Another unlucky break? News from the training ground…
When I’m with you baby
I go out of my head
And I just can’t get enough
And I just can’t get enough
All the things you do to me
And everything you said
I just can’t get enough
I just can’t get enough
Depeche Mode – Just Can’t Get Enough
One of the more eventful Thursday evening sessions, all-in-all.
One moment we were all chatting away in the main stand and the next we were watching in silence a prone Heath Stevens surrounded by several concerned looking players.
With three different groups of players working across the length of the pitch, we were focusing on the one immediately in front of us, so no one saw what happened but given there was no real contact taking place in any of them, it’s hard to see how it could have happened. What was clear though was that Heath had suffered what looked to be a serious injury to his right leg.
Within seconds Hannah and her team were there to stabilise the injury and whilst Heath was obviously in a lot of pain initially, within minutes he looked far more relaxed and he was able to be stretchered off to await an ambulance. He seemed to be breathing a bit of gas and air from something that looked to be similar in shape to an inhaler, not much bigger than those used by asthmatics, and which was presumably deadening the pain in the short term.
Training was able to continue and although the players looked sharp and focused for the Caldy game, of all those out there yesterday evening, the most impressive performances on the night were from the support team. The ambulance must have taken a good 40 minutes to arrive, but Heath was inside and in the warm, in good hands and being given the best care possible during the wait.
Hopefully, it won’t prove as serious as it appeared and he’ll be back before too long, but in all honesty Heath might well be out for some time. He’s been a real tour-de-force since he returned to the BPA 18 months ago and, with Grove also out for a while yet and Sam Tuitupou also out for a number of weeks following his red card against Cambridge, options in the centres are more limited than we might have expected a couple of weeks ago.
Despite all that was going on at training yesterday, Rowland Winter still found time to come over and chat to supporters which was much appreciated. Having obviously looked very concerned as he stood with Heath whilst Hannah did what had to be done, he appeared relaxed by the time he came across to us and was surprisingly chipper.
Even though the injury had meant a few last minute changes had to be made to the match day squad for Saturday, everything had been decided by the time he reached us and although there are currently more long-term injuries than we’ve had for a while now, there’s enough depth in the squad to ensure selection isn’t compromised. How many squads in National One could still field a midfield whilst missing players of the calibre of Grove, Stevens and Tuitupou? Indeed, how many even have players of that calibre at all?
I’m guessing that the club would rather announce the duration of Sam T’s ban following his sending off on Saturday officially, rather than it be released via a supporter in an unofficial blog. However, I’m sure I won’t be upsetting the applecart by mentioning that Sam had never been sent off prior to Saturday in 370 odd professional games and that in the course of such a long and distinguished career, he’d only received 12 yellows, of which 7 were for ‘technical’ fouls ( I think I’ve got that right).
However, disappointing the incident against Cambridge was, it clearly was out of character. He was there yesterday and although he didn’t train with the players, he was taking a great interest in what was going on.
Pete White and Dave Brazier were at the ground as well, and although I imagine Dave is some way off training, Pete actually showed no signs of the injury in terms of a limp or stiffness in his walk. I think his brace was removed earlier in the day and he was striding up and down the touchline something akin to a caged tiger, obviously very frustrated at being sidelined. Dave was wearing a cast of sorts to protect his wrist, but looked fine otherwise.
By all accounts, I don’t think Gully had been too impressed with the loss of the No 9 jersey following Dave’s injury – it had to be cut open to enable a quick and relatively painless access to Dave’s injured wrist.
A shirt down though…not good news if you’re the team manager.
There was a new face training with the squad yesterday, and by the look of him he was another 9, but I’m assuming the club will provide further information on him in its regular Friday team news update on the website.
Although Caldy’s league record is not great, having won just two from nine this season, RW felt that in the set piece, or at least in the scrum, they would be a real threat.
It appears they have bullied almost every opposition scrum they’ve faced so far this season and he felt it in the first 20-30 minutes they might be a real threat. I think he believes we have the advantage in most other areas and feels they might struggle against high tempo sides that like to play with plenty of pace, which is exactly what I think we can expect from Cov tomorrow.
One word of caution though.
