Club talk

RW starts spreading the news…who wants to be part of it?

Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today.
I want to be a part of it…Coventry, Coventry

These little town blues, are melting away.
I’m gonna make a brand new start of it,
In old Coventry, and…

If I can make it here, I’m gone make it anywhere.
It’s up to you…now talk, now talk

Frank Sinatra – adapted

 

Wednesday’s  BBC CWR Sports’ Hour interview with Cov’s very own  John Butler and Rowland Winter made for excellent listening.

Although it lasted for little more than 15 minutes, it managed to succinctly convey the massive changes that have taken place within the club over the last 8 weeks together with the increasing excitement amongst its supporters, whilst also downplaying the potential hype that often goes hand in hand with such increased expectations.

As indeed was the case last season.

The pairing of JB and RW worked extremely well.

In JB we had a person who has lived and breathed Cov for as long as most can remember, a man who has  commentated on some of the greatest moments in the club’s history, as well as perhaps most of the darkest. A man able to put a real perspective on just what is happening at Coventry at the moment, someone keen to reinforce the degree of change currently taking place whilst also anxious to keep a lid on those expectations… ‘Don’t expect too much too soon’.

Rather like John Wilkinson, when JB speaks supporters listen.

Not just out of respect , but also because you know what he says is always worth listening to…

And in Rowland Winter?

Well I’m sure we’d all like to believe that in RW we have a vision of the club’s future.

It is hard not to get carried away in a tide of optimism when you hear of so many positive changes taking place, especially following all the disappointments of last season. What RW originally set out to do, he has done and in so doing he has shown himself to be someone in whom supporters can put their faith. He has managed to re-engage many whom, mid-way through last season, were disillusioned and beginning to question whether they would be returning this season.

Wednesday was a reminder that when we enter those turnstiles in not much more than a couple of weeks time, we will be coming back to a new Cov…more professional, better managed, better coached and hopefully, in the long run, more successful. That’s not to denigrate what was happening under Scott Morgan, Dave Addleton and co – it’s just an honest opinion. A more professional approach permeates everything that is happening down at The Butts at the moment…and, dare I say it, it’s about time too.

And those 15 minutes of broadcasting were important for another reason, too.

Thus far, RW has really only been preaching to the converted, at least publicly…meetings with supporters being the most obvious example. However, Wednesday was about spreading the news to a wider audience, to those in Coventry interested in sport but who may have turned to the dark side (or at least the black and yellow side) because Cov offered them little in terms of entertainment or success, or those who had never really contemplated a visit to The Butts but who might now be doin so because they were interested in what he had to say.

Hopefully, neutrals listening to the DoR will have been impressed with his calm, confident manner, his reasoned approach and his promise of a different style of rugby at Cov this season. Maybe a few of the doubters will return just to see if things are really that different.

And if, as he has been so far, RW is true to his word, then they’ll back a second and third time.

Cov haven’t had a great deal to shout about in the last few seasons (even in the club’s most successful season in National 1, the season before last, ended in a run of poor results) and the pride I have in Cov has been as much about the pride in its past  as it’s been about the pride I’ve felt for Cov over the last few seasons. I guess when you’ve watched the club for 50 plus years and witnessed some great times, then that’s kind of inevitable. RW alluded to this when he mentioned that one of the failings of the club has been our tendency  to dwell in the ‘great days of the past’ rather look forward to future successes, suggesting that’s why we’ve stalled in the present (I did like the way he used the first person plural all the time – ‘we’, ‘us’, ‘our’ etc – even when talking about previous problems. There was no attempt to distance himself from the club’s failings, even if he wasn’t a part of the club then).

But I should say that when I listened to JB and RW talk about the Coventry of the future, then I felt proud about the here and now. Proud because Cov is once more being talked about in a very positive and constructive way and not just amongst its own supporters, but to a wider audience across the city.

‘Our city…our club’ is the mantra and the club is doing a great job in promoting it. Hopefully, word of the resurgence at Cov will filter down and more and more will want to be a part of the velvet (blue and white of course) revolution we’re now witnessing.

One or two things came out of the broadcast that were of particular interest…

…for instance, just three or maybe four weeks ago RW had spoken of 14 full-timers in the squad. By Wednesday it had increased to 18 or 19 or, put another way, near enough a full match day squad.

