Following Sky Blues for 80 years and as hopeful as ever
LIFE-LONG City supporter Dennis Hoffman celebrated his 89th birthday with family and friends at the Peterborough United match.
One of the Sky Blues oldest fans, Dennis has been following the club for 80 years and remains as positive and hopeful about his beloved team today as he did when he was a lad. Few can say they lived through Jimmy Hill’s Sky Blue Revolution in the sixties, City’s top flight years and three trips to Wembley. Born in Coventry in 1929, he grew up at Beanfield Avenue, Green Lane, going to his first match aged nine years old.
“My father worked on the railways but he never took me to the football,” said the former train driver, who started on steam engines and even drove the Queen to the city during his career,” Dennis said.
“I don’t think he was particularly interested. It wasn’t a subject we talked about so my interest in football came from the lads I knocked about with, kicking a ball of some sort about in the road. They were a couple of years older than me and they asked if I wanted to go up the City, to Highfield Road. I said, ‘I don’t know about that,’ because my parents wouldn’t have been able to afford it.
“But one of the lads said I didn’t need any money to get in because back in those days they used to open the gates at half time because if there was anyone who was a bit bored if they were two or three goals down they could get out and go home. They opened them for the early leavers and we used to get in. I would have been eight or nine at the time.”
He added: “My early memories are of players who are no longer with us, of course, but I remember defenders like Tom Crawley and a centre-half, a proper No.5 back in the days when you could recognise players by their numbers, which you can’t always do now.” “I’ve always enjoyed it when they have had a good run but I think ‘87 was my best season,” said Dennis, who is the father of former Sky Blues vice chairman Gary Hoffman, who has launched several bids to take over the club. “I have always appreciated goalkeepers, like Steve Ogrizovic who is still connected with the club, and goal scorers like George Lowrie who was a No.9. “He was a centre-forward who had a habit of when he scored a goal – and he scored many – he ran to the nearest corner flag and shook hands with everyone. That was his celebration.” Dennis followed his father in working on the railways from December 4, 1944 until he retired on March 20, 1993, after 48 years and four months of service.“I was 15 when I first started out, working firstly as a cleaner, then fireman and progressed to a driver in 1952,” he said. Asked if he feels Mark Robins’s current team can be successful this season, he said: “I have always had high hopes and every time I come to a game people always ask me how we are going to do and I always say, ‘I hope they will win.’ I am always full of enthusiasm at kick-off time, although sometimes at ten to five on a Saturday afternoon I am a bit disappointed. “But I still think that in the next match we’ll overcome the disappointment and put it behind us. And I think we’re good enough to do well in this division.”
They asked if I wanted to go up the City. I said ‘I don’t know about that’ because my parents wouldn’t have been able to afford it.