by John Butler
COVENTRY make the journey north west into Lancashire on Saturday, sure in the knowledge again that it would be highly dangerous to take anything for granted.
Fylde, with many changes having taken place, have faced a really tough start to their season, including losing their warm-up matches, and therein lie some of the dangers the Butts Park squad must take on board if the 100% record is to be maintained.
This latest visit to the really pleasant surroundings of The Woodlands Memorial Ground will be Coventry’s eleventh in terms of league clashes, although fixtures between the clubs go back overall to the 1950s.
Currently in league meetings at both venues, Coventry hold a slender 12-11 lead in terms of matches won.
Cov’s last victory at Fylde came four seasons ago, 2013/14, when a 36-15 victory sealed the league double. Since then Fylde have won four of the last six matches played with both sides winning at home last season, Coventry by 53-24 at Butts Park Arena and Fylde gaining revenge with their 33-24 home success.
Fylde run four senior sides as well as also having a large mini/junior section. The club itself was founded by a group of Manchester businessmen in 1919, so their centenary season is moving ever closer.
There have been a number of very traditional factors linked to the Fylde club over the years, one being they are very family-orientated, the Beaumont family links being a good example. Secondly, Lancashire and county rugby in general have always been well supported. Again, the link to Bill Beaumont himself comes to the fore with the Senior County Championship Cup now named after the former England captain.
The simple facts, though, before kick-off will be Fylde, with just one win and one bonus point, bottom of the table, against Cov, restored to top spot following the hard-earned home win over Bishop’s Stortford.
There has, however, been enough evidence with results generally in National League One that not too much is that straight forward, a point continually being stressed by director of rugby, Rowland Winter.
Fylde on their own ground, which is usually a fine surface encouraging flowing, open rugby, will be keener than ever to build positively after their poor start. With new head coach Warren Spragg in charge following the departure of Paul Arnold, a young squad with an average age one understands of 22 ½ has struggled, just the one victory coming at home against Rosslyn Park two weeks ago, to offset against defeats versus Plymouth Albion (away), Old Elthamians (hme), both by large margins, plus also Caldy (away) and Cambridge (home).
Finally, last Saturday, a further away defeat came at Ampthill.
Whilst some 26 players from last season’s squad, including hooker/forwards coach Alex Loney, did stay, there were some highly experienced departures and that, judging by results thus far, seems to be a major reason as to why Coventry’s hosts have found life tough, with less experienced newcomers joining the squad.
Cov know already, however, that pressure each week only tends to increase, with opponents always keen to lower colours and this week’s encounter will certainly fall into that category.
The Supporters Club are once again running a coach to the game, which kicks off at 3pm.