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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Jim's column 24.1.15

Coventry City's under 18 team came a cropper in the FA Youth Cup at Manchester City last week, losing 8-2 to an expensively put together team of well-paid teenagers. Several readers wondered if it was the club's worst defeat in the competition. Since the Youth Cup was inaugurated in 1955 City's youth team have a fairly good record, winning the trophy once (in 1987) & being runners up on four occasions (1968, 1970, 1999 & 2000). The club's record prior to 1968, when the fruits of Jimmy Hill's emphasis on developing young talent started to emerge, was very patchy. Before this the club regularly had one or two outstanding youngsters but found it hard to put out consistent winning teams.

The worst defeat in the competition occurred just a few weeks before JH took over in November 1961. Aston Villa's juniors came to Highfield Road & inflicted a 9-1 defeat on Billy Frith's youngsters. Ralph Brown, a young Villa forward, netted seven of the goals with Fencott & a young George Graham scoring the others & Alan Cowin netting the consolation for City. City's team included just two youngsters who would break through to the first team – within a year left winger Ronnie Rees was a first team regular & a year later Bobby Gould was given his first team chance. Villa fielded five players with First Division experience & a further three also later made the first team.

By 1968 the conveyor belt of talent was beginning to churn out some excellent players & Jeff Blockley, Trevor Gould, Graham Paddon & Willie Carr were all in the class of '68. Carr's omission from the final – he was required for the first team's relegation battle – probably cost the club victory in the two-legged tie against Burnley.
                                                 1968 Youth team

City have also lost 6-1 on two occasions in the competition, in 1979 to Everton and in 1990 to Manchester City, both at home. The Everton result, in a quarter-final tie, was a surprise. City had a strong side with 10 players who would go on to represent the club at first team level & two, Danny Thomas & Mark Hateley, who would win full caps for England. City had scored 27 goals to reach the last eight with Tom English, Steve Whitton & Clive Haywood scoring for fun but came up against a very good Everton side including Kevin Ratcliffe & Steve McMahon. The match report says that Ratcliffe scored the sixth goal with a sol run from his own penalty area.

In 1990 the Manchester City side that hit six at High­field Road included several Mike Sheron & Michael Hughes, the latter whom played briefly for the Sky Blues in the Dowie era.

City's biggest victory in the competion came in 1957 when they defeated the then non-league Peterborough United 8-1. The goalscorers were Brian Hill (2), Mick Walters (2), Shropsall (2), England  & Charley. Hill & Walters went on to play for the first team & the side also included a young Arthur Cox who had to retire from playing soon afterwards & was later manager of Derby County.

A senior member of the City staff told me after the game at the mini Etihad stadium that the City lads froze on the night but that the game was part of the journey in football that can be brutal at times.

Keith Ballantyne wrote in after my recent tributes to the late Peter Hill & Ken Hale. He wrote:

I was too young to see Peter Hill play but I will always remember him dashing onto the pitch in a sky blue tracksuit with his bucket and sponge whenever someone was crocked. As for Ken Hale, my enduring memory of him was getting off the No.7 bus at Gosford Green with my Dad & I on a match day wearing a check sports jacket. I also remember his consolation goal in the 1-2 Cup defeat against Bristol Rovers, my second ever game at Highfield Road, my first having been the 3-0 win against Wrexham some weeks earlier.

Keith also wanted to know how many top flight clubs had been knocked out of the FA Cup by non-league sides since Sutton dumped City out in 1989. I'm pretty sure there has just been one, in 2013, when Luton Town pulled off a great victory at Norwich City's Carrow Road.

Tom Dentith, former chairman of the Coventry City Diamond Club, was saddened to read of the passing of Peter Hill. He wrote:

Your piece on Peter took me right back to the time I first became a City supporter and I remember him vividly. When the players returned to their football clubs after the war they were all experienced players in their twenties and thirties. It was quite a shock to see a player only seventeen years of  age looking so young  playing in the same team as much older men, Peter was the first teenager I saw  play for the City, other young players ,as you mentioned, soon followed from the Modern Machine Tool's Company  junior teams. Many thought at the time football  was a man's game until we saw the first teenager, Peter Hill, turn out in his blue and white CCFC shirt.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

JIm's column 17.115

Peter Hill (8.8.1931 – 8.1.2015)

A one-club man for all seasons.

Although Peter Hill was born & brought up in the Derbyshire village of Heanor he made his home in Coventry & gave his heart to Coventry City. Arriving in the city in 1947 as a 16-year old, he had a 16-year playing career with the club, followed by five years as the club trainer under Jimmy Hill. Later in life he returned to the club for a number of years as the kit-man at Ryton.

