Cov showing intent off the field as well as on it…the Messageboard

12Jun - by Tim - 2 - In Club talk

‘Cause we are beautiful no matter what they say
Yes, words won’t bring us down, oh no
We are beautiful in every single way
Yes, words can’t bring us down
Don’t you bring me down today

Don’t you bring me down today
Don’t you bring me down today

Christina Aguilera – Beautiful

From The Rugby Paper – June 10th 2018

For the last couple of weeks an advert for a General/ Operations Manager vacancy at Coventry Rugby Club has appeared in The Rugby Paper.

A third of a page in size and in full colour they won’t have come cheap, yet another clear indication of Coventry’s intentions to further develop the business side of the rugby club.

Its decision to advertise nationally suggests that it expects to attract candidates of the highest calibre. Whoever is successful will have a vital role to play in taking the club ‘to the next level‘, complementing the success the club has been enjoying on the pitch.

The new General/Operations Manager will be responsible for ‘all the non-rugby activities‘ of the club, including:

managing and leading the support team, generating increased income from sponsorship and advertising, food and beverage sales, match day operations and the general management of the stadium

Whilst the salary is available ‘on application’  the advert does include the minimum number of working hours expected of the candidate – ‘40 per week as well as match day working‘, which presumably adds an extra 5 or 6 hours most weeks once the season is underway if that includes Development Squad/A games as well.

Whilst the Cov has clearly decided not to include in the advert how well, or otherwise, the job is remunerated, according to a Bobby Bridge article on CoventryLive, the job comes:

with an attractive salary of £40,000 to £45,000 on offer for the successful candidate – which soars way above the average salary in Coventry of £25,686

CoventryLive – Bobby Bridge

Just how generous a salary that is I guess is up to the individual reader.

Jon Sharp has made it known that Cov is a business with a £2m+ turnover and the club will be witnessing all sorts of change in the next few seasons involving major alterations to the facilities, including the addition of a synthetic surface in readiness for the start of the 2019/20 season. With that in mind, I wouldn’t have thought it was that generous certainly at the lower end of the pay scale given what’s expected of the successful applicant. It’s only a couple of thousand more than an experienced classroom teacher with no additional responsibilities.

And good luck if you leave a comment suggesting it’s more a question of teachers being overpaid…

You’d hope a club with the history of Coventry, one that is currently enjoying a lot of very favourable publicity, would attract plenty of interest amongst those considering this sort of a career move. Anyone intrigued enough to speak to Philip Crossman before applying, or indeed Jon Sharp and Rowland Winter, surely won’t fail but be impressed by the vision the Board has for Coventry Rugby Club?

And by advertising nationally the club has done its best to reach out to the right audience.

Fingers crossed the club gets its man.

Or woman.

Good to see that an image of Tom Kessell is included in the advert – I’m guessing that not meant to be interpreted the way many supporters would like it to be, but with Rowland Winter mentioning at the Fans’ Forum that Kessell was a player very much in his thoughts for next season, maybe it’s a sign that there’s good news to follow on that front.

Or maybe it just wishful thinking on my part – having reread this I’m not even convinced it is Kessell  now!

According to Bobby Bridge, Cov are also looking to take on a Community Manager, presumably following the departure of Matt Price, as well as a Media Officer whose role it will be, amongst other things, to:

cover(ing) the first team fixtures in the Greene King IPA Championship and provide social media updates from every game.

Looking forward to that already…tempted, so tempted.

Again, from Bobby B’s article, other posts to be filled by sports internships and work placements (post-graduates only) include:

Performance Analysis, Physiotherapy, Strength & Conditioning, Sports Therapy, Sports Massage and Sports Nutrition.

And part-time opportunities include: bar staff, bar supervisors, kitchen catering assistants and matchday volunteers (car parking, programme sellers, admin support).

Great news indeed, suggesting as it does that the club is gearing up to be just as professional off the pitch as it is on it and that the club isn’t going to make the same mistakes this time round as perhaps it was guilty off back in 1996 when we last won promotion back into the Championship.

