Improved match day facilities…Attendances – will Cov make Wasps play the crying game…in praise of the Supporters’ Club
I know all there is to know about the crying game
I’ve had my share of the crying game
First there are kisses
Then there are sighs
And then, before you know where you are
You’re sayin’ goodbye
Brenda Lee – The Crying Game
There’s been little comment on the Messageboard about the changes to match day arrangements made by Cov for the Plymouth Albion game, so I’m guessing they helped ease some of the concerns expressed by supporters earlier in the season over queuing, both to get into the ground and at the bar.
I always arrive at the BPA early anyway, so queuing is never a problem, but the central gate in between the two sets of turnstiles had already been opened and because we have a season ticket each, Sam and I were able to walk straight through and as we did so we were ‘clicked’ in on one of those hand held tally counters. It worked well and as I’m not a great fan of turnstiles anyway, being inclined to push on the bar too early or too late and thereby messing up the whole system, the open gate policy was a winner for me.
I’m not sure how the system coped with any last minute rush…turnstiles are always going to slow things down, so if there were a lot of supporters hoping to enter the ground in the last ten minutes or so and they weren’t season ticket holders, then the opening of the gates might not have made a great difference.
I’m with Jon Sharp on this one – if you come the BPA in the final 15 minutes and expect to be in the ground and seated on Saturdays where there’s going to be a larger than average crowd, well you do so knowing that you’re leaving it tight.
The bars around the ground seemed to be doing okay as well and that might be one of the reasons why the areas in close proximity to them were busy well before the start of the game.
With so many people taking up the pre-match dinner offer, the main bar was always going to be packed given only half the area was available, so I imagine inside was heaving in the minutes leading up to the game. However, if such is the price of success, it’s a relatively small burden to bear.
The outer shell of the new gym is now up and by all accounts it shouldn’t be too long before it’s in use.
Jon Sharp mentioned it in last week’s radio phone-in, saying that as part of Coventry’s on-going community programme, the gym would be made available to members of the public at certain times of the day as well.
That can only be a good thing and once the 4G pitch is in place, the gym could attract plenty of interest from those using the synthetic surface on a regular basis.
Onwards and upwards.
In front of the current build is an advertisement hoarding for Prime Physiotherapy which is a new private physiotherapy practice working out of Coventry Rugby Club and specialising with all kinds of sports injury. I believe Hannah is very much involved in it and is the lead physio – it’s a new venture and hopefully its success will mean that Hannah and her team remain with us for that much longer!
Good luck to everyone involved.
Coventry’s attendances continue to show a very healthy increase on last season and are comfortably higher than at any time since we were relegated into National One back in 2010. Further, as far as I can tell, there’s only been one season since we’ve been at the BPA in which Coventry has achieved a higher average attendance for the season. That was back in 2005/06 (when the Championship was then called National One) when our average gate was an impressive 2126 and our best attended league game attracted a crowd of 4612, with the lowest that season of 1381.
If I remember correctly, in those days we had a temporary stand running pretty much the length of the pitch on the opposite side to the main stand which would have held a fair few, so it wouldn’t have been too difficult to increase the capacity of the stadium in the short term.
Since 2004, attendances at the BPA have been as follows, with season average figures in red, season highs in blue:
04/05 1688 (2100)
05/06 2126 (4612)
06/07 1530 (1915)
07/08 1366 (3100)
08/09 1397 (3638)
09/10 1218 (2003) – Relegation to National One
10/11 834 (1541)
11/12 1051 (1643)
12/13 857 (1166)
14/15 1506 (2132)
15/16 1152 (1435)
16/17 1263 (2712)
17/18 1765 (2242)
I’m quite prepared to be told these figures are inaccurate as I can’t for the life of me remember games where we attracted well over 3000 for a league fixture, whether in the equivalent of the Championship or not. 4612 seems a heck of a lot in the BPA, that’s for sure.
This week’s National One attendances bring home just how out of place Coventry is in this league purely in terms of its fan base (leaving aside the argument that we are where we are because that’s where we belong purely on a rugby basis)…the NCA chart of attendances makes the disparity between ourselves and the other games abundantly clear:
The home teams last Sat all had gates around last season’s average or in some cases, well below, other than Cov. It’s gate was a up a staggering 63% on last season’s average, a figure you might expect for a one-off game against local rivals Moseley, but not otherwise.
