INSIDE THE PAVILION is the weekly column from Gloucestershire CCC president John Light
THERE is an almost empty bottle of Metaxa in the Lighthouse drinks cabinet. Yet another home defeat for Forest Green followed by two hours of Strictly Come Dancing called for desperate (and large) measures. Life can be hard!
Why still go? Every true fan knows the answer. You are hooked – it is an addiction and it will get better won’t it? I will tell you next week after the visit to Grimsby. (You see what I mean by addiction!).
Manager Dave Hockaday says everyone must work harder to put things right. I would take a different view. Step back, analyse, ask and answer some difficult questions, then take action.
Firstly decide on your best 16 players for match day action. Of course injuries will enforce changes, but a more settled side may produce better results.
Secondly, think about the team’s general approach. Currently Forest Green are a soft touch, seemingly lacking the mental strength winners need. All successful teams have a mean streak. FGR are too gentle in every respect.
Then, and this is perhaps the most important of all, look at the system the team plays. At the moment it is 4-3-3. This can be expansive and entertaining but the results since New Year’s Day show it to be failing. Perhaps a more functional 4-4-2 would help in producing results the squad is surely capable of. Manager Dave will, I know, not stint in efforts to get matters right. It might mean eating some humble pie, Dave, but the situation is grim.
While I am at it there is some advice for Dale Vince, whom I respect absolutely for what he has done at Nailsworth. Please, Dale get some soccer expertise on the board.
Gloucestershire County Cricket Club (turnover £4 million plus, wage bill £1 million plus) certainly needed some. On my watch, the board were well served by Tony Brown, Mike Smith and Jack Russell. Now it is David Graveney. They balanced the business expertise on the board and reminded us we were after all a cricket club. Cricket decisions were better for their presence.
As suggested recently, Langford CC are to play in the county league next year. This will mean more travelling but this go-ahead club are prepared for it.
Meanwhile, sport in Minchinhampton is on a high. They have fine new pitches in the hamlet of Crackstone (turn left at the Ragged Cot) and will surely become a rugby force.
One worrying rugby note – a Cirencester veteran, player and administrator of some distinction has told me: 'We may go down this year'. He is usually the most optimistic of supporters. All of us must hope he is wrong.
There is better news of the town’s soccer club. Despite losing on Saturday to a strong Weymouth side they have made a fine start to the season and promotion may be within their grasp. Brian Hughes, as manager, may have to fight to retain his best players, but if he does it will be an exciting season at the Corinium Stadium
Exciting, too, at the County Ground because a new team at Swindon are achieving some fine results. Mrs Light, the only woman in history to have gone to Swindon on honeymoon, may find herself there again.
Sporting success or failure was put in perspective this week by the sudden death of Robbie Hopkins, known to so many in Cirencester as a friend, family man, colleague and helpful postman.
Robbie was a fine Cotswold cricketer taking many wickets for Bibury and latterly Williamstrip. For many years when the sun shone you knew somewhere there would be a Hopkins bowling.
It may have been Robbie’s uncle Stan at Rodmarton, or perhaps his father Ray at Bibury or, of course, Robbie himself. Their feats were all recorded by mum May as she lovingly kept score.
This town and the cricket fields of the Cotswolds will miss Robbie Hopkins. He lived his life as straight as he bowled. Many batsman, victims of his, will confirm how straight that was. I am heading for the remaining Metaxa. He deserves a toast.
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