No More Mr Nice Guy…

I used to be such a sweet, sweet thing
‘Til they got a hold of me
I opened doors for little old ladies
I helped the blind to see
I got no friends ’cause they read the papers
They can’t be seen with me and I’m gettin’ real shot down
I’m feeling real mean

Alice Cooper – No More Mr Nice Guy

A cautionary post this one…

For those who have followed the blog over the past couple of seasons, Season Four of the blog will offer something very different.

It not be to everyone’s taste.

Anyone’s potentially.

For too long I’ve been guilty of accentuating the positives whilst ignoring the negatives. Admittedly, they have been relatively few and far between since the arrival of Rowland Winter but, nevertheless, no club is devoid of its problems or supporters of their concerns.

But in future, if they’re there then they’ll get a mention.

I jumped aboard the Coventry bandwagon early doors and was happy to spread the word and defend the cause, always publicly supportive of the huge changes that were taking place within the club, even if at times I had a few doubts myself.

I will admit I was sickly saccharine on occasions, something I’m not altogether comfortable with right now.

In retrospect, I enjoyed far more writing the posts in that first year of the blog, the season of Maynard/Morgan.  I was by no means a lone voice and whilst I shouted, others screamed, but the blog did have an edge to it. I felt I was always fair and when critical I tried to be constructively so, which wasn’t always the case elsewhere.

It was never personal and I’m sure I got it hopelessly wrong at times – but it was honest. As it has continued to be.

But over the past two seasons I’ve been rather more selective in what I’ve chosen to write about, ignoring the concerns and wherever possible highlighting the successes.

But for this season, or however long the blog lasts, it will revert back to the good old days of Season One. It will have far more of an edge to it, it will be punchier and  more direct in its approach.


The reason for this change is borne of my own personal disappointment and frustration over the last couple of seasons.

This is all going to sound petty and selfish but it is as it is and I’m not ashamed in the slightest to admit why this has come about…I am at least being honest to myself.

I’ve produced almost a thousand post in three years and have written well over a million and a quarter words which equates to the equivalent of twenty plus 300 page novels. The vast majority of the posts have been supportive of Coventry and have positively highlighted almost every aspect of the work done by the club. Players, coaches, backroom staff, some more than others, but all have had a  mention.

The blog has almost 800 followers, some more regular readers than others. There are amongst them those whose enthusiasm for the club has been rekindled by what they’ve read. Ex-pats abroad (the blog has been read in over 140 countries) have been able to read about the club they once supported back home, parents have contributed, spouses have followed match day Twitter feeds from the games and past players still follow it.

The blog is approaching it’s half millionth viewing (although it’s actually more than that as it doesn’t include multiple views).

The club has had three years of what amounts to some pretty decent publicity.

In short, Coventry has done okay out of it.

I mention all this not to boast, not to brag, just to put the next few paragraphs in context.

As far as I’m aware, at no point in the last three seasons has the club publicly acknowledged the existence of the blog. None of the near 1000 posts has ever been ‘retweeted’ or even ‘liked’ via Twitter, no mention of one of them made on the website or elsewhere. It’s never publicly reacted to the existence of the blog at all.

I’m actually okay with that, although there have been times when, say, I’d spent half the night writing up a post on the Fans’ Forum over the last couple of season when just a simple message along the lines of ‘If you weren’t able to get to the meeting last night, here’s Tim’s summary’ might have been welcome.

In the two seasons when no updates from the games were available and I tweeted the scores, well the club weren’t exactly overly appreciative.

If I highlighted what was happening behind the scenes and tried to involve those who weren’t often credited publicly for their efforts…again nothing.

Now before I go on, I must point out that individuals from within the club have been very  patient and kind. Hannah, Lara and co have all been very  welcoming and have always thanked me privately if I’ve highlighted what they do in a post and I have absolutely no bones to pick with them, none whatsoever.

But again nothing from the club to say ‘have a read’ of….or ‘you might be interested in’.

These are posts emphasising what a great job they’re doing on behalf of the club, and yet…?

