Mark Robins is the latest in a long line of Sky Blue Supremos, the men who have tried to bring success to City. In this series first published in matchday programme PUSB, writer Rob Mason reflects on the highs and lows on those who have occupied the hot-seat.
Jimmy McIntyre managed three clubs and became the first man to win the old Division Three South with two different clubs. Unfortunately, City were the team with which he won nothing but McIntyre remains a fascinating figure in the Coventry story. While he passed away over 60 years ago characters such as him all played their part in the club’s history and this series seeks to ensure their stories are not forgotten.
McIntyre’s contribution to Coventry commenced long before he became manager in 1928. A crowd of around 2,000 all went home talking about him after his home debut on 9 September 1905. The front page of that evening’s Coventry based Midland Evening Telegraph advertised a production of ‘Three of a Kind’ at the Coventry Hippodrome but McIntyre had already hit his own three of a kind with a hat-trick in a 6-1 win over Burslem Port Vale Reserves in the Birmingham and District League.
Having started so well, McIntyre proved he was no flash in the pan, going on to score 19 goals in only 24 games in a season when no-one else managed double figures. City finished 11th in the 18 team table. He saved his best performance for his home town team, scoring four in a 5-1 win over Walsall in November.
The Saddlers were one of his old teams. McIntyre had played for them in 1901, when he was 20. He had begun with Witton, continued with Darlaston Town and moved on to Wednesbury Old Athletic before his spell with Walsall. He didn’t appear the kind of man who as a manager could ask for loyalty from his players as he tended to move on an annual basis himself.
Having spent 1901 with Walsall and 1902 with Notts County, 1903 found him at Northampton where he was a team-mate of Herbert Chapman. Chapman would create the great Huddersfield and Arsenal teams of the twenties and thirties who each won the league title in three successive seasons. Never short of self-confidence in his own later managerial career, McIntyre was fond of comparing himself with his former colleague.
Following his spell alongside Chapman, McIntyre moved to Reading in 1904 before his season with Coventry, after which he was released by cash-strapped City and signed for fellow Birmingham League members Dudley. The following season he finished his playing days with Bournbrook in the Birmingham Junior League.
Having given up playing McIntyre continued on the training staff at Coventry in 1907, a year in which he is known to have purchased shares in the club. Apparently he was registered as a player with City from 1909 to 1912 but this appears to have been so he could be called upon in emergencies, a policy not unusual for club trainers at the time. Later he was similarly registered at Southampton from 1912-14, again without actually playing.
As Coventry trainer McIntyre finally seemed to be finding a home in football after his frequent moves and after a year on the backroom staff became the chief trainer at the club, a position he held until 1912, working alongside Joe Beaman, Walter Harris, Harry Buckle and Robert Wallace as the managerial door revolved, always remembering that at this time the manager’s role was predominantly secretarial, meaning that as chief trainer McIntyre would have had a considerable influence on the team leading up to the First World War, albeit mostly this would involve ensuring levels of fitness.
His first season as chief trainer corresponded with Coventry’s move into the Southern League. Under Harris they propped up the table in the first year but climbed to 8th, 10th and ultimately 6th under McIntyre’s training regime.
In April 1912 as the Titanic set sail from Southampton, McIntyre headed there as trainer. It was a position he held until the league was suspended three years later as World War One brought The Southern League and Football League to an end until peace was restored. In McIntyre’s final season as trainer The Saints finished sixth, level on points with fourth placed West Ham. Coventry that season were in the second division of the Southern League having gone down the season before, but The Bantams would be elected to the Football League upon the resumption of peace-time football.
As what would be Coventry’s first Football League season got going, Jim McIntyre enjoyed his first season as Southampton manager. Still in the Southern League, Saints finished eighth. The following season was their first in the newly formed third division and under McIntyre Southampton finished runners up. They did not go up though as only the champions were promoted. It was just as well, as if two teams were promoted and relegated Coventry would have gone down having finished second bottom of division two.
Saints did rise the following season however in the first year of a regionalised third division, as they pipped Plymouth Argyle to the title on goal average. McIntyre’s magic continued on the south coast as they not only consolidated at the higher level in mid-table but enjoyed a cup run to the quarter-final stage. There they only lost in a second replay to West Ham who went on to win the first ever Wembley final.
McIntyre would have one more full season in charge of the south coast club whose rise continued as he lifted them to fifth in the table. 1924-25 saw Southampton in mid-table when McIntyre’s time came to an end on December 1st, signing off with a point in The Saints derby away to Portsmouth.
By now in his mid-forties McIntyre’s next move was out of football as he moved to Scotland to run an Edinburgh hotel! After three and a half years north of the border, he was tempted back to his native midlands when Coventry City asked their former player to take over from James Kerr, who had left four months before McIntyre’s appointment on June 1st 1928.
