Rowland, the butcher of Coventry…

7Jan - by Tim - 8 - In Club talk

a1.bmpA fine butcher’s he is too, although he might be well past his sell-by date now.

Based on Spon Street, I happen to walk past his shop most Saturday’s and always have a gander, provided they’re in season of course.

It’s clearly one of the best purveyors of fresh meat in the whole of Coventry judging by the number of people usually in there.

He has meat to greet.

As the shop proudly displays, ‘One of Coventry’s Oldest Butchers (sic) Shop’

And free delivery on orders over £25.

Get in there…

The proper butchers.

But although TJ Rowland might well be the oldest butcher’s in Coventry,  ‘R’ Rowland (see what I did there?) is certainly the most efficient…and like TJ, he always serves up quality fare.

That’s 24 wins on the trot now and with Coventry running in their hundredth try during the course of the game yesterday, there’s certainly a growing feeling that whatever the team Rowland Winter puts out, the opposition will more than likely be put to the sword, or to carry the metaphor a little further in this case, put to the cleaver.

Another new year, another attempt to lose some weight. Another failure in the making. But at least yesterday we made an effort and went into the centre of Cov for a sandwich and a coffee – okay, it’s still not the best of diets but it’s a damn site better than an Istanbul’s half pounder with cheese and chips.

Although nowhere near as satisfying.

Anyway, the interesting thing in all this was that whilst we were in Cov we saw far more supporters wearing Cov shirts than we would normally do, the car park was far fuller at 12.30 than normal and there seemed to be more people in the ground earlier, too, although there was also a surge of supporters just before kick off but  that might just have been people leaving the bar and wandering over to take their seats.

In short, there’s definitely more Cov supporters out and about these days.

An attendance of 1721 on a cold and miserable afternoon in January, against a side that is struggling and attracts few of its own supporters to away games, is no mean feat. There’s definitely some momentum now in terms of the increased crowds this season and what was at first just encouraging back in September, is now very much a trend. With gates on average almost 500 up on last season, it must be having a very positive effect on the Coventry coffers.

On top of all the rain we’ve had in the past few days, it also poured down for a while yesterday morning and I was a little concerned that it could become something of a mud bath once the game started but when we got there it was clear that although wet underfoot, the pitch had stood up to the rain really well.

I had a delightful chat with Ian for the first time (I didn’t catch his surname, much to my current embarrassment) who, along with Roger Pulley and another chap, helps Eric Richardson on a Thursday – three guys who give up their time to support Cov, as so many others do, purely for the love of club.

Good on them…

Anyway, Ian said that they’d done some work on the pitch this week and the only real area of concern was the far corner at the railway end which, as I recall, has never really drained as well as the rest of the ground. I actually thought the pitch looked in pretty good nick before kick off, all things considered, and even when the players were warming up, it hadn’t really cut up as much as expected. Eric certainly did a great job to get the pitch into such a playable condition and he, together with those who also helped, deserves the recognition for his efforts.

As he does every week.

Better still, at the end of the game the pitch was in a remarkably good state, as I hope can be seen from the ‘Before’ and ‘After’ photos below:

The pitch before…

 

…and the pitch after.

There’s relatively little wear and tear considering and Coventry’s decision to train on Warwick University’s artificial pitch on Thursday seems to have paid off.

Good also to see the Chicken Wrap Shack in operation once again, hopefully with the increased crowds of late and the likelihood that they will grow even bigger over the next couple of months or so, it will do well. If things go  as I hope on the diet front, it could  be our next culinary ‘at home’ dining-in experience in two weeks’ time.

And just as a side note, it was great to see Dave Brazier and Alex Grove warming up with the match day squad yesterday.

Both players haven’t had the luckiest of starts at their new club and their return will be almost like bringing in two new players in the January transfers. I spoke to Dave’s dad who explained Dave’s injury and gave a fairly graphic description of how the doctor on call, fortunately an orthopaedic specialist, put the wrist back in place.

I’d naively thought he broken it which would have been the usual scenario given the way it happened (which involved a collision between Dave’s wrist and Sammy T’s head apparently!), a dislocation of the wrist being very unusual. I’m by no means squeamish but I was certainly glad I’d gone for the pre-match sandwich option rather than the burger at that point.

