Date of First Visit: 22nd NOVEMBER 1969
HIGHFIELD ROAD, COVENTRY
COVENTRY CITY 1
NEWCASTLE UNITED 0
(OLD) DIVISION ONE
ATTENDANCE: 31,825 (2,000 Toon fans)
"MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG!"
This was at the time of the 'Jimmy Hill revolution' at Highfield Road and when Coventry was a 'boom town'.
City's average gates were aroond aboot the 35,000 mark, and their city centre groond was considered tih be one of the best in the land.
Whey!---it even had an electronic scoreboard!, (see above!) while most other clubs like Newcastle had tih mek de with a 'manual' scoreboard at the back of the Gallowgate End. (Which!---was operated by an aad gadgie, who put the half time scores up by hand!) Progress indeed for the 'Sky Blues!'.
Fower of wih travelled doon tih the Midlands for this game by the supporters club from Morden Street in the Haymarket, namely, 'Billy the Skin', <(the forst kid on the block to get a skinheed haircut!—braces-boots 'n' aall! ) 'Dylan' and 'Crazy Collie' (plus meesel of course!) and we had plenty of 'the broon stuff' to keep us gannin and smuggled it onto the bus. (in them days it was OK to tek drink onto busses, but WE were slightleee underage at the time (15!) so we had to 'sneak it on'!)
We were 'clammin' by the time wih got there, as we hadn't took any 'bait' to gan with the 'liquid lubrication', so wih went to a 'chippy' in the city centre for some 'Desperate Dan'.
As we were waalkin' doon a side street scranin wor 'scabby eyes' 'n' 'jockeys whips', wih saw aboot a hundred or so kiddas runnin' wor way in the distance.
Wih didn't think anything of it at forst, but the fact that we were wearin' Toon scarfs should iv rang the 'alarm bells'!.
The followin' conversation went sommik like this:
Billy: "Wonder where thih gannin---like?".
Collie: "Looks like thih heedin' this way!".
Dylan: "Thiv got Coventry scarfs on!".
Me: "F*****' HELL!---Thih after US!---LEG IT!---QUICK!".
And LEG IT!, wih did!.
Wih hoyed wor 'scabby eyes' at them (mine was meat and taatty!, and was freezin' caad anyway!) and scarpered doon the nearest back alley!. We were lucky!, and managed tih give them the slip, but it was a close caall and (thankfully!) we were still in one piece!
Still shakin', wih headed for the match and the 'safety'? of Highfield Road. Aall the Toon fans were gannin in the 'West End', which was the Coventry 'hard end' where aall their 'fruit 'n' nut cases' went!---SO!---that's where wih heeded!.
(We were gluttons for punishment in them days!)
The Coventry fans were in full voice as wih made for centre of the said 'West End' where they were congregated, and they were singin' their favorite song---which went sommik like!:
"Merrily we roll along, roll along, roll along,
merrily we roll along, up the Football League!"
"As we go we sing this song, sing this song, sing this song,
as we go we sing this song, sing this song for you!"
"Ci-ty!", (clap-clap-clap) "Ci-ty!", (clap-clap-clap) "Ci-ty!", etc.
The Toon fans on hearin' this, decided tih de their aan version, and substituted 'United' for 'City'. The Coventry fans were NOT! amused, and before lang a full scale battle was tekin place between the rival fans!. (there were ne segregation fences back in them days!)
At forst, the Toon 'radgies' were gettin' the upper hand, and charged at them with boots and fists flyin'!, and the Coventry fans 'legged it'. But!---they re-grouped and charged back at us!---and so it went on!.
In between aall this, ah was tryin' tih watch the game!, (Honest!) but with loads of coins 'clemmies' and 'half wollas' bein' hoyed aboot as well, this was'nt easy!.
The local 'Dibble' were havin' a field day, and quite a few Toon and City fans got 'collared', an' ended up in the cells for the neet!. (But not us!)
OH!---and the match itself!?---Well!---From warra could see?, (in between dodgin' the 'shrapnel'!)----
Match (and fight!) Report here!
The Toon came into this game following a very useful goalless draa away to Porto in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup (now The Europa League) and made a couple of changes from the European tie.
