Anticipation has a habit to set you up…

Anticipation has a habit to set you up
For disappointment in evening entertainment but
Tonight there’ll be some love
Tonight there’ll be a ruckus yeah regardless of what’s gone before
I want to see all of the things that we’ve already seen

Artic Monkeys  – A View From The Afternoon

Cyrille Regis 1958-2018

West Brom won on Saturday to end a 20 game run of consecutive losses.

And as one door opens…

…another shuts.

Slams shut at that, at least as far as Cov were concerned on Saturday.

Fortunately for Cov though, there are several more exits still wide open and the end of their 16 game unbeaten run this season, 24 in total, shouldn’t impact on their probable promotion from National One once the season is completed.

And like any football supporter whose team is in a position of uncertainty, I’ve already started the countdown. 40 points should secure Premiership football next season, as is the norm.

16 games to go. 19 points on the board.

Another 7 wins and we’re home and hosed. Premiership footie guaranteed, in theory.

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And it’s not just football fans who work out all the permutations, rugby supporters do it, too.

Take James Maxwell for instance, currently residing in the southern hemisphere but no less a Cov support for it. And as the business end of the season approaches,gamesJames has started to do the maths:

Take out the anomaly of Hartpury last year, in the previous 6 seasons (that we’ve been in this league) the team finishing top lost an average of 3.8 games per season. They actually failed to win 4.5 games on average when you consider draws.

Good news for Cov then, given that of the chasing pack, Plymouth and Darlington have already lost 3 each, Ampthill 5 and Blackheath 6 without even taking into account any drawn games.

With every likelihood of the teams below losing further games between now and the end of the season, it looks as if the final points score required by the team winning the league (ie Coventry!) won’t be as high as in some previous seasons.

Final point standings of the promoted side in National One 2010-2017:

Season      Team Points              Score
2016/17     Hartpury                      148
2015/16     Richmond                    116
2014/15     Ealing Trailfinders     136
2013/14     Doncaster Knights     122
2012/13     Ealing Trailfinders     128
2011/12     Jersey                            119
2010/11     London Scottish          132

Notes:

  • over the last 7 seasons 128 points was the average required for promotion. 
  • remove Hartpury and it’s down to 125 points
  • Cov are currently on 79 points with 13 games still to play and chasing a possible, but very unlikely, total of 144  points

At the moment the best placed team behind Cov, Darlington Mowden Park, has 65 points with a game in hand, having played 16 games. If they won all those remaining 14 games, and all with the additional bonus point,  then the highest total points score they could achieve is 135 points.

And I would maintain that is fairly unlikely given the unpredictability of the league and that in several of the games Darlington have already won, they’ve looked vulnerable.

But let’s go with 135 – a points score no other team in the league apart from Cov can match. Cov are presently on 79 points, having played 17 games which means that in order to overtake DMP’s possible 135, Cov would need another 57 points, or 11 wins and a couple of bonus point defeats, although with the points’ difference as it is, 56 points would suffice.

So whatever happens between now and the end of the season, other than points being docked, 11 more wins  and a couple of close defeats and we’re promoted (thanks, Sam).

And that’s the very worst case scenario. Darlington are likely to lose two more games at least given they have to face Cov twice and Plymouth away and a host of other teams all of which could cause a surprise, not the least of which is Blackheath, although if they maintain the form they showed against us at the weekend that would hardly count as a surprise.

My guess would be 8 or nine more wins would do it. 9 bonus point wins would give us 124 points for the season, a winning total in three of the previous 7 seasons.

So 9 more wins out of the remaining 13, six of which are away from home. Should it go down to the last couple of games, we’re at home for both of them, so that is very much to our advantage, although I’m hopeful that won’t be needed.

It’s all a bit speculative, but it is interesting to see the kind of totals that might come into play as the season progresses. I’ve always maintained that Cov would lose a few games along the way, but I’m still adamant that this squad is the best the league has to offer this season and that over the course of 30 games, we will be the team most likely to head the table.

I have to say though, I’m not quite as confident of West Brom’s chances of escaping the drop.

And one last piece of James Maxwell trivia on which to end (and thanks, Lames, for sharing it):

Fun Fact, other than Hartpury again… the team who lost the fewest games in a National League One season was Barking who only lost 2 games in 2010- 2011 but finished second on bonus points to Scottish who lost 3. Barking are now in the 7th tier of English Rugby

…although thinking about it, that’s not the most encouraging of points on which to finish.

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At the end of last week I ran a poll looking at the positions in the current squad supporters might look to strengthen should the club be promoted into the Championship.

