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As a Gloucester fan for the last 15 years I have seen much of the rise of the mighty Cherry and Whites. When I started watching they were forward dominated, larger than average cider-drinkers, earning a good living along with local fame as builders, plumbers, sparky's and even the odd office job.
The forwards were indomitable. The catch and drive way of live was king. Ian Jones (All Black Legend), Mike Teague (Local Legend), Mike Burton (Lions Legend) and Phil Vickery (The Raging Bull) epitomised this to the extremes. The pack ground out the hard yards, rumbled over the try line and gave Kingsholm its "Fortress" reputation it carries to this day.
Now, we have a range of young exciting backs, in our most recent game against Worcester, 4 of our 5 back line were under the age of 25. Ryan Lamb is a definite name for the future; the most natural fly-half Kingsholm has seen in decades. He is even managing to keep Ludo (Ludovic Mercier) out of the team.
This change started with Phillipe Saint-Andre, a local legend on and off the field, and has continued with Dean Ryan, currently doing a fantastic job that sees us without a defeat in the league this season.
The ground itself has the atmosphere of every single soul that has every stood in the shed, screaming for blood, everyone of those 6000 a referee, coach and rugby expert. They live the game, breath the game and would rather see Leicester win the league than possibly admit that Bath have a decent side. My girlfriend (Not a rugby fan) described the experience as terrifying... "I was stood in a crowd of 6000 cider-drinking, sweaty, bald overweight men wishing extreme hurt on the other players, the referee and the touch-judges.... I loved it!"
The ground has just had approximately 20 million invested into it and building work will start at the end of the season and it is set to be a complete overhaul. Dare the touch The Shed? Hell No. The facilities are excellent and access to the ground easy on foot and by bus. You can get the park and ride for £1 which drops you right outside the ground, or walk 10 minutes from the centre of town, through the cathedral grounds.
The fans are one of the main reasons that the club has the reputation it does. Far from the cider-drinking, overweight and sweaty fans mentioned before (Although they do exist) they are an aimiable bunch (Well, to other fans as opposed to the ref), always helpful and to say that Rugby was the main religion in Gloucester wouldn't be a huge understatement. They scream and chant endlessly "Glawster, Glawster, Glawster" and "C'Mon Glaws" is often heard all the way around the ground. On a good day when Gloucester score a try, you can hear the roar on the cross in the centre of town.
The club itself interacts wonderfully with the community, it runs summer schools for the local kids and there is the golden gamble; a match day raffle for local charities which always is well supported. I even have one excellent story about Phil Vickery helping a friend of mine's elderly mother into her house with her shopping when he lived next door to her. If you see any Gloucester player in town, they are responsible, friendly and always happy to stop for a chat. Try getting that out of a Premiership footballer!
The only very slight downsides are that tickets are becoming increasingly difficult to get hold of, and the team has the occasional tendency to self-destruct. Everyone remembers the black day that they lost to Munster by 27 points and 4 tries.
Overall though, the club is a wonderful place with a great family orientated atmosphere, fantastic players and a successful team. The club is growing and moving forward and is set to become even more of an institution than it already is.
Every single rugby fan should visit at least once just for the atmosphere and the grand day out.