Club talk

Friendlies Season 3 – Episode 4: the one with the double header

I’m starting to get quite excited at the prospect of the first of the season’s double-headers this weekend, with first on the Development side playing Broadstreet with a 12.30 pm start, followed by the first team hosting Sale FC  at the usual afternoon kick off time of 3.00 pm.

As far as I know, if you have already purchased a season ticket, the cost of the games is included, although I’m not sure what the arrangements are for someone who would normally just pay on the gate. Even though there is minimal, if any, cost incurred as far as watching the games is concerned, I rather suspect that this weekend’s rugby won’t be particularly well attended given that both are friendlies and the main game, against Sale, isn’t going to have the pulling power of a National One fixture for many supporters. The two teams, Broadstreet, newly promoted to National Two South, and Sale, runners-up last season in the same league, shouldn’t pose quite the same problems that Jersey did last week and whilst the Cov faithful will be there whatever, it won’t be a big enough draw to pull in the undecideds. I don’t think it will be until the Rotherham game the week after that we see the first decent sized crowd of the season. I hope I’m wrong but a gate of more than 600 or 700 hundred would be a bonus for me.

However, the second of the two games should be a good indication of what we can expect from newly promoted teams Bishop’s Stortford, Caldy and Old Elthamiams, with Sale having just missed out on promotion last season in the North/South National Three Play-off.

It was Old Elthamiams in fact that defeated Sale in the decider, 14-5, and probably against expectations, too.

Sale’s own report on the game noted that:

This game was a defensive masterclass from Old Elthamians.  Sale FC only allowed one try in the whole game, but OE’s won this game with just 34% of the ball.   They spent just 1 minute and 44 seconds in our 22 metre area.

Whilst Sale narrowly missed out on promotion, they were favourites to go up amongst many who follow National 2 and even without strengthening their side in the way we can expect OEs and Caldy to have done over the close season, they will be of a standard not too far short of the lower end of National One.

So for me, the Sale game will be of particular interest, despite there being little in the way of marketing coming out of the club as of now. Having been full of praise for what Coventry has been doing to promote the first National One home game against Moseley, I do think supporters are less than clear about arrangements for Saturday.

The fixtures list shows the Broadstreet game starts at 12.30 pm, but what time the gates open and, more importantly for many, what times the bar opens, are both unclear. If you attend both games, will food be available before the start of the ‘Street game, for instance – important, given that to attend both means you’ll be at the club for a good 5 hours or so. And there’s still the question of the cost involved for those who don’t have a season ticket…?

Uncertainty about what is available in terms of refreshment and so on might put a few supporters off coming along to this first double header. This would be a great shame were it to be the case, as the hope from the club is that by not charging season tickets on the gate, it can expect to recoup potential lost revenue from the bar takings received as a result of supporters arriving early to see both games.

Maybe all the details will be made available tomorrow, but for those who are a bit anal like me, we like to know these things  well in advance. Uncertainty as to refreshments will probably mean that I’ll nip into Cov first and buy a sandwich or similar to have as I watch the Broadstreet game, which actually is doing the club no favours.

It’s early days and once we’ve had the first of these double-headers, then we’ll know what to expect in the future.

I’m hoping the ground will be open to supporters from at least 11.30 am onwards so that we can watch the Development side warm up, get a drink and something to eat and try to put names to the new faces, as is always the case so early in the season.

What would be brilliant, but is probably asking a bit too much of the club at such short notice, would be to have a squad sheet which includes just names and faces – I think I’ve got the first team sorted now, but I am struggling with some of the younger development players.  I was a bit lost at Nuneaton and at the moment the Development Academy Squad page on the website doesn’t help as it has yet to be updated from last season, with even Joe Foreman still included in the list of players.

I am presuming that with two Coventry sides playing on the same day and with the start of the National One season now just a little over two weeks away, we’ll see an obvious distinction between the two sides, with the team to play Sale FC looking pretty similar to the one we might expect to see against Championship opposition Rotherham next week and then Hull Ionians the week after.

However, that’s all a bit too straightforward for Cov and Rowland Winter always seems happy to experiment with his teams at this stage of pre-season and, besides, he might not want to give too much away to the opposition whilst there’s still a while to go before we travel up to Hull on 2nd September.

