Colts' new partnership will ensure junior and senior success
NEWLY-named Bishop's Cleeve Colts can thrive under their new partnership with the village's senior club, according to chairman Chris Hall.
One of the best known junior teams in the county, the Colts have lost their Under-16s side for the 2013/14 season due to lack of numbers.
But they have taken steps to ensure this is a one-off, with more than 450 young players signed on from ages seven to 18.
After 42 years as Cleeve Colts, they have been renamed to work more closely with John Brough's Mitres side, who compete in the Calor League Division One South and West.
Traditional Shave, Facial Treatment, Whisky and a Shoe Shine -...View details
Gents, enjoy a traditional shave, facial treatment, glass of whisky and a shoeshine for £31
Terms: Early and later appointments available upon request.
Contact: 01242 504887
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
Cleeve's men's team have reverted back to a green kit from blue and the aim is to bring players from youth football right through to the men's game, all in the same place.
"We know that the ages of 15 and 16 are a crossover in life and there are multiple distractions for young players," Hall said.
"Some kids think that's it for them playing football because there is nowhere to progress and sometimes they drift away, but we want them to stay with us from six to 36.
"We have become Bishop's Cleeve Colts and we'll be working closely with (senior club chairman) Dave Walker to make sure as many players as possible stay with us and make the transition to men's football.
"We are a massive club and it's a real shame we are missing out on an Under-16s team this year, but I am confident it's a one-off and we'll certainly be looking to have teams at every age group next year."
Colts secretary Colin Heasman added: "It's a struggle to get footballers continually interested in just football because they want to try and play other sports at that age."
One of the club's best known graduates is Andy Tucker, who went on to spend five years at Cheltenham Town during their Southern League Premier Division days followed by five years with Gloucester City.
He then returned to play for Cleeve's senior side, where he was captain under another Colts graduate Paul Collicutt, enjoying success in the Hellenic League as well as a groundbreaking run in the FA Cup on 2005/06, when they reached the fourth qualifying round.
Tucker's son Archie has just signed up for the Colts' Under-eights team, making it three generations of the family associated with the FA chartered standard club.
His father Ron used to run one of the teams, with Tucker's brother Lloyd, who also went on to play for the Robins, turning out in the well-established green Colts strip.
Tucker, who runs a successful Soccer Camps business, does not feel the lack of an Under-16s side this season is cause for major concern, with the Colts continuing to thrive at all other age groups.
"I think it's the same across the board for 15 and 16-years-olds, having other interests and the world opening up a bit for them," he said.
"I started at eight and played up to 16 and then as soon as I left school I joined Cheltenham.
"I am surprised they don't have enough for at least one Under-16 team this year, but they have three or four teams at other age groups and it's still one of the biggest boys clubs in the area.
"The facilities are all there now, with all the pitches together in one field so it's a fantastic set-up."
Other players to have come through the Colts' ranks include Jared Wilson, who was on the books of Birmingham City, current Cleeve men's team midfielder Lee Davis and Steve Cleal, who now runs FC Barometrics in the Northern Senior League.
"Cleeve Colts has always been well run and I take my hat off to the parents and volunteers who give up a lot of their time and put in so much effort to make sure the club is a success," Tucker said. "I was born in Cleeve and although I am not based there now it still means a lot to me and that's why I decided to take my boy to play for the Colts."
Any young players interested in joining Bishop's Cleeve Colts can email firstname.lastname@example.org