Cambridge on Saturday…

The day the dream went right back to base
There was blood on the ground
Blood on the sand
Blood all around
Tracks of the ride of the bright murder hawk
The day the dream debased and went home
And the people did mill to those adrenaline rails

The Fall – Disney’s Dream Debased

Even before the arrival of Rowland Winter, Cambridge’s ground was always one of the more enjoyable to visit.

However, since his arrival at Cov and presumably partly out of the great respect his former club still hold for the man who helped them gain promotion to National One the season before he joined us, Cov supporters have been made especially welcome at Volac Park.

In recent season’s Cov have had the upper hand in terms of results and, as yet, RW has yet to lose to his former club.

And that’s very likely the kiss of death…

…apologies in advance.

Equally though, I can well remember a time when Cov struggled against Cambridge and as far back as October 2010, in what was Coventry’s first season back in National One following their relegation that April, Coventry were humbled 43-22.

Surprisingly given the club’s resources , that season Cambridge finished an impressive 3rd.

Coventry managed 8th.

The game that day won’t hold particularly happy memories for Heath Stevens who was playing at 13. Cambridge had Tom Wheatcroft and Rob Hurrell in their side, together with a young Dan Mugford who is now plying his tradeback at Plymouth.

Cambridge’s fortunes ebbed and flowed for a couple of seasons after that until Winter was appointed Director of Rugby and did with them what he was later to do at Coventry.

Bit of a Midas touch really.

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(As an aside, Mugford has spoken candidly about his depression following his departure from Sale and his subsequent attempts to take his own life.

His is a moving story but one that should provide inspiration to other youngsters who struggle to come to terms with feelings of rejection when the dream of a possible life-changing contract with a Premiership club suddenly turns into a nightmare. (Dan Mugford – The Rugby Paper).

The article attached is certainly well worth a read.)

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From Rowland Winter’s post-Blackheath comments, it looks as if Cov will be taking a squad of 28-30 down to Cambridge, which probably means we’ll see a game of two halves, with 2 distinct teams for the two 40 minute spells to ensure everyone gets a decent run out. With National One fixtures starting the following week, this is Cov’s last chance for a competitive test for 3 weeks so hence the larger than normal travelling squad.

Cambridge are hosting two games on Saturday, so it looks also looks likely that Cov will be facing as close to their first team as injuries allow. First on is Peterborough at 1.00 pm, followed by Cov at 3.00 pm, so Cambridge too will be looking to give their full squads a final check before they face The Rams (formerly Redingensians) in their National One opener on 7th September.

And yes, I know nothing about them either.

Whilst I’d much rather see Cov field a normal match day squad of 22 in the last of our pre-season friendlies, it’s hardly surprising that the coaches have opted to travel with a larger contingent of players, As a supporter, it does make for a slightly more disjointed game with so many changes necessitated but at least we get to see a number of the youngsters for a second week running – and I thought one or two of them excelled last week.

Playing side by side with Coventry’s most senior players will surely be one of the highlights in their rugby careers so far. With the opportunity to get themselves in the spotlight and play in front of the likes of Winter, Walshe, Deacon and Allen, they’ll be desperate to see their names on the team sheet.

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It would be remiss of me at this point not to give a big shout out to the Supporters’ Club again, together with Cambridge Rugby Club.

Between them they have come up with an excellent package for those Cov fans choosing to travel by coach – for just £25 SCC members get return travel, a match day ticket and choice of either a hog roast or lasagne!

It’s a really generous deal and it says much about our hosts that they are so willing to welcome us to their ground. Many thanks in advance to those involved in setting it all up.

It’s hardly surprising that the coach sold out very quickly.

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Despite the 50-24 scoreline last weekend, by all accounts Cambridge acquitted themselves well against a strong Bedford side in front of over 1300 supporters for what was something of a local derby:

Bedford were given a stern test on Friday night…(Bedford – Cambridge – Match Report)

Cambridge appear to have recruited well pre-season and now include former Cov scrum-half Rhodri Adamson who was the youngest member of Rowland Winter’s first Cov squad back in 2016.

Initially, as I recall, he was third choice no 9 behind Pete White and, I think, Sam Grasso but after a couple of injuries to the squad he soon found himself playing fairly regularly, making 17 appearances in all with 7 starts. Since then he’s played a lot of 7s for Jamaica, as well as representing Richmond. I hope he gets a good run at Cambridge because he was much-liked whilst with us and certainly always performed well in a Cov shirt.

