Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Coventry City and the Promotion Curse

A lot of things come to mind when you think, "What's funny and depressing about Coventry City?" Well self-conscious, where on earth do I start. After a lot of elimination ruling out the Sixfields season and SISU, you'd have to settle on a stat mainstream media outlets love to roll out year on year. We've gone the longest out of any of the teams in England without finishing in the top six of any league. 48 years to be exact. Now our nearest challenger is a good 30 years beneath that, and I think you'd struggle to find a similar team around the world to achieve a similar feat.

The 1969/70 season, we'd been in the top flight of English football a mere two seasons ahead of this campaign, and yet we went on to achieve sixth position, above the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal. It seems unthinkable now, but we were actually quite good, and that season even earned us our one and only European Tour in our history. The 1970/71 Inter Cities Fairs Cup saw us leather Bulgarian side PFC Batev Plovdiv 6-1 on aggregate before we bowed out to giants Bayern Munich. A special gold star to those who were at either leg of the 7-3 overall defeat, either the 6-1 loss in Germany, or even the famous 2-1 win in the second leg at Highfield Road.

We spent the remaining 31 seasons of our top tier residence outside of the elite few in the country, throw a cup final win in there to make it all seem meaningful. Then as we all know, the pain really started when we dropped out of the Premier League thanks to Paul Merson and a 3-2 loss at Villa Park in 2001. Ever since then we've tried and failed to get promoted pretty much every time, all we've achieved is another two relegations, and our club is absolutely nothing like it was 20 years ago now we're in League Two.

That's not to say we've not come close, in our first season in the First Division we were fourth with seven games to go having just beaten Norwich 2-1 at Highfield Road. Things were looking promising, we had a big chance of bouncing straight back, and our massive stadium was well underway in terms of production. We lost literally 6 of our last 7, picking up only one point, we ended up eleventh, a whole 9 points off play offs. This marked the tone of a lot of the Championship era.

In Aidy Boothroyd's first season in charge we were playing some great football and found ourselves fifth just before Christmas, but by the time we reached April we had one win in 17 and had just lost in the last minute to bottom of the league. We were 20th, carry on and we might have even gone down the year, but thankfully we managed to halt the slide and finish 18th on 55 points. That was pretty spectacular and all it did was prolong the drop to League One for another year.

The one most fresh in the memory, was the 15/16 season, 21st November 2015, a Jacob Murphy hat trick sends us top of the league. It was honestly the best football I've ever seen us play. (Keep in mind the league and the fact I'm young) Despite glimmers of hope against the likes of Crewe and Bury by absolutely battering them, we threw it away once more, coming eighth. Looking back at that side, had everyone stayed fit we should have walked the league.

"We're right in the middle of a promotion push, what the hell are you throwing this negativity on us for?" I hear you cry. Well, for that exact reason. As we actually find ourselves within touching distance of breaking the record as old as time, we need to ask ourselves the question of whether we can break the curse. We're in the top seven, carry on this form and we could even make automatics. Just take it one game at a time, we've got a favourable run, who knows, we might just do it...


  1. Thanks for reminding me of our four game European sojourn. Unlike you I am old enough to have been lucky enough to go to both home games, my old man went to all four games. I remember he had to get a visa to go to Plovdiv in Bulgaria. He went straight from the Embassy to the match, they drove - it took them three days!

    The Bayern team that put us out had the core of the team who would win the European Cup twice and the World Cup in 1974. After the first leg in Munich where we got thumped, their manager said that Bill Glazier getting injured in the warm up gave them a big lift, as they were expecting a tough match. They paid us a big compliment in the second leg by playing all their big stars, Hoeness, Gerd Müller, Maier, Beckenbauer, etc.

    Back in those days we were mean at the back, and we scored just enough to put us ahead of most of the opposition (sound familiar?). The game then was pretty brutal, with defences taking no prisoners. Highfield Road was loud and passionate, and just occasionally violent. We had a great pitch, about as good as the Ricoh today, places like Derby’s Baseball Ground had no grass from mid-October to April.

    Keep up the good blogging

    Ian W

    1. Ah, thank you for your kind comments. I can only imagine what it would have been like to see City in Europe but that does sound amazing, similarly I can only imagine how good Highfield Road was in its heyday.