Oh no, not another Year’s review
As John Lennon sang, “another year’s over a new one’s just begun.” They say supporting Coventry City is like a rollercoaster ride but I do not see any ups. It is more like a helter-skelter ride whizzing in a downwards spiral at ever increasing speed. Sisu have again been the real bugbear of the fans as the protests have stepped up throughout the year as attendances have plummeted. In 2016 we have used 47 players in all competitions only two more than last year this is the joint highest in our league history along with 2014. From those players 14 came in on loan, the third highest in our history but one fewer than last year. This year we have earned 45 points the lowest since 2011, some thirty down on last year. We have scored 48 League goals, nowhere near our worst which was 1995 where we scored only 27 times. We have conceded 60 league goals seven more than last year. The most ever conceded in a year was 1926 where we shipped 103 goals.
January (Sick and tired of you’ve been hanging on me)
City started the year in 4th place, 3 points behind the automatic promotion zone and eight points clear of 7th place. New Year’s Day provided good and bad news for City fans as Armstrong had his loan extended to the end of the season but it looked like we would loose Kent. The second day of the year saw City travel to that not very happy hunting ground of Crewe. A large following went up the M6 to the Railway town so much so some City fans couldn’t get a ticket on the gate and didn’t gain entry. The first team of the year was, in goal Charles Reece-Cook, with Aaron Phillips, Sam Ricketts, Chris Stokes and Ryan Haynes at the back in midfield we had John Fleck, Romain Vincelot, Jacob Murphy, Joe Cole and James Maddison with Adam Armstrong up front. City tore into the side that would be relegated leading 4-0 at half time. City ran out winners by 5-0 with Armstrong scoring a hat trick and missing an open goal, three players came off the bench, Gael Bigirimana, Jim O’Brien and for the very last time Ryan Kent. Kent returned to Liverpool to play in a F.A Cup tie he spent the rest of the season in the Reds reserves before moving to Barnsley on loan this season. City were active as Cole signed to the end of the season and we signed Peter Ramage a defender. He is not the first Peter Ramage to play for City, another one, a forward made his debut in 1927 played 28 games and scored 7 goals. Bizarrely the next day City signed someone else that shared the name of a former player, this time it was Stephen Hunt, the modern midfielder would be a shadow of his namesake. Another signing had everyone scratching their heads as an Australian born midfielder was signed from an American team, his name Andy Rose. A few days later former Chairman Mike McGinity died. His spell in charge spanned 2002-2005, maybe best, or is that worst, remembered for sacking Eric Black after a 5-2 away win at Gillingham. First home game of the year was a big one as 15,000+ fans turned up for a local derby against 3rd placed Walsall. It ended all square with Marc-Antoine Fortune, coming off the bench for his first game of the year. After a very long wait the train station at the Ricoh was finally opened but because of lack of trains it couldn’t be used by anyone watching football, rugby or going to a gig at the Arena. Next up it was the surprise League leaders in the shape of Burton Albion, the biggest crowd since our return to the ground some 17,000 turned up to see the game. Peter Ramage made his debut but City slipped to the first home league defeat of the season and started to loose touch with the top two. Ruben Lameiras and Marcus Tudgay both came off the bench playing for the first time that season. With the transfer deadline not far away rumours started to fly around about City players, in particular James Maddison as Spurs were said to be preparing a five million bid for him. Next up was an away trip to Southend for the first time in nine years. The top two scorers were missing as Stephen Hunt made his debut. Suddenly City looked a bad side and despite former City player Gary Deegan being sent off The Sky Blues lost to the heaviest defeat of the season, 3-0, were the wheels coming off? The last game of the month gave City a chance to end the three league games without a win as we took on Scunthorpe at home. A new defender made his bow in the shape of Martin Lorentzson, a former Swedish international fullback he seemed just the ticket for City, Andy Rose also made his debut coming off the bench but it was a poor performance as City lost again to complete a poor month.
