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Cov – the real Culture Club…Ampthill’s turn to test Cov’s promotions credentials

Don’t put your head on my shoulder
Sink me in a river of tears
This could be the best place yet
But you must overcome your fears

Culture Club – Time (Clock of the Heart)

Coventry – City of Culture 2021.

Congratulations to everyone involved; a great achievement.

I know Coventry Rugby Club played its part in the bid and the hope must be that yesterday’s announcement will not only benefit the city as a whole, it will also create further interest in the club itself.

I’ve always been mildly accepting of Wasps’ presence in the city. However, Coventry’s heritage and traditions as far as the game of rugby are concerned lie very much with Cov and not our Premiership neighbours.

Coventry Rugby – the real Culture Club in this city.

You’d hope that the city’s sporting past would be celebrated as part of the 2021 celebrations and that it is Cov and not Wasps, very much the new kids on the block as far as this city is concerned, that becomes the focus of interest. The great names of the past, the Wheatleys, Harry Walker, Phil Judd, Peter Jackson, David Duckham, Rossborough and co., they  should all be remembered.

I don’t know how these things work, but if there are grants available to support projects connected to the city’s heritage, then a Butts-based ‘museum’, dedicated to all the Cov memorabilia that must be stored in hundreds of lofts and attics the length and breadth of the city, might be something worth considering.

Or, failing that, a Coventry sporting museum, based centrally, dedicated to a whole range of sports and pastimes with connections to the great and the good of Coventry…?

I’ve long been an advocate of celebrating this club’s past, whilst looking ahead to all its future promise.

Maybe the City of Culture award might be just the springboard that is needed. There is little of the past on show in the club at the moment, although I believe there is a lot kept in safe-keeping. I’m sure a call to supporters to loan the club additional items from the club’s past would add greatly to that?

Across the city, there must any number of old shirts, programmes, photographs and other remembrances, more than enough to create something both evocative and of interest.

And who knows, the centrepiece of the whole exhibition could yet be the National One – 2017/18 Winners Trophy.

An exhibition of Coventry memorabilia?

One day, perhaps.


Anyway…well done, the City of  Coventry.

I hope that the rugby club will benefit from the city’s long overdue recognition as a centre of culture. As the concert this summer showed, the BPA is more than capable of hosting events outside of rugby and with another two set for next summer, it’s something I imagine the club will look to develop further.

Coincidentally, I was at the BPA yesterday to meet with Lara (the Business Development Manager) just to look at the many developments that are taking place off the pitch as the club continues its journey towards Championship rugby.

I know that Lara and her team are working exceptionally hard to promote the club and I thought it might be interesting to include an outline of some of the things going on outside of the rugby. As supporters, we always tend to focus on the events on the pitch and put to one side what is happening behind the scenes. But the one can’t function without the other and if we are to move further forwards, then the club has to be a successful business as well.

And it is moving very much in the right direction.

It’s an area that always interests supporters. So I thought it might be something different for the blog.

However, no sooner had we sat down than Lara  received emails and phone calls requesting Cov’s presence at a local tv and radio impromptu recording in the city centre, the result of the previous day’s City of Culture announcement.

It was all a bit hectic and meant that any hope of a chat was ended there and then, but in a way it was useful for me as it brought home just how involved the club could be in the run up to 2021 and also how hard the likes of Lara and Jo and the others in the office work. The phones were constantly ringing and there were numerous people asking for information or buying tickets at the office window.

Yet all remained calm.

There are some interesting developments afoot in terms of sponsorship – more of that once I’ve met with Lara again. Finding time might be tricky – it looks like it’s going to be a very busy period for everyone in the office.


One of the key tenets of the underpinning the city’s 2021 bid was that it should ‘set about changing the reputation of Coventry’.

I guess Jon Sharp would say something similar if asked about his reasons from bringing Rowland Winter to the club back in May of last year.

Cov’s reputation, rightly or wrongly, was one of perennial big spenders and under-achievers and whilst, at the time, the former always invoked a variety of responses depending on who you talked to, the latter was irrefutable.


Well, we probably have a bigger budget than most, if not all, clubs in our league. That’s pretty obvious. But we are spending it wisely with the result that we already have a squad of players capable of wining promotion to the Championship in the next couple of seasons.

The club is fulfilling everyone’s expectations  at the moment.

No underachievement this season.

