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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Jim's column 18.10.14

                                                        George Raynor

Sixty years ago next year Coventry City, then a struggling Third Division South outfit hit the back pages of the national newspapers by enticing top English coaches Jesse Carver and George Raynor from their well-paid positions as head coaches of AS Roma & Lazio respectively. It was seen as a massive coup by the City board & its chairman Erle Shanks & the highly respected men arrived in Coventry to a fanfare of publicity.

Carver, who had won Serie A with Juventus & built up a great reputation in Italy, would only stay at Highfield Road for six months, before being lured back to Italy with a massive salary but Raynor would stay for almost eighteen months. After Carver jumped ship George stepped into the manager's position but in the summer of 1956 he was demoted to coach again after the arrival of Harry Warren. Raynor was a football purist who had led Sweden to the Olympic gold medal in the 1948 London Olympics & third place in the 1950 World Cup. His ideas didn't sit well with Warren's out-dated & neanderthal tactics & when Sweden came again, seeking a man to lead them in their home World Cup in 1958, George was grateful to leave the primitive, up and under Third Division style of play.

Amazingly for a man who football has largely forgotten about, there have been two books published this year on George Raynor. Italian journalist Federico Farcomeni has written a short E-book of 64 pages entitled 'George Raynor- The Untold Story of English Football's Forgotten Giant' which makes for interesting reading and is available in Kindle form for only £1.53. Meanwhile Ashley Hyne has produced a far more meatier biography of Raynor entitled 'The Greatest Coach England Never Had'. Hyne's research is excellent, for instance he interviewed former City player Lol Harvey, one of the few ex-City men still alive who played under Raynor. Whilst the section about his time at Coventry are fairly brief the author weaves a story of a man misunderstood in his own country but revered in Sweden. Returning to Sweden in 1957 with just a year to prepare a team for the '58 World Cup he had the job of revitalising a team that had failed to qualify for the 1954 final stages & had regressed considerably since he had left them to go to Italy in 1953.

With the help of clever tactics & his own brand of motivation Raynor prepared his team with infinite detail & became the first Englishman to coach a team to the World Cup final. Unbeaten in the group stage, they went on to defeat USSR & holders West Germany to reach a final against the odds-on favourites Brazil. Sweden took an early lead but the silky skills of Garrincha, Didi & 17-year old Pele swept the hosts away in a 5-2 defeat. Raynor however was a Swedish national hero but when he returned to England a few months later the only job he could get was at Midland League Skegness.

One of the best stories in the book is about Sweden's meeting with the great Hungary side of the early 1950s. The Magyars were unbeaten in three years when Sweden arrived in Budapest just a week before Hungary were due to meet England at Wembley in what would turn out to be a watershed game for England. Raynor had done his homework & recognised the danger of Hidegkuti, the deep-lying centre-forward. He played a zonal marking system to counter Hidegkuti & instructed his forwards to close down their markers when they were not in possession (in modern parlance, a pressing game). The plan worked and Sweden got a creditable 2-2 draw. The arrogant English press saw the result & said England had little to fear from the Hungarians at Wembley. After the match Raynor met up with England manager Walter Winterbottom & gave him advice on how to play the Hungarians. Sadly Winterbottom ignored the advice, gave Hidegkuti the freedom of the pitch & England suffered their first home loss to continental opposition in an embarrassing 6-3 defeat.

George Raynor's death went unrecorded by the local & national press and he is still a largely forgotten man in football circles but Ashley Hyne's book does the man's fascinating life justice.

Today, the league leaders Bristol City are in town, rejuvenated by Steve Cotterill & boasting a couple of outstanding strikers in this division in Aaron Wilbraham & Kieran Agard. City did the double over them last season but it will take a massive effort to beat the Robins today. Cotterill's team have an amazing record at the Ricoh, winning four of the six meetings and drawing one. The only City victory was in the last meeting on Boxing Day 2011 when a Gary Deegan goal gave the Sky Blues their first win in 11 games.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Jim's column 11.10.2014

The big story of the week was Coventry Council's sale of their shares in ACL to Wasps RFC & the possible ramifications. The story obviouslyovershadowed events on the pitch – a welcome point against Crawley after three successive defeats & progress in the Football League Trophy (aka Johnstone's Paint Trophy) with a very young side.

