Tuesday, April 14, 2009

panem et circenses

Gloucester’s renowned rugby union club, known affectionately as ‘Gloucester’, will be playing at Twickenham this weekend in the final of the Anglo-Welsh Cup, known sans affection as the EDF Trophy. A combination of tardiness, my brief absence from this sceptred isle, economics and, I admit, a vague lack of interest means I shall not be attending the match in person. I’ll view events via a telecast more, I fear, in hope than expectation of a win for the local heroes. Fitness doubts surround bullish centre Michael ‘Mike’ Tindall, the young prince of rugby, James Simpson-Daniel and that elegant enigma o’ the back three, Iain Balshaw and I worry that, wi’out this international trio of tyros, the fabled cherry ‘n’ whites’ll struggle against a classy Cardiff outfit.

Although I’ve recently reported some exciting matches (tellingly, doughty fight-backs and reasonably unexpected victories at home) this has not been the finest of seasons for my club. Any success, it seems, has arrived thanks to the energy and enterprise of individual players (Delve, Azam, Morgan) and not because of any surging team effort and cohesive or coherent tactical game plan. Seemingly, I approach the ends of seasons either giddy with expectation for the oncoming late summertide and the promise of pre-season friendly fixtures or, and this is emphatically the case this time round, thankful that the ruddy circus is leaving town for a while and I can think about other stuff for a month or four. It appears that the close season is to be dominated by the faintly familiar swish of the revolving doors at Kingsholm Stadium. Comings and goings are promised. The cynic in me detects a pattern, a cyclical, oft-repeated culling of dead wood and resultant heralded arrival of new faces that will finally, we are promised, complete the jigsaw puzzle and bring success. That swish has been heard before here, a joyless noise that followers of more successful clubs, Leicester Tigers and London Wasps for example, would not recognise.

As every season goes by, a little more of my once electric enthusiasm for the club drips away; I confess that after witnessing countless dull bouts of aerial ping-pong permeating too many unremarkable performances in too many meaningless competitions and having contemplated the soul of the club ebbing away with every witless hee-haw from the stands and every stunningly vacuous uttering from our ghastly new Severn Sound announcer, my fervour is waning rapidly. The club should not take my support for granted despite thirty years of loyal service in the Popular Side. Roll on summer.

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