Club talk

Reasons to be cheerful – we’re polls apart!

Summer, Buddy Holly, the working folly
Good golly, Miss Molly and boats

Hammer-smith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet
Jump back in the alley and nanny goats

18 wheeler Scammels, Dominica camels
All other mammals plus equal votes

Ian Dury and the Blockheads – Reasons to be Cheerful

If the results are anything to go by, there are plenty of other reasons to be cheerful following last week’s poll…

It makes for some interesting reading and were any members of the Coventry Board of Directors happened to stumble across the blog, I think they’d be fairly pleased with the contents of today’s post at least.

The decision to remove Scott Morgan at the end of last season together with the entire coaching team was a big decision and one that wasn’t without risk.

There were the financial uncertainties involved in appointing a new Director of Rugby, a new set of coaches and bringing in near enough an entire squad  – did the gamble of building towards a long term goal of Championship rugby merit the heavy  investment needed over the coming seasons, including the development of the Butts Park Arena to include additional opportunities to increase income?

And there was also the risk of how supporters might respond, torn as they were between the need to halt the alarming run of results and the apparent lack of direction from the top down, and the  huge loyalty they felt towards the likes of Scott Morgan, Dave Addleton and players like Sam Pailor, George Oliver and Jacques Le Roux.

It was a tough period in the club’s recent history and, in all honestly, there were supporters who were uncomfortable with the way the club handled those last few weeks of the 2015/16 season, particularly as far as the playing staff were concerned.

Myself included.

Back in February 2016, supporters were fairly demoralised about a range of issues to do with various aspects of the management of the club, both as far as the rugby itself was concerned and also the lack of communication between the club and it’s supporters.

The poll in February 2016 was designed to get a feel of what supporters believed to be the most pressing problems at that time and the various statements which readers were asked to prioritise were drawn from the most common areas of discussion on the Messageboard and elsewhere on social media…

So how do the results back then compare with those 12 months on…have opinions changed or do supporters still share the same concerns?

Here, then, are the results…

 

2016

2017

1 Recruitment and retention of players  – 22% Recruitment and retention of players  – 29%
2 Introduction of a 2nd XV/Extras side – 18% Introduction of a 2nd XV/Extras side – 16%
3 Further development of the website, media opportunities and communication with supporters – 11% Further development of the ground facilities for business and corporate links to increase funding streams – 16%
4 Replacement of current pitch with artificial surface – 10% Replacement of current pitch with artificial surface – 12%
5 Secure a training ground – 9% Further develop the match day experience to include quicker bar service and better disabled access to the main stand –  10%
6 Further development of the ground facilities for business and corporate links to increase funding streams – 7% Introduction of Coventry youth/minis, run by the club – 9%
7 Further develop the match day experience to include quicker bar service and better disabled access to the main stand –  7% Secure a training ground – 5%
8 Better understanding of training/conditioning, nutrition and medical provision to minimise injury and maximise fitness – 6% Regular, calendared members’ forums every two or three months – 1 %
9 Introduction of Coventry youth/minis, run by the club – 7% Further development of the website, media opportunities and communication with supporters – 1%
10 Regular, calendared members’ forums every two or three months – 3% Better understanding of training/conditioning, nutrition and medical provision to minimise injury and maximise fitness – 1%

Others:

Others:

  • Forums for non-members
  • Build squad to challenge for promotion, big enough to run 2nd xv within a year
  • More experienced players required
  • Retain our DoR
  • Increase footfall for Cov, thus bringing in further income and sponsorship
  • Closer links with Wasps
  • Develop strategic link with Wasps to get promoted and use their marketing team
  • Outside bar facilities for supporters enabling them to watch the game without queuing

 

…and they show a clear movement away from a dissatisfaction levelled against the club resulting from a perceived lack information emanating from it, a divide that had widened over the previous 12 months, to a far greater focus on what needs to be done to move the club forward on the pitch.

No longer is there any disquiet expressed over communication or the way supporters are informed about what is happening in and around the  club. One of the things Rowland Winter set his stall out to do was to get supporters more involved through a more effective use of the Internet and social media. John Wilkinson’s regular articles on the club website, together with a far more proactive Twitter account, have clearly allayed supporters concerns and it is no longer appears to be an issue at all.

I think it is fair to say that most supporters feel more ‘valued’ this season and that by keeping supporters updated regularly on key events, they feel a greater attachment to the club

A good example of this is the announcement of the first signings for next season due some time today – under previous regimes we had to wait until the season was finished before the club revealed names, and then a week at a time…and it certainly creates interest amongst supporters and generates plenty of discussion.

Another big ‘winner’ in the recent poll is the big drop in concern being expressed by supporters with regard to player fitness/injuries. RW brought in Hannah Walker and Max Hartman, as well as retaining the services of Rob Norman and together they have built a strong team, supported by Rebecca Cam, the team doctor.

Whereas last season Cov were at times decimated by injuries, this season it hasn’t been a teal problem. Potential issues are spotted even before they arise and fitness routines constructed around problems to strengthen areas of weakness. It appears to have made a real difference, presumably supported by the work Corey Hircock has been doing to encourage players to eat healthily. It’s a real area of development for me and one that is clearly acknowledged by others as well.

However, in a poll of this nature, as some concerns lessen, others will inevitably increase.

Which probably explains why so many supporters appear to be frustrated by the inordinate amount of time it can take to get served behind the bar and the lack of bar areas outside so that supporters can still watch the game as they queue. I know the club are aware of the problem and they have tried to address the length of time it takes to get served in the main bar by experimenting with queuing, but it still is an issue and one that many feel strongly about…

As a supporter, I want to be focussing on the calibre of player Coventry will be able to attract in the coming weeks and whether the players we would want to stay on will be retained, not on whether I go to Wasps rather than Coventry at the weekend because the beer’s cheaper and the queues far shorter…

…okay, perhaps a rather simplistic comparison but surely one thing that is easy to get right, or at least easier, is the match day experience?

The most heartening thing for me is that the real focus a year on is recruitment and retention. It was last year, but there were other pressing worries too – with some of those now dealt with, or in the process of being dealt with, supporters’ attention is drawn to playing matters, which is exactly as it ought to be.

The poll last week does show  an increased focus on getting everything in place for Championship rugby – from the squad, to improved facilities and a synthetic pitch, to developing a squad large enough to sustain a 2nd XV. They dominate the outcomes.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into the results, but it’s almost as if they reflect the real belief  amongst supporters that the club is serious in its desire to make Coventry a far more competitive club at National 1,  with the goal of achieving promotion under the current management team. As such, they are happy with the peripheral changes that have brought about a quick solution to some long term frustrations and now want to see a greater focus on developing the club in ways that will aid such a promotion challenge.

I would certainly argue that 12 months on from the first poll, many of the concerns that were being expressed then have been addressed or, at the very least, we know how the club propose to address them, including plans for ground development following the £1.2m  acquisition of the head lease for the entire eight-acre Butts Park Arena site.

FINDING NEVERLAND The Musical cheers broadway peter pan theaterWhilst such polls carry no weight behind the closed doors of the offices of  upper floors of the BPA, were I Jon Sharp or one of the board of directors, I think I would look on the results with a degree of satisfaction.

The malaise that gripped many supporters in the latter half of last season has been halted, the management team has a clear vision of where the club should be and what it needs to do to get there and the supporters are far more settled, if not a little anxious at the moment about the team’s current away record, despite considerable success at home.

I know I’ve said this before, but it is worth repeating it in the light of last week’s poll, Jon Sharp does deserve praise for what he has achieved over the last 6 or so years. Not only has he managed to stabilise the club financially following near insolvency, he has built up a business capable of developing enough to sustain Championship rugby. He’s invested a substantial amount of his own personal wealth into the club and has assured supporters that any profits resulting from further development of the ground will be used to support the team…

And the Chairman worked swiftly last season to stem the tide of discontent that had started to flow midway through last season and which was reflected in the results of the 2016 poll.

And it appears he’s not into quick fixes that can lead to boom and bust scenarios; he is keen to put everything in place to support Tier 2 rugby before committing the club to that promotion push…and that must be the right approach. The Board remains a mystery to me and whilst I’m sure it has worked extremely hard to provide stability for the club, Jon Sharp is very much the front man and the person most supporters would see as leading the club into happier times, together with RW.

Whilst everything isn’t rosy as yet, there is a sense that the club has turned a corner, that supporters can see how things are improving and that Rowland Winter is putting into place the structures and personnel to move things forward both in the medium and long term…

And long may it continue…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Billericay Dickie was an all time classic…but this was pretty damn good too…

Ian Dury and the Blockheads

Why don’t you get back into bed…?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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