Club talk

Ampthill, ‘Moseley face meltdown’ – a warning to Cov?

It was a great day yesterday. Not quite the celebration it should have been, especially for Scott Morgan and Peter Glackin, but a great day all the same.

It was such an important win, despite the fact that it will make little or no difference to our final standings in the National 1 table when the referee blows his whistle come the end of the Wharfedale game next week.

Worst case scenario 10th, best case 8th.

It’s hardly going to define our season.

A win next week guarantees us 8th, a loss and, depending on the Fylde and Plymouth results, we could drop two places.

But as far as morale is concerned, then it was huge.

Finishing the season at home with a win means 1400ish supporters leave with happier memories of the last 8 months or so than they would have done otherwise. All the celebrations would have turned into something far less exuberant; it would have become something akin to a wake rather than a celebration.

Recollections will be all the happier for it, especially for a group of players who gave it their all out on the pitch, as they always have even when their all hasn’t been quite good enough.

Certainly, Scott Morgan was delighted with the result. Commenting in The Rugby Paper, he said:

It was a great performance from the boys, they really dug in and played for each other…the boys were desperate to go out at home with a win, for themselves and for their supporters, in front of the best crowd of the season, and they showed a lot of pride and character.

Indeed they did, and that sense of pride is certainly a transferable emotion. I feel a certain pride in those players, players who had been much maligned earlier in the season  by both the club and by many of us supporters, yet who turned it around to end the season on the sort of form that would have put them right in the mix for promotion had they been able to find it in those dismal weeks in from mid October to early November.

This isn’t on paper the best team we could have put out this season. Injuries/illness to the likes of Jacques le Roux, Gaston Mieres, Tom Poole and Wayne Evans, as well as the departures of players like Tom Preece (thanks, P) and Courtney Roberts, have meant that Scott Morgan hasn’t been able to show any real consistency in selection all season. Form, too, has been poor, for which the coaches must also shoulder some responsibility.

Add to this the fact that Knox, Jones and Rundle have only recently returned from significant periods of absence and  it’s no wonder that supporters have appreciated what this set of lads have achieved over the past five weeks.

Ampthill, on 99 points are only 15 points off Richmond’s total of 114…Coventry secured 112 last season in what was a much harder league. This was such a good opportunity to challenge for the Championship and in all honestly, we’ve blown it.

I won’t be convinced that the clubs above us have stronger squads. They might have played better than us, but we’ve shown we can compete with the best this league has to offer in the draws against Richmond and Blackheath and the defeat of Ampthill…it’s our underachievement that has been our downfall, not our ability.

Still, spilt milk and all that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One of the Cov players has confirmed this isn’t going to happen having spoken to the player after the game on Saturday, but have left the paragraph to reflect what was said elsewhere over the weekend and to chasten myself:

If speculation and rumour on the Messageboard are correct (and isn’t it good to see them back, both  having gone AWOL these last couple of weeks), then we have apparently signed Darrell (which seems to be spell several different ways) Dyer, Ampthill’s blindside. Now if we do have to lose the likes of Pailor and Oliver, although he’s not a like-for-like replacement, Dyer certainly looks a decent acquisition.

I don’t usually  take much notice the opposition during a game as I’m too busy following Cov players, but Dyer was definitely for me Ampthill’s stand out player and caused problems for Cov both with and without the ball. He’ll be a handful for most teams in our league and under the guidance of Rowland Winter and the team of coaches, you’d hope he’ll be able to develop his game even further.

He are some of his best bits:

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I mentioned a few posts back that when assessing our chances of promotion next season, I’d rather have Moseley in National 1 than Ealing Trailfinders, based on the belief that Ealing would be in a far better financial position and far more likely to retain a full-time squad than Moseley.

Sadly, it appears that Moseley’s money troubles are a good deal worse than I feared.

In a revealing article in yesterday’s ‘The Rugby Paper’, entitled ‘Moseley face meltdown’, the Moseley DoR, Kevin Maggs, laid his cards firmly on the table:

I don’t know the full position yet but potentially I am having to tell 30 players they haven’t got jobs. We’re not going to be able to throw money at it like Ealing to come straight back up, and to be honest, and to be honest, the way it’s looking we’ll be lucky to stay in National 1…

My big worry is us not having enough money to compete and us tumbling through the leagues

Now cynics might argue that phrases like ‘I don’t know the full position yet’ are misleading and actually the situation might well be far better than Maggs is making out and this just the start of a few psychological games to be played over the close season – his way, perhaps, of lulling National 1 clubs into a false sense of security. However, if this is the case, then why put something on paper for all to read, including possible players who might be contemplating a move to what will be one of the bigger names in our league next year?

