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The Best Game!!
By: Richard Lord
ONE game of the season I remember so vividly - apart from the obvious - was the victory at Coventry. Town had just topped the table the week previously and a win at Highfield Road could have possibly put us back there for another weekend.
But as things unfolded, that was not to be. As a student I don't get to go to many away games during a season but my mate Pete and myself decided that a trip to Coventry would be a great idea to potentially witness Town retain their top-of-the-league status once more.
I remembered when I bought the tickets a few days in advance of the game that we were bound to lose the match. Town don't win too many away from home and we had not so long ago won 1-0 at West Brom. Surely we had used up all our good luck?
The journey down there was pleasant, as we didn't have to get out of bed at a ridiculously early hour in the morning. The season before I had travelled down with Pete to QPR and saw us win 1-0 after an extremely fortuitous goal and an amazing Danny Coyne performance.
In my eyes we were the lucky partnership. We could follow the Mariners over land and sea (and Yorkshire) and watch us win 1-0 every time. We joked about it, not realising that it was about to come true - for another game, at least.
Pete had been to the ground before when he watched Coventry play Manchester United in the Premiership the season before with his girlfriend who was a Sky Blues supporter. Obviously she wasn't a true supporter because she didn't turn up to watch her beloved club take on the Mighty Mariners.
The ground was certainly fit for the Premiership, I remembered thinking as soon as I entered inside. The home support was particularly sparse but it filled up nicely down to the right of us where all the Coventry fans routinely chanted and teased us away supporters.
But we were to have the last laugh. After a first half were we literally tore them apart in midfield, Phil Jevons calmly lofted the ball back into an empty net from roughly the same distance he scored from at Liverpool - later on in the season of course.
How we laughed at Magnus Headman, Gordon Strachan, the fans and the club as a whole. I'd never screamed so much or heard a chorus so loud of "You're not Singing Any More!" This team was once in the Premiership? Don't make me laugh!
As the second half turned out, we were quite lucky to go home with all three points. Despite Menno Willems' rare excellent performance in midfield, Coventry hit the woodwork twice immediately after we had scored.
At the final whistle the boos rang round the ground and chants of "Sack the Board" were heard (the Town away support even joined in to help the home support)! All I can remember after the match was sitting in the coach, listening to the report on Five Live and the commentators describing the scenes inside the ground.
We didn't care. The fans filed back onto the coach as the news filtered through that Burnley had won once more, depriving us good souls from little Grimsby of topping the First Division.
Strachan got the sack, Lennie had picked up the August Manager of the Month award and the curse didn't follow him to Coventry. Everything looked so rosy back then - and to think we had 13 points from just six games - made our forthcoming decline look particularly embarrassing.
Chants about 'the football league not being upside down', and 'we only need 37 more points for safety' will stick with me for a long time. To think the latter was sung in such a sarcastic way makes me cringe even now.
What makes the game ironic is that there was an exact reverse later on in the season. A 1-0 win for Coventry at Blundell Park on Boxing Day resulted in a managerial casualty soon after.
Still, the win was good at the time. No one from that game onwards could have predicted how our journey through the season would have panned out.
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