous record holder Teddy Sheringham, who was 41 when he played (and was sent off) for Colchester in 2007. Despite playing most of his career in the top division James has played against the Sky Blues on 20 occasions with five different clubs (Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham, Bristol City & Bournemouth). Amazingly he was on the losing side against City at Anfield on three occasions, most memorably in 1995 when Peter Ndlovu scored a hat-trick and in 1997 when his failure to catch two corners resulted in late goals for Dublin & Whelan. He was also in goal for Villa on the day that City were relegated from the Premiership in 2001. James, who started his career Watford actually appeared at Highfield Road in 1985 in a Youth Cup game for the Hornets.

The Sky Blues safely overcame York City in the Johnstone Paints Trophy, winning 4-0 at Bootham Crescent, the first time they have scored four goals in a game since October 2008 when they defeated Southampton 4-1 at the Ricoh.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Jim's Column 6.10.12


Coventry City finally won a league game at Boundary Park, Oldham on Saturday with a late Cody McDonald goal. It was City’s first league victory since the last Saturday in March (at Hull) and came after 14 games without a win – the worst run since the dreadful spring of 2003 when Gary McAllister’s team of loanees and raw youngsters went 16 matches without victory.

Oldham’s pitiful attendance of 4,022 was evidence how far the Sky Blues have fallen in recent years – the lowest league crowd to watch City since 2002 when 2,077 rattled around Selhurst Park watching a 1-0 City win over Wimbledon. Gates at Oldham have never been massive – when City played there three times in the Premiership/Division 1 in the early 1990s there were never more than 12,500 present – but in January 1964 they attracted 20,000 for a midweek game against Jimmy Hill’s Sky Blues. City’s players must have found it strange, going from playing in front of 58,000 at the Emirates to 4,000 at Boundary Park.

Gary McSheffrey reached a major milestone at Oldham, making his 250th first team appearance for his home town club. He became only the 29th  player in the club’s history to reach the figure and he is now level with the great Clarrie Bourton and close to overtaking Dave Clements (257) and Lloyd McGrath (258) in the all time list. He is also now up to tenth in the all-time City scoring lists having netted 70 goals in all competitions and is close to overtaking Dion Dublin (72) and George Hudson (75).

Next Tuesday the Sky Blues travel to York City’s Bootham Crescent in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – their first visit to the ground since August 1959 when 9,400 watched City gain a 1-1 draw thanks to a Jack Boxley goal. That was one of only two league visits City have made to the small ground in the shadow of York Minster. City’s most famous visit was an FA Cup third round visit in 1938 when they were joint top of the old Division Two (and the bookies favourites to get promotion) having lost only twice in 22 games. The Minstermen, languishing in the lower half of Division Three North pulled off the shock of the day beating the Bantams 3-2 in front of what was a record crowd at Bootham of 13,917. Somehow I doubt there will be that many in the ground next Tuesday.

Richard Whitehead was intrigued by my story of Tamworth born ex-City goalkeeper Horace Pearson the other week. Richard, a Villa fan who writes for the Times, hails from Wilnecote near Tamworth and reminded me that in the 1931 FA Cup final (Birmingham v West Brom) both goalkeepers hailed from Tamworth. The legendary international ‘keeper Harry Hibbs was between the posts for the Blues and Harold Pearson (Horace’s cousin) was in goal for the Baggies. 


Sunday, 30 September 2012

Jim's column 29.9.12


                                                           Ken Simcoe

I had the pleasure of travelling to the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening to see City’s League Cup defeat at the hands of Arsenal. I have seen some heavy defeats over the last 50 years following the Sky Blues including West Brom 7-1 in 1978 and Bayern Munich 6-1 in 1970, but would never describe any of them as having been a pleasure. Like most of the 8,000 Sky Blue Army I had no great expectations, other than the hope that it wouldn’t be a cricket score. In the event I witnessed a sublime exhibition of modern day football and one of the finest team performance against the Sky Blues in that 50 years. Arsenal (or Arsenal reserves!) were as though from a different planet. Their performance highlighted the massive difference between the Premiership and League One. City’s players, centre-halves apart, did themselves justice, but were found wanting for stamina in the last twenty five minutes, and Arsenal’s youngsters stepped up a gear to put a harsh face on the final scoreline.

The difference between the sides was speed, strength and football artistry. Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Arshavin respectively epitomised these attributes. Walcott demonstrated his pace and finishing with two goals of the highest quality – driving through City’s beleaguered and tired defence like Mark Cavendish on the Champs Elyssee. The ‘Ox’ was everywhere, never wasting the ball and hitting a stunning 30-yard goal that bamboozled the brave Murphy – this boy is a star of the future. The enigmatic Arshavin strolled through the match but every so often showed glimpses of his terrifying skill on the ball.  He can be frustrating I’m sure but he is a true artist. The majority of the rest of Arsenal’s side were unknowns to me but they never betrayed the Arsenal ethos, rarely giving the ball away and delighting the crowd with their rapier thrusts through a vexed but brave Sky Blue defence.

The defeat was the heaviest City have suffered in the competition since 1965-66 when we lost by the same score at the Hawthorns in a Fifth round replay. The previous season we suffered our heaviest defeat in the competition, 8-1 at home to Leicester City.
Another former City player Ken Simcoe passed away earlier this month in Sherwood in his home town of Nottingham. Apart from his year in Coventry Ken spent all of his footballing career in the East Midlands. He started out with Central YMCA and was spotted by Nottingham Forest turning out first as a junior and amateur in 1955 and then, turning professional in December 1956. Ken featured predominantly in the Reds’ reserves and only made the first team twice in league games (though scoring once). Billy Frith signed him for Coventry in 1959 and he started the 1959-60 season as Frith’s first choice number seven but failed to impress and played only eight games (with one goal) before being released the following summer. He returned to Nottingham, joining County where he played only a couple of first team games before dropping into the East Midlands non-league scene, playing for Heanor Town, Loughborough United and Ilkeston Town before a severe knee injury forced him out of the game in February 1967. Ken died in a care home in Sherwood at the age of 75 after a long illness.