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Blind skittles player beats off competition in Taunton
WHEN Roger Tyson turns up to play skittles, he makes the other team do a double take. Not only is he one of the league’s top performers ... he is blind.
Roger, 67, was born in Taunton with perfect eyesight but, when he was three years old, he was knocked down by a car and suffered a fractured eye which damaged his optic nerve.
Since that day, Roger, who is retired after 46 years working at County Hall, in Taunton, was left with 25% vision in one eye and total blindness in the other.
He said: “I can see the outlines of people in one eye but I can’t see any detail at all so I can look in the direction someone is speaking to me but I couldn’t tell you what they looked like.”
After such a life-changing injury, you could be forgiven for moping around feeling sorry for yourself wondering what could have been, but not Roger.
After studying at a special school for blind children in Bristol and then Shrewsbury, Roger moved back to Taunton and featured regularly on a Saturday in the Taunton and District Saturday Football League for Wyvern Reserves.
Full-back Roger, who played from 1976-85, said: “They were a set of lads who just wanted to have some fun and kick a ball around on a Saturday.
“A lot of people didn’t know at the time that I couldn’t see – it is only afterwards they realised I was blind when they have seen me out and about around town.”
Roger lives in Comeytrowe with his wife, Liz, and the couple have five children and seven grandchildren.
Alongside his football, Roger has always had a keen interest in skittles, playing in the various Somerset leagues since the 1970s.
His current team, Wyvern Wanderers, who play in the Thursday night Surveyors League, had a hidden secret when Roger turned up and he shocked numerous teams with his unorthodox but effective style of play.
Only last month, Roger scored 26, one pin off a perfect 27, at the Wyvern Club, in Taunton, and explained his knack at the sport.
He said: “I just find out where the edge of the plate is – once I have that, I know the front pin should be in a straight line so I throw it from there.
“There is always someone there, one of my team-mates, to help me find the plate.
“I do have some problems if the plate is not in line with the front pin but I adjust my line depending on the alley.
“It is possible to do anything if you have the right attitude and I won’t let anything stop me doing what I enjoy doing and skittles is just one of those things.
“I like to get involved in main stream things that ordinary people do because the whole idea was that I do not want to be any different from anybody else.”
Roger said he hopes more people will take up skittles in the future to help stop its dwindling numbers over the past few decades.
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