There have a been a few memorable moments in Coventry City’s history with the most notable being the historic FA Cup victory of 1987 but for me personally it was a match which took place 8 years ago this week that will live forever in my memory.
The match I’m referring to of course is Coventry’s last ever game at Highfield Road. With everything going on at the club right now it is hard not to look back and reminisce about better days. We might have had similarly bad times at Highfield Road in terms of finances but at least we had a genuine home. It was ours and it felt like home and when you compare that to the Ricoh now well there is no comparison.
Highfield road was part of our club, it had all of the clubs history and it was a place we called home. On that final day there was of course mixed emotions from all involved. It was always going to be a sad day with us leaving a stadium that was such a massive part of so many people’s lives and inevitably it was.
However it was a send off to treasure as we were treated to 8 goals with the game finishing 6-2 to Coventry. Goals from Gary McSheffery (2), Dele Adebola, Stern John (2) and Andy Whing not only won the game in style but staved off the threat of relegation which still loomed over the club at the time.
There are so many little things I remember from that day ranging from the beautiful sunshine we had to the excitement before the game as well as the mixed emotions when leaving for the final time. It was a day to remember but a day that should never have happened. Any club looking to move to bigger ground first needs to be on sound financial footing. This is something that everyone knows that we haven’t been on a sound footing financially for a very long time.
The guys who made the final decision to move to the Ricoh should be held responsible for the state the club now finds itself in. Highfield road was plenty big enough for a club our size and with the club owning the ground it was able to make money from it. How these guys expected the club to survive in such an expensive new ground still baffles me to this day.
Highfield Road was a special place with a special atmosphere but like the Ricoh, Highfield road was very rarely packed out. On that final day 22,728 fans made sure it was for one last time and helped make it the special occasion it was. What Highfield road always had though was an atmosphere. There could be as little as 9-10,000 fans and there would still be noise around the ground.
This is a feature of the older grounds which almost seems to have been lost in the majority of the new builds. We all know how silent it has been in the past at the Ricoh, so silent you can here conversations from few rows away. This isn’t just us though with it happening to a big club like Arsenal who since moving to the Emirates from Highbury have noticed changes to the atmosphere at games which is often noticeable when watching matches live on TV.
The stadiums though are supposed to be designed to carry noise and make for a better atmosphere but something about them seems to stop this from happening. There is no doubting they can be noisy arena’s but I think the difference between them and the older grounds is they need to be full for them to noisy. There is no doubting however that the Ricoh and other new arena’s are spectacular venues but I can see why clubs find it hard to settle in them and call it there home.
A lot has got to happen for the Ricoh to become City’s new home and at the moment it is looking more likely that we will never play there again. There is so much to sort out at the club over this summer period but where city will be playing their home games next season is for me the biggest concern. Without a home our football club feels lost and no plans can be made by any of us regarding going to matches in the new season until this particular issue is all sorted.
Moving away from the whole stadium issue and there has been revelations coming from the club in regards to the squad. Steven Pressley had already admitted that he wanted to trim the squad size down and he wasted no time with five players having already been released. Elliot, Philliskirk, Stewart, Cameron and most notably Wood have all left the club having not been offered new contracts.
I don’t think any are a surprise and some I’m glad to see go but Wood is the biggest loss to the club. There is no doubt he was our best centre half but with injuries a constant theme in his career and him being rumoured to be the top earner at the club there is no surprise he has been allowed to leave.
It is however good to hear talks are taking place over Aaron Martin who has been a good addition at the back since his arrival on loan from Southampton. Obviously with the current transfer embargo and everything else, these talks may well end up going nowhere.
Another player who has hinted via twitter that he may be on his way is Gary McSheffery. A Coventry lad who hasn’t exactly been impressive since his return to the club but being a Coventry lad and his previous good spell with the club I will still find myself being sad to see him leave. He is though going to be another top earner at the club and this may be the reasoning behind his possible transfer away from his hometown club.