Supporters’ Player of the Year.
Players’ Player of the Year.
It’s not often that the same player receives both awards in the same season, but George Oliver has achieved that accolade this year. Well done to him – it’s thoroughly deserved and I’m sure it will be something he’ll remain proud of for the rest of his life.
Photos on the mantelpiece, a story for the grandchildren…
His achievements will be amongst the more memorable ones to come out of a season that has failed to deliver in so many other respects. It is a fitting end to a difficult season.
George Oliver’s form has been more consistent than most throughout the past 8 months and even back in October and early November, when Cov were struggling to produce the kind of performances of which we all know they were capable, he was winning consecutive Man of the Match awards.
He’s not the sort of player who shows much emotion on the pitch…whilst the likes of Matt Price, Dan Rundle, Danny Wright and Sam Pailor tend to show their emotions far more and wear their heart on their sleeves, more often than not Oliver appears much harder to read…
No problem with that, indeed I think it was Margaret Thatcher (I know, sorry…) who once said:
wearing your heart on your sleeve isn’t always the best of plans; you should wear it on the inside, where I find it functions best
or something similar…
He’s exactly the sort of player any club needs. A club man, a man of the club.
All heart, no sleeve.
There are few thrills attached to what he does on the pitch, nothing fancy just hard graft and missed with fair share of talent.
On goes the shirt, out goes the chest and off goes George Oliver.
He’s quick to the breakdown, quick enough to win us the ball on many an occasion this season, uncompromising in the tackle and often there in support when the break is on. I can think of no better compliment than to say he’s a Dave Addleton in the making.
He knows the Cov Dog…
…and Dave could have happily handed him over the reins.
The fact that he’s been denied the opportunity to stay on and continue his development under the watchful eyes of Boris Stankovich and Brendon Snyman is a massive disappointment to the supporters and I daresay to many of the players, given the Players’ Player award.
John Wilkinson’s article in the Telegraph which covers the presentation of the Cov awards after the Ampthill game is really interesting, especially in the light of the comments I made yesterday about adversity bringing the players closer together and perhaps being one of the central reasons for Coventry’s recent change of fortunes.
It seems to me George Oliver hints at something similar when he said:
…and to sign off at home that way was what we wanted to do. We wanted to go and put out our statement out….the boys have just pulled together through everything and shown how close we are
Now what exactly was the statement they wanted to make and to whom was it addressed…?
The answer is pretty clear – the statement reads something along the lines of:
As a team we are far better than the results this season suggest.
You know that, we know that. We wanted the opportunity to put the record straight by winning against a side who have pushed Richmond hard for much of the season. This should have been just the start.
And if you’re watching, Mr Winter, please reconsider…
The photo included in the article shows a smiling Jon Sharp in good humour, enjoying the moment…
…but surely, later that evening when the supporters and players had long gone and he was left to his own thoughts on the day’s events, he must have questioned the wisdom of letting players like George Oliver and Sam Pailor go…and a few others to boot.
Keeping Oliver on isn’t a huge risk in terms of the ability of the player to cut it at this level. That’s a given and has been proved time and time again over the past couple of season. At 23, George Oliver is still young and if the coaches are as good as we hope they’ll be, then he should become an even better player. Not only that, he’s a huge favourite with the supporters and his retention would give a massive lift to the pre-season, with supporters much happier to have an additional familiar face (or two!) back in the squad.
And George Oliver has offered the club an olive branch,:
If the club came back to me now, I’d listen to them…
So, even at this late stage, he would be happy to discuss the opportunity to remain at the club.
This is a man who loves everything connected with Cov, warts and all. Why would you want to let him go…? Loyalty and ability don’t come together quite so strongly too often nowadays. Far better the devil…
Rowland Winter has his own ideas about the squad he wants and George Oliver is clearly not a part of it. I totally accept that is important that the new DoR is given a free hand to choose his own squad. But that’s not to say that those presently at the club who have RW’s ear couldn’t be asking him to have a rethink about one or two individual players who missed out initially.
I remember reading in a very early statement of RW’s that players still had time to press their case for retention – let’s hope that’s still true even a this late stage.
And as George Oliver says, rugby is a business and maybe there are reasons that we’re blissfully unaware of that have prevented his return. But he’s one of those people that you’d want on your side when the going gets tough…we saw that when we were struggling midway through the first half of the season.
Hopefully, someone in the know will stop and reconsider retaining some of the players who have been so important in the recent return to something like the form of 2014/15. Rowland Winter said early on that:
it’s down to have we got a squad good enough to play at the very top end of National One and compete for those spots, and at the moment we haven’t
Back in early February it’s not hard to see how he arrived at that conclusion. It might be true now, even after having shown we can match the likes of Blackheath and beat Ampthill. But one thing for certain is that we have got players in the squad who are good enough to play consistently at that level and above. George Oliver is one of them (see below for the others!).
George has made it clear he’d like to stay. He’s young, proven at this level and loves the club…
…photos on the mantelpiece, a story for the grandchildren.
Please, Sir, Oliver wants some more…
At the end of last week I asked readers to vote on the players they would choose to retain next season in addition to those already announced. And that’s exactly what people did…it seems that it hit a chord with many people and it proved the most popular of all the polls conducted over the season, by a distance…
The top votes were as follows:
George Oliver – 19%
Sam Pailor – 18%
Caolan Ryan – 10%
Dom Lespierre – 9%
Jacques Le Roux – 8%
Danny Wright – 7%
Gaston Mieres – 7%
Peter Weightman – 7%
Devlin Hope – 6%
George Oliver and Sam Pailor easily topped the table (the lead changed almost daily!), with Caolan Ryan coming in a creditable 3rd. Dom Lespierre has benefitted of late from Coventry’s improved form and the team’s willingness to be a little more expansive and I think this is reflected in the poll – in the Christmas MVP poll he was well down the list. It just shows how quickly opinions can change and how good Dom is when he’s given the ball in a bit of space.
Concerns about the quality of the players recruited last summer aren’t actually reflected in the votes particularly, with 4 of the nine being in their first year at the club. Players like Wayne Evans and Matt Jones were surprise omissions, as was Ben Thomas who was second in the Players’ Player award. Gaston Mieres and Devlin Hope lack of appearances recently might also have impacted on the number of votes they received.
Despite being voted the supporters’ MVP at Christmas, Jacques Le Roux’s injuries problems this season probably meant that with only three votes available, his inclusion was going to be something of a risk.
Anyway, that how it looked by the end of today.
Many thanks to everyone who took part.