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Captain's Log: Ross Langworthy, Bishop's Cleeve Football Club

All Areas > Sport > Football

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Monday, 29th January 2024, 11:00

Bishop’s Cleeve captain Ross Langworthy Bishop’s Cleeve captain Ross Langworthy

Ross Langworthy is leading from the front as Bishop’s Cleeve look to improve on last season's best ever finish.

The 31-year-old is the club’s centre-forward and captain, and he’s certainly playing his part as the club push for a place in the end-of-season promotion play-offs in Division One South of the Southern League.

They are currently seventh in the 20-strong division, four points and two places outside the play-offs.

Last season the club finished ninth and Langworthy, who joined the club three months into last season, said: “If we were to go up and play Step 3 football that would be a fantastic achievement.

“It’s a brilliant club, one that is definitely going the right way.

“We’re having a good season, even though we’ve dropped a couple of silly points. But you can’t dwell on that, every team drops points here and there.

“We’ve got ourselves into a position where we’re one of a number of clubs challenging for the play-offs.

“Naturally, a couple of those clubs will fall away, we’ve got to make sure that we’re not one of those who tail off.

“Last season was a great season but Colly [Bishop’s Cleeve manager Paul Collicutt] didn’t want to settle for that, he doesn’t want us just being safe in Division One South, he wants us pushing for the play-offs.”

Langworthy has played in the Premier Division of the Southern League in years gone by and he’s certainly had a very interesting career, a career that saw him play at Aston Villa’s academy for seven years, play alongside one-time Leicester City and Birmingham City striker Steve Claridge during his time at Gosport Borough, as well as play and coach in New Zealand.

It was always likely that Langworthy would be a decent footballer, because his dad Stuart is very well known in the sport in and around the county and beyond.

Stuart was one of the founder members of Abbeymead Rovers and these days is manager of England’s over-60s walking football team, a team that were crowned world champions last year.

“I started playing football when I was about four when my dad and a few of the other dads set up Abbeymead Rovers,” recalled Langworthy junior, who is assistant manager for England’s over-60s walking football team.

Abbeymead is where Langworthy still lives today but he didn’t play for Abbeymead Rovers for too long because he was soon invited to play in Aston Villa’s academy at Bodymoor Heath

“I started playing there when I was seven,” said Langworthy. “I was there for seven years.

“I think I played in just about every position except centre-forward. I played a lot in centre midfield, I played full-back, out wide and a bit at centre-back.”

He enjoyed his time there particularly when the first-team were at the training ground.

“We used to play our matches on Sundays and if the first-team had lost on a Saturday they’d often be in the following morning,” said Langworthy.

“It was a time when Peter Schmeichel, Gareth Barry and Patrik Berger were playing for the club.”

Langworthy was released by the academy at the end of the under-14 season, a decision he had been expecting.

“There was a really big cut-off at the end of the under-14s,” he said. “I hadn’t found my feet after moving to 11-a-side and I’d had a bad year.

“Physically, I was a late developer. I was always skinny and I wasn’t very tall.”

Ironically, he’s 6ft 1in these days.

Trials at Bristol City, twice, and Swindon Town came to nothing, so Langworthy joined Gloucester City where he played for their under-15s and under-16s.

And he also played for Abbeymead Rovers although not in his then favoured position of centre midfield, far from it in fact.

“I played in goal for their under-16s because they didn’t have a goalkeeper,” he said.

“I played Saturdays for Gloucester and Sundays for Abbeymead.

“I also played in goal for Abbeymead’s men’s team when I was 16 and 17 in Stroud League Division One.”

So how did he get on between the sticks?

“Goalkeeping was alright,” he said. “I remember playing a game in goal for Shortwood United when I was in my 20s when we didn’t have a goalkeeper.

“I never took it too seriously, I liked flinging myself about.”

And while he might have enjoyed flinging himself about, he certainly enjoyed it a lot more when he started scoring goals on a regular basis rather than trying to save them.

“I only started playing up front when I was 17 when I went to Slimbridge towards the end of one season,” he said.

“They threw me on up front. They must have thought I was young and skinny and liked to run around and I scored a couple of goals.”

