There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds
There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’s told us not to blow it
Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile
David Bowie – Starman
He’s told us not to blow it…
…and fortunately it seems as if we’ve heeded his words.
Saturday’s comprehensive win over second-placed Darlington Mowden Park on Saturday has all but guaranteed us Championship rugby next season, with Cov only requiring another 3 wins from the final 7 games to ensure they finish top of National One.
For some time now the club has been in control of its own destiny. Week after week, bar one notable exception, Cov has done all that’s been asked of it and has managed to manoeuvre itself into a position where it isn’t reliant on any other results.
No matter how other teams fare, it’s all down to them now… just those 3 wins from 7 and the title of National One Champions 2017/18 is theirs.
Is the city’s.
Our City…Our Club.
Yes, we could still blow it, but with a current win ratio of 94.78% over 23 games, well it’s not going to happen.
It is customary at away games for a couple of representatives from the club, either officials and/or players, to come on to the Supporters’ Coach just before it sets off back home to show their appreciation for the support, not just of those who travel by coach but to all supporters who make the journey.
It’s always well received and as a bonus, the players get to draw the winning raffle numbers – and many thanks to Steve Hood for organising this on the away days.
Always a highlight, especially as this week as I won it.
It was the turn of James Stokes and Nick Walshe this week – probably one of the better weeks to take responsibility given the result and the manner of the victory.
It was a heroes welcome for both.
Whilst delighted with the performance, it was very much a case of Stokesy still following the party line – the team will be taking one game at a time for the remainder of the season. There was no mention of promotion or Championship rugby – they’d come up to Darlington, achieved their objective and it was now all about refocusing for Caldy.
As supporters, we might be getting carried away with the thought of what lies ahead but the players most definitely aren’t – not outwardly, any way.
He’s told us not to blow it
Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile
It’s that sort of discipline, even in such an informal setting, that merely confirms this side won’t do anything but focus on the following Saturday.
Back in the summer of 2016, even before the season had started, I watched Cov train a few times.
Back then there wasn’t an open invite, only because no one from the club assumed that anyone would want to watch the players midweek, but I’d asked if I could pop over and take a few photos.
Rowland Winter would do what he always does and come across to chat and talk through what was happening. He’d identify the players and provide a potted history to go with each one. When he got to James Stokes, I remember him saying that the club were fortunate to have signed him and that he was a Championship player in the making, someone whom we might struggle to keep hold of at the end of that season.
He’d be one of the players who would excite the crowds, running the ball from anywhere and proving a nightmare for defences.
He wasn’t too far off the mark.
Loved by the Cov crowds.
Championship rugby in two years.
But fortunately still with us, if all goes to plan.
A star man.
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that there was a reluctance on the part of those who travelled up to Darlington to nominate their Man of the Match – it was a team performance of such magnitude that no one player should be singled out. To do so would be to deny, as a Coventry supporter, the contributions of the other 19 players involved.
Everyone’s contribution was central to the team’s success.
The Rugby Paper isn’t quite so loyal and included in each weekly National One match report, it nominates a ‘star man’.
In effect, their Man of the Match; the stand out player in that particular fixture.
If it’s a home game, for instance, John Wilkinson tends to write the TRP report for the Cov game that week and the MofM usually tends to be the Sponsors’ choice. I say usually because the sponsors always select the MofM from the home side. If, heaven forfend, it was ever an away win, then presumably John W would nominate the star man himself as it probably wouldn’t be someone from the home team.
DMP selected Adam Brocklebank, their loose-head, as their own Man of the Match, but The Rugby Paper could hardly go with him given the home side were on the wrong end of a proper spanking, so that meant they had to look to choose someone from the Coventry team…
And for the second week running, Tom Jubb picked up the award.
He was The Rugby Paper’s star man.
Last week it was very much a sponsor’s award, this week it was chosen by someone independent of the club and as such it probably meant that little bit more…
No champagne (or is actually just a bottle of Prosecco?) this week, but a great accolade nevertheless.
Two tries against his former club, a barnstorming performance and the Man of the Match award to boot.
All in a day’s work, I guess.
Jubby stayed pitchside for a few minutes after the final whistle and was clearly delighted to have won, something he admitted was very special to him indeed. He was also hugely grateful for the support, saying so in words that I’m far too modest to post – but you can take it as read that it was said with absolute sincerity.
He always appreciates the support Cov get, no matter what.
Three games, 4 tries and performances that must surely put him in the minds of the coaches for a contract next season wherever we end up playing our rugby.
