It’s a highly topical subject at the moment, and we’ll ignore that particular elephant in the room.
It was the early 1960s when Coventry City Football Club moved their training base to Ryton. Their now legendary manager Jimmy Hill wanted to improve training conditions for the players, and help preserve the Highfield Road pitch, so some land was bought in Ryton for the purpose.
The Sky Blue Connexion
The building in the photo was also instigated by Hill, this time shortly after he had taken over as Chairman of the club. In July 1980 star striker Ian Wallace was sold to Nottingham Forest for the then astronomical fee of £1.25 million. This cash went some way to financing the building of the Sky Blue Connexion, a sporting and leisure complex of considerable size. The centre wasn’t a success however, and some years later the then Chairman John Poynton sold the Connexion for a fraction of its initial build cost. The club then built the Sky Blue Lodge by its training ground to accomodate youth trainees. You used to be able to watch training from the side of the road, but in recent years the club have erected a fence around the pitches.
A personal recollection
I was very young at the time, but shortly after the club had won the FA Cup I was playing pool with a friend, when the entire squad walked in, with manager John Sillett! Awestruck, we said nothing (how I regret that now) but I distinctly remember Dave Bennett ordering pie and chips – diets weren’t as regimented for professional footballers as they are now! Central midfielder Micky Gynn kept a connection with the area after his retirement, becoming postman for Ryton.