Sunday, 29 December 2013

Christmas Quiz (Picture round)

  1. David Titterton
  2. Martin Singleton
  3. Kyle Lightbourne
  4. Jairo Martinez
  5. Alan Miller
  6. Chris Hussey
  7. Leigh Jenkinson
  8. Shaun Jeffers
  9. David Bowman
  10. Jim Hagan

2013 Christmas Quiz



  1. Who knocked City out of the League Cup in August?
  2. Which City player has scored in League, League Cup & FA Cup games this season?
  3. Apart from Joe Murphy, which player has started every league & cup game?
  4. Which home-grown player made his debut at Crawley in the opening game of the season?
  5. Chris Maguire became only the second City substitute to score two goals in a league game. Who was the other?
  6. Which striker has made nine appearances off the bench but not started a game?
  7. Who is the only City player to get a red card?
  8. Which club did Andy Webster play for last season?
  9. Name the two opponents to score hat-tricks against the Sky Blues?
  10. Which City player missed a penalty at Leyton Orient in August?


  1. Who is the last player to score an away league hat-trick for the Sky Blues?
  2. Who captained the Sky Blues at Wembley in 1987?
  3. Which club were City's opponents in the first league game at Highfield Road in 1919?
  4. Which club were City's opponents in the last game at Highfield Road?
  5. Who scored City's first league goal at the Ricoh Arena?
  6. Who was the first City player to receive a red card at the Ricoh Arena?
  7. Which City manager went on to coach Sweden to the final of the 1958 World Cup?
  8. Who were City's opponents in Dave Busst's testimonial game in 1997?
  9. Which manager succeeded Jimmy Hill in 1967?
  10. Who captained City to promotion from Division Two in 1967?


  1. …is currently manager of the Scottish national team?
  2. …was until recently assistant manager at Sheffield United?
  3. has become a professional boxer?
  4. …won his 100th cap for his country last month?
  5. …was the last ex-City player to score against the Sky Blues?
  6. recently resigned as manager of Cowdenbeath?
  7. …who played in City's 1970 European campaign passed away this year?
  8. …was appointed manager of a Premiership club two days before Christmas?
  9. …was manager of Falkirk until February this year?
  10. chief scout at QPR?


  1. …were promoted from League 1 via the play-offs last season?
  2. …did Joe Murphy play for in the Premiership?
  3. …were City's first opponents at the Ricoh Arena ?
  4. …did Steven Pressley join as a player from Coventry City in 1995?
  5. ...defeated City in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy last season?
  6. ...were the last beaten by the Sky Blues at the Ricoh Arena?
  7. ...does ex-City player Terry Butcher now manage?
  8. ...which local non-league side played two FA Cup ties at Highfield Road in 1975?
  9. ...signed former City player Steven Jennings this season?
  10. ...knocked the Sky Blues out of the FA Cup last season?


1. …is the son of a Welsh international footballer?

2. the nephew of a former British & European Amateur Boxing Champion?

3...was the youngest player to appear in a senior British Cup final in 2008?

      1. ..made his 100th first team appearance for the club recently?
      2. ..played for Southampton last season?
      3. ..was on Liverpool's books as a schoolboy?
      4. the son of a former member of the Animals group?
      5. ..was on loan at Northampton in 2011-12?
9...played in the 2000 League Cup final?
10...made his debut at the Emirates Stadium last season?


Section 1

  1. Leyton Orient
  2. Carl Baker
  3. Franck Moussa
  4. Aaron Phillips
  5. Bobby Gould
  6. Mathieu Manset
  7. Carl Baker
  8. Hearts
  9. Jordan Clarke
  10. Leon Clarke

Section 2

1. Lee Hughes (Crewe 2002)
2. Brian Kilcline
3. Tottenham
4.Derby County
5. Claus Jorgensen
6. Claus Jorgensen
7. George Raynor
8. Manchester United
9. Noel Cantwell
10. George Curtis

Section 3

  1. Gordon Strachan
  2. Lee Carsley
  3. Leon McKenzie
  4. Michael Mifsud
  5. Shaun Jeffers
  6. Colin Cameron
  7. Geoff Strong
  8. Tim Sherwood
  9. Steven Pressley
  10. Ian Butterworth

Section 4

  1. Yeovil
  2. West Brom
  3. QPR
  4. Dundee United
  5. Crewe
  6. Doncaster Rovers
  7. Hibernian
  8. Coventry Sporting
  9. Tranmere Rovers
  10. Tottenham H.

Section 5

1. Aaron Phillips
  1. Cyrus Christie
  2. John Fleck
  3. Jordan Clarke
  4. Danny Seaborne
  5. Carl Baker
  6. Adam Barton
  7. Blair Adams
  8. Joe Murphy
  9. Franck Moussa

Monday, 23 December 2013

JIm's column 21.12.13

Two home games at Sixfields in the last seven days have witnessed pitifully low crowds. City fans have become used to small attendances in their temporary Northampton 'home' but the gates against Crewe Alexandra & Hartlepool plumbed new depths. The 2-2 draw with Crewe was watched by the club's lowest ever league crowd of 1,618 whilst on Tuesday night for the FA Cup replay with Hartlepool there were only 1,214 in the ground, the lowest FA Cup crowd for a home game since records were kept. Low crowds are the norm for FA Cup replays these days. City's last home replay in the completion four years ago, against Premiership Portsmouth, attracted just over 7,500 - less than half than the crowd three days earlier for a league game with Barnsley. Compare that to some of the crowds for home replays in the 1950s & 60 - 23,500 that watched Huddersfield in 1955, 25,000 for Pompey in 1963 & almost 28,000 for Crewe in 1966. The FA Cup just doesn't get the pulses racing like it used to. One record still intact is the lowest home crowd for a competitive game set in 1985 when 1,086 turned up at Highfield Road for a meaningless Full Members Cup tie with Millwall. Who, that night, would have thought that eighteen months later a quarter of a million people would turn out in the streets of Coventry to acclaim the Wembley heroes.

Talking of Barnsley, City's replay victory earned a trip to the Championship club on the first weekend in January and early indications point to a large City following at Oakwell. Barnsley might be struggling in the league but with Danny Wilson appointed as manager this week and an excellent FA Cup pedigree in recent seasons, they will be tough opponents. The clubs have never met in the FA Cup but City's recent record at Oakwell is good. They have lost their last two visits there but before that had registered four consecutive victories.

