The MOSELEY TROPHY - by the
Woodroofe, in 2006........
Early Cup rivalry
Coventry RFC was founded in 1874, a year after
Fixtures between the two clubs began as long ago as 1879.
From the very beginning, the intensity of the rivalry between the two clubs
increased more and more and this was fuelled by the arrival of the Midland
Counties Challenge Cup Competition instituted in 1881-2.
The two clubs met in the Final in 1884 – before scoring by points was
introduced – with
‘Bad for the game’
The competition was discontinued in 1926 because of the general feeling that
Cup ties, in addition to disrupting club fixtures in March and April,
created acrimony and did no good for the game.
One pundit wrote: “The ambition of the bigger clubs and the inability of
certain teams to behave like gentlemen killed the old Cup.” By then, the
clubs had met in seven finals, Coventry winning four and
two, with the 1914 final declared null and void after Coventry had beaten
Moseley 13-0, because Coventry had included two players not on their list of
men for Cup-ties and Moseley had been late with their list!
Playing for pride
As there were no club competitions in the Midlands after 1926 before the
County Cups, motivation was provided by the pride of playing for and
supporting your club – so local derbies and games against the Welsh clubs
provided additional spice to the fixtures.
The Mose-Cov fixture has a long tradition and has provided its share of
controversy over the years at all playing and official levels. But a supreme
moment was at the time of both clubs’ Golden Age when, in 1972, 14
international players, past, present and future, graced The Reddings in a
match played before a crowd of 4,000.
In the RFU National Cup competition, which commenced in 1971-2, Coventry
have won all three games, two at The Reddings. They have won the Cup twice,
in 1972-3 and 1973-4. On their way to winning in 1972-3, they defeated
12-9, one of their away victories.
The two clubs met in the Cheltenham and Gloucester Cup in November 1997,
winning 36-29 at Coundon Road.
From when League rugby began in 1987-8, to the start of 2006/7 there were 15 matches,
having won eight and Coventry seven.
The points difference reflects the local derby element, Moseley scoring 344
and Coventry 369.
In September 2006 the resumption of the Moseley Coventry local derby,
after three seasons, proved a splendid occasion for the ‘alickadoos’ of both
clubs, It was like a reunion, with plenty of eating, drinking and
reminiscing. The Moseley ‘old ‘uns’, were looked after throughout by,
amongst others, BRIAN ‘SPIKE’ O’DONNELL, a Coventry, Warwickshire and
Midland Counties second-row 1953-59, who had a trial for Ireland.
It was also a pleasure to see 91-year-old HARRY WALKER sat in his ‘special
chair’ at the corner of the bar. Arguably the oldest, but definitely one of
the oldest surviving England internationals, Harry won nine caps when he was
an ever-present in 1947 and 1948. He was part of the WHEATLY, WYMAN, WALKER
pack at Coventry, the front row of a renowned pack that were all
international or trial players and who played together for about six
seasons. Harry was kind enough to say he thought Moseley were the better
team on the day.
When Coventry moved from Coundon Road to their fine new Butts Park Arena,
they unearthed from their memorabilia a silver Cup on a thick black plinth
called the ‘Moseley Trophy’. It appears it had come into existence when
Moseley first played Coventry on Boxing Day - well before the Second World
War - and commemorated the occasion.
It has certainly
not been played for since the War. Harry Walker does not remember it. But
thankfully the Trophy has been resurrected and will be played for whenever
the two clubs meet henceforth.
The future on
Boxing Day may be no more, the lack of public transport being a problem, but
while the clubs are in the same division, it will be played for twice a
season. The Cup is called the Moseley Trophy. Who instigated it is unclear –
a question to be researched…
won the tense game by a single point, Coventry President DAVID HARDY handed
the trophy to Moseley President DEREK NUTT, who presented it back to
Coventry, vowing to win it back when the two clubs meet again at Billesley
on December 16 – close to Boxing Day!
sees the return of this fixture as the place to be on Boxing Day at
Harry Knox adds............
Harry Knox on Moseley Coventry in the 50’s and 60’s
Following last week’s preview on the Coventry match, we received some
further information on the ‘history of the clash’ from Harry Knox who played
for both sides in the 50s and 60s – in fact he played for both sides twice!
“Back in the 50’s and 60’s, Moseley and Coventry were among the strongest
club sides in the country. This, and their close proximity, made matches
between the two assume an extra level of ferocity. And when you include the
make-up of the respective teams - Moseley a predominately
university/profession side and Coventry a local lad/local workplace side the
games had even more bite.
I was lucky to have a foot in both camps. In 1958, after leaving Cambridge
University , I went to live and work in Coventry . John Herbert, my captain
at Cambridge , suggested playing for Moseley as Peter Robbins was captain
It was the days before I could afford a car and so I trained at Coventry
midweek and took the train to B'ham on Saturdays. If we had an away fixture
which meant getting back to B'ham after midnight , I usually ended up
sleeping on someone's sofa. I remember John Little being particularly kind,
and it was sad to hear of his death earlier this year.
After two years, I think I ran out of sofas and so moved to play for
Coventry . Another factor which may have influenced the move was getting
married! In those days, ladies were banished from the Reddings bar at 6pm
and after each game my wife had to sit in the tea room waiting for my
drinking to end.
A move between the two clubs was unprecedented, and yet over the next few
years, I was followed by Peter Robbins, Brian Wightman and the Pargetter
brothers, Tom and Pancho. Then in 1962, still having lots of friends at
Moseley, I rejoined the club for my last season before returning to the
North of England.
The links with the North were quite strong, particularly at Coventry . . In
1959/60 Cov had three members in the Durham County side - George Grace, John
Moffat and myself, as well as supplying most of the Warwickshire side. At
Moseley, the Smallwoods, Charles and Enid , had many links with Durham and
were gracious hosts to my wife and me on many occasions.
Anyone who has read Michael Blair’s excellent
biography of Peter Robbins - "Life at ONE HUNDRED miles an hour" will
realise that life at Moseley was never dull.and never serious (off the
field). I am grateful for my share and still bore my friends with my happy
memories”. - Harry Knox
The thoughts and memories from former players are always welcome – if you
have any memories of your playing days – please send to email@example.com