The Crawley game was watched by a pitifully low crowd of 7,708 – the lowest home league crowd in the city since January 1986. Then City, struggling in the relegation zone, lost 0-2 to Graham Taylor's Watford for whom John Barnes scored both goals in front of 7,478. That was the lowest league crowd since April 1962 when the club had two end of season crowds under 6,000. Watford were making their second visit to Highfield Road in fourteen days having won 3-1 in an FA Cup Third round tie two Saturday's previously when the attendance was 10,500. Fourteen months after that miserably poor crowd the Sky Blues were at Wembley in the FA Cup final in front of 98,000! It shows how a club's fortunes can change in a short space of time.

On Tuesday night a crowd of 7,273, far more than many were expecting, attended the Exeter tie in the Football League Trophy. They witnessed a solid 3-1 victory from Steven Pressley's side who worked hard to break down a packed Exeter defence. With a 2-0 half-time lead Pressley was able to introduce two more of the promising under 18 side, George Thomas & James Maddison. The former made one appearance last term & Maddison was making his third appearance from the bench this campaign & both gave mature & exciting performances. With the Sky Blues also fielding youngsters Lee Burge, Aaron Phillips, Ryan Haynes, Jordan Willis & Conor Thomas I had a feeling that the side that finished the game was one of the youngest City X1s of all time.

The record youngest City X1 is the team that started versus Manchester City away on 22 November 1980 which had an average age of 21 years and 58 days. Geoff Moore who tracks this interesting statistic tells me that Tuesday's final X1 averaged just 21 days more, so it was probably the second youngest of all time and the youngest ever for a home game. For the second time this season the finishing line-up was comprised of nine home-grown players – a fantastic achievement by the club & the Academy set-up ably led until last season by Gregor Rioch.

Talking of Aaron Phillips, the youngest scored a superb brace of goals & supporters were asking if a full-back has ever scored a hat-trick for the club. I can find no record of a defender ever scoring three in a game. The last full-back to score two in a game was Steve Morgan in a 3-0 League Cup victory over Wycombe Wanderers in 1993-94 season and Steve Phelps reminded me that Brain Borrows got two in a 5-1 victory over Liverpool in December 1992. Over the years City have had very few prolific full-back goalscorers. Bobby McDonald scored a few goals as did Danny Thomas and of course Aaron's father David was playing at full-back when he scored at Sutton in 1989.
                                                                Steve Morgan              

Exeter, making their first trip to the city since 1958-59 season, had a vociferous band of almost 500 supporters who never gave up their chanting & were rewarded with a late consolation goal. Coventry is not a happy hunting ground for the Grecians; they have won only twice in 19 visits & the last time was back in 1934 in a Division Thee South Cup tie.

Kevin Ring found last week's piece about the 1964 friendly with Brazilian America FC interesting & remembers attending the game. He recalls that the old Atkinson's Stand had been demolished in the few days since the final league game with Colchester, leaving the two wing stands (that had been erected during the 1963-64 season) either side of a big gap of rubble. In the subsequent weeks the centre blocks of the new Sky Blue Stand were erected in time for the start of the new season. He pointed out that in the Jimmy Hill era the club played many foreign sides in friendly games at the old stadium including Slovan Bratislava, TSV Aachen, Ferenvaros of Hungary & Stade Francais, several of whom were 'big' clubs in Europe at the time.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Jim's column 4.10.14

