As John Lennon sang “another year’s over a new one’s just begun.” 2012 will go down as one of the few relegation seasons the Coventry City fans have had to suffer with the dramas off the pitch as bad as the one on it and trying to apart to lower level football.
In 2012, the Sky Blues have used 46 - the highest number of players in our league history in a single calendar year beating the 43 players we used in 1928.
This year we have earned 58 points, which is the fourth best since relegation from the Premier only being beaten by three years 2002 63 points, 2006 68 points and 2010 60 points.
January (Sick and tired of you hanging on me)
Coventry City started the year in the drop zone five points adrift of safety. First game of the New Year was a real tough one away to promotion chasing West Ham United. Before the game Kev Monks received another Fan of the Year award this time it was the Joseph Wratton Award for disabled fan of the year.
The first team of the year was in goal Joe Murphy, the back four were Martin Cranie, Richard Keogh, Richard Wood and Chris Hussey with David Bell, Gary Deegan, Carl Baker and Connor Thomas in midfield leaving Gary McSheffrey and Lucas Jutkiewicz up front. Gael Bigirimana and Shaun Jeffers came off the bench. City went down 1-0 but Murphy for once had a good game in goal the result meant that City hit the bottom of the Championship and seven points from safety.
First home game of the year was an FA Cup tie with another Championship promotion contender in Southampton. This was the day of the big protest against Sisu where fans were encouraged to miss the first 15 minutes of the game and by kick off there were 300-400 fans around ”The Chin” the informal name of the Jimmy Hill statue. Those fans missed City marching out wearing a replica of the 1987 final kit in celebration of 25 years since winning the cup but not many were interested in celebrating. Three players made their first starts Chris Dunn, Cyrus Christie and Roy O’Donovan. Midfielder Josh Ruffles came off the bench during the game as City could only name six subs. City took the lead via McSheffrey whilst the protesters were still outside but ended up losing 2-1.
Sisu finally allowed Andy Thorn to bring in new players and first on his list was a forward; Manchester City’s Alex Tchuimeni-Nimely called simply Alex Nimely. City were struggling to score goals there was a lot of weight on the youngster’s shoulders.
The reason why Sisu allowed us to sign a player soon became apparent when Middlesbrough signed City’s top scorer in Lucas Jutkiewicz he had scored 18 goals in 69 games hardly a great strike rate but he looked like the only City player capable of scoring goals. Was this the signing of the death warrant for City? Middlesbrough paid 1.5 million for him and to the beginning of December had scored 7 goals in 31 games, which is around £200,000 per goal. His replacement, Nimely was not signed in time for the trip to Derby. One slight piece of good news was that City’s match day programme had been voted the best in the Championship. Rumours were flying around about other players other were on the verge of leaving both Cranie and Christie were being watched whilst Clingan was reported to be on his way to Leeds, Keogh to West Ham and McDonald to Swindon. Playing for the first time this year were James McPake, Sammy Clingan, and Clive Platt and coming off the bench were Jordan Clarke playing his first game of the season and another player back after a long lay off Freddy Eastwood. A new song for the City fans caught on as Depeche Mode’s “Just can’t get enough” was sung with force for the first time at an away game. City went down by a single goal scored by Callum Ball and City’s failure to score now meant they were the lowest scorers in the division.
City got in more help as veteran Iceland International Hermann Hdreidarsson came on a free a player with a nasty habit of playing for relegation sides. Next game was at home to Middlesbrough but thanks to an agreement Jutkiewicz couldn’t play but Nimely who had an unsuccessful loan at Middlesbrough made his debut along with Hdreidarsson. It was the young forward that made the headlines as City raced into a 3-1 lead with Nimely scoring Middlesbrough ended with nine players on the pitch but City had won for the first time this year and did they unearth a saviour in Nimely? It was then rumoured that Gary Hoffman was back in talks with Sisu but no one took it very seriously.
City started to trim the budget as James McPake went off on loan to Hibs he would end up as Captain score in the Scottish Cup final but injuries kept his appearances down he would later join them permanently. Last day of the month saw another tricky trip as City headed off to Blackpool on the way up many heard that Hibs had signed Roy O’Donovan on loan many hoped it would be a permanent move but he was the only player to move on before the transfer deadline day. City shocked everyone by taking the lead via Thomas’ first ever goal as the handful of away fans sang “You must be s**, you must be s***, we’re winning away, you must be s***”. Unfortunately City couldn’t hang on and conceded two late goals to leave the away fans heartbroken. The first goal happened when Hdreidarsson slipped and dislocated his shoulder he would never play for City again whilst Joe Murphy’s record of not keeping an away league clean sheet stretched to 57 weeks.
