Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Gone But Not Forgotten - Highfield Road

This week Coventry fan Paul Price who blogs at The Sky Is Still Blue takes us on a trip down memory Lane to Highfield Road. You can also follow him on Twitter @Pricep87

It was dubbed the “end of an era.” An era that had spanned 106 years. An era that started on 9 September 1899 with a 1-0 win over Shrewsbury Town in front of 3,000 spectators and ended on 30 April 2005 with a 6-2 victory against Midland rivals Derby County in front of 22,728 fans.

For 106 years Coventry City called Highfield Road their home, before moving into the state-of-the-art Ricoh Arena at the start of the 2006/07 season.

Built in a residential area just outside the city centre on part of what was then the Craven Cricket Club, Coventry’s old home has seen it all, not least the 1940 blitz in which surprisingly nothing but the pitch was destroyed by the German bombers.

Highfield Road
Football-wise it’s darkest day came in 1952 when the side were relegated into the old Division Three, the lowest level the club have ever played at. Enter Jimmy Hill. Now a legend of the club - a statue of the former manager and chairman is due to be unveiled outside the Ricoh Arena in the coming weeks - the unmistakable figure took charge in 1961, setting about rebuilding the stadium as well as the team.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Youth football and why practice makes perfect

What Sir Alex Ferguson wants, Sir Alex Ferguson gets. A lovely watch that tells Fergie Time? Yours, Sir Alex. All the chewing gum you can chew? Yours, Sir Alex. The stud fees for Rock of Gibraltar. Yours Sir… oh actually, no you can’t have them but the rest is yours.

Most recently, he succeeded in gaining a radical overhaul of youth academies when, at the back end of last season, Premier League top knobs rubber-stamped the Elite Player Performance Plan.

The plan, which is not without its critics particularly among non-Premier League clubs who are concerned it will see the top clubs hoover up the best young talent, is designed to create ‘hot-house’ learning environments. The current rule that means youngsters can only attend academies within 90 minutes of their home will be abandoned so they can live on site, much like the Royal Ballet School or Barcelona’s La Masia.

I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want
Most significantly of all, contact time with qualified coaches will treble. Under current regulations, young players can only receive 3,760 hours of contact time up until the age of 21. By contrast youngsters at La Masia receive at least 8,000 hours by the time they reach 18.