Sunday, 28 February 2016

Jim's Column 27.2.2016

I recently had a very nice letter from Margaret Raven, daughter of the late Les Raven. Les was an avid reader of this column and used to write to me regularly with questions. Les passed away in October and amongst his effects Margaret came across a lovely postcard of a team picture of Coventry City and wondered if I had seen it. 

The picture was taken in 1929 and shows the team with a large trophy. I believe the trophy is the Lord Mayor of Coventry's Charity trophy which back in those days was played for in a friendly game between City and another Midland club at Highfield Road and raised money for the Coventry and North Warwickshire Hospital. The games were usually played towards the end of the season and opponents included Wolves, West Brom and Birmingham. The 1929 game took place on 29 April and 3,187 supporters watched City draw 4-4 with Blues with City's goals coming from Jimmy Loughlin (2), Billy Pick and John Starsmore. I can only assume that the trophy was retained by Coventry for six months and then passed to Birmingham for the next six months. If any readers can add anything else please let me know.

My comments in last week's column about the fastest goal by a City substitute has been questioned by Craig Richards. He believes Kevin Drinkell scored a goal against Aston Villa in 1990, ten seconds after coming on at Highfield Road. Fellow historian Dean Nelson supplied a video clip of the said game, a 2-0 victory, and I timed his goal as 55 seconds from when he entered the pitch. However for over 30 seconds after coming on 'Drinks' is kicking his heels as Villa's Kevin Mountfield receives treatment from the trainer but once the ball is in play he nets around ten seconds later from a corner.

The whole question revolves around how one defines 'fastest goal'. If one defines it by the time after entering the pitch then Andrews clearly has the fastest goal. The Drinkell situation however introduces the concept of playing time. The game was delayed for around 45 seconds whilst Mountfield was treated. This was not playing time, it was time that the referee would have added on at the end of the game because of an injury.

Therefore if one defines the fastest goal in terms of the playing time elapsed after coming on then Drinkell's goal is faster. One could make a case for either definition being valid. A very inconclusive situation! For the moment I will stick with my assertion that Wayne Andrews holds the record for scoring 23 seconds after entering the pitch but watch this space.

I investigated the fastest ever debut goal in league football and the record is held by a former City player. In 2004 Freddy Eastwood made his Southend debut v Swansea and netted after 7.7 seconds. He went on to score a hat-trick against a Swansea side that included a young Sam Ricketts.

Keith Ballantyne picked up on my comment that Andrews never started a first team game for the club and wondered if his ten appearances as sub without a start is a club record. The answer is yes it is a record, but last season Shaun Miller also came off the bench in ten league games without a start but did start a League Cup game. Other players to make a number of sub appearances without a start are Mathieu Manset (2013-14) with nine, Dylan McGeouch (2013-14) with eight, and Zavon Hines and Shaun Jeffers each with seven. Gary McSheffrey holds the record of the most sub appearances before making a start (11) with Gary Madine (9) and Callum Wilson (8) not far behind.

I can always rely on fellow historian and friend Geoff Moore to come up with interesting stats. He tells me that when Leon Clarke appeared at the Ricoh for Bury two weeks ago he became the first player to appear at the ground with six different clubs. The six are Wolves, Sheffield Wednesday, QPR, Scunthorpe, City and Bury. In five games in opposition colours he has managed just two goals (both for Scunthorpe in a 2-2 draw in 2012). Danny Pugh, another ex-City man now at Bury has appeared at the stadium for five different clubs.

Geoff also pointed out that we have had a 4-0 half-time lead in three games this season – Gillingham (h), Crewe (a) and Bury (h). He couldn't remember this happening in his 50 plus years watching the Sky Blues. Before this season, the last occasion was the final game at Highfield Road in 2005 when they led Derby 4-0 at the break (and went on to win 6-2). A year earlier, during the brief but exciting Eric Black era, City took a 4-0 half-time lead over Preston (winning 4-1). There were two League Cup games where a 4-0 half-time lead was taken, in 2002 v Rushden & Diamonds (final score 8-0) and in 1964 v Sunderland (final score 4-2). The previous occasion to 2004 in a league game was back in April 1963 when City beat Halifax 5-4 and George Hudson netted a first half hat-trick on his debut with Dietmar Bruck making 4-0 at the break. So in three months this season the Sky Blues have equalled their record for the last 53 years.

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