Keith Ballantyne emailed me a question in the summer regarding Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. Keith had read somewhere that Kasper had played for Coventry City & had no recollection of this. He did indeed play for the Sky Blues in 2008. Manager Chris Coleman signed the then 21 year-old Manchester City on loan in mid-March until the end of the season. Kasper, son of Manchester United legend Peter, replaced Andy Marshall in goal & played the last nine games of the season. He made his debut in a 0-0 home draw with Sheffield Wednesday & only appeared on the losing side three times. City were desperately close to the relegation zone after defeats at Watford & at home to Stoke but a 5-1 win at Colchester & a home draw with Wolves set up a dramatic final day of the season in the Championship. With Scunthorpe & Colchester already relegated any of the five teams immediately above them could fill the third relegation spot. The five were Southampton, Leicester, the Sky Blues, Sheffield Wednesday & Blackpool. City had a two point advantage over Leicester & the Saints & knew that as long as they had as good or better result than either team they were safe. City were away to Charlton, Saints were at home to Sheffield United & Leicester were at promotion-chasing Stoke.
An estimated 3,500 Sky Blue fans travelled to The Valley for the Sunday afternoon showdown but the players had a nightmare afternoon. They were a goal down as early as the fourth minute after Schmeichel, so safe up until that point, made a bad mistake, and fell two down in the 19th minute. Mifsud got a goal back but another mistake from the keeper left City 3-1 down at the start of the second half and developments elsewhere left them sweating on Leicester's result at Stoke. Blackpool, Sheffield Wednesday and Southampton both moved towards safety after getting ahead in their games as City lost another goal.
At 4-1 the game at the Valley became a non-event and all ears were tuned in to Stoke versus Leicester. At some stage Stoke realised they were promoted and their result against Leicester was immaterial. The desperate Foxes hit the post and Stoke keeper Carlo Nash pulled off two top saves to deny the goal that would have sent City down and saved Leicester from the drop.
Kaspar Schmeichel never played for the Sky Blues again & returned to Manchester City. In 2009 he joined Notts County, followed a year later with a transfer to Leeds. He arrived at Leicester in 2011 & has subsequently made over 150 appearances for the club as well as winning six full caps for Denmark.
City fan Martin Oliver sent me a fascinating email in the summer. When he was living in Brazil some years ago he knew an ex-footballer called "Paulo Pedro" who was one of the first Brazilian players to play in Europe (with Benfica). When he learned that Martin supported Coventry City he told me he played against them when he was playing for America de Rio De Janeiro. He remembered them visiting England and playing against Arsenal in a friendly then coming up to Coventry (who they had never heard of) only to be welcomed by a stadium full of screaming fans and a guy riding round the pitch on a horse.
Some of these 'facts' are true but others aren't. City did play a friendly against a Brazilian side called America FC in 1964, the week after they clinched the Third Division championship. However I can find no record of them playing Arsenal in the same trip. The story about a man on a horse is interesting because three years later Jimmy Hill donned his hunting gear & rode around the Highfield Road pitch before a friendly with Liverpool.
I have checked the line-ups for the America friendly in 1964 & they did have a player called Carlos Pedro playing for them – whether it is the same gentleman as Paulo Pedro or not I don't know but the Brazilian does seem to have some knowledge of a game at Coventry fifty years ago.
For the record City lost the friendly 2-5 with George Hudson netting both goals. It was 2-2 at half-time but a tired City ran out of steam in the second half. The week after the famous Colchester home victory which sealed the title the team played friendly games on five consecutive nights. On the Monday they played a Dublin XI in Ireland (lost 3-4), Tuesday was Tottenham at home (lost 5-6), Wednesday was Bedworth Town (won 4-0), Thursday was the America FC game & Friday the team travelled to Eastbourne (won 3-1). For their efforts the Sky Blues' players were taken to Wembley for the FA Cup final on the Saturday & three weeks later jetted off to Spain with wives for a holiday.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Jim's column 27.9.14

Coventry City played in front of two very small crowds last week with the trips to Scunthorpe & Rochdale. They were amongst the lowest post war attendances at Coventry City away league games. The list shows the twelve smallest crowds since 1945 & the Scunthorpe gate was the fourth lowest & the lowest for 12 years when City faced Wimbledon at Selhurst Park in front of a miserly 2,077. I remember attending the game & thinking that there looked less than a thousand people in the stadium & that the ‘official’ attendance had been enhanced by absent season ticket holders.