February (Month of purification, City are pure class, for one game anyway)
We started the month in 5th place, 6 points behind 2nd place but 6 points clear of 7th. The month kicked off with Transfer Deadline Day and coming in were, Jack Stephens and Bailey Cargill both defenders on loan. As for out going anyone that turned their devices off just after the dealing might have missed the last minute news that was rushed through, James Maddison had been sold to Norwich. The usual excuses were made but to most fans it looked like a real rush job to cash in on the player despite the fact the manager wanted to keep him longer. Norwich loaned him back to the end of the season but the player was never the same again. Yet again it seemed Sisu snapped the hand off on the first bid and too late for replacements. Sisu returned to their old stomping grounds of the court as they accused the Council of the points penalties, moving to Northampton, telling them not to pay the rent and several more lies. City were trying to bring players in and one moved seemed to be a good one as big and experienced forward Darius Henderson joined. On Sunday the 7th City made the short trip to Port Vale with Jack Stephens and Bailey Cargill making their debuts, Darius Henderson came off the bench for his first start but despite a wonder save from Reece-Cook, Vale came form a goal down to draw the game. The 12th of February a special memorial was held at Coventry Cathedral for Jimmy Hill. Many famous people from the football world were there. The next day City took on Bury at home as a giant poster of JH was put up in the North Stand. It was also Legends’ Day at the Ricoh as many old players came back to visit, their numbers were boosted by an incredible six former players in the Bury squad. No one could guess what was to happen next as City’s midfield lead by Joe Cole took total control of the game and ran in six unanswered goals, City’s biggest home win since 1963 when a certain Jimmy Hill was in charge, what a great tribute. The following Monday City’s youth side went out of the F.A Youth Cup but with their heads held high a late Basala Sambou goal forced a penalty shoot out in which City lost 7-6. The Gunners lost to Manchester City in the semis who then lost to Chelsea in the final. Teams below City then had a chance to close the gap but both Millwall and Southend lost keeping a cushion of points between us and 7th place. City only had three games in February and the last of those was at home to Fleetwood. Just over 100 away fans turned up to watch the game and it was those fans that went away happy with a 2-1 win. The month ended with yet another set back for Sisu in the courts as they lost a hearing with the Ethics Committee over the actions of some council members. Meanwhile Wasps were pushing ahead with redeveloping the Alan Higgs Centre including a 50 meter swimming pool meaning the Academy had to find a new home.
March (The month of the god of war as City surrender the play off push)
We started the month in 6th place a point ahead of 7th but a massive ten points behind automatic promotion. The month started with the publication of the Sky Blues’ accounts and the debt was now £1.9 million 50% down from the previous year. First game up of the month was away to Barnsley where we had lost six and drawn one of the seven games we played their in March. The story didn’t change with a 2-0 win for the surging home side and Stephen Hunt looking particularly poor. Next up was a home tie against Rochdale in front off fewer than 10,000 at the Ricoh but most went home unhappy as the away side won it with a late penalty and City slipped out of the top six. Another mid week game as City travelled to Shrewsbury for the game in hand, a win and City would be back in the play off zone, City took the lead and dominated but show how lost 2-1. Three thousand plus City fans turned up at Blackpool against a side in the relegation zone as like us, a real basket-case of a club. For the first time since the 1922-1923 season City fans could celebrate a win at Bloomfield Road, with a scrappy game 1-0 but not so good news for Stokes who was injured and not play again all year. So City were still in touch with the play offs but the last side we wanted to see was Swindon who had remained unbeaten against City in the last ten league clashes. The Robins extended the run with a goalless draw. City seemed to be building for next season and signed a couple of players, in came wide man from Dagenham and Redbridge, Jodi Jones, he was given a long contract but City fans were worried that he wasn’t even in Dagenham’s first team despite heading for relegation and he had never been on a winning side, the other player came from a far more exotic side, a team named after a Bulgarian martyr, Levski Sofia and the player we imported was former Bulgarian International Valdimer Gadzhev. Good Friday, City made the short trip to Peterborough with a top six place still in reaching distance. The game was live on Sky and the viewers saw City tear into the Posh ripping them apart but failing to score but somehow were a goal down at half time. Jodi Jones made his debut at the start of the second half then the home side made it two, totally against the run of play. City finally got a goal we deserved when Murphy countered from a corner and found Cole to score just seconds later, maybe a pivotal moment of the seasons when Henderson was sent clear through, if he scored City would surely go on a win and re-enter the top six but the big forward bearing down on goal to the away fans disbelief pulled a hamstring. City went on to lose 3-1 but had 13 shots on target the joint highest for the season for us. Away from the declining City, England proved some optimism for the forth coming European Championships by coming from two down to beat Germany 3-2 in Germany. The next game for City was on a Tuesday night and a great piece of organisation as England hosted the Netherlands on the same night meaning another reason for City fans to stay away. City played Colchester a team destined for relegation but despite that and a penalty save City lost and the play offs chance looked over; George Thomas came off the bench for his first game of the year. Next up was the toughest trip of the season an away game at eventual champions Wigan. There was some confusion when the team was announced as City had six loans players where only five were permitted minutes later the management realised Maddison was now a loan player and the squad adjusted. City lost but had their heads held high only going down by a single goal and the highlight was Reece-Cook saving his first penalty, it was the 15th spot kick, including shoot outs, he had faced this season.
