Not the best of times to be away…
…a very encouraging pre-season building up to a pretty convincing demolition of Loughborough in the first league game of the season.
And now the most eagerly awaited game for many a year…well, since 2010 anyway…
Not Birmingham Moseley, I’m afraid. At least not for me.
Just how that change in nomenclature works for Mose supporters, I’m not quite sure.
If you live in the Birmingham and know anything about rugby, then you’ll be aware of Moseley’s existence anyway.
Maybe as potential sponsors wanting to cash in on the success of the World Cup then, yes, you might feel that Birmingham is a market waiting to be tapped into, one with plenty of possibilities given the dearth of decent rugby teams in and around the city. Worth a punt for businesses local or otherwise, so-to-speak.
But with such small crowds, it’s hardly going to bring in a great deal of interest I would have thought, unless you’re benefitting from wider tv and media coverage…and that means the Premiership really. But good luck to Birmingham Moseley – at least, like Cov, they’re working hard to bring investment into the club.
(Birmingham) Moseley RFC…
It’s a bit of a love/hate relationship with me. But if I’m honest more love than hate, other than on match days, of course.
As a part-time West Brom supporter, I always greet a Wolves loss with unadulterated delight. It’s not something I’m proud of, it’s just the way it is. I guess it’s a bit like Blues and Villa, United and City, Celtic and Rangers, Arsenal and Spurs…all rather tribal and ritualistic.
However, it’s just not the case with Moseley.
Even calling them ‘Mose’ is a term of endearment in itself, an acceptance that this is a friend whom you know well enough to express some familiarity. And I certainly don’t wish them ill…
I’d be more than happy to see them finish second in National 1…
Provided it’s second behind Cov, that is.
I’m not altogether sure if the Board will have set Rowland Winter any targets this season and, if it has, I rather expect they’ll be something a little more demanding than simply win both the Moseley games, finish above them in the league and avoid relegation. But to be honest, that would have been all I’d have asked for in his first season. Well, maybe not, but it would certainly do for starters…
And there’s the thing…I’ve always had a soft spot for Mose, always wanted them to succeed, provided it wasn’t at the expense of Coventry. Love them most of the time, hate them on a match day and then afterwards the love-in begins again. Certainly a Marmite club…it’s one that always provokes extreme emotions in me.
Theirs is always the second result I’ll look for. During the last six seasons apart, the Moseley games are the ones I’ve missed above any others and it’s great that they’re back on the fixture list, but I would have preferred them to have been played in the Championship with Cov having gone up rather than Mose coming down.
And not just because I’m a Cov fan. Any team coming down from the Championship is going to find it hard going financially and the last thing I’d want is to see Moseley going through similar problems to the dire ones Coventry found itself in on a couple of occasions over the past 20 years with voluntary liquidation and potentially much worse. No team deserves that.
Coventry and Mose.
No, ours is a rivalry borne of respect, not hatred.
This is not football, after all.
For those supporters from both clubs lucky enough to have witnessed the derby fixtures of the late 60s and 70s, there can be nothing else but respect. The sides were littered with stars the likes of which neither team are likely to see again, at least not for a very long time…Rossborough, Preece, Duckham, Evans, Cowman, Gittings, Darnell, Fairbrother , Gray….Webster, Finlan, Cooper, Fielding, McFadyean, Horton.
Back in 1977 , I was proud to be at The Reddings for Sam Doble’s Memorial Game when Moseley took on The Sportswriter’s XV. The premature death of Sam Doble felt as great a loss to me as if he had been one of Cov’s own.
The rugby world mourned.
And what a game it was…with Moseley’s opposition that day being arguably the greatest British team ever assembled on home turf…
MOSELEY- C.A. Meanwell; A. Thomas (rep. A. Watson-Jones), M.K. Swain (rep. L. Cusworth), B.J. Corless, P. Beddoes; M.J. Cooper, C.J. Gifford; T.F. Corless, G.N. Cox, W.H. Greaves, R. Field, B. Ayre, J.C. White, N. Jeavons, D.G. Warren (capt.).
INVITATION XV- J.P.R. Williams (Bridgend and Wales); P.J. Squires (Harrogate and England), T.G.R. Davies (Cardiff and Wales), S.P. Fenwick (Bridgend and Wales), A.R. Irvine (Heriot’s Former Pupils and Scotland); P. Bennett (Llanelli and Wales), G.O. Edwards (Cardiff and Wales); F.E. Cotton (Sale and England), P.J. Wheeler (Leicester and England) (rep. R. Windsor (Pontypool and Wales)), G. Price (Pontypool and Wales), W.B. Beaumont (Fylde and England), A.J. Martin (Aberavon and Wales), T.J. Cobner (Pontypool and Wales) (capt.), D.L. Quinnell (Llanelli and Wales), A. Neary (Broughton Park and England).
(Malcolm Swain taught rugby at the school I attended. He certainly didn’t have much to work with as far as I was concerned).
