Sunday, 27 October 2013

Jim's column 26.10.13

By scoring City's late equaliser in a classic local derby nineteen-year old Aaron Phillips joined two select bands. Firstly, he became only the third City player to follow his father by scoring a first-class goal for the Sky Blues. His father David scored 11 goals in 122 games for the club between 1986-1989 with his first coming at Old Trafford in a 1-1 draw in October 1986 which turned out to be Ron Atkinson's last game in charge of United before the appointment of Alex Ferguson.

The two other father and sons to achieve this feat are Ted & Dudley Roberts, and Tony & Mark Hateley. Ted Roberts scored 87 goals in 223 games between 1937 and 1952 with his first goal scored on his debut in a 4-0 home win over Bradford Park Avenue. Son Dudley played only 16 games but managed six goals including two in his home debut, a 3-1 win over Charlton in 1965.
                                                              Tony Hateley
Tony Hateley didn't have a happy time at Coventry and managed only four goals in 17 games in 1968-69 with his first coming in a 1-1 home draw with Manchester City. His son Mark was far more successful scoring 34 in 111 games although it took him 17 games before getting off the mark with two goals in the epic 5-0 League Cup quarter final win over Watford in 1980.

Aaron, who has yet to start a competitive game, also joined a group of players who have scored a first class goal before they had made their full starting debut. By my reckoning 18 players have achieved this feat, the last before Aaron being Mathieu Manset in the 4-4 home draw with Preston this season. Others to achieve this feat in recent seasons include Callum Wilson, Zavon Hines (currently starring for Dagenham & Redbridge), Wayne Andrews, Michael Mifsud & Don Hutchison. Strangely neither Andrews & Hines ever started a game for the club. Older players to have achieved it include Peter Ndlovu (at Highbury in 1991), Mick Harford, Viorel Moldovan (in the famous Cup win at Villa in 1998) and Les Cartwright (the first substitute to score on his debut).

Last week's comments regarding City's largest away followings prompted a lot of replies with great memories of large away days, many of them remembering the glorious1960s. As I said last week there were no official figures until recent seasons so all I have to go on are estimates quoted in Coventry Telegraph match reports which, in the case of all-ticket games, were based on actual ticket sales. Steve Pittam thought there were 20,000 City fans at St Andrews in January 1967 but Nemo's match report estimated City's following at 10,000 (in a gate of 36,000). Steve also thought we had a similar number at Molineux in April 1970 when we clinched our European place with a 1-0 win. The total attendance that night was only 23,000 and the City following was estimated at 7,000. Jim Bimbi remembers a large contingent at Huddersfield in May 1966 when City had an outside chance of promotion but Nemo's estimate was 3,000. Jim did however mention games at Liverpool in the League Cup in 1977 (estimate 10,000) and at West Ham in the same competition in 1981 (10,000 tickets sold). Robert Yates mentioned two games from the 1966-67 Second Division championship season, at Molineux & St Andrews, but City's away followings didn't really take off that season until the latter part of the season and although there were 10,000 at St Andrews there was a much smaller contingent at Wolves in a 27,000 crowd.  Several readers mentioned a game at Peterborough in 1964 when the Sky Blues were on the verge of the Third Division championship and it seemed that the whole of Coventry was on the road to Peterborough. The estimate was that 12,000 fans made the trip in a total attendance of 26,300. David Brassington remembered that night at Peterborough and thought the 0-2 defeat signalled the end of City’s promotion hopes. David also remembers a massive away following of Manchester United fans at Highfield Road in 1976. In David’s words ‘United won 2-0 and such was their fans ghastly reputation  at the time that many City fans just gave it a miss. The old West End, usually the City’s stronghold was completely taken over by THEM. Just to complete my misery  I  had to travel back to London in a train packed with them.’

So, as I wrote last week, the biggest City followings were in 1987 (the two games at Hillsborough and the two games at Wembley) and the biggest in the league was probably the game at Villa Park in 1937 (20,000 in a gate of 68,000), followed by the 15,000 that trekked to Wolves in January 1966.

The best overall season for away league followings was 1963-64 when approximately 81,000 City fans travelled to 23 away games, an average of 3,500 per game. That included the 12,000 at Peterborough, 8,000 at Millwall, 7,000 at Luton & 6,000 at Watford. This season's average is currently just over 1,800 and whilst it is heading for the best for many years it will not better 1963-64.

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