For the likes of Pailor and Oliver, a short journey down the A45 might be a tempting prospect, until they read the above and then it becomes a possible poison chalice…another Plymouth in the making, perhaps?

The loss of the £530000 RFU funding is going to cause Moseley massive problems and if they are going to have to start with what will in effect be a completely new squad, they are going to come into the market for players far later than they would have liked.

If anything, the article reads more like a plea for a buyer/sponsor to step in and save the club…

There’s a lot of potential here. We’ve got planning permission for a new 5000-seater stadium and 20 executive boxes, so this club could really be something if someone would just grab hold of it and take it as a business

It all sounds a bit desperate.

The problems is, of course, that a 5000-seater stadium is all well and good, but with an average attendance this season of 1046, less than Coventry’s at 1132 and presumably including more away support to bolster their numbers than we would expect to get, who is going to want to commit to developing the ground when gates are surely going to drop considerably next season?

Chairman Dave Warren goes further:

It is a disaster. We got a lot of things wrong and part of that is my fault. We lost a nucleus of good, experienced players…guys who would fight tooth and nail for us and I should have seen what was coming, but I didn’t and we paid the price

I wonder if that is a consideration that has crossed Jon Sharp’s mind – Pailor, Oliver, Wright and co… great clubmen, one and all, players who would indeed fight tooth and nail for Cov. You need characters of the calibre of these guys because you know when the going does get tough, they won’t be off to London Irish or somewhere exotic in Australia.

We won’t know just how prophetic Dave Warren’s words will turn out to be until this time next season, but in the back of our minds their can’t be too many supporters who haven’t had that same concern, however fleeting it might be.

However, in players like MacBurnie, Hodgson and Brown we do still have players who understand the club and who lead by example. But it is a sobering thought, nonetheless.

Moseley look as if they’ll be unable to mount a realistic assault on the title in their first season in National 1 and their loss is our gain.

For the second season running, the league looks to be wide open. Teams like Rosslyn Park, Blackheath, Hartpury and Esher will have a more settled side than Coventry, but if we can start well and get some wins under our belts early on, then if the recruitment and coaching are up as good as we’d like to believe, then we might well be very competitive in this league next season.

The good thing is we certainly won’t be favourites in anyone’s book come September, so whilst expectations will be high, hopefully they will also be realistic which means there won’t be quite the pressure there was on the team to win every game from day one this season. Hopefully, there will be another set of announcements regarding recruitment this week and we’ll be able to see how the squad is shaping up and where the gaps are that need to be filled.

And of course there’s still Saturday’s game at Wharfedale to play…

…and a night out in Leeds for the players to enjoy.

 

 

2 replies »

  1. Hi Tim
    You can see why, from DD’s video, that he has on many occasions been used as a winger. Based on the video, and on my impression of him on Saturday, he looks like someone who could well fit in with RW’s vision for Cov and be a fundamental part of a new look Cov team next season.
    As a matter of interest, you can also see how remarkably rustic is the Ampthill ground. I would like to say charming, too, but that would be pushing it a bit. However, the Ampthill people were very welcoming and warm.
    You can’t help but feel very sorry for Moseley can you? For their chairman to be so openly frank in his comments is either more than a little naïve, at best, or stupidly honest, at worst. It makes their presence in NL1 next season somewhat unpredictable and puts even more spice into the prospects of the local derby.
    Based on the way things have turned out this season, it makes the predictions for the team/s most likely to be fighting for the league title and therefore promotion to the Championship very interesting.

    Like

    • Hi Cliff – looks like Darrel Dyer’s arrival at Cov isn’t quite as likely as the messageboard would have us believe. I didn’t go to Ampthill so, I’m not best qualified to comment, but it does look lovely. Would make an interesting poll that…favourite rugby grounds you’ve visited! As for Moseley, well it is going to be interesting to see just how much of their squad they end up losing over the summer. They don’t have the core support that we do, so they are going to have to rely heavily on sponsors – but they won’t come running if they think Moseley are something of a lame duck business.

      Like

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