Will the Winter Solstice see the end of those long, dark days?
The day the Sun delivers the fewest hours of sunlight of the year.
In short, by the end of today we will have turned the corner and from hereon in, it’s a case of less darkness and more light.
In short, the Winter Solstice.
And with it comes an obvious metaphor as Coventry go into the 15th game of the season hopefully with the darker days well and truly behind them and the prospect of some brighter, sunnier times ahead.
The Winter solstice actually occurs at 16.28 today, and is the official start to the season of Winter – not hard to see where I’m going with this, then?
Will this indeed be Winter’s season?
The astrological Winter official ends on March 20th, a three month period the end of which heralds the advent of Spring, synonymous as it is with the hope of better things to come.
And here we are, sitting atop of National One and looking ahead to what could be the beginning of yet another chapter in Coventry’s history, with a place in the Championship looming ever larger.
By no means is promotion a certainty, but it’s looking a good deal more likely than at any time in the last 7/8 seasons – since we were relegated in fact, back in 2010.
And come the end of the astrological Winter, it might well be that the race for the National One title is all but over. There are a further 11 games to be played in that period, including the re-scheduled visit to Darlington, after which Coventry could almost be out of sight.
With a 13 point lead, we already have what is virtually a three game advantage, so with just the five left after 20th March, everything should all be a lot clearer by then.
The fixtures list from now until mid March has been very kind to us, with just Darlington to face of the three teams immediately below us, whilst they have to play each other in a number of key games, with hopefully all teams dropping some points along the way.
If we remain unbeaten until then, my bet would be that we would be champions-elect before the trip down to Plymouth on 24th March. It’s a long shot, certainly, but then again so was winning our first 14 games of the season…
If the players remain focused, and there’s plenty of experience in the side to help do that, and if Rowland Winter can continue to rotate the squad as effectively as he has up to now even with some serious injuries along the way, then it’s not out of the question.
And that sequence of 11 games begins with Moseley on Saturday…
Old friends, old rivals…
Local derbies are so unpredictable – it’s time to get ruthless.
To everyone who is going to the game on Saturday, let’s ratchet up the atmosphere a little.
We might be playing Moseley over at Billeseley, but I fully expect Cov supporters to make it feel very much like a home game for the players, with hoards of fans making the short trip down the A45. Moseley’s average gate is just 771, but against Coventry you’d hope there would be nearer 1000 home fans on the day. Cov will be taking at least another 600 or 700 I imagine, given that getting on for 150 are coming by coach alone. 1700 odd would fill the Mose ground if the one stand is still out of use…more and it would be some atmosphere.
And if we can guarantee one thing, then it’s that the Cov supporters will make themselves heard, however vocal the Moseley support is. And the louder we are, the more the players will rise to the occasion, as they always do.
Last week’s post-match comments from Moseley second-rower Aaron Crofts are quite revealing.
Crofts, whose dad played for Cov for many years, was clearly excited about Saturday’s game:
Aaron Crofts admits there will be no time to dwell on the disappointment of Saturday’s narrow defeat at National One strugglers Rosslyn Park – they will be back on the training ground ahead of their mouth-watering Midlands derby with old foes Coventry.
“We’ll be back in to training this week. We know what we have to work on and we’ll put our trust in the coaches,’’ he said.
“Everyone wants to be involved in the Cov game in one way or another. We’ve been building up to it as it’s such a big game for us with it being at home and our last game before Christmas.’’
It’s easy to read between the lines, but maybe with everyone at Moseley ‘building up to it’, perhaps they’ve been guilty of taking their eye off the other fixtures a little. The loss to Rosslyn Park, a side that hadn’t won in five previous outings before last week, must have been unexpected, even more so when Park were down to 13 players in the final minutes of the game.
I don’t believe Coventry’s players would look at the Moseley game with quite the same focus as that shown by Crofts. The games against Ampthill, Plymouth and, had it taken place, Darlington Mowden Park, would have been far too important to be thinking ahead to Moseley in that way, and it will only have been since the postponement of the Darlington game on Friday that thoughts will have really turned to this Saturday.
Even playing at home, Mose shouldn’t hold quite the same threat as when we played them last season, and the game at the BPA back in September was as one-sided a derby as I can remember for a long, long time. No, whether Mose supporters like it or not, Moseley doesn’t hold quite the same threat for such a strong Cov side as it did last season.
It’s a big game for Crofts and his teammates, but it’s just another game for Coventry and whilst the players I’m sure appreciate it’s significance to the hundreds of Cov supporters who will be out in force on Saturday, this side is far too professional to let it get to them in the pre-match build-up. There’s far less hype attached to the game this time around, and that must be a good thing as far as Cov is concerned – if we’re going to be undone by Moseley, I don’t think it would be because they are the better, more skillful side, it could only be because they are mentally tougher and sharper.
And I just don’t see that happening.
Rowland Winter and the coaches have so far been excellent keeping the squad grounded despite the team’s successes.
Yes, there has been much more media interest in Coventry this season, with local radio and tv beginning to sit up and take an interest in what’s happening at the BPA, but it’s always been either Jon Sharp or Rowland Winter who have fronted up, not the players. Are they being shielded or has it just turned out that way?
