First a confession. I went to the fans' forum at Sharmans Cross Road last week expecting a bloodbath, a gladiatorial-type showdown that would only end when the last man was left standing in a roomful of twisted torsos.

Imagine my disappointment then when it turned out to be a constructive and good-natured dialogue between two parties intent on the same end - success for Pertemps Bees.

Yet even though my blood-lust went unquenched the evening turned out to be a hugely informative occasion in which management and supporters put their arguments in a sensible and restrained manner, resulting in at least some form of consensus and understanding.

The officials answered questions, allayed fears where they could and gave members an insight into the way they approach matches. They even disclosed the gameplan for the forthcoming trip to Plymouth Albion.

In short it was a triumph for effective communication and hopefully the short and medium-term future of the Solihull club, though sadly its origins were rather more malevolent.

The club's director of rugby, Phil Maynard, has come in for some heavy duty criticism on an unofficial messageboard - for the uninitiated, an internet site where people post their opinions - and had even faced calls to resign. The meeting was his chance to face his accusers.

The comments ranged from personal abuse to suggestions that he was not pulling his weight - the vast bulk of his critics, of course, do not expose their real identities and the few that did, failed to turn up on Thursday evening.

Or perhaps more correctly, if any of the posters were there, they did not make themselves known. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions about that.

A few miles down the A45, but no doubt light years apart in cyber space, Mike Umaga is having similar problems as head coach at Coventry.

They are another club who are experiencing the difficulties in competing in a division where the vast majority of sides are full-time.

And Umaga is another coach who is having to work in an environment where there are pockets of hostility.

Contributors to the Coventry messageboard have also called for Umaga's head. He is, they say too inexperienced, though another says he has been there too long, uninspiring and negative.

I have had the good fortune of spending time in the company of Mr Umaga and have never found him anything less than 100 per cent committed, deep thinking and totally engaging.

Both he and Maynard are, after all, feeding their families with what happens on a Saturday afternoon. Why would they go about it in a half-cocked manner?

Now as a journalist I am almost duty-bound to have no problem with free speech. This column is merely a paper version of a messageboard, but at least I have to deal with the consequences - and there have been a few recently - of whatever I write.

People know who I am, where I am and, unfortunately for them, what I look like. There can be no hiding place and nor should there be, if you express an opinion expect to be challenged on it.

That challenge should not come at the end of a computer. It should come in person, over a pint at the end of a game. I speak to the men involved on a regular basis and they inform me that no one has done that. Which either says something about the usefulness of anonymous messageboards or the people that contribute to them.

If anyone want to contact me on any of the points I have raised they can do so either on the phone 0121 234 5902, or in the Butts Park Arena clubhouse after the Coventry/Bees game on February 11. I'd be happy to talk.

* In a similar vein it appears I have been held up as something of a pantomime villain following the abolition of the monthly NCA awards.

Late last year I argued the scheme was ill-suited to rugby union in the National Leagues and suggested they be scrapped.

Click here to read the article

Lo and behold, I read in last week's Rugby Times: "The NCA has decided to scrap its monthly awards. Rugby Times understands that the decision was taken after a scathing article by Brian Dick. . . in the Birmingham Post."

Intrigued that my power should stretch so far I contacted a high ranking official in the NCA and was told they were already thinking about ending the awards anyway. All my article did was "focus their minds".

Next week I shall urge the Palestinians and Israelis to embrace a two-state solution, but if in the meantime you want to hiss and boo at me, you've got the phone number.