Coventry fail to tame the shrews*
Sky Bet League One, Sixfields Stadium, Northampton – Attendance 1,966
So on a bright sunny day in Northampton (not) and with nothing better to do (except mark essays) it was off to see a local football match to take the mind off Saturday’s defeat. I arrived early, narrowly avoiding running over a member of the local black rabbit colony.
Coventry City play in Northampton for reasons that have been explained elsewhere and while this means a long round trip for their supporters it offered me an opportunity to pop up and see them after a swim at my local gym (which is just over the road from the stadium).
Having seen them at the Emirates at the end of January and having been quite impressed, I thought I’d see what they were like at ‘home’. It was also a chance to catch up with Tony since he is now back in circulation after his enforced lay off. We were also joined by Emma who wrote so movingly on Untold about her work with clubs including Arsenal in relation to Motor Neurone Disease.
Coventry have their mat down in the ticket hall (cue bad puns based on old songs..) but you cant use a credit (or debit) card within the stadium. Now I know you can for Cobblers games so what is going on? They do have Bovril though (and insipid hot chocolate). Shrewsbury are managed by Michael Jackson (make up your own jokes). Anyway, the game…
It would be hard to dress this up as a great game of football but it was hard fought, in awful conditions and I expect both sides will have come away happy not to have lost. Going into this game City had lost their last three games and while they look fairly safe in mid table they are only 3 points clear of the bottom; Shrewsbury are 5 points worse off and sat 22nd at start of play.
The Sky Blues took over 5,000 to London to see their team lose 4-0 but they don’t attract gates like that here. Just under 2,000 turned up and a few hundred of those were Shrewsbury. Tony remarked that it must be hard to run a club on such a poor home crowd. It seems as if 1,500 represent the home interest but I’d like to hear from Coventry fans – are you still boycotting the games, and how many used to attend in Cov? I understand why you would, but wonder how long this standoff can go on for.
City aren’t a bad side, they took the game to the opposition – especially in the second half after Mark Marshall had come on. In Petrasso they have a player of some invention and Franck Moussa was impressive at times today.
They also have Chuba Akpom on loan from Arsenal so Tony and I acted as if we were on a scouting mission. Verdict? He’s an under 19 international who played for our under 19s against Shakhtar Donetsk as we moved into the Uefa Youth League. In this match he did well and looked powerful. He put in a great cross early in the first half that Petrasso could’ve done better with, and he hit the side netting in the second. He came off to warm applause when he was replaced by Carl Baker after 72 minutes.
Both sides had their moments: Joe Murphy pulled off several saves for the home side and Shrewsbury’s Mkandawire had a solid game at the back. Up front Tom Eves stuck out – partly because he looked like a young Steve MacManaman – but he flattered to deceive and had a tendency to fall over too easily. Shrewsbury might have nicked it at the end but that would have been hard on City who dominated the possession stats (57/43) and showed more ambition.
So much for the game, which wasn’t all that bad, and a driving wind and rain can’t have helped things. Sixfields Stadium is built in a dip and the wind swirls around and into the ground. The pitch was badly cut up (the Cobblers had played out a draw with Bristol Rovers the day before) and uneven; it’s hard to play football on a surface like that. I wonder what Akpom makes of the transition from London Colney to Passchendaele?!
I have some other questions for regular ‘home’ fans. Why make the poor mascots line up for 15 minutes before k/off? And why re so few choosing to sit/stand behind the goal (does that represent the fans that refuse to come here?). It cost just £18 to sit in the best seats, but as Tony said why not offer a ‘pay what you want’ deal like some clubs have? I think they might attract more folks from Northampton (like me) if, say, we could just turn up and pay £10 at the gate.
As for the programme (£3 and colourful) why ‘PUSB’ on the cover? What does it mean? On page 24 there is a feature called ‘Tedious link’ (“we look at 4 of today’s players and what connects them”); ‘tedious’ or ‘tenuous’? Odd.
So not that much to write home about but I’m glad I went and have a lot of admiration for the 1,500 or so Coventry fans that turn up every other week. The club had 10 points deducted at the start of the season, they are mid table in League One and their owners clearly don’t give a flying f*** about them.
But it is still ‘their team’ as the tannoy announcer kept repeating. Coventry City is a big ‘small’ club (if you know what I mean). They have won the FA Cup (remember that Tottenham?), and reached two league cup semis. Their fans deserve better than this, they should be playing in front of their fans in their own ground, not 30 miles away.
This was a Kick Racism out of Football game and its great that the club supports this (and an anti-homophobia campaign) but the league and FA should be helping Coventry (and clubs like Hull and Cardiff) who find themselves in the hands of ‘dodgy’ or unsympathetic owners who don’t have the interests of the people that matter at heart. I hope they go home soon.
* A Shakesperian reference
Untold firmly supports the notion of going to games at all levels of football to support lower league clubs when it is not possible to watch Arsenal. If you follow this viewpoint, please do submit a review of a game local to you that you have seen. If you can draw out some broader issues from the game, so much the better. Just send it as a Word file to Tony.Attwood@aisa.org
If you include pics please make them separate jpg files.
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