Fri. Mar 5th, 2021

There’s been so many things that held us down.
But now it looks like things are finally coming around.
I know we’ve got a long long way to go.
And where we’ll end up, I don’t know.
But we won’t let nothing hold us back.

(Ain’t no stoppin’ us now.)
(We’ve got the groove.)
(Ain’t no stoppin’ us now.)

McFadden and Whitehead – Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now

Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant!

Just how good is it to be a Coventry supporter these days!

46 wins from the last 56 games is something even the most optimistic of us believed possible and that despite the wave of enthusiasm that greeted the appointment of Rowland Winter back in May 2016.

33 wins out of the last 34 games is unprecedented in my time as a follower of Coventry Rugby Club and is simply the stuff of dreams. Records keep tumbling, expectations keep increasing.

Heady days, indeed.

Anyone who has only started supporting Cov in the last couple of seasons must at times have questioned the reluctance  of some of the more seasoned supporters to get too carried away by the club’s recent successes. That many have expressed great caution up to only a few weeks ago is entirely understandable given the lows the club has experienced in the last 30 years or so, but for them the club’s current position is arguably all the more enjoyable for that very reason..

A little pain often heightens the pleasure.

I think there must be a little sadomasochsim in us all…

Even back in September when Coventry didn’t just hit the ground running, it broke into a veritable sprint, it still looked as if the season would go the distance. Difficult fixtures away at Ampthill and home to Darlington Mowden Park in the weeks leading up to the season’s finale, the home game against Hull Ionians, looked as if they could yet threaten to derail Coventry’s fantastic start to the 2017/18 campaign.

Fortunately, it wasn’t to be and Coventry maintained their early form, if not improved upon it and we proved just too strong for even the best of the rest.

Yet unlike so many previous seasons, Coventry has definitely had good fortune on its side this season.

Cov had previously benefited from a season’s regrouping under new leadership and pretty much a new squad the year before. Changes to the infrastructure, including the entire coaching set up and support networks, had already started to impact on performance, as was evidenced in the second half of last season.

The club’s initial plan of aiming for a top 2, perhaps 3, finish this season looked well on course even before London Welsh’s sad demise around Christmas 2016…

But that’s where, at long last, Lady Luck began to turn her attentions our way. Desperate as it was for London Welsh (and there but for the grace of God etc), suddenly the door to the Championship wasn’t pushed ajar, it was flung wide open.

With no team relegated from the Championship last season, here was the best chance in years for those teams like Cov who, along with all the other difficulties in achieving promotion over such a long season, had always had to battle against the added challenge of a club coming down from national tier 2.  And, more often than not, a club far better geared to rugby at a higher level, both on and off the pitch. The playing fieldd suddenly started to look a lot more level.

And here’s where the club need to be given far more credit in my opinion.

Realistically, there were perhaps three or four National One sides that ended last year with the expectation of a promotion-chasing season to follow…Plymouth, Darlington Mowden Park, Ampthill (maybe) and Cov. Of those it was Coventry that seized the initiative and looked to recruit players with experience of playing the game at the highest level and at a cost that was within budget, knowing that this might be the club’s best shot at promotion over the next two or three seasons.

Not their only shot, but certainly their best.

For me, it was having the vision to see the possibilities and the bottle to take that leap of faith that stood Coventry apart in the build up to pre-season. Judicious recruitment and planning back then is at the very heart of the success the squad is now enjoying.

If it hadn’t worked out, well nothing would have been lost. The club, despite the protestations of many supporters from club’s other than Cov, hadn’t splashed the cash and had we not been promoted, we still would have been in a great position to continue our renaissance in National One next season with a squad that doubtless would have been strengthened once again over the coming summer months.

The influx of quality into the squad this season has raised the levels of performance of those players who were already here still further…the experience of Luke Narraway, Sam Tuitupou, Latu Makaafi, Phil Nilsen and the like cannot be overstated whether starting a game, coming off the bench or just being a part of the match day squad or, indeed, around midweek at training.

