At a point when many fans (including yours truly) are gradually losing faith, one Sky Blue follower has found a new lease of life. BournemouthSkyBlue explains how a night watching the City youth has given him fresh hope.
To paraphrase the Marvel Spiderman No More comic:
I was just a young unthinking boy when I first became a Coventry City fan… But the years have a way of slipping by… Of changing the world about us… And, every boy sooner or later must put away his toys… And become a man!
These words (or at least the original words) are written on a panel showing a dejected Peter Parker walking in the rain away from his Spiderman suit which is sitting atop a rubbish bin. This was what I have been contemplating since the Worcester City FA cup game. Do I just bin the scarves, shirts, autographs, programmes, DVDs and walk away? This to me feels like the darkest season in many dark seasons recently. Hollywood would tell us that this is the point the world changes for the better, but I am sad to say that I had lost that hope.
Many may say that the recent administrations, selling of players has been bad and our recent trip to play in Northampton for a season and a half was the worst point. And they may be right, but for me it has been this current season.
The move to Sixfields brought the Sky Blue army together in some senses. Yes, there was tension between those who would go to the games and those who chose not to go in protest to the move. But to see the Sky Blue army fight to get the club back to Coventry was an honour to see and be a part of. The guys on Jimmy’s Hill; the protests on 35 minutes; the sky blue ribbons; the marches around the City and the support from the football family (the Arsenal FA Cup game was a joy for the protests and support, if not for the game itself).
Then came the news. I don’t think anyone expected the return home. I certainly didn’t.
Please excuse the hyperbole of the following statement, but it felt as if finally there was a tentative peace between Israel and Palestine. Such as the hatred and contempt that both parties felt for each other or that seemed to be the feeling in the press. The Gillingham game felt like a watershed moment, we were home at long last.
The below quotes are taken from the BBC website, as they are much better than I at explaining the feeling:
Jan Mokrzycki from the Sky Blue Trust
It’s really a victory for fan power and common sense. Obviously the two sides in the negotiations have put the past behind them. It’s time for supporters to unite and get behind the team. It hasn’t felt like our team. It was a team playing in Northampton. It wasn’t Coventry City.
Coventry City manager Steven Pressley:
You couldn’t not get excited about it. I can’t wait to go back there. Friday night will be a special night. One to remember and it’s looking like we could sell out which would be incredible.
To have that kind of support can spur us on to great things. We know that we have to win games to get that positive atmosphere around the ground, and if we start doing that, we can help each other, and make it an intimidating place for teams to come, a fortress.
BBC Coventry & Warwickshire’s Clive Eakin, who has been commentating on the club for the past 14 seasons:
The interest and furore surrounding City’s first game back at the Ricoh Arena illustrates how much it means to Coventry people to have the club back home and how much they love their football team
Interestingly there’s been a notable change of language from the club who now talk of the need to ‘own’ their stadium, rather than of ‘building’ a new one. It seems clear that a long-term future at the Ricoh Arena is the only one most Coventry City fans are prepared to accept.
It genuinely felt as if there was a new era, a bright and Sky Blue future if you will. We were home and winning games, and then the darkness came again.
The Ricoh Arena was to be sold to London Wasps. In the space of a month it felt as if all hope was lost. I don’t want to get into the rights and wrongs of the sale, what hurt as much as anything for me was that for all the protests, marches, Not One Penny More and fights to get City home, as a city we became complicit in taking another team from their home, their fans and community!
Clearly if the team had been winning every game and sitting top of the table then, that would be something, but the form dropped away and so did hope (at least for me).
The football on the pitch has not been good and the loss of attacking talent from last year is evident. Games in League One are not mainly won on talent and moments of magic; it seems they are won on mistakes. Take Coventry against Notts County as your prime example.
I finally returned to the Ricoh Arena for the Worcester game, my first game since before the sojourn to Northampton. Walking around the ground before the game I was greeted by the imposing figure of Wasps James Haskell at every turn. It felt as far from home as the games in Northampton. The Jimmy Hill statue looking away from the ground as if he can’t look at what once had been. The game from a Coventry point of view was a disaster and we deserved nothing, not even the goal we scored. I think Elvis has stated better than anyone how we all were feeling after that match!
This brings me to last night – December 5th, AFC Bournemouth vs Coventry City in the 3rd round of the FA youth cup.
To watch this game was everything I have wanted football to be, it was as far from Thatcher’s capitalist dream that elite football seems to have become. The football that this team of young professional footballers (it would be unfair to call them kids) is a joy to watch. Hard-working, committed, attacking – they ran themselves into the ground (quite literally), with two of the City players going down with cramp before the end.
The joy and commitment of what it means to play football for Coventry City was there for all to see. On all three of the city goals the team ran to the corner flag and celebrated as one, piling on the goalscorer as if they had won the Champions League. Even when the goals went in against the team, there was no shouting at each other or apportioning blame; the team as one rolled their sleeves up and went again.
It was a complete team performance, but if you have a chance to watch James Maddison at this level, it is like watching a virtuoso. Watching him at under-18 level is like watch Zidane in his prime. He graces the football pitch and will play at a much higher level than Coventry’s first team so we should all be proud he is one of the sky blue army. This is not just my opinion, but that of Mr Steven Pressley himself (the Zidane comparison is purely mine). The reason I know of Mr Pressley’s thoughts on Maddison is from both the Coventry Telegraph and from his lips at the game last night.
I have wondered whether there are many managers in football who would travel to an away youth cup game on a Friday night with his backroom staff of Neil MacFarlane and Steve Ogrizovic (there may have been others but I am sad to say that I didn’t recognise them if they were there).
You can’t help but be impressed with the commitment and dedication of the staff steering the club through what is a very trying time. The three wise men sitting in the middle of the main stand with the City crest over their hearts, were kind enough to talk to me and other members of the Bournemouth City family. To meet these men if only briefly was an honour and you know just from their presence at the game and the fact that they could not help but shout advice to players from the stands, underlines the commitment that is there for the club.
It may not work out perfectly for Coventry, Mr Pressley and team, but it will not be through a lack of trying and doing everything in their power to make Coventry a success.
I was wrong to have lost faith and last nights game gives me every hope that the future is bright and sky blue. That game meant everything to the players and whole management of the club. If you don’t believe me, just look at the tweets below:
@devonkellyevans What a win!! Great to win 3-2 in extra time and to get the assist for the winner. great team performance and individual …On to the next
@kyle_barnett19 What a result! 3-2 win in extra time in the FA Youth Cup, lads were quality!What a performance!! Beat Bournemouth 3-2, buzzing to be in the fourth round
@Cian_Harries Unbelievable beating Bournemouth 3-2 away in the FA Youth Cup tonight! All the boys dug in brilliantly after going into Extra Time #CCFC
@Coventry_City .@farny17 : “It was a brilliant team performance from all the players and staff.” Full reaction from Farndon: bit.ly/1tTxrk7 #PUSB
@KyleSpence10 Great result for us in the FA youth cup tonight , into the next round, beat Bournemouth 3-2 in extra time, great performance put in
@Jordan_Shipley8 Buzzing that we beat Bournemouth 3-2 in extra time, great performance from the lads! On to the next round
@farny17 Fantastic result tonight. Full credit to all the players and staff who put in so much hard work tonight. Well deserved! #PUSB
@george_thomas14 Absolutely buzzing!!!! Through to the 4th round after beating Bournemouth in extra time
@JamesMadderz10 BUZZZZZZZING, into the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup! What a performance from the lads, another 2 goals