Thank goodness for FGR's FA Cup diversion
HOORAY for the FA Cup! Mortified by Forest Green losing three league games in a row, the Cup will provide a much-needed diversion.
What a splendid competition it is. Many local teams take part, starting as early as August, and then there is the gradual arrival of the larger teams. FGR have to win only three games and they could be playing Manchester United. A dream – perhaps – but a possible one.
The wretched league results should not be forgotten, however, and the reasons for them must be analysed. Now is the time for answers, not questions or the season will slip away. We are still in a play-off position, but falling fast. Capable of playing magnificent football the team do not do it often enough. Too often they are hustled or muscled out of games.
“We need to be braver,” says manager Dave Hockaday. “We need to make things happen.”
He has a player – Reece Styche – who has both courage and ability but he is not playing him. He deserves to start the next game. Keeping him on the bench while other players are playing poorly is a mistake. Reece has the bustle and bravado needed in tight situations.
Certainly he let himself down, earning a red card recently, but it was his first in three years. He deserves a chance and the club need him. Now cricket.
This week I received a welcome email from Nick Price.
Nick is chairman of Cirencester Cricket Club and has a true vision for the future. Rightly, Nick referred to the strength of the club’s youth section. Go to Cirencester Park any summer Sunday morning and you will be able to see for yourself, or better still go to the end-of-season countywide presentations.
James Boyle was the U10 Player of the Year, as was Eve Alder for the U13 girls. Kit Penny earned the U12 award for Best Performance. Eve opened the bowling for other girls’ sides and could reach the highest levels in the female game. She is my Cricketer of the Year.
Cirencester’s 2nd XI have won promotion, young players have played well for the third team and Nick accurately grasps the frustration of a wretched summer when writing about the 1st XI. I am pleased to thank him for a good read.
Listening to Ed Smith (Cambridge University, Kent, Middlesex and England) at the Cheltenham Cricket Society was a delight.
Ed stated that in the years when he was academically challenged he played his best cricket. He sorted out opposing bowlers in the same way he dealt with examiners, earning a First Class Degree.
I remember my ‘O’ Level year. Rodmarton beat Bibury in the Oaksey Bowl. Having scored some runs I sped on my bicycle to Trouble House. Bursting into the bar, I blurted out news of the result and ordered half of bitter. It was only a half because my 16th birthday was the previous week.
“I will pay for that,” said a familiar voice. Turning round I saw English master Geoff Romans who was enjoying a drink with Clerk to the Governors, Jack Pady. My English ‘O’ Level exam was the next day. We all agreed that beating Bibury was the best preparation. I passed.
NO, I am not advocating under-age drinking, or treating examinations with disdain, rather I am saying keep a sense of perspective.
Staying with school memories, Douglas Whiting, Head of Cirencester Grammar School, is currently in my thoughts, for all the wrong reasons.
‘Golly’ Sollis and Gordon Stratford were good schoolboy footballers and chosen to play for the District XI. Whiting refused them permission to play saying the school must come first. What rot! Those two players could have distinguished themselves in the District XI and represented the county.
That would have brought much credit to the school. Whiting was wrong to deny his pupils a chance of playing at the highest level. Every youngster deserves that chance.
I am writing this on a sunny Sunday morning when The Whiteway is buzzing with young rugby players. My advice to them and our young soccer players and cricketers is keep playing and, of course, keep studying. You can do both.