So one win in January and most where glad to see the back of it.
February (Month of purification, City are purified of points but it is not all doom and gloom just mostly)
City started the month bottom 7 points behind Millwall and safety with the poorest away record in the division. Better news on the transfer front as City loaned Manchester United’s midfielder Oliver Norwood. First match of the month was at home to Ipswich as Oliver Norwood made his debut from the bench and another sub Jordan Willis played for the first time that year. Millwall lost earlier that day meaning a City win could cut the point’s gap to just five. City kicked off in the snow and City came back from a goal down to lead at half time the second goal was scored by Deegan his third of the season which made him 2nd highest scorer. Ipswich levelled in the 2nd half and not for the first time that season City conceded in injury time to gift a victory to the visitors. Before the next game many thought we might get in on loan a forward or two to boost our goal tally but none where signed when City turned up at Reading. Some good news two City players were in the running for Championship apprentice of the year Gael Bigirimana and Cyrus Christie. The “Save our City” campaign organised a “support the team day” and there was a good turn out in Berkshire. Murphy stretched his run without an away league sheet to 60 weeks and didn’t have a good game whilst City fans sang “going down and still singing” to the tune of Tom Harks whilst some demolished advertising boards at the back of the away end and passed them overhead as City lost 2-0.
On St Valentine’s Day City hosted Leeds and Gary McSheffrey made his 200th appearance one of only 45 players to do so. City were level in injury time thanks to a McSheffrey penalty when for the second time in that game Nimely was upended in the box and McSheffrey stepped forward for a pressure penalty and scored to lift City off the bottom of the table.
A few days later things looked a touch brighter as Porstmouth entered administration again but many were surprised when they were only deducted ten points. Next up was a massive relegation “six pointer” away to Nottingham Forest. City were now only a point away from safety as the team with the worst home record took on the team with the worst away record. Yet another injury time goal was conceded but City were already a goal down and slipped to ignominious defeat. “Hartlepool on a Tuesday” was sung by some City fans at the end as City surrendered.
Thankfully next up was a team that hasn’t won in Coventry since 1923, Barnsley and they was not going to break that record as City scored an injury time winner after the impressive Norwood found Platt and “The Tree” scored with a header.
March (The month of the god of war as City start fighting)
City started the month in the drop zone 3 points behind Bristol City and safety. It was the seventh time City had been in the drop zone with 13 games to go and had only survived three of them. To make matters worse Sisu again failed to hand the accounts in on time meaning we were back in a transfer embargo.
Next up was the daunting trip to Leicester a ground we had failed to win on for the eight pervious visits all with eight different managers the ninth visit saw Andy Thorn officially in charge but he was ill and Steve Harrison was “manning the battlements”. It was a game of penalties as Murphy saved one before the referee somehow missed two blatant handballs by Leicester players before Nimley won a penalty and the resultant spot kick taken by sub Clingan was saved by Schmeichel in the Foxes goal and City lost 2-0. Cody McDonald came off the bench for his first game of the year.
Next up was Palace at home and Andy Thorn was fit enough to resume duties he handed Nathan Cameron his first game of the year. City went a goal down via a penalty but inspired by Keogh fought back to gain a point with a McDonald goal. Again the referee seemed to give everything against City.
For the next match it was “The Return of the King” as Birmingham were in town for an early kick off that attracted the season’s highest home gate of twenty two thousand plus. A victory and City would have exited the drop zone for a least a couple of hours. Former Birmingham player McSheffrey put City a goal up in the second half but our safety out of the bottom three lasted three minutes as of all people King levelled.
Later that week Gael Bigirimana won the “Apprentice of the Year” signalling to other clubs his talent.
Next task was to try to prevent an unwanted record, as City had never lost eleven away league games in a row in a single season after losing the pervious ten City travelled to Watford. There was a great atmosphere at Vicarage Road created by the away fans and the Watford mascot Hornet who tried his best to get the home fans singing but to no success, half time scoreless for the 19th time this season that equals a club record since promotion. Despite a couple of close calls City came away with a creditable 0-0 draw this meant Murphy finally kept an away clean sheet in the league his first since his Scunthorpe days 28th December 2010.