April (The month of the fool as City foolishly find form but too late)
City started the month in 10th place; six points shy of the Play Offs. The first game of the month was a long trip to Gillingham, who like City seemed destined for at least a play off place earlier in the season but where now dropping down the table. City returned with a good point in a scoreless draw. City’s exiting prospect, forward Sambou meanwhile turned down a professional contract with City and joined Everton. To date Basala had played one U23 game for the Toffees and two games in the hated Check-a-trade Trophy, one as a sub as Everton failed to qualify. First home game in April was at home to Millwall the side City torched 4-0 away near the start of the season which seemed a very long time ago then. The Lions took the lead but then had a player sent off for head butting Lameiras, City fought back with a Fleck screamer and a Tudgay poke, City won for the first time at home since the demolition of Bury. More good news as Aston Villa confirmed their relegation to The Championship. It was then the fourth top six side on a row as City hosted Bradford. Tony Mowbrary changed formation to five at the back and it seemed to work. Bradford were then having trouble scoring goals typified by one of their players, a skilful winger who couldn’t seem to shot straight by the name of Kyle Reid. City played well and won it with a terrific Rose volley. Andy Rose was proving to be one of the only success stories of the 2nd half of the season. Awards were then handed out by the P.F.A with Armstrong, who had faded badly, in the League One Team of the year and Fleck included in the top 15. A trip to Doncaster next but any lingering mathematical hopes for the season ended with a 2-0 defeat but Valdimir Gadzhev did finally make his debut after intensive fitness work. City were still building for the distant future when we signed prolific goal-scorer Jordan Ponticelli from the Strachan Academy. The player had scored eight goals, including two hat tricks for the Academy up to early December. Final home game of the season was against Sheffield United and City ended the home campaign in style with a 3-1 win. This was our 12th home league win of the season the best since the 1986-1987 were we also won 12. Only Peterborough scored more home goals than City. City’s home attendances had risen by 34.7% the third best rise in League One behind Bradford, who practically give their tickets away and promoted Burton.
May (A spring clean out for City)
The month started off with what could only be described in certain parts of the Midlands as a nightmare as Leicester became the most unlikely ever Champions of the top division. It wasn’t that long ago they got off with administration, got a free ground and millionaire backers. Rumours about players for next season started to emerge and on of the first mentioned was Ryan Flynn of Sheffield United. The midfield instead joined Oldham where he has been a regular. The awards for the season were announced by the club and John Fleck was the fans’ choice as Player of the Season, Armstrong won Goal of the Season for his long range effort at Millwall, he also won Young player of the Season whilst Ricketts won the Community Player award. Season ticket for next season was announced and the flat price for anywhere was abolished with the centre blocks showing a big increase in price. Last game of the season was at Oldham. Cian Harries made his debut from the start and Dion Kelly-Evans made his debut from the bench. City played well and won 2-0 the last goal coming ten minutes from the end scored by Armstrong who finally got his 20th league goal ending twelve games without a goal. Not all City fans were happy as a bad month or so wrecked the chance of a play off place. City ended 8th only our 2nd top ten finish since the days of John Sillett. We recorded our highest points tally since 3 points for a win were introduced and matched last season’s 6th place team for points. This was our best goal difference since Jimmy Hill led us to promotion. It was our third highest number of league goals scored in 49 seasons. The next day the “axed” list was produced and being kicked out of the club where Reda Johnson who played just over thirty games for City in an injury hit couple of seasons, he moved to Eastleigh in non-league where he has played slightly over half of their games. Aaron Martin another defender also left, he was signed by Oxford where he has hardly played. Long serving Connor Thomas who made his debut in 2011 also left, the Coventry born midfielder moved to Swindon where he has become a regular. Peter Ramage, who no one rated at the club left for pastures new and ended up in the third tier of U.S Soccer League playing for Phoenix Rising, ending 13th in the Western Division in 2016. Stephen Hunt retired. Darius Henderson moved to Mansfield where he is used mainly as a sub and has only scored one league goal up to Christmas. Jim O’Brien a highly popular player with the City fans but his face didn’t fit with the management, moved to Shrewsbury where his is a regular. Finally Martin Lorentzson, who arrived in a blaze of publicity and departed without anyone noticing, moved back to Sweden for mid table Örebro SK. Someone else that left was the popular fitness coach Peter “The Cone Man” Tierney. Jodi Jones was rewarded with a four year contract to tie him down at the club meanwhile Sisu lost again in the courts. More rumours emerged about a ground share at the Butts with Coventry Rugby Club but everyone heard this before. More rumours and not good ones as Sky Sports made Tony Mowbrary the favourite for the Rotherham job.