Supporters are notoriously the most difficult of all to please, yet a quick gander at the club Messageboard immediately suggests that supporters are all happy with the direction the club is taking, other than perhaps the lack of a decent scoreboard and a poor sound system.

Both of which are being addressed…


Today’s game is another test of Coventry’s promotion credentials.

First against fourth.

Fortunately, Ampthill are well-known to us, with many of the pack and the likes of Kenni Barrett, quite literally, old adversaries of ours. And of course 12 months ago, James Pritchard was a player coach with Coventry as well.

He is now Ampthill’s leading points scorer on 54.

A couple of surprises for me when the team was announced yesterday morning. Nice ones, but surprises nevertheless.

Who’d have thought at the start of the season that against one of the best scrummaging sides in the league, the starting fifteen wouldn’t have included a fit (enough to play, anyway) James Litchfield or Phil Boulton, or both?

Instead, RW has opted to begin with Nathanael Titchard-jones and Jack Higgins, with James Litchfield on the bench and Phil Boulton having another week in which to rest his back. Andy Brown isn’t even featuring in the Development side this week so perhaps his hand injury isn’t progressing quite as quickly as was hoped.

And Luc Jeannot, who had deputised so well earlier in the season when we had some injury problems up front, remains in the Development side.

All  this just goes to show the depth we now have amongst the props. We know what Nathanael Titchard-jones can do as he’s been involved in a number of games this season already and Jack Higgins’ performance last week suggested he’s another highly promising player. There is clearly great faith in the two of them given the importance of the game and with Jimmy Litchfield on the bench and likely to come on after 30 minutes or so, there are plenty of options available if needed.

Phil Nilsen’s inclusion at hooker makes sense given the relative inexperience at this level of the props either side of him. Despite the excellent form that Scott Tolmie has been showing of late, Phil’s probably a more technical player, and his experience in the front row complements that of Titchard-jones and Higgins. Phil’s physicality might be just what is needed against such an abrasive front 3 as Ampthill’s.

No’s 4-8 are as good as any in the league.

I don’t even think you could make a better composite back 5 by taking players from any of the teams in National One. If the front three do as well as expected, after that tricky opening 20 or 30 minutes, the pack should begin to make their superiority tell. That’s the theory anyway.

Lutui and Molitika and the like are going to make their presence felt and with 5 Tongans likely to be involved in the game, there might be one or two big hits out there this afternoon.

And Sam Tuitupou might want to get involved as well…

I’m relieved that Rob Knox is in the team. He hobbled off last Saturday and at the time it didn’t look too encouraging. I thought Rob had his best game last week for a season or so, strong in the tackle, always beating the first tackler and scoring a peach of a try when nothing looked on. RW mentioned that Rob tends to defend out wide and attack through the centre and that was certainly the case against Rosslyn Park last week. In the light of that and given the fact that Matoto’s last couple of games at 13 have been so impressive, it all looks most encouraging.

Sadly, it does mean that Tony Fenner misses out, although I’m sure he’ll be used at some point in the second half and should we need to shut Ampthill out in the closing minutes, he’s the ideal player to have out there to organise the backs.

Whilst Max Trimble is another player unlucky not to make the starting 15, Tom Emery has impressed in the games he’s played out wide and in my book he deserves to get the nod as he’s done nothing wrong.  Max will just have to bide his time, but with Saints playing Leicester in the A League next weekend, he might not have to wait too long.

I had a quick look at Ampthill’s Twitter feed just to see if today’s team had been announced – it hadn’t, and in all truth theirs isn’t the best of  Twitter accounts amongst National One clubs. However, what is quite interesting is that Ampthill only follow 6 other accounts, which in itself is quite unusual.

And of those 6, only two are the accounts of other National One clubs.

Ourselves and Plymouth Albion.

It probably says a little about their aspirations, does that…

Saturday afternoon v Ampthill:

This could be the best place yet
But you must overcome your fears




James Pritchard prepping the Ampthill Mob about what they can expect when they get to Cov

As always, I’ll be tweeting updates from the first team game this afternoon. With the Development Squad over at Broadstreet, sadly I won’t be able to provide any updates from their the Zoo Shield with Ampthill 1881

Both Cov and Ampthill have a match day Twitter feed, although mostly just the scores and the main moments in the game (Ampthill’s seems to offer far fewer updates from the game than Cov’s though).