2,077 v Wimbledon 2002-03*
2,275 v Southport 1958-59
2,607 v Halifax 1961-62
2,866 v Scunthorpe 2014-15
3,229 v Colchester 2012-13 
3,261 v QPR 1962-63
3,270 v Wimbledon 1991-92*
3,360 v Newport County 1961-62*
3,375 v Stevenage 2013-14*
3,454 v Crawley 2013-14*
3,458 v Torquay 1961-62*
3,583 v Rochdale 2014-15*

* Saturday games

Saturday’s gate at Rochdale was slightly better than the Scunny crowd but at 3,583 was the seventh smallest to watch a Saturday away game since the war. It does make you wonder how these clubs survive but the two team’s victories over the Sky Blues showed that it’s not just about money, even in League One. Of course the Rochdale bogey was not broken & the defeat means that City have lost all six visits to Spotland stretching back to 1920.

Following Reda Johnson’s red card at Scunthorpe, several people asked me what City’s record was in games when they were reduced to ten men. Johnson is only the fourth City player dismissed since we left the Championship in 2012. Jordan Stewart was the culprit at Walsall in 2012-13 & last season Dan Seabourne  & Carl Baker received their marching orders. You have to go back to February 2010 for the last time City won a game with 10 men. By coincidence Scunthorpe were the visitors to the Ricoh when Leon Barnett received a red card after 59 minutes. City were leading 1-0 through a Jon Stead goal at the time & extended their lead on 68 minutes through Sammy Clingan before Grant McCann scored a consolation in the 83rd minute. City hung on to win 2-1.

Since then City have had eleven men dismissed & have drawn two & lost nine of those games. The eleven red cards were for: Marlon King (2), Carl Baker (2), Aron Gunnarsson, Martin Cranie, Gael Bigirimana, Richard Keogh, Stewart, Seabourne & Johnson.

The last time City won an away game with ten men was in the Eric Black era in 2004 at Cardiff when loanee Peter Clarke was ordered off after 24 seconds but City managed to win 1-0 thanks to a Gary McSheffrey penalty. It was a good period for the Sky Blues – the win at Ninian Park was City’s fourth away win in a row.

Prompted by the news in August that England Ladies player Fara Williams had won her record 130th international cap, Mr R A Berry wrote in asking what happened to Cobi Jones who played briefly for the Sky Blues in 1994-95 season.  The dread-locked Jones was a US international who had impressed at the 1994 World Cup. City chairman Bryan Richardson had tried to sign his US teammate Alexei Lalas who chose Italian club Padova instead. Jones was his second choice & arrived in September 1994, around the time Dion Dublin & Steven Pressley arrived at the club, and made his debut as a substitute in a 2-1 home win over Leeds United. His mazy run was ended by Chris Fairclough’s challenge in the penalty area & Paul Cook scored from the resulting penalty. Cobi made 25 appearances (18 starts, 6 subs) & scored two goals, the only goal in a home victory over Norwich & the other in the famous 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace which preceded Phil Neal’s sacking & the appointment of Ron Atkinson. After Big Ron’s arrival Jones only made two sub appearances.

He returned to the States that summer & after impressive appearances for his country in the Copa America was signed by Brazilian club Vasco da Gama. After just four games in Brazil he was back in the USA & joined Los Angeles Galaxy for the inaugural MLS season in 1996. In eleven seasons with Galaxy he played over 300 MLS games & twice helped them to lift the MLS Cup as well as being voted US Athlete of the Year in 2005. When he finally retired from international football he had won 164 caps & played at three World Cups. He was a coach at Galaxy & worked under Ruud Gullit before being caretaker boss in 2008 when the Dutchman was sacked & then worked under his successor Bruce Arena. He left Galaxy in 2011 & has since worked for New York Cosmos but is now back in California working in the media covering his beloved Galaxy. His shirt number of 13 has been officially retired by the club.