Despite the draw City were looking light in midfield with Clingan and Deegan looking poor only helped out by an excellent Norwood. About two hundred fans made the long mid week trip to see City at Cardiff.
Things didn’t start well as McDonald scored on own goal beating Cardiff’s Ben Turner to the ball to head it into his own net. Early in the second half McSheffrey missed from the penalty spot by blasting the ball over the crossbar. Clarke levelled for City before Cardiff went two-one up via Whittingham late in the game but an injury time goal by Norwood gave City a well-earned point. A massive “six pointer” was next as bottom team Portsmouth arrived at The Rioch on Legend’s Day. No goals at half time yet another post promotion record but City scored twice in the second half to record a victory the first for six games.
At the end of the month Lloyd McGrath hosted an evening with John Sillett at Hawkes Mill Lane and a good time was had by all the former manager told the crowd that he turned down an invite by Sisu to be the club president not wanting to be a scapegoat for their problems.
The end of the month and City faced a trip to Hull and for once it was a successful outing with a late McDonald goal making it 2-0 City won away for the first time that season and moved out of the bottom three.
April (The month of the fool. Tears of a clown)
City started the month in 21st one place above the drop zone and Bristol City but we had a vastly superior goal difference with six games to go. Next up were Peterborough at home but any thoughts of an easy victory were quashed when they took an early lead City battled back to lead at half time but the City again conceded from a corner and it ended 2-2. City two points clear later that day in a relegation six-pointer Bristol travelled to Nottingham and managed one shot on target whilst Forest bombarded Bristol’s goal but with “Calamity” James dropped a weeks previous the Robins held out for an unlikely win and City were back in the drop zone.
To make matters worse our next trip was to Ashton Gate on Easter Monday to play Bristol a must not loose game had now become a must win game.
History was against us as we had only won one out of the last twenty-three Easter Monday games away. Things started well as former loan player John Stead scored an own goal it was City’s 100th own goal in our league history but City collapsed in the 2nd half despite Bristol having a player sent off late they won 3-1 to leave City staring into the abyss. A sonic boom was heard over Coventry a few days later it made have been a plane or the breaking of City’s resistance. A trip north for the penultimate away game and this has happened six times in our history in the 2nd flight and we lost all six but City needed to put the performance at Bristol behind them.
At Burnley City started well but the home side scored against the run of play and with Bristol also winning it looked all but over for City. Things were going against City as Norwood was subjected to a waist high tackle without any action taken. Into the 2nd half and with City losing Thorn threw on three players to rescue the season and it worked the players inspired City and one of the subs Platt levelled just as news came through that Bristol City had lost a two goal lead in their game and were also level. City were on top and looking for a winner when another sub Christie was taken out with a knee high tackle again the referee took no action and City were forced to play with ten men and Christie would be out injured for months and City hung on for a point.
Doncaster were the first Championship to be relegated a team that City would play in the last home game of the season. Tuesday 17th City played Millwall at home the London team had nothing to play for and City needed a win. Half time came with the 21st 0-0 of the season but the second half saw City awarded a penalty but McSheffrey had his spot kicked saved and City went on to lose 1-0 to take a step closer to the drop as City were now five points from safety with two to play.
With Sisu again refusing to pay the rent on the ground and Andy Thorn also had a rant at Sisu at the lack of support as injuries meant that City had only twelve fit first teamers for the visit of Doncaster. Half time 0-0 again and with Bristol City beating Barnsley at home City were all but relegated as the 1987 Cup winning team were paraded on the pitch at half time which only rubbed salt into the wound. Things go worse as Keogh brought down a player and was sent off meaning he would miss his first minutes of action since joining us. Doncaster went on to win 2-0 against a dispirited team and City were relegated. Fans stayed behind and sang the managers name and applauded the team in a “lap of appreciation” before fans left the ground many could hardly believe we would be playing third tier football next season.
