April 05, 2013

Plastered in Coventry


BILL THE BIRO was at the Ricoh Arena


Pools' team bus is pretty big,
but looks tiny when parked
outside the Ricoh Arena

Saturday, March 16th, Coventry City 1 - Pools 0


It's Friday. I go to my GP surgery, where the doc squirts cold gas onto a wart on my leg. He tells me it should drop off in a day or two (the wart that is!). He also says I could put a plaster over it while the treatment runs its course.
It's Saturday. Pools are playing 20 miles away in Coventry. I drive to the Ricoh Arena with my mate. 
We get to the ground in good time, noting that this could be a historic occasion - Cov have some financial problems*, and those could end up with the club being locked out of the ground, so Pools could prove to be the last-ever visitors to the Ricoh.
We buy some drinks, have a chat with a few old Poolie mates, and then get ready to go up the stairs to the seats.
I feel my leg, where I discover that the wart has fallen off, and it's bleeding. I cover it with some toilet paper, and rejoin my mate in proceeding to our seats. It is now ten to three.
I comment that I should have done as the doc had suggested, or at least brought a plaster with me. My mate then suggests that I ask a steward to point me to a St. John Ambulance person, who's sure to have one.
So I collar a steward, who spots a gaggle of St John people in an adjacent stand. He then walks unhurriedly over to them, and even more unhurriedly they then all amble back. Instead of the requested plaster, I then get a very slow walk to the treatment room followed by the incredibly difficult 3-person task of covering the red patch with a white pad, held down with some sticky tape. An Elastoplast would have been much easier, was all that was needed, and more importantly, wouldn't have caused me to miss the first ten minutes of the match. They even insisted on filling in a long form for St. J.A. and another for the football club.
So if you ever need a sticking plaster at a football match, my advice is to ask yourself if it's worth the bother.
Anyway, all that is to justify why I have nothing to say about the early stages of the match, which, according to those who saw it, Pools totally dominated. During what I did see of the first half, Pools were providing most of the football, but without much threat to Coventry's goal. However, Coventry were playing like a bunch of strangers.
"During what I did see of the first half, Pools were providing most of the football, but without much threat to Coventry's goal" After half an hour Hartley appeared to have been fouled as a Coventry player took the ball past him. Pools players and Pools fans alike expected the whistle that never came until a few seconds later, after Flinders had been beaten.

Pools left the field at half time, being unfairly a goal down, but the uninspiring Coventry were looking decidedly beatable. During the interval I was able to verify with neutral Poolies that the incident had indeed been dodgy, and then to meet for the first time another fellow Monkey Business contributor, before we took our seats again. (Subsequently, on the TV highlights, it appeared that the dodgy goal wasn't, but it certainly was when viewed from the other side.)

The second half was fairly even with Coventry perhaps shading it. Mickey Barron was doing the touchline shouting, with John Hughes nowhere to be seen (subsequent reports suggest that, having seen the Hartley incident exactly as the Pools fans and players had, he shared his opinions of the decision with the officials, and was sent to the stand).

The statue of Coventry City’s iconic
former manager Jimmy Hill
stands outside the stadium which
sent them into administration.
Anyway, with subs not appearing until the last 15 minutes, things didn't change much, and Pools couldn't retrieve the game. On the play alone, a draw would have been a fair result, and, but for a suspect decision, that would have been how it would have finished.

There were some decent performances out there. Franks and Poole especially were doing well against Coventry's lumbering defence, but given that, it might have been interesting to see James on with those two, to see how the aforementioned defence might have coped with all three buzzing around them.

OK, it was another three points dropped, and winning six out of eight is now looking difficult, but let's not forget Exeter** a few years back.

*   Four games on and Coventry have now gone into administration. However, they are appealing their 10 point deduction on the grounds that the company that owns their League One place is separate, even though it's owned by the one that's gone into administration (or vice versa). Common sense doesn't seem to prevail when it comes to multinational companies paying tax, bankers crippling the economy yet carrying on regardless, and football governance. So no doubt they'll get away with it, and possibly still get promoted!

** Four games on and it's now ok to forget Exeter.