Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 11th July 2018

After the ups and downs of recent years, you get the feeling that England needed this World Cup run. Whether we go on to win or not, against the uncertainties of Brexit and the general chaos on the national level, we’ve had the chance to pull together and remember that against all odds and expectations amazing things can happen.

To get to our first semi-final in 28 years and, if today goes well, our first final since our World Cup win 52 years ago is fantastic in itself, but of course for Crawley we have particular cause to feel proud, as it’s one of our own who has led the way.

Over recent days, I have been contacted by many residents asking for some sort of memorial to recognise, former Hazelwick schoolboy turned England Manager, Gareth Southgate’s achievements in steering England this far and there’s a growing petition online calling for a statue for him somewhere in Crawley. Before the World Cup kicked-off councillors had already been discussing what we should do to celebrate a strong performance by England in Russia and I want to reassure residents we are very keen to do something which acknowledges the scale of what has been accomplished this year.

Crawley has a proud sporting legacy as a town, our home has been the birthplace and the training ground for many successful sportspeople, including a number of successful Olympians, and Crawley Town has consistently punched above its weight. That’s something from which we should all take inspiration, from schoolkids taking their first tentative steps to becoming Crawley’s next sporting hero to adults of all ages using sport as a means of keeping active and building community ties. We know that if the NHS is going to cope with an ageing population, that population is going to need to get fitter and as a council we work hard to improve and maintain some of the best sporting facilities in the South East for residents. So, if England’s run has inspired you, why not take this chance to live up to the legacy and take up a local sport.

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