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SWINDON TOWN: No divided loyalties for Coventry fan Collins
ONCE upon a time James Collins used to idolise Coventry City’s players. Tomorrow he’d be more than happy to see them crumble.
The striker was a season-ticket holder with the Sky Blues for four years in his youth, as he and dad Steve graced the terraces at Highfield Road to watch the likes of Dion Dublin, Darren Huckerby and Paul Telfer fly the flag for the Midlands outfit in the Premier League.
Fast-forward a little more than a decade and both Collins’ and Coventry’s landscapes have changed considerably.
The former has swapped the stands for starting line-ups, his favoured club have fallen from the top flight for the lower regions of England’s third tier.
Collins still keeps a keen eye on his boyhood team’s results and, when he gets time, visits the Ricoh Arena to support the club.
However, when he walks out of the County Ground tunnel in the red of Swindon this weekend, he won’t be allowing sympathy or nostalgia to creep into his game.
“I used to be a season-ticket holder there with my dad when I was about seven and I had one there until I was 11 or 12 and then I started playing football on a Saturday myself so I couldn’t go.
“We used to go up to Highfield Road every single Saturday and watched the Sky Blues in the Premier League.
“I’ve been to watch them a couple of times in the Championship in 2001 but otherwise it’s been in the Premiership. I went to see them last season in a midweek game, I can’t remember who it was against.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever played their first team so I’m looking forward to it.
“Obviously Coventry are a massive club and I wouldn’t want them to be in this position in League One. I think they’re definitely a Championship side, they’re a big, big club. I always look out for their results and I know a couple of players there.
“But I’ve got to take that away from it on Saturday because my team Swindon are playing against them and I want the three points and the bragging rights.
“I’ve got to forget about it and go out there and get the points off them.
A staunch Coventry fan, Collins’ father Steve has been telling his son that he will most definitely be shouting for the home side on Saturday.
Collins junior isn’t convinced, however, and feels there may be a very audible cheer emanating from a small section of the home crowd if the visitors manage to find a way past Wes Foderingham.
“My mum and my dad will be there. He comes to watch me now but he’s still a Cov supporter.
“He’ll be supporting Swindon. I think it’s just what he’s telling me. If Coventry score, God forbid, he’ll probably give it a little cheer to himself.
“Hopefully he’s hiding behind a pillar so I don’t have to see him.”
And while victory would be a special experience for Collins, finding the net against the Sky Blues would be real Roy of the Rovers stuff.
“It would be a great thing for me, I’d love to score against the team I grew up supporting,” he said. “It would be a fantastic feeling.
“If I manage to get on the pitch and score a goal it will be a great feeling.”