Matchday Memories: On This Day 1978 – Brazilians K.O. Milne’s Men From Japan Cup In Osaka

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Sky Blue Brian Roberts (1979)

On this Day (27th May) in 1978, the Sky Blues, managed by Gordon Milne, were in the Far East three games into their post-season attempt to win the ‘Japan Cup‘. One of the members of the touring party (and the team who played today) was current CCFC matchday ‘host’  Brian ‘Harry’ Roberts who should remember this tour well!

‘Harry’ is no relation to CCFC father and son Ted Roberts and Dudley Roberts who we featured in separate earlier posts today. However, both Dudley and Brian are current Association members!

 Having earlier in the month disposed of the Japan National XI in Tokyo (1-0), then got a 1-1 draw with 1FC Cologne in Omiya and beaten the Thailand National XI 1-0 in Tokyo they had been runners up in their group stage and moved to Osaka for one of the semi finals.

SOCCER Sealey/file3...Library file dated 1992 of goalkeeper

Les Sealey in Sky Blue action

Jim in the Sky Blue

Waiting there to meet them was Palmeiras the side from Brazil,  and the tie proved to be their fourth and final game of the tournament as they were ‘trimmed’ 1-0 by the Brazilians who took the tie with a first half goal.

The Sky Blues team fielded that day (and their ‘gaffer’) later all became CCFPA members apart from two ‘stars of the past’ who sadly later passed away from heart attacks at tragically early ages. Les Sealey, who was between the sticks, died in August 2001 in London at the age of only 43 and our centre-half, ‘Big Jim’ Holton died in Bagington (near Coventry) in October 1993 aged 42.

Sky Blue Manager Gordon

Milne’s Men that day were:-

Les Sealey*, Brian ‘Harry’ Roberts, Bobby McDonald, Terry Yorath, Jim Holton*, Mick Coop, Alan Green, Ian Wallace, Mick Ferguson, Barry Powell and Tommy Hutchison

Good to see ‘Harry’ ‘Wally’ and Barry at our annual Former Player this season Legends Day 2024 a few weeks back!

Palmeiras contested the final with Borussia Munchengladbach and since that ended in a 1-1 draw the Japan Cup 1978 was shared. The Cup was later renamed the Kirin Cup and eventually played for solely by national sides.

CCFC 1977-78

Thanks to CCFPA’s Mike Young for sourcing the images.


CCFC Programme History -11: Season 1920-21 – CCFC’s Second Successive Close Shave!!

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In the next instalment of the current series we present images of Coventry City programmes and memorabilia through the years and reach 1920-21 a bit over a century ago! CCFPA chairman Jim Brown and committee member Mike Young have been building up a collection of full programme images from CCFC issues pre 1945 (more than 700 home and away so far). All images are taken from the collection and copyright CCFPA (and must not be reproduced without permission)

Programmes from the club’s second season post World War One period remain scarce. The club had only just survived its first Division Two campaign in 1919-20 (with the help of a bit of bribery it later transpired). Despite a marginally improved record, this season resulted in a worse position and the club had to apply (thankfully successfully) for re-election.

Bert Millard

The programme displayed (right) is from the Bantams’ last home game of the season, a goalless draw against East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest.

The Bantams’ could have won but for a 61st missed penalty from centre-half Bert Millard. The custom then was to pair home and away fixtures so the City’s last game was in Nottingham, a welcome 2-0 win achieved through early goals from centre-forward Sammy Stevens after four minutes and a tenth minute strike from No.4 Reg Dalton.

May 2nd 1921 Coventry City 0-0 Nottingham Forest (attendance c.18,000)


CCFC Manager – Albert Evans

The Bantams, under manager Albert Evans, got brilliant crowds this year (average 17,685) despite the generally poor fare but an unbeaten eight game (five win) home run at the end of the season kept interest high. The club’s officials representated local political and business worthies including local MP Edward Manville (President), local business man and club benefactor David Cooke (Acting President) and Councillor Fred Lee (Chairman) heading up seven board members. The club appeared well resourced as the Manager, club Secretary and Trainer all had assistants. The Reserves played in the Birmingham & District League (and finished ninth out of eighteen clubs) and a similar full size programme was produced for at least some of their home fixtures.