Cobi won more caps for the USA than any other player & his record of 164 caps is the seventh highest in world football.

If you have a question about Coventry City's history send me an email at & I will attempt to answer it.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Jim's column 20.9.14

With no column last week I have to start by mentioning the incredible attendance at the Gillingham game two weeks ago. The final figure of 27,306 was largest City home crowd for a night league game since August 1978 when the defending league champions Nottingham Forest visited Highfield Road and 28,585 watched an enthralling 0-0 draw. That was three years before Jimmy Hill decided to make the club all-seater and reduce the capacity of the old stadium to just over 20,000. Later the capacity was increased by the re-opening of the Spion Kop terracing and the visit of Liverpool in August 1987 pulled in over 27,500 for an afternoon game but that was never bettered. The previous best 'night' crowd for a league game was 27,212 for a 1-0 defeat to Birmingham City in 2006. The Gills crowd was the sixth highest crowd for a City game at the Ricoh and the second highest for a league game, topped only by the 28,184 for Leeds in 2010-11 but there were over 6,000 Leeds fans present.

Dave Long asked how the Gillingham crowd compared with the total number of City fans who travelled to Sixfields for league games last season. That figure was 39,599 at an average of  1,722 per game. We can only hope that City’s home gates never slip as low again & the attendances of the 2013-14 season are an one-off & consigned to the history books.

How sad then that the attendance versus Yeovil last Saturday dropped to just over 11,000. Coincidentally the last big crowd at the Ricoh, for the JPT regional semi-final with Crewe in 2013, was followed days later by the visit of Yeovil. Then the crowd slumped from 31,054 for Crewe to 11,277 for Yeovil. A number of factors affected last Saturday’s attendance. Firstly the ticket prices for Yeovil were back to normal with no ‘special deal’. Secondly, the Gillingham game was an ‘event’ and attracted a lot of floating fans as well as many non-City fans who just wanted to be there for the homecoming. Thirdly, many people cannot afford to pay for two games in just over a week & would always opt for the Gillingham game. Finally, there are a number of fans who are sticking by their ‘Not One Penny More’ stance & vow not to return to the stadium until the owners have gone. It's unlikely that crowds will increase appreciably unless the team show consistent home form & they look capable of a serious challenge on the top six. The current form suggests that after years of under-performing the latter may be possible this campaign. Midweek games traditionally attract lower crowds & the Sky Blues have no midweek home league games between now and Christmas. If the reasonable form continues gates could well stay over 10,000 for the foreseeable future, although a Tuesday night game v Scunthorpe in February might test my prediction.

Today the Sky Blues travel to Rochdale, a ground that they have always struggled on. They have failed to win on all four visits, one league game in the 1920s & three Cup trips since 1971. In 1971 Noel Cantwell's side had played in Europe but were dumped out of the FA Cup by Third Division Rochdale for whom David Cross, later to join City scored. Then in 1991 in a League Cup tie Terry Butcher's team took a 4-0 first leg lead to Spotland only to slip up 0-1 to a Fourth Division side. The last banana-skin was in 2003 in the FA Cup fourth round when Gary McAllister's team were humbled 0-2. Surely Steven Pressley's side can come away with something today.

City’s new striker Simeon Jackson became City’s first international player for over two years when he appeared for Canada against Jamaica, the country of his birth, last week. Simeon, who has won around 40 caps for Canada and is City's first ever Canadian international, came on as a substitute in the 3-1 victory in Toronto. The last time a City player played for his country was in June 2012 when Sammy Clingan & James McPake appeared for Northern Ireland in a 6-0 drubbing from Holland in Amsterdam with Oliver Norwood whose loan from Manchester United had formally ended also appearing. Neither Clingan nor McPake appeared again for the Sky Blues after their appearance in Holland. McPake, who won his only cap that night, had spent the second half of the 2011-12 season on loan at Hibernian & three weeks after the Holland game he joined Hibs on a permanent basis. He has recently joined Dundee, newly promoted to the SPL. Clingan, who left the club as a free agent in June 2012 is appearing for Kilmarnock in the SPL.

