Young Ryan Haynes made a steady debut for the Sky Blues last Saturday in the 1-1 draw with Brentford. Born on 25 September 1995, the Northampton-born full-back was 17 years & 191 days old & many fans wondered where he comes in the list of youngest City debutants. He doesn't make the all-time top ten youngest but is the third youngest to make a full debut (i.e. starting a game) since we left the Premiership in 2001. Numerous younger players have made their debuts as substitutes in that time including Ben Mackey, Jordan Willis & Jonson Clark-Harris, the latter being the youngest ever at 16 years & 20 days, but only Isaac Osbourne & Conor Thomas were younger than Ryan when they made their full debut.
Isaac Osbourne was 16 years & 308 days old when he started his first game in a 0-0 draw against Gillingham in April 2003. He went on to make over 120 appearances in an injury interrupted career for the club. He has been at Aberdeen for the last two years but has suffered more injuries restricting his appearances for the Dons to 42 in that time but he did net his first ever goal in senior football this season.
Conor Thomas was 17 years & 92 days old when he started his first game for the Sky Blues, an FA Cup tie at St Andrews in January 2011. Earlier that month Conor had been a substitute in an earlier cup-tie against Crystal Palace. Days after making his first start he went on loan to Liverpool with a view to a permanent move. Things didn't work out however and Thomas moved back to Coventry later that season.
Going back to Ryan Haynes, he is the youngest full-back to don a City shirt since the great George Curtis made his first start in April 1956 as a left-back at Newport County. George, who switched to centre-half in 1958, was 16 years & 351 days, and went on to make x appearances for the club.
The top ten youngest full debutants is:
1. Brian Hill (April 1958) 16 years 273 days
2. Isaac Osbourne (April 2003) 16 years 308 days
3. Perry Suckling (August 1982) 16 years 320 days
4. George Curtis (April 1956) 16 years 351 days
5. Dietmar Bruck (April 1961) 17 years 9 days
6. Colin Holder (April 1962) 17 years 73 days
7. Conor Thomas (Jan 2011) 17 years 92 days
8. Lol Harvey (Nov 1951) 17 years 101 days
9. Bobby Parker (March 1970) 17 years 137 days
10. Bobby Gould (October 1963) 17 years 140 days
Coincidentally Colin Holder was at the Brentford game, his first visit to the Ricoh & the first City game he had been to for many years.
In the programme for the recent Bury away game a local writer did an interesting article about Dan, Dan, the Rhyming Man, a poet who featured in the City programmes in the late 1950s & early 1960s. I had completely forgotten about the witty poems of Dan & thought I would dig out a few for this week's column.
The first poem of Dan's I can find was in the home programme versus Southend United on 26 October 1957 soon after Billy Frith had returned to the club as manager following the departure of Harry Warren. Tucked away near the back of the 12-page programme is a two line poem with a clever reference to the club's nickname at the time (the Bantams) and new boss Frith. I believe it was Dan's first appearance in a match programme:
My opening rhyme is short and pithy.
Up the Bants, and well done Frithy.
For the next league game Dan had expanded to four lines & made reference to a floodlit friendly victory against Partick Thistle:
The floodlight game with Partick Thistle
Stopped every pessimistic whistle,
Repeat the dose, let the League heads roll,
And make a one-way route to goal.
From 1957 to 1961 Dan graced the pages of the City programme. I had a theory that Billy Frith and Dan were one and the same. Beyond the fun there was something rather school masterly about the poems, with references to history, geography & literature, and in the years between his two spells as City manager, between 1948 & 1957, Billy had been a schoolteacher and risen to the post of head of a local school. I contacted Billy's son John who was adamant that Dan wasn't a nom de plume of his father.
By 1960 Dan's poems had further expanded to six and sometimes eight lines and the Bury programme featured a classic from the City v Bury programme 1960:
In Bell Green and Barnsley, Binley and Brighton
Some call our guests 'Burry' though 'Berry's' the right'un
But why should we bother if diction's in doubt
Provided the Bantams can cancel them out.
So let's silence the grumblers, the old belly-achers
By extracting two points from this team called the 'Shakers'
If anyone can shed any light as to the identity of Dan please contact me as I would love to know.