Thursday, October 16, 2008


The 27 Club is the name given to the acclaimed group of rock musicians who, often through their own silly fault, expired at that legendary age. Brian Jones, fallow youth of Cheltenham Spa, was 27 when he did drown; Janis Joplin was 27 when she overdosed, Jim Morrison looked older than 27 but wasn’t when he died of heart failure and we all know what happened to dear Jimi Hendrix when he reached the old seven ‘n’ twenty. Kurt Cobain joined the club in 1994. Road accidents claimed two of the 27 Club’s most bewitching talents, Pete de Freitas of Echo and the Bunnymen and Big Star’s Chris Bell. I salute them all and metaphorically raise a glass of bourbon in doing so.

He’s not a rock star and, unless he has met a tragic, chilling and unexpected exit today, still lives to enjoy another sunrise or two, but James Forrester is 27 too and retiring far too early from professional rugby football union. The sense of loss is still profound though. I loved watching the rangy fellow make his early appearances for the Gloucester academy and burst into my favoured club’s first fifteen with a series of performances that was simply outstanding. A sense of memory for key matches is diminishing in my dotage but the season that Gloucester won the old Powergen Cup against Northampton was dominated by some remarkable feats by the youthful loose forward. He seemed to make ground every time he held the leather egg in his gleeful paw and I recall countless tries – mainly against the long-suffering Bristol club – involving gallant sprints for glory, oft outpacing wing threequarters and other leggy types. Injury dominated the last few seasons and sadly the star that burnt so brightly five or six years ago ne’er lit up the fabled old stadium with quite the same vivacity again. It was a privilege to watch the bloke play though, a real, real privilege. I reckon we only had two or three seasons of Forrester at his explosive best and I hope his amazing, stylish, bewildering talent doesn’t become a mere footnote in the famed club’s history as memories fade. Personally I think there’ll be hundreds of granddads in decades to come who’ll murmur to eager nippers about James Forrester and his epic and vivid adventures for the cause. I know how desperately sad I felt when I heard he couldn’t play on but I’m thrilled to have had the chance to watch, often in awe, this Last of the Corinthians so often. What a player. What a player. Thank you James.

Unbelievably, this is the 500th post on these 'umble pages. Thanks for reading. I know most of the regulars who pop by (more than a mere brace thankfully) and couldn't wish for a finer collection of hepcats to chew the proverbial with. A brief yet warm and affectionate nod of the head towards all of you.


Sweeny said...


Josh and Eric @ said...

Ah, another talented 27. I never knew about James Forrester (nor do I follow rugby, but then again I'm a Norwegian), but have a profound interest in The 27s. We just launched a book about them; check it out at if you're interested.