Oh no, not another Year’s review.
As John Lennon sang, “another year’s over a new one’s just begun.” It has been another “interesting” year in the history of the Sky Blues, relegation, a day out at Wembley, enduring 4th flight football for only the second time in our history, court battles, take-over rumours and two managers. In 2017 we have used 50 players in all competitions only three more than last year but this was a joint record for the number of players used in a calendar year level with 2003. From those players only six came in on loan, this is the lowest number since again 2003. Eighteen players progressed through the youth team. This year we have earned 60 points far better than 2016 and only bettered four times since relegation from the Premier League. We have scored 43 league goals the lowest since 1997 where we player fewer games and in the Premier League. We have conceded 49 leagues goals the fewest since 1999.
January (Sick and tired of you’ve been hanging on me)
City started the year in 23rd place two points above bottom team Oldham and but only two points behind Bury the team just outside the relegation zone. Russell Slade was in charge of his first home game after a defeat and draw in his first games in charge. New Years Day was a busy one for the manager as he wheeled and dealed in the transfer market. In came Nathan Clarke from Bradford the big centre back played for Slade before and was no surprise also a commanding figure at the back is what City needed. A double swoop from Burton as in came midfielder Callum Reilly on loan and to help in the goal scoring department in came Stuart Beavon. The forward’s goal scoring record was poor and there was disappointment and some surprise that Marvin Sordell went in an exchange deal. Sordell was the top scorer at the club with a mere four goals. The forward scored four goals for The Brewers in the remainder of the season helping them avoid relegation from The Championship. 2nd placed Bolton was the first visitors of the year. The line up for the first game of the year was the three new players just signed the rest were Lee Burge in goal; the remaining defenders were Ryan Haynes, Jordan Turnbull and playing his last game for the club Jamie Sterry. The full back from Newcastle returned to his club because the loan had ended since then the player has failed to break into the Newcastle team. The rest of the line up was in midfield on that day with Reilly were George Thomas, Kyel Reid and Andy Rose, partnering Beavon up front was Marcus Tudgay. City took a 2-1 lead in the game with Beavon scoring on his debut. Ruben Lameiras and Gael Bigirimana both came on as subs but no one could prevent a late leveller for Bolton and City had to accept a 2-2 draw. There was a planned sit-in after the game to protest about Sisu, in fact fans were blowing their whistles throughout the game. Despite the late set back things were looking promising all three debutants played well. One rumour circulating at the time was that City were looking to sign Jay Simpson who played for Leyton Orient one of Slade’s old sides but nothing came of this and Jay moved to the States to play for Philadelphia Union. The next day Danny Agyei returned after a loan to Burnley and Brentford were reportedly tabling a one and a half million bid for Ben Stevenson. More transfer rumours now stating that Bristol City were interested in signing Jordan Willis. Meanwhile it was reported that City turned down a first bid for Stevenson. Promising defender Cian Harries went to Liverpool on trail and played for their U21 in a 6-0 win against Bangor. No players out yet but a 4th joined as City signed Kevin Foley a free signing from Slade’s old club Charlton. Next game was in the last 16 of the Checkatrade Trophy as in front of just over two thousand City beat Brighton’s U21s 3-0. Playing for the first time that year was Reece Charles-Cook, Dion Kelly-Evans, Cian Harries back from his trial, Chris Stokes, Valdimir Gadzhev, Jodi Jones and Jack Finch who came off the bench. City drew the only surviving U21 side Swansea away from home, only two wins from Wembley. Later that week we had a take-over rumours surfaced as apparently former Crystal Palace chairman, Simon Jordan would be interested if a take-over bid succeeded. Next up was a real relegation six-pointer as we travelled to face Chesterfield also in the relegation zone. Foley made his debut; Ben Stevenson came off the bench for his first game of the year. In a dull game Chesterfield edged 1-0 and City hit the bottom of the table. The following week saw Russell Slade busy again in came two players on loan from Derby, a defender Farrend Rawson and some one who was reported to be a pacey forward, Charles Vernam. Two more players arrived on trial Theo Wharton from Cardiff a midfielder, you know the St Kits and Nevis international, yes that Theo Wharton, he didn’t play and ended up with a spell at Weston-Super-Mare before moving to York. The other player on trial was Samba Diakite, a French midfielder playing for QPR but he didn’t impress either. It was silly season for take-over rumours and the latest was the company Red Bull would bid for both City and Wasps. Tim Fisher then appeared on Radio One and stated that Coventry City were not dieing, just pining for the fjords (made that last bit up). On the Saturday, City took on Fleetwood a side that could spend a six-figure fee on a forward and were near the top of the table. Rawson made his debut; it was another dull game that City lost with another late goal. Questions were being asked about the manager Slade who made some baffling substitutions and seemed to have totally frozen City best passer, Bigirimana out of the team. The defeat left City seriously cut adrift of safety. There was a chance then to lift the gloom as City travelled to play Swansea City U21’s in the quarter finals of the Checkatrade. Over 3,000 fans turned up making the biggest attendance in the knock-out stages so far. Things didn’t go well when Haynes conceded a penalty and it was despatched by Oliver McBurnie for Swansea. With five minutes to go