Sky Blue Heaven


Painting by Kathleen Leahy (Forrest)

Photography by Anthony Leahy


Sky Blue Heaven Painting of Coventy City FA Cup Winners Celebrations 1987 by Kathleen Leahy (Forrest)

This photograph was signed by players at Ryton Training Ground when the painting was presented to the club after being exhibited at the Herbert Art Gallery.


Kathleen and Amber Leahy (insert)




CYRILLE REGIS — the powerful England international left Highfield Road four years after the Wembley triumph to join rivals Aston Villa. He later pitched up at Wolves, seeing out a career that spanned 20 years with spells at Wycombe Wanderers and Chester City. He is a born-again Christian and was awarded the MBE two years ago after involvement in charity work. Initially, he worked for himself as a football agent, with Blackburn Rovers’ Jason Roberts one of his key clients, before joining the Stellar agency.

MICHAEL GYNN — the energetic midfielder spent 10 years at Coventry before finishing his career with a season at Stoke City. He scored important goals during the club’s FA Cup run, particularly during the semi-final win over Leeds. He became a postman, his round taking in Coventry’s training ground at Ryton-on-Dunsmore. He still appears at the club, as he works for the Press Association.

KEITH HOUCHEN — this was his year. He scored the winner in the fourth round against Manchester United at Old Trafford and netted in the final. It remains BBC commentator John Motson’s favourite FA Cup final goal and his header will forever be synonymous with that triumph. He went on to play in Scotland with Hibs, returning to play for and later manage Hartlepool United. Latterly, has coached for Middlesbrough, among others.

LLOYD McGRATH — the Birmingham-born midfielder was a quiet man whose eforts were key to the Sky Blues’ success. ‘Glenn Hoddle now knows all about Lloyd McGrath,’ said Coventry co-manager John Sillett at the final whistle. It was also his cross that Gary Mabbutt deflected into the net for the winner. McGrath stayed with the club but suffered a series of knee injuries. In 1994 he moved to Portsmouth, where he stayed until his retirement in 1997. Still lives in Coventry, where he runs soccer schools for children and owns a sports and social club.

TREVOR PEAKE — another quiet man, Nuneaton-born Peake moved to Luton Town where he saw out his playing days before returning to join the Sky Blues as part of Gordon Strachan’s backroom team. After becoming chief scout, the centre half was made redundant after Coventry were relegated from the Premier League. He was offered a route back into the game at Leicester City when former team-mate Micky Adams was in charge. He remains at the Walkers Stadium as assistant academy director.

BRIAN KILCLINE — ‘Killer’, with his long tresses, was a cult hero, both at Highfield Road and then at Newcastle United, where he joined Kevin Keegan’s early Nineties Tyneside revival. He was substituted at Wembley for Graham Rodger near the end of normal time. He drifted into the non-League game. Spent time in the building trade in Spain and is now a property developer.

STEVE SEDGLEY — was an unused substitute in the 1987 final. He made a much more important contribution four years later when he played alongside Gary Mabbutt as Spurs beat Forest at Wembley. After leaving White Hart Lane, he first joined Ipswich and then Wolves where he finished his career after suffering with knee injuries. Latterly, he was employed as a youth coach at Luton Town until 2007, when he was deemed surplus to requirements when Kevin Blackwell took over the side.

DAVE BENNETT — Man of the Match in the final. After Clive Allen’s early goal, Bennett dragged the Sky Blues back to level terms. He also provided the cross for Keith Houchen’s diving header. It was to be the highlight of his career. After leaving two years later for Sheffield Wednesday and then Swindon Town, he twice broke his leg, forcing his premature retirement from the game. Later worked in a warehouse.

DAVE PHILLIPS — left Coventry two seasons after their Wembley heroics and was transferred to Norwich City for a then club record £550,000. Played for Norwich during their most successful season in the Premier League when they finished third and qualified for Europe. Picked up 62 caps for Wales and played professionally until 2000. Is now part of Derby County’s academy staff.

STEVE OGRIZOVIC — went on to play another 13 years for the Sky Blues, setting the club record for appearances with 601. Has been part of the fabric of the club ever since, working in the academy and as caretaker manager after Roland Nilsson’s departure eight years ago. He is now the club’s goalkeeping coach.

NICK PICKERING — picked up one England cap, but never truly made his mark at Highfield Road after starting as a youngster with Sunderland. He went on to play for Derby, Darlington and Burnley before a serious foot injury finished his career. Was involved on Wearside as a radio pundit and is believed to be working as a postman.

GRAHAM RODGER — the substitute’s contribution at Wembley should not be forgotten. He set Lloyd McGrath off on the run that ended with the Bennett cross deflected into his own net by Mabbutt. After a brief spell with Luton, Rodger signed for Grimsby, a club he was to play for and manage, for the best part of the next decade. He is still employed by them as sports in the community officer.

GREG DOWNS — was in the twilight of his career when he picked up his winner’s medal. A three-year spell with Hereford United preceded him dropping into non-League football, which he combined with a role with Norfolk police. Downs was involved with non-League club Wroxham until three years ago.

JOHN SILLETT — invited to become chief coach after Don Mackay left Highfield Road in 1986. He was to galvanise the Sky Blues, as he had done in putting Hereford United on the footballing map some years earlier. He remained as the club’s boss until 1990. For years, he gave speeches to corporate guests at Highfield Road during Bryan Richardson’s spell as chairman. He is still wheeled out by Coventry and footage of him dancing around the asphalt track is one of the enduring memories of that Wembley day.

GEORGE CURTIS — had worked his way up through the ranks, becoming the club’s managing director before being offered a more football related role alongside Sillett during the year in which Coventry won the trophy. He retained a directorship for several years before retiring. Like Sillett, he still lives in the area.

By Neil Moxley March 2009






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