The final run-in (Impatience)…Old Elthamians on Saturday…poll results

9Mar - by Tim - 7 - In Club talk

Tell me – is there danger still?
I took no heed so a word might as well be deed
Although – I’d really like to see you now
I’m almost certain it can’t be accomplished with speed

So, if this how I’ll bide my time
Then I will set it down
Til we lose our caution

Elvis Costello – Impatience

A two week gap between games is always tough going as a supporter, but two weeks without a game  at this stage of the season when your team only needs another 3 more wins to secure the league title is particularly frustrating.

Whilst its only been 13 days since Cov overran Darlington Mowden Park to pretty much ensure theyll win promotion into the Championship some time during the next 7 games, for some reason it seems so much longer. I’ve never been one to wish time away, believing that life is there to be lived, but I have to admit I’ve come pretty close since the Darlington game.

I’ve enjoyed the season immensely, but part of me just wants to get promotion out of the way as soon as possible now so that the last three or four games can be a celebration of the squad’s success…a defeat in the next couple of games would just prolong the wait and make for a slightly more nervy end to the season that it might otherwise be.

There can’t be a supporter of a club in National One outside of Coventry who doesn’t believe that the Cov won’t win the league now – three wins from seven games should be a formality when you’ve won 22 of the previous 23. It all sounds straightforward enough…unless of course it’s your team that’s in that situation, in which case you can’t help but go through all the possible scenarios that might jeopardise that top spot.

It’s the stuff of nightmares…and the closer to the pinnacle we get, the worse it becomes.

This week it’s either fielding an unregistered player and receiving a 30 point deduction or the club being declared bankrupt after being unable to meet the repayments on a new public address system and a state of the art scoreboard.

The scenarios will keep changing, of course, until we do actually secure promotion, but that’s just in the nature of the beast.

Until it actually happens I’ll always worry something will go wrong…

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

At least there’s  some rugby to look forward to this weekend and this time it’s the turn of Old Elthamians to  make their first ever visit to the Butts Park Arena.

OEs are the third and last of the teams promoted from last season to visit the Butts Park Arena and if Saturday’s game goes the same way as those against Caldy and Bishop’s Stortford, then we can expect a pretty close encounter. All three teams have excelled themselves this season and, probably somewhat against the odds, not one of them has been drawn into a relegation battle, with Old Elthamians best placed of the three in 6th, with Bishop’s Stortford in 8th and Caldy in 9th.

Perhaps their success is indicative of how clubs who have made their way up through the leagues in the last few seasons are far better equipped to survive at this level than those who have been here for a while and haven’t necessarily shown the same urgency to progress, or even maintain an equilibrium. Maybe it needs a new breed of coach, supported by an innovative and visionary Board/Chairman just to survive at this level now.

What is clear is that history and tradition count for very little these days – in our league Fylde look certain to be relegated, Rosslyn Park, Birmingham Moseley and Blackheath have probably flattered to deceive and despite their current third position, Plymouth probably haven’t fared as well as even they might have hoped this season. I guess there’s a whole different discussion here, but as far as this season is concerned, outside of Coventry’s success, in National One the honours have to go to Old Elthamians, Bishop’s Stortford and Caldy. It’s been a long hard season for the old guard…time is no great respecter of age.

The three clubs promoted into National One this season deserve huge praise for what they have achieved and whilst I do have some reservations about the match day experience they offer for travelling supporters, in terms of forcing some of the older, more established clubs to question their own values and reassessing their priorities, they have done a great job – and long may it continue. It is very sad to see teams like Fylde struggle this season and life won’t get any easier for them in National Two next season, but the professional era has meant that unless clubs are willing to adapt and embrace change (as Coventry ha under Jon Sharp) then there is no place for them even in the third tier of English rugby.

There’s a rather a pleasing irony that the saviour of Coventry Rugby Club, one of the great clubs of yesteryear,  is very much one of the new breed of DoRs in the guise of Rowland Winter. In retrospect, we probably stuck with one of the ‘old school’ Head Coaches  in Phil Maynard a season too long. PM was very much a Cov man at heart and was a great servant of the club but knowing what we know now he, and most coaches of his generation at this level, just didn’t have the vision or the overview of the current game to move the club forward to the extent we’ve seen RW do in the last couple of seasons.

Maybe that come as across as being a bit harsh on Phil Maynard but there is a world of difference between the Coventry of two years ago and the Coventry of this season and in essence many of the changes in infrastructure were made  within just a few weeks of RW’s arrival. It’s just the opinion of very much on the outside and looking in, but that is the impression I’ve got of the way things have unravelled these past few seasons.

I’ll stop there before I dig an even deeper hole for myself…

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

Those who watched Coventry forced into to digging so deeply to defend its line against Old Elthamians for those final 10 minutes of the away game down at College Meadow earlier in the season will know exactly what we might expect to face on Saturday.

The game was the closest we’ve come to losing all season aside, obviously, from the Blackheath result and it took a real team effort to prevent Old Elthamians for scoring a try in those dying moments of the game and snatching the win – which is arguably what they deserved.

As it was, it was still one of only two games this season in which we have failed to earn a bonus point which reflects  just what a tense affair it was. Mind you, the other game was away at Old Albanian and look what happened when they visited us for the return leg – 52-5 in the end,

OEs aren’t prolific scorers away from home, averaging just over 22 points a game, but they have won 5 games on their travels and as such must be regarded as a team capable of an upset, especially as they drew at Plymouth Albion, That in itself speaks volumes about the threat they represent,  given that Plymouth otherwise have a 100% unbeaten record at home this season, winning all their other 8 games.

That said, OEs will almost certainly have to score considerably more than that average of 22 points per game  though if they are to win tomorrow. A good measure of the task facing  the visiting side is that Coventry have scored 4 tries in every home game this season and are averaging almost 44 points a game.

