Adventures in Football #62: Butts Park (Coventry United W)
August 21, 2022
COVENTRY UTD WOMEN vs. BRISTOL CITY WOMEN (Women’s Championship)
Coventry Utd; an entity that exists due to the disgust with the poor running of Coventry City during their stint of home games in Northampton. Founded in 2013, they added Coventry United’s women’s team in 2015 by taking over Coventry City Ladies FC. Coventry United therefore can lay more claim to Coventry than the Coventry City team. For starters, their ground is right by the train station in central Coventry (well, under a mile away) and they run the best women’s team in the city.
Home to both, and Coventry RFC, is Butts Park. Butts Park was built in 2004 as a rugby ground. Coventry United moved there in 2017 to groundshare with the rugby club. Coventry City groundshare with a rugby club too, hence the damage to the pitch causing postponement of their opening two home games this season.
Coventry’s women’s team started life in 1997 as Coventry City and over the following decade grew closer to the Coventry City team they took their name from. They actually played some games at the Ricoh Arena in 2014 before they, along with the men’s team, were ejected from the ground. In the summer of 2015 they merged with Coventry United. A move that doesn’t look right compared to the increased interest most larger clubs started taking in the women’s game around this point. Steve Quinlan, Paul Marsh and Darren Langdon took over the club in 2021 and turned the club professional.
The club were docked 10 points that season for triggering insolvency. They intend to return to professionalism by 2023/24. They currently sit in the Championship, the second tier of women’s football in England. Some of Coventry’s better-known players include defender Megan Alexander (formally of Liverpool, Everton and London Bees), Simran Jhamat (originally from Walsall) and Destiney Toussaint (who, despite her exotic name, is from Leicester). Both Alexander and Jhamat have played for today’s opponents.
I get up on this fine Sunday morning and study my route into Coventry. It looks straightforward…until the cancellations kick in. Something is broken between Birmingham and Coventry. It’s too late to attempt to get there earlier so we’re playing with fire (or railways, both dangerous). Into New Street is easy enough and, because of cancellations, I’ve got loads of time so I go for a walk and discover Candy & Liquor, a 24 hour convenience store that suddenly specialises in craft beer. I only want a bottle of water, due to it being hot as balls, again. Instead I find somewhere to pick up beers for the journey home.
On platform 1B is Tom. He’s slightly hungover after celebrating Romulus’ 3-0 decimation of Halesowen Town in the FA Cup yesterday. He has a bacon roll and looks somewhat the worst for wear. Our train doesn’t help this as it’s packed with holidaymakers on their way to Birmingham International. As that’s on the same route as Coventry, they’ve also had the same trains cancelled. It’s pretty full. Twenty uncomfortable minutes later we disembark in Coventry and head towards a pub I want to go to; the Broomfield Tavern.
Our journey through Coventry took me back in time. I used to frequent Coventry for pro-wrestling shows back in the day. The Skydome is still there but Tam O’Shanters Burns Club is now Teezers Retro Golf. I couldn’t bring myself to go in there. Next door however, is the Sky Blues Tavern. The drinking place for everyone who loves a bit of the Coventry City FC.
In we fucking go! I love the mural on the outside but I’m not sure what the deal is with all the water. On the left here, holding the FA Cup aloft, is the ghost of Cyrille Regis.
We had a pint of “Sky Blue Army”, the local brewery’s tribute to Coventry City. Like the club, there’s not much going on. The decoration is fascinating though and they’ve got a copy of the World Cup in a display case. I don’t remember Coventry winning that! I have to correct Tom when he says Pickles will be looking for it. That’s the Jules Rimet Trophy, which Brazil won outright in 1970. Why can I remember that and not what I had for lunch? I love a sports bar with a load of club nostalgia on the walls. Here’s a picture of a random post.
They have a framed section with various players signatures saying “best wishes” like Steve Ogrizovic, Dion Dublin, Darren Huckerby, Brian Kilcline, Trevor Peake and Cyrille Regis. I legitimately have a lovely time in there but we quickly need to make a move. For starters the club’s website has KO today at 2pm, the club’s Twitter says 2.30pm. We need to find out if we have a spare 30 minutes or not. A helpful geezer by the ground tells us it is 2.30pm and also, we find this brick.
How did it get here? Where is it going? Will it end up through someone’s window? Seeing a house brick out in the wild like this was truly awe inspiring. I felt at one with nature. We walk past a Rileys and a Premier Inn. Man, this place has everything. Past Butts Park and into the Broomfield Tavern. This is a fantastic boozer. It’s set in a row of detached houses overlooking a park. It blatantly used to be someone’s house and I’m loving that it’s been converted into a pub.
