by John Butler
IT is thirty years this very season since league rugby first burst on to the scene in England, and it was a few years earlier in the 1981/82 season when a Coventry squad last played on the Wirral, that being against Birkenhead Park in a club match.
All of which means the current squad are certainly treading new ground on Saturday in terms of a league commitment.
It is now Caldy who have taken on the mantle of being the senior side in that part of Cheshire, following their rise as champions of National League Two North at the end of last season.
The Caldy headquarters are at Paton Field, West Kirby, which is one of several venues this season where Cov go into action on an open ground, there being no stand or covered facilities for spectators.
The Caldy club, in common with many other community clubs, is a big one with three senior sides, a veterans squad, senior and junior colts, plus a junior section ranging from under-17s right down to under-6s.
Coaching co-ordinator at Caldy is a name well-known to Coventry followers from his playing days, former winger Simon Verbickas who also had a successful rugby league career at Widnes.
Founded in 1924, Caldy have held their own pretty well in their first season at this level, producing some excellent performances and victories. Cov will go into Saturday’s return fixture in the knowledge that the 38-14 win at Butts Park in November was far from a formality.
Last Saturday, Cov’s hosts were in action in East Yorkshire where relegation-threatened Hull Ionians just took the spoils despite Caldy’s best efforts.
Caldy have won seven of their matches this season at Paton Field, conversely, four sides have defeated them there – Cambridge, Plymouth Albion, Ampthill and District and most recently, Darlington Mowden Park.
Full-back Gavin Roberts is currently top points scorer and wing Nick Royle heads the try scoring list, both featuring in the division’s top ten currently.
Coventry tread new ground on the Wirral fresh from their excellent 23rd win of the season against Old Elthamians. With both Darlington MP and Plymouth Albion losing, Cov’s margin at the top of the division rose to 30 points.
The chasing pair, if they were to win all of their remaining matches with a bonus point, would each finish on a maximum of 119 points; a figure Cov could reach on Saturday with a bonus point win themselves. An added bonus in Cov’s favour is that in the event of any tie on points, the number of match wins counts before anything else. To say the least, Cov are in a mighty strong position and certainly have destiny in their own hands; always a good one to be in.
Both DMP and Albion are due in action on Saturday as well, the former away at Cambridge and Plymouth at home to Bishop’s Stortford. Saturday, in so many ways, could be a very interesting afternoon!
More records tumbled during the win on Saturday which was Andy Brown’s 100th game for the club. James Stokes reached 18 tries for the season, a club league record, whilst the overall points tally in a season, which had stood at 1,001, was also smashed as the total number of tries scored zoomed past 150.
Heady and exciting days, and what will Saturday bring?
Selection for Brett Daynes, another who has been a fine club man, would also bring about a 150th appearance by him for the club.
Kick-off at Paton Field is 3pm with the Supporters’ Club again laying on coach transport, so if you want to be part of another exciting Coventry experience and as yet have not booked a seat, do please act quickly!