Sunday, 15 April 2012

Jim's column 14.4.12

                                         Coventry's 1987 FA Youth Cup winning team

After Monday’s defeat at Ashton Gate in the ‘Game of Death’ the chances of City surviving are slim. An Easter weekend that had begun with so much hope and City looking favourites to avoid the drop, ended with City back in the bottom three and four points adrift of safety. They definitely missed a trick on Saturday afternoon – there was an opportunity against Peterborough to pile more pressure on Bristol, playing late at Nottingham Forest. Instead news of the 2-2 draw at the Ricoh probably galvanised Bristol and they fought a strong rearguard action to grab all three points against an inconsistent Forest.

City may have only lost one of their last ten home games – a remarkable record in the circumstances – but three of the last four have been draws and right now draws are not enough. In all three games City had enough chances and probably deserved to win. At the end of the season they could be the lost points which will send the club down.

City’s seven-game unbeaten run ended in the rain at Ashton Gate on Monday afternoon – it was the longest run since the autumn of 2003 when in the latter days of the McAllister reign the side drew seven in an eight match run without defeat.

Former City loanee Jon Stead scored at both ends, the first time this has happened in a City game since Luton’s Croatian Ahmet Brkovic did it in City’s 3-1 defeat at Kenilworth Road in December 2006.

The last time a Coventry City player scored at both ends was Dave Busst in a thrilling League Cup tie against Spurs in 1995-96 season. Before that you have to go back to the memorable night in 1981 that City beat West Ham 3-2 in the League Cup semi final first leg. City’s hero that night was Garry Thompson who recovered from scoring a first half own goal to score twice at the right end. By a strange coincidence on both these occasions City came from 0-2 to win 3-2.

I have an apology to make to Jack ‘Highfield Road’ Foster. I have just found a letter sent to me by Jack some months ago. He had four questions for me:

  1. What is the lowest points total of a club relegated from the championship?
  2. What is the lowest number of goals scored by a championship club?
  3. Do you reckon Andy Thorn should be the new ‘Mayor of Coventry’ if we avoid relegation?
  4. Do you reckon leaving Highfield Road was a disaster?

The answers are:

  1. Since the number of games increased to 46 in 1988-89 the lowest total points has been 26, by Stockport County in 2001-02.
  2. 31 by Birmingham City in 1988-89.
  3. If he pulls us out of this mess, yes!
  4. Yes. I think there is a gypsy’s curse on the stadium. We have only finished in the top half once in seven seasons at the Ricoh.

It is 25 years since the Sky Blues’ greatest day - when they won the FA Cup by beating Spurs at Wembley. That same year the club’s youth team won their equivalent, the FA Youth Cup, beating Charlton Athletic in a two-legged final. To commemorate that achievement the Former Players Association have organised a reunion of the Youth squad of ‘87 at next Saturday’s final home game against Doncaster Rovers. The majority of the squad are expected to be present including final goalscorer Steve Livingstone, Tony Dobson, the Middleton twins and Howard Clark - all of whom progressed to the first team. In addition we hope to have the coach of the team, Mick Coop - a true Sky Blue legend - and the director in charge of the boys, John Reason, attending the lunch and making an appearance on the pitch at half-time.The boys, who are now in their early 40s, are all excited by the reunion and many will be coming to a City game for the first time in years. Additionally a good number of the Wembley heroes will be at the game as part of their celebrations of the 25th anniversary of that fabulous day at Wembley.

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