Former Coventry City players Noel Whelan and David Busst were the guest speakers at the Coventry City Diamond Club Autumn Lunch today at the Ricoh Arena.
One hundred and sixty six members of the Supporter Club for City supporters with over fifty years service and their guests, gave a standing ovation to Joe Elliott and his wife Grace on their arrival in recognition for all Joe’s work not only with Coventry City FC over the years and the Diamond Club but for all the charities he is involved with, in the city of Coventry.
“Mr Coventry” as he is affectionately known by many people in our city, thanked everyone for their support and speaking as the City supporter he is, said that Andy Thorn and his team deserved a pat on the back for their efforts in getting the team playing well in not the easiest of times.
One of Joe’s roles is that of Chairman of Sky Blues In The Community and former Sky Blue David Busst who is the main man at SBITC, spoke about the excellent work they have been doing since 1998.
They have been involved with 263 projects over the last eight months in a wide range of areas, covering everything from disability to obesity and giving people the chance to wear a Coventry City kit that they might not have had.
SBITC have held some 5940 hours of sessions delivered with one of their newer projects is aimed at the Over 55’s and is called “Extra Time”
During lunch, a number of guests were announced including Coventry Music Historian Pete Chambers, Barbara Hill wife of Peter, plus former players including Ronnie Farmer, Brian Nicholas and special guest Noel Whelan who admitted that he started off as a Rugby League fan living across the road from the Leeds Rhinos Stadium.
He spoke about his time at Leeds, playing with the likes of Eric Cantona, David Batty and Gordon Strachan where he felt Leeds was a good club to learn your trade.
He had joined Leeds aged sixteen and just under five years later, signed for Coventry after Gordon Strachan had pushed Ron Atkinson to sign him.
Whelan said: ”It was at Coventry where my career really started and I wish I had stayed longer,” after making over 170 appearances and scoring plenty of goals. He admitted that Gordon Strachan was a saviour to him and he had spoken to him last week.
After moves to Middlesbrough, Millwall, Aberdeen and Dunfermline where his career ended with a back injury, Noel is now employed by Derby County’s Academy as a coach and hopes one day to be a manager at Championship level.
“I believe I can go straight into the Championship as a manager,” he said. “I’ve played under a wide variety of managers and my style of management is getting the players to play for you.”
As for who will do well in the Championship this season, Whelan said: “The Championship is wide open and it is too early to say who will go up but it will be very close as there are no runaway leaders this season but hopefully, Coventry will finish in the top half.”
Whelan received some good applause before the members and guests enjoyed the bingo and raffle and another excellent Diamond Club lunch came to a close.