Rowland Winter has seemed very accepting of the blog and if he’s said something that he felt shouldn’t be included he has mentioned it, but I’ve only really spoken to RW at training  with others supporters present, so it’s never been about the blog itself. What I’ve included is  almost without exception what Rowland has said to everyone present.

And Rowland is a sharp operator. He asked to meet up with me even before he took over from Scott Morgan and was honest enough even then to say he wanted to meet the person who would be writing about him more regularly than anyone else. He understood the blog was going to happen with or without the club on board…so best accept it.

Which is exactly the way it was…and still is.

I never spoke to Jon Sharp in the first two seasons at all, so I don’t really know what his thoughts were about it back in the early days, although I was told in no uncertain terms at the end of the first season by someone in the know that it wasn’t something the Board had welcomed. Last season Jon said some kind words on a few occasions and offered his thanks for keeping him informed whilst away which was greatly appreciated.

But neither Jon or Rowland are the club.

For me it would have been nice just to have had the odd post, out of three years’ worth, retweeted or even ‘liked’ by the club itself.

But nothing.

Almost on a weekly basis I’m asked how the club views the blog and in truth I don’t know.

And sadly, I’m no longer that bothered.

Until earlier this year I would have been happy to let the status quo continue – saddened and somewhat downhearted, I would have continued to ‘post positive’…

…but then things changed and frustration actually turned to real annoyance on my part for a while.

Every post where I’ve used a photo, or a tweet or a quote from an article, including those from the official club website, I’ve always, always tried to acknowledge the person responsible for the original by thanking the person by name or naming the source.

It’s just what you do…or maybe not.

Now over the last three Christmases I’ve run a poll where readers of the blog vote for Coventry Rugby Club’s MVP (Most Valuable Player). The results are published over the 12 days of Christmas and the last post announcing the winner is invariably in the top three posts of the year with up to four times the average number of views.

It all takes a bit of time and effort to be fair and involves me posting  on Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I try and write a fair bit about each player and that takes more than the normal amount of research. I always buy a trophy and drop it off at the club and Rowland Winter is kind enough to pass it on to the winner.

The Christmas period is always a slow one as far as news coming out of the club is concerned and often the posts were the only Cov related ‘news’ on the Messageboard that day. It kept a bit of interest ticking over holiday break.

I enjoyed doing it in the past.

There won’t be another MVP award again though.

There’s never been any acknowledgement from the club as to the poll or the winner which is strange given that it was the supporters who were voting, not me. No ‘well done, Jacques, or James, or Jack’, no photo of the winner with the trophy.

Nothing. Again nothing even to suggest publicly Coventry Rugby Club was remotely interested in either the blog or any poll its supporters might have voted in.

Except…and here’s the beginnings of my real frustration…

Two months on and suddenly the MVP was being used as part of the club’s own self-publicity. Except it had become a supporters’ poll with no mention of the blog at all. In fact the article concerned, one that appeared both on the website and in the Coventry Telegraph and elsewhere, did nothing to suggest that it was anything other than a poll approved by the club and therefore probably organised by them.

The article on the re-signing of Jack Preece even refers to the poll in the title:

Fans Favourite Jack Preece signs on

The poll features heavily in the article including:

The result of the supporters’ poll, which was revealed across a period of 12 days over the New Year, came as a very pleasant surprise to Preece who says the fans are ‘Cov’s secret weapon’ and made his decision to re-sign so much easier.

“I really couldn’t believe it,” he said. “When the vote came up and someone explained to me what it was, I thought that with the players we’ve got it would be good just to make the top 12.

“As the days went by I was thinking ‘have I made it?’ because some good players were being named early doors and I thought if they’re in the bottom half of the table, I’m not going to get in.

“I was absolutely delighted when I got it, it’s something else given the squad we have.

“The biggest thing the club has is its fans, the numbers are the best in the league, and it makes this a special achievement for me which I really appreciate.

Now it’s one thing to ignore the existence of the blog publicly. That was okay…as I’ve said before it surprised me and even saddened me a little, but over two and a half years I’d got used to it.

At least Jack appreciated it!