Educated at Heanor Grammar School, Peter was one of many Derbyshire youngsters brought to Highfield Road in the years following the war. His performances for Ilkeston team Rutland United caught the attention of several league clubs & Peter's father urged him to reject Derby County & sign for Coventry. He cut his teeth with City’s nursery club Modern Machine Tools FC alongside many other talented teenagers and played in the Coventry Works League. Lol Harvey, another son of Heanor, and four years younger than Peter, was a pal of Peter's younger brother Eric, and speaks highly of Peter: 'Growing up he was a natural sportsman & could have had a career in cricket he was that good. He was a very skilful footballer; in those days inside-forwards were expected to get up and down the pitch & needed lots of stamina, Peter had the skill & the stamina & scored more than his fair share of goals.'

His senior career started when legendary manager Harry Storer, recently back in the chair at Highfield Road after three years in charge at St Andrews, handed Peter his debut as a 17-year old at Sheffield Wednesday in a Second Division game in February 1949. Playing at inside-right, he was the club's youngest debutant at the time, aged 17 years & 181 days. He was truly a boy amongst men in a side with an average age of over 30 with team-mates such as Alf Wood, George Mason & Ted Roberts, all who had played for the club before the war. City lost 1-2 to Wednesday that day but the match report in the Coventry Telegraph was complimentary about him: 'Even under the trying conditions prevailing the five-man attack into which the 17-year old Peter Hill fitted so promisingly.... were much too good for the Sheffield defenders. Many of the 608 inhabitants of the Derbyshire village of Heanor turned out to see Hill fulfil the highest expectations at inside-right. He had a real hand in City's goal and his display all-through was another encouraging feature of his team's display. He fitted in so well that in not a single instance did he fail as a necessary adjunct to the City's scheme.' 
                                 The bus ready to go to Sheffield in 1949. Peter is far right.

He played two more games that season, a 0-0 draw at Chesterfield probably watched by another big contingency from Heanor, and a home debut in a 1-1 draw with QPR. In the latter game Nemo in the Coventry Telegraph wrote: 'Young Peter Hill was playing with the coolness of a veteran'. In between times he was honing his skills in the Football Combination with the reserves alongside players like Jack Evans, Iain Jamieson, Peter Taylor & Trevor Lewis as well as carrying out the mundane jobs that fell to apprentices in those days, such as cleaning boots & sweeping the terraces. Peter was a slight teenager - the City squad list that season showed him standing just 5 foot 5 ½ inches & weighing 9 stone 1lb

The following season, 1949-50, he played five first team games & scored his first goals, netting in consecutive games against Preston & Swansea but in 1950-51 he was restricted to just one game because of the outstanding form of Welsh international Bryn Allen & Peter's obligatory two-year spell in the Royal Artillery doing his National Service. In 1951-52 City were relegated & Peter returned from the Army in the October & played five games before becoming a regular in Division Three South the following campaign. In September 1952 he scored his first hatrick in a 3-0 home win over Leyton Orient, including two rare headed goals & around this time it was common knowledge that Arsenal were interested in signing him.

The years from 1952 to 1958 were dark days for the club with managers coming & going, boardroom disagreements & financial crises & Peter was the one constant through the period. Playing at either inside-right or left, he was never a prolific scorer but scored his fair share of goals & reached double figures on three occasions. During his time as a first team player there were three other Hills at the club which often was a cause of confusion for the press-box. Once, at Gillingham in 1958, three Hills played in the same team, Peter, Brian, a 16-year old debutant who scored, and Ray, a little-used forward. Peter & Brian both netted to increase the confusion. Nemo in the Coventry Telegraph commented: 'Yes, there's gold in them thar Hills'. Earlier Peter also played alongside Jimmy Hill, not the man later to become City's manager, but a fellow product of Modern Machine Tools. The goals kept on flowing & he netted another hatrick in a 6-0 victory over Aldershot in 1957-58.
                                                  Peter as a player in the 1950s

In 1958, after City were relegated to Division Four, manager Billy Frith switched Peter to the right-wing where his speed was put to best advantage – he was a natural on the wing & gave many full-backs a nightmare time. Injuries restricted him to 25 league appearances in 1958-59 but he was the creator of chances for the prolific scorers Ray Straw & George Stewart as the Bantams sealed promotion back to Division Three as runners up. Ankle & knee injuries kept him out of the promotion run-in & would hamper his later career. Lol Harvey remembers Straw telling Peter that season: 'get that ball into the near post & I will score'. His crossing was a feature of his game. His 11 years service at the club was rewarded in 1958 with a testimonial & his former manager Storer brought his Derby County side to Highfield Road for the occasion.

