Sunday, 15 March 2015

Jim's column 14.3.15

Jon Stead came close to a record on Tuesday night. Geoff Moore alerted me to the fact that the much-travelled Bradford striker was set to play for his sixth different club at the Ricoh Arena. As it turned out he spent the whole evening on the substitute's bench.

Stead, who has played for 10 different clubs in his 12-year playing career, has appeared at the stadium for Sunderland, Derby, Ipswich, Coventry and Bristol City. He also sat on the bench for Sheffield United & played against the Sky Blues for Bradford City at Sixfields last season. His scoring record against City is very patchy – two goals in nine appearances. He scored for Derby in a 2-1 win at the Ricoh in 2006 & for Bristol City in 2011-12 at Ashton Gate in that miserable Easter Monday game that City lost 1-4, a result that virtually ensured relegation from the Championship. In that game he was also credited with City's first-half goal.

Geoff tells me that there are three other players who have played for five different clubs at the stadium. Jack Cork played there for Scunthorpe, Southampton, Coventry, Watford and Burnley, Leon Clarke (Wolves, Sheffield Wednesday, QPR, Scunthorpe and Coventry) and Jordan Stewart (Watford, Derby, Sheffield United, Notts County and Coventry).

I believe the record for the most appearances with different clubs at Highfield Road was held by Bobby Gould. The Coventry-born striker who appeared for eight different clubs in a 16-year playing career appeared for six different clubs at Highfield Road (Coventry, Arsenal, Wolves, West Brom, Bristol City and West Ham). He played against City on six occasions at the ground & scored twice (for Arsenal & West Ham).

Keith Ballantyne regularly asks me questions about Coventry City's history. Following my summary of Tony Mowbray's career last week he emailed me the following:

My mind may be playing tricks on me again Jim - I was certain that Tony Mowbray played for Ipswich at Portman Road against City in 2002. My other recollections of that game, which I think we lost 2-1 with John Eustace scoring a consolation, was Gary McSheffrey's pace constantly undoing Ipswich down the left, albeit to no avail, Gary McAllister being past his sell-by date and the appalling Jamie McMaster sporting hair more or less the same colour as his yellow shirt...

Keith's mind is playing tricks on him. Tony's last game as a player was the Championship play-off final at Wembley in May 2000. Ipswich, managed by George Burley, finished third in the regular season to qualify for the play-offs for the fourth successive year. After beating Bolton over two legs they faced Barnsley at Wembley & won 4-2 with captain Mowbray scoring the first goal. Ipswich returned to the Premiership after five years away but lasted only two years & since 2002 they have never been back in the top flight. In that game at Portman Road, sub John Eustace equalised Darren Bent's early strike but City were beaten by a late goal from their sub Pablo Counago.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Wal's catering at Highfield Road in the 1960s & 1970s. I received an email from Terry Kemble which throws more light on the novel pitchside refreshments that started in the Jimmy Hill era.

I was really pleased to read your recent article in the Coventry Evening Telegraph as Wal was my Grandfather and Reg Kemble my father (both have now sadly passed away).
I started to go with them to Highfield Road from 1963.
The lads sold tea from a tank on their backs and the pies were kept warm in a separate insulated box that was made by my father.
I think you can just see one of the lads in the main picture with your article, just to the right of George Best!
Wal ran the Oak pub in Gosford Street at this time before later moving on to the Nugget in Coundon which later changed its name to the ‘The Sky Blue’.
I believe CCFC took over part of the catering when the main stand was rebuilt (in 1968) and the catering for the rest of the ground a year or so later.
We returned to the ground in the 1975/76 season and ran the catering for three quarters of the stadium up until the early eighties when there was a change in the law re the consumption and sale of alcohol within the stadium.
The catering company originally started as Sky Blue Catering but later changed to Cater Sport Services.
They also ran the catering for the Sky Blue Special train from 1964.
Terry Kemble

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