Coventry v Moseley – so much more than just another game
Or has time rewritten every line
If we had the chance to do it all again, tell me, would we, could we
What’s too painful to remember we simply choose to forget
So it’s the laughter we will remember
Whenever we remember the way we were.
I am sure that there’ll be plenty of folk at the BPA this weekend who will have been supporting Cov for less than 6 years and therefore will never have experienced the atmosphere generated by a Cov vs Mose local derby.
And if that is the case, then they’re in for a real treat.
There will be a buzz around the ground before the game that won’t have been felt for a while now as two sets of supporters await the arrival of the players in the sure and certain knowledge that whatever the result, we’ll witness more than just two teams battling it out on a rugby pitch.
For many of the supporters who have followed their respective clubs over a number of years, then there is far more than just the four or five points at stake. Not so for the players and coaches of both clubs, for whom Saturday will be about achieving the win and the five points, if possible.
But for some supporters, a game against Moseley transcends league rugby to become something far more meaningful, and indeed beautiful; the coming together of two clubs whose history is an integral part of the history of rugby union itself.
Both sets of long-suffering supporters will appreciate the efforts of the two former giants of the game, both fallen on hard times and both struggling to reassert themselves in this modern age of professional rugby.
I always felt a tinge of sadness whenever the two teams met when they were both in the what was then the equivalent of the Championship, back in the day; that feeling will only be heightened now we have fallen even deeper into the bowels of national league rugby.
Two ageing rockers, both trying to recapture their lost youth. All rather sad and poignant…
And, with the present structure of national rugby seemingly designed to make it as hard as possible for clubs like Coventry and Moseley to succeed, both sets of supporters know that it will take something special, very special indeed, for either club to play their way out of National 1, especially given the financial constraints both clubs have had to endure in recent times.
Find some rich benefactor to pay our way out might be a better bet…
But Cov do now have the belief, stronger in some supporters than others, that the appointment of Rowland Winter and the restructuring of the club at almost every level does off us that special something given time…
Not everyone feels that way, but there are enough of us to create a sense of belief.
I am ever the optimist…
As Cov supporters, we’ll watch the game, suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune as we always do and hope that, come 5.00 pm, Fate will have taken a good hard look at what’s been happening and determine that it’s about time Coventry held the bragging rites, having been in Moseley’s shadow far too long.
And having taken that good hard look, He will point His gnarled fingers towards the posts to award a penalty try to Cov in the final seconds of the game as Mose collapse the scrum, yet again unable to cope with Coventry’s front three.
And Coventry take the win by the odd try in 9.
And with that, the bragging rights travel the 15 miles or so from Mose to Cov where they remain until we meet again next September, as we surely shall.
And brag I will…I’ve hurt too long not to.
The equilibrium is restored, honours for the season are shared but Cov hold the upper hand for a few months at least.
I think Saturday’s game is all the more relevant as it’s the final game before Christmas, and therefore so redolent of the Boxing Day games of yesteryear that were as much a part of our festive celebrations as mince pies and turkey leftovers…indeed, didn’t the referee always get a brand new whistle for the game?
For old codgers like myself, the Cov v Mose Christmas fixture evokes a different era, pre-professionalism and pre-commercialisation, where the game was sometimes secondary to actual occasion itself.
The Boxing Day fixture had a community feel to it, a chance for families and friends to come together to share some Christmas spirit. Everyone wore their new hats and scarves, festooned in seasonal jumpers and Santa hats. There was always a competitive edge to the game, but because it was a ‘friendly’, the result never mattered as much and you always left either Coundon Road or The Reddings feeling a degree of contentment no matter the result…
…or at least that’s how the years have blurred it.
I enjoyed my trips to Moseley…as an impressionable youngster I was aware that Moseley supporters always seemed different, especially away from home – there were far more hip flasks and duffle coats over there than there ever were at Coundon Road.
