I had the pleasure of travelling to the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening to see City’s League Cup defeat at the hands of Arsenal. I have seen some heavy defeats over the last 50 years following the Sky Blues including West Brom 7-1 in 1978 and Bayern Munich 6-1 in 1970, but would never describe any of them as having been a pleasure. Like most of the 8,000 Sky Blue Army I had no great expectations, other than the hope that it wouldn’t be a cricket score. In the event I witnessed a sublime exhibition of modern day football and one of the finest team performance against the Sky Blues in that 50 years. Arsenal (or Arsenal reserves!) were as though from a different planet. Their performance highlighted the massive difference between the Premiership and League One. City’s players, centre-halves apart, did themselves justice, but were found wanting for stamina in the last twenty five minutes, and Arsenal’s youngsters stepped up a gear to put a harsh face on the final scoreline.
The difference between the sides was speed, strength and football artistry. Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Arshavin respectively epitomised these attributes. Walcott demonstrated his pace and finishing with two goals of the highest quality – driving through City’s beleaguered and tired defence like Mark Cavendish on the Champs Elyssee. The ‘Ox’ was everywhere, never wasting the ball and hitting a stunning 30-yard goal that bamboozled the brave Murphy – this boy is a star of the future. The enigmatic Arshavin strolled through the match but every so often showed glimpses of his terrifying skill on the ball. He can be frustrating I’m sure but he is a true artist. The majority of the rest of Arsenal’s side were unknowns to me but they never betrayed the Arsenal ethos, rarely giving the ball away and delighting the crowd with their rapier thrusts through a vexed but brave Sky Blue defence.
The defeat was the heaviest City have suffered in the competition since 1965-66 when we lost by the same score at the Hawthorns in a Fifth round replay. The previous season we suffered our heaviest defeat in the competition, 8-1 at home to Leicester City.Another former City player Ken Simcoe passed away earlier this month in Sherwood in his home town of Nottingham. Apart from his year in Coventry Ken spent all of his footballing career in the East Midlands. He started out with Central YMCA and was spotted by Nottingham Forest turning out first as a junior and amateur in 1955 and then, turning professional in December 1956. Ken featured predominantly in the Reds’ reserves and only made the first team twice in league games (though scoring once). Billy Frith signed him for Coventry in 1959 and he started the 1959-60 season as Frith’s first choice number seven but failed to impress and played only eight games (with one goal) before being released the following summer. He returned to Nottingham, joining County where he played only a couple of first team games before dropping into the East Midlands non-league scene, playing for Heanor Town, Loughborough United and Ilkeston Town before a severe knee injury forced him out of the game in February 1967. Ken died in a care home in Sherwood at the age of 75 after a long illness.