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For a few years in the early 80s, as if to celebrate the advent of three points for a win in 1981, the English top flight staged improbable annual relegation tussles, frequently tipped from the curious to the full-blown chaotic by late-season fixture pile-ups that forced teams to watch their futures being decided by others long after their own campaigns had come to a close. Time and again, Coventry City took a starring role. Starting in 1983, they launched upon a four-year run of extremely wobbly finishes – 19th, 19th, 18th and 17th in a 22-team division – which ended emphatically if sadly only temporarily in 1987, when they came 10th and won the FA Cup to boot. Golden goal: Keith Houchen for Coventry City v Tottenham (1987) Read more Their most famous feat of survival was in 1985, when because of a couple of postponements forced by a mid-season flu epidemic and another prompted by Everton’s qualification for the Cup Winners’ Cup and FA Cup finals, Coventry ended up with three matches to play after everyone http://www.authenticsandiegopadres.com/Johnny-Manziel-Jersey else had knocked off for the summer, and had to win them all. They achieved it in style, deliriously thrashing Everton, who had by then won and enthusiastically celebrated the league title, 4-1 in their final match. But if that was their most dramatic moment of escapology, the most curious had come a year earlier. On that occasion, the Sky Blues went into their final game with only goal difference keeping them out of the bottom three, where Stoke were occupying 20th place, and with Birmingham City stuck on the same total. Of those sides the Potters had the very great advantage of being at home to a miserable Wolves side, who had been relegated weeks earlier and would end up more than 20 points from safety, and duly won 4-0 with Paul Maguire scoring all the goals, two of them from the penalty spot. Coventry, meanwhile, beat Norwich City 2-1, while Birmingham City were held to a 0-0 draw by Southampton and thus went down. What must have particularly irked the unfortunate side was that Coventry would have been relegated in their stead had they not signed a striker on loan for the final weeks of the season, a player whose goals alone earned them six vital points and included one on the final day that effectively sealed Birmingham’s fate. What was particularly irritating was that the team that had generously donated this deadly demotion-dodger to the Blues’ relegation rivals were, in fact, Birmingham themselvesRon Saunders was the Birmingham manager and we’d not really seen eye to eye, Ron and myself,” says Mick Ferguson, the striker in question. “I’d had a hernia operation on New Year’s Eve and then when I went back to Birmingham I was struggling with injury, and it took me quite a while to get back to some sort of fitness. Round about deadline day [Coventry’s manager] Bobby Gould phoned and asked if I wanted to go back. I told him I’d been injured and he said it Luis Sardinas Womens Jersey didn’t matter, he needed a striker. So I ended up going back on loan.” Ferguson had already spent a decade at Highfield Road, coming through the youth system and going on to make 128 league appearances and score a half-century of goals in their colours. They were to be the finest days of his career. A move to Everton didn’t work out, and though a loan spell at Birmingham led to eight goals in 20 games the subsequent permanent switch went sour. “I wasn’t having the best of times there, because I’d been injured or whatever reason,” he said. “I’d scored goals for Birmingham – I didn’t play a huge amount of games but the goal record is quite good. I think there was a bit more to it. So I was desperate to go back to Coventry.” Brian Kilcline: ‘I loved playing but the footballer is not who I am’ Read more By the time Ferguson was fit there were only seven games to go, and Coventry did not so much need a striker as a miracle. Having been 10th in early January they had taken three of a possible 39 points from their next 13 league games, winning none, and plummeted down the table. But Ferguson scored the winner against Wolves on his second debut, and the first against Nottingham Forest in the next game, both won 2-1. At that stage they once again looked comfortable, but the slide had not so much stopped as stalled. They got one point from their next four games, conceding 19 goals in the process including eight at Southampton, five at Liverpool and four at Manchester United. And so it went down to the final day. “I hadn’t signed any clause to say that I couldn’t play if it got to that situation, so I ended up playing,” Ferguson says. “I don’t think http://www.authenticbuffalosabres.com/authentic-danny-gare-jersey that would happen today.” When John Deehan put Norwich ahead the jig seemed very much up, but Ferguson equalised and Chris Woods fumbled Dave Bennett’s corner into his own net to seal their survival. Mick Ferguson spent 10 years at Coventry during his first spell at the club, between 1971 and 1981. Facebook Twitter Pinterest Mick Ferguson spent 10 years at Coventry during his first spell at the club, between 1971 and 1981. Photograph: Bob Thomas/Getty Images “I can’t remember the goal at all but there were a lot of celebrations after the game. I went back to my home in Hampton in Arden; our next-door neighbour was a big Villa fan and he was having a party that night. We went round and he was quite pleased. Ron Saunders rang me up that evening before I went out and said he’d had a bollocking off his directors and screamed some obscenities down the phone, but I kind of expected it in some way. Like any other manager he’d be upset, but he was the one who let me go on loan.” In public Saunders was a little more magnanimous, admitting: “I don’t think it’s any surprise to anyone that we’re going down.” It certainly wasn’t a surprise to those who had seen them play: in the Guardian’s report on the draw with Southampton, Patrick Barclay described them as “a graceless, over-physical and, in certain positions, staggeringly incompetent team” that “have been a blot on the First Division’s reputation for most of the season”. A few weeks later Ferguson reported back at St Andrew’s, but a potentially awkward reunion with his former team-mates turned out to be relatively painless. “I’d stayed in touch with some of the Birmingham boys when I was at Coventry, and in fact I’m still in touch with them now,” he says. “It was never an issue with them. The fact I’d scored the goal that Adidas Derek Roy Womens Jersey made the difference was totally irrelevant really. The boys were great, there was no animosity.” Saunders, however, was less keen on having him around, and later that summer, shortly before the player’s 30th birthday, offloaded him to Brighton. That game against Norwich was to be Ferguson’s last in the top flight. “If I remember rightly I was running around the pitch with everyone else at the end of the game saying: ‘Fantastic, Coventry have been saved,’” he remembers. “For me it was just like any other game. You pull your shirt on and you go on the pitch and all you want to do is score goals. You don’t look at anything else. All I wanted to do was get on that pitch and win the game. I was unaware at the time that I’d just relegated myself
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