A couple of weeks ago I wrote about some postcards of old Coventry City teams given to me by John Feeney and they generated some interest amongst readers. Fellow historian Mike Young confirmed that the 1904 picture was taken 'behind the grandstand' before the home game with Walsall on 17th September. Mike was also able to shed more light on G. Beale who was dressed in civvies in the team picture. He believes it is George Beale, a centre-forward from Walsall who played (and scored) in the second pre-season public trial match on 27th August when his team (the Stripes) lost 6-3 to the 'Blues'. Beale wasn't signed on by the club so Mike is mystified as to why he should still be knocking around for the photo more than a fortnight later.
'Eli' Juggins was the club's trainer in the postcard of the 1912-13 team picture and I had a lovely email from Laurie Bird of Rugby regarding his ancestor.
Congratulations on an interesting article on Coventry City's history. I was pleased to see my uncle got a mention as trainer in the 1912 photo. You refer to him as ‘Eli’ Juggins, whereas his full name was Eleader Juggins. Apparently his mother named all her kids from the Bible! He was in fact the brother of my mother’s mother, so I guess that makes him my great uncle?
He was born 15 June 1880 in Darlaston, near Walsall and initially played for Wolves. He was transferred to Coventry in 1907 and went to live in a club house at 78 Nicholls Street. The employment situation was such that all the family moved with him to Coventry, as he was the main earner. The house later passed to other landlords and was occupied by other members of the family until they actually bought it in the 1950s and eventually sold it around 1970.
Family folklore has it that when he was first transferred to Coventry he used to cycle from Darlaston for training, then hide his bike as footballers weren’t allowed to ride bikes as he use to say ‘it slows you up’! Whether he did this just a few times or on a regular basis I’ve no idea, but if it was even once it shows the era they lived in.
The book ‘Coventry – A Complete Record 1883-1991’ by Rod Dean (with your help) shows Eleader Juggins as playing for Coventry from 1907-08 season to 1911-12 making 110 appearances and scoring 9 goals. He played at right back and I believe he was a regular penalty taker. Of course in those days, even before the ‘stopper centre half’, the full backs were the main defenders. The photos on pages 12 and 15 show him first a player then trainer. The book incorrectly calls him Eleander Juggins and goes on to explain that in 1914 he went to Southampton. This would have been very brief as before long he returned to Coventry to keep a pub in Hillfields. Shortly afterwards he fought in World War 1 after which he returned, minus a finger. His younger brother, Sam, was less fortunate, losing a leg.
Apparently the pub was in a bad way when he returned and he moved into the fish and chip business. He set up a shop appropriately called ‘The Bantam’ situated in Caludon Road, overlooking the railway bridge and within sight of Cov’s ground. I remember the shop in the 1940s, when people used to queue for fish and chips right round the corner into Brighton Street. That’s all disappeared now, with the new road displacing the goods railway line. His son (also Eleader) took over the shop until a fire in the mid-fifties forced closure.
I remember he used to grumble about his knees, saying this is what came from “tecking all them penalties for Coventry City”! He later lived in another house in Nicholls Street, almost opposite no.78 and he died around 1960 when he would have been about 80.
A right full-back, Juggins was a stalwart in the City defence between 1907-1912 and is pictured in the team photograph from 1908 as City prepared for their first season in the Southern League.
On the question of Eli's name I wasn't convinced that Eleader was a biblical name and wondered if his christian name was perhaps Eleazer (definitely a biblical name). I sought the help of Michael Joyce, one of the leading people on footballers' ancestry who was able to support Laurie's view that he was definitely christened Eleader. Michael also advised that he was born in 1882 and all the available censuses confirm this as does his death record in September 1966. There is also no record of him appearing as a player for Southampton in 1914 but Laurie thinks he may have taken a similar role to the one he left at Coventry i.e. as a trainer, especially as his predecessor Jimmy McIntyre had moved to the Dell from Coventry in 1912. As wore broke out in the summer of 1914 he possibly never took up the position.
I also wrote about a City friendly game in Derry in 1948 and said that Wally Soden was probably the first instance of Coventry City using a substitute. Mike Young pointed out that that honour went to Dennis Simpson who replaced 'Plum' Warner in a friendly game against Danish club Aarhus during City's tour to Denmark in 1946. It seems Wally was the second substitute used in a friendly game.