Club talk

Broadstreet, in defence of the Northern Echo Arena and THAT away strip

StreetBetter news this weekend came from Binley Woods where Broadstreet beat Harrogate to record their second consecutive win, their fourth in all, and the first time they’ve won back-to-back games.

It also lifted them off the bottom of National 2 North where they are now in 14th position, still in the relegation zone but only 3 points from 13th and safety, a position  currently on  loan to Preston Grasshoppers.

With several of the current Coventry squad getting a run out, and the game being publicised on the Messageboard, I’m surprised that only 175 were there to watch ‘Street beat Harrogate 23-8, a figure roughly in line with their average gate.

In all, I think 6 Coventry players started the game…Hodgson, Baker, Smith, Foreman, Roberts and Wolfenden, with a MacNulty also playing.

I’ve have assumed that the Smith who played at centre and who scored the opening Broadstreet try is indeed our own Sam Smith, but whilst it is a name of great merit and synonymous with fine lineage, it is not an uncommon surname.

Cliffie tweeted his delight having completed his first 80 minutes of rugby for some time, so that suggests he came through unscathed. Interestingly though, Cliffie didn’t take the kicks; that was left to the trusted boot of  Lee Chapman.

I wondered in a post a while back what it was that Broadstreet gained from their partnership with Cov as they lost all 5 of their opening matches and seemed rooted to the bottom of the league. However, with players of the calibre of the Cov loanees who played on Saturday, it shouldn’t be too long before they are sitting comfortably mid-table. It does make some sense when looked at it in those terms.

Cliffie, centre, got through a full 80 minutes playing for Broadstreet on Saturday

Cliffie, centre, got through a full 80 minutes playing for Broadstreet on Saturday

I do wonder though, were I the regular full back for ‘Street for instance, how I’d feel when the coach came up to me on the Tuesday and told me I’d be standing down for the next few weeks to allow Cliffie to get match fit. It can’t be the easiest of conversations to have.

Maybe that is something that players are warned could happen when they join the club?

The question of where Cliffie  will play when he and the coaches feel he is ready for a return to the team is still open to debate. Hutchinson is growing in stature at centre, Mieres is too good to be moved from full-back and Jones is one of the first names on the team sheet  for me. Centre would be my preferred option despite his lack of pace, but I don’t doubt there will be calls for Jones to move aside make room for him.

I do think though it is a case of when he returns, not if. Cliffie’s boot has been sorely missed this year, not just because he is National 1s greatest accumulator of points over the last couple of seasons, but also because he scores tries, is a reliable kicker out of hand and seemingly unflappable.

Whilst he might not be a Coventrian by birth, there would be many of us who would offer him the freedom of the city, given what he has achieved in the time he’s been with us. He appears to love the club and is Cov through and through. It’s not always an easy decision as to where to play him, but to me a fit Cliffie Hodgson is someone I’d want to have in my starting XV.

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The right hand end of the stadium from where the supporters where sitting.

One of the things that was asked on the Messageboard today was what the Northern Echo Arena was like as a rugby venue.

Unfortunately, the word ‘vile’ was used by one poster to describe his experience and this quite understandably upset a Park supporter who’d come across to presumably get a feel of what supporters felt about the game.

Given the above, it’s not surprising that I have a slightly different view of afternoon there. It certainly wasn’t ‘vile’ to me and I can only distance myself from that comment, although that’s not an implied contradiction of what else was said. It just an unfortunate word to use.

I arrived at the ground at about 1.15 and was told by an extremely friendly steward that the turnstiles wouldn’t open for the best part of an hour, but there was a bar open where I could wait until supporters were allowed into the stands. This was the only downer for me really because I’m not the best conversationalist, particularly with people I’m not familiar with.  I just like to get to a ground and do my 10 laps around the pitch, take a few photos and leave.

It’s just the way I am.

