Stand By Me (depending on the price)

10Apr - by Tim - 12 - In Uncategorized

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we’ll see
No I won’t be afraid
Oh, I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

Ben E. King – Stand By Me

25 consecutive home wins is indeed something to be celebrated and with the possibility of another two to add to that tally before the season comes to an end, well one defeat in nearly two seasons unbeaten at home must surely be a record in National One?

Okay, promoted sides coming into National One might well be able to match or even better it, but I can’t imagine any other team has previously been as successful at home over two consecutive seasons solely at this league.

One for the statisticians, I guess.Whilst enjoying the retrospective successes that we have experienced under Rowland Winter is right and proper over the remaining few weeks of the season, looking beyond the end of April doesn’t appear to offer quite the same opportunities for future celebrations, with the unbeaten run unlikely to continue too far into the future. I imagine most supporters are expecting rather more mixed fortunes once we embark on next season’s Championship campaign.

Things have been pretty good for Coventry supporters these past two seasons and I’m sure this will continue to be the case for a good while yet, but I’m certainly not going to get carried away by  attempting to project our current form into next season. Last weekend’s game was a reminder that despite such an enviable home record, any team on its day is capable of springing a surprise even against the best the league has to offer. So against the top sides in the Championship, well even with home advantage all games are going to be tough.

But Cov do tough well these days.

Next season we will be the underdogs for most, if not all, of our opening games until results over several weekends begin to show how we might fare over the season as a whole. It’s easy to forget that as recently as last season, the season we went on to win 20 games in total (losing just nine in all), we’d lost four of the first six games by mid-October.

Just as it took time for the team to settle under new leadership and with pretty much a new squad back then, so it will take time to bed into the Championship against seasoned sides who will be far more street-wise than us at that level.

Last week’s announcement of new signings Charlie Beech and James Gibbons suggests that RW is, for the second year running, looking to bring in experienced players from the Championship and above to bolster the squad. And he does so in the knowledge that the relative ‘youngsters’ he signed back in 2016, the likes of White, Jubb, Dacres, Stokes, Knox, Maisey, Tolmie and Oram (amongst others) will be fast approaching the period in their careers where they will be at the very top of their games in terms of age and fitness.

It couldn’t have worked out better. And that’s definitely a case of judgement rsther than luck and not the reverse.

As far as the long-term planning of Coventry’s rise to the top of national rugby, then it’s been a real success. We’ve lost a few notable names along the way, Wheatcroft, Grace, Dyer, Rundle and Hodgson amongst others, but there were always going to be some casualties – but in the scheme of things, there have been relative few.

I hope when the season ends, Jon Sharp, Phil Crossman and the rest of the Board are able to take stock of the extraordinary success they have created here at the BPA, the result of a bold vision, some tough decisions, plenty of blood, sweat and tears and a good deal of sacrifice both in terms of personal financial investment and time.

Next season is going to be very different and it might well be that everyone involved with Cov, including supporters, have to hold their nerve somewhat, especially if results indeed don’t immediately go our way in September. There will be a good few supporters who have yet to see Coventry lose, so how they react to a few defeats early doors will be of great interest.

Back in October and November, I thought we might well be approaching 3000+ gates come the back end of the season following the incredible start we made over the first couple of months. For whatever reason, whilst home gates are well up on last season’s average, they haven’t really increased as much as I had hoped. Numbers will improve further next season as pre-season games against Wasps and at least one other Premiership side (if rumours are correct) capture the imagination of the city and beyond.

But past experience has shown just how fickle Coventry crowds can be and a few disappointing results could see us struggling to attract crowds much greater than those we are currently enjoying this season. Hopefully, it’s not a scenario that we’ll have to endure, but if it does, then that’s when the Coventry faithful will need to pull together…

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we’ll see
No I won’t be afraid
Oh, I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

…which is exactly the reason why Ben E King’s ‘Stand By Me’ is so appropriate.

