Tue. Apr 13th, 2021

To get to my office in the school I worked at for more years than I care to remember, I would have to walk through the dining room. It was a journey I took several times a day and as a result I got to know the dinner ladies well. And as I did so, I would often find myself the target of a barrage of good natured banter, not always the sort you’d want the pupils to hear, but always well meant.

These ladies were extremely loyal and without really realising it, they added much to my love of the school.

You see, it might well be that a visit to my office meant a difficult meeting with an irate parent or a tricky conversation with another teacher, angry at having been wound up by an abusive pupil, failing to see that it might well be the result of him or her handling the situation inappropriately. On such occasions I’d be on edge, wondering what line to take to diffuse a potentially volatile situation. The interventions from the said ladies always lightened that walk to the office ensuring I was much calmer, and therefore far more relaxed, when I dealt with the problem.

The success of the school was very dependent on everyone working together. Outstanding Ofsted judgements weren’t just the result of outstanding teachers and pupils. In their own way, the dinner ladies were just as important in creating the ethos of the school as any of the senior leaders.

It is the same of any business. And Coventry RFC is no exception. What happens on the pitch is clearly paramount, but so is what happens behind the scenes. My only experience of the workings of the club is on a match day, so apologies for highlighting just three individuals who, for me, help make up the Coventry ‘family’; three individuals who add to my enjoyment of the day. I know there are many others. I rather suspect that they are all voulunteers, and I’m sure none of them have inkling that their efforts are so appreciated (and that’s my fault, alone) Perhaps this might redress that. I apologise in advance that I only know one of their names.

The first is the guy on the turnstiles who crosses off the names of the season ticket holders as they enter the ground. Because we arrive so early, there’s no queue and he always greets us warmly and has taken the trouble to remember our names. That’s it, nothing more. But it does mean that even though in all reality we are just a couple of punters arriving on a wet and windy Saturday afternoon, we arrive feeling appreciated. Small thing, but it makes a difference.

The second is the person who oversees the overflow carpark. Now we come to the ground by train, so we have no reason to speak to him at all. However, as we walk around the pitch (several times) prior to kick off, he’ll always say a warm hello, make some comment on the likely result of the game, or express envy at the burger and chips we’re demolishing as we pass-by. His friendliness costs nothing, but it makes a difference.

Finally, there’s the chap in the main carpark who takes the parking fees and generally oversees what’s going on there…I think he goes by the name of ‘Geordie’. I’ve never really spoken to him but for the past few years he’s always kept a space clear for my mum who, on account of her age, arrives later to the ground than most. It means that she doesn’t have to worry about where to park get involved in some difficult manoeuvring in and out of tight spaces; she also gets pole position when it comes to leaving after the game. He chats to her and I know she is extremely grateful for his small act of thoughtfulness. Had it not been for Geordie, she had to park some distance from the ground, she probably would have had to stop coming. Not a big thing by any means, but it makes a difference. A huge one in her case.

I know there are many others…the office staff, Eric Richardson, the bar team…all have been warmly praised by supporters on the messageboard. This could have been about any of them…

As the club continues to grow both on and off the field, I truly hope it retains this warm regard for its own that has served it so well up to now

By Tim

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