I’d offer him one now purely on the grounds of being a damn good egg…
…although I’m not so sure that’s a criterion that carries much weight with Rowland Winter, sadly.
Once again John Coles has been kind enough to forward me his gallery of photos from the Darlington game, many of which capture moments in the game that even those lucky enough to have been present will have missed, some of which are particularly revealing.
I’ll probably incorporate some of them in tomorrow’s post.
However, there is one that I wanted to include in today’s as it is indicative of just how much the win meant to John Sharp, the club Chairman.
No man has done more to turn the club around from those dark, dark days back in 2009/10.
Another star man…and I bet he’s told a fair few folk not to blow it over the years he’s been at Cov.
Just how much he has bankrolled the club over the last 8 years we will never know, nor should we, but his contribution to the success we are currently enjoying cannot, indeed must not, be underestimated.
For Jon Sharp, it must surely be as much an emotional investment as it is financial, so it came as no real surprise to see him that little bit more emotive come the end of the game on Saturday than normal, given the potential significance of the result.
John has taken his fair share of stick over the years but he has stuck to his beliefs. His vision, and willingness to take something of a gamble by backing what was a complete overhaul of the club’s infrastructure, including personnel, just 18 months ago is paying dividends.
The club is now forward-thinking and innovative and is light years ahead of where it was when it was relegated to National One back in 2010. Back then, many of us naively believed the club was too big to remain in the third tier of English rugby for longer than a season or two. Lessons had to be learned and learned quickly.
It was tough being a Cov supporter back then.
Doubtless tougher being the club chairman, though.
Jon Sharp deserves this success as much as anyone and I’m sure there will be no one who is more pleased, and relieved, if we do make it into the Championship.
Nor anyone who would begrudge him such good fortune.
Long may he remain a part of Coventry Rugby Club.
Whilst Coventry were beating Darlington in a top of the table clash at the Northern Echo Arena, local rivals Moseley were also playing one of the league’s front runners.
It’s a big game for any club and even though it’s a Six Nations’ weekend, Moseley must have been hoping for a decent crowd.
But, if The Rugby Paper is correct, a crowd of around the 475 mark ( I can’t recall the exact figure) against one of the top teams in the league must be hugely disappointing.
To put that into context, it’s getting on for 1300 below Coventry’s average attendance this season. Internationals or otherwise.
Moseley’s previous lowest attendance before Saturday was 576 – to fall well below that seems something of a surprise to me and I do fear for Moseley’s future because that surely isn’t sustainable.
I’m hoping I’ve got it wrong but, if I haven’t, then it is a worry.
Sponsors are attracted to successful sides with good attendances – and in order to be successful, Moseley will need to bring some additional quality into their squad and without the finances to do that, they aren’t going to attract the crowds to interest the bigger sponsors. It’s a vicious circle.
Moseley are in 7th place and heading the mid-table teams. But there is a gap forming between themselves and Old Elthamians in 6th place. Ten defeats already suggests that this hasn’t been the best of seasons for them, but in fairness they are still in a period of consolidation since their relegation from the Championship back in 2016.
They lost some quality players last season, most of them to Cov, and it doesn’t look like they’ve been able to bring in players of similar ability. Here’s hoping that next season they are more competitive and that maybe before too long we’ll see both teams back in the Championship.
Imagine the atmosphere at the BPA for a home tie against Mose on the Saturday before Christmas…
Now that would be something special.
I’ve probably used David Bowie songs more often in the blog than any other single artist…
I was a little young during his Ziggy days, a period in his music that spawned this single of course. It wasn’t until around the Scary Monsters and Super Creeps album that I really started taking an interest…
That said, I vividly remember having a fairly liberal music teacher at school who occasionally allowed us to bring in our own favourite music. Someone in my class back in 1972/73 brought in the Aladdin Sane album and asked him to play the track ‘Time’ which, unbeknown to any of us back then, includes the rather memorable lyrics:
Time, he flexes like a whore
Falls w%$king to the floor
His trick is you and me, boy
Needless to say, the opportunity to bring in our favourite tracks ended there and then.
The lad concerned won the admiration of everyone in the class though…
So here is Starman…
Starman – for Tom Jubb and all the other Coventry stars who gave it their all on Saturday…s well as the coaches, support teams and, of course, Jon Sharp.
Starmen and women, one and all.
(Check 1:19 seconds in – the lad in the tank top sweater – priceless. Like a scared rabbit.)