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I’ve decided this season not to overly promote the blog, using only Facebook and Twitter and removing the link from the Unofficial Messageboard.

I’ve never felt particularly comfortable with posting a daily link to the blog on there, especially as there are one or two amongst the  more frequent users of the MB who haven’t always taken too kindly to it. I certainly accept that having it permanently somewhere near the top of the threads would be irritating if it isn’t something you’re inclined to read with any regularity.

The Messageboard is the  voice of the supporters and whilst it might have become a little soulless for me these days (I’ll explain what I mean further on), it’s a really important forum for a lot of Cov fans and it’s influence on the club’s thinking in the past shouldn’t be underestimated.

Ironically, I’ve always thought it’s  been at its most effective in times when the club has been in difficulties. Then it becomes a true discussion board, a place where fans come together to share their anxieties and frustrations and where the combined voices can be heard, not always in unison but certainly loudly enough and clearly enough to get the message across.

Three seasons ago, when Coventry appeared to be spiralling out of control both on and off the pitch, there’s no doubt in my mind that the strength of feeling expressed on the MB was recognised by those at the club who made the important decisions.  Whilst, in itself, it didn’t bring about Phil Maynard’s sideways move, I would maintain the unrest being expressed by supporters did hasten Scott Morgan’s promotion to Head Coach.

Interestingly, Jon Sharp made a couple of references to the Messageboard in his end of season piece for the CRSC’s ‘In Touch’ magazine – both referencing occasions when he felt the mood on there was anything but supportive.

In the first he talks of a time when:

the unofficial website was full of vitriol and there was little positive energy anywhere. Just a few stalwart believers…

Now anyone who reads the blog with any regularity will know I’m a great admirer of the Coventry Chairman and have credited him with the upturn in Coventry’s fortunes on more than the odd occasion. However, I would take issue with him on this occasion…

What he saw as vitriol, I remember as passion and frustration and whilst there was some anger expressed at the lack of communication coming out of the club in previous seasons prior to the arrival of Rowland Winter, much of it came from those very same stalwart believers who have remained at the club in the intervening years.

Yes, there was the odd poster like Telly1 who probably took it a little too far at times and I he certainly upset a good number of posters for a while, but even with Telly1 there was much in what he said that was relevant.

I’ve always admired those who challenge and question as they are the ones who more often than not help  bring about positive change, even if it’s not popular at the time. The MB was always busy in those days, far busier than it is now and it offered ordinary supporters a voice, a voice that was heard and listened to as well.

But there was no malice, or at least I don’t believe there was.

The Messageboard played its part in bringing about change and whilst what was being said might not have been appreciated elsewhere it gave everyone who wanted to speak out an opportunity to do so. If there was any vitriol, it certainly wasn’t full of it – that undermines much of the honest and genuine concerns expressed by supporters.

The second time the Chairman mentioned the Messageboard was when he appointed Winter as Director of Rugby. Sharp states that:

My immediate reward was that I was roundly vilified on the unofficial site and elsewhere, and even some of my own board were not amused. It has been a bit quiet in those quarters of recent.

It’s odd how perceptions are so different. I don’t remember it that way. I recall most people on the MB accepting that likeable as Scott Morgan was, he wasn’t the right person to lead Coventry and Winter’s appointment was seen as a positive move.

As I recall, what did upset a lot of supporters and led to some criticism of the Board, was Scott Morgan’s suggestion that the appointment of Winter happened without his knowledge and was presented to him as a fait accompli.

I might have that wrong, of course, but that’s how I remember it…

The club declined to hold a mid-season forum at that time, presuming to avoid a difficult meeting, so it was the only voice we had and we used it.

There was also plenty said at the time about how so many of the 2015/16 squad left, but that was down to a lack of understanding on the part of supporters (the players concerned had come to the end of their contracts) and partly a lack of explanation from the club initially, although Winter gave his reasons early doors. None of it though was a vilification particularly. I said my bit in the blog at the time, rather than on the MB, but I would have regarded myself  back then as a stalwart believer.