The Sky Blues travel to Swindon today for a league game & their record at the County Ground does not augur well. Since 1953 City have won just one of 12 league visits to the ground although they have won two FA Cup ties there (1966 & 2001). I can also vividly remember a League Cup tie there in 1968-69 season. Swindon, then a Third Division side, had held First Division City 2-2 at Highfield Road and most City fans relished a trip to Wiltshire to put their lower status opponents back in their place. Swindon, inspired by the irrepressible Don Rogers blew City away and deserved their 3-0 victory. The Robins went on to win the League Cup final at Wembley adding other First Division scalps Burnley & Arsenal on the way to lifting the trophy.

Leon Clarke continued his impressive scoring record on Tuesday night, netting twice to take his season's tally to 14 from 22 appearances. Since making his debut on 1st January he has scored 24 goals in 38 appearances (36 starts & 2 subs). Tuesday's brace was his fourth of the season, equalling David McGoldrick's record last season. The last player to score five braces in a season was Michael Mifsud in 2007-08. It is four years this month since Freddie Eastwood scored City's last hat-trick and maybe Leon can crack that record before the season is out.

Follow me on twitter @clarriebourton

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Jim's column 14.12.13

Last week's draw at Hartlepool means that the Sky Blues will entertain the North Easterners in a replay next Tuesday. It will be the first FA Cup home replay for almost four years, since Portsmouth (then a Premiership side) won 2-1 with an injury time goal in extra time. Several followers have asked me what City's record in home replays is like and I have done some research this week.

Since WW2 City have hosted 12 FA Cup replays and lost only three, and two of those after extra time. The only side to beat Coventry in ninety minutes was Bristol City in 2007 – a result which precipitated Micky Adams' departure the next day. Portsmouth (2010) and Huddersfield (1955) both needed extra time to win replays in Coventry, and the latter were also a top flight team back in '55.

The record is pretty impressive and one only hopes the omens are good for the replay on Tuesday. The full list of those post-war home replays is as follows:

1952 Leicester C won 4-1
1955 Huddersfield lost 1-2*
1962 Millwall won 2-1
1963 Portsmouth drew 2-2*
1966 Crewe won 4-1
1974 Sheffield Wed won 3-1
1981 Leeds won 1-0
1984 Wolves (2nd replay) won 3-0
2003 Cardiff City won 3-0
2007 Bristol City lost 0-2
2009 Blackburn  won 1-0
2010 Portsmouth lost 1-2*

* after extra time

Talking of the FA Cup on Sunday I watched Tamworth put up a plucky display against Bristol City only to be knocked out by the more experienced side and a stunning goal from Jay Emmanuel Thomas. Two former City academy players performed well for Tamworth. In goal Cameron Belford had an excellent game & could not be faulted for the two goals whilst Lee Hildreth gave a good account of himself in midfield.

Belford, spent several years at City but never made it to the first team and was released in 2007. He was at Bury for six years and made 78 league appearances as well as loan periods at Worcester, Southend & Accrington, before joining Tamworth this season.

Hildreth, like Belford a Nuneaton lad, was on City's subs bench for the final game of the 2006-07 season at Burnley and came on for Jay Tabb in the final minute in a 2-1 victory. I am not sure if he even touched the ball but he went down in the record books as the player with the shortest first-team career in the club's history. A few days before that he captained City's reserve team in the Birmingham Senior Cup final against Nuneaton and scored the winning goal before lifting the trophy. Lee was released in 2008 and joined Tamworth before joining the Royal Marines. He has subsequently been in Afghanistan and in periods at home played on a part-time basis for Corby, Brackley and Nuneaton Griff before returning to Tamworth on a part-time basis this season.

Belford & Hildreth were both members of City's 2006-07 Youth Cup team which was not one of the club's strongest youth teams, losing 5-1 at Reading in round four and producing only two first team players (Hildreth & Ashley Cain). Since then of course the influence of Gregor Rioch has transformed the club's academy and for the last 2-3 years it has produced a plethora of young talent for the first team. It was sad to see Gregor leave the club recently but he probably needs a new challenge.

Follow me on twitter @clarriebourton

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Jim's column 7.12.13

What a comeback at Stadium MK last Saturday. For the first time in a league game this season the Sky Blues came from behind to win a game. After trailing to a 45th minute penalty the team came out for the second half with a higher tempo & kicking towards the enormous Sky Blue Army, they gave the home side a battering they will remember for a long time. Debutant Chris Dagnall's equaliser was a touch fortuitous and it looked as though they would have to settle for a point until, with the clock ticking into the final minutes, substitute Chris Maguire made it the debut to top all debuts by scoring two phenomenal free kicks from 25 yards. Both goals were out of the the highest quality& sent the City following into ecstasy.

Few players have scored two or more goals on their debut for City, let alone a debutant coming off the bench for 25 minutes. Maguire, who has started just one match for Sheffield Wednesday this season, is the first player to score two goals on his debut since Robbie Keane scored a double against Derby County in  August 1999 following his £6 m move from Wolves. Maguire is only the sixth man In the club's history to have scored more than one goal in their first game in a City shirt and the first to score them in an away game. At the time Mick Quinn scored his double he was, like Maguire, on loan - he signed on permanent terms a few weeks later. The full list is:

1928 Tommy Bowen v Norwich (h) 2
1954. Jack Lee v Crystal Palace (h) 2
1963.  George Hudson v Halifax (h) 3
1992.  Mick Quinn v Man City. (h)  2
1999.  Robbie Keane v Derby County (h)  2
2013.  Chris Maguire v MK Dons (a) 2

Chris's feat also made him only the fourth City player to score twice after coming on as a substitute, and the first in a league game since 1967. The full list is:

1967. Bobby Gould v Nottm Forest (a)  3-3
2002. Jay Bothroyd v Rushden & D LC (h) 8-0
2004. Patrick Suffo v Torquay FAC (h) 4-1
2013. Chris Maguire v MK Dons (a) 3-1

Today City travel to the North East to face Hartlepool in the FA Cup. It is the first time the clubs have met in the competition since 1934-35 when City won 4-0 in Round 2 with goals from Clarrie Bourton (2)' Les Jones & Bob Birtley. A crowd of 13,054, a record for the Victoria Ground at the time, watched the one-sided tie.  The victory earned City a Third round tie at St Andrews but the Cup run ended there with a 5-1 defeat. 

