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  • Phil

Franchises and Flap Tracks

Updated: Aug 23, 2019

My last few posts have looked at aspects of sport and pastimes in Coventry to coincide with Coventry Sports Fest 2019. Today I’m taking a brief look at “American” sports in the city.

In my last post (regarding world champions) I made a passing reference to baseball. I became interested in baseball during a visit to my good friends Linda, Steve and Scouser the cat (previous owners had Merseyside connections!). They live in California and I became a fan of the Oakland Athletics (of Brad Pitt “Moneyball” fame!) after visits to their home the Colessium (shared with NFL’s Raiders and adjacent to the home of NBA’s Golden State Warriors).

One of the biggest sporting fixtures in the world – New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox – was recently held at West Ham’s London Stadium. We have also seen NFL matches played at Wembley in recent years and talk of the possibility of a “British Franchise” in the not too distant future. The concept of moving franchises is well established in American sport. For example we can trace the Oakland A’s back to Kansas and their near neighbours San Franscisco Giants made the continent wide move from New York.

Consideration of clubs uping sticks and moving thousands of miles puts a slightly different perspective on the Sky Blues recent move to Birmingham, Bees relocating to Leicester and (the former London) Wasps migration north to Coventry via a prolonged stopover in Wycombe!

Although I have witnessed an unofficial casual baseball game in the memorial park, serious play in the city is confined to a student team from Coventry University which plays at a national level.

Wasps fans will be aware of recent sporting connections between Coventry and the States. Christian Wade left the rugby union outfit for the NFL. It did not take long for him to hit the headlines with a spectacular run resulting in a touchdown.

I have only ever once attended a gridiron match – watching the Coventry Bears American Football team at Lockhurst Lane during the 1980s (the details are a vague memory!). That stadium had been home to many sports (the playing area now replaced by housing) including speedway and greyhound racing. We now see another speedway track under threat this week as an application for a housing development on the Bees’ Brandon home is considered.

Rambling off for a moment….. On the subject of Greyhound Racing I was told many years ago that there was a (I think) pre-war flap track on Hermitage Rd where I live. It was at the end of the road at the junction with Cowley Road where “Fylde House” maisonettes now stand. I have struggled to find any details and would be very interested to learn more….

Getting back to “American” sports. We have Coventry Blaze ice hockey team well established at the Sky Dome. The franchise theme continues as Coventry’s team had originated as the “Solihull Barons”, rebranded as "Solihull Blaze" and eventually shited a few miles our way!

Basketball gives us a similar story. The Crusdaders became well established in the city and many will think of them as a community based club recognising American born Dip Donaldson as a stalwart of Coventry sport. Their predecessors Team Fiat were one of the leading clubs in the 70s and 80s before their eventual move out of Coventry Sports Centre city to become the “Birmingham Bullets”.

There seems to be a theme of migrations when considering our sports teams. Let’s hope to see some rambling back to Coventry before too long....

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