The 1908-09 team with Buckle far right on front row
This summer I have had contact with American Tom Ferner who it turns out is the Great, Great Grandson of former Coventry City player Harry Buckle. Buckle was a star of Coventry City for three seasons between 1908 and 1911. His arrival coincided with the club's move up from the Birmingham League to the Southern League in 1908. He was a feared left winger having won two Irish international caps and had previously played for Sunderland (in Division 1), Portsmouth and Bristol Rovers before moving to Highfield Road.
The club's directors appointed him as player-manager for the 1909-10 season and that campaign he helped guide the club to the FA Cup quarter finals defeating First Division Preston & Nottingham Forest before succumbing to Everton in front of a record 19,000 crowd at Highfield Road. This was a monumental achievement for a Southern League team & the proceeds of the run enabled the club to build a new grandstand (later superceded by the Sky Blue Stand in 1964).
Buckle was the club’s top marksman in his first two seasons and contributed 44 goals in his 126 league and cup appearances before leaving Highfield Road In the summer 1911. Harry returned to his native Belfast, working (unusually for a Catholic at the time) in the Harland & Wolff shipyards and played for Belfast Celtic, then Glenavon at the outbreak of World War 1 and in 1917 became secretary-manager of Belfast United as well as playing for them. He finished his footballing career from 1922-26 at Fordsons in Cork and won an Irish Cup Winners medal with them aged 45 in 1926 as player- manager before retiring in 1927!
Tom Ferner and his family knew little of their 'famous' relative & were grateful to learn of his football career in Coventry. Tom joined the Former Players Association as an Associate member & is hoping to get to the UK at some future date to learn more about his forefather's heritage.
Brunton Park, Carlisle was the scene of a convincing Sky Blues victory last Saturday with four goals scored without reply. For the second game running the team led 3-0 at half time a feat not achieved by a City team since 2007. This time City's defence kept their cool & a clean sheet to deservedly came back down the M6 with three points. It was a nice revenge for last season's results against the Cumbrians who under former Coventry youth team player Greg Abbott were the only side to do the double over the Sky Blues during the reign of Mark Robins. At half-time the side looked capable of emulating the City side of 1959 who won 6-1 at Brunton Park, a record post-war away win subsequently equalled in 2002 at Walsall.
One historical statistic that has passed me by this season was that in the games at Crawley & Leyton Orient the Sky Blues took the field with a record five Coventry-born players. Cyrus Christie, Jordan Clarke, Jordan Willis, Callum Wilson & Conor Thomas are all 'Covkids' and topped the record of four set up last season. I'm struggling to think of any more 'Covkids' who might breakthrough to the first team but I believe Lewis Rankin is one. The number of home-grown players coming through to the first team is a great credit to Gregor Rioch & his staff at the club's academy.
Last week's piece about John Galley prompted Graeme Baldwin to email me with his memories of the game against Rotherham at Christmas 1966. He was stood in the old Covered End that day & remembers the police having to save the pitch-invading City fan from a real thumping by John Galley. Graeme also remembers travelling to Rotherham a couple of days later to watch the return and getting beaten up by some Rotherham fans near the railway station.
I missed one high-scoring game from the last 50 years – the 1-8 home defeat in the League Cup to Leicester City in 1964. Chris Turner remembers it well as it was the only ever time he left Highfield Road before the end of a game. The final humiliation he recalls was a 30 yard goal from Leicester's full-back Richie Norman in front of the main stand. Richie, of course was manager at Nuneaton Borough after his playing days. Steve Thompson remembers it well too & thought the heavy defeat signalled the end of goalkeeper Bob Wesson's City career. In fact Bob was standing in that night for the cup-tied Bill Glazier who had recently been signed for a world record fee for a goalkeeper of £35,000. Wesson came back into the first team some five months later after Glazier broke a leg & played a further 40 odd first team games. The main cause for the heavy defeat to Leicester was the loss through injury of captain George Curtis. George was injured early in the game & was taken off when the score was 3-0 just before half-time. It was the season before the introduction of substitutes & City laboured on with 10 men & were no match for their First Division opponents.