July 4. 7.30pm. Kayte Lane, Bishop's Cleeve.
Football is back.
Real football. Not on the TV, not the Under 17 World Cup, the Women's World Cup, the North American Gold Cup, or the Copa America, but white-hot pre-season action.
Bishop's Cleeve v Bath City - and judging by the decent crowd which turned up to watch I am not the only person who has been missing their fix.
|Scott Murray (foreground) at Kayte Lane for Bath v Bishop's Cleeve|
There was even a sprinkling of Cheltenham Town legends (and not so legends) on the pitch, dugouts and in the crowd - so many that it was almost possible to pick a team out of them.
Goalkeeper was a problem (Phil Church offered - and will probably get the job having played 11 and a half minutes once in a pre-season friendly at Smiths) but at right back would be (out of position) Michael Jackson, a sub for Cleeve.
At centre half, the pairing of Cleeve's (player) coach Steve Jones, and, among the crowd, Mark Buckland, with left-back being filled by Cirencester's assistant boss Kevin Willetts.
It will have to be a five-man midfield - Marley Watkins, who appeared in the second half for Bath, and Scott Murray, a sprightly first half performer at 37 years old, on the wings.
In the centre, a handy trio - Lee Howells, Bath's assistant manager, John Finnigan, an interested observer, and Bath's new recruit Alex Russell - those three edging out Bath's Adam Connolly. But only just (!!).
Up front would be the one and only Dave Lewis.
It was an honour as ever to be served my pint of Stowford Press by CTFC's 290-goal record goalscorer, who then informed us later that could we hurry up and leave as he wanted to get back home to catch up on his recorded episodes of Coronation Street. Legend.
Pre-season never started this early for the Flying Pig in his days leading the CTFC attack, but times have changed a bit, and Cleeve recorded a notable 3-2 win in a game where Bath totally changed their team for both halves, and Cleeve made about 8 substitutions.
Stuart Midwinter had the honour of scoring the first goal of my season in the second minute, and Lee Davis (once on CTFC's books and watched by his dad Mike, our former assistant boss) notched a penalty two minutes later making it 2-0.
|Lee Davis scores a penalty to put Cleeve two up|
Gethin Jones pulled a goal back, then just before half-time Elliott Kennedy pounced on a horrendous error from the Bath keeper Glyn Garner to score the third for Cleeve.
Right on half-time, Lewis Hogg pulled one back, but there were no more goals in the second half.
But it's good to be back, and the roadshow has started.
Next stop Cirencester on Saturday as Cheltenham get their preparations under way, and it will be a first look at the new boys Russ Penn, Kaid Mohamed and the latest arrival Alan Bennett.
No, not the playwright, but the 29 year old former Cork milkman with Republic of Ireland caps against Ecuador and Bolivia.
Yes,THAT Alan Bennett.
From the feedback I have had on Twitter, he sounds like the experienced head we have been looking for at the back, and is also captaincy material by the sounds of it.
We have another new arrival coming tomorrow - but all I know about him is that he has a weird name, comes from non-League and Crawley and AFC Wimbledon wanted him, so watch this space.
He was at training today, wearing training kit number 22, so is already bedded in with us, which is a good thing, and seems to be in addition to the goalkeeper-winger-striker hunt Mark Yates has been on.
So that's two bits of positive news this week as we gear up for the pre-season fun to get under way in earnest.