As I still do.

But that shouldn’t stop me being critical…

The last sentence in Jon Sharp’s quote – It has been a bit quiet in those quarters of recent worries me a little.

Cov’s chairman is absolutely right to say it, but I’m not altogether sure it’s something he should be entirely happy about. For me, the MB should always be the true voice of the supporters and even when times are good, as they are now, I’d like to think there are supporters who will challenge and question the likes of Winter and Sharp, as well as other supporters too.

Nothing is ever perfect and there are always concerns and the forum is as good a place as any to express them. Sadly, it’s not used anywhere near enough these days.

It’s a form of quality assurance in many respects and I’d like to think the club would want to know of any concerns supporters might have…

…but a lack of use shouldn’t necessarily be mistaken for a lack of concern among the supporters.

I know the Supporters’ Club do a lot behind the scenes and work closely with the club and in the past has expressed the worries of supporters over various issues. However, the effectiveness of the public voice, on an open forum, should never be underestimated.

And however good things are, there’s always room for improvement and supporters should  be encouraged to express their frustrations and disappointments just as much as their highs, provided they aren’t libellous of course.

And this is where the MB has become a little soulless for me.

What I’m about to say is in no way critical of those supporters who still use it and who really enjoy the opportunity to chat with other Cov fans. There have been some interesting discussions on occasions…

It’s just lost its soul a little.

Rather like the blog in the previous two seasons, there’s been little edge to it.

For me (and this is just an opinion, no more) the MB has reflected Coventry’s own support in recent seasons,  neither have attracted new members in any greater numbers and indeed the MB has lost some really good posters in recent seasons, supporters who still come to games but no longer take an active part in discussions on the Board.

Both need some new blood and perhaps following promotion into the Championship, the greater interest the club will attract amongst rugby followers in and around the city, lapsed supporters or otherwise, might well attract the next generation of posters. And I do think that would be a good thing.

I’ve often wondered if more Coventry supporters would contribute to the MB if it ceased to be the ‘Unofficial’ MB. It trivialises it a little. Leicester Tigers actually have a direct link from their website to the Leicester supporters’ forum and it’s moderated by the club and two or three others. Given the numbers of posts involved on the Cov MB, it would probably only need Russ to moderate (something he does with great sensitivity I might add), but it would raise the profile as well as directing all supporters through the club’s own website. A win/win for both parties.

It works well for Leicester Tigers and certainly their supporters are fairly direct in what they say!

I understand the argument that the club might want to divorce itself from some of the comments on the MB especially those that might be critical of individuals, either players or management. However, given that it posts directly onto the MB via Tom Branston, it can hardly claim it’s not officially recognising the MB anyway. (And Tom has certainly done his bit to keep supporters better informed about much that is happening at the BPA these last few weeks which is a real positive).

Rather than ignore criticism, businesses should welcome it and they should be judged, to some extent, on the way they respond to their clientele. Open up the channels of communication still further and I’m sure more supporters would get more involved.

To be fair, Leicester’s approach is not something I’ve thought through in any great detail but it’s a different one to Cov’s and as such worthy of a discussion perhaps.

This probably won’t go down too well with those who use the MB regularly, but at times it has something of the feel of members’ only club, with relatively few posters posting regularly and  rather more adding their thoughts as and when.

As a result, a lot of those posting seem to know each other well and on occasions when someone does post a serious thread it can often become ‘hijacked’ with well-meaning banter between regulars which becomes frustrating if you’re only there for the actual discussion…

And there are some strong personalities on there which can cause problems. If you do challenge or question, it can lead to comments becoming a little too pointed at times, something which to my eternal shame I’ve become embroiled in in the past.

I know that has stopped some people from using the MB with any regularity which is disappointing because everybody’s opinion should carry equal weight. As I said before, it just needs a few more posters on there.

And to repeat, I am a real fan of the MB, even if the above doesn’t really convey that.

