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TRIALS OF A SKY BLUES FAN

In 'Trials of a Sky Blues Fan' we will be posting your stories of life supporting Coventry City; from choosing the Sky Blues, your first game, the highs and lows, favourite players and memorable moments.

If you would like to submit your story, please send it HERE. Your story will be embellished with relevant pictures, displayed on the site, and passed to the members magazine editor. We'd love to hear from you. If you need help putting your account together, no problem !

Saty Bhakri
Ian Davidson
Paul Chandler
Jon Strange
Barry Chattaway
Robin Morden
Robin Ogleby
Peter Reynolds

Sky Blue Memories - Saty Bhakri

An older cousin took me to my first game at Highfield Road in December 1971, it was against Liverpool and Coventry lost 2-0 and that is all that I remember.

My next game was in April 72 against Manchester United who won 3-2 with George Best and Bobby Charlton scoring. It thrills me more each year to be able to say I have seen them play. I remember that we were 3-0 down at halftime and got back into the game in the second half aided by some excellent saves by Bill Glazier.

Being poor at football in those days (and still am as my colleagues would say), I often found myself playing in goal at school so I was a big fan of Bill (despite the schoolboy pleasure of the name of the reserve goalkeeper Neil Ramsbottom). I remember going to Bill's testimonial game against a 1966 England eleven with Gordon Banks in goal at the other end. The game finished 6-6 and was fun for fans and players alike, I hope I can find my old autograph book to see whose I got that day.

In fact I used to be an avid autograph collector in those days and would stay on pretty late after the games to get them, there must be a fine mix of old names in my books.

One of my later favourite players was David Cross. I remember his goal with a  header from the edge of the penalty area against Sheffield Wednesday in an FA Cup game that for some reason was played at 1pm on a weekday. A group of us managed to persuade our football hating welsh games teacher to have the games lesson off to go. I will also always remember his winning goal against Liverpool in 1978 when they had been completely outplaying and only Jim Blyth's heroics in goal including a penalty save had kept us in it, plus having already used our substitute we were playing with 10 men as Colin Stein could barely hobble down the wing.

I remember Larry Lloyd joining from Liverpool and starting well for with the highlight being a shot/hoof from just inside the oppositions half that beat Kevin Keelan in goal for Norwich, I was behind the goal in the Spion Kop at the time and saw Keelans despairing dive as the ball arced over him. However, his form and figure went out of shape and I remember him struggling through a reserves game, responding to the jeers from the fans for his lack of fitness with a two-fingered salute. We were happy to sell him off at a loss to Brian Clough at Forest who were in the second division but then saw him winning the League and European cup with them, if that doesn't prove Cloughies brilliance then nothing does and of course supposedly Coventry had had the chance to employ him one time but had changed their minds.

I was at Forest's title winning game at Highfield Road when Peter Shilton made an amazing point blank reflex save from Mick Ferguson. After the game my brother and I sneaked into the main stand building and walked about, we and finally ended up in the outside the main door where the Forest coach was parked and Brian Clough was being interviewed for the tv by Gary Newbon. According to a fellow student who saw the game on Star Soccer, I could be seen in the background during the interview, hope I can find that clip on the internet one day.

The main benefit of joining CCLSC for me is the Q&A meetings where I've met far too many different managers over recent years, but the favourite manager I ever met was Joe Mercer at a charity function and I'm always proud to say that Coventry have provided an England (caretaker) manager.

My favourite league game of all time would probably be the home game against Tottenham in 1987 which had excellent football from both sides, especially our 3rd goal made from a move of one-touch football with Coventry's tenacity getting them the 4-3 win with a late Regis goal.

My all time favourite goal is Tommy Hutchison's 25 yard volley against Liverpool in 1973 as it was such a cracking shot against a top team.

My Sky Blues Story - Ian Davidson

In March 2012, I will hit the 50th anniversary of my first City match. I became hooked early on with the success of the Jimmy Hill (JH) era, and have followed my team through the highs and lows and still today get told 'you should have gone to the match rather than sit by the radio listening to the commentary'. You really can't pick who you support. But when the topic of Coventry City comes up, I can often say, 'I was there'.  Over the next few pages I recall some of my special Sky Blue memories.

As I said I grew up in the JH days, the Sky Blue era.  From the age of 8 to 13 I saw the City achieve two promotions and go from the lower reaches of the football league and to the highest level of English football.  Supporting the Sky Blues (as they were then to be known following JH's revolution) became an obsession.  It was to continue for the next 34 years in the top division, seeing them win the FA Cup and it continues today even as we languish in the lower reaches of the Championship.   I am known to book holidays, business trips and family gatherings around the fixture lists. September holidays can be booked early in the year in the safe knowledge it is an international week and there will be no clash with a City match.  I have flown in from Italy, where we lived for 3 years in the early 1990's, to watch important matches. Since returning to England, my wife Chris has picked me up from Heathrow on several occasions on a Saturday morning having flown overnight from Hong Kong or the USA so we could get to the match.  In those early days, I even persuaded my Dad, in his new Caravanette/minibus, to take a few friends up to Sunderland for the first match of the 1969-70 season to see what the press reported as two certain relegation candidates play out a boring 0-0.

I have been a CCLSC member since 1987, when I started to work in the other City and moved to Kent. Since then, I have travelled up and down the M1 or M40 to home games, with that exception of the three years from 1991-4 when I worked and lived in Italy. I have also travelled to many away games, particularly those south of Coventry, during this time.  Over this period of time, my wife Chris and our children Nikki and Mark have often joined me on these long journeys.  The Ricoh Arena is 142 miles from the Kent village where we live and with no motorway hold ups I am often home at around 7.30 pm on a Saturday evening and around midnight after evening games where I often then catch the 7am train into London for work the following morning.  That motorway journey is always much better after a good City performance.

Here am I outside the Coventry housing development at the Highland Reserve Golf Course near Disney in Florida. I just had to take the picture back in 2007.

Ian

 My family

My wife Chris, who was a season ticket holder for many years herself, has a brother who lives in Bulkington, and will these days combine a family visit with a trip to the match every month or so.  Nikki and Mark have also been season ticket holders in the past but since university and week end working commitments they now only attend matches when they can.

Chris and I have been married 33 years and first met in the Holyhead pub in Coventry. One of the things we had in common, even then, was that our Dads took us 'up the City'. My Dad and my three brothers still live in the Coventry area. These days the annual Christmas present family visits to Coventry are booked and planned, as soon as the season's fixtures are announced, to coincide with whatever home match we have in early/mid December.

