Club talk

Supporters Club AGM…Cov’s final position poll…Cliffie Hodgson…and tornado-chasing in Georgia

(Cov) Proved too much for the man
Too much for the man, he couldn’t make it
So he’s leavin’ the life he’s come to know uhoo
He said he’s goin’
He said he’s goin’ back to find
Goin’ back to find
Ooh, what’s left of his world
The world he left behind
Not so long ago

Gladys Knight – Midnight train to Georgia

The Supporters’ Club Annual General Meeting on Thursday was an appropriate occasion to reflect on what the Committee has achieved in a relatively short space of time.

And it’s a lot.

Although the meeting’s agenda really centred around the election/re-election of committee members and the unveiling of the annual accounts, the Chair took the opportunity to detail the main successes over the last 12 months or so.

Forgive me for listing them here, but they are significant and in many respects help define what the club has become for the supporters since Jon Sharp appointed Rowland Winter as Director of Rugby. Both were very supportive when Cliff Bennett initially brought up the idea of reinstating a supporters’ club and with the  ‘Our City, Our Club’ tagline  in the process of being adopted by the rugby club at that time, it was more than just serendipity that Quent Melhuish should then contact Cliff about getting involved.

Cliff and Quent brought an extremely capable group Cov supporters together to form the Supporters’ Club Committee and, whilst changes in its make-up have taken place over the last 12 months, it remains an extremely proactive and dynamic group made up of supporters who continue to do their bit to make the experience of watching Cov that much more enjoyable than it might otherwise be.

The successes last year include:

  • Value for Money Membership Fees – As a member of the SC, had I taken up all the offers available to me on away day travel, entrance to the Comedy Club evenings, attendance at the  Fans’ Form events etc, I would have saved over £75. I would have gladly paid the £20  just to have the Committee organise coaches to the away games, let alone pay a reduced price;
  • Sponsorship – another winner, with three major sponsors coming on board: Coventry Plumbing and Heating Supplies, Builders’ Supply Stores and Akbar’s Indian Cuisine. Not only are individual members able to benefit from reductions at each of the three businesses concerned, the club has also received  donations from CPHS and Akbars towards the building/refurbishment of the new medical room and materials at cost price  from Builders Supply Stores;
  • Events – The SC organised a number of social events last season, including a couple of Referee Evenings ( a third is due shortly), a couple of Fans’ Forums (another is due in a month’s time) and a very successful ‘Meet the Squad’ day;
  • Link Between Players & Supporters – Events like those above have involved players who have come along and spoken to members of the SC, and the committee has also helped broker opportunities to go along to training and the Awards’ Evening;
  • The Club Shop – although the running of the club shop is now out of the control of the Supporters’ Club, last year the impetus for a club shop game very much from the Supporters Club, especially Quent Melhuish. The current lack of availability of some stock and the turnover times is testament to the fantastic job the SC did in this area last season;
  • Regular Meetings and Liaison at the BPA – members of the Supporters’ Club are in regular contact, on a weekly basis usually, with both the business and playing sides of the club to discuss all aspects of supporter involvement. A lot goes on behind the scenes and such discussions have made a real difference;
  • ‘In Touch’ – the newsletter of the  Supporters Club is something that is greatly appreciated by members. Much of the work is done on this by Rob Carter – were it not for his IT skills, the publication just wouldn’t happen;
  • The SC to be the envy of other National One Clubs – only Moseley has anything approaching a SC in our league, but theirs in an association and isn’t nearly so proactive. Hard not to be envious.

General Points Arising

There was some disquiet expressed amongst those present at the meeting concerning the decision not to offer other clubs discounted entry to Coventry’s home games. However, the point was well made that only Coventry Rugby Supporters’ Club members get a reduction in the cost of entry to away games, not our season ticket members. As no other team, apart from Moseley, has any sort of SC, then it’s hard to make a case for having it available, especially as we bring more away support than probably any other club, so clubs benefit when we’re on our travels..

Coaches have proved exceptionally popular and the club has brought in a lot of income from away day travel, income that has already helped the club  – some of the money is being ploughed back into the refurbishment of the medical room, and it is hoped that coaches will run to all away games, including Plymouth Albion this season.

The SC is also pushing for some of  international tickets the club receives to be directed to the Supporters’ Club – the RFU allocate them on the basis of how many sides a club runs. We only run two, so that immediately reduces the quantity we receive, but it is hoped that some of these could make their way to the Supporters’ club to be distributed amongst its members.

A new gym is in the process of being built for the players, but once complete, it will be made available to Supporters’ Club members at a discounted fee.

The SC is also hoping to purchase a new scoreboard as the current one isn’t visible from certain areas of the ground and is likely to be situated near the club shop. In addition, improvements to the PA system could also be something the SC contributes towards.

