Saturday as a PR exercise…Sky at Cov…is the mood of supporters changing?
The night we met
The night that I won’t forget
You seemed what I’d been waiting for
But baby, I’ve been wrong before
I see your face
And feel your warm embrace
You’re all that I adore
But baby, I’ve been wrong before
Dusty Springfield – I’ve Been Wrong Before
Saturday was such an important day for the club and whilst it was mission accomplished as far as the result was concerned, I’m not altogether sure how successful the day was as a PR exercise.
With Sky cameras there it was a chance for Jon Sharp and the Board to showcase the Coventry, to emphasise it is a club very much on the up, intent on creating a package that would be competitive not just at this level but ultimately in the Premiership as well.
I’m sure Jon Sharp will have done his bit well enough in front of the cameras, he’s always come across well when I’ve heard him speak. But what of the rest of the coverage?
As a game, it wasn’t the greatest of spectacles, although with both sides poor on the day it was a close encounter that ensured both steams were still in with a chance until the final few minutes so it was probably exciting to watch even for the neutrals..
As an advert for Championship rugby though, perhaps it wasn’t the ideal game to have televised from a Cov perspective. Any of Cov’s previous 4 home games, including the loss to London Irish, would have made far better viewing and shown Cov to be rather more competitive at this level. No, Cov didn’t particularly do themselves justice out on the pitch…
…but at least they won.
Cov were the better side in the end and for the neutrals watching, Cov gave a reasonable account of themselves even if the rugby on display on Saturday wasn’t of the highest quality.
Problems with the scoreboard took a while to sort out and even after kick off, it still wasn’t functioning properly. A shame that, because in recent weeks the club has responded to supporters’ suggestions and added a countdown clock, making it far more fan-friendly. Fortunately, someone’s hard work eventually paid off and it wasn’t too long into the game that the gremlins disappeared and the scoreboard was fully functional, but if the cameras picked up on it, it won’t have looked great. All credit to the tekkie who sorted it out, he must have been under a far bit of pressure there.
And then there was the microphone malfunction at the end of the game when Jon Sharp presented Max Trimble (Max Trimble?) with the sponsors’ Man of the Match award -again, for a club looking to put on a show for the cameras, well it wasn’t what they’d have been hoping for. Jon Sharp seemed to take it all in his stride, but he can’t have been overly happy at that point.
And odd decision to make Max T the Man of the Match, I thought. The sponsors’ award sometimes throws up the occasional anomaly and, for me anyway, this was one such occasion. No criticism of Max at all, he took his try well but Andy Bulumakau’s vision and deft chip through deserved a greater acknowledgement than the finish itself and Andy’s all-round performance on the day I thought was a more effective one than Max’s.
However, neither would have been my personal choice of MotM. That would have been between Adam Peters or George Oram. It’s a shame the club don’t give supporters the opportunity to vote at every home game via the club website. When I used to run Man of the Match polls on the blog there were a couple of hundred voting every week by the end and it often threw up a different winner to the one chosen by the sponsors.
The top three each week could earn points that would contribute to a final end of season award…
The crowd of 1999 was a pretty decent one I thought. Not much under the average of 2226 which was inflated somewhat by the 2943 who attended the home game against London Irish. Sitting fairly centrally in the main stand, it didn’t really feel like a 2000 crowd, although it appears a number of supporters chose to watch the game in the clubhouse which might have reduced the noise levels a little.
There were a couple of moments in the game when the crowd burst into life, but it wasn’t exactly a game to shout about and I thought it lacked a little atmosphere, despite the presence of the cameras. Against the bottom-of-the-table side and in what were some pretty miserably conditions, it was a decent effort from the supporters but it’s a shame Sky didn’t witness the crowd respond as it sometimes does when the game is a little more entertaining and exciting.
Still, the main stand was pretty full as this photo from John Coles shows:
and with the main cameras opposite, it must have looked fairly impressive.
And the two ends weren’t totally empty as they sometimes can be even with larger crowds:
Fortunately, the groundsman has worked his magic on the pitch and it looked in really good nick but for some clear wear around what would be the goalmouths when Coventry United are at home. Otherwise it looked extremely lush, well done Eric Richardson and his team.
When we first arrived, a good couple of hours before the game kicked off, Sky’s presence was all too obvious, with plenty of cameramen and technicians around the pitch and the big vans dominating the parking area behind the far side of the ground. (The huge, white lorry in the main carpark (see below) left well before the game).
However, it was surprising how quickly you got used to them being there and during the game I don’t think I was conscious of them at all.
The catering van proved popular in the build up to the game, mainly serving much needed cups of coffee on what was a cold and breezy afternoon.
I’ve no idea how many Sky crew were involved in televising the game but what with the presenters, technicians, cameramen and production team, it must have numbered a goodly number.
It might be just me, but in the last couple of weeks far more supporters seem to be publicly voicing concerns about what’s happening out on the pitch than we’ve seen at any time since Rowland Winter joined Cov in June 2016.
