The donkey-kick outlawed in 1971.
Andy Thorn’s Sky Blues finally came good on Monday with a heart-warming Christmas victory over Bristol City thanks to Gary Deegan’s second half goal. Today sees the final game in what has been the most miserable year in the club’s Football League history. Monday’s victory was only the seventh League victory of the year and another win is required over Brighton today if we are to avoid the club record low for a year. A win would take the points total for the year to 40. In 2003 Gary McAllister’s team managed eight wins from 46 games and accumulated 42 points.
Before City were relegated from the Premier League in 2001 they had an outstanding Christmas home record. In the 48 years between 1953 and 2001 only five sides lowered City’s colours at Highfield Road in games played between Christmas Eve and New Years Day. In that time City played almost forty games. The victors were:
1979-80 Nottm Forest 0-3
1981-82 West Brom 0-2
1984-85 West Ham 1-2
1985-86 Ipswich 0-1
1994-95 Tottenham 0-4
No visiting side won at the famous old ground between 1953 and 1979 and there were some memorable Christmas games including the 5-4 over Norwich in 1977, the 3-2 wins over Manchester United (1997) and Arsenal (1999) and the famous 3-0 battering of Aston Villa in 1992.
Since 2001 however City’s excellent Christmas form has deserted them and of twelve home games in eleven seasons the Bristol win was only the fifth victory with five defeats and two draws.
The victory ended a terrible run of results, eleven games without a win. That run equalled the poor run at the end of the 2009-10 season which cost Chris Coleman his job but is not the worst in recent memory. In 2003 City went 16 games without a win straddling the 2002-03 season and the start of the following season.
Bemoaning City’s dreadful position George Ling emailed asking what the record lowest points total is in the Championship. I haven’t got all my record books to hand but can confirm that the lowest total since the division was increased to 24 clubs (and therefore 46 games) in the late 1980s, was 26 by Stockport County in 2001-02. By coincidence that season Stockport were the first club City met after being relegated from the Premiership – City won 2-0 at Edgeley Park. In 1983-84 Cambridge United finished bottom of the old Division Two with 24 points from 42 games.
Welsh club Bangor City’s historian Huw Pritchard was in touch with me recently after discovering a programme of a game between Bangor and the Sky Blues from 1971. He wanted information about the friendly game played on 17 May and I was able to furnish him with some details.
City lined up as follows: Eric McManus: Jimmy Holmes, Chris Cattlin, Ernie Machin, Bill Asprey, Brian Alderson, Ernie Hunt, Billy Rafferty, John O'Rourke, Willie Carr, Dennis Mortimer. Asprey, a former Stoke City defender, was City’s first team coach at the time.
Bangor, then a top non-league side playing in the Northern Premier league, strengthened their side by including several guests from the First Division. Manchester United’s Shay Brennan, Manchester City’s Tony Book, Liverpool’s Ron Yeats and former England captain Jimmy Armfield (Blackpool) evened up the teams and helped Bangor to a 4-2 victory. Their goals were scored by McGowan, Conde and Fleming (2) while Rafferty and O’Rourke replied in front of an estimated 5,000 crowd. According to match reports Willie Carr and Ernie Hunt attempted the donkey-kick, possibly for the last time in a public match before it was outlawed that summer.