County cricket ground development gets go-ahead
GREAT cricket news from Bristol. All contracts have been signed, work has started, there is money in the bank and, above all, the future of our county cricket club is assured. Ground development underway!
A relieved and rejoicing Tom Richardson phoned me with the news on Friday evening. Tom has been totally involved in the Bristol scheme every day for the past seven years. He has worked unstintingly to help the club over every hurdle. All of us who love Gloucestershire cricket owe a great deal to Tom. I couple his name with Chairman Rex Body. He, like Tom, will know the personal costs of their efforts. I hope we realise the value.
Sticking with cricket, I have mixed feelings over the proposed programme for 2014. The fact that the County Championships will remain at two divisions and 16 four-day games must be welcomed but the other decisions worry me.
The 40-over competition is going. Talking to the Gidman brothers and Hamish Marshall on Friday they all expressed their love for this competition. It fits splendidly into Sunday afternoons and anyone who has seen the big crowds and fine matches at Cheltenham will agree.
An 11am start for Championship cricket (most matches are to start on Sunday) will not have the same appeal. For those of us in the Cotswolds, Friday night T20 matches at Bristol will not appeal, either. Driving on the M5 or M4 on Friday evening is not a life-enhancing experience. Executive board member Bill Griffin tells me there may be a chance to play T20 matches at Cheltenham in 2014 as part of the Festival. Get there early. Such games will cause the gates to be closed.
Tuesday night was the AGM of the Cotswold District Cricket Association and saw the resignation of John King as Secretary/Treasurer.
Everyone who knows the contribution of John to the CDCA will know how hard he has worked, but more importantly they will know how he conducted his duties. With a calm manner and easy disposition, John has been the ideal administrator and, of course, will be much missed. I believe a worthy successor has been found. More next week.
Edward Gillespie of Cheltenham Racecourse is also stepping down. Edward has in his spell at Cheltenham turned the racecourse and the Festival into the success it now is. He had a major article in The Times devoted to his achievements and thoroughly deserved it.
Edward is much more than a racing man, however.
A devout Anglican, he works both for his own Church and the wider Diocese. Mrs Light and I value the inspiration he gave us, and the contribution he made in starting the Cricket Festival service. Also on the board of the Everyman Theatre and fixtures secretary of his village cricket club, EG has made an outstanding contribution to Gloucestershire life.
He still has much to offer and after he has taken a breather I await more major contributions from this modest, able and perceptive man.
The FA Cup did not bring too much immediate joy to followers of Forest Green. (It came in Tuesday night’s replay when the first round tie with Port Vale was happily secured – Ed).
On Saturday, a home draw to Dartford was the best they could achieve. Dominating most of the game, they gave away an equalising goal. It was most frustrating.
I took some consolation by remembering cup-tie nights at Swindon. The walloping of West Ham (Moore, Peters and Hurst) by 3-1, and an epic contest against Arsenal (Swindon 4, Arsenal 3) spring to mind. Add in the splendid surge to Wembley triumph and you will know what I mean. If you are as old as I am, that is.
I had another memorable evening in the last week.
Mrs Light and I attended the Cirencester Operatic Society production of The Pirates of Penzance.
Do not think I am trivialising local amateur productions by comparing them to FA Cup-ties, or vice versa. Rather I am offering both as examples of fine performances, surprises, thrills and joy. We are lucky to have the advantage of experiencing both in this marvellous area we all live in.