City won a corner and Willis headed home off a defender to send the game into a penalty shoot out. George Thomas, Bigirimana, Reid and Lameiras all converted their spot whilst Charles-Cook saved two of theirs and he on his third attempt was on the winning side in a penalty shoot out. City fans could be heard singing “Wembley” in their phones to people back home on the way back, City now one game away from the final. To stoke the Wembley fever fire City were drawn at home to League Two Wycombe Wanders in the semi finals which would be a single game. Could City transfer their cup form into the league? The next game was one many City fans had been looking forward to since the start of the season a trip to Sixfields the former temporary home. Many fans had a look at the famous hill there and some still refused to enter the ground and stood on the hill watching the game. Charles Vernam made his debut. This wasn’t to be just a normal game as protests were planned by the City fans staring of with flares after ten minutes, then later more flares and fans running onto the pitch, more hold ups, half time saw City fans having a tug-of-war with advertising hoardings with the stewards, the second half saw more fans on the pitch and even more flares and yet more flares, the game itself saw Willis sent off early and Northampton winning 3-0 leaving Slade with the worst managing record since 1919. Transfer deadline came at the end of the month and for once no players left but according to the papers Jordan Willis turned down a move to Rotherham on personal terms or did the club pull the plug? One player came in Michael Folivi a forward on loan from Charlton.
February (Month of purification, City are pure rubbish in the league but Wembley here we come!)
City started the month bottom a massive eight points adrift of safety but with a game in hand and four points behind the next worst team. First up in the month was Slade’s 7th attempt to win his first league game for City as we took on Millwall at home. Another protest was planned and this time home fans threw tennis balls onto the pitch to hold up play and to gain publicity but that was as good as it got for City as the Sky Blues lost 2-0. Next up was the welcomed distraction from the league as City took on Wycombe Wanderers in the semi final of the Check-a-trade. The last time we played at this stage The Ricoh was full this time only 11,00 turned up to see if City could reach Wembley. This was the largest crowd to watch a game in this competition other than the final since our last appearance at this stage. After a fifteen minute delay to allow the crowd in the game got underway. Stuart Beavon gave City the perfect start with a shot that took a slight deflection giving City the lead early on, later in the first half George Thomas controlled one on his chest before volleying past for the keeper to make it two nil. It seemed that the Leicester born forward was the new Keith Houchen. The giant Akinfenwa pulled one back for the visitors in the second half but City didn’t let it slip and the final whistle sparked a pitch invasion, for once not in protest but in sheer join, players notably Dion Kelly-Evans ran towards the fans and there was a mass celebration. In a season in which City made have been fielding our worst side in our league history we made it to Wembley. Could the euphoria of Wembley spark the team into to some form in the league? Next up was a trip to Oldham. Despite a great goal from Tudgay putting him joint highest league scorer with four City lost 3-2, City’s other goal was scored by Kwame Thomas playing for the first time this year. City were now on the longest run without a league win since the 1919-1920 season. It was now possible that City could be relegated before playing at Wembley. Out of the gloom came some exciting news City had just signed former Premier League striker Yakubu. The big forward seemed the type of player we had been crying out for all season but there were question marks over his fitness and some cynics said he only signed to play at Wembley. Yakubu made his debut in the second half at Wimbledon in front of a dedicated but excited away following but it was the second sub Jodi Jones who scored his first league goal for the City to give us a goal lead and City held that lead until fourteen seconds to go when Wimbledon scored and City threw away two valuable points. Slade now equalled Noel Cantwell’s record of the longest run by a new manager without a league win. Russell Slade was still looking to add to the side as Kieran Richardson was reported to be a target but instead went for a trial with Spanish side Granada. Gillingham were next visitors to The Ricoh and finally The Sky Blues emerged with three points with both the Thomas scoring it was George’s first league goal. So the second longest run for a league win in a season was over, could City push on from this? Wembley tickets went on sale and 15,000 were snapped up on the first day. Gale Doris may have blown a few fences down in Coventry but the Sky Blues might have needed something stronger as a team we hadn’t beaten in the league for over 50 years turned up next as Swindon were in town. Meanwhile lamps were used on the Ricoh pitch to encourage more grass growth but it was the away side that eased their relegation worries with a 3-1 win. Yakubu set up the consolation goal but the pulled a hamstring in the process; we had used all three subs so he hobbled on the wing for the remaining minutes. Not long after the game at Wembley Yakubu left the club to finally retire months later. Next up was a midweek trek up the M6 to take on Bury. Now Slade up to now mainly had the benefit of the doubt from most City fans but the team he sent out started to loose even those. He played four central defenders at the back one central midfielder and five forwards. Not surprisingly City were poor with only sub Haynes coming out with any credit. Slade was roundly barracked by the City fans “Taxi for Slade”. A take-over rumour emerged as one of the more silly ones as it was said that Tim Fisher would be launching a bid!