Many readers will be aware that my son Alastair went missing in Nottingham this week. He has been found safe and well and I would like to thank everyone for their words of comfort & their help in getting the message of his disappearance through the social networks.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Jim's column 30-11-13

What a week for the Sky Blues! Flying high after a seven-match unbeaten run in the league and three successive home games in which they had scored three goals, they collapsed to two heavy home defeats to Tranmere (1-5) and Rotherham (0-3). Both games left many City fans frustrated as neither scoreline reflected the games at all & flattered their opponents.

The Tranmere defeat was the heaviest home reverse since West Brom won 5-0 at the Ricoh in an FA Cup fifth round tie in 2007-08 against a City team managed for just one week by the joint management team of Frankie Bunn & John Harbin. Ray Ranson unveiled Chris Coleman days later. The last time the Sky Blues had such a heavy home league defeat was back in 1998-99 against Newcastle when despite Noel Whelan giving them an early lead the Geordies hit five in reply. Alan Shearer gave French defender Jean-Guy Wallemme a nightmare afternoon, scoring twice with the other goals coming from Stephen Glass, Dabizas & the late Gary Speed. I seem to remember that the scoreline flattered Newcastle somewhat.

Only on three occasions have City had heavier home league defeats than that.

1919-20 0-5 v Tottenham
1980-81 0-5 v Everton
1989-90 1-6 v Liverpool

In each of this week's games City were undone by two strikers at the top of their game. Tranmere's Ryan Lowe has been a thorn in City's side before. Last season he scored for the MK Dons in our 3-2 win at Milton Keynes and in 2011 he netted twice for Bury at Gigg Lane in the annual first round exit from the League Cup. Last Saturday he netted a hat-trick, the second in consecutive games against City following Wells' three for Bradford City the previous Sunday. Then on Tuesday Rotherham's Nouha Dicko, making his debut on loan from Wigan, scored a superb goal & had a hand in the other goals.

Several readers wondered if the Sky Blues had ever conceded hat-tricks in consecutive league games & I could find one instance of it. In 1925-26 City, playing their solitary season in Division Three North, lost at home to Chesterfield (2-4) and away to Bradford Park Avenue (0-3) in successive weeks. Chesterfield's Jimmy Cookson netted three goals on his way to scoring 44 goals for the season, at the time a Football League record – not bad for a converted reserve full-back! A week later Ken MacDonald scored all three goals as the Bantams crashed at Park Avenue, who went on to finish runners-up in the division.

Lowe became the first player to score a hat-trick against City at home since Nottingham Forest's Kevin Campbell on the opening day of the 1996-97 season.

Today City travel to Milton Keynes with a following of fans expected to be around 7,000. Last season City took just under 5,000 fans there & they saw a fine 3-2 victory with the team twice coming from behind. As I have written previously there were no official figures for away followings until the last five or so years, so any figures for away followings are estimates. I believe however this weekend's Sky Blue Army at Stadium MK will be the largest for a league game since that vital relegation match at Wimbledon in 1996. An estimated 7,000 Coventry fans trekked to Selhurst Park that day to watch two Peter Ndlovu goals virtually ensure safety. There have been bigger followings for Cup games with around 12,000 travelling to Old Trafford six years ago & 9,000 going to the Emirates last season. Let's just hope the team can give the incredible following at MK something to shout about.

City's average away following after today's game will be around 2,250, their best for many, many years and currently only bettered this season by three Football League sides. Leeds United have by far the best away following with an average of over 3,200, City's League One rivals Wolves are averaging 2,700 and Nottingham Forest around 2,500. In other words more fans are following City than 22 Championship sides including Leicester, Birmingham, Derby & Sheffield Wednesday. City's average is slightly skewed by the fact that they have had most of their local derbies and the final figure is likely to be somewhat lower. The number of away fans is obviously boosted by the large number of fans who won't travel to Northampton  & therefore away trips are there only chance of watching their team.  Today, by the way, Leeds have sold 6,800 tickets for their game at Blackburn.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Jim's column 23.11.13

The Sky Blues third appearance on television this season saw them impress a wider audience in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Bradford. The goals keep coming and the team have now scored 37 league goals with a total of 61 goals having been scored in their 16 league games. On Sunday they leapfrogged Leyton Orient to become the highest scoring side in England and they have now scored as many goals as they did in 42 Division One games in season 1970-71.  At this rate the team could well score 100 goals, something no Coventry City side has done since the 1930s. Then, in what was a golden period for football in Coventry, the Bantams, as the team were known scored 100 goals in four out of five seasons between 1931 and 1936.

1931-32  108
1932-33 106
1933-34 100
1934-35 86
1935-36 102

In those five seasons they netted 502 goals with the great Clarrie Bourton bagging 164. The team scored five or more goals on such a regular basis at home that the fans used to shout 'Come on the old five'. Since 1936, the Third Division South championship season, the closest the team has got to 100 goals was in 1963-64 when the Sky Blues scored 98 goals on their way to the Third Division championship. That season they had netted 42 goals after 16 games so Steven Pressley's team are behind schedule but in 63-64 the team had a disastrous slump after Christmas, giving up a 9 point lead on 3 January to require goal average to go up on the final day of the season. Between then and the end of March they netted only 18 goals in 11 games.

The best season for goals in the modern (post-1967) era was 1977-78 when with the twin strikeforce of Ian Wallace and Mick Ferguson being fed by the devastating Tommy Hutchison, Gordon Milne's team racked up 75 goals. That modern record will surely go this campaign.

The late penalty conceded at Bradford was frustrating for Pressley & his men & City fans everywhere but for Bermudean Nahki Wells it meant a hat-trick – the first conceded by the Sky Blues for over seven years. The last was in early 2006 at Plymouth in a 1-3 defeat when Cameroon-born Frenchman Vincent Pericard, on loan from Portsmouth, netted all three goals. Other than his goal spree against City Pericard's loan spell at Home Park was forgettable – he only scored one further goal in 14 appearances. Vincent later played briefly in the Premiership with Stoke City and spent some time in prison for perverting the course of justice over a speeding offence. Now 31 he retired from the professional game last year after being released by Swindon Town & now runs a company helping foreign players adjust to life in England.

