THE year literally got off to a flying start, with Chard Road Runners’ New Year’s Day event.

The Chard Flyer 10k road race set off from the cricket club and attracted 180 runners, with Phillip Bridge the first male runner home and Betty Bohane first female.

Poor weather in January disrupted the football and rugby schedules, but there were no such problems for Chard Hockey Club’s ladies, who destroyed Weston 3rds 25-0 (Charlotte Mooney scoring 10).

The weather was also of little concern to Ilminster Bowling Club’s Rob Paxton, who reached the World Indoor Championships singles final in January, only to lose 7-8 8-6 0-2 to Mark Dawes.

Paxton said the best man won, but also complained about the “non-stop coughing, chatting and moving throughout” in parts of the crowd at the Hopton-on-Sea venue.

Paxton was in action on the other side of the world in April, at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, alongside Louis Ridout (a former Ilminster BC member) and 20-year-old Ellie Seward, from Chard, who competed in the women’s trap (shooting).

Seward just missed out on a place in the final, but both Paxton and Ridout brought home bronze medals for England, in the men’s singles and men’s fours, respectively.

Back home, there was trouble brewing at Chard Town, despite positive results on the pitch from Paul Down’s men.

Chairman Lyndsey Gage told the Chard & Ilminster News that the club’s place in the Western League was at risk due to the slope of their Zembard Lane pitch.

The Robins began planning for a move, in order to stave off relegation, and were given a year’s reprieve by the FA, with discussions still ongoing as 2018 draws to a close.

Ilminster Town, meanwhile, were in very real danger of relegation – by the traditional method – as they sat third from bottom in the Somerset County League’s Premier Division going into March.

They had been without a win since October, before beating Wells City Reserves 3-2.

Chard Rugby Club’s men’s 1st XV, too, were in danger of the drop, as they were right in the middle of a tight relegation battle in Western Counties West.

A last-gasp 24-22 win over Sidmouth boosted their hopes, but things still looked like going down to the wire.

Further afield, Chard powerlifter Emily Greenway competed in the British Women’s Classic Championships – her first competition as a senior – and she surpassed her expectations by finishing fourth.

Later in the spring she went one better, winning a bronze medal, at the All England Championships in Northampton.

There was also great success for South Petherton’s Jordan Storey, the young centre-back helping Exeter City to Wembley (where they lost the League 2 play-off final to Coventry City) and earning a move to Championship side Preston North End.

Chard Hockey’s ladies had the Sedgemoor Division 2 title wrapped up by mid-March, thanks to a 17th straight win, 11-0 over Taunton Civil Service 2nds, meaning an instant return to Sedgemoor 1.

The club’s men’s 1sts fared less well, relegated from Southern 1 after a 5-2 defeat at Torbay, but Chard A won promotion from South East 2.

Turning back to rugby, and a 25-13 win at home to Torquay Athletic ensured that Chard would not be relegated; Nick Hyslop, Dave Biss, Luke Hill and Joe Mainwaring scored the tries to take the pressure off.

John Williams came in as new chairman, and the future looked bright as two Chard Colts – Niall Crouch and Ben Fenton – jetted off to Japan to represent England in the Sanix World Rugby youth tournament.

Ilminster Town’s fate hung in the balance until the end of the County League season, though, not helped by the retirement of club legend Chris Nezianya, who ruptured his Achilles at Shirehampton.

But the Blues survived by beating Bridgwater Town Reserves on May 15 – Taylor Jefferson scoring the only goal to keep his side up and relegate Bridgwater.

Ilminster Town Ladies finished their first season at South West Women’s Premier level in a creditable seventh spot.

Chard Town claimed a top-half finish in the Western League’s First Division (ninth place), with manager Paul Down stepping down at the end of the season, having done a good job stabilising the club.

Ex-Sherborne manager Jamie Manley came in, with Kevin Leigh as his assistant.

Barrington, meanwhile, secured back-to-back Perry Street Premier Division titles.

May also saw Chard host Britain’s Disabled Strongman 2018, an event organised by Gary Clarke, a pioneer in the sport.

See the C&I News website later this week for our review of the second part of 2018.