The Closed season (Europe in or out?)
The 1st of June saw the launch of City’s new home “Sky Blue” kit but to most it looked white. Loan players also returned to their parent clubs, Armstrong returned to relegated Newcastle but despite his 20 League One goals he was soon on loan again this time to Barnsley where he hasn’t quite set the Championship on fire. So the seventh season in a row we lost out top scorer. Bailey Cargill returned to Bournemouth before being loaned out to Gillingham were he has recently become a fixture in their defence. Joe Cole joined Tampa Bay Rowdies in the States where he played 24 times scoring nine goals as his team finished 10 out of 12 teams in the N.A.S.L which is a league below the M.L.S. John Fleck after 180+ games for City moved to Sheffield United were he has become “oil in their machine”. James Madison failed to break into the Norwich first team and went off on loan to Aberdeen where he has been successful. His team mate Murphy has been far more successful with the Canaries becoming a regular and a goal scorer. Jack Stephens returned to Southampton were he has played once. The month also saw the start of the European Championship a feast of football that was notable for many dull and uninteresting games and the surge of the underdogs. Wales, managed by former City boss Chris Coleman shocked everyone be reaching the semi finals beating Belgium in the quarters, Iceland with former City player Aron Gunnarsson as captain reached the quarter finals beating a spineless England team but it was Portugal who lifted the cup. With the football as a distraction the fixtures were announced as City would kick off the league campaign in Swindon and play Portsmouth in the League Cup. Meanwhile the biggest debate for months was on the referendum on whether The U.K. should stay or leave the E.U, the nation was divided and bitter as the votes were counted. It was a narrow victory to the Leave campaign despite the predictions for a Stay win, 52% voted to leave; this number was slightly higher in Coventry. Prime Minister David Cameron immediately decided to resign and after a short leadership contest Theresa May became The U.K’s second female prime minister. A few days later England also tumbled out of Europe leading to the end of the line for manager Roy Hodgson. Meanwhile Wasps had pulled the plug on talks on City staying at the Ricoh until after 2018 as they pointed to the distraction of Sisu suing them.
The first day of July saw City reinforce the forward areas with Marvin Sordell coming in from relegated Colchester after scoring a mere four goals in twenty one games. On loan from Derby came Kwame Thomas. Marcus Tudgay then signed for another season being mainly used from the bench. The by now traditional pre-season opener against Nuneaton Town took place with a 2-1 win for the Sky Blues. On the same day City resigned Sam Ricketts. City’s destination for this year’s pre-season tour was Austria and as normal the fixture was announced as late as possible, maybe to put fans off going. The game saw City go down to Strum Graz 3-2. With City in Austria, Chris McCann signed on from Wigan for half a season before he moves off to The States to play. On the hottest day of the year Nicky Eaden became the U23 coach as a City XI beat Rugby away 2-1. Next friendly was the long trip to Newport but fans on the road that day had a massive shock, Romain Vincelot had been sold! Tony Mowbrary fielded questions at the ground by angry City fans and the manager insisted it was his decision. City needed to free up cash for other players. Romain went to Bradford where he is a regular. City beat County 2-0. Apart from the football it was already a good summer for British sport with Andy Murray winning his second Wimbledon and Chris Froome becoming only the 8th rider to win his 3rd Tour de France. Another friendly and a very strange one, midweek away to a higher division team as City fans travelled to Norwich to see a 3-0 defeat, some didn’t make it many got back home well into the morning. Another signing and another attacker as the exciting Kyle Reid joined. With a friendly against Doncaster called off, City for the second time took on Nuneaton and this time beat them 3-1.