Cayman Island-based City fan Mark White sent me an email regarding City's appearances on television this season. He wondered if the three appearances constituted a record for the club.

They have appeared live twice on Sky (Sheffield United & Bradford) and once on the new BT service (AFC Wimbledon) but it is well short of the record for the club which was set in 2001-02, City's first season outside the top flight for 34 years. Then the Football League had a lucrative contract with ITV digital & with the Sky Blues in the top six for long periods of the season they were featured on live TV on twelve occasions. At the end of that season the debt-ridden ITV digital went into administration, a move which had a disastrous effect on the finances of all Football League clubs with clubs like Nottingham Forest, Bradford City & Wimbledon going into administration. It could be argued that City's finances, already fragile following relegation, never recovered from that calamitous situation.

Follow me on twitter @clarriebourton

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Jim's column 16.11.13

Coventry City's impressive season has seen long-held records falling and after the last home game against Notts County the goal scoring feats of Messrs Clarke & Wilson came under the spotlight. Both strikers clocked their eleventh league goals of the season before Callum scored again at Wimbledon in the FA Cup. Steve Phelps wondered when two City players last reached 20 goals in the same season. The answer is the Third Division championship season of 1935-36. In that momentous season City scored 102 league goals, 75 of them at home & the great Clarrie Bourton netted 23 and winger George McNestry hit 20. A third player, Les Jones, managed 19! It also happened on three other occasions prior to that, in 1925-26 (Paterson 25, Herbert 22), 1926-27 (Herbert 24, Heathcote 21) and 1934-35 (Jones 25, Bourton 24).

In 1962-63 two City players topped 20 goals; George Hudson (30) & Terry Bly (25). however 24 of Hudson's goals were scored when he was at Peterborough, his previous club. The best haul of the modern era (post-1967) was the Ferguson/Wallace partnership of 1977-78. Ian Wallace scored 21 & Mick Ferguson 17 in a season that the team netted 75 league goals & finished seventh in the old First Division & missing out on a European place only because Arsenal lost the FA Cup final.

After a golden few weeks when he netted 6 goals in 6 games Leon Clarke has now scored 19 goals in 27 league games for the Sky Blues, one of the best scoring starts ever by a City player. He ranks 3rd equal in the best starts ever, level with Terry Bly (1962-63) just behind Micky Quinn (20 in 27 in 1992-93-94) but way behind the immortal Clarrie Bourton who netted 34 goals in his first 27 league games for the club in 1931-32. Leon's record is however better than that other legend George Hudson who netted 17 in his first 27 games.

The 3-1 FA Cup victory at Wimbledon was City's first away win in the competition since they won 1-0 at Torquay United in 2009. Elliott Ward got the late winner that day but City have failed to win in 4 FA Cup trips subsequently, drawing twice (at Blackburn & Portsmouth) & losing twice (at Birmingham & Tottenham). 

Reader Alan Ward alerted me to a statistical milestone approaching for the club. Since joining the Football League in 1919 the Sky Blues have won 3999 points and a win or draw at Bradford tomorrow will see them reach the milestone.

In those 94 years the club have played 87 seasons of league football (World War 2 took seven seasons out) in seven different divisions. For the first 55 seasons there were only two points for a win but since 1981-82 there have been three points for a victory. Their full record in those 87 seasons is:-

Played.     Wins.     Draws.   Losses.  Goals for.     Goals against.    Points
3727.        1308.    975.         1444.       5175.           5390.             3999

The club took 24 seasons to reach 1000 points, 22 seasons to get to 2000, 22 seasons to get to 3000 and only 19 seasons to get to 4000 however with the different points systems it is a fairly meaningless exercise.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Jim's column 9.11.13

The Sky Blues win at home to Notts County was the first time in almost three years that the team have won three consecutive league games. They didn't manage it under Andy Thorn or even Mark Robins in that golden period last November & December when sadly the home form let them down.You have to go back to the Aidy Bothroyd era to find the last three in a row. On 20 November 2010 Burnley were beaten 1-0 at home thanks to a Michael Doyle goal. A week later a Gary McSheffrey goal  & a Joe Murphy own goal saw City win 2-0 at Scunthorpe. Then Middlesbrough were beaten 1-0 at the Ricoh with Marlon King netting his first Coventry goal from the penalty spot. Those three victories lifted the Sky Blues into fifth place in the Championship, the highest position the club have been in during the last six years. Unfortunately the wheels came off after that & the team went ten games without a win and Bothroyd's days were numbered.

You have to go back to 2002 to find the last time City won four league games in a row. That was in the Gary McAllister era and part of a magic month of December when the Sky Blues followed away wins on consecutive Saturdays at Stoke & Wolves by beating Derby & Reading at home. The wins lifted the team to sixth place in what was then called Division 1 but like 2010 it was the pre-cursor to a massive slump. Following the 2-0 win over Reading on Boxing Day, McAllister's men won only one further game all season and none at home. The club's financial situation was critical & McAllister was forced to play youngsters & loanees few of whom were good enough to avert a slide down the table to a final position of 20th.

Damian Kimberley pointed out that the Sky Blues have netted three goals in each of the last three home league games & wondered when they last achieved that feat. To find when City last scored three or more in three consecutive home games you have to go back 34 years to 1979 & the Gordon Milne era. In April 1979 City beat Southampton 4-0 thanks to an Ian Wallace hat-trick and ended the season with a 3-0 victory over Leeds (Barry Powell 2 & Gary Bannister). Then in the opening home game of the following season Bristol City were beaten 3-1 (Tommy English, Powell & Tommy Hutchison).

Keith Ballantyne e-mailed asking the question: 'aren't Preston North End one of our real hoodoo sides? I have a vague recollection of us playing them in a winter fixture, and seem to remember that it may have been the game where the Highfield Road pitch was cleared of snow and promptly froze solid, but it was decided that if the snow was put back on it would be playable; it was and the game went ahead. I've got a feeling it was 1965-66 and George Hudson featured on the scoresheet. I hope that you can enlighten me'

Keith is correct regarding the hoodoo. City have never won a single league game at Deepdale in 16 visits stretching back over 60 years but did win Cup matches there in 1909 & 2000. At home the Sky Blues have a better record but have still only won two of the 12 league meetings between the clubs since 2001. They beat Preston 4-1 in 2003-04 (during the Eric Black era) and 2-1 in 2007-08, all other games have been drawn or lost.

