As I write this the finishing touches are being made to the Jimmy Hill celebration that took place at the Cathedral last night. I hope it was a successful event – the hard work from all the parties involved deserved to be rewarded – and today our attention turns to Legends Day.
It is the ninth Legends Day since the Former Players Association was formed in 2007 and as usual there will be a host of stars at today's game. Legends Day has caught the attention of City supporters with over 500 people will be enjoying hospitality today. Amongst the guests will be a good contingent of the Hill family, including at least three of his children.
Hopefully 1987 FA Cup final skipper Brian Kilcline has arrived safely from Portugal and Bill Glazier is jetting in from Spain. There are lots more of City's former stars attending including Ian Wallace, Bobby Gould, Garry Thompson and Greg Downs. It promises to be another memorable day and I would encourage fans to be at their seats for the half-time parade of the stars and give them a fantastic reception.
I mentioned last week that a 'new' member, 93-year old Ray Paul, was attending and he is very excited about what will be his first visit to the Ricoh. A centre forward, Ray, who was the son of a trainer of near neighbours Nuneaton Borough, joined his dad and became a striking sensation with the ‘Borough’ scoring 42 goals in the 1941-42 season. Ray turned out for Coventry City as a guest player in the wartime Football League North and scored 8 goals in his ten appearances. He made his debut in a 4-1 defeat for the City in September 1944 at the Hawthorns v West Brom. Two weeks later he scored a hat-trick on his home debut in a 4-3 victory over Port Vale and went on to score eight goals in ten starts for the Bantams. In the same Coventry side at the time were City stalwarts George Mason, Walter Metcalf and Billy Frith. Ray also played as guest in six games for Nottingham Forest up to 1945-46. I'm looking forward to finding out what became of Ray after the war but I believe he played for Atherstone Town and ran a wallpaper shop in that town.
Ray is definitely the earliest surviving player to become a member of CCFPA but Colin Collindridge at 96 is our oldest surviving former player but wasn’t signed for the City until 1954. Another member Jack Lovering who is also 93 was a WW2 junior for CCFC but didn’t make his first team debut for the Bantams until 1946.
Before last week's game at Vale Park Mike Prince asked me if City had played a friendly there in the late 1970s. He remembers going as a boy with his dad. The only friendly in that era was on 10 August 1976 when Gordon Milne took his team to the Potteries for a pre-season game. City won 3-0 with goals from David Cross (2) and Alan Green. The team was: Blyth: Coop, Holmes, Craven, Lloyd (Brogan), Dugdale, Beck (Cartwright), Green, Cross, Murphy (Ferguson), Powell.
Keith Ballantyne emailed me recently. He had been watching a video of City's final game at Highfield Road in 2005 which resulted in a 6-2 victory for the Sky Blues. He commented that Andrew Whing scored very quickly after coming on as a substitute and wondered if it was the quickest goal ever by a City sub. I watched the video myself and timed Whing's goal at 55 seconds after coming off the bench. There are several contenders for the title of fastest goal by a sub. In addition to Whing there are three other City subs who scored, according to match reports, 'within a minute' of coming on: John Beck at West Brom in a 3-3 draw in 1978, Noel Whelan v Burnley in the FA Cup in 2000 and Laurent Delorge at Sheffield United in 2001 (his first touch in league football). Unless anyone has evidence to the contrary I believe the fastest was recorded by Wayne Andrews at Barnsley in 2006. Wayne's goal (on his debut) came 23 seconds after he came off the bench for Leon McKenzie. Andrews' career at Coventry was severely hampered by injuries and in his two years at the club he never started a game but made 10 substitute appearances but never scored another goal.