This programme, costing two pence was a ‘proper’ programme produced by the club as its ‘official organ’ with a header showing a representation of the club’s Bantam mascot. Another innovation was a regular front page cartoon, this one referring to the parlous potential relegation position of City and their rivals Stockport County.

The large size pages were packed full of club info with only a few adverts. The inside left full page  ‘From The Board Room‘  section discussing the grounds for optimism within the club as well as reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of the day’s opponents. The third page had a quiz, an advert for the last reserve match at Highfield Road against Kidderminster Harriers, and the league table showing City and Stockport County propping up the division. There is also a half-time scoreboard ‘to be delivered by telephone’ (an incentive to buy the programme) and a ‘Notes and Notions‘ section reviewing the Bantams’ previous game a 2-2 draw at Barnsley.

The back page (illustrated left) shows the team sheet and both the first team and reserve team results. The Bantams actual line up was as per programme. In the return game Jim McKay moved over to replace Jimmy Dougall on the right wing and his left wing berth was taken by Bill Devlin for his only appearance of the season. Therefore, the season finished:-

Season 1920-21  P42, W12, D11, L19, F39-70A, Pts 35, Pos 21st/22

If anyone knows the whereabouts of any other CCFC home programme from this season we would be eager to hear from you!


Some of these featured programmes can be seen in more detail by clicking our ‘Progs’ tab (at top).  There are still lots of gaps which you may be able to help fill so if you have any prewar programme – home or away – of City games, the earlier the better, we would be grateful if you could let Mike Young know what you have got so he can check whether it fills a hole in our database (for his contact email see contacts page) . If it is, then he will make arrangements with you to get it scanned or photocopied as appropriate.

Though we have asked before we still hope that some of our FPA members, associate members (and general readers) will be able to protect a bit more of the club’s important heritage for posterity and in doing so help make the Club’s (and your) history come alive again!

Thanks to CCFPA’s Mike Young for researching the article and sourcing the images.


Matchday Memories: 1976 Swedish Tour Sees No Sky Blues Score (Inc. Roberts Junior)

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Dudley in the sixties Sky Blue

May was a prime month for the Sky Blues end of season good-will tours in the sixties and seventies – often a warm down in an exotic and very warmed up far eastern country! Today we provide a round-up of their record on this day (May 27th) which involved chillier European climes! The games so far were exactly three decades apart, and coincidentally each featured a member of the Roberts family, both inside forwards in the City side, father Ted and son Dudley Roberts (later a CCFPA member)!

Earlier today we looked at Ted’s contribution to City’s Denmark tour of 1946. Now let’s look at son, Dudley’s role in Sky Blues short Swedish break thirty years later in 1976. Later today we look at the contribution of an unrelated Roberts a couple more seasons down the line (so check back)!

Sky Blue Manager Gordon

Gordon Milne’s men had finished in a relatively comfortable fourteenth spot in the First Division. On this Sweden tour, however, they came away with two defeats!  Two days previously they had kicked off the tour with a 2-1 defeat against Helsingborg. Dudley was not in the Sky Blues team for this defeat but was in the City forward line for this day’s game at Malmo where the Sky Blues took on the local side but were again beaten, this time by the odd goal in front of a small crowd of just (nine fans) over 5,000.

The Sky Blues team that day was as follows.

Dudley Roberts at Legends Day 2017

Jim Blyth, Graham Oakey, Barry Powell, John Craven*, Alan Dugdale, Mick Coop, Les Cartwright, Dudley Roberts, David Cross, Donal Murphy and Tommy Hutchison.