A quick look at the league table shows that although Caldy is currently in a lowly 13th position in National One, in the nine games played so far they have achieved 9 bonus points – 4 of which are for a losing bonus point and 5 for scoring 4 tries or more, so they have been obviously involved in some close games. They’ve only conceded more than 40 points once, and that was away to Bishop’s Stortford in the opening game of the season and they’ve have had close games against Darlington, OE, Plymouth and Rosslyn Park.
Teams at the bottom end of the league often raise their game when they come to the BPA, especially when visiting for the first time, as we found was the case against Bishop’s Stortford. RW compared Caldy to a National One Newbold in terms of their strength up front and whilst they might not be the fittest of sides, he clearly felt they will cause us problems if we are anything but focused.
Caldy’s kit comprises of my second least favourite combination of colours – black and that burned yellow/gold that both Wolves (as a West Brom supporter) and Wasps both wear. This is only surpassed by black and red – no guesses as to why that might not be too popular with me.
The news on the Development Academy game is disappointing, with London Scottish unable to fulfil the fixture – the second time a home Zoo Sports Shield game has had to be cancelled.
Whilst there’s absolutely nothing that Cov can do about it, it does mean that there are a number of very good players, players pushing for a place in the senior squad, who are not getting the game time they need. One of the big attractions to youngsters contemplating committing themselves to Development Academy is the opportunity to play competitive rugby on a near weekly basis. Cov has only played 5 Zoo Shield games so far, well behind the 7 or 8 average and only Barnes (who pulled out of their fixture with Coventry) has played less.
In fairness, Coventry’s fixtures didn’t start until Week 3, but two cancellations are frustrating and Coventry did try hard to find a last minute replacement for the Barnes game last month, but to no avail.
It also means Coventry take something of a financial hit as well. Whether the game was to be before or after the senior squad fixture, there would have been a good number of supporters in attendance and the likelihood is that they’d have had a drink or two and maybe a bite to eat. Whilst it’s not big money, it’s loss is enough to be noticed, especially if it happens several times over the course of a season. Again, there’s nothing the club can do about it which makes it all the more annoying.
Even though it was hoped that the gym would be completed by now, the foundations remain the only visible evidence of where it will be.
However, that won’t be the case for much longer as everything needed to complete the build has now been delivered and is awaiting construction next week…good news on that front as well, then. There are also plans afoot to improve the flow of supporters into the ground via the main turnstiles, with season ticket holders being able to enter via an open gate to allow the turnstiles to be used for those paying on the day. In addition, a more permanent hut is likely to be installed close to the entrance so that supporters aren’t having to pay at the turnstiles, something that has slowed down access to the ground at games where there is a larger than normal crowd.
As I understand it, the glass-fronted middle section of the railway end containers (sorry, it’s late and I just can’t come up with a better word) is to become a dedicated Guinness bar and the Real Ale Bar on the far side, opposite the main stand, will be turned 90 degrees so that the serving area faces the pitch. Finally, the large terrapin (is that the word I was looking for earlier?) hut to the left of that will be placed behind the similar hit, nearest the site of the proposed gym at the railway end, to become a second set of changing rooms…
Lots going on then and a sure sign that the club is listening to its supporters. It won’t be able to please everyone, but it does appear to be addressing many of the main minor grumbles made over the last few months. With so much else going on as well, the club deserves credit for this – I imagine the Supporters’ Club has also been hard at work behind the scenes as well.
And one slight confession.
I got home this evening and pm-ed Sam via Twitter to say it looked a decent squad to face Caldy and did he want a lift.
Except I sent it to Rowland Winter instead.
He accepted and apparently I’m taking him, his wife and children to the game tomorrow.
Sometimes I even embarrass myself with my own stupidity.
Must have been a massive relief for him to know that the team got my seal of approval.
That said, it’s game day tomorrow.
Am lovin’ this season as much as any I can remember.
I just can’t get enough…
One of my better segways (or even segues for the purists)…
Just Can’t Get Enough…Depeche Mode’s biggest hit by far and whilst I was no big fan of the synthesiser, it was certainly one of the more memorable songs of that pop/synth genre, together with Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’ which even I have to accept is a classic.