As soon as the last City fan left work was undertaken to transform The Rioch into The City of Coventry Stadium in time for the Olympics. The following Monday Coventry had the honour of unofficially opening the Olympics as Senegal beat Oman 2-0 in a qualifier in front of 11,000 fans. Final game of the season was away to Southampton and more rubbing of salt was undertaken as the Saints were on the verge of promotion and for the 2nd season running City fans had to endure other fans celebrating promotion.
City slumped to the biggest defeat of the season but at least some of the younger players got a game included Will Roberts and Joe Henderson both making their debuts.
Finally the dreadful season ended with Saints fans applauding City fans and even one home fan had a “Sisu out” banner as they nearly took over there. So the dreadful season had ended with only one away win and relegation if that wasn’t hard enough for the fans the prices at away grounds didn’t help with programmes costing £73.50, petrol for five sharing a car £200.50, tickets for away games £593, car parking £65.90 and hours travelled from Coventry 199 hours and 54 minutes to watch a team in terminal decline.
The Closed season (The Olympics and all that)
At the beginning of May, Sisu apologised for all the mistakes they had made but no Coventry fan was in the mood to accept them. Meanwhile successful youth coach Lee Carsley gain promotion as the new reserve team coach, as reserve team football would finally return the next season.
In the local elections Labour stayed in power in the Coventry council whilst Coventry citizens rejected an elected mayor by two to one. It was then revealed that a Chinese business called Wanda was looking into investing into the club and the development of the site. Meanwhile in Scotland still a Coventry player James McPake scored Hibs only goal in the Scottish Cup final 5-1 defeat against Hearts.
Back with the players still at the club and City turned down an offer from Bristol City for Keogh. At board level bridges seemed to be built as Gary Hoffman and Joe Elliot were invited to rejoin the board. The board meanwhile were busy trying to sell our players as Chesterfield were after Richard Wood. There were a couple of distractions for City fans at the beginning of June as the Queen celebrated her diamond jubilee as the European Championships opened in Poland and The Ukraine. England kicked off their campaign with a 1-1 draw with France. During the early stages of the tournament City drew Dagenham and Redbridge in the League Cup as Sisu finally handed in their accounts and City fans waited for the transfer embargo to be lifted. Back in The Ukraine and England finally beat Sweden in a competitive game 3-2.
City fans had another reason to celebrate the next day as the club axed coach Steve Harrison the man many had pointed to for City’s poor form. With only days before the transfer embargo would be lifted City’s number one target James Collins couldn’t wait and opted to sign for Swindon instead. This transfer broke the new wages rule in League One later resulting in a transfer embargo for the Wiltshire Club but many City fans were angry they had let a forward slip through their fingers.
Back in the Euros England beat the joint hosts The Ukraine to reach the knock out stage and again a day after the England game City fans could celebrate as the transfer embargo was lifted but this meant players could leave as well. Meanwhile England went out of the Euros after yet another penalty defeat this time to Italy.
Again a day after an England game City had some good news as legend Richard Shaw was returning to the club as coach most were very happy at the appointment but worried that the coaching staff were made up of two defenders a goalkeeper and a defensive midfielder.
Not everything was going smoothly at City as comments made on Twitter by Gary Deegan about the IRA forced the club to suspend the player so they could investigate the comments. The beginning of July saw Spain wrap up an entertaining Euros hammering Italy in the final.
As veteran Kevin Kilbane joined in the first day of training with City it was reported they were after an “international forward”. The next day his identity was revealed as low scoring forward Stephen Elliott from Hearts another player from Scotland joined as City picked over the ashes of Glasgow Rangers and brought in John Fleck players from Rangers never seemed to play well for City but Fleck had the qualities to be the best since Colin Stein but that wasn’t saying much. It wasn’t all players coming in as Newcastle surprisingly paid half a million for Bigirimana for their development squad but he played more games than many had thought and earned good reviews.
City opened up the pre-season friends with an 8-0 romp at Hinckley they only won there 3-0 last pre-season it wouldn’t be the last time Hinckley’s ground would be in the news. Whilst City were on their pre-season tour of Scotland and beating non league Brora Rangers 5-0 City signed two French defenders with the unlikely names of William and Kevin. Second game on tour saw City beaten for the 1st time a 1-0 at Ross County. The inevitable then happen as Richard Keogh was sold to Derby for a million a great servant for the club in his two years here. Derby did let forward Callum Ball come to City after he had scored against City the previous season. Another loan player soon joined as City loaned in Reece Brown from Man United as the new team was taking shape. City then lost again this time against Inverness 3-1.
