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Where Are They Now? Coventry City’s UEFA Cup squad of 1970-71

By Neil Fissler

IT’S almost 50 years ago that the Sky Blues played in European competition for the first and only time in their long history.

In 1969-70 Coventry, under Noel Cantwell in only their third season in the First Division, qualified for the UEFA Cup after finishing sixth in the league.

Alas, they were robbed of a second appearance after winning the FA Cup in 1987 as Liverpool fans had rioted at the Heysel Stadium two years earlier.

The deaths of 39 Juventus fans resulted in English clubs being banned from European competition for five years, costing the Sky Blues a place in the Cup Winners, Cup – and they haven’t qualified since.

In the opening round, they found themselves paired with Bulgarian side Trakia Plovdiv, who thought they were in for an easy ride, said Willie Carr.

But they found themselves on the wrong end of a 4-1 hammering in Plovdiv thanks to a John O’Rourke hat-trick, followed by a 2-0 win back at Highfield Road.

“They thought they were more or less in for a bye because they had never heard of Coventry City,” said Carr.

“And they were pretty surprised we were that good. The one thing I remember about Plovdiv is that it was the greyest place I have ever been.

“It was so dour, it stands out even now. All the young girls thought that Dennis Mortimer, with his long dark hair, was one of the Beatles.”

Coventry were then handed one of the hardest draws possible in West German giants Bayern Munich, who were building one of the best sides in Europe.

Bayern, packed with internationals, would go on to win the European Cup three times.

“Bayern were more or less in their pomp then and they stuffed us 6-1 over there in the first leg and we all thought ‘bloody hell’, said Carr.

“I remember we played with one of those black-and-white spotted balls on a really wet night in Munich and Bill Glazier was injured, so Eric McManus went in goal.

“And it was a case of every shot they took went into the goal.

“The ball was skidding off the surface and, every time Eric dived to save a shot, it bounced in front and skipped over him into the net.

“I think it destroyed Eric a little bit. We used those same balls in training and everyone would say ‘bloody hell, don’t show Eric one of them’.

“They had the likes of Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller in their side and it was one hell of a team.

“I know we won the second leg 2-1 but it was all over by then.

“It was a nice experience. We used to go abroad and play in Holland and places like that in the youth team, but nothing like playing against big teams like Bayern Munich.

“Then when I was at Wolves. I had another go at Europe and we drew PSV Eindhoven or somebody but only lasted one round when they beat us.”WATNCoventry

  1. Ernie Machin: A midfielder who settled in the Coventry area, where he was a youth team coach, before working for Car Bodies and Massey Ferguson. He died in July 2012, aged 68.
  2. Brian Hill: A defender who settled in his native Bedworth, Warwickshire. After spending 18 years in car production with Jaguar, he went to work for HSBC until retiring.
  3. Dennis Mortimer: The midfielder worked for the PFA and the FA as a coach in the Midlands and has also been director of football for Wolves Ladies.
  4. Bobby Parker: A Coventry-born defender who settled in Carlisle. On retiring, he went to work for food processing firm Cavrays in Carlisle and became a health and safety officer.
  5. Ernie Hunt: An England U23 midfielder who ran a restaurant, sports shop and a pub. He then became a window cleaner in Stroud, Gloucs, until he retired.
  6. Brian Joicey: An England amateur international forward, who opened a second-hand car dealership in Sheffield before becoming a sales manager for Honda. He now lives in Dronfield, Derbyshire, in retirement.
  7. Mick Coop: A right-back who became an antiques dealer in Leamington Spa and a youth coach at Coventry. He now lives in retirement in the Warwickshire village of Wellesbourne
  8. Bill Glazier: A goalkeeper who ran a hotel in Brighton and then moved to Spain, maintaining swimming pools, before returning to live in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, where he ran a catering company.
  9. Eric McManus: A goalkeeper who ran the Football in the Community scheme at Bradford City and then became head of youth scouting at Walsall. He has since worked as a goalkeeper coach.
  10. Wilf Smith: A full-back who went into retailing and, for 20 years, built up a chain of discount stores from his base in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, where he lives in retirement.
  11. Jeff Blockley: The England defender worked as a salesman for a power transmission company, before starting his own firm, Transmech. He now lives in Broughton Astley, Leicester.
  12. Geoff Strong: The forward ran a business that refurbished pubs and hotels. He also co-owned a pub with former Liverpool team mate Ian Callaghan. Strong died in June 2013 after a battle with Alzheimer’s.
  13. Willie Carr: The Scottish international midfielder became a rep for an engineering supplies firm, Abec Transmission, and then Forward Industrial products.
  14. Dave Clements: A midfielder who became Northern Ireland manager, settled in the US, where he opened an Irish goods store, worked as a salesman and ran a Cotton Candy vending business.
  15. Neil Martin: A Scotland forward who managed Walsall and coached in the Middle East before running various pubs in and around Birmingham. Now lives in East Lothian in retirement.
  16. John O’Rourke: A forward who ran a newsagent’s before going to work in security at Bournemouth Airport. He died in July this year, aged 71, after a battle with cancer.
  17. Chris Cattlin: A full-back who managed Brighton, where he had property investment interests and where he also ran a rock shop.
  18. Roy Barry: A full-back who managed East Fife and Oxford United and then ran an executive car hire company in London. Now living in Dunfermline, Scotland.

NOT PICTURED

Trevor Gould: Brother of Sky Blues legend Bobby, who is currently manager of Northampton Town’s academy, having previously been the Sky Blues academy director for 13 years.

Billy Rafferty: A striker who returned to the Carlisle area, in Tarraby, with business interests that include health and fitness clubs and indoor soccer school

Noel Cantwell: He spent five years managing at Highfield Road, then in the States as well as Peterborough, where he ran a pub before his death in September 2005, aged 73.

Dietmar Bruck: A full-back who managed Weymouth and Redditch, was financial consultant for an insurance company in Coventry and then became a community champion for Tesco.

Ian Goodwin: A central defender who, after coaching at Nuneaton Borough, worked for Rolls Royce before spending 20 years at Peugeot in sales and management training roles.

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