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 final game of the 1947-48 season saw Coventry City entertain Chesterfield in a Second Division game.
The Bantams, as City were known then, had been mid-table most of the manager Billy Frith's first full season in charge following the untimely death of his predecessor Dick Bayliss the previous April. Chesterfield had finished in fourth place the previous season, the closest they have ever come to the top flight, but had struggled this term after selling star men Fred Linacre & Sid Ottewell.
City had opened the season in style beating Luton 4-1 with George Lowrie netting all four goals. The Welsh centre-forward was in dazzling form and by the turn of the year had netted seventeen goals in 18 games and was a wanted man. When he netted goal number 18 in the 1-1 draw with promotion favourites Newcastle in February he convinced the St James’ Park club that he was the man to clinch promotion for them. Two weeks later they paid £18,500 for him and started an era of Coventry once again being a selling club.
Lowrie had netted at Chesterfield's Saltergate in a thrilling 3-4 defeat. City had come from 3-1 down to level with just a few minutes remaining but conceded a last minute penalty to the home side. Since the Welshman's move to Newcastle goals had been harder to come by & the team had gone 11 games without a win before the form had picked up in April with victories over Cardiff at home & Fulham away.
For the visit of Chesterfield Frith made one change from the side that had won at Fulham – Warwickshire cricketer Freddie Gardner coming in at inside left for the injured Fred Bett. The weather was atrocious & several heavy showers kept the size of the crowd down & it was less than half the 26,000 that had watched the Cardiff game four weeks earlier.
City started the game strongly & Middleton was applauded for a great save from Ted Roberts in the opening minutes. There was a lot of surface water on the pitch & players were struggling to keep a foothold on a pitch that was cutting up badly. Right-winger 'Plum' Warner, playing only his second game after a long spell out with injury, was giving his full-back a hard time & in the 13th minute he beat Middleton with a cross cum shot which bounced off the crossbar. A minute later City deservedly took the lead. Norman Lockhart's left wing corner was met by Ted Roberts whose header thundered past Middleton.
City were revelling in the mud & Warner started a lovely move which led to the second goal on 34 minutes. He fed McIntosh who lobbed a defender but was prevented from passing him. The ball ran loose to the unmarked Gardner whose low shot found the net. Chesterfield were completely at sea by this time & two more chances went begging before man of the match Warner made it 3-0 on 39 minutes. Fed by a superb pass by Roberts, the right-winger took on his full-back before unleashing a fierce drive from a narrow angle for one of the goals of the season at Highfield Road.
City's domination continued into the second half & McIntosh & Lockhart went close whilst Alf Wood in the home goal was a virtual spectator. City had good penalty appeals turned down when first Lockhart was fouled in full stride, then when McIntosh was blocked by Kirkman in the penalty area. Lockhart was injured & was a virtual passenger on the wing & then Gardner took a bad knock & had to leave the field. The visitors threw everything at the nine-men Bantams & Gardner returned, bandaged & limping on the right-wing but captain George Mason & his resolute defence kept the dangerous Tommy Capel, later to join City, quiet, holding on to keep a clean sheet and end the season with a successful result.
The Bantams win lifted them to a final position of tenth, eighteen points behind champions Birmingham City, managed by ex-City boss Harry Storer. Little did Blues or City fans realise that seven months later Storer would be back in the manager's chair at Highfield Road. Chesterfield finished 16th, well clear of the relegated clubs, Millwall & Doncaster.
Coventry: (2-3-5) Alf Wood: Harry Barratt, Dennis Tooze: Ron Cox, George Mason, Stan Smith: 'Plum' Warner, Alex McIntosh, Ted Roberts, Fred Gardner, Norman Lockhart.
Chesterfield: (2-3-5) Ray Middleton: Stan Milburn, Norman Kirkman: Syd Goodfellow, Ken Booker, Peter Robinson: John Oliver, Bob Southall, George Bradshaw, Tommy Capel, Harold Roberts.