John Sillett

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John Sillett
Personal information
Full name John Charles Sillett[1]
Date of birth (1936-07-20) 20 July 1936 (age 83)
Place of birth Southampton, England
Playing position Full back
Youth career
1953–1954 Southampton
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1954–1962 Chelsea 93 (0)
1962–1966 Coventry City 109 (1)
1966–1968 Plymouth Argyle 38 (1)
Total 240 (2)
Teams managed
1974–1978 Hereford United
1986–1990 Coventry City
1991–1992 Hereford United
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

John Charles Sillett (born 20 July 1936) is an English football player and manager. He played for Chelsea, Coventry City and Plymouth Argyle. He won the Championship with Chelsea in 1955, playing alongside his brother Peter Sillett. He was manager of Coventry City from 1986 until 1990, winning the FA Cup in 1987, and also had two spells as manager of Hereford United.

Early life[edit]

John Sillett was born in Southampton, Hampshire, on 20 July 1936. His father, Charlie Sillett was a footballer, playing for Southampton between 1931 and 1938. He is the younger brother of Peter Sillett, also a footballer.

Playing career[edit]

John and Peter Sillett both follow their father in signing for Southampton, although John never played for the first team. The brothers moved on to Chelsea as teenagers, where John won the First Division title in 1954-55. He played over 100 games for Chelsea, scoring once. Sillett left Chelsea after the arrival of Tommy Docherty as manager, joining Coventry City in June 1962, who were at the time being managed by Jimmy Hill. Sillett helped Coventry to win the Third Division title in 1963–64, but his playing days were limited after suffering a back problem.[2] In July 1966, he joined Plymouth Argyle, where he ended his playing career.

Managerial career[edit]

Hereford United[edit]

After retirement from playing, Sillett moved into coaching. He was appointed Bristol City youth coach in 1968 under manager Alan Dicks, a former Chelsea and Coventry colleague, and took the team to the FA Youth Cup semi-finals. From 1970 to 1974, Sillett was first team coach and played a significant part in the development of the team that got promoted to the top flight in 1976. In June 1974, he was appointed manager of Hereford United.

During Sillett's first season, Hereford finished in a mid-table position, an improvement on the previous season's 18th place. In 1975–76, the team won the Third Division title, with the prolific Dixie McNeil scoring 35 goals. A year later they were relegated, having won only eight matches and finishing bottom of the Second Division. Sillett initially stayed on as manager, but resigned in February 1978.

Coventry City[edit]

Jimmy Hill invited Sillett to join the Coventry coaching staff in 1979. He left the club in 1984 after a falling-out with manager Bobby Gould, but returned in 1985 under Gould's successor, Don Mackay. When Mackay departed in 1986 with just three games of the season left, Sillett was appointed chief coach alongside George Curtis. They managed two wins and avoided relegation on the final day of the season.

Under Sillett, Coventry reached the 1987 FA Cup Final against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, winning the game 3–2. TV commentator John Motson is quoted as saying it was the most entertaining final he ever witnessed. Sillett’s efforts in guiding Coventry to their first ever major trophy was rewarded with promotion to first team manager. Two months later, he made his first major signing for Coventry. David Speedie was signed from Chelsea for just under £800,000, with Sillett quoted as saying, "Coventry City have shopped at Woolworth’s for too long, from now on we're shopping at Harrods".

Under Sillett, Coventry played attractive football and kept clear of relegation battles and almost returned to Wembley in 1990, but lost to Nottingham Forest in a League Cup semi-final. Two years after winning the trophy, the club were knocked out of the competition by non-League Sutton United in 1989, although the league form was impressive with the team lying as high as 3rd in the table in March.

In November 1990, Sillett was sacked as Coventry manager. He received the news via a phone call from Chairman John Poynton whilst in bed at home feeling unwell. In his four full seasons in charge the league placings were tenth, tenth, seventh and twelfth.

Later career[edit]

In 1991, Sillett returned to Hereford as manager, but left at the end of his first full season. This was his last major involvement with football, although he did some scouting work the England national team under Sven-Göran Eriksson. He also worked on Central TV’s weekly football coverage.


As a player[edit]

Coventry City

As a manager[edit]

Coventry City
Hereford United
  • Div 3 Champions: 1975–76


  1. ^ "John Sillett". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  2. ^ Hereford Utd Memory Lane Archived 4 December 2009 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]