Captain Fantastic and the blue and white shirt cowboys
…with apologies to Elton John. I’ve never been his greatest fan, but I bought the LP (I know, I know…) back in the mid 70’s to impress a girl I rather fancied at the time…loved the girl and actually secretly quite liked the music, although it was the only album of his I was destined ever to buyBut its title is one that sticks with you…And (yes, I bet you know where this is heading) Wayne Evans is going to be Cov’s own Captain Fantastic, even if his appointment was rather poorly handled by Cov at the time. I do still feel a bit embarrassed for Cliffie http://coventryrfc.me/2015/08/07/108/. But credit where credit’s due…right decision, just the wrong way of going about it. Sorry if that upsets anyone, but it’s one of the benefit of having your own blog! Say it as it is…
And so this is where it all comes together and we can begin to makes sense of everything after several weeks of conjecture.
The opening friendly against Broadstreet was over a month ago and having watched Coventry in a total 5 pre-season games in all, the coaches now have to decide on a team not only capable of beating Wharfedale next Saturday, but also one capable of sending out a statement of intent to the rest of the division; we are Cov and we are chasing promotion this season.
I’m guessing well over 50 players have appeared for Coventry over the past 5 weekends, made up of full squad players and trialists. Of these, we are now down to the 20 on Thursday or Friday’s team list. In golfing parlance, they have made the cut. Others will be on the fringe and there will be plenty of disappointment amongst players not selected, but this is a marathon not a sprint (switching metaphors to athletics – sorry) and many others will don the Cov shirt before the season is over. For those not yet selected, there is the chance to shine in games for local clubs sides or in training.
I do think there are teams who come to the Butts a little in awe of Coventry’s proud history, particularly those new to the league and that gives us an advantage, as does
our ground and our vociferous crowd. That’s fine, I’m all in favour of it, but I’d much rather teams are in awe of the side we’re putting together this season and of the results they see every Saturday starting against Wharfedale, than past achievements.
Too often in previous seasons, although rather less so last year, we haven’t earned the additional bonus point; over a season that could make all the difference. A team could end up losing one more game but still find themselves promoted on the basis of their accumulated bonus points. We must win games, but when the game is won we must also ensure we are clinical and stamp (not literally!) home our authority. I’m sure we have always tried to do so in the past, at least I hope we have…but with the experience of a couple of seasons together for many of the players and a much stronger overall squad, if the opportunity is there then we must take it. Of course, there are going to be close games and in such situations it about winning the game and taking the four points, but the same principle applies. There will be players in any team Cov pick who need to step up to the plate…and I’m sure Scott Morgan will be looking to see which players can cope with the pressure best because they are ones who will win us the big games.
Perhaps I’m being a little unfair here given how Coventry have played this pre-season, especially in the last two games against Championship opposition. We matched Welsh for long periods of the game and, given this side retained 22 of its Premiership squad, produced a performance as good as anything most of us expected. Saturday’s result against Ealing can’t have surprised many who witnessed either that or the Cardiff game. Although Ealing have recruited well, so have we. There wasn’t much between the two teams last season and probably even less now and Scott Morgan and co. must be feeling optimistic that they can match or better any side in National League One over a 38 game season. The message I referred to earlier is already being written; it is for other clubs now to take notice or ignore at their peril.
I know a couple of the Cov faithful expressed surprise at the relatively small crowd of 470+ for the Ealing match. However, I think this was always going to be the case given Welsh would be of interest to Wasps supporters as well, because of their premiership status last year. Also, those ‘fair-weather’ Cov supporters, having seen us lose to the Exiles the week before, might have decided that a repeat result was on the cards again and decided not to attend. However, there is every chance they will be back for the Wharfedale game and I still think we’ll have an attendance of 1600+ (ie 200 above the opening game last season) or thereabouts on the 4th.
Wharfedale, Saturday’s visitors, lost narrowly to Stourbridge (22-19) in a recent pre-season friendly. They played Tynedale on Saturday winning fairly comfortably (Wharfedale v Tynedale report). Tynedale were relegated after what was a very disappointing last season for them, whilst Wharfedale finished 11th on 65 points, only 7 above the drop themselves. They are always a tough side to beat, especially away from home, although last season we did the double on them, beating them 53-26 at home and securing a narrow 13-17 away win. With home advantage, Coventry fans will expect another win, albeit not necessarily matching the same points scored at home last year. A good start would be the win and a bonus point. A convincing win that puts down a marker for the rest of the season would be even better…