Sunday, 25 November 2012

Jim's column 24.11.2012

What a week for the Sky Blues, two away wins, eight goals and a four-place leap up the League One table not to mention a field day for stattos like me. The Hartlepool game was full of great statistics but the plaudits of the week must go to David McGoldrick for scoring in six consecutive away games and breaking the great Clarrie Bourton’s record set in 1931-32 season. Bourton was in his pomp in 1931-32, his first season at Coventry following his move from Blackburn Rovers.  Between 19 September 1931 and 28 November he netted 20 goals in 11 consecutive games including five away games in which he netted six goals. His total goal haul for the season was 50 (49 League, 1 FA Cup) and he finished as the Football League's leading scorer.
McGoldrick is on fire right now and although he only managed a penalty at the Victoria Ground on Saturday, he scored an excellent third goal at Colchester to take Clarrie’s record. He has now scored eight goals in his last 6 away games and 14 league and cup goals in total. He has already scored more goals in a season than any Coventry player in the last four seasons – the last player to score more in a campaign was Gary McSheffrey who scored 17 in 2005-06.
One record McGoldrick is very unlikely to take from Bourton is scoring in consecutive HOME games. Between 17 March 1934 and 3 November Clarrie scored in every home game (12 in total). What a phenomenal record. The post-war record of consecutive home goals is held by Ted Roberts with eight, with Eddie Brown, Ray Straw and Bobby Gould six and George Hudson and Gary McSheffrey five.

The 5-0 win at Hartlepool was the first time City have scored more than three goals in a league game since 2008. They had last scored four in October 2008 against Southampton at the Ricoh (4-1) and last scored five in April 2008 at Colchester (5-1). Although it wasn't a record away win (that was the 7-0 at Aberdare Athletic in 1926-27) it was amazingly the first time in the club's history that they have won an away league game 5-0, that includes the pre-Football League era in the Southern & Birmingham Leagues. They did win an FA cup tie 5-0 at Kettering in 1909. 

Tuesday night's win made it three away wins in a row - the first time City have achieved that since 2003-04 when, under Eric Black, the team won four in a row at Walsall, Nottingham Forest, Wimbledon and Cardiff. What a period that was under Black and it was a travesty that he was unceremoniously booted out by Mike McGinnity and replaced by the disastrous Peter Reid. That run equalled the club's all-time record set in 1963-64 and equalled in 1992-93 during the Bobby Gould era.

Despite good followings from Coventry, the crowds at the two away games were very poor with 4,404 at Hartlepool and 3,229 at Colchester's Weston Homes Stadium. The latter was the lowest league crowd to watch the Sky Blues this season and the lowest since Only 2,xxx watched City play Wimbledon at Selhurst Park in 2002-03. In fact it was the fourth lowest postwar crowd to watch a City league game:-

2,077 v Wimbledon (away) 2002-03
2,275 v Southport (away) 1958-59
2,607 v Halifax (away) 1961-62
3,229 v Colchester (away) 2012-13 

Following on from last week’s column here are City’s League Cup defeats to clubs of a lesser status since the competition began in 1960, especially requested by Keith Ballantyne. It includes two legged ties in which City lost one leg but progressed on aggregate:-
1961-62 v Workington (a) 0-3 (Div 4)                                                  
1966-67 v Brighton (h) 1-3 after 1-1 draw (Div 3)
1968-69 v Swindon T.(a) 0-3 after 2-2 draw (Div 3)
1971-72 v Burnley (h) 0-1 (Div 2)                                                        
1975-76 v Mansfield (a) 0-2 (Div 3)                                                  
1978-79 v Chester (a) 1-2 (Div 3)                                                        
1980-81 v West Ham 3-4 (2 legs) (Div 2)                                        
1982-83 v Burnley (h) 1-2 (Div 3)                                                        
1984-85 v Walsall 2-4 (2 legs)(Div 3)                         
1989-90 v Grimsby (a)1-3 (Div 4) City won 4-3 on agg.             
1990-91 v Sheff.Wed (h) 0-1 (Div 2)���                               
1991-92 v Rochdale (a) 0-1 (Div 4) City won 4-1 on agg.                
1992-93 v Scarborough (a) 0-3(Div 3) City lost 2-3 on agg.
1993-94 v Wycombe W.(a) 2-4 (Div 3) City won 5-4 on agg.        
1995-96 v Wolves (a) 1-2 (Div 1)                                                                                                           
1996-97 v Gillingham (h) 0-1 after 2-2 draw (Div 2)                                                                                                  
1998-99 v Luton (a) 0-2 (Div 2)                                                                                                           
1999-00 v Tranmere 4-6 on agg (Div 1)                                                                                                
2006-07 v Hereford (a) 1-3 (League 2)
2009-10 v Hartlepool (h) 0-1 aet (League 2)
2010-11 v Morecambe (a) 0-2 (League 2)
2011-12 v Bury (a) 1-3 (League 2)

