What to do when confronting a bear…and is it a roar or a growl?

13Jul - by Tim - 0 - In Club talk

The rabbit, he’ll be gone
The bird will sing no song
The wolf, the bear, the lion too
The insect far and near, creatures like the deer
We’ll put in cages at the zoo
Death in the wilderness
It’s a hopeless case I guess
Who’s looking out for the wilder side
It will soon all be gone
You can tell it won’t be long
We’ll find the wilderness has died

JJ Cale – Death in the Wilderness

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IMPORTANT  NOTICE FOR PLAYERS FROM HEMEL STAGS:

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Despite my growing allegiance to the Bears, I do have some important health and safety advice  for Sunday’s visitors to the BPA, the Hemel Stags.

The ‘bear’ essentials only, of course:

According to The Independent newspaper as was, if you are in the presence of Bears, you should always :-

  1. Carry a pepper spray;
  2. Stay still and definitely not attempt to run;
  3. Drop to the ground in a fetal position and cover the back of your neck with your hands;
  4. Play dead. If they think you’re dead, you’re no longer a threat…and the good news is that once the bear is done tossing you around, it will move on.

Whilst this might not necessarily win them the game, it will make for a hugely entertaining spectacle as far as us supporters are concerned.

It might also even prevent their players suffering too severely from the mauling they are likely to receive at the hands of ursa midlandia, that rare breed of bluish bear that seems to be faring far better of late in the urban landscape of middle England.

I’m sure they’ll be happy to thank me after the game for such well-meaning advice.

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Something I wasn’t aware of, although perhaps should have been able to work out for myself, is that for any self-respecting Stag, the rutting season is at its height apparently in October, at dawn and at dusk.

As everyone knows, it’s the time when stags:

return to their hinds’ home range and compete for them by engaging in elaborate displays of dominance including roaring, parallel walks and fighting.

Rutting

So an afternoon game, in the middle of what looks likely to be one of the hottest summers on record, would appear an ideal time for the Bears to face the Stags.

And I have to say, a couple of hours spent watching the Stags roar and parallel walk wouldn’t have been one that would necessarily have set the juices flowing, so a July fixture should be eminently more enjoyable.

Parallel park would have been interesting, though.

That said, one might well expect the odd skirmish here and there in a game between two sides fighting for bragging rights somewhere near the foot of the table.

Especially on the back of what was, by all accounts, a hard-fought and well-earned win last weekend against a London Skolars side one place above the Bears in Betfred League One.

Skolars last week, Stags this week…

Brain and now brawn.

You couldn’t make it up.

And here’s another thing, this notion of stags and bears roaring is one that confuses me greatly.

I always thought bears growled, but I’d swear blind that the sound effect used by the Bears whenever there is a score at a home game (one which went down a storm with Bulls’ fans when they visited the BPA by the way) is definitely more of a lion-esque roar than an actual growl.

So I guess if that is the case and bears really do roar, then on that basis alone I’d be more than happy to hear a fair few growls, of the bear-like variety, this Sunday.*

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1392077Whilst football definitely isn’t coming home this Sunday, rugby league most certainly is.

And I have to say I’m particularly looking forward to this weekend’s Bears’ game, a 2.00 pm kick off apparently changed to accommodate the World Cup Final that kicks off at 4.00 pm, although I’m guessing the interest in it might have lessened somewhat following England’s disappointing result against Croatia on Wednesday.

Watching the Bears is an odd experience for me.

This will be my fifth or sixth visit to the BPA this season and in all but one the team has had periods of play against much stronger opposition in which they’ve shown real potential, both in defence and attack.

Although I’m a lifelong fan of union and I don’t have a great knowledge of the Bears’ history, or indeed of the game itself, I know enough to understand they are in a league in which, to some extent, they are having to punch above their weight, as was the case against Bradford Bulls a couple of weeks ago.

A bear in training this week…

And I think what has captured my enthusiasm most is that though they have indeed been punching above their weight in the games I seen this season, to extend the metaphor, they are themselves no punch bag.

For the first 40 minutes of the Bulls’ game, the Bears took the game to the visitors and caused them no end of problems.  In the end, fitness and skill had the final word, but it was a really impressive performance from what is a relatively young and inexperienced side.

It’s hard not to feel a certain pride for a side that plays with such heart and commitment despite being dealt something of an unfair hand at times. And the same is true of the coaches, too, who must at times despair if they ever  stop and think about the resources available to some of the other teams in this league.

The players and coaches will have taken great heart from that performance against the Bulls and the confidence it will have instilled in the team must surely have been an important factor in the 20-24 win away to Skolars last weekend.

