John Light's weekly perspective on all that is good about local sport
SOME 255 members - 200 on the waiting list (now closed) and 17 coaches! These are the mind-boggling statistics of the Cotswold Gymnastics Club. This club, however, is much more than impressive statistics. Mrs Light and I were honoured to be invited to their Christmas display at the Deer Park on Sunday morning. It was a delight. Watching among a large crowd of rightly proud parents and grandparents, we shared the joy, enthusiasm and commitment of the display.
More than that, we wondered at the discipline, ability and potential of the gymnasts themselves. It was a privilege to be there. All ages took part, some very young indeed. Perhaps the most junior was no more than three and the eldest perhaps 17, but the whole performance was made possible by the efforts of a hard working and lively committee. If I started mentioning names someone would be left out and that would be criminal with so many doing so much.
What committee and coaches provide is an atmosphere where youngsters of both sexes can enjoy and express themselves with total confidence. Their results, their success and their potential was there for everyone to see. This club, existing without sponsorship (what an opportunity for someone!) and seeking larger premises to train is one all of us should be proud of.
No names for coaches or committee, but there are two people, both parents and grandparents that I shall mention - John and Hilary Lawrence. They must have been bursting with pride and justifiably so. An early chairman of the club (perhaps the first) John, ably supported by his wife, took the club forward. Senior readers will know he was a member of the town's water polo team, others will be impressed by the fact he was one of the few Cirencester schoolboys not scared of Wally Robinson. If you do not understand that remark believe me, you are lucky. Unfortunately there are too many who do.
John is the best teller of bad jokes I know, and Hilary who works spiritedly with pre-school children, are two people who make this town such a pleasant place to live. Thanks to both. Needing larger premises, the Gymnastics club have already been rebuffed. Wrongly in my view, I hope the school think again. Supporting such a well-run club would bring much kudos to the school.
Chairman Sandy Mace (email email@example.com) would love to hear if you can help in any way. Attending the Deer Park on Sunday morning there was the chance to see another jewel in the town's sporting crown. The youngsters of the hockey club were training, providing yet more evidence of the opportunities for Cirencester youngsters.
Some 60 years ago, I was an eager 12-year-old with no money but possessing a push- bike. Apart from the excellent uniformed organisations, there were scarcely any activities for youngsters. As far as sport was concerned, you had to wait until you were accepted in an adult side.
Comments about the 'good old days' will get short shrift from me, as I expect they will from those who were educated in Nissan Huts, denied the opportunities the Deer Park and Kingshill now offer - but that is another story.
I have not forgotten Forest Green, still riding high. A robust second half saw them draw level with Macclesfield, but did not produce a deserved winner.
The conquerors of Swindon defended well, not conceding until the 84th minute. On Saturday, FGR hosts Gains-borough Trinity. This game is a FA Trophy Cup-tie and with the attainable aim of being the first club to win both Trophy and FA Vase, Rovers will continue their march to Wembley. Readers of the 'Daily Mail' tell me that Saturday's paper contained a full-page article on the club's green credentials. They are impeccable and awards are well deserved - now for some soccer prizes!
Perhaps the biggest prize of all should go to our Test team. To fight back as they have done in India, winning the last two Tests if a worthy achievement.
The alarm goes off at 5am at Toad Cottage and it is an early morning delight to listen to Test Match Special. Whereas some Indian cricketers fail, a previous one does not. Former batsman Rahul Dravid is a fine addition to the TMS team. There is one final test to come so plaudits will be saved until it is over, but there will surely be many for our captain Cook for, after all, he is Gloucester born.