The fabulous 5-0 victory at Crewe's Gresty Road ground two weeks ago had me scrabbling through the records again, something I've had to do a lot during this exciting season. Adam Armstrong finally got the hat-trick he deserved after so many braces (five in total) and after failing to score an away goal since August. He certainly made up for it at Crewe and even dispatched a penalty, something few City players have shown proficiency at in the last two seasons.
It was the first hat-trick by a City player in an away game for 14 years - since Lee Hughes at the same ground in 2002 – and only the third in the last 20 years, the other being Darren Huckerby at Elland Road in April 1998. That memorable season of 1997-98 when City were denied a place in the FA Cup semi finals in a penalty shoot-out at Bramall Lane, was the last time City had two league hat-tricks in a season with Huckerby's partner in crime Dion Dublin snatching the first in a famous 3-2 opening day victory over a star-studded but petulant Chelsea.
Earlier in the season Armstrong became the second youngest City player to score two goals in a game, narrowly failing to beat Tommy English's record. However Adam did manage to smash English's record as the youngest hat-trick scorer. Adam, at 18 years and 326 days is just over six months younger than English was when he scored three of the City's goals in a 4-1 home win over Leicester City in March 1981. English was a prodigious talent but his goalscoring feats don't stand up against the man from Tyneside – English took 50 league appearances to reach 16 league goals, Armstrong took 22.
Other young hat-trick scorers for City have been Ronnie Rees who scored three in the 8-1 thrashing of Shrewsbury in 1963-64 at the age of 19 years and 201 days and Willie Carr was only a few weeks older when he netted three in a 3-1 home victory over West Brom in 1969. Bobby Gould, Mark Hateley and Ian Wallace all scored hat-tricks for the club before they reached their 21st birthday.
City scoring five goals in a game was commonplace in the 1930s and the team earned the nickname of the 'Old Five' because they hit a nap hand so often. Between 1931 and 1936 the team scored 350 goals in 105 home league games, an average of more than three a game, losing only eleven games. The Crewe victory was the first time City have scored five in a league since the first game at Sixfields in August 2013 when they defeated Bristol City 5-4. You have to go back to November 2012 for the last five goal winning margin – at Hartlepool. The Crewe victory was only the second time that City have won an away game by a 5-0 scoreline, the first being that Hartlepool game.
It was only the ninth time in 52 years that City have scored five or more goals on their travels. The previous eight are:-
November 2012 5-0 at Hartlepool
April 2008 5-1 at Colchester
May 2004 5-2 at Gillingham
January 2004 6-1 at Walsall
February 2002 6-1 at Crewe
January 1998 5-1 at Bolton
January 1993 5-2 at Blackburn
May 1982 5-5 at Southampton
Before that you have to go back to November 1963 when City won 6-3 at QPR, after which the QPR manager Alec Stock described Jimmy Hill's team as 'the best Third Division side I have ever seen'.
Finally a comment about the attendances. At the start of the season I predicted that if we were in the top six at Christmas we would be getting 15,000 crowds and the Boxing Day crowd exceeded that. On Tuesday night there was a slight but expected dip to 15,671 – still the best January home league crowd since 2008.
If you strip out the away fans (1,359) there were 14,312 'home' supporters. Exactly a year before, against Swindon, there were 6,594 'home' fans in a crowd of 7,098. That makes an increase of 117% from a year ago, a phenomenal jump and a reflection not only on City's elevated league position but also the outstanding home form which has combined results with attractive football.