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.
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Following the Sky Blues defeat at Norwich, an annoyed chairman Derrick Robins took to the media to make the point that newspaper reports weren't fair on the team.
The defeat extended a run of only two league wins in 15 games and Robins said: 'It just doesn't seem that we are getting a fair crack of the whip. Since our injuries began, whatever team the manager has put out has fought like fury at home and away'.
With a big League Cup game with Leicester coming up he & Jimmy Hill were keen to sign another forward to put some goals on the board & veteran Leicester centre-forward Ken Keyworth was available on a free transfer. City fought off the challenge of several other clubs to sign the 30-year old but not until after the Cup-tie.
None of the injuries had cleared up & with new signings Glazier & Harris cup-tied Hill had to bring in Bob Wesson & Bill Tedds. The weakened defence was further hampered by an early ligament injury to George Curtis. Curtis struggled on until half-time when City were 0-3 down before retiring & leaving the 10-men to fight a futile battle against the First Division side. By the final whistle City had slumped to an 8-1 defeat, the worst home loss in the club's history, three goals in the last nine minutes putting an unfair gloss on the Foxes victory.
Curtis' injury probably had no bearing on the outcome of the tie – Leicester were two up after eight minutes – but City's re-shuffled defence, with Kearns at centre-half & Rees helping out, just could not cope with one of the best attacks in the First Division. Wingers Mike Stringfellow & Billy Hodgson scored the early goals & the visitors tight defence kept City at bay in a fairly even first half. Curtis' involvement ended on the stroke of half-time when he sliced Hodgson's cross into his own net to make it 0-3 & aggravated his earlier injury in the process.
After the break two more Leicester goals dashed any hopes of a comeback. First Gibson finished off Stringfellow's cross then Richie Norman's soft but swerving ground shot bamboozled Wesson. City staged a mini-revival & Ken Hale chipped England goalkeeper Gordon Banks but the effort clipped the cross-bar before Hudson netted with an overhead kick. For a while City penned Leicester back with sheer defiance.
But like a tired boxer running out of steam, City were ripe for the kill. A score of 5-1 was probably respectable in the circumstances but Leicester, egged on by their almost delirious fans, would show no sympathy for the Sky Blues cause. On 81 minutes, Hodgson pivoted to score a superb sixth before Norman came forward again to score with a dipping 30-yard shot & one minute from the end a dejected Wesson sprawled in the mud after getting a hand to Stringfellow's header but failing to stop it creeping over the line.
The mauling was a body blow to the team's pride and it would take all the character & strength of purpose the Sky Blues could muster to shrug it off. A home game with Rotherham four days later would offer a chance to do that. Sadly George Curtis would not be fit but at least Glazier & Harris would be back to hopefully strengthen the battered defence.
Unfortunately a slick Rotherham side ruthlessly exploited City's weaknesses & romped to a 5-3 victory to make it 13 goals conceded in two games. Rotherham had new centre-forward John Galley making his debut & the new man took just 11 minutes to score, heading in Wilcockson's cross. Four minutes later it was 2-0 as City failed to cut off a corner & Albert Bennett prodded the ball in.
Poor old Mick Kearns was having a nightmare as Curtis' replacement & the day got worse before half time when Galley's header made it 3-0. Butler made it four just after half-time after Glazier failed to hold a shot from the winger – his only mistake but then the Sky Blues staged a revival.
Hudson pulled a goal back on the hour when Harris' piledriver wasn't held by the Millers' 'keeper but then Galley completed his hat-trick with a superb shot on the turn. Rotherham took their foot off the pedal to allow City's debutant Ken Keyworth to head a goal from Humphries' cross & Ken Hale to score a soft goal in the last minute.
The defeat left City down in 18th place, just three points ahead of the bottom two & a drastic tightening up in the side was required if the club was not going to enter the New Year in dire trouble.
The draw for the Third Round of the FA Cup had given City a plum draw at Villa Park for what would be the two neighbour's first competitive meeting since 1946. Two days after the Rotherham game City's youngsters gained what may have been an ominous victory, winning 1-0 at Villa Park in the FA Youth Cup. John Chambers scored the goal five minutes from time but the hero was ex-Coventry schoolboy, goalkeeper Martin Clamp who made several outstanding saves as City's kids soaked up intense Villa pressure.