Also among Cambridge’s number are former Cov players Ashley Elvers, Jack Green (was he on loan or actually signed?) and Rob Conquest, with Freddie Betteridge and David Langley also registered with them this season. I rather suspect there are more connections between the two sides amongst the players, but I did struggle to find the squad list on their website.

Tim Bitirim, whom Cov signed at the start of last season, had been recruited by Cambridge pre-season only for Yorkshire Carnegie to subsequebntly offer him a contract. and off he went. No comment…it’s all been said already.

It might also be Ross Stewart’s first return to Cambridge with Cov -he took over as DoR from Rowland Winter – I think?!

It should be a thoroughly entertaining afternoon.

With home advantage Cambridge will certainly test Cov and it will be a really good work out for the Championship side. Moseley and Blackheath showed that even though they are a league below us, they’re still more than capable of causing a few surprises. The links between the two sides mean Cambridge will obviously want to impress point and I’m expecting it will be a pretty competitive game. That was certainly the case with Moseley and I can’t envisage Cambridge being any less motivated.

If the home supporters turn out in numbers too, well this is a pre-season banana peel if ever there was one.

So, having ‘bigged’ up Cambridge a little, here’s a clip of one of Coventry’s more emphatic victories against Cambridge in recent years, the home game from November 2016  which Cov won convincingly 55-12. It was Winter’s first game against Cambridge after joining us :

Whatever the result, here’s hoping for an entertaining game in which there are no serious injuries to either squad.

Even so…

…Up the Cov.

Cambridge v Coventry :

The day the dream went right back to base…
Blood on the sand

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A couple of seasons back, I happened to ask in a post just prior to a Cambridge game why it was that Cambridge RUFC was often referred to as ‘Blood and Sand’. As we’re bound to see further the phrase repeated over the next few days, I thought I’d once again shine a light on its origins, as explained to me by JJ Jeffrey, currently Treasurer of Cambridge Rugby Club and someone who has been kind enough to follow the blog from its early days.

The club was founded back in 1923 as a way of honouring the young men (and women) who made the ultimate sacrifice during the First World War, especially those who died fighting ‘on the beaches defending our freedom’.

Blood and Sand.

With the loss of so many young men of rugby playing age during the ’14-’18 conflict, together with the millions who must have suffered appalling injuries, both physical and mental, the pool of players to select from in the early years post 1918 would have been greatly diminished. I rather suspect that the formation of Cambridge RUFC mirrors the growth of the next generation of young men, some of whom might still have been playing around the time of the outbreak of WW2, some 16 years later, as would have been the case with the more established Coventry RFC.

Having mentioned Moseley’s impressive memorial to the fallen last week, here’s yet another reminder of the debt we owe to so many young men and women.

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Once again, many thanks to Dave Duffy for the above photo.  Not much explanation needed here, other than to say there can’t be too much left to do. With Coventry United due to be playing a home game at the BPA in just 8 days time:

then the surface must be going through the very last stages of completion.

If it plays as well as it looks, and I’m sure it will, it will become a real community asset and hopefully provide an excellent return in the serious investment those involved have committed to it.

Can’t wait to see Cov’s play on it.

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The Fall – one of Manchester’s finest. Back in the late 70s and early 80’s they were very much the group to follow if like me, you were into that post-punk, new wave reaction to The Sex Pistols , The Damned and the like. As someone who listened to John Peel most nights, The Fall became an essential part of my record collection, at least the first three albums did. Peel was their most fervent fan…which meant you had to follow them.

But then I got married.

And The Fall?

Well, they fell.

Out of favour, I mean.

(I was going to include an Al Stewart song (he of ‘The Year of the Cat’ fame) that includes the words ‘blood’ and ‘sand’ if only because I once went out with an ex-girl-friend of his, but I then thought better of it.

It might have sounded a bit self-congratulatory.

So I won’t.)

 

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Author: Tim

1 thought on “Cambridge on Saturday…

  1. Was at the BPA last night for the quiz, the pitch looks immaculate close up, a real vivid green and pristine white lines, with the additional bonus being that the posts were up.

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