LIGHT'S OUT: Those Trouble House skittles earnings got me into Swindon Town

SATURDAY started with a Cornish dawn and ended with a Cotswold sunset.

The reason for an early departure had something to do with the opportunity of seeing the sun rise over Bodmin Moor. But Mrs Light was anxious to view her new kitchen and there was the chance to see Cirencester play as league leaders.

Didcot, quaintly known as ‘Diddy’, made it difficult for the Centurions, but the second half showed how dangerous they can be when the ball is on the ground.

If my maths are correct, the town team have a 14-point point safety buffer between their position at the top of the table and the nearest challenger for the play-off zone.

It is an exciting time at the Corinium Stadium and credit to manager Brian Hughes and chairman Steve Abbley who have battled hard through difficult times. Good luck for the rest of the season.

Good luck, also, to Forest Green Rovers. Form under new manager Ady Pennock is fine. Four league wins in five games has halted the disastrous slide and means play-off hopes must be realistic.

All is not joy, however. Returning from Cornwall, I noted that the Trouble House had closed.

This landmark on the road to Tetbury was, as Flanders and Swann fans know, a pub with its own railway station. Three skittles teams used to play there (Cherington, Culkerton and the Trouble House team).

Sticking up for the pub team with my brother meant riches of four shillings and sixpence (42.5 pence). This meant the train to Swindon. One shilling (five pence) to get in. Swindon then were pretty dire but there was the chance to see Sam Burton, Maurice Owen and George Hunt. Then came Bert Head and the revival of the club. I was there!

Those stirring memories are all thanks to ‘sticking up’ at a pub that was so much part of the community.

Some may remember landlord Laddie Peare’s pretty daughter. She is the mother of  TV and music star Connie Fisher. Laddie retired to Pembrokeshire where he lived happily in his later years. Knowing what has happened to the pub on which he put his personal stamp will have him turning in his grave.

Then we had the Test Match against Australia. What a sad, sour affair that was. Banter on the field is acceptable, personal insult is not. Nowadays there are match referees as well as umpires. What are they doing about it? Start by talking to the captains then, if nothing happens, punish individual players. An immediate improvement please.

I have used the word ‘banter’ in the last paragraph. This was rife when I started playing village cricket and the local expert was Dick Gearing of Ampney Crucis.

"His bowling will not worry you, but do not let him talk you out,” was advice given me when I first played against him. It was spot on!

I was scratching about, middling nothing, my bat was all edges. Bowler Dick took me aside, put his arm round my shoulders and said: “Young John, you know you are allowed to use a bat, that hurdle stick you have brought out with you is no good at all.”

Good value on the pitch, in the pavilion and after in the pub, Dick showed you could play hard and have fun as well. If you can’t do that what is the point of playing at all?

I close with a matter of some concern that could easily become a calamity – the Kingsholm crisis. Five home games have meant five consecutive home defeats.

Gloucester have fine backs but the club’s traditional strength is sadly lacking. The pack cannot provide the platform needed for the gifted players to show their undoubted abilities.

The Cornish think they know a thing about rugby and were quick to condemn the Gloucester management.
“Should have brought in a couple of big, bruising South Africans – all the talent in the world is useless without a platform,”  they said. I hope it is not too late.


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