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The view opposite where we sat…this was all empty during the game, as was the main stand to the right as you look on)

Anyway, in the bar I went where fortunately  I found Mick Carter had already arrived (whom I introduced  to Ian  Hodgson as Mick Curtis because I get so damned awkward in those situations; sorry Mick!!!), so I relaxed enough to make some reasonably coherent comments before moving out into the arena itself.

It is impressive in size, although to be fair it’s starting to look a bit ‘tired’ in places and wasn’t as new as I’d imagined it to be (2003, roughly the same age as the Butts).

The photo shows how faded the seats are.

Having not been told where I could and couldn’t sit, I of course went straight over to one of the restricted areas that wasn’t open to supporters, in order to take some photos of the players warming up.

A very nice lady, another steward, came over and explained that the only seating available was in the main stand opposite whereupon she walked all the way round with me. I know her kids names, where they go to school and the fact that she was going to be a steward at the Newcastle game today. Delightful she was…

…sorry, that sounds like something Yoda would say.

The ground filled up slowly, but by kick off there were a fair few in.

Now I’m not very good with guestimating the size of a crowd, but I would have said it was comfortably over 600+ and that just the ones we could see from where we were sitting. There were a lot of people standing against the metal rails/advertising stopping supporters from getting onto the ‘track’ that ran alongside the pitch. The official attendance of 900 could well be right, but in such a large area, even when confined to one stand, it doesn’t probably look as many.

The stand was set well away from the pitch (this can be better understood from the photo),  but the view was excellent.

It’s always strange when you’re looking out onto empty stands in front of you, as well as to the left and right. It does create an eerie atmosphere initially (the same was true of Cardiff pre-season), but once the game was underway you quickly got used to this.

The noise level was certainly quite loud, the result of several hundred supporters all in fairly close proximity. I thought the Darlington supporters got right behind their team, especially having fallen behind 17-21 with 20 minutes left. There was the usual banter, mainly about the referee which was to be expected given that Darlington seem to benefit from so many of the decisions. There was some nice chat between the sets of supporters at half-time and it was generally everything you’d expect of a typical National 1 crowd.

I was totally unaware of the orchestrated banging on the roof above the players shelter. I do recall some singing breaking out from the rear of the main stand in the second half, but that was very good-natured. I did a runner at the end of the game, and as I left everyone seemed in good humour. The PA seemed very clear, although the announcer fluffed his words on one occasion which was fairly embarrassing for him and amusing to the spectators. There was plenty of razzle-dazzle before the game with cheerleaders (please Cov, never again) and music reaching a crescendo as the players entered onto the field of play. A bit OTT but quite well done.

I’m sure the incidents referred to will be followed up, but from where I was there was no evidence of anything untoward. Pleasant enough folk, good entertainment…but very long queues to get coffee or a drink at half time.

It always interests me how people have such different experiences of the same event. I’m sure someone else would have another very different view of their visit , but for what it’s worth, this is mine.

Having just read through this, there is one big negative…there’s a lot of walking involved and if you’re a bit shaky on the old pins, it’s probably not the ideal ground for you.

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Tickled pink

Now there’s a real fashion statement

Remember the pink away strip?

I was so excited at the prospect of seeing it worn for the first time.

A few photos for the blog, some witty remarks about how good the players looked in pink…a couple of potential headlines ready.

So it was a massive let down to discover that the new kit hasn’t yet arrived at the club and that they would be playing in red. It’s a decent enough strip, but pink it’s not.

And having sung the praises of teamBAG not so long ago, I’m hugely disappointed in the delay over the away strip.

There’s only a potential 9 matches left in which to wear it – maybe it will get an outing at the Butts, too. (Although ‘outing’ isn’t the most appropriate word to use in this instance).

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I’ve added a few extra photos (apologies if there are some duplicates) and a couple of very short video clips that I couldn’t download on the train coming back on Saturday.

I should add a big ‘thank you’ to my lad, Sam, who guided me through the complexities of tethering my Chromebook to my phone using WhatsApp on the way up to the game.

