BBC Unsung Hero Award for Minety’s Cliff Garland
Minety Rugby Club’s Director of Coaching Cliff Garland has won the Unsung Hero award for the BBC West region after transforming junior rugby in the tiny Wiltshire village of Minety, near Malmesbury.
57-year-old Cliff has been coaching at the Malmesbury club for more than 17 years which now boasts more than 200 junior members. He began coaching at the club when his own children were small. “I had played earlier but my career had ended through injury and I’d become a bit of an armchair fan.”
The BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero award has been running since 2003, and recognises the remarkable achievements of people throughout the UK.
Following the nomination period panels will meet in each of the BBC’s 15 Nations and English Regions and a winner from each will be chosen.
The overall winner will come from those 15 and will be announced on the night of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year programme, which this year will be held in Belfast.
Cliff was shocked at being nominated but not as much as when, in front of over 100 players, ex players, friends and family, the BBC West’s Sports Reporter Alistair Durden told him that he hadn’t just been nominated, he’d actually won the award.”
In a typically modest assessment Cliff described himself as being “just a cog in a machine” but his contribution to mini, junior and girls rugby has been immense over the years.
“I just wanted to help out. We had lots of girls in the mini rugby teams but that provision ended at 12 so we decided we would do something about it and formed a proper girls’ team, and we’ve had quite a bit of success as a result, even as far as an England international player.”
Peter McAllister, Junior Division Secretary, Academy coach and long-time colleague of Cliff’s at Minety RFC. was delighted at the award. “It’s so well deserved. He’s worked with all age groups, not only within our club but at county level. He’s passionate about rugby whether it be watching, coaching or player development. He’s encouraged so many parents and players to become fully qualified coaches.”
Bretton King, writing on the club’s Facebook page said, “Without Cliff Garland there would have been no Minety Junior RFC and literally thousands of children would have been deprived of involvement in a sport we cherish.”
A 1st XV player summed up his feelings when the award was announced. “Every club needs a Cliff! We’re just lucky that we have the original!”
Cliff will be travelling to Belfast in December, with wife Jane, for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.