COVENTRY’S 2016/17 squad make their only scheduled trip to the north west this weekend when Fylde are the hosts.
Being situated close to the Lancashire coastline, with a weather forecast suggesting very strong winds, it could be both testing and bracing.
The name Fylde, dating from Anglo Saxon times, means ‘’ low lying ground between two estuaries’’.
In 1919, a group of businessmen tossed a coin to decide the outcome, would it be rugby or football ? Just two years then until Fylde’s centenary. The outcome fell in favour of the former, with the formation of Fylde Rugby Club. A year later in 1920, rugby was first played at the Woodlands Memorial Ground, although it was years later when that name was taken, with a lot of redevelopment also going on in the intervening years.
Fylde’s most famous son is, of course, Bill Beaumont, now chairman of the International Rugby Board. A very busy man, with it also being a Six Nations weekend, so obviously no chance of meeting up with the great man himself again this time.
Fylde’s other most well-known former player is Malcolm Phillips, a centre in his day and a contemporary of Cov’s Peter Jackson. Your writer, being at Cardiff on the day, recalls MP in 1963, I think, feeding PBJ with a try-scoring pass on a frozen, morass of a pitch at the old Arms Park. It was England’s last win down there for many years.
So ,what of Saturday’s game? Fylde, like our opponents last weekend, Esher, have yet to win away this season, but at home they are usually a different proposition.
Under head coach and lock forward Paul Arnold, a very young side – with 11 players aged 21 or under – came back from Plymouth Albion last weekend with a creditable result in defeat, 29-21. Whether or not Fylde go down that selection route again this week remains to be seen. Neither of their top points scorers played against Plymouth, fly-half Greg Smith with 121 points and winger Anthony Bingham with eight tries.
Looking at their home record, three defeats have been suffered against Hartpury College, Rosslyn Park and Blackheath.
Cov and Fylde first met on an on-off basis in 1954/55. From then until the mid- 1970s we met on the opening day of the season.
Since the advent of leagues, matches have tended to be high scoring, as in Cov’s 53-24 win at the BPA earlier in the season when eight home tries were run in.
The first league meeting did not in fact come until season 1992/93 and in the 22 games to date, Fylde lead 12-10 in victories.
Cov, after defeat at Hartpury and a not too convincing win over Esher, will need to be very much on their guard, whether or not Fylde again go for youth or bring back some of their more experienced players.
Following the demise of London Welsh and with only two clubs now due to be relegated, Fylde might just feel that the pressure in the lower reaches of National League One has eased perhaps just a little.
The Supporters’ Club are again running a coach to the game, so if you haven’t booked already, please do so now via their email links. Once again, a big Cov following can help the squad immensely.
Kick-off is 3pm.
Just a final reminder about the game at Plymouth Albion on Saturday week, February 11. With a number of supporters stating their intention to make a weekend of it, no coach is being run to that game.