It was the “summer of sport” as Bradley Wiggins became the first every Brit to win the Tour de France and days later the greatest show on earth came to Coventry as “The City of Coventry Stadium” hosted two games in the Women’s tournament seeing Japan beating Canada 2-1 and Sweden hammering South Africa 4-1. The next day the ground hosted a Men’s match as Belarus beat New Zealand by a single goal. The Olympic football at the ground as incredible not so the quality of the games but the whole atmosphere with fans from all over the world in Coventry. Fears over security were unfounded as fans milled around the ground soaking up the atmosphere as the locals were filled with pride the Olympics were in the City and the world famous Olympic Rings were up on the traffic island welcoming everyone to the event. A day lather The Olympics officially opened with a breathtaking ceremony, which included a burst of a Specials song, and Coventry made Taxis, which went well with the Olympic torch that was made in Coventry. The quality of games at the ground wasn’t great as the crowd sat through a dull scoreless draw between the Women of Japan and Sweden before a far better game seeing Canada with their “hot shot” Christine Sinclair defeat South Africa 3-0.
Meanwhile City were at nearby Nuneaton and fell to a worrying 1-0 defeat. Back at The City of Coventry Stadium saw two men’s matches Mexico beating Gabon 2-0 before South Korea defeated Switzerland 2-1. People may have been enjoying the football at the ground but it was looking gloomy for City as they crashed 4-1 at Wrexham. Back in Coventry Cameroon lost to New Zealand in the Women’s tournament 3-1 but the big news was that GB’s Ladies would be playing their quarter final in Coventry and a mini Olympic Cup fever swept the ground.
August (the month of honour, honour in the Olympics but not for City)
The start of the month saw the gold rush being in the Olympics for Team GB whilst in Coventry Senegal and the UAE drew followed by no goals for Japan against Honduras in the men’s football.
More transfers at City as a day after a bad tackle by Deegan forced Thomas to miss months of the season the Irishman was transferred to Hibernian after never living up to his high reputation he brought over from Ireland he would hit the headlines again when someone hit him in a pub brawl in Edinburgh breaking the midfielder’s jaw. The Olympic football has reached the quarterfinals stage as GB took on Canada in the women’s tournament in front of over 28,000 fans but the British Ladies didn’t perform and went down 2-0.
Away from the excitement of the Olympics City got back to winning ways with a 4-1 away win against Accrington Stanley. With a week to go until the season started City added yet another player to the books as Adam Barton joined from Preston.
On that day City in yet another ground that made the news in December beating Port Vale away 1-0. The same day Britain surpassed their medal haul from Beijing. The final ever Olympic Game at the City of Coventry saw Canada take bronze beating France 1-0 in the Women’s game. Britain finally ended 3rd in the medals table the most medals won in a hundred years.
A day later sadly the Olympic Rings came down and the ground transformed back into The Rioch. After the excitement of the games City were back in action kicking off the season with a Capital One Cup tie at Dagenham and Redbridge. City hadn’t won in the League Cup away since that victory at Manchester United but hopes were high for a cup run. Making their debuts that day were Reece Brown, Kevin Kilbane and Callum Ball but the surprise was that the youngster Billy Daniels made his debut. First song from the away fans that season was in praise of new coach Richard Shaw. By half time quite a bit of pre-season confidence had ebbed as City looked pretty poor. Stephen Elliott made his debut in the second half as City won a late controversial penalty converted by Kilbane late on and became only the 33rd player to score on his debut who wasn’t a forward. City drew Birmingham at home in the next round but there would be major changes before that game took place. Yet another midfielder arrived as City signed Steve Jennings from Hearts.
City finally kicked off their league campaign and for many it was a real culture shock away to Yeovil. Two thousands City fans packed into the tiny ground many catching the sun on the packed out terrace and the fans had new players to get used to as John Fleck and Adam Barton made their debuts. City quickly took the lead via McDonald scoring from a Fleck free kick City soon lost the lead and Fleck who went off injured near the end of the game Steve Jennings made his debut as City drew. Many were disappointed with the result despite the fact City had never won an opening game away in this division and Yeovil topped the table early on.
