|Opening Day Of The Season 1982 - Coventry City|
Thu 19th Jul 2012 11:11
It had been a summer of discontent for Saints with the departure of Kevin Keegan, however another England legend was about to make his debut.
Initially Saints fans were buzzing in the summer of 1982, a second consecutive top 7 finish and qualification for the UEFA Cup made many think that perhaps this would be the season that Saints could put their experience to good measure, however what they didnt know was that behind the scenes all was not well, Keegan had fallen out with McMenemy and wanted away, but the supporters were oblivious to this especially when the news came that the club had signed the undisputable number 1 goalkeeper in the World, Peter Shilton, surely this was a notice of intent for the coming year.
Many supporters felt so and season tickets were sold in great numbers and then the bombshell came that Keegan was off to Newcastle and even to this day there are many older supporters who feel that the Club conned them into buying season tickets and hid this until the majority of the sales had been completed, Keegan himself spoke in his biography that this was certainly not his intention, his discontent came because he felt that the club had failed to strengthen in February when a league title was a diosstict possibility and a falling out when the manager accused the team of cheating in a home loss to Villa in April and refused to absolve Keegan who felt he always gave 100%, in truth McMenemy was caught in a corner, on one had Keegan was probably right, but on the other its a team game and you have to win or lose as a team and that includes the plaudits or the blame.
So when Saints travelled to Coventry it was without Keegan, but with Peter Shilton in goal, who was joined by fellow debutants, Denis Rofe and Justin Fashanu who was on loan.
Without Keegan Saints werent the draw they were and only around 1,000 or so visiting supporters made the trip in a half empty stadium with only 10, 356 in it, although the Sky Blues were poorly supported back then and the previous season even with Keegan it only attracted a fraction over 12,000.
In that previous season the two fixtures had incredibly yielded 16 goals, a 4-2 win for Coventry at Highfield Road and a 5-5 draw at the Dell and it seemed both sides had learnt their lessons at the back, the game was decided in the 73rd minute when Whitton scored for the home side and Saints couldnt seem to find any answer in the bright sunshine.
It would be a long haul for Saints in this season, indeed they would be in or around the relegation zone till late November, but McMenemy was already building yet another side based around the youthful talens of the likes of Danny Wallace, Steve Moran and Mark Wright, more good times would not be far away.
NB the home game with Coventry would be a 1-1 draw, notable only for one of the fasted goals at the Dell Mark Hately's opener for the visitors after only 14seconds, so fans were not to be treated to another 16 goals in the two fixtures, indeed the season after it would be 0-0 at highfield Road, but balance was resored with n 8-2 home win for Saints in the return, Stuart Pearce playing for Coventry that day seems to have harboured a grudge towards us ever since.
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