Peter returned to the side to aid City's attempt at a second successive promotion & scored a stunning goal from the right wing in the promotion battle with Norwich in April 1960, watched by almost 28,000 at Highfield Road, but they just missed out on promotion to Division Two. That season he also pitted his wits against First Division opposition as City became the first non-First Division side to lift the Southern Floodlit Cup (a pre-League Cup competition), beating top flight sides Fulham & West Ham on the way. The match report from the Fulham victory describes Peter as 'outshining England captain Johnny Haynes' & in the final he came up against a young Bobby Moore.

1960-61 was his last season as a regular & he had his best scoring record with 12 league goals in a struggling City team. Injuries kept his first team appearances down in 1961-62 but in November 1961 he was a member of the City team humbled by Southern League Kings Lynn in the FA Cup, an event that sparked the arrival of Jimmy Hill as manager. His widow Barbara told me that he knew after the Kings Lynn game that it was time to pack in & Peter made one final senior appearance, at home to QPR in March 1962, before hanging up his boots at the premature age of 30. A succession of bad knee injuries had taken their toll on him but Jimmy asked him to stay on & be the first-team trainer. He became the man with the 'magic sponge' & was the first man on the scene to tend the serious injuries of Ernie Machin, Bill Glazier & George Curtis.
                                                   Peter as trainer in the Jimmy Hill era

Peter played 309 senior games for the club, the third highest by a City player at the time, and still the 14th highest of all-time. His 78 senior goals is second only to Ray Straw in the post-war period, and the fifth highest in the club's history.

After leaving the club in 1967 he went to work at the Morris factory at Courthouse Green alongside former City team-mate Harry Barratt but continued to be a regular at Highfield Road games with Barbara. In 1988 manager John Sillett asked him to return & be the club's kit man. He became a key man at the club, especially on match-days, responsible for ensuring that everything went like clockwork behind the scenes. Steve Ogrizovic has fond memories of Peter's spell in the role: 'Pete was very popular, down to earth & helped the club's management keep players feet on the ground. Because he had played & been involved in football most of his life he knew what was required of his job & he could talk for hours about the old days – he must have described every one of his 78 goals!'

Peter finally retired around 1996 but not before he had groomed the current kit-man Andy Harvey as his replacement. Andy describes Peter as 'very quick witted & at times he could appear to be cantankerous but underneath he was a loving man who loved watching & talking about football. He was totally dedicated to Coventry City'.

I met Peter about 15 years ago & loved time in his company. He could talk about football for hours on end & had lovely stories of the characters from the game in the 1950s & 60s. He never had a bad word to say about anyone & was a lovely man.

Lol Harvey, his teammate in the 1950s sums up Peter as: 'a terrific man, always helpful and a great man for getting you out of trouble on the pitch. A true gentleman'.

The Funeral will take place on 2 February at 11.15 am at Canon Hill Chapel, Canley Crematorium. Barbara has requested no flowers but donations can be made to the Salvation Army & the British Legion via the Co-op Funeral Service at 184 Ansty Road.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Jim's column 10.1.15

Three men who played key roles in Jimmy Hill's Sky Blue revolution in the 1960s have sadly passed away in the last week. Former players Peter Hill, aged 83, and Ken Hale, 75, and Alan Leather, the club secretary from 1966-1968, died aged 83.

Ken Hale was born in Northumberland at Blyth in September 1939 & joined Everton as an apprentice on leaving school in 1955. His stay on Merseyside was short & he soon returned home when Newcastle, the club he had supported as a boy, wanted to sign him. A talented goal-scoring inside-forward, Ken made his first team debut at White Hart Lane as an eighteen-year old at Christmas 1957. He combined his football career with an apprenticeship as an electrician with the National Coal board. Competition for places at St James' Park was tough however and in four seasons he made only eight appearances in First Division games, scoring two goals. It was only in 1961-62, after Newcastle had been relegated to Division Two that Ken got a longer run in the first team scoring seven goals in 11 games playing alongside luminaries such as Ivor Allchurch & Ken Leek. Joe Harvey took over as manager of Newcastle in 1962 & although Ken had scored six goals in 11 games (including two past former City 'keeper Arthur Lightening making his debut for Middlesbrough) Harvey was happy to let him join the Sky Blues for £10,000 just before Christmas. In total he scored 16 goals in 35 games for the Magpies.

When he arrived at Highfield Road one City player already knew Ken well – Mick Kearns had played in the same British Army representative side whilst doing their National Service. Ken & Mick went on a tour of the Far East with the Army & Ken played for a very strong Army XI against City in early 1962.