As we were planning our 25th Wedding anniversary party I was aware that the final match of the season, a Sunday lunchtime kickoff at Crewe, could be a relegation decider.  Driving from Kent, after a late night party all the way to Crewe for lunchtime would be challenging. So the only option was to hold the party in Coventry, which could be sold easily as many of our relatives still live there, with the benefit of Crewe being a considerably shorter drive from Coventry. As it happened, it was Crewe who needed to win to survive on the last day of the season and not the City who went into the last match knowing they couldn't go down.  This didn't stop the Davidson family, including Nikki and Mark's boyfriend and girlfriend, travelling to the Crewe match on mass.

Family traditions were to be continued in the mid 1990's when Mark reached 8 years old. We had a dilemma one Saturday in that Nikki had been invited to a children's party in the village, Chris had offered to help out but Mark had not been invited. I of course, was off to watch the home match against Arsenal. Season ticket holders were being offered bring your kids for a pound tickets and I suggested that Mark might want to come with his Dad. The game was in doubt due to the weather as we set off from Kent. As we drove onto the Coventry Ring Road Mercer radio announced on the 1 pm news, that following a pitch inspection, the game was on. Mark sitting in the back of the car punched the air in delight.

He didn't really say much about the game until we were sitting around the dinner table that evening and his Mum and sister asked him what it was like at the match. He gushed with enthusiasm about the crowd noise, the scoreboard and how near the players were. But like his Dad, his first match had also been a home defeat.

Upon hearing all this, his older sister, Nikki was adamant that she wanted to go 'up the City' as well. The next home match, against Norwich, was also a kids for a pound match, so the whole family trooped off the watch the Sky Blues for what was to be the first of many family trips. What did a 10 year old girl want for her birthday a couple of months later? Why a season ticket no less.  The next generation of Davidson's were now Sky Blues fanatics.

My family continue to crop up throughout as I recalled my sky blue story. I still sit next to my Dad, who is now 87, my cousin Mick and Loz, one of my brothers, behind the goal in the Telegraph stand at the Ricoh. In the early days, I first stood in the small terrace in front of the main Stand, then the Kop and the West End before having seats in the upper tier of the West Stand at Highfield Road.

The rise to the top Division

My love for Coventry City commences in the early 1960's. I do not remember the Kings Lynn defeat or the changes that were starting to take place in 1961. I was taken to my first match in March 1962 (aged 8 and a half) a defeat to Bournemouth. My only other game that season was also another defeat this time to Port Vale.  This should have told me that supporting the Sky Blues was never going to be easy!

The following season had the highs of the fantastic 1963 cup run, and I was hooked.  What a final few minutes that Tuesday night against Sunderland was for a 9 year old. Even being crushed against the parameter wall as first the equaliser, and then the winner, went in didn't put me off.  The prize for beating Sunderland that night was Charlton, Law and Best of Manchester United the coming Saturday. Disappointment was to follow as my Dad had to inform me that, despite queuing for several hours, he had not been able to get tickets.

Disappointment turned to joy when he came home on the Thursday or Friday evening to say that a rumour had gone round the Massey Ferguson factory, where he worked, that Manchester had returned several hundred tickets and he had hopped on his trusted moped and set off to Highfield Road. He tells me that they were allocating only one ticket per person and having collected your ticket you exited the ticket office onto the pitch. As he got back to his moped, he noticed that the very long queue was moving extremely quickly and as he watched it disappear around the corner so he joined the queue again and got a second ticket!

As an impressionable youngster during this time I have very fond memories of the JH revolution, especially the pop and crisps where I would queue up and be in awe of the players signing my autograph book.

Even though I was still at primary school I was allowed to go to several away games. Walsall and Port Vale, over Easter for some reason I can't recall still sticks in my mind. Joining the several thousand in the Sky Blue Army at Millwall to see Ron Farmer actually miss a penalty and then going onto the pitch after we had clinched promotion against Colchester in the last game of the season.  Another memory from this game was that I had my woollen bobble hat stolen, which was covered in the plastic stars with photos of the players all the kids bought at the time, whilst on the pitch with several hundred supporters chanting as the players took to the stands for their deserved applause.

The following season, the first in the old Division One, I can still remember going down to the Valley in October and witnessing a 3-0 Charlton away defeat. Mike Bailey was absolutely fantastic that day for them and he got an England call up not long afterwards. The other thing I can still recall about the Valley was the terracing. I climbed up the vast terracing and stood watching what looked like a Subbuteo match from the top. We didn't have FIFA or Football Manager in those days and Subbuteo was the nearest we had to the real game.

I have a cousin, Rod, who at that time lived in Knutsford near Manchester, and therefore any excuse to visit, meant I was able to see many of the Lancashire games in the 1960's as our meteoric rise took place . Despite living in the shadow of the two Manchester clubs, Rod started to support the Sky Blues and still gets to the occasional game these days.  In more recent times, the away trip to Norwich, where he now lives, has provided the opportunity to suggest a family visit for the week end, and for us to go to the match.

I also travelled on the Sky Blue Express on many occasions during the 1960's  and was on it again for the last game of the 1965-66 season at Huddersfield. We played in white that day and the City fans moved from behind one goal to other at half time to cheer us to hopefully promotion. We got the win we needed but realised, with disappointment whilst the fans celebrated on the pitch, that Man City and Southampton would be going up to the promised-land as other results went against us.

Having finished third and Wolves finishing fourth it was no surprise that both teams would be in the mix the following season. No one I suspect could have scripted the end of the season match at Highfield Road which JH labelled as the 'Midlands Match of the Century'.  Both teams were already promoted and this was labelled as the championship decider.  I was one of the hundreds of kids who were lifted over the wall onto the pitch side. Over 51,000 had crammed into Highfield Road and when we scored I was on the pitch like everyone else celebrating. I remember the tannoy announcement that any further instance of pitch invasion would result in the abandonment of the match.  I still recall with pride that when the final goal went in, not one fan encroached onto the pitch.  The Championship was finalised a couple of weeks later with a win over Millwall with stewards running around the pitch informing the fans of scores elsewhere.

34 years at the top

What a summer 1967 was for a Sky Blues fan now aged 13. The ecstasy of promotion meant of course I had to be at Burnley for that first game and then at Forest the following Tuesday, where George Curtis broke his leg, before my first Highfield Road Division One game, a draw against Sheffield United. It was an up and down first season but like many I kept the faith and travelled to Southampton on the last day of the season hoping that our dream was not going to be a one season wonder. 

I can recall being behind the goal at the end where someone hit the bar. I can't recall if it was City or Southampton but I do recall the celebrations on the coach back to Cov that night. That first season the 0-0 at Southampton saw us saved on the last day of the season for what was to be the first time. Unfortunately this occurred too many times for comfort. 

