LIGHT'S OUT: Forest Green in command - until Eddie Oshodi's red card tackle
MY SATURDAY excursion to North Sea shores was one of surprises. Firstly Grimsby – sadly, it lives up to its name, making Swindon seem like Tunbridge Wells.
In this derelict and drab town the only places that seemed to me both open and flourishing were the sort you cannot write about in a family newspaper.
Then the football – Forest Green lined up in a 4-4-2 formation. (Does the manager read this column?). For the first 25 minutes they were a revelation, dominating the game and playing attractive, fluid football. The 1-0 lead was the least they deserved.
Then it all went wrong. Eddie Oshodi, good player though he is, showed why he is a disciplinary disaster waiting to happen. A heavy tackle meant an inevitable straight red. This roused the Grimsby crowd and it seemed Rovers’ ten men were now playing 12.
I do not usually criticise officials but I believe the referee and his assistants were influenced by baying spectators. Four game-changing decisions were made – all in Grimsby’s favour. From where I was sitting, the ref got only one right. Despite a valiant display, the odds were too great and another Forest Green defeat inevitably occurred.
There is one consolation – the fine opening minutes showed what may happen if this new formation is persevered with.
The players must show greater discipline, however. The season so far has yielded too many red and yellow cards. This is not a new problem and the football management need to deal with it quickly.
At the Red Lion on Monday evening there were a multitude of Messengers. This fine cricketing family has produced two of the best local players I have seen (John and Mike). Conversation ranged from cricketing greats such as Wally Hammond and Dick Gearing to a process known as 'wide netting'. This may not be strictly legal so I shall spare you the details.
A knowledgeable Scotsman and two equally erudite Scandinavians were present, and as our talk covered most aspects of Cotswold life over the last 80 years, especially on the cricket field, they had a chance to increase their own considerable personal knowledge.
Listening to Gloucestershire cricketer Hamish Marshall at the Royal Agricultural University (November 1, 12 noon for 12.30pm) will also be enlightening. Three generations of the Marshall family stayed in self-catering accommodation near Northleach during the Cheltenham Cricket Festival. All the Marshalls love the Cotswolds and there will be the chance to question Hamish on this happy fortnight. For tickets, phone Bill Griffin (01285 821529). See you there.
There was happy rugby news for Cirencester during the week with the call-up of Henry Trinder to the England squad.
Henry’s rugby career started in this town and what an example he sets to all the many youngsters learning the game at The Whiteway.
As well as Trinder, another local sporting hero deserves a mention. He hails from Tetbury but is known much further afield.
Sam Reid is chairman (joint) of Forest Green Rovers Supporters Club and is coach supremo, organising travel to all away games.
Sam surpassed himself on Saturday. As our coach drove through the ravaged streets of Grimsby, he took our fish and chips order. When we returned to the coach our orders were waiting for us. My haddock and chips (£4.60) were delicious.
Sam does more, however. When FGR play in the North of England, Sam takes with him supplies of lardy cakes for those northern exiles, cruelly deprived of this delicious delicacy. Living away from Gloucestershire for much of my life, I know how these poor northern souls must be suffering.
There is only one solution, return to the Cotswolds as soon as possible, as Sam can only do so much.
This week sees the AGM of the Cotswold and District Cricket Association and another chance to see Phil Carter smile.
As we know, Phil’s smiles are as rare as appearances of Halle’s Comet but the association has enjoyed a good year so you never know. I shall report next week.
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