LIGHT'S OUT: Forest Green Rovers face the defining week of their season
THE victory over Cambridge United was the highlight of the season so far at Forest Green. A large boisterous crowd saw thrilling football as the home side underlined their play-off credentials.
Coming from behind to beat second-placed Cambridge showed just how good Ady Pennock’s side can be. Playing three games this week – Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday – will surely define the season.
Tuesday sees a home game with Salisbury, Alan Devonshire’s Braintree visit on Thursday and there is the shortish trip to Tamworth on Saturday. The only certainty is that Devonshire will be wearing his natty flat cap.
England ‘C’ international James Norwood was outstanding on Saturday. He is exciting, audacious and above all he delivers. He scored once and engineered a skilful assist as the visitors were consistently undone by his pace. He would be an asset to either of our two local league clubs.
It was a good week for Cirencester Town also. Since their defeat on Merthyr’s plastic pitch they have scored nine goals without reply.
There is also good news from Poulton FC. Proud president Richard Butt, a true son of the village, joined the regulars in The Red Lion on Monday evening and told us the exciting fact that for the first time in their history the village team have made a county final.
Founded in 1959 and playing at Betty’s Grave, well outside the village, the team contained names that are still known in Cirencester sporting circles. Alan Ayers, better known for his skill on the bowling green or cricket field, was a sturdy inside forward. He was a determined player, but one who was scarcely swift.
Mike Smith, latterly a referee and ‘mine host’ at The Golden Cross, was a vigorous centre half, while the sporting Shaw brothers, Pat and Trevor, were mainstays of the team. The Nunn brothers, John and Jim, also played. John was in goal and nicknamed Yashin after the great Russian goalkeeper.
However, the similarities stretched only to the fact that both wore black and had the same number of limbs.
It is Jim Nunn who is the true Poulton hero. Quickly moving from outside left to the position of secretary (36 years in post) and now chairman, he is truly ‘Mr Poulton’ working unstintingly for the club. Typically modest, Jim paid tribute to current secretary Brian Cooper and to the manager John Paget, but everyone I spoke to mentioned Jim’s work in keeping the club going.
Not many villagers play for the team these days, but that is the same everywhere, whatever the sport. The nature of the population of Cotswold villages is so different with retired inhabitants or second-homers taking over. What is important is that the club remains for any players, wherever they are from, to have a chance to play and in so doing make friends and store up memories that will last a lifetime.
Poulton now play at the fine Englands’ ground in the centre of the village.
The planning application section of this newspaper contained the news of a desire to acquire some extra land, move the football pitch and add some extra facilities, believed to be tennis courts. With their thriving cricket club, excellent pub and busy shop/post office there is no better village to live in. Not all Cotswold villages are dying; Poulton is very much alive.
No sporting column written in the Cotswolds would be complete without a tribute to Dick Selby, landlord of The Drillman's Arms. Sadly, Dick died on February 25 but his memorial is, and I hope always will be, his pub. Other local pubs have closed or changed, with skittle alleys going, darts teams vanishing and any genuine identity being lost. Not so the ‘Drill’. This has remained a straightforward, good value pub with traditional games encouraged and fostered. Such places are unfortunately all too rare, and so are people like Dick Selby. Those of us who value local life owe him a huge debt of thanks.