Club talk

To Hull in a handcart, ever the optimist, a glimpse of the future…

hullThree away games. Three losses.

You could almost be forgiven for thinking that on Saturday, for those supporters making the long journey up to Brantingham Park to watch Cov on their travels once again, it’s a case of ‘going to Hull in a handcart’, such is the run of poor results away from home.

Each performance has been worse than the previous one…the close defeat to Moseley and then the disappointments of Blackheath and Esher. Having watched Coventry’s final 15 minute capitulation down in Surrey three weekends ago, there was a brief period immediately after the game when, on the basis of what I’d just seen, it felt like hell would have to freeze over before Cov won a game away from the Butts.

But it didn’t take long to snap out of it. After all…

…Winter is here already.

See. I got there in the end.

However, two wins since then and, despite the first 38 minutes of the second half display last week, Cov will be in good heart and I’m sure the players will be keen to break the losing run and make it a third victory on the bounce.

6 places below us in the league and with a gap of 5 points separating the two teams, Coventry ought to have enough in the tank to overcome what I’m sure will be a doughty Hull Ionians side.

It’s a game I’m particularly looking forward to.

In the corresponding fixture last season, Sue and I were up in Newcastle watching back-to-back  World Cup games and I remember following the Cov game as best I could via Twitter. We’d been on a run of poor results then, both home and away, and the win provided us with some welcome relief. This time round, w ith the mood in the Cov camp surely upbeat after wins against Fylde and Plymouth, and the team getting back to the more attacking game plan that we saw played to such good effect during pre-season, it should make for another exciting afternoon’s rugby.

I’ve never been to Hull before, so that will be interesting in itself. and far from having to get there in a handcart, or even a charabanc, we’ll be travelling up by coach…if you fancy coming along then there’s still a limited number of places available and at just £15 return for Supporters’ Club members (or £20 for non-members), it’s  a really good deal too. In addition, Cliff Bennett has once again come up trumps and negotiated a discounted £10 entrance fee (that includes the programme), together with 10% off all drink purchases.

It’s hard to see how you could get to the see the game any cheaper than £25, And in such good company, too! What’s not to like about it.

If you are interested and would like to know a bit more, then email the Supporters’ Club via CRSC1874@gmail.com . If you haven’t managed to get to an away game, then I certainly recommend you give it a go. The atmosphere at away grounds varies a great deal and there are occasions when the travelling Cov support is far louder than that of the home supporters and it is something the players value greatly.

There are also some really friendly folk who travel, often those whom you never get to meet at a home games and the chance to have a chat or a share the odd anecdote (or occasional moan) is quite cathartic sometimes.

Give it a go…even if it’s just the once.

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I imagine that selection won’t be getting any easier for the coaches this weekend. Provided everyone who played last Saturday is available ( Tony Fenner had to leave the pitch half way through the first half, so he must be in doubt ), then Rowland Winter will have pretty much a full squad from which to choose, other than a couple of longer term injuries.

From the information given alongside the announcement of the team last week, we already know that;

Brett Daynes, Tom Wheatcroft and Cliffie Hodgson will be available…they are competing their rehab and have worked hard to get themselves back fit

In addition, both Max Trimble and Dan Rundle could be back with the squad if they aren’t covering for injuries again this week for Nuneaton (‘with two loan signings coming in on the wings from Coventry, Max Trimble and Dan Rundle, to cover a number of absentees in the back line’). And by all accounts the pair acquitted themselves very well:

Nuneaton v Syston 22/10/16

With the Nuns moving up to second place in National 3 Midlands and  just 3 points behind Sheffield, I imagine that if Coventry aren’t going to select either one or both of them for the match day squad to play Hull, then the Nuns will be pretty keen to keep hold of them – provided, of course, their own players aren’t yet fit enough to be considered.

Hopefully, Boris Stankovich will have got over his own niggles and also be available as well.

All of which leaves the coaches with a few decisions to be made. The 3 Wasps’ loanees are only with us for this weekend before having to return for the LV games – it would be difficult to leave them out, especially as Coventry’s winning run has coincided with their appearance in the side.

Me, I think I’d keep them in for Hull and with the next game being against struggling Blaydon at home, then that would seem an ideal opportunity to ring the changes and, in particular, to bring the likes of Dan and Max back into what is hopefully a side brimming with confidence, buoyed further by their first away win.

Whatever team is selected, I firmly believe that we’ll go up to Hull with a side more than capable of bringing back four or five points. And a win would be significant because we then come into a run of 6 games. all of which we might be expected to win:

Nov 5th v Blaydon- Home

Nov 12th v Ampthill- Away

Nov 19th v Cambridge-Home

Nov 26th v Rosslyn Park- Away

Dec 3rd v Old Albanian- Home

Dec 10th v Darlington Mowden Park- Away

Of course, they will be anything but easy but they are all most definitely winnable, and whilst we have a reasonably straightforward run in to the Christmas break from Blaydon onwards (other than Moseley, of course), there are some really tough fixtures coming up for the top teams. Moseley, for instance, have to play Plymouth, Blackheath and Hartpury all away and Esher at home, before they face us on the 17th December.