Blond-haired Ken made his bow for City at Notts County on 15 December 1962, replacing Hugh Barr in a 1-1 draw, but his appearances were restricted by an Achilles injury in that weather-battered season that saw the Sky Blues reach the FA Cup sixth round. On his home debut the following week he scored City’s second goal against Colchester but the game was abandoned at half-time because of fog & the goal didn’t count. He scored his first ‘official’ goal in the home win over Barnsley 'a booming shot' and scored the late equaliser (a ‘screamer’ according to Nemo in the Coventry Telegraph) in the 1-1 draw at Portsmouth in the fourth round. The following season Hale was first-choice at inside-forward and netted 16 league goals, 13 of them before the turn of the year, as City marched to the Third Division title. His understanding with winger Willie Humphries and centre-forward George Hudson seemed telepathic at times & he was undoubtedly one of the best players in the division that season.
                                                   1964-65 team picture

In Division Two Ken did not look out of place and netted nine goals in 32 games as City consolidated their position in the higher league and in January 1965 he was the architect of City's remarkable 5-4 victory over Newcastle, the then league leaders. He scored a penalty & had a hand in most of the goals against his favourite team. In 1965-66 his form dipped & along with Ernie Machin he became a target of unwarranted barracking from some sections of the Highfield Road crowd. Jimmy Hill stood by him however and Ken returned to the side & scored a ‘stunning’ goal against West Brom in the League Cup. The arrival of Ray Pointer signalled the end of his Coventry career and on transfer deadline day in March 1966 (the same day George Hudson was sold to Northampton) Ken joined Oxford United for £8,000, after 111 appearances and 33 goals.

In three seasons at the Manor Ground Ken made 72 appearances and scored 13 goals, played alongside Ron Atkinson & was in the U's 1967-68 Third Division championship side. He joined Darlington in May 1968 & made almost 200 appearances for the Quakers over five seasons before joining Halifax as a player-coach. In 1974 he was appointed manager of Hartlepool where he stayed for 2 ½ years.

After retiring from football Ken & his wife Joan bought a newsagent's business in Sunderland & later he went to work as an administrator in the NHS. They had two sons & a daughter with eight grandchildren. Ken was tragically struck down with Alzheimer's a number of years ago & died peacefully on Monday.

Jimmy Hill brought Alan Leather to the club in October 1966 & he stayed in the role for two years. He played as an amateur for Enfield & Tufnell Park in the 1950s before becoming a football administrator first with the South East Counties League, and later as assistant secretary with Tottenham Hotspur during their golden period of the early 60s. In 1966 he was seconded to the World Cup organisation & was liaison officer to the successful England team. He replaced Paul Oliver as secretary at Highfield Road & during his time with the Sky Blues he saw the side win promotion to Division 1 as well as overseeing the building of two new stands & an increase in season ticket sales from 5,500 to 11,000.  After the Main Stand burnt down in March 1968 Alan rallied the troops & somehow got the ground in a fit state for the visit of Manchester United ten days later dealing with all of the ticketing and other challenges with a cool head. The game, in front of City’s second biggest crowd of all-time of 47,111, went like clockwork thanks to Alan’s administrative skills.
                                                             Alan Leather

Alan however never really settled in the Midlands and in 1968 the club released him & soon afterwards he became secretary at Crystal Palace with whom he had a long and successful career. He was the Honorary Secretary of the Football Secretaries & Managers Association, a fore-runner of the modern day League Manager's Association, of which he remained an enthusiastic member until his death.

I will write about Peter Hill’s career next week.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Jim's column 3.1.15

In the days when the FA Cup was seen to be the greatest football competition in the world, today, Third Round day, was the most exciting day in the football calendar, when the big clubs joined the cream of the smaller clubs including a few non-league minnows. Every year the draw paired Davids with Goliaths & invariably there would be shocks. Giantkillers such as Yeovil, Hereford United, Blyth Spartans, Altrincham &, of course, Sutton United, would grab the headlines & massive crowds would watch the 32 ties played in all sorts of weather & pitch conditions, often involving snow & ice. For many, especially Premiership clubs, the competition has lost some of its glamour, with big clubs fielding weaker line-ups & fans shunning the Third Round, mainly because of exorbitant ticket prices. But for teams outside the top flight there is still a lot of magic in the competition – the chance to get the scalp of a big club or even just get a big cut of a large gate but often just a good day out for the fans. I haven't done the research but I reckon the away followings of teams travelling to a team from a higher division in the FA Cup are amongst their biggest of the season. For instance in the last two seasons City took large followings to Tottenham, Barnsley & Arsenal, and if you go further back there were great numbers who trekked to Blackburn (twice), Portsmouth & Birmingham City since we left the Premiership in 2001. Similarly clubs of a lower status have brought substantial followings to the Ricoh in recent years including Millwall, Kidderminster & Worcester City this season. I think this illustrates my point that the FA Cup may have lost some of its glamour for the 'big boys' but not for the smaller clubs & their fans who relish the chance to topple a giant & get that 'day in the sun'.

