Monday, 1 May 2017

Jim's column 29.4.2017

It's very sad to report the death of former City player Ray Paul who passed away two weeks ago, aged 94. Ray only came on to the CCFPA radar last year when he attended Legends Day for the first time. Growing up Ray was an outstanding all round sportsman who, at the age of 16, was offered trials for the England Schools Rugby team but his father would not let him attend. He was also a talented gymnast, keen swimmer and squash player who at the age of 50 finished 4th in a national squash competition. Football however was his first love and as the son of Nuneaton Borough trainer George Paul he made his mark at Manor Park. A quick centre forward, Ray became a striking sensation with the ‘Boro’ scoring 42 goals in the 1941-42 season and 119 goals in 83 games up to the end of World War Two.

Ray turned out for Coventry City as a guest player in the wartime Football League North and scored 8 goals in his ten appearances. He made his debut in a 4-1 defeat for the City in September 1944 at the Hawthorns v West Brom. Two weeks later he scored a hat-trick on his home debut in a 4-3 victory over Port Vale and went on to score eight goals in ten starts for the Bantams. In the same Coventry side at the time were City stalwarts such as George Mason, Walter Metcalf and Billy Frith.

Ray also played as guest in six games for Nottingham Forest up to 1945-46. He finished his career with Atherstone Town in 1948 and later ran a wallpaper shop in that town.

His daughter Tessa Newbold contacted me to tell me the sad news: 'He had been in a nursing home following a serious health episode last August and his dementia and prostate cancer finally got the better of him, although he was still fighting and insisting that he still felt absolutely fine up to the last week.

'The timing of his invitation the Legends Day last year was perfect.  As I am sure you noticed, he was already in the grip of dementia, but he absolutely loved the day and didn't stop talking about it for weeks.  Many thanks once again for giving both him and us a very special time.  He remembered that when most other things left his mind immediately.  His programme for the day and his FPA tie were never far from his hand so he could show any visitor - usually several times!'

Ray's funeral will take place at St James's Church, Colwall, Worcestershire on 11 May at 2.30pm and all are welcome.

City's final home game against Walsall last week saw them sign off with another home win, making it four wins and a draw from their final five games. It is remarkable to think that the team didn't lose a home game until the second Saturday in November and were unbeaten in 11 home league and cup games (14 if you count last season!). Between November and March it all went wrong with one home league win and one draw in 10 games, despite three Checkatrade victories. The average league attendance for the season was 9,203, a drop of almost 27% on 2015/16, and the lowest average since the club were elected to the Football League in 1919, apart from the season at Northampton. When away fans are stripped out of the figures the average City fans attended home games was 8,243, a fall of 29%.

Two weeks tonight at Nailcote Hall, Berkswell, there is a reunion of the Boys of '87 to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of our victory at Wembley. All of the '87 team bar Brian Kilcline and David Phillips will be present for what promises to be a great evening.

To buy tickets (£50 per person) ring Nailcote on 02476 466174 or email at Please consult the venue’s website for further details.

This is the final column of the season – next week will be my statistical review of the campaign. Keep the history questions coming – they will be dealt with next season. I hope all my readers have an enjoyable season and can forget about the woes of our football club for a time!

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