If the poll was worthy of a mention then fine, I’d have been more than happy to say yes…

..but like this?

Having never even acknowledged the poll in its three years?

It’s taking the mickey somewhat.

For the club to so openly use it in this way to publicise its own recruitment drive really hurt. I should have said something at the time, but I’m not the most confident of people and just let it fester which was the wrong thing to do, I know.

Also round this time, at an away game, I was introduced to a member of the Board by another supporter. The chap concerned said something along the lines of ‘This is Tim Smith, he writes the blog…’.

The response was a classic.

He looked me in the eye, smiled and said:

‘Yes I know who you are’…

…and promptly walked away to talk to someone else.

That sealed the deal.

There are plenty of other such anecdotes, some of which might well crop up in the blog  over the course of the next season, but these two just highlight the fact that all the efforts that have gone into the blog might well be appreciated elsewhere, but they don’t appear to be in the very place where I’d most have liked them to have been.

And they are appreciated elsewhere and it’s the lovely comments and the generosity of spirit from amongst those who regularly read the blog that have kept me going. The irony is that other clubs in National One have taken far more of an interest in the blog than Coventry and several senior officials from other clubs have followed the blog for some time now.

I’ve had local and national press contact me, I’ve had requests to appear on radio, on rugby blogs and so on. I’ve always declined because I’ve never sought my own publicity.

I’m looking forward to the next request though.


So here’s what’s going to be different this season.

They’ll be no ‘Man of the Match’ polls at home games, no tweeting from games, no MVP poll over Christmas. I’ll not be attending any training sessions pre-season or those during mid-week.

I’m just going to revert back to a supporter who attends games, some home, some away.

Nor will I be reporting on Forums in the detail I’ve done previously either – if the club wants to get the message across to supporters living too far away to attend or who are otherwise engaged that evening, well they can do that themselves from now on.

I’ll not post a link to the blog via the Messageboard, for various reasons I’ve lost faith in MB as well, but more of that in a later post.

I’m also deliberating as to whether to remove the Twitter/Facebook/email links so that the only way of accessing the blog is via the web address itself. It will mean a significant drop in the numbers reading the blog but I’ve always maintained it’s just a hobby for me, and if I only write for an audience of Sam and my mum, and occasionally Sue when she remembers, well that’s fine.

I’ve said what I needed to say and, to be honest, feel so much better for saying it.

This might appear arrogant on my part and perhaps it is, but three years is a long time to write about the club you love and in return to receive no public acknowledgement of its very existence.

Not of me, or any effort that might have gone in to writing it, just of the blog itself.

So it’s back to basics for me. Writing what I think and feel – mostly positive, but also highlighting the concerns; critical but hopefully constructive as well.



Truth is, I never was Mr Nice Guy…




29 thoughts on “No More Mr Nice Guy…

  1. Hi Pauline – hope you’re both managing to enjoy the sun at the moment. Not brave, just saying it as I feel it, but thank you for you’re support as always…it makes writing the blog a pleasure as well as a hobby x

  2. a very brave but sad blog Tim. well done. .You know how much Colin and I have always enjoyed your blog.. long may it continue.

  3. Hi Sam, hope you’re having a great break and looking forward to the challenges next season will bring. Thank you for the kind comments – having got it off my chest, I’m really looking forward to continuing the blog into the new season. The club’s Twitter feed will keep everyone informed, as it did do for most of last season, so no real loss there. Hopefully, much of what is in the blog next season will be positive reflecting what I hope will be an encouraging return to the Championship, but where there are concerns, I’ll be happy to voice them! I’d expect the new media person at Cov will make the website more interactive and there will be an opportunity for supporters to take part in the club’s own polls, quizzes and competitions which should have been the case in previous seasons as well. See you in August, Sam…

  4. HI Tim. Just a note to say that I think we all understand your point of view and accept your decision. it’s your blog, and it’s your decision how you write in it. I think it’s given a huge amount of information to those who weren’t as close to the club (in whichever sense) as you were, so it’s shame that you’ve been put in the position where you’ve had to call an end.