The following season City, which would not be for the only time, were involved in a relegation struggle with games being played after the end of the season. In those days teams could play their remaining games after everyone else had finished.  In our second season in the top flight our fixtures concluded with a 0-0 draw with Liverpool.  Leicester City still had four matches to play and required six points out of eight (it was only two points for a win in those days) to survive and relegate the City. They lost the first and I saw all three remaining Leicester games of the season. I was at Filbert Street when they won against Sunderland and again when they could only draw against Everton. I then persuaded Mum and Dad to visit my Uncle and Aunt in Knutsford so I could dash off to the final Man Utd v Leicester game in late May. I went into the Old Trafford match knowing a Leicester win put us down. After the match, Man Utd won 3-2; I stood on the Stretford End with what looked like a lot of other Coventry fans celebrating.  People have told me they heard the sky blue song on the TV coming from the Stretford End after the game.  Again, I can say that I was there.

The survival game that always comes to mind is the Bristol City match in 1977. In later life, I worked closely for a time with Hargreaves Lansdown, the broker. Steve Lansdown is the longstanding Bristol City Chairman and on one occasion he invited Chris and I to join him for lunch with his family in the Board Room before a Coventry match.  I got to know a number of his staff who are Bristol City fans. Many have recalled to me the night they were stuck on the motorway getting to Highfield Road and then in the final few minutes, Terry Yorath sitting on the ball at the edge of our penalty area with no Bristol players wanting to come over the half way line. The Sunderland result at Everton had been flashed on to the scoreboard meaning a draw saved both Bristol and the Sky Blues from relegation and sent Sunderland down. I remember it well and it was not to be the only time a delayed kick off involving the Sky Blues was to send Sunderland down.

Years later it was the Coventry fans caught on the motorway on their way to White Hart Lane which resulted in a delayed kick off. We had to do better than both Middlesbrough and Sunderland to stay up. Nikki and Mark were with me at Spurs when somehow Middlesbrough drew at Leeds and Sunderland lost at Wimbledon.  We still had 15 minutes to go and it was hell but I can still see Oggy's great save in the last couple of minutes and singing my heart out 'We are Premier League' with the thousands of fans in the corner at White Hart Lane as the players jumped for joy below us.

 I am not sure this was the greatest escape though.  We needed to win our last three matches in 1985. I was at Ipswich with Dad on a cold May evening in 1985 and drawing 0-0 when news of a late goal from Stamford Bridge came through. Norwich  had scored and  I remembering commenting that it would have been better for the late goal to have gone to Ipswich and we had lost, rather than Norwich,  as it now meant we had to win all our remaining three games in that final week. History tells us that we did it. My blood pressure certainly took a hammering that week, when on the Tuesday evening we had the late, very late Stoke penalty miss, the late Kilcline free kick on the Thursday against Luton kept the hopes alive for the Sunday match against the champions Everton. The impossible became possible with a 4-1 win.  The Sky Blues really shouldn't put us through all of this but I was there.

Flirting with relegation continued into the 1990's. I mentioned that I had lived and worked for three years in Italy in the early 1990's. The first season I was in Italy it was pre Sky TV, so BBC radio was the only way to get the results.  I, of course, planned to get home at Christmas, Half Terms and Easter to visit family and catch a game. But with relegation again rearing its ugly head I had to be in the UK to help the boys survive!  I chose the last home match rather than the Villa away game on the final day of the season, thinking we would be safe by the time we played Villa. So I was back from Italy for the last home match of the season, against West Ham on the last but one Saturday of the season.  A 1-0 win left us just outside the bottom three, two points ahead of Luton. On the last day of the season, City were away to Villa and Luton away to already relegated Notts Co. That final Saturday was one of the most anguished I can recall as I sat glued to the BBC World Radio coverage.  All I knew was that Villa had scored very early on and irritatingly, there was just no mention at all of what was happening in Nottingham. How could a lifelong City fan not be with his team on the last day of the season?  Villa scored a second, so a Luton victory put us down.  Still no news and I had to wait until the 5 o'clock results were announced before I knew we were safe.  I had a Sky dish the following year to coincide with the Premier League but promised myself I would never go through that again.

Coincidence does however tend to rear its ugly head and Nikki and Mark are forever reminding me that I was not at Villa Park that fateful day and they were.  I had to be in New York and Chicago on business but was able to flex the trip and looking at the fixtures had to make another choice. Did I go to Villa Park or the final Saturday home match which was looking like a relegation play off, against Bradford City' Derby, one of the other relegation candidates that season, were playing at champion elect Man Utd the day we played Villa. I calculated that even with a defeat at Villa we would still be in with a fight on the last Saturday of the season, as surely Derby could not win at Old Trafford.

So there I was, on the upper deck of a BA 747 on the tarmac at Heathrow, as the stewardess gave me a glass of champagne and asked politely if there was anything else she could do for me. Yes I said, 'When we are over the Atlantic could the pilot get me the football results, especially the one from Villa Park'?. No, I had to assure her, I wasn't joking and she went off to speak to the pilot. She promised to let me have the results in due course.

In the middle of dinner the stewardess came back and handed me a piece of paper with all of the premiership results. We had lost 3-2 but the pilot had scribbled a comment against the Derby result saying he thought that Man Utd had won 1-0 not Derby. So were we relegated or not? It was several hours later in New York when I finally found out for certain that we had been relegated. Like many other fans I was at the meaningless Bradford match the following week. Nikki and Mark continue to remind me that, unlike them, I was not there when we went down.

In the naughties, of course it hasn't really got any better. I mentioned the family trip to Crewe, after our 25th wedding anniversary, which thankfully we didn't need to win on the last day of that season. I was also at Charlton in 2008 when we lost 1-4 and were absolutely abysmal.  My Dad stayed in Coventry that day, and was watching the Stoke v Leicester match live on Sky. So again just like the late 1960's Leicester or the Sky Blues could go down. That afternoon he was making frantic calls informing us of what was happening elsewhere as we had effectively lost within the first 20 minutes. When Hull let in a goal late on, this effectively put Stoke up even if they lost to Leicester. His words that Sunday were not encouraging. We were totally out of it, 1-4 down and a Leicester goal meant we were doomed.  He said that the Stoke players were celebrating with the fans and not bothering with the match. After all the last gasp games I had witnessed, this is the only one I can recall when the City faithful booed the team at the end, even though they had survived. Fortune was on our side when Leicester hit the post in the final few minutes and we survived thanks to their 0-0 at Stoke and not as a result of our own efforts.

European Delight

So whilst recalling many of the great escapes we did of course flirt with success in our third season in Division One, once finding our feet and finished 6th and qualified for Europe.