Luck has also been on our side in that results in the key games elsewhere in the league have certainly gone our way, with other teams’ results often cancelling each other out from one week to the next. Outside of Coventry, there is no one team that has been dominant and as a result we have been able to clinch promotion far quicker than might otherwise have been the case.

The players deserve all the plaudits they are currently enjoying and more besides and I’m sure the homecoming a week on Saturday will be a special day for everyone involved with the club.

RW has rightly received plenty of recognition, along with Jon Sharp, for the changes they have brought to the club. Local and national press are now sitting up and taking notice where once a blind eye was turned very much in our direction.

Only in the last couple of days I’ve received a message from someone who reads the blog, pointing out that the press and media have centred their attentions pretty much on the input made by RW whilst sidestepping, unintentionally of course, the massive contributions made by the coaching/ support teams and in particular by Nick Walshe.

I’m not sure I totally agree…I seem to recall The Rugby Paper fairly recently focusing on NW’s influence as a coach since his arrival at Cov, although it did contrive to spell his name incorrectly. And on the club’s own website, the coaches often give a personal review of either the previous game and/or the next opponents, so there is plenty of acknowledgement there.

Less so maybe from the press and media, but maybe that is where the recent additions to he media team within the club will impact next season. If there has been a lack of acknowledgement then that is something the club will surely want to address?

That said, as Head Coach, NW has had oversight of the on-field coaching and I can only assume that the comment made to me that:

the style of the play and the week in, week out grit and determination of the team is masterminded by him in his role as head coach

is a pretty accurate one given that Rowland Winter has on several occasions alluded to the motivational role played by Nick Walshe midweek as well as his coaching responsibilities.

Indeed, NW and Louis Deacon have both had a massive part to play in Coventry’s success as, of course, has Luke Narraway and one of the really interesting things for me will be how they adapt to the different pressures that the Championship will inevitably bring. By all accounts, teams don’t play with such freedom as they do in National One and with far more emphasis on physicality, game plans will inevitably have to change. Once the new recruits start to be unveiled we’ll probably get a better idea of how Cov might be looking to approach Championship rugby next season.

Nick Walshe and the coaches certainly deserve plenty of praise, but in singling them out, there’s always the danger of forgetting others who in their own way have played just as important a part in Cov’s success…something of a Catch-22.

…what about the role of the likes of Hannah Walker and Max Hartman and their teams?  It’s been a busy old season in terms of injuries and rehab and both the heads of their respective departments have been key in enabling players to return to the first team than might otherwise have been expected.

And there’s the backroom staff who will have delighted just as much in the success of the club but who themselves have had little in the way of public acknowledgement. Eric Richardson has worked tirelessly this season, whatever the weather or the state of the pitch, and he surely must feel elated (if not a little nervous) about what next season will bring to the club (and a big shout out to those volunteers who give up their time to help Eric every week).

Lara Hunter has moved mountains to bring in some of the sponsorship and revenue streams that will help make Coventry that much more competitive next season and Jo and her colleagues in the office are the lifeblood of the club in many ways.

Far too many names to mention that I’m aware of and I’m sure  there will be many others who just aren’t known to the average supporters like myself, all of whom have helped Coventry’s cause this season, as they do every season.

Mine is but one voice, but nevertheless it’s a very appreciative one.


There’s been so many things that held us down.
But now it looks like things are finally coming around.
I know we’ve got a long long way to go.
And where we’ll end up, I don’t know.
But we won’t let nothing hold us back.

Ain’t no stoppin’ us now. No

MacFadden and Whitehead might not seem the obvious choice in terms of musical accompaniment to a post on Cov’s domination of National One this season, there are plenty of other contenders…Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’ being probably the favourite.

However, M&F’s lyrics are particularly appropriate – things indeed have ‘held us down’ and ‘we’ve got a long long way to go’ hints that this is just but one small part of a longer journey ahead of us, something I guess we all are hoping is the case.