It’s the single most important mouthpiece of the supporters, even more so than the CRSC for me, important though that is.

However, there is one other reason I’ve made a decision not to contribute to the MB as a poster and it’s one that probably will seem petty but it’s important enough to me to pull away from the MB, irrespective of anything to do with the blog.

As a teacher I always valued the contribution of every pupil and did my best to make sure I listened to what was said and responded respectfully. And no  matter how poorly work was written, I tried to recognise the value of the content.

There are some posters on the MB for whom writing is an effort and who are self-conscious about how their spelling and grammar. Yet it shouldn’t matter whether anyone confuses ‘there’, they’re’ or’ ‘their’ or ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ and if they get them wrong, they certainly shouldn’t have it pointed out publicly for all to see.

It could be humiliating and actually says more about the person who needs to make the comment than it does about the person who made the mistake. I make errors all the time – fortunately, the important ones, the factual ones, are quietly made known to me by those who presumably share the same values as me via a pm or an email (for which I am extremely grateful) without any need for public embarrassment. Lesser mistakes just don’t matter.

Language should be functional and fluid first and foremost.

It genuinely upsets me to see someone pulled up on the MB for their typing/spelling or use of grammar, however innocent the intention. I’ll always reply to every comment left on the blog. I just feel if someone has taken the time to write something and  the very least I can do is to respect their views in any response I make.

I know it’s not a big thing to most people but having seen as a teacher how respecting everybody’s opinion, however poorly it is expressed, can make a difference to some pupils. It’s something I’ve tried to do even outside of teaching.

Not always successfully, but I’ve tried and that’s what counts.

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‘Cause we are beautiful no matter what they say
Yes, words won’t bring us down, oh no
We are beautiful in every single way
Yes, words can’t bring us down
Don’t you bring me down today

Beautiful‘ explains in 5 lines what I’ve failed to get across in over 3000 words. 

A great song and probably one of the best videos I’ve included in the blog thus far.

Make yourself watch it and remind yourself of what’s really important in life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Cov showing intent off the field as well as on it…the Messageboard”

  1. “It works well for Leicester Tigers and certainly their supporters are fairly direct in what they say!”

    Direct, and often downright rude, arrogant etc etc. I’ve stopped going there for the most part because that site is more of an old boys club than this one, with 4 or 5 regular posters going there and God help you if you present another view or try to explain something.

    The Cov MB may be little used for criticism, but I do think that posters do use it when they have something to be concerned about. Too many times last season people said we played well and won when in my own opinion, we lacked decisive actions to close out a game. I honestly believe this season will be a rude awakening for may – we will lose during this year and, on occasion I’d suggest, we will have our arses handed to us.

    Having said that, I think a lot of the quiet is because people have faith in the management team, something which under Maynard they didn’t, largely because of how he behaved towards Coventry during his days at Birmingham Solihull (remember them??), results on the field at Coventry under his management not withstanding.

    The closed season is always the worst part because, unless there are announcements form the club or the league about the season to come, there’s little or nothing to talk about. Witness the “Have you heard the news” thread at the moment.

    That’s my rant for the day anyway… Fixtures are out this Friday, so then there might be something to talk about – Jersey and Pirates away in September might be a good start…

    Thanks for the post Tim

    1. Hi Sam – I’m sure you’re right that supporters continue to have faith in the DoR and coaches and rightly so, but I was suggesting that probably the MB is too much of a cozy club these days, dominated by one or two and very much lacking new blood to provide a different viewpoint on occasions – hopefully promotion into the Championship will add some (in my opinion only, I hasten to add) new life into it – that’s all. It seems to works really well for those who use it and is well moderated and is a key vehicle for expressing supporters’ voices.
      Totally agree with your comments regarding next season – I’m expecting no more than a 40:60 win ratio (anything above this would be a pretty decent first season for me) with a couple of ‘mullerings’ thrown in.

      Yes…get both of those games out of the way early doors should make the away games over the rest of the season a little less daunting. Happy to have Ealing in there too!

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