One of my highs as a life-long Sky Blues fanatic is that I can honestly say that I have seen 75% of City's European cup games. It does sound very impressive but it is in reality being at three out of the four matches. I had just started an apprenticeship at Standard Triumph in September 1970.  The European adventure was to start with Trakia Plovdiv in the first round. Now I desperately wanted to go to the away leg but not really sure where Trakia or was it Plovdiv actually was, and my parents persuaded me this was not a good idea as I had only been abroad once by then, on holiday by car to Spain. The compromise was that they would reconsider allowing me to go to the next round should we get through. 

In the October we were drawn against Bayern Munich in Round 2. The top German side with 5 or 6 German internationals in their side had beaten Glasgow Rangers home and away in Round 1. Now I wasn't 17 until the November and had only had one pay packet from my apprenticeship. My Mum and Dad kept their promise and, borrowing the airfare from my cousin Mick, who I still sit with at the Rioch, I was off to Munich Germany.

So my first flight, other than a 20 minute trip around Great Yarmouth, was to see the City.  I recall coaches picking us up from the airport and taking us on a tour of Munich before dropping us off at one of the large bierkellers in the City Centre, for the best chicken and chips and cold beer I had ever had! Don't tell anyone I was a month off 18 at the time.

Like many of the City fans that day I had uncovered seating on the half way line. Much had been written about the unfortunate Eric MacManus with the ball sticking in the mud for the first goal and then flying on the wet rain soaked grass for the second. The rain was unrelenting and before the match commenced I like many of the Sky Blues fans, were allowed to walk around the ground to the covered standing area on the opposite side of the pitch.  Soaked, cold and somewhat disheartened after the 6-1 defeat, I played cards with some school friends whilst we waited at Munich airport for the plane back to Birmingham that evening.  I think we were the only team to actually beat Bayern in that year's completion when we won the return leg 2-1.

Cup high and lows

Apart from the brief experience of Europe, following the Sky Blues in the various Cups over my near 50 years has seen many more downs than ups.  Apart for the Wembley experience, which I will come to shortly, over the years I have been present at several embarrassing defeats to lower league opponents.  I was at the evening replay defeats at Tranmere and Swindon in the late 60s and Colchester more recently and witnessed the agony of defeats at then third division side Blackburn , Rochdale and Northampton to name but a few. I have lived near Tonbridge in Kent since returning from Italy in 1994 and Ganders Green Lane is still the only non league ground I can name.  Yes I was also at Sutton 18 months after we had won the cup!

In those early years of following the City, before we reached the promised-land, I can recall the heavy cup defeats I saw from teams from higher Divisions.  Everton away, the 1-6 at WBA, the 0-3 at Villa Park in the 3rd round of the FA Cup and the 1-8 at home to Leicester in the League Cup. These early knock backs begged the question whether we would ever be good enough to compete at the highest level.

The high and lows have continued over the years. I really thought we had finally booked a Wembley appearance when we recovered from being two down to win the West Ham League Cup semi final first leg 3-2 and then the disappointment of that last minute goal at Upton Park when extra time looked odds on. This was followed four days later with City going out of the FA Cup 5th round at Spurs with a poor display. The frustration of drawing 0-0 in the home leg against Forest in our other League Cup semi final was also hard to take.

We did finally make it in 1987 of course, and I was also cheering the lads on to hopefully another Wembley appearance the year after our Wembley triumph against Spurs, when we lost on penalties at Reading in the Simod Cup Semi Final.  Whilst I was able to drive back to Kent that evening I do know many of the City fans didn't make it home that night with the game only finally finishing at 10.30pm.

Of course, when any Sky Blue fans talk about the Cup, for those old enough to have been there, it has to be the 1987 cup run.

After beating Bolton at home in the third round it was Man Utd at Old Trafford in Round 4. Dad and I had lunch and a pint or two at the Robinson's pub on the island at the M6 junction before seeing Keith Houchen score the only goal of the game.  Little did we know what a part he was to play in the forthcoming cup run?

It was back up the M6 for the match at Stoke and could we really start to believe, when we came away with another 1-0 win. It was then two trips to Hillsborough. Regis turning on the half way line and racing away from the City fans towards the Kop and firing home, the pressure after they equalised and then Houchen's two  late goals saw the 15,000 Sky Blues come away happy after seeing off Sheffield Wednesday in the quarter finals.

I had been to Hillsborough on a number of occasions before this including the time I had been ambushed by Wednesday fans at the end of the tunnel behind the goal. Remember this was before the Liverpool fans tragedy but I never really liked the terracing in front of that tunnel, so we had seats in the stand above for the quarter final. As we were allocated tickets for the Kop end for the semi final I wanted to stand for the atmosphere and being superstitious, I would opt to stand at Wembley also.

I am not sure what an alien would have made of the cavalcade of cars making there way up the M1 going north that Sunday morning in April 1987. Thousands of fans with scarves out of their car windows bought the motorway to a standstill near Sheffield. Having left the motorway we continued to queue towards Sheffield when my Dad, looking at a map, suggested we turn back on ourselves at the next island. He was much too impatient as it was taking so long in the stationary traffic and suggested I did a U-turn over the centre reservation. Now my Dad is known to always right but we did get some funny looks for the Sky Blue cavalcade as we appeared to be going back towards the motorway junction. Following Dad's instructions I turned left down a very narrow lane. We came to a bridge with a stream running through it. 'No, it's Ok? said Dad, as we squeezed the car through the narrow tunnel emerging in a housing estate. We took a left on the next main road and driving for a couple of miles on empty roads before finding ourselves able to park a few hundred yards right behind the Kop end of the stadium. We had somehow, by driving through that tunnel, got around the police cordon in place that day. 

And so we were all going to Wembley, all that is except my wife, Chris. She was heavily pregnant with Mark who was due that August.  I never got to the Charity Shield on August 1st as Mark was eventually born on the 10th August.

Family and friends were travelling from different areas of the country to get to Wembley and I had been aware some months earlier of a pub next to Alperton tube station. As this wasn't on the main tube lines to Wembley the thought was that it would be less crowded.  On the Friday before the final I called the pub to check they would be doing food.  They did not do food at the weekends.  I managed to persuade the pub landlord that 12 steak and chips at 12.30 would be good business. The pub was a little out of the way and I think we were the only sky blue fans in a very crowded pub. But we were the only ones to get food that day, much to the dismay of the Spurs fans.  

For many years afterwards I was extremely grateful to Chris for her quick thinking that day. Like I am sure many Sky Blue fans I wanted to relive the day. I had recorded the pre match TV coverage and Chris suddenly remembered that it was a 3 hour VHS tape as the match moved towards extra time. So on the 16th May for many years to come, I would watch the match on one tape and extra time and collecting the Cup on another.  A few years back I was bought the DVD but continue to watch our success annually of the anniversary.