I wish I’d have had his patience as a teacher…

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16 replies »

  1. Too right. Thanks for the chat. I know you will be busy composing tomorrow’s instalment. I am sure it will be another excellent read. Oh dear, is that a driver for inspiration or perspiration? Tomorrow Never Knows. But we will, Brother Tim. Good night.

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  2. Yes , or borderline apathy and unfulfilled promises? Either way , if there is not a vocal upgrade on Saturday, then I can feel that Saturday lunchtime meal for me at Miller and Carter become a little less palatable.

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    • Far less…I’d noticed this….in fact after the Esher game, when it was heavily used, its dropped off alarmingly. Not sure why…perhaps one too many false dawns?

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    • Or Jack Jones – sung by Costello on Almost Blue

      Blue must be the color of the blues

      Bluebird’s singing in the trees seems to sympathize with me
      But he’s not singing like he used to do
      The pretty waters in the sea feel as cold as you left me
      Yes, blue must be the color of the blues

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  3. If I Can Dream

    There must be lights burning brighter somewhere
    Got to be birds flying higher in a sky more blue
    If I can dream of a better land
    Where all my brothers walk hand in hand
    Tell me why, oh why, oh why can’t my dream come true

    There must be peace and understanding sometime
    Strong winds of promise that will blow away
    All the doubt and fear
    If I can dream of a warmer sun
    Where hope keeps shining on everyone
    Tell me why, oh why, oh why won’t that sun appear

    We’re lost in a cloud
    With too much rain
    We’re trapped in a world
    That’s troubled with pain
    But as long as a man
    Has the strength to dream
    He can redeem his soul and fly

    Deep in my heart there’s a trembling question
    Still I am sure that the answer gonna come somehow
    Out there in the dark, there’s a beckoning candle
    And while I can think, while I can talk
    While I can stand, while I can walk
    While I can dream, please let my dream
    Come true, right now
    Let it come true right now
    Oh yeah

    Couldn’t resist this. ( Dare to dream, hope Aggy likes this as well, a massive Elvis fan!)

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    • I’ll raise you by…another Elvis…The Elvis in fact – the best singer/song writer of his generation

      Now I’ve lived with heartaches and I’ve roomed with fear
      I’ve dealt with despair and I’ve wrestled with tears

      I can’t stand up from falling down
      I can’t stand up from falling down

      The vow that we made
      You broke it in two
      But that don’t stop me
      From loving you

      I can’t stand up from falling down
      I can’t stand up from falling down, oh

      :

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  4. Thanks for the balanced overview of Saturday. I was wondering if it was as bad as has been painted on the Message board. It wouldn’t be a visit to the North if there is not banter and a game viewed with a home bias. Good to see that the MB poster is still seeing the benefit of that ‘ How to make Friends and Influence People’ session.
    I just feel we have to suck it and see and roar out ‘ I Believe’, whenever we can!

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    • Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive
      ― Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

      Sometimes a bit if emotional intelligence wouldn’t go amiss. Not that EI is one of my strengths either. Red, rag and bull, I’m afraid!
      Will be interested to see how Scott M reacts re: selection this week…no knee jerk I hope.

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  5. Oh yes, I remember the cheerleaders from last year now you mention it. Obviously something I wanted to forget, lol! Thanks for your updates again, was following your tweets nervously towards the end whilst sitting in a Caffe Nero in York after carol singing for SASH (a charity for young homeless people). I too am looking forward to watching them play in pink at some point, I really don’t like the red. Thanks again!

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    • We had a couple of seasons where cheerleaders were regularly in attendance at home games – pre Butts. It wasn’t something that added to the Coundon Rd experience!
      To be fair, the Darlington Dancers were probably quite good…!
      Trust the fund raising went well…not the best of weather to be out rattling your tins.
      Many thanks for your very generous comments…happy to do it when it’s so appreciated.

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