Like A Virgin…Cornish Pirates…Leinster…Ask not what you can do for your club…
I made it through the wilderness
Somehow I made it through
Didn’t know how lost I was
Until I found you
I was beat
I’d been had, I was sad and blue
But you made me feel
Yeah, you made me feel
Shiny and new
Madonna – Like A Virgin
Madge is 366 days older than me, and whilst I celebrated my 59th birthday yesterday, Madonna is celebrating her 60th today.
Happy birthday to the Queen of Pop.
The choice of song to accompany today’s post was always going to be an easy one in that the artist just had to be Madonna, given just how significant today is for her.
And ‘Like a Virgin‘ fits in perfectly with what is currently happening at Cov, especially in terms of the impact the changes are having on those Cov supporters who are long enough in the tooth to remember the song when it was first released back in 1984.
At long last we do seem to have ‘made it through the wilderness‘, a period in the club’s history during which many of us were indeed ‘sad and blue‘.
The feeling we are currently experiencing could well be compared to those felt by the singer herself…touched for the very first time.
We really are all shiny and new again.
And it feels fantastic.
Cornish Pirates play Exeter Chiefs tomorrow evening.
As rugby rivalries go, I reckon it must be one of the more intense, despite the geographical distance between them – 110 miles to be exact.
Hardly surprising then that it’s created a fair bit of interest down in the south-west these past few weeks.
So much so, in fact, that the game was a sell out a while back.
According to the Cornish Pirates website, their ground has a capacity of some 4,000, including seating for 2,200. With so many supporters from both teams packed into the ground, it’s obvious it’s going to be heaving down at Mennaye Field and it should make for an incredible atmosphere which probably won’t be bettered in any pre-season ‘friendly’ anywhere else in the country.
And one of the reasons for that is that despite Exeter topping the Premiership table last season (but missing out to Saracens in the final), Cornish Pirates are only charging £13 admission.
According to the notice on the Pirates’ website:
Those with tickets will be looking forward to the occasion, when the club’s new retail shop will also be open from 6pm. Sited near the clubhouse corner of the ground a wide range of apparel will be on sale, including the club’s new kit being unveiled on the night.
Pirates are clearly well-organised and with the sell-out crowd, the club must be hoping for a bumper pay day not just as far as food and drink are concerned, but also sales from club merchandise.
Fair play to them, too.
Coventry v Wasps doesn’t have the same historical rivalry as that of the Pirates v Exeter game, but to many Cov fans the feelings such a fixture engenders is going to be just as intense.
Not just rivalry.
To some, a bitter rivalry.
With a similar ground capacity to Pirates, I wonder if next week’s attendance at the BPA will be something approaching that of tomorrow’s encounter.
And if not, just how much a factor will be the substantially increased cost of watching the game at £20?
I’m not great at maths, but by my reckoning that’s a 53% increase on the admission price at Pirates.
And that’s all I’m saying on that, promise.
Maybe I’m just being somewhat of a pessimist and it is actually going to be a capacity crowd, or something close to it, in which case what an afternoon that will be.
Even better if Wasps play in their new kit.
No club in my humble opinion should play with a yellow streak (or two ) across its shirt; that’s just asking for problems at some stage in the season.
If Cov play in their away shirt as well, it could provide folk like me with an absolute field day – although in fairness whilst I might well be a little biased here, Cov’s red and gold effort is far more appealing on the eye…
But before the Wasps’ game, there’s the small matter of Leinster to contend with.
I’ve no idea what to expect from the Dublin-based side really, other than this is the club that won the European Rugby Champions’ Cup last season and is the most successful Irish team domestically.
Just how strong a side we’ll face on Saturday has yet to be seen, but if the hope is that it will be something approaching the strength of the Leinster Academy side that reached the final of the British and Irish Cup last season (that was certainly the request as I understand it from Cov), well it’s going to be a big step up from playing what was a pretty ordinary Moseley side just seven days ago.
Rowland Winter has yet to name his squad, but I’m sure there will be a reduction in the 32 announced for the game last weekend. If we are true to form it will be much closer to the 25 or 26 we’ve taken over to Jersey in the last couple of seasons – the budget alone probably necessitates a significant decrease in the numbers?
For those selected for the trip to Leinster, it is a real chance to stake a claim for the clash with Wasps’ next week, with one-eye already on a place in the 22 man squad for that opening Championship game against Jersey in just two weeks’ time.
With Tim Bitirim, Will Flinn and Louis Roach having played mid-week, I imagine we’re unlikely to see them involved on Saturday, as well as a couple of the squad last weekend who picked up injuries, including Nile Dacres. Another injury to the second row means we’ll be a little short in that department as George Oram doesn’t appear to be training with the others as yet?