    That said, I’m actually looking forward to the new “no holds barred” format as I was to the almost daily updates of news and views. I will miss the match day tweets especially though..

    Enjoy the summer break, and I look forward to seeing you at the games.

    All the best.

  5. Hi Peter, great to hear from you! One thing the blog has given me is the opportunity to meet new people and the last three seasons watching Cov has been all the better for that and I’m already looking forward to chatting with everyone about Cov once the pre-season starts again in August. I always appreciated your support and hopefully we’ll be chatting long for many a good year yet. Have a great summer and seen you in August!

  6. Hello Tim.
    So sad to read of your frustrations and disappointments with regard to the lack of any official acknowledgement of your blog and associated posts. I can only reiterate what so many others have written: that so many aspects of your input have given huge insight, opportunities and pleasure to very many people. Whilst the fans have gained so much, undoubtedly so have the club. To have been able to participate in MVP, MOM and other polls has enabled fans to feel much closer to the players and the club. Such a shame that this hasn’t been recognised by both parties. Another joy of the blog is that it’s given me the opportunity to meet Sam & yourself and to enjoy our occasional chats, which hopefully we will continue to do, Enjoy your summer.
    Come on you Cov!

  7. Up to 6 months ago that’s where I was, John. I was a bit disappointed with it all but happy to carry on as I had for the previous two and a half seasons. But the club’s decision to promote the recruitment of one of its key players via the blog then made it official…although it was actually worse than that as it made no reference to the blog at all, referring to the MVP as a supporters’ poll. That was the proverbial kick in the teeth for me. There had been no acknowledgement of the poll or the result over the Christmas period, yet 2 months later the club was using it for it’s own self-promotion. If it hadn’t done that I would absolutely agree with you and I certainly wouldn’t be drawing back from what I’ve done in the past. But you can’t regard the blog as unofficial but then use its content when it suits you… That was a step too far for me. I’m not expecting everyone to agree, just trying to explain why I feel the way I do 😀 I’m sure you are right in what you say, but the club cant have it both ways – or at least they shouldn’t.

  8. Tim, on reflection perhaps the reason for the arms length approach of the club is that it is ” unoffical” . Unofficial being the operational word i.e. being nothing to do with the club’s officials. And as such there should be no justification for anybody to think the blog has any official club influence . Yes your man of the match and other surveys are a brilliant idea ,and I might say carried out so professional that the club has kept out of it fearing undue influence could reduce its effectiveness actual or otherwise .
    So please continue as you were and continue to give praise and constructive criticism.
    P.S. I do think that recognition and encouragement by other means than open official recognition could have and should have been given you

  9. Bless you, father! Sadly, you’re preaching to the unconverted but happy to lead my life on Christian values if not Christianity (if that makes sense!). Thank you for you’re involvement and your regular comments, they’ve added greatly to the blog – and you so nearly won the prediction competition! It’s lovely to think that there are others who have enjoyed reading the blog just as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Have a great summer and hopefully our paths will cross (see what I did, there, Rev!) next season!

  10. Firstly, great news that Cameron is with Cov next season. I’ve really appreciated your involvement and the insight you’ve added when it’s been noticeably lacking at times elsewhere in the blog! Hopefully, Cameron will be rested and recuperated over the summer and come back fit and raring to go. I might well opt to watch some of the ‘A’ games in preference to travelling next season, I was disappointed at missing out on seeing some of the youngsters. With the talent that’s been retained in addition to that which appears to have been recruited so far, it should make for some entertaining rugby. See you then!

