Saturday, 29 November 2014

Coventry Sphinx - Sphinx Drive

Coventry Sphinx FC
Sphinx Drive
Siddley Avenue
Stoke Aldemoor

02476 451361

Ground Number: 440
Saturday 29th November 2014

Coventry Sphinx 3-1 Continental Star
Midland Football League - Premier Division

As Wycombe were up at Hartlepool, neither me or Anwar fancied going up there. So we started looking at alternatives. He fancied going to Coventry, and with him bringing his mate Carl, who also went to Mickleover with us a couple of months ago, I would have pretty much all of my fuel paid for me. I had a look at the choice of games, and there was not much I fancied, so I just went for the nearest in the only one of Coventry's non league clubs that were at home. Alvis Sporting Club and Coventry Copsewood were on the road and Coventry United were not on my list due to being below step 6.

Coventry Sphinx were formed in 1946 just after the end of World War 2. They were originally a works team known as 'Armstrong Siddley Motors' and later changing their name to Sphinx, before adopting their present monicker in 1995. Up until 1993 they played in the Coventry Alliance and did very well. As a result of their success they joined the Midland Combination in 1993. Winning it's 2nd Division at the first attempt, they were promoted again the following season to it's Premier Division. They had a long stay here until 2007 when they were promoted again, this time to the Midland Alliance. They had a best ever finish of 3rd in 2012 but at the start of the game they were sitting in the lower reaches of the table in 14th place. Though with a good home record winning 5 of their games and losing just once, they would be in with a good chance of victory.

The club had a great run to the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round in the 2009-10 season. Victories over Bromyard Town, Stourport Swifts, Rushall Olympic and Stafford Rangers saw them paired with nearby Bedworth United. They lost a close game 1-0 but gave a good account of themselves. 2007-08 saw them reach the FA Vase Semi Finals, where they lost to Kirkham and Wesham on their own patch after gaining a 3-3 draw up in Lancashire. The club won the Midland Alliance League Cup in 2010, beating Hereford based Westfields in a final played at Walsall's Bescot Stadium, as well as lifting a number of other trophies.

Continental Star were struggling, sitting just above the relegation zone in 19th place. Like the hosts they joined the Midland Alliance in 1993, and after starting in Division 3 were in it's Premier Division by1997 following a period of great success. After a series of unremarkable finished, they were champions of the league in 2012 and joined the Midland Alliance, where they have finished 16th and 17th in their 2 seasons there. They won the JW Hunt Cup in 1999, but have made little progress in any of the FA Cup and Vase games that they have played in, the most notable achievement being a run to the FA Vase 1st Round in 2010.

I woke early on the day of the game, just before 6am. After watching TV, having some breakfast and starting today's blog, I had a bath. With games being called off due to waterlogged pitches all over the country, I was glad to hear that my game was unaffected, having confirmed this with the club over Twitter. I did some more browsing on the internet and Facebook before getting my stuff together and leaving at 11.

I picked Anwar, Carl and some other lads up at 11.30. The roads were poor as usual, it was slow getting out of Aylesbury, multiple drivers had a pile up on the M40 causing further delay and then Coventry was slow. After dropping Anwar and co at The Ricoh Arena at 1.15.

I was at Coventry Sphinx 15 minutes later. I had planned to stop for a takeaway on the way but saw nothing, but in the end I was glad that my search drew a blank. I got a Chinese Curry, chips and a pint of Strongbow for £6.70 and the food was delicious. I watched Ipswich score a last minute winner to win at Charlton before going back to my car for 10 minutes and going in the ground at 2.30.

I paid £8 for entry and 2 programmes as Carl wanted one and was made to feel nice and welcome. I spent the last half hour before kick off  taking photos, typing some of my blog and checking Facebook. To be honest I'd not expected anything special from the day but it had already been really good.

Continental Star had the better of the opening 5 Minutes but it was Ashley Wilks who opened the scoring for Coventry Sphinx after he capitalised on lax defending to put the hosts ahead after 7 minutes. The game was pretty equal with periods of pressure for either side but no real clear cut chances. Just before half time, the Continental Star keeper was injured in a collision and had to go off, with the injury causing around 10 minutes of added time. At the half time whistle I took my stuff back to the car and listened to the radio for a bit. 

I was delighted to hear that Wycombe were winning 1-0 at Hartlepool to continue their great start to the season. The second half started as the first did with the visitors being well on top. They got level 15 minutes in with a great goal - a fantastic dipping volley by Denico Johnson. Coventry Sphinx went ahead on 76 minutes, a neat ball through saw David Blenkinsopp slide past the keeper. It was harsh on Continental Star who had played really well. Coventry added a third in injury time through Luke Downs to complete what seemed on paper a routine victory and this totally knocked the stuffing out of the visitors and sent the majority of the 75 strong crowd home happy.

After the game, the roads were actually decent for once. I got to the Ricoh Arena at 5.25, due to the late ending of my game. From then on, apart from a small amount of traffic coming out of Coventry, it was plain sailing. I dropped everyone off in Aylesbury at 6.50, getting home myself at 7.15. I had a nice Chilli Con Carne for dinner, and spent the rest of the evening on Facebook, typing my blog, and watching TV, my favourite bit being the weekly ritual of Match Of The Day.

SPHINX DRIVE is a great little set up about a mile or so outside Coventry. The ground itself is standard step 5 stuff, with just the one covered area which is a mixture of seating and standing. The stand is named in the memory of Willie Knibbs, a former Sphinx manager who sadly lost his life in a car accident whilst on the way back from the game.

By far the best part is the bar which does delicious food and the standard range of drinks at great prices. There is no club shop as you would expect, but there is a further tea bar in the ground which offers a decent range.


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