Club talk

Winter’s ‘the warm-up season’…

 

Oh-oh, yes I’m the great pretender
Pretending that I’m doing well
My need is such I pretend too much
I’m lonely but no one can tell

Oh-oh, yes I’m the great pretender
Adrift in a world of my own
I’ve played the game but to my real shame
You’ve left me to grieve all alone

The Great Pretender – The Platters

Image result for winter warm-upBloody hell…

And I apologise if anyone is offended by my language – I’m not one generally given to profanity.

But…

…bloody hell.

So, this was just a warm-up season, then?

Well I, for one, can’t wait until the main event…

4th place in the league, a record 130 tries scored and 20 wins and a draw would rank as one of the better seasons in recent memory to most of us long suffering supporters…but to Rowland Winter:

We’ve won eight on the bounce, and to finish fourth in the table we’re over the moon really for a warm-up season

John Wilkinson – Resilience Was Key (30/04/2017)

And here’s the thing – coming from anyone else that might seem somewhat fustian or bombastic, but from Rowland Winter it is simply a statement of fact, an accurate description of how things are and not, I believe, how he would like us to believe them to be.

He’s honest enough to show that those involved, the players, the coaches, those working so hard behind the scenes, are all ‘over the moon’, but the overriding sentiment is that this is just the palate cleanser, an amuse bouche to the entrée.

A warm-up session.

We might as well rename Rowland Winter as  Ron Seal as he did exactly what he said he’d do at the start of the season – no false promises, no promises at all really, just a series of objectives that he set out for himself and the team, pretty much all of which have been met.

There’s nothing brash or remotely arrogant in what he says, he’s just incredibly confident in himself and those around him. He has always maintained that this first year would be a year of consolidation, a time to lay the foundations for further progress. As he says, a warm-up – but I guess this is the first time RW has alluded to a time beyond this season.

By calling this season a warm-up, there’s a clear message that as we go into next season, the bar is raised once again and it will now be about so much more just rebuilding and consolidation.

And if we can achieve 4th place when warming up, well who knows what the target will be next season…?

For many Coventry supporters, we’re approaching unchartered territories. We haven’t been involved in a real promotion race since 1995/96 when Derek Eves led us out of National Division 3 and in the following season we lost to London Irish in the play-offs for a place in the Premiership.

21 years back…a generation ago.

A losing, if not lost, generation at that.

2014/15 season was never really a promotion race as such. We topped the league just before Christmas, but we were out of the running by February and in the last 10 games we won just four.

It was a flirtation…nothing else.

And that’s probably the reason why so many supporters, loyal supporters who follow the club through thick and thin and who have seen so much change over the last few months, that’s why we get so carried away by the thought of promotion, as well as a little unnerved by the prospect.

We know this is a great club, we know of its history and of the great names associated with it, the Duckhams and Rossboroughs of yesteryear, and we know that for the last 40 years the club has been slowly slipping down the leagues. The thought of promotion hangs heavy with everyone associated with the club…there has been a responsibility on the chairmen, boards, coaches, players and supporters since the 70s to get the club back to where we all see it belonging.

Yet in 2011/12 we were just one place off National 2 North.

Promotion is our own sword of Damocles, it is the straw that could break the proverbial camels back. It has to be earned…over a long season of 30 games. The team that finishes top is the best over the course of the season and success has nothing to do with a club’s history or its former glories.

And yet this is Coventry and the frustrations of our supporters that result from mid-table mediocrity in National One must be that much greater than for a team that has never got beyond third tier national rugby. I can only speak for myself here, but there are occasions when I look at the table and wonder where it all went wrong, how a team that was as good as any in the country back when I was just a lad, has slumped so low.

We should be up there with the best. Well, no, that’s just not true…

We shouldn’t and we are where we deserve to be…but, in my head, we are too big a club for National One.

Oh-oh, yes I’m the great pretender
Adrift in a world of my own
I’ve played the game but to my real shame
You’ve left me to grieve all alone

That’s not meant to be patronising to those teams like Old Albanian, Loughborough and Cambridge, although I rather suspect it might come across that way, it’s just meant to indicate that it is that much harder for a supporter if your team is at its lowest point in the club’s history, rather than the highest.

Probably got myself into trouble there, but I know what I mean!

It’s be a pretty extraordinary season, one that seems to have flown by so quickly  – I guess the more you win the quicker the season passes.

Over the past couple of days I’ve had the chance to reflect on the past 9 months and, whilst come the end of Saturday, I was more than happy with fourth place, especially as we finished above local rivals Moseley, on reflection I’ve actually started to think that fourth should have been third at least.

There are all sorts of reasons why we lost 4 out of the first 6 games, a new squad, new coaches, new game plan etc etc, but such has been the quality our rugby at times over the last 15 games, third would have been a truer reflection and whilst Plymouth are deservedly runners-up, we are the next best side and  pretty much on a par with them. Whilst the table might be a reflection of the whole season, it is not a reflection of the relative merits of the teams at the end of April…we are a better side than Old Albanian and were  we to play Plymouth at Brickfields next weekend with a full squad at our disposal, I really couldn’t see us ending the game as we did in February.

Happy for fourth – very happy, but I am actually a little disappointed now that we had such a poor start. But that’s good as it’s just a reflection of the high standards that RW and the coaches are instilling in the supporters, as well as the players, at the moment.

And all this in a season that is no more than a dress rehearsal, the warm-up prior to beginning the serious stuff.

I can’t remember where we have finished a season on such a high since we won that promotion under Eves. More often that not, seasons peter out with little to maintain the interest over the last few games. This year is different, though, and there will be plenty of interest come September to see if Cov can extend that unbeaten run and who from the players coming into the squad will be trusted with the task of continuing the clubs winning ways in that first game.

The warm-up is almost over…

…let the competition commence.

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

I’m indebted to Steve ‘The Coachman’ Hood for this next bit…

Firstly, a big well done to Steve for attending every single game this season. There will be a few who have completed this feat, and I have to say I am mightily impressed with anyone who can boast of such a record, not that Steve is one to sell himself like that.

Secondly, Steve is  collector of sporting memorabilia and has let me have a look previously at things he’ll know that will be of interest to me (including a 1940’s West Brom programme – boing boing!). However, on Saturday he excelled himself by bringing in a Coventry Football Programme (as was then) dating back to October 1949.

Now it’s interesting for all sorts of reasons and is in itself a valuable piece of social history…take the advert on the front cover for instance promoting The Parkside Garage, Coventry’s largest car dealers at the time, allegedly. Look at the cars it specialised in – Morris, Wolseley and MG and  consider the impact that the manufacture of them had on Coventry itself back then.

There are plenty of other areas of interest within the programme, but what Steve was particularly keen to show me was something from the ‘Club Notes’ section.

Whilst written some 67ish years ago, the writer deals with a subject that still causes some frustrations even today:

The Coventry team will not be playing in Blue and White today owing to the shortage of jerseys. Club colour jerseys have been on order for a considerable time and have been promised in time for the next home game. However the lack of colour in our own jerseys will be compensated by the multicolour Harlequins

Perhaps we could get in a job lot of old stock Harlequins jerseys over the summer just in case.

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

A pretender no more…

The Platters…could have gone for Sam Cooke but it was the choreography that won it in the end…

 

1 reply »

  1. Interesting that the telephone numbers and addresses of the club officials is displayed on the old programme, con not see any internet details though! Bit tongue in cheek last remark.

    Like

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