One of the key areas in which the SC has been involved is the refurbishment of the medical room. The SC has already donated some funds to increase the size of the room and to bring it in line with those of the Championship. The problems with the old room were highlighted when Chris May suffered a bad break to his leg in the home game against OA last season. Although the medical team did a fantastic job of stabilising the injury, the door of the medical room wasn’t wide enough to allow the stretcher into it, so it had to be manoeuvred in. You can only imagine how distressing that must have been.

With this in mind, instead of sponsoring a player, Rowland Winter felt some sponsorship of the medical facilities would be more beneficial to the players and therefore the club.

The SC was happy to oblige and as a result the room has been enlarged by taking a metre out of the width of the away changing room (!) and a widened opening for the door added to allow stretcher access. A new ceiling is on the cards, as is a new washable flooring to meet with stricter health/hygiene regs. The walls are to have a polycarbonate covering which will again can be cleaned more easily and allow for an altogether  more hygienic environment. Coventry University ‘s School Of Physiotherapy, through a contact made by one of the Supporters’ Committee, is going to/has (not sure which?) donated a new treatment table.

The raw materials were offered at cost price by Builders’ Supply Stores and all the labour up to the present has been given at no cost to the club. However, as work now will have to be done during the week, it will have to be paid for and I believe the Supporters Club are going to meet some (all?) of that as well. I know that Hannah, Max and Ashni  are hoping to give a presentation on the new facilities to the SC (there will be an official opening) and also a talk on the treatment/rehab of particular injuries, with some players also involved.

It is hoped that there could be other initiatives set up with the Supporters’ Club to help with the funding of long term projects. These could include bringing back the ‘buy-a-brick’ initiative and a ‘buy-a-metre of ‘astroturf” (or equivalent!) to help fund the laying of the 3G synthetic pitch.

There are currently 200 Supporters’ Club members on the books of which 181 have already committed themselves financially for the coming season. The Committee will conduct a further recruitment campaign directed at those season ticket holders who aren’t already SC members – with season ticket membership increasing by 170 on last season, that makes good sense.

The SC’s finances are in a very healthy state which is one of the reasons why the Committee is able to support the club in one or two major projects around the ground. As mentioned before, the away day coaches have proved very successful, with Steve Hood’s on-board raffles (offering some exceptionally good prizes) bringing in nearly £700 on their own. It was confirmed that the SC isn’t far off commissioning a second coach to some games, a decision that would be made only if both coaches were full enough to cover the costs incurred…ie both coaches broke even.

The new Committee was duly voted in.

It is as follows (and congratulations to all):

Chair – Cliff Bennett

Secretary – Quent Melhuish

Treasurer – Steve Hood

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

Richard Cunningham – Membership Secretary

Paul Ingleston – General Committee Member

Rhys Davies – General Committee Member

Peter Redhead – General Committee Member

Jeanette Wilson – General Committee Member

Phil Reynolds – General Committee Member

 

I’m sure that Cliff and his team will build upon the excellent start made last season. The next couple of years could be extremely interesting ones in the history of this great club and if the success we have seen on the pitch so far this season continues as we hope, the Committee are going to have a very busy few months ahead of them, but rewarding ones, too. These folk have offered to give up a lot of their own free time working in the interests of the supporters – and I, for one, am extremely grateful.

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

The results of Wednesday’s poll, ‘Where will Coventry Rugby Club finish at the end of the 2017/18 season?’, were as follows:

1st place – 60%

2nd place – 31%

3rd place –  9%

There were a couple of other votes for places lower down, but when worked out as a % of the total, they weren’t statistically of any import.

Early days still, but this was really just a quick way of getting a feel as to  what the general consensus might be.

As it stands it’s very positive, but it would only take one poor result to probably knock that 60%  down to below the  50% mark. Realistically, it won’t be until the half way mark in the season, in mid-December, when we’ll get a better idea of how things stand. However, I guess we have to be more than happy with our current form and with a couple of the other leading contenders having had mixed fortunes in their opening games, it’s about as good as it could get for us at the moment.

Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be a bleak (mid) Winter around Christmas time.

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

It would be remiss of me not to say something about Cliffie Hodgson’s departure.

Not much more I can say.

Cliffie, as he’ll be remembered by many

Many Cov supporters speak of him as being a lovely bloke as well, but being someone who doesn’t mix much with the players at all, I can’t really comment on him as a person.

As a player though, there was a period of a couple of seasons  before injuries really curtailed his Cov career, or at least put it on hold, when he was something very special.

When he came from Rotherham, I remember the Roth fans speaking highly of him on Twitter. He quickly fitted in and whilst he’ll be remembered mostly for his ability to kick points from almost anywhere in the opposition half, he scored a lot of tries in those two years as well, many of them important ones, too.

He always gave his all on the pitch and has proved to be one of the real crowd favourites over the years we’ve been in National One. I think most supporters will feel he has made the right decision – he is just too good a player to be playing second XV alongside a lot of youngsters, talented though they are. He needs to be playing competitive rugby and the chance to coach as well must have been just too tempting an offer to refuse.

