The rights & wrongs of Coventry City's sojourn at Northampton last season have been discussed Ad nauseam but one of the major downsides for me was that the Former Players Association were unable to put on their annual Legends Day last season. Today Legends Day returns to the Coventry City calendar for the first time in two years & around 40 ex-Sky Blues will be at the Ricoh Arena to meet up with their former playing colleagues, enjoy a nice lunch, courtesy of the football club, & receive the traditional half-time ovation from City's supporters.
The former players attending include several making their first ever appearance at a Legends Day including former Irish international Gerry Daly, John Tudor, who cut his teeth as a young man before going on to form a formidable striking partnership with Malcolm Macdonald at Newcastle, and all being well, David Thompson, who gave his all for the club in the Premiership relegation season & whose rip-roaring goals kept City in the promotion race for so long the following season.
As usual the former players will include representatives from all eras from Brian Nicholas of the 1950s to Claus Jorgensen, a stalwart of the Ricoh era. Last season's absence of a Legends Day meant that CCFPA could not properly celebrate the 50th anniversary of the club's Third Division Championship under Jimmy Hill & that will be rectified by a special presentation to some of the members of that team or their relatives. The man whose goals helped fire the Sky Blues to promotion back in 1964, George Hudson, will be there, along with goalkeeper Bob Wesson, defenders Dietmar Bruck & Ronnie Farmer & Graham Newton, who, although only joined the club two months from the end of that memorable season, helped steady a Sky Blue ship which was looking decidedly wobbly on the run-in. Jimmy Hill will be represented by his son & grandson & the trainer of the team, Peter Hill, who sadly died recently, will be represented by his widow Barbara.
If you are at the game today please try & be in your seats at half-time when all of the former players will be introduced to the crowd & give the men who helped make our football club a great reception. In conjunction with Legends Day the club are urging fans to dig out a Retro shirt for the day. Although anyone wearing the swirly red away shirt from the 1990s will be turned away at the turnstiles!
City fans were rubbing their eyes in disbelief on Tuesday night after a second away win in four days. Following on from the 3-2 win at Chesterfield, Tony Mowbray's side scored two late goals to clinch a vital win at Fleetwood, in their first ever competitive game at Highbury Stadium. It was the first time the team had won back to back league games since September (the first two games back at the Ricoh) & the first consecutive away wins since February 2013 when caretaker boss Lee Carsley's team won at Bury & Steven Pressley celebrated his first win as City manager at Scunthorpe. The points were vitally important for the club's battle against relegation but several respected pundits praised the quality of the football in the victory, no doubt helped by the plush Fleetwood playing surface which suited City's passing style of football.
This week one national newspaper, talking about the sacking, by Sunderland, of manager Gus Poyet with just nine games remaining, posed the question: What’s the latest point in a season that a club has sacked a manager?
I felt obliged to remind them that in modern times Coventry City have twice sacked a manager with just one game of the season remaining. In 2002 the club’s dream ticket of Roland Nilsson and assistant Jim Smith had failed to reach the play-offs after looking odds-on certs in March and with one game of the campaign remaining they were told to clear their desks. Two years later chairman Mike McGinnity, repeated the trick.
Gary McAllister had taken over from Nilsson and managed to avoid the boot in 2002-03 but then left the club to care for his ill wife in December 2003. Eric Black replaced him and after 20 actually rather successful games in charge in 2003-04 was sacked the day after the penultimate game of the season – a 5-2 win over Gillingham – in order for the board to bring in the more “high-profile” Peter Reid. Within seven months Reid himself was sacked after failing to reverse the club's fortunes despite bringing in the high profile Tim Sherwood & Stern John.
Nilsson & Black were both sacked when there was little to play for & the club was planning ahead but in 1986 chairman John Poynton sacked manager Don Mackay with just three games remaining with relegation a distinct possibility. After a particularly spineless performance in a 0-5 defeat at Anfield & relegation looming, Poynton replaced Mackay with George Curtis & John Sillett. George & John inspired the team to win two of their three games & avoid the drop by two points. Within twelve months the Sky Blues were at Wembley and the rest, as they say, is history. It just shows how quickly things can change in football.