I know that after the defeat last weekend this might seem rather premature, but if that is actually the case that would suggest one loss has changed overnight the way most supporters are feeling towards the club’s chances of Championship rugby next season.

It shouldn’t have done.

Most people recognise that defeat is inevitable on more than one occasion over the  course of the season. With such a strong run behind us though, it was always going to be a shock especially when it was so emphatic.

anticipation has a habit to set you up…

But we are still well ahead of the field with the best squad and the best coaching set up in the division. As I said, nothing’s changed…other than perhaps the realisation that if the team loses focus, as good as it is, there are teams who are more than capable of taking advantage.

All that is a somewhat long-winded way of saying that the poll is as relevant now as it was four days ago.

The premise was Rowland Winter’s announcement that:

At the moment we have about 18 players signed up for next season, at least four or five more will be registered next month, and we are down the line with five or six more recruits who will add to our squad and bring in a different level of quality

Reading RW’s statement again after a break, I guess that ‘down the line’ doesn’t mean that that there aren’t more to come in, just that there are five or six players with whom the club is currently in discussion and that more might follow  – it’s a bit ambiguous really. In the back of my head I have a vague memory of him mentioning probably 7 or 8 altogether, but that was at a training session before Christmas and that might well have got lost in translation somewhere along the way…

However, for the purposes of this poll, readers were given six players to bring in to strengthen the squad and were asked  to choose the positions they felt would need strengthening as a priority.

And the results were as follows:

Position          % Votes
Full back         12
Wings              13
Centres            5
Fly half            8
Scrum half     13
No 8                 13
Flankers          6
Second rows   8   
Hooker            4
Props               18

The demands of the Championship are likely to be very different to those of National One, with probably rather less emphasis on the kind of expansive and open play on which Cov has thrived over the last season and a half.

It’s hardly surprising therefore, that the key position highlighted in the results is that of prop. With no rolling subs, the impact on the front row, and the props in particular, could be huge. At the moment we  have 5, (Litchfield, Boulton, Brown, Titchard-jones, Higgins) plus Jeannot, although that might be a season early for the promising youngster, especially as he has to fit his rugby around his studies as well. In in effect, it’s only 4 senior props with Andy Brown’s injured hand looking increasingly likely to keep him out for most, if not all, of the season.

With the exception of Phil Boulton, none of the other props have proven themselves in the Championship, with Brown and Litchfield having just 4 starts between them in the higher tier.  A couple of seasoned props wouldn’t go amiss…

With the likelihood of one or two of the props being injured at anyone time, I imagine the squad would need to include six Championship quality props in total. Nathanael Titchard-jones and Jack Higgins have done well since their arrival at Cov, and I would guess that they wouldn’t have come here  if the coaches didn’t believe that they have the potential to play at the next level – if that isn’t the case then we would probably need a third.

Less concern was expressed with regard to the positions of  hooker, second row and flanker, but a No 8 to cover for Luke Narraway , or for Luke Narraway to cover for if he concentrates more on the coaching side of his role whilst he remains at the club, featured prominently.

Injuries to Dave Brazier and Pete White have highlighted the need for another scrum half, especially as the highly talented Tom Kessell did so well when he came in on loan, so it is no real surprise to see that position feature too.

Elsewhere in the backs, another full back to cover James Stokes was a popular choice (at least I’m assuming it’s as cover!) as well as a further strengthening of the wings where we have been stretched at times when there have been injuries and we have had to rely on Tom Emery to come in on a fairly regular basis, especially as Anthony Matoto has featured at centre for the last few games.

It’s interesting, although admittedly all rather academic, to see which positions supporters perceive as needing to be strengthened, although I can’t help but feel that there will be several more players coming in other than the five or six that Rowland Winter has already alluded to.

With 22 league games next season, hopefully, as well as a number of cup games (although not necessarily the B&I Cup if the rumours are true), and a match day squad increased from 20 to 22,  at a guess the full squad is going to need to be nearer 37 or 38 at least.

Although we will still have a Development Squad, will the jump from the level they are currently competing at to the Championship be too great for them to be eased into the Championship games? If that is the case we might need even more than the 38 in the senior squad?

Anyway…food for thought.

(Ivory Madonna dying in the dust…Waiting for the manna coming from the west – certain phrases just trigger a response).

Many thanks, as always, to everyone who took part in the poll.

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Having bemoaned my experience of visiting Well Hall in yesterday’s post, I thought I’d redress the balance by sharing that of another Cov supporter who arrived there at 12.00 pm in order  to catch the Development Squad game first.

