My first blog and quite possibly my last! I feel the need to at least attempt to explain how I feel on the situation at Coventry City Football Club. I do not expect many to agree with what I have to say but you can be assured it will be genuine and spoken from the heart. I have no interest in trying to convince anyone to join my way of thinking. My aim is to help you understand my way of thinking.
Let’s start from the beginning. Growing up in Coventry in the late 70’s and 80’s I can honestly say my only interest was playing football. It was the time Liverpool were the dominant force and they were the players I looked up to, the players I wanted to be. As a kid, if I was asked the question “which team do you support?” the answer was Liverpool. My parents couldn’t afford to take me to football matches so I was taken by older brother to my first match at the age 0f 9 when the mighty Liverpool came to Highfield Rd. That would be my once a season treat for the next few years.
When I was 14 Coventry City only went and won the cup. I remember it well for one reason. The match was on the telly but I didn’t watch it. I was out on the back fields booting a football around with a mate with no interest in what was happening at Wembley. Then suddenly total strangers were running past screaming at me “COVENTRY HAVE WON THE CUP!” and my only thoughts were along the lines of “Oh right, have they? I forgot they were playing”. It was around this time I started showing more interest in my local team. I started getting immersed in the history and stats of Coventry City. Looking back I can see my total lack of interest in my local team was down to the fact I was rarely taken to games. I loved football but was very rarely taken to a match. Lack of interest and lack of money in my family were the reasons and there was no way I could go unsupervised with the violence that was around in those days. I got my first job in my late teens and suddenly for the first time in my life I had money in my pocket. I started going to the odd game with friends on the West Terrace in the early 90’s. It didn’t take long for it to become a regular habit although it took a few years before I could afford a season ticket. I got my first season ticket in the mid 90’s and have had one ever since… until this season.
This season I have not attended a single “home” game. Can I afford it? Yes. Do I have the time to travel to Northampton? Yes. The reason I don’t attend is simple. I started supporting Coventry City for one reason and that is they were my local team. Not because they were a great team or I liked Sky Blue or I was drawn to an underdog or any other reason. They were my local team. Regardless of my memories or the friends I’ve made or my love for football, I no longer actively support the club because they are no longer my local team. It really is as simple as that.
I didn’t think this day would come but it has. It wasn’t a decision I made. It was an honest, genuine reaction to the circumstances. I attended the pre season match at Nuneaton and stood on the terrace with the Coventry City fans. I was watching the players in the Coventry City kit in front of me and thought I’m not feeling this at all. They’ve gone to Northampton, they’ve left me, they’ve left my City. I haven’t left them so what loyalty do I owe them? It was like watching two teams I had no affinity for entirely as a neutral. I was genuinely surprised I felt like this. Maybe it’s a one off and I ‘ll feel different when the season proper starts I thought.
I started the season by standing on the hill outside Sixfields in Northampton. My only reason for that was to register my objections to playing there. I wasn’t there to watch the game. Obviously I could see some of the game and it was a strange experience to say the least. I had absolutely no desire to be inside the ground. I could see the whole ground and the pitch before me with players in Sky Blue who I recognised but this didn’t feel like Coventry City to me. I actually didn’t care who won or lost that game and that was another shock to the system. Maybe it would be different at an away game so next stop was Shrewsbury.
Shrewsbury was memorable for a variety of reasons. The train took me into town and a lovely town it is. I saw many familiar faces and enjoyed pre-match far more than the match. I took my place at the back of the stand and sung some songs. Coventry started well by going up the other end and Wilson promptly stuck the ball in the net. The crowd around me went wild and there was me unmoved. My natural reaction was not to celebrate the goal, no leap, no arms in the air, no cheer, nothing. A second later I forced myself to join in the celebrations but that’s what it felt like, forced. I watched the rest of the game knowing it was my last for a long time and that’s exactly how it has turned out.
I have not attended a Coventry City match since my trip to Shrewsbury in August. Not as a protest or to make a point but because I have had no desire to. I still loved football as much as ever though so I needed a way of watching football as conveniently as possible. This is where Coventry Sphinx entered the fray. I attended my first match at Sphinx Drive, Coventry at the end of August (I’ve not missed a home game since). Initially my only expectations were to watch a competitive game of football of a reasonable standard in Coventry. I enjoyed it far more than I anticipated. Decent football, affordable entrance (£5), fairly priced food and drink and above all a friendly welcoming environment I have not experienced at a football match in years. Attending Coventry Sphinx matches (who play in Step 5 of the Non-League pyramid) has been totally responsible for me rediscovering my passion for football. I won’t forget that in a hurry and will continue to support Coventry Sphinx regardless of what happens with Coventry City.
There are some things I miss about watching Coventry City at the Ricoh Arena but some things I won’t miss. Will I miss being subject to a Stop and Search by the police simply for waiting for a friend to arrive outside the stadium? NO. Will I miss being manhandled by stewards for “being in their way”? NO. Will I miss watching grown men fighting in the stands? NO. Will I miss witnessing mass brawls in the car park after the match? NO. All things I experienced last season at the Ricoh Arena.
My current position is this. I will continue to support Coventry Sphinx. I will not be supporting Coventry City. That is my personal choice. However, I will continue to support all efforts to return Coventry City to it’s rightful home (The Ricoh Arena) because it’s the right thing to do. I can not guarantee I will return to support Coventry City should they return to the Ricoh Arena though. I can only make that decision if and when it happens. One thing is for sure, I will not return until I feel I am a real part of the club again.