Are you bonkers about conkers? October 16, I’ll see you at the Broomfield! The pub is like walking into someone’s house only they’ve got a tiny bar at one end and have replaced all their seating with old mahogany pub furniture. It smells like dogs.
Oh, sorry fella, didn’t see you there. Wasn’t talking shit about you. This big lad, we’ll call him Roman Reigns, likes to stand on his hind legs and look out of the windows at the front. He thinks he’s people. He settles in next to our table and just lies there, face down. It looks like hard work being a big dog.
You can legitimately see into the ground from the beer garden (ok, it’s the pavement outside the pub but point stands). I had a Green Duck “Blackout” in here. A lovely little pint of stout ***½. I would heartily recommend dropping in here pre-game. Plus, it’s right by the ground so you can take your time and not rush off. Shaz meets us here. He left his house even later and is thankful that KO is at 2.30pm so it allows him to get a cheeky pint in.
We’re in the XL Motors Stand. I mean, everyone is, it’s the only stand. It is a big one though and there’s plenty of room for the spectators to spread out. The lads at the turnstiles have no card reader so it’s cash only, which is weird because it’s card only at the bar! Maybe they’ve only got one card reader for the whole place. Anyway, I save the day here by having actual cash money. Tom and Shaz now owe me beers.
We debate standing here for the game. It’s very warm though and I think I spot a bar at the far end of the field. It turns out you can’t walk around the ground and the bar is actually under the stand. Along with a food area and some TVs so we can watch the Leeds vs Chelsea game for 15 minutes at half-time. The game is ok, and reminds me of Wolves W vs. Fylde W last season. A lot of effort with no end product. Bristol City are, sadly, the better of the two teams. I say “sadly” because I only researched the home team and I don’t know who any of the players are who are out-performing them.
We end up sat here and get a decent view of the game. We could have seen it better by climbing the steps but, as I mentioned before, it was very warm. The second half gets underway with me still deep in conversation with a Manchester City fan at the bar. I nip into the bogs on my way back to the seats and Bristol City score. It’s the only goal of the game and I missed it. Both Tom and Shaz saw it so I guess that counts for something. Apart from a few wobbles near the end Bristol City hold on and seize the three points. Not the start to the season Coventry would have been hoping for.
On our way back into the world we admire the view. Coventry is very welcoming, if you like road works and terrible road systems. Luckily, it’s easy to get there by train (when there are no strikes) and I’ll probably come back to watch the men’s team or one of the other little Coventry teams in the future.
It’s back to the Sky Blues Tavern, as Shaz didn’t get to see it, and our chat meanders between subjects. I get some loaded fries in here with chicken tikka on top and I have to say; game changing idea. I want all my chips loaded up with curry from now on. We sit in Dion Dublin’s booth and watch the Man City vs. Newcastle game on our own little TV. It’s quite the game, ending 3-3, and is enjoyed in the company of other sports fans. The most intriguing thing about the Sky Blues Tavern remains the mural though. What’s happening here? Keith Houchen, having scored the winner in the FA Cup final, begins a new career as a fisherman and is tragically lost at sea. This contradicts his Wikipedia article where it states he played for Hibs, Port Vale and Hartlepool before retiring in 1996. I know which tale I would rather believe.
And with that we’re out of here. It was a fine day at the football. All that’s left is to rank Butts Park (I went the whole article without a single butts joke, are you proud?) against other football stadia on a points based system.
A few Bristol City fans made the journey and were quite vocal. The Coventry performance didn’t inspire support from the home fans and most people just sat around working on their tans. *½.
At £7, this was a proper non-league price but I paid a fiver to get into West Brom and that game was better and in the same division. ***½
The game was ok. Bristol City played some decent ball going forwards but there was a lack of quality in the final third for both sides. **
EASE OF ACCESS
If you can be bothered to negotiate the road systems, there’s a car park right in front of Butts Park that’s easy enough to get into. It’s also a short walk from the train station. ****
It’s normally a rugby ground, which means rugby markings all over the pitch. I hate that. I understand it but I still hate it. It’s also a plastic pitch with goals on wheels. The clubhouse was really nice and showing football too. The food looked passable. **
While this ground won’t show up on any ‘year-end’ lists I had a pleasant day out. The Broomfield Tavern is well worth a visit, and I really enjoyed the Sky Blues Tavern as well. The ground is perfectly fine, albeit a rugger ground. I liked the bar and the food that was available, and the clubhouse was very pleasant. The facilities are there for 5k, so it was easy enough to get what you wanted with 312 in the stands. I’ll be trying to get to more women’s games this season as they slot into the void of a Sunday and I think the game is worth supporting.