Tag Archives: Coventry City

Premier League Rewind: 5th-8th May 2001

Results: Arsenal 2-1 Leeds United, Aston Villa 3-2 Coventry City, Bradford City 1-1 Middlesbrough, Chelsea 2-1 Everton, Leicester City 4-2 Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool FC 3-0 Newcastle United, Manchester United 0-1 Derby County, Sunderland 3-2 Charlton Athletic, West Ham United 3-0 Southampton, Ipswich Town 2-1 Manchester City, Liverpool FC 2-2 Chelsea

With three games to go and the title already wrapped up by Manchester United, attention in May 2001 was largely focused on the bottom of the table. Bradford City were already condemned to relegation but the fight for survival was on between Derby County, Manchester City and Coventry City.

All three sides had testing fixtures away from home and with no margin for error, the side able to pull off a victory was more likely to survive. Derby had the most challenging match with a trip to the champions at Old Trafford. Jim Smith’s side had struggled all season and had only won one of their last seven encounters. The Rams though had pulled off an unexpected victory away at Manchester United in April 1997, so they had experience of producing the unexpected and they did so again here, with a shock 1-0 victory. Malcolm Christie scored the only goal of the game in the 34th minute to inflict only a second home defeat on Sir Alex Ferguson’s side all season. This win piled the pressure on Coventry City.

It meant the Sky Blues had to realistically win at Villa Park against Midlands rivals Aston Villa. They were in a very strong position when two spectacular goals from Mustapha Hadji had them 2-0 ahead. However, it was a position Gordon Strachan’s side weren’t used to in the 2000-2001 season. They’d recorded just eight league victories all campaign and it showed. Darius Vassell and Juan Pablo Angel pulled Villa level and with four minutes to go, Paul Merson delivered the final blow with a superb curling effort. The Villans won 3-2 and that result, combined with Derby’s win meant Coventry’s 34-year stay in England’s top-flight was officially over. They haven’t been back since.

Two nights later, a similar fate befell Manchester City. Shaun Goater gave their supporters hope by opening the scoring away to high-flying Ipswich Town in the 74th minute. Matt Holland equalised four minutes later though and Martijn Reuser’s diving header five minutes from full-time sealed a 2-1 win for Ipswich to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the following season’s UEFA Champions League. For Joe Royle and Manchester City, it was the end of the road and relegation back to the First Division.

Ipswich were in a three-horse race for the final UEFA Champions League qualifying position and it was advantage Liverpool FC in this particular battle. The Reds were preparing for the FA Cup final with Arsenal but warmed up by claiming four points from two home fixtures. Michael Owen was in sensational form, scoring yet another hat-trick against Newcastle United in a 3-0 success. Three days later, he grabbed another two goals in an absorbing 2-2 draw with Chelsea, as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink matched Owen’s accomplishment. The Dutchman’s two goals on Merseyside saw him take a giant step closer to winning the Golden Boot.

Elsewhere, Arsenal secured the runners-up position by defeating in-form Leeds United 2-1. Freddie Ljungberg and Sylvain Wiltord scored the goals in what turned out to be a damaging defeat for Leeds’ prospects of matching their third place finish from the previous campaign. Leicester’s wretched run of seven consecutive losses was ended by a 4-2 home victory against Tottenham Hotspur with goals from Gary Rowett, Dean Sturridge, Steve Guppy and a Robbie Savage penalty whilst Middlesbrough’s safety was secured by other results. They drew 1-1 at Valley Parade with bottom-placed Bradford City.

What else happened in May 2001?

  • Campaigning for the UK General Election is dominated by a scuffle between Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and a protestor in Rhyl after an egg is thrown at him.
  • Silvio Berlusconi becomes Italian Prime Minister for the second time after winning the election in Italy.
  • The government decides to start relaxing its tough sanctions put in place to tackle the foot and mouth crisis two months on.
  • Liverpool FC complete a unique ‘Treble’ of cup victories, defeating Arsenal 2-1 in the FA Cup final in Cardiff, before prevailing 5-4 against Spanish side Alaves in the UEFA Cup final in Dortmund.
  • At 16, Temba Tsheri becomes the youngest person to summit Mount Everest.
  • With the song ‘Everybody,’ Estonia win the 2001 Eurovision Song Contest.



Premier League Files: Mustapha Hadji

Premier League Career: Coventry City (1999-2001), Aston Villa (2001-2004)

Currently assistant manager of the Morocco international team, it has been over 20 years since Mustapha Hadji made his impact as a player, scoring a brilliant goal for his country on the opening day of the 1998 World Cup finals against Norway. Hadji tried his luck in the Premier League in 1999 with Coventry City and remained on these shores for five years, having also represented Aston Villa. He still remains as one of the most successful players to represent his country in the Premier League.

