Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Jim's column 10.8.13

Saturday's opening day defeat at Crawley Town was unusual in that it was the first time Coventry City have lost an away game on the opening day of the season since 1995. Then Ron Atkinson's side, including big money signings Paul Williams, Paul Telfer & John Salako, lost 0-3 at St James' Park, Newcastle. In the seventeen intervening seasons the Sky Blues had only played away on four occasions and never lost:

2001 won 2-0 at Stockport
2005 drew 1-1 at Norwich
2007 won 4-1 at Barnsley
2012 drew 1-1 at Yeovil

The club's record on the first day of the league season has generally been good. Of the thirteen home games since 1995 only four have been lost:

1996 lost 0-3 to Nottm Forest
1999 lost 0-1 to Southampton
2000 lost 1-3 to Middlesbrough
2011 lost 0-1 to Leicester

Aaron Phillips' appearance as a substitute at Crawley meant he became the 885th player to wear the shirt in competitive football since the club joined the League in 1919. More importantly he became only the fifth City player to follow his father into the first team. His father, David, was a member of the 1987 FA Cup winning side and made 123 appearances for the club between his arrival from Manchester City in 1986 and his move to Norwich three years later. Let's hope it is the start of a long and successful career with the Sky Blues.

The other four father & sons to play for the club are:

Ted and Dudley Roberts
Bobby and Jonathan Gould
Tony and Mark Hateley
Gordon and Gavin Strachan

Talking of opening day games Keith Ballantyne emailed asking to be reminded of a postponed City game in London in the late 1980s. He remembers catching a train to London and being met by City fans telling him the game had been called off. The game in question was at Tottenham's White Hart Lane in August 1988 and the game was called off on the Saturday morning because the local authority would not issue a safety certificate to Spurs' new East Stand.  City also had an opening day game at Watford postponed in 2003 after Watford's on-loan striker Jimmy Davis was killed in a car crash on the M40 earlier that day. The Watford board called the game off in mid morning citing 'tragic circumstances' but it was several hours before the news of Davis' death were released.

For those City fans not travelling to Northampton tomorrow (and there will be many) I urge you to support the charity game at the Ricoh Arena. In a game arranged by the Former Players Association, supported by the Sky Blue Trust & the Diamond Club, a Coventry City Legends XI take on a Midlands all stars XI, kick off 2pm. The game, to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the formation of Singers FC, will raise money for various charities including the Acorns Children's Hospice. As I write this several City former players have pledged their services including Noel Whelan, Darren Huckerby, Dave Bennett & Claus Jorgensen. It promises to be a fun afternoon. More details can be found at www.ccfpa.co.uk

Meanwhile at Sixfields Stadium the Sky Blues take on Bristol City. A very small crowd is expected & many people have asked me this week what is the lowest crowd for a City league game. The record low was set in February 1928 when 2,059 attended a Monday afternoon game against Crystal Palace in a Third Division South fixture. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. There was a smaller crowd for a competitive game at Highfield Road – in October 1985 1,086 turned up for a meaningless Full Members Cup group game against Millwall. Earlier results meant that neither club could progress in the competition but the game went ahead & ended 1-1.

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