FA Cup winning captain Brian Kilcline is a figure that will remain synonymous with Sky Blues fans as the man who led the club to their only major cup success.
On a rare visit back to Coventry, Kilcline took time out of his busy schedule and met Observer sports editor Steve Carpenter to look back on old times, discuss the current team and give his thoughts on an emotional weekend for everyone involved with the club.
AS WE both sat down to start the interview, Kilcline is approached by another star-studded fan who wants a picture and an autograph.
Despite seemingly being asked by everyone throughout the entire day, ‘Killer’ calmly stands up, poses for the camera and makes another young fan’s day by having a chat.
I asked if he ever gets irritated by City fans approaching him and asking for his signature as he took his seat again. “I get that at all of the clubs I go back to,” he joked.
“I don’t realise how much I am liked by fans because they don’t see me so often. If you see people all of the time you get a bit complacent with it. If you see someone once in a blue moon it’s a bit different.
“I played football, I loved playing football and people got pleasure out of it. If anyone comes up to me and asks for an autograph I’m not going to tell them so sod off.
“I was just a working class boy who was good at something and loved it, so in a funny kind of way when I meet fans and sign autographs it’s my way of saying thank you.”
Kilcline was back in Coventry for the club’s annual Legends Day, but he also returned to pay his respects to fellow Sky Blues legend Jimmy Hill at a special celebration inside St Michael’s Cathedral last Friday evening.
As well as reuniting with former team mates, Kilcline took the opportunity to return to Walsgrave, where he lived during his time in the city, and he admits a lot has changed since moving away 25 years ago.
“The Jimmy Hill service was very touching. It was a great way to celebrate the life of Jimmy Hill, but I also got a chance to meet John Sillett and George Curtis again.
“It’s been a hell of a long time since I last saw George and that made my night.
“Then I came to the Ricoh the next day so I ended up driving to a few places. I won’t go into what’s happened to me since I’ve been here but Coventry has changed so much in so many different ways.
“Coventry itself has changed. The people have always stayed the same, but the place just seems so much bigger to me and I don’t recognise it.
“On Friday evening with my wife I went and drove round where I lived when I was here before and even that’s changed. I didn’t really know where I was going!”
Back to on-field matters, having waited for this opportunity to chat face-to-face with one of Coventry City’s most iconic figures, I was intrigued to know what the former skipper thought of the current squad following a romping 6-0 victory over Bury.
“It was a nice game of football to watch,” he said after a stint of commentary in the press box, although he did add he will not putting that onto his CV.
“Somebody asked me who my man-of-the-match was and I thought that was a very difficult decision because I think it was a very good team performance. That’s the thing that stuck out to me.
“There’s no one individual that I thought really stuck out. There was no player that played poorly.
“Adam Armstrong played well throughout the entire game. He was a pain in the arse for the two big lads at the back and he got his just rewards in the second half.
“On Legends Day it was great to come back and watch one of my former clubs play like they did and get a result like that.”
It proved to be a timely return to Coventry for Kilcline who witnessed a first win in six league matches as the Sky Blues got their League One promotion campaign back on track.
And although Kilcline refuses to be drawn on the reasons for his former club’s downfall, he is confident that Tony Mowbray is man to lead them back up the football pyramid.
“Tony Mowbray is a manager who knows what he wants and he’s old fashioned. He’s been in the game a long time so he knows how the game is ran.
“He’s ‘old school’ yet at the same time he’s got a bit of ‘new school’ about him too. I like him as a manager and I think he can do very well here.
“The club is where it is now for a reason. I’ve never been one to take an interest in the politics or anything like that. I never will do because I don’t understand it and in a selfish way I don’t want to understand it.
“I’ve seen other clubs go down and come back up again. Even when I was here we had three years where we struggled and we just managed to stay up, but then we went on to win the cup.”
Another queue of fans wait to catch a glimpse of Kilcline and before he departed, I asked him what Coventry as a city and football club meant to him.
He took a deep breath, looked me straight in the eye, and added: “I’m a very lucky man. I’ve been in four places in my football life and each time I’ve been in the right place at the right time and with the right people.
“One of those four times was with Coventry in 1987 and winning the FA Cup at Wembley.
“My face will always stick out for Coventry City fans because I lifted some silverware but that day there was 11 players there. It was a similar sort of the performance that we saw on Saturday.
“There was no superstars, it was just a very good team performance.
“I think that’s what Coventry need to get back into, getting the team playing as a team – that’s what we did.”
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