Club talk

A man for all seasons…

There can’t be many supporters who can boast of being a Coventry RFC season ticket holder for the past 55 years. Fewer still who have kept every one of those 55 season tickets.

I only know of one…Rob Moody. And he’s not one to boast.

But Rob has very kindly loaned me his collection and having had a good look at them, they are a fascinating example of Coventry memorabilia and, in some respects, of the club’s own highs and lows during past 50+ years. Social history at its very best.

IMG_1663I do miss the old stiff cardboard, ‘booklet’-style ticket; it looks and feels a thing of quality, so evocative of an era before professionalism, where Coventry RFC was synonymous with tradition and class.  Even Junior Vice-Presidents ( a posh term for those under 16) had their own ticket which was one of the great attractions for me as a child. I felt so grown up.

The fact that today’s season ticket has the look and feel of a credit card is itself a metaphor, symbolic of the emphasis these days on the growing temptation and/or tendency for clubs to bankroll success, with the obvious problems that creates. Coventry, circa 1999 perhaps?

The inside of the season ticket back in the 60s contained a list of fixtures for both the Ist and 2nd XVs – the 1st XV had 43 games arranged for the ’65-’66 season and the 2nd XV a further 39! Not bad going and all for the princely sum of £3 13s 6d. There were also several additional mid-week Wednesday fixtures, but these were of the ‘pay at the gate’ variety. There wasn’t a week go by during the whole season where you couldn’t watch a Coventry game of some description. There must have been some very battered and bruised bodies come the end of the season.

What is also interesting is to see how the cost of watching Coventry increased over the years. The price of the ticket used to be printed on the inside cover, so it is easy to monitor the change in prices up to the end ’93-’94, the year Coventry sold its soul and adopted the ersatz, plastic ticket.

The cost of season tickets between 1960 and 1994 were:

55 years of Coventry history...

55 years of Coventry history…well worth a double click on the image.

1960-61: JVP – £1 1s 0d                    1971-72: VP – £5.00                    1982-83: VP – £20.00

1961-62: JVP – £1 1s 0d                    1972-73: VP – £6.00                    1983-84: VP – £21.00

1962-63: JVP – £1 1s 0d                    1973-74: VP – £7.00                    1984-85: VP – £22.50

1963-64: VP – £3 13s 6d (adult)      1974-75: VP – £10.00                  1985-86: VP – £24.50

1964-65: VP – £3 13s 6d                    1975-76: VP – £10.00                  1986-87: VP – £26.00

1965-66: VP – £3 13s 6d                    1976-77: VP – £11.50                   1987-88: VP – £30.00

1966-67: VP – £3 13s 6d                    1977-78: VP – £11.50                   1988-89: VP – £30.00

1967-68: VP – £3 13s 6d                    1978-79: VP – £13.00                  1989-90: VP – £35.00

1968-69: VP – £3 13s 6d                    1979-80: VP – £14.00                 1990-91: VP – £40.00

1969-70: VP – £5 0s 0d                     1980-81: VP – £17.00                  1991-92: VP – £44.00

1970-71: VP – £5 0s 0d                      1981-82: VP – £18.50                  1992-94: VP – £60.00

£10 for a season ticket to watch the likes of Cowman, Duckham, Rossborough, Preece, Evans, Webb et al? Can't help but smile...

£10 for a season ticket to watch the likes of Cowman, Duckham, Rossborough, Preece, Evans, Webb et al? Can’t help but smile…

In many respects, the prices reflected what was happening both to Coventry and the country at that time.

In the ’60’s there was pretty much zero inflation and the price of an adult season ticket remained pretty static with little increase over the course of the whole decade. In the ’70s with a far more volatile economy, the price almost tripled and the ’71 – 72 season saw the introduction of decimalisation and the demise of the much-loved pounds, shillings and pence.

The first big price hike corresponded with Coventry retaining the RFU Club Knockout Competition in 1974, but £10 for the season got you into every home game to watch arguably the best team in England at that time. According to http://www.thismoney.co.uk, this would be equivalent to £147 today which I reckon, if correct, makes it pretty good value.

You would have had to pay £30 pounds (£78 at today’s prices)  to watch Coventry play for the first and last time in the Premiership (1987) and £60 to watch Coventry in the season they were promoted from Courage National Division 3 (1993 – £110.00 today, reflecting the spiralling wage costs that would eventually lead the club into financial suicide).

For me, and probably Rob too, every few years in Coventry’s history evokes particular memories of a time in my own  life, both happy and sad. I guess that’s  why a club becomes so important to anyone who’s supported it for any length of time. For me, as for many Coventry supporters, the club has become an integral part of my life, so much so that I can’t remember a time when I haven’t supported it.

It has become entwined in much of what I do. Something organic  that lives and breathes inside of me.  Synchronicity.

A connecting principle,
Linked to the invisible
Almost imperceptible
Something inexpressible.
Science insusceptible
Logic so inflexible
Causally connectible

Synchronicity 1 – The Police

It’s why people like Mojo and Cliffee are so passionate about Cov; it’s in their genes and sometimes it produces irrational feelings, that ‘logic so inflexible’. I am the most mild-mannered of people most of the time, but put me in the stand at the Butts with a Coventry side 5m out from the Moseley line and with the feed at the scrum and in an instant I’d be a changed person…the person you really don’t want sitting next to you,

Just a thought, but come Coventry’s 150 year anniversary in 2024, wouldn’t it be great to go back to the traditional Cov blue and white hooped shirts of the 60’s and 70s and the cardboard season tickets, in homage to Cov’s halcyon days as one of the great English clubs of that era?

∞∞∞∞∞

In addition to the season tickets, in the items Rob handed me I came across a ‘Coventry Football Club – Rules’ booklet. It must go back a long, long way, certainly into the ’60s, I would imagine. It’s well worth getting hold of if you can, containing as it does regulations that today might seem particularly strange and bizarre. For instance:

IMG_16724 (b)

The Captain and Vice-Captain of the First XV shall be elected by the players, who during the previous season have played 20 or more games with the First XV or the Extra First XV, or a combination of the two;

15 (b)

Visiting teams, Officials, Sporting, Social and Invited Clubs can be temporary members of the Club, provided that their names be placed on the Notice Board at least two days before the date of their attendance;

16

The Club-house shall be managed by the Wine Committee…and the Wine Committee shall be responsible for the purchase of any intoxicating liquors;

18

The club-house shall be opened up and closed at such hours as may be from time to time fixed by the Wine Committee;

20

A member may personally introduce friends as his (!) guests, but no person shall be so introduced more than twice in three months.

I bet the Wine Committee proved popular back in the day!

I never thought my life could be

Anything but catastrophe

But suddenly I begin to see

A bit of good luck for me
                   ∞
I’ve got a golden ticket

(Primus and the Chocolate Factory with the Mushroom Ensemble – 2014)

(A massive thank you to Rob for entrusting me with his collection of memorabilia; it’s been a fantastic opportunity to recapture some of the memories of a time that I can barely recall now. The club should think about starting up a ‘museum’ of sorts that contains exactly this sort of thing before it all becomes lost forever. Not quite lost yer, though, thanks to Rob… truly a man for all seasons!).

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