Coventry City’s FA Cup winning Manager John Sillett picked up the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Coventry and Warwickshire Sports Awards – and made a passionate plea for his beloved Sky Blues to stay at the Ricoh Arena.
The legendary Manager and former player picked up the final award of the night at the Ricoh Arena, just reward for an illustrious career in the game.
Sillett joined Jimmy Hill’s Sky Blue Revolution from Chelsea in 1962, and would play over 100 games for the club before departing in 1966. Spells on the coaching staff started in 1979 – 1984 and again from 1985, before ascending to a management role in 1986.
Alongside George Curtis, ‘Snoz’ guided the Sky Blues to the 1987 FA Cup Final win over Spurs at Wembley and the club’s only major trophy. He took sole charge of first-team affairs from the 1987-88 season, and would reach the 1990 League Cup semi-finals, before leaving in November of that same year. A regular visitor to the Ricoh Arena, Sillett is now a Life President of the Club.
When presenting the Club of the Year award earlier in the night, Sillett made a plea to Coventry City and Wasps Rugby Club to agree a deal for the Sky Blues to remain at the Ricoh Arena.
“It’s lovely to see such a great Arena here. All I’m going to say is - when are we going to get back together?” Sillett said.
“Dave? (Boddy) Rugby? Come on the people of Coventry want you together. They don’t want you apart.
“We want a pitch to play on. They’ve got it, but let’s take the sting out of it.
“Coventry, Wasps – please let’s take the sting out of it and let’s get together with the football club and let’s keep this stadium going.
“That would be my wish.”
Speaking later to the Coventry Telegraph, the 82-year-old reiterated his stance.
"I'd give my 1987 medal back in exchange for that, without a doubt, not a problem at all. I'd give everything back to keep Coventry City going," said Sillett.
"Somehow you've got to wave over both sides and say let's start again and get together for the fans.
"Because that's what it is all about, the fans. The fans are coming through and paying out of their own wages, some are even out of work.
"I can't see why a pitch can't be shared. If they got together as men and sat there and talked it out I am sure there is an answer there somewhere.
"This is where we've got to play, in Coventry. If not in Coventry, what are we going to do? They don't know, and that's what is worrying me. I'm 82 years old, I want to know before I go in that grave they're going to dig for me. I want to know they're still here, and still playing."
"It's a long way back the blame is," said the former Chelsea player to the Coventry Telegraph. "I had arguments with the board in those days to say 'why sell a ground that we own?'. We've got the car parking, we've got the pitch. We don't fill the ground every week. Until we do, we don't need another pitch, let's play on Highfield Road. I got bombed out.
"I thought I was right but they just choo chooed it.
"It's now what we are talking about at this present moment. At this present moment it's got to be, get together, talk it over, talk it sensibly", he told the Coventry Telegraph.
"It's not 'we're bigger than you', let's get together on an equal level. Wasps, I love rugby, I love football, if only we can get together and share this. Look at it, what a wonderful stadium, which we gave away."
Dave Boddy, Chief Executive at Coventry City, paid tribute to Sillett and supported his appeal for the Sky Blues to remain at the Ricoh Arena.
“The word legend is over used – but it is entirely appropriate for John. He has made an incredible contribution to the game, the community and Coventry City.
“His achievement of leading the club to FA Cup triumph will never be forgotten and will always be celebrated, and he is so deserving of this award.
“When we welcome John and Jean in the Boardroom at the Ricoh Arena, it is always a great day filled with memories and laughter – and his passion for the Club shines through still.
“We appreciate and agree with his passionate message wanting the club to stay at the Ricoh Arena, and for us to work with Wasps to achieve that and everyone at Coventry City FC will work tirelessly in our aim to make John’s wish, and that of everyone else who cares for this club, a reality.”