I can’t even remember the score…just the occasion.
Cov’s nemesis he might have been, but Sam Doble was an icon and at 16 I realised that perhaps even the greats were mortal…
Rowland Winter has quite rightly stressed the need to move on from the past and those glory years. But the Coventry v Moseley fixtures of yesteryear, especially those held on Boxing Day every year, do help to explain why for many this weekend’s fixture is as important as it is. Back then, the teams played for the bragging rights and little else; there were no league points or possible relegations or promotions at stake.
And how we bragged…
…I remember going to one of The Reddings Lane games one Boxing Day and, after Cov had won a particularly closely fought contest, popping round to a friend’s house immediately after the game and putting a Christmas card through his front door the inside of which I’d inscribed with:
Q. What’s the similarity between Moseley and a turkey?
A. Both get stuffed at Christmas
Hardly original, but it is still remembered.
Saturday’s game is very much about the beginning of a new era…we’ve had plenty of false dawns before, plenty of broken promises, but I do feel there is a very different mood around the BPA this season. The changes themselves have created that to some extent, with new faces coming in and so much being done so differently; it is hard not to feel that Coventry are taking a step forward and leaving so many years of relatively mediocrity behind.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, philosophers believed that the universe could only be as complex as it is because at its heart was an omnipotent being…the likes of Newton believed its intricacies were proof, if proof was needed, of some greater existence; a god. They argued that if you take a watch, with all the complexities that lay beneath the watch face – the ratchets, wheels, springs, bridges, barrels and arbors – then it needed a grand designer to create it. And if that was the case for a watch, then so it was for the universe.
And whilst Coventry might not be blessed by some rugby loving deity, it does have it’s own horologist in Rowland Winter…the man with magnifying glass and watch repair kit who is currently ensuring the hands of the Cov clock are on firmly fixed to the present and not the past, but with perhaps half an eye to the future.
I imagine that for Coventry’s management team the Moseley game is just that, another game. A chance to continue the building process…one of that six game mini-league that RW talked about a while back at the last members’ forum. It might mean more to the old timers like me, but actually it’s no more important than the Macclesfield game the week after.
One of 30 games during the season that need to be won.
Moseley must go into the game as favourites – the relegated Championship side with aspirations to go straight back up. Cov must fancy their chances, too, but a loss wouldn’t be anything other than a disappointment at this stage of the season. Quite rightly, no one is talking about promotion or a maximum number of games that we can afford to lose.
It’s about a rebrand and a rebuild.
But a win…well, how significant would that be? It’s not so much about how it might impact on the rest of the season in terms of position in the league…but more about the effects it would have on morale and on the gate the following week. And, in my humble opinion, it would be massive. The players and management would enjoy some real short-term accolades and if this were a presidential election RW’s rating, already pretty damn impressive, would go through the roof…a trump card, so-to-speak.
…for 7 days at least, such is the fickle nature of sport. Or maybe until 19th December when Mose visit us. And the appearance of Coventry favourites Sam Pailor and Jacques Le Roux in the Moseley match day squad will only add to the interest.
I’ll miss Saturday’s game, sadly…and quite rightly there’s not going to be too many folk sympathetic, given that I’m on holiday… a decision that I’ve begun to rue more and more these past few days.
Making beds and lying in them comes to mind. But king size ones with memory foam mattresses aren’t a bad alternative.
The hotel we’re at adjoins a beach, but unfortunately the free wifi doesn’t extend that far.
So for the game last Saturday, I sat poolside. And because kick off was at 10.00 eastern board time, when I set up camp at 9.00 am there was no one else around. Sam, my son, had kindly agreed to text me updates from the game (he knows which side his sour-dough is peanut buttered), so I was keen to get myself down there well before kick off and soak up the atmosphere as best I could.
The sun was bright, which of course meant I couldn’t see the screen of my tablet. so I ended up draping a towel of my head to banish any possible reflection and for almost a couple of hours I was oblivious to all around me, tweeting back and forth to Sam and engrossed in what appeared to be a fantasy 40 minutes of rugby.
Which was unfortunate.
I’d sat myself adjacent to the kiddies’ pool.
When I emerged from under the towel, an apparently single man of mature years, I got some very strange looks from worried mothers, concerned by what I’d been doing under said towel for an inordinately long time, especially as texting required movements of the arms which would added to the suspicion. Needless to say, on emerging from my cocoon and realising that things didn’t look quite as they were, I removed myself from the pool pretty damn quickly and sat on the balcony for the duration of the second half.
I have not been back to the pool since for fear of a restraining order…
…good job it’s so hot here. No mackintosh required, otherwise I really would have been in trouble.
My wife, full of sympathy as always, especially when it comes to ‘rugger’ as she likes to call it (she knows how to wind me up) very kindly agreed to let me re-enact the scene only this time on the balcony if only to show everyone when we get back home.
Oh how I’ll enjoy that….