March (The month of the god of war as Slade is a casualty and Robins returns to the trenches)
We started the month bottom three points behind Chesterfield and fourteen points from safety. The first day of the month saw 25,000 tickets sold for Wembley and City finally knew who they were going to face as Oxford threw away a two goal lead at Luton but won it 3-2 with a late goal. United were last season’s runners up as well. Another take-over rumour emerged with this time involving former chairman Paul Fletcher and twelve million pounds. Back to league action for City and a trip to nearby Shrewsbury. Fans were pleasantly surprised that Slade included Bigirimana in a line up but this wasn’t a change of heart but a late injury forced his hand. City in fact played quite well with Burge celebrating his 50th league for us by saving a penalty as the game ended scoreless. Andy Rose, however was stretchered off with a bad injury and would miss Wembley and the rest of the season. After a good point and performance the next news was a little surprising as Russell Slade was sacked. Only thirteen league games in charge only Bill Clayton in 1919 had fewer games and with only one win certainly one of the worst. Normally with Sisu, they would take their time in selecting a new boss but not this time as Mark Robins returned. He became the fourth full time manager to have two stints at the club the others were Harry Storer, Billy Frith and Bobby Gould. Wembley ticket sales now reached 32,000 as City fans were breaking all sorts of records in the competition. So Robins got his second stint as boss under way in a similar style to his first with a home defeat this time against Bradford but defender Chris Stokes played for the first time that year after a long battle with injury. Tickets were still selling as the 47,000 mark was reached. Another home game and another defeat this time against Southend as the team seemed to be getting worse under Robins and not better. Next up was the last away game before Wembley and a ground that City had never lost on as the Sky Blue fateful made the trip to Milton Keynes. It was not a good day as City lost 1-0 and Robins had the longest run for a new manager not to see a goal since 1919. The manager meanwhile was already talking about next season saying his team was not fit enough and he would be on the look out for bigger players for the following season. Another midweek home game next as City took on fellow strugglers Port Vale. Another rumoured moved to the Butts was on social media again but no one believed it. Finally the goal drought was over as Reid received the ball from a throw flicked it over his own head before volleying in from out side the area, for Robins’ first goal back in charge and City’s first league goal for 422 minutes. City saw out the game 2-1 meaning we had achieved the double over Vale that season. The next home game saw the biggest home league crowd of the season as just fewer that 12,000 turned up to see The Sky Blues take on Bristol Rovers. It was the last game before Wembley and the attendance was helped by 4,000 travelling fans from Bristol. It was the home fans celebrating in the end with a 1-0 win; Willis played his 100th League game for City.
April (The month of the fool as City goes down but we have a laugh under The Arch)
We started the month bottom one point behind the next team but 11 points from safety with six games to go. City avoided the stigma of being the first team to be relegated as Rotherham where mathematically down from The Championship on April Fool’s Day. No City fans really cared as April the 2nd marked the day of the Checkatrade Final at Wembley. The biggest ever crowd at the new Wembley for the competition, 74,000 were in attendances with the majority supporting The Sky Blues. Mark Robins may have been the fourth manager to take charge in this competition that season but he allowed Steve Ogrizovic to lead the team out. In a weird echo of the 87 final we had another new father in the team then it was Oggy this time it was Biggi whose wife gave birth a baby daughter in team for the final. The line up for the day was: Lee Burge in goal, Jordan Willis, Jordan Turnbull, Chris Stokes and Ryan Haynes at the back. In midfield we had Kyel Reid, Ben Stevenson, Gael Bigirimana and Ruben Lameiras in midfield and up front we had George Thomas and Stuart Beavon. City fans held up banners with the word “Potential” on it before the game got underway. Eleven minutes in City won a throw in level with the Oxford penalty area. The throw was taken and Willis got the ball he crossed, Beavon’s volley was blocked but the ball fell to Bigirimana, who first touch was excellent his second touch saw him beat the keeper CITY 1 