Born in Ifrane Atlas-Saghir, Hadji left his homeland for France at the age of 10 and began playing football shortly afterwards at youth level. He made his professional debut with AS Nancy in 1991 and remained with them for five years, scoring 31 times in 134 league appearances. He was part of the Morocco squad that played in the 1994 World Cup finals, although they would lose all their matches in the group stage. He came on as a substitute in two of these matches and setup a goal for his teammate Hassan Nader against the Netherlands.

In 1996, Hadji moved to Portugal but had an unhappy year at Sporting Lisbon and also struggled to make an impact during a two-year stay at Deportivo La Coruna where he was limited to 31 appearances. So, the 1998 World Cup finals was a chance for him to make his mark. He duly delivered in that opening game against Norway which finished in a 2-2 draw. Hadji was also exceptional in Morocco’s victory against Scotland. However, Norway’s late win over holders Brazil meant the Africans were eliminated in the group stage again. Despite this disappointment, Hadji was named African Footballer of the Year.

In 1999, Gordon Strachan took him to the Premier League, bringing Hadji and his international colleague, Youssef Chippo to Coventry City. A goalscoring attacking midfielder, Hadji scored 12 times in 62 appearances for the Sky Blues and quickly became a cult hero at Highfield Road. He raised his levels when the higher-profile clubs visited Coventry and his best game for the club arguably came on Boxing Day 1999. He scored a brilliant curling effort from distance in a surprising 3-2 victory over Arsenal.

He was the club’s joint top goalscorer in 2000-2001 alongside Craig Bellamy but Coventry were relegated at the end of the season. That was despite Hadji’s best efforts in the game they went down as he scored twice at Villa Park against Aston Villa. His goals in the game put Coventry 2-0 up but they squandered that advantage and Paul Merson’s late winner, coupled with a Derby victory at Old Trafford sent the Sky Blues down to the First Division.

John Gregory was impressed by Hadji’s form at Coventry, so kept him in the Midlands by signing him for Aston Villa in the summer of 2001. He scored in a UEFA Cup tie against Varteks and twice in the Premier League away at Southampton and Everton. However, Gregory’s departure in January 2002 was a disaster for Hadji’s English career. He became a sporadic player for Graham Taylor and was barely used by David O’Leary too. In 2004, he was released and joined Espanyol on a free transfer.

He ended his playing career in July 2010 after periods playing in the United Arab Emirates, as well as for 1. FC Saarbrucken in Germany and CS Fola Esch in Luxembourg. He scored 25 goals in 44 appearances for the latter before hanging up his boots.

Hadji made the move into coaching in 2012 as an assistant for the Qatari club Umm Salal before being appointed assistant manager for Morocco before the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. He is also involved in partnership with plans to invest in Morocco, providing opportunities for local people to help reduce poverty from his homeland.

The Clubs: Coventry City

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
354 99 112 143 387 490 -103 409 9


Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Steve Ogrizovic 191
Paul Telfer 191
Richard Shaw 178
Paul Williams 175
Peter Ndlovu 152
Brian Borrows 145
Dion Dublin 145
Noel Whelan 134
Gary McAllister 119
Gary Breen 115


Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Dion Dublin 61
Peter Ndlovu 35
Noel Whelan 31
Darren Huckerby 28
Mick Quinn 25
Gary McAllister 20
Mustapha Hadji 12
Robbie Keane 12
John Williams 11
John Aloisi 10


Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Coventry City 5-0 Blackburn Rovers 9th December 1995 1995-1996
Coventry City 5-1 Liverpool FC 19th December 1992 1992-1993
Bolton Wanderers 1-5 Coventry City 31st January 1998 1997-1998
Coventry City 4-0 Manchester City 19th February 1994 1993-1994
Coventry City 4-0 Tottenham Hotspur 13th December 1997 1997-1998
Coventry City 4-0 Nottingham Forest 9th January 1999 1998-1999
Coventry City 4-0 Watford 31st October 1999 1999-2000
Coventry City 4-0 Bradford City 18th March 2000 1999-2000
Blackburn Rovers 2-5 Coventry City 26th January 1993 1992-1993
Aston Villa 1-4 Coventry City 27th February 1999 1998-1999


Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Chelsea 6-1 Coventry City 21st October 2000 2000-2001
Manchester United 5-0 Coventry City 28th December 1992 1992-1993
West Ham United 5-0 Coventry City 22nd April 2000 1999-2000
Queens Park Rangers 5-1 Coventry City 23rd October 1993 1993-1994
Sheffield Wednesday 5-1 Coventry City 28th December 1994 1994-1995
Blackburn Rovers 5-1 Coventry City 23rd September 1995 1995-1996
Coventry City 1-5 Newcastle United 19th September 1998 1998-1999
Liverpool FC 4-0 Coventry City 17th April 1993 1992-1993
Newcastle United 4-0 Coventry City 23rd February 1994 1993-1994
Newcastle United 4-0 Coventry City 24th August 1994 1994-1995



Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Bobby Gould 2 23rd October 1993
Phil Neal 2 14th February 1995
Ron Atkinson 3 1st November 1996
Gordon Strachan 5 10th September 2001


Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Coventry City 0-1 Manchester United 12th April 1993 24,429 1992-1993
Coventry City 3-0 Aston Villa 26th December 1992 24,245 1992-1993
Coventry City 0-4 Manchester United 22nd November 1995 23,400 1995-1996
Coventry City 1-0 Liverpool FC 6th April 1996 23,137 1995-1996
Coventry City 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur 26th December 1998 23,098 1998-1999
Coventry City 0-3 Liverpool FC 1st April 2000 23,098 1999-2000
Coventry City 0-2 Manchester United 18th January 1997 23,085 1996-1997
Coventry City 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur 26th February 2000 23,077 1999-2000
Coventry City 0-2 Liverpool FC 28th April 2001 23,063 2000-2001
Coventry City 2-1 Liverpool FC 30th January 1999 23,056 1998-1999



Coventry City were one of the great survivors in the first decade of the Premier League. The Sky Blues were involved in many relegation scraps and narrowly avoided the drop on the final day in both 1996 and 1997. However, they also had a habit of pulling off some unexpected surprises as many of the elite Premier League sides discovered. Relegation came in 2001 and since then, ownership issues, stadium problems and fan protests have seen the club drop as low as League Two. Currently, they are in League One after winning the play-off final in League Two last season.



Coventry made a brilliant start to life in the Premier League under Bobby Gould, winning six of their first eight matches to sit in the dizzying heights of second position, only below fellow early season pacesetters Norwich City. Unlike the Canaries though, they couldn’t keep that level up and dropped into mid-table as the campaign progressed. There was a 5-1 demolition of Liverpool FC and an impressive 5-2 victory away at Blackburn in January but departures of Roberto Rosario to Nottingham Forest and Kevin Gallacher to Blackburn Rovers hurt their attacking prowess and they eventually finished just three points above the relegation zone.



Coventry’s top scorer in 1992-1993, Mick Quinn, made a searing start to the new campaign with an opening day hat-trick at Highbury against Arsenal. However, a run of six league games without a win culminated in the resignation of manager Bobby Gould just moments after a 5-1 beating at the hands of Queens Park Rangers in October. Former Bolton Wanderers manager Phil Neal was his successor and he kept Coventry well clear of danger. An unbeaten run of seven matches at the end of the campaign saw the Sky Blues finish a solid 11th. It was also their 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers on 2nd May that handed the title to Manchester United.



Only one win in their first eight matches (2-1 vs. Leeds United) left Coventry in the bottom four in early October and despite the goals of Dion Dublin on a consistent basis after his £2 million transfer from Manchester United, the Sky Blues were in the thick of the relegation battle all season. Despite beating fellow strugglers Crystal Palace 2-0 on 11th February, manager Phil Neal still lost his job three days later.

Ron Atkinson took over and he steered Coventry to five victories in the closing months of the campaign including a 3-2 win at Anfield where Peter Ndlovu scored a hat-trick. Safety was clinched in the final week of the season with a 3-1 victory at White Hart Lane over Tottenham Hotspur. Coventry finished the campaign in 16th place – three places clear of the drop zone.



It was another season of struggle for Coventry and their supporters – as they won just one of their first 16 encounters. Dion Dublin continued to score plenty of goals but even though he scored a hat-trick at Sheffield Wednesday in early December, a 4-3 defeat at Hillsborough meant they dropped to bottom in the table.

Days later, reigning champions Blackburn Rovers were well-beaten 5-0 which remains the Sky Blues’ biggest-ever Premier League victory. In April, defender David Busst sustained a career-ending injury against Manchester United which is considered one of the worst injuries ever sustained on a football pitch. The defeat at Old Trafford was their last of the season. Eight points gained from their last four matches and four consecutive clean sheets meant they avoided relegation on the final day of the season after a goalless draw with Leeds United.



An opening day 3-0 defeat at home to Nottingham Forest set the tone for another difficult campaign for Coventry City and 24 hours after a 1-1 draw away at Everton, Ron Atkinson stepped down as manager and moved into a Director of Football role. His assistant Gordon Strachan succeeded him and initially, there was a positive effect. A run of four successive victories guided the Sky Blues into 11th place by mid-January with Darren Huckerby arriving to help take the pressure off Dion Dublin in regards to goalscoring threats. Dublin still starred though – finishing top scorer with 14 strikes and his goals ultimately kept Coventry just clear of danger.

However, when they lost 2-1 at home to Derby County on the penultimate weekend of the season, it looked like Coventry’s 30-year stay in England’s top-flight was on the verge of ending. They had to beat Tottenham Hotspur on the final day and goals from Dublin and Paul Williams saw them pull off an unlikely 2-1 victory. Sunderland lost at Wimbledon so the Black Cats were relegated instead. Coventry had survived again by the skin of their teeth.



Gordon Strachan’s first full campaign in the hotseat turned out to be a huge success. This time, there was no relegation battle to worry about. Coventry finished an impressive 11th with 52 points amassed and they lost just 10 of their 38 league matches – the fourth-lowest of the season.

