Sunday, 24 November 2013

Jim's column 23.11.13

The Sky Blues third appearance on television this season saw them impress a wider audience in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Bradford. The goals keep coming and the team have now scored 37 league goals with a total of 61 goals having been scored in their 16 league games. On Sunday they leapfrogged Leyton Orient to become the highest scoring side in England and they have now scored as many goals as they did in 42 Division One games in season 1970-71.  At this rate the team could well score 100 goals, something no Coventry City side has done since the 1930s. Then, in what was a golden period for football in Coventry, the Bantams, as the team were known scored 100 goals in four out of five seasons between 1931 and 1936.

1931-32  108
1932-33 106
1933-34 100
1934-35 86
1935-36 102

In those five seasons they netted 502 goals with the great Clarrie Bourton bagging 164. The team scored five or more goals on such a regular basis at home that the fans used to shout 'Come on the old five'. Since 1936, the Third Division South championship season, the closest the team has got to 100 goals was in 1963-64 when the Sky Blues scored 98 goals on their way to the Third Division championship. That season they had netted 42 goals after 16 games so Steven Pressley's team are behind schedule but in 63-64 the team had a disastrous slump after Christmas, giving up a 9 point lead on 3 January to require goal average to go up on the final day of the season. Between then and the end of March they netted only 18 goals in 11 games.

The best season for goals in the modern (post-1967) era was 1977-78 when with the twin strikeforce of Ian Wallace and Mick Ferguson being fed by the devastating Tommy Hutchison, Gordon Milne's team racked up 75 goals. That modern record will surely go this campaign.

The late penalty conceded at Bradford was frustrating for Pressley & his men & City fans everywhere but for Bermudean Nahki Wells it meant a hat-trick – the first conceded by the Sky Blues for over seven years. The last was in early 2006 at Plymouth in a 1-3 defeat when Cameroon-born Frenchman Vincent Pericard, on loan from Portsmouth, netted all three goals. Other than his goal spree against City Pericard's loan spell at Home Park was forgettable – he only scored one further goal in 14 appearances. Vincent later played briefly in the Premiership with Stoke City and spent some time in prison for perverting the course of justice over a speeding offence. Now 31 he retired from the professional game last year after being released by Swindon Town & now runs a company helping foreign players adjust to life in England.

Cayman Island-based City fan Mark White sent me an email regarding City's appearances on television this season. He wondered if the three appearances constituted a record for the club.

They have appeared live twice on Sky (Sheffield United & Bradford) and once on the new BT service (AFC Wimbledon) but it is well short of the record for the club which was set in 2001-02, City's first season outside the top flight for 34 years. Then the Football League had a lucrative contract with ITV digital & with the Sky Blues in the top six for long periods of the season they were featured on live TV on twelve occasions. At the end of that season the debt-ridden ITV digital went into administration, a move which had a disastrous effect on the finances of all Football League clubs with clubs like Nottingham Forest, Bradford City & Wimbledon going into administration. It could be argued that City's finances, already fragile following relegation, never recovered from that calamitous situation.

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