LIGHT’S OUT . . . the weekly sports column full of wit and wisdom by former Gloucestershire CCC chairman John Light

First published in Sport Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: John Light by

THE Forest Green Rovers promotion journey is one to be enjoyed. The game at Luton was another thrilling encounter.

In a maelstrom of a match, the young Rovers side matched their expensive, experienced opponents in every respect.

Luton scored in the seventh minute and the worst was feared. A crowd of more than 6,000 was roaring them on. Many teams would have crumbled, but not this emerging Forest Green side.

A thumping Taylor header was a marvellous response and although no more goals were scored, an open exhilarating game entertained everyone.

FGR fans were marvellous. Although outnumbered by 60 to 1, they could be heard all around the ground.

Their numbers were augmented by non-playing squad members and the spirit that could bring promotion was there for all to see and hear.

Yes, Rovers are good enough for play-offs and promotion, but the Conference has never been stronger. Grimsby, Wrexham, Kidderminster, Mansfield and Luton, could all succeed in the Football League. It is going to be exciting to see who can stay the course.

The FGR squad is strong, and the team is maturing in every match. Following the Luton clash it is three home games in a row – none will be easy, but I will not miss a kick.

I hope Peter Lees, for so long, and for all the right reasons, Bibury’s ‘Mr Football’ understands.

This week he cheerfully chastised me for not getting out and about more. He was especially concerned I was ignoring the success of his beloved Bibury team. Not just Bibury, Peter! You and too many others.

And I am afraid the situation will not change until the end of the soccer season.

If League football comes to Nailsworth, as well it may, this remarkable achievement, or at least the near glorious missing out, is going to keep me busy for the remaining New Lawn games.

Peter was, of course, quite right. Local sport is so much a part of local life and brings so much to the community.

There are some who ignore the last seven or so pages of this newspaper, dismissing sport as a trivial irrelevance. They are so wrong.

We were both present at a gathering that showed what Cotswold sport can bring to so many lives. We were at the funeral of Brian Gray – cricketer, skittler, Siddington goalkeeper, lover of horse racing and water polo player for Cirencester when they were a power in the land.

Brian had enjoyed a full family life as well as a sporting one and a vast throng paid tribute. It was a gathering in which genuine companionship, friendship, humour and nostalgia all played a part.

This is what sport can bring. It is so much more than overpaid superstars.

Perhaps in the final analysis it amounts to little more than enjoying yourself, but in what a wonderful way.

Brian Gray knew that. The funeral collection was to be shared between the Open Air Swimming Pool and the Phoenix Surgery and his ashes are to be scattered in the goalmouth at Siddington. At the end of his life his happy sporting memories were with him.

I am sure they are with so many of us, and taking Mrs Light out to lunch on Sunday it was certainly so for me. We visited the first pub I ever drank in.

Having batted against Maurice Ruck in those days, I certainly needed a drink and quietly sipped a half-pint in The Five Mile House. The Nissen hut used as a pavilion is still there as a splendid painting in the bar shows but that was 55 years ago and a new handsome building stands beside it.

Dining there gave us a chance to meet a remarkable young man, Nathan Dixon.

Nathan is a devoted Cheltenham Town fan. He has won some big battles in the medical field recently and his much-loved club have offered him a treat.

On March 2, he is to meet the players, be given a full strip, and will act as mascot. Full marks to the Cheltenham club for this splendid gesture.

Incidentally, Nathan thinks that Marlon Pack’s move to Swindon will go through – so remember you heard it from him first.

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