One of the most memorable City away wins that I have ever seen came at Derby County's Baseball Ground in September 1970. Martin Oliver contacted me recently asking to be reminded of a famous 4-3 victory. The Rams, one of the top sides in the country & managed by the arrogant but irrepressable Brian Clough, had lost at home to the Sky Blues the previous season & Brian was determined that it wasn't going to happen again. After 13 minutes City were 0-2 down & had lost the services of their new signingWilf Smith, at the time the most expensive full-back in Britain
The game kicked off in a torrential downpour and within five minutes Smith took a bad knock. Three minutes later, with Smith temporarily off the field and City down to ten men, Kevin Hector scored in off a post. Ernie Hunt came on as substitute and Cantwell reshuffled his side, but on thirteen minutes Alan Hinton slammed in a rebound after Bill Glazier had made a good save. City were two goals down. Game, set and match to Derby, surely.
However, striker Neil Martin, who relished his tussles with the much vaunted Roy McFarland, was winning their aerial battle and it was Martin who, after 28 minutes, reduced the deficit with a hooked shot from Hunt’s cross. Three minutes later Dave Clements levelled the score with a daisy cutter. Against the odds, City were still alive and kicking.
The second half was nine minutes old when Martin headed City ahead for the first time. John McGovern levelled the scores again with a shot that flew in off Willie Carr; then Geoff Strong seemed to seal City’s fate when elbowing Wignall off the ball in the penalty box. Penalty to Derby!
Alan Hinton, who boasted one of the most explosive shots in football, stepped up and fired to Glazier’s right, but City’s keeper made a prodigious leap to turn the ball aside. City were left hanging on grimly for a draw, and survived several stomach-churning moments. Two Derby ‘goals’ were disallowed for offside, Strong headed off the line, and Hector hit the bar.
It was still 3-3 when, with only two minutes remaining, City stunned the home crowd. Non-stop Willie Carr blasted the winner to gain a victory that Derek Henderson in the Coventry Telegraph described as probably City’s finest win in the First Division in the face of great adversity.
Last week I wrote about that famous trip to Peterborough 50 years ago this month & I received an email from Diamond Club member John Green. John was a fine goalkeeper in his day & was on City's books just after World War 2. He recently travelled to watch the Sky Blues at Crewe & told me it was his first visit to watch City there since 1963-64 season when he made the trip on the Sky Blue Special train. He cannot recollect the score or details of the game & asked me to refresh his memory. The match in question took place on a Wednesday night in early October and ended 2-2. George Hudson gave City the lead just before half-time. Crewe rallied after the break and goals from Frank Lord and John Dillon swung the scales in their direction. With just four minutes left Hudson flicked on a Mick Kearns free-kick and Ken Hale popped up to equalise.
City's line-up was: Wesson: Sillett, Kearns, Hill, Curtis, Farmer, Humphries, Hale, Hudson, Machin, Rees. The attendance was 7,385 (1,000 City fans).
Of course next weekend is the 50th anniversary of City's Third Division championship and promotion to Division Two & I will be recalling the events of the famous game against Colchester. So if you have any memories please drop me an email.
Finally, following my piece about the number of home-grown players fielded by the club, Dean Nelson reminded me that on several occasions in the 1981-82 season City fielded a starting line-up containing ten players who had come through the club's youth scheme. The first time it occurred was an away draw at Swansea when the line-up was: Les Sealey, Danny Thomas, Brian Roberts, Steve Jacobs, Paul Dyson, Gary Gillespie, John Hendrie, Gerry Francis, Mark Hateley, Tom English, Steve Whitton. The substitute was Ian Butterworth making Francis the only player to have been signed from elsewhere. In addition to the 11 on duty that day, a further six homegrown players appeared that season: Peter Bodak, Ray Gooding, Martin Singleton, Garry Thompson, Peter Hormantschuk & David Barnes. 17 players all of whom came through the ranks – what would they be worth in today's inflated transfer market.