And with a two tier ticketing system next season, there will presumably be far more supporters standing side to side, shoulder to shoulder. As segues go, that’s one of the better ones…not quite seamless but…

The official announcement of the Early Bird offer came whilst I was away so I appreciate I’m coming somewhat late, as per usual, to the debate but at first glance it seems the club is going out of its way to make watching Championship rugby affordable for supporters and a very viable alternative, financially at least, to what’s on offer over at the Ricoh Arena.

£168 to watch 11 Championship games, 3 Cup games and the Wasps pre-season fixture seems particularly good value. At a little over £11 a game, it’s a good £4 cheaper than the cheapest tickets available to watch Wasps this season where I imagine there’s likely to be a further increase over the summer. Even taking out the non-Championship games, it’s still only £15 which is what entrance on the day at the BPA costs this season.

There are some rumblings, understandably, over the worth clubs will attach to any ‘Championship Cup’ that might  replace the current B & I Cup, but even if it proves to be what so many fear, then it for me it will still be a chance to see some of Coventry’s brightest and best youngsters take the stage, some of whom will hopefully make the step up to the first team on a regular basis in the not too distant future.

That would currently include players like Palmer, Asiedu, Priestley, Jeannot, Gray, Hutchinson, Setu, Fatiaki, Joe Lane, Connor Adams et al and with new recruits to be announced, the calibre of the squad is only going to be increased, with perhaps even a few of the present squad having to drop down as well.

It strikes me that those Cup fixtures, together with the Wasps pre-season ‘friendly’ will make for some very interesting and entertaining games in addition to the 11 Championship encounters on offer.

The club’s statement on the website suggests that either the only pre-season game at home is against Wasps or those pre-season games at home other than the Wasps game will be free to watch or paid for separately…

…or have I misread that…?

If the season ticket covers 15 matches – that 11 Championship, 3 cup and the Wasps game (15 in total) then the other pre-seasons must be away? Unless it a case of free or the season ticket doesn’t cover them?

Season Membership tickets will cover 15 matches – 11 Championship games, three pool cup ties and the pre-season games, including the mouth watering prospect of Wasps on August 25.

UPDATE: Thanks to Mark O for confirming the season ticket covers entrance to ALL the pre-season games…so in total it will be more than the 15 home games for the season as quoted by the club. Even better value!

Sitting down in the main stand still works out at only £18 a game even without taking into account the extra games on offer and that’s cheaper than to sit at Cambridge (entry after 2.00 pm), Moseley and Plymouth this season, although programmes are included in the cost of entrance at those grounds.

A number of folk have said they will buy stand tickets (to sit!) even though they might stand (!) on the far side which is good news for the club’s coffers. My mum, even at 93 and unlikely to attend many games next season, is still going to buy herself a ticket just so she can still be a member of the club. It’s in her veins…

I do have one reservation though, although that is the result of a similar system that was in operation back in 2004/05. Back then, accessing the main stand became something of a nightmare just before kick off and during half timel when it was necessary to show your season ticket as proof that you had a seat in the stand.

That’s all very well, but when you’re carrying a couple of drinks or refreshments the process is slow and, back then, queues often formed just to access the stand. Bigger crowds could mean even more problems and it strikes me that it’s imperative that there are stewards in numbers at key points who are both well-trained and empathetic, otherwise it could be difficult at times.

One of the real joys of being part of the Cov family is how friendly and easy-going everyone on a match day. I’m sure a two tier system will alter the dynamics of the home crowd somewhat and the club will need to make sure it doesn’t create an ‘us and them’ mentality which could result from such a change. If people can no longer walk in front of the main stand to get to the railway end from the turnstiles, or pop up the steps to chat with someone prior to the game, well that might create problems – previously it was roped off which didn’t go down too well!

On a personal level, it could also play havoc with my fitness regime as well. Just before I went on my sojourn I’d started to once again put in a few laps of the pitch before the game with Sam which was about as much exercise as I got during the rest of the week. 8-9 laps on average. I’d be gutted if that had to stop – or at least I am gutted now (well-gutted as it happens following the holiday) which is one of the reasons why I want to continue with the circuits next season. Allowing supporters to walk around the ground is very much a boxed ticked for me.