Clive Eakin suggested that whilst we were one of the better resourced teams in the league, we might not be the best resourced, citing Plymouth and Rosslyn Park, two clubs who might well have bigger budgets. But with 18 plus full-time players, we are as competitive as we have ever been in this league and, to quote RW, ‘there can be no more excuses’. We need to ‘look away from how many pound notes are knocking around’ and concentrate more on provision. He felt that Cambridge, with a far smaller budget than most teams in the league, offer better provision and a more professional set up at a far more cost effective price. The amount of ‘money in the bank’ becomes an irrelevance if it isn’t used effectively.

RW has said previously that last season’s squad was something of a luxury in terms of salary and by bringing together players with plenty of Championship and National 1 experience but on tighter player budget, he has also been able to put together a coaching and management structure to match. Good housekeeping means he can still bring in another 2 or 3 players to step things up in ‘certain areas of the team’. One thing he did say at this point did make me wince, but only because 12 months ago, in entirely different circumstances,  we heard pretty much the same comment – that there would be these 2 or 3 additions to the squad because ‘we’re trying to makes sure there is competition for every place in the side’…

…that didn’t seem to work too well last season, but I rather imagine the same problems won’t arise this time round!

He also suggested the club hadn’t looked after itself rugby-wise over the past few years and, with the budget he’s been given, he has also been able to address the ‘medical side of the club’ as well as upping the man hours available  in order to deliver content. More access time with players means they will be far better equipped to compete with those teams that have been training for a lot  more than the two and a half hours a week that was given over to training last season.

Those players who are full-timers (the 18/19) will be able to train on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings, Monday and Wednesday mornings and a further 2-3 squad sessions during the week.

As opposed to just two and a hours a week last season. No brainer, really.

It doesn’t  need a comment.

Just a guess this, but find out the 18/19 full-times and you’ve pretty much got your squad for Nat 1 opener against Loughborough. I know there’s bound to be exceptions, but as a rule of thumb surely the full-timers will be the first choice players (not necessarily including the coaches)?

Clive Eakin then asked the question I guess we’ve all wondered as some point in the last few months. Given the financial problems Cov has endured over the last few years (and beyond!) can the club afford the changes it’s presently making…? JB dodged the answer very neatly by stating, quite rightly, that’s a question for Jon Sharp, but RW stressed the club was extremely well run and that he knew the budget early on and, whilst no DoR is ever happy with what’s on the table, he was very happy with the squad. (Interestingly, he did mention that he had begun to the players he wanted as far back as December and January…before the appointment of Scott Morgan as Head Coach…which seems a little odd. No reflection on RW at all here,  but it does suggest the club kept SM out of discussions for a while?

RW wouldn’t be drawn on giving a time-scale for achieving promotion.  He acknowledged that supporters were ‘itching’ to see Cov back in the Championship – although this supporter is certainly happy to wait until Cov are ready to compete in tier 2, rather than just gain promotion to it. He also stated that ‘we’ve got expectations of our own’ and must first put all the ‘building blocks’ in place if they’re to achieve what they want to achieve. Supporters shouldn’t ‘expect too much too soon because there’s been an awful lot of change’, which indeed there has.

He went on to add that a new coaching structure, new management structure, new style of rugby on the pitch and 27 new players makes for huge change and to successfully initiate just one of those  would be tricky, but all four in the course of the summer, well it’s a question of developing and ensuring that they remain on course. However, with more players turning professional and RW continuing to strengthen the squad, I don’t think RW is just looking for a season to consolidate.

As he went on to explain, ‘You aim to win every game and score as many points as you can’…no DoR with any sense, something he seems to have in abundance, would say anything other than what he said…see how the pre-season games go and set a target for September. But by his own admission, RW seems to be very much someone who is ambitious and will be looking early on to see how competitive Cov are in this league. I’m sure if there’s an opportunity to fight it out with the top teams then, and please forgive me here ‘Ed, ‘Hell, yeah’, he’ll be giving it a shot.

Clive Eakin did bring up the ‘Wasps factor’ and whilst acknowledging their presence in the city might ‘open some new doors’ (the sharing of ideas – ‘nicking stuff from them if we can’ {not in a material sense} – and so on) his primary concern is concentrating on what needs doing at our own club…’there are things we need to get right first at Cov’.

One comment though, above all others, heartened me most and it was to do with ending the gulf that many supporters have at times felt exists between themselves and the club. It’s a theme that ran through many of the posts in this blog last season and it is clear RW has picked up on this sense of alienation from his meetings with supporters over the last few weeks. Rowland wants to re-engage with supporters and make the club ‘one again’, forging links and using them in ‘what ever way we can’.

