Sat. May 15th, 2021

But every weekend through the door
Come words of wisdom from the world outside

If you want to know about the bishop and the actress
If you want to know how to be a star
If you want to know about the stains on the mattress
You can read it in the Sunday papers, Sunday papers

Joe Jackson – Sunday Papers

Interest in Coventry Rugby Club continues to grow by the week.

Sunday’s The Rugby Paper included an informative half-page article written by Neale Harvey and displayed prominently on Page 2 no less, under the heading:

Ambitious Coventry step up their push for the Premiership

Being a Cov fan is something of a surreal experience these days.

After years of having watched Cov languish in National One, all of sudden here we are reading of Coventry’s determination to join the elite of English rugby…

…and it’s all happening at a frightening pace.

Cov have yet to kick off their first season back in the Championship and the focus nationally is already moving to the club’s ambitions of promotion into the Premiership.

Whilst part of me is hugely excited at the commitment and determination that Chairman Jon Sharp is showing in his desire to return to the top echelon of club rugby, another part just wants to sit back and enjoy the ride.

It’s easy to get carried away by what the longer term future might hold  despite the excitement that.lies ahead as we embark on our first season in the Championship.

Yet sometimes the journey is just as an enjoyable as the eventual destination itself…

That said, it would be somewhat mean-spirited and churlish of me to be critical of a club that has such bold plans, especially one that has already delivered in so many ways.  Gaining promotion into the Championship a year ahead of schedule was no mean feat.

In the article Jon Sharp repeats what we’ve already heard on a couple of occasions in the past few months:

We’ve held discussions with a number of companies which involve housing and retail, plus the aim is to build another stand and a standing terrace to replicate the Cowshed at Coundon Road

All good news, but nothing new.

But what followed is and it certainly caused me to take a pretty sharp intake of breath.

There’s no reason why this can be done within two years

Two years.

Housing (presumable apartments), retail outlets, a new stand, a new terraced standing area in just 24 months?  Now it might well be that the suggestion that it could all be completed within just two years is common knowledge already and if that is the case apologies for focusing on it now. But if that’s so, then it passed me by.

There’s also mention of the desire to have:

indoor playing facilities

Something again that I haven’t heard mentioned previously. Just how that would fit into the proposed ground improvement programme, I’m not quite sure – perhaps off-site even?

And all this having already completed the laying down of a synthetic pitch in the next 12 months:

which we hope to put down next summer

Jon Sharp knows far better than any of the supporters what is involved in achieving the targets he is setting the club. However, I can’t help but feel however fast things progress off the pitch as far as the development of the club into a profitable and self-sufficient business is concerned, success in terms of promotion into the Premiership might be somewhat harder to achieve.

It just all seems far closer than perhaps I’d previous realised – after all, just two years ago we were still trying to get used to a change in management, little realising even then just how quickly things would move on from there.

To achieve the degree of ground improvements outlined above in such a short time would represent a stunning transformation. It would hopefully provide the perfect platform from which to launch a promotion bid which is clearly the longer term goal and one to which there is no time frame attached, at last not in the article anyway.

And far better to leave it that way…otherwise you become far too accountable.

Heady times ahead then and, given how successful the club has been since  Sharp teamed up with Rowland Winter two seasons ago, well you have to believe.

And it is a belief borne out of trust and not hope.

And that’s important.

However, old timers like me still remember the Eves’ era when the club committed far too much too quickly in terms of player resources in an effort to gain back-to-back promotions to the Premiership in successive seasons.

Whilst it almost paid off, in the end it brought about the departure of most of the team that reached the play-offs against London Irish the season after the club was promoted from what was then Courage National Division 2 in 1996. That memory is never going to go away and it’s hard not to want to express just a small note of caution, even though it was the most exciting of times to be a Cov supporter.

Once the bubble burst it was tough going for all still left at the club.

The real difference this time round is that in fairness to Jon Sharp, he and his Board clearly possess the business acumen that was so evidently missing all those years ago.

He admits in the article that:

the only thing that concerns me is that only one Premiership club made any money last year…

going on to say that:

I’ve always had an eye on Exeter’s model where they’ve done a brilliant job by building everything step by step and not doing anything they can’t afford

It’s comments like that reassure me and whilst such a bold vision is always going to unnerve some, it appears very much based on financial self-regulation together with a good dose of realism.