A disciplinarian who produced a strict set of rules for players to adhere to, modern day players might be flabbergasted to learn he banned players’ attendance at Whist Drives but more likely modern players won’t know what Whist Drives are. Despite being denied the social occasion that the card games of Whist could provide, City started brightly under their new supremo, losing just two of their opening 15 games, a run that culminated in a sequence of four successive victories. However, while there were 10 wins before Christmas there were fewer than half that number after it with City becalmed in mid-table, especially after cashing in on top scorer Ernie Toseland who went to Manchester City as a club record sale.
McIntyre’s second season saw City draw upon 10 fewer players and the more settled side corresponded with a climb to sixth place. The rise came despite conceding 16 more goals. There were though 26 more scored with Jimmy Loughlin the man mainly responsible.
Loughlin had been brought in by McIntyre from West Ham mid-way though his first season in charge and after close to a goal every two games in the second half of the manager’s first season, marked his own first full campaign with 24 goals in 31 appearances, topping his total up to 30 with another six in only four cup games.
Loughlin wasn’t alone in being a regular scorer. Two other men McIntyre had introduced mid-way through his initial campaign came to the party with 17 and 15 goals respectably: left winger Billy Pick and Billy Lake from Walsall - who would become a City legend - while Alf Widdowson also reached double figures.
It wasn’t just the attack that McIntyre focussed on however as having brought in left back Ted Watson from Wolves reserves late in his first season he raided the Molineux second string again in the summer for right half Frank Higham. He was an instant success in a strong half-back line with Norman Dinsdale and Billy Bell.
Goals were in shorter supply at both ends in the following 1930-31 campaign as the high scoring of the era started to calm down. Having been a gun for hire himself as a player McIntyre had no problem in finding goal-scorers, in this campaign Bristol Rovers import John Phillips notching 17 in 25 league games in what would be his solitary season with City. However other than Lake, who top scored with 23, no-one else notched more than half a dozen.
The goals largely dried up after McIntyre left on 13th February after a final fixture which brought victory over his home-town Walsall. Whereas City had failed to score in only eight of the 30 league and cup games played prior to his departure the team failed to score in half of their remaining 14 games after he was sacked. The writing had been on the wall for McIntyre since before Christmas when following an FA Cup defeat at home to Exeter, who had been beaten in the league a fortnight earlier, his boardroom opponent Walter Brandish assumed control of team selection.
Two months after leaving Coventry, McIntyre was back in football as manager at Fulham where he became The Cottagers most successful boss in a quarter of a century. By now 50, McIntyre continued to demonstrate his talent for signing goal-scorers, this time bringing in Frank ‘Bonzo’ Newton from Stockport. ‘Bonzo’ though would also lead to McIntyre’s departure from the job and the game.
McIntyre was back at Highfield Road for the final game of the 1930-31 season he had begun as manager of Coventry, but he would be disappointed as goals from John Philips and George Reay gave his former side victory. The former boss gained the upper hand on the opening day of the following season as Newton netted twice as Coventry were beaten 5-3 at Craven Cottage.
Newton would do even better in the return on New Year’s Day as he smashed a hat-trick with Fulham again going nap. Thankfully Coventry also scored five in an astonishing five all draw that featured seven second half goals, City’s Billy Lake matching Newton with his own hat-trick.
That 10 goal thriller typified the two teams who were the only two sides to score over 100 goals. Fulham’s tally of 111 was only three more than Coventry but while City languished in 12th place, their former manager’s side took the title. Only three of the bottom four let in more than the 97 Coventry conceded, while Fulham’s defence were pierced 62 times, a figure bettered by only three teams.
Newton top scored with 43 goals from 39 league games with another four strikes in the cup. With Jim Hammond also notching 31, free scoring Fulham were worthy champions, right winger Billy Richards and full back Joe Birch also being brought in as McIntyre maximised his resources.
There were some great wins. After beating Coventry 5-3 in their opening match, Fulham doubled that tally in their next home fixture, hitting Torquay for ten. There would also be a late season double header where an aggregate of 13-0 was recorded in back to back home games.
Promotion held no fears for Fulham who finished third with Newton still the main man with almost a goal a game (27 in 31) at the higher level. Newton would score twice on the opening day of the next (1933-34) season but they would be his final goals for the club. Never afraid to back his own judgement, McIntyre sold him to Reading in September for £650, investing £2,500 in his replacement, the Arsenal veteran Jack Lambert.
Lambert got off to a decent start with goals in his second and third matches but would only score twice more in his 14 further games for McIntyre, including the Gaffer’s last as strugglers Millwall were beaten. Three days later McIntyre was sacked with the sale of Newton cited as Fulham installed their former player Jimmy Hogan who had excelled on the continent, most recently as manager of Austria.
For McIntyre it was the end of the road in terms of football. He returned to the Southampton area but not to the football club. Instead he swapped Fulham for a factory called Follands until retirement, passing away in Surrey in 1954, aged 72.