It’s just taken one good performance from Coventry at the weekend to lift my spirits no end.
Even then it was only the draw and not a win.
But lifted somewhat they are. I guess that’s because of where they were prior to the Richmond game…which if it wasn’t rock bottom, then it was pretty damn close. However much I’ve tried to be outwardly optimistic about what’s been happening, part of me has been pretty depressed about it all.
Having started the blog in the belief that I’d be recording a season of success, if not promotion, it quickly turned into something else, something that I hadn’t anticipated and probably wouldn’t have considered writing about had I been able to see into the future.
But I can’t and we are where we are. It’s no one’s fault, there’s no point in playing the blame game and, if I were to go down that route, the only culpable person is me.
Because I allowed myself to be drawn into the belief, along with so many others, that this would be our season. And clearly that’s not going to be the case and probably never was. The writing was on the wall as early as the 3rd game against Hartpury, or even before that in the second half against Loughborough Students.
Once it was clear that even a top 3 spot was unrealistic (remember that e-letter?) then all I’ve wanted from the season is a memorable performance, one of those games in which Cov raise their performance to a different level and there are moments where, as you watch, you become vaguely aware of the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end and you get a shiver of excitement run down your back.
That happened to me against Richmond…Matt Price’s try, Dom’s interception and the final 10 minutes of constant Richmond pressure and equally constant Coventry defence.
I needed that. It restored a bit of faith at a time when I was turning agnostic…
We all needed it.
And of course the real trouble with moments such those mentioned above is that they mask the reality of the situation. That we are still a team that lack consistency (remember, the Richmond game came on the back of a run of 10 games in which we’ve only won 4). It was before and, in reality, still is depressing stuff.
And Saturday’s result was only a draw for goodness sake…
I was recently reminded of a song written by the late, great Jim Morrison, a couple of lines of which were being used to describe Labour’s ‘revival’ under Jeremy Corbyn. The lines in question were:
Well, I’ve been down so Goddamn long
That it looks like up to me
(Been Down So Long – The Doors)
And they beautifully sum up where I am at the moment.
The Richmond game has raised my levels of optimism beyond where they should be right now.
I know that, but I just can’t help running away with it…
…it’s been so long since Cov have produced a performance as rounded as that. Great defence but glimpses of some real threat in attack with Mieres, in particular, having his best game in a Cov shirt.
But it was only a draw. A draw albeit against the National 1 leaders, but still only a draw.
Trouble is, I’ve been down so goddam long that it looks like up to me…
Not even the release of the team to play Plymouth tomorrow can temper my new-found optimism.
Okay, the squad has been ravaged by injury, something that is clearly reflected in the side selected.
But there’s an old Yiddish saying that goes something like ‘If God wants people to suffer, he sends them too much understanding’, which goes some way to explaining why tomorrow’s game isn’t getting me agitated in the way some games have.
I have no understanding of why Cov played so well last weekend, yet with when fielding seemingly stronger sides they have failed to impress.
But play well they did.
So, rather than get myself all agitated because the team looks so much weaker on paper, I’m going to take the view that those who are coming into the side for the Plymouth game, together with those who have yet to make their place in the side a regular thing, will want to prove a point to the coaches, the other players and to the supporters.
At this time of year many of the players will be playing for a place in the squad next season. Some players will already have been in talks with the club, open or otherwise, about contracts, others will be nervously waiting for news.
What better time, what better place, to make your case.
And having watched the Richmond game and having witnessed an intensity from the players that I hadn’t seen all season, I’m fast coming to the conclusion that actually a team that is seemingly weakened by the absence of key players, actually gains something from the addition of those on the fringe of the squad. It unites the team, and adversity does indeed make strange bedfellows on occasions. Sometimes to be a true champion, you have to believe in yourself when those around you might not have quite the same faith.
These last couple of weeks are exactly that sort of occasion and last week the players showed exactly that sort of belief.
It was great to see and that last period of play, when Richmond threw everything at Cov, including not only the kitchen sink, but also the faucets and waste pipes as well, will be long talked of. Maybe not quite to the same extent as the Jez Harris drop kick v Newcastle, but not far behind.
For the likes of Molitika, Wright, Hough, Ryan and Macburnie/ Wolfenden (if they get on), it’s a great chance to put themselves in the shop window again, a reminder to the coaches of what they can offer if given the chance. I’m sure they can’t wait to get out there and make the case for the defence (and attack hopefully).
For Pailor, Preece, Parkins and Hope (if he gets on) it’s another chance to showcase their talents in a season where chances haven’t been as forthcoming as they might have hoped. Sam is having to play out of position (at least in terms of where he would normally play) so there is an added test for him.
I’m sure the players won’t thank me for saying this, but it is something of a patchwork team, but sometimes if you carefully place the individual pieces of material together, you create something very special, something that is unique and special.
And this is what I believe will happen out on the pitch at 3.00 pm on Saturday.
Against all the odds, Coventry will create something special.
And my reason for this?
Because they have too. There’s no other option for them
For several of these players, it could be the last chance saloon, depending on how quickly the physios can get the likes of Knoxy, Hodgson, Oliver and co. back. The next couple of games or so might well be their final opportunity to impress and I think they’ll seize on it…what better than to win away from home at Plymouth in front of a loud and passionate crowd?
If were I Molitika or Pailor, I’d want to have such a good game that I’d force the coaches into having to play me next week, and if I was Preece, I want to make sure that if that is the case, then it’s not going to be me that’s left out.
Whilst it might be a difficult time for the coaches, it’s a much better time for those coming into the side as their fate will be to some extent now in their own hands, even if it does mean that someone has had to get injured for them to be playing.
Coventry are down to the bare bones now, there’s no one else they can call upon. If there are more injuries on Saturday, Scott Morgan won’t have players to draft into the side. I can’t think who he’d could call up who isn’t injured, other than some of the DRs, although we haven’t seen the likes of Tom Hicks and Freddie Mills at all since it their registration was announced.
I’m sure there are those who have access to such information, but I can’t believe there have been many Coventry teams with less experience .
A quick calculation on my part shows that the total number of National 1 Cov starts:
- In the XV is just 337 or an average of 22 starts (rounded up) per player.
- In the backs, the average no of starts per player is just 11 (79 starts in total, of which Evans has 40)
- In the forwards the average is 32 starts per player (258 starts in total, of which Matt Price has 93!)
Something well worth remembering, come 4.50 pm on Saturday afternoon.
Just a final word – on Courtney Roberts.
I do feel for the young man.
In no way will I condone his behaviour that led to the citing and subsequent ban, but from speaking to him and from others connected with Broadstreet, I know how remorseful he is and that ‘Street are fully supportive of him.
Having been unable to secure a place in the Coventry side, despite what most supporters agreed were promising performances in the opening games, Courtney had been given the opportunity to resume first team duties last week and had put in one hell of a shift. He did exactly what I suggest might happen tomorrow with one or two other players, namely put in display of such merit that it would have made it almost impossible for the coaches to drop him for the Plymouth game.
Following his ban by the RFU panel, he will now be unavailable for selection for several weeks, I guess. It is such a shame because by all accounts he desperately wants to play, and play for Coventry RFC. I guess it’s a lesson learned, and learned the hard way at that.
For a while now he will be out of the coaches’ minds, at least at training sessions and on match days. However, I do hope that he will be given another opportunity later in the season as he looks like he could definitely be one for the future. Whether or not the club agrees won’t be known until a list of retained players is released, but I certainly hope his name is on it.