Dion Dublin turned down a move to Blackburn Rovers and his commitment to the Coventry cause remained. An opening day hat-trick against Chelsea set the tone for his season which saw him share the Golden Boot with 18 goals alongside Michael Owen and Chris Sutton. The most enjoyable result was the post-Christmas 3-2 victory over Manchester United with Darren Huckerby scoring a late winner for the Sky Blues.



For the second consecutive season, Coventry started their season with victory over Chelsea with both Huckerby and Dublin on-target. Dublin though left in early November, signing in mid-November for Aston Villa and it meant the club struggled to replicate the goalscoring form of the previous campaign. Coventry finished in 15th place and nine points worse off but eight home wins at Highfield Road and 10 goals from Noel Whelan meant they were never in any significant relegation danger.

Steve Froggatt scored the Goal of the Season against Everton in mid-November whilst the 4-1 away victory at Villa Park in February was the highlight of the campaign from a results perspective.



There was a Moroccan feel to Coventry in pre-season as Mustapha Hadji and Youssef Chippo both arrived to add a continental approach to the Sky Blues. Also arriving was Robbie Keane and the highly-rated youngster scored 12 Premier League goals in his debut top-flight campaign. Coventry enjoyed one of the best home records in the division, winning 12 of their 19 matches at Highfield Road which included a memorable 3-2 success on Boxing Day over Arsenal. However, they failed to win a single match on their travels and that restricted them to a 14th place finish.



After 16 months without an away victory, Coventry City’s 2-1 win at The Dell over Southampton on 23rd August ended their barren run and hopes were high for a better campaign, especially when Manchester City were beaten days later on their own patch. However, only two more victories followed before Christmas and with Keane sold in the summer to Inter Milan, goalscoring became a real problem. Hadji and newcomer Craig Bellamy were top of the charts but both only managed six goals apiece.

After 34 years of top-flight football, Coventry’s luck ran out. Despite leading 2-0 at Villa Park in their penultimate game of the season, Paul Merson’s late winner helped Aston Villa claim all three points and condemn Coventry to relegation to Division One. Strachan stepped down a few months later.

Premier League Files: Noel Whelan

Premier League Career: Leeds United (1993-1995), Coventry City (1995-2000), Middlesbrough (2000-2003)

Noel Whelan began his career at Leeds United and went on to play for no fewer than 12 different clubs. With Leeds flying in the SkyBet EFL Championship, Whelan must be enjoying his role in media nowadays as the Matchday co-commentator for all of the club’s matches on BBC Radio Leeds.

Although it was at Leeds where he started out, Whelan’s most productive Premier League period was a five-year spell at Coventry City, where he scored 31 times in 133 matches. He was often the creator who would pop up with vital goals and play a significant part in the development of the excellent partnership between Darren Huckerby and Dion Dublin.

Born in Leeds, he started his professional career with the men from Elland Road and other scouts had been impressed. He had trials as a youngster at Arsenal, Everton and Manchester United. However, his desire was to make the breakthrough at his boyhood club. Turning professional in March 1993, Whelan made his debut towards the end of the inaugural Premier League campaign, featuring in a 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday in May.

His major breakthrough came in his second full season in the first-team – 1994-1995. Whelan made a brilliant start to the season, scoring a late winner in the club’s first home match of the season against Arsenal. He also found the target against Chelsea and his two goals beat Manchester City 2-0 in October 1994. Whelan ended with seven goals in 23 appearances but in January 1995, Howard Wilkinson felt that he wasn’t the answer to Leeds’s striking prowess. He ventured into the Bundesliga to sign Ghanaian hotshot Tony Yeboah from Eintracht Frankfurt. He immediately took Whelan’s place in the team and with Yeboah’s sharp eye for a deadly strike; Whelan’s days at Leeds were numbered.

After making eight appearances without scoring in 1995-1996, Whelan was sold for £2 million to Coventry City nine days before Christmas in 1995. Ron Atkinson believed he had a bargain and he’d been helped in the signing by a strong recommendation from his assistant, Gordon Strachan, who’d played alongside Whelan at Leeds. He scored the winner on his home debut against Everton and produced a wonderful solo strike at home to Southampton on New Years’ Day that was a contender for the BBC’s Goal of the Month. He finished with eight goals for the Sky Blues in 21 appearances as they avoided relegation on the final day of the season.

Another six strikes followed in 1996-1997 from 35 games but Huckerby’s arrival from Newcastle United meant he became the focal point of the attack and Strachan preferred to play him upfront alongside Dublin with Whelan often dropping in behind the forward pairing. His development saw him move more into a midfield role as his career at Coventry progressed and in 1997-1998, he came up with the opening goals in a shock win at home to Manchester United and in an impressive 2-2 draw with champions Arsenal.