August (the month of honour, no honour for City)
The month didn’t start off too well with the expected number of players not signed and the academy threatened with closer because Sisu don’t want to maintain civil relationships with anyone and many fans still hadn’t received their season tickets.
On an obligatory hot day City kicked off the season with a trip to Swindon. City employed a 5-3-2 formation that saw Jordan Willis returning from a long injury for his first game of the year as Marvin Sordell made his City debut. It was only the 16th time in our history we had kicked off the first game with only one debutant. Kyle Reid and Kwame Thomas made their debuts from the bench but City lost to a poor Robins’ side meaning City hasn’t beaten Swindon in the league since the 1960’s. To distract everyone from the football the Olympics started as many Russian competitors were banned for state sponsored drugging, the UK surpassed their own targets and amazingly the medal haul from London, including a gold for Warwickshire’s very own Nick Skelton. Transfer rumour abound as Aston Villa’s forgotten forward Gabby Agbonlahor was reported of being one of three immanent arrivals. Two players did arrival, Lewis Page a left back on loan from West Ham and bizarrely a forward from L.A Galaxy’s reserves Jack McBean. On that night City were in League Cup action against Portsmouth at home. Many fans arrived at the ground still waiting for the season tickets and cup tickets for the game as well. Some season ticket holders couldn’t buy their normal seat since it was reserved for the season ticket holder and could be released unless they had a season ticket which still hadn’t arrived. To make matters worse City fans were forced to pay a £1 surcharge on all tickets thanks to the Ticketmaster system brought in by Chris Anderson. Back with the game Ben Stevenson made his debut that night. Despite the small crowd a massive queue had built up outside as fans queued for the ticket only turnstiles after the club decided not to open a cash turnstile they soon changed their minds on the night prompting a massive rush to get in. Surprise sub in the second half saw Jack Finch get his first game for quiet a while. The game itself was entertaining with Pompey leading at half time City storming back to lead 2-1 only to concede a late free kick to force the game into extra time. It was Rose who scrambled the ball home in the second period of extra time to seal City’s first League Cup win for four seasons. City were drawn Norwich away in the next round. With most season tickets now arrived City kicked off the home league campaign with a visit from Shrewsbury, Lewis Page made his debut. In an uninspiring game Kyle Spence played for the first time in the year after previously playing at Wycombe in a Football League Trophy game a few seasons back. Kwame Thomas also came on but was almost immediately injury and was withdrawn; it would be his last game of the year. The game ended scoreless. More reinforcements came in as City were looking for a physical centre back all pre-season but had to settle for Jordan Turnbull from West Ham he even cost a little bit of money. Midweek saw Bury arrive for another home game. No Turbull as he wasn’t signed in time but Chris McCann finally made his debut after serving a ban from the previous season. It was only earlier in the year City stuffed Bury 6-0 and City were only six goals away from the same score line in a very poor game. Reinforcements and finally some physical presents as City loaned in Burnley’s Danny Agyei. Next up a trip to Bradford City on a ground City hadn’t won on since the 1960’s. Making their debuts were Turnbull and Agyei and the big forward made a dream start with City’s first league goal of the season as City led and looked to be heading for victory until Turnbull was sent off for a professional foul and City fell apart to lose 3-1. More cup action next as City returned to the scene of a pre-season friendly as we took on Norwich in the 2nd Round of the League Cup. Norwich made 11 changes to their side but still thumped City 6-1 with Jacob Murphy scoring and Maddison playing. One piece of history however was made when Devon Kelly-Evans, came on it was the first time in our history twins played in the same side. The Kelly-Evans followed other brothers at the club W & L Mason of the 1890’s, Jock and Peter Ramage of the 1920’s, Bobby and Trevor Gould of the 1960’s and 70’s, Gary and Keith Thompson of the 1970’s and 80’s, finally twins who never played in the same first team, Craig and Lee Middleton of the 80’s and 90’s. A signing then that hardly had City fans punching their fists in the air as Gael Bigirimana was signed back on a player that had looked very poor the previous season. Next up the third home league game of the season and the third draw as Northampton were held 1-1, City did concede our first home league goal for 252 minutes before Tudgay rescued the point. Final game of the month was a controversial one. What was known as the Johnson’s Paint Trophy was given an overhaul