Sport

IZZY Fisher began playing rugby at Chobham when she was just five years old.

Now 21, she has returned to the club as chairman of women’s and girls’ rugby – a role she is taking over from her mother.

Chobham chairman of women’s and girls’ rugby Izzy Fisher

“I know the ins and outs from Mum having done it for six years, so it makes sense to pass it on,” she said.

“The really good thing about Chobham is that they’ve had a massive shake-up. There’s new people here, there and everywhere.

“They’re particularly keen on the younger generation coming through and giving their views, and I’m younger, so that’s why I was approached.”

It helps that Fisher is not only a RFU Level 2 qualified coach, but also part of the 1st XV squad at Wasps Ladies, who play in the country’s top tier of women’s rugby, the Tyrrells Premier 15s.

During her time there she has rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names in women’s rugby – and she feels these experiences have been hugely beneficial.

Fisher said: “It’s hard work, but the RFU funding has been immense in terms of helping to keep up with the internationals.

“At Wasps, Danielle Waterman and Harriet Millar-Mills have been amazing as mentors. The knowledge they have and the technical detail has been awesome to listen to.

“In my first season we played against Heather Fisher – she was on SAS: Who Dares Wins on TV and is an absolute beast – and I remember she just handed me off and ran straight through me. That was an eye-opener and a privilege at the same time.”

As she settles into her new role at Chobham, she has one chief focus.

“Recruitment is definitely the biggest priority,” she said.

“This year we’ll have three squads – under-13s, under-15s and under-18s – which will be brilliant. It’s something we haven’t done for a very long time, so our main goal to start off with is to field three sides.

“Girls’ rugby is on the up and this is the best time to get girls to come to the club and just give it a go.”

Chobham girls begin their season in mid-September.

For the full interview, get the 15 August edition of the News & Mail

“I WANT top three,” says Westfield boss Tony Reid, who is targeting another shot at promotion from the Isthmian League South Central Division.

In addition to making several new signings during the off-season, Reid has retained all 15 of his 2019-20 squad. And he has a clearly defined view of how he wants his tenure at Woking Park to continue.

Westfield FC manager Tony Reid

“What I’m looking for is young, hungry players who want to win games and make a name for themselves.”

Chief among those Reid has brought to the club this summer is Max Blackmore, who was his leading scorer for two seasons before heading to Metropolitan Police.

Blackmore’s return will be a huge boost for the manager who at times last season had to make do without any strikers at all.

“I’ve got a very good relationship with Max on and off pitch and he gives me that firepower that I needed,” he said.

“We’ve also got Charlie Postance from Bedfont Sports, 6’3”, good in the air, good on the ground, and he was their top scorer last season. So he adds something different and we won’t rely on just one striker.

“We’ve brought in a couple of new midfielders too, but it’s about them buying into our philosophy. Some players come with reputations – I don’t do reputations. It’s what you can do with me.”

Over the summer Reid has had the chance to think back to last season, particularly the Yellows’ defeat to Bracknell Town in the play-offs. Time, however, has not healed the pain of losing out on promotion.

“When I reflect on it now, the top five clubs had a considerable amount of money compared to what I had. We’re not the sort of club that can throw bundles of cash at players.

“Training facilities are different, too. We train on a 3G five-a-side pitch in the winter, so we couldn’t really do set-pieces or patterns of play. Everything we were doing was off the cuff or from a whiteboard. I think we trained on a full-size pitch twice all season.

“So when I reflect on it, there were obstacles to overcome, but those are excuses. Whatever cards you’re dealt, you’ve got to deal with them.”

As for what he’s most excited about in the coming season: “The first whistle.”

Westfield commence their campaign in the newly named BetVictor League with a trip to Northwood today.

For the full interview, get the 15 August edition of the News & Mail

KNAPHILL swept aside Shaftesbury in the FA Cup extra preliminary round on Saturday, smashing four goals in the first 23 minutes of the clash in north Dorset.

“The boys were excellent,” manager Luke Tuffs told the News & Mail.

Absolutely stunning: Luke Tuffs was delighted with the Knappers’ performance

“I’d break the game down into three parts; first 25 minutes absolutely stunning, everything you’d want; last 15 minutes of the first half a bit naive; second half very professional and mature.”

Striker Matt Bunyan, who was returning after a knee injury, turned in a strong performance and feels the win could inject valuable momentum into his side’s season.

He said: “Our mentality is to win every game we play, whether it’s league or cup. We need to start building momentum and hopefully this can be the start of that.

“Saturday showed what we can do when everybody’s at it. But we haven’t done it for 90 minutes yet and I think that’s going to be the focus moving forward.”

The Knappers will face Fareham Town at The Surrey Hire Stadium on Saturday 24 August in the FA Cup preliminary round.

