This is Highfield Road is an online sound archive created by artist Duncan Whitley. It documents the sounds of the crowd during the last matches at Coventry City’s inner-city Highfield Road stadium prior to the club’s move to the Ricoh Arena in late 2005. Visitors can search and listen to binaural sound recordings captured on Highfield Road’s West Terrace during the games leading up to the final competitive match at Highfield Road, a 6-2 victory over Derby County on 30th April 2005.
The archive consists of a total of 141 sound recordings, edited from longer recordings documenting matches against Leicester City, Cardiff City, Brighton and Hove Albion, Nottingham Forest, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Derby County. It captures the sequence of the last five matches of Coventry City F.C. at Highfield Road during the 2004 to 2005 season, plus a “bonus” match against local rivals Leicester City in October 2004.
The recordings can be listened to by browsing the match timelines, or via the advanced search page where you can search the archive for chants sung by the home or away fans, or even search for events on the pitch, such as goals or penalties. For more information, read up here on how to use the archive.
The Highfield Road stadium was home to Coventry City Football Club for 106 years. Nestled amongst the terraced housing of the Hillfields neighbourhood of Coventry, the ground was officially opened on 9th September 1899 for a league match against Shrewsbury Town, which was attended by 3,000 fans. Highfield Road transformed radically through the generations, from the building of the Spion Kop (later to become the East Stand) using waste concrete from the redevelopment of Coventry’s tram track in 1922, to the conversion of the stadium into the country’s first all-seater stadium in 1981. It miraculously survived the intense aerial bombardments of November 1940 which reduced much of the city to ruins, although three direct hits destroyed the pitch itself.
In the 1960s both the stadium and the club were radically developed as part of the Sky Blue revolution jointly led by chairman Derrick Robins and manager Jimmy Hill. In 1967 the club was promoted to the First Division for the first time in its history, when the stadium’s record attendance of 51,455 was set in a title-deciding match against rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers, billed by Jimmy Hill as “Midlands Match of the Century”. The Sky Blues remained in the top division for an impressive 34 years, becoming founder members of the Premier League in 1992, but were eventually relegated to the Championship in 2001.
By this time the club had sold Highfield Road outright, as part of ambitious plans to move to a new stadium in the outskirts of the city. Coventry City eventually played their final match at Highfield Road in April 2005, before moving to the Ricoh Arena for the 2005 to 2006 season.
The Highfield Road stadium, now demolished to make way for a housing estate, is still considered a spiritual home to many Sky Blues supporters. It is the site of innumerable and unmeasurable collective and personal memories, the ephemera of 106 years of football and the passion sparked by it.
With a move to the new 32,600 capacity Ricoh Arena around the corner, Coventry City started the 2004 to 2005 Championship campaign with aspirations of promotion to the Premiership. The club had sacked manager Eric Black following the penultimate match of the 2003 to 2004 season, a 2-5 away victory at Gillingham, installing ex-Sunderland manager Peter Reid in his place in spite of Black’s popularity with the fans. Chairman Mike McGinnity explained, “We only want Premier League football. I believe with his record Peter will give us a great chance of achieving that. We all know in football there are no guarantees but it’s a gamble I’m taking.”
By January 2005 Coventry were sat in the bottom-half of the table with relegation looking more likely than promotion, and Peter Reid resigned from the post. Micky Adams replaced Reid in late January, having stepped down from his job at local rivals Leicester City in October of 2004. By the time the Sky Blues hosted Cardiff at Highfield Road on 12th March 2005, Adams had only managed a single point from six games, and the team sat two points outside of the relegation zone. The remaining home matches included games against relegation contenders Nottingham Forest and Brighton and Hove Albion, a derby match against Wolverhampton Wanderers, and a final, surreal and spectacular home match against Derby County in which Coventry secured their place in the Championship with a 6-2 win over the Rams.