It is sad for me to report the passing of former Coventry City player Ken McPherson. Ken, who was 90 years old, was the second oldest former Coventry City player and one of the last links with the 1950s. A big, strong centre-forward in the traditional English mould, Ken made 90 appearances for the club between 1955-58, scoring 40 goals.
Born in West Hartlepool in the North East, Ken played his early football for Horden Colliery Welfare and Siemens FC after being a paratrooper in the last days of the war. After a brief spell with his local team Hartlepool United as an amateur he signed for Notts County in the summer of 1950 and became the understudy to the legendary Tommy Lawton at Meadow Lane. He made his debut for the Magpies alongside Lawton at Bury in a Second Division game in September 1950 and played a further four games that season. Two games followed in 1951-52 but in December 1952 he was called up to play against Blackburn and netted four goals in a 5-0 win alongside a young Ron Wylie, later to be assistant manager at Coventry. Suddenly Ken was first choice and he grabbed his opportunity with both hands , netting 14 goals in 23 games.
His goals earned him a £15,000 move (big money in those days) to First Division Middlesbrough. Things didn’t work well at Boro and the team were relegated in his first season. In December 1955 after 33 games and 15 goals in 2 ½ seasons Boro agreed to let him leave. He had been vying with a young Brian Clough for the number nine shirt when City came in for him and relished the move to the Midlands.
In the 1955-56 season City, then playing in Third Division South, were managed by Jesse Carver who was something of a football purist and liked his teams to play football on the ground. His philosophy worked at home, the team were unbeaten in 11 league games, but on the road the team couldn't pick up a victory. Carver was finally persuaded to sign a big, bustling centre-forward in the shape of McPherson. Ken went straight into the side and scored on his debut, a 3-0 home win over Newport. His arrival sparked a run of five straight wins, two of them away, and pushed City into the top five. Carver however resigned after Christmas to return to Italy and City's form stuttered. Ken netted 13 goals in 25 games as City finished eighth, a long way from promotion.
With new boss Harry Warren in charge Ken was top scorer in 1956-57 with 23 goals in a poor City team but the following season the goals dried up and he lost his place to Ray Straw. In the summer of 1958 he moved to Third Division Newport County after 40 goals in 90 games for the Bantams and soon rediscovered his goal touch. This was the most settled spell in Ken's career with 57 goals in 142 games for the South Wales club including a couple of goals against City.
Ken spent the summer of 1961 playing for the New York Hakoah-Americans before joining Swindon at the start of the 1961-62 season. At Swindon he successfully converted to play at centre-half and in 1962-63 he was in the Swindon side that won promotion to Division Two alongside future City player Ernie Hunt. The following season he was voted Swindon's first Player of the Season. He hung his boots up in 1965 and later ran a grocery business in Nottingham where he spent the rest of his life.
The team picture was taken before the opening game of the 1956-57 season v Exeter.
Back row (L to R): Frank Austin, Jim Regan, Reg Matthews, Roy Kirk, Noel Simpson, George Curtis.
Front row (L to R): Eric Johnson, Dennis Churms, Ken McPherson, Peter Hill, Ray Sambrook.