OXFORD 0. What a start and City fans were making all the noise. Ten minutes into the second half Reid escaped down the left, he picked out Thomas on the edge of the area, his first touch was excellent, before he half volleyed back past the keeper, CITY 2 OXFORD 0, the man that we all though was destined to do a “Houchen” in the final actually did. City two goals up and looking likely winners but then with fifteen minutes left Oxford went forward again and sub Secombe hit a shot through a sea of legs; Burge was unsighted and despite his best efforts couldn’t stop the goal. Now Oxford was back in the game and looking more likely to score. Then deep in injury time an Oxford throw came in and the ball was delivered into the box another Oxford sub none other that former Coventry youth player Ruffles got a good shot in that looked goal bound but Burge pulled off a brilliant save, another Oxford player had an open goal but somehow Bigi was on the line to block and Burge grabbed the ball as 74,000+ just couldn’t believe a goal wasn’t scored. Burge kicked the ball and the referee blew for full time WE WON THE CUP! Ok the trophy. Dion Kelly-Evans, Jodi Jones and Marcus Tudgay had come on as subs. Enjoy yourself blasted out over the P.A system and it was party time as Cov kid Jordan Willis lifted the trophy. The famous arch turned sky blue as City fans took their time leaving the ground. There couldn’t be a greater contrast as for the next game City travelled to top of the table Sheffield United to see if we could pull off a shock result but no such luck City played well enough but lost 2-0 goals from of all players Leon Clarke and Jon Fleck. Next game City needed to win to avoid a chance of being mathematically relegated. A 10,000+ gate arrived at the Ricoh mainly thanks for a tenner a ticket and maybe Legend’s Day, for the game against Peterborough. It was a good day for once as Burge saved a penalty and Lameiras scored the only goal, City were still not mathematically relegated. Plans were being put in place for next season as Tommy Widdrington was appointed recruitment manager. Hopes for the future was looking brighter the next day as the Under 18’s won their league. City’s youth lost in the play off final of the four leagues at Sheffield United in May. Good Friday only provided to be good in name only. City took on Charlton and like the game at their ground there was a joint march in protest. Inside the ground the game was interrupted as fans threw plastic pigs onto the pitch. City played well enough and the game was a draw but that wasn’t good enough and the final whistle signalled relegation to the bottom tier of league football for City.
There was a stunned silence from all around the ground including to their credit the away fans. City still had three games to play the first was at Rochdale were we never win anyway and the trend didn’t end as City lost 2-0 without a single shot on target. Off the field Sisu turned down a second offer from Gary Hoffman to take-over the club. City fans then heard something lurking in the darkest of shadows as Joy Sapala wrote an open letter starting “I’d like to start by apologising to each and every CCFC fan. None of you deserve the dismal result of relegation.” She points out the mistakes in the season including player recruitment, the appointment of Russell Slade. She hoped that Mark Robins would win promotion next season and they were working hard to retian the facitlities for the youth team. They promissed to give Robins all the support he needs to get out of League Two with immeidtae effect. They also were on the look out for a new CEO who the fans could communicate with. Finally she said “As owners, we must take responsibility for the club’s position.” Last home game of a miserable season was against Walsall but for once it was a good day as a George Thomas goal gave City the victory, this put the player on his own as top league scorer with a mere five league goals. Jordan Shipley made his debut that day from the bench and win meant that City climbed to 23rd place moving above Chesterfield. Finally City fans could wrap up the season with a trip to Scunthorpe; Chris Camwell made his debut on the day. City lost 3-1 but that was the first away goal in the league scored under Robins since his return and maybe the most pointless substitution in history as Michael Fivoli came on, his loan was ending and City fans wondered why youth team hot shot Jordan Ponticelli wasn’t given a run instead. So the season was over and the worst, pro-rata in our history. Gael Bigirimana and Jordan Willis were maybe the best players of the season; the later made the most starts in the league campaign along with Jordan Turnbull both starting 36 games.
