It can get you to go higher
Higher than you ever thought you’d go
Wheel you in a spiral
On a journey to the great unknown
Where nature and her forces
Constitute the only truth
I love it most of all
The wisdom of youth
The Saw Doctors – The Wisdom Of Youth
According to The Rugby Paper, there was a crowd of 610 at The Woodlands on Saturday, which is about 70 up on their average so far this season and pretty much par for that of 2016/17.
Of the 610, I would guess there were probably 70 or 80 who had travelled up from Coventry, most of whom seated themselves in the half of the main stand furthest away from the clubhouse. It was good to see so many of the away supporters bunched together and it was definitely appreciated by the players, something Scott Tolmie confirmed after the game.
Interestingly, he mentioned when talking about the supporters generally, with no prompts from those listening, just how motivating players find the roar from the main stand at the BPA as they leave the pitch minutes before the game starts.
Very few clubs in our league offer anything similar, although with crowds sometimes barely above the 300 mark, it probably wouldn’t have quite the same effect. Scott also mentioned that during a home game, if Cov have a lineout somewhere near the half way line, when the roar goes up it’s sometimes so loud that it can be a problem hearing the call – perhaps that’s something to bear in mind on the opposition throw as well, then!
Supporters appeared in good spirits prior to kick off but aware of the potential danger that a wounded Fylde side could present. It was pretty evident from the warm up that the players were focused and once we’d scored that all-important first try, and after just 3 minutes at that, nerves were settled and I think everyone in our section of the stand relaxed somewhat.
We sat next to the area segregated for the away team players and officials and it was noticeable just how vocal Luke Narraway is – anyone who might have had even the slightest belief that Luke was here merely to see out the end of his playing days should watch him on the sidelines when he’s not out on the pitch. He follows the game really closely and when Cov are defending he bellows out instructions – just how much the players are aware of what he’s saying is an unknown, but he certainly lives and breathes the game.
Whilst supporters aren’t openly talking about promotion, it’s obvious that it’s at the forefront of most supporters’ minds, even during the game. We’ve never tended to take much interest in how other teams in our league have got on until after the final whistle but now, all of a sudden, more often than not someone is updating those around them with other scores from National One, especially those involving Plymouth, Blackheath or Ampthill. In the age of the smartphone, there is instant access to up-to-date scores from most National One clubs.
For a while on Saturday, it looked like Plymouth might well struggle to beat Caldy, or at least drop a point in the process – updates were greeted with genuine interest and added to the excitement as Coventry started to take control and had earned themselves a bonus point after just 24 minutes.
Next week Darlington travel down to Blackheath in a third v fourth match-up and the week after Darlington play Plymouth at home. Coventry face Loughborough (h) and Cambridge (a) over the same period.
Realistically, you’d fancy Cov to win both its games, probably with the bonus point as well, which would leave us still top of the league (see the caveat re Cambridge below!).
If that is the case, then there will certainly be a gap opening up between ourselves and third and fourth, and if results in the other games were also to go our way, we could have a handy lead going into Week 10.
So two very important weeks coming up, and doubtless there will be plenty of eyes and ears glued to phones during the course of Cov’s games to see how current results impact on the top of the table. I wonder if at any point in the season John Butler or Graham Bayliss will read out the other scores at half time – if that does come about, then it’s a sure sign Coventry are in the reckoning.
John Butler confirmed on Saturday that a win next weekend would see us equal our previous best winning streak of 16 games, achieved back in 2014/15 – albeit this time if it beaten it will have been done so over two seasons, with 8 consecutive games won last season and a further 7 so far this one.
If we beat Loughborough, in a bizarre twist of fate, Coventry will have to travel down to Cambridge, Rowland Winter’s former club, to win the record outright. And that will be a tough ask. Cambridge presented us with more than a few problems last season when we played them over at Granchester Road and whilst they’re mid-table at the moment with 3 wins and 4 losses, they only lost by 7 points to Plymouth (a) and 1 point to Old Elthamians (h). With so many players and coaches from both sides knowing each other, it will be a great occasion.