Keith Dyson had sustained an ankle injury and was replaced by Jimmy Smith while Wyn Davies was rested and Jimmy Scott came in to lead the attack.
Although Jimmy Smith was picked as a forward, he did most of his work in midfield where he and Tommy Gibb caaz'd Coventry plenty of problems.
'Jinky Jim' held the baall up brilliantly and created more than a few openin's but unfortunately The Toons attack had little cutting edge withoot Davies and Dyson while Scotty and Pop Robson did their best work on the wings or in midfield.
With 'Jinky' there as well, wor approach work looked great but when the baall arrived in the penalty area, there was ne-one there to snap up the chances.
The footbaall flowed like vintage wine in the forst half with The Toon producing some sparklin' stuff, especially in the forst 20 minutes. After that, however, Coventry gained the upper hand and forced United back.
City gradually got more and more on top and were in danger of swampin' Newcastle but it seemed as if Lady Luck was on the side of the Geordies as 'the Sky Blues', Hunt, Machin and Blockley aall struck the Newcastle woodwork.
Iam McFaul and David Craig were superb as Coventry piled on the pressure. Twice 'Craigy' blocked shots on the goal line as we held on by the skins of wor teeth.
Just like the 'pagger' on the West End terraces the game became 'scrappy' after half time, but Ollie Burton did a good job in controllin' John O'Rourke, the former Boro striker who was making his debut for City, and Bobby Moncur somehow kept calm in the face of some comical tantrums and histrionics from the wily Setters.
Ne-one could deny that Coventry desorved to win as The Toon fell apart in the second half, but it was ironic that they scored the anly goal of the game thanks to a debatable penalty decision by the blind referee, nameleee! a Mr Sinclair of Guildford (accordin' to the prog) who adjudged Burton to have fouled Hunt inside the penalty area to concede a spot kick
There were anly ten mins to gan at this point and this provoked more fightin' in 'The Wild West' with Toon radgies 'Doddzy' and his 'side-kick' 'Proudy' both sportin' their 'trademark' butchers coats leadin' the 'charge of the light (blue) brigade!' (and yet more arrests!)
'Doddzy's favourite trick was to mek sure that there was at least one fan in front of him to shield him from 'the front line fightin' and as he shoved an unfortunate lad sportin' a black 'n' white pom pom hat towards the Coventry fans, the poor kidda was knocked clean oot with a 'Henry Cooper style' left uppercut to the chin by a City fan, who had 'ne neck' and fists like 'garden shovels' and the kidda fell to the groond, 'like a man who had just downed 20 bottles of Dog'!
Back on the field, the City man had definitely went doon ower Ollie's ootstretched leg, and just like wor friend on the terraces he fell heavily to the groond, but it looked more like a mistimed sweep at the baall, than a deliberate foul by the Welshman. (ie: HE was 'fakin it'!---wor friend WAS'NT!)
Nevertheless, Hunt (the c***!) then made a 'miraculous recovery' and picked himself up to put the penalty kick past McFaul and give Coventry the 1 – 0 win----which!----in torn, sent wih slidin' doon the table!----(and yet more fightin' between the rival factions!)
After the match it was back to the city centre for sommik to eat as we were clammin' again (we'd hoyed wor last meals at the Coventry fans--remember!) before heedin' back to the supporters club coach for the lang trip yem
"Merrily we roll along, roll along, roll along,
merrily we roll along, DOON! the Football League!"
Highfield Road was demolished in 2005 to be replaced by a crappy hoosin' estate but their 'savin' grace'? was to leave the pitch area alone and re-grass it so fans could relive their memories of bygone matches (and fights) in 'The West End'!
"Where's 'The West End' gone--like?"
Geordie Glossary of Terms and Phrases
(for the benefit of 'non Geordie' readers)
(as the words appear)
the broon stuff=beer
desperate dan=scran=food (glorious food!)
jockeys whips=chips (nicked from 'cockney rhymin' slang!')
(the)toon=Newcastle United FC
20 bottles of dog=20 bottles of Newcastle brown ale
©Fink™ (the mad-sad gr☺undh☺pper!)