A couple of days later Martin Cranie finally found a new club but it was only Barnsley and the same time Sammy Clingan was left out in the cold and he would eventually join Doncaster.
City opened the home campaign against promotion favourites Sheffield United and one of the Frenchmen made their debuts as Kevin Malaga played in defence.
Before the game the fans gave a minute’s applause for former player Ernie Machin who died earlier that week. Halftime no goals and City booed off by some in the home crowd. Second half saw Malaga head the ball over the line but this was not given by the officials Elliott did then give City the lead but again failed to hold on and conceded late for another draw.
The pressure was already on City as we took on Bury at the Ricoh and everything looked good in the first half as quality goals from Barton and Baker had City coasting at two nil but it was all to change and Bury pulled one back early in the 2nd half and took over exploiting the weakness in the diamond formation and Andy Thorn didn’t seemed to want to change it but Bury forced a draw and City were booed off again.
Several players came in for criticisms McSheffrey and two new boys Ball who looked very poor and Brown who didn’t look much better. The next day patience broke and Thorn was sacked.
Many had questioned why was the manager given so few games with so many new players or why he wasn’t sacked at the end of the last season whatever the reason City were again looking for a new manager.
Richard Shaw took up care taking duties and was a popular choice for the post other candidates were Dennis Wise, Kevin Blackman and Paul Ince but Billy Davies seemed to be the fans’ favourite. In the meantime City had a cup game to play as Birmingham were in town. The other Frenchman William Edjenguele made his debut. Things started badly as Birmingham scored early and City looked poor but inspired by a fired up Baker City won in extra time with Kilbane and McDonald scoring before Baker deservedly scored the winner. City were then rewarded with a massive tie as a trip to Arsenal were on the cards but again there would be massive changes before that game.
September (Month of atonement? No atonement for City as reach their lowest point)
City started the month unbeaten in 14th place 3 points behind the play off and 5 points ahead of relegation. The month kicked off with a trip to Crewe with the team that day was new loan signing from Nottingham Forest’s David McGoldrick who the Forest fans had nicknamed “David Mc Gold Draught”.
It was Shaw’s first league game in charge but he kept with the diamond formation and pretty soon lacklustre City were two down when McGoldrick made his debut but many were angry that McDonald was taken off after he looked like the only threat. In the away terracing things were not in order either as one “so called” fan verbally abused a ball boy and a young City fan before he was confronted by his father. The game ended with City fans singing “your not fit to wear the shirt”. In that some good news in local sport as Warwickshire tied up the County Championship with a victory over Worcestershire.
Chris Wilder manager of Oxford became the new favourite to be City’s next manager. City fans had a new experience next as we entertained Burton Albion in the 1st Round of the Johnson’s Paint Trophy.
The smallest crowd ever to watch a first team game at the Rioch saw McGoldrick make his full debut as Shaw switched back to 4-4-2 but it was a dire game ending with no goals and went straight to penalties what happened next was nothing short of amazing as player after player stepped up giving both keepers no chance with well placed pens, into sudden death it went and players that were not used to penalties were still scoring with ease. Then player number 19 stepped forward with the scores at 9-9 Holmes fired and Murphy saved, Wood stepped up to send City through but his kick was saved, the Burton keeper took the next pen and Murphy saved again leaving the keeper to score and send City into the 2nd round. Richard Money and Steve Staunton were tipped for the manager’s hot seat thankfully the former City defender deigned he was up for the post.
Next City were live on Sky at home to Stevenage and despite taking the lead via an excellent first goal for McGoldrick City lost 2-1 with Richard Shaw coming in for heavy criticism for again only changing things around when City were behind the only plus point was the form of McGoldrick but many fan said “that we will coach that out of him.” City relieved a short list of nine candidates for the post with Phil Brown the latest hot favourite.
Finally some good news as Sisu dismissed Onye Igwe from the top post and Sisu’s leader Joy Seppala taking a closer interest. City next travelled to Tranemere with the home side in the top two and City having dropped into the bottom four as Richard Shaw had two games in charge before a new manager would be appointed many fans criticising the board for not acting sooner to bring in a manager things just got worse on the field as City slipped to a two nil defeat again Shaw taking most of the flak for sticking with the diamond and poor use of the subs.
The following Monday saw a shortlist of three for the manager’s post and most were angry that Richard Shaw was one of the them the others was Paul Ince.
