Sunday, 15 January 2012

Jim's column 14.1.12

                                          Jim McInally on the day he signed for the Sky Blues

The honour of playing in the 1987 replica shirts did little to inspire the current Coventry City team to great heights and the club’s FA Cup run ended with a wimper almost before it had started. Since the club moved to the Ricoh Arena in 2005 City have won only four of the ten home FA cup ties, losing five of them, a pitiful record and a far cry from the excellent FA Cup record at Highfield Road. Between 1972 and 2005 the Sky Blues lost only four of 41 home ties in the competition. It is a similar story in the League Cup with two wins and three defeats since the move to Longford seven years ago. Years ago Birmingham City fans used to say St Andrews was cursed by a gypsy – I am beginning to wonder if the Ricoh is cursed because City seem incapable of beating all but the poorest sides there.

The Cup defeat at the hands of the Saints, the second of the season against a well-marshalled but hardly outstanding Championship side, means the Sky Blues have only reached the fifth round of the trophy twice in eleven seasons – a dreadful record when the club’s overall FA Cup history is considered. Over a hundred years ago the club carved out a giant-killing reputation by reaching the quarter-finals as a non-league side, beating two First Division clubs on the way, which was talked about in the city for years. Then in 1963 Jimmy Hill’s team sparked the Sky Blue Revolution by reaching the last eight as a Third Division club. Even under Iain Dowie and Chris Coleman the club pulled off shocks in the Cup competitions – frankly, it is hard to see the current side pulling off any shocks anywhere, whether in league or cup. One consequence of relegation this season would be City having to start their FA Cup campaign at the First Round stage for the first time since 1963-64. More potential banana skins for our beloved team!

Dean Nelson alerted me to two former City players plying their trade as managers in Scotland. Dean spotted former City defender Jim McInally as manager of Third Division Peterhead who faced Celtic in the Scottish Cup last week. City bought Jim from Nottingham Forest in 1986. He was one of three signings manager Don Mackay was allowed to make after the sale of Terry Gibson to Manchester United. The blond full-back played only five games in a City shirt and was never on the winning side. He is best remembered for scoring the best headed own goal I've ever seen in a 0-3 defeat at Arsenal. When John Sillett & George Curtis took over they managed to sell him and fellow Scot Dave Bowman to Dundee United, where they both had successful careers. Within a year Jim won the first of 10 Scottish caps and between 1986 and 1995 went on to play almost 300 games for Dundee United. Since retiring in 1999 Jim has been a coach at Celtic and manager at Irish club Sligo Rovers, Greenock Morton, East Stirling and since October Peterhead. Sadly his team failed to make an impression on the mighty Celtic and lost 0-3.

The other ex-City man managing north of the border is Colin Cameron. Former Scottish international Colin spent the 2006-07 season at the Ricoh after joining on a free transfer from Wolves but was released in 2007 whereupon he joined MK Dons. He returned to Scotland in 2008 and appeared for Dundee and Arbroath before joining Cowdenbeath as player/assistant manager in 2010. Last summer he was promoted to player-manager after Jimmy Nicholl left to join Kilmarnock and is doing a great job as Cowdenbeath are top of Division Two and have lost only twice all season. Despite being 39 years old, Colin has been a regular in the team and on 2 January scored his first goal of the season in the 4-0 thumping of East Fife. Last weekend his team gave Premier League Hibs a fright in the Cup before going down 2-3.

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