Coventry have been in National 1 for the last six years, although I have to say it seems longer than that. The reason for this might be partly due tot he fact that we’re coming to the end of a long and somewhat disappointing season that started so brightly but is finishing with something approaching the last rites for the vast majority of this year’s squad.
Who could possibly have forecast prior to the opening league game against Wharfedale back in September that so many familiar faces would have been exiting the club just 8 months down the line?
Not me, for sure.
Amongst those players who are exiting the Butts in April are six who feature in the list of the top 20 all time National 1 appearances for the club. As I suggested in yesterday’s post, many of these players have been here several seasons and understand what it means to play in the blue and white hoops of Coventry. Their experience will be hugely missed.
I have to admit, though, I did do something akin to a double take when I noticed that of all the outgoing players, the one with the most appearances for Coventry is Adam Parkins.
Great player that he is, I wouldn’t have guessed at a figure even half that of the 71 starts he’s made, probably because so many of them were at the time when he was still with Northampton – his first 50 appearances all occurring when either a dual registered or loan player. Ironically, since Cov signed him early last year, he seems to have spent more time back with the Saints that he has with us, which all seems a bit odd to me, especially when we were struggling with front row injuries before Joe Foreman made his first start for the club back in January. Joe is very much the silver cloud in that respect.
In all, 7 players who will be playing their rugby elsewhere next season will have played over 50 times for the club and a further 2 in the mid to high 40s.
Had anyone asked me who had appeared more in a Cov shirt, Parkins or George Oliver, then I would have plumped for Oliver every time, but with just 39 starts at the moment (with hopefully another four to come), ten of the out-going squad have more appearances under their belts. Another surprise that. George Oliver is such an established name and is one of the first to be written on the team sheet of any Cov side I’d select. He’s captained the team and would certainly have been one of the players on my retained list. I know he’s still young but I always think of Oliver as being one of the senior players.
When you look the numbers of players leaving in terms of their appearances in a Cov shirt, it becomes even more evident just what a clear-out is about to take place, with some of the most experienced players having to say their farewells after the trip to Wharfedale at the end of the month.
However, presuming that those who are in ‘final discussions’ with the club prior to re-signing do actually commit themselves to Coventry next season, then three of the top 4 players in the all-time list will be with us in September – Matt Price, Cliffie Hodgson and Tom Poole. With Andy Brown and Callum MacBurnie just below them, there’ll be five in the top ten, so there’s a vast amount of experience staying on at the Butts, which will be hugely important when settling in a new squad. 470 appearances in just those 5 players. The significance of that shouldn’t be underestimated.
And in Matt Price, and Tom Poole to a lesser extent, ‘the Dog’ lives…
Second in the list of all-time appearances is certainly a favourite of mine – Brett Daynes. I have a vague recollection that for two seasons he didn’t miss a single game and was a player who always seemed to have an indomitable spirit. Popular and highly regarded, he was another Sam Pailor for me. What’s the betting we’ll see Brett back at the Butts, playing for Coventry rather than against next season? If Rowland Winter is to bring with him one or two Cambridge players, then I’d welcome Brett’s return.
There are some interesting names on the list, names that bring back all sorts of memories. The one that stands out most for me is scrum half Lee Audis. Lee left us to go to Doncaster in 2011 and then shortly afterwards suffered an horrendous car accident that nearly ended his life and involved treatment in hospital for 12 months. Last I heard, he was up and about and although still suffering some effects from the accident, he was getting involved in rugby again through some work with Bath University. The fact that he is able to lead something approaching a normal life and is itself a minor miracle.
We will all have our own memories of the players who appear in the list below. It’s worth just scanning down and reminding yourself of the wealth of talent represented by these names. I have to confess, there are two on the list that I just can’t recall – Nathan MacDonald and Ryan Glyn (and Seb Pearson’s name is familiar but I can’t remember much about him, other than I think he was Canadian).
With just two home games left, I hope that all the players who will be leaving at the end of the season will get at least one opportunity to play in front of their home crowd. Supporters might be frustrated by the way the season has panned out at times and we might have voiced our concerns in ways which players might not have always appreciated, but the vast majority of us are hugely respectful of the commitment and loyalty that the squad has shown towards the club and the supporters on and off the pitch in such difficult times. Hopefully, there will be decent crowds for both Darlington and Ampthill and supporters will come not just to see Coventry win, but also to say their farewells to the players, many of whom are amongst the best players to have played for Coventry since we arrived in National 1 back in 2010.
Two home wins to finish the season off would be good, starting with Darlington in 4 days time.
Below is a table of those players who have made 6 or more appearances for Coventry since 2010, when we first played in National 1.
One hundred in total.
The data comes from Statbunker and whilst it might not be totally accurate it’s as good as is publicly available.
Those players in green are the ones Rowland Winter has announced as having already signed OR are in the final stages of discussing terms (Joe Foreman isn’t included because he has made a couple of appearances). Those in red are the ones who are not being retained and will be leaving the club at the end of the season.
|Jacques Le Roux||51||44||7||8||8||115|
|Roan van Heerden||21||20||1||1||5||–|