by the Football League that met with wide spread criticism from fans of clubs in the lower two divisions. The idea of the Football League Trophy was to give fans of teams from the lower divisions a chance of a day out at Wembley but this was threatened by the new format. In came academy sides from the Premier League and the 1st round played on a four-team group system with one academy team per group. Each one of these teams would play one game at home. The Football League’s thinking was fans would love going to big grounds totally forgetting that the divisions has the ground of Bolton, Coventry, Milton Keynes, Sheffield United, Bradford City, Millwall, Charlton and the list goes on most better than ground like Turf Moore in the Premiership. To sweeten the pot the Premier Club added a million to the winning prize which is equivalent to point, zero, one percent of their television income. Many fans smelt a rat as the Football League were looking to restructure the league, was this a test-bed for the inclusion of reserve Premiership sides in the League? City amongst most teams voted to accept the change to the competition. The a spanner was thrown into the works as all the teams in the Champion’s League, apart from greedy Leicester, pulled their teams out but instead of reverting to the old format of scrapping the competition altogether incredibly the League allowed Championship teams to field reserve sides as well. Many fans decided to boycott the Trophy and attendances of under a 1,000 were regularly seen. City kicked off their campaign with a home game against West Ham’s Academy side and promptly beat them 4-2. The crowd was under 2,000 the lowest at the Ricoh by some 2,000 for a City game as Lee Burge played for the first time this year. Transfer deadline day saw no players leave but forward Andre Wright from West Brom and West Ham’s right back Jamie Sterry came in on loan.
September (Month of atonement. City have a lot to say sorry about as Mowbray falls on his sword)
City started the month in 22nd place a point from safety, one of three teams without a win but with the joint lowest number of league goals scored. First game of the month was at Fleetwood with City already on the 9th longest run with a win from the start of the league season. Jamie Sterry made his debut and Andre Wright came off the bench but it was a poor performance as City lost 2-0. Next up was a very tricky trip to Millwall as on only three other occasions City took longer to register a league win from the start. Many City fans were predicting a hiding but City played well, Sordell scored for the first time and The Sky Blues emerged with a morale boosting point. One player for City was starting to stand out as Bigirimana was pulling the strings in midfield looking nothing like the hopeless player that was on loan to us last season. Could City turn the point at the Dell into a win as we took on the last side we beat in the league, Oldham. It was a disappointing game with no goals and City hitting the bottom of the table. A departure from the board then was announced as Chris Anderson who introduced the hated Ticketmaster system left but he did champion staying at the Ricoh he was here only ten months. It seemed now only Mark Venus and Tim Fisher were on the board. Meanwhile the campaign to get rid of Sisu had been growing all the time with even the “sit on the fence” Coventry Telegraph coming down on them asking them to sell and putting a petition in the paper this led the Sisu banning Telegraph reporters from press conferences. Meanwhile over 11,000 people had signed the petition asking Sisu to sell. Then Sisu put Ryton up for sale but promised to find a new training ground before they asset stripped that particular piece of our history. City’s very first League season back in 1919-1920 was notoriously bad but this season was threatening to match as only that season took longer to register a league win. The next attempt to break the duck was at Gillingham. City fans travelled there with rumours that Sisu would start winding up the club around Christmas. At Gillingham, City took the lead but still lost with many blaming Mowbray for badly timed substitutions. For a few weeks, at least City fans could boast over a national takeover as Sam Alladyce, former player was in charge of England, Gordon Strachan, player and manger, in charge of Scotland, Chris Coleman, former manager in charge of Wales and Michael O’Neill, former player in charge of Northern Ireland but this all ended when the England manager was forced to resign after one game. Back to a home game and City took the lead against Wimbledon but let that slip and it took a 94th minute goal by sub Wright to rescue a point and to record City 5th straight home draw but still no wins. Mowbray seemed very down in the press conference after blaming himself for not brining in the right sort of players. The next day Tony Mowbray resigned, bizarrely he is the third manager in a row to leave after a 2-2 draw. Mark Venus stepped up as temporary manager as Jamie Clapham left as well.