The Closed season (City sign players shock)
City fans waved goodbye to the loan players maybe waving with two fingers. Michael Fovili returned to Watford were he has continued to play for the U21s. Farrend Rawson went back to Derby before going on loan to Accrington where he has been in and out of the team. Callum Reilly moved back to Burton who released him and he was signed by Bury where he has played regularly. Jamie Sterry returned to Newcastle were he has played once for the first team and Charles Vernam returned to Derby where he is a member of the U21 squad. The second of the month saw City release the following players; Kevin Foley moved to Billericay Town of the Isthmian Premier League but has only played a handful of games for them, Valdimir Gadzhev moved to play for Anorthosis Famagusta of Cyprus. He has started or come on as sub in two thirds of the clubs games so far as they stand second in the Cypriote league. Marcus Tudgay moved away after 13 goals in 78 games for City and Sutton Coldfield were reported to be interested in him but nothing came of it he is currently without a club. Three players were released from the U21s, Jack Finch who played 22 games in competitions moved to Kidderminster Harriers on a short term deal but only had four games as a sub, Kyle Spence, played one league game and one Football League Trophy game for City before trying out some lower league teams so far he has tasted Hampton and Richmond Borough, Kingstonians and was last seen at the Isthmian League South club East Grinstead Town. New negotiations for a new contract started with Haynes and Bigirimana whilst the Kelly-Evans twins signed contract extensions. On the political front Coventrians voted in the local West Midlands mayoral elections and most went for the Labour candidate but a Conservative one, Andy Street, was returned to be the first mayor of the West Midlands but he promised to help Coventry in the bid to become City of Culture. First rumour for new players emerged as Yeovil’s Alex Lacey was tipped to join but he joined Gillingham were he has played about half the games of the season so far. Then a real shock as City signed the first player for next season none other than former midfielder Michael Doyle! Apparently he was tired of the daily commute from the midlands to Portsmouth and despite captaining them to the League Two title wanted a club closer to home but would his travelling companion Carl Baker be joining us as well? The 16th saw the 30th anniversary of the Cup win which reminded fans how far the club has fallen. Gary Hoffman was reported to send in a third bid to Sisu but this to was rejected. Normally City fans have to wait until late July of early August for players to start coming in but the second player in and still mid May was described as a natural goal scorer and a 20-goal-a-season man in the shape of Sheffield United’s Marc McNulty. His most goals for a single club in England in a single season was when he scored 10 goals for Portsmouth a few years back. City fans heads were spinning as signing number three landed, this time it was a big physical defender from Northampton called Rod McDonald nicknamed “Concrete Ron” he seemed the type of defender City had been missing. Player number four soon turned up this time a midfielder from relegated Leyton Orient called Liam Kelly. Many City fans still had not been on holiday when two more players arrived. What was going on? This is not the normal way City operate, normally wait until the very last minute and pick up a load of panic buys. The two coming in were Dominic Hyam a defender signed from Reading but had previously played for Portsmouth and former Pompey player number four as keeper Liam O’Brien signed. Now City had three first choice keepers on the books so which one would go would it be Charles-Cook or Burge? Arsenal beat Chelsea in the F.A Cup final to stop them winning the double but this fixture now seemed a million miles away to the last Midlands winners.
In June the keeper mystery seemed to have been solved when Burge signed a contract extension joining him was Stokes but the bad news was Bigirimana was off, he has a strange piece of history as a City player, two full seasons and two relegations but played well in both. He joined Motherwell and has been a regular in the squad but was on the pitch to help Motherwell in the League Cup final. City were still looking for reinforcements up front and apparently Crawley turned down two approaches for James Collins. Ruben Lameiras moved to Plymouth and after impressing in pre-season with goals he failed to translate that into the season despite the club struggling but he scored for them in their last game of the year. Move activity at the club as long standing and popular Kit Man Andy Harvey was made redundant; he had been at the club for twenty three years starting as an apprentice. Of far lesser importance, for some anyway, a snap general election was held, called by Prime Minister May to increase her majority in Parliament things didn’t go the way she planned and a better then expected performance by Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party meant we had a hung Parliament heading into the Brexit talks. Former City chairman Jeffrey Robinson retained his Coventry North West he has held this since 1976. Good news for England as the U20’s won their world cup beating Venezuela in the final Andy Rose joined Motherwell and has played more games than Gael including gaining runners up medal in the Scottish League Cup. City organised the pre-season tour earlier than normal hoping to get two games in Spain near Alicante. City were still searching for a target-man now that Collins had joined Luton, next on the radar was Peterborough’s Michael Smith but he went to Bury instead and maybe a lucky escape as to date has only scored once. City kept the chase up for forwards as next Tamworth’s prolific scorer Danny Newton was in the sights but Stevenage was the team that took the risk to sign him and so far they seemed to have got a good player. The first announcement of the fixtures can be an exiting time but not if you are playing in the joint lowest level for over hundred years but the opening fixture allowed us to ease into it as fancied Notts County were in town followed by a possible culture shock at Grimsby. Another signing was soon through the door not a forward but a midfielder that on average of his old club Rochdale scored one in five; Peter Vincenti seemed to be a good capture. One player leaving and I guess with plenty of volunteers to drive him was Nathan Clarke who joined up with his old boss Russell Slade again this time at Grimsby, he would be a regular. City’s search for another forward seemed to be reaching the desperation stage as old boy Leon Best was heavily tipped for a return. In the end Best joined Charlton were he has hardly played. Finally City landed a tall forward was Sutton United’s Maxime Biambou came to the club but fans pointed to the fact he had only scored ten goals in the division below but manager Robins insists this was more a long term signing. In the boardroom we had a new face that Joy Salapa promised in the shape of Dave Boddy coming in as Commercial Director up to now he was most famous or should that be infamous when he moved Worcester out of their ground and the new stadium failed to materialise leaving them homeless. City fans were worried he was here to pull of a similar trick. The last day of the month saw City held a kit launch at Warwick University. Mark Robins and a few players were there to answer questions on the forth coming season this left a generally positive mood amongst the fans that were there. The home kit was greeted with approval with most as we turned back to Sky Blue from the mainly looking white home kit of the previous season but the away kit wasn’t so popular.
