Bill Patrick - hat-trick scorer
Today is the last game of the season for the Sky Blues and a trip to Notts County’s Meadow Lane for the first time since 1992. The ‘Lane’ was a bogey ground for the Sky Blues in the old First Division with defeats in all four meetings between 1981-1992 including a 5-1 thrashing in 1982-83.
The home season ended last weekend with a disappointing home defeat to Leyton Orient – the first time Orient had won in seventeen visits to Coventry since 1922 when Clapton Orient won 2-1.
My mention last week of Noel Simpson breaking a leg at Highfield Road prompted several readers to send me their thoughts of the incident & memories of other tragic broken legs involving City players.
I spoke to former City player Lol Harvey about Simpson & he remembers Noel breaking his leg whilst playing for Exeter City (who he joined after leaving City in 1957). Jim Hone confirmed that the incident occurred after Simpson had left City but thought it was against Swindon. Mick Sanders recalls him breaking his leg near the centre circle. Barry Ireland remembers it being against Exeter in a game City won 6-1.
The game in question was on 9 November 1957 at Highfield Road & City did win 6-1 with goals from Bill Patrick (3), Charlie Timmins (penalty), Ken McPherson & Ray Sambrook. Noel Simpson, who had left City the previous summer after 270 appearances, was captaining Exeter and the Coventry Telegraph reported that Simpson was carried off after 35 minutes following a tackle with City’s Roy Kirk. The match report however describes his injury as ‘damaged knee ligaments’. Noel never played senior football again and retired the following summer, aged 36. The number of readers who remember the sound of the break seems to indicate the match report was incorrect about the nature of the injury. Several people also seem to think that the protagonists ‘hadn’t seen eye to eye’ prior to Simpson’s departure but it’s probably best to let those sleeping dogs lie.
Other readers remembered other broken legs with 83-year old George Hopkins, a former programme seller at Highfield Road recalling left winger George Ashall breaking his leg in a heavy clash with West Brom’s Stan Rickaby in 1947. Thirty-six year old Ashall, an England prospect before the war, never played football again.
Chris Lambert recalls loanee Craig Hignett suffering a hairline fracture at Bramall Lane in 2002 when he got in the way of a shot from United’s Peter Ndlovu.
Dean Nelson remembers Dave Bennett suffering a broken leg against Sheffield Wednesday at Highfield Road in 1988 but it was in fact against Derby. ‘Benno’ collided with Peter Shilton & came off worst. He later suffered further breaks playing for both Swindon and Sheffield Wednesday.
Peter Louch thought Peter Hill broke his leg in a Boxing Day game in the 1950s but I can find no records of this.
After my piece about Dan Dan the Rhyming Man a couple of weeks ago I had an email from Hag Harris, a City fan exiled in Lampeter, South Wales.
Dan's mini poems amused me as a young chap at Highfield Road and even now going through late 1950s and early 1960s programmes in my forested vastness warms my cockles! Manager Billy Frith's notes are always worth a re-read as he rails against outrageous bad luck and misfortune, the 'London Press' and discontented barrackers.
Hag goes on to say that he looks forward to the definitive text on the '1920 Bury Affair' and ' The Life and Times of Arthur Lightening' and no, I am too young to have seen Clarrie play.
This is the last column of the season for me but look out for my usual statistical summary of the season next week. Thanks to everybody who has contributed to the column this season and have a great summer. Lets hope the warring parties can resolve their differences and we can watch the Sky Blues at the Ricoh next season.