October (The Halloween month, pigs do fly and so do City)
City started the month bottom four points from safety. First game up on the first day of the month was a short trip to Port Vale a team that had won every home game this season. It was City that came back from Vale Park with a long awaited win after a hard working performance led by Bigirimana this was the second longest wait for a league win from the start of the season. City fans abused Sisu and especially Tim Fisher throughout the game. It was an unusual situation, a board member in charge of the first team but this is not the first time it had happened at our club. Since becoming a league side six times board members have taken over, in the 1920’s we had two stints by Harry Harbourne and one by Albert Saunders, in the 1930’s we had Bill Slade, in the 1940’s H.G Jones and George Jones in the 1950’s none of them averaged better than a point per game. The second game in the Checkatrade Trophy, again at the Ricoh this time against fellow League One Northampton Town, City scored via Agyei after 21 seconds and went on to win 3-1 to guarantee qualification from the group stage with a game to go, needles to say not many people saw the game. So Venus won his first two games in charge even though one was a glorified reserve game but winning the opening two games has only happened for six managers before in our history as a league club. Early betting for the new permanent manager gave them in orders of the odds they were; Steve Pressley, Steve Cotterill, Steve Evans and Richard Money but fans seemed to want to give Mark Venus more of a chance. Sisu again discussed in Parliament with Coventry M.P, Jim Cunningham calling their reign “a toxic legacy”. Next game was away to Charlton but it wasn’t the game that made the headlines. Charlton fans, like Coventry’s are in dispute with their owner so both sets of protest groups organised a joint protests against the owners. It started off with a long protest march by Charlton fans they joined up with a protest march by Coventry fans and they joined up to march down the road to The Valley. Inside the ground and on the kick off whistle thousands of small plastic pigs were sent flying from all round the ground including the City fans. The game was held up for a couple of minutes while the flying pigs were cleared and this was seen worldwide on the net. City went on to loose 3-0. It was Russell Slade’s Charlton first league win since August. City had a chance to get back to winning ways as Oxford turned up at the Ricoh to try to end City’s unbeaten start there but it was City that won a league at home for the first time that season with Stevenson opening the scoring with an absolute rocket as City won 2-1. Rochdale were next up but not before a mass march from Holbrooks to the ground which was well attended and many fans also boycotted the game preferring to stand around “The Chin” instead. The fans inside the ground saw a 2-0 City win stretching the unbeaten home run to longer than last season’s. Walsall away next and City came back with a good point. The month ended on a sad note with the death of former player Brian Hill who was the youngest ever goal scorer and debutant and played a pivotal role from Division Four and into Europe.
November (The month of the bonfire as City turn out to be a damp squib)
City started the month in 19th place outside the bottom four on goal difference but only 8 points from the Play Offs. First game of the month was a game in hand against Chesterfield at home. After nine minutes for the nine years Sisu had been in charge. City fans held up pictures of Joy Sepalla dressed as a witch. City won 2-0 with a first league goal for Willis on his 86th league appearance and Page was sent off late in the game. City then were in F.A Cup action at Morecambe as we tried to avoid another defeat against a lower league team in this competition. It was played in front of the smallest crowd to watch City in the F.A Cup since before the First World War. Jack McBean came on for the second half for his debut after a good scoring run for the U23’s he was later joined by another debutant in the shape of Callum Maycock. City scrambled a draw when they should have been knocked out. The draw wasn’t too kind either Dover or Cambridge waited away if we could win the replay. Meanwhile the story that had been gathering quite a lot of attention finally came to conclusion as the American election ended. Maybe the two most unpopular candidates in history faced each other with Hilary Clinton winning the popular vote but Donald Trump became president thanks to the American incredibly outdated electoral system. Some Coventry City connections as it was rumoured many years ago that Trump was in fact a City fan and Trump went to the same university of Joy Seppala. Final game in the group stage of the Checkatrade Trophy and it was a decider to see who won the group and got a home draw. Played at Wycombe, City went two goals down before fighting back to win 4-2. The surprise league leaders, Scunthorpe were next in town, a team that had kept most of their squad from last season whilst Bigirimana was the only starter form the same fixture. City’s unbeaten home record went but the performance was good and it was the referee Mr Moss who came in for the most stick. On the same night as an England friendly City took on Morecambe at home in front of a very small crowd but it was the home fans smiling at the end coming from a goal down with a Sordell double to make it into the second round for the first time in three seasons. Sam Ricketts the next day announced his retirement after just over 50 games for City. Happier news came from the Football League as they scrapped “The whole game solution”, which included, mid week F.A Cup games, no replays a league expansions with new teams included, maybe from non-league academy sides or even Scotland and a regionalising of the lower divisions. City were brought down to earth with a clatter as we next surrendered at Oxford losing 4-1 but the score line could have been a lot worse. If Oxford was a tough game next up was a trip to Bolton to play the favourites for promotion. City lost for the first time in ten visits to Bolton but came out of the game with great credit. A big game next at home as we faced fellow strugglers Milton Keynes Dons. Fans held a mock funeral procession before the game. The game itself saw another brilliant goal from Stevenson but also a red card as the Dons won 2-1 and City slipped back into the relegation zone.