Since the Cup Final I have made the long trip from Kent to see the more recent cup success at Old Trafford, where Sean, my soon to be son 'in- law and a West ham fan, joined Nikki and I and the more recent draw at Premier League Blackburn.

Highfield Road

No Sky Blue story would be complete without reminiscing about Highfield Road.

The view from the top of the Spion Kop, West Enders leaving the Mercers pub at 2pm and chasing the away fans out of the West End before segregation, and the atmosphere and banter between the West End and the away fans in the corner of the Sky Blue stand.

I recall the building of the various stands, the fire that destroyed the Main Stand and of course, the manager's boxes perched above the trainers seats. It being the first all-seater stadium and the innovative scoreboard, both well before their time.

Nikki and Mark arranged for our 25th wedding anniversary to be announced during half time so that will forever remain another fond memory.

The Davidson clan were all present at the final match in April 2005, when once again we required a result to stay up. It wouldn't have been Coventry City to leave Highfield Road after 106 years without some drama. We, of course, have a canvas of Chris and I standing outside Highfield Road before the Derby match and another one of Chris, Nikki and Mark with other members of the extended family in the pub before the match.

Ian

Like many other supporters I have never found the atmosphere at the Rioch to be the same. The stadium itself provides good views but the decision to put the away fans behind the goal still seems to me to have been made on the basis of money.

I do have a brick in the wall at the Ricoh Arena with my name on it 'Ian Davidson - Kent ', but my heart is still at Highfield Road and the many memories I have of supporting the Sky Blues over the last 50 years.

Number six by regular messageboard participant Paul Chandler - Sky Blue since 1964

I can't honestly remember my very first match no matter how hard I try, I know I was about 8 years old and it was certainly around the time City were pushing for promotion from the old Division 3 to Division 2 (before the 'Premiership' was invented) so I am assuming it was towards end of 1963 or early 1964.

KopMy dad and granddad's took me to the Spion Cop, just below the Crows Nest and the atmosphere was electric I can remember that my dad took a flask of hot tea, and my granddads had pockets full of apples and sweets (life was so simple in those days!). I had a stool which I carried to the ground on match days and placed it just behind a rail that was in place to prevent the crowd falling all the way down to the touchline with excitement during the match.

The crowds in those days seemed to be full of excitement from start to finish or that's at least how I remember it, as I started going regular my granddad made me a rattle, which we painted Sky Blue, I also bought a rosette with my pocket money which I proudly wore everytime I went to a match. Simple things but these are the things that made matchday something special. These were the golden day of the 60's and early 70's watching class players like Ronnie Rees, George Hudson, Dietmar Brook and later players like Willie Carr, Ernie Hunt, Ian Wallace, Tommy Hutchison - so many players that in their time were heroes in my mind.

ErnieI was at the great match at Highfield Road, in 1967 against Wolverhampton Wanderers where we were playing for the Division 2 Champions title. There was a crowd of 51,000+ in a ground designed for only 30,000. Fans were sitting right up to the touchline and had to keep being pushed back by the officials. Fans were sitting up the floodlights and on the roof of the stands and no-one could move their arms we were all like sardines in a can - no H&S issues in those days !

As the years went on and I got a bit older I started going on my own with my mates, we used to start with couple (or 3) beers at 'The Silver Sword' pub in the City Centre, they never really questioned your age so it was a good place to get a beer underage. We would then walk up through Hillfields to Highfield Road, the floodlights at Highfield Road would be glowing in the distance as we walked up from the City Centre. By now I was a West End Terrace Supporter, in with the crowd that did all the singing.  These were the times when there was regular street battles before and after the match, which I always (well nearly always) managed to avoid.

WillieI remember Wolves were one of our main rivals during this time and going unattended on my first away game to Wolverhampton by train from Leamington Spa was a trip into the unknown, I would be about 15 at the time making it about 1971 and went to the match in Sky Blue colours fully expecting to get my head filled in by the tribe in Gold and Black, luckily again I managed to avoid any trouble.

As we continued to struggle in the Premiership (or Division1 as it was known then) my family moved down to Hastings and I have been there ever since. I really love living in Hastings, but still regard Coventry as my 'Home' town. Since moving to Hastings about 25 years ago I have managed to go to watch Coventry fairly regularly and get to about 10 home games and 8 away games every year. I really think that we are starting to turn the corner and there are golden times ahead for the 'Sky Blues'.  Promotion to the Premiership will happen. maybe not this year but certainly within next couple of years ' and I want to be a part of that.

Coleman and meTo be honest supporting Coventry City as any Sky Blue fan will tell you is a roller coaster ride, one week we can beat anybody and will win the league, next week we lose a silly match and are sure candidates for relegation, it's never dull that's for sure. What I love about following Coventry City is being part of the 'Sky Blue Army', the supporters that go to the away games and the supporters I have met in the London Supporters Club are in my view the best supporters in the country.  I even had the chance last month to meet Chris Coleman at the Q&A session with the CCLSC and managed to give him some advice on tactics, team selection etc, so I am sure with my advice he will take us up to the premiership sooner rather than later.

The sad thing is I am now 52 and still enjoy nothing more than standing up at the ground arms outstretched and singing my heart out supporting the 'Mighty Sky Blues'.   Play up Sky Blues !!

Number five by CCLSC Chairman Jon Strange

It was that deep and crisp and even winter when the country couldn't run off its Christmas dinner for three months after the snow descended at the end of 1962. Even on the normally mild Dorset coast, the cliffs remained encrusted in a Santa-like beard for weeks on end. For one 10-year-old, already taking a keen interest in football and cricket, the nearest professional football clubs - and they were at least an hour away by car ' were Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic and Weymouth. Otherwise it was a walk up the road to watch Swanage Town in the Dorset Combination League. Strange to recall, there was one unexpected club that regularly seemed to intrude onto the sports pages. The manager's beard and jutting chin were beginning to protrude more and more often from the newsprint. They belonged to Jimmy Hill. The club he managed was Coventry City.

Resourceful as ever, whilst League grounds remained smothered, and the Cup-tie against Lincoln was postponed more often than a visit to the dentist, Coventry City flew off to Dublin to play Shamrock Rovers in a friendly. And as the football programme finally emerged in a crush of fixtures, the Sky Blues threatened to sweep the snow and the great before them in a famous FA Cup run. One-nil up to Terry Bly's goal after five minutes, my new heroes succumbed only to Manchester United. The following season George Hudson replaced Bly as the regular subtitle to the Sky Blues victory charge. On 9 September 1964, my parents took me to Highfield Road for the first time. City were top of the Second Division with thirteen goals from their first five games. There were 32,717 other people in the crowd, and the goalies were Bob Wesson and Reg Matthews. Derby won 2-1, but I was hooked for ever.

