Friday, 14 February 2014

Life's a Pitch...from the Ricoh to Paddyfields

A fine stat was reproduced by Jim Brown last week: the last Sky Blues' home game to be postponed was the Spurs '02 FA Cup tie at Highfield Road. The Ricoh Arena during its seven season tenure had 100% fixture completion and coped admirably with the Midlands weather - it was a state of the art stadia after all wasn't it Mr Richardson?

We've all seen the state of pitches when teams share their ground, in a normal world its with Rugby League/Union. Leeds, Wigan, Huddersfield, Watford and Reading's pitches are ready for a breather by May. We don't currently exist in a normal world at Coventry City. I'm in a position where I can't attend an evening 'home' game because I'd arrive at 8:30pm due to the extra distance involved driving from Bristol. The Ricoh saw an arrival right on kick-off as we never risked parking at Tesco like the away fans did and all this with the foot to the floor.

It would be nice to have a choice in the matter, at Ashton Gate last week it was great to be under a set of floodlights again, evening games were always my favourite at Highfield Road/The Ricoh, memories aplenty attacking the West Terrace. Who can forget the 6-1 v Sunderland in '83, the 5-4 League Cup tie v Forest, the 5-0 thumping of Sunderland with 'Livvo' scoring four, the 4-1 v Preston inspired by Bjarni Gudjonsson and the Brian Kilcline winner vs Luton as he smashed home past Les Sealey with seven minutes remaining. There are countless other examples of magical nights which began walking up King Richard Street with hot dogs and cigarette smoke filling the air.

Step forward the wettest January for 250 years. The postponement of Walsall could be followed by Bradford as 'Paddyfields' struggles to cope with two sides playing competitive fixtures in a dire climate. Lower league grounds are renowned for postponements, the facilities don't match their top flight/second tier compatriots. We will now find our passing game bogged down for the rest of the season, it will take a summer like last year to restore the grass. In the meantime the Ricoh sits patiently waiting for its turnstiles to click and the Bovril tap to flow. No Carling or Carlsberg for me with the drive home but many others partake as part of their matchday routine...which many of us don't have at this moment....and it hurts like hell.

There are two quotes from City supporters that summise where we're at in my view. 'Trampbeater''s line below is my away day to Brentford mid-March.

'Why is it no party will compromise or budge an inch, yet supporters are expected to bend, twist, and flex to accommodate this crazy situation?'

The Brentford journey comprises three trains then a pub on each corner of Griffin Park. The return journey is similar but with Guinness involved the connecting trains might prove an issue. I'll be meeting, amongst others, our very own 'Sky Blues Blog', Neil Allison, whose train journey comprises a similar number of stops from Coventry. Last year he wrote in one of his many fine musings a line which has remained with me to this day:

'SISU have stolen the season from us'

Let's hope these egos see sense and relocate us back home. From a business perspective we'll linger in League One with a rice terrace for a pitch, you won't generate income on these crowds and there's only so long you can sustain the losses. I know its been written time and time again, you never know Tim and Joy might browse through 'Newsnow' and take a peep at this.........yeah right.

Play up Sky Blues

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