The game on an icy pitch that Keith remembers was at Christmas 1964 when the Sky Blues beat Preston 3-0 with goals from Ernie Machin, Hudson & Willie Humphries. It was one of Hudson's greatest games in a Coventry shirt. His chip for his goal was reminiscent of Moussa's recent effort against Leyton Orient & he made the two other goals with delicate flicks. In the Coventry Telegraph match report Nemo wrote: 'How many of the game's finest ball artists could have turned on a performance such as this unpredictable man Hudson did last night? Ninety-five per cent of what he achieved was accomplished to perfection.'

Follow me on twitter @clarriebourton

Monday, 4 November 2013

Jim's column 2.11.13

During the 1960s Coventry City were the most innovative football club in England. Led by chairman Derrick Robins and manager Jimmy Hill, the Sky Blues were always looking for publicity and were probably the first club to develop 'media relations'. The Sky Blue kit, Sky Blue Radio with pre-match entertainment, the Sky Blue Special train that carried fans to away games, were just a few of the ideas implemented by the club during that golden period.

In 1966 the Sky Blues planned an end of season European tour in a fleet of Rover cars kindly donated by the Rover car company. Chris Wilson of the Rover Sports Register contacted me recently asking if I had any information on the cars and the tour of Europe.

From Chris I discovered that Rover, with the blessing of Prime Minister Harold Wilson, lent the club nine Wedgwood Blue Rover 2000 cars for their 17-day trip that took in Frankfurt, Vienna, Zurich & Brussels. Wedgwood Blue was as good as Sky Blue. The idea was that City would play friendly games in each city and attend a 'promotional conferences' at Rover distributors and dealers to aid Rover's export efforts.

The tour started with anything but a friendly in Germany against Offenbach Kickers which was a bad-tempered affair, ended 0-0 and with Ronnie Rees sent off for a bad tackle.

The Rover cavalcade moved to Vienna where the Sky Blues were beaten 1-4 by Austria Vienna with Ernie Machin netting the consolation goal. Another defeat (2-3) followed against FC Zurich, Bobby Gould netting the City's goals. Three days later the Sky Blues finally won a game, beating Belgian side Union St Gilloise 3-1 with goals from Ray Pointer, Gould & Rees.

Ronnie Farmer was on that trip & remembers it well: 'The Rovers were brand new & we drove all the way from Coventry to Dover & then caught the ferry to the continent. The cars were great & we had a great three weeks in some lovely hotels. In Austria we stayed in a picturesque village in the mountains. The players took turns at driving & I'll never forget one day when John Sillett was driving our car. A sparrow hit the windscreen and he turned the windscreen wipers on & the bird was splattered all over the screen. After the tour I think we had the opportunity to buy the cars at a reduced price but I had just bought a new Ford Corsair. Like all our overseas trips there was a great camaraderie & we all got on well.'

I spotted former City striker Mick Harford at the Leyton Orient game and he had kind words to say about the Sky Blues saying they 'played really well, looked a unit and had a few outstanding players for League 1'. Mick of course had the briefest of careers at Coventry. Signed by Bobby Gould from Sunderland in the summer of 1993 his solitary appearance was as a substitute in the first home game of the season against newly-promoted Newcastle. Mick came off the bench for Tony Sheridan with sixteen minutes remaining and the score at 1-1. Five minutes from the end his looping header clinched the three points for the Sky Blues. Unfortunately Mick suffered back problems and didn't play again during his 13-month stay at Highfield Road. He did recover and joined Wimbledon and went on to play a further 60 games before taking up coaching. As a manager he has had spells with Rotherham & Luton as well as caretaker roles at Nottingham Forest & QPR. He is currently assistant manager to Steve Lomas at Millwall. He didn't tell me which players he might have been scouting for at Sixfields.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Jim's column 26.10.13

By scoring City's late equaliser in a classic local derby nineteen-year old Aaron Phillips joined two select bands. Firstly, he became only the third City player to follow his father by scoring a first-class goal for the Sky Blues. His father David scored 11 goals in 122 games for the club between 1986-1989 with his first coming at Old Trafford in a 1-1 draw in October 1986 which turned out to be Ron Atkinson's last game in charge of United before the appointment of Alex Ferguson.

The two other father and sons to achieve this feat are Ted & Dudley Roberts, and Tony & Mark Hateley. Ted Roberts scored 87 goals in 223 games between 1937 and 1952 with his first goal scored on his debut in a 4-0 home win over Bradford Park Avenue. Son Dudley played only 16 games but managed six goals including two in his home debut, a 3-1 win over Charlton in 1965.
                                                              Tony Hateley
Tony Hateley didn't have a happy time at Coventry and managed only four goals in 17 games in 1968-69 with his first coming in a 1-1 home draw with Manchester City. His son Mark was far more successful scoring 34 in 111 games although it took him 17 games before getting off the mark with two goals in the epic 5-0 League Cup quarter final win over Watford in 1980.

Aaron, who has yet to start a competitive game, also joined a group of players who have scored a first class goal before they had made their full starting debut. By my reckoning 18 players have achieved this feat, the last before Aaron being Mathieu Manset in the 4-4 home draw with Preston this season. Others to achieve this feat in recent seasons include Callum Wilson, Zavon Hines (currently starring for Dagenham & Redbridge), Wayne Andrews, Michael Mifsud & Don Hutchison. Strangely neither Andrews & Hines ever started a game for the club. Older players to have achieved it include Peter Ndlovu (at Highbury in 1991), Mick Harford, Viorel Moldovan (in the famous Cup win at Villa in 1998) and Les Cartwright (the first substitute to score on his debut).

