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THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES.

Byline: By Terry Phillips South Wales Echo

Alan Cork is back on duty at Ninian Park for the first time in more than three years tomorrow.

The former Wimbledon and Sheffield United striker has popped back for the occasional scouting visit, but this time he returns as part of the Coventry City coaching staff.

Cork is back with pal Micky Adams, the Sky Blues manager, and together they are planning Coventry's first Coca-Cola Championship away win of the season.

There are bitter-sweet memories for Cork in Wales. The two clubs he has managed are Cardiff City and Swansea City, but be was sacked by both.

'I have fond memories of Wales, particularly my time at Cardiff City,' says Cork, axed by Swansea in 1998 and the Bluebirds during February 2002.

'Management is a stupid game to be in. The average time a manager spends in any one job seems to be two years and that's often just not long enough.

'That's all part and parcel of football, though, and maybe part of the reason we all stick with it.'

Cork spent eight months in charge at Swansea following the dismissal of Adams, who was only in the job for 13 days, and then seven months at Ninian Park before he was sacked with Lennie Lawrence taking over.

'I have a lot of good friends at Cardiff City, people I have stayed in contact with,' says Cork. 'That includes Sam Hammam. He didn't ring for a couple of weeks after I left Cardiff, but everything is back to normal now.

'I still speak to him occasionally and I also chat to Steve Borley, Kim Walker, George Wood, David Temme and a few others.

'Kav (Graham Kavanagh) still keeps in touch and I sent him a text when I saw a picture of him tackling Alan Shearer. I just said 'dreams do come true' and he replied almost immediately.'

Cork has watched Cardiff City twice this season. He saw the Bluebirds thump Crewe 6-1 and was at Carrow Road in midweek when Cardiff went down 1-0.

'Crewe were poor at Cardiff,' says Cork. 'I've spoken to Dario Gradi since and he totally agreed.

'Then Cardiff did okay at Norwich, but lost out.

'It's a strange League this season. Everybody is capable of beating any other team.

'Only Sheffield United and Reading have shown any real consistency.

'Having said that, Cardiff City have done well. Dave Jones has done a terrific job.

'At the start of this season everybody was saying Cardiff would struggle. Some even suggested they may be in relegation trouble.

'But they have signed good quality players like Darren Purse. Jason Koumas, too, is terrific. Give him the ball and he can play. He can cause real damage to the opposition.

'Cameron Jerome is another one, a gem of a striker.

'There were plenty of Premiership scouts at Norwich City in midweek and they were all there to watch Jerome. Alan Curbishley from Charlton Athletic was there, Spurs, Chelsea and more.

'Jerome is a tremendous talent and has the ability to make it at the top level. Cardiff will want to keep him if they can, I know, but there is a lot of interest.

'I'll watch developments with great interest.'

Cork has worked with Coventry manager Adams at five clubs - Swansea City, Brighton, Nottingham Forest, Leicester City and now the Sky Blues.

The pair split when Cork joined Cardiff City, becoming one of the five managers who have served in the Hammam era - the late Billy Ayre, Bobby Gould, Cork, Lawrence and Jones.

Tomorrow Cork is back at Ninian Park in the visitors dug-out.

Coventry badly need an away win, but Cork says: 'It will be good to be out there at Ninian Park again, even as an away coach.'
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 5, 2005
Words:631
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