Monday, 18 March 2013

Jim's column 16.3.2013

 Coventry City's topsy-turvy season continued this week and is actually getting a little predictable. The Sky Blues impressive away form continued with an away win at Scunthorpe, a club record 11th league win on the road beating the 10 by Noel Cantwell's Europe-bound team in 1969-70. Then, three days later, the depressing home form continued with a 2-2 draw with lowly Colchester United. Yet another late goal by Carl Baker saved City's bacon and kept the embers of the play-off fire glowing slightly. It will need a miracle or a serious collapse by at least two of the teams ahead of them in the table for the Sky Blues to seal a place even if administration is avoiced. They probably can't afford to lose more than two of the remaining eight games and having failed to win three league games in a row all season that seems too tall an order. No City team has won three consecutive league games since December 2010 when, under Aidy Boothroyd, home wins over Burnley & Middlesbrough sandwiched a win at Scunthorpe.

The away form continues to be impressive and another club record is just around the corner - most away goals in a season. The record was set in 1963-64, the Third Division Championship season, when the team won eight away games and scored 36 goals. The current team have scored 34 goals on the road and look certain to overhaul the record. One would have thought City's team of the early 1930s would have scored more away goals - between 1931 & 1936 Harry Storer's team scored 100 goals in four out of five seasons but Storer's team's strength was at home where they scored 70 or more goals in those four seasons. The best away haul by the 'Old Five' team was 34 in 1931-32 (Clarrie Bourton's golden season when he scored 49 league goals) when ironically they won only one away game all season.

I would like to welcome Sky Blues' new manager Steven Pressley who arrived last week from Falkirk. Pressley is City's fifth manager of the season, easily a record, even for Coventry City. The most managers in a season previously was in 2003-04 when Gary McAllister stood down owing to his wife's health, replaced by Eric Black who was then cruelly jettisoned by the board in favour of Peter Reid who had just one game in charge (a fine win over play-off bound Crystal Palace). Pressley is the 38th permanent manager of the club since the club joined the Football League in 1919 and the 12th since the club left the Premiership in 2001. He is also the 10th former City player to be given the job, the others being Jimmy McIntyre, Billy Frith, Bobby Gould, George Curtis, John Sillett, Gordon Strachan, Roland Nilsson, Gary McAllister and Micky Adams. I don't count Terry Butcher who was recruited as Player-Manager. In addition, as Ken Foster, several other former players have been 'caretaker' managers including Lee Carsley, Richard Shaw, Steve Ogrizovic, Trevor Peake and Charlie Elliott. Coincidentally Pressley and I have something in common - we were both born in Elgin, Scotland, albeit 21 years apart.

Ed Blackaby found the article about Coventry City's loan players interesting and sent me his Best Loan XI, which I find hard to argue too much with:

Luke Steele
Richard Duffy
Dean Leacock
Gary Caldwell
Stephen Warnock
Jordan Henderson
James Bailey
Oliver Norwood
Jack Cork
David McGoldrick
Craig Hignett

Personally I was not a big fan of Cork and would prefer Johnnie Jackson to him in midfield and Marton Fulop would get my nod in goal.

Ed also wanted to know if Errington Kelly, who was in the 1983-84 team picture, ever played a first team game for the Sky Blues. Born on the island of St Vincent in the Caribbean, Kelly had been on the books of Bristol Rovers under Bobby Gould, prior to Gouldy's first spell as manager in 1983. Kelly joined the Sky Blues that summer and did feature in a couple of pre-season friendlies but failed to break through to the first team. In early 1984 he joined Peterborough and made over 100 appearances over five seasons.

Sue Standbridge sent me an old Coventry City team picture and asked if I could help with the players' names as her parents were scratching their heads over most of the players.

The picture is from 1948-49 season and the players (and officials) are as follows:

Back Row (L to r): Harry Barratt, Don Dearson, Dick Mason, Dennis Tooze, Alf Wood, Les Latham, Len Wilford, Fred Gardner, Unknown.

Third Row: Tom Crawley (Assistant trainer), Harry Bull, Jack Snape, Jack Evans, Stan Smith, George Mason, Wally Soden, Ron Cox, Jack Lovering, J Llewelyn, Bill Morgan (Trainer).

Second Row: Dick Hill (Coach), Billy Frith (Manager), Walter Brandish (Director), Keith Moulton (Director), H E Jones (Director), Frank Stringer (Chairman), Walter Young (Director), Phil Mead (Director), Dr WD Coghill (Medical Officer), Bernard Hitchiner (Secretary).

Front Row: Dennis Simpson, Trevor Lewis, Les Warner, Fred Bett, Ted Roberts, Peter Murphy, Norman Lockhart, Alec McIntosh, Ted Shore.

If anyone recognises the player on the far right of the back row please let me know.

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