It’s the one thing that really stood out for me – a willingness to acknowledge the role supporters can, and indeed should, have in the success of the club. If that feeling of ‘oneness’ can somehow be felt by those who attend the first few home games, and if it can be followed up mid-week with regular news coming out of the club for the benefit of supporters, then the rows of empty seats in the main stand that we saw for most games last season will begin to fill.

No matter what is happening across the city, if Cov continue to raise its profile on and off the pitch come August onwards and if RW is as good a front man as I believe him to be, the crowds will return and The Butts will rock to the sound of the Coventry roar.

We’ve heard it on occasions, especially when Cov have up their game against some of the ‘bigger’ and more established clubs in National 1. It’s something that stays with you well after the game has finished. Those players new to Cov I’m sure will relish the experience…those formers players returning to the Butts certainly won’t.

And then, of course, there’s the Moseley game to look forward to…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 replies »

  1. Another great blog post Tim. Both myself and wifey are really looking forward to the Broadstreet game to come round, and kick off the season to come. I may even get down to a training session or two, and possibly a few away games too. Since even before he officially started at the club, RW has played a great hand in getting the supporters ‘onside’ and enthused for the season ahead, while at the same time playing down any over confidence and big talk for what’s to come. I’m quite optimistic that we can compete at or near the top of the league throughout the season, and I’m very much looking forward to watching the players progress as the season unfolds. I thought this passage was quite apt (slight adaptation)…..

    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition;
    And gentlemen in England now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon the BPA.

    Like

  2. What an extremely good blog, Tim. You have so successfully captured the positivity which is eminating from BPA.
    I don’t know whether you remember when, after the away game at Ampthill, I said I would not be renewing my season ticket, following a terrible game which led to me feeling utterly disenchanted. But look at where I am now. I pulled myself up by my bootlaces and became involved with the club (specifically JS), then had meetings with him and Lara, then had meetings with Rowland, and now we’ve achieved some real momentum (with a great deal of enthusiastic support from those three people) in re-launching the Supporters’ Club, of which I find myself Chairman!
    All of which is a tribute to, and a reflection of, the root and branch changes at BPA and the massively positive atmosphere which now permeates the whole club.
    I’ve no doubt we’ll talk more at the next committee meeting about the benefits of Supporters’ Club membership, but may I say that Inthink Peter’s suggestion is extremely erudite and is something which you should seriously consider, with a view to making the offer to the club. By the way, I’ve invited Peter to the next committee meeting because, as his suggestion to you has proved, he has a lot to offer.

    Like

    • Hi Cliff…I’m delighted that you’ve invited Peter to attend the next meeting…there can be fewer more dedicated and committed supporters. Great to have Peter involved! The momentum is indeed in our favour just now and this is largely down to your tenacity and JS and RW’s belief in the role the supporters have to play in the club’s resurgence. Yes, I do remember your frustrations at what was happening last season, ones shared by many others too. Things have moved on though and it’s now more about looking to the future than it is about digging up the past. Onwards and upwards…

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  3. Hi Tim once again a great article providing impetus to the coming season. Can I suggest that possibly the club is missing a trick in that you could pen a supporters page for the match day programme. I think that this would be an ideal link with the club.
    One more suggestion, for those who missed the interview, is there either a transcript or recording available for either the official or unofficial site. But saying that your report does a great job in reporting the interview.

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    • Hi Peter…I do think the idea of a supporters’ page in the programme is an excellent, although I think it would be more interesting to invite a different supporter each home game to share their thoughts. It wouldn’t be hard to find 15 such willing members and one of the SC members could offer to proof read drafts before submission. The following link should get you to a recording of the actual interview…

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p040gmdx

      You might need to copy and paste it into your browser though.

      Tim

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  4. Hi Tim, i think for many of us the excitement for the coming season is rising with each passing day, how i regret 6 months ago booking my annual holidays for 2 weeks later than i normally do, thus missing a couple of the frendlies…! Still, September is just around the corner and i will be in attendance for the Broadstreet game. (a point on this Tim, you are showing the BS game as as the 27th and not the rearranged date of the 2nd August)

    Like

    • Hi Phil…I’m no better! First three games of the season missed (including away at Mose) – but my wife puts up with a lot so I can’t really complain and it does mean that all the kids are back at school! Have corrected the Broadstreet error…good spot! Had completely failed to notice that! Not long to go now!

      Like

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