Some weeks ago Keith Ballantyne wrote to me regarding former City player Ronnie Rees. Keith was reminded of the Welsh winger after the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy debacle against Crewe. Keith remembers travelling to Gresty Road in 1966 for the FA Cup tie: ‘City trailed until the last few minutes until a Rees goal got them out of jail as I recall’.
You are correct Keith, Rees equalised in the 88th minute after Crewe had led from the ninth minute, when a Peter Kane shot went in off George Curtis’ face. Fourth Division Crewe’s chance of a giantkilling act had gone & two days later the Sky Blues convincingly won the replay 4-1 with goals from Dave Clements, George Hudson (2) & Ronnie Farmer (a penalty).
Keith recalls that Rees was City's only full international for some years, that at some stage he left for West Brom and that he featured in one if not two thrashings that we suffered at their hands. Like most of us children of the 60s his memory is sketchy but he thought Rees played in a 6-1 Sky Blues defeat.
Ronnie was only the fifth Coventry City player to win a full Welsh cap when he made his debut at the age of 20 against Scotland in October 1964. He went on to win 21 caps whilst he was with the Sky Blues, scoring two goals. He left City for West Brom in March 1968 after making 262 appearances for the club & scoring 52 goals. He wasn’t City’s only international during that time, Dave Clements made his debut for Northern Ireland in 1965 and also won 21 caps between then and 1971. Also during 1964-65 City regularly put out a side with two full internationals on the wings, Rees on the left and Northern Ireland’s Willie Hunphries on the right.
After leaving City, Rees played only one full season at the Hawthorns and appeared against the Sky Blues twice, scoring on both occasions. In City’s 4-2 home win in August 1968 he scored one of the Baggies’ goals, then repeated the feat in a 6-1 Baggies’ league win at the Hawthorns two months later.
In 1969-70 he had joined Nottingham Forest & amazingly repeated the scoring feat, netting in Forest’s 3-2 defeat at Highfield Road and their 4-1 defeat to the Sky Blues at the City Ground. He did appear against City twice the following season without finding the net. Ronnie won a further 18 full Welsh caps after leaving City, taking his total to 39. His club career ended at Swansea City in 1975 and he went to work at the Ford factory in the city but had to retire at the age of 51 after a stroke.
He still lives in Swansea with June, his Coventry-born wife and although Ron is in poor health he likes to keep abreast of news from the Sky Blues.
George Ling, a friend of many years standing through the Coventry City London Supporters Club, posed an interesting question recently: Did Noel Simpson ever break his leg playing for the club? George is confident he was present at Highfield Road when he heard an almighty crack and Simpson collapsed on the floor in front of the Main Stand at the Spion Kop end of the ground.
I’m afraid I was unable to answer the question but Noel played for the club between 1948-1957, in an era when broken legs took a minimum of six months to recover from. Looking at Noel’s record I can find no periods of that length when he was absent from the side and think George’s memory is playing tricks on him. Perhaps an older supporter can throw some light on the question.
George also asked which players I could remember breaking a leg whilst playing for the club and a few immediately came to mind including George Curtis at Nottingham Forest in 1967, Roy Barry (v Sheffield Wednesday 1970), Dave Busst (v Manchester United 1996), Bill Glazier (v Man City 1965), Lloyd McGrath (v Ipswich (Simod Cup) 1988) & Jim Sanders (v Aldershot 1958). Do any readers remember others?