Number four is written by our resident photographer, Barry Chattaway

"What Made me become a London Sky Blue"

I can't see how I qualify as being a London Sky Blue, since I have never lived in London. However I have now got the identity as being the cclsc man in the Midlands contact, for any deals that are going at the club shop, also useful for any snippets of news that has not yet reached the TV, papers or any of the net works down there in London, the capital is not always first.

I also come in useful for pick up's and set downs at the station on match days on the odd occasion. I was also detailed to search out drinking venues in and around the Ricoh Stadium in the first season of opening.

Right : Hinckley. it's er ...  near Nuneaton; best known for textiles, dry cleaning and Barry Chattaway ...

How I became a London Sky Blue came about in the mid nineties, after a few seasons of buying match day tickets on a walk up system, I decided to get my son Matthew and I a season ticket each. Our chosen seats were in the East stand at HR, we sat in block 8 row 22, one row in front of Eric Whiting (the then social secretary) & Val Johnson, a few seats along from Eric sat Martin Scragg the Travel secretary and on our right sat John Bryant.

We had good seats with a great view of the pitch, at the first game when we took our seats I was tapped on my shoulder by Eric, with Eric being Eric was enquiring as to why we were sitting there, I asked him why and he replied 'because two young girls were there last season'. I obviously ignored him and concentrated on the match in hand.

As time went by we started talking more often and Eric took a shine to Matthew, if and when we scored he would give Matt a pat on his back, as we had bought Matthew a new Duck Down coat for the winter, so time Eric patted his jacket the feathers would come flying out.

Towards the middle of the season Eric said why don't you come and have a pre match drink with me and the other cclsc members for the next home game, so we did for the very next home game, while there at the Greyhound pub I was asked if I was going to the cup game away at Blackburn Rovers, with that I said I would go and Eric organised my ticket  and told me the travel arrangements.

I was to join the train at Nuneaton and travel up with the cclsc members, there I met Terry Potts, Colin Heys and many others. On our return journey I was approached by Eric, Terry and I think Martin was in there somewhere and asked me if I would like join the supporters club, I agreed and from that day and ever since I became a London Sky Blue Supporter and have not regretted since, having had some good times and events and met some good friends.

Left : Barry's match-day accessories.

Barry Chattaway (Hinckley)

 

Number three is written by much travelled club stalwart Robin Morden ...

First Visit by Robin Morden

It was a frosty Boxing Day in 1951 when City were in the old Divn. II.

I was just 8 years old. At the suggestion of my older brother Alan (12), and no doubt with some heavy supporting arguments from me, we left the family Christmas celebrations near the Toll Gate pub on the Holyhead Road in Allesley and went down to Highfield Road to see the holiday game against Bury. 
RIGHT : BURY 1951

As you would expect, Highfield Road was full for a Christmas match (26,538). We arrived around kick off as, when we got in, there was a massive wall of adults in front of us. No problem, as we were quickly passed over the heads of the crowd down to the very front, ending up right by the flag in the southwest corner. Pretty exciting stuff. We were so close to the action that, leaning as far as we could over the low brick wall surrounding the pitch, we could almost touch the players taking corners.

I remember the frosty day, the baggy black shorts of the Bury players and the curved roof of the old corrugated iron stand. And that's about it. Not much of a recollection really. But it has stayed with me for over 50 years. 

I did remember that Bury were the opposition and the score was a 3-0 win for Coventry. What I didn't remember was that 1951/52 was a relegation season. City finished in 21st place and played in the old Divn. III South the following season. 

I have not lived in the City since 1953 when we moved to Birmingham, and in the years that followed there were many afternoons on the terraces at Old Trafford, Main Road and Edgeley Park after we moved to Cheshire. At college, it was Huddersfield Town at their old Leeds Road ground. 

The corner of Highfield Road and Thackhall StreetI was working in hotels in Mombasa (right) on the Kenya coast in 1967 when city were promoted to Div 1 and so had to watch their progress from afar. There followed many happy years travelling around Africa working in hotels.  Expatriates working in Africa tend to be rugby fans, football being the Africans game, but I watched it whenever I could. One year I saw the Rhodesian (Zimbabwean) Cup final in Bulawayo. (Peter Ndlovu's hometown) The local team were called Sables and the opposition was from Harare. There was a highly charged atmosphere in the ground and the rhythmic chanting of the opposing fans made the hair stand up on the back of your neck. In Nairobi we would drive out to the airport to get the UK Sunday papers off the overnight plane from London. In Mombasa, you had to wait for the Monday edition of the local paper.  Despite all the other distractions along the way, it was the need to get Coventry's result that was paramount, and I knew where my true loyalties lay.  

Eventually, I returned to live in Dunstable, and started to watch City around the London grounds, as I still do to this day, and became a member of the London Supporters club. The next game I saw at Highfield Road was the glorious sunny Sunday morning in May 1985 when City thumped Everton, who were already champions, 4-1 to stay in the 1st division. What a memory that is. 

One Saturday in May 2004 I took my great nephew Elliott, and his friend James, who live in Balsall Common, for their first trip to Highfield Road. City didn't win, but they had a great time and their names were read out over the tannoy at half time. We sat comfortably in the Sky Blue stand, on a lovely sunny day and ate ice cream. As far removed from that cold and misty December day in 1951 as you could get.  I only hope the boys will remember their first visit and the memory of it will stay with them over the years, the way mine has.

Number two is by Competitions Manager, Robin Ogleby

Robin Ogleby - Sky Blue since 1966

My first season following the Sky Blues was 1996-67, England had won the World Cup and the City won the 2nd Division Championship, gaining entry to the top division in England for the first time.
 
ROBIN WITH GEORGE OGLEBY - THE NEXT SKY BLUES MANAGER '

My dad took me to my first game on January 3rd 1967 and I saw the Sky Blues take on the mighty Newcastle United in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. The atmosphere at Highfield Road that day was more than an eight year old could take in. There was a crowd of over 35,000 and boys had to take wooden boxes to stand on if they wanted  to see anything of the pitch at all, rather than the back of old men's ears. Fortunately my dad seemed to know one of the stewards in the Sky Blue Stand (which these days is segregated for the away fans) and he kindly let us in to stand in one of the aisles.

A number of years later I took my own son to his first game at Highfield Road. The match was a 0-0 bore draw against Bradford, the atmosphere had evaporated, and the City were finally relegated. I was thoroughly depressed, but George thought the game was great. I remember looking at his face when he entered the ground for the first time and he saw the enormity of it all and the greenness of the pitch. I wondered if his expression was the same as mine was all those years ago against Newcastle.