I’m sure there will be one or two teething problems when the new system is introduced but such is the level of planning and insight down at the BPA these days, I’m sure it will have all been thought through and it will be straightforward come the first home game of the season.

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

Whilst I appreciate there is a list of the retained players available on the Messageboard, and a thorough one it is too, as in previous years I’m trying to keep an up-to-date squad list of the players retained, together with the new signings. Mine is more pictorial in nature, providing photos of each player as an aide memoire and should make it easier to identify new players come the start of the season. I’ll put all their photos together before the pre-season in an easily printable form should anyone want something to hand for the opening pre-season game if no programme is available.

The list is also accessible on the homepage near the top, under the tab ‘Coventry Rugby Squad 2018-19’. Clicking on the name should take you to the original announcement as detailed on the club website.

Having been away for a while, if I have missed any off the list please do let me know.

It is also available by clicking on the hyperlink below:

Coventry Rugby Squad 2018/19

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Next season is going to be a challenging one for the club and will be all about consolidating its place in the Championship. The likelihood is that there will be more losses than wins and if that is the case, then supporters might well have to stand together and support the club in the darker times…

Over to you, Ben E King…

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we’ll see
No I won’t be afraid
Oh, I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

Whilst I would normally choose the original artist or someone equally well known, I’ve opted for the ‘Playing For Change’ video which takes the form of clips from some of the best buskers in the world singing the song in aid of charity. It’s a fantastic version and one well worth 5 minutes of your time…

(Their version of Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay is a MUST see!)

Grandpa Elliot rocks…

12 thoughts on “Stand By Me (depending on the price)”

  1. A fantastic music video Tim. Many thanks for including that. (I just loved Grandpa!)

  2. Ref. Access/stewarding of the Main Stand, maybe they could issue a colour coded wrist band (as for upstairs hospitality) or a type of lapel tag as is used for various enclosures at the horse races? Or Ink Stamp the back of your hand (as per Nightclubs – been a long time!) No need to put down your tray of drinks and fumble for your season ticket then! hope you had a great holiday Tim.

    1. Yes, both suggestions would be preferable to having to show your season ticket…Cov need to get you on board! Ink stamps would certainly be a blast from the past! Good to hear from you, Dave. Hope all is well!

      1. Just issue lanyards with season ticket holder. Problem solved

      2. D’oh. Of course! That’s why you’re The Coachman and I’m merely the passenger…

  3. Tim, It is great to see your blog reappear in my inbox in the morning. Welcome back. A considered summary of the ticketing for next season which I think is a fair deal. I’ll be getting a seat in the stand but will probably spend the first half of a match standing then sit for the second, depending the weather of course.

    1. Thanks Kevin! My only concern about the scenario you describe is that unless the stewards are on the ball for the whole of the first half at least, any empty seats not claimed by season ticket holders on the day might be taken up by other supporters, either home or away, especially if it is a big crowd and the main stand is full otherwise. Such a situation might be potentially awkward if the person taking up the seat refuses to move.

  4. My Dad kept pointing out how hard it has been for Hartpury. Undeniably it’s not been easy for them, especially having cultivated a such a winning culture for so many years as they swept through the league.

    …however I think it’s worth noting that in terms of points they’re significantly closer to Bedford in 3rd than they are to Rotherham in the relegation spot.

    I’d say they’ve acclimatised pretty well, considering how often the National One winners have either been immediately relegated or survived only at the expense of a team suffering a severe financial crisis.

    1. I think we’ll be okay..in fact I’m convinced we’ll stay up. Hartpury clearly have a strong set up and have benefited from their ties with Gloucs and Richmond, despite remaining semi-pro, have confounded all the critics. Plenty of reasons to feel encouraged

  5. To judge how hard it will be just look at Hartpury and they won all their games in this division.

    1. Yes,it’s a pertinent example although I do feel the Coventry squad will be stronger than Hartpury’s this season once we have finished recruiting. We might not have quite the same links with Premiership sides but the management and coaching will be just as good, imho.

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