We are pleased to announce that the Coventry City Former Players Association’s ‘special guest’ at the Sky Blues game against AFC Wimbledon next Saturday afternoon (January 12th 2019 k.o.3pm) will be former Sky Blues forward Noel Whelan!
Fans will remember ‘Big’ Ron Atkinson (now a fellow CCFPA member) paying £2m to Leeds United for the exciting 21 year old forward in December 1995. Leeds had picked Noel up from local schools’ football and he joined the Elland Road staff in March 1993. He scored 8 times in 59 appearances and gained a couple of England U21 caps for the Yorkshire outfit before the big money move to Highfield Road.
He was known for being both a skilful and combatitive forward, if a little unpredictable, in the top division for City. He eventually wore the Sky Blue shirt 155 times in League and Cup games over 5 seasons scoring 39 goals in total. He provided an innovative and forceful forward intent to the aerial and dribbling skill of fellow strikers Dion Dublin and Darren Huckerby (both now also CCFPA members)
In August 2000 he was transferred to Middlesbrough (where he made over 70 appearances and netted ten times) for a fee of more than £2m. Since then, however, he rarely settled long at a club and had spells at Crystal Palace (loan-2003), Millwall (2003), Derby County (2004) and Boston United (2005) in England and with Aberdeen (2004), Livingstone (2006) and Dunfermline (2006) in Scotland.
Dropping to non-league Noel turned out for Harrogate Town (2008) before signing as a non contract player for former Sky Blue (and CCFPA member) Steve Staunton to play in his Darlington side in 2009. Only three appearances ensued because of various injuries. Noel holds a UEFA B coaching Licence so since then he has been building a junior coaching career initially begun at Dunfermline but also including stints at Derby County (2009) and Nottm. Forest in the East Midlands.
Look out for him pre-match in CCFC’s Family Zone where its organiser, CCFPA Associate Member Pat Raybould and her dedicted helpers will involve Noel with the activities of the JSBs and their families. Former Sky Blue defender, now club host and our member Brian ‘Harry’ Roberts will then be escorting ‘Snowy’ around the Ricoh’s supporter’s lounges for brief Q&A’s before the game begins. Post match CCFPA’s Billy Bell will be entertaining fans and Noel from the stage of Lady Gs underneath the Ricoh as they chew over the performance of the Sky Blues in a game which City need to win to keep in touch with play-off potential after that set-back at Scunthorpe last Saturday.
Mr W will aslo be assisting the BBC CWR live match-day commentary team in analysing the game as it unfolds for those who cannot make the game. Noel is no stranger to the media doing punditry on the radio and Sky and in 2008 even appearing on BBC’s Celebrity Masterchef. He has been a ‘special guest’ for the Association at the Ricoh a number of times as well as turning out for the Sky Blues Legends XI on occasion for charity. His other love/loyalty, however, is his home town club and he has also played for their FPs.
Noel keeps in touch with CCFPA and we are sure he will have a great day today and we hope to tempt Mr.W. to come back again to the Ricoh later this season for Legends Day 2019 on March 23rd at the Sky Blues’ home game against Oxford United.