The list is a shocking indictment of City’s League Cup record. The last few seasons have been bad but the 1990s were dreadful, especially when you consider the Sky Blues were a top-flight club for the whole decade but lost to lower league sides in nine out of 11 seasons.                                               

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Jim's column 17.11.2012

Keith Ballantyne emailed to ask me to list all the instances of City losing to lower league opposition in Cup matches since the 1961-62 defeat to Kings Lynn.
I will start this week by listing the FA Cup games, and cover the League Cup ties next week.

Since the 1-2 defeat at the hands of Southern League Kings Lynn in November 1961 City have lost to lower league (or non-league) clubs on 13 occasions:

1967-68 v Tranmere Rovers (a) 0-2 after 1-1 draw
1970-71 v Rochdale (a) 1-2
1971-72 v Hull City (h) 0-1
1979-80 v Blackburn Rovers (a) 0-1
1983-84 v Sheff. Wed (a) 2-3
1988-89 v Sutton United (a) 1-2
1989-90 v Northampton T.(a) 0-1
1991-92 v Cambridge U.(a) 0-1 after 1-1 draw
1997-98 v Sheff. United (a) 1-1 (lost on pens) after 1-1 draw
1999-00 v Charlton (h) 2-3
2002-03 v Rochdale (a) 0-2
2003-04 v Colchester (a) 1-3 after 1-1 draw
2006-07 v Bristol City (h) 0-2 after 3-3 draw

Rochdale feature twice on the list and also knocked the City out of the competition in 1920. Thankfully Morecambe won the replay on Tuesday night and will travel to Coventry for the first time in their history.

 Last Saturday’s attendance for the Scunthorpe home game (9,892) was the lowest Saturday home league gate since October 1993 when 9,837 watched City draw 1-1 with Southampton in what was Bobby Gould’s last home match as City’s manager. 

Last month I wrote an obituary to former City player Stan Smith and said I thought he had played for Bedworth after retiring from the professional game. Bedworth historian Alan Robinson kindly filled in some more detail on Stan’s career:

 Further to your article in the October 13th issue of the Telegraph, I can confirm that Stan Smith did play for Bedworth Town - in the 1955-56 season.
I am attaching a team picture taken before the first home match of that season (August 22nd, 1955, against Rugby Town) with Stan standing with his arms folded second right at the back.
Stan was tempted to the Oval by his former Coventry City team-mate Dick Mason who had taken over as the Greenbacks player-manager.
Apart from Stan and Dick, the Bedworth side that season included two other former Sky Blues - Norman Smith and trainer Bob Ward.
Manager Mason had also recruited goalkeeper Ron Floyd straight from Crewe Alexandra and centre-half Ron Dickinson from Shrewsbury Town.


                                        Bedworth Town 1955-56

The Bedworth team picture shows the following:
Back row (left to right): Geoff Palmer, Dick Mason (player-manager), Ron Floyd, Ron Dickinson, Gerry Belcher, Stan Smith, Bob Ward (trainer).
Front row: Roy Dayers, Peter Spacey, Eddie Fowkes, Norman Smith, Herbert Morrow.
The mascot is Peter Spacey, junior.)

Finally, I hear that former Sky Blue player Philippe Clement has been appointed as Caretaker-Manager at his former club FC Brugge. The Belgian midfielder, now aged 38, was signed from KRC Genk by Gordon Strachan in 1998 but made only 16 appearances (eight as substitute) for the Sky Blues before returning to Belgium the following summer to join Brugge. Over the next 10 years he made almost 300 appearances and won 38 caps for his country. Clement, who retired from playing in 2011, was handed the job following the departure of George Leekens last week. His first game in charge was a 2-2 draw with Newcastle in the Europa League. Last weekend however his team slumped to a 6-1 defeat at Anderlecht and are languishing in ninth place in the Jupiler League.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Jim's column 10.11.2012

                                       Gerry Baker, spotted at Ricoh this week.

