Plans unveiled for George Curtis and John Sillett statue

Date: 4 Jan 2024

Plans have been unveiled for a statue of Coventry City legends George Curtis and John Sillett!

Proposals are in place for the duo who famously guided Coventry City to FA Cup victory in 1987 to be immortalised with a statue to honour their achievements, with the campaign officially launched today

Fundraising efforts are already underway for the statue, which will be located facing Jimmy Hill Way near the South Entrance of the Coventry Building Society Arena.

Over £135,000 has been raised by donors so far, and now supporters and the wider public are encouraged to donate to get the fundraising effort over the line to ensure that two giants of Coventry City’s rich history get the recognition they truly deserve - with an £87,000 fundraising target.

Supporters can donate online now here.

George Curtis passed away in July 2021 at the age of 82 and John Sillett passed away in November 2021 aged 85.

George was a legendary player at the Club, as a physically powerful centre half and natural leader whose captaincy and consistency were second to none. As Captain, Curtis was a key part of the Sky Blue Revolution that saw the Club rise through the leagues and his appearance total of 543 games from 1956 to 1969 remains the second highest in the Club’s history.

‘Iron Man’ George went on to play a hugely influential role behind the scenes at the Sky Blues from 1972 to 1994 in commercial roles and as Managing Director, and of course as part of the management team that took charge and guided City to top-flight safety at the end of the 1985/86 season and FA Cup victory at Wembley in 1987. George was made a Life President of the Club in 2012.

John Sillett joined City as a player in 1962, arriving from Chelsea as Jimmy Hill’s first signing. His performances at right-back were instrumental in City’s promotion to Division 2. He left in July 1966, having appeared 128 times for Coventry City.

He had spells on the coaching staff in the late 70s and the 80s, and in 1986 was part of the management duo that guided the Club to safety and then took on the role as chief coach as the Sky Blues achieved FA Cup glory in May 1987. Sillett then took sole charge of team affairs, achieving 10th, 7th and 12th place finishes before leaving the Club in November 1990. Later in the decade, he would scout for the Sky Blues and be a matchday host. In 2011, Sillett was made Life President.

The Statue will see the huge achievements of Curtis and Sillett celebrated and will be made by the critically acclaimed UK sculptor Douglas Jennings. Past footballing figures to be immortalised by Douglas include Johnny Haynes, George Cohen and Jack Charlton, and he has also produced statues of other figures including Queen Elizabeth II.

Supporters can donate online now here.

A committee has been formed to guide the fundraising and the statue project, which includes members of the Curtis and Sillett families. Fans are encouraged to donate online, while there will also be fundraising events for the Statue appeal over the coming months.

Joe Elliott, the former Coventry Chairman who is chairing the Committee, said:

“Thanks to the drive of the supporters of the Sky Blues and the families of John and George, we are about to start a fundraising period to collect money to build a statue for John Sillett and George Curtis.

“It is wonderful to be talking about an amazing piece of history that made a City so happy for so long. Winning the FA Cup in 1987 brought the people of Coventry and supporters all over the world together in celebration that still can be felt today. Round by round, victory after victory and then that sunny day at Wembley. Euphoria that night in the streets and homes and even more on the Sunday with a reported 250,000 people trying to catch a glimpse of their heroes.

“Those memories will be brought back to life with this fantastic statue that will recall 1987 and honour two men who gave their all to make Coventry City successful over many years.”

Supporters can donate online now here.

Inger Curtis, George’s Wife, said:

The Curtis family are proud and honoured to have this statue representing George, John and all the Wembley Team for their fantastic achievement in 1987.

“It is a pleasure to be part of the committee working together to help achieve the goal of this wonderful memorial statue of two very special people.”

Neil Sillett, John’s son, said:

“It’s taken a bit of a haul from a lot of people even to get to this stage but with people working as a team, it’s what has enabled us to get to this stage.

“I want to emphasise the word TEAM as that is what Dad & George were all about. Not just them but the small backroom team we had, the staff at the training ground and the stadium, as well as the players and vitally the fans– we were all very much together in those glory days.

“It’s so apt that as the Club continues to progress, this memory in bronze of two of its greatest servants should be commissioned and be a long serving memory and provide a physical legacy to them.”

Doug King, Coventry City Executive Chairman and Owner, said: 

“We are proud to be working with the families and the rest of the committee to make the statue of George and John a reality.

“The 1987 FA Cup win is still talked of today, as well as the wider impact both George and John had on the Football Club in their various roles over many years.

“The Statue being in place at the Arena will further make the stadium feel like our home and ensure it is a reflection for us all of the history and identity of their Club, and is a fitting tribute to two magnificent servants of Coventry City."

Dave Boddy, Coventry City Chief Executive, said:

“We are delighted to announce plans for the statue of George Curtis and John Sillett.

“Their achievements at the Club were significant, as was the presence and personality that they each brought to the Sky Blues over many years.

“The Committee, including the families, has been working hard to get to this stage as we launch the fundraising campaign.

“The FA Cup win remains Coventry City’s greatest day, and George and John richly deserve the recognition of having their statue at the Arena.”

Paul Michael, Managing Director of Coventry Building Society Arena, said:

“This statue recognising two of the most important figures in Coventry City’s history and commemorating the club’s finest hour will be a fantastic addition to the stadium, and certainly enhance the match-day experience for fans.

“We will be working with the club to ensure the statue will be in a prime location for everyone to see and enjoy.”  

Pete Griffiths, a lifelong Sky Blues fan on the committee, said:

“As supporters of the club for almost 45 years, the 1987 cup final experience was a life changing one - not just for individual supporters of Coventry City but for the City itself. Anyone who was a fan will never forget the cup run, from the freezing cold home tie with Bolton to the away ties at Manchester United, Stoke and Sheffield Wednesday. 

“As a 16 year old I was lucky enough to get tickets, with my late Dad,  for the semi-final v Leeds and the Final itself and have memories that will last for my whole life. How does one say thank you to the people who made all of this possible? This statue is the perfect way to mark forever the contribution of George and John to our football club and our City. Please give generously and let’s make this a reality.”

Image Credits: Coventry City Football Club