Early July saw Beavon sign a contract extension for another season. Another new player then arrived as Fulham’s Jack Grimmer signed a right back. As people were enjoying the Godiva Festival in the Memorial Park, City got the pre-season underway with a friendly at baking hot Sutton United, City won with a late goal by trialist Greg Moorhouse. The big forward from Northern Ireland impressed in pre-season but his parent club Glenavon wanted money for the player so he went to Sligo Rovers were he has yet to play for. The Sky Blues then jetted off on their pre-season tour to Spain but played the only game some distance from were quite a few City fans were based, they went down to a 3-2 defeat to French club Valenciennes. Cian Harries made a move to Swansea’s U21 side were he has become a regular. Sisu was back in court and it was a predictable result with Sisu losing on all three points they brought up but predicted to continue the fight just in case they fluke a result one day. Better news came as favourites Coventry made it to the last five bidding for the City of Culture. More hope for the future of English football as the second trophy came home as the U19’s the U19’s European Championship beating Portugal. Meanwhile City had returned home and lost 3-1 in a friendly at Barnsley. The next day City lost a behind-the-doors friendly at home to Southampton 2-0. Next up was a “home” friendly as City took on MK Dons at Nuneaton’s ground; the Sky Blues won 2-0 both scored from the penalty spot by McNulty. In the general sporting world Chris Frome won his annual Tour de France whilst England’s Women team won the Cricket World Cup. A City XI went to play Mickleover Sports and won 1-0 with Ponticelli scoring the only goal. In late July City were involved in a six team tournament in Nuneaton staring with a scoreless draw with a Liverpool youth side and ending beating the host
2-1 so to end the pre-season. The last day of the month saw Jordan Turnbull go to Partick Thistle and Kwame Thomas who would play for Sutton and Solihull Moors.
August (the month of honour, mixed honours for City)
Early August saw two signings in came defender James Pearson from Barnet and first loan player of the season Wolves’ forward Duckens Nazon. The 5th of August saw City start in the fourth flight since the late 1950’s. First up was one of the pre-season teams tipped to do well in the shape of Notts County. The kick off to the season was delayed by ten minutes because of lightening and hailstones at the Ricoh. Playing for the first time this year were Liam O’Brien, Jack Grimmer, Ron McDonald, Dominic Hyam, Liam Kelly, Peter Vinceti, Marc McNulty and Michael Doyle. The game was a triumph for Jodie Jones scoring a hat trick and becoming only the 6th player to score three on the opening day, the others George Lowrie, Ronnie Farmer, David Cross, Micky Quinn and Dion Dublin. Maxime Biambou and Duckens Nazon both made their debuts from the bench having a hand in two of the goals. Kyel Reid decided he didn’t want to play League Two football for City ended up on loan to League Two Colchester. George Thomas moved to Leicester and has failed to break into their first team but has played and scored for their U21’s in the Check-a-trade. So for the eight season in a row our top league scorer or top joint scorer failed to play for us the following season last one to do this was on his own as top league scorer was Clinton Morrison for the 2009-2010 season. City then had to bizarrely face the previous three managers over the next two games. First up was Blackburn, managed by Tony Mowbray and assisted by Mark Venus, in the newly named Carabao Cup. Devon Kelly-Evans played for the first time this year. City lost 3-1 but Jordan Ponticelli made his debut late on as a sub. Another signing emerged; the exciting Tony Andreu arrived from Norwich on a free. It was then the turn of Russell Slade to face his old team when City fans may have had a culture shock at the state of the surrounding Cleethorpes and the rundown ground itself. City took the lead in the game in bizarre fashion, former City player Nathan Clarke kicked the ball towards his keeper so he could take a free-kick but the referee had already blown for it to be taken and McNulty nipped in and ran the ball into the back of the net unopposed, Grimmer later scored with a header from a corner. Andreu made his debut so did a signing from Reading the defender Dominic Hyman. City went top. Would this division be a breeze or would we fade? Next up were Newport County at home with some City fans predicting going the whole season without defeat they were rudely awaken when O’Brien spilled a tame long range shot into the back of the net. City couldn’t break them down and lost as City fans started to worry about the lack of form of Vincenti and McNulty. More serious matters with the staff at City as assistant manager Steve Taylor had to step down after it was discovered he had bleeding on the brain, Adrian Viveash took over the role. Next up was the long trek to Yeovil and City fans didn’t return in a good mood as another goalkeeping blunder by O’Brien contributed to a 2-0 defeat. The last game of the month saw City set off on their defence of the Checkatrade Trophy a home game against League One pace-setters Shrewsbury. James Pearson made his debut; Callum Maycock came off the bench for his first game of the year. City came from two down to draw level, first goal a great strike by Andreu but The Shrews won it in injury time. Bizarrely despite most fans thought Pearson had a good game he was released the next day. He joined a list of 15 former players that played in a cup but never in the league. James Pearson moved to Kidderminster Harriers were he has become a regular for the National League North team. Another defender came in as yet another former Portsmouth player, Tom
Davies, joined us meanwhile City’s third choice keeper Reice Charles-Cook moved to Swindon as second choice but has already played nine games where he has impressed.
