28th Jun, 2022

The best players of Coventry FC

Coventry Editorial 2nd Nov, 2021 Updated: 2nd Nov, 2021

Before we talk about the players, let’s discuss the up and down history of Coventry FC – after all, whilst their best players of the 2021 season are what defines the club today, the story of how they got there is one of the most fascinating stories in English Football.

Founded as Singers FC in 1883, the club was started by Willie Stanley – an everyday working man who was employed by one of the town’s largest companies at the time Singers Bicycles. In 1898, the club was renamed Coventry City, in line with the naming conventions of other British football clubs.

The Birmingham League, to the Modern Football League

In Coventry’s early days, they played their matches at Dowells Field, just off Binley Road.

As they grew in popularity a larger site was needed and the club moved to Stoke Road and finally Highfield Road in 1899.

Between 1887 and 1892, the club experienced its first ‘golden years’, winning the Birmingham Cup twice in consecutive years.

Coventry progressed from the old Birmingham League to the Southern League in 1908 and caused one of the biggest upsets of the day by being one of the only non-league clubs to reach the FA cup finals in 1910.

The eventual result of this was that Coventry was nominated to play in the official Football League – finally fulfilling Willie Stanley’s dream. The club were placed in Division Two in 1918, immediately after the horror of World War 1 was over.

Up, Down, Boom!

In 1919, Coventry went out all guns blazing, but misfired badly and lost their opening game at home to Tottenham 0-5.

It seemed that Coventry’s new line-up didn’t have the skill of their pre-war team – they didn’t win a game until Christmas Day.

The club avoided relegation on the final day of the league, but today there is significant evidence that points to this only happening as the result of a bribe.

City continued to struggle through the next six seasons and were finally relegated to the Third Division in 1925.

Some thought that Coventry would not survive as a club following this relegation, as their accounts looked bleak, to put it mildly.

But the team battled on, trained hard, and when manager Harry Storer arrived in 1931 suddenly began a huge resurgence.

City picked up a new nickname – The Bantams, and despite still being essentially insolvent financially, Storer managed to develop his side into a goal scoring machine which rocked the football leagues during the 1930s, scoring over 100 goals in almost every season they played.

 

Coventry’s best players of the past

It was at this time that Clarrie Bourton joined the team, Coventry’s greatest ever goal scorer.

This amazing player hit the back of the net 49 times in the 1932 season and added another 40 the following year. In 1936, Coventry finally won promotion back to division two after a nerve-racking final against Torquay United.

Clarrie wasn’t the only player responsible for this awesome performance, of course – Leslie Jones and Ellis Lager joined him up front, with Jones scoring 19 goals to Clarrie’s 26 that year.

John Lauderdale hit the net 11 times, whilst outside right player George McNestry smashed an unbelievable 19 shots into his opponent’s goal, an impressive feat for any player, but even more so for a player who isn’t positioned as a forward.

 

The Current State of Play

Coventry currently plays in the English Football League Championship, which is the second tier of British Football.

They were relegated from the Premier League in 2001 after 34 years in the highest tier – only a handful of teams can boast such a long history at the top of the game.

The team finished first in the 2019-20 season, which resulted in their promotion to the Championship after struggling in League 1 for eight years (apart from 2017-18, when they were demoted to League 2 but were promoted back to League 1 the following year).

Could Coventry make it back into the Premier League soon?

Some would say their prospects don’t look good, as they only just managed to avoid relegation back to League 1 in the 2020-21 season.

However, 14 games into the current season the club is doing well with 24 points, having an odds of 20/1 to finish in the top two positions of EFL, according to Unibet, one of the best sportsbook sites available on the market.

If they can continue their current form, they may just have a shot at finally returning to the top flight of British Football.

 

Coventry’s Best Players in the 2021 Championship

Coventry FC has a close bond with its supporters and have a long-standing tradition of giving fans a vote on who they believe is the team’s best player each year.

Last year, the fans voted for midfielder Callum O’Hare, and whilst you may expect the strikers to dominate this contest, they do not – defenders and midfielders both hold more player of the year wins than strikers, and six goalkeepers have been awarded this coveted accolade too.

Whilst the winner of the contest quite rightly takes most of the glory, this system of voting gives a fascinating insight into which players the fans feel make the biggest contribution on the pitch – statistics that any manager would be mad to ignore.

 

Midfield

Another midfielder, Matty James, also played exceptionally last season, but it is universally agreed that O’Hare was the standout player of the season.

Just behind James was the captain – Liam Kelly, who also plays in the midfield position.

Other players such as Arsenal loan midfielder Ben Sheaf, Jamie Allen, and Jordan Shipley were also highly praised, but all three players spent much of the season on the bench, preventing them from reaching the top of the rankings.

Jordan Shipley was applauded for his impressive late season contributions, with goals against Huddersfield and Millwall contributing heavily towards the team’s narrow escape from relegation.

 

Defence

Defensive player Gus Hamer had been doing well for much of the season, but his form appeared to tail off towards the end of the season, and he may well have scored much higher had this not been the case.

The highest scoring defenders were Kyle McFadzean and Dom Hyam, who were ranked identically by the club’s fans. Michael Rose and Josh Pask also deserve a mention, but, like Sheaf, Allen, and Shipley, spent too much time on the bench to be in any real contention for the player of the year award.

Strikers

Finally, Coventry would not have survived this rough season without their star striker Max Biamou, and Viktor Gyokeres was fundamental in bringing Coventry back from the brink at the end of the season.

In conclusion

Coventry has many great players in their line-up in 2021, and this is being reflected in their performance in the Championship so far this year. The manager needs to make sure he gets his best men on the field every game – Coventry cannot afford any mistakes if they want to rejoin the elite of the Premier League for the first time in two decades.

Looking back at history, a little of that Bantam spirit that Harry Storer injected into the team back into the 1930s is all that Coventry need to regain their rightful place in the top tier of English Football.

Let’s hope this will finally be their year!

 

Article written by Lukas Constantine

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