Every football supporter dreams of watching their team walk out at Wembley in a cup final. 30 years ago, my team, Coventry City, famously achieved that feat as they triumphed over Tottenham Hotspur to lift the FA Cup.
Fast forward to the present day and we have booked a trip to that famous stadium again, this time in the Checkatrade Trophy final. As far as competitions go, it has to be the most disregarded within football. The addition of ‘B’ teams certainly riled many and attendances all over the country highlighted that frustration.
So, ‘why aren’t Coventry City fans boycotting Wembley then?’ I hear you ask. We deserve this day after all torture we’ve been through, that’s why. Our club is heading for the fourth tier, we don’t hold many assets and nobody even knows where we will be playing our football if we are still around in a year or so.
Due to demand, our allocation has been increased to just shy of 46,000 and should we sell all of them, it will be a club record for a game at the new Wembley stadium (bar Tottenham’s Champions League games, of course). A minority of opposition fans are giving us some stick for electing to attend, but if they were in our position I’m sure they would snap them up too.
There are plenty of clubs being put through the wringer; Leyton Orient, Blackburn Rovers and Blackpool to name just a few. At Coventry, we honestly have NOTHING to look forward to. The future is incredibly bleak on and off the field, leading me and many others to fear for our very existence.
Now twenty years of age, I have never seen the good times the Sky Blues have had. The Jimmy Hill days, the FA Cup success, the decades of top flight football – I haven’t experienced any of that. For people my age, all we know is disappointment and failure, but I feel sorry for the older generation. They’ve had to watch Coventry crumble into something almost unrecognisable.
Formerly London-based rugby club, Wasps, now have control of the Ricoh Arena and we are mere tenants in our own City. Our current deal expires at the end of next season, and with SISU not on talking terms with the relevant parties, we could be homeless again sooner than we know it…
Back in 2013, similar rent disputes led to our owners taking Coventry City football club to ground-share at Sixfields Stadium, the home of Northampton Town, which is 35 miles away. During that time, the club died in the eyes of many, but if a similar thing happened this time around it would be doubly as catastrophic.
As every football fan knows, your club is much more than just a sideshow, it’s a massive part of your life. To have it being torn apart right in front of your eyes is soul destroying. We as fans seem powerless, the governing bodies are failing to act and I can’t see things improving at all – the club’s mess is now beyond repair.
We have tried to vent our frustrations in many ways including a march through the City, pitch invasions and boycotts. Nothing seems to have an impact and we are still treated with minimal respect despite being the lifeblood of this club. Every party that has contributed to the disgraceful decimation of CCFC deserves to hang their head in shame.
Our fan base are all fighting to keep the Sky Blues alive, but the divide between supporters is huge due to a lack of transparency from our owners regarding their plans. You have to take everything said with a pinch of salt as the majority is smoke and mirrors. I just wish those who can influence what happens to CCFC could remember what it means to the people of Coventry.
It’s difficult to see why anybody would invest in the club now as it is on life support, but we are aiming to use Wembley as an advertisement to prospective new owners. The potential we have is huge and hopefully the sea of City fans can help people realise that.
I and many others are not particularly bothered if we beat Oxford and lift the trophy – we just want to enjoy the day out. Following this club around the country is a chore in all honesty, but we can only pray that our spiral towards the abyss halts before it’s too late.
We are now in a pivotal stage and the actions across the next year or two will shape the destiny of our club. If things continue in the way they are currently, non-league football looks likely, as does the prospect of liquidation. It’s horrible to say that about the club you have ingrained in your heart, but it is realism unfortunately.
All we can do now is prepare for life in League Two, but before we pack our bags for the trips to Exeter and Carlisle, let’s savour April 2nd. Of course, it’s ironic that we’ve reached a final in our worst ever season, but our supporters deserve at least one day of release from the nightmare we call Coventry City.