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What’s it like to support a club like Coventry.

By Tony Attwood

A while ago I did a piece about Mark McCammon, who had claimed that Gillingham FC had refused to treat an injury, docked his wages, and fined him for not turning up for training during heavy snow – basically because he was black.

A tribunal looked into the matter and found that the chairman had failed to hold a proper inquiry into the allegation and ruled that football club Gillingham ‘racially victimised’ former player Mark McCammon .   Mr McCammon’s lawyer, said, “Mr McCammon raised a legitimate complaint of race discrimination, which the tribunal found that [Gillingham chairman] Mr Scally had discounted from the start as being without merit…Mr Scally did not bother to investigate the complaint and ultimately dismissed him because of it. ”

So Mr Scally lost the case and the story told us all a lot about what it was like to support Gillingham.  Some of the commentaries that we got in relation to that report were… well, extraordinary.
But that’s old news; but in the discussion thereafter the point was raised that as a supporter of Arsenal I would know little of the case.  I pointed out that I was also a supporter of Torquay United, to which one correspondent replied “you can’t support two clubs”.  No discussion, no debate, no nothing.  Just a statement of an opinion as fact.

If you have never supported a lower league club you can’t imagine what it is like to support a team whose first aim is to get into the play offs to rise up to League One and then somehow hold onto that status.

But even I, going through the agonies of being a Torquay supporter find it hard to imagine what it is like to be an older generation Coventry supporter.  Torquay has never been up there at the top.  Coventry have, and now they are sinking fast.

For years they were one of the longest-serving members of division one.  A long way behind Arsenal of course who were elected to division 1 in 1919, but still – long serving compared to clubs like Tottenham and Man U who had been relegated in the later parts of the 20th century.

Coventry sank in 2001 and are now second bottom in the third division.  One more relegation and they will play Torquay next season, and as long as Arsenal are not at home on the same day, I will be there, at the away end to cheer on my second team.

Last time I looked, Coventry have not won a league game in six months, their finances are, as I pointed out in the last article, a horrible mess, and this has been their worst start to a season in almost a century. But 25 years ago oh how we loved them.  They won the FA Cup beating, oh, who was it, some team or other, err, oh yes, Tottenham in the Cup Final.  It was their one major honour.

The Ricoh Arena is an ok ground.  A good ground.  Before that Roger and I always used to go and watch the away game at Coventry since we lived in the Midlands. Now, the ground is two thirds empty. Last week they changed managers.

Now Coventry is a big fish in a little league but it is a league that is hard to get out of.

Watch Arsenal Live Streams With StreamFootball.tv

Nico Yennaris looks like he will be playing, judging by Arsenal.com comments.  So I have to change my team selected earlier this week which was

Martinez

Santos, Djourou,  Squillaci, Miquel

Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Eisfeld

Chamakh, Watt, Arshavin

Coventry is just another team on the slide – a team that had it all and then lost it all – just like Portsmouth (who I also once saw play at Torquay’s ground when they were in the fourth division).

In football nothing can be taken for granted.

15 comments to What’s it like to support a club like Coventry.

  • WalterBroeckx

    The ultimate wise words that some Arsenal supporters should try to understand: ‘In football nothing can be taken for granted.’

  • Adam

    Accrington who??
    Accrington stanley who are they??

  • Adam

    Just for kicks. First ever FA cup draw.

    Wanderers v Harrow Chequers
    Clapham Rovers v Upton Park
    Crystal Palace v Hitchin
    Maidenhead v Marlow
    Royal Engineers v Reigate Priory
    Barnes v Civil Service
    Queens Park (Glasgow) v Donington School (Spalding)

    Hampstead Heathens had a bye

  • Cameron Wolfe

    Why can’t you support more than one team? As long as their not in the same league then there shouldn’t be any problem.
    I was a Dundee Utd. supporter before I was a Gooner and I still to this day follow them. If there on TV I’ll watch the game. When I lived in Dundee I always went to their games and followed Arsenal through the newspapers and limited TV highlights.
    When I moved to London, Arsenal became my main team.
    So now I follow them both from a distance.
    My nephew when asked who he supported announced to my Boss ( a chelsea fan) Arsenal and Chelsea? see that was just dumb.
    If Walter only went to Arsenal matches he’d hardly get to see any live football? Even he has his local team
    Gooner for life

  • WalterBroeckx

    Yep Cameron I have my local team. Berchem Sport from Antwerp. It has a nice stadium that closes at night. (inside joke for Tony)
    But I see more games from Arsenal (I see about 99% of the Arsenal games). My local team plays at the same moment as I do my games as a ref most of the time so I hardly see them play.

    I dream of a friendly pre season game Berchem – Arsenal. And me giving the kick off (a habit we have in Belgium football where someone is allowed to kick the ball away before the game from the centre circle…). My life would be complete then 🙂

  • nicky

    You certainly can support more than one team…..but dodgy if they each played in the same division.
    I lived in Oldham for a time and still check their results.
    I once played for my Regiment on St Johnstone’s original ground in Scotland and STILL check their results each week.
    It’s a habit, difficult to break.

  • Damien Luu

    “The ultimate wise words that some Arsenal supporters should try to understand: ‘In football nothing can be taken for granted.’”

