Sunday, 14 December 2014

Jim's column 13.12.14

Sky Blue fan Ed Blackaby asked me about a game at Wembley Stadium in 1987 when Steve Ogrizovic played for a Football League Select XI versus the Rest of the World as part of the Football League's centenary celebrations. He remembers the FL side winning 3-0 and Oggy coming on as a substitute for Peter Shilton but wondered how long Oggy played for and if he made any good saves.

The game took place on Saturday 8th August, one week after City had played Everton in the Charity Shield at the old stadium. There were 61,000 present for the game & the FL side won 3-0 with goals from Bryan Robson (2) & substitute Norman Whiteside. The FL side, managed by England manager Bobby Robson, included Tottenham's Clive Allen & Richard Gough as well as Arsenal's Liam Brady. The Rest of the World team, managed by Terry Venables, included Diego Maradonna, who was booed incessantly, Michel Platini, who had retired at the end of the previous season & Barcelona's England international Gary Lineker. Oggy replaced Shilton in goal after 60 minutes but I have no knowledge about any saves he might have made.

Ed had another question about goalkeepers. He seems to remember David Speedie playing in goal during the Guinness Soccer 6 competition back in the 1980s. You are correct Ed, Speedie was City's goalkeeper during the 1988 competition held at Manchester’s G-Mex complex. Apparently Oggy had a 'dodgy shoulder' and reserve 'keeper Jake Findlay was recovering from a knee operation so 'Speedo' volunteered to play in goal. In their first game City trailed 1-2 to Newcastle with time running out. Speedie raced out of his goal & slammed home the equaliser. In the following game he had four goals put past him by Charlton but admitted that he loved the experience. Nine months later Speedie had to go in goal in a First Division match at Millwall when Oggy had to leave the pitch injured. The Scottish international striker played 45 minutes between the sticks & kept Millwall out until the last minute when an Ian Dawes thunderbolt beat him to make it 4-1 to the Lions.

Next Saturday the Sky Blues play Fleetwood Town for the first time in their history & Rod Dean emailed me recently to point out that Fleetwood is probably the smallest town to put out a team to face Coventry in their Football League history. The population of Fleetwood at the last census in 2011 was 25,939 & I can think of few towns that have faced City to be as small. In the 1925-26 season City played in the Third Division Northern Section & faced a number of clubs from small towns including Nelson & Accrington in Lancashire & Ashington in Northumberland. Ashington, a small mining town famous for producing Bobby & Jack Charlton, had a population of around 30,000 in the mid 1920s whilst Nelson's census in the 1920s was around 38,000. Rod points out that you probably have to go back to the 1914-15 season when City played in Southern League Division Two to find a club from a smaller town that Fleetwood. That season City met many clubs from South Wales, amongst them Ton Pentre, a village in the Rhonda Valley, with a population of under 5,000.

If you are looking for a stocking-filler for the Coventry City fan in your life you could do a lot worse than buy a new book on Sky Blues memorabilia. Got, not Got, the Lost World of Coventry City by Derek Hammond & Gary Silke is a nostalgic trip down memory lane, especially for fans who look back longingly at the 1960s & 1970s. Full of pictures, programmes, crazy kits, bubble-gum cards & lots of other relics from the good old days the humorous, often tongue-in-cheek book illustrates an important part of Coventry City's history & heritage. Some of the stuff will cause younger fans or the PC-brigade to choke on their Christmas pudding, for example, the City programme of the early 1970s which displayed a semi-clad female as 'Girl of the Match'. It makes one realise how naff some of the stuff was and the Sun newspaper cards from the late 1970s take the biscuit. To avoid paying for actual photos of players the Sun got an artist to draw the players with a felt-tip pen. The results were horrendous & few of the cards resembled the players. Fellow City historian Dean Nelson has lent his super collection of Sky Blues memorabilia for the book which is unashamed nostalgia. At this depressing time for City fans what better than to wallow in this book and it will be an excellent way to spend an hour or two on Christmas afternoon whilst the rest of the family fall asleep in front of The Great Escape.

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