Sunday, 31 August 2014

Jim's column 30.8.14

It promises to be a memorable night at the Ricoh on Friday night with a large crowd expected for the homecoming from Northampton against Gillingham. City haven't had a home league crowd over 20,000 since March 2012 when the visit of Birmingham City attracted 22,240 to see a 1-1 draw. There were of course 31,054 for the Crewe game in the JPT Regional final in February 2013.

I thought I would take the opportunity to answer some of the questions I received during the summer. One question regarded this year's FA Cup final when Arsenal came from 0-2 down to beat Hull City. Several people asked me when that had last happened. It was 2006 when Liverpool trailed West Ham 0-2 only to force a 3-3 draw & win the trophy on penalties in Cardiff. The last time a team managed it at Wembley and without needing penalties was in 1966 when Everton came from two down to beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 with goals from Mike Trebilcock (2) & Derek Temple. That year also saw Coventry City go out of the FA Cup to the eventual winners - City losing 3-0 at Goodison Park in the fifth round. Of course City also lost to the eventual winners this season – at Arsenal in January. In answer to Craig Richards' question this was the sixth occasion. The others being 1963 (Manchester United), 1966 (Everton), 1981 (Tottenham), 1985 (Manchester United) and 2009 (Chelsea). One other interesting statistic from the FA Cup final was that Hull City were the first team to score twice in the 90 minutes and not win since Tottenham in 1987.

Dean Nelson sparked some interest on Twitter this week by pointing out the 46th anniversary of a famous evening victory over West Brom at Highfield Road. A first-half hatrick from Ernie Hunt plus a goal from Ernie Machin took City to a 4-2 victory over the Baggies – a repeat of the scoreline a year earlier in City's inaugural First Division season. The real star of the show however was Ian Gibson or 'Gibbo' as he was known by all City fans. 'Gibbo' had been left out of City's first two games of the season & had left manager Noel Cantwell in no doubt of his feelings – he wanted a move. After losing the opening two games Cantwell recalled him for the first home game against West Ham but the mercurial Scot had had a quiet game. Against Albion however he was at his irresistible best. City went ahead in the second minute when a challenge by John Kaye on Gerry Baker resulted in a penalty which the cheeky Hunt slotted past Rick Sheppard. On 15 minutes a stunning 35-yard ball from Gibbo found Hunt who slammed in a second. Former City man Ronnie Rees pulled a goal back two minutes later but Hunt struck again on 25 minutes after a jinking run by Gibbo. Machin added the fourth in the second half before a later Tony Brown effort completed the scoring. Gibson was given a standing ovation for what for me was one of the finest individual performances I have ever seen from a City player. After the game Cantwell was generous in his praise of the wee Scot, saying: 'I would be mad to sell Gibson'.

Almost exactly a year later City defeated Albion again at Highfield Road in the first home game of the 1969-70 season. Albion had been big spenders in the close season but injuries meant they had to give a debut to 19-year old goalkeeper Gordon Nisbet. Nisbet, later to convert to a full-back, had a nightmare first-half & conceded three goals from Willie Carr, playing as a striker alongside Neil Martin. Krzywicki pulled one back but City ran out 3-1 winners. A week later they completed the double with a 1-0 victory at the Hawthorns. City certainly had the Indian sign over Albion in those days.

Following my piece on Coventry City's overseas-born players I had a few questions. Ed Blackaby wanted to know if Michael Petrasso, a loanee from QPR last season, was the first Canadian to play for the club. Yes, Ed, he was, and although new signing Simeon Jackson is a Canadian international he was born in Jamaica. Clive Baskerville pointed out that Cyrille Regis, like Arphexad & Negouai, was also born in a French overseas departement, French Guyana, which qualifies him as the 16th French-born City player.

Talking of Christian Negouai (born in Martinique), Mark Page & several other readers had no recollection of this player. He was a loan player from Manchester City who played two games in 2004-05 soon after Micky Adams took over as manager. He was primarily a defensive midfielder who could also play as a striker. He made his two appearances at Newcastle in an FA Cup defeat & two weeks later in a home league defeat to Burnley. He was substituted in the latter game after a particularly uninspiring performance & returned to Man City soon afterwards. Injuries blighted his career which took him back to the continent with Standard Liege, Norwegian club Aalesund & Brussels. Whilst playing for Liege Christian was credited with the fastest goal in Belgian league history, netting after just 11 seconds.

If you have a question about Coventry City's history send me an email at & I will attempt to answer it.

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