COUNTDOWN TO WEMBLEY - Coventry's 1987 FA Cup victory bus driver recalls his memorable day - The Coventry Observer

COUNTDOWN TO WEMBLEY - Coventry's 1987 FA Cup victory bus driver recalls his memorable day

Coventry Editorial 17th Apr, 2024   0

AHEAD of Coventry City’s big FA Cup semi-final clash with Manchester United at Wembley on Sunday, April 21, the man who drove the Sky Blues squad’s victory parade bus has recalled that jubilant day in May 1987.

Barry Mapperson was a member of the workshop staff at Coventry Transport Museum. Along with the rest of his colleagues, it was his job to get the bus ready for a parade through the city.

The museum had acquired the bus in 1986 and, due to damage, the roof was removed to convert it to an open top. This meant it was ideal for Coventry City to parade around city streets in after the thrilling 3-2 victory over heavy favourites Tottenham in the FA Cup final.

A parade was planned regardless of the result and, as he had the necessary licence, Barry was chosen to drive the bus on the day. It went on to be a day he would never forget.

Starting in Walsgrave, the bus, with players and staff aboard, made its way through the city with thousands and thousands of people lining the streets cheering their heroes on.

Barry said: “At one point I just switched the engine off and the crowd just pushed us along.

“It was a bit of a nightmare at times – the crowd were pushing at the bus back and front. It was quite stressful.

“It had been alright to begin with but as you got further in it got worse and worse.

“On Corporation Street, by the old Telegraph building, it got really busy.

‘The windscreen gave way’

“We had police standing on the platform when the windscreen was starting to bend – I’d never seen anything like it.

“I jumped out of the driver’s seat before it shattered and luckily the policeman got out and moved the people away.

“All the while there were fans trying to climb up the back of the bus – we were just crawling, walking speed if I was lucky.

“It was by the time we got to Broadgate I just turned off the engine and the motion of the crowd just moved us along, it was frightening at times, but what an experience.”

Barry vividly recalls the challenges he and the rest of the workshop faced getting the bus ready, including fixing the gearbox and painting the vehicle sky blue.

“With the city doing so well we painted it sky blue, but not all of it as we didn’t know if they’d be winners or runners up.

“Because of this, the word ‘Winners’ was painted on days after the rest of the writing. “It was so fresh, it wasn’t dry when the bus made its famous journey.

“As a result, it dried differently, and the word ‘Winners’ is a slightly different colour to the rest of the text to this day.”

‘Now a cherished artefact’

Taniah Simpson, head of collections at Coventry Transport Museum, said: “The Sky Blue bus is a cherished artefact, representing a moment of triumph and community spirit for the Sky Blues, but also for the city as a whole.

“Barry’s account offers a first-hand glimpse into the excitement of that memorable day.

“The bus is one of many iconic Coventry related items within our transport collection that help us to tell the stories of the people of Coventry and the history of the city.

“We welcome visitors to the transport museum to see the bus in all its glory and to reminisce and share your stories.”

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