Last week's comments regarding City's largest away followings prompted a lot of replies with great memories of large away days, many of them remembering the glorious1960s. As I said last week there were no official figures until recent seasons so all I have to go on are estimates quoted in Coventry Telegraph match reports which, in the case of all-ticket games, were based on actual ticket sales. Steve Pittam thought there were 20,000 City fans at St Andrews in January 1967 but Nemo's match report estimated City's following at 10,000 (in a gate of 36,000). Steve also thought we had a similar number at Molineux in April 1970 when we clinched our European place with a 1-0 win. The total attendance that night was only 23,000 and the City following was estimated at 7,000. Jim Bimbi remembers a large contingent at Huddersfield in May 1966 when City had an outside chance of promotion but Nemo's estimate was 3,000. Jim did however mention games at Liverpool in the League Cup in 1977 (estimate 10,000) and at West Ham in the same competition in 1981 (10,000 tickets sold). Robert Yates mentioned two games from the 1966-67 Second Division championship season, at Molineux & St Andrews, but City's away followings didn't really take off that season until the latter part of the season and although there were 10,000 at St Andrews there was a much smaller contingent at Wolves in a 27,000 crowd.  Several readers mentioned a game at Peterborough in 1964 when the Sky Blues were on the verge of the Third Division championship and it seemed that the whole of Coventry was on the road to Peterborough. The estimate was that 12,000 fans made the trip in a total attendance of 26,300. David Brassington remembered that night at Peterborough and thought the 0-2 defeat signalled the end of City’s promotion hopes. David also remembers a massive away following of Manchester United fans at Highfield Road in 1976. In David’s words ‘United won 2-0 and such was their fans ghastly reputation  at the time that many City fans just gave it a miss. The old West End, usually the City’s stronghold was completely taken over by THEM. Just to complete my misery  I  had to travel back to London in a train packed with them.’

So, as I wrote last week, the biggest City followings were in 1987 (the two games at Hillsborough and the two games at Wembley) and the biggest in the league was probably the game at Villa Park in 1937 (20,000 in a gate of 68,000), followed by the 15,000 that trekked to Wolves in January 1966.

The best overall season for away league followings was 1963-64 when approximately 81,000 City fans travelled to 23 away games, an average of 3,500 per game. That included the 12,000 at Peterborough, 8,000 at Millwall, 7,000 at Luton & 6,000 at Watford. This season's average is currently just over 1,800 and whilst it is heading for the best for many years it will not better 1963-64.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Jim's column 19.10.13

Former Coventry City striker Gerry Baker who passed away in August didn't live to see the publication of a book telling the story of his and his brother Joe's footballing career. The book The Fabulous Baker Boys Is an incredible story of two brothers who scored more than 500 goals between them and donned international jerseys for England & the United States. Despite being brought up in Scotland and having broad Scots accents they never had the chance to play for the country they felt was their own.

I wrote about Gerry's career in his obituary at the time of his death and how, by virtue of being born in the USA he became the first top-flight European footballer to represent the States - this was before the international qualifications changed in the 1980s allowing players to qualify by virtue of parents & grandparents places of birth. Joe's story is equally as fascinating - he was born in Liverpool and aged 19, became the first man to play for England having never played in the Football League. His goal scoring feats at Hibernian saw him selected to play alongside greats such as Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Charlton & Johnny Haynes. Between 1959 & 1966 Joe won eight full caps & but for the emergence of a young striker called Geoff Hurst months before the 1966 World Cup would have almost certainly been in Alf Ramsey's squad for the tournament. There are humorous stories of Joe, with his broad Scots accent, turning up for international duty.

Young Joe's scoring & international performances had the top English clubs chasing his signature but with the maximum wage still in force, the lure of the Italian lire was too great & Joe signed for Torino, around the same time as Denis Law joined them. The book tells how Joe, who was on £12 at Hibs was given an unbelievable £12,000 signing on fee. Joe & Denis' time in Turin was a disaster on the pitch and culminated in a serious car crash which left Joe hospitalised.

Once recovered he returned to the UK & signed for Arsenal (the maximum wage had been removed in the meantime) and scored goals for fun for the Gunners & later Nottingham Forest before winding his career down at Sunderland and back in Scotland with Hibs. The Forest side of 1966-67 was outstanding   , finishing second in the league & but for a bad injury sustained by Joe in the FA Cup sixth round against Everton, may have won the FA Cup. I remember seeing Joe play for Forest against Coventry at the City Ground the following season, City's first in Division One, on the night George Curtis broke his leg. A battling Sky Blues team led three times, with substitute Bobby Gould scoring twice, in a thrilling 3-3 draw & Joe netted one of the Forest goals. A week later in the return game at Highfield Road Joe ripped City's makeshift defence apart scoring twice in a 3-1 win.

Although Gerry only spent a couple of years at Coventry near the end of his career & his time at Highfield Road is only briefly covered in the well-researched book, I would still recommend the book as an excellent read for all football fans. The author, Tom Maxwell a Scottish football historian, has worked with the Baker family including Gerry, before his death, and gives a great insight into British football in the 1950s & 60s, an era when footballers were paid modest wages and the average football fan could relate to them, something it's not possible to say these days.

Ian Harris wrote to me recently regarding the largest away followings Coventry City have had. Until recent seasons there have been no official figures for the number of away fans at games so any figures I quote are estimates that were quoted in the Coventry Telegraph at the time, some which may have been based on ticket sales for all-ticket games. The largest number of City fans at an away game has to be the estimated 50,000 who travelled to Wembley Stadium in August 1987 for the Charity Shield game versus Everton. During the previous season's FA Cup run there were approximately 25,000 tickets sold by the club to City fans for the final, but it's likely that a good few more obtained tickets elsewhere. There were 27,500 at the semi final v Leeds at Hillsborough and 15,000 at the sixth round tie at Hillsborough. Other large followings include the FA Cup tie at Villa Park in 1965 (20,000), a league game at the same venue in 1937 (20,000 in a crowd of 68,000), 15,000 at Molineux in 1966 and 14,000 at the same ground for the FA Cup tie in 1973. Since 1987 the largest City away following is probably the estimated 11,000 who travelled to Old Trafford for the League Cup game in 2007. Can anyone remember any other big away followings?

Follow me on Twitter @clarriebourton

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Jim's column 12.10.13

Ed Blackaby emailed me recently regarding a Portuguese player called Carlita who he remembers joining the Sky Blues in the mid 1990s but can’t recall him playing for the first team. I don’t know too much about the man from Portugal but from the internet i have gleaned that his full name was Carlos Alberto Maior Silva Batista and he was born in Angola in 1970. He had played for various minor teams on the Algarve including a brief spell with top-flight club SC Farense before coming to England for a trial with Blackburn Rovers in 1995. Blackburn rejected him & he came to Coventry where he impressed manager Ron Atkinson enough to be offered a deal. Some newspaper reports suggest City paid Farense £150,000 or more for his signature but I find that hard to believe. Having said that my colleague Alan Poole reported at the time that Benfica were very interested in him and he was rated in the £300,000 bracket.