Dublin’s departure for Aston Villa in November 1998 saw Whelan move back into a forward position midway through the 1998-1999 campaign and it was of a benefit to him as he produced his best Premier League goalscoring return of 10 goals in 31 matches. Coventry fans were excited by the potential partnership that was forming between Whelan and Huckerby but those hopes were to be dashed in August 1999 when Huckerby was sold to Leeds United and Whelan sustained a nasty injury in pre-season which meant he missed the bulk of the first half of the 1999-2000 campaign. With Robbie Keane now the main man in-attack and the exciting Moroccan duo of Youssef Chippo and Mustapha Hadji around, Whelan was no longer a first-choice player when he returned from injury and he left the club in August 2000.

Middlesbrough was his next destination for £2.2 million and ironically, he made his Boro bow as a substitute on the opening day of the 2000-2001 season in a 3-1 win away at Coventry. He spent three years on Teeside but struggled to recapture the form he’d shown at Coventry. The highest moment was a goal to knock Manchester United out of the FA Cup in 2002 at the fourth round stage.

That was the end of his Premier League time. He went on to play outside the top-flight in England with Crystal Palace, Millwall, Derby County, Boston United, Harrogate Town and Darlington. He also had unhappy spells in Scottish football with Aberdeen, Livingston and Dunfermline Athletic. He retired from playing in 2010 due to injury and other issues away from the football field.

In early January 2006, Whelan admitted to an addiction with alcohol and he was admitted to the Sporting Chance alcoholism treatment clinic that had been set-up by former England skipper, Tony Adams. Financial issues played a role in a troubled end to his playing days and Whelan was actually declared bankrupt in 2010.

After the end of his playing days, he had a brief time in coaching, having a spell as a youth team coach at Derby County before moving into the media industry at the start of 2013-2014. Alongside his Leeds commitments, Whelan also does some sporadic work for Sky Sports News as an in-studio match summariser.

Premier League Files: John Salako

Premier League Career: Crystal Palace (1992-1993, 1994-1995), Coventry City (1995-1997), Bolton Wanderers (1998), Charlton Athletic (2000-2001)

Born in Nigeria, John Salako’s first club and most prominent period of his career came at Crystal Palace. He gave a decade of service to the Eagles, experienced the utmost highs during this time of winning five England caps from Graham Taylor in 1991 and two crushing Premier League relegations in 1993 and 1995.

Salako’s game was all about pace and plenty of it. Defenders were often scared to face him with this trait. His imagination meant he had a good pass and decent dribbling skills too. He often linked up well with Chris Armstrong and his best Premier League season was arguably one that saw Palace relegated. In 1994-1995, Salako missed only three games and scored four goals. This included a fantastic double away at Highbury in October 1994 as Alan Smith’s side won 2-1. It was a pleasurable moment for Salako. A knee injury meant he had missed a huge portion of the club’s maiden Premier League season when they went down on the final day with defeat at Arsenal’s ground.

Pre-Premier League, John was part of the Palace squad that reached the FA Cup final in 1990. He started both games but ended up with a loser’s medal after the club were narrowly beaten in the replay by Manchester United.

After Crystal Palace’s second Premier League relegation, Salako moved on in the summer of 1995 to Coventry City. He was a regular in their team, making 72 appearances before a brief loan spell at Bolton Wanderers during the second half of the 1997-1998 season. After an unhappy 10 games with Fulham, Salako returned to the Premier League with Charlton Athletic in 2000. His last Premier League appearance came as a 10-minute substitute against Fulham in September 2001. He moved soon afterwards to Reading before ending his career with Brentford in 2004-2005.

Since retirement, Salako has done some television work for Sky Sports and returned to Crystal Palace as a first-team coach between August 2015 and December 2016 as part of Alan Pardew’s coaching staff. Since March 2017, Salako has been working as a Marketing Director for SME Business Finance.

Memorable Matches: Sheffield Wednesday 4-3 Coventry City (December 1995)

Goalscorers: Dion Dublin 18, 37, 55, Guy Whittingham 25, David Hirst 39, Marc Degryse 60, Mark Bright 73


Sheffield Wednesday: Kevin Pressman, Peter Atherton, Steve Nicol, Ian Nolan, Des Walker, Lee Briscoe, Marc Degryse, Chris Waddle (Graham Hyde 85), Mark Bright, David Hirst, Guy Whittingham

Coventry City: Steve Ogrizovic, Marcus Hall, Ally Pickering, David Rennie (Gordon Strachan 74), Richard Shaw, Paul Williams, Kevin Richardson, Paul Telfer, John Salako, Dion Dublin, Peter Ndlovu

Referee: Mike Reed, Attendance: 16,229

Both Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry City were struggling in the Premier League table when the sides clashed at Hillsborough on a Monday Night Football in December 1995. The Sky Blues had won just one game all season, whilst David Pleat’s Owls were in the bottom six and looking to find some consistency. Both sides produced thrilling attacking displays which meant the neutral was in for an early December treat.