December (You know its Christmas when Slade turns up)
City started the month in 21st place a point from safety. The month started with more court defeats for Sisu as they were refused permission to appeal against the ruling that the Council didn’t give state funded aid to A.C.L. Sisu didn’t appeal on this ruling but still had an outstanding court case against Wasps. City were in action and many fans were dreaming of who we could get in the Third Round as we travelled to League Two Cambridge for a Second Round Tie. United had just about sneaked past Dover away in a replay. No trouble for the home side in this game as it was a case of square pegs in round holes for City as we crumbled to an embarrassing four goal defeat, all goals coming from Luke Berry. Fans anger turned on temporary manager Mark Venus who was also in charge of selling off Ryton for houses. This is not the first time City had lost by four goals or more in the F.A Cup; in fact it has happened ten times before but never to a lower division team. The next day a City XI lost at Stratford in the Birmingham Senior Cup. Yet another cup was up next as City took on Crawley in the Checktrade Trophy at the Ricoh. An attendance of 1,333 was the smallest ever crowd to watch a 1st team game at the ground. City squeezed through with the only goal and drew Brighton’s U23 in the next round to be played next year. A tough trip next to see if City could stop the run of defeats as we played Southend but no chance as they scored early, Venus failed to make the changes early enough and City lost 3-1. It was now clear Mark Venus didn’t want the manager’s job as rumours emerged that Jimmy-Floyd Hasslebaink was to be lined up. The Dutchman turned the job down not happy about the size of the budget. John Hartson then was quoted in some sauces as the next manger but our former forward deigned any contact had been made. Another former player, Gary Caldwell was also mentioned. The 14th of December saw an anniversary no one wanted as nine years previous Sisu took control of a mid table Championship team who pulled in crowds of 14,000-20,000. Next home game was one many had been looking forward to, it wasn’t the opposition, Sheffield United but the fact it was on Sky. It was picked out as a big protest game as before the game fans were surreptitiously handed whistles which they blew when the game started and continued throughout the game. Fans tried to get on the pitch but were stopped apart from one fan that held up the game. Fans in white t-shirts spelling “Sisu out” were in the main stand above the directors box. City conceded first but levelled just after the break and were well in the game but then Mark Venus made some surprising substitutions taking off two big forward and throwing on two smaller ones suddenly City lost their way but it was then that fans started to assemble in the closed North Stand and made it onto the pitch. The game was held up for a while as the protest continued until the fans left peacefully. United then took the lead and went on to win the game. Chairman, Tim Fisher appeared on Talk Sport and C.W.R for a phone-in, claiming he saw ball boys cry at the Sheffield game and stating any season ticket boycott would result in a poorer team, in fact he seemed to be blaming the fans for everything. One thing he said that came true was a new manager as Russell Slade, no stranger to working this dodgy boards, became Sisu’s 10th manager. Slade signed a contract until the end of the season with a task of avoiding relegation. His first game in charge was no fairytale as City lost 4-1 to Bristol Rovers with Lewis Page yet again looking extremely poor. Transfer rumours started to circulate that Stevenson was off to Brentford meanwhile the same club seemed interested in loaning in Agyei. Rumours on the last day of the year, City renew interest in the Butts, Sordell off to Burton in a swap for Stuart Bevan and the Bradford defender Nathan Clarke reported to be coming in. For only the 6th time in our history City were away on New Years Eve a short trip to Peterborough and came very close to the first ever away win on this day but were deigned by a very late equaliser.
It could be argued that the current side is the worst in our league history and relegation looks almost certain unless Russell Slade can work miracles. If he does it will be an even tougher the following season and nothing will change until Sisu leave or the club is folded lets hope 2017 will bring some much needed cheer after all it will be the 30th anniversary of the F.A Cup win.
Article by SP