If you have a question about Coventry City's history send me an email at & I will attempt to answer it.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Jim's column 6.9.14

I am writing this before the Ricoh homecoming on Friday night when the Sky Blues will run out at their home ground for the first time in nineteen months to a large excited crowd. With tickets being released in dribs & drabs and no certainty about how much of the stadium will be open, the attendance is difficult to predict but people in the know are expecting around 25,000. Numerous people have asked me how that will match up against other City attendances at the stadium & here are the top crowds before last night.

31,407 v Chelsea (FA Cup) 2008-09. Lost 0-2
30,154 v Crewe (JPT) 2012-13.  Lost 0-3
28,184 v Leeds United  2010-11.  Lost 2-3
28,163 v West Brom (FA Cup) 2007-08. Lost 0-5
28,120 v Middlesbrough (FA Cup) 2005-06.  Drew 1-1
27,992 v Wolves 2007-08. Drew 1-1
27,212 v Birmingham 2006-07. Lost 0-1
26,856 v Wolves 2005-06. Won 2-0
26,723 v Leicester 2005-06. Drew 1-1

Let's hope the result against Gillingham was better than the majority of packed crowds there have been at the stadium since it opened in 2005. Only one of the nine games above were won!

With two good away draws at MK Dons & Swindon & an away win at Wycombe in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, the Sky Blues have now gone five league & cup games without defeat since the League Cup exit to Cardiff. This is the best run by Steven Pressley's team since the start of this year when the Boxing Day victory over Peterborough sparked a six game unbeaten run which was ended on 24 January at the Emirates Stadium. For a time on Saturday it looked like the Swindon hoodoo might be broken but in the end City had to be content with one point. It is now fifty four years and seven league visits since the Sky Blues won at the County Ground in a league game.

Dan Donovan wanted to know if he was correct in thinking that the five smallest crowds at Sixfields last season were the lowest in the club's history. It was worse than that Dan – prior to last season the smallest League home crowd for the club was 2,059 against Crystal Palace in 1927-28 but last season City had TEN league crowds lower than that, six of them under 1700.

The ten smallest crowds were:
1,603 v Carlisle
1,618 v Crewe
1,627 v Port Vale
1,637 v Walsall
1,673 v Bradford C
1,697 v Stevenage
1,789 v Colchester
1,816 v Tranmere
1,961 v Rotherham
1,966 v Shrewsbury

There was also an even smaller crowd for the Hartlepool FA Cup replay in December with 1,214 watching City progress to the Third round.

I saw some great statistics on City's history at the Ricoh Arena (2005-13) produced by Rich Tomlinson for his excellent CCFCTV blog. One of the most interesting highlighted City's W-D-L record at the stadium which is, won 81, drawn 58, lost 67 producing a pitiful win percentage of 40%. This is pretty shocking when you consider that the average between 1919 and 1967 was 57% and the win ratio regularly topped 65% in the 1930s & 1950s with 90% in 1935-36 & 80% in 1966-67. The stats support the view that there might be a curse on the new stadium, perhaps from that Leicester City shirt allegedly buried by one of the contractors. Interestingly the win ratio at Sixfields last season was better than all of the last six seasons at the Ricoh which failed to produce a win ratio over 40%. My conclusion is that the club's home form is going to have to improve dramatically for City to have any chance of featuring in the promotion race.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Jim's column 30.8.14

It promises to be a memorable night at the Ricoh on Friday night with a large crowd expected for the homecoming from Northampton against Gillingham. City haven't had a home league crowd over 20,000 since March 2012 when the visit of Birmingham City attracted 22,240 to see a 1-1 draw. There were of course 31,054 for the Crewe game in the JPT Regional final in February 2013.