Sadly this weekend the Sky Blues are not involved in the Cup – the first time they haven't played in the Third Round since 1964 when City fans at least could bask in the fact that their team were eight points clear of the field in the old Division Three.

The Christmas results were disappointing, especially defeat at Doncaster, a side with the worst home record in the division with only one win and six goals to their name. The double sending-off of Adam Barton & James Maddison didn't help of course & it was the fifth time in the club's league history that they have had two players dismissed in the same game. Four of those five incidents have occurred in the last 20 years when dismissals have become far more common place. Prior to the 1980s it was rare for players to get their marching orders for anything other than fisticuffs & City had their share of wannabe boxers. George Hudson, Maurice Setters, Noel Simpson, Ian Wallace & Jimmy Holmes all saw red for striking an opponent, albeit that a number of them were severely provoked.

The first double sending off happened at Hull City's Anlaby Road ground in February 1920 when Billy Walker & Jock Blair got their marching orders, along with one Hull player. Nine-men City managed to hang on to a 1-0 lead to record only their fourth victory in 31 games of a miserable season. According to the Midland Daily Telegraph, courtesy of fellow City historian Mike Young, it was 'the roughest (game) seen on the Hull ground this season'. The home crowd felt Coventry were very much the aggressors but Nemo in the MDT said that 'it was Hull who had commenced the dirty business'. Walker was ordered off for a foul before Blair & Hughes, the Hull left-winger, clashed, there was an altercation, and the referee ordered both players off. City were reduced to eight men shortly afterwards when Copeland was carried off injured but City held out to inflict only Hull's second home defeat of the season.

Fast-forward to November 1995 & Highfield Road with Wimbledon the visitors. With City leading 1-0, Paul Williams was shown red by referee Robbie Hart after 27 minutes for handling the ball in the area. Vinnie Jones converted the penalty & the Dons took advantage of the numerical advantage & went 3-1 ahead. City pulled one goal back but with 10 minutes left Richard Shaw was shown his second yellow card & was off. Somehow nine-men City levelled through David Rennie & should have clinched the victory in the last minute but Peter Ndlovu missed a good chance.

Just over two years later the Sky Blues had two men ordered off at Villa Park in a 3-0 defeat. Paul Williams was the villain again with two bookings before Gary Breen was unlucky to get a red card from Graham Barber in the last minute, for pushing Gary Charles. Villa's scorers were Stan Collymore & substitutes Lee Hendrie & Julian Joachim.

The fourth instance of two red cards was in 2003 at Preston. With an hour gone & City 1-2 down but making great efforts to gain their first ever league win at Deepdale, Patrick Suffo landed a right hook on Marlon Broomes & referee Eddie Evans showed a straight red. Preston increased their lead before Michael Doyle threw a punch at Lee Cartwright & saw red. Preston ran out 4-2 winners.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Christmas Quiz 2014

(scroll down for answers)


  1. Jim O'Brien has played in every league game this season but which player has been involved in all but one of City's league games?

  1. Who scored City's only goal in the League Cup this season?

  1. Which club were the visitors for the lowest league crowd in Coventry since 1986, just 7,708?

  1. Who were City's opponents in the final game at Sixfields?

  1. Which club did Josh McQuoid play for at Wembley last season?

  1. The attendance of 27,306 for the Gillingham game was not the highest for a league game. Which club were the visitors in 2010 when the record, 28,184 was set?

  1. Which former loanee scored against the Sky Blues for Oldham this season?

  1. Two City players had received red cards in league games before Boxing Day. Reda Johnson is one, who is the other?

  1. Which City player made his first senior appearance when he came on as a sub at Wycombe in the JPT?

  1. Which club attracted a crowd of under 3,000 for the visit of City, the lowest away league crowd since 2002?


  1. Who was the last Coventry City homegrown player to win full international honours for England?

  1. Which non-league club were, in 1935, the last to knock City out of the FA Cup before Kings Lynn in 1961?

  1. In 1997 which club were forced to play in City's away kit at Highfield Road after failing to bring their own change kit?

  1. Which player, last season, achieved a feat only done by three other players, scoring for the Sky Blues without starting a game?

  1. In 2005 v Stoke City at Highfield Road why did Stephen Hughes go into goal?

  1. The lowest league crowd for City games at Sixfields was set in February when only 1,603 attended. Who were the visitors?