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Having said that I’m not expecting a large turnout at the BPA on Saturday, the same cannot be said for the  visit to Hull where it looks like the Supporters Coach will be full for that first away trip. As of a couple of days ago, 29 seats had already been sold with plenty of interest being shown on top of that. To put that into context, for the first away trip last season only 27 seats were sold, 2 less than for Hull. With two weeks still to go, it looks likely that it will be a sell-out.

The Supporters’ Club website might be a factor here, with the details available on a dedicated page so that no one has to wait for a post to appear on the Unofficial Messageboard….for more details of the travel arrangements to Hull Ionians, see :

(Hull Ionians – Travel Arrangements)

Any takers as to which game will be the first to require a second coach – now that would be a milestone!

Or even a millstone for the poor SC committee member who has to sort it all out,

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In the news section of Broadstreet’s website,  the club has announced that:

11 Colts from last year have confirmed their intention to stay with the club and have been promoted to the Senior Squad.

Last season the Colts matched the first team by winning the Warwickshire Cup and their League

Whilst there might not be too many of them on show at the BPA, with their 2nd XV also having a Saturday afternoon fixture against Old Wheatleyans at Broadstreet, it is really good to see local sides providing opportunities for local junior players to work their way into the full squad

Paul Hurst, the Broadstreet  Head Coach added:

Scott Truslove and Sam Harcourt, break into the first team and make valuable contributions to the teams success, so the pathway is there for all 11 of them’

It’s the kind of model that we’re beginning to see work effectively at Cov and, just last week ago, two of our Development squad saw first team action over in Jersey – Cameron Gray and Kwaku Asiedu.

With Broadstreet proving so successful in providing a direct pathway for their own development players into the full squad, it might make it that much harder for some of our youngsters, players who aren’t perhaps yet ready for selection to the Zoo Sports Shield games, to cross the city and play as loanees with ‘Street, something that has occurred in the last few seasons.

A shame that because I really like the set up over at Binley Woods, but if local talent is being given a chance to blossom, then I’m all in favour.

This will be ‘Street’s first pre-season fixture, so in terms of competitive rugby, they are some way behind Cov. But having just achieved promotion into National Two, ‘Street will definitely fancy a shot at Coventry’s second team, although realistically it will be a tough ask, especially if several of the full squad, those who aren’t selected in the match day squad against Sale, are included.  It will be interesting to see how some of our youngsters get on against some experienced ‘Street players, especially in the pack.

Sale, on the other hand, have already played one pre-season game, against Jed Forrest at home, losing 14- 5. By all accounts it was a tough encounter which was made even tougher because of a number of absences amongst the Sale team, the result of ‘minor injures’ – hopefully they’ll be available to face Coventry on Saturday.

I’m intrigued as to the sort of side Cov intends to put out against the side from Greater Manchester. Will the big guns in the shape of players like Narraway, Tuitupou and Makkafi be rested in preparation for Rotherham or will the coaches want to have a good look at a full Coventry side against slightly less challenging opposition to determine it’s effectiveness against a team a step or two down from that of Jersey?

Whilst Coventry worked several decent chances against the Channel Islanders , it remains to be seen just how good an attacking side this is against teams that won’t defend quite as effectively as Jersey did. It should be an entertaining game, especially if the numbers of replacements are limited to single figures.

Sale FC has an impressive website with plenty of video clips of last seasons’ games. They’ve also produced a promo for their opening friendly last week:

Nice one.

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And with Rotherham just 8 days away, here’s a taste of what they’ve been up to during pre-season…something else to whet the appetite. It will be good to see Caolan Ryan back at the club again – I always tought he looked a good player – better at full back than fly half, and extremely dangerous when attacking from deep – similar in that respect to our own James Stokes.

2 replies »

  1. Nice read Tim, and a belated “many happy returns” just a point on the promoted sides, you seem to have omitted Bishop’s Stortford from the above mentioned newly promoted teams.

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    • Absolutely right, Phil and duly amended! Thanks for the reminder… even more exited now I’ve seen the teams! Hopefully. see you tomorrow. And thanks for the birthday wished!!

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