It’s not yet criticism that’s direct at one person as such, but after 9 Championship games this season the honeymoon period is well and truly over and rightly supporters are questioning the inconsistencies both in terms of results and performance, especially because the same concerns keep cropping up week after week with little sign of progress.
And that’s as it should be.
But it will be interesting to see how the coaches, and indeed players, respond to this should it continue; the pressure will only increase if performances don’t improve. The Messageboard has made for some really interesting reading these last few days, with plenty of thoughtful and insightful posts which are sometimes critical but, encouragingly, not unfairly so.
Frustrations amongst supporters are clearly showing, with the same comments being made weekly now. What is particularly noticeable this week though is that no one has given the coaches the dreaded vote of confidence or even suggested that in time they’ll turn things round.
I’m sure that most supporters believe they will, but for the first time this season there’s more than just isolated criticism directed not only at decisions regarding selection, but also what the coaches are asking of the players. It’s all very reasoned and there’s some balance too, but it reads as if most supporters are beginning to look beyond the players now towards the management of the team.
And that’s not been the case before – but that is very much a personal viewpoint.
Maybe I’m misreading it, but this seems to be the first week on the Messageboard where no one has overtly expressed complete faith that things will improve. That faith might well be there, but if it is it’s now implicit rather than explicit.
Is the mood shifting a little? Is there a feeling now amongst some supporters that progress is going to be a lot more challenging in this league than was at first thought. With 4 losses away from home, a reassessment is fair enough. What most supporters appear to be disappointed about, and here I would include myself, is the apparent lack of progress being made in recent weeks. We’ve won two of the last four, against Scottish and now Yorkshire Carnegie, but in none of the games have we looked convincing.
Were we to be playing Bedford and Jersey in the next couple of weeks, rather than as was the case at the start of the season, would the outcomes be the same? Have we progressed as much as they obviously have and are we playing well enough to provide the same sort of challenges, even at the BPA? Probably an unfair question, but I ask it only to question whether we are progressing at the same rate as the more established teams in this league. Indeed, is the gap between the form shown by ourselves and the bottom team in the league a lot less than it was?
Cov have done really well to end up on 21 points. Really well, and certainly most of us would have settled for that during pre-season BUT when the Championship campaign starts again in December in the first 5 games we face Nottingham, Doncaster (H), Pirates (H), Bedford, Hartpury (H) and Irish. Some tough games there even at home and Cov will need to have moved on from where they currently are if they are to remain competitive.
It’s going to be an interesting few weeks for the coaches now. Rowland Winter did a fantastic job at winning the hearts and minds of supporters when he first arrived at the club and even when we struggled before Christmas in 2016, supporters were extremely patient.
As they are now.
But that patience looks to be wearing thinner by the week. Whilst it won’t be a completely new situation for any of the coaches, it will be an unfamiliar one for them at Cov and as we saw under Scott Morgan and particularly Phil Maynard, that patience isn’t inexhaustible.
The forthcoming cup games offer the coaches the chance to experiment a little, to bring in players from the full squad who might not have played a great deal and have a decent look at them and also to blood some more of the Development Academy and to see how they fair in what would be a big step up for them. RW has gone on record as saying he’s out to get as far as he can in the competition, but presumably he will be also looking to use new players and experiment with some different combinations, so that will take a bit of marrying up.
A good time for a fans’ forum perhaps…?
Some reflections on the opening 9 games and a look forward to the cup competition. He takes such meetings in his stride and it would be a great opportunity to allay some of the worries that are beginning to be aired publicly.
I imagine that whilst there’s been a constant pressure on the coaches and players over the last couple of seasons, what they are currently be experiencing must be as great as anything they’ve so far had to cope with.
Even after another win on Saturday, that pressure hasn’t lessened at all, in fact it seems to have increased judging by the various threads and posts on the Messageboard, all of which have been entirely reasonable.
No ‘rant’ from me this time round, then :).
Hopefully, the cup competition will be a temporary release from the intensity of the Championship itself, a chance for everyone to regroup and reassess. But the Nottingham fixture is just 54 days away now (Nottingham have a counter on their website before anyone says anything) and last Friday’s result shows exactly what they are capable of doing if the opposition aren’t quite on their game.
I still believe Cov will get stronger as we go into the new year – as that’s been the case in the last two seasons and because that’s what we’ve been told toexpect. But the opposition this time round are much, much stronger and it’s going to get even tougher after Christmas, so the coaches and players have to ensure the progress the squad makes in these coming weeks is more rapid than most other teams in the Championship.
Otherwise we could get left behind.
Some news about the blog in the next post.
Are we seeing the beginnings of a shift in the mood of supporters?
It seems that way to me.
But then again, ‘I’ve been wrong before’…
This one is definitely for Sue.
There’s no video of Dusty Springfield singing ‘I’ve Been Wrong Before‘ so underneath the audio version I’ve included Elvis Costello’s version recorded on Later With Jools Holland.