On the third day of Christmas you voted for…

Don’t you think I’m looking older?
But something good has happened to me
Change is a stranger
You have yet to know

George Michael – Older

Lovely as Christmas is, it’s good to get back to something approaching normality.

With so little self-control, I do tend to over-face myself over the Christmas period and I have no one else to blame for the self-inflicted pains resulting in an expanding waistline and a constant urge to raid the ‘fridge.

I’ve even gone cold turkey…

…sadly, though, usually in the form of sandwiches and the occasional salad if I’m feeling particularly guilty, but it doesn’t seem to be helping.

Time for a bit of abstinence now…

I imagine the two week break between Christmas and the restart of the league programme must be a godsend for the players.

Hopefully, they will have been able to indulge over the weekend a little more than perhaps they normally would, given that they have almost two weeks to run off the damage. It would be really interesting to hear what instructions the coaches give to the players regarding what they can and can’t do over the festive period in terms of eating and drinking, and also how the players approach such a long lay off.

Presumably they’re given a week off from training, maybe even two…? What opportunities do they have to break away from the normal diet/routines…? I imagine some players must be better a sticking to a regime than others.

Anyway, I trust everyone enjoyed their day yesterday…a few of days respite and then it’s the New Year and a further couple more days of over indulgence.

Me, I’m a martyr to the cause…



Matt Price - when not playing, Matt works closely developing community links in and around the city
Matt Price – outside of his playing commitments, Matt works closely  community rugby links in and around the city

Day 3 of the ‘Coventry’s Most Valuable Player’ poll results and this time it’s 10th place that’s up for grabs.

And you voted for:

Matt Price.

According to Statbunker, which is usually pretty accurate though not necessarily precise, Matt Price has played 167 games for Coventry. In a era in which movement of players is very much the norm rather than the exception, this represents one heck of an achievement and is evidence, if evidence was ever needed, of Matt Price’s huge loyalty to the club and to the local community, something about which I’ll mention a little later.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that on top of the 167 appearances for Cov, Matt has also played exactly 100 other senior games for Bedford and Rugby Lions, not bad for a player who is still only 33.
I think it is fair to say that Matt is a seasoned professional in what is essentially a very young squad, and in this respect Matt’s experience I’m sure will also be invaluable. As far as I can remember, early on in his Coventry career (I think he joined us for the start of the 2010/11 season), Matt must have missed the best part of a season having undergone major surgery on his neck/spine and I have memories of him coming to watch games in a metal cage bolted on to his skull – I hope I’m not making that bit up?! The injury/damage to his spine must have been career threatening and having undergone similar surgeries as a youngster for a lower spinal injury, I remain full of admiration for Matt’s resilience and recovery.

I bet the aches and pains remain…

Matt heads Cov’s National 1 appearances by a distance.

It’s worth just having a look at those Cov stats for a moment…there are several other players who have achieved, or are close to achieving, 100 hundred appearances for the club but Matt is fully 50 appearances ahead of his nearest rival, Brett Daynes (the 113 is Nat 1 appearances, but he has 117 in total).

Interestingly, both Matt and Brett have the scored the same number of points for the club, 115 – so perhaps there might be a bit of rivalry there!

Almost half of Matt’s tries have come in the last two seasons, which only goes to prove that the older you get…

National One Coventry All time appearances

Players Total Start CO Sub Off Points
Brett Daynes 113 102 11 12 27 115
Tom Poole 103 92 11 13 23 35
Clifford Hodgson 98 95 3 3 15 1012
Andy Brown 87 73 14 14 36 30
Matt Price All time stats

For Coventry

General stats
Games played 167 Games selected 166 (?)
Games started 105 Started as a sub 61
Captain 0 Minutes played 8250
Came on 62 Minutes as sub 1465
Temporary substitution on 4 Came off 77
Tries 23 Drop goals 0
Conversion attempts 0 Conversion scored 0
Penalties attempts 0 Penalties scored 0
Points 115    
Sin bin 10 Rescinded 0
Red card 0    

It’s small wonder, therefore, that Matt is so well respected by Cov supporters even though this season has seen him only start on just 4 occasions, with a further 9 appearances coming off the bench.

To come 10th in the poll on so few a number of starts speaks volumes for the way Matt is perceived by the Cov faithful.  When Matt plays you know exactly what you are going to get – he is a pugnacious, abrasive hooker who will always get in the faces of the opposition. He seems to relish the big games and the physicality of the scrums and he  has been in excellent form this season.

Matt plays on the edge, but on the right side of it and he understand what it means to supporters to see players with the ‘dog’ in them – and he has that in abundance. And in fairness to Matt, when Coventry’s performances haven’t been acceptable, he is always one of the first players to tweet his thanks to supporters and to recognise that things have to improve, something that is always appreciated.

Together with Scott Tolmie, we have two hookers who are amongst the best in the league and whenever he has played this season, Matt has fitted in to the new systems/structures exceptionally well and, in some respects, he has been unlucky to be playing alongside Scott who has been in such excellent form; anyone else other than Scott and the likelihood is that he would have surely made more starts.

He seems a fiercely proud man and I have incurred his wrath in the past by blaming the failure of a lineout on a poor throw when in reality there could be a host of reasons, including mistiming of jumps, the wrong call and so on. Matt will defend his corner, quite rightly, and it is with some thought that I tweet about a lineout that goes wrong during the course of now a game…others have yet to learn their lesson though!

He’s clearly a very able, articulate person and someone who takes great pride in his own performance. Last season he lost his cool with a supporter away from home after a couple of lineouts had been lost and the supporter had shouted out an unnecessary comment. I mentioned this in a post the following day.

Matt sent me a long email in response, explaining the intricacies of the lineout and what can and often does go wrong. He wanted to explain why he gets so frustrated by supporters who simply blame the hooker when the lineout doesn’t function without first understanding the mechanics of it. He didn’t need to do it, nor was it in anyway expected, but it was an impressive response and it had a big impact on me – and that’s kind of why I respect him. He fights his corner and there’s no shame in that.

And of course Matt has another role within the club, that of Head of Community Rugby. And as an ex-teacher and someone who has seen at first hand how sport can excite and energise some children in ways that classroom practice just can’t, what Matt and his team do is of massive significance to so many youngsters in and around Coventry.

Working will kids of all ages and abilities, boys and girls, is so important…it is empowering and provides much needed support in the wider key skills of leadership, responsibility, decision making and so on, as well as the more obvious benefits of simply getting involved in sporting activity. Access to such opportunities is made available through the community programme to all youngsters, not just the great and the good and some of the very best work is done with children in special schools for whom such support is invaluable.

Yes, it provides an opportunity to spread the word about Coventry into schools in an evangelical sense, but for me that is always, always secondary to the huge enjoyment that Matt and his team add to the lives of so many youngsters involved in the outreach programme.

I’m not sure how long Matt intends to keep playing for, but when he does eventually hang up his boots on what will have been an illustrious career at Cov and one that will no doubt put in him the pantheon of modern day Cov greats, I genuinely hope he will continue developing his role within the community…there is so much the club can offer some of the most vulnerable kids in and around Coventry.

But before then, wouldn’t it be great if Matt could help see us back into the Championship…?


How many more…?

RIP – George Michael






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