Unaware that the game was being played elsewhere, he arrived to find not a Cov player in sight.

Having parked up and gone into the clubhouse, on finding out that the game was at another venue he asked if was within walking distance, which it wasn’t.

giphy69The person he spoke to, presumably given the time one of the club officials, was extremely apologetic as the venue hadn’t been advertised on the website until the morning of the game and he promptly offered to drive him over there himself so the Cov supporter could leave his car parked up at Well Hall.

The gentleman concerned was extremely kind and welcoming and couldn’t do enough to help. In the end the lift wasn’t needed, but the gesture was much appreciated.

Hats off to Blackheath for that…

Nice one.

Maybe it’s just me and the fact  I go into Mr Angry mode whenever I’m down there…

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Well done Darrel Dyer:

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I probably should have chosen something from The Cranberries today given the sudden death of lead singer Dolores O’Riordan – I’ll include something in the next few days I’m sure.

However, given that yesterday was the first day back in training after Saturday’s defeat, the lyrics:

Tonight there’ll be a ruckus yeah regardless of what’s gone before
I want to see all of the things that we’ve already seen

seem vaguely appropriate.

The Artic Monkey’s first album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, is an absolute essential in any collection that reflect ’00s Brit Pop/Rock music.

Heck, it’s even in mine and I’m stuck in the late 70s and early 80s…

 

 

 

 

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Jools says:

    Let’s get the five on Saturday! I am sure that there will be slips from Darlington. They have one of our old boys, Ignis Darkintis, now. Don’t know how strong they’ll be without Radwan and Ozokwe. On another note; With the Bears celebrating their 20th anniversary, what do you think the appetite would be from fans for a cross-code game between the two clubs?

    1. Tim says:

      I’d love the cross-over but it was mentioned to RW at a train session a while back and to say he was dismissive was an understatement 😂😂😂 No other team will go unbeaten til the end of the season, I reckon so if we get back into ways on Sat we should be another step nearer the Championship

  2. Sam Skennel says:

    Another 7 wins and we’re home and hosed.
    My guess would be 8 or nine more wins would do it.
    11 more wins and we’re promoted.

    Hmm. 7 x 5 is 35, 11 x 5 = 55. We’re on 79, and we need >135 worst case scenario = 11 x 5 pointers = 134 points?

    http://www.confused_ref.com

    1. Tim says:

      I was close, Sam…will amend. thanks! How embarrassing! To be fair though, if you read it again, the 7 wins refers to Albion (although perhaps I should have made that clearer) – 7*3=21 points and they’re on 19 at the moment = 40 points and safe (in theory) Have amended it to make it a little clearer. The maths elsewhere, as you rightly point out, is somewhat lacking!

      1. Sam Skennel says:

        Sorry Tim – wasn’t trying to be smart – I was just confused as to how many games we need to win assuming everyone who *can* catch us wins all theirs.

      2. Tim says:

        Nooo…it was me. The maths was wrong 😶😶😶

  3. An aside, if I may. Interesting to see Ealing Trailfinders bounced straight back into League One after promotion, but got promoted again and look where they are now? I know money has to be involved somewhere down the line, but lessons possibly could be learned. Well, maybe?
    I’ve not been counting on Championship rugby for Cov, although I want it, but rather want the buzz to be back, to remain, for rugby and my club to be the winners.
    And from what I’ve known from years of playing and following rugby, and having to hang around with rugby-playing louts is that forwards will look more towards their positions when questioned and backs towards theirs. So it would be interesting in a poll to know if the respondent played – and where on the field. A pointless exercise, of course, but for an idle mind like mine…
    Thanks for the continued coverage, Tim.

    1. Sorry, forgot to mention. Look where Hartpury are now!

    2. Tim says:

      Yes…interesting that the yo-yoing of a few seasons ago seems to have ended and those sides going up are better prepared to face the challenges of Championship rugby, although Richmond has gone about it very differently. Not sure the poll would work as it could be a different set of readers polling…or at least a crossover. And there will be a fair few, rather like myself, who haven’t played to any level. RW will have plans in place should be go up of that I have no doubt…the upgrading of the support teams is evidence enough of that!

  4. Kevin O'Donnell says:

    A very enjoyable discussion and analysis yet again Tim with plenty of food for thought. We have a great squad for NAT 1 but it will need strengthening to tackle the Championship. I will be sorry to lose any of the current players but that is bound to happen unfortunately. A point I’d like to highlight is that of all the teams promoted in the last few years, they all seem reasonably established in the Championship. Hopefully this is good news for whoever goes up, probably COV.

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