For the full report, see the 15 August edition of the News & Mail

WOKING midfielder Shaun Donnellan says that he’ll give everything to ensure success for the club this season.

The 22-year-old signed during the summer, and believes his style fits boss Alan Dowson’s template.

Woking FC midfielder Shaun Donnellan

“I’m all heart,” he told the News & Mail. “I pass the ball well, win my headers, win my tackles, and I give everything. Things have gone really well since I joined. The lads are a good bunch and there’s a good work ethic about the club, so I’m enjoying it.”

It didn’t take long for Donnellan to secure his move. So impressed was Dowson after Donnellan’s performance in a full-sided game – in only his second training session – that he was offered a contract as he walked off the pitch.

Barnet-born Donnellan was convinced about the move by talking to Chelsea goalkeeper and friend Nathan Baxter, who spent the 2017-18 season at Kingfield. The pair were at Yeovil Town together last term.

Donnellan comes from rich footballing stock. His father Leo Donnellan played for Fulham and represented the Republic of Ireland at youth level, and his uncle Gary Donnellan played for Reading and Yeovil.

He said: “My old man never forced me into football, there was no pressure. He didn’t send me to an academy until I was 14. He didn’t want me playing academy football – he wanted me to enjoy my football and school.

“When I did sign at 14, school football was still a priority. He said ‘If you’re good at 16 you can have a go at it’. So when I turned 16 I began to pursue it properly.”

It was then that the youngster joined the West Bromwich Albion academy, where he was always playing ahead of his years, making his debut for the club’s under-21s when he was 16.

He also went on to represent Republic of Ireland under-21s, scoring a “crazy” winner in the ninth minute of injury-time of a European Under-21 Championships qualifier against Azerbaijan. The Ireland side featured Declan Rice.

Read the full interview in the 8 August edition of the News & Mail

SHEERWATER announced their Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Premier Division debut in style with an extraordinary victory over Guildford at Kingfield last Saturday.

Sheers boss Pete Ruggles was thrilled with the debut game result

The Sheers went ahead in the 75th minute through Shane Rideout – but the drama was all to come. In the 87th minute, City’s Ryan Dacres-Smith fired home to level. Then on full-time the visitors were awarded a dubious penalty.

Step forward Sheers’ boss and substitute keeper Pete Ruggles, who had replaced the stricken Richard Shelley in the 70th minute. From Kieran Campbell’s kick, Ruggles saved and the resulting counter saw Danny Taylor bundle home to spark wild celebrations.

It was a remarkable denouement which owed everything to teamwork, as Ruggles explained.

“We played Chessington & Hook United last year, they got a penalty and Campbell took it. As he was stepping up, Rideout pointed to my right. I was going to my left, but I thought ‘He knows some inside information’, so I changed my mind. He deserves more of the credit than I do.”

See the full report in the 8 August edition of the News & Mail

CHOBHAM are hoping to banish the ghosts of last season’s relegation – and have issued a statement of intent to their London Two South West rivals.

The villagers suffered a dismal 2018-19 league campaign, finishing second bottom of London One South with only four wins from 26 outings.

New Chobham head coach Billy Davison.

But there have been changes galore at Fowlers Wells this summer, not least the appointment of a big-name head coach.

Fifty-year-old Billy Davison, an ex-England A forward, has joined Chobham as 1st XV boss.

Davison played at lock for Harlequins and Saracens in the Premiership. He also turned out for Esher, Rosslyn Park and Sheffield, and appeared overseas for Natal (South Africa) and Hawkes Bay (New Zealand).

Zambia-born Davison was  awarded a testimonial season by Quins for 2003-04. He coaches in Harlequins’ Development Player Programme, and is director of sport at Shrewsbury House School in Surbiton.

Chobham began pre-season training last week. Sessions take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Fowlers Wells, and are open to everyone.

Chobham’s redesigned kit.

Davison said: “The support I have received from the Chobham faithful has been amazing.

“I am looking forward to supporting all the players as we look forward to a great season.”

Chobham will also wear a new kit during 2019-20.

Mike Vandenberg, the club’s commercial manager, said: “The new strip nods back to the old days. It is a contemporary version of our first, more than 50 years ago.

“With so many changes at the club, it was a good time to change the strip. We had played in the previous design for 10 years.”

To express your interest in becoming a shirt sponsor, call Vandenberg on 07774 120665  or send an email to sponsorship@chobham-rugby.co.uk.

For the full story get the 11 July edition of the News & Mail

A CLIMBER from Horsell won the under-14 boys’ category of the La Sportiva British Mountaineering Council Junior British Bouldering Championships.

Rhys Conlon, aged 12, starred in the competition at the HarroWall Climbing Centre.

Rhys tackles the deviously shaped walls at the HarroWall Climbing Centre

Conlon, who attends Woking High School, is a member of the Great Britain national development squad.

