The year that was

January 1, 2000

The Christmas and Mid Winter Festive period is traditionally a time of peace and goodwill.

When I was a boy I was brought up not only as a devout Bristol Rovers supporter, but also one who attended Chapel and Church as part of everyday life. My main claim to fame was not only scoring the only goal for Tyning Junior School in the Coronation Cup Final (we lost 2-1 to Connaught Road) but also singing solo in Malmesbury Abbey and duet in Bristol Cathedral. I was a choirboy at Christ Church, Hengrove at the time; choirboy; south of the river; Rovers Fan? Absolutely! I could not help thinking why only at Christmas time? Why not peace and goodwill all of the time? I still think that.

The thought has been part of my personal code since. I wish you all peace and goodwill at this Christmas time, and for next week, the week after that and at all times; and in football too. Our wonderful game is not about foul language and personal abuse, it is about a force to do good, to bring all people together in education, in community and in harmony; to meet to play and to win, to celebrate success, to be gracious in defeat, and to part as friends.

 In October last year my wife Gill underwent a long and difficult operation for bowel disease. This was just a couple of months following the loss of Adam Stansfield. In my Daggers Webwatch in February I copied this from Wikipedia:

“Stansfield suffered from persistent abdominal pain in the early part of 2010, and was admitted to hospital for tests at the end of March. On 8th April 2010, it was announced that Stansfield had been diagnosed with a form of colorectal cancer, and he underwent surgery to remove part of his colon. The operation was considered a success and Stansfield joined the Exeter squad for the first day of pre season training in July, but his condition deteriorated rapidly and he died on 10 August 2010. Adam Stansfield was 31 years old.”

I felt that I had to do something. The training was intensive, the walk hurt towards the end, the reception back at the Mem was humbling; thank you to Rovers Fans, to Yeovil Fans and to Exeter Fans and to all those who helped me from Bristol to Yeovil on to Exeter and back to Bristol. Very many thanks to all those who donated to Adam’s Foundation.

Watching the Web and walking up to 20 miles a day for ten days on the spin was not going easy. I must admit to writing in advance. For the Exeter edition in April I wrote:

“Venues are near completion, tickets are on sale and London Olympic Games are fast approaching. Much has been said about the football competitions and the debates are not going away. Should the Women’s Football start before the opening ceremony? Should Great Britain’s men be represented?”

“The BBC Sport web site has picked up on the latter issue once again. Incoming Fifa vice president Jim Boyce believes it is still possible for a united Great Britain team to play at the London Olympics in 2012. We will all have our views on this one and for one I agree with Jim Boyce. Olympic sports are represented by GB. Football is an Olympic sport and as the host nation we should be putting out a team.”

 Here we are at the end of the year and it looks most likely that a GB men’s football team will be selected from all of the home nations and rightly so but not with the full backing of respective football associations. This position has no good foundation

for me and I want to see all of us come together to support GB football and young UK footballers; it is our country and our Olympics. In this age of division and strife why bring more of it to ourselves? Come on you GB!

Moving on and for my Cheltenham column in September I looked at the FIFA site and wrote:

 “Understandably perhaps the World governing body are almost preoccupied with their flagship tournament and I was stuck with a leader headline, 1,000 days to go until Brazil 2014.”

 “I think it is good that the World Cup finals are to be played in Brazil because that fine footballing nation have given us so much to admire over the years and Brazilian football fans deserve the opportunity to see their team in action against the World’s best and on their own soil.”

Planning a holiday? Times are hard for most I know but I’d love to be there; start saving!

For Port Vale at the back end of November I reported:

 “A number of web sites including BBC Sport and FourFourTwo having been running with the story about Premier League Clubs foreign owners wanting to scrap relegation much in the same way as Bolton had mooted previously. The issue had been raised by the League Managers Association chief Richard Bevan who says that in his opinion several foreign-owned clubs want to scrap relegation.”

 No news on this one since: season of goodwill to all Football League Clubs at the very least.


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