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 their rearranged match at Cambridge which brought them a hard-earned 15-6 win, reversing the result of the earlier encounter on the Wirral.
Caldy have won seven of their matches this season at Paton Field while four sides have defeated them there – Cambridge, Plymouth Albion, Ampthill and District and, most recently on January 20, 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.
All of this following the quite astonishing performance and result achieved by Cov on Saturday at Darlington MP; a fixture which yours truly missed, having endured long renditions of Flower of Scotland, thanks to the efforts of a family member.
That result, which all seem to agree was by far the performance of the season, has opened up a 26-point margin at the top of the tabe, so in reality, even if DMP were to go through their remining matches unbeaten, another 14 points will secure promotion as champions.
The records, both team and individual, keep mounting up as well. It was win 22 at DMP, yet another club league record in a season. Another 32 points will see the squad surpass the 1,001 achieved in 2014/15.
Andy Brown, loyal servant to the club since his arrival on a dual registration from Doncaster in 2012/13, made his 99th appearance at Darlington MP. The popular loose head prop forward is therefore another close to a personal landmark, which could come this weekend.
James Stokes’s try at the weekend also saw him draw level with the club league try scoring record in a season of 17, and with seven matches to go, whilst Max Trimble’s brace meant he rose to 12 joining both Anthony Matoto and Scott Tolmie.
The Supporters’ Club is laying on a coach to Caldy, so please, if you have not yet booked, swift action is recommended! Kick-off is 3pm.
Hopefully the rather gloomy weather predictions will prove off the mark as Cov seek win number 23.