Coventry took the lead on 18 minutes. Their top goalscorer, Dion Dublin headed home from a corner which looked to have been cleared off the goal-line. However, referee Mike Reed correctly spotted the whole of the ball had crossed the line before it was hooked clear. The visitors’ lead lasted just seven minutes. Lee Briscoe got the better of Ally Pickering on the right-hand side and his cross into the box eventually fell to the feet of Guy Whittingham. Whittingham made no mistake to score his fourth goal in his last three matches against the Midlands club. Whittingham was enjoying this match and so too was Dublin. Eight minutes before the interval, he scored his second of the evening to put Ron Atkinson’s side back infront. Kevin Pressman failed to hold onto John Salako’s ambitious attempt and his spill gave Dublin the simplest of finishes.

Wednesday’s response was even quicker than their first equaliser. Mark Bright ghosted into plenty of space and his shot was saved brilliantly by Steve Ogrizovic. Unfortunately for the Coventry shot-stopper, it fell straight to David Hirst to restore parity. It was his sixth goal of the season as he was on the comeback trail from his most recent injury setback which had been a neck problem.

2-2 at the break, more goals were promised in the second half and sure enough, the entertainment continued on this wet Yorkshire evening. Coventry’s Achilles heel was dealing with crosses and it nearly led to embarrassment for defender Richard Shaw. A Hirst header back across the face of goal was diverted onto his own crossbar by Shaw. Maybe it was a sign that Coventry were going to win and Dublin was in peak form. From Kevin Richardson’s corner, Dublin flicked the ball into the net on 55 minutes to complete his hat-trick. However, Coventry’s defensive ineptitude would ensure the skipper’s goalscoring contribution would be on a losing cause.

Yet again, Atkinson’s side were caught out by a cross. Bright pulled off the back of Shaw from Hirst’s cross and Belgian international Marc Degryse followed up after another save from the unfortunate Ogrizovic. Hirst then went on to hit the post as the Owls definitely finished as the stronger side. The winner came 17 minutes from full-time. Ian Nolan escaped the attentions of Salako and drilled in a cross to the near post that was stabbed home by the excellent Bright. This was the start of Sheffield Wednesday’s most productive month of 1995-1996. They scored 14 goals in four matches and both clubs would avoid relegation but only in the closing weeks of the campaign.

Premier League Files: Peter Atherton

Premier League Career: Coventry City (1992-1994), Sheffield Wednesday (1994-2000), Bradford City (2000-2001)

Peter Atherton made 318 appearances during a Premier League career that lasted nine seasons. He scored nine goals during this time and is now part of the coaching staff at Wigan Athletic that is hoping to make a return to the Championship under the guidance of Paul Cook.

Working for his hometown club must be a joy for Peter and it was at Wigan where he started his playing career at. Signing as a trainee, he made his Latics debut in 1988 and spent three seasons with them before attracting the interest of First Division side, Coventry City. Atherton moved to the Midlands in 1991 for £330,000.

He featured regularly for the Sky Blues in the first two Premier League campaigns and even earned a single England Under-21 cap before Sheffield Wednesday paid Coventry £800,000 for his services in the summer of 1994. A capable player, who enjoyed his time at Hillsborough, he was an adaptable component of the Owls squad for several seasons. Whilst right-back was his most familiar position, Atherton could do a solid job as both a centre-back and central midfielder.

In November 1994, he scored one of the greatest goals of his career infront of the Sky Sports cameras at Villa Park against Aston Villa. Making the most of a dubious clearance by Villa goalkeeper Mark Bosnich, Atherton took one touch to get the ball out of his feet before launching a dipping shot that flew into the back of the net beyond Bosnich’s desperate attempt to scramble back into his goal. It earned the visitors a fighting point.

He made over 200 league appearances for Sheffield Wednesday before moving in the summer of 2000 to Yorkshire rivals Bradford City on the Bosman ruling following Wednesday’s relegation from the Premier League. He started out as a regular fixture in the Bantams line-up too but Jim Jefferies sent him out on-loan to Birmingham City on his arrival as manager in November 2000. As he had already played in the League Cup that season for Bradford, he couldn’t play for Birmingham in their 2001 League Cup final defeat to Liverpool FC because he was cup-tied.

Released by Bradford in 2005, he finished his playing career at Halifax Town but played just 14 times for them over three seasons and retired from playing in 2008. By the time of his retirement, he was already getting a taste for coaching at Halifax, serving as assistant manager in 2007 and occasionally would put his boots on again to play in Masters Football tournaments for both Sheffield Wednesday and Wigan Athletic.

Atherton returned to Wigan as an Under-18 coach in 2014 before becoming Development Squad coach in 2015. He also had a brief role as interim assistant manager at the backend of last season when Graham Barrow had a spell as first-team boss.

Great Goals: Darren Huckerby – COVENTRY CITY vs. Manchester United (December 1997)

Coventry City’s first-ever Premier League victory over Manchester United arrived in December 1997 through a dramatic late finale to this match at Highfield Road. Ex-Red Devil Dion Dublin had just levelled the scores at 2-2 with a penalty before Darren Huckerby’s individual brilliance would win the match for Gordon Strachan’s battling side.

