Despite never being one of the ‘hot-beds’ of sporting achievements in the country, Coventry has a lot to praise in sports and recreation. It has excellent recreational facilities for its residents and visitors, coupled with the City Council’s determination to encourage people to use it.
Undoubtedly the most famous sports organization in Coventry is Coventry City FC – the football team. With a history dating back to 1883, the club now known as Coventry City was founded in 1898, then moved to the Highfield Road ground which it would occupy in 10699 for the next 106 years. After many years of struggle, they won promotion to the top flight of English football, then called Division 1, in 1967. Despite rarely reaching their potential, the club remained 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 remain at the top of English football for more than 34 years. The club’s best hour came in 1986 when they won the FA Cup, moved to their new grounds – the Rioch Stadium – in 2005 and are currently playing in the English Championship division. Coventry City FC was known as The Bantams until they adopted a sky-blue kit in the 1960s, and since then they have been commonly known as The Sky Blues.
The senior rugby union team in Coventry is known simply as the Coventry Rugby Club currently playing in National Division I of the UK Rugby Football Union. Founded in 1874 by members of the Stoke Cricket Club, they play at The Butts, which is just off the B4101 from junction 7 of the inner ring. Their best performance to date has been winning the RFU Knock-Out Cup Competition twice in the early 1970s. Coventry has a thriving amateur rugby association, including clubs such as Coventry Saracens that produced the international ‘prop’ Darren Garforth, which was cut 25 times for England. Coventry also has a Rugby League club – The Coventry Bears – which play on the Old Coventrians RFU grounds 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 plays in the top flight British National Elite League, which they won in the 2006-2007 season. The club plays in the Coventry SkyDome, one of the Planet Ice rinks, on Croft Road to the west of the city center. Originally formed as the Solihull Barons, then Solihull Blaze, they moved to Coventry in 1996 and took the name Coventry Blaze from then on. A fast and physical sport attracts many people to the SkyDome arena, home games are usually played on Sunday evenings from September to March. The local basketball team is the Coventry Crusaders, whose first season was 1992-1993. They also play in the highest-flying league for their sport, the English Basketball League Division I, and play their home games at the Coventry Sports and Leisure Center, on Fairfax Street.
Coventry Sports and Leisure Center is one of the many leisure centers in Coventry that are part of the Coventry Sports Trust. The City of Coventry Swimming Club also uses the Olympic-size swimming pool at the Coventry Sports and Leisure Center for its competitions, including the National Speedo League. In addition to managing the five sports and recreation centers and their activities, it also manages the three municipal golf courses.
Coventry has one of the best hockey clubs in the country – The Coventry & North Warwickshire Hockey Club – which is located on Westwood Heath Road near Warwick University. Founded in 1895, among the teams it runs the Men’s First XI currently playing in the Midlands Premier League, while the Women’s First XI playing in the Warwickshire Women’s Division II. One of the country’s best-known athletic teams is the Coventry Godiva Harriers Athletics Club, which was founded in 1879. They use the Coventry Track in Canley for home gatherings and use the training facilities of the University of Warwick. The club is always prominent at athletic meetings in the UK; their most recent star is former middle-distance runner David Moorcroft. Coventry City Tennis Club uses the facilities on the Westwood campus of the University of Warwick and the Stoke Park Leisure Center. The club aims to promote the sport in the city and offers coaching opportunities for all ages and levels. The senior cricket club in Coventry is Highway Cricket Club, which plays in the Warwickshire League Premier Division. They have two terrains – the main one is on the Fletchamstead Highway and they also use the nearby King Henry VIII Sports Ground, just off the A45.