The Sky Blues travel north to play Morecambe today in the first of three league games with significant interest to City statisticians. The next three opponents are playing City in a league game for the first time. Morecambe today is followed next Saturday by Cheltenham Town at home, and then Wycombe Wanderers are at the Ricoh on the Friday before Christmas. Morecambe become City's 117th different opponent since the club joined the Football League in 1919, Cheltenham will be the 118th and Wycombe 119th. City are trailing a few other clubs in this total, notably Grimsby who have met 138 different clubs and Lincoln on 136 however after the Wycombe game City will also have faced all of the current 91 other league clubs – a feat only achieved by three other clubs, Port Vale, Swindon and Notts County.
City have played at Morecambe's Globe Arena before – they were Morecambe's first opponents at the ground after it opened in 2010 and suffered an embarrassing 2-0 League Cup defeat, and also played an FA Cup game there last season. They have also faced Wycombe in cup action before – the infamous two-leg League Cup game in 1993 when after winning the first leg 3-0 Bobby Gould's team were losing 4-0 at Adams Park in the second leg before two late goals saved red faces. Last season the clubs met twice in the Checkatrade Trophy.
The Globe Arena is the 149th different away ground City have played at in league action since 1919 and the fourth new league stadium for City fans this year following Cambridge's Abbey Stadium, Accrington's Wham Stadium and the Hive stadium at Barnet. The 149 includes many exotic grounds no longer with us such as Gateshead's Redheugh Park, Nelson's Seedhill, Ashington's Portland Park and Darlington's Feethams. By the end of this season the total number of grounds will creep up to 153 with trips to Forest Green, Wycombe, Newport and Cheltenham. At that point in time there will be only five grounds in the present 92 that haven't hosted the Sky Blues in a league game: The Etihad (Manchester City), the Emirates (Arsenal), the new Wembley (Tottenham), the London Stadium (West Ham) and the Galpharm (Huddersfield).
One of Coventry City's most ardent fans is Colin Heys who has travelled to City's games from his home in Kent for over 40 years. He told me recently that up to the end of last season he had watched 2090 City first team competitive games on 118 different grounds. He has seen 1047 home games, 1038 aways and five on neutral grounds. But for a ruptured achilles tendon in 2012 he would have seen every City game since 1998 and that injury ended a run of 684 consecutive matches. It's a phenomenal record especially when you consider the distance he lives away from Coventry. I'm sure Kevin Monks has a similar impressive record.
City eased comfortably past Boreham Wood last Sunday after a slightly uncomfortable first twenty minutes and recorded their biggest FA Cup victory since they beat Arlesey Town 3-0 in 2012 to reach the third round for the first time in four years. They now face Premier League opposition in the shape of Stoke City who will be the first top flight side to come to the Ricoh in the competition since Portsmouth in 2010. City and Stoke have only met once before in the competition – in 1987 when the Sky Blues won at the Victoria Ground in the fifth round on their way to Wembley.
Next Wednesday evening I will be with fellow author Steve Phelps at Waterstones in Smithfield Way signing copies of our respective new books. We hope to have several former players with us including Ronnie Farmer, Andy Blair, Peter Bodak and Garry Thompson. Both books are excellent Christmas presents with mine, 'Play Up Sky Blues, Champions 1967', telling the fascinating story of the 1967 promotion season and Steve's, entitled '29 minutes from Wembley' recounting the famous 1981 League Cup run. Come and say hello on Wednesday from 5pm until 6.30 and pick up a present for your loved ones.