When Coventry City were mildly good...

Ricoh Arena Coventry City

Regardless of the side that Arsenal would have pitched in last nights Capital One Cup third round, not many of sound mind would have given the Sky Blues a chance.

A 6-1 thrashing proved that statement to be correct, but there was once a time when Coventry City could at least give Arsenal a run for their money.

If you take 1987 out of the equation, the year that Coventry won their only major trophy, beating Spurs 3-2 to lift the FA Cup for the first and only time, there was a period in the 90’s when the club were moderately fashionable.

For those that can remember, or care, the 1997/98 season represented a relatively blissful time for the Sky Blues. In fact an 11th position finish represented their highest ever finish in the Premier League, it was a campaign that also saw them in with a shout at UEFA Cup qualification right up until the final day.

The man in charge of the midland club was a highly regarded flame haired dwarf called Gordan Strachan. Captained by Scottish midfielder, and free kick expert, Gary McAllister the squad was littered with the likes of Dion Dublin, Darren Huckerby, Noel Whelan, Richard Shaw, Gary Breen, and George Boateng.

That season they may not have managed to beat Arsenal but they did record a 2-2 home draw with the eventual champions. That’s not to say that they didn’t enjoy any success over the bigger clubs. They notched up victories against 2nd placed Manchester United and 4th placed Chelsea, as well as an admirable draw a Liverpool side that finished the season in 3rd.

With 18 goals Dion Dublin managed to top the goal scoring charts along with Michael Owen and Chris Sutton.

Coventry City was a founding member of the Premier League in 1992, and before relegation in 2001 they spent a remarkable 34 consecutive seasons in England’s top flight. Before the clubs shocking capitulation they could also boast attacking talents such as Mustapha Hadji, Robbie Keane, and record signing Craig Bellamy.

After eleven seasons in Championship obscurity they now find themselves in English football’s third tier for the first time in 48 years. For Coventry City’s depressed loyal following the 1997/98 season certainly feels a long time ago.

image: © Ben Sutherland

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