But above all, there’s that suggestion of uncertainty ‘where we’ll end up, I don’t know’. Who knows how the next 12 months will pan out and I’m sure that there will be a fair few disappointments along the way in terms of results at least?

However, nothing will hold us back.

And the ‘us’ there is important. Crucial in fact.

For all the praises being heaped on Messrs, Sharp, Winter, Walshe et al. and for the recognition being afforded to the players in the form of renewed contracts and glowing references in match reports and the like, the one group that I haven’t mentioned yet probably deserves almost as much praise is that of the supporters themselves.

From Day One the fans have got behind Rowland Winter and his team. Even after such an inauspicious start, having lost four of the first six games last season, there were no dissenters bemoaning the wholesale changes that had taken place just a few months before. They held faith and have supported the team both at home and on its travels in growing numbers this season.

Every player, after every game, at one time or another has commented on the impact the supporters have had, especially away from home. The players always give of their best, but that best is sometimes just that little bit better when the team senses the passion that emanates from the Cov faithful who are always so loud and proud wherever Cov play.

The Supporters’ Club has helped empower supporters to watch Cov away from home these last two seasons and coach numbers have increased steadily, commensurate with Cov’s success on the pitch. The two are by no means mutually exclusive. Away day trips by coach have become extremely popular and owe much to the organisation and good humour of Messrs Hood and Ingleston.

Others from the SC have been instrumental elsewhere and Cliff Bennett remains an ideal figurehead, whilst Quent Melhuish (who would be my choice of Clubman of the Year by a country mile this season for all the selfless work he has done behind the scenes) has been responsible, along with others, for bringing club and supporters far closer than they’ve been for many a long year.

Happy times indeed and I’m sure there must be many smiley faces in and around the BPA right now, as there are somewhat further afield, too.

So a big thank you to everyone involved in Cov’s success this season – however long these good times last, they will certainly never be forgotten



Hopefully, this link will work in the UK…sadly I can’t access YouTube from where I am, but needless to say…

There ain’t no stopping us now…








By Tim

15 thought on “Ain’t no stoppin’ us now. No. (We’re on the move.)”
  1. We must all take a little credit for what as happened and what is about to happen. I need to mention the outstanding contribution Sue Woolnough has made in her role. Coventry is just one big family.

  2. Hi Alan…good to hear from you! Yes…can’t disagree with that at all. He has the vision that few in the game seem to possess and I can’t help but feel he is destined for bigger, better things before too long. Just wanted to redress the balance a little in terms of all the others involved who aren’t quite so high profile!

  3. Tim you are right to highlight the efforts of so many which has brought Coventry success over the last two seasons. But it is,RW who has pulled the strings together. It was RW who knocked John Sharpe door and sold him his vision. He has had set backs with the coaching team, but reshuffled quickly and got on with the job. He has had setbacks with injuries but got on with the job and sourced new players wisely. He has opened up communication with fans and encouraged the supporters club. Very much a club effort with fantastic support from supporters, everyone has pulled their weight, but the orchestra’s conductor has very much been RW.

  4. Hi Warren, couldn’t agree more about celebrating the roles of the backroom team…the guy on the turnstile is such a nice who

  5. Great to hear from you, Quent. Looking forward to chatting to the Nilsens post match before the end of the season, they’ve been very supportive since their arrival. Hopefully will get to training pre-Ampthill! Might see you there

  6. Definitely relaxed…! The Real world awaits indeed, both for myself and Sue on our return and for Coventry as they take on the best the Championship has to offer next season…I, for one can’t wait! 12 hours behind you so it’s a day of sun, sea and full use of the drinks package and given I’m a real lightweight, sleep most of the afternoon…

  7. Gutted I can’t play the NCA video at the moment…that will have to wait til I get back but thanks for the heads up. JB is another one I should have included as you rightly point out…servants of the club don’t come any more loyal

  8. Yes…I failed to mention the impact of Phillip Crossman…he seems to have been very actively involved although much of what he does will be unknown to most of us…all is good at the moment but we’re in for a tougher ride next season, that’s for sure…

  9. Thanks, Mike…having a great, great time thank you. Looking forward to returning in a couple if weeks and getting to see the last three games. Should be quite an ecperience! Trust all is well with you , too.