After an advantage was played following a foul on Trond Egil Soltvedt, Huckerby took control of the ball and the destiny of the match. He went on a weaving run, shaking off Gary Neville’s tackle, deceiving David May and then, rolling the ball into the left-hand corner of the net past Peter Schmeichel.

It was the finest moment in Huckerby’s Premier League career. Manchester United had been humbled by some solo quality just three days before the end of 1997.

Iconic Moments: The decline begins for Coventry City (May 2001)

Coventry City had spent 34 consecutive seasons in England’s top-flight. They had provided many with brilliant memories, winning the FA Cup in 1987 and producing many final day escapes, especially in 1997 with a victory at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur protecting them from relegation.

They weren’t so lucky four years later. The Sky Blues had struggled all season and went into their match at Villa Park needing to win to still hold a realistic hope of staying up. It started well as Mustapha Hadji scored twice before defensive frailties set in. In the closing stages, Paul Merson hit the winning goal for Aston Villa. Their 3-2 win coupled with Derby County’s 1-0 victory at Old Trafford meant Coventry City’s proud stay as a top-flight club was over. They were going down.

The decline was well and truly underway for one of England’s most recognisable clubs. Terrible ownership, a brief ground share at Sixfields with Northampton Town, regular managerial changes and three relegations have followed since that day at Villa Park in May 2001. A fifth round FA Cup run in 2018 has put them back in the conscious minds of some but they are now toiling in the fourth-tier of the English league pyramid system.

This was the moment where a little part of the Premier League disappeared forever.

Shock Results: Aston Villa 1-4 Coventry City (February 1999)

Goalscorers: John Aloisi 23, 75, George Boateng 51, 84, Dion Dublin 55 PEN


Aston Villa: Michael Oakes, Riccardo Scimeca, Gareth Southgate, Steve Watson (Gareth Barry 44), Alan Wright, Simon Grayson, Lee Hendrie, Ian Taylor (Mark Draper 29, Stan Collymore 55), Paul Merson, Dion Dublin, Julian Joachim

Coventry City: Magnus Hedman, David Burrows, Paul Williams, Richard Shaw, Roland Nilsson, Steve Froggatt, Paul Telfer, George Boateng, Gary McAllister, John Aloisi, Darren Huckerby (Gary McSheffrey 90)

Referee: Uriah Rennie, Attendance: 38,799

For a long period in the 1998-1999 season, Aston Villa were seen as genuine title contenders. They were top of the table on Christmas Day but by the end of February, they were wilting under the pressure. Three successive defeats had dropped them to fourth place in the table and they needed to get back to winning ways in this Midlands derby with Coventry City.

As with usual tradition, the Sky Blues were in the midst of a relegation tussle, so their chances of pulling off a victory at Villa Park were seen as slim despite the drop in form from John Gregory’s side.

Coventry took the lead in the 23rd minute. On his return to Villa Park, Steve Froggatt set-up a chance for Australian forward John Aloisi to score. Aloisi, making his first start in eight games, guided his shot past Michael Oakes, leaving Riccardo Scimeca rather flat-footed in the process.

That was the main highlight of a disappointing first half but Coventry’s desire to win seemed greater. As the sleet started to fall around the ground, the gloom began to deepen for Villa supporters. George Boateng powered a shot home at the near post after some careless possession play from the home side. Coventry, who had won at Villa Park in the FA Cup a season ago were closing in on a rare away win.

Gregory needed a response from his team. He got it in the 55th minute. Richard Shaw’s clumsy challenge on Julian Joachim saw Uriah Rennie point to the penalty spot. Former Coventry lynchpin Dion Dublin, who had transferred to the Villans in early November, emphatically dispatched the penalty beyond Magnus Hedman. It was his first goal of 1999.

Aston Villa had come from 2-0 down earlier in the season to earn a point away at Nottingham Forest and to beat Arsenal but this was going to be a different story. With 15 minutes left, Coventry regained their two-goal advantage. From Froggatt’s free-kick, Aloisi connected perfectly on the volley and struck the ball well beyond Oakes. Aloisi was only starting because injury had ruled Noel Whelan out. He’d taken his chance and in breathtaking fashion.

Boateng completely dominated the midfield battle and with six minutes remaining, he put the icing on the cake for the travelling fans. Gary McAllister chipped a ball through which horribly exposed Villa’s frail offside trap. Boateng ghosted past a rather static Alan Wright, then beat the onrushing Oakes to the ball, getting enough on the contact to lob the ball into the back of the net. Coventry’s joy was complete. This was their first-ever league victory at Villa Park and it was well worth the wait. They’d finish in 15th position whilst Villa only managed sixth and missed out completely on European qualification. Their season which had promised so much ultimately delivered so little.

Premier League Files: Kevin Richardson

Premier League Career: Aston Villa (1992-1994), Coventry City (1995-1997), Southampton (1997-1998)

Kevin Richardson was one of the unsung heroes of many high-profile clubs. He won the FA Cup with Everton in 1984, the league with the Toffees in 1985 and also with Arsenal in 1989. In 1994, he was a big part of the Aston Villa team that defeated Manchester United to win the League Cup final.

