Big Ron suffers big problems
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Monday 06 November 1995
Coventry City 2 Tottenham Hotspur 3
At Coventry, you can buy Big Ron mugs and Big Ron T-shirts. It is that merchandise, rather than generic club souvenirs, that the Highfield Road scoreboard advertises. You can even call Big Ron on an 0891 number, although on Saturday's evidence, you could be in for a rather terse conversation.
Although the personality cult is still alive and well, the personality itself is showing the strain. Atkinson has ridden out any number of crises with a quick one-liner and a flash of teeth and gold jewellery, but he has surely never resembled his namesake, the tight-lipped, ashen-faced Neasden manager, Ron Knee, as closely as he did after this defeat.
Coventry have been in worse positions than this later in the season, but the prospect of entering the club's annals as the man who took them down after all manner of unlikely characters had kept them up over the past 20-odd years is siphoning away the familiar bonhomie.
If a tight-lipped, ashen-faced man can also be incandescent, then Atkinson was. "We've thrown it away with defending that was nothing short of scandalous," he scowled, following up with heavy hints that heads would roll and that new faces would be brought in.
The nearest thing to a wisecrack was telling a radio reporter to "mind your own business" over what he said to his side at half-time.
Although Coventry's marking left much to be desired, however, Atkinson's angry analysis does less than justice to some impressive attacking play from a Tottenham team beginning to re-establish itself as a force.
After going behind to a cleverly made goal by Dion Dublin, Spurs, who surrendered a two-goal lead in the Coca-Cola Cup tie here 10 days earlier, scored three - all, in their different ways, finely constructed.
With Chris Armstrong starting to produce some good touches and Ruel Fox looking a Tottenham natural on the right, Teddy Sheringham has the support that he clearly feared he would lack this season and the side is thoroughly dangerous going forward.
Gerry Francis, although several shades less ashen than his counterpart, was less impressed with their defensive work. Their lack of assurance at the back brought Coventry a second goal and gave them the prospect of snatching an equaliser until the very end.
Maybe that would have put a faint smile on Big Ron's mug, even if one of City's grimmer battles still lies ahead.
Goals: Dublin (7) 1-0; Fox (20) 1-1; Sheringham (25) 1-2; Howells (46) 1-3; Williams (48) 2-3.
Coventry City (4-4-2): Filan; Borrows (Pickering, 74), Busst, Rennie, Hall; Telfer, Williams, Richardson, Salako; Dublin, Lamptey (Isaias, 74). Substitute not used: Gould (gk).
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Austin, Mabbutt, Campbell, Wilson; Fox, Howells, Dozzell, Rosenthal (Calderwood, 70); Sheringham, Armstrong. Substitutes not used: McMahon, Thorstvedt (gk).
Referee: J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees).
Latest in Sport
Kevin Garside: Manchester United may have history and tradition but, as David Moyes never realised, a big-time manager always bends such things to his will
Louis van Gaal denies problem with Wilfried Zaha despite Manchester United forward being given no game time
Manchester United latest: Angel Di Maria move no closer as Juan Mata emerges as Louis van Gaal's favoured No 10 as prospect of signing
Arsenal transfer news: Versatile Calum Chambers is a 'gamble', admits Arsene Wenger as Arsenal spending passes £50m
Tour de France 2014: Vincenzo Nibali confirmed as champion as he puts Italy back on the map with triumph
- 1 Secret Cinema: Why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 4 Thatcher ‘was warned of Tory child sex party claims’
- 5 The Simpsons Family Guy trailer: First look at crossover episode after Comic-Con debut
The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: MECHANICAL D...
£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...
£21000 - £23000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Copywriter - London As a Copywrite...
£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: As a result of our successf...