What seems abundantly clear from the above is that Coventry’ attendances haven’t been unduly affected by the Wasps’ arrival in Cov. They played their first game at the Ricoh Arena in December 2014 which coincided with our best season in National One, when we finished third after the 18 game unbeaten run. In the next two seasons admittedly our attendances were lower than for the 14/15 season which coincided with two seasons of change at Cov, but they were still well above those prior to Wasps nesting over at the Ricoh.
No, the evidence suggests that Coventry’s attendances are affected pretty much solely by the success the team is, or isn’t, enjoying at the time.
Coventry’s current season’s average of 1765, which is likely to increase over the remainder of the season if we continue to show promotion winning credentials, is the second highest since we’ve been at the BPA.
In contrast, Wasps attendances this season (and admittedly they’ve only played 4 of their season’s 11 games at the Ricoh so far) are showing quite a significant drop from 18,096 in 2016/17 to 14,722 currently.
Granted their relatively poor start (for them at least) is in contrast to Coventry’s turbo-charged one, a fact that gives some credence to the view that the crowds will always return to Cov when the team is winning…
Clearly it’s all fairly circumstantial, but I would venyure that some of those 3500 supporters no longer attending the Ricoh games this season are now enjoying Coventry’s resurgence in the relative comfort of the main stand at the BPA every other Saturday afternoon.
Yes, we’ve always had a large, fairly hardcore, group of die-hards, but in addition to them are a great number of supporters in the city who would like to see Coventry do well in preference to any other team within the area.
Now Coventry is making headlines for all the right reasons (which hasn’t always been the case over the last 20 years or so) those supporters who might have gone elsewhere because they were drawn by the idea of the Premiership rather than through any loyalty to Wasps, are returning in their hundreds.
There were all sorts of gloomy prophecies when Wasps ventured north but what is currently happening suggests there is plenty of room for two successful sides in Coventry and if there isn’t, well it’s the Premiership side that looks the likeliest to lose out.
Cov will never match the sorts of crowds Wasps are able to attract currently, certainly not whilst we remain in National One and at the BPA. However, whilst I would argue that Wasps’ presence hasn’t ever affected Coventry’s attendances, at least nowhere near as much as was feared when they first arrived, a successful Coventry might impact on Wasps’.
In which case, Cov might well end up making our near neighbours play the crying game…
First there are kisses
Then there are sighs
And then, before you know where you are
You’re sayin’ goodbye
As of yesterday evening, only 3 seats are available for the second coach travelling to Moseley on the 23rd December.
The game has all the makings of being a real pre-Christmas treat for all concerned.
Even Sue is making the short trip over to Billeseley and will doubtless be leading Coach A in a rendition of Swing Low before we’ve left the carpark, together the offer of mince pies and as much home-made punch as you can handle over at ours on Boxing Day.
Meanwhile, on Coach B, I’ll be texting away.
You’ve been warned.
On a slightly more serious note, the increasing demand for travel to away games, fantastic as it is, has meant a great deal of extra work for the Supporters’ Club who oversee everything connected with the travel arrangement for supporters, from the booking of the coaches through to the management of the travel on the day itself.
On Saturday, Paul Ingleston and Steve Hood manned the Supporters’ Club stand in the bar on Saturday – as with all the CRSC committee members, they give up their time freely.
Between them, they dealt with 97 orders for Moseley tickets and a further 100 coach bookings, a great achievement under significant pressure. Both Paul and Steve are coach managers on a Saturday, too, and without their input it is likely that the coaches wouldn’t run, or if they did, it certainly wouldn’t be such an enjoyable experience as it currently is.
I left the Supporters’ Committee because I just couldn’t do what they do week in week out, they give up their time so selflessly – it takes a very special type of clubman to do that. The supporters, and indeed the club itself, is very lucky to have the likes of Paul and Steve, and all the other Committee members, working on their behalf.
As someone who turns up on a Saturday and seldom stops to think about the amount of work these guys are doing to get me to the away game, and for little else other than their love of the club, I genuinely thank them for their efforts.
It is greatly appreciated.
I know all there is to know about the crying game…
I’d hoped to find a video clip of Brenda Lee singing the original version but sadly all I could come up with was this one…Boy George did a passable cover but I couldn’t not include Little Miss Dynamite.
I probably should also have included Jingle Bell Rock given we’re approaching the festive season…
Bah humbug to that, though