  10. With Coventry’s dominance of NL1 and early promotion to the Championship, the club’s profile has risen somewhat in the media, so hopefully there will be more to read about all aspects of the club. The Rugby Paper this week has an interview with Nick Walshe, covering his achievements with England U20’s, his rough time at Gloucester, and his time so far with Cov, moving forward into the Championship and possibly beyond. Louis Deacon also features in the My Life In Rugby section. Great stuff.

    The Cov website has sections with photos of the squads/coaches/backroom team and the hall of fame – but it might be nice to have a section devoted to the others at the club who help make the club what it is. People you have mentioned such as Lara/Jo/Eric, as well as Tom Branston (media manager), the the guys on the gates, the conference/catering/bar side, ballboys/girls, programme sellers, volunteers etc – with photos so we can see who they are around the club, possibly with occasional articles covering ‘a day in the life’ on slower news days, just a little bit of recognition of their work behind the scenes.

  11. Tim – You raise a very good point regarding the players perspective and appreciation of the Coventry Supporters. At Plymouth I had a long chat with Phil Nilsen who although injured and consequently unavailable for selection, had driven down from Leeds on Saturday to watch the game. Phil talked with real passion about how he and his family are enjoying life at Cov and it is largely due to the passion and noise the supporters make at home, but particularly at away games. He cannot believe how many Cov fans travel, and was amazed last Saturday by the sea of Blue & White in the Stand and the Plymouth Clubhouse had become almost an exclusive Coventry Bar. To quote “In my playing career, I’ve never seen or heard away support like this, it makes a real difference and I just love it”.

    I had a similar conversation with George Oram after the away game at Caldy, again he shares Phil’s appreciation for the travelling Cov Support and cannot believe that Supprters turn every week to watch the players train and that sentiment is shared by all the players I talk with.

    We have something very special at Cov, something that many bigger clubs lack and will never have, or experience. It must be daunting for some Clubs we visit, when we turn up with so many passionate supporters. The noise made at Darlington will always remain with me and no doubt with the players, we have had many good away days this season, but DMP was exceptional even by our standards.

  12. Hi Tim . Bula.

    There’s a relaxed feel to this excellent post. I can almost sense the gentle lapping of the waves across the sand. The empty cocktail glass close by.

    It’s grey and wet here this morning by the way.

    The real world awaits!

    Cheers Richard

  13. Nice to hear from you Tim. There is a video of the Caldy game on the NCA site (accessible from Cov’ s via the fixtures then tables links). It seems like a lovely day at Caldy but doesn’t show the snow at half time and at the end. But a great day nevertheless. One other point on the journalism point a mention for John Butler who is Cov through and through and must be as delighted as anyone at Cov’ s resurgence.

  14. I’ve said it before, but the journalism that I’ve seen surrounding Cov Rugby shows only too well a lack of knowledge, about the sport, about the game, about how clubs work – too much was Wasps-centric in a certain local journal. I can’t imagine that Steve Evans, Darrell Giles or John Wilkinson would have been as well thought of by the club, players and fans if they had fallen for such ‘easy’ lines.
    So, those in the know are truly grateful for the work of Jon Sharp, Phillip Crossman, Gully, Louis Deacon, Luke Narraway, Nick Walshe and all the backroom staff, paid and unpaid, who are part of our club, win, lose or draw.
    And how lucky we are as fans.
    But that bloke Winter? You’ve only got to watch his interactions with the team as a whole to know what he has brought to the table.
    Long may it continue.

  15. Oh Tim, have missed you. Hope you are having a fan holiday.

Any thoughts:

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