And Cambridge will be the perfect hosts. Without wanting to wish next week away, or to pre-judge the result, if all goes to plan the Cambridge game could be a memorable one and if you haven’t booked a seat on the coach, have a rethink. Cambridge are also offering us our own bar and VIP lounge…and there will be plenty of food available.
Before I forget, a quick shout out to Mick Carter and Paul Ingleston With no Sam to accompany me on Saturday, I was short of an extra pair of eyes (made worse by the fact that I’d temporarily misplaced my glasses – I’d left them on the coach!!!). I had to rely on Mick and Paul to identify names when the play was over the far side of the pitch, which invariably it was! ( Sam was running in the Birmingham marathon today – I’ve not had any calls from the emergency services or a grieving fiancée, so I’m presuming he’s done ok).
Many thanks also to Paul for taking on the role of coach manager on Saturday – it’s a lifeline to the likes of me and Sam who would normally have to rely on public transport; those who give up their time to re-organise and oversee the trip should be applauded.
With a headline including ‘…and the wisdom of youth’, you’d be forgiven for thinking the remainder of this post was going to concentrate on the benefits attached to a Development Squad, including the opportunities it allows to bring on talented, local youngsters with the hope that some of these players will eventually be good enough to play competitive rugby for the senior club side.
Whilst that might certainly be true, and important as it clearly is, it isn’t the focus on this occasion. No, this time it’s about involving some of the club’s younger supporters in the decision-making process.
The wisdom of youth.
Before the game, a group of supporters spent a good few minutes chatting about all things Cov, putting the world (or at least the Club) to rights. At the time I was only half listening as I was also clicking away on my camera, as is my wont.
Amongst those involved in the discussion was a young lad, and I’m sure he wont mind me mentioning his name as he regularly attends the away games and often comes to Thursday night training as well – Thomas Parfitt.
The conversation got on to the subject of the club shop, as it so often does and Thomas was, quite rightly, disappointed with what the shop had to offer, making the point that the club was missing out somewhat by having very little in the way of stock and even less in the way of choice. He was also able to compare what we sold at the BPA with other clubs, as well as knowing their individual kit sponsors…
Thomas mentioned how even various items of stationery, pens, pencils, rulers, key rings and so on ought to available and if they were, every other week someone from the Supporters’ Club could go up and down the coach with a bagful, selling them as pocket money items – especially around Christmas. I know I’d be buying something for the grandchildren (or children in Sam’s case!)…
But actually, that is secondary to the fact that Thomas is already a die-hard Cov supporter…I’m not sure how old the lad is, but he must be 14/15ish. At the moment there is little in the way of provision for the likes of Thomas – but he, and there will be many others like him, should have a voice. He talked such sense, and in such an engaging way.
It’s early days still as far as the Supporters Club is concerned, but ultimately there surely should be a junior section, feeding into the main committee. I know that Rowland Winter has always been very much in favour of a specific focus on junior supporters – not necessarily for those playing mini rugby, but for those youngsters who come to the club as supporters.
We’re a long way off that…but listening to Thomas made me realise just how important it is to involve in the younger supporters in what is happening in the club.
They are the future.
In the meantime, I’d recommend half an hour in the company of Thomas just to get a different, fresher perspective how the match day experience could be improved.
A quick mention before I sign off about Peter Redhead – Peter goes in today to have his hip re-replaced and I’d just like to wish him all the very best. I know he reads the blog and has always been very supportive of it, as has his wife, Jacky.
By all accounts, Peter got a yellow card on Saturday from one of the Fylde members for being a little over-vociferous in his support of Cov during the game! He seemed quite proud of the fact in the retelling of it after the game had ended.
Unfortunately, Peter won’t be able to make Saturday’s game against Loughborough, but I’m sure it won’t be too long before we see him back at the BPA.
All the very best Peter.
Think Irish rock bands and it’s hard not to immediately conjure up U2 and something like ‘Beautiful Day’. But The Saw Doctors have a massive following in Ireland and are well-known in both the States and the UK, although with limited chart success (which makes them immediately more interesting!)…
Wisdom of Youth was never a single, but I’m sure you’ll have heard of ‘Useta Lover’ which was the biggest selling single of all time for a while in Ireland after its release…and a great, smile-inducing song it is too.