ONWARDS TO BIRMINGHAM MOSELEY
Seven seasons is a long time not to be involved in the derby match to beat them all, but it really was the 2009-10 campaign when Coventry and Moseley last met.
Saturday’s clash at Billesley Common is a mouth-watering prospect, not least with both sides having won their opening league match of the season.
For Moseley, or Birmingham Moseley as they are now known following their recent re-branding, this is their first home league match since relegation from the Championship and they will be determined to make a strong impression in front of their supporters and show that they are genuine favourites to go straight back up.
They came away from Fylde last weekend with a fine win, never easily achieved at Woodlands where fly-half Elliot Bale, recruited from Plymouth Albion in the close season, had by all accounts a big hand in the result with his goal kicking exploits.
With Championship experience throughout their squad, Moseley will start favourites on their own patch. Under director of rugby Kevin Maggs, now in his sixth season at the club, they have retained a number of last season’s squad while also recruiting strongly during the summer. Joining from Cov were back row forwards Jacques Le Roux and Sam Pailor, the former making his debut at Fylde last Saturday. Another back row man, Jack Preece has returned to the fold after a spell at Rotherham Titans, while Scotland international centre Alex Grove, recruited from Worcester, made one appearance for Cov in season 2008-09 while on loan from the Warriors.
One player made the short move in the opposite direction across to Cov, hooker Scott Tolmie who also made his debut n new colours last Saturday.
Coventry were founded in 1874, one year after Moseley, and fixtures between the two go back well over a century and a quarter. There can be little doubt that the recent seven-season break is the longest lull in games between the two clubs, certainly outside wartime years.
Derby passions have always run high – indeed, so much so that the RFU suspended both clubs after a clash at the old Butts Stadium in the early 1900s developed into a mass brawl when the Moseley touch judge directed a disparaging – and certainly not PC – remark towards one of the Irish Tuke brothers playing for Cov. The fighting continued back into the city centre where the changing facilities were at that time.
In the 1960s and into the 1970s, the traditional Boxing Day game was regarded as an unofficial England trial with international players throughout both sides and regularly drew crowds of around 6,000 to Coundon Road when Cov were at home.
Nor have meetings have not been without humour. At the start of the 1960-61 season, BBC Midlands reporter Ted Taylor was so confident about Moseley’s chances that he pledged to shave off his famed handlebar moustache if wrong. Cov duly won the game at the Reddings by the small margin of 42-0…….and, having come prepared with a razor, led by Phil Judd, marched Mr Taylor out in front of the stand before removng half of the moustache
Saturday’s game will be the 30th time the two clubs have met since the advent of league competition. To date, it could not be much closer, Birmingham Moseley leading in victories by 15 to 14. Cov’s biggest winning margin, 54-7, came at home in season 2000-01, and while accepting there has been the recent gap, Moseley have won three out of the last four played.
By John Butler