Go­ing to a match

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

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.

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