One of the most influential figures in football history and our old home ground feature in the letter H of our Coventry City A-Z...
Across the season, we worked our way through the alphabet for this year's Coventry City matchday programme PUSB, finding a Sky Blue perspective of each letter in the alphabet.
It made for a popular feature so we thought we'd bring it to the web too! So without further ado, here is H, with one of the most influential figures in football history and our old home ground featuring in the next part of our Coventry City A-Z...
"Great knowledge, funny, confrontational, a visionary, Jimmy Hill is truly a special footballing man." - Bob Wilson
Everything this football club has seen, lived and enjoyed since 1961, it is all down to Jimmy Hill's ideas and ambitions.
Born in Balham in London, Hill enjoyed a successful playing career with Brentford and more noticeably Fulham where he made nearly 300 appearances, scoring 52 goals.
His leadership skills came to the fore in 1957 when he became chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) and successfully campaigned to have the Football League's £20 maximum wage scrapped.
Hill retired in 1961 at the age of 33 and was appointed manager of Coventry City on Wednesday, November 29th, who were struggling in Division Three. On his appointment, Hill told the Daily Mirror: "My aim is to make Coventry the highest paid Football League club in the country but you just work for it."
With chairman Derrick Robins, Hill began to change the destiny of the club, changing the home kit's colours to sky blue and adopting the nickname "The Sky Blues" whilst also penning "The Sky Blue Song". He started revolutionary practices like talking to the press, launched Radio Sky Blue to entertain fans before kick-off, introduced the Sky Blue Express train to carry fans to away matches and supplied young fans with drinks and snacks; all things which we all take for granted in today’s game. Hill was a trailblazer.
"Everything he told me when he signed me came true. He had wonderful ideas of where he wanted to take this club and he delivered his word. We should all thank him for what he did for this football club and the city of Coventry." - John Sillett
Hill followed up his revolutionary ideas off the pitch with success on it. Coventry City won the 1963/64 Division Three Championship and after two seasons in the second tier, Hill achieved another promotion in the 1966/67 season when the Sky Blues won over half their games and went 25-games unbeaten to seal promotion to Division One; a transformation of a football club in six seasons which has rarely been equalled.
Surprisingly, Hill left the club in 1967 to begin a broadcasting career which ended his ‘Sky Blue Revolution’. Noel Cantwell replaced Hill as the Sky Blues began a 34-year stay in the top flight of English football. He returned to City as managing director in April 1975 and continued to influence the game when he transformed Highfield Road into the country’s first all-seater stadium before leaving in 1983 having changed the destiny and the future of this football club forever.
"You can put him in the same league as Bill Shankly and Sir Matt Busby for what he did for Coventry City." - Dietmar Bruck
Highfield Road was Coventry City’s home ground for 106 years since it opened in 1899 and closed in 30th April, 2005.
Built in the Hillfields district close to the city centre, Highfield Road was bombed during the Second World War as the Coventry Evening Telegraph reported: “There will be no football at Highfield Road for a long time, Hitler having done a spot of ploughing up of the playing space with a series of bombs.”
Highfield Road’s record attendance was 51, 455 when the Sky Blues played Wolverhampton Wanderers in Division Two in 1967 as City recorded a 3-1 victory on their way to promotion to Division One during the ‘Sky Blue Revolution’.
When Highfield Road was converted to an all-seater stadium for the second time in mid-1990s, after it was originally converted in 1981 but changed back two years later, the maximum capacity was 23,489.
The ground, which was constantly modernised, was closed on 30, April 2005 as Coventry City saw out their tenure by beating Derby County 6-2 in a game befitting of such an iconic ground.
The Sky Blues signed the Scottish midfielder in 1972 as manager Joe Mercer signed ‘Hutch’ for £140,000 plus Billy Rafferty from Blackpool.
Hutchinson played for the Sky Blues for eight years and played 355 games for the Sky Blues, scoring 30 goals. During his time with the club, he made 17 appearances for Scotland and was
nicknamed “Mr Magic” by chairman Derrick Robins.
He was voted Supporter’s Player of the Season three times during his eight-stay at Highfield Road and left a lasting impression as he helped City continue their top flight status.
Hutchinson went on to play for Manchester City, Bulova in Hong Kong, Burnley and Swansea before retiring in 1994 at the age of 46 having played more than a thousand first-team games in his career.