OEs record in their last 5 games is pretty decent by any standards, as this table below (taken from their own website) suggests:1b

Losing away to Caldy and narrowly at home to Mowden Park is no disgrace and with finishers of the quality of Dominic Lespierre in their side, well we have to be cautious. Also from their website, it looks as if their first choice scrum half, Ollie Claxton, will be absent this weekend having been called up to represent Belgium in the country’s Rugby Europe Championship Test matches against Romania this Saturday (March 10th) and Spain (March 18th). Congratulations to him, of course, but I guess that makes the game just that little bit tougher for the visitors as well.

OEs also have another European international in their midst, namely Adam Preocanin, who represented Germany before Christmas.

A Coventry win will be anything but a formality, but hopefully another 5 points from the game will move us to within no more than 10 points  of the title by 4.45 pm tomorrow.

And how good does that sound?

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

Earlier in the week I asked people to take part in a poll about features that you might find on the ‘perfect’ rugby website – accepting of course that it would be unrealistic to expect most of these to be present on Coventry’s current website given constraints in terms of time, staffing and finance. Indeed, none of the Premiership sites have all those listed in the poll.

Many thanks to everyone who took part.

The results were as follows:

  1. Video content – match highlights – 23%
  2. Academy news/information – 19%
  3. Video content – player/coach interviews –18%
  4. Stats to include appearances/tries scored/points scored etc – 16%

In addition, three other suggestions were included:

  • More information about the club’s history
  • A ‘Where are they now?’ feature
  • Links to other rugby sites

No real surprises, other than perhaps the desire for more news regarding the Development Academy featuring quite as highly as it did.

To be fair, there is some information on the club’s past already on the present website (Our Heritage) and there used to be information on Coventry stars of the past although I can no longer find it, but that might just be me.

The links to other rugby sites, especially those in our division, would be especially useful and might well be something I put on the front page of the blog (thank you whoever came up with that idea!) and the ‘Where are they now?’ feature would certainly be interesting, although you might have to be selective in the players you choose to include given so many go through the club these days.

There’s plenty of food for thought there and it appears the club are already undertaking a review of the current site, so it might be that one or two of these ideas are already being looked at for inclusion next season. It remains a fact though that the current website is very much an improvement on what we’ve had in the past and compares favourably with most of those of our competitors in our league and several in the Championship.

Rather embarrassingly, I forgot to include in the poll the one thing that no one has mentioned, but which most would probably agree should be a priority, and that’s the ability to sell tickets online.

Most of the Championship clubs already seem to offer this service, as do a number in National One.

I know from speaking to Lara Hunter that the club is looking into this and has been for a while and it makes sense to offer such a facility  once we’re in the Championship with demand for tickets being that much greater – hopefully. It could also then link into cashless tills in the bar and other areas of the ground, most notably the club shop. I think Cambridge already provide something similar which seems to work really well for them.

One of the benefits of course is that once someone has registered to buy tickets, even if it’s only as a one-off, their details are stored and information about forthcoming events and offers can then be sent electronically to that supporter at no additional cost. Buying a ticket on the gate under the current system remains an anonymous process and the club has no record, other than through season tickets, of who actually attends Coventry games at the BPA. A by-product of e-ticketing would presumably also be the fact that we’d have a far more accurate record of the numbers of supporters in attendance at each game, provided entry into the ground is closely monitored – I’ve always been impressed with the way Moseley operate their turnstiles in this respect.

Whilst there is something of a ‘Big Brother’ element to it all (at least according to my elder sibling, Winston), this has to be the way forward if we are to compete on a level playing field with clubs around us and might ultimately   prove cost effective, as increase demands in tickets next season and beyond might otherwise involve additional staff time?

Anyway, the poll certainly provides some interesting information about what supporters priorities might be  regarding the club website  – very many thanks again to everyone who took part.

Although – I’d really like to see you now
I’m almost certain it can’t be accomplished with speed

So, if this how I’ll bide my time
Then I will set it down
Til we lose our caution…

7 thoughts on “The final run-in (Impatience)…Old Elthamians on Saturday…poll results”

  1. Bill the name that first comes to mind is Bert Godwin , part of the legendary Judd, McLean, Godwin front row, all internationals and Juddy an England Captain. If not him I must get my thinking cap on.

    John Butler is the club historian although that may be unofficial. I have a small collection of memorabilia courtesy of my father with some really interesting pre (both) WW pictures, and some of Cov players in action for the Lions, and also vs the All Blacks. Need to renew my scanner and I could perhaps add to Tim’s musings……….

    1. Again sorry, no. The 2nd XV brother taught me at the ‘Tech’ and later at Woodlands. He may have been a hooker like his capped brother but I have a feeling he was a lock…. but could be wrong.

      Fascinated by the material you say you have and would encourage you to get into the public domain if that’s possible.

      Reference earlier post about funding: why not sell a square metre of g3+ turf and / or a seat in a new west stand. I’d go for both.

      Bill

    2. Hi Kevin – always happy to share with others anything relating to Cov present or past – like everyone else though, I do wish there was a secure area in the clubhouse to display items that supporters could loan the club…

  2. Sorry no, but I’ll buy you a pint anyway should we ever meet. Gives me a clue as to your age though ! I’m 76.
    Bill

  3. Thanks again Tim. Question: Does the club not have an official archivist ? I’d love to see results details of yesteryear and, where is the guy who taught me maths at school in the fifties and played for the seconds mostly while his brother was an England hooker ? Anybody guess his name ? I’ll buy them a pint come tomorrow if anyone can!
    Bill Rumball

    1. Way before my time, I’m afraid Bill, but I recall hearing of the Wheatley brothers who must have been playing around then? Just a guess though!

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