UNITED by name, United by nature – a lot can happen in football in four years, just ask the fans of Coventry United.
Top of the Midland League Premier division with five wins and a draw from their opening six games, the club keep taking giant strides forward.
Formed in 2013 by four lifelong friends – Jason Kay, Jason Timms, Marcus Green and Peter Schofield – they have already had three promotions to reach Step 5.
While conceived around the time beleaguered League club Coventry City were going to play their home games 35 miles away at Northampton Town because of a rent dispute, Cov United shouldn’t be seen as another rebel club.
They aren’t in opposition to the famous Sky Blues and the board believe the town is certainly big enough for the both of them. Rather, they want to bring together the communities of the midland city together under a United banner.
On August 28, they played their first game at the ground they share with Coventry Rugby Club – a 3-0 win against Worcester City in front of 623 people.
“It’s been really exciting,” Nick Woods, deputy chair of the supporters’ club and community manager, tells The NLP. “Being involved with other football clubs you get the view you’re not quite sure what’s going on. With this it’s been really refreshing because you know what’s going on. When the board tell you they’re doing something, nine times out of ten it happens, which is refreshing.
“They were working on this move to Butts Park Arena for some time and it’s come off now. That’s really exciting and great to see. We were averaging about 100 in attendance prior to that. Now in the first few matches we’ve seen a big jump in attendances. You can see the club is going in the right direction. Obviously we’ve had three promotions as well. It’s been exciting to be part of that success.”
Already they have an Academy set-up, an U21s side and, in 2015, merged with Coventry City Ladies to become Coventry United Ladies, who play in the Women’s Premier League.
“From a community point of view we’ve also been linking up with community groups.” Woods says. “We’ve got strong partnerships with the Coventry Refugee Centre and Coventry Life Path Trust, who support people with learning difficulties.
“We’ll be having both groups along to a game on September 30. Then we’re looking at getting primary school children along for free this season if we can because we want to build the crowd and support. We obviously want more volunteers, but we’ve grown a good band with different skills. It’s a bit of an eye-opener coming to the new ground because there’s lots more jobs to do, but it’s going really well.”
On the rise: Coventry United are enjoying plenty of success with an impressive squad (photo: Jeff Bennett)
Like many fans who follow big, professional clubs further up the food chain, the fans have found the simple pleasures of Non-League life.
“It’s been great,” Woods says. “Going into the Midland League Division Three and moving up to the Premier means this is the fourth league we’ve been in. It’s regionalised so you can pretty much go home and away.
“Seeing all the different little places around the Midlands that you’ve never heard of, seeing all the grounds, all the different pubs, the different fans and teams has been a real eye-opener.
“It’s shown me you don’t have to have thousands and thousands of people and your team being mentioned on Sky Sports to be able to enjoy it.”