Thursday, 24 May 2012


"All the big names were there"
This years Sandino Football tournament in Bristol sponsored by the Nicaraguan Link Committee saw two Bridgwater International teams challenge the might of  that city's Multinational communities in their bid for ball foot related excitement and to regain a trophy we've never yet won.

The Bridgwater International A team-wearing Leeds United white  , captained by Steve 'quite a good footballer' Miles, and consisting of a full complement of sports teachers, athletes, running enthusiasts and people who knew how to play football easily won their group with 5 straight victories over tough opponents including Dynamo Horfield, Red Star Henleaze, Dukla Westbury on Trym, Partizan Bedminster and Chipping Sodbury Cub Scouts , therefore qualifying for the next round of the Sandino Cup. Sadly that's where their luck ran out as they met the Chilean Exiles 'los Hombres divertidos de Santiago' who thrashed them 1.0. Steve Miles said after the game "I'm 64 you know."

Not very good
"The A Team"

The tournament was clearly a game of two halves and two teams of varying abilities. So the Bridgwater International B team  not only featured continental goalscoring legend (he scored one in La Ciotat last year ) Brian 'councillor' Smedley, it also starred 4 guys called John from Trig Engineering and the worlds dirtiest player Richard 'bites your mars bar' Weaving.

Kitted out for luck in Blackpool colours of orange and white, the 'Special B's ' were nevertheless defeated 1.0 in a hard fought 7 minutes each way game against  St.Werburghs Hotspurs. Totally exhausted now they nevertheless took to the pitch for their second game against a team of ultra fit young students from a primary school in the Yate area and lost 2.0.

A bit rubbish
"The B Team"

Their third game saw them pitted against the infamous 'La Ruca' (Spanish for 'pretty good players who never lose') and went down 3.0.

Their fourth game saw a more determined effort against what they assumed to be easier opponents 'Montpelier Little  Sisters of Mercy' and lost 4.0.

quite poor in fact

By the time of their fifth game, this time against the Easton Desperadoes, they came out hard and physical. Weaving was rebuked several times by the referee for late tackles - one so late that his opponent was getting changed in the clubhouse  at the time. Smedley moved cautiously 2 metres either side of the centre spot as the game swung backwards and forward and the 4 guys from Trig did all the actual playing. 

Absolute tripe

As Weaving was booked for a a low kick to the referees throat in a vain attempt to stop him blowing the whistle, the game came to the end with a mathematically brilliant 5.0 defeat.
"Footballers playing football"

All wasn't lost however, as the rubbishest teams were entered into a second tournament the 'Sandino plate' so the B team had a chance to redeem themselves. 

Up against Ashley Down Ashthmatics they fought a hard game and kicked the ball at least 4 times during the match. Sadly a single goal decided it and out went Bridgwater's finest*.

 (*poss misheard)

Thursday, 3 May 2012


Triangulation explained in King's Square Bridgwater
Less than a year ago a Bridgwater delegation to Uherske Hradiste , our Czech twin town, met delegates from their twin town in Hungary. Representatives from the town of Sarvar were keen to make links and this seemed to fit in well with our avowed progressive twinning strategy (which we've called 'Triangulation')  viz 'your twin town is our twin town'. Within  5 months our first trip to Hungary was up and running thanks to the support of Mr Bethell the Sociology teacher at Richard Huish college .

In April we welcomed to Bridgwater a small delegation from Sarvar to look at exactly what we could do for the benefit of both our communities. The group consisted of Zsolt Nemeth-a councillor and businessman, Beata Kovacs-an English Teacher from the Sebastian Tinodi School, Esther-one of Sarvars brightest students and Orsolya, a lawyer from Budapest.
Orsolya,Beata,Zsolt,Esther & Brian on the Cornhill

whisked westwards

Flying in to Gatwick the group were picked up by fast skoda and whisked westwards  with only the slightest stop at Stonehenge, and stayed with members of the friendship society in Bridgwater.

On the Friday, their only full working day in the area, a packed day awaited them. Starting with a stroll around Bridgwater as it was waking up they immediatly fell in love with the place. The stallholders along the Castle market were laying out their wares, traders on West Quay were clinging onto their wall to stop it being swept away in the impending floods and passers by were handy with tips on the local history. it also turned out to be the day the council had decided to clean up the Blake statue...although the vultures ominously hovered overhead awaiting the next downpour...
Learning about Sedgemoor District Council

Plans for investment

At Sedgemoor Council offices, Chief Executive,Kerry Rickards, set aside some time to talk to them about the role of the council, the need and plans for investment in the town and district and inspired a useful discussion on comparative Local  Government in Britain and Hungary. A tour of the council offices showed the visitors the CCTV centre and also the Call Centre-where at the exact time of the visit an Emergency call was being taken. 

NOT in fact Madame Tussauds....
The next stop on the visit was Bridgwater College, one of the towns biggest employers and also hosting some 16,000 students overall-3,000 of whom are full time. Media lecturer Mino de Francesca showed them around the wide variety of departments whilst International Department head Marie Lizion provided them with info packs for foreign student enrolments.

the role of the family

An afternoon in Taunton included a visit to the Hungarians old friends at Richard Huish where they were allowed to sit in on one of Mr Bethell's sociology lessons-this time talking about the role of the family. 

Richard Bethell's sociology class
Following a quick tour of Taunton and a drive back over the Quantock hills the group met at the Green Olive in Bridgwater for an evening social with Friendship Society members hosted by Bridgwater Czech Slovak Friendship Society Chairman Tim Mander followed by a visit to a typical English pub - in this case the Fountain Inn, where they met with even more locals in varying states of soberness.

tour of the shops

On the Saturday the Hungarians were taken on a tour of the shops in Bridgwater by  Cat Smedley and  two Richard Huish students, both called Ella (maybe), who had been on the Hungary visit in February. 

The highlight of the visit was undoubtedly the trip to Fairfax park at the invitation of Mayor of Bridgwater Pat Parker to see Bridgy Town beat Dukla Didcot in a 5 goal thriller. Wearing Bridgy scarves , rain and chips in faces and 'a bit cold' they enjoyed the atmosphere that is top flight sporting entertainment on a Parretside saturday afternoon.
'Come on Bridgy, give we gert goal'

bring together

Ian and Sonia Tucker were hosts for a farewell barbecue at their home on the saturday evening before the visitors headed off on the sunday for a tour of an increasingly flooding Somerset, a downpour sodden Bath and a strangely brighter Oxford on their way back to Gatwick.

The next step will be to find ways to bring the two communities together.  Already we are looking at a visit to Bridgwater by Sarvar students in September to coincide with the Bridgwater Fair. Bridgwater International is therefore inviting any groups or individuals keen on visiting Hungary to get in touch and we will arrange a project to suit.