The seventh annual Coventry City Legends Day was a great success with 48 former players hosted by the Former Players Association at last weekend’s home game with Swindon Town. The bad result and poor performance didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the ex-Sky Blues and a great time was had by all. As usual there were emotional moments and this year’s was when Lol Harvey met former teammate Ronnie Waldock for the first time since 1954. The two grew up in the same town, Heanor in Derbyshire, but had not been in touch since Ronnie or ‘Polly’ as he was known, was sold to Sheffield United. After the match the traditional party took place in the G-Casino and included a moving rendition of Moon River from the legendary Ernie Hunt and a full-throated Sky Blue Song from all present. More information and pictures can be found at www.ccfpa.co.uk
On Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Sexton, son of the late Dave Sexton, City’s manager 1981-83. Chris spoke about his father’s ability to remember everything about games without taking notes. A young Chris used to go to matches with his Dad when Dave was scouting as part of the England set up. All around them scouts and journalists would be making notes but Dave just watched the match. When he returned home he could recall everything about the game and would write his report from memory.
Deputy Chairman John Clarke resignation from the football club board this week is sad. John has been a City fan since the 1960s and his passion for the club is undimmed. I would like to thank him for the staunch support he has given the Former Players Association. When the Association was formed in 2007 he wanted to be involved from the outset and became the Founding patron, every year raising money from the directors and Associate directors to support us. With the current state of affairs at the football club I am not surprised he is standing down. The impact on his family and working life over the last two years must have been enormous and he has always handled himself in a dignified manner despite some vitriolic abuse.
Several fans have told me about goings on at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground on Tuesday night. Ex-City player Andy Morrell is manager at the Conference club and has surrounded himself with a bevy of ex-Sky Blues. On Tuesday five ex-City men played in the 4-1 victory over Ebbsfleet which keeps their promotion campaign on track and three of them scored. Dele Adebola, on loan from Rochdale, netted after three minutes with Kevin Thornton scoring the third after half an hour. With the referee about to blow for half-time Robert Ogleby, a former City youth player, made it 4-0. Stephen Wright also played and Morrell himself came on as a substitute in the second half. The common question was have three-ex-City players ever scored for another team. The answer is yes, back in the 1930s. There were strong links between City and Walsall and in 1932 City director Bill Slade left the club to become manager of Walsall. He signed several City players to add to a couple they already had and for a couple of seasons there were regularly 6-7 ex-City men in the Saddlers Third Division North team. In 1933 Walsall pulled off one of the biggest Cup shocks of alltime, beating Arsenal at Fellows Park. The Walsall team wore City’s blue and white shirts that day and the whole forward line were ex-City players with two, Gilbert Alsop and Bill Sheppard scoring the goals in the 2-0 victory. There were numerous occasions when three ex-City men notched goals for the Saddlers and I found one game, a 5-3 win over Tranmere in 1934 when four scored goals (Alsop, Sheppard, Freddie Lee and Reuben Woolhouse).
Talking of Dele Adebola, I learned this week that he holds the record for the most substitute appearances in a career. Up to this week he has made 196 league appearances as a substitute plus a further 30 in Cup games. Wrexham is the 13th club of his career which started at Crewe back in 1993. 48 of those sub appearances were whilst he was at Coventry.
Coventry City’s turnover of players has not been extraordinary (34 players used to date and the record is 44) but in the last three league games I think some kind of record was set. Of the 10 outfield players in all three games, none of them had appeared in the first game of the season at Yeovil in August. Of the ten who played at Yeovil, three have left the club (Kilbane, Hussey and Brown), three were on the bench (McDonald, Clarke & Fleck), one (Wood) is injured, one (Daniels) has not been heard of for some time and two (Barton & Ball) may be in line for a recall soon. Goalkeeper Joe Murphy, of course, has been Mr Consistency, an ever-present in the league and missing in all but a game and a half in Cup games, the half being that suicidal second half against Crewe in the JPT.