THIS is the time to look forward. It is the time for hopes and dreams – a metaphorical buckling on of pads or taking one’s seat in the stand. It is a time to plan trips to exciting fixtures or tournaments and above all it is a rare time for total optimism.
That is how I regard the future fortunes of our county cricket club. The fixture list is the most exciting for years and we have some fine emerging cricketers.
We looked short of an opening bat and captain but then came the news that Gloucestershire had signed the experienced Aussie Michael Klinger.
This is another coup for John Bracewell and the county, especially as Klinger is available for all three domestic competitions.
Yes, we are short of a spin bowler – but perhaps not for too much longer, as two players in Gloucestershire’s Academy have been selected for the England U19 tour of South Africa.
Tom Shrewsbury and Miles Hammond are further examples of the raft of young talent at Bristol, following Chris Dent and David Payne in gaining international recognition at U19 level.
Tom, from Cornwall, is completing his education at Wycliffe College, Stroud. Miles is based in Oxford. Both have been under the wing of Academy Director Owen Dawkins and could be pushing for first team recognition this term.
Of the senior staff, Alex Gidman is slimmer and trimmer and looks capable of glorious Gidman runs. At what promises to be the most exciting Cheltenham Festival in 2013, cheering his 1,000 runs for the season would be a delight.
Delight, too, for Cirencester Cricket Club is something to look forward to. Promotion out of the County League is a firm aim and with the effort they put in to youth cricket they deserve it.
With the energetic Gerald Wilkinson replacing John King as secretary/treasurer the CDCA will surely continue being the best local association in the county. Chairman Phil Carter may even smile.
The P word is a real possibility for our top three local soccer clubs – Forest Green, Cheltenham and Swindon.
Perhaps not for Cirencester Town. They are faltering and crowds are miserable. One of the reasons for low crowds I hear often is that no local players play for the town team.
I have some sympathy for manager Brian Hughes. Soccer is a results-driven business and he has to field the best team possible, but can I urge him to use local players if at all possible.
Goalkeeper Clatworthy is one, but he has lost his place to a newcomer from Slimbridge. On his debut, the new boy let in six goals.
Attending Cirencester Grammar School in the 1950s I was able to enjoy the fine playing fields (at least in the summer) and I know the junior school on that site do so as well. Attending the firework display, I noticed what we knew as the hockey pitch was in poor condition. It has access that does not affect the school and would make an excellent soccer field or be used for a multitude of sports. One New Year’s hope is that a proper use can be made of it.
One hope is being realised day by day. That is the upswing in fortunes of Gloucester RFC. Dean Ryan did not bring out the best in a golden generation of players and the dead hand of Bryan Redpath was worse.
Now, however, it is different both in atmosphere and attainment. The Shed is a happy place again and have resumed their rightful role as the team’s 16th man. If you have never stood there – go! It is one of sport’s most genuine and rewarding experiences.
We are lucky in Gloucestershire because the Festival (yes Cheltenham’s other one – at the Prestbury Park racecourse) offers so much. All human life is there and everyone seems to enjoy themselves, even Sir Alex Ferguson. It is the only time I have seen him when he isn’t chewing gum.
The Twiston-Davis clan are growing in number and stature. Can they bring another Gold Cup victory to Gloucestershire? The two brothers who ride horses for their father have a schoolboy look but if you are putting a bob or two on the racing, do not ignore them.
Incidentally, Mrs Light has made an important New Year resolution. It is to prepare her sermons earlier in the week. A member of the Cirencester clergy team, she preaches most weeks and is usually putting the finishing touches to her weekly thoughts on a Saturday afternoon. This means she has missed too many matches at FGR. The promotion run-in may keep her to her intention.
The best thing about these hopes and dreams is their glorious uncertainty, some dreams will come true but which ones?.
There is one aspect of the forthcoming year that is true and rewarding, as it always has been. That is the companionship of Cotswold sportsmen and women. Let us hope there are so many occasions when joy is unconfined – and that Mrs Light and I will be there.