Fifty years ago today the Sky Blues took the field at Turf Moor, Burnley for the club's first ever game in Division One. After forty seasons in the Football League Coventry City had reached the pinnacle of the English game by winning the Second Division. Two days earlier however manager Jimmy Hill had dropped a massive bombshell, resigning on the eve of the club's biggest season. He was staying on however until the club appointed a replacement (a task that took almost two months) and he was in charge at Turf Moor. Over 7,000 City fans made the trip north to see if the Sky Blues could extend that 25-match unbeaten run against Burnley, but there was disappointment as the highly experienced and savvy Lancashire team defeated City 2-1 with goals from Willie Irvine and Frank Casper. A late own goal by Dave Merrington got City on the score-sheet but the hordes set off back home to the Midlands with the unusual smell of defeat in their nostrils.
There was an interesting kit worn by City that day. The slight colour clash between City's sky blue jerseys and Burnley's claret shirts with sky blue sleeves could have persuaded them to wear their change kit but that was all red and definitely clashed with the home side. From somewhere an all-white kit – believed to be the outfit worn by Jimmy Hill's International XI (his charity team) – was produced. City had worn it only once before, to my knowledge, at Huddersfield in the final away game of 1965-66 season, but it never saw the light of day in a Coventry game again. For Coventry City shirt collectors – and there are a growing number – this one must be the 'Penny Black' of the hobby.
Talking of Burnley I had an interesting question from Jon Ryder about a friendly game at Turf Moor in 1990, prompted by City's use of trialists in pre-season friendlies this summer. Jon remembers a Hungarian playing for City that day and wondered if I could confirm the fact.
The player in question was Zoltan Csucsanszky, a Hungarian International winger who manager John Sillett had brought to the club on trial. On 7th August 1990 City met Burnley, then a Fourth Division club with the following starting line up, which included six of the victorious 1987 team, was: Ogrizovic: Borrows, Edwards, Gynn, Kilcline, Peake, Csucsanszky, McGrath, Regis, Speedie, Smith.
The 24-year old Hungarian, who had won five full caps for his country whilst playing for Videoton, pulled up after 17 minutes and was carried off the field in what was his first public appearance for the club. I don't know what the specific injury was but it was serious and ended his brief trial with the club. The records say he didn't play professional football until he re-appeared the following season for Hungarian club Vac before a short spell with German lower-league club Jahn Regensburg. I believe he retired in 1993, possibly because of his injury at Burnley in 1990 and went into coaching and is currently under 19 coach at his old club Videoton.
Following the injury, Kevin McDonald came on for Zoltan and Dougie McGuire, Howard Clark, Tony Dobson and Steve Livingstone also came on as substitutes as City eased to a 2-0 victory in front of a crowd of 3,747.
A reminder that my latest book, Play Up Sky Blues, the story of the memorable 1966-67 season, is due to be published in October and is available for pre-order on Amazon.
If you have any questions regarding the club's history please contact me on email@example.com and I will endeavour to answer them.