Trying hard now
it’s so hard now
trying hard now
Getting strong now
won’t be long now
getting strong now
Gonna fly now
flying high now
gonna fly, fly, fly
Bill Conti – Gonna Fly Now
Bet that’s being played in a fair few gyms across the country right now as pre-season training draws to a close.
Having been a little critical of some of Cov’s social media output in the first couple of weeks, I have to hold my hand up and admit I’ve been really impressed with much of the CRTV footage that the club has been providing for the benefit of us supporters of late.
The interviews with players and coaches have been both interesting and informative, offering us an insight into pre-season preparations that we haven’t had access to in the past.
And for the first time, I’ll actually be able to put names to faces well before the first pre-season friendly – usually it’s often September before I can recognise all the new players with any real confidence.
I see from a John Coles’ tweet that he’s been in this week taking the players’ photos. It’s great news that John is involved again – I thought his photos were a revelation last season. Hopefully the club will make more of them this year.
Since the beginning of August alone, there have already been 6 CRTV interviews released with Tom Branston also providing a slightly abbreviated transcript of each one alongside the video recording.
To have so much material coming out of the club already shows what a great move it was to opt for a full-time Media and Communications Manager and Tom Branston has clearly settled into the role already.
Whilst I prefer to watch the player/coach interviews via the website or through YouTube, I know there are those who prefer to read a written version. To make both available shows how sensitive the club is to its supporters.
Even if it’s a case of five missing Portacabins…
Even if it’s a case of five missing Portacabins…
Of the most recent interviews, I think Darren Dawidiuk’s was the most enjoyable for me. He seemed to a permanent smile on his face and it’s clear from what he said just how much he is relishing the new challenges that his recent move to Cov has brought him.
It would have been easy to focus on his past and his recovery from a serious illness, but as interesting as that is, Tom B concentrates purely on rugby-related matters which is exactly as it should be.
And what I enjoyed most about DD’s comments was that he was so honest an open, especially in terms of the facilities that Cov have in comparison to some of the clubs he’s been at.
No one else thus far has really been as direct, and in that sense it’s really refreshing to hear someone refer to things ‘being a little different here’ and:
…it’s a bit old school in the gym. It’s a bit Rocky 1, but I like that. It has got a bit of character.
For me, nothing really changes with my attitude towards training and to be fair to all of the lads here, they all train hard, work hard and they don’t moan about anything…
I really like that approach – there’s no point hiding from the fact that whilst we do at least have a gym of our own now, it’s hardly hi-tech and even some National One sides last season had better facilities (including Moseley’s, sad to say!).
That’s all going to change in the next couple of season’s but at least Darren D isn’t kidding anyone – what we have is basic, but it’s not an issue at all when the players’ attitudes are so focused.
And of course we also have Max Hartman who:
is running us into the ground, but we need to get that into the legs and we have some great unit sessions and team sessions as well
A little spartan the gym might be, but in the film Rocky 1 Balboa, very much the underdog, ultimately triumphs.
So Ealing and London Irish, the Apollo Creeds of the Championship, had better not take Dawidiuk and his team mates for granted – it clear from what he says that they do so at their peril.
Dawidiuk is also the first person I’ve heard mention the impact that Boris Stankovich’s return is already having this season:
What he is bringing in is hopefully going to put us up there with the top scrummaging teams in the league and that is what you need in the Championship, you need a good set piece…
Having represented Gloucester 138 times in the Premiership, he’ll know better than most just how good a scrum Cov are likely to have, so it’s heartening to hear him speak so positively.
And with the experience of Gibbons, Beech and Boulton to pack alongside him, together with the likes of young Luc Jeannot, who by all accounts has a promising future ahead of him in the game, it all looks very encouraging.
We matched Jersey Reds in the set piece in both of the pre-season friendlies over the last two seasons, so there’s no reason we shouldn’t cause a few surprises up front this season, especially as we seem to have recruited so well.
Interesting, too, that he also mentions just how important it is to have Boris:
..around for the young looseheads because they can pick his brains and learn a lot from him
I say interesting because in National One Boris was talked about as being invaluable across the whole front row, but for an ex-Premiership play like Dawidiuk, loosehead and tight head are two very different, very specialist positions in their own right. As well as benefitting from Boris’ input as a scrum coach, maybe there are times when guidance from a seasoned tighthead is required for those playing at 3 as well.
Perhaps one of the reasons why Jimmy Litchfield struggled a little last season was that whilst he was versatile enough to play on both sides of the scrum, he wasn’t regarded as a specialist in either position, at least not at Championship level…?
It’s clear that DD isn’t taking anything for granted and he knows that competition for the No 2 shirt is going to be intense, with both Scott Tolmie and Phil Nilsen pushing him hard.:
…I understand there is going to be a lot of competition between us but that is what we are all looking forward to in training
Strength in such depth gives us a real advantage…
Interviews like the one with Darren Dawdiuk give spectators a welcome insight into pre-season and I do feel I know more about the players and about pre-season training than I would ever have done in the past.
Looking around the ground on Sunday before the Bears’ game against Doncaster, it was evident that Cov are busy getting ready for the new season with a few alterations/changes to the ground already evident.