*All, apart from the late John Craven, later became CCFPA members:-

Ted’s son Dudley was born in 1945, just as WWII ended, and began life at CCFC as a junior in 1961 because Ted had been  a trainer with the Sky Blues from 1959-61.  Sadly Dudley, though a promising striker, never established himself under Jimmy Hill being mainly used as an understudy in the Sky Blues forward line. Fourteen of his sixteen outings for the first team came in 1965-66 and he showed potential by scoring six goals in his eleven league appearances in Division Three.

Sky Blue Rose and 1962 Sky Blue Choir

Dudley’s best footballing days came with Mansfield Town (1968-1974) where became a great favourite scoring 73 times in 231 appearances for the Stag before a last hurrah in 1974-75 with Scunthorpe United (after a short loan spell with Doncaster Rovers) ended by injury which forced him to retire.

Schooled in Coventry he famously married ‘Sky Blue Rose’ McNulty one of the the staff at Highfield Road.

Dudley and Rose have both been back to CCFPA reunions in past years.

CCFC 1975-76

Thanks to CCFPA’s Mike Young (& Dean Nelson) for sourcing the images.


Matchday Memories: On This Day 1946 – CCFC’s Roberts Senior Enjoys His Danish Break!

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May was a prime month for the Sky Blues end of season goodwill tours in the sixties and seventies – often a warm down in an exotic and very warmed up far eastern country! Here is a round-up of their record on this day (May 27th) which involved chillier European climes! The games were spread over more than three decades, and coincidentally each featured a CCFC player in the City side named Roberts! The first two games separated by exactly thirty years featured CCFC family members, both inside forwards, father Ted and son Dudley (now a CCFPA member)! The third, a couple of seasons later contained a completely unrelated Roberts (now well known as the current CCFC matchday host, Brian or ‘Harry’!!

Dick Bayliss

In 1946, in their second ever overseas tour, their first post World War Two, the ‘Bantams’ (as they were then known) played their last game of a four match one week tour in Denmark. After seeing off Aarhus (2-1) and Vejle Boldklub (6-0) they had drawn 2-2 with a Jutland XI (or Jydskboldspil Union to give the team their correct name)!

Dick Bayliss was managing the Coventry City side. City had been staying at hotel accommodation provided in Randers (in Aarhus) during the tour which was apparently the best available given the war time depredations and CCFC had been offered a civic reception in Vejle on arrival. Before this final game of the tour started City captain, George Mason was presented with a bouquet by his hosts.

Alf Setchell

On this day CCFC faced a new outfit, Randers Freja, and came away with a 3-0 victory. The goals came from a brace delivered by No.9 Ted Roberts and a third from outsde left Alf Setchell.

Ted had come from Derby County in 1934 and since then became a ‘one club man’ with CCFC, though he played for non league Kings Lynn and Banbury Spencer after 1952 until he hung up his boots. Ted Roberts was a great club servant appearing in CCFC’s teams right through from 1936-1952 making 233 appearances for the club and netting a massive 86 times!

These figures exclude many appearances and goals achieved over the war years and almost certainly one of the club’s greatest goalscorers might have achieved even greater fame and international honours had the war years not intervened.

City’s team on the day was:-

Alf Wood; Dennis Tooze & Walter Metcalf; Jack Snape, George Mason & Tommy Crawley, Dennis Simpson, Harry Barratt, Ted Roberts, Emilio Aldecoa & Alf Setchell.

After the game finished the Randers club presented CCFC with a statuette of King Christian of Denmark to mark the occasion. It was meant for City’s boardroom – I wonder whether it is still in the club’s possession? The tour was a great success and City were impressed with the standard of continental play as well as the hospitality and local foodstuffs (see the contemporary Coventry Telegraph cutting left)!

There was even rumours of an impending Danish signing for the Bantams but it didn’t materialise!

City then began preparations to resume their position in Division Two for the upcoming 1946-47 season

Thanks to CCFPA’s Mike Young for researching the article and sourcing the images.