Sunday, 10 April 2016

Jim's column 10.4.2016

Martyn Harris emailed me recently. He and his wife left Coventry over 40 years ago and now live in Cheshire. They have always followed the Sky Blues progress. Recently they we were reminiscing about games watched, and remembered the game when there as a horrible incident where City captain Roy Barry broke his leg. Could I tell him when this happened and who were City's opponents..

The incident happened at a home game with Sheffield Wednesday on 14th March 1970. With twelve minutes gone, City trailed 1-0 to a Jack Whitham goal. Barry and Wednesday's Tommy Craig went for a 50-50 ball in midfield and Roy came off worst, suffering a broken leg. It was immediately clear that he was seriously injured and he left the field on a stretcher as referee Clive Thomas booked the prostrate defender. The injury visibly affected the whole team – they had lost their inspirational leader – and although Jeff Blockley headed an equaliser before half-time the team looked a shadow of the side that had deservedly been in the top six for most of the season.
                                                                  Roy Barry

Few players in City’s history have had the instant impact that Roy had when Noel Cantwell signed him from Dunfermline for £40,000 in October 1969. Signed as George Curtis’s replacement the Scottish hard man had been one of the driving forces in Dunfermline's success north of the border. In his first appearance, as a substitute at Stamford Bridge he was on the wrong end of hardman Ron Harris' boot and suffered a broken nose. Two weeks later he took over from Curtis and the team won eight of the next ten games and lay fourth in the table, established – for the time being - in the top elite of the First Division. Following Barry's tragic injury the team lost only one of the next eight games, finishing sixth and securing a European place for the following season.

Roy's recovery was long and hard and it was 14 months before he returned to first-team action and he went on to play almost 100 games for the club he was never quite the same player again. He joined Crystal Palace in 1973 and subsequently returned to Scotland with Hibs and East Fife. A brief managerial career took him to Nuneaton and Oxford United where he was caretaker boss when the team came to Coventry for a cup game in 1982. He has been back in Dunfermline for many years but has been a visitor to a number of Legends Days at the Ricoh.

Following my piece on friendlies with Scottish club Morton last week, regular reader Ed Blackaby asked me about a friendly with Rangers in the early 1990s. In July 1991 City travelled to Scotland for a pre-season tour which included a four-team tournament at Kilmarnock FC. City manager Terry Butcher had used his contacts north of the border to get City an invitation to the tournament, held over the weekend of 3rd and 4th of August, which included the hosts Kilmarnock, Rangers and Dutch side Sparta Rotterdam. As a warm up for the tournament City, who based themselves in the town of Troon, played a friendly with Ayr United, which they lost 3-1.

The day after the defeat at Ayr there was a major upset in the City camp as three senior players (Lloyd McGrath, Trevor Peake and Kenny Sansom) were disciplined after what was exaggeratedly described as a 'drinking spree' in a team's hotel. All three were sent home and fined and club captain Peake was sold to Luton two weeks later.

City's shell-shocked team gave a good account of themselves on Day 1 of the contest, drawing 1-1 with Rangers but losing 4-3 on penalties. Substitute Paul Furlong looked to have won the tie with an 83rd minute goal but John Spencer grabbed a last minute equaliser before Sandy Robertson (later signed by City) missed an injury-time penalty. The following day Killie and Rangers fought out the final, Rangers emerging winners, whilst City lost 2-1 to Sparta in the 3rd place play-off.

City's team against Rangers was:
Ogrizovic: Borrows, Edwards, Robson, Pearce, Billing, Woods, Gynn, Drinkell (sub Furlong), Gallacher, Smith.

In the Sparta game Butcher gave starts to other members of the squad, Martyn Booty, David Titterton, Dean Emerson and Robert Rosario whilst the small band of City fans had one of the earliest glimpses of a young Zimbabwean striker called Peter Ndlovu, who came on as a substitute.


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