  1. Which Coventry City manager led the club into Europe in 1970?

  1. Name the only Ukrainian to play for Coventry City. He made 3 appearances in 1997.

  1. Prior to Callum Wilson scoring 21 league goals last season, who was the last City man to score 20 league goals in a season?

  1. In 1995-96 City's away kit was two-tone purple & yellow. How many games did they win wearing it?



  1. ...scored against the Sky Blues last Boxing Day for Peterborough?

  1. ...was appointed manager of Nuneaton Town earlier this season?

  1. ...played for Wigan in the FA Cup semi final last season?

  1. ...was appointed manager of Tamworth earlier this season?

  1. ...has recently joined Exeter City on a non-contract basis?

  1. ...played for Aberdeen in the Scottish League Cup final last season?

  1. ...scored against the Sky Blues for Oldham last season?

  1. ...was appointed manager of Tranmere Rovers recently?

  1. ...played in a League Cup final for three different clubs?

  1. first choice goalkeeper for Middlesbrough this season?


  1. ...knocked City out of the FA Cup last season?

  1. ...were promoted from Division Three with the Sky Blues in 1964?

  1. ...did the double over City last season but were relegated to League Two?

  1. ...sacked former City player & manager Terry Butcher last summer?

  1. ...gave Reda Johnson his chance in English football?

  1. ...were the last team to win the League Cup after defeating the Sky Blues in the competition?

  1. ...sold Darren Huckerby to City in 1996?

  1. ...were promoted to League One via the play-offs last season?

  1. ...attracted a record crowd of 19,095 to Highfield Road in 1910 for an FA cup tie?

  1. ...were the first to defeat John Sillett's City side in an FA Cup tie after the 1987 triumph.


  1. Which club in 1974 pulled out of a deal to buy City's Willie Carr after a medical?

  1. In 1979 City were outbid by Nottingham Forest for Britain's first £1m player. Name him.

  1. Which current Cardiff striker was on the verge of joining the Sky Blues in 2011 before Reading outbid City?

  1. Name the foreign player signed by City in 1998 only to have the player (or his wife) decide days later that he would prefer to play for Real Madrid.

  1. Which Welsh international defender chose Blackburn over the Sky Blues in December 1995?

  1. Which current Middlesbrough midfielder was strongly linked to City in 2009 when playing for Rushden & Diamonds?

  1. Name the USA defender who looked set to join City after the 1994 World Cup but changed his mind & went to Italy instead.

  1. Which City player failed a medical & torpedoed a £440,000 move to Manchester United in 1978?

  1. In 2000 City & Glasgow Rangers agreed a fee of £5m for this Scottish international winger but then Rangers got cold feet.

  1. In 1979 which City striker looked set to join Ipswich only to score four goals against them & cause Gordon Milne to keep him.


All of these players have made first team appearances for the club in the last 35 years.




Section 1

  1. John Fleck
  2. Shaun Miller
  3. Crawley Town
  4. Barnsley
  5. Peterborough
  6. Leeds United
  7. Danny Philliskirk
  8. Jack Finch (v Crewe)
  9. Kyle Spence
  10. Scunthorpe United

Section 2

  1. Chris Kirkland
  2. Scunthorpe United
  3. Chelsea
  4. Mathieu Manset
  5. City's keeper Ian Bennett was sent off & City had no substitute goalkeeper
  6. Carlisle
  7. Noel Cantwell
  8. Alex Evtushok
  9. Ian Wallace
  10. None

Section 3

  1. Shaun Jeffers
  2. Liam Daish
  3. Gary Caldwell
  4. Andy Morrell
  5. Clinton Morrison
  6. Willo Flood
  7. Jonson Clarke-Harris
  8. Micky Adams
  9. Kevin Richardson
  10. Dimi Konstantopoulos

Section 4

  1. Arsenal
  2. Crystal Palace
  3. Tranmere Rovers
  4. Hibernian
  5. Plymouth Argyle
  6. Sheffield Wednesday
  7. Newcastle
  8. Fleetwood
  9. Everton
  10. Watford

Section 5

  1. Wolves
  2. Trevor Francis
  3. Adam La Fondre
  4. Robert Jarni
  5. Chris Coleman
  6. Lee Tomlin
  7. Alexei Lalas
  8. Jim Blyth
  9. Neil McCann
  10. Mick Ferguson

Section 6 (Pictures)

  1. Kevin Kyle
  2. Dave Bamber
  3. David Bradford
  4. Wayne Turner
  5. Denzel Slager
  6. Trond Soltvedt
  7. Jen-Guy Walleme
  8. Michael Cook
  9. John Hendrie
  10. Neil Wood

