1.The guide refers to
the scenario currently playing itself out around
Coventry City FC as a bizarre script ; and I
concur ; hence I had very mixed feelings about
setting off for this fixture to the point where I
even debated with myself whether I should attend
and instead show solidarity with the fans calling
for games to be boycotted.
In the event I reasoned that as a Preston North
End supporter I would go and support my team
wherever they play, but was relieved in a sense
that my daughter was not with me in case there
were any challenging scenes outside the ground
with pressure being applied to stop people
entering the ground.
Hence I commenced the drive up the M1 towards
Northampton in a mood that could be best described
as mixed. This was to be fourth different venue I
had witnessed the sky blues grace, having seen
them play away at Deepdale, and at their two
previous homes of Highfield Road and the Ricoh
Arena, and it seemed both bizarre and sad to think
that a once proud top flight club was in such a
farcical predicament to be playing their "home"
games over 30 miles from Coventry.
Having left the M1, I found a field opposite
Northampton's ground that I have used previously
that charges a mere £2 for parking, and proceeded
on foot to the ground. Tickets for away fans
were on sale for £16 from a temporary outlet near
the away end, and I noted that there was no
attempt by any-one to dissuade the away fans from
entering the ground.
Once inside the ground, I relaxed somewhat and
actually started to contemplate the actual match
ahead. With Coventry in free scoring form, having
put 4 past Carlisle and 5 past Bristol City in
earlier matches and equally a Preston defence
seeming to be quite mean, I soon found myself
eagerly anticipating kick-off in what promised to
be an intriguing encounter.
The matchday programme, cost £3, was neither the
best, nor the worst, but I gleaned from some of
the articles just how complicated the off-field
politics are, and how difficult the choices facing
the people running the club are.
At kick-off, the atmosphere was more akin to a
non-league environment in the Conference as there
were only 1,000 or so Sky Blue fans in attendance,
most of whom were using the main West Stand and
only a couple of dozen trying to make some noise
behind the goal opposite us in the North Stand. It
also became apparent that for the time being
numbers being so low, the East stand was kept
closed, presumably to keep costs down.
In fact, economies of scale are clearly the order
of the day for Coventry City; stewarding was
threadbare and instead of the usual army of
ball-boys located around the pitch, the whole east
stand was the preserve of one unfortunate
ball-girl who had a busy afternoon with just a
hi-vi vest to denote stature over her jeans and
t-shirt as opposed to the uniform track-suit
approach ( no doubt with inherent cost ). The
catering also deserves a mention, for when I
ventured to get something shortly before half-time
the cupboard resembled that of old mother
When one irate fan questioned that lack of food,
the explanation given was that they had been told
to cater for only 50 away fans, which given that
Preston reckoned to have sold more than 900
tickets before the weekend indicates either a lack
of communication or further "economies of scale."
On a hill behind the north stand could also be
spotted a few dozen Sky Blue fans watching the
game with banners proclaiming slogans that were
too far away to be legible; however there was
nothing wrong with their hearing for they waved
cheerfully and enthusiastically every time we the
away fans sang "we can see you on the hill.....".
They all trooped off at half-time, and only 6 or
so returned during the second half.
The match itself was fairly average during the
first half, Preston taking the lead against the
run of play only for Coventry to equalise with one
of their many dangerous looking counter-attacks ;
it became all too clear how they score so many
goals up to that point with surge after surge of
fast attacks down either wing.
The half-time entertainment consisted of the
mascot, a blue elephant, making feeble attempts to
throw small footballs into the
crowd.....presumably the accountants wouldn't
sanction cheerleaders (thank goodness).
Halfway through the second half the game exploded
into a goal-fest with both sides enjoying the lead
only to fall behind, and with 2 goals in
extra-time, the breathless spectacle ended at
4-4. What a match!
After the match I enjoyed discourse with some of
the Coventry fans both about the match and their
general situation, and i wished them well for the
rest of the season. It seemed a pity that so few
Coventry fans are currently enjoying the free
scoring team they currently have, and I hope that
common sense, wherever it has gone, returns to the
world of Coventry City for the sake of their loyal