September (Month of atonement. City make up for the poor start)
City started the month in 10th place. First game of the month saw a short trip to bottom placed Chesterfield, Burge was back in goal for a league game and Davies made his debut. No goals but McNulty had three on target and miss two great chances one right in front of unguarded net, questions were being asked of the forward. Another fellow relegated side next as the smallest Saturday home league gate since 1958 turned up to see the clash with Port Vale. Jodi Jones scored the only goal of the game and another great performance by the wide man but Tony Andreu had to go off with an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament and would be ruled out for the rest of the season, a bitter blow. During the game a sub Stuart Beavon was himself taken off being only the twelfth City sub to be subbed. Mid-week saw a straight forward 2-0 home win against Carlisle and City re-entered the Play-Off Zone. A trip to Cambridge was net on the agenda but there would be no revenge for last season’s cup defeat as a physically big Cambridge side out muscled City and won 2-1. The hot young prospect that is Jordan Ponticelli signed a four year contract. Next game saw the league leaders come to town as City took on Exeter. City made the leaders look poor and won 2-0 and the winning goal against the team basted in Devon came from Devon, Devon Kelly-Evans that is. City’s bogey team was up next for a midweek clash in Swindon, City hadn’t beaten the Robins for 50 years in the league! It finally happen and from a goal down, Doyle scored his first goal since his return and then was responsible for a Town player being sent off before The Duck wrapped up the points with a great volley. Final game of the month was at home to Crewe and City edged it with a single goal victory with the defence looking solid again.
October (The Halloween month, a good few horror shows)
City started the month in 4th place only three points off the top. It was back to Checkatrade action at Walsall where City’s defence of the trophy was threatening to end. A penalty each and it was 1-1 before half time sub Ponticelli scored his first ever goal to give City the lead Bilal Sayoud was off the bench for his debut but in injury time Walsall levelled. This meant penalties and the first viewing by City fans of the new A-B-B-A system, O’Brien saved two spot kicks to win the shoot-out and City emerged with two points and still had a chance of making the second round. Of far lesser importance and the group stage of the Checkatrade Trophy was the World Cup and an England win over Slovenia meant we qualified with some to spare. One of the many firsts for City next as we travelled to play Barnet in their smart ground. For some reason this was covered live on the Sky and they may have wondered why they bothered after a dull scoreless draw. More new experience for many City fans as the next away game was against Accrington Stanley. City wore the not too popular away grey kit for the first time in the season and it was another blank day in front of goal as City slipped to a 1-0 defeat. On the day the skies above Coventry turned a weird orange colour we drew Maidenhead at home in the F.A Cup. The next night was the first ever meeting with Forest Green Rovers who brought one of the smallest away following ever seen in Coventry. City conceded only the second league goal at home all season and it was another keeping howler as Burge let a tame shot it from distance. Then FGR “parked the bus” and went home with a win. Then from nowhere another take-over bid was attempted, well according to a guy called Dale Evans it was, a man that had won his money in a card game but this reminded many of the Joe Dhinsa
City took on Colchester at home to see if they could end the goal draught. Well City didn’t get close with not a single shot on target and McNulty also guilty it ended scoreless. After failing to win a game all month next one was on the paper the toughest game of the season. It was the irresistible force Vs the unmovable object as the best attack took on the best defence at Luton. The Hatters are on track to score 100 league goals this season but the City defence kept them out and it McNulty who opened the scoring with a good header, finally scoring a goal from open that wasn’t a sitter. Then after the same player was brought down in injury time, Luton had a player sent off and
and young Shipley stepped up to take the free kick and promptly blasted it past the keeper for 2-0 and upstaged Ponticelli who had made a good league debut. The Duck scored late in injury time and incredibly City came home with a 3-0 win, only a horror show for the Hatters. It has been a great year for the various England teams and it was rounded of by the U17s winning their World Cup in India after beating Spain.
