After promotion in 1967 Hill did not look out of his depth in the First Division and had a dramatic moment at Fulham when he came off the substitute’s bench to score his first league goal for over four years and earn City a valuable point. In his last two years he was restricted to 13 appearances and normally called upon to do specific marking jobs. He was only on the losing side twice during that period and there were some memorable marking jobs that he carried out. In March 1970 he put a dent in Everton’s championship hopes with his ‘job’ on Alan Ball in the 0-0 draw at Goodison and in one of his final games at Anfield later that year he was lauded for his performance in another 0-0 that earned the Sky Blues’ first ever point at the ground. In the same month he was on the winning side as City beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in the home second leg of their Fairs Cup tie.

The club laid on a deserved testimonial game for him in 1969 with Brian Clough’s Derby County providing the opposition in a 1-1 draw. His final game was on Boxing Day 1970 in a 1-1 home draw with West Brom when he conceded the penalty that gave the Baggies a point. In March 1971 he went on loan to Bristol City, managed by Alan Dicks, his former assistant manager at Coventry, and helped them to avoid relegation to Division Three. Later that year he joined Fourth Division Torquay United for £5,000 but lived and trained in Coventry for two years making over 50 appearances for the Gulls.

Four City players played in all four divisions of the league during City’s rise from 1958 to 1967 – Hill, George Curtis, Ron Farmer and Mick Kearns – and Brian was the last of the famous four to leave the club. The quartet made over 1,500 appearances for the club between them and his departure brought the famous era of the club to an end. Ron Farmer, told me: “Brian was a quiet lad – I never saw him lose his temper on or off the pitch and I can’t remember him having a bad game. He was a great tackler and Jimmy always had him mark the opponents’ danger man. I’m very sad to hear of his death.”  Mick Kearns made his debut a few months before Brian and the pair played together many times. He talked affectionately about Brian: “Off the field he was the most unassuming man, there was no side to him and he never get ruffled. On the pitch he was a great athlete who always gave 100 per cent and would play whatever role he was asked to do’.”

Another friend and playing colleague was Bill Tedds who grew up with Brian in Bedworth and followed him to Highfield Road as an apprentice. “Brian and I were very close in our teens – we did everything together, even going on holiday with each other. He wasn’t the tallest player but he was as strong as an ox and ideally suited to be a defender. “He was fanatical about weight-lifting and I’m sure that was the cause of some of his muscle injuries. But for injuries I’m sure he would have won international honours for England.”

After two seasons at Torquay at the age of 31 Brian retired from the professional game and returned to the Midlands. He went to work at Jaguar and played briefly for Bedworth United, who were managed by his former City teammate Gerry Baker.He worked on the Jaguar production line for 18 years and then had ten years as a driver for HSBC Bank before retiring in 2003. He leaves his wife Margaret, a son, two daughters and six grandchildren who, in his retirement, he doted on. Brian’s funeral takes place on Tuesday, November 15 at 10.15 at All Saints Church in Bedworth, followed by a cremation. I am sure there will be a big turn out of friends and former colleagues for a great servant of Coventry City.

Peter Denton (01/03/1946 – 07/10/2016)

Peter Denton

Peter Denton

Everyone at Coventry City and the Former Players Association were saddened to hear of the passing of Peter Denton last week. Peter joined CCFC straight from school in 1962 – soon after Jimmy Hill arrived as manager. A diminutive right winger with a great turn of speed and a deadly shot, Peter hailed from Gorleston, near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk and arrived in Coventry with his good friend Graham Saunders.

Peter was an apprentice on the groundstaff, cleaning boots, sweeping the terraces and getting ‘A’ and ‘B’ team football on a Saturday, normally against local works or village teams and playing home games at City’s training ground at Shilton. In his first season he played for the club’s youth team in the FA Youth Cup alongside Bobby Gould, Dennis Oakes and John Burckitt. Sadly the young Sky Blues got a 5-0 home thumping from Port Vale in the first round.

Fellow CCFPA member Dennis Oakes spoke fondly of Peter: “As I remember he and Graham went into digs with Alan Turner. Peter was a quiet lad and kept himself to himself. He kept his head down and was really the ideal young professional. They both joined as apprentices alongside myself, Bobby Gould, Dudley Roberts, Pat Morrissey, Dave and John Matthews. He was a lively right winger who had an eye for a goal. He never changed, was a gentleman at 18/19 years of age and remained so the last time we met.”

The following season (1963-64) there was a stronger youth team with Dudley Roberts, Pat Morrissey and local teenage prodigy John Docker joining Peter and Bobby in the team. In the first round City’s kids gave First Division West Brom a big shock, coming from 4-0 down, before losing 6-4 with Peter scoring one of the goals. His performances were good enough to earn him a professional contract on his 18th birthday in March 1964 and the following season he was a regular in the successful reserve team. In front of crowds averaging over 6,000 the Sky Blues’ reserves won promotion to Football Combination’s First Division, thrilling the fans with 96 goals in 34 games.

Winning a first team call-up was hard – the number seven shirt belonged to the consistent and influential Welsh winger Ronnie Rees. But in early October 1965 City played Stoke in a friendly game and, with Rees on international duty, Peter was given his chance and scored in a 5-1 victory over the First Division side. A month later, following the 6-1 League Cup defeat at West Brom, Jimmy Hill made changes including switching Rees to the left wing and gave Peter his chance against Ipswich at Highfield Road. It was one of the youngest forward lines in the club’s history – Denton (19), Dudley Roberts (20), Bobby Gould (19), Ernie Machin (21) and Rees (21). Within five minutes the pint-sized winger won a penalty and overall he made an impressive debut in the 3-1 victory with Roberts, Gould and Ronnie Farmer (penalty) scoring the goals.

Peter Denton at the Ricoh 2010

Peter Denton at the Ricoh 2010

Peter kept his place for the next three games – a 1-0 win at Birmingham and draws against Leyton Orient and Middlesbrough before returning to reserve team duty. Later that season he was back in the team as City’s promotion push continued. He stood in for the injured Rees in a 4-1 FA Cup replay win over Crewe, starred in a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace and two weeks later scored his only senior goal in a 3-1 home win over Cardiff. It came after three minutes of the game when his fiercely driven cross from the by-line swerved freakishly and Dilwyn John in the Cardiff goal could only help the ball into the net. Ten minutes later it was 2-0 as Peter was tripped in the area & Farmer netted the penalty. A week later he played in the 2-2 home draw with Bolton but appeared on the losing side for the first time on Easter Saturday at Portsmouth. His final appearance was a 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough in the last home game of the season.

His form dropped in the 1966-67 Division Two championship season and with Rees and Dave Clements performing consistently well and another right-winger John Key in the squad, Peter had to be content with reserve team football. In August 1967 he played his last first team game in a 3-1 home defeat to Nottingham Forest. In total he had made 11 first team appearances and scored one goal. In early 1968 he joined Luton Town but things didn’t work out for him at Kenilworth Road & he moved into non-league football playing for Canterbury City and Margate. He settled in the Luton area and worked for many years at Vauxhall Motors in the town while doing some part-time coaching. His son-in-law Wayne Shanley tells me that in the last ten years or so Peter has been a part-time waiter at the Green Man at Offley in Hertfordshire and latterly the Beefeater in Luton where he was very popular.

He leaves behind Margaret, his wife of 46 years, three daughters and three grandchilden. He remained a Sky Blues fan and always looked out for their results. He was a member of the Former Players Association and earlier this year travelled up to Jimmy Hill’s celebration service in the cathedral and attended Legends Day the following day.