Now for ten years we’ve been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rollin’ stone
But that’s not how it used to be
And while Lenin read a book on Marx
The quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died
Don Maclean – American Pie
All things considered, it was pretty damn good as end-of-season finales are concerned.
Well, almost all things considered…but more of that a bit later.
There was a virtual wish list of pluses that needed to happen for the day to be as memorable as it was and, as the afternoon progressed, we were able to tick off most of them, one-by-one:
- good weather – √
- a better than average crowd – √ (1770)
- an exciting game on which to end – √
- the win – √
- the bonus point for four tries – √
- a convincing win – √
- Esher beating Moseley giving Cov 4th place in National One – √ (okay, maybe not for everyone, that one 😉 )
- Cov’s previous total tries for the season beaten – √ (equalled, so I’m not going to be picky)
- a crowd excited by the prospect of the coming season – √
So, lots to be thankful for.
And it’s worth having a look at that home league record:
Plymouth have only gained one point more than us at home, just the one. They have a better points difference, although not by a great deal, but they also have a far better points conceded record, with Coventry having leaked an extra 132 points at BPA than Plymouth have at Brickfields….
Post Christmas only though and it might be a good deal closer.
Certainly there’s very little to choose between the two sides and if Cov has recruited strongly, as we believe is the case, and the experienced players make an immediate impact from the start of the National One campaign, then you’d expect such small margins to be overturned.
It’s clearly our away record where the problems lie and perhaps that is something for another day, but next season our form at home has to be carried into next season if we are even to maintain our current league position, and that’s no small ask in itself.
The important thing now is that momentum is very much on our side. It’s a settled squad, by-and-large, with only one core player leaving…Darrel Dyer. Having sorted the wheat from the chaff , certainly in terms of what Cov needed, before Christmas, Rowland Winter has been able to pick from a small and select squad of players.
He always maintained that it would take until Christmas to get the structures in place, the squad sorted, and the players familiar with the game plans…and so it proved. In the second half of the season we have been far more competitive, with perhaps the Fylde game and the second half at Hartpury being the only aberrations. Three games lost out of the 15 (including Hartpury) is certainly top two form given Plymouth are at present on seven losses for the whole season.
With Hartpury out of the equation, and avoiding the possibility that Cov will opt for an out-and-out push for promotion, a top two or three spot must be a realistic target next season. Anything else would be a bonus, although of course just how plans to restructure national rugby below tier 2 will affect our ambitions is anyone’s guess.
For instance, will it come about that the top National One side will be forced into a play-off against the bottom side in the Championship as has been mooted? If that was to come in for the 2018/19 season, would that impact on our targets for next season?
Certainly at the game yesterday there was a quiet air of excitement about next season; perhaps not even that quiet in some quarters, if truth be known. That said, having been to most of the away games this season and having watched Coventry fail to turn up to some of them, I’m not quite so inclined to get carried away as I used to.
However, if I’ve been a season-ticket holder and just seen Coventry win all their home games other than that against Hartpury and in the process Cov score a barrel load of points and look increasingly stronger as the season’s gone on, well it is understandable to think in terms of a promotion chasing season, especially if I hadn’t been to any of the away games.
A few players in key areas coming in, most seeming to have international experience at one level or another – small wonder that anticipation levels are so high.
But that has to be tempered by all those unknowns that have always sought to deny us in previous seasons – injuries, financial concerns, other clubs’ own recruitment, management upheavals and so on and so forth.
But despite all that, what a great place to be in right now:
Likely to finish fourth and developing as a team (as opposed to 2014/15 when we finished third but in the last 10 games the cracks emerged), an excellent home record, an improving away record, some sort of financial stability, a fan base that has stabilised and is growing, a DoR that has a vision and has shown he has the skills and temperament to take the club forward and a Chairman willing to back him.
It’s a good time to be a Cov supporter…
So why the American Pie lyrics then, which appear so downbeat….
Well we have been on our own, stagnating in the lower leagues for too long, a lot longer than 10 years…our fault, no one else’s. Cov was, prior to Jon Sharp’s involvement, a club treading water. The natural order of things, at least for Coventry supporters of an age, had been long turned upside down and moss really had started to grow fat on a rolling stone…
But then Lennon read a book on Marx and the revolution began. The Lennon in the song is, of course, John Lennon and the quartet is a reference to the Beatles – and from then on the music that had died back in February 1959, suddenly started to be heard again.
Who our own John Lennon is open to debate…Jon Sharp for seeing the club’s potential, or Rowland Winter for being the visionary with the ability to turn theory into practice?
