Coventry City's excellent start to the season came to an end at Walsall's Bescot Stadium last weekend but the result was overshadowed by the loss through injury of 18-year old starlet James Maddison. As I write, it looks like he is going to be out until the New Year in what is a serious blow to the club's promotion hopes. Nevertheless, the team's start to the season must be celebrated; I remind you that the club's best ever winning start to a season, five in a row in 1964-65, was followed by five successive defeats.
City have won their first two home league games, something they last did in 2010-11 when they beat Portsmouth (2-0) and Derby (2-1). You have to go back to 1989 for the last season that City won their first three home games. Under John Sillett the Sky Blues beat Everton (2-0), Manchester City (2-1) and Luton (1-0). Many of the 1987 Cup-winning side were still regulars, supplemented by players such as David Smith, Gary Bannister and David Speedie and the Man City win pushed City briefly to the top of the old Division One.
Like most City fans I was delighted to hear that Callum Wilson had scored a hat-trick for Bournemouth in their excellent 4-3 win at West Ham's Upton Park last Saturday. It is clear that Callum is going to the very top in the game and an England call-up must be on the horizon now with a big money transfer not out of the question. Several people speculated that it was the first Premier League hat-trick by a Coventry-born footballer and I am confident that it was. However, despite what Sky & much of the media would have us believe, football history didn't start when the Premiership was born in 1992. Cov-born Bobby Gould scored a top flight hat-trick for the Sky Blues against Burnley in December 1967. Gould had started the club's inaugural season in Division 1 on the substitute's bench but in the second game, at Forest's City Ground, he came on for the unlucky George Curtis who had suffered a broken leg after just four minutes. Gould scored twice as City held the previous season's runners-up to a thrilling 3-3 draw. He managed a further two goals in six games before suffering an injury at Newcastle. The injury kept him out for 11 games, of which City won only one and slid to the foot of the table. Gould returned for the home game with Burnley and no one could have expected the outcome. Ronnie Rees gave City an early lead and just before half-time Bobby smashed a 25-yard shot past Harry Thomson in the visitor's goal. Two early second half goals completed a 19-minute hat-trick for the returning striker with late goals from Burnley's Andy Lochhead & Ernie Machin completing the scoring. The rout was watched by 28,559, the second lowest crowd of that memorable season.
Bobby Gould completes his hat-trick in 1967
Talking of hat-tricks, Dave Long read my piece last week about debutants scoring more than one goal & thought I had missed out Jim Melrose. He remembered Melrose scoring a hat-trick against Everton in a 4-2 win in 1982 but it wasn't his first game in a City shirt. The Scot, signed from Leicester in a swap deal involving Tom English, made his bow the previous Saturday at St Andrews, where he failed to find the net in a 0-1 defeat. Two other City players made their debut at Birmingham, Keith Thompson, brother of Garry, and Derek Hall, a young midfielder who never appeared in the first team again. Melrose had a stunning impact on arriving at the club – he followed up his hat-trick with a goal at Manchester City a week later, and both goals in a 2-2 draw at Fulham in the League Cup, to make it six goals in four games. Sadly his scoring fizzled out after that and he only managed a further four goals in 25 appearances.
John Coleman wanted to know more about a friendly the Sky Blues played at Luton in 1971. The game was played on the day of the fourth round of the FA Cup, as both teams had been knocked out in round three (City losing at Rochdale). City's boss Noel Cantwell and Luton manager Alec Stock got together and organised the friendly at Kenilworth Road. City won the game 2-1 with goals from Billy Rafferty & Jim Ryan (own goal) in front of 7,154. Cantwell picked a side comprising mainly of first team players along with several youngsters on the verge of the first team including goalkeeper Eric McManus, Mick McGuire & Rafferty.
The line-up was: McManus: Smith, Clements, Mortimer, Blockley, Parker, McGuire, Carr, Joicey, O'Rourke, Rafferty. Jim Holmes substituted for Clements and Colin Randell came on for McGuire.