Dave could well be playing some rugby next week in some shape or form. Great news for him and the club.

It was also good to see so many faces that are becoming increasingly familiar these days and  to catch up on the latest news. The rhe fact that there are now regular coaches to the away games, often filled with the same faces, makes the rugby far more of a social outing as a well as a sporting one these days and that’s perhaps something that hasn’t really been mentioned much before.

Through the Supporters’ Club, and particularly through the away day travel,  I’ve got to meet some really interesting people. A by-product for sure, but certainly a very enjoyable one and I’m already looking forward to the journey down to Blackheath next week, if not to the game itself, It’s not been a happy hunting ground particularly for Cov in recent years so it’s about time we evened things up a little there as well. Four visits down to London and four wins would be very satisfying indeed.

Only two of the 72 teams in the National League remain unbeaten, ourselves and Bristol, although we have played three more league games than they have this season and can also add a further 8 to the total if we include the winning run at the end of last season.

So nah…nah…nah…nah…nah to you, Bristol.

It’s getting to the stage where I’m beginning now to countdown the games left to the end of the season and the wins needed to secure promotion. It won’t be long before I’m keeping a tally of the games won against against those remaining, scratching them on to the desk à la Robinson Crusoe-style;  you know the sort of thing:

1111 1111 1111 1   1111 11111 11111 – 

As you can see, I’m going all conservative on this, with red being the point where we could have things wrapped up by should we keep winning. It could even be Game 24, the game before, if things go really well, which would make it either away at Caldy or home to Old Elthamians by my reckoning.

There are those who won’t like talk of winning promotion at this stage of the season, with still some 14 games to go and plenty of opportunities to slip up still in front of us. But I’m a supporter of well over 50 years who has seen little success in the last 35 of those – and to be honest, the excitement now feels just as great as it did back in’73/74 when Cov was winning the John Player Cup (or the RFU Knockout?).

More so really, the result of all that emotional energy invested in the club over the years, I guess.

There’s no point in telling me to stop; it’s what I do. And I’m not alone…we all meet in the deepest darkest areas of the ground before and after the game and share our dreams and fantasies.

I’ve decided to out myself now in the hope that all those closet Cov fantasists can step forward and feel no shame when they are slapped down for having what is, after all, just a slightly overactive imagination.

And it’s not even imagination that leads me to believe that at some point before the end of April, Coventry Rugby Club will win the league. It’s just being realistic.

Do I believe Cov are going to lose 5 games out of the remaining 14 when they’re unbeaten over the first 16?

No, I don’t.

Do I think Plymouth and Darlington will lose one or two games over the remainder of the season?

Yes, I do. 

That’s seems sound reasoning to me.

Should I say it out loud?

Probably not?

For some that is tempting fate, although if we are relying on fate to play a part we are denying the professionalism and ability of this current squad and of the coaches, too.

And after all, blogs are often just the externalisation of the internal ramblings of the writer in question.

And I’m sure I’ll keep rambling away in the weeks to come.

This squad is better prepared, better led, better supported and indeed just plain better than any of those we’ve seen so far this season.

I accept that we have yet to play Darlington Mowden Park, but they’ve failed to win four games this season, losing three and drawing one, so the same applies to them as of now. Cov seems very focused and I just can’t see them doing anything but consolidating their current position in the next few weeks, even if that involves a defeat somewhere along the line…

As for the game itself, well I’m too far into this post to discuss that now  – all I will say until tomorrow is that whilst it wasn’t the best performance we’ve seen from Cov this season, the team did exactly what was asked of them. Following all the rain during the week, I wasn’t expecting it to be such an expansive game but Coventry played a lot of rugby over the course of those 80 minutes. At times they weren’t quite as clinical as they will need to be against better organised teams, but it was another 8 tries and a sound defensive performance.

Job definitely done.

Old Albanian kept going even when out-classed…but as is the case with so many teams when they come to the BPA, the relentless pressure eventually told.

And the good thing is, I can’t see this butcher of Coventry going vegetarian anytime soon…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you were at the game yesterday and haven’t already voted for the ‘Man of the Match’ award, please do so here.

Olly Povoas was the sponsors’ MoM, will he be the choice of those voting via the blog? The more who vote,  the more representative it will be.

So if you haven’t voted, here’s where you do it…just click on the circle against the player of your choice. You only have the one vote.