Both revolutionaries in their own way, both leading Coventry out of the doldrums.
Both, for me.
And the quartet?
Definitely Walshe, Stankovich, Burke and Deacon.
And whilst we sang those dirges for the loss of some great players last season, well they practised in the park. Butts Park to be precise and I even have the photos.
It was a difficult period in the club’s history, but Jon Sharp was strong enough to take some tough decisions and it would take a brave person to stand up now and say it wasn’t for the best, however much we miss Pailor, Oliver, Hope and all the others.
All very metaphorical, and perhaps rugby hadn’t died so much as left to seek its fortune elsewhere.
But the Fab Four are back at last, although it’s still very much a long and winding road ahead of us.
Anyway, enough of that – it just shows how people relate to music in so many different ways
I know it’s been mentioned elsewhere and folk are probably tired or reading the same old same old but I was surprised and disappointed when I got to the ground to find that the annual supporters’ ‘Player of the Year’ Award’ had inexplicably been replaced by the Supporters’ Club ‘Player of the Year’ Award.
So what’s in a couple of words?
Well, quite a lot, really.
There were 1770 there yesterday and most would have been to more than the odd game over the course of the season and all would have been entitled to voted had they so wished.
Against just the 150 Supporters’ Club members who, at the time of writing, are now able to do so simply because they’ve paid their £20 and the others haven’t.
What saddens me most is that up to Saturday, the club had got just about everything right as far as supporters’ PR was concerned, so to misread the situation and get it so wrong in the way it did is very disappointing indeed.
In one fell swoop, 1500 supporters were disenfranchised. Maybe most wouldn’t have voted, but that’s not the point. They would have had the chance to vote.
I gather there are plans afoot to rectify the situation, but by initially allowing only those who are paid up members of the Supporters’ Club to vote, Cov has unintentionally created a divide between the two groups of supporters.
The message it sends out is if you pay your £20 your voice counts, if you don’t, well it doesn’t…
Clearly that isn’t what the club believes but it’s the obvious criticism that is going to be directed at it. And anyway, by buying a season ticket or paying at the turnstiles, fans have surely earned the right to express such a straightforward opinion as to who their player of the season is?
Until all supporters are made members of the Supporters’ Club, this situation will keep arising. I would have voted for in the SC poll as I had believed it was a completely separate award to the one voted for by supporters on the final home game of the season, but I won’t now.
I really don’t believe my vote is worth any more, or any less for that matter, than that of the many of the supporters whom I chatted to on Saturday and who won’t now have an opportunity to express an opinion.
And who are rightly frustrated.
Maybe that’s tough on the Supporters’ Club which I understand hasn’t had a say in this. But it is as it is and you can only hope the Club will listen to concerns and respond accordingly via their own poll on the official website that is open to everyone, or some something similar to which everyone will have access.
One other thing that surprised me slightly was the lack of promotion around the ground regarding how to apply for season tickets and the current discounted offer.
Now I was in the ground for 1.30 and admittedly I didn’t set foot in the clubhouse at all, but outside and around the ground I wasn’t aware of any sort of promotion and I’m certainly not the only person who doesn’t make much use of the clubhouse on a match day. It was an ideal time to push for season ticket renewals or first time applications – big crowd, warm weather and the team very much on the up.
Maybe there were lots of announcements giving details of where, how and how much, but I didn’t hear them and maybe there were lots of flyers, too, but I didn’t see them weither.
There was, for a couple of hours or so, a captive audience there…but no one seemed to be focusing on that.
I might have got that very wrong, and I apologise if that is the case, but I honestly wasn’t aware of anything happening, or even being said, outside of the clubhouse. With no more home games now until August , it’s now much harder to attract supporters into joining the club…
Maybe, the Club is doing so well at the moment that season tickets don’t need that sort of promotion…
…it would be good if that really were the case.
Very many thanks to everyone who took part in the Coventry v Darlington ‘Man of the Match’ poll over the weekend.
The results of the votes are as follows:
- Will Maisey – 54%
- Tom Poole – 19%
- Olly Povoas –14%
So for the seventh time (out of the eleven polls in total) those who have taken part have differed in their selection of the ‘Man of the Match’ to that of the sponsors, this week voting instead for Will Maisey, with Max Trimble , the sponsors’ choice, not really featuring heavily in the voting at all.
Congratulations to Will for his second consecutive award..the first player to achieve this on the blog poll.
And this one needs no introduction…
Remember the video?