    Every football supporter should, Walter, every football supporter should.

  • Gerry Lennon

    It seems it’s okay to support another team, if ‘support’ is not too strong a word in my case. Follow with sad interest in my case.
    My introduction to following my home town club, home and away, began one rainy night just before Christmas, watching a match so one sided, both in the scoreline and ‘rub of the green’ as every loose ball fell to the home side. The score could have been double the 5-0. Up to that moment horse racing had been my passion, so Saturdays were usually busy. But the next match was Boxing Day, at home, followed by the return leg at Rotherham next. The won the first, drew 2-2 the second. I timed my support just two games into an amzing(now?) 23 match unbeaten run to which I was present for every one. Not only that, I started going to reserve matches and youth team games, I didn’t see them lose either. Alas the youth team only drew their home leg and last away in the Youth Cup, and lost the away tie.
    I was also their one freezing January day to see an ordinary gritty 3rd round Cup tie result in a 1-0 win that set them on the road to Cup glory .. the same one that Walter mentions above. Heady days indeed supporting Coventry City at that time?
    I was also there later when we were being hammered at home against Sheff Weds, and the biggest cheer was when Dave Bennet came on as sub, our cup run hero, now playing for Sheff Weds. The decline had begun. The management team of Curtis and Sillet, was reduced to Sillet. Best players sold. No money to replace them it seemsed? What followed was several narrow escapes from relegation, and several changes in managers. Then the inevitable drop. I had long sinced moved away, but I still have the City website on my favourites bar today… Perhaps this is why my comments made around Arsenal blogs have been on support for the continuity that having a great manager like Arsene Wenger brings to this club, which up 2001 was only my ‘second’ team.
    Split loyalties today? Nah! Coventry do not want a run in this cup right now. At best, they would like a draw for the income a return leg would bring. My only worry is if our ‘junior’ team are in that same ruthless streak that destroyed Liverpool (twice!) back when Denilsen was thought a good player, might run riot over a side lacking in confidence, it could make it worse for City.
    I saw their match on TV a couple of weeks back, and they are not as bad as the results suggest, but I cannot see them putting out a full strength side with an all important league match to come. So they could match AW’s side with first team players at centre back and midfield, and the rest made up from a really good squad of youngsters. You may recall that one of the last Youth team matches last season ended in a 2-2 draw, with Arsenal at home.
    I think Coventry’s lack of goals will mean this tie will end in somthing-nil. How big that something is will depend on who is ready for a first team spot … several takers I suspect?

  • The font

    I support me wife and two kids me legs because they support me OH and arsenal

  • Asif

    Hey Walter we have probably seen just the Gunner part of you and how we get mugged by the refs (and I of course agree with it), however it will be interesting to hear from you if you ever get accused of being biased or if some the criticism comes your way! How do you cope with that?

  • Jimmy Hill.
    Took the modern game forward with buttock-aching sky-blue plastic bucket seats. And tinny tannoy pop music. Much more modern than our old-fashioned police marching band.
    Thanks, Jimmy.

    Good songwriter though.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Asif,

    A good question 😉

    Of course I have games when people are critical about me. I think it is part of how you look at yourself is how you deal with it.
    I start each game with a white sheet of paper in my head. I don’t care about the teams that are playing. I just focus on my own task and just try to do that as perfect as can be.

    of course I make mistakes. And sometimes even during the game I realise that the decision I took earlier was wrong. I just put it out of my head and feel angry on myself but try not to think too much about it.

    If people ask me about it at the end of the game in normal way and I know by then I was wrong I have no problem in acknowledge it and apologise. I have found out that if you say: “I really am sorry if that decision was wrong but from where I was standing it looked that way” people will accept it and agree that it is difficult to get it right all the time.

    When people are angry, aggressive or abusive I don’t enter discussions or apologise.

    Main thing is that before the game I like to take a look in the mirror in the dressing room (not to look how pretty I still am 🙂 🙂 LOL) but to make sure that at the end of the game and after the shower I can still look in that mirror and be happy with the person that is standing there.

    Refs make mistakes, but if you always make the same mistakes or the same teams suffer you have to look at yourself. And the moment I feel that I cannot be fair for both teams, is a moment I should stop being a referee.

    Come to think of it: I just try to be a man or honest principles.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Even weirder is someone who supports two teams that are direct rivals! Strangely the only two examples I can think of are both Arsenal & Spurs, Mr B Forsythe and Mr H Redknapp. And the latter would probably be considered a dubious case, as his dad was a well known Gunner.

  • LRV

    Supporting two teams is not a problem as long as they are not direct rivals.

    Yes Walter, no one should take anything for granted; not in football.

  • Singing the Sky Blues

    An Arsenal-supporting friend sent me the link to this – figured I’d give you an insight.

    What’s it like to support a club like Coventry?

    Essentially, it’s crap.

    You can’t hope but love them. You can’t help but hope. Yet over and over again you are pummelled with the inescapable truth – they’re awful. Owned by a hedge fund who have obviously realised the error they made in investing in the first place – but can’t sell because no one would buy. The stadium is owned by two parties – neither of which are the club. The playing staff are, basically, terrible.

    There really is very little, realistically, to hope for in the short, medium or long term.

    Still, play up Sky Blues…