  11. …once again without realising it you and others automatically assume tim will carry on , because he has vented his feelings , similiar to tims hiatus. It is purely voluntary and nobody should even be hinting at carrying on etc. Tims reasons for him are very strong and personal and he should be just left alone Maybe Peter, you would like to take the time and effort and do MOM etc. Dont ask someone else to do something you wouldnt do yourself……

  12. Tim, having been away from my home town for most of my working life it was only last autumn that I came to realize through a chance encounter at a friend’s home ( in Cheltenham ) with family members of James Stokes who learned of my plan to attend the next home game that I got ‘switched-on’ to the existence of your blog. And it has been a complete refresher course not only in Cov’s affairs but much of rugger generally that had passed-by me. Travelled to all-but-one home game since ( and the away games have been enjoyed also via your tweets ).
    And oh dear ! as a Anglican vicar ( now retired by active still ) all your sense of disappointment and lack of acknowledgement are so familiar to me…. not only been there but have quite a collection of T-shirts. Here’s the thing though, my wife and I have to admit that it doesn’t stop us continuing to plug-away …. sometimes it’s years later we see the fruit emerge, often in the most unlikely of places and individuals ( you must recognize that from your years of teaching ). I’ve marveled these past months how you get all that stuff together and get it out so early each morning. Believe me you will have your reward in heaven ! So, keep on proclaiming the gospel whenever you are able. Bless you my son !
    Bill Rumball

  13. Hi Tim. I hope you are enjoying summer and other sporting entertainments…… I for one was at Wembley last Monday celebrating another promotion for one of the Cities teams. But enough of that….. I read your blog avidly and during the long dark days of winter (not Rowland!) It was the first thing I read with my cuppa. I learnt far more about the club, players, performances than from other sources, with no disrespect to others who write for the club. But as I have found with ‘volunteering’ over the years, one never gets many compliments. You have to have a thick skin in this world, and accept the good and the bad with equanimity. I know it’s not fair but……. look at the comments you have received, from people who appreciate your work. I am sure, this is the tip of a large iceberg. Please don’t let lack of appreciation from one source outweigh all the positive feedback from your dedicated blog readers.

  14. Hi Tim. I have been very grateful for your blog ever since I started following Cov after my son, Cameron, stated his involvement with the club. It has allowed me to build up a greater understanding of the club and it’s supporters over these past 2 seasons. I will never be a Cov supporter like you and the other long term season ticket holders (Maidenhead RFC for me) as I am following my Son’s journey but your blog has allowed me to build up as strong an association to the club as an outsider could ever expect too. Thank you and I look forward to continuing to read & comment on your output next season. Have a great summer.

  15. I think in this instance it’s best to revert to being neither a friend or an enemy – and just remain a supporter with a blog! Happy with that…I’m certainly in the process of adjusting accordingly and it’s something of a relief to be fair.

  16. Love Pink Floyd! Thanks for your kind words…there still will be a blog, just a different one and hopefully the games I get to I will post on. Actually looking forward to watching games without tweeting!

    Up the Cov!

  17. Hi Peter…hope all is well with you and Jacky. AS I mentioned in the post, both Jon, and Rowland Winter, have both been supportive on occasions and indeed liked the odd post but never the club, and there is a big difference, to me anyway.
    The polls, the tweets and the MVP are a thing of the past now, no question about that.

  18. Many bridges to be built, and maintained. Your blog and match reports have been eagerly received. I can recall Jon Sharp commending a few reports, especially the piece on Hanna and her team, but it is essential for the Club to appreciate all that contribute to their success. If the supporters and volunteers, such as yourself and those who work on maintaining the stadium are not appreciated then success becomes a tad hollow. That said it was fantastic that a number of lads received appreciation at the recent awards night and the club went out of their way to show appreciation.
    Hopefully, now that you have “vented your spleen” you will give consideration to continue with your brilliant and eagerly awaited polls on matches and MVP. Their demise is a loss to the Coventry Family.

  19. Hi Tim – Your comments about the club are fully justifiable. It’s unfortunate that their loss is also our loss! I, like a great many others, will miss your match reports and training session reviews. They have been a significant part of the Cov experience over the past couple of years, for me. I’d like to think that the club’s treatment of you has been an oversight, but I concur with the view that increased professionalism widens the gap between ‘us and them’ (Pink Floyd clip required!!). Maybe they will fill in the significant gaps left without your creative input. I won’t hold my breath. It certainly won’t be as good!
    Looking forward to reading your unbiased posts.
    All the best

  20. I hope I understand where you’re coming from, but the old saying “Hold your friends close and your enemies closer still” the club’s management will take note and adjust accordingly. Otherwise we all lose.

