Club Historian Jim Brown looks back on the 1964/65 Second Division season in this PUSB programme feature...
Coventry City club historian Jim Brown contributes the 'The Sky Blues Story 50 Years On' feature to the PUSB match-day programme and during the off-season period, we're showcasing these great features on www.ccfc.co.uk.
The 4-2 League Cup victory over First Division Sunderland took the Sky Blues to the quarter-finals for the first time in the competition's five-year history but it would fail to kick-start the team's league form.
Three days after the cup victory Jimmy Hill took his team to Bury for a Friday night fixture with two changes. Bob Wesson made way for the cup-tied Bill Glazier whilst Ronnie Farmer returned for Dietmar Bruck.
At the start of play on a wet and windy night, Bury lay two places below the Sky Blues but stunned City with a well-taken goal in the first minute by Ernie Yard. Yard's second goal after 18 minutes should have been avoided. The centre-forward picked up a pass on the left-wing and slammed over an effort that was probably intended as a centre. Glazier & Mick Kearns misjudged the flight of the ball altogether as they both stood motionless and watched it fly into the net. The goal was a big fillip to the home side but City weathered the subsequent storm and were still two down at the break.
A minute into the second half came a key moment in the game when George Hudson mis-kicked from the easiest of positions & the 'keeper was able to dash back & recover. Five minutes later came another defining moment when the referee got in the way of a Machin pass in midfield. The ball bounced off his legs to the feet of Bury's Alston who hared down the pitch before crossing for Colin Bell to score the third with a diving header.
Bell was one of the most sought after forwards in the division at the time & was on the radar of several First Division clubs, and he showed his pedigree again in the 67th minute with another headed goal before Alston made it 5-0 in the last minute. The 300 or so drenched City fans in the 6,336 crowd had a miserable journey back to Coventry.
The following week saw international recognition for four City players. Ronnie Rees won his third full cap for Wales in their 2-1 defeat at Wembley but only shone in patches. Forest's Frank Wignall scored both England goals on his debut in an unconvincing performance. Willie Humphries was called up for his 11th Northern Ireland cap the following week & John Burckitt was named in the England Youth squad. The biggest honour was however Bill Glazier's call-up to the England under 23 squad for the following week's game at Highfield Road against Rumania. Glazier was only the second City player to be picked for the side, after Reg Matthews in 1955, & although there was another 'keeper, Everton's Andy Rankin, in the squad, Bill was expected to play at his home ground.
Before the international City faced a home league fixture with Crystal Palace with injuries in the squad. With Brian Hill & Bruck out for several weeks & John Sillett suffering with ankle problems, JH hoped to sign Chelsea defender Allan Harris, brother of Ron 'Chopper' Harris, but a deal could not be finalised before the Palace game & Burckitt came in with Kearns moving to the right. City struggled to break down the visitor's blanket defence even after their goalkeeper Tony Millington had to leave the field 25 minutes from time with serious facial cuts. Sadly City flagged & failed to put stand-in keeper Brian Whitehouse under any serious pressure. Palace annoyed the home fans with their time-wasting tactics and with Ronnie Farmer limping on the wing for the last half-hour the visitors held on grimly for a point.
The Under 23 international was a great success with Glazier making his international debut in a 5-0 home victory in front of 27,500 fans, one of the biggest crowds for these matches for several years. After a goal-less first half City fans were treated to a second half goal-fest with Mick Jones, Bert Murray, Alan Ball, Alan Hinton & Martin Chivers on target.
The following Saturday City travelled to Norwich with Harris making his debut after a £35,000 move from Chelsea, Jimmy Hill having used all his persuasive skills on the full-back. With Farmer's injury ruling him out for three weeks, Kearns moved to right-half and Burckitt switched to right-back to make way for Harris. Machin, too, was injured & Humphries came back into a makeshift side.
At Carrow Road City's forwards again failed to make an impression & the Sky Blues lost 1-0 to a late Gerry Mannion goal. The side had lost three successive away games without scoring & in seven and a half hours of league football had mustered only one goal – from the penalty spot. Ken Hale did get the ball in the Norwich net just before Mannion's goal but a linesman flagged for Hudson being in an off-side position. Whilst City defended well with Curtis dampening the threat of Welsh international striker Ron Davies, the attack was tooth-less. The defeat left City in 15th place just three points above the relegation zone but at least the fans had a local derby with Leicester City in the League Cup to look forward to the following week. If the supporters had known what would happen when Leicester came to town, they wouldn't have been so excited!