One of the most obvious is the change to some of advertising around the ground, with the removal of boards/hoardings that were familiar sights in National One and the addition of several new ones:
As can be seen above, the signs advertising KES Lighting, for instance, have been removed and it’s now Askews that adorns each internal end of the main stand, together with Classic Alarms at the changing rooms end.
To be honest, I had no idea that Askews is a firm of chartered accountants until I ‘googled’ the name…sorry, Askews, but there’s some free advertising in return for my self-confessed ignorance.
Above the hospitality rooms there are now 4 largeradverts, one of which is for Countrywide, the company that sponsors the official team shirts.
With the presence of Sky cameras being a big incentive for companies willing to advertise at the BPA this season, I’m sure we’ll be seeing much more in the way of ground advertising in the coming weeks. I presume the electronic advertising around the pitch (or at least opposite the main stand) will also be fully functional by September, together with some advertising featuring regularly on the Elonex scoreboard, too.
The carpark also appears to have had some work done to it, with the potholes now filled in so that the drive into the main parking area is a relative smooth one.
I admit that I am fairly unobservant at the best of times and it was Sam who first noticed this…had he not done so, I think I might have missed it altogether. However, it was something that definitely needed doing, so a big thumbs up to the club for that.
The other change is an odd one and I think I might have got myself confused somewhat, so if anyone knows any more about it, please do leave a comment…
…in recent weeks a Public Notice concerning a ‘Minor Variation of Premises Licence’ has appeared at various several strategic points around the ground.
Now I’ve heard no mention of it made elsewhere, other than from Paul I directing my attention to it a couple of weeks ago.
He also sent me a photo of said notice, but unfortunately it wasn’t clear enough to read with confidence so I took one of my own at the Bears’ game.
And to be fair, mine’s not much of an improvement.
However, the Notice does clearly state that the application is to:
Remove five licensed Portacabins from the licensed area.
Unless, I’m missing something, that would suggest the intention is to do away with 5 of the portacabins around the pitch, including probably those at the railway end, the one by the stand on the far side and maybe even the one that doubles as a club shop/bar by the turnstiles as well.
And if that is the case, then that begs the question as to what, if anything, will be put in their place next season? Will alcohol be available anywhere in the ground other than in the clubhouse? I’m sure the answer will be a resounding ‘Yes’, but it’s one of those occasions, far rarer these days, when a bit of communication between club and supporters would be particularly helpful.
Given that nothing can happen until after 31st August, things are going to have to be put in place after the season starts which probably isn’t ideal, although with fewer home fixtures this season, work on the ground might well be easier to fit in without undue disruption to match days, at least for the first team anyway.
One of the major frustrations supporters have highlighted over the last few seasons is the time spent queueing for drinks before, during and after a game. Presumably, the removal of the Portacabins is to enable a different, more effective, system for the selling of alcohol around the ground to be put in place, but with no mention as to plans/proposals, it’s all a bit confusing at the moment.
I just hope an alternative system is made available sooner rather than later as it’s sure to create some ill-feeling otherwise.
The only other explanation I can come up with is that the Portacabins are being removed in order to start Phase 2 of the alterations to the ground:
Most likely, development of the ground will be over three main phases:
- an artificial surface at a cost of £1.5m, to include low level lighting and an irrigation system. There would also need to be additional changing rooms including those for women, children and the disabled – although as I read it, these would be part of that £1.5m spend. From what was said during the course of the evening I got the distinct impression that the plan is for the pitch to be ready for next September (2019);
- at the railway end a second stand would be built, to include additional bar and hospitality areas;
- a larger stand at the city end would finally be erected to also incorporate perhaps a hotel and/or apartments (and shops, I think?)
A couple of display boards were available (see below) showing what this could look like, although again this is the extreme scenario and is dependent on monies which, as of now, are not available.
That’s a pure guess on my part…but it would make sense, especially as it’s hoped that all three phases will be completed inside the next 24 months???
Whatever the reason, it does look as if the ground will look a good deal different in just a few weeks’ time. Even if it’s just 5 missing Portacabins.
Many thanks to Phil Crossman on 2 accounts:
a) Just for reading the blog in the first place!
b) For providing the explanation behind the Notices:
Re the licence notices, last year we got our licence changed to be a blanket notice for the whole pitch area. Previously each outlet had its own individual licence. Portacabins will be there for next season- along with some improvements in the way the bar is operated – including a new till system, card and contact less payments . Aim is to reduce wait time- so better queuing system, better staff organisation and pre pouring at half time and post match. All should be in place for the Jersey game.
So far from being a concern, it turns out this is a really positive move and Cov has in actual fact made great strides in terms of applying a modern, technological solution to an age-old problem.
Full marks to everyone involved on that front, I’m sure its news that will be extremely well- received.
A thanks again , Phil, for clearing that up…
It’s very much appreciated.
Okay, Eye of the Tiger might have been better, certainly in terms of the lyrics which would fit in well with Darren Dawidiuk’s personal battles:
Risin’ up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance, now I’m back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive
It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watchin’ us all with the eye of the tiger
But the song is at the heart of Rocky III, so it would be cheating somewhat to include it.
So I’ve gone for the theme to Rocky I.
After all, it’s what pre-season is all about for the players, surely: