Sunday, 20 September 2015

Jim's column 19.9.2015

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about City's inability to beat Southend United at home. You have to go back to the early 1960s to find the last time City beat the Shrimpers in a league game, although the teams have only met on a few occasions in the intervening years. Arthur Warner of Binley wrote to me with his memories of an earlier game against the Essex club:

Your article took me back to when I was about 9 or 10 in the mid 1950s a Third Division South game against Southend. It had been raining heavily all that Saturday morning, so dad said we'll go into the covered end (West End), behind the goal. He always went   on the Kop so it was a bit of a treat for me to go in the covered end. I seem to remember that the game was played in heavy rain and the pitch was a mud bath. I remember City had former England cap Jack Lee at centre-forward. He could have had a hat trick but the ball kept sticking in the mud in the goalmouth. I remember little Peter Hill playing and two of my favourites, Alan Moore and Reg Matthews. The game was abandoned I think half way through the second half with the City winning 3 or 4-1. What brings me to remember this game was that the City lost the rearranged fixture 3 or 4-1 later in the season. Hopefully you can put the record straight for me. Another game I remember against Southend when they upset the apple cart, was played on a Friday night - can't remember the reason why -in our 1964 promotion year and they beat City 5-2 . Can't remember whether it  rained or not that Friday night though.

The abandoned game Arthur remembers so well is not part of City's official records but I do have the details. It was played on Saturday 26th March 1955 and City led 3-1 when the referee abandoned the game because of heavy rain in the 68th minute. Barry Hawkings, Colin Collindridge & Jack Lee netted the goals in front of a tiny crowd of 4,100. City's line up was as follows:
 Reg Matthews: Ken Jones, Roy Kirk: Iain Jamieson, Martin McDonnell, Frank Austin: Alan Moore, Barry Hawkings, Jack Lee, Peter Hill, Colin Collindridge. At the time the attendance would have been the smallest crowd to watch a City home game since the 1920s but it didn't enter the record books. Ten days later the gate dropped to 3,936 for the visit of Newport County.

                                                  Coventry City 1954-55

The Southend game was re-arranged for a midweek game in early May & Arthur's memory is good, City lost 1-4 with Jock Lockhart netting a hat-trick for the Shrimpers in front of a crowd of 7,303.

Arthur also remembers the game in 1967 when Bobby Gould became the first Coventry-born player to score a top-flight hat-trick.

I was at the Burnley game when Bobby got his hat trick and gave us a 5-1 win, and l can remember the story on the back page of the Telegraph on the Monday was that manager Noel Cantwell said that he would not sell Bobby for £100,000 on that performance. Big money back then, but as usual we could not keep him, and a couple of months later he was sold to Arsenal for £90,000. As you know the £90,000 was spent on Neil Martin from Sunderland who was a good replacement and scored many important goals for us.

The recent Southend home game saw City's two goals scored by central defenders, Reda Johnson & Sam Ricketts. Sam Gayton wondered when the last time that two central defenders scored in the same City game. It was a great question & I had to dig deep to find the answer. It was back on New Years Day 1997 when City drew 2-2 at home to Sunderland in a Premier League game. City went into the game on a four-game winning run but trailed to a 6th minute Michael Bridges goal. Dion Dublin (playing in defence) headed City level four minutes later. After 18 minutes Steve Agnew put the visitors ahead again from the penalty spot after Liam Daish brought down John Mullin. Ten minutes later Daish made amends as he headed an equaliser. City looked the more likely winners until Dublin was sent off by Graham Poll five minutes before the break after retaliating against Bridges.

After the game City were in 12th place in the table, and Sunderland one place higher. Both sides however struggled in early 1997 – Sunderland won only four out of 17 games – and on the final day of the season City saved themselves with that famous win at Tottenham, a result which sent Sunderland down.

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