Friday, 20 May 2011

Millwey rise to the challenge

ONE of the best goals I ever scored in a rather undistinguished career in local football was at Millwey Rise - a hopeful lob from the halfway line, playing up the notorious slope.

I’m not sure whether I intended it to be a shot on goal but, of course, I claimed I did. But those who have played on the Millwey pitch over the years will appreciate scoring from such a distance playing uphill was a rare occurrence.

Millwey Rise Football Club, formed in 1958, played their last game on their famous pitch on April 30th. In many ways that was a sad occasion, summed up in a special poem, entitled “Obituary”, written by former player Dick Sturch and reproduced on page four of this week’s Weekender which concluded: “So much emotion you evoke, you very famous Millwey slope”.

Back in 2008 I was privileged to have been asked to act as master of ceremonies at Millwey’s 50th anniversary. I’ve been to many sporting dinners over the years but this was one of the most enjoyable. The one factor that stood out for me was the total respect the younger players gave to the Millwey veterans, people like Dick Sturch and Brian Downton. Not all football club anniversaries are so polite, believe me.

Millwey have lived in the shadows of their bigger neighbours at Sector Lane for many years. But that’s about to change with Rise moving to better facilities at nearby Cloakham Lawn.

The Millwey players and officials are quite excited by the move and this was much in evidence when I popped down to Cloakham on Saturday morning to have a chat with committee man Ian Hall about their plans.

From playing on a pitch with the biggest slope in local football the Millwey teams will be able to enjoy some of the best facilities in the area and are looking forward to having a flat surface.

They will be playing on part of the second cricket pitch that has been created at Cloakham with much work having gone into additional drainage.

As I chatted to Ian the club’s development officer Nick Tregale, former pick of the Perry Street league goalkeeper and an excellent coach, was supervising a coaching taster session with over 40 kids taking part. Helping him was daughter Jade, who holds a UEFA 2 coaching certificate, and assistant coaches Sam Dibling, one of the most talented players in the area, and Dan Murnane.

It was great to see so many boys and girls being coached so well in such a safe enviroment, getting a taste of the “beautiful game”.

As well as running their two senior teams in the Perry Street League, next season Millwey will also be fielding two youth teams at under 8 and under 13 level.

At one time it was thought that Axminster Town FC would be moving to Cloakham but that did not work out and it is rumoured that the Tigers will be getting a new home over the fence from Cloakham in Chard Road.

Millwey have grabbed the opportunity with both hands and I wish them every success in their new home. Their presence will certainly help to cement Cloakham’s position as one of the best sports complexes in Devon.

MY congratulations to Andrew Moulding on his election as mayor of his home town of Axminster.

It’s always good when a local boy gets the top job.

Andrew, of course, has enjoyed a high profile in Axminster for many years, having served on the town council, East Devon District Council and Devon County Council.

Born and educated in the town, Andrew ran the famiy building firm for 24 years before finding his dream job at Somerset County Cricket Club from where he retires in three weeks.

Andrew has also been one of the driving forces behind the development of the Cloakham Lawn sports complexes which I consider to be one of Axminster’s biggest assets.

Andrew attended his first engagement as mayor on Wednesday evening when he opened the flower festival at The Minster and was clearly proud to be wearing the mayoral chains.

A FEW weeks ago I wrote in this column about my first job in journalism with the Express and Echo in Honiton and how I lodged for a short time with David and Olga Haydon in Church Hill.

David was the senior reporter for the Echo in Honiton.

In that article I made an ungallant reference to the Haydon’s step-daughter Gina. I wish to make it clear that no impropriety occurred and that the Haydon family treated with me with great kindness.

My sincere apologies if my inappropriate and unnecessary words caused any offence or distress to the family.


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