All being well, I’ll include the results in Monday’s post.

Thank you in advance…

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “Rowland, the butcher of Coventry…”

  1. Playing devil’s advocate, I was tempted up the Ricoh today for the match against Saracens. It’s staggering to see 17,000 people supporting rugby in Coventry but they’re enticed by the internationals on display and the big match atmosphere. Kids are there in abundance lapping up all the pre-match activities in the fan village and buying into the Wasps brand.

    The whole experience leaves me cold but it obviously appeals to people on a huge scale and we have to look at ways to tempt some of these people, families in particular, to BPA.

    On that note I drove past BPA midweek and looked to see what advertising was in place to promote the forthcoming game. I might have missed something but I could only see a small poster advertising the Coventry Bears game.

    I believe we have a sponsorship deal with a signmaking company – surely we can put some sort of banner outside our own ground to attract the attention of passing drivers and pedestrians?

    1. Happy new Year, Rob – hope all is well. A comment worthy of further discussion. Agree with all that you’ve said – have only been to Wasps once and that was enough razzmatazz for me, I prefer substance over presentation and whilst I’m sure the quality of rugby on display at Wasps is good, I’ll warrant it’s no more entertaining than it is at the BPA and probably rather less. Will replay in full via a later post if that’s okay?

  2. Agree with Mark that although crowds are up this year, they are still disappointing. I too would have predicted that a genuine Cov promotion challenge would have attracted average gates of 2,000+. I’m sure that last time Cov were promoted from tier 3, they were around 3,000.

    There are probably various reasons for this. First, paradoxically, the fact that Cov appear to be running away with the league might attract supporters less than if there was a close title race in which every match seemed vital and more seemed like they could go either way. For example, given the predictable outcome, I couldn’t persuade myself (or my wife) that it was vital I made the 160-mile round trip to cheer Cov against OA yesterday.

    Secondly, Cov’s level of residual support is probably less now than it was in 1996 when memories of top tier rugby were relatively recent. I suspect there are just fewer occasional supporters ready to come out of the woodwork and through the turnstiles than there were back then.

    Thirdly W***s must have some effect. Before their arrival, a run such as Cov are having this year would have been the biggest rugby happening in the city. Now, with a team near the top of the Premiership playing in the city, it’s harder to persuade the rugby-curious that the place to be is Butts Park Arena. Among the negative effects of the whole Ricoh Areana debacle is that it has left Cov no longer the top rugby side in the city.

    All this means that the club will have work to do to attract more supporters if/when they reach the Championship. Current levels of support are rather less than, for example, Bedford attract. Fortunately, as per your recent post about the back room team at BPA, they are ‘on it’, as the saying is.

    1. Great posts, Iain and Mark – rather than reply individually I’ll add something this week in a post, just to add a bit more to the discussion and perhaps give a slightly different perspective on it. Thanks both for coming over to comment…

  3. I’m fascinated (and saddened) in that Coventry have been playing great rugby this season – the stats tell a story averaging almost seven tries a match – but there hasn’t been a flood of extra support coming in.
    When Wasps first appeared in Coventry, they managed to get bums on seats at the Ricoh playing their own version of Champagne rugby, or so I read about. Yes, Coventry haven’t got the big names, but Wasps managed to get rugby fans and people who hadn’t really followed rugby to that point out on a weekend afternoon.
    Why isn’t my club attracting more? Based on the gates and performances when I was a regular at BPA, I’d be expecting 2,000-plus.
    I guess it’s up to us, as supporters, to spread the gospel far and wide.
    And we should be patient.
    From your Twitter coverage yesterday, Tim, it sounded like Cov made errors far too often. It appeared the conditions weren’t great and I was a bit bemused by a video of a Coventry maul heading over OA’s line only to be pulled back for a Cov penalty. You can’t have it all.
    But dare I presume there is room for improvement?

  4. Regarding man of the match I wonder if you could provide a league table at some point? Say 5 points for MOM, 3 points for 2nd and 1 point for 3rd.

    1. Good idea, Alan…the only problem is how to present the information as WordPress has problems downloading tables from Word and won’t allow you to create them from the hosted site. Will get something sorted during the week! Much prefer when someone asks for something to be included…lack a bit of imagination as times!

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