And I blame John Wilkinson…
After the Esher game, I’d prepared myself mentally for a three week break from watching Coventry, accepting as I did that Blaydon was too far to travel by public transport. I knew that I’d have a nervy afternoon sitting by the computer, switching from website to another trying to get regular updates from every available source. But there’s nothing new in that on days where I can’t get to the game.
Not ideal but that’s how it is for me on a Saturday afternoon.
Cold weather, with the threat of snow and put off by the 16 hour round trip, not to mention the cost….well, the prospect wasn’t quite as bad didn’t as it might have been under a different set of circumstances.
Then I read the article on Rowland WInter.
And another week away from watching Cov suddenly seemed too long. But not because I’ve experienced some damascene moment, some immaculate ‘conversion’ whereby I just witnessed the coming of the new messiah.
No, not at all.
It might well be that Rowland Winter is indeed going to lead us to the promised land (I think I might be mixing up my biblical characters there), but that is not my overwhelming emotion.
Far from it.
Actually it’s one of sadness and disappointment, not for myself but for the squad of players and coaches who started off the season with such optimism, only to have their hopes dashed so quickly. Many of them now find themselves just 7 games away from being cast aside to make way for the next group of players on whom our dreams will rest, not to mention a considerable expenditure. A never ending conveyor belt of hopefuls.
The last few weeks is about making up, not breaking up…
Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely excited at the prospect of Rowland Winter’s approaching tenure. The trumpets are already heralding his arrival and there is much to anticipate, especially having read his comments in Thursday’s Telegraph. It contained so much of what we wanted to hear that it’s hard not to get too carried away; but once, bitten twice shy, remembering as I do the feeling last August that this was to be our season and that our time had come.
No, I’m not going to get carried away by it all.
And besides, I want to enjoy the final games watching the present squad over the remainder of the season. Many of the players have now been with the club for a couple of seasons or more and they have become part of the Cov family, with whom we’ve shared a good few Saturdays…there have been highs and lows, but I’ve always felt that the players have given of their best, even if that hasn’t always been good enough.
In difficult times, particularly this season, extremely difficult on occasions, they have stuck together. When faced with criticism from the Board, the supporters and occasional the coaches, they have got on with the job in hand, no matter how weakened the squad is and how down they must have feel.
At the end of last season there was less player movement than is usual for Cov, so I think because the players had shown a degree of loyalty to the club, so I responded in kind. They wanted to see it through, believing as most of us did in what the Chairman, Phil Maynard and Scott Morgan were saying.
Most of these players, it seems, will not be back in September. Normally that wouldn’t bother me, it’s been the Coventry way for many seasons now. But there was, is, something different about this squad…something more personal. Perhaps it’s the result of social media and the ability to share in their own lives a little, but whatever it is, it’s a shame that it’s all coming to an end in such a disappointing manner.
Much rather leave on a high – but not this time.
So I’m going up to Blaydon to enjoy the moment. Win or lose, many of the players out there today will be plying their trade elsewhere next season. I’ll savour the occasion, win or lose, as I always do however frustrating the performance.
I do happen to think there will be a reaction from the players and a positive one at that. Given RW’s comments that there will be significant changes in personnel over the next few months, what better way than to respond by winning, and winning well. And it might just be that performances over the next few weeks could impress the DoR enough to change a decision or two?
Anyway, off to Blaydon I go (well, we actually as I persuaded my son to come with me, not that it took much to be persuaded on his part…).
So a hasty decision to travel up to Blaydon.
Nothing OCD about me.
But obsessive and compulsive certainly…
And what of the team…it’s good to see Cliffie back at full back and whilst I do think Caolan Ryan is better at 15 than 10, I do feel it’s the right decision. Poor Rob Knox, no sooner does he get back on the team sheet than he suffers another injury (or a reoccurrence of the same?) but at least Callum is back. Always popular and well-respected amongst supporters, the general feeling is the Callum is the lynchpin in the backs – experienced and safe, he allows others to play off him. His presence has definitely been missed for much of this season and I’m sure young George Worth will benefit immensely by playing alongside him.
I’m delighted to see Peter Weightman return to the side after a long spell on the bench, although I do think it might be by default as Ryan Hough was originally named at 11. I’ve long been a fan of his and if he can get the ball in a bit of space, he’s capable of doing a lot of damage, as Cov found out their our cost last year when he scored a couple of tries against us.
There’s a few changes in the forwards too. Sam Pailor comes in for Daniel Carpo and although I’m delighted to see him back, I’ve grown to appreciate Carpo over the last few games and he’ll be a useful player to have come on from off the bench in the last 20 or so minutes. Tom Poole’s return is good news, although I thought Tom Hicks did a good job in his absence. Hopefully, Chad is fit enough to see out a full 80 minutes and if the front row play to their potential, Blaydon could find the going tough.
I continue to feel for Devlin Hope. Matt is very much a known quantity whereas Devlin isn’t. Matt is odds on to be retained and unless the decision to retain Dev or otherwise has been made, here was a great opportunity for him to state his case. Another game, another shift on the bench…
There’s plenty of depth amongst the replacements, although with only one back there, Scott Hamilton, we could be stretched if there are a couple of injuries. Perhaps, Tiploma Kivalu’s other position is scrum half…?
Hopefully, the snow will hold off and it will be a decent journey up to Blaydon. I’m looking forward to watching Cov play and celebrating a fine victory on the way home.
I’ll tweet regular updates from the game on @Cowshedtim or if you don’t use Twitter, they’ll appear as if by magic on the top right of the home screen on this blog.
I’ll post some photos of the pre-match warm up if the connection on the train allows me to!
Up the Cov…