In The Spotlight - Hucclecote

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In the latest of our popular Spotlight series, our journey takes us to Brockworth Rugby Club, not to discuss egg-chasing but to delve behind the scenes at its resident football team, Hucclecote, whose 36-year-old manager, secretary, treasurer and occasional player Simon Powell was happy to show us around . . .

Club: Hucclecote FC
Ground: Brockworth Rugby Club, Mill Lane, Brockworth, Glos GL3 4QH
League status: Gloucester and District Sunday League Division One (champions)
Last season’s final placement: Division Four winners (ahead of league restructuring)
Manager: Simon Powell
Chairman: Dave Hayman
Secretary: Simon Powell
Treasurer: Simon Powell

Simon, congratulations! You’ve just won a league title AND reached a county cup final

Thanks and yes; we needed a point against Innsworth Rangers in our last home game of the season and we got all three with a 6-2 win, thanks much to the exploits of the Midwinter siblings Stuart and Dan, who celebrated a hat-trick and double respectively. Stu is our top scorer and that little haul took him to 25 goals in 12 or 13 games in league and cup.

We’re in the GFA Sunday Intermediate final for the first time and it’s a big thing for our lads. Although I reached a League Cup final with Kendal Road Old Boys, I’ve never done well in county cups.

We have Sun Inn of the Evesham Sunday League on April 23rd at Tuffley Rovers’ ground and it’s a venue I know well as I’ve taken my ten-year-old daughter there on some Saturdays.

Of my four kids, Livvy is the football mad one and she even helps out at Hucclecote handing out the shirts and putting the nets up! She played for Gloucester City Girls before joining Ashleworth.

We’re determined to win the final, of course. No one wants to be bridesmaids and I’ve never won a cup. Getting there is massive for people like Levi Kurtze, a quick, strong 6ft 7inch man mountain who has been with me since our Kendal days where he was a centre-half.

I once played upfront against him as he was marking me and I soon discovered to my cost that he has these Inspector Gadget legs which spring out from nowhere just when you think you’re clean away from him. I went on to track him down through Facebook and people I knew who heard he was without a club at the time, and he’s been instrumental for me ever since. 

So how did Hucclecote FC come about? It’s not always been an easy journey has it?

That’s fair to say! Traditionally we haven’t done well in the league. My wife Sharon and I started up and ran Kendal Road Old Boys for six years and they did well to rise up through the Gloucester Sunday League divisions to reach the Premier Division three years ago.

The team evolved from a youth club many of us played for when we were in our mid-teens and my wife had roles including that of secretary and treasurer.

Once we reached the top division in 2014 some of the lads decided to call it a day as the season progressed, for various reasons. A few were getting older and struggled at that level, and the team unfortunately didn’t quite complete the 2014-15 season with simply not enough bodies to put out there.

I was manager and occasional player and some of our boys came to me and asked if I could help them find other clubs. We were pointed in the direction of Hucclecote, who had finished bottom of Division Two in 2013-14 at the same time we at Kendal were celebrating runners-up and promotion in Division One.

A few of us went to watch a pre-season friendly at Hucclecote in the summer of 2015 and they won’t mind me saying, it was like watching a horror show. They were 13-0 down at half-time before steadying up and eventually losing 15-1 after I’d been asked to oversee the second half.

A couple of our former Kendal lads went on to the pitch to help out and although I’d like to think it was our input that improved things over the second 45 minutes, I reckon also our opponents took their feet off the pedal a tad!

Sounds like you’ve done well to get a competitive team out of such a struggling side!

Well, to put it in perspective; the year before we joined in 2015-16, Hucclecote had finished bottom of Division Two for the second year on the spin and shipped 155 league goals and even lost one game at home 21-0, thought to be a Glos Sunday League record, to Coopers Edge Javelins who went on to finish up second.