I thought I would take the opportunity to answer some of the questions I received during the summer. One question regarded this year's FA Cup final when Arsenal came from 0-2 down to beat Hull City. Several people asked me when that had last happened. It was 2006 when Liverpool trailed West Ham 0-2 only to force a 3-3 draw & win the trophy on penalties in Cardiff. The last time a team managed it at Wembley and without needing penalties was in 1966 when Everton came from two down to beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 with goals from Mike Trebilcock (2) & Derek Temple. That year also saw Coventry City go out of the FA Cup to the eventual winners - City losing 3-0 at Goodison Park in the fifth round. Of course City also lost to the eventual winners this season – at Arsenal in January. In answer to Craig Richards' question this was the sixth occasion. The others being 1963 (Manchester United), 1966 (Everton), 1981 (Tottenham), 1985 (Manchester United) and 2009 (Chelsea). One other interesting statistic from the FA Cup final was that Hull City were the first team to score twice in the 90 minutes and not win since Tottenham in 1987.

Dean Nelson sparked some interest on Twitter this week by pointing out the 46th anniversary of a famous evening victory over West Brom at Highfield Road. A first-half hatrick from Ernie Hunt plus a goal from Ernie Machin took City to a 4-2 victory over the Baggies – a repeat of the scoreline a year earlier in City's inaugural First Division season. The real star of the show however was Ian Gibson or 'Gibbo' as he was known by all City fans. 'Gibbo' had been left out of City's first two games of the season & had left manager Noel Cantwell in no doubt of his feelings – he wanted a move. After losing the opening two games Cantwell recalled him for the first home game against West Ham but the mercurial Scot had had a quiet game. Against Albion however he was at his irresistible best. City went ahead in the second minute when a challenge by John Kaye on Gerry Baker resulted in a penalty which the cheeky Hunt slotted past Rick Sheppard. On 15 minutes a stunning 35-yard ball from Gibbo found Hunt who slammed in a second. Former City man Ronnie Rees pulled a goal back two minutes later but Hunt struck again on 25 minutes after a jinking run by Gibbo. Machin added the fourth in the second half before a later Tony Brown effort completed the scoring. Gibson was given a standing ovation for what for me was one of the finest individual performances I have ever seen from a City player. After the game Cantwell was generous in his praise of the wee Scot, saying: 'I would be mad to sell Gibson'.

Almost exactly a year later City defeated Albion again at Highfield Road in the first home game of the 1969-70 season. Albion had been big spenders in the close season but injuries meant they had to give a debut to 19-year old goalkeeper Gordon Nisbet. Nisbet, later to convert to a full-back, had a nightmare first-half & conceded three goals from Willie Carr, playing as a striker alongside Neil Martin. Krzywicki pulled one back but City ran out 3-1 winners. A week later they completed the double with a 1-0 victory at the Hawthorns. City certainly had the Indian sign over Albion in those days.

Following my piece on Coventry City's overseas-born players I had a few questions. Ed Blackaby wanted to know if Michael Petrasso, a loanee from QPR last season, was the first Canadian to play for the club. Yes, Ed, he was, and although new signing Simeon Jackson is a Canadian international he was born in Jamaica. Clive Baskerville pointed out that Cyrille Regis, like Arphexad & Negouai, was also born in a French overseas departement, French Guyana, which qualifies him as the 16th French-born City player.

Talking of Christian Negouai (born in Martinique), Mark Page & several other readers had no recollection of this player. He was a loan player from Manchester City who played two games in 2004-05 soon after Micky Adams took over as manager. He was primarily a defensive midfielder who could also play as a striker. He made his two appearances at Newcastle in an FA Cup defeat & two weeks later in a home league defeat to Burnley. He was substituted in the latter game after a particularly uninspiring performance & returned to Man City soon afterwards. Injuries blighted his career which took him back to the continent with Standard Liege, Norwegian club Aalesund & Brussels. Whilst playing for Liege Christian was credited with the fastest goal in Belgian league history, netting after just 11 seconds.

If you have a question about Coventry City's history send me an email at & I will attempt to answer it.