A run of 14 consecutive defeats is bound to test the mental strength of any side. The fact that the Bears have had some encouraging moments in those games is of little consequence when you look at the table and see your team struggling towards the foot of the table.

But head’s have never dropped, at least not from during the games I’ve so enjoyed of late.

The win last weekend was an important one for the Bears and possibly one that could kick start the remainder of the season. In a league one could realistically split into three distinct ‘mini leagues’, the Skolars must have been a side the Bears are targeting, a test of just how much they club has improved in recent weeks. Coach Tom Tsang would be hoping for a strong Bears’ performance on the back of the Bulls’ game…

…and that is exactly what they seemed to have got.

And the Bear’s win against the Skolars, coming back as they did from 14-0 down, says a great deal about the character of this young side. What makes it especially impressive is that whilst the bottom three teams, Bears, Hemel Stags and West Wales Raiders, have all conceded a shed load of points London Skolars, by comparison, are rather more parsimonious in terms of their defensive record with a far smaller points difference than the teams below them.

Games against the Stags and West Wales Raiders in the next few weeks present the Bears with a great opportunity of closing the gap on 11th place and, with 11 games left, that’s surely the target that Tom Tsang will be aiming for over the rest of the season.

So for me, someone who has watched the Bears over the last few weeks against much stronger opposition on a playing field that is anything but level, the game against the Stags, the team one place below them in the league, should be far more of an equal contest. The Bears will be relishing it rather more than the Stags I imagine, given their last few encouraging performances.

Played Team Games Won Drawn Lost PF PA PD Points
11 London Skolars 16 4 1 11 424 551 -127 9
12 Coventry Bears 15 2 0 13 186 720 -534 4
13 Hemel Stags 16 1 0 15 186 804 -618 2
14 West Wales Raiders 15 0 0 15 100 1240 -1140 0

On any normal weekend following a record crowd at the BPA at the last home game and after a fantastic win away from home against a side above them in the table, you’d expect another decent crowd on Sunday.  I hope so as the team deserves a good welcome home after picking up that away win last weekend.

However, with the World Cup Final kicking off just 20 minutes after the game, the numbers attending might well be down, although I’m assuming the game will be shown live in the clubhouse immediately afterwards.

I’ve really come to enjoy watching the Bears this season and at the risk of upsetting any Cov supporters who might be reading this, I have to say the atmosphere generated at the games by both the home and away support is as good as anything I’ve seen at Cov over the last few years.

The numbers may be smaller, but the humour and willingness to encourage and show respect to both teams is that much greater.

Yes, Cov’s last game of the season against Hull Ionians saw 3700 odd supporters packed into the ground, but the mood during the game (as opposed to the celebrations after it!) was but nothing in comparison to that which I saw when the Bears threatened to cause an upset against the Bulls in those opening 30 minutes of the last home game.

I could only sit and admire the several hundred Bradford supporters who generated so much noise and energy throughout the game and who were so supportive of the Bears on the final whistle.

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Hopefully it will be another warm day.

I happened to pop over to the BPA on Thursday to drop off a rugby ball to be signed, hopefully, by the CRC players and presented as one of the prizes at the Family Day on the 28th…

…and I hasten to add, that’s not as generous as it sounds. The ball was one I’d won in a competition run by Greene King, so it involved no cost on my part.  I’d be loathe for anyone to think I was becoming somewhat munificent in my old age.

The point of my mentioning the visit to the BPA isn’t as obscure as it might seem – I had a quick look through the gate just to see what how the pitch was looking.

Brown and somewhat scorched probably best describes it – there’s still some green visible, but the effects of many days without any rain certainly have taken its toll and it’s bound to be extremely hard underfoot and probably something of a dust bowl as well.

Just how that will impact on the game, I’m not sure, but it’s made for some fast open rugby providing the weather holds.

Can’t wait…

Come on you Bears!

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  • For the sake of blog-istic integrity, I did a little extra research after writing this to determine whether bears do actually growl or roar.

It seems it’s a question that has been asked many times before and there is no definitive answer, although the following clip of a bear ‘growling’ does sound more like a roar in all honesty:

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JJ Cales’ Death i the Wilderness

A serious note on which to end a less than serious post…

and perhaps, metaphorically at least, a song that also best expresses why it’s so important that clubs like Coventry Bears, Hemel Stags and West Wales Raiders are given the time and resources to consolidate at this level.

Otherwise, rather like the animals mentioned in the lyrics of Cale’s song:

Who’s looking out for the wilder side
It will soon all be gone
You can tell it won’t be long
We’ll find the wilderness has died

 

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