Sunderland AFC Throwback: Coventry City on Sky Sports, Again

Matthew Keeling reflects on past encounters with Coventry City, a remarkably over-televised game of football.

Few things make you feel as warm and fuzzy inside as the prospect of a trip to Coventry City’s Coventry Building Society Arena. And when I say few things, I mean pretty much everything. The prospect of a trip to the West Midlands for a 12:30pm kick off is probably not one that sets pulses racing, but our friends at Sky Sports sure love televising Sunderland v Coventry City.

Flick back to the summer. Our long-awaited return to the Championship arrived warmly with a home game against, yes, Coventry City. And it was televised, of course. On a Sunday. At noon. Thanks for that, Sky.

It was a decent game to be fair, we played well and we were all impressed by Coventry, in particular by their excellent striker whose name I can’t spell. A good point to start off what has been a more than decent season for both clubs so far, and an indication that the away fixture this weekend will be far from a walk in the park. I’m not talking about that though. Someone else can talk about the game.

More televised encounters with our friends in sky blue have taken place in recent years, including the away fixture in the season that didn’t finish. You know, back when the world ended?

That game, played at Birmingham City’s St. Andrews after Coventry picked the venue out of the “What stadium should we play in this season?” hat, ended a decent run of form for Sunderland as we lost 1-0. On a Sunday. At noon.

Out first season in League One, and my only trip to Coventry (a), saw us rewarded with another near-noon televised kick off, this one arriving at 12.30pm on a Saturday. Lovely Lee Cattermole put us ahead but we would of course go on to draw 1-1, as we did in 37 other league games that season.

It became clear on this particular occasion that Tom Walsh has his work cut out for Cans & Megabus. Coventry play (sometimes) at the most inaccessible location it is possible to imagine. It takes ages to get away from the ground if you aren’t driving, thanks to the fabulous two-carriage train that rolls along once an hour and, of course, you also have to find a way past people of a certain age getting themselves all annoyed at a statue.

What is quite funny is that, on one of the few occasions Sky haven’t chosen this high-calibre fixture for TV, Sunderland and Coventry City played out one of the most hilarious games of football I’ve ever seen. We lost 5-4 at home in 2019, and it was one of those games where it became clear that “hmm, we aren’t getting promoted here are we?”

Will Grigg did actually score for us that day, as did Max Power. Lee Burge did his best to help Sunderland (he was playing for Coventry), but we contrived to concede five and Jack Baldwin had the worst day of his life.

Oh, and there was another recent home game which finished 1-1. Benji Kimpioka – yes, the Benji Kimpioka, – scored, sending us all home thoroughly miserable as Phil Parkinson was our manager and that last-minute equaliser ensured he would remain so for the foreseeable. How many words is that? Oh good, about 500.

Basically, what I’m saying is: Coventry City v Sunderland should have its own channel on Sky Sports.

If you are for some reason going, enjoy the trip to the Midlands and, as Sky have picked it, know that it will probably be boring. 1-1 I reckon, a nice header from Danny Batth. Hang on, what are you wanting a prediction for? You know I get everything wrong.