Sunday, 28 September 2014

Jim's column 27.9.14

Coventry City played in front of two very small crowds last week with the trips to Scunthorpe & Rochdale. They were amongst the lowest post war attendances at Coventry City away league games. The list shows the twelve smallest crowds since 1945 & the Scunthorpe gate was the fourth lowest & the lowest for 12 years when City faced Wimbledon at Selhurst Park in front of a miserly 2,077. I remember attending the game & thinking that there looked less than a thousand people in the stadium & that the ‘official’ attendance had been enhanced by absent season ticket holders.

2,077 v Wimbledon 2002-03*
2,275 v Southport 1958-59
2,607 v Halifax 1961-62
2,866 v Scunthorpe 2014-15
3,229 v Colchester 2012-13 
3,261 v QPR 1962-63
3,270 v Wimbledon 1991-92*
3,360 v Newport County 1961-62*
3,375 v Stevenage 2013-14*
3,454 v Crawley 2013-14*
3,458 v Torquay 1961-62*
3,583 v Rochdale 2014-15*

* Saturday games

Saturday’s gate at Rochdale was slightly better than the Scunny crowd but at 3,583 was the seventh smallest to watch a Saturday away game since the war. It does make you wonder how these clubs survive but the two team’s victories over the Sky Blues showed that it’s not just about money, even in League One. Of course the Rochdale bogey was not broken & the defeat means that City have lost all six visits to Spotland stretching back to 1920.

Following Reda Johnson’s red card at Scunthorpe, several people asked me what City’s record was in games when they were reduced to ten men. Johnson is only the fourth City player dismissed since we left the Championship in 2012. Jordan Stewart was the culprit at Walsall in 2012-13 & last season Dan Seabourne  & Carl Baker received their marching orders. You have to go back to February 2010 for the last time City won a game with 10 men. By coincidence Scunthorpe were the visitors to the Ricoh when Leon Barnett received a red card after 59 minutes. City were leading 1-0 through a Jon Stead goal at the time & extended their lead on 68 minutes through Sammy Clingan before Grant McCann scored a consolation in the 83rd minute. City hung on to win 2-1.

Since then City have had eleven men dismissed & have drawn two & lost nine of those games. The eleven red cards were for: Marlon King (2), Carl Baker (2), Aron Gunnarsson, Martin Cranie, Gael Bigirimana, Richard Keogh, Stewart, Seabourne & Johnson.

The last time City won an away game with ten men was in the Eric Black era in 2004 at Cardiff when loanee Peter Clarke was ordered off after 24 seconds but City managed to win 1-0 thanks to a Gary McSheffrey penalty. It was a good period for the Sky Blues – the win at Ninian Park was City’s fourth away win in a row.

Prompted by the news in August that England Ladies player Fara Williams had won her record 130th international cap, Mr R A Berry wrote in asking what happened to Cobi Jones who played briefly for the Sky Blues in 1994-95 season.  The dread-locked Jones was a US international who had impressed at the 1994 World Cup. City chairman Bryan Richardson had tried to sign his US teammate Alexei Lalas who chose Italian club Padova instead. Jones was his second choice & arrived in September 1994, around the time Dion Dublin & Steven Pressley arrived at the club, and made his debut as a substitute in a 2-1 home win over Leeds United. His mazy run was ended by Chris Fairclough’s challenge in the penalty area & Paul Cook scored from the resulting penalty. Cobi made 25 appearances (18 starts, 6 subs) & scored two goals, the only goal in a home victory over Norwich & the other in the famous 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace which preceded Phil Neal’s sacking & the appointment of Ron Atkinson. After Big Ron’s arrival Jones only made two sub appearances.

He returned to the States that summer & after impressive appearances for his country in the Copa America was signed by Brazilian club Vasco da Gama. After just four games in Brazil he was back in the USA & joined Los Angeles Galaxy for the inaugural MLS season in 1996. In eleven seasons with Galaxy he played over 300 MLS games & twice helped them to lift the MLS Cup as well as being voted US Athlete of the Year in 2005. When he finally retired from international football he had won 164 caps & played at three World Cups. He was a coach at Galaxy & worked under Ruud Gullit before being caretaker boss in 2008 when the Dutchman was sacked & then worked under his successor Bruce Arena. He left Galaxy in 2011 & has since worked for New York Cosmos but is now back in California working in the media covering his beloved Galaxy. His shirt number of 13 has been officially retired by the club.

Cobi won more caps for the USA than any other player & his record of 164 caps is the seventh highest in world football.

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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