So yes, they did well to keep going through all that. We’d had a few ‘egos, players who thought they were Cristiano Ronaldo and there’d been a lot of in-house squabbling and no social element which I found very strange as I thought to myself, “If these lads are getting stuffed 10-0 and more each week, they must all be a really tight-knit group”.

Yet they were just picking up their bags after games, saying “see you next week” and driving straight off.

Some of the lads were genuinely talented and wanted to stay with me and I appreciated that loyalty, people like Lee Atkinson and Fred Taylor who were part of the original Hucclecote team. They played most weeks and ended up being really important to us.

Anyway, I told Dave Hayman, who’d started up Hucclecote in 2013 along with a gang of mates, that I’d happily come in and help, so we met up at a pub in Brockworth and I stressed to him I couldn’t have players dictating to me where they should play etc and he was happy to go along with that.

Around eight or nine of my existing players from Kendal joined me for our first season in Division Four after some serious league restructuring had taken place, and we gradually weeded out the few characters who were, let’s say, not exactly helping with club camaraderie

We began that season well before losing 2-0 to our main title rivals Saints FC. That wasn’t great but on hindsight it was necessary as it gave us a kick up the backside and we went on to win the league which was a really proud moment for me and the boys, so much so that I wanted every individual player, some of whom had previously been a laughing stock, to be pictured with the trophy.

It was great for our founder Dave Hayman and lads like Nathan Smith who was there from the start. Nathan was our most improved player that year and he was like a sponge, eagerly soaking up information and advice. There’s clearly a different feel about the place now after that steep learning curve!

We have around 26 players to draw on now and we try to rotate them to ensure everyone gets a crack. But everyone seems to enjoy themselves.

Tell us something about your home ground . . .

We play all our home games at Brockworth Rugby Club. It’s fantastic there and they have been brilliant to us.

All the locals seem happy for us to be sharing their facility with them and our lads are only too happy to put their money over the bar, so it works well for all parties. The wives, partners and kids pile down there and the atmosphere is great.

You mentioned ‘Inspector Gadget’ Levi earlier! Who else has been an influence there?

Haha yes, well, there’s Dave Scrivin, who didn’t start playing 11-a-side grass football until he was 30 and he’s 39 now. We met through a friend of a friend and he’s been a stalwart with me since those Kendal days. He’s a central midfielder we call Big Dave, but only because he has a sizeable paunch on him! That’s easy for me to say, mind you, as I’m much larger than he is!

To be fair to Dave he’s one of the best passers of the ball I’ve seen and I more politely refer to him as the Centre Circle King, although even that might have something to do with the fact he never actually leaves the centre circle.

Then there’s my brother-in-law Alex Checketts, a centre-forward and guy who convinced me over a couple of drinks and game of darts at my sister’s not to pack in football altogether after Kendal folded. We don’t see that much of Alex now as it takes him until Thursday, by his own admission, to recover from games! But he still comes along to cheer on the lads.

Our captain and central midfielder Matt Adlam has been injured for a few weeks and is a big loss. Both he and Lee Campbell, who plays centre-back or centre-mid, have been around a good standard of local football and both are ball-winning types. They are two of the shortest players in the side but you won’t beat them in the air.

Dave Hayman, our founder and chairman, is only in his mid-20s and he’s a great lad, a bit on the shy side but always there to help you out and a good mate. He plays wide right although he’s not available every week for family and work-shift reasons.

But he’s over the moon to see his dedication come to such fruition and overjoyed that we’re no longer the league’s whipping boys.
Finally, your championship-winning season ended in real style didn’t it this week?

It certainly did. In our last league game of the season on Wednesday night against Pike and Musket we won 5-1, with Stu Midwinter scoring all five!

Stu was brilliant it goes without saying, but our other attackers Craig Price and Stu’s brother Dan Midwinter were unbelievable.
When on song the link-up between these three is unstoppable and Wednesday night showed that.

Joe Quiney, our keeper, made an outfield cameo for the last ten minutes and hit the bar with a volley and it was just a good game to watch and hugely enjoyable.

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