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Jim's column 20.12.14

My Greatest ever Christmas games

With Christmas almost upon us I thought I would compile my Top Ten Coventry City Christmas games. I have been watching the club for over 50 years and there have been many great festive games, many at home, some away. Of course my most memorable festive games are Sky Blue victories but there have been some tremendous games that didn't result in a City victory. There was the spectacular on ice in 1962 when City came from 3-1 down to share the points with league leaders Peterborough at Highfield Road, the first Christmas game in Division One in 1967 when City held the mighty Liverpool to a 1-1 draw with Ian St John flooring City's Brian Lewis with a left hook that Muhamed Ali would have been proud of. I wasn't there, but the Christmas Day 1937 game at Bramall Lane must have been a cracker. City & the Blades were first & second in the Second division table at the start of play & City took a two-goal lead only to succumb to the Blades attacking might & lost 2-3 in front of a massive holiday crowd of 49,000.

Sadly there have been few Christmas crackers in recent years but the last two seasons victories feature. I cannot recall a single exciting Christmas game since we moved to the Ricoh in 2005. Let's hope that will change this year against Chesterfield.

Some readers will have their personal favourites that I haven't included – let me know your favourite Christmas games.

So my top ten, in reverse order, is as follows:

  1. 2013 City 4 Peterborough 2

Lee Tomlin & Britt Assombalonga inspired an impressive Posh first-half performance at Sixfields & City were lucky not to be more than 1-2 down at the break. In the second half City's dynamic duo of Leon Clarke & Callum Wilson took over & City raced to an impressive 4-2 win – the first time they have come from behind twice to win at home since Christmas 1997.

9. 1966 City 4 Rotherham 2

On Boxing Day 1967, Jimmy Hill’s Sky Blues faced Rotherham and a brace from Bobby Gould and further goals from Ian Gibson and Ron Farmer secured the win. Rotherham goalkeeper Alan Hill had to leave the field with a broken finger sustained trying to stop Gould's second goal. John Galley deputised & was at the centre of controversy when a City fan climbed out of the West End & attacked him. The win kept City in second place behind Wolves but four points covered the top eleven teams.

  1. 1982 City 3 Manchester United 0

Dave Sexton's young lions jumped to fifth place with a comprehensive victory over Ron Atkinson's team. Peter Hormantschuk's first senior goal set the Sky Blues on the way & Mark Hateley scored the second before half-time. Jim Melrose sealed the win twenty minutes from time as Gerry Francis outshone England star Ray Wilkins.

  1. 1964 City 3 Preston 0

City legend George Hudson gave one of the great individual performances on an ice-bound pitch. The score-line flattered Preston as they barely have a shot & could have shipped six or more. 'The Hud' sets up Ernie Machin's early headed goal & his delightful chip over the 'keeper makes it 2-0. Humphries scores a third – set up by Hudson – for City's first home win in seven.

  1. 2012 MK Dons 2 City 3

5,000 City fans travelled to Milton Keynes & saw a thrilling comeback victory that lifted the Sky Blues into the top ten after a miserable start to the season. Mark Robins' team were trailing to an early Powell goal when Franck Moussa dribbled through & hit a thunderous goal. Ryan Lowe restored the home side's lead but two Stephen Elliott goals early in the second-half had the Sky Blue Army celebrating a famous victory.

  1. 1999 City 3 Arsenal 2

A Boxing Day thriller for the Sky cameras as Gordon Strachan's 'Entertainers' beat Wenger's side. Gary McAllister's long shot took a deflection & Hadji made it 2-0 just before the break with a superb header. Freddie Ljungberg pulled one back before a delicate chip from Robbie Keane sealed the win. Suker's late goal made no difference to the outcome.

  1. 1992 City 3 Aston Villa 0

Mick Quinn had rejuvenated Bobby Gould's team's season with eight goals in five games since his move from Newcastle & the burly striker led the way to victory over Big Ron's Villa team. In eight second-half minutes Quinn, with two & Robert Rosario put a big dent in Villa's title hopes before the fog descended & threatened the game.
  1. 1997 City 3 Manchester United 2

Alex Ferguson's champions & league leaders were turned over by a thrilling City comeback. City came from 1-2 behind to win with Dion Dublin, a penalty, and star of the show Darren Huckerby, scored in the last four minutes. Huckerby dribbled past the whole United defence before slotting home for one of the most famous Highfield Road goals.

  1. 1987 City 4 Tottenham 3

City's biggest league crowd for six years, 22,000, saw a Christmas cracker. Twice, goal-machine Clive Allen gave Spurs the lead before Dave Bennett's brace on the hour swung the game City's way. Nico Claessen levelled the scores with six minutes left but Cyrille Regis headed the winner in the final minute to give City their first home win over Spurs in 13 years in what was a preview of the Wembley classic the following May.