What a treat – two Coventry City wins in a week - could the tide by turning at last. I hope I won’t tempt fate by pointing out that City notched their first trio of successive wins for December 2010 when they defeated Burnley and Middlesbrough at home and Scunthorpe away to reach the heady heights of fifth place in the Championship. They haven’t won four in a row since December 2002!

Sadly the gates at this week’s games were pitifully low. The gate for the Arlesey FA Cup game was 6,594, the lowest for a home FA Cup tie since December 1908 when 6,215 watched City draw 1-1 with Wrexham in a Fifth Qualifying Round tie. Gates were generally poor in the Cup last week and City’s was only bettered by Portsmouth who had 7,560 for the visit of Notts County.

Tuesday night’s gate plumbed new depths for the Sky Blues with only 8,862 present for the visit of Crawley – the lowest home league crowd since March 1992 when 8,454 turned up for the midweek game against Norwich just three days after almost 24,000 had watched the Sky Blues entertain Manchester United. The crowds are drifting down to the lowest in the last 50 years with the smallest since 1962 being the 7,478 who watched the Watford game in January 1986. The Crawley gate means that City’s average this season is just 10,514 and unless it improves it will be the lowest average since 1961-62, the season Jimmy Hill took over as manager.

The FA Cup victory, City’s biggest home win since they moved to the Ricoh in 2005, set up a revenge game for the Sky Blues. The draw paired City with the winners of the Rochdale v Morecambe replay. Both of these clubs have knocked City out of Cup competitions in recent years, Rochdale in the 2003 FA Cup and Morecambe in 2010-11 League Cup, and older fans will remember the even bigger shock in 1971, when City lost at Spotland on a dreary Monday afternoon after the original game had been postponed.

David McGoldrick is the man of the moment and became the first City player to score 10 goals before the end of November since Michael Mifsud in 2007. Mifsud reached double figures on 3 November, beating McGoldrick by three days. Mifsud achieved it in only nine starts, McGoldrick has had 14 starts. McGoldrick is something of an enigma. Forest fans don’t speak highly of him – his nickname at the City Ground was McGoaldrought – and he scored only nine goals in 75 appearances (but only 36 starts) in three seasons. Prior to that he scored only 15 goals in 75 games (55 starts) for Southampton but obviously did enough to persuade Forest’s manager Billy Davies to pay £1m for him. He can’t seem to stop scoring for the Sky Blues and it has to be hoped that he can stay at the club beyond his loan period.

The introduction of Arlesey Town’s substitute, player-manager Zema Abbey, prompted the question from John Woodfield and Dean Nelson: when was the last time a player-manager appeared against the Sky Blues?

The answer is, to my knowledge, Gillingham’s Andy Hessenthaler who played several games for the Gills v the Sky Blues between 2001-2004 during his time as player-manager at the Priestfield Stadium. The last appearance was in City’s 5-2 win there in 2004 when Richard Shaw famously scored his only City goal and Hessenthaler got his marching orders. Another is Paul Simpson who played for and managed Rochdale to the aforementioned Cup win in 2003. My memory of the Premiership years is failing me and I have to thank Paul O’Connor for reminding me of several player-managers who played against us in the Premier League including three Chelsea men (Glen Hoddle, Ruud Gullit & Gianluca Vialli), Liverpool’s Kenny Dalglish and Trevor Francis. Francis, I believe, is unique in that he did it twice (for QPR and Sheffield Wednesday) and scored against the Sky Blues in a 2-1 QPR victory in 1988-89.  I do have good memories of the 1960s and remember Bill McGarry (PM of Bournemouth) and Jimmy Scoular (PM of Bradford PA) in the 1962-63 season. There may be more but it’s not as strange as it sounds.

I bumped into former Coventry City player Gerry Baker after Tuesday night’s game. It is always nice to chat to Gerry – a true gentleman – but it was sad to hear that his wife Anne passed away recently after a long illness. Gerry was down from his Motherwell home visiting his family in Coventry and took the opportunity to make a rare visit to the Ricoh. He was full of stories of the Sky Blues early seasons in Division One and reminisced about the late Ernie Machin.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Iain Jamieson (14.10.1928- 19.10.2012)

          Iain Jamieson (with Bobby Gould) celebrating City staying up in May 1984.

Iain Jamieson, who recently died in Scotland aged, 84, juggled careers in football and business, achieving great success in both fields. He is unique in having been a Coventry City player as well as a director and, for one momentous year, chairman of the club. Simultaneously he rose through the ranks of textile company Courtaulds to become one of its managing directors.

