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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After five straight wins to start the campaign, the Sky Blues had suffered four successive defeats to take the gloss off the phenomenal early season form. A League Cup win over Ipswich had ended the slump but a tough trip to Southampton loomed.
Jimmy Hill made just one change from the winning formula that had seen off Ipswich, recalling Ken Hale in place of Graham Newton. There was no place in goal for goalkeeper Bob Wesson who was seen to be culpable in some of the recent defeats; Dave Meeson played in goal.
The Saints looked like they would swamp City when they took a fourth minute lead through their England international winger Terry Paine. England under-23 centre-forward Martin Chivers set up Paine to net from 12 yards. After 18 minutes it was 2-0 when George O’Brien’s flicked header from a free-kick caught Meeson off his line. City, showing considerable attacking flair, then came into the game & had the home side penned back for long spells. Hale & Ronnie Rees had efforts hit the woodwork and other half chances went begging with some woeful shooting.
It remained 2-0 until the 65th minute when Dave Burnside moved on to an O’Brien pass to score from 18 yards and 12 minutes from time Paine scored his second from John Sydenham’s free-kick. City finally found the net near the end when George Curtis came up for a corner and showed his lack-lustre forwards how to score, netting with a fine header.
At the final whistle City had had more shots at goal but were beaten 4-1 by a side who played a direct style using their fast, tricky wingers, Paine & Sydenham, who took their chances well. City, who had now won five in a row & lost five in a row, slipped down to ninth place whilst the Saints moved up to sixth, just two points behind leaders Newcastle.
Three days later City travelled to Swansea for a midweek game. The Swans, FA Cup semi finalists the previous season, had started the season poorly & lost six of their nine games. Going into the game neither side had drawn a game so a 1-1 draw was almost predictable. John Sillett & Hale were injured & Bill Tedds & John Smith deputised.
It was a storybook homecoming for local lad Ronnie Rees, born a few miles up the valley, and when he scored after 10 minutes the roof almost came off the Vetch Field. He cut in from the wing and hit a glorious shot from 30 yards & the roar from the 12,000 crowd must have been heard miles away.
Both sides spurned chances & Ernie Machin, gradually feeling his way back after injury, crashed a left foot shot against a post with goalkeeper Briggs beaten just before half-time. Hill employed a more defensive line up with Mick Kearns in the centre as a double centre-half & both wing halves playing deep roles. Swansea’s tactics seemed to be focussed on Briggs’ long punts to the forwards but Curtis & Kearns easily dealt with these balls & the home side struggled to find a way through City’s defence. Then, in the dying seconds the Swans grabbed an equaliser. From a corner on the left Meeson dashed out only to miss the ball in a cluster of players. Keith Todd, with his back to goal five yards out, flicked the ball over his head & with two City man trying desperately to reach it, the ball curled under the bar and dropped gently into the net.
Manager Hill had been watching other goalkeepers for some time & had been linked with several including Springett of QPR, Charlton’s Wakeham & Palace’s Glazier but the following evening he & director John Camkin were at Bournemouth watching their young keeper David Best. After the game the two parties talked for three hours but Bournemouth rejected City’s overtures for Best.
Any incoming transfer would require funds to be raised & on the Friday City sold George Kirby to Swansea for £11,000, £1,500 less than they had paid in March. The loss however did not stop the club announcing a record profit of £11,231 for the previous season.
The following day City slumped at home again, this time to Huddersfield 3-2 after leading 2-1. With Ronnie Rees on international duty for Wales, Willie Hunphries was recalled in an otherwise unchanged team. The Terriers, bottom but one at the start of play, took the lead in the 10th minute with a Coddington penalty & dominated the first half before goals from Hudson & Farmer (a penalty) just before the break gave City an undeserved lead. Kevin Lewis levelled for the visitors with the last kick of the first half. After the break City had Bruck limping on the wing with a pulled muscle & when Kearns went off to have a plaster applied to a cut above the eye, Town scored the winner through Chris Balderstone. The big news after the game however was that City had offered Crystal Palace a large fee for goalkeeper Bill Glazier & a deal may be in the offing.