Born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, he turned professional in 1980 and spent six seasons at Goodison Park. A versatile midfielder, Richardson moved to Watford in 1986 – the team Everton had defeated at Wembley in the FA Cup final two seasons earlier. He only experienced one campaign at Vicarage Road as Arsenal paid £200,000 for his services in 1987. He operated on the left-wing for the Gunners and played all 90 minutes in their dramatic title-winning success at Anfield in 1989. Despite featuring nearly 100 times for Arsenal, he never enjoyed the greatest relationship with manager George Graham and he moved to Spain in 1990 to play for Real Sociedad.

After one season in Spain, Richardson returned to English shores, signing for Ron Atkinson at Aston Villa. His leadership and knowhow was crucial to an exciting Villa side that seriously challenged Manchester United for title honours in the very first Premier League season. He was skipper that season but Villa faded in the run-in to ultimately finish 10 points behind the Red Devils. The Villans got their revenge in March 1994, defeating them 3-1 in the League Cup final. It would turn out to be Kevin’s final major honour as a player and he won Man of the Match honours with his commanding display in the middle of the park that afternoon.

It was whilst he was at Aston Villa when he won his solitary England cap which arrived in a 5-0 friendly victory over Greece in May 1994. When Atkinson was sacked by Doug Ellis at Villa and eventually turned up at Midlands rivals Coventry City – his first signing was to bring his former captain to Highfield Road. Richardson spent the next two seasons helping the Sky Blues avoid relegation. One further Premier League season followed at Southampton before ending his career with stints at Barnsley and Blackpool. He retired in 2000.

He has been a coach ever since, having spells as an assistant manager at Stockport County and Darlington. Since 2009, Kevin has been an Under-18 coach at Newcastle United.

Premier League Files: Mick Quinn

Premier League Career: Coventry City (1992-1994)

Mick Quinn made 64 Premier League appearances for Coventry City and his return of 25 goals in that time is very impressive figures.

He was born in the Everton area of Merseyside but grew up as a Liverpool FC fan. He began his career in the late 1970s as an apprentice at Derby County but would turn professional with Wigan Athletic in September 1979. He made 69 appearances for Wigan, scoring 19 times for them as they were toiling at the time in the old Fourth Division.

Despite helping Wigan to promotion in 1982, he was given a free transfer and moved to Stockport County, before a spell at Oldham Athletic. At both of these clubs, he started to become a prolific goalscorer.

Totals of 54 goals in 121 appearances for Portsmouth and 57 strikes in 110 appearances for Newcastle United showed his instincts of finding the back of the net. Between 1985 and 1992, Quinn was one of the top strikers outside of the top-flight. He did have one season with Portsmouth in the First Division in 1987-1988 but it ended in relegation. During his Pompey spell, he also spent two weeks in jail after breaching a driving ban which had been handed down to him for a drink-driving charge.

At Newcastle, he scored 34 times in the 1989-1990 season, including four on his debut against Leeds United. Quinn ended up as the Football League’s top goalscorer for that season. Newcastle’s form in the Second Division dropped off after 1990 as they missed out on promotion via the play-offs. He fell out with Kevin Keegan on his arrival as manager and was sold to Coventry City in November 1992 for £250,000.

Coventry manager Bobby Gould got an immediate payment back on Quinn’s signature as he scored 17 goals in his first six months at Highfield Road. Nicknamed ‘Sumo’ by the supporters, he scored braces against Manchester City, Southampton, Liverpool FC and Aston Villa. The latter two sides lost heavily (5-1 and 3-0) respectively as the Midlands side reached the dizzy heights of fourth in the table. They couldn’t maintain their early season tempo and faded to 15th in the final standings.

Quinn made a rip-roaring start to the 1993-1994 campaign, scoring a stunning hat-trick on the opening day as Coventry stunned one of the title favourites, Arsenal 3-0 at Highbury. Another five goals followed as the Sky Blues improved to 11th under the guidance of Phil Neal, who had succeeded Gould in October 1993.

He started the first three games of the next campaign but his Coventry career effectively ended after an unnecessary red card at Ewood Park against Blackburn Rovers. When he left the field midway through the second half, the game was firmly in the balance at 0-0. By full-time, Blackburn won 4-0. Neal was furious with Quinn and signed Dion Dublin for £2 million in the aftermath of this defeat. He never started a game again for Coventry and made his final appearance on New Years’ Eve 1994 in a 4-0 loss at home to Tottenham.

Unproductive loan spells followed at Plymouth Argyle and Watford before a brief spell in Greece with PAOK. Shortly after his signature in Greece, his younger brother died at the age of just 25. He left the Greek club in February 1996 and decided to retire from the game with immediate effect.

Today, he has racehorse stables in Newmarket, does some scouting work for Wigan Athletic and covers football and horse racing for radio station talkSPORT.