Monday, 30 April 2018

Jim's column 28/4/2018

The nerves are jangling amongst Sky Blue fans this week after the defeat to Lincoln on Tuesday night. Instead of dwelling on that result and the two remaining vital games I thought I would respond to a few requests for information from readers.

Apologies for mentioning Lincoln City again but Mick Williams asked me about a City friendly game at Sincil Bank that he attended in the mid 1970s. Mick wrote:
It was definitely a friendly and I believe therefore it would have been pre season and I think it must have been in the mid 1970's and I think it would more than likely be around July or August 1976. It was a warm and light evening and my friend Spangle and myself had been driven there by a Coventry based work mate of mine that had a soft spot for Lincoln City. Also with us was another work mate who supported Man Utd.

We stood behind the goal in the middle of the home end and eventually Spangle and myself revealed our Sky Blue scarves. After our identities had been discovered by the Lincoln fans who we were standing amongst and who were clearly taking exception to this invasion, we were escorted out of the home end and onto a terrace along the touch line by a single policeman who was probably the only one on duty that night. He actually said "we hadn't expected any Coventry fans to travel".

The game Mick is referring to was played on 26th April 1976 and was arranged in order to celebrate the Imps winning the Fourth Division title and to present them with the trophy. Their manager was Graham Taylor and it was the first success of his managerial career. A large crowd of 9,573 saluted the champions who had lost only four league games all season and amassed 74 points (equivalent to 106 points in the modern day with three points for a win), an all-time record for any Football League division.

Coventry had finished 14th in Division 1 and took a full-strength team to Lincoln. The game ended 2-2 with Alan Green and Les Cartwright cancelling out goals by John Ward and Percy Freeman. City's line up was: Blyth: Oakey, Hindley (sub Cartwright), Craven, Dugdale, Coop, Murphy, Green, Cross (sub Ferguson), Powell, Hutchison.

Looking at the programme for that game helped to partially explain the home side's success. The chart of appearances show that eight of the team played 40 or more league games with two, goalkeeper Peter Grotier (ex-West Ham) and Ian Branfoot (ex-Sheffield Wednesday) playing 46. A settled side without injuries can have a big advantage in any season in any league.

After Marc McNulty's hat-trick against Grimsby last month several readers were keen to know which City player has scored most hat-tricks in a season for the club. Not surprisingly, first place goes to Clarrie Bourton with seven hat-tricks in 1931-32, his first season at the club, when he netted 49 league goals and was the league's leading scorer. Second place goes to George Lowrie who in 1946-47, the first league season following the war, netted five hat-tricks, including three in successive home games. In third place is Leslie Jones in 1934-35. Les, an oustanding inside-forward who joined Arsenal in 1937, netted four hat-tricks and even outscored the great Bourton with 28 goals to Clarrie's 26. Between the two goal machines they scored 54 of City's 86 goals.
                                                                        Leslie Jones

Another question came from Andy Webster who is an avid City programme collector. He has acquired a programme from a game the Sky Blues played at Eastbourne in 1964 and wanted to know more details of the game. The game was for the Eastbourne Charity Cup and I think there was a strong link between City chairman Derrick Robins and the Eastbourne cricket festival. City, who had manager Jimmy Hill in their line up, won the game 3-1 with goals from George Kirby (2) and George Hudson. The team was: Wesson, Sillett, Kearns, Brian Hill, Curtis, Jimmy Hill, Humphries, Hudson, Kirby, Smith, Rees.

Next Saturday the final home game with Morecambe is Legends Day and over 50 former players are planning to attend. City's play-off challenge will still be in the balance, barring a Mansfield defeat this weekend, and this year's event is dedicated to the memory of Cyrille Regis who will be represented by a good number of his relatives including his widow Julia. Former players from seven decades will be joining the traditional half-time parade from Lol Harvey and Brian Nicholas from the 1950s through to Dele Adebola and Andy Marshall from the 2000s.

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