I HAVE some good news for the sides trying to prevent CHQ Utd from winning the Cirencester & District League for the third successive season next term – the champions’ top scorer Chris Saunders is taking a year’s sabbatical from football.
Seven goals in the final two league games of the season secured Saunders the Golden Boot title for the second straight season and his prodigious talent for hitting the back of the net will be sorely missed.
Saunders told the Standard: “I have a new-born baby so I thought the time was right to take a year off football.
“I am also chairman of CHQ so I will still be around the club in the background.”
CHQ won all three Cirencester League trophies open to them – the M4 Karting Cirencester League Division One, the CIA Arthur Shipway Memorial Cup and the Alexcars Senior Charities Cup.
They also enjoyed a great run in the GFA Intermediate Cup (North) until knocked out at the semi final stage by Hardwicke Reserves, a result that still wrankles with Saunders, who is a fence erector by trade.
“We were never going to be knocked out by a Stroud Division Four side, but on the day Hardwicke’s first team did not have a game so some of them turned out for the reserves,” he said.
With two games remaining Saunders was three goals adrift of his great rival Danny Gudger of The Beeches but seven goals in those one-sided matches took him to 43 league and cup goals and secured him the hitman’s trophy.
Saunders, 29, has no doubt that it is CHQ’s team spirit and commitment which has been the key to their success.
“A lot of us are related in the CHQ team and we have all grown up in and around Fairford and been playing together for years,” he said.
“With families in the crowd as well that can swell to 60 plus. And we all move on to the Marlborough Arms after games.
“We also had one or two new faces this season. Joe Blackford came in from Fairford Town and Toby Clapton took over from Mike Denness as our manager.”
Saunders revealed that the side are not looking to test themselves by moving up to another league, but he does think the local league is going to be much tougher to win for the third year in a row with the likes of Wroughton, Highworth, Blunsdon and Intel from towards Swindon joining along with Minchinhampton and Stroud from the other end of the region.
“We don’t want to move to another league because that would mean more travelling and several of the players have babies on the way,” said Chris.
“It is going to hard enough to win the league next season with all the extra teams.”
As for leaving the door ajar for a possible return in the 2014/15 season, Chris would only say: “I will be around the club as I am continuing as chairman and if the boys were ever short . . .”