Steve Cotterill wrote to me after my recent article about Bobby Gould scoring two goals at Nottingham Forest in 1967 after coming off the bench. He described his memories of that day:
I went with my neighbour to Nottingham Forest for City's second game in Division One, an evening midweek match, but the crowd trying to get into the City Ground was so great in numbers that the gates were closed while we still in the queue outside. Then a mounted policeman told us that we should wait because they might open again, and after about ten minutes, to our delight the gates did open again. We moved forward, but just as we approached the entrance the gates were closed again for the final time, and were told to go home along with hundreds of others also locked out. So to our frustration we had gone all the way to Nottingham, could hear the noise inside the stadium, but we were locked out and missed the game. The annoying thing later for me was the fact the official attendance (if I remember correctly) was approximately 44,000, but on the following Saturday Forest played again at home, this time against Tottenham, and the attendance was given as over 48,000!
I, too, remember that night. I missed the Priory coach from Leamington and had to persuade my mother to give me a lift to Leicester Forest East services, where I managed to get a lift from some City fans. The traffic into Nottingham was horrendous and I finally got to the turnstiles at the Trent End of the ground at around 7.20. I didn't realise it, but this was the end reserved for Forest fans but I had no trouble getting in and worked my way down to the front of the terraces where the 'Boys section' was very sparse. I can only imagine that there were so many City fans attending the game that the terraces along the side were full and the police closed the turnstiles. The official attendance was given as 44,951 and I believe at the time was the second highest league gate at the ground. It was topped two months later when Manchester United's visit attracted over 49,000.
Steve asked me if I knew of any other City matches, home or away, where some of the crowd couldn't get into to see the game.
The only City game I failed to get into was the FA Cup Fifth round replay at QPR's Loftus Road in 1974. I arrived twenty minutes before the kick-off & the away end turnstiles were already closed with a crowd of 28,010 inside. City lost 3-2 with Stan Bowles scoring a late winner after extra time looked on the cards. The frustration was that QPR had had several larger crowds that season and managed to squeeze in over 34,000 for the sixth round tie with Leicester.
Older fans will remember that the gates were locked at Highfield Road for the games against Sunderland (1963) and Wolves (1967). Neither game was all-ticket and the majority of the crowd just paid at the turnstiles. The Sunderland gate was officially 40,487 but thousands gained entry without paying after at least two gates were broken down. The Wolves attendance was 51,452, a record for the club's old stadium, and the ground was too full for comfort with hundreds of youngsters accommodated on the edge of the pitch. In 1936 thousands were locked out of the vital promotion match against Luton Town. That night the official attendance was 42,309 but an estimated 5,000 failed to get in.
I attended last week's Diamond Club lunch at the Ricoh Arena and the large gathering was entertained by special guest Chris Cattlin. I bumped into former Diamond Club chairman Tom Dentith and we discussed my piece about Arthur Warner's memories of a game against Southend in 1955. Tom told me he had happy memories of a Southend game too as City played the Shrimpers on his wedding day in 1959. Although he didn't attend the game – he was holed up at the reception at the City Arms - he remembers news of goals being relayed amongst the guests during the celebrations. He asked me to give him the details of the game which City won 2-0.
City's scorers were Ken Satchwell (10 mins) and Ray Straw (80 mins) the attendance was 14,114 and the line up was:
Arthur Lightening: Roy Kirk, Frank Austin, Brian Nicholas, George Curtis, Ron Farmer, Jack Boxley, Ray Straw, Ken Satchwell, Reg Ryan, Alan 'Digger' Daley.
The win lifted City to fifth place in Division Three & they finished the season in fourth place, missing out on promotion after a dismal Easter programme. The win was the third in a run of nine consecutive home league wins – the second best run in the club's history. What would Tony Mowbray give for that sort of run now?