Horace Pearson pictured at Highfield Road
I am always happy to assist relatives and friends of former Coventry City players and this summer I had an interesting email from Les Turner, a friend of the daughter of City’s 1930s goalkeeper Horace Pearson. Les was trying to piece together the playing history of Horace and sent me some old photos of Pearson’s playing career.
Horace was born in Tamworth on 6.4.1907. His football career started with Nuneaton Town where he was spotted by Luton Town in 1928. He never appeared in the Hatters’ first team and the following summer joined Blackpool. The timing of his arrival at Bloomfield Road was perfect and he helped the Seasiders to gain promotion to Division One for the first time in his debut season. Life in Division One was tough for the Tangerines and although they avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth they conceded a record 125 goals (Horace played in 40 of the 42 games).
The following season Horace, who was only 5 ft 9 ins tall, lost his place in the first team and in November 1931 he joined Oldham, playing 38 games in eighteen months before a move to Highfield Road in May 1933. Between then and March 1936 he was a virtual ever-present in goal for the Bantams playing 114 games in a golden period of Coventry City’s history. The Bantams finished 2nd in 1933-34, 3rd in 1934-35, before winning the Third Division title in 1935-36. In early 1935 Horace was suspended for two games for a 'breach of club discipline' - the details of which I haven't got. Sadly Horace lost his place 12 games from the end of the promotion season, being replaced by Bill Morgan, and although he received a medal he never appeared in the first team again.
In May 1937 he joined Newport County where he played one season, moving briefly to non-league Barry Town and then for the last season of pre-war football to Bristol City. It is believed he was released by Bristol just before the outbreak of war and settled in Bristol. Horace's uncle Hubert and cousin Harold both played in goal for WBA.
Last week I mentioned the ‘other’ Jimmy Hill who played for Coventry City between 1949-1956. The piece sparked some interest with Ron Dickinson having good memories of Jimmy:
I got to know him from youth football so it is a long time ago. I believe that he did live in Binley and played for Binley Youth club along with Billy Gray, another former City player who you wrote about a few months ago. As I recall Jimmy worked in a gent's outfitter shop so had difficulty in getting off for games on Saturday. I met him later in the early 1980s when he was manager of a cleaning company operating in Birmingham. He was a nice guy. I am sure that there was an article in the Telegraph maybe 5 to 10 years ago about his grandson who was setting out on a football career.
Lockheed Leamington historian Paul Vanes was also in contact and confirmed that after leaving Shrewsbury in 1958 Jimmy joined Lockheed, then in the Birmingham League. At the Windmill Ground he joined several other ex-City men including Jack Evans, Charlie Timmins and Ernie Ward. Paul had some useful information:
In 1958-59 season he played between 25-30 games and was second top scorer with 14 behind Robertson on 23. He played inside left for the Brakes in the Birmingham Senior Cup final at Villa Park on 13th April 1959 against Stourbridge who beat Lockheed 2-1 thanks mainly to a brilliant display by the Glassboys German born goalkeeper Newman (Neumann). Hill was picked to play in the penultimate game at Hereford with a 6.00pm kick off on Saturday 25th April 1959 but he never turned up. Jimmy was not in the Brakes squad for 1959/60 season.
Coventry City’s run without a win was extended to 11 on Sunday against Stevenage (equalling the dreadful run under Andy Thorn last autumn) and if a win is not forthcoming today at Prenton Park it will be the worst run since 2003. Like the present dire run, that sequence of 16 games was over two seasons, during the stewardship of Gary McAllister, and consisted of the last 12 games of 2002-03 and the first four games of 2003-04. It ended with a 4-2 home win over Stoke City.
Next Saturday is another special day at the Ricoh Arena when a host of former City players will gather for a mini-Legends Day specifically to celebrate the life of Ernie Machin who passed away in July. Around 30-40 former players are expected to attend including many from Ernie’s time at the football club from 1962-72. Fans wishing to attend the pre-match lunch with the Former Players, in what is always an electric atmosphere, should contact the football club. The Memorial Service for Ernie Machin has been re-arranged and will now take place at Coventry Cathedral on Wednesday 3rd October 2012 commencing at 3pm. All Ernie’s friends and City fans are welcome.
Gate footnote: Last Sunday’s crowd for the Stevenage game was 9,485 – the smallest City home crowd since November 1991.