Recreational and sports amenities in Coventry
Despite never have being one of the ‘hot-beds’ of sporting achievement in the country Coventry has much to commend itself in terms of sport and recreation. It has excellent recreation facilities for its residents and visitors, coupled with a determination by the city council to encourage people to use them.
Without doubt the best known sporting organisation in Coventry is Coventry City FC - the football team. With a history dating back to 1883 the club now known as Coventry City was established in 1898, which then moved to the Highfield Road ground it would occupy for the next 106 years in 1899. After many years of struggle they won promotion to the top flight of English football, then called Division One, in 1967. Despite rarely achieving their potential the club did stay in the top flight until the summer of 2001 when they eventually lost their place in the Premier League. Only three other football clubs have managed to stay in the top flight of English football for longer than 34 years. The clubs finest hour came in 1986 when they won the FA Cup, they moved to their new ground - the Rioch Stadium - in 2005 and currently play on the English Championship division. Coventry City FC were known as The Bantams until in the 1960s they adopted a sky blue kit, ever since then they are commonly known as The Sky Blues.
The senior rugby union team in Coventry is simply known as the Coventry Rugby Club who currently play in National Division I of the English Rugby Football Union. Established in 1874 by members of the Stoke Cricket Club, they play at The Butts, which is off the B4101 from junction 7 of the inner ring road. Their best achievement to date was twice winning the RFU Knock-Out Cup Competition in the early 1970s. Coventry has a thriving amateur rugby union scene including clubs like Coventry Saracens who produced the international ‘prop’ Darren Garforth, who was capped for England 25 times. Coventry also has a Rugby League club - The Coventry Bears - who play at the Old Coventrians RFU ground in Tile Hill. They play in the Midlands Premier League of the Rugby League Conference, which they last won in 2007.
The Coventry Blaze Ice Hockey Team play in the top flight British National Elite League, which they won in the season 2006-2007. The club plays at the Coventry Sky Dome, one of the Planet Ice rinks, on Croft Road in the west of the city centre. Originally formed as the Solihull Barons, then Solihull Blaze, in 1996 they moved to Coventry in 2000 and from then on assumed the name of Coventry Blaze. A fast and physical sport attracts capacity crowds to the Sky Dome arena, home matches are usually played on Sunday evenings from September to March. The local basketball team is the Coventry Crusaders, whose inaugural season was 1992-1993. They also play in the top flight league for their sport, the English Basketball League Division I and play their home games at the Coventry Sports and Leisure Centre, on Fairfax Street.
Coventry Sports and Leisure Centre is one of many such leisure centres across Coventry that are part of the Coventry Sports Trust. The City of Coventry Swimming Club also uses the Olympic size pool at the Coventry Sports and Leisure Centre for it’s competitions, including national Speedo League ones. As well as administering the five sports and leisure centres and their activities it also operates the three municipal golf courses.
Coventry has one of the top hockey clubs in the country - The Coventry & North Warwickshire Hockey Club - which is based at Westwood Heath Road near Warwick University. It was established in 1895 and amongst the teams it runs the Men’s First XI currently plays in the Midlands Premier League whilst the Women’s First XI plays in the Warwickshire Women’s Division II. One of the best known athletics teams in the country is the Coventry Godiva Harriers Athletics Club, which was formed in 1879. They use the Coventry Track at Canley for home meetings and have use of the training facilities at the University of Warwick. The club always features prominently in UK athletics meetings; their most recent luminary is the former middle distance runner David Moorcroft. Coventry City Tennis Club uses the facilities at the Westwood Campus of the University of Warwick and the Stoke Park Leisure Centre. The club is keen to promote the sport in the city and provides coaching opportunities for all ages and abilities. The senior cricket club in Coventry is Highway Cricket Club, who play in the Warwickshire League Premier Division. They have two grounds - the main one is on Fletchamstead Highway and they also use the nearby King Henry VIII Sports Ground, off the A45.