Dings Crusaders look to the future over a possible new home for the club
DINGS Crusaders are stepping up efforts to quit their ageing base in Lockleaze and relocate to a new home in the Bristol area.
The National Two South club have joined forces with new shirt sponsors Barratt Homes who are launching a search for a parcel of land suitable to Dings' needs and which will also receive the approval of players, officials and supporters.
Ralph Hawkins, development director at Barratt Homes Bristol, said: "I'm advised that there are one or two opportunities. In an ideal world, within 12 months we will identify a site and progress from there."
The sale of Dings' home since 1948 for housing would fund any move. Dings were split straight down the middle when a vote was held 18 months ago on a proposed relocation to the site of the former Hortham Hospital in Almondsbury, with the club's trustees then voting against the scheme.
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Chairman Steve Lloyd said: "Everyone is telling me to be careful, and we will be. We've had ten cracking years in this league and we're on the map nationally. But our facilities here are tired and we have to make sure that we keep moving in the right direction."
Landseer Avenue has a very distinct charm and character that will come into play tomorrow for Dings' biggest home game of the season, against local rivals Clifton (2.30pm).
It's a first home outing for new captain Ed Hack, a former Clifton junior now in his eighth season with Dings.
There is a new centre pairing of Christian Gervais and Marcus Brooker, while Harvey Skelton comes in at full-back.
Avonmouth, home to Amersham & Chiltern (3pm), are without fly-half Matt Belbin (foot) so Joe Wearne slots in at No 10.
Former Bristol centre Jon Pritchard makes his Frampton Cotterell league debut away to Stroud.
And St Mary's stage a former players' lunch ahead of their home clash with Gordon League.
Chew Valley defeated Bristol Saracens 25-5 this week to book a home tie with North Bristol in the quarter-finals of the new-look Charles Saunders Combination Vase.
Will Bryant, Rich Pollett, Ali Russell and stand-out centre Charlie Shallcross claimed Chew's tries with Mike Wright crossing for Sarries.
The popular Combination knockout competitions have been restructured over the summer and now feature a third tier. As well as the cup and vase, there is now a bowl for teams to enter and pursue silverware against local opposition.
Seven teams – holders Avonmouth, Cleve, Clevedon, Clifton, Dings Crusaders, Old Reds and Thornbury – have entered the cup, with Weston-super-Mare declining to accept an invitation. The draw for quarter-finals will take place next month.
Draws. Combination Vase: Bristol Harlequins v Old Bristolians or Southmead, Keynsham v Barton Hill, Whitehall v St Mary's or Yatton, Chew Valley v North Bristol. Combination Bowl: Aretians v Chipping Sodbury, Imperial v Ashley Down, Frampton Cotterell v St Bernadette's, Winscombe v Kingswood, Bristol Barbarians v Broad Plain, Gordano v BAC, Old Colstonians v Cotham Park, Bishopston v Nailsea & Backwell.
Cleve are mourning the loss of life member Dick Gill and popular former player Robin 'Young Wilf' Williams.
The funeral of Robin takes place at Westerleigh Crematorium on Tuesday (2.30pm) with a gathering at the Mangotsfield-based club afterwards.
And the funeral of Dick, a former president and a key figure in Cleve's move from Bromley Heath, will be held at St Mary Magdalene, Stoke Bishop, on Thursday (3pm), also with a get-together to follow at the club.
Robin began his playing career in Cleve's junior section and appeared for the seniors until the late 1980s, also spending several seasons at Barton Hill.
Lock Andy Francombe marked his first start for Bristol Telephones since suffering a heart attack last year with a try in a 12-5 defeat in a friendly away to Hornets 3rds.
The club, preparing for life in the Gloucestershire Reserves League after opting to drop out of Gloucester Three, gave debuts to the teenage trio of Mike Smith, plus cousins Dan Jenkins and Adrian Jenkins who came through their first test with flying colours.
Tries from veterans Pete Zaffiro, Barry Whitehead and Ricky Shepherd, with Mike Weaver adding a conversion, gave Frampton Cotterell 3rds a 17-5 victory against Sodbury 2nds.