Monday, 26 December 2016

Jim's column 24.12.2016

John Feeney is a collector of Coventry City memorabilia and recently gave me copies of two postcards of City teams from over 100 years ago asking for more details.

The first one is undated but has the names of the players. I'm pretty sure it was taken at Highfield Road before a game and the 11 players only ever played together once, on 17th September 1904 v Walsall. City won the Birmingham League game 2-0 with goals from Belton and Banks. The line up was: Harry Whitehouse: John Kearns, Billy Spittle, H Jones, H King, F Court, S Edwards, E Clive, Tom Belton, Bertie Banks (captain), G Archer. Also in the picture are secretary/manager Michael O'Shea (far right back row), trainer S Bullivant (far left, back row) and a G Beale who I cannot trace. The team are wearing royal blue shirts with white shorts.

The second postcard is of the 1912-13 squad which was playing in the Southern League and includes 25 players plus the secretary/manager Robert Wallace, the chairman David Cooke, two other directors Messrs Turrall (with a cigarette in his mouth) and Collingbourne, two trainers Eli Juggins and Tom Arnold, and the groundsman. The kit is royal blue with white sleeves and a white yoke. The players include the famous goalkeeper Bob Evans who was City's first international – he won 10 caps for Wales. This was Bob's last of five seasons at Highfield Road and he left for Birmingham the following summer.

Steve Bell was in contact recently asking about a couple of friendly games City played in Northern Ireland in May 1948. Under manager Billy Frith, City had finished 10th in Division Two with the help of a seven-game run-in with only one defeat. A week after the season ended City travelled by coach and boat to Belfast where on 10th May they met Linfield, winning 3-2 thanks to a Peter Murphy hat-trick. Two days later they were in Londonderry beating Derry City 5-0 with goals from Norman Lockhart (2), Plum Warner, Wally Soden and Alex McIntosh.

City's team for both matches was: Alf Wood: Harry Barratt, Dennis Tooze, Ron Cox, George Mason, Stan Smith, Plum Warner, Alex McIntosh, Ted Roberts, Peter Murphy, Norman Lockhart. Soden, recently signed from Boldmere St Michaels and who had made only one first team start, was a substitute for Roberts) in the Derry game – probably the first instance of the club using a substitute. The picture was taken at the start of that season & includes six of the team that played in Northern Ireland.

Whilst writing this column the news has come through that Russell Slade has been appointed as the club's new manager. Slade has a reasonable record in this division but of course is not the first Slade to sit in the club's managerial chair. In February 1931 Bill Slade, a director of the club, took over as caretaker manager following the departure of Jimmy McIntyre. Slade, who never played professional football, was in charge for 16 games until Harry Storer was appointed at the end of the season. Bill became manager of Walsall a year later and led them to their famous FA Cup victory over the mighty Arsenal in 1933 with a team that included five ex-City players that Slade had signed for the Saddlers.

Merry Christmas to all my readers and lets hope for a better 2017.

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