MY FIRST TIME...
Going to a match
GOING to your firstever football match is usually a memorable occasion which will remain with you a lifetime.
Yet for me, as I was barely out of nappies when my late father started taking me to games, I have no recall who was playing.
My father was a big Coventry City supporter and he would sit me on his lap in the stands at our then home ground Highfield Road.
His psychology must have been that I’d subconsciously take it all in and when I was a bit older I’d want to become a fan of his beloved football club.
Well, his mind games worked a treat, as I would eventually become as big a supporter as he was.
Yet it wasn’t until I was aged seven that I attended my ‘real’ first match, and what a baptism of fire it was – it was an FA Cup giantkilling.
The date was November 25, 1961 and it was the second round of the Cup. Third Division Coventry were playing Non-League King’s Lynn, who were a team in the Southern League.
The Sky Blues were hot favourites to win the tie but the part-timers had other ideas and won 2-1.
As I was just a young lad, it never really registered that my first proper match had ended in my club being humiliated by lesser opposition, but the local paper had the headline: Pathetic City Knocked Out The Cup.
And I kept hearing the words giant-killing for the first time, which conjured up all sorts of weird thoughts in my young mind!
Yet, unbeknown to me back then, someone else was also attending their first proper Coventry City match, a certain man called Jimmy Hill.
And the performance certainly didn’t put him off as a short time later he became the manager of Coventry City Football Club. To think there was I stood on the cold terraces with my dad, with a man who would turn this little club into a top flight one in just a few years just seated feet away from me.
My father, along with many die-hard City supporters, weren’t that excited by the club’s new manager.
In fact, they all said it was just a gimmick, and all his talk of bringing the good times to Highfield Road was hot air and nothing would come of it.
How wrong was my father and he, along with all the other doubters, had to eat humble pie and apologise for being so pessimistic.
Jimmy Hill had a vision, calling it his ‘Sky Blues Revolution’, and it must have been fate that my first ‘real’ match was also Jimmy’s first game?
I, too, wasn’t bothered that a lowly Non-League club had knocked us out of the FA Cup. In fact, my dad told me years later that when we got back home I asked him repeatedly: “Can I come to more home games, please?”
He also said he watched me during the match and my eyes were everywhere: looking intently at the players running around the pitch, then looking upwards at the huge towering floodlights situated on the four corners of the ground.
To a football-loving youngster, I must have been in football heaven, and add to that the atmosphere of the crowd, no wonder I wanted to return for more.
So, yes, the first match that I remember vividly was a loss and it was labelled a disgrace – a feeling I’ve become well acquainted with over the years being a Coventry City fan, but here I am still supporting the Sky Blues. Your first football match should be memorable and, for me, it most certainly was.