Sunday, 21 December 2014

Jim's column 20.12.14

My Greatest ever Christmas games

With Christmas almost upon us I thought I would compile my Top Ten Coventry City Christmas games. I have been watching the club for over 50 years and there have been many great festive games, many at home, some away. Of course my most memorable festive games are Sky Blue victories but there have been some tremendous games that didn't result in a City victory. There was the spectacular on ice in 1962 when City came from 3-1 down to share the points with league leaders Peterborough at Highfield Road, the first Christmas game in Division One in 1967 when City held the mighty Liverpool to a 1-1 draw with Ian St John flooring City's Brian Lewis with a left hook that Muhamed Ali would have been proud of. I wasn't there, but the Christmas Day 1937 game at Bramall Lane must have been a cracker. City & the Blades were first & second in the Second division table at the start of play & City took a two-goal lead only to succumb to the Blades attacking might & lost 2-3 in front of a massive holiday crowd of 49,000.

Sadly there have been few Christmas crackers in recent years but the last two seasons victories feature. I cannot recall a single exciting Christmas game since we moved to the Ricoh in 2005. Let's hope that will change this year against Chesterfield.

Some readers will have their personal favourites that I haven't included – let me know your favourite Christmas games.

So my top ten, in reverse order, is as follows:

  1. 2013 City 4 Peterborough 2

Lee Tomlin & Britt Assombalonga inspired an impressive Posh first-half performance at Sixfields & City were lucky not to be more than 1-2 down at the break. In the second half City's dynamic duo of Leon Clarke & Callum Wilson took over & City raced to an impressive 4-2 win – the first time they have come from behind twice to win at home since Christmas 1997.

9. 1966 City 4 Rotherham 2

On Boxing Day 1967, Jimmy Hill’s Sky Blues faced Rotherham and a brace from Bobby Gould and further goals from Ian Gibson and Ron Farmer secured the win. Rotherham goalkeeper Alan Hill had to leave the field with a broken finger sustained trying to stop Gould's second goal. John Galley deputised & was at the centre of controversy when a City fan climbed out of the West End & attacked him. The win kept City in second place behind Wolves but four points covered the top eleven teams.

  1. 1982 City 3 Manchester United 0

Dave Sexton's young lions jumped to fifth place with a comprehensive victory over Ron Atkinson's team. Peter Hormantschuk's first senior goal set the Sky Blues on the way & Mark Hateley scored the second before half-time. Jim Melrose sealed the win twenty minutes from time as Gerry Francis outshone England star Ray Wilkins.

  1. 1964 City 3 Preston 0

City legend George Hudson gave one of the great individual performances on an ice-bound pitch. The score-line flattered Preston as they barely have a shot & could have shipped six or more. 'The Hud' sets up Ernie Machin's early headed goal & his delightful chip over the 'keeper makes it 2-0. Humphries scores a third – set up by Hudson – for City's first home win in seven.

  1. 2012 MK Dons 2 City 3

5,000 City fans travelled to Milton Keynes & saw a thrilling comeback victory that lifted the Sky Blues into the top ten after a miserable start to the season. Mark Robins' team were trailing to an early Powell goal when Franck Moussa dribbled through & hit a thunderous goal. Ryan Lowe restored the home side's lead but two Stephen Elliott goals early in the second-half had the Sky Blue Army celebrating a famous victory.

  1. 1999 City 3 Arsenal 2

A Boxing Day thriller for the Sky cameras as Gordon Strachan's 'Entertainers' beat Wenger's side. Gary McAllister's long shot took a deflection & Hadji made it 2-0 just before the break with a superb header. Freddie Ljungberg pulled one back before a delicate chip from Robbie Keane sealed the win. Suker's late goal made no difference to the outcome.

  1. 1992 City 3 Aston Villa 0

Mick Quinn had rejuvenated Bobby Gould's team's season with eight goals in five games since his move from Newcastle & the burly striker led the way to victory over Big Ron's Villa team. In eight second-half minutes Quinn, with two & Robert Rosario put a big dent in Villa's title hopes before the fog descended & threatened the game.
  1. 1997 City 3 Manchester United 2

Alex Ferguson's champions & league leaders were turned over by a thrilling City comeback. City came from 1-2 behind to win with Dion Dublin, a penalty, and star of the show Darren Huckerby, scored in the last four minutes. Huckerby dribbled past the whole United defence before slotting home for one of the most famous Highfield Road goals.

  1. 1987 City 4 Tottenham 3

City's biggest league crowd for six years, 22,000, saw a Christmas cracker. Twice, goal-machine Clive Allen gave Spurs the lead before Dave Bennett's brace on the hour swung the game City's way. Nico Claessen levelled the scores with six minutes left but Cyrille Regis headed the winner in the final minute to give City their first home win over Spurs in 13 years in what was a preview of the Wembley classic the following May.

  1. 1977 City 5 Norwich 4

Sensational, breathtaking, unbelievable! One of the greatest games ever seen at Highfield Road, with goalkeeper Jim Blyth saving Jim Ryan's last-minute penalty to clinch the win. Gordon Milne's team were having a great season & have netted 39 goals already. Ian Wallace's second goal, a bicycle-kick, was a stunner and Barry Powell (penalty), Ray Gooding, Bobby McDonald & Ray Graydon netted the other goals.

Next week I will be setting my Festive Quiz, in the meantime, I wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas.

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