You gotta play me a tune, sing me a song,
And we can help push life along,
Just you and me, come on and see,
Together we’ll be O.K.
Open the door, open your heart,
And then we’ve got somewhere to start,
Just turn around, look what we’ve found,
Todays a brand new day.
Cannon and Ball – Together We’ll Be OK
I thought it might be interesting to take a brief look at a comparison of Coventry Rugby’s home attendance figures over the last 4 seasons, this being the period since Rowland Winter’s arrival at Coventry.
To put this into some sort of context, for the 10 seasons prior to this period (ie 2006 – 2016), Coventry’s attendances had been pretty much on a downwards spiral, with just 2013/14 and 2014/15 bucking the trend (this includes the final 4 seasons of Coventry Rugby’s previous stay in the Championship).
For those two seasons, Head Coach Phil Maynard had found something of a winning formula. With Will Hurrell, Jacques Le Roux and Mark Kohler in 13/14 and Dan Rundle, Rob Knox and Dom Lespierre in 14/15 scoring freely and Cliffie Hodgson kicking himself into the record books, home attendances increased noticeably.
It wasn’t to last though and in 2015/16 Coventry struggled on the pitch and Maynard was soon to be replaced by the luckless Scott Morgan, with Jon Sharp stepping in to appoint RW for the start of 2016/17.
Season Average Attendance (Season High)
06/07 1530 (1915)
07/08 1366 (3100)
08/09 1397 (3638)
09/10 1218 (2003) – Relegation to National One
10/11 834 (1541)
11/12 1051 (1643)
12/13 857 (1166)
14/15 1506 (2132)
15/16 1152 (1435)
Since then, attendances have steadily increased, so much so that last season Cov averaged almost 1300 more through the turnstiles per game than in that final season under the two Ms.
A lot of that is down to the progress Cov has made on the pitch, the big name players brought into the club in recent seasons and the charismatic nature of Winter himself. The DoR has endeared himself to Cov fans through his ability to communicate with supporters and his willingness to be far more upfront with them than under previous regimes, as has his tendency to act quickly and authoritatively when required.
However, it’s also important to emphasise the work that has been done behind the scenes over these last four seasons to bring back the crowds to the BPA. From the outside looking in, it seems as if the club has developed its marketing almost exponentially, with far greater involvement from sponsors, better use of social media and far better match day facilities than ever before. Those involved deserve plenty of praise, too.
Yes, supporters have been able to watch a far higher standard of rugby these past four seasons, but they have also been able to do so whilst enjoying greatly improved facilities – and that is a sure fire way of developing a degree of brand loyalty that was arguably lacking pre-2016/17.
Since 2016/17 then, there has been a steady increase in attendances at home games, rising from an average of 1263 in that first season to 2446 in the season just ended. With a number of home games lost to Coronavirus, including the potentially very lucrative game against Falcons, as well as those against Ampthill, Hartpury and Jersey, there’s every chance that the 2019/20 figures would have been a good deal higher than 2446, too.
One can only guess at the extent of the damage the premature end to the season has caused to Cov, particularly as the club had done so much to turn around its fortunes, financial and otherwise, in recent years under current Club Chairman, Jon Sharp.
(Many thanks to Sam, again, for supplying the data and for producing some pretty nifty charts to add a visual representation too).
The above chart (Fig 1) clearly shows the upward trend, even if the 19/20 figures are skewed somewhat because of the current pandemic. (The data is for league games only).
The vertical line represents the highest and lowest attendances for each of the four seasons, with 50% of home games falling into the shaded area.
Fig 2The chart above (Fig 2) merely replaces the plotted points with figures.
The above chart (Fig 3) shows attendances game by game, with each colour representing a completed season, making it easy to identify which games were best attended and which least. A handy graphic, this one!
It clearly shows just how large the crowd for the Hull game (in red – April 2018) was compared even to the second most popular (Nottingham – Dec 2019)
For those interested in this sort of data, the above (Fig 4) is a similar representation but for AWAY games only. This demonstrates just how well attended Cov’s home games are, with the trip to Newcastle earlier in the season standing head and shoulders above any other attendance away from home in the last four seasons.
A summary of the above. in figures, being:
As it stands though, the overall curve showing attendance figures these past four seasons (Fig 1) is levelling…
The worry must be that when the embargo is lifted and the new season gets under way, there might well be a sizeable number of supporters uncertain as to how safe it is to be in a large crowd so soon after lockdown.
A lot of Cov supporters are of a goodly age, supporters who might not as yet, as far as they are aware, have been infected by the Coronavirus.
Unless they can be completely sure that there is minimal risk of infection, well loyalty to the club might have to take a back seat for a while.
I’m ‘only’ 60, but being a mild asthmatic, I’ll have to think carefully about an early return to the BPA myself.
As of now, the current lockdown suits me fine, I just don’t want to run the risk of potentially serious complications as a result of being exposed to the virus.
And I don’t think I’ll be alone.
And I guess sponsors might well be rather less willing post-virus to commit their dwindling resources to sporting events, so the knock-on effects are likely to be felt far further afield than simply through the turnstiles. The very fact that Coventry Rugby have felt it necessary to go cap in hand to the general public to get the club through the next few weeks/months suggests that the club is already under huge financial strain.
Worrying times, indeed.
That said, I’ve already bought my season ticket through a donation to the Crowdfunder appeal as it seems to be a particularly good deal (if you haven’t yet contributed and would like to, please click on the link here: Coventry Rugby Crowdfunder Appeal ), so at least the club will benefit even if I don’t feel able to attend the opening few games.
On the other hand perhaps, it might be that a resumption of rugby will see many supporters return in droves, freed from the confines of their homes and eager to participate once again and enjoy the pleasures of competitive rugby.
Cov will need to capitalise on this potential demob fever (hopefully without the temperature and persistent cough) and the earlier announcement that the club will be hosting a Festival of Rugby as soon as the all clear has been given is a very encouraging sign that this is something that is already being looked into.
Nb – total attendances are as follows:
Listening to Radio 5 yesterday evening, it appears that Cannon and Ball are hoping to re-record their signature tune ‘Together We’ll Be OK’, perhaps with Gary Barlow – all proceeds to go to the NHS.
Be warned, the following clip comes with a health warning – once heard, never forgotten…
… at least for the remainder of the day.
As earworms go, this is might be an oldie, but it is also most definitely a goodie…
Just you and me, come on and see,
Together we’ll be O.K.