Mid week saw a local trip to Shrewsbury with City knowing no team had made the top six in this division after failing to win in their first seven games since the play offs came into twenty five years ago.
A win was nowhere in sight as City were hammered 4-1 and went one from bottom on goal different many fans admitting this was the lowest point they could ever remember but in the main stand that night another candidate sat and watched the game that man landed the job the next day his name Mark Robins! Robins was only the sixth forward to be appointed as City’s boss most had their success.
Better news off the pitch as it was reported Sisu were on the verge of buying half the Ricoh but then things went quiet. Before Robbins first game in charge he was allowed to bring in three new players as we took on Carlisle at home.
During the game Robins first new player made his debut his name was Connor Henderson but blink and most fans would of have missed him. Later in the game a new left back was introduced as Jamie Reckord made his debut but City went down 2-1.
Nine thousand City fans made the trip in the League Cup to face Arsenal. Two midfielders made their debuts Franck Moussa and Jamie Bailey and City played well but despite Murphy saving a penalty City lost 6-1 with Callum Ball opening his account with a well taken header. Final game of the month and a total contrast to Arsenal’s ground as the fans turned out at the ramshackle Boundary Park home of Oldham. City where unofficially bottom at half time but finally City got a win under their belts as McDonald claimed a very late winner despite it clearly being an own goal after the game the fans away coach was attacked leaving the ground. End of the month saw an amazing comeback by the European Golfers to beat The US in the Ryder Cup.
October (The Halloween month but there is signs of life)
We started the month 22nd a point from safety and eleven points behind the play offs. First game of the month was at home to Milton Keynes Dons under ten thousand came to watch as Christie played for the first time this season but despite taking the lead City ended drawing 1-1. Next up were Bournemouth and finally won by a single McGoldrick goal it was City’s first league win for seventeen leagues games as City moved out of the bottom four. Four hundred plus City fans made the trip up to York for another JPT game and a scoreless first half was forgotten as City let rip in the second with four goals, McGoldrick was given two and Hussey scored his first ever goal for the club. A tough trip next as City travelled to Swindon for the first time in years and City took a deserved two goal lead both set up by Fleck both scored by McGoldrick but Swindon bullyboy tactics worked as City had no protection from the referee and score ended 2-2, Fleck was taken to hospital to have his ear almost sow back on whilst Wood had treatment for an elbow in the face and Baker was kicked in the air in front of the referee by a player on a yellow card. The equalising goal was scored by former City target Collins. After the game the police escorted the City fans heading for the coaches into an ambush.
Days later the club announced that they had parted company with Richard Shaw only after a few terrible months back at the club. City then searched for winner number two at home to Notts County but City didn’t play too well and lost 2-1 but the sight of Lee Hughes coming on for Notts County angered the home fans. City dropped back into the relegation zone.
City were faced with a trip to London next and a midweek game against Brentford but despite taking the lead City lost 2-1 as Clarke conceded a late penalty the Coventry born player was later subjected to some appalling racism on Twitter. Days later City were back in London to face Leyton Orient and City finally won on the road in the league by a single McGoldrick goal his fourth away game in a row this has only happen nine previous times. So City ended the month better than they started it and hopes of staying up increased.
November (The month of the bonfire as McGoldrick goes off like a rocket and City are on fire)
City started the month in the bottom four but only there on goal difference the play off were eleven points away. City then played in the first round of the FA Cup since 1963 and saw off plucky Southern League Arlesey Town 3-0 not a great performance but Ball scored his third goal all in the Cups all against teams from different divisions and Christie scored his first Coventry goal.
City had the habit of beating the lower teams in the table but next up was third placed Crawley this was now no bother for City as they won 3-1 with the third a superb strike from McGoldrick. The third game in a row at home was against relegation threatened Scunthorpe most were confident of a victory but they were reckoning without Mr Simpson the referee that day who gave a series of bizarre decisions including a controversial penalty when Leon Clarke fell over. The forward scored from the spot then the referee ignored a high boot allowing the high scoring Clarke through for the winner.