  1. 1977 City 5 Norwich 4

Sensational, breathtaking, unbelievable! One of the greatest games ever seen at Highfield Road, with goalkeeper Jim Blyth saving Jim Ryan's last-minute penalty to clinch the win. Gordon Milne's team were having a great season & have netted 39 goals already. Ian Wallace's second goal, a bicycle-kick, was a stunner and Barry Powell (penalty), Ray Gooding, Bobby McDonald & Ray Graydon netted the other goals.

Next week I will be setting my Festive Quiz, in the meantime, I wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Jim's column 13.12.14

Sky Blue fan Ed Blackaby asked me about a game at Wembley Stadium in 1987 when Steve Ogrizovic played for a Football League Select XI versus the Rest of the World as part of the Football League's centenary celebrations. He remembers the FL side winning 3-0 and Oggy coming on as a substitute for Peter Shilton but wondered how long Oggy played for and if he made any good saves.

The game took place on Saturday 8th August, one week after City had played Everton in the Charity Shield at the old stadium. There were 61,000 present for the game & the FL side won 3-0 with goals from Bryan Robson (2) & substitute Norman Whiteside. The FL side, managed by England manager Bobby Robson, included Tottenham's Clive Allen & Richard Gough as well as Arsenal's Liam Brady. The Rest of the World team, managed by Terry Venables, included Diego Maradonna, who was booed incessantly, Michel Platini, who had retired at the end of the previous season & Barcelona's England international Gary Lineker. Oggy replaced Shilton in goal after 60 minutes but I have no knowledge about any saves he might have made.

Ed had another question about goalkeepers. He seems to remember David Speedie playing in goal during the Guinness Soccer 6 competition back in the 1980s. You are correct Ed, Speedie was City's goalkeeper during the 1988 competition held at Manchester’s G-Mex complex. Apparently Oggy had a 'dodgy shoulder' and reserve 'keeper Jake Findlay was recovering from a knee operation so 'Speedo' volunteered to play in goal. In their first game City trailed 1-2 to Newcastle with time running out. Speedie raced out of his goal & slammed home the equaliser. In the following game he had four goals put past him by Charlton but admitted that he loved the experience. Nine months later Speedie had to go in goal in a First Division match at Millwall when Oggy had to leave the pitch injured. The Scottish international striker played 45 minutes between the sticks & kept Millwall out until the last minute when an Ian Dawes thunderbolt beat him to make it 4-1 to the Lions.

Next Saturday the Sky Blues play Fleetwood Town for the first time in their history & Rod Dean emailed me recently to point out that Fleetwood is probably the smallest town to put out a team to face Coventry in their Football League history. The population of Fleetwood at the last census in 2011 was 25,939 & I can think of few towns that have faced City to be as small. In the 1925-26 season City played in the Third Division Northern Section & faced a number of clubs from small towns including Nelson & Accrington in Lancashire & Ashington in Northumberland. Ashington, a small mining town famous for producing Bobby & Jack Charlton, had a population of around 30,000 in the mid 1920s whilst Nelson's census in the 1920s was around 38,000. Rod points out that you probably have to go back to the 1914-15 season when City played in Southern League Division Two to find a club from a smaller town that Fleetwood. That season City met many clubs from South Wales, amongst them Ton Pentre, a village in the Rhonda Valley, with a population of under 5,000.

If you are looking for a stocking-filler for the Coventry City fan in your life you could do a lot worse than buy a new book on Sky Blues memorabilia. Got, not Got, the Lost World of Coventry City by Derek Hammond & Gary Silke is a nostalgic trip down memory lane, especially for fans who look back longingly at the 1960s & 1970s. Full of pictures, programmes, crazy kits, bubble-gum cards & lots of other relics from the good old days the humorous, often tongue-in-cheek book illustrates an important part of Coventry City's history & heritage. Some of the stuff will cause younger fans or the PC-brigade to choke on their Christmas pudding, for example, the City programme of the early 1970s which displayed a semi-clad female as 'Girl of the Match'. It makes one realise how naff some of the stuff was and the Sun newspaper cards from the late 1970s take the biscuit. To avoid paying for actual photos of players the Sun got an artist to draw the players with a felt-tip pen. The results were horrendous & few of the cards resembled the players. Fellow City historian Dean Nelson has lent his super collection of Sky Blues memorabilia for the book which is unashamed nostalgia. At this depressing time for City fans what better than to wallow in this book and it will be an excellent way to spend an hour or two on Christmas afternoon whilst the rest of the family fall asleep in front of The Great Escape.