Sunday, 29 April 2012

Jim's column 28.4.12

                                                         Bobby McDonald - 160 consecutive games       

Coventry City’s relegation to League One (or Division Three) was confirmed with the home defeat to Doncaster Rovers last Saturday – a sad conclusion to a miserable season. Today the injury-ravaged team travel to Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium to try and recover some pride against the team most likely to follow Reading to the Premier League.

Coventry City have now been relegated four times in their League history. Ian Harris wrote in and wanted to know if in our previous relegations (1925, 1952 and 2001) we were relegated on the final day. In 1925 it was a 0-0 home draw with Derby in the penultimate game which sealed City’s relegation from the old Division Two. Coincidentally, the final game was at Southampton and the team lost 0-3. In 1952 their fate was settled on the last day with a 1-3 loss at Elland Road. In 2001, as many fans will remember it was the 2-3 defeat at Villa Park in the penultimate game which ended City’s hopes of retaining their Premier League status.

City fans will be glad to see the back of one of the worst seasons ever statistically but unfortunately I will have to do my statistical review next week when the season has finally ended.

Poor Richard Keogh saw his tremendous run of City appearances ended in the most unfortunate circumstances last Saturday - with a red card for giving away a penalty. He had played 90 complete league games without missing a single minute and looked set to be an ever-present for the second successive season, something not achieved by a City player since Oggy in the 1990s and by an outfield player since Bobby McDonald in the late 1970s. When the story of City’s time in the Championship is written Richard will be remembered as one of the big-hearted heroes of the era. The ovation he received as he left the pitch was memorable but fully deserved and acclaimed his excellent consistency over the last two seasons. He misses today’s game and City fans fear his form will have made him a target for Premiership or Championship clubs in the coming close season. Let’s hope he is still here come August to lead the club to promotion.

Many City fans (especially ones who travel away) have told me that they are looking forward to visiting lots of new grounds next season and I thought I would look at the likely trips we have next season. Promotion, relegation and play-off issues are still to be resolved in Leagues 1 and 2 (or Divisions 3 & 4 as I prefer to call them) but it is interesting to look at the definite, probable and possible opponents.

Definites – these 14 clubs will definitely face the Sky Blues next season.


Several of these clubs have been in the same division as City in recent years (Pompey, Doncaster, Colchester, Preston & Scunthorpe, but City have not met Brentford, Tranmere, Bury, Bournemouth and Shrewsbury in league games since the 1960s. You have to go back to 1958-59 for the last league trip to Hartlepool when 4,032 saw the final game of City’s Fourth Division promotion season.  City will face Yeovil for the first time in a competitive game. The six teams marked with an asterisk are either new or totally reconstructed since the City’s last visit, with Colchester, Yeovil & Shrewsbury new grounds.

Probables  - these clubs have an outside chance of either being relegated or making the play-offs but will probably face the Sky Blues next season.

Leyton O*
Notts Co

City will face Sussex club Crawley for the first time in League football and Leyton Orient’s ground has been totally reconstructed since City’s last league visit in 1966.

Possibles – these are the clubs who still have an outside chance of being relegated or those involved in the play-offs.

Sheff Wed
MK Dons*
Sheff United

There is a strong chance that both Sheffield clubs will be promoted to the Championship and this would make Coventry, arguably, the biggest club in the division. If that was the case then City would face MK Dons, Huddersfield and probably Stevenage – all three at grounds never visited before by the Sky Blues in league action. Cheltenham and Oxford have outside chances of reaching the League Two play-offs and both grounds would be a first for City fans. Stevenage, Cheltenham and MK Dons (if you ignore their dubious claim to Wimbledon’s history) would all be playing the Sky Blues for the first time in their history whilst City have not played Torquay in league action since 1961-62 nor Huddersfield since the Terriers were in the old Division One, and played at Leeds Road, in 1971-72.

As a postcript to the obituary of Jack Evans last week I would like to thank Jack’s neighbour Mrs Margaret Skinner and friend John Green for ensuring that Jack’s wonderful scrapbook was donated to the Coventry City archives. The scrapbook tells Jack’s career story wonderfully and gives a great insight to football from a golden age. It also reminded me of my first ever visit to Highfield Road in 1962 when my father took me to watch Lockheed Leamington beat Rugby Town 5-1 to lift the Birmingham Senior Cup and Jack scored two goals. Ken Brown, a former playing colleague of Jack’s at Coventry and Lockheed, sent me a simple email: ‘Read your piece about Jack Evans. My own little tribute to him, in two words, ‘a Wonderful Man’.

1 comment:

  1. Curtis Highfield30 April 2012 at 21:09

    Because I jumped on the 1987 bandwagon (well, at least the 1983 buggy when we beat Liverpool 4-0 the day after I was hired for a new job here on America's East Coast, where I've always lived), this is a good time to renew my, uh, vows. Cruelly, last night I found a write-up of the Hull away win (at least we proved it could be done) I'd proudly shown, to celebrate bolting the bottom three, to a Celtic friend on our way to see Thierry Henry and New York's Red Bulls. If writing during the Manchester decider derby doesn't show commitment beyond reason, tell me how it's done.

    Jim, I was trying to find the side that beat Manchester City 4-2 in the microfilm room of the New York Public Library. The Times had two paragraphs; Neville Foulger gave "10s" to the whole side in the next programme, but I couldn't figure out who had played.

    If Leeds, Forest, Leicester could do it...

    Christopher Davis