” What was the first ever football match you saw, and who were playing ? ” I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been asked that question, as I guess have many other fans too ? But I have to be honest I can’t remember as I was far too young to recall it.
My late father was a Coventry City supporter our home town club, and I discovered later on in life that was when I was aged only about two he took me to a few home games. Where I sat on his lap in the stands, and his psychology must have been that I would sub consciously take it all in, and when I was a bit older I would want to attend games on a regular basis.
Well his mind game must have worked as I eventually became as big a Coventry City fan as he was.
But if the question was ‘ Do you remember your very first game, and who were playing ? ‘ I can answer back in a instant and say yes it was Coventry City verses Kings Lynn in the FA Cup 1961.
I recall it so vividly as it’s etched in my brain as it was called a giant killing. As I was still quite young I didn’t know what that meant, and when I found out what it meant you’d have thought it would have put me off following the City. Yet even though we lost 2–1 to Kings Lynn who were a non-league team and second from bottom of the Southern Division, and we were a Third Division side, it didn’t bother me much as my dad said when we got home that I asked could I go to the next home game ?
Even at that young age the whole experience must have got to me, the noise of the crowd, the sight of watching players running about the pitch, and in those days the huge floodlights towering above. And football grounds had unusual smells, the aroma then of cigar smoke wafting around the terraces, the smell of burgers, and hot tea in a plastic cup has a unique smell and taste, which always brings back memories even to this day.
Another reason this game has stayed with me is because a certain Jimmy Hill was sat in the stands that day at Highfield Road. And a few days later he became our new manager and like me the dismal result and performance obviously didn’t put him off, and when he announced confidently that he would turn Coventry City into a top flight club, no wonder I wanted to become a supporter of my now beloved football club.
The rest is history and he turned a mediocre club into a first division one and we became the Sky Blues and playing and beating Manchester United and Arsenal and other top teams with Highfield Road packed to the rafters.
So yes my first “real” match was a defeat to a lowly non league side, and a feeling that I’ve well became used to over the years, but it never affected me and here I am decades on still following the Sky Blues.
Your very first game is important I guess as it could be the start of you following a club for a lifetime. But I owe it all to my dad who started it all for me when I was barely out of nappies !
words Kevin Halls, D3D4 Coventry City Correspondent
Follow Kevin on twitter @mistergodiva