LIGHT'S OUT: Tony Clack puts us youngsters to shame

TWENTY five years ago Tony Clack was captain of the England Air Rifle team that beat Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Now he has national recognition again, being chosen as the Kellogg’s Amateur Swimming Association Senior Swimmer of the Year!

Tony is 80 and swims everyday at the Cotswold Leisure Centre. Now it is the breaststroke rather than the crawl and the lengths are limited to a few. He never misses a day.

Living in Down Ampney, Tony is the linchpin of the Cirencester and District Air Rifle and Pistol Club.

This quiet, gracious man is a living example of someone who excels at a sport and at the same time puts something back. Long may he continue. He puts us youngsters to shame. Full marks, Tony!

Full marks also for our town soccer team, ending the year as league leaders. Coming from behind on Saturday, they beat Bridgwater 3-1, with Lee Smith adding to his impressive goal tally. The end of the season is still a way off but there is now every reason to mention the ‘P’ word.

A recent departure from their ranks has been Jamie Edge who is now with Hereford United who play in the Conference Premier. Jamie made his first appearance for Hereford on Saturday, coming on as substitute in The Bulls’ 1-0 defeat of Forest Green.

Playing in a holding midfield role he did not look out of place. Perhaps his spell at Cirencester has helped someone whose career was falling apart, since his days as an expensive Arsenal youngster.

Although Forest Green are not leaping up the table, I am convinced the new manager is making progress. Goalkeeper Sam Russell speaks warmly about him having unified the squad. This can only be a good thing.

There are problems, of course, the team not having scored in three of the last four matches.

As suggested last week, James Norwood played as an out-and-out striker. He was not at his best, but scored once and Aldershot defenders found his pace a real problem.

It was different at Hereford.

The initial line-up was, in midfield and attack, the same as on Boxing Day, but with Taylor lost in the first half he was switched with the willing Norwood. Subsequent forward changes kept ‘Nors’ in midfield, too far from the action, I am afraid. The defensive line-up was surprising.

The home media team had missed the booking of Oshodi. This took him to five and automatic suspension (it seems I just have to miss one match and standards drop) so midfielder Kieran Forbes played at right back, giving a plucky and persistent performance.

Many FGR fans were critical of both team and performance. Not so, me. However, that could be because I had watched the Christmas edition of EastEnders – after that anything would be a relief.

There is one sad note from the Christmas soccer matches. Jon Smith of Luton sustained a double fracture of the leg. Jon has played for both FGR and Swindon, always giving 100 per cent. Now at the age of 27, he has suffered a career-threatening injury. All good wishes ‘Smudger’.

Another career is in jeopardy – namely that of Nile Ranger at Swindon. No one doubts his ability – just his attitude. His frequent absence from training lets both team-mates and fans down. Those of us who would have loved to play professional sport are, I am sure, angered by this.

Someone who has every chance to play, and play well, is throwing it all away. He is firmly in the last chance saloon. Agents are all powerful these days. If Nile has one he should sort his client out. He obviously cannot do it himself.

One major hope for 2014 is that Cirencester CC finally gain promotion from the county league. As long as they remain there players will leave to play at a higher level.

Club chairman Nick Price has real ambition for the club and works unstintingly to take them up a step. Success this coming year is no more than he deserves.

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