The Dumbarton-born son of a Glasgow shipyard electrician, his talents on the pitch were first evident at Dumbarton Academy where he also excelled in the classroom. In 1946 Iain won a place at Aberdeen University to read modern languages and had ambitions of becoming a school-teacher. He was approached by Aberdeen FC and agreed to play as a part-time professional to help fund his studies. He played just one first-team game for the Dons before he received his National Service call-up papers and was whisked off to Dover to do his Army ‘square-bashing’.

It was during his time in the services that he flourished as a footballer, playing in Army teams with stars of the age such as Ivor Allchurch, Bobby Johnstone and Harold Hassall. During that period he witnessed a horrifying incident when two of his fellow players were killed in a lightning strike.

The tragedy, in April 1948, happened during a re-play of the Army Cup Final at the military barracks at Aldershot. Reports at the time described all the players being thrown to the ground by the force and witnesses speculated that the lightning bolt had hit the referee’s whistle.

Having been posted to Uttoxeter his performances for the Army XI attracted the attention of several league clubs and Coventry City’s manager Harry Storer was impressed by the young Jamieson. When Iain’s National Service was completed he decided to take up Storer’s offer of a full-time contract.

Many years later he said: ‘I really liked the atmosphere of the Midlands, especially Coventry which to me was a lively go-ahead industrial area and a good stopping off place when my football career ended’.

As it transpired Iain made the right choice. He quickly settled down in Coventry and soon became established as a firm crowd favourite. His debut was against Leeds United at Highfield Road on 15 January 1949 and Iain, playing at inside-right, scored in a 4-1 victory. Over the next five seasons Iain, whilst a regular for the reserves, was unable to become a first-team regular and played only 37 first team games. After switching position to wing half in 1953 he became a regular in the first team and played alongside some famous City players of that era including Reg Matthews, Roy Kirk, Peter Taylor and Peter Hill and later George Curtis. On a number of occasions he captained the side

One of his playing colleagues of that time, Lol Harvey, remembers Iain well: ‘He was a talented player, good on the ball and very fast. He was a clever man and the banter in the dressing room between him and his good friend Eddy Brown was amusing to us working-class boys. Iain was a great help to me and the younger boys at the club and nothing was ever too much trouble to him.’

Iain was determined however to secure a future beyond football, and he decided to further his academic studies and attended Coventry College whilst pursuing his career on the pitch. In 1955, the same year that he married Harry Storer’s daughter Ann, he joined Courtaulds as a sales executive while still playing for Coventry.

In 1958 his professional football career ended when he left City after 184 appearances and 6 goals, although he went on to spend a spell as player-manager, on a part-time basis, for Southern League side Rugby Town. In his business career he was quickly on the promotion ladder rising swiftly through the ranks to become the general manager of Courtaulds commercial division,

In 1973, following the retirement of Derrick Robins, Iain was invited to join the board at Coventry City and served alongside Joe Mercer and Jimmy Hill. After Hill’s departure in 1983, he was appointed club chairman. It was a difficult time for the club with severe financial problems following the introduction of the all-seater stadium in 1981 and losses from the investments in the NASL at Detroit and Washington and virtually the whole first team squad out of contract. Iain’s first job was to sack Dave Sexton as manager and recruit Cov kid Bobby Gould as his replacement.

Bobby remembers Iain with great affection: ‘At the time he illegally tapped me up to become City’s manager – something he was very uncomfortable about. I was manager at Bristol Rovers at the time and we had a clandestine meeting in a field near Banbury at which we agreed terms. We only worked together for a year until John Poynton bought the club, but he was incredibly supportive to me.  I had watched him play from the Highfield Road terraces and admired his elegance as a footballer. He understood football, something rare in football boardrooms and he was very kind to me in a stressful year at Coventry. There was never any histrionics from Iain and he was a true gentleman who was a great representative of Coventry City Football Club.’

In his year as chairman he is credited with re-establishing strong links with the fans and the people of Coventry after a period during which many believed that those links had been severely stretched. He left the City board in 1984 and continued his career in the textile industry until retiring in 1989. He ended his working life as managing director of Sperrin Group, sports clothing.

His job had taken him across Europe, to Australia and the United States and travel remained a key interest for him in retirement when he visited family in Canada and Australia. A Rotarian and keen follower of current affairs, his lifetime love of sport was undimmed and also extended to golf which, at one time, he played off a handicap of six.

Married three times, to Ann Storer, Ann Hansen and Jane Shaw, he spent his last few years in Dumfries and Galloway, latterly in Kirkcudbright, where he is remembered as a good humoured and engaging conversationalist.