Interview with a Coventry fan Friday, 31st Aug 2018 10:38 by Col
We're off to Coventry on Saturday and ahead of that trip, we've spoke to a Coventry fan about what's going on at their club, feelings about the owners and thoughts on Dale.
1) Who are you and how long have you supported Coventry for? I’m Josh (@theskyblueway), I’m 22 and I’ve supported city for 11/12 years now. My family moved to the area when I was a kid and my dad took me to a city game after a few years of frequenting the local non-league grounds. It was my first experience of a big stadium and larger atmosphere and as a 10 year old I was immediately hooked. I think it was a 1-1 draw with Charlton and there was a fight in the then telegraph stand due to a group of Charlton fans deciding to set up camp in the home end! Lol
2) What makes supporting Coventry different to supporting any other team? Beyond the obvious recent peculiarities of upping sticks 35 miles away in Northampton for a season, court cases involving rent pay + the local council and having a franchise rugby team swoop in and set up home in our stadium… I think what makes supporting city different to supporting other similar sized clubs is that we are fundamentally a community club. Like other community clubs 9 times out of 10 we tend to opt for local sponsors on our shirts. Even in our Premier League hay day we had Peugeot as our sponsor who were a big part of local industry at the time. The cultural history of the city and the club are very much intertwined too, particularly with music. In Cov you had the two tone and reggae scenes during Thatcher’s 80s with bands like The Specials who looked to ease racial tensions and bring the community together. This was reflected in the terraces at Highfield Road at the time and still is today. I’d like to compare us in that sense to a club like Birmingham City who are just down the road who have a similar vibe on their terraces. Unfortunately, due to our turbulent recent history on and off the pitch this vibe is perhaps less prevalent than it once was, particularly at home games, but the community feeling is still very much there for big away games and away games in general. We take big numbers away from home, in part, due to large numbers opting to stay away from the Ricoh due to the fractious relationship with the owners.
3) What’s the state of play with your owners SISU? Before I answer this I’m not by any means a spokesperson from an official supporters’ group. However, from my personal perspective as a regular fan I must admit that the status quo is quite blurred and confusing at the moment. I think that the first promotion in nearly 50 years has helped to distract fans from what’s going on off the pitch, which may sound fickle to some, but for club and city that has been starved of success for such a long time we’re allowed a moment in the sun in my eyes. There are still a lot of problems off the pitch and the relations between owners and fans is still very toxic. There’s a lot of wounds that will probably never heal. We still haven’t secured our future at the Ricoh Arena and there’s inevitable court cases on the horizon. The local council are just as much to blame for this whole mess in my opinion, but that’s something that isn’t really known to neutrals and opposition fans. The council have been rotten from start to finish, and the EFL too. There’s so many layers here and it’s a very complicated situation. It’s difficult for fans to comprehend and understand.
4) It would appear from the outside that Coventry fans have stopped short of the full boycott that other teams’ fans have done in similar circumstances. Why’s that? I assume you’re referencing Blackpool and like and their protests? Yes, I’ll admit Blackpool, for example, have been much more spectacular in the height of their protests, most notably when only a few thousand turned up for their play-off final compared to a much larger following from us. I can’t deny that might look fickle from the outside in when looking at us. But I think what people forget with us is that (as previously mentioned) there are so many layers to our recent history and how the fans have been let down. There’s so many parties involved whereas at somewhere like Blackpool there’s one common enemy to rally behind in the Oyston’s, who may I add are possibly the most odious owners in the football league. So protest is perhaps easier to organise? I’m not sure. But as for us having a day out at Wembley that’s our prerogative and no one else’s. The moralisers can f**k off in my opinion. Another fact that people forget is that the height of our protest was when we were moved to Northampton and I think only 1,000 ‘home’ fans turning up on average is pretty spectacular… Since then it’s been personal choice, there has been the odd flash protest on Sky Sports, but ultimately there’s been no coherent rallying call that people have got behind. Having said that if you look at our home attendances (about 9-10k last season – which is about a 50% drop since SISU have been at the helm) and how many fans we take away in comparison, you can see that for many they still can’t bring themselves to come back until SISU have sold up.
5) How do City fans feel towards Mark Robins? City fans adore the man! He gave us something that most of us haven’t seen in our lifetime. He’s worshipped. Sometimes even to the point where questionable team selections or strange tactical decisions aren’t even questioned! Lol. But in all seriousness, he’s a great guy, really down to earth and he just gets it and what this club is about.
6) What were Coventry supporters’ expectations for this season? Quietly optimistic. We don’t have the budget of some of the other clubs in this league, but we’ve got the makings of a class little team. I think for most a play-off push was the optimistic goal whereas consolidation back into the 3rd tier was the more realistic expectation. We’re looking to build a team under Robins to challenge at the right end of this league and we’re under no illusions that would happen in one season.
7) How are things shaping up so far? It’s been a slow start so far. 5 points from 5 isn’t bad on paper for a newly promoted side but we’ve lacked coherency up front and at times haven’t looked like scoring. We’ve got some key players to come back into the side from long term injuries and I don’t think Robins knows his best XI yet. Having said that last week’s performance against Gillingham was very promising despite only taking away the point down in Kent, so I believe a big win/performance is on the horizon. Also, at the time of writing this we’ve just signed Connor Chaplin from Pompey which I know a lot of fans are excited about (not sure whether he will start on Saturday though).
8) Any thoughts on Rochdale? Lot of respect for clubs like Rochdale who seem to be thriving in modern football world. Particularly when you’ve got some massive clubs in the North West. It’s great to see people supporting their local team. Great little ground too (hope that didn’t sound patronising!). As for the game Rochdale are somewhat of an unknown quantity for me. You could surprise a few this year so I’m expecting you to come out fast on sat.
9) What tips can you give Dale fans making the trip to the Ricoh Arena this weekend? Perhaps get your half time snacks from the Tesco behind the ground pre-match. The Ricoh prices are a bit steep (sorry in advance for beer prices). On the brighter side you can visit the transport museum in the city. The Ricoh is slightly out of town so make sure you plan ahead a little if you’re thinking of doing this, but I would highly recommend! It’s free if I remember rightly.
10) Predictions for the game? I’m expecting a big result from City soon and we’ve looked much more likely doing that at home so far this season. Although we seem to fair off worse when we’re expected to win (which I think after last weeks promising performance is the case), so perhaps a high scoring draw (2-2).