Further players coming in, perhaps…
It might be that news coming out of Energia Park is in rather short supply on Saturday, so if anyone is eager to know how things are progressing, then I’ll be ‘tweeting’ as usual on @CowshedTim. I’m not sure whether Cov will be offering their usual Twitter service, although I imagine some updates will appear via the Messageboard.
An early start tomorrow and a long weekend with Sue in Dublin should make for a really enjoyable mini-break, especially meeting up with Sam and Susie for the game itself.
A decent performance from Cov on top of that would certainly be the icing on the cake and add even more spice to the Wasps game that is so eagerly awaited by so many.
I’m struggling to think of a post, or part post, I’ve written in the last 3 years which is about anything other than rugby.
However, to finish this one, I thought I’d highlight an article that appears in today’s ‘The Times’ which features an act of kindness by the Chief Executive of Barnsley FC which you’d like to think might lead to more clubs doing something similar.
Too often these days, rugby club (in particular) chairmen and executives are asking what supporters can do to further promote their clubs, whether it be through bringing family members along, acting as sponsors or helping out at match days.
Rarely do clubs look to see what they can do to help their own supporters…
For sure, clubs are all about community cohesion; often grants depend on them getting involved in schools or the wider community, but helping out supporters in their hour of need, well that doesn’t happen too often.
Unless you’re a supporter of Barnsley Football Club that is.
Take Chris Ryder for instance. Chris regularly uses social media, and especially Twitter, to discuss his team’s ups and downs but recently he had also hinted that he’d been going through some dark times as a result of anxiety and depression.
Chris Ryder’s tweets were picked up by the club’s head of press relations who was just trawling through social media responses from Barnsley’s impressive following just to ‘see what’s happening with fans‘.
Clearly that got back to Barnsley Chief Exec. Gauthier Ganaye who then took the time and trouble to write the following letter to Chris:
Recognising Chris’ plight and acknowledging how courageous it was of him to publicise his mental health problems over social media, the Barnsley CE decided to get back to him and offer him whatever support he could, writing that his ‘office door is always open‘ and that:
You’ve been a fan of the club for many years and always supported us, so we want you to know that if the favour needs returning and we need to support you, we will
As the paper points out, it is a simple gesture but one that has clearly had a profound effect on Chris R and given him a huge boost in confidence and self-esteem. To feel that valued, recognised as a person and not merely as a faceless supporter, has obviously meant a great deal to him…
And Ganaye’s public-spirited gesture is one that has been widely recognised as well, even to the extent of JK Rowling sharing the letter with her 14.4m followers.
And reflecting on the problems faced by Chris Ryder, the writers of the article, Lucy Bannerman and Paul Hirst, are quick to point out that his situation is by no means unique with over a quarter of the population having mental health problems.
Or put another way, the likelihood is that there were 450 or more supporters in the crowd at any home game last season who suffered from mental health issues. And that is a deeply disturbing statistic.
Most people reading today’s post will be aware of friends or work colleagues who have struggled with mental illness, or even fallen victim to it themselves. To see it addressed in this way is really heartening, especially in an era where supporters are expected to contribute more and more to the well-being of the club, rather than the reverse.
Cov certainly do their bit for local charities, with sleepovers for the homeless and the raising of money for Zoe’s Place (anyone else intending to take part, I hope to see you there) just a small part of what the club iscurrently involved in:
The same is true of many other clubs across the land, I’m sure.
However, it is rare to see individual supporters looked after in this way, and, for that, Barnsley definitely deserve a big thumbs up.
I do believe Cov to be a far more supporter-friendly club than some with a number of fans suffering physical and mental problems being well looked after on a match day. However, Barnsley’s approach takes such care to another level and maybe all clubs should take the time to line themselves up with a leading charity, either local or national, such as Barnsley is with MIND. Advertising a charity (including on the kit itself) or raising money for local concerns through bucket collections or sponsored events is one thing and both are clearly going to heighten local awareness which can only be a good thing.
However, actively supporting those amongst your own fan base is quite another and for people like Chris Ryder it could even be a life-changing, decision.
It really could make all the difference.
Nice one, Barnsley FC.
Nice one Gauthier Ganaye.
To misquote JFK – maybe it’s not just a case of asking what you can do for your club, it’s as much about asking what your club can do for you…
Mutuality and reciprocity…
If ever they could be achieved, the world would be a far happier place.
So Happy Birthday, Madonna…
Hard not to feel shiny and new when you hear this:
Lucky gondolier is all I can say…