Training ground update…
I’ll miss Thursday evening training once the season ends…
There’s only ever a handful of supporters there, but they are always welcoming and for an hour or so it’s just a chance to watch the squad go through its paces, talk about the upcoming game and have a natter about all things Cov, often in the presence of Rowland Winter who’ll come over and answer any questions that might be thrown at him.
This week, topics ranged from player updates to where he’s heading off to for his Summer hols…
Given I tend to put the post out before the official announcement of the team on a Friday morning, it’s difficult to comment on the training without revealing too much about the team itself…however, I think it’s fair to say there won’t be too many changes from last week and the only noticeable difference between this week’s training and that of last week was the presence of Freddie Tuilagi.
Darrel Dyer was missing, too, but it appears he suffered a breakdown on the way over to training…at least his car did.
Unless, of course, I misheard and it was actually the result of a sudden realisation of just what it is he’ll be leaving behind in a couple of weeks time…
Rowland Winter confirmed that there is still at least one more announcement to be made regarding additions to the squad and hinted that there maybe a further notable signing, perhaps during the end of season break and depending on whether all the paperwork can be sorted.
He seemed really pleased with the way the team had responded to the targets set over the last few weeks, one of which was to ensure that no team other than Hartpury did the double over Cov this season.
Mission accomplished as far as that one is concerned.
He was, as ever, cautious and was candid in his assessment of Cov’s performance since Christmas, highlighting the fact that the run-in to the end of the season has been fairly gentle by comparison to the first half of the season where there were some tough away games early on.
RW has said consistently that we are probably almost a season behind Plymouth who are perhaps something of a marker for us at the moment. Last season, following their relegation from the Championship, they put together what was pretty much a whole new squad and following a slow start to that first season in National One, they have now become the form side, winning their last 11 games.
They are now where we might expect to be next season…and having retained the vast majority of their squad and added a couple of useful signings as well, they will remain a strong threat next season. Cov can, and are, making up for lost time, but I got the impression that he sees them as probably the team currently in the strongest position to push for the top spot come September.
Cov ran Plymouth close back in February down at Brickfields and we beat them at home, so we certainly aren’t too far behind even now…much will depend on how quickly the new players can be integrated into the team in the pre-season friendlies.
Talking of which, it appears Coventry are in the process of finalising the pre-season fixtures and RW did mention some clubs, but nothing is set in concrete so it would be wrong to include possible opponents before they are confirmed via the official website. By the sound of it though, RW is hoping to line up a couple of Championship sides in the run up to the start of the National One campaign.
Quent Melhuish, the Secretary of the Supporters’ Club, was at the training session and he mentioned that already the SC had had to increased the size of the coach for the Loughborough game from a 49 to a 66 seater (give or take a couple of seats either way!) and even then there are precious few seats still remaining for the season’s finale.
I’m in awe of Quent, in particular, and to the Supporters’ Club generally, for opening up away travel to so many supporters this season. For many of us, particularly those who would have travelled to most games by train, it has meant a huge saving and far more games attended…(an early request though…with Plymouth looking to be one of the favourites for promotion next season, is there any chance of a coach for the away game; it’s not a cheap journey by public transport?).
Cliff Bennett’s initial vision of a Supporters’ Club has been developed beyond what even he must have originally hoped for and if there is an award for the ‘Supporter of the Year’ at the Annual Dinner, then the club need look no further than either Cliff and/or Quent…
It’s only the second time I’ve awarded it…but they both get a ‘ten from Tim’…
I did ask RW whether he felt that a more consistent approach to selection since Christmas was one of the key reasons why results had improved. It’s something that has been talked about amongst supporters for a few weeks now and I’ve certainly mentioned it in previous posts.
The short answer, as far as RW is concerned, is no.
The longer answer is a little more convoluted and is linked to a previous comment, namely that the fixtures at the start of the season were much tougher, relatively, and that this, together with a squad that hadn’t played together before, was the main reason for the poor results early on (four defeats in the first six games)…and not the rotation of players.
By Christmas, the coaches had determined the players that weren’t going to feature prominently, if at all, over the remainder of the season and had had their options further reduced with the dismissal of Brendon Snyman and the ‘moving on’ of James Pritchard . Snyman, in particular, together with Andy Brown had he been fit, would have feature regularly over the second half of the season.
There has also been plenty of rotation even then – on the wings, in the centres, at scrum half and in the back row…so perhaps that consistency still involves a core of some 22+ players (my thoughts, rather than RW’s comments!)…
Rowland Winter also mentioned that the Board are continuing to look at ways of improving the match day experience for supporters, especially outdoor areas where supporters could purchase drinks.
He did mention the fact that one of the problems that the club is encountering is the turnover of bar staff – 8 hours every other week on the minimum wage isn’t the most attractive of incentives and as a result, with staff coming and going, it was very difficult to get any sort of understanding of what the job involves, let alone develop a more efficient service in the main bar area.
I guess it’s easy to overlook things like that when you’ve been queuing for 10 minutes or so for your half time drinks…
Those who will be at the ground on Saturday will notice that the railings/fencing to the left of the railway ground end (as you’re sitting in the main stand) have been removed, exposing a large and unsightly container of some sort.
It appears that the intention is to develop this area and build a gym for the players to use, rather than having presumably to go off site (I’ve walked past the main bar area on an evening before now and seen it covered in weights and general fitness equipment which can’t be the most satisfactory of arrangements). I got the impression that this was going to happen sooner rather than later, although I might have got that a bit muddled!
There are bound to be a few things that I’ve forgotten to mention, usually accidentally but, occasionally, deliberately. Those who have been to the training sessions will know that at times things are discussed which aren’t necessarily common knowledge and sometimes I find it difficult to decide whether to include them in a post or wait until they are published on the official website…more often than not discretion prevails as I certainly don’t want to betray any apparent trust, as is the case with the others present.
I should add, I did take a little bit of flak for Tuesday’s post when I defended Telly1. Seems I’m completely on my own on that one then 😉 !
Still, I stand by what I wrote…yes, it is unacceptable to make personal remarks, but actually the content was something worth discussing…that said, I did get my comeuppance from Mark H!
And probably deservedly so.
I was a little concerned that I might get some stick from Rowland Winter as well…in Wednesday’s post I actually referred to him as Rowland White, not Winter, but fortunately my son reads the blog on his way to work and let me now pretty early on that I had made the faux pas and I was able to quick correct the error…I made a habit of getting his name wrong when he first arrived, something he pointed out on a couple of occasions!
Got away with it this time though…
I do tend to write into the early hours (it’s 2.10 am now) and once a post is written I’m loathe to read it through a couple of times as invariably at that hour I just read what I think I’ve written – hence all the typos.
It’s somewhat embarrassing because as a teacher my main subject was English, although it wasn’t the subject in which I excelled by any means…it was always very much a case for me of ‘those who can do, those who can’t teach’, although by some strange quirk of fate, I found I actually rather enjoyed it…
…although I prefer retirement more.