He absolutely loved the game even though it was obvious to everyone else that each player on pitch couldn't wait for it all to be over and for their summer holidays to start. George was hooked. Although my lad was born and raised in Croydon he is a Sky Blue through and through ' and is contemptuous of the all those 'glory hunter' boys in his class at school who support Arsenal one week and United the next. 

That first game against Newcastle was special. Seven goals and we only just lost. I can still recall one player in blue lying on the ground (Ian Gibson I think) all alone clutching his head after having missed a clear chance to put us ahead, all the energy draining out of him. We had battled hard but, good as we were, we were not quite good enough. This theme was to recur time and again throughout the years. Keith Houchen scores City's 2nd goal with a diving headerWe always fought well against the big guys but never quite came out on top (although twenty years later for one glorious and unbelievable moment, this pattern would be reversed in extra time at Wembley when the final goal in a five goal thriller would be scored by us).

In my first Latin lesson at Bablake the teacher said that if we never remembered a single thing he was going to teach us we would always remember how to decline the verb 'porto'. And although my mind is blank in terms of many of those games and teams I have seen over the years, I still somehow manage to decline the names of the eleven players who lost to Newcastle but then went on to win the league in 1967 ' Glazier; Bruck; Kearns; Farmer; Curtis; Clements; Key; Machin; Gould; Gibson and Rees. Probably not a particularly tall one amongst them but as they looked out of the poster on my bedroom wall, they were all giants. I wrote a letter and sent it to Highfield Road asking for each player's autograph and details of where they lived. A few weeks later I received a single page through the post with all the signatures printed on ' and it was difficult to make out which was which. But I was happy. 

I became a goalkeeper at school and quickly learned to march nervously back and forth between the goal line and penalty spot just like Bill Glazier. And I never wore any gloves. My dad said he used to be schoolmates at Mosely Road juniors with Reg Matthews, another goalkeeper in the old black and white days when we were in one of the Third Divisions. Matthews also played for England though. Glazier would have done, but he broke his leg instead. 

George Curtis, Dave Bennett and John Sillett celebrateThe next Christmas my brother and I got Sky Blue football kits for presents and we wore them every day during the holidays. We later had subbuteo sets and while other kids started to collect 'second' teams like Arsenal and Liverpool, I painstakingly sat down and painted thin black and green stripes on my second set ' this being the colour of the City's best ever away kit. Some of my mates discovered that all the City players lived in Allesley Park and so we all marched off to get some autographs one Sunday afternoon. The only one we got belonged to George Curtis. I remember being the only one with the courage to knock on his door and ask his wife 'is George in'' Later on, coincidentally, my family would move house to the same road as the Iron Man and we would get Christmas cards every year from his wife. The next time I actually spoke to him though was many years later at a CCLSC function in a pub in London after he had become the manager of the team that won the FA Cup. I don't think he remembered that I had woken him from his Sunday afternoon nap to ask for his autograph twenty years previously.   

My first inclination that football can be bad as well as good came later in 1967 that year when my dad took me to see Fulham in the First Division. We lost 3-0 on a cold November afternoon and I remember thinking that as long as I would live I would always consider this as being the worst game I have ever seen. I was a grumpy old man at the age of nine. Afterwards I waited outside the players' entrance for an eternity, determined to get an autograph and turn the day into a success. I eventually got debutante and keeper of our dreams Ernie Hannigan to sign my match day programme. On the way back though, I noticed that the autograph was a bit faint and so I wrote over it to make it look better. But it just turned out a mess. Fortunately we found out that Hannigan had moved in at the back of the fields we played football in and worked out that if we were to tease his daughter long enough she would run home to get her dad to sort us out. But I don't think he ever came. Years later I read in the Sun that Hannigan had become a window cleaner in Australia.   

My friends and I also later realised that all the City players really lived in Finham (which was two long bus rides away from where we lived). We eventually tracked down Ernie Hunt's house and dragged him to his front door wearing just a bath robe. He seemed happy enough to sign our autograph books ' but we had less luck at the nearby homes of Noel Cantwell and Neil Martin. Why were so many footballers in those days called 'Ernie''  To complete the set, I caught up with Ernie Machin in the run up to a big cup game against Liverpool walking up King Richard Street on his way to the dressing rooms ' presumably he had just got off the bus' I didn't have any money to get into the game myself but chatting to Machin on that street corner helped me soak up some of the atmosphere. I now wonder, many years on, however, what I would say if my own 10 year old lad turned round and told me that he had spent the afternoon lurking round street corners many miles from home' 

My father's family had (before he was born) moved down from Sunderland in the 1920s looking for work. He therefore used City's promotion to the big time as an opportunity to trace his roots and track down some great aunts. I used the long trip up to the north east to try out the rattle I had eventually finished making in woodwork lessons at school. It certainly did the trick ' the rattle created a hugely annoying noise and sometimes managed to clock rival Sunderland fans on the head accidentally (as we all stood together on the terraces in those far off seat-free windswept happy days). The collision of wood to head also gave me the opportunity to remind one home fan standing next to me that we had just taken their top striker (Neil Martin) off their hands and so we must have been the bigger club. Fortunately Martin's Finham neighbour Ernie Hunt spared my blushes by scoring a last gasp equaliser.     

Back at Highfield Road, Hunt continued to excite and entertain us. My dad had discovered that there was a little slither of a terrace along the front of the posh Main Stand where youngsters could get a full view of the pitch and get up very close to the action. We would be on the corner with the Spion Kop and marvel at how Ernie would always manage to take the ball to the corner flag and shield it with his back to the action, standing there for ages until some oaf of a defender would get so annoyed and hack the ball out for a corner. Ernie would then turn round and wink at us kids. Job done. I'm sure I later spotted a close-up picture of us all in a match day programme standing there marveling. And I also certainly recall, before we turned all posh and started standing in front of the Main Stand, an absolutely terrific picture on the cover of the Spurs programe in 1969 of tiny Ian Gibson saluting the massed Spion Kop crowd after scoring a stunner against Newcastle two weeks before. There we are for all to see for eternity, my dad, my brother and me, cheering ecstatically as another little City star had turned over one of the big boys. Fortunately, over the years brief moments like this seem to stand out more clearly than the many disappointments. 