Carlita never played for the Sky Blues first team but did appear in seven first-team friendlies. In his first game, a 3-1 pre-season win against Finn Harps in Ireland, according to match reports: ‘he impressed with his workrate and control’. He also appeared against Cambridge United, Vitoria Guimares & Deportivo de la Coruna (in a pre-season tournament in Portugal), Birmingham City (Brian Borrows’ testimonial), St Albans & Cork City. He was a regular in the reserves during the first half of the season but sometime before the end of the season he returned to Portugal & played a handful of games for Boavista. After that he disappeared. I suspect he was one of Big Ron's impulse buys - he always had a penchant for skilful foreigners and the same summer signed classy Brazilian midfield player Isaias from Benfica.

After City's Johnstone's Paint Trophy game at Leyton Orient this week Ben Lipman asked me if City had ever played in the same stadium three times in a season and on the same day of the week - City have played at Orient's Match Room stadium twice on a Tuesday night already this season and will play there again in the league on a Tuesday night in January. The answer is no but it did set me thinking about instances of City playing the same side in three different competitions in one season. 

To achieve this rare feat they would have had to be drawn against a team from their own division in more than one cup competition. Since the League Cup was inaugurated in 1960 City have been drawn against the same team in two cup competitions twice. In 1962-63 City, then a Third Division side, met Portsmouth in both the FA and League Cup, winning the FA Cup fourth round tie in a second replay but losing the League Cup tie heavily at Fratton Park. Then in 2003-04 City, a championship side, beat League Two Peterborough United in both the League Cup (2-0) and FA Cup (2-1) but neither of these instances were against a club from the same division.

However in 1959-60 City, a Third Division side, were drawn against Southampton in both the FA Cup and the Southern Professional Floodlit Cup (a senior competition but one that was obsolete the following season when the League Cup started). City therefore met Southampton in three competitions in the same season. With the FA Cup first round tie ending 1-1 at Highfield Road a replay at the Dell was necessary (duly lost 1-5) so City travelled there twice and entertained the Saints three times winning the league game (4-1), drawing the FA Cup tie and winning the Southern Professional Floodlit semi final (2-1) on the way to becoming the last ever winners of the trophy.

California-based City fan Bob Nelsen asked what colour City's kit was before Jimmy Hill took over as manager and changed the kit to the continental looking Sky Blue. The answer was that for the three seasons from 1959-60 City wore an all-white kit with various different styles of sleeves and collars. The team picture here (taken at the start of the 1960-61 season with the previously mentioned Southern Professional Floodlit Cup trophy) shows some players with a short sleeved v-neck shirt with blue trim and some with a round necked shirt with a blue V. Another variation was also used and is illustrated with a picture of George Curtis taken at Notts County's Meadow Lane. This had long blue sleeves and I suspect was worn when the temperatures dropped. After JH took over in November 1961 the white kit was retained until the end of the season and replaced with the snazzy Sky Blue kit in August 1962. Rod Dean seems to remember the all-white kit being introduced earlier, possibly in a home match against Port Vale in the 1958-59 Fourth Division promotion season. Can anyone remember this?
 Follow me on twitter @clarriebourton

Monday, 7 October 2013

Jim's column 5.10.13

Chris Lambert was in contact with me regarding a rare Coventry City programme he has recently acquired & asking for some details behind the game. It was for a friendly game played in 1935 at Highfield Road between City & Austria Vienna. The programme is just four pages with the teams on the inside along with

Since the Canadian club Hillhurst in 1911, no foreign team had visited Highfield Road, but in the summer of 1935 City were approached by Austria Vienna regarding an autumn tour of England. At the time, the Austrian national ‘Wunderteam’, managed by the legendary Hugo Meisl, was recognised as one of the strongest in the world and had reached the World Cup semi-finals the previous year. Several of the
Wunderteam played for Austria Vienna, including Matthias Sindelar, a tall, thin, pale, blond centre-forward nicknamed ‘the man of paper’, who compensated for his fragility with superb technique. He is considered one of the greatest Austrian footballers of all time and in the modern game would have been a highly paid superstar. In 2006 Brian Glanville placed him in his top twenty all-time world stars.

Such a ‘big-name’ team wanted to be paid for their services and a fee of £150 was agreed upon. The game was scheduled for a Thursday afternoon (2.15 kick-off) in early December but the previous Saturday City were surprisingly held to a draw in the FA Cup by non-league Scunthorpe United and the replay was to be played on the Thursday. As City’s first team headed north for the replay manager Harry Storer selected a reserve side to face the Austrians at Highfield Road. The game at Scunthorpe was called off because of bad weather but in Coventry the game went ahead. Even with Sindelar in the team (few City supporters would have heard of him) only 3,000 turned out to see City reserves win 4-2. with goals from Fred Liddle (2), Billy Lake & John Watson. Press reports describe the City and Vienna teams exchanging ‘beautiful banners’.

Sindelar’s impact on the small crowd went unreported, but two years later – after the German invasion of Austria and the Anschluss – his career was thrown into crisis. He refused to play for a ‘greater’ Germany
team in the 1938 World Cup and in 1939 mysteriously died in a gas-filled room. But in May 1936, six of the Vienna side who appeared at Highfield Road were in the Austrian team that defeated England 2-1 in Vienna.

Graham Williams asked me if I could provide some details about the career of former City player Trevor Lewis who recently took a bow at the Legends Charity match at the Ricoh Arena. Trevor was born in 1921 (making him 93 years old) in a small town called Bedwelty in South Wales. He was 27-years old when he was spotted by City playing for Redditch Town. A speedy right winger who could get a good cross in, Trevor made his City debut in a 1-1 draw at Hillsborough in April 1948. Trevor however could never cement a first team place owing to the form of Plum Warner and Dennis Simpson and played only eleven games in five years. His final game was in a 1-1 draw with Northampton in September 1953. Amazingly he never appeared on the winning side but was a regular for the reserves throughout the period. In 1953 he joined Gillingham and played 26 games and scored two goals in three seasons before moving in to non-league football with Kidderminster Harriers, Banbury Spencer and Rugby Town.

