|Fifteen years ago, Coventry City Football Club was
about to set out on its greatest adventure.
The Midlands club, with the reputation for setting all the PR
trends in its amazing and meteoric rise to the top level of English
football under Jimmy Hill and Derrick Robbins, was about to soar to
unprecedented heights. It was about to win the greatest knock-out
competition in football – the FA Challenge Cup.
This weekend – weather and playing conditions permitting –
the fates and the draw have conspired to pair the Sky Blues once
again with the team they beat in that greatest of all Cup Finals –
This time, they’ll meet in the 3rd Round at Highfield Road,
Spurs coming to Coventry as Premiership big boys, City receiving
them with inconsistent form putting doubts in many minds about the
club’s prospects for swift promotion from Division One.
Among the spectators in what will surely be a capacity crowd,
will be eleven names from that historic cup run fifteen years ago.
Houchen and Cyrille
Regis are all scheduled to be there and if you want to give them
the hero’s welcome they deserve, don’t be in your seat later
COVENTRY CITY FA CUP WINNING TEAM 1987
It was my privilege to lead the Mercia Sound commentary team
through that famous Cup run and at the Final itself. Some cwn
readers may remember that Mike Liggins - now a BBC TV reporter in
East Anglia - was Mercia’s Sports Editor then and the main
commentator at Wembley, Ian Woods - now Sports Editor at Sky News -
was a pitch-side reporter, assisted by a young soccer enthusiast who
was still in the infancy of his broadcasting career - Rob Gurney.
I was Mike Liggins’ co-commentator at Wembley, as I had been in
the earlier rounds, and as Managing Director and Programme
Controller of the radio station, I was as proud of my team that day
as we all were of the Sky Blues.
Many people still pay us all the great compliment of playing the
commemorative cassette recording of both the Final and the
Semi-Final (which some say was an even better match) and our
commentary of the Final can be heard here
on cwn for those that want to wallow in the memory one more
Of the eleven that will be reunited again this time, Oggy and
Trevor Peake are on the club’s current coaching staff, of course,
and Benno, Brian Borrows and Michael Gynn are regular visitors to
the ground, but this will be the first time in quite a while that we
will have had the opportunity to salute them en mass.
Apart from the five just mentioned, I see Lloyd McGrath most days
as he is a near neighbour of mine, and I was in Killer’s company
of course a few weeks ago when I MC’d a sportsman’s night at the
club when he and Neil Ruddock were the guest speakers.
I have crossed paths with Cyrille a few times in recent months -
he is now an agent for one or two players and I have interviewed him
for various stories featured on Sky Sports News.
Nick Pickering is someone I see from time to time, too, on the
media circuit. When the City are not playing at home, I often report
on Premiership matches for the Irish national commercial radio
station Today FM, and Nick reports for a local radio station in his
Among the notable names missing from the guest list, however, are
the two guiding lights of that famous squad - George Curtis and John
Sillett. I like to think of both Snoz and George as good
personal friends and I think it’s a shame that we won’t see them
take a bow too.
Why they are not there, I do not know. It may be that they were
invited but had other commitments. Snoz, of course, is now one of
Sven Goran Eriksson’s team of scouts, assessing players for
possible England selection as well as checking on the form of our
future international opponents.
Like Lloyd, George Curtis lives in my neck of the woods and I
bumped into him for a chat only the other day.
I say I bumped into him – as I was walking my dog, George waved
as he drove passed on the way to buying his morning newspaper, and
then decided to turn back and pull in for a chat. The dog sat
patiently with his legs crossed, while we chewed the fat over the
state of the world, football and Coventry City FC.
For the record, George is firmly of the opinion that a dozen or
so big clubs, led by Manchester United, will form a European League
sooner rather than later, and that it will be a miracle if a good
many clubs manage to avoid bankruptcy in the money-mad cycle that
the game is locked into.
Hale and hearty in his retirement, George is still the larger
than life character that became a legend in Sky Blues history and
his only complaint was that the ground was too hard because of the
frost for him to get out and play golf (he says, by the way, with a
huge laugh, that he now plays off “about 9” - so some
things never change!).
Rodger and Steve
Sedgley are among others who will be missing from the parade of
Cup hero’s, but they all have current commitments with other
It would be a fitting tribute to them all if Roland Nilsson’s
class of 2002 provided the 3rd Round with one of the upsets of the
day and turned over Glenn Hoddle’s Tottenham. The Spurs manager,
however, will need no reminder of that ‘87 Final and he will look
to the current form and League status of the two present day sides
to deliver the predictable result.
Mind you, once he realises that Lloyd McGrath is around to stalk
him through the afternoon once again … who knows?