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Farewell Ron Coltman MBE

2 August 2014

Former Cheltenham Town goalkeeper Ron Coltman has passed away.

Cheltenham legend and local lifeguard Ron Coltman has sadly passed away this week.

Ron, a former Cheltenham Town goalkeeper, has died at the age of 83 but he leaves a lasting impression on the town and this football club for who he both played and supported.

Goalkeeper Ron Coltman became a hugely popular and well-known figure around Cheltenham, ironically after he stopped playing for the Robins.

A former pupil of Naunton Park School, who excelled at football, cricket, swimming and athletics, Coltman started out as an inside-right but converted to playing in goal while turning out for Fairview United in the Cheltenham League. Swindon Town and Bristol City reportedly showed an interest in him but Coltman opted to continue his apprenticeship as a plumber and signed amateur forms for Cheltenham Town in May 1948.

Coltman began the season in the reserves but a first team chance arrived quickly when Len Silcocks contracted tuberculosis and he was thrown into Southern League action against Hereford United. Standing 6ft tall and weighing 14 stone, Coltman was a strong, powerful figure but matched agility with size and held onto a first team place despite the arrival of the more experienced Gordon Harvey to replace Silcocks. Coltman returned to the side following an injury to Harvey and signed a professional contract in November 1948. Later that season he featured in a County Cup winning team and, two years later, played before a crowd of 16,500 in the FA Cup first round. By then Harry Nicholls had emerged as a rival for the goalkeeper's jersey and the pair competed for a first team place until the summer of 1952 when Coltman, who had reputedly been attracting interest from Portsmouth, elected to join Gloucester City in the hope of becoming outright first choice.

It proved to be a good move as Coltman went on to spend nearly 10 years at the club, making 246 appearances and featuring in City's 1956 Southern League Cup win. The same year, he was selected to represent the Southern League in a Champions versus rest of the Southern League match at Yeovil and he held the record for the most appearances by a Gloucester City goalkeeper until 2006. In season 1954-55 he also played in the team that conceded the fewest goals in the Southern League. Both his brother Mick and cousin Jeff Miles played for Gloucester City, the latter also keeping goal for Cheltenham Town, and such was his standing among City fans that when the old Horton Road stadium was replaced by a housing development, one of the roads was named Coltman Close in his honour.

Coltman's final club was Worcester City, for whom he made a handful of appearances in season 1961-62 before retirning from football.

By then Coltman had already become well known as a lifeguard and swimming teacher at Sandford Park Lido having had his first swim in the pool on the opening day in 1935. He earned his first paid position at the lido in 1953 and went on to become Superintendent and later a Trustee. In 2009 he was awarded an MBE for his services to the facility.

Coltman was an almost ubiquitous figure in Cheltenham throughout his life and would often be seen riding his bike or walking his dog, particularly around the Hales Road area, and he remained a keen supporter of the Robins, watching games from the Prestbury Road End, right up until his death at the age of 83 in August 2014.

Our thoughts are with Ron's family and friends at this difficult time.

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