Council estates or tower blocks
Wherever you live you get the knocks
But the people round here they are so nice
Stop being naughty take our advice
Hersham Boys – Sham 69
Sham 69 was one of the first real punk rock groups, pre-dating the Sex Pistols and probably more famous for the violence that plagued their concerts than for the 5 top 10 hits they achieved until their break up in ’79 or ’80.
I saw them in Bradford and it was a scary experience; skinheads fighting skinheads and bottles thrown one from end of the hall to the other.
‘Hurry Up, Harry’ is their best known hit but ‘Hersham’ Boys is a close second, Hersham being the area of Surrey that is home to Esher RFC…and the leafy Surrey village couldn’t be further away from the council estates and tower blocks that housed the angry voices of the new wave puck rockers of that generation.
The first time I visited Esher RFC, a few years back now, I remember spending more time admiring the local fauna than watching the rugby. Whilst I can still vividly recall the flocks of parrots that flew past the main stand at regular intervals as the light began to fade, I have absolutely no recollection of the game itself. (A shame the same can’t be said of last year’s visit to Molesey Road).
The sight of hundreds upon hundreds of these ring-necked parakeets completely threw me and, after a few double-takes, I had to enquire of the local supporters to confirm I had indeed seen them and wasn’t actually suffering from an unfortunate reaction to the local ale.
It appears there are some 6000 of these birds living feral in SE England, with the biggest population in and around the locality of the Esher ground:
if you want to see Ring-Necked parakeets, one of the easiest places to find them is Bushy Park. Another good place to see them is Esher Rugby Club where there are said to be over 2500 of them.
Apparently, they originate from the foothills of the Himalayas, so the relatively mild winters in the south east don’t pose them any problems. If you haven’t visited Esher before, then look out for them, they certainly make an impressive sight, and sound, as they conduct their daily flypast.
You can always tell the away supporters sitting in the stand – they’re the ones who are looking up rather than across…
From a Coventry perspective, I hope it’s less a case of the Esher ‘Pieces of Eight’ and more one of the Esher eight in pieces…
The announcement that the Nighthawks will be playing a Moseley XV home and away this season comes as excellent news, especially having missed the full league encounter last month.
Any game against Moseley has an extra edge to it for me, so the chance to see the youngsters in action against their local rivals from Birmingham will make it all the more interesting. I don’t know whether Moseley have the equivalent of a development squad or whether it will be more of a 2nd XV that we’ll come up against, but either way it will be good experience for the Cov lads in a team that will presumably also include one or two of the coaches and/or full-time squad in need of additional game time.
In an update on the Cov website, Rowland Winter makes the point that the group of youngsters, talented as they are, has only been together a few weeks so it’s still very early days in their development, but he goes on to say that:
…the boys have got to stay patient because they’ll have good games when they’ll score lots of tries and think they’ve cracked it, and then a week later they’ll come up against some old, gnarled players who will put them back in their place.
And that’s the experience we need them to pick up so that they’re far more rounded and confident when they come into the National One environment.
I can’t see those representing Moseley as anything other than the ‘old gnarled’ type, although whether or not they’ll end up being the teachers or the pupils is very much open to question. It would be great if the juniors could do what the seniors weren’t quite able to achieve a month back.
Whilst some of the Coventry youngsters are already familiar names to Coventry supporters, most notably Sam Smith and Joe Foreman, many of the others are less so, although they did play against Chelmsford as part of the triple header in the final pre-season weekend. If one or two of these are to be the Coventry stars of the future, then it will be good to say we saw them come up through the ranks and witnessed some of their very first games in a Coventry shirt.
The regular reports of their progress make for interesting reading, another example of how Coventry is encouraging its supporters to be that much more involved in what is happening whilst at the same time hopefully enticing one or two more through the turnstiles to watch these Nighthawks games, having read so much more about the players involved. There were times in previous seasons when you’d turn up to watch a Nighthawks game and many of the names on the team sheet (if indeed there was one) would be those of players either trialling or brought in to make up the numbers, so there was little that was ‘Cov’ about them.
The Nighthawks fixtures are certainly a bonus as far as I’m concerned and, if I’m around, I’ll certainly be heading along to the home games…
I enjoy away days far more as I get older than I ever did when I was in my twenties and thirties.
Twenty or thirty years ago, working during the week meant that weekends were always filled with the jobs that never used to get done Mon-Fri and, with school work often meaning a late finish, Saturdays and Sundays also inevitably involved me reintroducing myself to my children and, more often than not, my wife as well.
So the mention that I would be taking the best part of a day out of the weekend to go on and watch Coventry down in, say, London wasn’t often met with wild enthusiasm. Sam always came with me, but with two younger daughters as well, I often left my wife holding the babies, so-to-speak.
I’m sure there will be those who read this post who empathise when I say that there was always an element of guilt attached to away games.
But not enough to stop me going…
…and I realise I’m not coming out of this too well…
However, being retired now and master of my own time, one of the few things that distinguishes weekends from the rest of the week is the rugby. Often weekdays and weekends share the same characteristics and merge into one another. Were it not for the fact that both my wife and I are getting increasingly drawn back into school support, there would be little to distinguish the two.
So travelling to away games is far more pleasurable these days as I know Sunday isn’t going to be spent making up to the rest of the family for having left them in the lurch the day before. Even though it’s an 11.00 am departure from the BPA, I’ll have left home before 9.00 am to catch the train to Cov where I’ll have a leisurely cup of coffee and a piece of toast and a catch up with Sam before heading for the ground.
Hopefully, Coventry will be tweeting the scores from the game, although it’s still a bit hit and miss, especially at away games.
If you do want to kmow what’s happening the game other than just updates of the scores, please let me know and I’ll be happy to tweet a ‘commentary’, although sometimes you have to decipher the tweets when the predictive text or my fat fingers get in the way. Just let me know on @Cowshedtim.
If you aren’t familiar with Twitter and don’t have an account, then on the homepage of this blog (www.coventryrfc.me), all the tweets will appear in real time on the far right of the page, towards the top end.
Up the Cov.