November (The month of the bonfire as City smoulder but there is no fire)
City started the month in 6th place four points behind automatic and two points above
8th place. Bonfire day saw City start the F.A Cup campaign taking on Maidenhead Untied at home. This was the 23rd time city had faced a non-league in the cup since becoming a league side and have only lost seven times. Just over 3,000 turned up on a Sunday for the game to see Ponticelli score twice to ease City through. Next up was the final group game in the Checkatrade and City promptly best West Brow U21 with Biambou scoring his first goal in a 2-1 win, Jordan Thompson and Tom Bayliss both made their debuts from the bench. Despite the win City were eliminated from the completion when to no ones great surprise Shrewsbury allowed Walsall beat them at home. City had the best defensive record in the Football League but struggled to beat team that defend in depth another opportunity came when Mansfield arrived at The Ricoh. It was the pre-season favourites that emerged with the points as City lost 1-0. The next away game looked on paper very difficult as Lincoln were up with the play off contenders and unbeaten at home in the League for over a year. The Sky Blues went a goal down but Nazon and Jones combined to win the game for City 2-1. It was a wet Tuesday night in Stevenage next and for the first time City failed to win there coming back with a 1-1 draw but of greater concern was two injures one to Kelly that would rule him out for the rest of the year and a devastating blow as Jones was taken of with an anterior cruciate ligament ruling him out for the season. City now had the two most creative players out with the same injury did this signal the end of a promotion push? Another bus turned up at the Ricoh and was parked in front of the away goal, this one belonged to Crawley. Robins tried playing wing backs in the first half which failed; Crawley took the lead and got away with some serial time wasting. The second half we reverted back to a flat back four before McNulty opened his home league account with a well taken goal, his second in a row. Crawley hung on and we even witnessed their physio walking on the field to attend to a player to waste time, it ended all square. End of the month saw the circus back in town, or Sisu on court as it is called, it ended with the judge suggesting all side seek arbitration to solve their differences.
December (Happy at home for the City of Culture)
City started the month in 6th place goal difference above 8th place but five points behind 3rd. First game of the month saw the 24th clash vs. non-league teams as City took on Boreham Wood at home in the 4th Round of the F.A. Cup. City eased through
3-0 with a McNulty chip the pick of the goals. So the year saw City score 20 goals in all cup competitions the most since 1991 and 4th on the all time list. City drew Stoke City at home in the 3rd Round. Another cup competition City play in is the Birmingham Senior Cup but a Second XI team was knocked out at Rushall Olympic 3-1. Thursday 7th of December near the end of the One Show it was announced that Coventry had won the bid for City of Culture. Next up was a trip to struggling Morecambe but City put in practically poor performance and lost 2-0 it could have been more if not for Burge. Another large away following for City sang “we love culture” but made the long journey home disappointed. After a very heavy snow fall hit City the Youth team were knocked out of the Youth Cup at Villa 2-1 despite taking an early lead. Near their tenth anniversary it was rumoured that Sisu turned down yet another take-over bid but still no news on were we would be playing next season. In the League, City needed to bounce back as we played Cheltenham for the very first time. History was made for after a mere seventy second Tom Bayliss scored on his League debut. Town levelled but with fifteen minutes left McNulty broke through to score the winner he missed several chances before that. The manager had promised at least two new players during the Transfer Window but he acted early and brought in Reading’s forward Josh Barrett. A Friday night game was up next as Wycombe played their first ever league game against us and it turned out to maybe the most entertaining game of the year. The fun started after 14 minutes when Doyle out wide and a long way from goal had a blast that dipped over the keeper for a remarkable goal. This goal placed Doyle 69th on our all time scoring list. It got better later on in the half after McNulty ran onto a good Vincenti ball the forward coolly entered the area and placed the ball past the keeper for 2-0. Wycombe pulled one back before half time with a volley. Second half saw the away side awarded a penalty. It was the first penalty awarded for or against this season in the league this season. The penalty was despatched for 2-2. Amazingly not long after City won the first league penalty for 52 league games, McNulty scored to give City the lead and late on he seemed to be brought down by the keeper going for his hat trick. An entertaining win and McNulty now finally seemed to be living up to his promise. David Boddy sent out his Christmas message to City fans, he stated the announcement of where we would be playing next season was imminently, he was in discussion of a long term agreement to keep the academy at The Alan Higgs Centre he also praised the away following. That following was out in force again but were disappointed after missed a chance from entering the top three with a single goal defeat at Port Vale. It was revealed that Carl Baker was back in Britain after his stint in India and was training with The Sky Blues. On the same day Ivor Lawton who played as a sub for City in an away FLT game at Yeovil finally found a club after being released when he played for Halesowen Town on Boxing Day but was sent off on his debut against Mickleover. Final game of the year and it was a trek to Carlisle but despite having two key injuries during the game, including Nazon a sub who was subbed the 13th time in our history, City won with another McNulty goal he also had a penalty saved. City ended the year in 5th place two points behind 3rd.
A remarkable year in many ways but for once it has ended with a touch of optimism
Could City's long wait for a top six finish could be coming to an end? Let’s hope we can look back on 2017 as the season we hit rock bottom and started the climb back.