In Harrow, he stole the show in the Male C class, for boys born in 2006 and 2007, which attracted 31 competitors.

He told the News & Mail: “I was hoping for another podium finish but I didn’t expect to win because all the best boulder specialists were there. I’m really chuffed.”

Bouldering is a division of sport climbing, which will make its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games next year.

The 2020 Olympics will feature bouldering, speed climbing and lead climbing. The Games’ website says: “Sport climbing takes the challenge of scaling steep ascents to a whole new level. Climbers use brightly coloured hand, finger and foot holds, their climbing skills and all the strength their bodies can muster to work their way up a near-vertical wall.”

Rhys’ long-term aims are to continue competing internationally, and to target outdoor climbing projects around Europe.

For the full story get the 4 July edition of the News & Mail

NEW signing Sam Howes has told Woking fans to “expect a lot of passion” from him during his time with the club.

The former Watford academy keeper is looking to establish himself at Kingfield after a series of loan spells, including at Eastbourne Borough last season.

New signing Sam Howes with Woking FC manager Alan Dowson

Howes, 21, signed for the Cards on Monday, after his deal with the Hornets expired last Sunday (30 June).

He told the News & Mail: “Every season is a chance to make a name for yourself. I’ve had a few loan experiences which have stood me in good stead, but now I’m ready for the next step forward in my career.

“Woking was the right option for me. I know Dowse (manager Alan Dowson) really well from my time at Hampton & Richmond Borough, and I know what to expect.”

“So for me it’s perfect, it’s an ideal place to further my development and hopefully move on up the ladder in future years.”

For the full interview get the 4 July edition of the News & Mail

GET up close to the Pirbright Cricket Club clock tower that sits on top of its pavilion, and you may be able to make out the letters “JBA” and “ESA”.

These are the initials of club chairman Peter Austin’s parents, a fitting tribute for the service they gave their country during the Second World War.

The pavilion’s clock tower bears the initials of club chairman Austin’s parents

Austin’s father John was a bomber pilot in a secret squadron, and in the latter part of the war dropped agents into occupied France.

The clock tower will be preserved as Austin and club president Derek Bytheway now lead plans to pull down the existing pavilion and create a bigger, modern facility that they hope will re-energise the local sporting community.

It needs it. Bisley and Lightwater are among neighbouring cricket clubs to have folded in recent years – and with Bytheway stating that member numbers have decreased by a third in the last 10 years, it’s easy to see why.

Pirbright’s Peter Austin (left) and Derek Bytheway

“We’re fighting a battle constantly to make sure we’ve got enough players. However, we’ve got to remain optimistic, because we’ve got a great set-up here,” said Bytheway.

“We haven’t historically had the infrastructure – there are two football clubs in Pirbright that play outside the village because facilities haven’t been good enough – but we’re hoping that the youth programme that we’re introducing for cricket will be fully operational at the beginning of next season (bringing in more players).”

In conjunction with these efforts – the club are also running an inaugural colts event on the 27-28 August – the pavilion will be a centrepiece for daily life in Pirbright, as Bytheway explained. “It’ll be the hub of the community and available to all Pirbrighters,” he said.

“There’ll be a cafe, which will be a great help for the people locally. 500 kids come to school in Pirbright every day, and when the children are dropped off, the mums have got nowhere to go to have a coffee. Hopefully they’ll come in here. I would love to see it open seven days a week, nine hours a day.”

For the full story, see the 27 June edition of the News & Mail

ABOUT 2,000 children aged six to 15 took part in two days of football at the Goldsworth Park Rangers annual summer festival.

The festival was attended by Woking FC manager Alan Dowson,  first team coach Ian Dyer and midfielder Paul Hodges, who brought along the Vanarama Promotion Playoff final trophy.

GPR Raptors under-12s team with Dowse and the Vanarama playoff trophy.

Lee Swain, the Goldsworth Park Rangers FC chairman, said the tournament was a great success and thanked the many volunteers who helped to make it happen.

“Also I must say a big thanks to Dowse. For him to drive straight back from Wales having attended the Vanarama presentation evening was unbelievable and to bring the cup with him was a great touch.”

Lee said the club’s community partner Waitrose and grassroots partner Macdonalds made massive contributions to the festival.

The GP Rangers under-10s team the Dolphins with mascot Wishbone

“It’s always a busy but rewarding weekend and I am delighted that all the teams seemed to have a great time.

“Wishbone the mascot made everyone smile and managed to get in nearly every photo,” Lee said.

Andy Morgan, the club secretary and welfare officer, explained that the mascot’s name came from the fact that the pitches are on Wishbone Way.

“The annual event has grown from about 30 teams to where we are now,” Andy said.

He said the club is thriving with 600 members and 42 teams.

For more pictures get the 20 June edition of the News & Mail