Follow me on twitter @clarriebourton

Thanks to Mike Young for the photo from 1935.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Jim's column 28.9.13

Last week’s piece about the fastest Coventry City goals prompted an email from Russ Malin. His father, Fred who lives in Macdonald Road in Wyken, remembers a game at West Brom just after the war when City’s George Lowrie scored straight from the kick-off. Russ takes up the story: ‘My Dad, who is 87 now, was at the game (still in his Army uniform) and remembers Lowrie receiving the ball from Ted Roberts straight from the kick off, running past Vernon their centre half and then blasting it in the net, all in 11 seconds apparently.’

If accurate this would make it the fastest post-war City goal.  I was able to track down a match report of the game at the Hawthorns on 3 May 1947 and the details are vague: ‘Lowrie scored in the first minute’. Unfortunately I cannot find a copy of the Pink match report to see if the goal time recorded there is more precise. If any reader can throw more light on this goal please let me know.

James Canavan contacted me via Twitter and was interested in knowing more details of a friendly game he attended at Highfield Road in 1998 against Bayern Munich. This game occurred during one of City’s best league & cup runs of the modern era. Between Christmas 1997 and the end of the season the team lost only three of 23 competitive games (and one of those, the FA Cup game at Bramall Lane, on penalties. At the end of January Bayern were emerging from the Bundesliga winter close-down & came to England for some match practice. A crowd of 8,409 watched the German champions beat a makeshift Coventry team 4-2. Viorel Moldovan, still to make his first Premiership start following his record £3.25 million move from Grasshoppers, put the Sky Blues ahead after nine minutes only for Mehmet Scholl to equalise after 19 minutes. Further goals from Brazilian Giovane Elber (40) and Carsten Jancker (50) put Batern in the driving seat. Simon Howarth, a sub for Dion Dublin pulled a goal back after 62 minutes before Ruggiero Rizzitelli completed the 4-2 scoreline.

The teams on the night were:
City: Scott Howie: George Boateng, John Salako, Gavin Strachan (sub Willie Boland 82), Gary Breen, Marcus Hall, Paul Telfer (sub Sam Shilton 58), Trond Soltvedt, Dion Dublin (sub Simon Haworth 45), Viorel Moldovan, Noel Whelan (sub Yasser el Hamrouni 73).
Bayern: Oliver Kahn: Christian Nerlinger, Mehmet Scholl (sub Alexander Zickler 77), Thomas Strunz, Giovane Elber, Lothar Matthaus (sub Frank Gerster 62), Bixente Lizarazu, Mario Basler, Thorsten Fink, Michael Tarnat, Carsten Jancker (sub Ruggiero Rizzitelli 77).

Several City players had picked up knocks in the previous Saturday’s FA Cup win over Derby County and Huckerby, Shaw, Burrows & Nilsson sat the game out. Boateng & Salako played out of position at full-back with Marcus Hall at centre-back. City also had a goalkeeper crisis with Hedman & Oggy both injured & had to draft in Motherwell’s Scott Howie on loan but this was his only appearance. Howie joined Reading a few weeks later & later played for Bristol Rovers & Shrewsbury. El Hamrouni was a Moroccan on trial at City at the time from his Tunisian club Stad Tunisien. He later played for MSV Duisberg in Germany.

Ten of Bayern’s starting XI were full internationals but City manager Gordon Strachan felt that if he had been able to put out his full-strength side it would have been a different scoreline. The game was beamed live to an estimated 3m viewers in Germany.

Follow me on twitter @clarriebourton

Monday, 23 September 2013

Jim's column 21.9.13

                                                                    Eddie Brown

Coventry City’s 2-1 victory over Gillingham extended the team’s unbeaten league run to six games & lifted the Sky Blues out of the relegation zone. Leon Clarke’s fast goal prompted many to ask when did they score such a fast goal. Most reports timed Clarke’s goal at 56 seconds making it the fastest City goal since December 2008 when Clinton Morrison netted after 37 seconds against Ipswich Town at the Ricoh Arena in a game that ended 2-2.

Leon’s goal is some way off the fastest ever by a City player, a record shared by the late Eddie Brown & Gary McSheffrey at twelve seconds. Brown scored his swift goal in August 1954 in a 2-1 home win over Reading whilst McSheffrey’s speedy effort came in a 3-0 home League Cup win in September 2002. Other fast goals include:

Eddie Brown
12 secs
Gary McSheffrey
Colchester (LC)
12 secs
Youssef Chippo
13 secs
Mark Hateley
14 secs
Jimmy Whitehouse
Lincoln (FAC)
15 secs
Mick Ferguson
25 secs
Gerry Daly
27 secs
Steve Livingstone
28 secs
Peter Murphy
30 secs
Gordon Nutt
30 secs

Callum Wilson failed to find the net against Gillingham but with eight league goals is the joint top scorer not only in League One but in the whole Football League. He shares that honour with Bradford City’s Bermuda-born Nahki Wells (the new Shaun Goater?). Wells has continued in League One where he left off last term in League Two with eight league goals plus one in the League Cup.

Several readers have asked when Coventry last had the leading scorer in a Football League season. The answer is the 1931-32 when the legendary Clarrie Bourton topped the scoring lists with 49 goals in Division Three South – the only time a City player has achieved that feat. Bourton scored 40 goals the following season to top the Third South list again but was pipped to the overall top scorer award by Hull City’s Bill McNaughton who scored 41 goals.

Three other Coventry players have topped the divisional scorers. In 1962-63 George Hudson netted 30 league goals to top Division Three’s list but Tottenham’s Jimmy Greaves netted 37. In actual fact only six of Hudson’s goals were scored for the Sky Blues after his move from Peterborough in April.

In 1966-67 Bobby Gould topped Division Two’s scorers with 24 goals but was easily beaten by Southampton’s Ron Davies (37) & QPR’s Rodney Marsh (30). In 1997-98 Dion Dublin was joint top scorer with Michael Owen in the Premier League with 18 goals but was surpassed by many in the lower divisions including Kevin Phillips & Pierre Van Hooijdonk.

American reader Bob Nelsen wanted to know what playing kit the club used prior to Jimmy Hill introducing the famous Sky Blue kit in 1962. The team wore white shirts with a blue v-neck and white shorts. The short-sleeved version is illustrated in the picture but as the cold weather arrived the long sleeved version, with blue sleeves, came into use.

Follow me on twitter @clarriebourton