And those goals certainly contributed to the feel-good factor at the club because Slimbridge won the Hellenic League Division One title that season.

Mind you, the goals may have come as something of a surprise to his dad.

“My dad said when I was growing up that the only position I couldn’t play was centre-forward,” said Ross.

But the young Langworthy continued to bang in the goals for Slimbridge the following season, even though he rarely started.

“I was top scorer for the club with 17,” he said. “I came off the bench every game.”

Slimbridge’s supporters will no doubt have been disappointed that he wasn’t with them the following campaign, a campaign that saw him step up a level with Gosport Borough, who were in Division One of the Southern League.

“I’d gone to Southampton University and I signed for Gosport at the same time as Steve Claridge,” said Langworthy, a former Brockworth School and Hartpury College pupil.

“I played a couple of games with him but he kept me out of the side.

“They had a number of experienced semi-professionals and I only managed 10 or 15 games.”

Langworthy was with them for just a season before moving to Shortwood United, who had just won promotion to the Southern League.

“I had three really good seasons with them,” he said. “John Evans was the manager and they were a very nice, friendly club. There were a lot of close-knit, really good lads there.

“We got to the first round of the FA Cup and I chipped in with double figures in my first two seasons and scored 23 in my final season.”

That was enough to attract the attention of Cirencester Town manager Brian Hughes and Langworthy said: “They were playing in the Premier Division of the Southern League, it was a chance to step up a level.”

He spent a year and a half at Cirencester before being released, a decision that gave him the chance to take a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Tom Speers, an old team-mate of mine at Slimbridge, had taken a job as a manager of a club in New Zealand,” explained Langworthy.

“I sent him a congratulatory message and jokingly said, ‘Let’s negotiate’.

“He said he needed a couple of players so I went over and played for and coached North Shore United.”

He was there for 10 months, so how did he get on?

“It’s a great country, it was a really good experience,” said Langworthy.

“The football was much more tactical, it didn’t have the intensity and physicality of the Southern League.”

Langworthy joined Yate Town when he returned to this country in the January and the following season the club were promoted to the Premier Division of the Southern League, although Langworthy’s contribution was limited.

“I tore my groin while coaching giving a shooting demonstration,” Langworthy said. “I was out for four months but I did come on in the play-off semi-final and set up a goal and I also came on in the final.”

Langworthy dual registered with Tuffley Rovers before joining Fairford Town in the Premier Division of the Hellenic League.

“I had two-and-a-half seasons there, the management team of Jody Bevan and Jamie Reid were brilliant,” said Langworthy.

And they certainly got the best out of Langworthy, who was scoring goals for fun.

“I was loving it at Fairford,” he said. “Ten clubs put in a seven-day notice of approach for me over a three-month period.”

One of those clubs was Bishop’s Cleeve and it was too good a chance for Langworthy to turn down.

“It was an opportunity to get back into the Southern League,” he explained.

That was in November 2022 and although he was now playing at a higher level the goals continued to flow for Langworthy.

“I was flying and full of confidence,” he said. “I scored two goals on my debut for Bishop’s Cleeve and that took all the pressure off my shoulders.

“That first year went better than I could ever have dreamt of, everything I hit seemed to go in. It was my first ever 30-goal season, Colly showed a lot of faith in me.”

And Collicutt has continued to show a lot a faith in him in the current campaign by asking him to be captain.

“It’s the first time I’ve been captain, I was vice-captain at Fairford,” said Langworthy, a teacher at Cirencester College.

“I’m enjoying it, although it can be difficult at times as a centre-forward when the game is behind you, it can be difficult to be vocal.”

Collicutt obviously appreciates his leadership skills and Langworthy, who has a UEFA B coaching licence, has always been willing to take on responsibility from a young age.

“I coached my brother’s team at Abbeymead,” he recalled. “I put on a couple of sessions with a friend when I was 12 and ended up coaching them for five years.

“After that I coached  the women’s team at the club.”

That team included his mum Judith, so did he ever have to drop his mum from the team?

“My mum played in goal,” he said. “She wasn’t a goalkeeper but we didn’t have another goalkeeper, she is very selfless.”

Just like her son.

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