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Sporting glory days remembered

By This is Lincolnshire  |  Posted: October 22, 2008

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CAN Holbeach ever recover the glory days of its sporting past – days that produced two Olympians and one Paralympian?

If it could, would it help solve the teenage vandalism problem that is plaguing the town at the present time?

Could it even revive the fortunes of some of the pubs?

These are questions posed by Holbeach and District Civic Society which recently mounted an exhibition of the town's great sporting years to mark its contribution to Heritage Day.

Those years are now no more than yellowing pages in the sporting scrap books, but in the good days Holbeach was a town to be reckoned with far and wide – a little town that took on the champions.

In motorbike racing its name was heard on circuits country wide and at the Isle of Man TT races.

It produced Olympic competitors and numerous stars at county, national and international levels.

Gone today are these speedsters and the racing cyclists (among them Les Fensom, the 'Fenland Flyer', holder of national records). Gone, too, are the athletics club, cricket club, hockey club, the golf course, speedway track and squash court.

Today, youngsters kick their heels wondering what to do with their time.

Could the suggestion from the Civic Society provide a solution?

It was put forward by immediate past chairman Trish Bryant after the successful Heritage Day exhibition.

She said: "The theme of our exhibition was "Lincolnshire at Play" and we tried to illustrate all the different clubs that existed and were enthusiastically supported in the days before there were televisions and cars in every household.

"Photographs and memorabilia were lent to the Society and those attending included visitors from Spalding, Boston, Wisbech and Long Sutton as well as surrounding villages.

"They enjoyed exchanging memories and learning about all the activities that used to take place in Carter's Park and other venues. The Slide Show of Hobeach Past created a lot of interest as well.

"Strongman Geoff Capes and Beryl Clay (whose late husband Tommy Clay was mainstay of the athletics club) provided a great deal of information about the club Geoff first joined at the age of six.

"He was an all-round athlete but won many titles with the discus, shot, tossing the caber and became The World's Strongest Man.

"His career began on Carter's Park guided by Tommy Clay and coached by Stuart Storey another Holbeach man who became an Olympic hurdler and today is a BBC commentator. Stuart was reporting on the Beijing Olympics from the "Bird's Nest Stadium". Sally Reddin is a Paralympic star Holbeach should be proud of!

"In the days when we regularly had cold winters Fen Speed Skating Competitions took place at Tongue End, Cowbit Wash, and Bury Fen.

"We displayed the history of this sport and Alan Fisher one of the local stars of these competitions came to join us and tell us about the memorabilia he had lent us.

"We displayed quoits, skates and hockey sticks from days gone by."

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