How predictable that Leon Clarke should score for Bury against the Sky Blues at Gigg Lane last week. Once again, the immutable law of the ex, as the famous football writer Brian Glanville described it, struck, to consign City to a defeat they scarcely deserved on their second half performance.
Clarke went one better than most ex-players and scored twice, the second from a contentious penalty. He became the first former City player to score twice in a game against us since 1983 when Steve Whitton of West Ham scored a pair in a 5-2 hammering at Upton Park in what was his first game against his old club since his move that summer.
I can find two other instances of a former player scoring two. In 1973 in a League Cup tie at Bristol City's Ashton Gate Bobby Gould scored both goals in a 2-2 draw. Prior to that John Tudor netted two for Newcastle in a 4-2 win over the Sky Blues in early 1972. Tudor was never a prolific scorer but was a wonderful foil for Malcolm Macdonald who seemed able to score at will against Coventry in that era.
Back in those days there were far fewer instances of former players scoring against their old clubs – players just didn't move around as much – but Ronnie Rees scored for both Nottingham Forest & West Brom, after leaving us in 1968. The best ever effort by an 'ex' though was probably the famous England test cricketer Patsy Hendren. He left City in 1911 after a brief career but came back to haunt us fifteen years later as a veteran of 37 playing for Brentford. In a 7-3 thumping at Griffin Park Patsy helped himself to four goals in what was his final season as a player.
Jim McIlwaine sent me an interesting article in the summer about former City youth player John Matthews. The article states that John is regarding as one of the greatest players ever to play in the League of Ireland. After joining Waterford from the Sky Blues in 1966 he won seven championship medals (six with Waterford and one with Limerick) scoring 156 goals as a left-winger. Jim wondered if I had any more information on John and his father Horace who played for the club in the 1940s.
Horace Matthews (born 1913) was well known in local league football before he joined City in 1945. He was a member of a strong AWA Baginton side and was a logical signing when the club had so many players away in the services towards the end of World War 2. He played five games at outside left in the transitional season of 1945-46, scoring one goal – in a 3-1 home win over Fulham. His only officially recognised games were in the two-leg FA Cup third round ties with Aston Villa in January 1946 which City lost 2-3 on aggregate. I believe that in 1946 he returned to playing in local soccer. I wonder if Horace is in the picture of AWA Baginton's team from 1942-43. Please let me know if you can spot him.
Horace's son John joined City after being spotted playing for GEC and was in the same youth team as Mick Coop and Pat Morrissey. In 1966 Jimmy Hill was approached by Mick Lynch, the manager of Waterford, seeking a young player on loan. JH agreed for young John, who would have probably been released that summer, to go over for six weeks to gain some experience and in his first seven games he helped them clinch their first ever League of Ireland championship. John signed permanently for the club soon afterwards and the club won five more titles over the next six seasons and played in the European Cup against such sides as Manchester United and Celtic. After retiring Johnny, as he became known in Ireland, managed Limerick & Waterford United as well as becoming a referee & TV pundit.
Ron Dickinson was interested in my recent column regarding penalty takers where I pointed out the excellent record from the spot by Ronnie Farmer (1 miss from 23 attempts) and Gary McAllister (I miss from 16). Ron's memory goes further back – to Norman Lockhart, who played for the club from 1947-52 and was the regular penalty taker during that time. I checked the records and discovered Norman's record was 14 successful penalties from 17 attempts. The other great penalty taker for the club was Brian Kilcline. Killer's record doesn't match Farmer & McAllister but he did net 19 spot-kicks while missing five.