It’s one thing to hear Cov’s ambitions discussed at fans’ forums or in the local press, but to see them appear in The Rugby Paper brings it home just how far the club has moved on.

I can only think that if the suggestion is that such ambitious plans can be completed in just two years, talks with those prepared to invest in Cov’s future, as well as with the Council, must be some way ahead of where I assumed they were.

By 2020 could we really be watching Cov play with Stage Two of the ground alterations already implemented?

That would be extraordinary.

And if that is the case, then presumably the commercial development of the site would start to generate the funding stream that is so necessary for the club to be able to bring in the calibre of players needed to make that jump from a targeted 4th place in the Championship after two/three seasons to promotion itself.

Great news and I’m still having to pinch myself a little.

I remain a glass have full kind of guy, but even then half of it remains empty…

…but as long as we’re walking before we’re running, that’s fine by me.

The article also confirms that  in the longer term the club is anticipating a ground with a maximum capacity of 12,000′ which appears to be a requirement of entry in the Premiership. What I haven’t quite worked out in my head is just where in the ground the space for parking 1000 plus cars (?) will be once Stages 2 and 3 have been completed – perhaps there will be a multi-storey area as part of the retail build?

Neale Harvey ends with Jon Sharp rightly suggesting that..

there’s a buzz about Coventry at the moment

Indeed there is and it’s getting louder ever day.

Whisper it quietly, but if Jon Sharp’s vision comes to fruition it won’t be too long before that buzz drowns out the drone from across the city as Coventry Rugby Club looks to make a long overdue return to the top flight of English rugby.


Also in last Sunday’s edition of The Rugby Paper is an article on Coventry’s young loanee-signing from Northampton, Fraser Dingwall.

In it, Neale Harvey (again) highlights Dingwall’s defensive strengths, referring to him as ‘hard-hitting’ and making mention of his:

outstanding displays at the Junior World Cup

Whilst the main focus not unsurprisingly was on the final that England lost against France on Sunday, there is one paragraph early doors that potentially has a significance for Coventry over the coming season.

As I understand it, Dingwall is part-way through an 18 month loan from the Saints, a loan that now looks rather less likely to go the distance given Northampton’s new Director of Rugby Chris Boyd’s clear admiration of the young England starlet.

Defensive linchpin Dingwall has been identified by new Saints boss Chris Boyd as one of the candidates to fill the boots of retired Wallaby Test star Rob Horne

In the light of such fulsome praise, perhaps Cov might see rather less of Fraser Dingwall than it had originally hoped. I’ve never quite understood what a loan move actually means, but I’m guessing an on-loan player can be recalled to his mother club as and when required. And in FD’s case, that might well be sooner rather than later.

Dingwall himself seems to be hoping that his performances in the World Cup will have caught the eye of the Northampton DoR:

Myself and James Grayson have just been looking to work hard with the U20s out in France, and hopefully that will lead to opportunities when we get back to Saints

However, when one door opens…

Maybe if we don’t see a great deal of Dingwall, Saints will be more inclined to look favourably at helping out Cov in other ways  – which might work in our favour when looking to recruit a decent scrum half, perhaps?

Rather like Jack Willis, Fraser Dingwall might well be an England player in the years to come whom we were lucky enough to see grace the Cov shirt, albeit for rather less time than we’d originally hoped.

How long before we see a player come through the ranks at Cov and earn a cap whilst still at the club? That would be something special.


Joe Jackson’s first album ‘I’m the Man‘ was a classic.

I remember reading about him in New Musical Express and the fact he was being compared to the  likes of Elvis Costello and Graham Parker made him a real favourite at the time and I first saw him in Sheffield in 1980.

His songs back then were hard-hitting and he was one of the generation of new wave/post punk artists who were very much in vogue at that time…

Whilst he had a couple of hits with the likes of ‘It’s different for girls‘ and ‘Is she really going out with him?‘, he soon experimented with different musical styles and became far less mainstream.

Still often played in the Smith household though.

Provided I’m wearing headphones…




By Tim

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