Sunday, 22 January 2017

Jim's column 21.1.2017

Most City fans are aware of City's poor recent record for headed goals but Geoff Moore has been researching it and has come up with some frightening statistics. He tells me that City have scored only two headed goals in league games this season. Both were scored by Marcus Tudgay (v Northampton and Bolton) and came from open play rather than from a set piece. According to Geoff this is the lowest number of headed goals in the league.

Last season we scored with six headers, all from set pieces and none from open play. Geoff tells me
that before Tudgay's efforts this season you have to go back to April 2015 and Marcus' header at Crawley for the last one. By Geoff's reckoning that is two headed goals from open play in 72 league matches!

On the flip side City are very vulnerable to headers. Last season we conceded 13 headed goals, but surprisingly only two of them were in open play (Fleetwood at home and Doncaster away). This season there have not been as many but I can recall at least three or four.

Geoff puts this in context by saying that you would expect about one in six goals to come from headers, although it obviously varies according to style of play. He adds, 'Sobering to note that Dion Dublin scored 45 headed goals in his Premier League career, many of them for the Sky Blues'.

Over the years Coventry City have had some superb headers of the ball – attackers and defenders – who scored dozens of headed goals, from Ted Roberts and George Lowrie in the 1940s through to Neil Martin (1960s), Mick Ferguson and David Cross (1970s) and the diminutive David Speedie who on two separate occasions netted a hat-trick of headed goals. What would we give for a header of the ball like those?

Keith Ballantyne wrote to ask questions about the original Premier League members in 1992-93 and how many of them have been ever present members. He also wanted to know if any of those original members had fallen to the fourth tier (Obviously anticipating a relegation for the Sky Blues this season).

Of the 22 original members the following six have never been relegated:
Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton.

Only four other original members are in the current PL: Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough, Manchester City and Southampton.

Nine clubs have fallen to tier three at some stage: Norwich, Sheffield Wednesday, Manchester City, Sheffield United, Southampton, Leeds United, QPR, Oldham and City.

None of the original members of the Premier League have fallen below the third tier so if the Sky Blues and/or Oldham get relegated this season it will be a first. Wimbledon, PL founder members in 1992-93 no longer exist in the same form. Two teams who were in the First Division in the last season prior to the formation of the Premier League have been lower. Notts County are now in League Two as are Luton Town, who have been out of the Football League.

Since 1992 three clubs have been promoted to the PL for the first time but never relegated:
Stoke 2008 (now in 9th season)
Swansea 2011 (6th season)
Bournemouth 2015 (2nd season).

Steve Pittam is a long suffering City fan – he was one of the 30 or so supporters who travelled to watch the Sky Blues in Plovdiv in their Fairs Cup campaign in 1970. He's spent many years working and living in Dubai only managing to catch the Sky Blues once a year if that. He emailed me last week to say he is retiring and hoping to get to see his team play a bit more often. He liked my article last week about Christmas games and wrote:

'your piece brought back huge memories for me. I had never heard of football until the vide-printer was on at my grandparents house on Boxing Day 1958. Torquay 1 Coventry 1 printed and I was hooked - all I knew was that I lived in Coventry, I didn’t have a clue about football (still don’t some would say!) and pestered my Dad until he took me in March to see us play Workington.'

Happy retirement Steve and look forward to seeing you in the near future.

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