Whatever the reason, it makes good sense. It might be just coincidence, but little seems to have changed as far as player involvement outside of the rugby is concerned – John Wilkinson continues his weekly or bi-weekly interviews, nothing else is being seen or heard from the players. They’ll often tweet after a game, but only to comment on the result or to express thank to the supporters…nothing would suggest this is anything other than a typical ‘mid-table’ season for Cov.
Focus is key.
Players like Luke Narraway, Latu Makaafi, Phil Nilsen and Sammy Tuitupou won’t let themselves be too carried away by it all and I very much doubt whether Rowland Winter and the coaches will allow the younger players get over-excited by the prospect of what is, after all, just another away trip.
Team selection will be interesting for Saturday, I shouldn’t imagine there will be too many changes, if any, from the team selected to play Darlington – they’ll be plenty of experience in that starting XV.
Preece and Oram will perhaps find it strange returning to Moseley for the first time since leaving the club at the end of last season, but they are players hardly likely to let it get to them – I can’t imagine Cov being phased by another game against Moseley, especially having won the last one so convincingly. Moseley, on the other hand, will probably lack the self-belief of Cov at the moment and be desperate to make amends for the spanking they took back in September. And that could make them even more susceptible if Coventry put the squeeze on them as they have most teams this season.
The supporters, however, will find it somewhat harder to control their emotions and I’m sure the support will be loud and passionate on the day. To go into the Christmas break on the back of a 15 game unbeaten run would be amazing, but to go into the Christmas break on the back of a 15 game unbeaten run and having beaten Moseley just two days before Christmas to do it, well that would be something else.
Expectations will be high given Coventry’s current run of form and the manner in which we beat Moseley in September. However, Coventry would do well to be wary of a wounded Moseley who would see a win against Coventry as one of the highlights of what has, so far, been a very ordinary season for them, having only won 7 of their 14 games so far.
Cornered and wounded, I fully expect Moseley to come out and take the game to us in the opening 30 minutes or so – if Cov can weather the storm, we should have too much in reserve. The presence of Brendon Snyman in the opposition second row will add a little extra spice to the contest and it will be interesting to see whether Cov target him at all. With so little known about his departure, almost 12 months ago to the day, it’s unclear just how amicable the reunion will be.
He seems to be showing some good form…
…he scored last week.
That said, will this be the Winter season?
It’s looking that way at the moment, but then perhaps Rowland Winter is a man for all seasons?
I’m not sure the A game results from Monday night have appeared on the official or unofficial Cov websites…so here they are:
Leicester Tigers 24 – 49 Northampton Saints
Wasps 70 – 12 Sale Jets
I should add that, mea culpa, I got my wires somewhat crossed yesterday..
.. to the extent they short-circuited, in fact.
Tom Jubb, Pete White, Olly Povoas and Will Priestley actually guested for Sale, not Wasps – apologies for that.
Still, great to see so many Coventry players involved.
Below are the match reports for both games, although neither is particularly comprehensive:
Below is a clip of the Wasps’ team appearing from the changing room at Broadstreet – including Cameron Gray and Kwaku Asiedu
Wasps are here… pic.twitter.com/dH21MgjARs
— Wasps Rugby (@WaspsRugby) December 18, 2017
and here’s a couple of photos from both games, with thanks to Kwaku and Edmond Jeannot:
The photo of Coundon Road from yesterday’s post unsurprisingly attracted a lot of interest – many thanks to Anne for forwarding it.
Roger Pulley provided some further information to add to all the comments that appeared on the blog yesterday…some of you might find this particularly interesting…
Secondly, Photo Coundon Road. Having been born approximately 500 yards from Coundon Road ground, I know the area very well.
The sweet shop you refer to was probably The Tuck Shop as we knew it. Located on Crampers Field in a row of 3 or 4 shops, the crescent shaped road, at the top of Tomson Road just 2 or 3 minutes walk away.
As far as ageing the picture – in the top right hand corner of the photo there is a ” large” building with clear ground around it. I think this can only be the The Grapes Pub at the junction of Radford Road/ Fynford Ave and now Bridgeman Road where I was born. The pub still there now.
The building of Bridgeman Road commenced approx 1929 / 1931 and it does not seem to be there because I would not have expected to see so much clear ground around the grapes. Also, at the other end of where Bridgeman Rd is now and joins the junction of Randle St and Hewitt Ave which can be clearly identified, there is again undeveloped land beyond that junction which is where Bridgeman Rd is now
Therefore, in my humble opinion, this photo has to be prior to 1931.
The council houses on Crampers Field, Randle St, Hewitt Ave, Fynford Ave, Brightmere Rd, Fowler Rd etc and others of that estate were commenced circa 1926 and they are all built on this photo. So it has to be late 1920’s early 1030’s but can’t be later than 1931 because I cannot see Bridgeman Rd at the Grapes pub end or the other end, where it now joins Randle St.
Fantastic – that’s certainly narrowed it down, as well as bringing back some fond memories for those who remember Cov of yesteryear, thanks, Roger.
Many thanks also to everyone who contributed to the discussion.
If anyone else has photos connected to the club that they would like some info on, please do forward them. It seems like there are plenty of people willing to help out.
Or maybe you’d just like to share them with other like-minded people?
A reminder that voting closes for the Coventry’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) 2017 poll on Sunday…if you haven’t yet voted, please give it ago. It’s very, very close at the moment and your vote could make a real difference (without giving away too much!)…
For the poll, and further details, please click on the link below: