10 December 1922 – 21 September 2017
It's sad to report the death of former Coventry City player John Lovering. Known in football circles as Jack, he was a half-back who played only six first team games for the club but was a regular in the London Combination reserve team and was under-study to the great George Mason in the years immediately after World War Two. At the time of his death, at 94, he was the second oldest living former player and he was the last surviving City player from the 1940s
Born in Nuneaton in 1922, one of seven children, Johnny, as he was known by his family, left school before the war and worked at the brickworks near his home in Bermuda before moving to work down the mine at the Griff Clara pit. He played a good standard of local football for Nuneaton Griff and Holbrook Old Boys FC before becoming a junior at Highfield Road. In 1945 manager Harry Storer moved to Birmingham and lured Jack to St Andrews. Things didn't work out however and he was soon back at Coventry. By the time league football re-commenced in 1946 Jack was a professional with the club and listed in the Coventry Telegraph as 5 foot 8 inches tall, weighing 9 stone 13 lbs. His elder brother Bill was also playing for the 'A' team at the time. In the second home game of the season manager Dick Bayliss gave him his debut in the Second Division. With George Mason injured Jack played at left-half in a 1-1 draw with Barnsley.
The Coventry Telegraph match report of the game by Nemo makes interesting reading:
'I must admit I went to the match fearing the possibilities of the worst for the defensive left flank – (Stan) Kelley and (Jack) Lovering – looked shaky on paper... Those fears were not founded. Lovering, by coming in for Crawley, who moved to take over from the injured George Mason, made the rocket ascent from the 'A' team through the reserves to the Second Division side and all in the space of a week. Considering he is not ready for league football just yet, Lovering did quite well, and behind him the little more experienced Kelley showed considerable improvement on last Monday's appearance.'
Jack didn't get another chance in the first team until January 1948 when, under new manager Billy Frith, he played in a 2-2 draw at Leicester and then played a further four games, three draws and a 1-0 home defeat to Southampton. His final appearance was in a 1-1 home draw with Nottingham Forest in March 1948. Then it was back to the reserve side until he was released by the club in May 1949.
He joined Bedworth Town that summer but was soon turning out for Atherstone in the Birmingham Combination. In 1951 he joined Nuneaton Borough and helped them to runners-up of the same league. In two seasons at Manor Park he made 45 league and 12 Cup appearances and played alongside many old faces from Coventry City such as George Mason, Don Dearson, Norman Smith and Eric Betts. He retired from the game in 1953 following another spell at Atherstone and some games for Bermuda.
After football he worked at Jaguar and was a test driver for them before retiring to Hinckley in the 1980s. He had a spell living in Majorca but returned to the UK. He was married to his wife Christine for 66 years before she passed away four years ago and his son Martin lives in Nuneaton. Jack suffered from Alazheimer's disease in his later years but was a member of the Former Players Association and attended an early Legends Day.CCFPA Legends Day 2007 - Jack (left) with Jack Evans, Stan Smith & Trevor Lewis.
The funeral will take place on 16th October at 12 noon at Nuneaton Crematorium followed by a wake at Attleborough Sports Club. Flowers can be sent to Devall & Son, 2 Wembrook House, The Green, Attleborough, Nuneaton, CV11 4FJ, alternatively donations to Alzheimer's Society can be made through the funeral directors.