Cov must take some credit as well. I imagine he’s part way through a contract and would have been used for a number of games this season had he stayed, as he was last season. To let him go now means that someone will have to be brought in as it’s a position that needs filling and I suppose Cov could have been a bit difficult and asked him to wait until the end of the season. I’m sure the fact that Cliffie has been so loyal to the club in the past meant Cov was that much more supportive in the decisions that led to his decision in the end to leave Cov, a club he so obviously loves.

Cliffie’s departure is the end of an era but, sad as it is, I’m sure he’ll do a fantastic job at Broadstreet.

It’s yet another reason to follow the ‘Street.

And whilst I originally intended the lyrics at the start of this post to apply to my trip to Georgia, actually they are better suited, in a sad sort of way, to Cliffie:

(Cov) Proved too much for the man
Too much for the man, he couldn’t make it
So he’s leavin’ the life he’s come to know uhoo
He said he’s goin’
He said he’s goin’ back to find
Goin’ back to find
Ooh, what’s left of his world
The world he left behind
Not so long ago

So long, Cliff…

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

I’m taking a break from the blog for a while as I go off on my hols.

Leaving On A Midnight Train To Georgia.

Okay, the ‘train’ is a plane and ‘midnight’ is late afternoon, but otherwise…

Sue and I are going on a tornado-chasing holiday in Georgia and South Carolina. It was just to be a couple of weeks away in Savannah and Charleston, but recent developments there suggest it might be otherwise.

Whilst I won’t be posting as such, please do leave the occasional comment if you’re so inclined; it would be good to have  some chat going even if there aren’t any posts.

Just thought I’d share a personal moment with you before I go…

At the age of 58 years and 28 days I passed my driving test on Tuesday.  I won’t go in the reasons why it took me so long to learn, they are many and varied.

Thursday’s trip to the BPA for the Supporters’ Club AGM was the first drive unaccompanied…

Getting there, fine

On the way back, in the dark…different.

At least I’ve got it out of the way now, it’s certainly been an interesting few months.

I can confirm that Sue and I are still speaking, that one of my daughters’ was brave enough to come in the car with me (but only when her son wasn’t with her) and Sam has suddenly got something on every weekend there’s a home game and can only make the away games if there are still seats on the coach.

Odd that.

Best of luck to Cov…hopefully it will all be as positive when I get back.

Thanks you to everyone who has supported the blog…it is, as always, hugely appreciated.

Kind regards,

Tim Smith

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

I’ve used it before, but here is my second favourite song of all time – at the moment).

Gladys Knight singing, ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’.

Pipless…but watch the audience…who needs the Pips, anyway.

(My favourite song…? ‘This House Is Empty Now’ Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach – always was, always will be)

 

12 replies »

  1. We shall all miss you Tim not only for your fantastic blog but also miss not having you around for the next few weeks. Have a great holiday and we shall look forward to your return.

    Like

    • Thanks, Peter, that’s very kind of you! Thank you for your continuing support – am looking forward to returning to Cov still top of National One, on their own and with a 5 point gap. Ever the optimist!

      Like

  2. My 18 year old daughter is learning to drive at the moment and is having a few wobbles confidence wise as her test date grows closer – I will use your great achievement to help motivate her.
    Enjoy your well earned break, they drive on the other side of the road over in that there America remember!
    I’m sure like all the other people who read your blog I will have ‘Georgia On My Mind’, twiddling my thumbs awaiting your next blog post. https://media1.giphy.com/media/tXL4FHPSnVJ0A/giphy.gif

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    • To be fair, I was more nervy in the run up to the Mose game than I was for the test! Definitely won’t be driving in the States…love the giphy! ‘Georgia On My Mind’ – completely for got about that – Annie Lennox did a really moving version a while back (Sue’s fave artist btw)… All the best to your daughter, I thought it would be a real ordeal but the examiner made it very relaxed.

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  3. Interesting Tim. The thing you did not mention about CRSC AGM was your own involement . Tim set up the CRSC website and i am very sure that everyone is truly thanfully for Tim for doing this. Enjoy your holidays burt remember your only one click away.

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    • As always, Mick, your support is really appreciated. My involvement was been negligible and I’m full of admiration for those who give up their time to get so much done on behalf of the supporters. Great stuff. Looking forward to following the MB and keeping abreast of all things Cov.

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  4. Well, that’s a surprise. Not the fact that Cliffie is leaving for pastures new, and very best wishes go to him of course, but the fact that you passed your driving test. Congratulations to you for that , to achieve that at 58 years old is some feat. But, as you say, please take care on night trips. As regards your Georgia sojourn, I hope Sue will be driving any hire car during the trip. It takes a bit of getting used to driving on the other side especially for such a ‘newbie!’ Have a great time.

    Like

    • I’m steering (pardon the pun) clear of any driving whilst away and I’m not allowed anywhere near her car for the next few months!!! Looking forward to the break, but equally, can’t wait for the Bishop’s Stortford game either…don’t get back until the Friday so won’t have too long to wait.

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