Sunday, 9 December 2012

Jim's column 8.12.2012

The Sky Blues took another step on the road to a Wembley final by defeating Sheffield United in the Northern Quarter Final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. A tense game ended 1-1 and the Sky Blues made it two penalty shoot out wins this season, winning 4-1 with all City’s takers successful. That makes it fourteen penalties in shootouts and no misses following the 10-9 victory over Burton Albion in round one.

It was only the third penalty shoot out involving the Sky Blues since the dramatic FA Cup defeat by penalties at Bramall Lane in 1998 – when City had looked strong bets to reach the semi final. The first was at Peterborough in a League Cup tie in 2001.

The result on Tuesday meant that the Sky Blues have now scored in 19 consecutive League & Cup games, the best run by a City side since the 1966-67 Second Division promotion season. That season Jimmy Hill’s side set the club record by scoring in 29 consecutive games between a 0-1 defeat at Millwall in early September 1966 and a 0-0 draw at Northampton in March 1967. The current run is the third best of all time – the second best was way back in 1927.

Arthur Warner had an interesting question last week.  He reminded me that the last time City played in the Second round of the FA Cup was season 1963-64, when they met Bristol Rovers at Highfield Road. City lost 2-1, but went on to win the Third Division that season. Arthur was at the game, and seemed to recall that City played in their change strip of all red and Bristol played in their famous blue and white quarters. He seemed to remember that in those days, if there was a clash of colours, the home side had to change. Arthur, you are half right. The FA rules at that time stated that if there was a colour clash both sides had to change unless the two teams reached an agreement. As a result there were lots of instances of both teams changing including several finals – 1956 Birmingham v Manchester City, 1957 Aston Villa v Manchester United and 1968 West Brom v Everton. City played at Everton in 1966 and both sides wore their change kit as they also did in cup ties against Leicester City and Huddersfield in the 1950s. The last instance of City appearing in their change kit in an FA Cup tie at home was in 1977 when Millwall visited for a Third Round tie and were beaten by a sole Bobby McDonald goal. Two years later West Brom visited Highfield Road in the third round and the Baggies changed into their away kit because of a clash. I can only assume that West Brom were happy to change because the rules still stated that both teams should change. The FA did amend the rules at some stage in recent years and now the rule is the same as league games – the away team has to change. As for the Bristol game in 1963 City definitely played in their Sky Blue kit and Bristol, who had temporarily abandoned their famous blue quartered shirts in the early 1960s, played in blue and white striped shirts which the referee obviously didn’t consider there was a clash of colours.

Arthur went on to tell me that his first City game was in April 1952, aged six, when he watched City lose 0-2 at home to Sheffield Wednesday – a result that virtually sealed City’s relegation to Division Three. And his Dad’s favourite player was….Clarrie Bourton.

If you are looking for a good football book to give as a Christmas present (assuming you have all of mine!) then I would recommend Chris Arnot’s Fields of Dreams. Chris is a locally-based freelance writer and has written an evocative story of 25 famous football grounds that are no longer with us. From Ayresome Park to the Vetch Field and from Highbury to Highfield Road, Chris combines expressive descriptions of the old grounds with fans memories of great moments at their old grounds. The photographs are excellent with pictures of a bygone era mixed with images of the final games at many grounds. This is a must for anybody interested in the history of the game and grounds and is published by Step Beach Press and costs £19.95.

Talking of Christmas gifts, today the Former Players Association are running a Christmas stall in the foyer of the G-Casino. On sale to raise funds for the FPA are books, shirts, signed images of Keith Houchen’s Wembley goal (only £10) and various other memorabilia ideal for Christmas presents for Sky Blue fans. If it is successful the stall will be repeated at the Preston home game in a fortnight.

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