  21. Hi Bob….many thanks. I’m certainly hugely grateful those who read the blog and will continue to tap away next season with renewed enthusiasm. Am looking forward to seeing how Cov respond to what will be a new set of challenges. I’m sure there will be plenty of highs and a fair few lows, but it will definitely be an interesting journey along the way!

  22. That’s a really good point about the gap widening, Rob. Even the two-tiered pricing system could prove somewhat divisive next season; it will be interesting to see how that progresses. I’m not sure though that the gap between supporters and the club itself should necessarily widen though. The faith is still there for sure, the willingness to be quite so effusive about all things Cov is less so.

    With exams almost over, I hope the remaining few weeks calm down a bit and the pressure is off a little at work. Have a good summer!

  23. Tim, having been involved in the past with professional sport I understand where you are coming from. Those not involved in the playing side I found were always undervalued especially if not employed by the organisation. All I can say is, from an avid reader of your blog, keep up the good work, as you will know your readers appreciate all your hard work and commitment.

  24. Hi Ronald…thank you for taking the trouble to leave a comment, it is greatly appreciated. You’d hope the media coverage will be greatly improved next season and you won’t need to rely on Twitter for updates. It’s got better since Tom arrived and hopefully he’ll turn things round in the coming months. Sorry you’ll be missing the home games…perhaps one or two will be live on TV even.

  25. Lol…yes, my spleen is well and truly vented and I must say, I feel much better for having got it off my chest. As probably one of the most passionate supporters I’ve met at Cov I’m hugely grateful for the support, and kindness, you’ve shown me. Hopefully, it will be the club who fill the gaps i leave, if gaps there are, as some of what I’ve done is probably what the club should have been doing anyway, especially the interactive bits like the polls and competitions. Onwards and upwards, though. See you in August!

  26. Hi Tim, I completely understand your feelings over the MVP situation and it is poor form for the club to refer to the award without referencing, and linking to, your blog when they do so.
    Secondly, for a director of our club to behave in an equally egotistical and obnoxious way towards a supporter – any rugby supporter – is disgusting. I hope the guilty party has a think about their behaviour and dwells on how they’ve failed to uphold the spirit of rugby. Hopefully they’ll be a little more human next time and be big enough to seek you out and apologise.
    I for one will very much miss your superb match tweets as I often work on Saturdays and they’ve been invaluable over the past three seasons when I’ve been unable to get to games. However, it’s nice to know that you’ll be able to enjoy every second of the action without your frost bitten fingers working overtime to provide scores and information.
    Thanks very much for what you do and keep on keeping on. Cheers.

  27. Tim, I totally understand your stance on this.
    Like everyone else I’ve fully enjoyed this season on the pitch, for obvious reasons. On the other hand I’ve deliberately maintained a distance from the off-pitch side of things. That’s why I contribute to the Supporters Club without being on the committee. Gone are the days when I’d have a drink with Aggie after the match and that’s fully understandable.
    The gap between the playing and supporting side of things is sure to widen the more successful we become, that’s why your blog will become more vital in the future.
    Keep the faith Tim…the people who matter are reading and appreciating!

  28. I will miss your TWITTER reports on home and away games, more so as I don’t think I will be up to attending the home games next season. I think the Twitter reports on the Club Website have been poor and very much behind the play.. I hope that the games will get a lot more reporting next season on the local Radio in stead of just a casual phone call from the commentary from the Sky Blues Games.

  29. Well said tim….its a great feeling to vent your anger and frustration. Nobody can toe the line all the time. Yes we are in the best position as a club as we have been for a very very long time. But that does not stop people being polite or just blatantly using people for their own means.
    People need to come into this century, social media is here and it wont go away. Sport is all about opinions, so the two are ideal bedfellows.
    I know its been said before but you and your son have done a fantastic job in promoting this club. No one else will fill your boots TIM. Well done for standing with your principals and im sure your wife is pleased you have brought it to a head.
    Mark Harrison

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