Sunday, 1 April 2012

Jim's column 31.3.12

The sixth Annual Legends Day surpassed all expectations with a record 51 former players attending last Saturday’s home win over Portsmouth. Everything went smoothly and the atmosphere in the dining room, on the pitch at half-time and after the game in the G-Casino was electric. So much laughter and a few tears as old friendships were renewed with lots of ex-City players meeting up again after long absences.

The mystery guest and 200th member of the Former Players Association was former Coventry City and Wales captain Terry Yorath. Terry had not been to the Ricoh Arena before and was mightily impressed with the stadium and facilities. He got giant hugs from his old team-mates such as Barry Powell, Andy Blair and Garry Thompson and got a tremendous ovation from the fans at half-time.

Terry bumped into Coventry property guru Harvey Williams who was responsible for finding Terry and his family a house in Coventry when he signed from Leeds in 1976. Harvey related the story of how his firm showed Terry 25 or more properties over a number of weeks but none of them impressed the Yoraths. Finally Terry took Harvey to Cannon Hill Road, pointed to a house and said ‘that’s where we want to live’. There was only one snag, the club chairman, Jimmy Hill owned the house and his wife, Heather and children lived there. Harvey relayed the news to JH whose reaction was: ‘who’s going to tell Heather she has to move?’ In the end Harvey and Jimmy broke the news to Heather and Harvey found her a new property in Fairlands Park nearby, and Terry and his family spent three happy years in the house. Harvey and Terry reminisced about old times as though they had never been apart.

Terry was one of a number of the guests who were making their first appearance at Legends Day and others included former Assistant Manager Ron Wylie, 80-year old Billy Gray who played in the early 1950s, Dennis Oakes and Peter Denton from the 1960s, 1987 Youth Cup winner Howard Clark and recently retired Marcus Hall who couldn’t believe so many former players could be brought together.

There are so many people to be thanked for Saturday but the committee are grateful to everybody who contributed, by making donations, by giving up their time and by supporting the committee. Everybody involved helped make it a very successful day. To top a great day the Sky Blues won a vital game, and are now unbeaten in six legends days. When Andy Thorn was told this his response was: ‘Can we have a Legends Day every week’.

Mr RA Berry of Holbrooks recently sent me a Coventry City team picture and asked if I could tell him the year it came from. The picture, reproduced here, is of the 1906-07 team and was taken before a match against Wolves Reserves at Highfield Road on 5 January 1907. The Birmingham & District League game was watched by a crowd of around 2,500 and ended 1-1 with Tooth netting for City. Managed by former player Joe Beaman, City were on the verge of making a name for themselves. The following season an excellent FA Cup run took them to the equivalent of the Third Round, and although they lost to Southern League Crystal Palace they came to the attention of many influential people in the football world and in 1908 were elected into the Southern League, then the foremost league outside the Football League.

On Thursday evening I will be at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum for the launch of the exhibition ‘From Highfield Road to Wembley Way’ commemorating the 25th anniversary of the club’s Wembley victory. Tickets for the launch, which are free, are available on line at

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