Maybe that’s a little unfair, but I remember where I used to sit as a youngster at Cov, cardigans and thermos flasks tended to be far more prevalent. In those days, and I’m going back to the sixties here, it always seemed as if the two sets of supporters came from very different backgrounds.
Supporters from Moseley seemed altogether more affluent and well-to-do in comparison to those from Coventry and whilst we were all connected by a love of the game, in some respects I think the contrast between the two helped heighten the atmosphere. Here were two clubs, close together in terms of distance but miles and miles apart in terms of almost everything else. I was young at the time and maybe I saw things very differently to the reality of the situation, but that’s the impression I was left with.
Moseley supporters were always very pleasant and never did I witness the kinds of ill-feeling that sometimes broke out on the pitch on both sides. However, visits to The Reddings back then felt a little like trips down to Blackheath and Esher do today… and I’ve never really been a great favourite of blazers and bow-ties.
I’m sure that things have changed a great deal down at Moseley over the years. more so than at Coventry I expect. That said, the memories of the Moseley games seem as strong as ever, although they have probably become hazy over the years and the images I’m left with might well be some way off the truth.
Time has indeed probably rewritten every rule.
I’ve missed the Moseley encounters, missed them a great deal, which goes some way to explain why I am so nostalgic.
I will be desperate for the Coventry win on Saturday, but I am also extremely respectful of Moseley, a club that has been had such a pre-eminent place in the history of English rugby. Whilst its good to have Moseley back in the same league as us, I wouldn’t want to see our local rivals struggling at the foot of the league. Indeed, I hope they get promoted back to the Championship sooner rather than later – although, in fairness, I’d rather it was the year after us…
All the above will be meaningless to those who have yet to experience Cov’s local derby. And maybe the atmosphere won’t be anything like as electric as the one I envisage – me and my rose tinted spectacles again no doubt.
But this week’s fixture was , and always will be, the very first I look for to when the list is published and I’m pleased the powers that be have seen sense and engineered it so that the Cov vs Moseley fixture is as close as possible to Christmas.
It must be an important money spinner for Cov, too.
Coming as it does immediately before an enforced three week break, hopefully a bigger than average crowd will ensure the cash registers ring out loud and clear in unison with the bells that summon in the Christmas holidays. A few weeks ago, the word was that all the corporate hospitality had already been sold for the Moseley game, so that should certainly add to the coffers and, with plenty of away support on the day, the bar takings should be pretty decent, too. Hopefully, Cov will also have got the message out locally and some of the supporters who might not have been back to Cov since the record crowds of 2014, might decide to come and pay their Yuletide respects.
A bumper crowd, in full voice, should certainly add something to the occasion and if the crowd can lift the Cov players to even greater heights, then so much the better. In the last home game, for the first time I can recall in many a year, the Old Albanian supporters outsung those from Coventry with their memorable song entitled ‘OA OA OA’ – we can’t let Moseley do something similar, surely?
Although from memory (I missed the away game) Moseley’s offering used to consist simply of the moving and meaningful ‘Mooooooooooooooooooooooooseley’, which is no better than the OAs or Cov’s own highly original ‘COV…EN…TRY’, if truth be told. I think Ted Wainwright (?) has the monopoly on the Cov lyrics, perhaps we should adopt his…?
Or maybe there should be a Christmas competition run by supporters on the Messageboard to come up with the best Cov chant…? Given there are some very witty supporters who frequent the ether around there, it might result in one or two amusing outcomes!
Anyway, just four days left to the Mose game. There’s plenty at stake for both teams, with Coventry wanting to set up the second half of their National League 1 campaign with a win to enter the break in a more confident frame of mind and Moseley anxious to pick up another 5 points just in case Hartpury begin to falter. There is also a rumour doing the rounds on www.rollingmaul.com that another Championship club, aside from Jersey and London Welsh, currently finds itself in something of a financial crisis, so a second promotion spot could yet becomes available in National 1.
Coventry vs Moseley, always so much more than just another game.