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 !
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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"
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.
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
was a frosty Boxing Day in 1951 when City were in the old
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
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
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
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