For all the times that you rain on my parade
And all the clubs you get in using my name
You think you broke my heart, oh, girl for goodness’ sake
You think I’m crying on my own. Well, I ain’t
Love Yourself – Justin Bieber
Okay, it’s only day one of the pre-season but there already seems to be significant changes in the way Cov are going about their build up to the first League 1 fixture of the new campaign, against Loughborough in the first week of September.
In the past, supporters wouldn’t even have known the final squad by now, let alone have met with the DoR in a Members’ Forum or had articles on the various coaches and their approaches to the game as well as their roles within the club this coming season. (John Wilkinson presence is already evident – long may such articles be forthcoming).
Doubtless, the Supporters’ Club meeting on Thursday of this week will also provide additional information about what is happening behind the scenes. I understand Peter Rossborough will be master of ceremonies until the Chair is appointed and also that Rowland Winter will be present, too.
PR’s attendance seems a particularly significant one to me, suggesting that the Supporters’ Club has the full backing of the club and the Board, something which didn’t always appear to be the case in its previous existence.
Hopefully, given this is a supporters’ meeting, rather than a members’ meeting, there will be some different faces in addition to those who attended last month’s Members’ Forum, with a further chance to raise questions on all things Cov.
The supporters will have a voice and the club appear to want to listen and respond.
Real cause for optimism…? I think so.
The regular information coming out of the club at the moment via the website and Twitter/Facebook is also a marked improvement on last season when little relating to the playing side of the club seemed to be available, other than team news and match reports.
The build-up to the start of pre-season this last week has been evident, with a constant stream of tweets coming from the official Coventry Twitter account, culminating today in the plethora of images and clips of players mixing with Coventrians of all ages in the ‘Rat Race’.
Whoever is behind that…well done, you.
And what a brilliant way to kick off the pre-season. Split the squad up into teams and send them out on a Saturday morning into Cov city centre, ostensibly on a fact-finding mission about Coventry. Given that so many of the squad are new this season, I guess the idea is for players to become a little more ‘connected’ with Coventry and by interacting with the public, the players are involved in some priceless free marketing for the club in the process.
The tweets, photos and clips from the morning will be picked up by hundreds of supporters, potentially 4000+ in Cov’s official Twitter account alone. The message is clear – Coventry RFC are to be a presence this season, on and off the pitch.
Interestingly, rats are famed for deserting sinking ships. Todays Rat Race will only attract interest…
Maybe as Cov build up their fan base, the leaks will appear in that larger vessel on the other side of the city?
No doubt there are significant numbers of fans who crossed over to Wasps last season because they felt bereft of successful local rugby elsewhere. Constant media attention of the kind we’re starting to see of late, together with some decent performances on the pitch (allied with the promise of a more attack-minded approach from the team) could mean it is the Ricoh that starts to ship water in the coming months.
Presumably, the players involved in today’s activity were given the instruction to go out, have a good time, mix with the locals and tweet photos to your hearts’ content.
That would have been my team talk, anyway…
— Eoghan Grace (@EoghanG7) June 18, 2016
The players, happy and smiling, create a feeling of unity and togetherness.
Remember one of the criticisms early on last season…?
…that players coming in to the club during the close season didn’t seem to be bonding particularly well with those staying on from the previous season? Well, activities such as today’s Rat Race will only help create a much more united and integrated group of players.
Hopefully, the club will add some names to the faces, perhaps with a couple of video clips or posts of some of the new players talking about their first day at The Butts…it would be really interesting to know what they made of their first day.
With every one of the squad living no more than 45 miles from the club, the opportunities for the players to enjoy social events together is far greater. Senior players won’t be travelling hundreds of miles a week just to train and play, with no social interaction whatsoever. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but such logistics can’t have worked in the club’s favour last season, particularly when the wheels began to wobble.
This is a squad for the city and, more importantly, now of the city.
There must be a positive in that, surely? A feeling of being not just accountable to Cov RFC and its supporters, but to the city itself. With so much more time spent with one another, surely that bonding will reap its rewards come those moments on the pitch, in a cold and wet December or January, when you have to dig deep not just for yourself, but also for your team mates?
It makes absolute sense to me, any way.
12 months ago, there was a lot of uncertainty about just who was pulling the strings as far playing side of the club was involved. Phil Maynard and Scott Morgan had different job titles but it was never clear who did what or where responsibilities lay. Now there’s no doubt. One person, one voice…
…one clear resounding voice.
RW has already stamped his own mark on the squad, on the way the club is communicating with its supporters and with his ambition for Cov and, indirectly, for himself.
Losing so many players at the end of last season, players for whom the supporters had great affection, could have been extremely difficult for RW. Just how the process was handled internally is unclear, but in terms of placating dissenting voices amongst supporters is concerned, he defused any potential difficulties very adroitly at the Members’ Forum last month to the extent that even JLR ‘s move to Moseley, sorry Birmingham Moseley, has gone almost unnoticed.
However, I do believe it’s important not to get too carried away with expectations in terms of results this season. Me, I’m hoping for something rather more successful than this season BUT a top 3 or 4 place would be a good result as far as I’m concerned. This is Project Cov, a process that has promotion as it’s final goal but one that isn’t designed to take place over a single season.
The problem last year was that the foundations weren’t solid and when the pressure grew as results dipped, the walls crumbled. The DoR and coaches need to put everything in place to enable a successful season on the pitch and they just haven’t had the time to do this yet.
Fortress Cov would be good…plenty of tries, the backs feeding off a strong pack and a defence capable of holding on to a lead. If RW does intend to run everything, so much the better. I’ve always admired Fylde who do pretty much the same, although hopefully James Pritchard, as defence coach, will be able to ensure we can do a better job defensively!
It should be a really exciting season ahead…
All I can ask of Roland is, ‘Winter: spring, summer but no Fall….please’…
I never thought I’d ever become a Belieber, but maybe Cliffie, Sam S and the rest were singing (surprisingly tunefully) ‘Love Yourself’ for a reason. Cov need to love itself first and foremost…when all is happy in the Cov camp, everything else will begin to fit into place.
Today seems a great start towards achieving just that.
Remember Johnny and the Bandwagon – ‘Breakin` Down the Walls of Heartache’?
Well, I think Johnny had it spot on:
Like a madman I’m up in the morning,
headin’ for the walls of heartache.
Working everyday, bringing home a/the pail of heartbreak.
You look down and the walls are higher*
They are built from the tears you’re cryin.
Breakin’ down the walls of heartache, baby
I’m a carpenter of love and affection
Breakin’ down the walls of heartache, baby
Got to tear down all the loneliness and tears
and build you up a house of love
Next post will be after the Supporters’ Club meeting on Thursday evening – after that it will probably be just before the Broadstreet game which is the first pre-season fixture.