Tommy Hutchison at Coventry CityI think though that the player whose performances gave me the most consistent pleasure at Highfield Road was Tommy Hutchison. He patrolled his wing tirelessly,  was never afraid to take on anyone, and was the ideal City player because he always seemed happier to fight for lost causes than to give up. His work rate and dedication was tremendous but later I was to discover that his commitment to the well being of the team didn't stop with the final whistle. By this stage I had become a careworn twenty-something with a bigger interest in lager than football. I discovered with some amusement that all the City players no longer lived in either Allesley Park or Finham ' but my local pub, the Toll Gate. Every Saturday night, towards the end of his time at Highfield Road, 'Hutch' would bring his team mates (Gary Gillespie and Ray Gooding seemed to be regulars) to sit quietly in the corner of the room and take abuse from the locals after each defeat. On one occasion he seemed particularly keen to introduce City's brand new continental signing to the traditions of the English post-match warm down. Roger van Gool was delighted to be able to demonstrate just how keen he was to fit in to this new culture. Before long he was walking through the crowded pub balancing a pint of beer on his head, wearing a huge smile which seemed to hide the fact that he hadn't realised he had been set up by his new colleagues. For an encore he drank the beer down in one and then spent some time standing on his head in the middle of the room with everyone looking on in amazement. Spurs might have bought Ossie Ardiles rather than Van Gool ' but in seven years time at Wembley we would all know which side had the better team. 

Regardless of results and lack of success over the years (other than 1967 and 1987) City have generally managed to unearth characters with the wit and grit to take on the big boys ' from Ian Gibson through to Willie Carr, Ernie Hunt, Tommy Hutchison, Ian Wallace, Steve Hunt, Danny Thomas, Dave Bennett, Lloyd McGrath, David Speedie, Kevin Gallacher, Peter Ndlovu and Dion Dublin. The club is now easily at its lowest point since I started supporting them but I look at my lad George's face when we travel to and from the matches and it looks as if the magic of excitement and expectation is still there somewhere. He is already building up a list of his own heroes, David Thompson, Gary McAllister, Mo Konjic and Gary McSheffrey. He has also come face to face with Dave Bennett (down the Earlsdon Cottage after the Bradford game) and Micky Gynn, has been taken aback that at 8 years of age he was almost the same size as David Thompson, and has been patted on the head by Big Mo's plaster cast. On another occasion I was pleased to be able to persuade Mo to ring George at home on my mobile to ask him what position he played in the school team (centre back, just like his hero). This Christmas we went to Gillingham and saw what must have been one of the worst City performances of all time ' but on the way back rather than turn round and say 'Dad, I think it's about time that I got myself a new club before it's too late ' after all I have never lived anywhere apart from Croydon', he sat on the train thinking about that amazing goal Richard Shaw had scored at the previous game in Gillingham seven months earlier.

Robin Ogleby joined CCLSC in 1986 and lives in Croydon.
 

Number one is written by your site designer ...

Peter Reynolds - Sky Blue since 1982

My first ever game was City v Wolves in the third round of the F.A. Cup. I was 12 at the time. I can't remember who scored for City that day, but Wayne Clark popped one in from close range for Wolves; at the heart of the West end where I sat that day.

The following season my Grandmother handed me '30 on my birthday (quite handy for the start of the season, being August 4th), and I cycled up to Highfield Road to the old ticket office in the main stand,  which resembled the inside of a stuffy old bank. Having chosen my seat in the then Sky Blue Stand (block A, now an away supporters area), I waited in anticipation for my season ticket.

Bobby GouldAs an enthusiastic young teenager I cycled to each home game from Nuneaton. I filled a scrapbook with stats on every game, and a rating for each player. I even wrote a letter to then Manager,  Bobby Gould,  to tell him about it. Imagine my delight when he took the trouble to write back, including a team poster signed by all the players together with an invitation to watch training and meet the City heroes !

A friend gave me a lift to the Sky Blue Connexion that day. We we're told that Mr Gould 'was not here' and to go to Highfield Road instead. We were taken up the tunnel to watch training from the sidelines. No Bobby, and few players were interested in signing autographs. Training that day was led by then assistant manager Don Mackay.  Imagine my disappointment when I returned home to find that Bobby had been sacked that morning ! City lost the following day 2-1 at home to West Ham.

I bought a season ticket the following year, but that was the last one for few years. I'd turned 16, the price had doubled, and I had no way to pay with school out, and college in.

A year later an advert for turnstile operators appeared in the Evening Telegraph. I duly applied, and attended an interview in the old oak panelled board room. My first game was on the away turnstile on the Old Kop for the season opener against Arsenal. There was a hurricane blowing around the UK that night, and perhaps that added something to rejuvenated Cyrille's scorcher which set up a 2-1 win in what was to become 'the year that was'

Keith Houchen scores City's 2nd goal with a diving headerAs a club employee I had no trouble getting  a '6 stand ticket for Wembley. And what a day that was. The staff were all housed in block G, and the famous Houchen header was followed by the scorer himself running over towards us to celebrate his goal.

Cup final day didn't get off to the best of starts. Dad was to take me from Nuneaton down to Wembley, and sit outside with my brother and listen to the game on the radio. We made it no further than Rugby before the car broke down ' low oil pressure. Dad had to be towed back down and I flagged a lift there and back.

I continued as a turnstile operator the following season; though it wasn't to last. I enjoyed the game too much and took advantage of my free pass to watch and attended fewer and fewer matches for work duty. No surprise when no pass arrived the following season !

Player PicThe intervening years saw some highs and lows. Perhaps the game I remember most was the 5-4 Littlewoods Cup win over Forest. Quite a nerve jangler ' going 4-0 up, 4-4 at the break, and the winner in the second half. Kevin Gallacher had a superb game ' my favourite ever Sky Blue along with Brian Borrows.

After the pain of relegation my fledging computer business indulged in a spot of sponsorship. Our choice of players to sponsor seemed to be as effective as our choice of left backs ' first of all Marcus Hall then Dean Gordon. We sponsored the league cup match against Rushden with 50 guests to dinner, and a great moment when I went to meet the captains in the centre circle just before kick off (and City won 8-0 too !). We also later sponsored the Wimbledon and Gillingham fixtures.

The Wimbledon game is particularly memorable as I proposed to the now Mrs Reynolds on one knee just outside the boardroom door. We announced our engagement to the assembled guests and Directors much to the delight of everyone in the room. Mike McGinnity proposed a toast, and later gave us use of his Bentley for a trip to the Hilton !

We married in June of 2003 with a small service back in the boardroom. The club were superb and made our day really special. 

Last season we stretched to an executive box; one of those on stilts with a balcony between the main stand and West end, an unsettling experience on a windy day, 'what wobbles doesn't fall over'. The business has closed now though so it's back to the terraces.

At the time of writing, all is not well at Highfield Road. The football is generally uninspiring, debts are high, the Chairman appears to be at war with his own fans. Our big hope is the new stadium. It's only half built, but already looks special. Let's hope it inspires the Sky Blues on to better things and allows me to fill in a few more chapters of my 'Trial of a Sky Blues fan.'

Highfield Road, however, will always hold a special place in my heart for the many reasons I have described. 

Peter Reynolds edits the CCLSC website and lives in Telford

 

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