Ampthill’s Twitter account is @ampthillrufc and Cov’s is @CoventryRugby

If you’re looking for no more than score updates and the odd comment, then certainly both of those will provide what you’re looking for and wherever possible, I’ll try and give a sense of the atmosphere as well.

I tend to tweet far more, a lot more, so if you’re at home and just surfing the net trying to find out anything you can about the game, this might be a different option. The tweets, when combined, make a crude ‘commentary’ of sorts.

Be warned though, you might get well over a 130 plus tweets during the course of the game – so if that is too much, mute me and use the two club’s official feeds!
Please bear in mind, I am a bit one-eyed when I tweet.

I’m on @Cowshedtim

Apologies in advance for some of the typos that appear. For some though, deciphering my tweets adds to the occasion.

If you aren’t familiar with Twitter or don’t have an account, then on the homepage of this blog ( all the tweets will appear in real time on the far right of the page, towards the top end. Click on it to increase its size.


Culture Club – too arty for me at the time but music I’ll have on in the background these days.

Not a classic, but Time (Clock of the Heart) is still instantly recognisable. Boy George has a great stage presence to be fair and little production is needed with his voice.

Another great video.




14 replies »

  1. 2021? Perhaps there will be two Premiership rugby clubs in the city by then? One can dream I guess!

  2. Following covs succesful bid for culture, it was rumoured that the national trust and english heritage were going to sponsor ampthills ground.

  3. Yes a lot of inspiration can be taken from the past. I like the idea of a Coventry Sporting Museum; Coventry City, Coventry Rugby, Coventry Bees, Coventry Blaze, Coventry Sporting FA Cup exploits, Godiva Harriers, the swimming club and the Antelope Motor Cycle Club. That is before you get into a network of local clubs and factory teams.

    The Butts on it own surely has a vast history to be explored

  4. Mark, and Tim.

    Firstly my father played with most of those names in the 50′ s and I heard many, many stories, mostly true…..! He was friends with Ivor Preece, a lovely guy, and great player. I still have my father’s county cap mounted in a case on my study wall. I also have a fair bit of memorabilia he rescued during the flight from Coundon Road. One more tale…. my father’s first game for Cov was at Gloucester. Harry Walker was pack leader, and after his encouraging chat in the changing , my father said he didn’t know who to be more afraid of, Harry or the Gloucester pack. Plenty more stories like that available….. here’s to today vs Ampthill.

    Oh and John Butler is/was the club’s historian and has a wealth of information in his domain.

    • John B is definitely the go to man! Great tales, exactly the kind that should be preserved for posterity. The club should have a page on the website where you can just send in memories such as these -saving them for posterity

      • You see, Kevin, that’s what I’m talking about. Brilliant.
        The club isn’t just about the current crop of players. It’s about those who have gone before, the supporters, the backroom staff from the cleaners to the coaches, security team to barstaff and it’s about the future, too. But stories like those deserve to be part of the wider Coventry folklore.
        My mate Steve Evans, who covered Cov for the CET, has a wealth of stories about his time following the club. When I worked with him we’d talk about it for ages.
        Surely, a limited edition offering, with tales, memories and pictures of the past could sell? Or at the very least, become part of a living online archive?

  5. Nice blog, Tim. And I shall look forward to your match coverage later.
    While I am divided over the City of Culture success, the cynical journalist in me thinking it will be a free-for-all dash at the cash rather than something organic and long-lasting to benefit my city, I would love a museum to all of Coventry’s sporting heritage.
    The grassroots teams that proved fertile grounds for the success of Coventry Rugby, the Bantams and then Sky Blues, the Bees…
    And I’ve often thought an online museum, with programmes and match notes from key games in the past. I don’t know who played on the other wing for Cov in the ’74 final. Tim Barnes rings a bell, but there’s no way of finding out that I can find of, for example.
    I want to know more.
    I want to know more about the Wheatleys, exactly how Ivor Preece matched up in his day. I’ve seen footage of Jacko and heard all the stories of Harry Walker, but I’m always thirsty for knowledge.
    I know Cov have really improved their online offering recently, but it’s nowhere near good enough IMHO.
    Rossborough held the points record for a season for years. Who broke it? Jez Harris? I honestly don’t know – I was working away in journalism or the army so there’s lots I am in blissful ignorance about.

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