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.
For more features and content from Jim Brown, head to his website here: http://jimbrownsjournal.blogspot.co.uk/
The last Saturday in October saw the Sky Blues travel to London to face Charlton Athletic.
City named an unchanged side with makeshift full-backs Ronnie Farmer & John Burckitt still deputising for the injured John Sillett & Brian Hill. 3,000 Coventry fans made the trip to the Valley & were left frustrated by a poor display from their heroes. The game started well for the Sky Blues but three early chances were spurned. Ernie Machin shot hastily when in a good position & 'keeper Mike Rose srambled a save. There was no excuse for the other two missed chances. Hudson volleyed the ball high over the bar after Rose had dropped Machin's corner at his feet, then Bobby Gould had all the goal to shoot at but blazed wide. City never looked as dangerous again & fell behind after 12 minutes.
Eddie Firmani, back from a long spell in Italy, was Charlton's best forward & he netted the first goal, a shot which clipped off Farmer's leg to wrong foot Glazier. The home side were the better side for most of the match & played some excellent football with captain Mike Bailey impressing the watching England manager Alf Ramsey. With full and under 23 internationals coming up, Alf was possibly running the rule over Bill Glazier & but for Bill they could have conceded five or six.
With 20 minutes left City were still in the game but the game hinged on an incident in the 71st minute. City's forwards, for once, broke free of their shackles, and Willie Humphries' strong shot bounced off Rose's chest. Hudson pounced on the ball but with a goal looking certain, he allowed the defenders to scramble the ball away. Charlton immediately swept upfield for Roy Matthews to score with a left foot shot that went in off an upright...and it was curtains for City. Kennedy made it 3-0 seven minutes from time to register the home side's best victory of the season.
The following Saturday Leyton Orient were the visitors to Highfield Road. The O's had an identical record to City but had only gained three away points from seven games. Jimmy Hill had Sillett back but had rested George Hudson after some lack-lustre displays & Hale returned with Bobby Gould at centre-forward. Once again City conceded an early goal when the unmarked Dunmore headed in a corner after seven minutes. City's first-half performance was poor with several players looking anxious & the visitors could have built a three-goal lead. Inside-right Gordon Gregory was given acres of space & two brilliant shots deserved a better fate than to hit the cross-bar and go over the top.
Things improved slightly after the break but Humphries was hampered by a pulled muscle & only Rees of the forwards was in good form. Finally in the last twenty minutes the Sky Blues found some form & mounted long periods of pressure on the Orient goal but without putting in any worthwhile shots. All seemed to be lost, but in the 89th minute, left-half Cyril Lea pulled down Machin and a penalty was awarded.
'Keeper Mike Pinner saved Ken Hale's kick and the City man followed up to crack the ball home, but the referee had already blown because an Orient player had encroached into the area. Hale kept a cool head and produced a much better second shot to save the point.
The smallest crowd of the season, 24,446, watched the game as City slipped to 12th in the table, seven points behind the leaders Northampton. Three days later 19,200 turned up to see City face First Division Sunderland in a Fourth Round League Cup tie.
The Wearsiders, promoted to Division 1 the previous season were having a torrid time. Manager Alan Brown had walked out in the summer to join Sheffield Wednesday & the club had been managerless since. They lay in 20th place with one win in 16 games having lost all eight away games. City recalled Hudson for Gould, John Mitten came in for Humphries and Wesson returned for the cup-tied Glazier. They were hungry from the start & Dietmar Bruck almost scored after 20 seconds. Sunderland looked a pale shadow of the side that had played their part in the famous FA Cup tie at the ground twenty months previously & capitulated in a one-sided first half.
Hudson was back to his best & reacted first to a poor clearance to score the first on 15 minutes. Then, Hale netted twice in a minute just after the half-hour. The first was from a rebound, the second from a quickly taken free-kick from which Hale hit an unstoppable left-foot shot. Six minutes later the game was as good as over when Hudson scored a fourth & the best of the night. Mitten, who was giving his full-back a nightmare time, squared for Machin, who slipped two defenders, reached the by-line & pulled the ball back right to the feet of Hudson, who slammed it first time into the roof of the net.
It was the Sky Blues best performance for some time & although they eased off in the second half & casually allowed John O'Hare pull two goals back, they were never in any danger against a mediocre First Division side. The victory meant that City were in the last eight of the League Cup for the first time.