Mark Robins reaction to the defeat was surprising he drafted in Sunderland’s Blair Adams on loan he replaced Jamie Reckord who had been playing OK for City but wasn’t very attack minded. Adams made his debut at Hartlepool who were struggling but had just landed a new manager and by half time it was scoreless but nothing could prepare the away fans for what happen next as City ripped into the home side
Moussa and Barton scored but captain Baker was outstanding with two great strikes a quiet McGoldrick scored from the spot to equal Clarrie Bourton’s consecutive away scoring record as City ran out 5-0 winners. McGoldrick was now joint highest scorer in the division but he was no longer carrying the team as several other players had improved.
The away road show then turned up at Colchester and City kept up the excellent form with a settled back four looking solid and Edjenguele started to become a real favourite with the fans and it was the Edge who scored his first goal for City as we lead 2-1 deep into the game and under pressure when Barton played in McGoldrick the forward scored and created history in the protest and for the first time in many years it was good to be a City fan. The only trouble with City was they could not repeat their away performances at home as proven by struggling Portsmouth who held City to a 1-1 at the Rioch despite McSheffrey’s first goal of the season.
With everything looking rosy on the pitch things off it were not as it was reported the club owed over a million in back rent and talks to buy half the ground had broken down.
December (Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way but no festive cheer between ACL and Sisu)
City started the month in 15th five points clear of relegation and ten points behind the play off places. First game of the month saw City take on Morecambe in the FA Cup before the game the fans paid tribute to former manager Dave Sexton who died earlier that week as City edged through to the Third Round.
The next day City were granted a second cup trip to North London as City were drawn away to Spurs in the Third Round.
Another cup game followed as we entertained Sheffield United in The JPT at home. A ten thousand plus crowd turned up to see if City could make progress towards Wembley but again City lost a lead and for the second time the fans had to endure a penalty shoot out this time City won the shoot out easily and progressed the last eight. With things going well on the pitch suddenly there was a bombshell as Sisu was given until Boxing Day to pay the rent or be liquidated. Sisu started to look for other grounds to play on mostly against teams we played in pre-season but former home of Rushden and Diamonds, Nene Park looked the best beat but fans just wanted the two sides to get together to sort out the mess.
Walsall completed the four home games on the row when they visited The Rioch with the rent demand the main topic. The Saddlers took the lead with an Adams own goal but for the first time that season came from behind to get a result as Baker and McGoldrick scored two each as City romped to a 5-1 win. Sisu and ACL re-entered talks to sort out the mess as Sisu had earlier turned down a massive cut in the rent.
City were back on the road again this time visiting 2nd placed Doncaster. A win would equal the best very away run but winning by three clear goals would surpass that but Doncaster had the tightest defence in the Division so that looked unlikely. City played in the away “Brazil” kit for the first time in a competitive game as eight hundred plus City fans roared them onto a amazing 4-1 victory each goal was of high quality as Moussa and Barton scored and McGoldrick kept up his away scoring with two. City fans took great delight in lambasting former player Clingan before singing “Just like watching Brazil”.
Sad news the next day as reports from Zimbabwe came in of a car accident that nearly claimed the life of former player Peter Ndlouv but sadly his brother Adam died. Adam came on trail at City with Peter and played for the reserves.
With “will he wont he” sign saga about McGoldrick City acted early by bringing in Leon Clarke on trial a player that had scored eleven goals for struggling Scunthorpe in a short space of time. Boxing Day was away at Stevenage as City attempted to make history as City took over a thousand fan,s just under a quarter of the attendance. City trailed to an early penalty and despite dominating the second half couldn’t score until Wood poked one home from a deflected Fleck shot and two more goals a Baker special from out side the area before McGoldrick scored with a delightful chip and City record five away win in a row a new record.
City were now top scorers outright in League One but would have to do without suspended McGoldrick and Bailey whose loan had ended for the next game.
The deadline for City to agree a deal was moved forward to early in the New Year.
Last game of the year was at Milton Keynes as City took just under five thousand fans with them the biggest away following in any division that day. The big away following was rewarded as City came from behind twice to win a cracking goal by Moussa before a double by Elliott sealed the points and City moved to ninth only two points behind the play off and only nine behind automatic promotion.
So another year over and what a mixed year it has been with relegation followed by a depressing start to life in the third tier until Mark Robbins came in and transformed the side. Sisu seemed to have leant the lesson as well but problems with the rent hags a cloud over the club. What can 2013 bring? If City can maintain the level of performances of the last couple of games it could be a fantastic year, one that is long overdue.