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Pride, passion and determination was not the sole preserve of Olympians

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 29, 2012

Redruth's Tom Duncan does his best to hang on to a sodden ball at the Rec SIMON BRYANT

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During the London Olympics, we all grew accustomed to watching sport through an emotional tear and with a lump in our throats.

It started even before Cornish rower Helen Glover helped Team GB to their first of many gold medals. Our athletes' courage and passion moved us; they made us feel pride and hope.

I have been privileged to witness many similar moments closer to home during 2012, at rugby and football grounds across Cornwall and Devon.

Exeter Chiefs hosting their first Heineken Cup match at Sandy Park was truly historic, while the Cornish Pirates' achievement in reaching a second championship final in a row deserves huge respect – especially when the prize of promotion had already been denied without a new stadium for Cornwall capable of hosting Premiership rugby.

However, my most memorable day of the year came at Redruth rugby club's Recreation Ground on the coldest and wettest of November days.

This great old club has suffered more than most during difficult times for many in our region.

Their critics would say they spent beyond their means when the going was good a few years ago, chasing overly ambitious goals. The truth is that most sporting teams, whoever they are, yield to such temptations when the chance of glory comes so close.

On November 24, I went to the Rec, fearing the worst.

Their players had been told their wages would not be paid for the third time in four seasons and National League Two South's best team, Henley Hawks, were the visitors.

But as soon as the referee's whistle sounded to start the game, those men gave everything they could to represent the club they loved in front of the most passionate home crowd I can remember.

The weather could not have been worse but it mattered little as Redruth bravely refused to accept defeat to anything or anyone.

They won the game 17-11 and the expressions on the faces of those on the pitch and in the stands left me unable to speak at the final whistle.

It was the sort of day that gives you hope and everybody left the ground inspired by what they saw.

There have been plenty of times when the same could be said at Sandy Park, Mennaye Field, Polson Bridge and beyond, this year.

We have a lot of good people in our amazing little part of the world – certainly enough to make me feel that 2013 can be whatever we all want it to be.

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