All I’m suggesting is that the clubs above us are going to be dropping points, that is guaranteed. If we can win most of the next 7 games coming up against opposition that shouldn’t pose quite the same threat as the teams we’ve already lost to, then Coventry could be several places higher up the table come that crunch game against Moseley.

I’m sure that Cov have looked at the run-in to Christmas very closely  and will have a pretty good idea of where they can expect to be after the 17th December. There is  still a lot to play for and if we take responsibility for our own situation and don’t end up having to  rely on other results, then even after such a indifferent start, we could soon be in a much healthier position than we are right now.

I’m ever the optimist, and I’ve seen plenty in these last two games to encourage me to believe that this is a strong squad, well coached and managed and with the makings of a team capable of posing considerable difficulties for any of the teams in our league come the second half of the season.

50% of the games lost so far…

or still with a chance of ending the season with an 87% win rate…?

No brainer to me.

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Henley Rugby Club seem to be a very forward thinking club, especially when it comes to catering for its supporters.

All members carry cards which can be used to buy drinks from the club’s bar instead of using cash as the chip in them is linked to a personalised bar account. This can be topped up via a smartphone, meaning that the club is a long way to going cashless for most supporters. All members have to remember to do is bring their cards with them as all transactions that take place within the club can be done through them.

According to Martin Bidlake-Corser, the club’s membership secretary, in a Case Study provided by the firm overseeing the software on behalf of Henley:

Only a matter of months ago however…everything was being run with bits of paper. We had two stand-alone cash tills, our…membership cards all had to be printed, filled in by hand and laminated, our membership database software didn’t ‘talk’ to our website, and frankly, it was all becoming far too time consuming and laborious. Just to make matters worse, of course, by doing things manually any ‘management information’ risked being plagued with errors.

The system will also allow other benefits as well. Bookings for club functions can all be done online. And it also benefits the club because the software can provide immediate access to information such as what bar products are particularly popular, how effective promotions are, exact numbers through turnstiles and so on. The hope is to provide:

Stewards (with) tablets at the point of gate access so they can check the validity of anyone coming to our club on match days, whatever their category of membership – or not! Wifi proximity could give us the ability to send members welcome messages when they arrive with their guests for pre-match lunches at their pre-booked tables. Simple, but it makes Henley RUFC look very switched on

With just two salaried employees for their bar and catering facilities, the use of card will speed up transactions and help reduce the kinds of queues often found in rugby clubs at key moments on a match day, especially at half time and immediately after the game.

Whilst such a system might not be right for Coventry just yet, it is surely the way things will progress before too long.

It is a glimpse into the future and one that most clubs in National 1, and all in the Championship, are going to have to address if they are to be competitive off the pitch as well as on it.

Modern technology is already helping in all sorts of ways, especially in promoting the club through its website and social media. But that is very much just the start of a revolution that will provide an even better experience for supporters in the mid to long term.

Henley have a big advantage over Coventry in that that they have 660+ members, although that is boosted considerably by 422 junior/club members.

I don’t have an inkling as to the number of Coventry members, other than back in June, and just  after the push for members to join early to take advantage of the ‘early bird’ concessions, there were just over 200, but I’m sure that figure will have grown since then. Whether the numbers involved are sufficiently large enough to make the investment in, and upkeep of, the IT hardware/software financially viable, I just don’t know.

However, it is always interesting to learn how other clubs are resolving similar issues to those that we are currently experiencing here at Cov.

For those who fear such a move will mean the club losing something of itself and of its traditions in an effort to move fully into the modern era, perhaps the final word should go to Martin Bidlake-Corser:

Almost overnight our little club is as 21st century as anyone would want it to be, while retaining all the characteristics our members love: very friendly, sociable, human scale (sic)

 

 

 

 

6 replies »

    • Hi John, many thanks for leaving a comment…if Cov aren’t sending score updates via their Twitter account, I’ll be running a ‘commentary’ of sorts via Twitter on @Cowshedtim. Tends to add a little more detail rather than giving just the scores; provided there is a signal of course. Anyway, thanks for reading the post and here’s to our first away win of the season. Tim

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  1. The card system at Henley sounds like a really good model to potentially follow. Anything to speed up the time spent queuing for food and drink.

    Another idea might be to install contactless pay machines at food and drink outlets, apparently you just need a dedicated phone line or broadband connection. Just a thought…

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    • That seems eminently sensible, Rob. Anything to speed up the queues. No one’s fault, but I’ve turned round before now having seen the length of time it’s taking. Just means the club loses out in the long run. Hope all is well with you, Rob. Speak soon.

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  2. So sad to miss not only this game due to holidays, returning for the Cambridge game, but will be watching my iPad for updates on the game. Last year we were welcomed by a fly past of a Vulcan bomber on its last flight over the UK, wonder what Hull are planning to better this welcome. The club itself is a very friendly warm ground to visit and I would highly advise any late wavers to take up Tims offer and join the supporters coach visit to a very nice club.

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    • Will certainly seem strange without the two of you there! Still, with all that you went through earlier in the year, I should think you’re both about ready for a break! Have a wonderful time…will look out for the photos on FB!

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